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:


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.


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.


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!





How To…Make a Dahlia Cushion

Finished Dahlia pillow lifestyle photo

Dahlias were super popular this year, I noticed. And I can’t say I blame anyone who delighted in them on Instagram (I saw and posted a lot of Dahlia pictures this summer!). They truly are a wonderful flower with their gorgeous pompom heads and bright colours. As we move into autumn though, it’s nice to remember those beautiful blooms in a more muted and seasonal tone.

I’ve picked this mint colour to go with my bedroom makeover (the Mr is sanding as we speak, and I’ll be posting all about it as soon as it’s all done) You can pick any colour you like, of course; maybe you want to keep the summer colours going as we head through the colder months, maybe you want to bring a pop of colour to an otherwise plain room. No matter what your intentions, you’ll be sure to love this cute and easy little cushion.

Sewing supplies for Dahlia pillow

You will need:

          Quite a bit of felt. I bought 2m off a 180cm roll, which was too much. About half a metre will be adequate. 

          About half a metre of lightweight interfacing to stop the felt stretching

          Sewing thread

          A 9”/23cm zipper

          A 30cm diameter round cushion pad (I choose one filled with feathers because I love feather pillows, but you can go synthetic if you prefer)


First of all, you’ll need to cut out your circles to make those lovely petals. You can use a die cutting machine if you’ve got one, or draw around cookie cutters, or use a compass and pencil, but either way you’ll need to cut:

          38 x 3” circles

          10 x 2.5” circles

          10 1.75” circles

and cut each of those circles exactly in half to make all your petals. I made a paper pattern and then cut them out in twos

 Dahlia cushion front and petals

You’ll also need to cut out a 32cm (12.75”) circle of felt for the front. For the back, fold the front piece in half and add 2cm to the new straight edge and cut two.

To give the cushion that lovely depth, you’ll need to cut a gusset that is 96cm x 6cm.

Iron the interfacing onto the front, backs and gusset of your cushion and then, using a compass filled with either a dressmakers marker or tailor’s chalk, draw seven concentric circles at 26cm, 23 cm, 20cm, 17cm, 13cm, 9.5cm and 6cm. This will be where you put your petals.

Pin 16 of your largest semi-circles to the outer line. Overlapping them by about 2cm means you’ll get a good fit. Then use a sewing machine (or you can sew them by hand) stitch them in place using a 5mm seam allowance. Make sure you’ve managed to get all the petals and haven’t veered off.

Felt dahlia cushion how to

Use another 16 of those largest petals on the next line. This time, you’ll need to overlap them by an extra half centimetre to make sure they all fit. Make sure you align them like you would bricks though, with an overlap so you don’t just have rows of petals going into the centre. Pin and sew in place in the same way as before except use a 3mm seam allowance for this and the next ones (you can mark this on your sewing machine foot with a fine whiteboard marker or Sharpie.

Repeat a further three times on the next three lines using 16 for the first line, 14 for the fourth line and 13 for the last line (you’ll have one left over, which you don’t need). Again, overlap by an extra half centimetre each time and make sure you’re staggering the petals so it looks like a gorgeous flower.

Felt Dahlia cushion how to

Move on to the next size petals and pin 13 of these to the sixth marked circle, overlapping by around 4cm this time.

Onto the seventh circle and this time you’ll need seven of these medium semi circles, overlapping them by about 3cm.

The last bit is super fun – overlap the small semi circles by about a third in a line together and stitch them together using the half centimetre seam allowance again. Then coil it up on itself and you’ll have the centre of the flower. Secure it to itself with a few anchoring stitches and then hand stitch it to the middle of your cushion so it fills the gap. Ta-dah, the front of the cushion is finished. The hardest bit is over.

Felt dahlia cushion how toFelt Dahlia pillow close-up

Next, move on to the gusset (gusset is such a horrible word, don’t yout think?!). As this cushion is made of felt, it might distort and stretch as we sew the round circles to the straight edge, so to avoid too much of that, you need to stay stitch about a quarter of an inch from the edge down both long sides. Don’t make it any wider than this, or you’ll be able to see it after you’ve sewn your seams. Beginning and ending 1cm from each end, sew the two short sides together. In starting and finishing 1cm from the ends, you’ve saved yourself two notches – huzzah! You’ll now need to clip into the seam allowance to about the stay stitching, certainly no more than a 1cm or you’ll have holes in your gusset (see?! Such a horrible word!).

