Handmade Christmas presents.

30.12.12

I made a couple of cross stitched pieces as Christmas presents this year and would have made more had I had the time. I love cross stitching but it can be very time consuming so this year I only managed to make two gifts.

One was a pattern from Cross Stitcher magazines with a row of pretty pastel houses with some felt leaves, the other was a pattern I bought from Etsy (here) declaring "keep calm and drink wine".


The house design took quite a while to make but I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I have got plenty of leftover fabric and thread so I am thinking about making another one to keep. This one went to my sister and her husband.

Each window has white backstitching which is a nice detail when you look closely and I really enjoyed incorporating felt especially as the colours were so pretty.

The "keep calm" pattern was much quicker to stitch and I really enjoyed making it. This one went to my mum who likes... well, wine obviously!


Did you make any presents this year?

My homemade Christmas cards.

26.12.12

First things first, I hope you all had a very merry Christmas indeed and you're all stuffed full of chocolate and turkey and all the rest of it.

I feel so lucky this year as I received so many wonderful presents and got the chance to spend a few days with family including my sister and my brother in law who live on the Isle of Man so I don't get to see them very often.

Unfortunately my Dad has spent Christmas in hospital due to a recent knee transplant operation but we have all been visiting him and took him some presents to open on Christmas Day. It turns out the Christmas lunch in the hospital wasn't so bad and he has been showered with food by visitors so at least he isn't going hungry. Fingers crossed he will be out in the next couple of days and can take it easy for the rest of Christmas into the New Year.

I'm back home now with Jonathan (well, I will be when he gets back from watching ice hockey!) and on the cards tonight there are festive leftovers for dinner, The Artist to watch and no doubt I'll be playing with my new Kindle Fire HD (thanks Mum & Dad!)


I made my own cards this year and they have had some great comments by family and friends (and people on Instagram) so I thought I would share a few photos with you. They weren't massively cheap to make as I needed a new supply of cards and envelopes, and I bought loads of ribbon and the snowflake stamp. But next year I'll be set as I've got all sorts of bits left over.

I cross stitched different images onto white aida in red and white cotton then backed them onto either red card or red felt. I also embroidered "Merry Christmas" onto white aida and used tiny gold seed beads for the dot above the i. I had a few scraps of felt in my stash already so it was nice to use that up and I've got plenty of red card left for next year.


I rearranged bits of ribbon, snowflakes and the cross stitched/embroidered pieces willy-nilly and off they flew to friends and family.

I didn't really have a plan when I started making them but I think they came together quite nicely in the end.

Do you make your own Christmas cards? I must admit I only made around 10 of these as I ran out of time so we sent out a few shop-bought ones to make sure we didn't miss anyone out but hopefully if I start a bit earlier next year I will get enough finished (August should do it I reckon!) ;)

Merry Christmas everyone x



Izabel London.

22.12.12

I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of items from Izabel London recently and I must apologise as it has taken me so long to share them with you. My camera hates indoor pictures but as the rain hasn't eased up enough to go outside and there is not much light outside pretty much ever, alas... I took a few indoor photos. The woes of being a blogger in the Winter ay!

Crochet collar blouse c/o Izabel London

One of the items sent to me, which I love, is this metallic crochet collar blouse in black. It's perfect for this time of year as it's easy to dress up or down with the little pop of sparkle on the collar. So far I have worn it with skinny jeans to go out for dinner but also in a more casual outfit with a cardi on over the top. It's a contender for my Christmas day outfit as I don't normally wear anything really dressy but this, paired with jeans (and a paper hat!), would be perfect.

It's a generous fit but I quite like that as it means I've got plenty of room for mince pies over the next few weeks.


I hadn't heard of Izabel London before they contacted me but they have some lovely items on the website and the prices are really reasonable. If you fancy treating yourself you can get 10% off until the end of the year using the code LLL10%.

The ones that got away...

21.12.12

The downside to being organised and writing your Christmas list in October is that by the time Christmas rolls around you a) forget what you asked for and b) think of another few things you'd like to find in your stocking!

