Sunday, 30 December 2012

Round up of Christmas Treats

What a splendid Christmas we have had. We spent lots of time celebrating and partying with family and then rushed back to work on the 27th. This weekend we've finally found some time to unwind and have some of that quiet Christmas time that feels so special. The city is incredibly quiet, the trains are empty, no queues for anything....bliss! :)

I was a super lucky lady to receive some lovely gifts over the festive season. In particular there were a few treats that we gave and received that I'd love to share with you:

'No Bears' - McKinley and Rudge
This was a little gift for our gorgeous little niece Isabella. It's a beautiful book illustrated by one clever young lady, Leila Rudge. She's absconded to a far away land with my little brother and is living the dream down under. We miss them dearly, but Ozland clearly agrees with her as she's produced the cutest illustrations for this book 'No Bears', that has absolutely no bears in it (or does it?!). If you know of any youngsters that also are adverse to bears, or if you're just a big kid yourself then you can get your very own copy here! And to see more wonderful illustrations from Miss Rudge check out her blog here.

The Monster spread! ©Leilarudge 

No bears party illustration ©Leilarudge 
We also made some delicious chocolate truffles to indulge in over the holidays. We found a fab recipe on the BBC good food website and got creative with flavours. We made one batch in a Chrismassy chilli flavour by adding a generous pinch of chilli flakes, a smaller pinch of cinnamon and some cloves in the cream (we fished the cloves out before adding to the chocolate!). Then we made a second batch with a good glug of Cointreau and the zest of a couple of clematines. This was the firm favourite, but the chilli ones left a lovely warming sensation once the truffle had melted away, perfect for cold winter days!! I fashioned up some simple cellophane bags and rustic ties and labels to complete the package.

Yummy chocolate truffles!

Pretty labels made with card, ribbon and festive washi tape

These are the simplest things in the world to make - there's literally only three ingredients. We made an incredible mess whilst rolling them out, but all part of the fun, and by the end they looked almost good enough to eat!!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

DIY project: Outdoor cushion covers

This is something I've been planning on doing for aaaages! Not particularly appropriate for this time of the year I'm afraid. But, I'm far too impatient to save this one for Spring, so here goes!

We had four lovely outdoor cushions that we inherited along with the outdoor furniture, but they are starting to show their age. So I decided to spruce them up! Back earlier in the year I raided a design guild warehouse sale in White City and scored some fantastic bolts of material and decided this was the project for it!

This is the 'before' pic, our four perfectly formed cushions, in need of a new lease of life:

Then find your perfect fabric. I went with a fairly thick fabric, so hopefully durable. It has a watercolour wash finish, which will hopefully disguise the smaller trials and tribulations of outdoor eating. And bright bold strips which remind me of deck chairs - they scream British summer (think bright blue skies and a stiff cool breeze, hehe).

The how to is fairly simple, it can be done with a sewing machine or by hand (I started by hand and admittedly it was taking a while!). I took one cushion and made a pattern by drawing around it and adding an inch for the seams. I then cut out the 8 sides required and tried to ensure that the stripes would line up when sewed together (easier said than done!).

Once lined up in pairs, I pinned them together (inside out) and sewed around the outside. I left a gap of a good few inches at the back to turn the cushion cover inside out and then squeeze the cushion in through! Once we had a snug fit and were happy with the result I sewed up the gap with a topstitch. If you wanted to have removable covers you could sew in a zip (tricky!) or some velcro (much simpler!) across the gap for easy access.

As simple as 1, 2, 3 (pinning, cutting, sewing!)

I left the covers a little bit roomy and then sewed through the cushion at four points to give the cushions the same shape and added four buttons to each side to hold them together. The final result looks a little bit like this...

Close up, check out the contours!
With the table set :)

All ready for a lazy afternoon in the garden...(okay maybe it's a but chilly to actually sit out there right now!) 

On another note - can you believe this last shot was taken in DECEMBER - look at all the bushes and creepers still in flower. Bloomin' ridiculous! (If you'll excuse the pun.) Shame it hasn't been warm enough (or dry enough) to sit out there and actually enjoy them (story of the year!).

