Monday 29 July 2013

D.I.Y. Beauty... get ready for summer!

Living on a shoestring budget shouldn't mean that you need to go without a bit of pampering. Spas are wonderful but a bit too pricey for me at the moment as are expensive shop bought treatments but I'm in need of some TLC!
Many people think that more expensive means better... maybe so in some cases but not necessarily true when it comes to buying beauty and grooming products.
For a long time I've made my own face creams and other concoctions like hair rinses, hair masks, bath oils and so on mainly not out of necessity but because I wanted products which were purer and without additives or harsh chemicals.
And after this long hard winter we've just had my face is in dire need of attention!

Feeding your skin can be easily done with something as simple as mashing avocado, honey and essential oil together which makes a refreshing face mask or for tired hair rinsing your mane with a bottle of stout is a magical treat!
By rinsing your hair with stout in addition to adding B vitamins, the proteins found in malt and hops are said to repair damaged hair and boost the overall body of your neglected locks. Also the maltose and sucrose sugars in beer tighten the hair's cuticles so expect an enhanced shine like that of the wig of a Hollywood superstar... It's true!

Scrambling around in the Craft Guerrilla cupboards we found everything we needed and I'm sure you'll have some of this stuff in your homes too... Maybe not the green clay but I implore you that if you haven't some already to invest in's a really good staple for so many treatments!

And because we love making our own so much here's the recipe for our latest home beauty fave... detoxing face mask! In the words of Mrs. Doyle "Go on, go on, go on" Give it a try!

Cupboard love! Inexpensive ingredients that you might have in your home...

A very important note: Because the clay draws out any impurities your face may go red and blotchy - mine did- so if you're planning a big date, job interview etc... do this at least 4 hours before your big meeting or preferably the day before!

1 large heaped table spoon of fine green clay
Essential oil, you can use one suitable for your skin:
normal 1 to 3 drops of Lavender essential oil
greasy 1 to 3 drops of lemon or grapefruit essential oil
dry 1 to 3 drops of Mallow Leaf or Sandalwood essential oil
1/2 tsp of honey
1/2 tsp rose water
Pulp or gel of a freshly cut Aloe Vera leaf - if you have any available, we have a monster of a plant!- or a tea spoon of olive oil
distilled water

(NOTE: this will make a large amount so if you want to keep it for a week or so add one teaspoon of citric acid, a drop or two of vitamin E and store in the fridge... better still share with a girlfriend or a family member!)

Utensils you'll need:
1 wooden or plastic spoon (metal reacts with the clay therefore diluting the potency of the clay)
1 ceramic or plastic bowl
1 large soft bristled brush
1 soft brush to buff the skin prior to treatment

Here's how...
Mix all the ingredients together to form a silky and smooth paste which should resemble cake batter. Add the water a little at a time as you don't want it too runny.

*Extracting the Aloe Vera gel can be done by scrapping the inside of the tender leaf... it does resemble snot but it is absolutely amazing stuff!
Plus you can keep any unused leaves in the fridge as long as the cut part of the steam is covered with a paper towel or cling film. If you don't have an Aloe Vera plant you can use as stated previously olive oil instead!

Fresh Aloe Vera Gel extracted from leaves of a mature plant! Ours came from Spain as a little bub. It's now 18 years old and growing!
Scrape out the "gel" with a sharp knife...

Before you start treatment...
Massage your face with a soft brush (a baby's hair brush is awesome but a tooth brush you keep solely for your skin can be just as good) this will wake up your cells and get your system ready to receive the healing face mask!
Now you're ready to start the fun part...

This is the consistency you're aiming for...almost like melted chocolate or cake batter!

Apply enough clay to your face- paint it on generously- but avoid the eye and lip area. You should have an even coverage but don't be tempted to layer it on too thick!

Paint it on!
Leave to dry completely for about 10 to 15 minutes and wash off with warm water and pat dry. Make sure to not get any in your eyes...

