Day Trip To…Skipton Sheep Day

“We’re not going home until I’ve touched an alpaca,” I said to my husband as we piled into the car this morning. He raised his eyebrows at me and gave me a look I know well as he started the engine and backed off our drive. And so began our trip to Skipton Sheep Day.

I saw this event come up on Facebook and of course I was desperate to go. I am the girl who’s just signed up to a fourteen deep waiting list for an allotment so she can FINALLY keep chickens. I’m totally obsessed with rural life and want nothing more than to live on a small holding with pet farm animals and make cakes with delicious eggs from my very own chickens. Think Barbara from The Good Life – she is my actual role model in life.

I was so excited I kept forgetting about Edith but luckily Rich was on hand to look after the pram while I surreptitiously pushed aside eager children to stroke goats and sheep, donkeys and ponies.

I saw these cute little tiny sheep that are apparently the rarest in the UK. They are called Boray sheep and are from the Scottish Isles. They are a very primitive breed with a very coarse fleece and don’t produce a lot of meat (so the lovely owner told me) hence their unpopularity with farmers. They’re also not particularly friendly and the rams have HUGE horns so they’re not really pet sheep either. But, they are used in Viking re-enactments as they are the most authentic so our interest was piqued.

I also saw these super cute dudes – I have no idea what breed they are but I will tell you something: when I do get my small holding these are the sheep I will have. Look at those dreads! And those little black faces! So adorable.

It wasn’t all about the animals though (although they were amazing and The Sheep Show was excellent). I managed to get some chutney for the father in law for Christmas and some gorgeous Damson Jam for me. There was also a sticky toffee pudding stand as well as a gin and Prosecco bar, however, we’ve had to really tighten our belts so we couldn’t go for too many treats, which was a shame.

I also saw Sarah from Little Beau Sheep selling her super cool wool felted products. One that’s definitely on my list for the future is her wool soap. It’s soap inside a sheep made of wool and I conditions your skin with the lanolin when you wash AND makes the bar of soap last longer and with less mess on your counter tops. My hands are really taking a bashing with all the hand washing I do because of Edith so I treated myself to some lanolin balm. My lips are often sore so I put some on and they’ve been soft and lovely ever since.

I also chatted to a lovely lady about the National Trust and I’m now even more resolved to go and visit more of the amazing places my membership affords me. It’s such a great scheme and you’re guaranteed a fabulous day out wherever you choose to go.

But, did I get to touch an alpaca? Yes, reader; I did. This is Archie and just look at his incredible hair! Apparently, they’re very similar in keeping to sheep so maybe I’ll add some of these to my small holding list. He’d just been clipped but his coat was so so soft.

We all had such a great day out and at very little cost. I’m really looking forward to going again next year. I’m off to look at small holdings on the internet and see if I’ve got enough money in my purse for one…

How To…Make an Embroidered Initial Necklace

I really love the trend for brush lettering and personalisation at the moment. I designed this necklace to compliment both of those trends, and it’s a really quick make you could complete in an evening or two, depending on how quickly you can stitch!

You can buy the kit for this necklace through my Etsy shop. It contains all you need to make the necklace bar the scissors and flat nosed pliers, and the optional embroidery hoop.

The kit comes with instructions, but for more detail, see below!

First of all, decide what letter you would like to embroider.

Use the carbon paper facedown between the letter you want to stitch and the grey linen fabric

Use a knitting needle or a blunt pencil to rub over your letter, making sure you get right to the edges. It’s best to use the middle of your fabric.

Place the fabric letter side down on an ironing board and then place the interfacing bumpy side down over where the letter will be and use a hot iron to bond to the fabric.

Using an embroidery hoop will make the sewing much easier. Use three strands of your chosen colour to work the letter in satin stitch.

Place the letter centrally over the inner circle of the pendant. Draw around the inner circle so that the edges of the circle nearly meet on the back.

Use embroidery thread to gather around the edge of the fabric and pull tight around the inner circle, securing tightly with stitches and knots.

Draw around the outer pendant on the grey felt, omitting the top part to create a true circle. Cover the felt in glue, put the outer pendant on the felt and then place the inner circle in the hole. Make sure that your letter is straight with the top part uppermost. Leave to dry overnight underneath something heavy – I used a bottle of whisky in a box!

Use flat nosed pliers to apply one large jump ring to the top of the pendant and one large jump ring to one end of the chain. Thread the chain through the pendant ring and then use the pliers to apply the small jump ring to the other end of the chain, along with the lobster clasp.

Trim away any excess felt et voila! Your necklace is complete!

It would be amazing if you showed me what you make! Tag me (@elm_rocks) on Instagram and Twitter and use the hashtag #elmrockscraftkits

 

Craft Room Clearout

I’m sure I’m not alone in the craft world for hoarding craft supplies! In fact, I know I’m not! I only have to mention to my crafty friends that I’ve got lots of craft stuff and they immediately sympathise and also say “oh my god, I’ve got to have a craft room clear out!”