And as a final sneaky bonus, this is what you get when you ask the man-about-the-house to pose for a action shot:
They say never work with animals or children....or boyfriends! 

Cheers m'dear! :)

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Wishes: Merry Christmas for All!

Hope you're all having fun and frolics in this festive season. Here's to spending quality time with family and friends, eating and drinking too much. Here's to over-excited kiddies and sleepy kiddies. Here's to finding some quiet time for doing the things you love and doing them with the people you love. Here's to escaping reality and jetting off to the sunshine, far far from the madding crowd. Here's to finding some inner space from where to contemplate that world outside and our place within it. Here's to thinking of hundreds of new resolutions ready to break within the first week of the new year!

However you're spending the festive season this year, sit down, relax....and reach for another mince pie!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

DIY project: Fabric phone case

I've had a hard cover for my iphone for a while now, but I still fling it into my bag with my keys, wallet and other bits and bobs. Not a good move while the screen is bare and naked!

So a little soft pouch phone cover was urgently needed and rather than dive into the first phone store I could find, I set to work on a diy.

I found some fun stripy material lurking around (in fact it was an old shirt of the man-around-the-house), some cord and then felt and crystals for embellishments:

All you need to make your own cute phone case

Here's the practical how-to bit:

Measure the size of the pouch you want to create by placing your phone on the material and leaving about an inch all the way round, for seams and a bit of room, plus and extra inch at the top for your drawstring.

You'll need two pieces this size. I actually doubled up the fabric to make it a bit more protective, or you could use a thicker softer material on the inside. Shirt material isn't exactly designed to have a bit of give!

Then turn the fabric inside out, pin and sew around three side leaving the top open. Turn back the right way round and hey presto you practically have your pouch! For the drawstring sew around the top twice to create a tramline the is just wider than your cord, giving it a channel to run through. (You don't have to do this bit, it'll just mean that the drawstring will drift right to the top of the material, depends on your preference.) Make two holes in between the tramlines at one end and thread through the cord using a safety. Cut to your desired length and tie it off. Ta-dah!

Finally, you can add whatever embellishments you fancy. I went with the nautical theme of the stripes and appliqued on a pink anchor and finished it off with a pink crystal for a bit of bling - you know me!

A cute and practical phone case
The best thing about this is that the same technique can be used for so many projects - glasses case, make-up pouch, practically any cute little bag that you need. Get to it guys!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Wishes: For snow!

It's been a tad chilly round these parts of late and it's got me thinking...what's the use of the cold it if doesn't come with a dusting of beautiful white snow?! Grey drizzle is no good.

Plans are afoot for a little ski trip early in the new year and I must admit it's climbing higher up the to do list every day! There is nothing better at getting rid of the winter blues than a mid-winter break in the mountains. Sun, snow, and a sneaky apres-ski indulgence (or two) sure do blow away the cobwebs! So here we go, lets try and fit in a ski break this winter:

Fresh pow pow.  Zell am See, Austria, Winter '11

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

DIY Fantastic: Pin cushion

I am just starting to warm up my sewing skills and as I was getting started I started to notice a problem -  pins getting EVERYWHERE! Turns out there is an age old solution to this problem (who'd have thought!) and what better place to start with my sewing than to churn out a simple little pin cushion. Cute, quick and super practical - just how I like my diy projects! The bonus is that this would be super simple to sew by hand as well.

All you need is a few simple things:

All you need to make the pin cushion of your dreams! 

Then simply decide on the size and shape of your desired pin cushion. I went for a small square, about 4 inches wide and cut both sides . Add whatever embelishments/pretty things you fancy at this stage. You can add them once it's finished, but it's easier when it's flat that's all.

Then it's just a case of sewing down all four sides. Leave a small hole to get the wadding in and then sew up the gap. Simples. Then fill it with all your pins and needles and away you go! Now you can really put that cushion to good use making all those projects you so desire!

What a pretty in pink pin cushion!

Flip it over and on the other side you'll find a green monster. So you will never get bored of your cute little pin cushion. It'll be by your side through thick and thin...on your diy adventures!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Lomo Experiment: No.1

I recently introduced you to Diana. My new bestest friend! She goes with me everywhere. So expect to be inundated with Lomography shots of the coming months - the good, the bad and the ugly - the lot of them! It's been so much fun playing with real film once again, so old school! And the feeling of suspense and anticipation (and nerves!) as we waited for the film to be developed is something I haven't felt in years!

