Sunday, 27 January 2013

Napkin Decoupage - Heart & Clock

As you know we have been decorating the bedroom.  This is finished now thankfully although we have got three months to wait before the shutters can be fitted. I don't want to put anything else up at the windows at the moment so you can imagine, there's a lot of bobbing up and down so that no one can see me in my various stages of undress!
I am now putting together the finishing touchs,  my Kirstie Allsop bedding, putting up mirrors and making a few homely bits and bobs.
I bought a packet of tissues when I went over to the Meadowhall Cath Kidston shop recently and decided to do a little decoupage.  The heart is just a polystyrene blank that I picked up at the range but the overall effect is very pretty.
I then got a bit carried away and covered my bedside clock.  It looked so out of place being silver and plastic but I think this looks a lot better.
Of all the crafts I have learnt I think napkin decoupage has to be one of my favourites.  It is so versatile.

Now, changing the subject.
Just before Christmas I had my nails done for a party I was going to.  They were gel which I have never had before.  I am a qualified nail technician but I only learnt normal manicures and acrylic so I was very interested in this new method.
Anyhow I decided to buy all the equipment including the lamp and yesterday as we were yet again snowed in I decided to have a go.
For a first attempt I don't think I did too badly. The colour is a bit wishy washy but I loved doing them and can't wait to have another go. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Acres of Diamonds

Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.
                   - Russell H Conwell

Often we go out in search of fortune and happiness only to return later and discover that everything we had ever wanted was under our noses all along.

Today will be my fourth day at home having taken today off work to go to the doctors.
Due to the snow however I have cancelled my appointment and will re-schedule it sometime in the future.
Here I sit in bed, thinking and meditating on what these few days of rest and relaxation have meant to me.
Very deep you might say, but don't you sometimes wish you could slow down your life and give yourself a break? 
Banana Bread
The snow has meant that I have been forced to stay in doors.  As a result I have managed to finish decorating our bedroom, have completed my tax return and paid the tax bill (on line from my bed), made wonderful wholesome meals, baked, started a new sweater for hubby, read and pondered on what life is really all about.
All the worry and stress I have put myself through lately by procrastinating is behind me as the bad weather has forced me to take stock and do things that I wouldn't usually have time to do.
Napkin Decoupage
And now I can use today to sit and craft, tidy and sort old papers and bags of accumulated rubbish and tomorrow when I go back to work I can look back on this time and be grateful for the snow.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Knitted Heart and Baby Blanket

Yesterday I promised to show you a finished project that I have been working on for some time, however firstly here is a little knitted heart that I completed last night and which I absolutely adore.
The pattern comes from a little book I picked up at the Works called Vintage Hearts & Flowers by Kate Haxell. There are so many projects in the book that I just have to make and I'm sure you'll feel the same way.
I knitted this in a beautiful wool by James C Brett called Aria, and as you can see it has the tiniest gold sequins threaded into the strand.  This is the first time I have used it and I think it's just perfect for this. I have been stocking JCB for about a year now and find all the yarns to be lovely and the colours are always up to the minute.
I added a tiny mother of pearl star button from my stash and a taupe ribbon which was actually what I cut out of a cardigan. You know, the ribbons they stitch in to the shoulders to help the garment stay on the hanger. I always cut them out and recycle them.
Next up is the baby blanket I was commissioned to make last year.  It has taken a lot of patience to complete, I can tell you!
I have never tackled anything like this before and probably won't again, although in the end I was thrilled with the result.
Each picture was created by using separate strands of wool. No weaving allowed. This meant that when the blanket was finished I then had about a hundred ends to weave it on the wrong side.

I only agreed to do the blanket because I thought, looking at the instructions that I would be embroidering the detail on afterwards.
There was some embroidery involved such as the black bits and on the bottle and safety pin. 

The pattern came from a Debbie Bliss baby book which has a picture of this on the front. Unfortunately I can't tell you anymore as I gave the book back when I handed over the blanket.

