Terrarium Making with Moss & Clover

My Terrarium 1

Last week, I told you all about the cocktails I tried at the Birdhouse Tea Company in Sheffield. I mentioned that there was terrarium making too and, as a person who has killed many a supplement, this was what I was really there for.

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Succulents, I’ve always been told, are easy to look after and very hardy. “You can’t kill them” my mother squawed at me, “they’re so easy to keep alive” my friends told me. Yet my living room became a graveyard to these popular little plants and I was all for giving up hope of having a Pinterest worthy window ledge full of succulents in various shapes and colours and geometric terrariums on every end table. But Emma from Moss & Clover has restored my faith and told me what I have been doing wrong at the Birdhouse Tea Company Tea Cocktails and Tea Cup Terrarium class I went on recently. So, if you want to create a home full of green and pleasant desert plants, read on dear friend.

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 First of all, what I was doing wrong. Watering. I was watering too much, at the wrong times and in the wrong places. What a nit! Here are three rules for watering your succulents.

1.       Don’t water them from September to March

2.       Don’t get water on the leaves

3.       Only water them once a month until the soil is just moist and definitely don’t leave them standing in water or let the soil get sopping.

Succulents 1

 As desert dwellers (and largely without spikes – spikes belong to their popular cousins the cactus), succulents like it warm and they like it sunny. They also like to spend summer outside, so once all danger of frost has gone, you can send them on a little holiday to your garden where they will bask in any sunlight we get. If you want to keep them in a little corner of the house that isn’t very light, all is not lost – just make sure they get to go on a window ledge every now and again to get the sun on them. Or you can try ferns, which also don’t require much water (you spray them rather than water them) and don’t need much light as ground living forest folk shaded by canopies of trees.

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 So, feeling more confident about your abilities to keep a succulent alive for the years it’s meant to live? Me too! And here’s the tea cup terrarium I made, also easy-peasy lemon-squeezy – a centimetre of charcoal on the bottom, a centimetre of proper cactus compost (from the garden centre, inexpensive, and doesn’t go off so lasts ages), a couple of succulents (gently squeeze the roots and get rid of some of the compost there) placed on top, more cactus compost around it, a few stones (you can get proper terrarium ones or buy aquarium stones from pet shops), a bit of special moss and Bob’s your uncle, a tea cup terrarium. I used an Echiveria and a Senecio in mine, and there are some pictures below of other varieties so you can impress all your friends with your green-fingered knowledge.

My Terrarium 2

 I loved making this terrarium, and it’s fair to say I’m now obsessed with them. If you know someone who loves these teeny green gardens, here are some gifts I think they might like:

Ohnorachio makes these mini terrarium kits:

Picture courtesy of OhNoRachio
Picture courtesy of OhNoRachio

Kim makes these itty-bitty and super-cute terrarium necklaces and pin badges

Finest Imaginary

And there’s this lovely notebook from Emma Allard SmithEmma Allard

I’d love to see your Succulents and terrariums. Tag me in your Twitter and Instagram: @elm_rocks.

Tea Cocktails at Birdhouse Tea Company

Mirror 3On Wednesday night I made a short hop to Sheffield to enjoy an evening of tea cocktails and terrarium making at the Birdhouse Tea Company, based in the pretty suburb of Nether Edge. The aroma of tea as I walked in was lovely – it smelt kind of mulled and spicy but not at all over-powering, just really delicate. The shop is airy and light with wonderful displays of tea accoutrements and a snug adorned with Nikki McWilliams biscuit cushions (cos what’s a cup of tea without a biscuit, right?). The company is run by a mother daughter team and Becky and her mum were on hand to serve up cocktails and answer all our questions on tea (there were lots of questions about tea). Becky shared the recipes with us, and I’ve linked to each of the teas used that you can also buy online in the Birdhouse Tea Company shop.

Rhubarb Blini 1aThe first cocktail we had was a delectably pink rhubarb blini. This cocktail was quite sweet due to the sugar syrup used to make it, but was refreshing with the addition of prosecco. To make a rhubarb tea sugar syrup, all you need to do is brew a cup of Birdhouse Tea Company rhubarb tea and mix it one part tea with two parts sugar. You then heat this and reduce it down to about a third of its original volume and leave it to cool. Pop a bit in the bottom of a champagne flute, top up with Prosecco et voila, true Yorkshire awesomeness and perfect for a wedding.