The first stage of the experiment was rather less than successful (understatement). Of the 36 regular exposure film (that's a potential 72 exposures on the portrait setting. Math), we got SIX working exposures. Not sure exactly what the problem was here, but one thing was clear - the film tore at some point - either when we were winding forwards or back. Ah, the highs and lows of real film! Also, having not intentionally made any double exposures at this stage, we ended up with photos exposed more than just twice, the max I could see in one pic was four! And I'm sure there are actually more...

But despite these issues we got some goodies, that's for sure. The effects are remarkable (read trippy). Take a peek at the pics below and let me know what you think. (Given we only got so few pics I haven't even been selective, no need!) Just to note - these are completely unadulterated, straight from the original film!

This first is my favourite - despite the FOUR exposures, the composition really works and the colours are fab! I also love the way the two images blend into each other.

Another slightly spooky number here. Love the fact I'm in it twice!! hehe
P.s. How cool is the pink flash in one of the exposures in the right side?! If only all cameras had different coloured flashes! (In my dream world they might be compulsory!)

These are lovely - all the girls looking gorgeous. :)

This one is very spooky, almost ghostly! Mwaaahhaahaaha!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Welcome to the family: Diana Mini Lomo

I have an announcement - there is a new addition to the family. My Mini-Diana! She is a true beaut. (Oh and she's sporting a fantastic map of the world, never to get lost!) I have to thank my dearest IzzWhizz entirely for this new family member, totally inspired (and totally crazy!).

Diana Mini 'Compass' Lomography Camera

This is my first toy camera, we've had one or two teething problems but I'll skip over those boring details. Suffice to say the results are COMPLETELY unexpected and unpredictable. I'm not a gambler by nature, but dropping the shutter on this baby is a complete gamble.

Expect to be bombarded by some psychedelic, weird and wonderful shots as the Grand Lomo Experiment gets underway!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

DIY project: Necklace organiser

The other day I was scrabbling to find the perfect necklace to go with my outfit and realised that grappling with this giant knot of jewellery was not an ideal scenario:

The previous state of my jewellery drawer - Chaos doesn't even cover it!

So I got to work with a few simple items to assemble into a nifty little necklace hanger. (Assemble is the operative word here, this is as simple as it comes!)

All I used were:
1. A rustic chunk of drift wood. I picked this bad boy up on a trip to Hayling Island at Easter (yes that is exactly how long it took me to get round to putting this altogether!)
2. A fluro lace I picked up with my trainers and was saving for a project just like this!
3. Some hooks I found in the toolbox

Drift wood, laces and hooks

All I did was knot the lace around the drift wood at either end and screw in the hooks along the wood. I hung it up by the lace neck to my dressing table and, voila! Luckily this chunk has a number of protrusions that are perfect for hanging on, bingo!

I love the character of this wood, it's nobly and gnarly and fun! Get out and see what you can find!

Ok, this isn't my entire collection of necklaces, but I need to spend some time untangling them first!

It looks lovely above my dressing table! :)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

DIY project: Crystal embellished sweater

So to go with all this Autumnal weather we're having it's time to spruce up the wardrobe. I am useless at layering, far too complicated! So one big snuggily cover-all sweater is right up my street.

I was super lucky to spot this giant GREEN (swoon) sweater in a thrift shop in the Lanes in Brighton on a girly weekend away. And even luckier when we found out that everything in the shop was half price, bin-go! So I nabbed myself this bargainous deal and my diy mind went into overdrive:

It's a giant size XL and super snuggly, but my favourite thing is that is has someone else's name ironed into the inside. So XXXX if you're out there, your old sweater has gone to a great home and is making me very happy right now! :)

I decided some further embellishments were required to give this the bling factor. I already told you, I'm obsessed. What I used:

Swarovski sparkles! I know you've already seen these, but they are just TOO pretty!
Plus some nifty tweezers and fabric glue.

