We went to visit friends in Bristol this weekend and my friend Caroline (who has excellent taste in art,) had just bought three prints which I was really taken with. The colours were so vibrant in real life and a little quirky.
It turned out they were by a friend of hers, Hannah Carding, and available on Etsy.
Fun fact of the day: The collective noun for a group of ladybirds is a ‘loveliness’.
How’s that for a lovely start to the week?
PS I like the tea towels too…
Just a few spring buys I’ve spotted…
Petit Bateau Tres Chic tee £44
Perfect for a hint of spring but not so much you’ll look out of place now layering it for colder days.
Grey Chevron Rug, Urban Outfitters £69
Priced for style and something you wouldn’t be afraid of a baby playing on.
Tweedmill grey and neon blanket, Urban Outfitters £75
Warm, cosy and spring stylish!
Conran Salt and Pepper mill set, M&S £29.50
The stylish pair I was looking for at Christmas and failed to find.
Breathable Monkey toy TESCO £9.95
This is made from innovative mesh fabric which you can breath through, so I’ve started leaving it in the cot with Bea when she is napping for her to play with a bit before she drops off and it’s settling her really well!
I’ll ‘fess up now and admit, this isn’t the ‘Make something with your hands’ prompt I had planned to share but what d’ya know, January has whizzed by and instead of feeling it has passed me by, I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed all of it with Bea.
This is however something I have been planning to do for ages. I’m a huge scented candle fan and often buy them or am lucky enough to receive them as presents. What always bugs me though is that last centimeter or so at the end when the wick runs out of lovely scented wax. I’d always wanted to do something with it and now I finally have. I melted down each of them and layered the wax with a fresh wick and made ⅔ of a new candle with the leftovers from just 4 other candles that would otherwise have been binned!
So, you’ll need:
- An assortment of old candles (scented or otherwise)
- Some new wicks (I bought 20 from Amazon – 10 Pre Waxed Wicks For Candle Making)
- A clean, dry container for your recycled candle
- A medium sized saucepan and a small plastic pot
- Use a knife or something sharp to scrape the candle ends out of the pots
- If you are using scented candles then you will have to melt the wax individually and layer the scents, but if it’s just old wax, then you can melt the whole lot together. This is similar to melting chocolate for cooking, so just bring a pan of water to a simmer and float your plastic pot with the old wax in it on the water until it all melts. Keep an eye on it, it’s usually quite quick, and you don’t want the pan to boil dry and melt your pot to the pan! The wax will melt clear and you’ll see the old wick floating around. Remove the wax from the heat and fish out the old wick carefully – it will be hot!
- Centre your NEW wick in the clean and ready container for your new candle – you might want to balance it against something (like this knife in the photo) to keep it centred, which is important otherwise your wax will melt unevenly as it burns. Then pour in your wax and allow to cool.
- Repeat the process for each separate candle and scent, allowing to cool between each layer.
- Finally trim your wick to about 1cm long then light and enjoy!
Of course you can also clean up the empty glasses and containers that the other candles were in (I just use hot soapy water after melting the excess and wiping them out with kitchen roll,) and use them as vases or pots around the house for pencils or make-up brushes. If you’ve got any you really love you could even buy some wax chips online and make new candles so you can keep enjoying the decorative pot.
Did you ever make candles when you were younger? I had loads of DIY craft kits for candle making – it was fun to do it again in a grown up way!
Have you made anything this January?
One of the things about starting to wean Bea is that it has made me re-evaluate my own diet. That and New Year optimism made me think I should be making more soups and when my friend Jess said she had made beetroot soup I thought I’d give it a go too, fascinated by the idea of the colour it would come out. I really enjoyed it and as they say it’s good to include a variety of different coloured vegetables in your diet, I think this will cover pink and red for a while.
Adapted from this Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe
Makes 1L soup
4 large beetroot, cut into chunks
1 clove of garlic
500ml low salt stock
1 can of plum tomatoes
1. Chop the beetroot and throw into a roasting tray with the garlic clove and some olive oil. Roast at 200 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft.