My craft room was really out of hand. I couldn’t find anything, things were getting damaged before I’d had a chance to use them and I couldn’t remember what I had, so I was wasting money on supplies. When I moved house, I literally got rid of loads to charity shops, schools and craft groups and still had stuff that I didn’t need that I actually moved house with – twice!

I’m in a couple of Facebook groups for selling craft supplies but other crafters are usually in the same boat and trying to reduce their stash of supplies. I ended up hiring a table at Fox & The Magpie, a crafty café near where I live for a craft room clear out sale. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve been in the craft fair game for a while now and I’ve sat behind my table of stock I’ve made and packaged and promoted only to have no one turn up. But this was really busy, and busy with people who had actually come to buy as well. Lots of what I’d brought with me sold, which was great! I’ve still got some bits, so if you see anything in the photos you like the look of, let me know by emailing hello@elmrocks.com

Have you had a craft room clear out? And how to you stop yourself from creating the same problem again?!

What I Wore…Yellow Coat

It doesn’t take the most observant person to notice that yellow has been massive on Instagram for ages, or at least it has been on my Instagram feed! I love the colour yellow – it’s such a bright and happy colour and evokes a lot of positivity for me. I think it’s something to do with the coming of spring – lots of daffodils coming up and brightening the days after long wet winters, sunflowers with their enormous yellow heads contrasting beautifully with their chocolate brown centres, bees coming out of hibernation and flying around, pollenating our fields and gardens.

With so much to love about yellow, it’s always saddened me that I can never wear it as a colour. I’ve always thought that I have a yellowish tinge to my skin. Attractive, eh? Other expressions for such complexion include sallow, which, I’m sure you’d agree, is not a particularly attractive colour! So I’ve always steered clear from happy yellow.

My parents brought my Granma to visit Edith a couple of months ago. She’s always been really good with colour and what suits people. We were walking through the new Victoria Gate centre in Leedsd towards the new John Lewis when we walked past Joules. I’ve been lusting over the yellow raincoat in there for absolutely ages and dragged them in to lament that I couldn’t wear yellow. My Gran was astonished: “what do you mean, you can’t wear yellow?” she asked with incredulity from her wheelchair. I was sold! I went home and managed to find a discount code for 20% so I got it for a bit of a bargain!

I’m really pleased I bought the coat and went out of my comfort zone. It’s such a pretty and useful coat.

Have you ever thought you couldn’t wear a colour only to be proved wrong?

Day Trip To…Harrogate

A few weeks ago, we went to Harrogate for a little day trip. I’ve been once before to the knitting and stitching show there but didn’t really get to see much of the town as there was too much to see in the exhibition centre. That said, my dad and I were dispatched to get the car as my Granma, who’s 90, uses a wheelchair and it was raining. Both of us are easily distracted and ended up getting a bit lost because we weren’t paying attention to where we going. We ended up walking past a cheese shop and of course we had to go in! I managed to get a Christmas present for my father in law, so it really did solve a problem!

Well, cheese is cheese and the lure of it was enough to get me to back to Harrogate. We didn’t go straight there, but instead went to Betty’s Tea Room for some lunch followed by a wander around. It was raining, of course, but that didn’t dampen our spirits or our day. I took a number of photographs of flowers and doors, like you do and that took more time than anticipated. We were running out of time and it looked like we wouldn’t make it to the cheese shop but we stumbled upon it again! I was so happy. I was just coming out of The Remnant House, where I bought some fabric to make a dress, and crossing the road to meet my husband, who was coming out of the record shop, when I saw the cheese shop again! Amazing. I treated us to some lovely Yorkshire Blue, my favourite of the blue cheeses; some Brie and Rich loves really spicy chilli cheese and they have a lovely one there. I may have eaten a bit of the Blue in the car on the way home.

I’m convinced this shop pops up when you need it. And you always need cheese, right?

Getting Started With Bullet Journaling

Bullet JournalI love being organised and I love a pretty notebook, so bullet journaling is pretty much perfect for me! For those not in the know, bullet journaling is having a well deserved moment with stationery lovers and planner geeks like myself. It basically takes all those post-it notes and lists that we’ve all got dotted around and combines them neatly in one notebook.

Genius! You can get inspiration for bullet journaling spreads from Pinterest and you can check out the board I created here. I also recommend watching some videos for bullet journaling and I found Claireabellemakes’ and Nikki McWilliams YouTube videos really inspiring.

So here’s my own BuJo (how modern).