Early Grey G&T a

Also great for the wedding season is the Earl Grey G&T. This was made by cold brewing the orangey flavoured Earl Grey with gin – just pop a couple of scoops of the loose leaf tea into some gin and leave it to steep. It gets better the longer you leave it, but a couple of hours will do it. You then strain it and use as you would your regular gin to make this refreshing summery drink. As the tea is cold brewed, it makes it taste a bit sweeter, which was perfect for me as I’m not usually a fan of Earl Grey.

Jasmine Cocktail a

Next out was a Jasmine Pearl cocktail. Jasmine Pearls are a mixture of jasmine, green tea and the purest and most indulgent form of tea – white tea. The botanicals are rolled together to make the most fragrant beads that make a really exotic tasting brew. Becky added the pearls to cold filtered water and, after steeping, mixed it with gin and elderflower cordial and served it in champagne flutes over ice.

Chai Rum and Coke a

Becky used a Chai tea to add a twist to the traditional dark rum and coke. The loose leaf Chai was added to the rum and the spices worked together to create a really deep, fragrant flavour. It was certainly one of my favourites!

Lapsang Old Fashioned 1a

I also really enjoyed the Lapsang Old Fashioned. I’m very partial to a whiskey, and this twist on the Old Fashioned – a sugar cube with orange bitters in the bottom of a glass, a wedge of orange or orange rind and a good measure of smoky whiskey – was gorgeous. Lapsang tea is also quite smoky in flavour and it really added to the peaty flavours of the whiskey. Definitely one for me to try at home!

Of course, cocktails don’t need to be alcoholic, and there are plenty of refreshing drinks to be made using these versatile teas without a drop of liquor passing your lips. One such drink to try was the Strawberry Lace lemonade. Made by adding ice cubes of rebrewed Strawberry Lace tea (you can rebrew the leaves after having a cuppa to make ice cubes in any flavour – great for cocktail making!) to regular lemonade and serving in a jug with ice, this drink had a really deep pink colour and was very tasty and sweet. Again, this would be great for a wedding and I think would prove very popular indeed with younger guests as well as the designated drivers.

After all those cocktails, we got to learn all about succulents and made our own tea cup terrariums, which I’ll be posting about very soon.

#StationeryLoversXmas – my parcel

Stationery Swap1At the back end of last year, I organised the #StationeryLoversXmas swap. You can read the introductory post here but today I thought I’d share with you the lovely goodies Hayley from Highway29 sent me.

Hayley is based in Canada having recently moved there from Wales. I really liked how the collection of the stationery she sent me was kind of themed to outdoors and wilderness. Because I’m about three, I do find poo and toilet humour funny. I think any adult who doesn’t is lying. So I was very excited by this scribble pad adorned with the emblematic moose of Canada. It’s made from moose crap! How cool is that?

Poo Paper

I also love the set of stickers, which have a real autumnal theme with lots of lovely phrases for scrapbooking and card marking. I was also sent some very useful blackboard stickers and some chalk for labelling things and I plan to use them when I have my craft area reorganisation hopefully very soon.

The greetings card is to be sent to my friend who is very shortly moving to Rome in Italy. Brilliantly, the Mr and I will be there in a couple of weeks so we’re planning a meet-up, which will be great.

My collection of washi tapes is ever growing and I really like how these two tapes match. They’ll be really good for some Easter cards I’m planning to send to my family this year.

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If you want to see what others got in the #StationeryLoversXmas, just search that hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Did you take part in any Secret Santas last year?

 

P.S. I promised a competition, and a competition you will have! I’m just trying to finalise the technicalities and then it will be live. Stay tuned!

 

Setting Goals & a Shaky Start

A person drawing and pointing at a Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action chalk illustration

I posted on New Year’s Day about resolutions. I hope you’re doing all right on your resolutions so far! I wanted to post a bit today about setting goals for yourself as I find that these can really help with keeping resolutions.

