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.

 

Autumnal Eton Mess

IMG_1539The sun is still shining as I write this, but there’s definitely a nip in the air in the morning and, even though summer has hardly been scorching, I love autumn and the change in season. Autumn seems to bring so many possibilities: new starts and new ideas, and the food for autumn and winter is just so comforting. With that in mind, as the brambles on country walks begin to ripen, how about trying this seasonal twist on a favourite summer dessert, using my very own recipe for Autumnal Eton Mess? Use scavenged brambles, or blackberries if you’d prefer.

Ingredients (per person)

IMG_1520

  • 2 plums
  • handful of brambles (thoroughly washed) or blackberries
  • 2 meringue nests (don’t bother making your own, it’s really not worth the hassle)
  • Greek yoghurt with honey
  • About 3-4 tablespoons of red wine
  • Teaspoon of dark brown soft sugar
  • Large pinch of mixed spice

1. Wash the fruit and put in a pan with the wine, sugar and spice.

IMG_1536

2. Cook on a low heat for about five minutes until the sugar has dissolved, the plums are just beginning to fall apart and the brambles are very soft.

3. Remove the fruit from the pan using a slotted spoon and leave to cool slightly.

4. Turn the heat up on the remaining liquid and allow to reduce by about half.

5. Meanwhile, break up the meringue nests. Turn off the heat on the reduced syrup.

6. Put some slightly cooled fruit in the bottom of a glass or your chosen serving vessel. Add some Greek yoghurt, then some meringue pieces. Repeat until the glass is full.

7. Pour syrup over the top and serve immediately.

 

I hope you enjoy this rich and spicy autumnal Eton mess. Let me know how you get on with it!

Out and About: Humpit, Leeds Corn Exchange

Is there anything better than finally going to that restaurant or café you’ve been meaning to go to for ages and, when you finally do, it’s exactly what you wanted it to be? Today, I had that pleasure; for today, I finally went to Humpit in the Leeds Corn Exchange.

I first came across Humpit when I went to my first Leeds vintage fair back in the depths of winter and I’ve been meaning to go ever since. As the weather was so nice earlier today, we had a little walk around the docks by the Royal Armouries where I practised some photography and then wandered back into town.

Humpit smells amazing, so you already know you’re onto a winner. The staff are really friendly and happy (even though they were in a kitchen and it was so hot today). At first, I thought the food was perhaps quite expensive at £3.90 for a pita with either falafel or hummus, or half and half, which is what I went for. I was so very wrong. When the smiling member of staff came out to our table to furnish us with our lunch, it was clear that it was incredibly well-priced and that we were not going to need a big dinner.

Hum Pit

Right, there were pickles, jalapenos, salad, salsa, dressing, falafel, hummus, pickled cabbage, red cabbage, grated carrot – the thing was massive, OK? A word of warning: do not go there in the early part of your relationship – I got a bit of hummus on my nose and grated carrot stuck to my cheek (the Mr was not similarly afflicted, so it’s possible this was just me). And all that for £3.90 is pretty good in my book. And more filling, tastier and community focused than spending a tiny bit less for a limp sandwich and some crisps in a supermarket meal deal.

The food was really quick to arrive – just a few minutes and they seemed quite busy – but they also allow you to ring ahead and place your order so you can just pop in and grab it on a lunch-break, something the Mr will be doing on our Treat Days (the day of the week we can’t be bothered to make packed lunch for work) and it’s just round the corner for me, so I can happily wait. They also deliver via Deliveroo.

All in all, lunch time well spent. Humpit are also on Facebook and Twitter.

And yes, I did it all mine. It was delicious and I only had to undo one button on my skirt. Win!

 

N.B. Humpit did not know I intended to write this review until after I’d finished. We paid for our meals and all the opinions above are my own.

Home Makeover: The Garden Fence

When I lived in Kent, I had a great garden with a lovely vegetable patch, albeit it did occasionally get a bit neglected and I’d grow a marrow instead of a courgette. When we bought our house here in Leeds, the grass was in terrible shape thanks to the digging efforts of the previous owner’s puppy and the soil is basically clay with bricks in. We have succeeded in regrowing the lawn; not that either of us knew what we doing – I’d just go round every couple of weeks with a mix of compost, sand and grass seed and lob it on the bald bits. Then chase the pigeons away out of the kitchen window. The flowerbed is still largely empty, save for two Minerette apple trees that are too shocked from near death from neglect (not my fault – if you’re paying a gardener, you expect your plants to be watered, right?) and moving house to bear any fruit this year and a small acer that, after replanting, fell over and nearly died (can you see a theme?). The aim is to get some hardy perennials in really soon, then I’ll be all ready for bulb planting and we’ll have a nice garden to look at all year round. Not very green fingers crossed.

 Before

Before I planted any new plants, I thought it best to paint the rather neglected garden fence. I did the shed last Wednesday when I had a day off, and that too was in a pretty bad way – most of the shed and fence was showing bare wood, and with winter approaching and no desire (or cash) to replace the garden fence, the Mr and I donned some old clothes and spent yesterday in the garden painting. We (I) started in fairly good spirits. It was fine until I got hungry then I basically became two years old. Thankfully, Rich just laughs at my “bitter little tirades” about my superior work ethic and skill (I had to redo most of his bits). Honestly, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well (to which Rich quoted Catch-22 at me, further angering me because I really hated that book). Either way, we got it done. Here’s the ‘after’ shot. There was also both sides of the garden fence on the other side of the garden to do.

After

Here’s my enthusiastic helper.

Rich during

And here’s a picture of us when it was finished.

Us After

Me, gleeful; Rich, not enjoying being covered in paint and being slightly sunburnt, despite the sun barely being out for any more than thirty seconds. And it was freezing.

We used Ronseal Fence Life, currently £9 for 9L at B&Q in Dark Oak.

What I Wore…To Alistair’s Wedding

I spent a sunny weekend in Suffolk this week. Rich’s cousin Alistair was getting married and we were invited. Hoorah! And, not only was it a happy occasion but always a great excuse to muck around with my new camera. And here’s what I wore.

IMG_1467

Dress: Uttam Boutique at House of Fraser – £55 (I’ve just seen that it is reduced to £27.50. Yes, I’m annoyed, but you might get a bargain!)

Shoes: Steve Madden at House of Fraser – no longer available but I wore them at my wedding and was desperate to wear them again.

Here are some photos from the day:

And can we just all take a minute to appreciate the gorgeousness of this man, my Lovely Mister.

And a comedy shot – I’m in 5″ heels and still shorter than my in-laws.

IMG_1447

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I wore to this wedding – do you find it difficult to pitch your special occasion outfits or does it come easily to you?

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