Saturday, 31 December 2011

End of Year Recap!

First off, a very happy new year to everyone! I hope you all have an amazing 2012 and that and problems or hardships that you are passing into the new year with, are soon solved.
For me, 2011 has been very much an 'up and down' year, with both positive things and times I have struggled. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to 2012!

Since its the end of the year (and lots of other bloggers are doing it) I thought I'd share my top ten most viewed posts!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Prayers for Ted

My youngest sister's pet rabbit, Ted, is currently in pet hospital, and has been there for the past few days. Its touch and go as to whether he'll be okay and of course my little sister is heartbroken. We're all worried for Ted and praying that he'll be okay.

If you guys could remember Ted in your prayers, thoughts, healing etc I would really appreciate it.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!
I hope you all have a fantastic festive season and make lots of happy memories.

Here's to an awesome 2012!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tin Can Tea Light Holders

There are only a few days left until Christmas! Are you excited? Exhausted from all the preparation?
Or are you filled with an unwavering certainty that surely, there must be more Christmas crafts to do?

Yeah, me too! I’m excited, worn out, yet still wanting to craft! 

Here’s something I just finished up:

These tin can tea light holders were something I saw in Tesco’s free magazine a few weeks ago. They’re basically free to make, and easy at that! They'd make a great last-minute gift or would look awesome at a party in the summer!

Here’s a quick run-down on how to make these:
  1. Fill a clean tin can with water and put in the freezer overnight (this gives you something solid to work with)
  2. Mark out a design onto the tin using a felt tip (use something that can be washed off!)
  3. Use a hammer and nail to punch holes in the surface of the can.
Once the ice has melted, pack the can with old newspaper and spray paint the outside.

For a handle:
  1. Make two holes either side of the top of the can for the handle.
  2. Cut a piece of wire (or cut up an old wire coat hanger) and hook through the holes.

  • The article I read said to use a screwdriver to make the holes in the can, but a nail worked just fine.
  • I found it was easier to rest the tin on a cloth whilst I punched the holes
  • The base of two of my tins buckled as the water froze; a few light taps with the hammer fixed this.

Obviously being made of metal, these get very hot! If using these I guess it’s best to put them on a heat-resistant surface or a dish, rather than straight onto a table/TV/speakers.

As I already mentioned, this craft cost me nothing! The tins were from soup (tall tins) and pistachios (short tin), the wire and tools were liberated from Dad’s shed, and the spray paint was already in my stash!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Wreath...for Free!

When my Dad potted up the Christmas tree for outside the door, he had to cut off a few small branches. So he left them out for me to 'do something with.'

Of course the most obvious 'something' was a wreath, so I got to work and made this!
I've never made a wreath from branches before and might I say it was pretty darn fiddly!

To put it together, I simply made a circle of wire (pinched from Dad's shed) with a hook on the top for hanging. Then I tied the branches on with raffia (I think that's what it is?! Please correct me if I'm wrong!) also pinched from the shed--there was a big bundle of it left over from when  Dad gave the conservatory a makeover. Once I'd made the basic shape, I added in smaller pieces cut from a branch too large to go into the wreath, which hid all the places where I'd tied everything down!

I threaded in a spray of blooms left over from a bunch of flowers my Mum had (the rest had died) and tied a big bow at the top to finish off.
It's a bit wonky but I don't think it's bad for a first attempt!

A little bit of Christmas decoration that I didn't show you yet is this vase of baubles (it doesn't really fit in with any of the Christmas posts I've made!)  I suppose a vase like this is a no-brainer when it comes to decorations, but this is another first for our house! Usually these baubles are on the tree.

Well I think that's it for my Christmas decor posts!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care...

...or would be, but we don't have any!
Yesterday, I shared photographs of our Chirstmas tree. Today I'd like to share our Christmas mantlepiece makeover!

Our mantlepiece itself is pretty cool, I think. It wasn't an original feature, but when my parents bought the house, the previous owners were ripping it out of their new house! So my parents had it from them :) Dad redid the tiling a few years ago when he had to get a new fire fitted.