How cute is this little face?
There will never be another blanket like this in the whole world. Not made by me anyway!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snowed In

It's here at last. The weather men predicted it and they weren't kidding.
Gamston, Retford

The snow makes everything look spectacular.
Unfortunately I haven't been able to go to the stall today, so I'm having a lazy morning watching Create and Craft.
I'm about to start papering the bedroom again and hopefully today's effort will finish it off.
I've had enough now so I intend keeping going until I get to the end.
Later I want to make a banana bread with the left over fruit in the bowl and might start a bit of Spring  cleaning.
I don't know about you but I find that once you start decorating one room the rest of the house looks so shabby.
Later I want to show you my latest finished project.
Thanks for dropping by. Back soon.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Teatime Treats

I thought I'd show you my latest purchase.  The Teatime Treats silicon mould from Squires Kitchen.
I spotted this whilst browsing on Victoria's Vintage Blog and thought that it was amazing.
Each of the moulds is about one and a half inches in diameter and would look amazing on a cupcake or any other cake for that matter.
I had some fondant icing left over in three different colours and I just put a little of each colour in the different areas of the mould and then pressed them down.
Teapot, cup & saucer & cupcake
I think the effect is just amazing.
The mould is so versatile.  It can be used for icing, chocolate, clay, soap making etc etc. Unbelievable.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Simple Abundance

I read a lot of books, mostly romantic paperbacks but I also love self help books.  This is not because I have any particular areas of my life where I need help but just that I find personal growth fascinating and strive everyday to become a better person.  I regard these books as places to tap information and gleen the odd insight and I am always on the look out for that one book that will turn things around and change my life in some small way.
One such book was Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort & Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
Every day she suggests ways to make life more simple and beautiful and how to achieve a sense of belonging and wonder.  She encourages you to look inside yourself to find what your own personal pleasures are, it could be collecting a draw with everything you need to have a wonderful pampering session with fragrant body lotions, bubble bath and face masks, or creating a little corner in your house where you can relax or meditate.
I first read this book in 2009 as a whole, loving it immediately, and since then it has never left my bedside.  I try to read one entry per day and use it as a workbook, my life in progress as it were.
When I read this first time round I started cutting out pictures from old magizines.  Ones that really appealed to me and very quickly discovered what style of clothes I really loved, what colours were my true favourites and what style of house decor truely made me happy.  This was a revelation which has stood me in good stead over the last few years.  It has given me the confidence to stick out for what I need out of life and as I say has changed my life forever!
Sarah Ban Breathnach has writen several other books which are excellent but none have affected me quite as much as this one. I'm off now to read today's instalment.
Do you have a favourite book? Please let me know.  I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Where does the time go?

When people retire they often say that they can't imagine how they ever fitted work in.  That they seem to have so much to do with their spare time.
I feel that about the time I have had off this week.  I can't believe that it is Friday.  My break has flown by.
Yesterday I painted the dado rail, skirting boards, two doors with surrounds and a walk in wardrobe come cupboard, not once but twice.  I registered online and did a full weekly shop which will be delivered today, organised to have a fruit and veg box delivered and made a roast dinner.  In the spare time between all that I took down all the Christmas decorations (I know it's not the twelfth night but they were grating on me).
All that and I still found time to watch Monsters Vs Aliens, have a bath, read two chapters of my book and knit about ten rows of a baby blanket, which will be ready for its unveiling very soon.
How about that then?
I'll tell you something else.  My nails are looking pretty marvelous too.
I bought this baby blue by Barry M (I always want to call it Boney M) nail varnish quite a while ago but was disappointed with it.  The free edge of my nails showed through the colour and I hate that.  Anyway I was reading Victoria's Vintage Blog the other day and she had got the same colour but had put a coat of sparkley glitter polish over the top.
I had a clear glitter varnish already and gave it a go and it transformed the look completely.  I have had this colour on for about three days now and there isn't a mark or chip on it so the glitter has also improved its last ability.  Of course I couldn't just leave it there.  I have bought another glitter varnish with bolder bits in it and I will show this once I can find time to re-paint my nails.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Holiday Blues