2. Dice the onion and soften with some oil in a large pan.
3. Add the beetroot and garlic, then the tomatoes and stock.
4. Simmer for ten minutes
5. Blend or blitz to a smooth consistency before storing in the fridge or serving with crumbled feta cheese on top or a dollop of creme fraiche.
Let me know if you try it! Now lets recap #JanuaryJoy so far…
So far I have done:
(Another) new recipe (for Gingerbread!)…
Talked about a few of the smaller projects I plan to tackle this month/year…
and I have embarked on learning a new skill with the Pen and Peplum #52handlettered challenge.
Erin also talked about your style updates for January (see how she’s wearing them here,) and Esme shared how she gets organised as a working mother.
Other posts from around the web:
Sarah from Glasgow Mummy set some health and fitness goals
Sian from Little Star & Me captured the memories with a round up of baby books.
How are you getting on – please do leave a link to your #januaryjoy moments (- even if they are just photo’s, it doesn’t have to be a whole blog post!) Or tell me about what has been making your January Joyful in the comments box!
Sorry. Festive pun. But I’m not sorry…
If I didn’t laugh right now I would cry, things are so unfinished in the house. I think a few people who have heard me say this have wrongly assumed it was a need for perfection that was stressing me out pre-Christmas, but in fact it’s a need for safety – we have children visiting and wires, boxes and heavy/breakable items (granite hearth propped up against a wall anyone?) everywhere wasn’t my idea of a relaxing Christmas for me, or I imagine their parents! We are so close to having the lounge finished but there will then be a gargantuan effort to tidy/clean in time for relatives arriving on Christmas eve. Then I might just curl up in a corner with Bea and let everyone get on with it!
Photography: Jemma Watts // Styling: Laura Sawyer // Styling assistant: Rosanna Johnson
Getting back to that pun… This year I decided it might be nice to DIY some crackers (because I have so much free time…) and I’m persisting with the idea dispute the chaos as it’s turning out to be keeping me sane whilst I’m stuck in with tradesmen, trawling the internet for little gifts and ideas. I was fully braced to completely DIY them after seeing a DIY featured in 91 magazine (the latest issue is out now!) and so I asked Caroline to share the stylists tips here…
Cracker Snap pulls were sourced from Ebay at £5.99, and you’ll need some toilet paper tubes. The stylist stuck a snap pull to the inside of a tube, filled the tube with presents, then wrapped the whole thing up in beautiful wrapping paper from Paperchase, and tied it off at the ends with ribbon from John Lewis.
How easy does that sound? Unfortunately in my disorganised state I hadn’t pre-collected the necessary loo-rolls and didn’t have time for snaps to arrive so I ended up with a DIY kit from M&S but I’m still happy filling them. I love that if you make your own you can label them for each individual person and gift accordingly, as well as tying them in with your table decor scheme. I’m planning on activities to keep the kids busy at the table, chocolate and treats for the ladies, with possibly a lottery ticket or something for the men. Crackers are always full of rubbish anyway, so why not fill them with stuff your family and friends will love and even tweak the jokes or motto’s into dinner games for between the courses?
Makes sure you check out the new issue of 91 magazine (there are some really great interiors and printables for Christmas in this issue,) and thanks to Caroline for sharing the crackers!
I don’t know about you, but it’s getting close to that time of year when you start racking your brains for gifts for your best girls. Not just your best girls, but your best girls that have virtually everything and need basically nothing. Well, nothing that I can afford to buy them anyway so I’ve come up with some thoughts of my own.
Over the past year or so a couple of friends and I decided against buying things for each other, instead we’ve purchased and arranged things-to-do-together. Let me tell you about a few to get your mind ticking…
Tatty Devine Necklace making at SelfridgesBoth being fans of Tatty Divine jewellery, I decided to take my friend Laura to a Tatty Devine “pop up” to design a personalised necklace.
You pick up a little card, write the word(s) you’d like on the necklace, select your font, charm and chain by ticking the relevant boxes, and then, using the cute samples, select your colour scheme. If you’re like us – always in a state of FOMO-Decision-Paralysis – you’ll spend a good hour deciding on these various factors alone.