Anyway, I'm most grateful to receive any kind of present and you can't beat getting a good old surprise, so as a bit of fun let this list be the items I'll have to buy myself in the New Year ;)

A "onesie"

How could I forget to put a onesie on my list?! I have wanted one for ages and after trying to find one for somebody else over the past few weeks it seems they have either sold out everywhere or are about £50! Anyway here are a few of my favourites, sold out or otherwise.


A woolly hat

I am not usually much of a hat person but I'm constantly cold and/or suffering from a bad hair day so I'd love a woolly hat to keep my head warm and cosy. You can't beat Accessorize for good hats. The heart one with pom poms is amazing!


A "geek" tee

I know the world and his wife have this Topshop tee but I really like it and would love the green one. At £18 it's not going to break the bank too much although I do have a bad habit of wearing nice tshirts to bed after a while. Oops!


A retro ice lolly neckace

When I found the shop hand over your fairy cakes I instantly loved the retro ice lolly necklaces, especially the Twister version. They're only £20 and would jazz up a plain outfit perfectly. I'm not much of a jewellery wearer these days but I love things like this, and it's also nice to support independent jewellery makers.


Lippies

I used to be lipstick mad and had loads to choose from, with a particular love for bright pinks. I have been wanting to try Topshop lipsticks for a while as the colours are really pretty and I have seen so much of them in the blogosphere. I'd love to find a red that suits me, for nights out. I love the look of Lady Danger by MAC but I'm sure there must be a cheaper alternative out there.


What is on your Christmas list (or forgotten list!) this year?

Sanctuary Bathtime Bliss gift set.

20.12.12

When Sanctuary asked if I'd like to review one of their gift sets I jumped at the chance. It is not often I'm bought "smellies" so it was a real treat to receive such a great set of items. The set I got was a surprise and it turned out to be "Bathtime Bliss" which retails at £18.00.

The contents are: 75ml bottle of Luxury Bath Float (Clouds of bubbles. Irresistible skin-softening ingredients & a sensuous oriental fragrance for the perfect long, hot soak), 75ml bottle of Body Lotion (24 hour moisturisation. Easily-absorbed hydration with stimulating ginger & jojoba to replenish skin), two small candles and a Classic Fragrance Diffuser.

Bathtime Bliss gift set c/o Sanctuary Spa

I am familiar with Sanctuary products from seeing them in Boots stores and buying the big jars of scrub for my Mum (she loves it!) but I haven't used their products regularly myself.

As I am going through a bit of an obsession with reed diffusers and candles at the moment this gift set couldn't be more perfect for me, and I am sure it would go down well as a gift for others similar in tastes to mine.

Having recently purchased a diffuser for our main bathroom from Dunelm Mill which makes no difference scent-wise whatsoever, it has been well and truly booted out of the way for my new Sanctuary one which smells really nice and makes a noticeable difference to the scent of the room. The candles have a nice fresh, feminine fragrance too and look nice on display with the diffuser.

I'm planning a pre-Christmas pampering night tomorrow evening while Jonathan is at his office Christmas party, so I will be lighting the candles and having a posh bath. I might even take a brew in with me! This will give me chance to give the bath float a whirl. I have used the body lotion a few times and it's nice. It has a strong, distinctive scent and sinks in nicely, leaving a fresh, pleasant fragrance behind.

I do love a good gift set (who doesn't!) and this one is a winner in my book.

This and that (cookies, hangovers, new slippers and peace signs).

17.12.12

After the drama of last weekend (emergency vet visit, etc!) this weekend was a little more chilled out and relaxing with a girly night out thrown in for good measure. My friend and I went into Sheffield for a cocktail (or two..) and some 90s music at our favourite place on Saturday night.

Consequently Sunday was spent resting my weary feet and wondering when the ringing in my ears would go (a sign I am getting old surely!) I also did the first bit of baking in ages and made some American style soft cookies with white chocolate chips. Normally when I make cookies they resemble rock hard frisbees but these turned out really well, soft and chewy, so I'll be making another batch soon. The recipe said to use Smarties so you could stick anything in them I guess!