I am very lucky not to have returned to work after the New Year holiday.  By using 2 days from last years holiday entitlement I have managed to get a full week off.  It's complicated but believe me it's all above board.
Unfortunately this doesn't mean I have escaped the post Christmas blues and yesterday wasn't great I can tell you.
As you know I decided to go to Meadowhall to source the highly coveted Cath Kidston wallpaper. BIG mistake.  I am so glad I didn't order it on line.  It was horrible.  There was not one pattern that grabbed me.  I really wanted the Birds and Roses design which, when I saw it did not float my boat.  The pattern was splodgy and quite frankly, ugly. 
Now I know this will cause controversy as I am aware that Cath Kidston is the epitome of style and good taste.  I'm sorry but I was unimpressed.  I even looked at the clothes as I would have loved a t-shirt in one of the floral designs I have seen on the Internet.  The only one they had looked like one of those thermal things Grandad wears in the Waltons. I have read a few reviews from people who have bought her clothes and some of them are quite damming.
After a good two hour traipse and a brain numbing visit to Laura Ashley where the assistants were bored and unhelpful I managed to find a gorgeous neutral polka dot in the Next sale.  Not quite what I thought I wanted but perfect as it turned out.  The girls there were lovely and I got the whole lot for less than two rolls of the Kidston stuff.
OK rant over, take a breath and keep calm.
I promised to show you a couple of things once the light improved and here goes.
First up is a birthday card I made using a free stamp set I got with one of my craft magazines.  If ever you see these kind of freebies please buy and try.  I wasn't convinced that stamping was for me but after watching a few Create and Craft features on Free View TV I am hooked. 
I stamped on to spare card first, then painted them using a fine brush and a couple of stamping pads.  You could use felt tips or watercolour paints as an alternative. I also highlighted a new areas with the odd dot of glitter glue. 
I love cutting and sticking, I think it puts me in mind of being a little girl again.  I was always cutting out and colouring and I have never lost the fascination for it. Steve has been known to buy me a colouring book for a little present, bless him.
The other thing I made on New Years day was lavender soap.  When I first started trading on my stall I made little heart shaped soaps and put them in organza bags with my contact details.  I gave them away as  free gifts and they went down a storm.  I haven't made soap since then but this method is really easy.  I just used a solid base soap, melted it down in an old pan and added a teaspoon of cosmetic quality essential oil fragrance and colouring.  All bought off the Internet of course.  I used a  plastic container as a mould and popped a couple of dried sprigs of lavender on top for decoration.  The only problem now is it's too nice to use.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The First Day of a New Year

I have loved today.  It has been so peaceful and has been a time for reflection, looking back on the year that has past and making resolutions to try harder in the year to come.
Christmas day and yes I am still in my pyjamas
We have been decorating our bedroom and tomorrow I will be visiting Meadowhall to buy Cath Kidston wallpaper.  The last time I went there must be about three years ago.  I can't help loving the Cath Kidston designs.The beautiful colours and flowery patterns are irresistible.  Steve has allowed me to choose what I want and has agreed to roses and birds.  He is totally happy to sleep in a room surrounded by flowers and only flinched slightly at the £25.00 per roll price tag. There are alternatives but I know I will still love her patterns years down the line so why compromise?
We definitely should have been out in that sunshine
Last night I had a go at making Macarons or Macaroons if you prefer.
The recipe was from the Book of British Baking and was extremely easy.
They weren't perfect but they tasted delicious.  They needed a little bit longer in to oven and were just a bit too tacky.  If they had had maybe five more minutes they wouldn't have sunk in the middle.
The mix only made three macarons altogether so I probably made them too big!
One of my new years resolutions is to carve out more time to do the things I love to do.  That is crafting and baking.  I have started as I mean to go on.  I have a birthday card and some handmade soap to show you when I get some daylight to take photos in.
Thanks for dropping by and enjoy the rest of the holidays.