Then, pin your gusset to your front, easing the fabric as required to make sure you get a good, even fit. Don’t rush this bit, or the sewing as a good neat edge will really make a difference. When you sew this seam, use a 1cm seam allowance and just sew a few stitches at time before you adjust the material to make sure you’re still going even. Keep going all the way around the circle.

In to the final straight now!

Dahlia cushion felt

Pin the back pieces together along that straight edge. Baste on the machine, then go back and sew 4.5cm at each end of the seam and insert your zipper in between these two short seams.

REMEMBER TO OPEN THE ZIP ONCE IT’S IN! Otherwise, you’ll have a hell of a job getting the cushion back in the right way again.

Using the same method as before, sew the other clipped gusset edge to the back of the cushion and sew, nice and slowly, until it’s all attached and then pull the front of the cushion through the zipper. Push the cushion pad into the cushion and you are done my friend. One Dahlia cushion to see you through the winter. Beautiful.

E xx

What I Made…In August

Wow – August has been a busy and crafty month for me. I posted at the beginning of this month about why I’d been so quiet and uncreative recently. So the month of August has been full of making and I’ve loved every second.

Lion and Zebra Crochet Comforters

First up – these two cute comforters from Issue 69 of Mollie Makes. Designed by the excellent The Merino Mermaid, this lion and zebra duo will go brilliantly in the nursery when it’s all finished (and I can’t wait for that reveal!). They were so much fun to make – and it’s even more fun with projects like this when the Lovely Mister asks me what I’m doing and I say “making a zebra’s arm”. The look on his face is priceless!

Grey and Orange Fox Baby Clothes

Then I made this gorgeous mini baby layette in this foxy grey fabric I bought from my new favourite online fabric shop Maud’s Fabric Finds. The little leggings and the bib are a great design from H and Sammi of one of my favourite blogs Live It. Love It. Make It that featured in Mollie Makes and the romper and hat are from Green Bee Patterns. I’m so used to making adult sized things for myself that it was a bit of a shock sewing binding on those little neck lines.

Lions Baby clothes

I loved the patterns so much that I made a second set out of this equally gorgeous lion fabric from the same place as the foxes. It was so much quicker the second time round and I completed this layette in an afternoon.

Coconut and Raspberry Tart

It wasn’t all about the baby makes this month though. I was both inspired by and excited by the prospect of the return of The Great British Bake Off and I made these cute coconut and raspberry tarts that went down an absolute treat at work.

And finally, my big project: this Lions and Tigers and Bears blanket inspired by The Wizard of Oz. Here’s a little peak but I think he deserves his own blog post, which will be coming later this week.

Lions and Tigers and Bears Crochet blanket

So, what have I got planned for September? Well, I don’t think I’ll match the output from August but I have got some plans up my sleeve. I want to make a rug for the nursery but I’ve also got some excellent product designs in my head for my shop, which I’ll be starting on when my new computer arrives.

What did you make in August? And what are your plans for September?


Welcome Back Bake Off! Coconut and Raspberry Tarts

As summer time draws to a close, that can only mean one thing – BAKE OFF! And to celebrate the return of the BBC’s iconic baking show tonight, I’ve made these raspberry and coconut tarts. With the right amount of fruitiness and the creamy decadence of coconut, you can almost (almost!) forgive the weather for washing away most of summer. These are really easy to make so you can be sitting in the garden in a cardi and under a brolli, sipping a mojito and eating a summer tart in the rain in no time at all. This recipe also makes a tonne of cake, so you’ve got some to share with colleagues/friends/household pets without losing out yourself.


