Cute vegetable bottle stoppers from Charles Viancin

These cute vegetable bottle stoppers are relatives of those pretty daisy silicone lids I showed you back in April. They're part of the new Farmer's Market collection by Charles Viancin which features artichoke, tomato and aubergine designs. And like the lids they're 100% air and liquid tight, although I haven't been quite brave enough to turn these completely upside down to check.

I had three empty bottles with those Grolsch-type stoppers, which I always had to think about before opening. Invariably I'd have the bottle the wrong way round or try and move the wrong piece. And so the bottles, which we brought back from France in 2009 full of fruit juice - I know it was then as I've recently found the photos, but that's another story - remained empty.

With my 2016 in 2016 challenge MOH kept pointing at them as obvious contenders to be chucked out, but I was less keen. I knew one day they'd come in handy, and I was right.

artichoke tomato and aubergine bottle stoppers
Charles Viancin bottle stoppers
Vinegar bottles are now easy to spot in the cupboard too.

This weekend MOH prised the Grolsch-type stoppers out of the bottles and after a good wash in soapy water and sterilise in the oven (the bottles, not MOH) they were ready for my vinegar. There's white wine vinegar under the artichoke, cider vinegar under the aubergine and red wine vinegar under the tomato. 

It's easy now to see when I'm running low, I thought I'd worked out the perfect way to remember which was which. And it was probably good - red wine vinegar under the tomato, but I was also pretty sure I'd forget quite quickly.  

Maybe not as quickly as when I close the cupboard, but probably not too long after. So to avoid all of that - and trying to work out which was cider and which was white wine - I added some handwritten labels, I know it'll make it easier in the end.

And they make me smile every time I open the bottle cupboard which is right next to the hob.

There's lids too

Like the Marguerite daisy range, the Farmer's Market range has lids too. The tomato lid - or couvercle - comes in four sizes ranging from 15cm to 28cm, the one shown below is the largest size which I've used to cover a salad bowl. There's artichoke and aubergine lids too but they're 28cm and 20cm sizes only respectively.

tomato silicone lid by charles viancin

The silicone lids are food grade silicone and ensure an air-tight and water-tight seal which keeps food fresher, can be used outdoors and prevents spills during cooking. I've used this lid in the microwave but it's also hob safe, oven safe and freezer and dishwasher safe. I like them because they're a much prettier alternative to cling film which I rarely use if I can avoid it.

The tomato lids, while giving the same benefits as the daisy lids have one thing that's different. Can you see it between eleven and twelve o'clock, so to speak in the photo below? Yes a small gap in the design which I think you could easily use to hang them up. 

charles viancin silicone lid

So if daisies aren't your thing, perhaps these veggies might be. What do you think?


This is a collaborative post with Charles Viancin but all views are my own.

Fox-proofing my greenhouse

Before we left for France as well as getting as many plants as we could planted in the allotment - it took at least two hours just potting them out! - we also needed to rig something up to make my greenhouse fox proof.

This wasn't on a whim, but because I wanted to leave the door ajar but as our neighbour has four fox cubs living in her garden I knew I'd need some kind of barrier.  Looking around in MOH's shed I found the chicken wire I was looking for and some random bits of wood he'd sawed for, actually I'm not sure what for.  But they were both commandeered for my plan, along with our staple gun and MOH.

blocks of wood, chicken wire and a staple gun were all the tools i needed for my plan

I had a vague idea of what I wanted to achieve and MOH set about stapling the chicken wire to the blocks, which I hoped would act as a weight at the bottom of my chicken wire contraption.

Using the staple gun MOH attached the chicken wire to the wood
The wood acted as a weight for the bottom of my chicken wire contraption

And once it was in place, it looked as if it might work.

Now we needed to work out how much chicken wire we needed, we did that and added a bit to be safe,  MOH cut the wire and added a further block of wood to the top edge.  I'd hoped to be able to use the fixings of the greenhouse to attach it, but that wasn't to be as on closer inspection they were rivet-type things, not removable screws.

We measured the height of the greenhouse, added a bit more then used pliers to cut the chicken wire
Testing it out on our garden steps

And with it assembled, in true workman style MOH downed tools. Most likely with permission as I'd yet to ready the greenhouse for our holiday. I sowed some squash and courgette seeds, hoping they'd germinate while we were away and so far six of them have and if I'm lucky there'll be some more yet.  I also upended plastic bottles full of water into my greenhouse bed so that they wouldn't be entirely without water for the two weeks (if you try this, don't forget to pierce holes in the lids otherwise it won't be much use).

We were almost stumped as we tried to attach it to the top of the greenhouse door

With the greenhouse ready it was time to hang the chicken wire contraption. We stuck the ends of the chicken wire around the greenhouse fixings and used some extra wires to attach it to the left-hand side of the door.  On the right-hand side I hooked it over the handle twice and that seemed to secure it.