No matter what your goal, whether it’s to stop smoking or to learn to play the guitar, you need to plan and you need to give yourself measuring points. Having never had to give up smoking, I’m not really qualified to help there (but if you’re planning to, head here!) so let’s say your goal is to learn the guitar. So unless you’re a genius, there’s no point in saying you’ll be Mark Tremonti by the end of the year (and if you are a genius, I hate you) so start small. A more realistic goal is perhaps to learn a new chord a week and practise progressions between the ones you’ve learnt. And then of course you can practise different strumming rhythms and play your new chords to them. Before you know it, you’ll be able to play a whole song!

Goal Setting QuoteIt’s worth pointing out here that sharing goals is a great way to help you achieve them. I once worked a job where sharing your goals was career suicide – saying you wanted something meant some cretin with too much time on their hands would do everything they could to stop that happening. Hopefully, none of you work in a similar job (and if you do, perhaps your goal should be to find a new job!) and luckily for me, I now work in a much more healthy environment. So, a few months ago I happened to mention that I wanted to improve my maths and do more analytical work in my job with a view to becoming an actual analyst. I say ‘happened to mention’ – it really was just that, a chance chat at a conference with my boss who I rarely see in person as I’m in the satellite office. By the end of our very short conversation, she had introduced me to an analyst who agreed to meet me to discuss routes into the profession. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And whilst this is toe curlingly awkward sometimes, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without asking someone whose blog I read to be my business mentor (and who is now a friend); I also probably wouldn’t have made the move from London to Leeds.

And, even better, if people know about your goals, you’re accountable. And we all need that sometimes, don’t we? Ever told a colleague that you’re cutting back on biscuits only to be gagging for one at eleven? Yes? Well, that colleague may have gently reminded you that you were cutting down on sugar and that may have stopped you eating that biscuit. Telling someone you’re running a 5K race in July will make sacking off that run much more difficult, because then you’ve got to deal with other people knowing you’re not doing the race.

Goal Setting Make Things HappenIt’s also worth mentioning that it’s not the end of the world if you fall behind on goals. After three weeks of illness, I’m already behind with my goals for the new year. But, there’s still another 51 weeks of the year to go, so I’ve not failed yet! You need to look after yourself to succeed, and burning the candle at both ends leads to nothing but an early bed time.

If you’ve got a genuine reason, like you’ve hurt yourself or discover you don’t like playing guitar, that’s fine! But sometimes we all need a little help with keeping to our goals. So, let’s tell each other shall we, and help each other out. One of my goals is to learn Spanish and be able to have a simple conversation by June. Come on then; what are yours?

 

Happy New Year! Making Resolutions

Well, well, well. Happy New Year rockers! I hope you’re not suffering too much from the excesses of last night. As usual, I stayed in, put on my pyjamas and watched the telly, and went to bed around ten past midnight, once the fireworks had stopped and the last notes of Auld Lang Syne had been sung.

Consequently I’m feeling rather chipper this morning and my mind is full of all my resolutions. Now, before you stop reading and declare that resolutions are a waste of time, hear me out. We make resolutions every day – I’ll bet the first words out of your mouth this morning were a croaked and rancid ‘never again’ – but a new year is a great time to do something different and make a change. Resolutions should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Monitored. I think the most important aspects are that resolutions are Achievable and Realistic. We must accept that some things are beyond our control and that this is not failure. If you resolve to run a 10K in March but you injure your knee, you haven’t failed you just need a new SMART resolution. These are new year resolutions, so if you resolve to be better with money when you always spend what you’ve got, you need to start small. Resolve to take lunch to work for a week rather than buying it in; take £20 out of the cash machine for your night out and leave your cards at home; start small!

My resolutioaloh

 

 

Stationery Lovers’ Christmas – the shopping!

Hello! Sign ups for Stationery Lovers Christmas have now closed and now for the best bit – the shopping! The recommended amount to spend is around £10, and to make that go a little further, I’ve got some cool discount codes for you to use below from some excellent independent stationery designers.

Oh Squirrel – 20% off with POLKADOT until Sunday 29th November

Oh SquirrelFox and Star – 10% off all orders between 29th Nov – 2nd Dec with the code: stationeryloversxmas

Fox and Star

Elsie and Nell – 10% off with XMASSWAP2015

Elsie and Nell

Of course, you don’t have to use these shops but you should be able to get a few ideas. I really hope you enjoy the shopping and I can’t wait to see what you all get. Use the hashtag #StationeryLoversXmas on Instagram and Twitter to share your parcels.