I added another bracelet to my Etsy shop on Saturday. It's a teeny tiny peace charm on cotton cord. I just added grey, dark peach, emerald green, navy blue and gold cotton to the options too so there's definitely a colour for you in there! Plus they're only £2 each so it would be daft to buy just one! ;)


Now.. when I ordered the Dakota Ugg's from Sarenza with my last ambassador code I wasn't quite sure whether they were outdoor shoes or slippers but in a moment of madness I ordered them anyway. I am pretty sure now that they're slippers (what do you think?) so that's what I am wearing them as. Yes £87.00 for a pair of slippers is quite a hefty sum but let me tell you, they are so comfortable. Cold feet are a thing of the past and I absolutely love them!

I have been compared to a Grandad on more than one occasion but I'm okay with that.


Dakota slippers by Ugg Australia c/o Sarenza

In this post I told you about a new framed print we picked up in Sheffield by an artist called Jim Connolly. Well I completely forgot to share it with you and as it's been hanging up in our spare bedroom/computer room for quite some time I thought it was time to take some photos. It's a comic style print poking fun at Meadowhall and is one of several from a series featuring a Sheffield theme. We loved all of the ones the shop sold but this made us chuckle the most.


I think this blog post has been sufficiently random enough to end with a photo of Lola looking cute and back to her normal healthy self... £188 and lots of tears later!

Katy Lou Designs.

14.12.12

My sister and her husband had a beautiful wedding keepsake box made to store photos and other bits from their trip to Vegas back in April, and it was made by their friend, Catherine, who runs Katy Lou Designs.

When I needed to buy two special 30th birthday cards recently (one for my sister and one for my friend, Katy) I thought a personalised card each by Katy Lou Designs would be perfect as I "like" her Facebook page and am always a huge fan of her creations.


The process was very simple. I contacted Catherine directly and asked if she would be able to make two cards for me by a set date and she could indeed. I gave her an idea of the recipient's favourite things; for my sister Las Vegas, shopping, shoes, makeup, and for my friend baking, pottery painting, knitting, sewing and generally being crafty.

Both cards arrived together in swift time and were absolutely perfect. They were so much better than I had imagined which is all down to Catherine's creativity and eye for detail, down to the tiny whisk on Katy's card along with teeny tiny knitting needles and a bit of completed knitting to boot.

I will definitely be using Katy Lou Designs again for some special personalised cards in the future.

Fired Arts, Sheffield.

12.12.12

A couple of weeks ago I visited Fired Arts in Sheffield for the first time for an evening of wine, nibbles, decoupage, pottery painting and mosaic making. I knew about Fired Arts as my friend has been quite a few times so when her friend organised a girly night and I was invited along I decided to give it a go.

I was a little bit apprehensive about the pottery painting side of things as I am not blessed with much artistic talent or patience, but once we arrived I spotted the Decopatch stand and decided that would be much more suited to my limited skills. Plus they had such a huge choice of things to cover in pretty paper from 3D animals to Christmas ornaments and everything inbetween.


Our evening session (7pm until closing time at 10pm) cost £15 each and for that we could pick items either up to the value of £15, or higher and then pay the difference. All of the items ready to be painted or used for decoupage have the price written on so it's easy to pick items in your budget.

I wanted to do the deer head but at £25 it was a bit too extravagent for my first visit so I chose a wooden teapot and sailboat, as well as a small pottery bird. My friend chose an owl tealight holder and picked perfectly pretty colours to decorate it with.


With the decoupage I got to choose one new piece of paper from the stand as well as having 4 big baskets full of scraps to dip into.

I didn't produce the neatest decoupage that the world has ever seen but it was really fun and I definitely want to have another go. In fact I popped to Hobbycraft to stock up on supplies last week (as it's much closer to me than Fired Arts) but their selection was rubbish so I have been looking online to buy a few bits instead. Failing  that I will have to pop back to Fired Arts! Oh what a shame ;)


The bird I made has pride of place on our Christmas tree after I popped a bit of red and white twine through the hole. Now all I need to do is find a way to hang up the sailboat and teapot!

Have you ever done pottery painting or decoupage? Do you have a placed like Fired Arts near you?


Christmas gift ideas: the one who likes Pugs.

