Category Archives: Craft

How I turned a Bull & Stash notebook into a Fauxdori

Bull & Stash are wonderful at marketing. I have never impulse-bought an expensive notebook so quickly in my life. I also instantly bought one for my brother at the same time and spent plenty of dollars on shipping it to Australia to him, so sure was I that this would be the best thing since sliced sweet potato as the new toast.

One look at the plethora of beautiful people on their website putting this soft leather notebook into their back pockets, next to wild horses and pine trees and waterfalls and I was hooked. So THIS is the reason I haven’t finished writing my novel yet? It all makes sense now.

The book arrived and I fell even further in love. They say you don’t know true love until you look into your child’s eyes for the first time. Au contraire, Rodders. These people have just never received a Bull & Stash in the post.

I was so in love with the cover and how it started to age the minute I looked at it, that I chose to pretend initially that the flimsy little card centre piece was perfectly acceptable, and that when they tell you this is your last notebook they must really mean it and this cardboard must surely be super cardboard. Oh, it’s bent already. Um, well, that’s ok, because the next set of refills will have a new cardboard bit won’t it? Hang on, how much are the refills? $7 for 50 pages? With $20 shipping? Maybe that novel will have to be a very short story instead. Sorry agent, I couldn’t afford to write the ending.

I write on the first page. I don’t care about anything anymore, I’m going to love this if it kills me. I turn over. I can’t turn over. Well, I can, but I’m left with 2.5 inches of paper to write on. And it’s near impossible to write on the rear of the page because of the screws that you have to fold it over. I so want to love this that I start googling refillable notebooks so that I can see how to source some refill that will mean that I can also afford pens, pencils, beans, and water while I own this notebook.

My search brings up all sorts of wonderful things called fauxdoris. Yes ok so it sounds like Aldi’s version of your favourite biscuit but it is in fact the apparently wide-spread term for a DIY Midori notebook. A Midori notebook is everything the Bull & Stash notebooks say they are going to be, only they are functional aswell. You can write in them. You can make your own refill or buy reasonably priced ones online. You can turn the page. You can, in short, use it for the rest of your life. Below is a photo of the Midori on top of the Bull and Stash. Same size.

IMG_4437.jpgSo I am faced with a stationery geek’s dilemma. Do I accept that I was taken in by someone who looked like Maid Marion writing her memoirs against the trunk of a tree and just buy the Midori so that I can actually use it? Or do I just not let this bull have died in vain and make sure I put the notebook to good use?

Or… do I have a stab at this Fauxdori lark?

After more hours than I care to admit, combined with a friend buying the Midori with next day delivery, I worked out the following:

  • The screws and cardboard can be removed in their entirety from the Bull & Stash
  • A Midori is £34-40
  • A Midori is narrower than the Bull & Stash
  • A Midori comes with a spare elastic (now mine)
  • Moleskine Cahier notebooks are exactly the right height and width to fit perfectly inside a Bull & Stash cover
  • The holes left after taking the screws out of the Bull & Stash are not central, making it hard to use them for anything else

After analysing the above data and borrowing my sister’s leather hole punch (and buying a 3 pack of Moleskine Cahier notebooks on Amazon Prime), I have done the following astounding adaptation, and can actually hand on heart, up against a tree, with my hair in a long plait and a waterfall in the background, say that I have found/made my notebook for life.

As any other review of the Bull & Stash notebooks has seemed to say the same thing (bloody gorgeous leather, bloody impossible to use) see below for ways to do your own similar adaptation.

  1. Remove the screws and cardboard from the cover and lay it open, with the inside facing up.IMG_4443.jpg
  2. Use a tape measure to mark the centre of the leather. Mine was 28cm side so I put small dots 14cm in. Measure 5cm up from the edges and place a dot on the centre line. This is going to be where you punch the hole. Mark another dot parallel to the ones already there, but on the centre line again. This will also be hole punched.
  3. Use a leather hole punch on a 2mm setting and when you are sure that it is hovering over each of the four dots, make a hole.IMG_4444.JPG
  4. Thread the elastic that comes spare with a Midori so that it looks like the photo below. If you don’t know someone who has just made the same Bull & Stash purchase as you and then felt compelled to buy a Midori straight away I don’t know what to suggest in terms of where to buy this elastic. Make sure that the knot is on the back of the book so that it doesn’t interfere with the notebooks inside.IMG_4455.jpg
  5. A quick google of how Midori suggest you secure the books together will help you. I have chosen to have one notebook and two sets of scrap paper either side for writing draft stories that can then be binned and replaced once they are typed up.
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With just a little tweaking you can have all this space to write on… both sides, no metal screws, and you are in control of what priced notebook you get to replace it. You can even use scrap paper or cheap copier paper which I definitely do not advocate that you take from your office printer.