Once you’ve shopped, you just need to post out your completed package. Christmas is so close now so try to get them sent by the 10th December at the latest. I recommend you get proof of postage too.

Have fun Stationery Lovers! x

 

Stationery Lovers’ Christmas Swap 2015

 

Blog BadgeLast year, Emma and Claire from Mab is Mab and Claireabellemakes organised an amazing Stationery Lovers’ Christmas Swap. As they are busy bees, I’m taking on the mantle this year and hope it’ll be as much fun as last time.

Everyone likes to get a bit of happy mail, and the Stationery Lovers Christmas Swap is a great way to give and receive all sorts of stationery goodness over the festive period.

My package from last year's #StationerLoversXmas
My package from last year’s #StationerLoversXmas

So, do you want to sign up? Of course you do! Who doesn’t want a pretty package of stickers and cards and post-its and pens?!

To sign up, just email me at stationeryloverschristmas@outlook.com. Remember to include your name, full postal address (including the country) your email address, twitter or IG handle and stationery likes and dislikes. And lets remember our international chums as well – let me know if you’re happy to post internationally. The deadline for sign-ups is pretty soon – please email me by 25th November.

On the 27th November I’ll email you all with your swap partners. And then you can shop! I’ve got some great independent stationery designers on board with some special offers, but be creative and have fun. I suggest a spending limit of around £10 before postage costs.

Send your parcel by the 10th December and pop the hashtag #StationeryLoversXmas on your package. It’s a really good idea to get a proof of postage as well and I recommend you do so.

It’d be great if you use the hashtag on social media to tease us with your parcel and show off your new goodies. And there’s a blog badge too! Just cut and paste the code into your sidebar.

If you have any problems, sign up and can no longer take part, etc, please do get in touch at stationeryloverschristmas@outlook.com

I’m already so excited to see what you all get. So sign up, take part and lets all enjoy a Stationery Lovers Christmas.

 

Shop Review: Kitty’s Kitschenette

kittylogoI found Kitty’s Kitschenette through a Twitter Hour (use the hashtag #handmadehour between 19.30 and 20.30 on Wednesdays and 19.30 and 21.30 on Sundays). A gorgeous picture popped up on my feed and I wanted to find out more. I got in touch with Kirsty from Kitty’s Kitschenette about doing a feature on her and her wonderful products and I’m happy to say that here it is! But before we hear what Kirsty has to say, allow me to whet your appetite with a couple of her excellent designs.

Poison apple necklace | Lollipop brooch Jelly Bean Necklace | Comic book charms

 

So, Kirsty, tell me about yourself and Kitty’s Kitschenette?

I started the Kitshcenette about six years ago when some fabric brooches I made got a positive response from friends and family and I heard the famous line ‘you should start a business!’. Since then, I’ve had pieces sold in a pop-up shop in Selfridges London, designed a custom collectable figure for a toy line and currently have three storefronts. I’ve since moved onto acrylics and plastics, and I’m enjoying experimenting with new designs all the time.

How did your initial idea grow?

I had the idea to make each design available as a number of different products when I found that a lot of the time I was seeing jewellery pieces that I loved but would have preferred them to be on a different item. To be able to offer customers more options I now offer each design as earrings, necklaces, brooches, cufflinks, lapel pins and hairslides along with custom orders. Each product is customisable with colours and wording, and is hand drawn, cut and heat-treated before being coated in a resin-style finish.

How do you see your business growing?
My goals at the beginning of the year were to expand my range, get products into a real store and do my first craft fair. The only one I have left is to do a craft fair, which I’m hopefully doing two of in November! After that, onwards and upwards!
I did a lot of umming and ahhing on the site trying to decide between all the lovely things to choose what I wanted. I’ve got a couple of events and craft fairs coming up, and I thought a ‘business brooch’ was the way forward so I picked this lovely personalised brooch.
And to remind me of summer and delicious, juicy strawberries, I chose this gorgeous charm – now that the fog has fallen and the frosts are settling, those memories of summer are definitely what the doctor ordered! image
My package arrived within a few days, my personalised brooch included. Both were well wrapped in a little organza bag and there were care instructions included. All I need to do is remember to take the brooch off before I put it in the wash. Given the amount of tissues I’ve washed, I do fear for it but according to the instructions, it shouldn’t be a total catastrophe.
Thank you Kirsty for a lovely interview and such excellent service!