Anyway, on with the decs!

I made the tiny hat for the cherub (I wrote briefly about them the other day!). The little wooden, painted ornaments used to go on the tree, but tend to break easily, especially at the mercy of feline paws!

The jar usually holds cotton wool balls on my desk. I took them out and refilled the jar with some scrap organdie and pine cones left over from my wreath and garland. The 'Christmas' sign belongs to Mum; she received it from a friend a couple of years ago! (The angels and behatted charub on the mantlepiece belong to her, too).

Usually these beaded ornaments (the reindeer and the candy canes, plus the bear in the first picture) hang on the tree. The normal case is that Riley steals them one by one and we find them months later under the sofa!

The bronze deer came from a church Christmas fair I went to a couple of weeks ago. It only cost me £1! I don't usually go for metal like this, but I thought he was lovely!

Of course, I had to pop some more cheeky little robins here and there!

I made this 'twisty tree' using a metal thing (candle holder I think) that I bought from a charity shop. There were a pair of them:

It was only £1 for the pair! I think originally they would have been hung up the opposite way around. But I thought they'd be good for an unusual tree! I simply wrapped one with some scrap fabric bought at another charity shop, sewed on some beads and hung the little picture at the top. :)

The little white cherub (there's three on the mantlepiece right now) came from a fantastic outlet shop in Brighton! Most of their stuff is leftover or damaged stock, or slight seconds. The cherubs were 25p each. So I bought 12! Am still making up my mind what to do with them yet, haha.

My middle sister and I have been joking that the bear looks a little shifty. Maybe he's up to no good? Perhaps he's trying to steal candy canes?! Either way, he's up to something...

Photography Challenge Week #20

It's the final week of the photography challenge at A Step in the Journey! I can't believe it's over already!

The theme for the final week was - like the first week - self portrait, bringing the contest full circle.  I decided not to cop out this time, and therefore you can see my face instead of a shadow!

So here's my shot, plus a couple of extras, just for fun.

The hooded scarf is the one I made for the Pinterest Challenge! It's lovely and warm when the weather isn't! (As you can see, I like leopard print!)
Self portraits are definitely something I find difficult to do. All the important things that you'd usually do when taking a picture - checking the focus and lighting and so on - are completely out of your hands the moment you set that timer.
I know that certain professional photographers use assistants to do the actual pressing-of-the-shutter-button (one guy even had a video camera and a TV set up so he could direct the framing of the shot) but I don't have an assistant or fancy equipment that enables me to see what I'm doing! Still, it was fun. Normally if I take a picture of myself, I stand in front of the mirror and use the reflection to see what's on the screen of my little point-and-shoot digicam. But that means an untidy, unpretty background, no good for this challenge! Hehe.

Recently I saw a thing on the internet about how photographs are doctored for publication. So I decided to play around with Photoshop Elements and do a little adjustment myself. Digital rhinoplasty, anyone?
I think it's pretty creepy how easy it is to edit photos and change the way a person looks! Alright, so my edits aren't exactly flawless; I certainly wasn't using the right tools (a graphics tablet would be much better than a laptop trackpad!) nor was I putting in major effort--! But it is creepy, right?

I joked with the lovely Terry of These Peas Taste Funny, about wearing a mask for the self portrait. Well...I did. ;)

This challenge has been so much fun! Sometimes the themes have really pushed me to think of something, others were fully inspiring from the word go and I found myself spoilt for choice with ideas! Whilst there were a couple of times when I nearly forgot to take pictures, I've felt encouraged to experiment a little more with photography. I've enjoyed participating and have met some awesome people in the process!
So thank you, Laura Beth, for hosting the photography challenge :)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Yesterday, I ventured into the loft to find our Christmas tree! We always have an artificial tree since it means less mess and they last longer! At present we have a fibre-optic tree that my parents bought a few years ago, which is great because it means I don't have to fight with strings of Christmas lights! :)

This year, Mum and I decided the tree would be decorated in white, gold and silver. Of course, my handmade decorations are all up there! I did all the decorating myself - my middle sister was going to join in but changed her mind!