10.12.12

It's ever so easy to write a gift guide about Pug items as I have so many bookmarked and favourited on Etsy, so I have picked some of the best ones to share with you. Any Pug owner/lover (or indeed, your Pug him/herself) would be happy to have them I'm sure!

As I've got one poorly Pug at the moment (Lola has been at the vets for the past 24 hours) and one very confused Pug wondering where her sister is, writing this comes as a welcome distraction to stop me from crying and/or going loopy with worry.

Gemma Correll tees and set of flying Pugs - all Urban Outfitters /
Pug gift wrap and tag set - creaturekebab via Etsy

I have wanted a Gemma Correll tee for ages and Urban Outfitters have quite a few different designs now, including a blue one for the man in your life. Also, who needs flying ducks on the wall when you can have flying Pugs!?

I found the festive Pug gift wrap the other day (or someone tweeted me about it, I can't remember which) and was so excited to see that the seller has a whole host of other lovely things such as ornaments, mugs, badges and an ace wall calendar!

Mint green cameo necklace - KitschBitchjewellery via Etsy / typography eyechart print - handz via Etsy / 
canvas tote bag - squarepaisleydesign via Etsy / crochet pillow - peanutbutterdynamite via Etsy
 
I love these crochet Pug cushions. In fact they come in different designs which are all equally as cute. The French Bulldog is particularly handsome.

I have wanted the "I love you like a fat Pug loves cake" print for so long now. It's under £10 and comes in loads of different colours so it could easily find a place on a wall in our home.

bow tie dog collar - TheRoverBoutique via Etsy / Pug bum crochet ornament - knotbygranma via Etsy /
Pug print - squarepaisleydesign via Etsy / crochet bear hat - HandmadeMonster via Etsy

I know the Pug bum ornament is a little gross but I love it. It always makes me chuckle when I see it, and it would make a great jokey present for somebody. I'd love to hang one from our tree. It would make a great talking point that's for sure!

The bow tie dog collars in TheRoverBoutique would make any boy-Pug look dapper, but they do girlier designs too such as yellow polka dots and pretty florals.

Pug stamp - AyuTomikawaART via Etsy / "surprise" mug - SpademanPottery via Etsy /
party hat stacking ring - ChocolateandSteel via Etsy / iPhone4 case - TheCaseofMrPelham via Etsy

I'm really into little silver stacking rings at the moment and the above Pug in a party hat ring is at the top of my wishlist. It's adorable!

I hope this has given you some good ideas! Also how many times can I write the word Pug in one blog post?!

Life lately (through Instagram) #6 & a trip to Leeds for the "Reetsweet" craft event.

8.12.12

The mug we bought from the Harry Potter Studio Tour gift shop which holds far too much hot chocolate for one person / our first Christmas card which then prompted me to post ours / new candles (a "Christmas Cookie" Yankee Candle and a gingerbread scented Morrisons one) / soup with cheese on toast on a cold day (and one jealous Pug!)

Paper chains from Hobbycraft which I spotted and had to have / having a down day / Pug snuggles / spotting Stollen slices at the supermarket and pouncing on them (they didn't last long...)


Pottery painting with friends / visiting my parents / an early Christmas present to myself (Laguna bronzer)


Making orders including these teeny tiny playing card bracelets / wrapping everything in brown paper and twine / hanging up a new festive purchase on our living room door / comfy Pugs


Last weekend my friend and I caught the train to Leeds to go to the Reetsweet craft event held at the Corn Exchange. I'm from Leeds and lived there until a couple of years ago and I do miss it, so it was lovely to go back and have a wander round the city centre (even if it was freeezing cold!)

I haven't been to many craft events and unfortunately all of the Christmas ones I know of in Sheffield are being held on the same day when I have other plans, so it was a nice treat to visit this one.

I picked up an embroidered case for my phone, a pretty Christmas tree ornament and some soap which will be a gift for somebody. I also had a good look at the jewellery by hand over your fairy cakes which I had seen beforehand and decided I definitely want a retro ice lolly necklace. They're amazing!