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Ta – Da…

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How to make a cake for someone who likes nail varnish

  1. Get hold of some silicon cake trays.
  2. Get hold of loads of different colour food dyes.
  3. Make a huge batch of sponge mix.
  4. Scoop some mixture into each of the silicon trays.
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    Add a drop, and I mean just a drop, to each of the sponge mixes and stir in well

     
  5. Put in the oven and bake for the usual time.
  6. In the meantime make upside icing. Make plenty.
  7. When the sponge is ready, allow it to cool well, which takes lots of patience. Then assemble the colours with a generous layer of icing between the layers.img_1319
  8. When you have assembled them all and it looks like it is about to fall over, cover the top and all the sides with icing as well.
  9. Unless you have the forearms of a good old farmer’s wife then do yourself a favour and splash out the £3.99 on ready rolled icing. It’s a total rip off but considering you have probably spent £40 on food dye that you will just slowly watch go sticky and unusable over the next few years, what’s another few quid.
  10. Roll the icing over the top of the cake and adorn how you choose. I chose glittery letters, roses that you can buy ready made from the supermarket, candy letters, and then iced on the person’s name in glittery ice pen, to make it look like the brand font of Barry M. Yeah, I know. Nice touch. No cake is complete without a bow, so I got some satin number and went to town.img_1371
  11. Now, on to the nail varnishes. These are all edible.I used marshmallows for the bases, and black liquorice for the handles. I painted each marshmallow a different colour, and rolled some in glitter, and some in sugared chunks to look like crystallised nail varnish. I put a cocktail stick inside the liquorice to pin it into the marshmallow base and keep it in place. A spot of icing sugar on the base of the marshmallow will help it adhere to the foil covered cake board. Oh yeah, put all this on a cake board.
  12. Then sit back and watch everyone go wooooo when they see the rainbow inside.
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How to make a cake for someone who likes Mykonos

  1. Get a cake board and cover it with all sorts of edible things that look like the shapes of buildings, such as cupcakes, ginger cake, mini muffins. Pile them up so they look like Greek buildings.
  2. Use jam to stick the layers together.
  3. Get ready-rolled icing and cover the whole lot with it.
  4. Get edible silver paint and paint the streets of Mykonos.
  5. Go to a fancy cake shop such as Salt and Pepper in Monmouth and buy expensive edible paint in a gorgeous blue.
  6. Pain the tops of the buildings with it. Miss Greece a lot. Get over it.
  7. Make a windmill with a few cocktails sticks/

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Stick a tea light holder on it that you happen to have bought in Mykonos and there you have it.

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How to make a cake for someone who is a guitarist

  1. Buy a guitar cake mould.
  2. Put a shed load of cake mix into the mould and bake it. I went for a good old trusty chocolate number.
  3. Use a wire thing for levelling cakes to make sure you cut all the mounds off the cake and make it flat.
  4. Tip it out of the mould when cool. Tip it directly onto the surface you are planning to serve it on.
  5. Use ready-rolled icing and cover the cake. Patt it in tight to the base and use a sharp knife to cut around the shape of the guitar.
  6. Get loads of people to help you. Ideally get one of them to be a guitarist themselves so you don’t put 14 strings on.
  7. Use loads of orange and red food dye to make a guitar colour and paint the icing. To get a more wooden effect you can use a dry bristled brush and dab it in a slighter darker shade, and lightly brush it over the icing so that it leaves slight streaks.

  8. Paint the bit down the middle (yes, that is the technical term) black.
  9. Use white icing pens for the strings once the black dye is dry.
  10. Use white chocolate buttons for the tuning screws.
  11. Use silver edible balls for the ball type things at the base of the strings. No, I’m not a musician, can you tell?
  12. Stick a candle in it and bask in all the glory.guitar-cake
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Sugar Knits for the Spring

I had a shopping spree yesterday and have stocked up on some light bright yarns ready to knock up some colourful cowls and wonderful wrist-warmers to see you through the Spring. I will be posting photographs of the finished goods once I have enough of a range. Contact me for specific commissions.

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