This little guy is a tradition for our tree! He's been on the tree for as long as I can remember. Even though he doesn't fit with the colourscheme, Mr Robin had to be there, so I perched him on the top.

We've been through a number of angels and fairies for the tree, from childish creations glued together at school to shop-bought angels. Now we have this plush angel, which I think was something given to my Mum (her friends give her lots of little Christmassy knick-knacks!)

Angels and birds were a bit of a theme this year, too! I'm not sure where either of these decorations came from, but the one on the left is new and the one on the right is another ornament 'older than I can remember'! There used to be a set of them but the others either went missing or broke.

Another couple of decorations given to my Mum by her friends (and still fitting in with the angel theme!). The silver heart was given to her recently by a friend visiting from Ireland. Isn't it sweet?!

Of course, reindeer don't really fit in with 'angels and birds', but they do fly (if they're Santa's reindeer anyway) so they totally count! :) The reindeer are new ornaments, bought this year. I think the bow is yet another pressie my Mum received from her friends!

Moving on...cherubs! I love how the white ones cling to the tree. They're a bit of a pain to thread onto the branches, but they look so cute! Mum bought the gold ones, though I'm not sure where they came from.

We only bought a couple of these cute doves, since there were only two left in the shop that were intact--a lot of them had lost their tails! But I thought they were lovely!
This was another new purchase; along with these doves and the reindeer we also bought some crystal drops and icicles!

And finally, what tree would be complete without a partridge?!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Handmade Christmas Decorations

On Sunday, I posted about my snowflake ornament, which at the time had no tree to be displayed upon!

We finally have our Christmas tree up, so I was able to take some decent pictures of the other ornaments I made recently :)

I made a few of these little dove ornaments using some leftover felt. They were inspired by the cute DIY Dove Ornaments I saw at Sweet Suite 10 ! Mine are much smaller and lack a proper tail or eyes, because I wanted a simpler feel to them.

This tutu ornament was made after reading Mindie's fab Tutu Ornament Tutorial over at Bacon Time With The Hungry Hungry Hypo! In addition to tulle, I used some gold mesh that was left over from a costume I made a few years back.

These star ornaments are my favourite of the ones I made this year! They were inspired by the heart-shaped Typography Ornaments that I saw on Tatertots and Jello!

I cut all the shapes with pinking shears, and wrote on the 'tags' with a regular gold pen.

Here's the snowflake ornament again, in situ (albeit temporarily). My Dad went out on Monday and dug up a real tree, which he potted up today. I nipped outside before he started the potting to snap a few photos of my ornaments! The tree is now potted up outside the front door, covered with lights :) As for the ornaments, they're safely indoors on our artificial tree--which is just as well, since we had a freak shower of hail a few hours after the pictures were taken!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Snowflakes Ornament

After mentioning my craft fail yesterday, today I managed to rescue a ‘failed’ project! 

I found some snowflake-shaped confetti left over from a prank I pulled on a friend back in college (we’d always fill each others cards with glitter or confetti to make a mess...!). Having seen some cool ideas on various blogs (see below) I felt inspired and made this snowflake ornament:

The base is just a regular polystyrene ball. I’d already tied on a ribbon to make a loop, and the silver fabric was part of yesterday’s craft fail.
Basically what I did yesterday was cut lots of little squares of silver fabric with pinking shears, then – lacking PVA – used Pritt Stick to adhere it all to the ball.

It was sticky, and I got covered in tiny specks of silver. After that, I didn’t like my ornament.
But then came the snowflake confetti and the dressmaking pins!

I pinned on the confetti around the bottom of the ball first, and then the top, with the final row being around the centre of the ornament.
In the last stages I found the pins were meeting each other inside the polystyrene, but fixed this easily enough by wiggling the pins a little. 

So some pins, confetti and sore fingers after (I’d recommend a thimble for pushing all the pins in!), I’d turned my fail into something good!

And here are the projects that I was inspired by!

Aren't these projects awesome?! I love how many inspirational ideas can be found in the land of blog!
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