Bullet Journal index Bullet Journaling trackers Bullet Journaling week spread

As you can see, I’ve messed up my index page but I’m going to fix that. The thing I like most about Bullet Journaling is that I can keep track of things, which will be useful when I come to reflect on my business each month and at the end of the year.

I was really nervous about starting the bullet journal – the spreads on Pinterest were all so artistic and gorgeous that I feared messing up my fancy new notebook! So I’ve kept it quite simple to start off with but I’m now enjoying being a bit more creative. I’ll show you more spreads over the coming months and you can keep track of them over on my Instagram feed.

I’m going to add a bookshelf spread as I’m planning to not buy any more novels this year until I’ve read all the ones I already own. Does anyone else find book buying totally addictive? So far, I’m really enjoying using my bullet journal and it’s certainly useful for keeping track of things and planning my weeks and my product development. Do you bullet journal? What do you find most useful about it?

April “No Spend” Challenge

I planned to do a blog post about Bullet Journaling this week as I have recently discovered this addictive form of organisation. But I thought it would be more fitting to lead with this as one of the spreads I am doing is to track a challenge I have set myself for April to not spend any money.

It’s always a bit awkward talking about money and the lack thereof. My toes are curling at the thought of discussing it and I always feel like “money” should be said whilst guarding one’s mouth and said out of the corner of one’s lips! Perhaps I’m so crap with cash because I’m so rubbish at talking about it! Anyway, it’s always nice to know that you’re not the only adult with a spending problem. Writing this was inspired by the honest post by the ever wonderful Sara Tasker from Me & Orla. It really resonated with me because I, too, tend to buy things I cannot afford, don’t really want or don’t need simply because I’ve seen someone else has got it and they look happy, so if I get it, I’ll be happy and like myself too, right?

Shopping bags for No Spend April
Huffington Post

Wrong. Always, always wrong! All that happens is I have a book or a piece of clothing or item of jewellery cluttering up my house reminding me every time I look at it that I didn’t want it and it hasn’t made me happy, or successful, or cool, or…not me. And looking at it all makes me feel physically sick sometimes. And embarrassed. I’ve never hidden anything I’ve bought, but I have lied to the Mr (and myself) about its cost and affordability. That’s quite sad, isn’t it. Forgive the emosh post – but I really do think at the grand age of 32 I should get a handle on myself. It’s potentially as dangerous as comfort eating, this constant spending without resources.

Never has this been more of a worry for me than now: I’ve got three months left of maternity pay and I still have an overdraft to pay off. When I return to the day job next year, I won’t have any spare cash with which to pay it off. So I need to get some good spending (or not spending!) habits and fast.

So here’s my plan. First of all, I’m telling all of you about it, so I’m accountable. I feel like I’ll be much more likely to succeed if people know about my plans.

Secondly, I’ve involved my husband. He is EXCELLENT with money and actually enjoys doing his banking. I hate it and hope that the minus figure has come about due to my lax use of insecure internet connections to make online purchases rather than my own spendy ways. He doesn’t understand my relationship with money, Stuff, or myself but he is endlessly supportive. So after I paid all my online bills, I asked him to change my PayPal password. No more shopping during the night feeds!

No Spend April

Next, I removed my saved payment information from the likes of Amazon and removed the one-click buying settings. There has been loads of research about handing over cold hard cash for stuff is harder than handing over your plastic and hoping it doesn’t get declined. So my bank card is out of my wallet. I have £20 per week to pay for buses and coffees when I take Edith out and that’s it.

This is going to be tough for me but I’m confident I can do it. As an added bonus, whatever’s left from my weekly budget is going towards a treat for myself on April 30th if (when?!) I succeed.

So, I think I’ll save my BuJo post for next week, but in the meantime, I’ll be sharing my progress of “No Spend” April over on my Instagram Feed. Join in using the hashtag #AprilNoSpendChallenge and we can share our money saving tips!

How To…Make a Necklace Tree

I’ve been participating in #MarchMeetTheMaker over on Instagram. I’ve gotten much further than I thought I would! I posted a picture of my jewellery collection and I realised that I don’t wear very many of the necklaces, mostly because they are often all tangled up as I have no where to keep them. So I designed this necklace tree using on-trend copper. It looks really impressive but only takes about ten minutes to assemble. Win.

I say “only takes ten minutes to assemble”. I got a friendly man in my local DIY shop to cut my copper pipe for me to save myself a tenner in buying a pipe cutter. Somehow, he knew that I was not using the pipe for plumbing. I have no idea how he guessed that.

To make yourself a necklace tree, you will need:

Materials for necklace tree

4 x 50mm pieces of 15mm copper pipe

2 x 100mm pieces of 15mm copper pipe

1 x 30mm piece of 15 mm copper pipe

2 x 150mm pieces of copper pipe

6 x end stops

4 x t-joins

Evostick Serious Stuff glue

Paired parts of necklace stand

First, make the base support. To do this, take one t-join and two of the 50mm pieces of pipe. Generously apply the glue to the inside of the t-join and push the pipes in as far as they will go. Then, apply glue to the inside of four of the end stops and push them on to the ends of the pipe. Repeat for the other side. Insert a 100mm piece of piping into the remaining holes.