You then hand over your form, pay and within an hour or so it’s ready to pick up. The best bit was that the pop up was in Selfridges so whilst we waited we did some Christmas shopping (ahem… self gifting…) and spent some time catching up in the bar. We could have hung around to watch the necklace being made, but after perusing the rest of the stand and mentally spending hundreds of pounds creating bespoke charm bracelets and necklaces we thought it best to step away!
Keep your eyes on the Tatty Devine website or blog for news of their next pop up, or book on to one of the many workshops here for a more hands-on experience.
Gin Tasting at the London Gin Club
Laura and I share not only a love of quirky jewellery but also a love of gin. It was a bit of a no brainer then, that an evening at The London Gin Club was an experience to share!
I purchased a tasting voucher from their sister site London Peculiar and a few vintage-looking postcards to pop in the envelope with the voucher and then booked us a table.
The voucher entitles you to a tasting menu of a number of gins in little labelled vials (very Alice in Wonderland), bottles of tonic, large glasses of ice and tiny plates of fruity, floral or herby accompaniments chosen carefully to complement the flavours of the gin.
I’m not sure that I learned a lot, but we had a lot of fun!
Personal shopping at Topshop
This was a gift I received in return from Laura. She booked in to the Kensington store rather than the Oxford Circus one as we thought it’d be a bit of a calmer experience. Upon confirmation we were sent a form to complete with the usual details on height, dress and shoe size, eye/hair/skin colour and other vital statistics along with questions around the kind of outfits we were looking for (a special occasion, an interview, a festival, a holiday etc), style icons and any other relevant information such as a long-standing inability to find a particular item or a longing to try a certain style.
I was preparing for a number of big weddings, one of us was planning an Ibiza capsule wardrobe (hand luggage only!) and the other a new fancy work wardrobe, so we spent a delicious few hours together answering those questions with gusto. Those responses could form a blog post in themselves, but I won’t bore you with them now!
Upon arrival we were welcomed in to a private room, given glasses of champagne and instructed to relax on the couches, chat and flick through their stacks of magazines whilst they prepped the changing room with our dressing rails.
I’ll be honest, I was expecting to have a brilliant time and to try on some new pieces but I wasn’t expecting great, life-changing things from the stylist’s choices, as I like to think I know my own sense of style and how to push its boundaries myself. I have to say, she hit the nail on the head with almost every item she chose. She managed to capture our signature styles perfectly and find a way to make each of us step out of our comfort zones. I walked away with what can only be described as a miracle – new jeans! – as well as some accessories and a fresher outlook on my personal style. Apparently I’m not too old for Topshop!
It was free to book, so buy a voucher for your giftee to spend on the day and it’s a gift and an experience all in one!
Butchery class at the Ginger Pig
Not one that I’ve taken part in myself, as I’m not in to cookery and I’m not a big meat eater, but it went down a treat with my husband. My friend and I purchased a voucher each for our menfolk to attend one of their classes, bought them both a Ginger Pig cookbook, popped the voucher inside the front cover and wished them both a very happy birthday.
They booked in for a “pork” class one Sunday evening, which started with a professional butcher talking them through the various cuts of meat, as he, well, disassembled the pig. Along the way he gave them information on each cut, how and when it’s best to cook it, what to ask your local butcher for and so on. The class were then tested on what they’d learned as they reassembled it under his watchful eye, and then moved on to more useable skills such as de-boning, wrapping and tying butchers’ knots.
The class finished with a mouth-watering meal and wine before they were all sent home with what seemed like their body weight in prime cuts of pork. Guess what we ate for dinner for the days that followed…
Like I said, not a personal interest for me, but if you’re in to cookery, this seemed to go down a treat!
Cocktail class at Harvey Nichols
Trying not to dwell on alcohol too much, I’ll refer you back to the blog post I wrote about this a little while ago. Again it was purchased for a friend’s birthday and the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning with two of my favourites doing something fun and memorable – Check it out here.
Other gift experiences that have I have received or gifted have included a night at the cabaret (with dress up accessories for the night included in the gift box), fascinator making, Segway racing and white water rafting and chocolate tasting (as described here.)
And so, as I enter the final stages of my Christmas shopping, have you any ideas to give me in return?
PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.