Try not to speak or laugh... the lesser cracks the better!
Once completely clean and dry apply a light face cream or massage a bit of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil onto your newly invigorated skin! Also if your skin is a bit red you can apply some Aloe Vera gel which will calm down the redness.

For an extra bit of love get those cucumber slices on your eyes, sit back, relax and enjoy!

My skin went super red -as you can see- but it was clear and glowing plus the redness went down pretty quickly... it had been a while since the last time I did a face mask so my skin was in terrible need of a "deep cleansing".
Your face shouldn't go red because of the clay but it's usually down to the toxins and/or can be hormonal.
It has been known that even people with normally "great" or "flawless" skin get breakouts after green clay face masks so don't fret... it's nothing bad or permanent it's just your skin getting rid of any horrible nasties from your body!

Friday 26 July 2013

Bake it yourself!

I'm not one to shy away from cake... not even in the summer! I know that it's one of those comfort foods that people usually enjoy in the cooler weather with a cup of tea or even coffee... but you really do not need to twist my arm!
It's true that cake does taste better when it's not so hot, well I think so, but on the other hand I've never let the weather stop me from eating a slice (or two) however actually baking it is another story.

Pardon the pun but it's baking hot and turning on the oven in such ghastly heat isn't really something I look forward to but with this recipe the oven isn't on for too long. Phew!
For a truly quick summer bake I've gone for soft, gooey, chocolate rich brownies, the perfect accompaniment to our previous recipe for chocolate ice cream!

The magic with brownies is that the whole process is super quick - actually they taste better a little bit undercooked- and the ingredients are super quick to measure up, put together and slap in a tray! That's pretty much it and as long as you are organised -yes having ingredients at hand does help- and you follow this recipe then you'll be in and out of the kitchen in about 10 minutes.

I say whip it, whip it real good! Thank you Devo... but yes a good old MIX will do!

Pour into a pre lined baking tray...

Yummy dark and rich and ready to be baked!

After 30 minutes... hey presto! Cooled and ready to cut...

Dense, moist and very rich! I would remove them a bit earlier next time...

Because we love to post "healthier" versions too we're baking a gluten free version... and because I accidentally ordered a huge bag of fine corn meal (slightly coarser then corn flour) in my weekly shop I've been looking forward to trying some recipes which use alternatives to wheat flour.  So a great treat for wheat intolerant greedy guts (like me) and/or suitable for ceolics as it's gluten free!
I've gone for a straight up neat brownie mix but you can definitely experimenting with additional ingredients like dried cherries, almonds, pistachios and any other stuff you like. For example I quite like adding fresh blueberries and chopped Brazil and Hazel nuts for a cake version of a Fruit & Nut bar!

So here's what you need:
  • 80 grams of softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fine corn meal
  • 1/4 almond flour/almond meal meal
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • half a teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 200 grams of dark chocolate (either in chips or broken in smaller chunks)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used half caster, half brown sugar for a deeper caramel taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to gas mark 6.  Line an 8 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a bowl sift together the corn meal, the almond flour, cocoa, cinnamon if using, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a microwavable bowl combine butter and the chocolate chunks.
  4. Melt in microwave stirring every 30 seconds until melted and mix well. You should have a smooth, thick mixture. Leave to cool slightly.
  5. Beat the eggs. 
  6. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and beaten eggs into the melted chocolate mixture.
  7. Add the corn meal & cocoa mix into the melted chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool completely. *You can refrigerate before actually cutting them as they'll be much neater though you can remove from the tin and leave to cool slightly and cut while still warm.
Happy baking!!!

Wednesday 24 July 2013

A few of my favourite things...

I love the work of the artist Livia Marin... a brilliant Chilean artist who works predominantly with ceramics. Having stumbled on her work through a friend's Face Book post -see Face Book is not all that bad!- I went on to explore more of this artist's work.