The comes the fun bit! Get crafty with the sparkles and glue to embellish the eagle! Careful with this glue, it's toxic so use in a well ventilated area and the tweezers really help you avoid getting glue EVERYWHERE!

The tweezers were a godsend! 
As well as embellishing the eagle I added some bling to the lettering.

This was a pretty simple project and the results are bling-tastic! Now I feel I can wear this sweater out anywhere, it's given it a big lift and a smidgin of fashion qudos! This is what the finished article looked like - I popped it on with some patterned leggings and little black boots, yummy! I'd wear this to hit the shops, indulging in a long sunday roast or just relaxing with friends.

The finished article!

Worn with patterned leggings

Or hang out with the cat! :) Ok he's the neighbours', but he likes to visit us when they're out! 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Wishes: for a life full of sparkle!

Oooooh, I have a new diy obsession: sparkles! I am feverishly covering everything with these fantastic Swarovski crystals. Aren't they beautiful? The colours are so deep and intense and they all are so shiny and shimmery and pretty! Surely there is no way that life could seem dreary or drab when decked out in a wardrobe of encrusted sparkly diys? So here's to a life full of sparkle!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

DIY inspiration: Oversized green sweaters

I am loving these monster green sweaters. Giant comfy greenness, with a hint of the glam! Perfect for autumn weather me-thinks and ripe for a diy!

Killer green Kenzo sweater! From here.

Caroline's fab Urban Outfitters sweater in a popping green. From here.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Well hello autumn!

Walking round in flip-flops, the freedom of shorts and tee, the delicious smell of sun cream, leaving the house with no coat, clobber or cardie...all these things make me happy. The chilly breeze, dismal drizzle and dreary greyness are just not my bag baby! But on a little bike ride we took along the river last weekend it was like the light fantastic! The low golden sunshine gave a magical feeling to the river and the trees, it was gorgeous!

So, hello autumn! I'm gonna open my arms, welcome you in and give you a chance.

The lush autumn sunshine in Wandsworth Park

Today it's another one of those crisp but sunny autumn days, so here goes. We are going to make the most of it and explore a few new areas of South London to see if we can find somewhere we'd love to live, how exciting! 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Edinburgh Autumn Style

We were lucky to take a little trip up north just as the weather was turning for our first taste of autumn. While I shivered in my summer silks, Izzy nailed autumnal layering and totally owned this look. Here are a few of my favourite street snaps of her pretending not to pose!
And that there behind Izzy was our digs for the night - yep right inside the Castle! Thank you Guv'nor! :)
In the grounds of Edinburgh Castle
Looking grand on the Royal Mile

True Scottish style! (grimaces and all!)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

DIY: Studded Friendship Bracelets

Now this project took me back! Yep, right back to the school bus, when safety pining an in-progress friendship bracelet into the back of the seat in front was the height of cool. (Nope, you're right I didn't have an inch of cool, it was geek chic all the way back then, had that term even been invented back then!)

I had so much fun on this project that I'm really excited about sharing it! As an added bonus you can pretty much do this anywhere, you just need something to pin it to! I did most of mine on the bus across Mallorca! So lets get stuck in.

What you'll need:
1. A selection of embroidery skeins in your favourite colours
2. A big safety pin
3. Some embellishments, I went for golden studs but you can be a creative as you like!

Choose your colour combination

Take about 24 inches of each skein, leave three inches at the top, knot and pin!

Starting from the outside, knot inwards twice over each skein

For a great how-to on friendship bracelets including really detailed advice on the knotting process check out the guide on Honestly, WTF, these guys are the pros!

Once you get going you'll soon get into the swing of it and it's hard to stop (this could almost qualify as therapy). Keep knotting to your heart's content until the bracelet is the right size for your wrist. Then simply plait the remaining strands at either end and knot to finish. Simples!

Then we get the exciting part of embellishing our beautiful bracelets, I popped the studs on evenly along the middle of the bracelet and squeezed the backs flat to protect my mits.

Finally, team with your other favourites or wear your new bracelet it solo glory. Better still, make a second and give it to your bessie! :)

Simply knot together the plaited sections around your wrist.

And wear with pride!
Camouflaged amidst the cacti.