How To: Knit a Skull Hip Flask Sleeve

Knitted Skull Hip Flask Gift

I made a Scandi style hip flask sleeve for MrsCraftyB’s blog, and I promised a second design, and here it is! A sparkly, rock ‘n’ roll skull that’s super quick to knit up and is a great change up from simple garter stitch. It’d also be a great gift for an eighteenth birthday, or any birthday really.

To knit this skull hip flask sleeve, all you need is some 3mm knitting needles, black double knit yarn and a bag of silver knitting beads (you can get them from Debbie Abrahams, here).

Start by threading 172 beads onto the yarn. Cast on 20 stitches and work in garter stitch for rows. Then, start knitting from the chart below. On the wrong side rows, push a bead up so it’s right by the work, then knit as usual. Ta-dah! A knitted bead. Place a bead on each of the grey squares from the chart and keep working until it’s completed. Then, you’ve just got more rows then cast off and sew the seam.

If you want to see the other Christmas projects on Mrs Crafty B’s blog, and the other contributing bloggers, you can use this badge:

Mrs Crafty B

How To: Make a T-Shirt Quilt

Finished QuiltThe Mr has seen a lot of bands, and he mostly wears band t-shirts. The chest of drawers were beginning to struggle to contain the band merch, so I said I’d make a t-shirt quilt out of the shirts that were beginning to wear thin. This was about eighteen months ago. I finally made it for his birthday last week, which involved a lot of secret sewing and booking days off work without the Mr knowing.

I’m not going to lie, it’s quite a big project and it’s not for beginners. The main thing you need is space. I have a tiny sewing table, which is great for my ELMrocks sewing and my clothes making, but not for gigantic t-shirt quilts.

To make your own quilt, you will need several t-shirts.  Roughly cut out squares/oblongs that contain the image you want to keep. You need AT LEAST 5cm on each side of the image. AT LEAST, and that’s all the way round; your cutting will need to be quite accurate here. To be safe, I just cut the whole front off so all my pieces were roughly the same width from the start.

Quilt Laid Out

When you have done this, you’ll need to lay out the design of your logos. Most of the Mr’s were black and white, I tried to distribute the colour throughout, giving a few pops of colour. If your t-shirts are coloured, you’ll need to take into consideration toning the colours (unless you like massive clash, in which case, just go for it!). Taking each column in turn, cover the back with an iron on interfacing. This will stop the quilt sagging out of shape.

Plan 3

Then, straighten off the tops and bottoms of each t-shirt front. Use a cutting board, quilting ruler and rotary cutter for the best results. Think about how your t-shirt will look once it’s cut. You need 1.5cm seam allowance, plus whatever background you want to frame the design. This is why you need the 5cm from above. Once you’ve trimmed the tops and bottoms, pin the designs right sides together so they follow the order you decided, with the designs central to the one underneath. You might have some wider than the others, but hopefully not by much. Sew using matching thread 1.5cm from the edge. Press the seams open. Repeat with the other panels until you have several strips.

Plan 1

Trim the sides of the panels using a the rotary cutter, quilting ruler and cutting mat, making sure that the design is central. Then, pin the panels right sides together in the correct order and sew together, using 1.5cm seam allowance. Press open.

My quilt was quite big, so I sewed two lengths of the backing fabric together making a much wider strip. You need a large table or a clear floor with no pets/children/parents/spouses and significant others coming in and ruining it all for you. Lay the backing fabric wrong side up on your chosen surface. Smooth out any wrinkles. Lay your wadding on the top, then your quilt, right side up. Carefully, and working from the centre out, use quilter’s safety pins to pin all the layers together.

Now, carefully sew down each of the panels, again, working from the centre out. Then, sew the seams of the images, the first seams you made above.

Plan 2

You’re almost there! Either buy wide bias binding in your chosen colour, or make your own (there are lots of YouTube tutorials on this if you’re not sure) and fix to the trimmed edges of the quilt. Go and pour yourself a large whiskey and resolve to buy an Amazon voucher next time, or celebrate your success, depending how late the night before you need to give it to the person you started making it for it is.

The Mr was really pleased with his t-shirt quilt though and declared it the best present ever, so it was totally worth it in the end.

 

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