Her beautiful fluid ceramics are something which I truly admire and as a ceramicist this is so what I would like to make: great, innovative, modern, thoughtful and meaningful art!
Actually my final year piece was based on the blue and white willow pattern so her beautifully reworked offerings are something which I find very pleasing to the eye as well as to the heart!

She also works with other material like resins and rubber though the ceramic based works are the ones which stand out for me... never the less the rest of her work is worth a look at!
This also opened up the whole debate of what is art and what is craft...why is one considered more intellectually valuable then the other, where do the lines blur, when did the term "artisan" lose it's value and how can we put back the ART in ARTisan? That is a debate we should have one day but maybe in a pub or a café where we can talk face to face rather then solely muse and philosophy about it on a blog. But yes it opens up all sorts of questions and please feel free to comment below and leave your thoughts!

So if you also share my love for all things hand made, especially the turned earth sort of stuff, then have a look at Livia's web page...

Thursday 18 July 2013


It's with great excitement that we introduce to you Cicada Books new publication: Craftydermy! As a veggie, crafter and lovers of taxidermy - I know, weird for a vegetarian to like Taxidermy but I can't explain it!!! - it's the perfect guilt free project book for people like me!

Craftydermy -2013 Cicada Books

Wire Bird by Hayley Dix
Taxidermy is very much of the moment.... you can't go into a pub, boutique or home without running into some sort of animal head or glass domed bird. Not everybody wants a dead animal in their home so this book has the best of both worlds as it marries the aesthetics; minus the cruelty; yet it's neither twee or childish!

Charles Fox by Emma Cocker!

There are so many animal related items out there and you know it's a hit once it's reached the high street shops which it has in a very big way!
Our love for the animal kingdom and for nature is one to be admired so what better way is there then that of making your very own homage?

Make your own with this tutorial by Kimberley Diamond!

Introduced by Tracey Benton the founder of Devon based gallery Atelier a small indie co which works with many of the featured makers....
This book is packed with fun and fab projects ranging from bear feet slippers, tiger rugs, crock totes to pretty votive candles featuring a party of bunnies!

Tiger Rug by Amelia Fever!

The only thing I would say that this book needs is... more content! Though there are lots of projects I feel there is so much more that I would like to see in there -maybe that's just because I'm greedy and like big fat books- but all in all it's a splendid book!

So if you'd like get your little paws into this book and start making some animal magic then check out Cicada's website:

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Sewing World!

I received my first copy of the new look Sewing Magazine this week and I have to say that I am suitably impressed! It's great to see how far the UK craft magazine scene has come!
Before we had lots of US publications flooding our magazine market but now there are quite a few national publications which can give any of them a good run for their money.

Sewing World is one of those... packed to the brim with great looking projects plus it has something I particularly love... pull out patterns! Yes, paper patterns which are ready to use so it makes making even easier!
Also there's lots of interesting features like the one below where readers send in their handywork which is fantastic as it makes people feel part of the whole magazine experience...

It's a pretty, friendly, easy to read mag and has tons of easy to follow sewing projects so all in all it's a big thumbs up from us though the only downside for me is the price.
Many craft based magazines tend to go on the £4.95 price point and with so many to choose from after a while it starts to add up... if you're anything like me it can get super expensive as I want to buy more then one publication a month.
If it sold for £3.95 -even though it's only a £1 less then other magazines- it would definitely make a difference not just in the pocket but subconsciously too as I would feel I was getting a better deal. Anyway that's just my "on a tight budget" opinion!

However I will still go out and buy it...
It is a really good magazine so... it's a 9 out of a possible crafty 10 for this publication!

Monday 15 July 2013

Zips are sew scary...

Ok so zippers are my Achilles heel...Well, one of them anyway! Yup, there I admit it... I'm not a master seamstress (or should that be mistress seamstress?) though I do like to sew and you know what they say "Practise makes perfect"!
And because I also believe it's in the genes -granny was an amazing seamstress so some of it has to have been passed on, right?- plus with the right amount of practise, persistence and a little bit of help from experts I do honestly think it's something I can improve on and maybe even master!