I added a couple of bricks to the blocks and then put pots in front of it to deter them further

To be extra sure - because I don't trust those pesky foxes - I put a couple of bricks on the wood at the bottom of the door and strategically placed some pots to make it awkward for them if they wanted to try and to provide and extra barricade and make it clear that there was really "nothing to see here."

Was I being overly cautious?

It's true the foxes (cubs or otherwise) hadn't tried to get into the greenhouse before, but they have increased their forays into our garden as they've grown. The advice to deter foxes is to make things tricky for them, and this certainly did that.  We're often in the garden of an evening and at weekends and our presence is a deterrent, with the garden empty for two weeks I had a feeling they'd be making use of the extra space so I wanted to be sure that my cucumbers in the greenhouse and other seedlings didn't come to any damage. Once you've grown plants from seed you have a feeling of responsibility, don't you?

So did it work?

That has to be a resounding yes! It was still in place when we got home on Saturday and there was plenty of evidence of the foxes in our garden, yes that and they'd started to dig small holes in the lawn - which MOH wasn't too impressed about. 

Infact it's worked so well it's still there!  It's a bit more awkward to get into the greenhouse than before but knowing I can leave the door open is well worth that.

Do you have trouble with wildlife in your garden? What measures do you take to deter them?

Giving my sewing box a new lease of life

When Clare from Maybush Studio got in touch about getting involved with a project using Chalk Paint Spray I couldn't tell you how keen I was. I've been wary about using chalk paint because I thought it couldn't be as good as everyone says and I was tempted to see how it worked as a spray.

I also had the perfect project in mind.

I've had this sewing stool for many years and for a while now it's been relegated to our conservatory and was one of the things I planned to get rid of in my 2016 items in 2016.  But I knew it'd be perfect for this so it was promptly promoted to My Next Project!





First though I had to empty it. It was stuffed full of stuff - most of it craft-related but also randomly a runner for the table. I wondered where that had gone...

With it emptied I dismantled it, removing the cushion pad, its cover, the hinges and other ironmongery.



I was keen to get started and I was also keen to see how the colours I'd chosen would turn out.  I chose London Grey for the outside, and that is as I hoped a greeny-grey. For the inside I wanted something brighter and contrasting, so chose Light Turquoise.

I started small and sprayed the two removable trays, one in each colour.

It was really easy to do, and I couldn't help but start spraying some more.  It was easily touch-dry within twenty minutes. 

While I was waiting those first twenty minutes I recovered the top cushion.  I had in my mind that I'd use a floral fabric for the top, something Cath Kidstone-esque, but when I saw the colours I changed my plan.  You see the colours were very similar to the colours we've used throughout our house; the London Grey is very similar to Farrow & Ball's Old White and the Light Turquoise like their Teresa's Green.  

So I knew that the leftover material I had from our spare bedroom curtains would be perfect.  And isn't it?


I sprayed the inside first, and then because it was so easy and just a little bit addictive I quite quickly started on the outside.  I sprayed the edges where the colours met freehand, which despite my tremor worked out well.


The hardest part in this project has been waiting the twenty minutes for the paint to dry so I could spray some more!  But I managed to curb my enthusiasm and take this (relatively) slowly.  I'd given each surface two coats and left it to dry thoroughly overnight before reassembling the stool.

I think it's turned out really well.  I was in two minds whether to apply a finishing spray or not. So far I haven't because I'm pleased with the velvety finish I currently have - I think I'll test run that on a spare piece of wood so I know how it'll turn out.  


I decided to add some scrapbook paper into the removable trays to give them some extra character, and I think these look great. I simply used PVA Craft Glue to stick the paper to the trays.


And now the contents looks much tidier too.  I'm sure that won't last, but I'm loving how it turned out and how it fits into my craft-room-cum-study. I've now the perfect sewing corner!


The only downside I've found with this product is that now I want to find even more projects to revamp and upcycle!  

I've even challenged MOH to help me find my next project - the paint can be used on many surfaces including wood, canvas, metal, plastic, cardboard and glass.

What I used

1 x London Grey Pinty Plus Chalk Paint Spray

1 x Light Turquoise Pinty Plus Chalk Paint Spray

I found coverage to be good.  I gave each surface of my sewing stool two coats of paint and while the London Grey can is emptier, I didn't use it completely.

While I cleaned the surfaces I didn't sand them down before painting. I hoped that everything I'd read about chalk paint covering any surface would be true - and it was.

I have another smaller project which I still need to complete - and one I'll share here too - and while this is a small project I'm confident I'll have plenty left for that.

The Pinty Plus Chalk Spray Paint is available from the Novasol Spray website, each 400ml can costs £11.50


This is a collaborative post with Novasol Spray who provided me with the materials for this project, but all words and opinions are my own.