After having a good look at each stall and a couple of shops in the Corn Exchange we headed back out into the cold and after a stroll and a pit stop for lunch (hello M&S Christmas sandwich! (the veggie one)) we got our train back to Sheffield.

Do you visit many craft events? Or perhaps you have made things to sell at one? Do let me know :)


Free heart bracelet (today only).

7.12.12

If you place an order between now and midnight (UK time) today you will get a free tiny heart bracelet included with your order. The heart charms are really cute, measuring just 11 x 10mm.

They would make a lovely stocking filler for somebody, or do what I would do and keep it for yourself!

All you have to order is place your order as normal (here or here) then let me know either via the Etsy checkout process or the Bigcartel contact button if you have a preference on colour. Pick between pink, lilac, black, red, peach, light teal, navy blue, turquoise, red or emerald green.


Merry Christmas! xo

Shoe of the month (November): Melissa Ultragirl + Jason Wu.

6.12.12

When I ordered these shoes a couple of months ago with one of my ambassador vouchers (c/o Sarenza) they stayed in the box looking pretty for a wee while as I wasn't quite sure what to wear them with or for what occasion.

Then the cold weather rolled around so it was out with the leggings and cold feet, and in with cosy black tights with boots or pumps. I realised that these shoes would go perfectly with a tights and dress combo to add a little bit of colour (well, you know, gold!) and be a focal point. They've certainly attracted a comment or two that's for sure.

Melissa pumps c/o Sarenza


I'm a huge fan of Melissa shoes anyway so when I spotted the collaboration with Jason Wu I had to snap them up. The design on the toes with the black bow and owl is adorable! They also come in red which I'm a big fan of too.

Once you get over the material of the shoes (and the fact they smell like sweets!) they're easy to walk in and don't feel much different to regular pumps, although if worn with bare feet I find them a little bit squeaky.

I might make the "shoe of the month" feature a regular thing to share the pair of shoes that have been surgically stuck to my feet for that month. These pumps are definitely my shoe of the month for November as once I took them out of the box and gave them their first outing they have been a firm favourite ever since.

What do you think?

Owl see you next time ;) *groan...*


Harry Potter Studio Tour.

5.12.12

Last Thursday Jonathan and I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. We have wanted to go for so long but were a bit put off by the long journey so when our friends said they wanted to visit we decided to make a road trip of it which also coincided with my friend Katy's 30th birthday celebrations.

Due to accidents on the M1 both on the way there and the way home we got stuck in traffic and almost  missed our alloted ticket time and our dinner reservations in the evening, but as we were armed with Revels and Pringles (and a couple of us nodded off on the way home...) it wasn't so bad. We made it in one piece which is the main thing!


I don't want to share too much with you on here as I think it's all best kept as a surprise. I hadn't seen many photos before I visited and didn't really know what to expect so everything came as a huge surprise and it was brilliant. It surpassed my expectations by such a long way and the attention to detail was outstanding. 

So if you want to see a few snippets keep reading. If not, book a ticket and go asap. You won't be disappointed! Promise :)


So what is actually at the Studio Tour you ask? What's not there more like! Costumes, props, sets, masks, inside secrets and tricks of the trade, snippets of information at every turn, how "green screen" works, and if that's not enough for you there's... oh yes, Diagon blimmin Alley and a Hogwarts model! It is like a Harry Potter overdose and we loved every minute of it.

If the inside stuff isn't good enough you then step outside and you will be confronted with food and Butterbeer, before having ample photo opportunities in front of 4 Privet Drive, the Knight Bus, a Ford Anglia and a whole host of other things. And that's all before entering the gift shop!


I love Harry Potter and have done ever since I discovered the books, reading book 4 first then having to go back to the beginning to read them all. The Postman would always grumble when he delivered the new books that all the eager folk had pre ordered from Amazon as they weighed down his post sack! I wore a Gryffindor t shirt to Sixth Form more times than I care to mention, and somewhere in the loft I'm sure there are boxes of old HP jigsaws and teddies somewhere. Also the less said about the jeering I endured queuing at midnight to see the new films the better!

I hope I have left enough mystery for you to plan your visit. If you do, make sure you have a cup of Butterbeer. It's delicious!