From an early age I've attempted to make made my own clothes. Growing up as a punk in a Benetton pastel infused surfing town was pretty much the push I needed to start making my own clothing! It started  with basics like skirts - no zips may I add just a lot of elasticated waists, Lycra and lots of popper buttons and some safety pins too- then going on to harder stuff like tops and even a pair of stretch leggings... though I should say that if anyone had inspected my work closely that I would have been rumbled! The shoddy "freestyle sewing" I was employing worked as far as getting clothes on the body went. It was wearable but completely NOT how a dress maker would do it!

Thank you Gertie for a brilliant tutorial and you can find it here: 
About a year ago I started a Drindl Skirt but never got around to finishing it...
I know, a year is a long time... but the culmination of putting on an invisible zipper and then finding out that the waist band was two sizes too big was too much to handle!
But in order for the skirt to fit me I needed to fix the waist band.
So back to square one because of this tiny alteration everything had gone skew whiff including the zip I had initially added so I threw a hissy fit put everything away, then after a quick cuppa and a break I decided to go back in for round two! Ding Ding!!!

What I found helpful was A) being organised: have everything you need at hand -including lots of coffee!
B) watching tutorials: on line you have a wealth of information from "you tube" to specialist sewing blogs including this tutorial on zippers!
And C) don't take it too seriously and allow yourself to fail... this way success is even sweeter when you achieve it!

The pressure to be a domestic goddess/ sewing superstar is immense... our love for craft, sewing, making and watching programs like "The Great British Sewing Bee", "Kirstie's home made home", "Super Scrimpers" etc. etc. etc. has not only raised the bar but also created a few monsters too! By monsters I mean people like me who strive to be perfect rather then experiment and go with the flow... but I am trying to be less rigid!
Think Kaffe Fassett a truly maverick spirit when it comes to embroidery... that man is a genius and he says "stuff you traditional techniques, I'm doing it my way!" (this is not a direct quote by the's more what I imagine he would say!) but what he manages to do is create things of absolute beauty without getting hung up on the actual technique but he doesn't bodge it by any means!
We have so much to live up to now and too many great people to compare ourselves and our work to so what I say is "Don't let that get in the way of your enjoyment of making what you want to make"!
It's not a contest and I'm not producing these items to sell, they are for me to wear and for my own pleasure so it's with a sticky out tongue and two fingers pointed up high to the sky that I proudly proclaim: "ZIPPER YOU HAVEN'T BEATEN ME THIS TIME!"
Plus for my first attempt at proper grown up clothes making -OK it took me a year but who's keeping track?- I think it's not too bad! Whaddya think?



Tell us about your making adventures or what frightens the sweet crafty Bejezzus out of you and/or what projects have had you in a sewing melt down?
Feel free to share your crafting nightmares -and successes- in the comment section below!

P.S. I've ordered this cute Misses Dress pattern from Simplicity this space... next step is to make a dress then watch out Milan, London, NYC and Paris...Craft Guerrilla Couture is on it's way!

Friday 12 July 2013

Something for the weekend... make your own Ice Cream!

Finally the hot weather has arrived and London is prettier for it... so many gorgeous people in gorgeous summer frocks (and the boys look pretty awesome too... but not in frocks though!), it really is something quite extraordinary but the best accessory by far is some home made ice cream! But don't wear it... As I can confirm it is quite a task to remove a chocolate ice cream stain from a dress!

Because we love trying new things and as I am "babysitting" a friend's ice cream maker I thought I'd give it a go! I was thinking of trying a few fruity ones but in this household chocolate rules and so... I complied and made some super chocolaty stuff courtesy of the fab cook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
I have to say that it got a huge thumbs up! Easy to make - even though I was slightly in a flap when I read the part of making a sugar syrup but it was more straight forward then it looked - and is so delicious... it's pretty close to a certain Danish Ice cream company but...better!!!
Though to me it was super duper it needed to pass my fussiest taste tester's approval which it did, he actually said:
"Wow, it's like eating frozen chocolate mousse!"
And if the other half's happy with it then mission accomplished so I highly recommend this recipe... 