Raspberry and Coconut Tarts

Makes 24

1 pack Tesco Dessert Pastry mix

Tesco squeezy raspberry jam

100g butter

100g golden caster sugar (or just regular if you’ve not got golden)

2 large eggs

110g self-raising flour

100g desiccated coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/190*C fan
  2. First of all, make the pastry according to the pack instructions (basically lobbing it in a bowl and mixing in 90ml of cold water. You honestly can’t mess it up)
  3. Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry. Use a pastry cutter or a glass to cut 24 rounds, re-rolling as necessary, and pop one in each hole of a shallow cupcake/patty tin. If you only have one tin, put the rest of the discs on a plate in a single layer and cover with clingfilm.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar
  5. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour each time and beat in
  6. Fold in the remaining flour and the desiccated coconut
  7. Squeezer about half a teaspoon of jam into the bottom of each of the pastry shells
  8. Top the jam with the cake mix. You can fill quite high as it’s quite a thick mixture but you’ll probably have a bit left over, so don’t worry about over-filling
  9. Put the tray in the middle of the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 mins. When a skewer comes out clean, the tops are golden and firm and the pastry crisp, they’re done. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack
  10. If you’re re-using the cake tin, run it under the cold tap for a few seconds to cool it and then bake the second batch as above

2016-08-21 17.31.07

I ate mine (not all of them) with a nice cup of Rose Lemonade tea from Taylor’s of Harrogate. Not sure that raspberries and roses really go, but it was pretty tasty and nice and summery. Just what I needed as I looked out of the kitchen window at horizontal rain! I’ll be making these tarts again into the early autumn, and maybe longer, to remind me of summer holidays when the clouds and rain become too tedious. A good balance with the comfort food I love so much in winter!


What’s your favourite summer recipe?

YAY for Crochyay

Oh my god, I was so excited to see a new subscription box for crochet fans in Mollie Makes last month. I immediately signed up to the Crochyay website to know when the very first one would go on sale – there was no way I was missing out. I’m a big fan of craft subscription boxes and have had a few in the past (but format changes and an out of control craft stash meant I had to unsubscribe with a heavy heart) and I was really excited to see one that is craft specific.

The email saying they were on sale came through while I was on the bus to work. Terrified they’d sell out immediately, I did some very risky online shopping using 4G and promptly changing my PayPal password when I got to work! Totally worth it though.

All I had to do then was sit and wait for it to arrive. It actually arrived before I was expecting, and, as usual, I missed the parcel so had to go out in the rain to collect it on Saturday morning, thinking it was something else and boring. I almost squealed when I saw that beautiful black and white striped box!

Well, what was inside? Dear reader, DELIGHTS are what are inside.



I couldn’t believe just what was included – great quality yarns and hooks, quirky accessories and a beautiful booklet with instructions to make an icecream. There’s even a project bag! I’d definitely say this was worth the money – some craft subscription boxes I know of scrimp on quality of what they send, but not so from Crochyay boxes.

I can’t wait to get started on the projects and sign up for the subscription (probably with another PayPal password change!). If you want to join the queue (behind me of course!) you can do so here.


Taking A Step Back

At the beginning of this year, I desperately wanted to be a better blogger. I love blogging, and I love sharing creativity and I resolved to blog once a week. Well, dear reader, you may have noticed that I did not manage that. I talked about failure in a post back in January. I may not have managed to blog every week, but I certainly haven’t failed. And let me tell you why.

New baby

First of all, the reason for my writing absence. Very excitingly, come December, the Mr and I will have our own little rocker. Being pregnant is no picnic – I was never sick but some on going health problems were exacerbated and can’t be treated, I was blisteringly, cripplingly tired all of the time. My creativity evaporated, my mind elsewhere and foggy. I lost my confidence blogging and making. I didn’t read a single word of a magazine or book for weeks; no craft was picked up in the evening as I favoured curling up under a blanket and sleeping. All my energy – physical, mental, emotional and creative – was going inwards, growing (with the help of a LOT of meat!) our little wriggler. At 21 weeks pregnant and with 133 more days to go to due date, I’ve been making things for the baby and planning: planning our futures, our furniture, our finances, my life one big Gantt chart on Project Baby. But I’ve also been really able to take a step back and figure out what I want for my blog and my business. I thoroughly recommend Alyssa from Clarise Crafts who did my rebrand, which I think really suits my own style. I want to focus on the things that really matter to me:

  • Supporting small businesses
  • Sharing a passion for craft and making
  • Getting out and enjoying the world around me

So, whilst there will be the odd mention of babies, this isn’t turning into a mummy blog, but will continue to feature craft, creativity and all things pretty. I hope you’ll join me!

New Beginnings Quote

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.


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.


 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.


 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.

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