Necklace stand assembly

Next, make the top bar in exactly the same way using the 150mm pieces of pipe.

Apply glue to the insides of the final t-join and push the base supports into the join. You’ll need to make sure that the base supports are resting on a flat surface and the remaining hole of the final t-join is pointing straight up.

Necklace tree base and top3

Apply glue to the inside of the hole of the top bar and push on to 300mm piece of pipe into the remaining holes, thus completing your necklace tree.

Now you just need to leave it somewhere to dry and then you can hang your necklaces on it.

Finished Necklace Stand

I hope you enjoy making a copper pipe necklace tree. It really is easy and you’ll find that you wear your jewellery a lot more often because you can see what you own!

If you do make one, tag me in your pictures on Instagram and Twitter (@elm_rocks) as I’d love to see what you make.

Christmas Gift Guide – New Mums

I’m quite good at buying gifts for my mum. And my mother-in-law. Or any mums about my own mum’s age. What I am not good at is buying gifts for new mums. I will be a new mum myself by Christmas this year (hopefully – two weeks late for me is Christmas Day and I really don’t want to miss out on another turkey dinner!) and my family keep asking me what I want for Christmas. As I’ve got the none too exciting prospect of expelling a human from my body, I’ve got other things on my mind, but I thought it might be handy to put together a little guide of things that new mums might find useful, you know, to save you harassing heavily pregnant ladies in your life for what to get them for Christmas.

Mummy Milestone Cards / Baby Bonding Activity Tokens / First Aid Kit Pouch

Yoga Hair Ties / Room Fragrance / Memory Book

Teething Bangles / Coffee Set / Baby Mittens

And, if the new baby is due really near Christmas, or just after, this would make an excellent gift, I think:

image-8-gift-box

When I was looking for things for this post, and to fill the Pinterest board here, I did get quite cross at all the ‘hilarious’ gifts about no sleep, pass the gin, not having time for a shower etc. I’ve no doubt these things will be true, but, as someone who’s put up with nearly nine months of this, would you say to someone about to go in to hospital for an operation, “ooh, that’s going to hurt. It’ll take you weeks to get back on your feet and it’ll be awful”? No, you would not (or if you would, I suspect you don’t have many friends). Heading into motherhood for the first time particularly is frightening enough, without other women (and some men) scoffing and telling you you’ll never wash/sleep/eat/finish a cup of tea ever again. Just stop it. Rant over.

Exx

How To…Make Bath Creamers

img_2752I could skip with delight at the thought of the festive season. I bloody love it. And I love making gifts and one that went down particularly well with the mother-in-law and my grandmothers was these bath creamers. I made orange and cinnamon scented ones last year so thought I’d give a delicate rose fragrance a try for Christmas 2016.

I think they make such cute little gifts.

img_2751

To make your own bath creamers, you just need a few basic ingredients. I get all my cosmetic making supplies from The Soap Kitchen. They stock everything you need to make bar soap, gel soaps, cleansers, moisturisers – the works.

This recipe makes about six or seven creamers, depending on how deeply you fill the cases.

  • 100g cocoa butter
  • 50g shea butter
  • 50ml almond oil
  • 2-4ml essential oil (I used rose for these ones)
  • small paper cake cases
  • dried petals or leaves for decoration

Cocoa butter and shea butter melt really easily but to avoid ruining them, melt the cocoa butter in a jug in the microwave first (about 20 seconds on high should do it) before you add the shea butter and heat until that’s melted too.

Stir in the almond oil and the fragrances you’re using and then leave the mixture to cool for about five minutes.

Put the paper cases either on a baking tray or in those patty tins and pour the mixture in nice and evenly.

The mixture will cool and become cloudy but to hurry it along, carefully put them in the fridge. They won’t need long to start to harden so keep an eye on them or you won’t be able to decorate them as easily.

When they’ve started to harden, gently press the dried petals/flowers etc onto the top and leave to harden up for 24 hours.

img_2750I think popping these in tiny boxes with shredded paper looks really glamorous and elegant. You could also put them in cupcake boxes (making sure that the person receiving them knows they aren’t edible!) or perhaps you could put three of them in a long thin box and tie it with a nice ribbon for a thoughtful homemade Christmas or birthday gift?

It’s worth remembering that all that lovely moisturiser can make the bottom of the bath slippery, so do be careful and warn your recipients. And, as with everything, if you’ve got sensitive or broken skin, proceed with caution!

Exx

 

 

 

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