Easy Tiger, there's enough for everyone!
Plus as I had a bit of mix left over - it wouldn't all fit in the churner- which means the old noggin started to work overtime!
I couldn't just chuck it away so I thought about experimenting with it and as it had eggs and butter it was a perfectly good cake base so to the mix I added 2 table spoons of self raising flour. The consistency should be like that for a sponge cake mix but still quite runny.
I trialed one straight away and it was pretty good though what I found next would completely change the recipe and I can confirm that it's well worth the wait! The first trial was good... it was more of a gooey sponge cake which hey... I still ate and enjoyed immensely but take it from me be patient and it gets better!
What I found is that if you let it set in the fridge overnight that it becomes more of a souffle, chocolate fondant type of dessert and that is absolutely a winner with me!
So what you'll need to do is: fill your ramekins about 3/4 of the way, cover with clingfilm, leave over night in the fridge to set then zap in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds (if you're making 2 at a time and you have an 800 W microwave it'll take circa 30 to 45 seconds).

Let's just say that it blows all those "cakes in a mug" recipes out of the water... kind of reminds me of the Gü Desserts souffle pots! Warm, gooey, super dark chocolate heaven which will go amazingly well with the above mentioned ice cream... though you might go into a chocolate coma! Oh well... it'll be worth it!

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Make a gift for someone... just because you can!

You'll know by now that making is something of a illness around here! We love making and inventing though this next tutorial isn't ours to claim but we love it so much that we thought we'd share it with you.
Also because we know a lot of summer babies we thought as per usual that we'd make them their birthday gifts!
And if your lovely friend loves sewing as much as ours do then this is the bestest prezzie ever- and it works for boys too as they never seem to have sewing equipment at hand! - plus you can bookmark it for Chrimbo as it's also a good and inexpensive secret Santa gift too!

D.I.Y Mason Jar Sewing Pin cushion...
You'll need:
small mason jar
glue gun
•bits and bobs like pins, needles, cotton thread, bias tape, buttons and so on!

Place the inner top bit over the back of the fabric and trace leaving a small -circa 5 cm edge- and cut.

Cut another circle but this time to size...

you'll now have two circles!

dab some glue -use a glue gun for best results- around the red edge of your top...

...and fold over but remember to leave an open edge for the stuffing... this!

Add some stuffing until nice and plump but don't over fill.

Glue the opening so it's not completely closed like...


Glue the smaller circle over for a neat finish!

Add small dabs of glue in the inner jar top and press your pin cushion top through. Press down firmly!!!

Remove any strands of glue to tidy up!

Ta Dah, that's it! Simple but very cute!!!

Add sewing supplies like buttons, spools of thread and even a small pair of scissors if you can!

Monday 8 July 2013

Spring // Summer Zine!

We've been so busy of late that only now have we had the chance to finish off our Spring/Summer publication! Ha, you'd think that craft was all about sitting around making stuff, drinking tea, knitting and living in a perfectly "frosted" Martha Stewart kind of world but far from it!!!
But it's ready, finally, and yes it's well worth the wait plus it's a corker too! It's got everything from recipes, tutorials, interviews and a few fabulous illustrations by some very talented folk. Thank you to:
Bex Drawings
Laurie Richardson
for their generosity in donating their work to our zine!!!

• Crafty! A sample of the content of our zine...•

You can buy your Craft Guerrilla zine from our shop on our website so if you fancy some guerrilla reading get your sweet patooties to our web-shop and order your PDF copy from Tuesday the 9th of July!

Thanks Vicky Scott for your beautiful illustration!

 ••Please note that we are only selling our zines in a PDF format so to save on trees!!!••