#JanuaryJoy: Make something with your hands

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
  1. Use a knife or something sharp to scrape the candle ends out of the pots
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. Repeat the process for each separate candle and scent, allowing to cool between each layer.
  5. 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?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Driving me crackers…

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!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

DIY Advent Calendar round up #ShareAdvent 2013

Those of you who have been here for more than 12 months will remember that last year I participated in #ShareAdvent, championed by Anna from Skin and Blister. The idea behind the whole project is to make sure that at such a busy time of year you don’t lose sight of the little and simple things that make Advent so special. Family activities, appreciating the small things and making time to enjoy it all. I’m going to be doing as much as I can – would you like to join Anna?


Image via Skin and Blister blog

As you can see the prompts are quite ambiguous which leaves plenty of room for interpretation and you don’t have to do them all. I’m so glad Anna has put Share Advent together again – Thanks Anna!
Don’t forget to blog, Tweet or Instagram using the hashtag #ShareAdvent!


Hanging Paper bags // Red Nosed Animals // Branch and Hanging circles // Muslin Bag advent board // Mini Tree advent calendar // Hanging matchboxes // Ridiculously Easy Advent Calendar // Red Envelope DIY

As we’re on the subject of Advent calendars, I thought I’d round up a few DIY advent calendar ideas that I have seen around the internet. You need to get ready folks! Only 5 days until December 1st!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

A Modern Halloween

As much as I love pumpkin carving and fun halloween festivities (you can see the kind of pumpkins I carve here,) this year I have been hankering after something a bit more modern and in keeping with my usual decor. That way, I can use it as Autumnal decor for a little longer than the usual halloween week. I thought I would round up some ideas I have seen for different pumpkins and see what you guys are doing.


Owl Pumpkin // Mini-pumpkins as candle holders // Double dipped pumpkin // Gilded place cards // Chalk paint pumpkins // Gold glitter pumpkin candle holders // White vase pumpkin

So what do you think readers? Will you be carving a pumpkin this year or have I persuaded you to try something different?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Jessica’s Hen: The Flower Crown DIY

Like I said yesterday, I think every hen do needs something that binds the hens together, particularly for the main night out. Some people opt for fancy dress to define you as a group but I think a hen generally wants to get dressed up and look her best. When I was contacted months ago by The Great British Florist to work with them on a feature, at first I couldn’t think what do do with the flowers, then I thought, why not make flower crowns? By the time I was stood up in front of the hens, trying to explain how to make something that I had never made before, it all seemed like less of a great idea, but in my experience, I have never seen a girl with a flower crown who didn’t love wearing it and who didn’t suit it either, so I kept my fingers crossed.

First though, I’ll tell you what we did for the rest of the day…


The Itinerary I made and sent to the hens before the weekend

Our first activity on Saturday was to visit The Thermae Spa. Initially I was planning on booking the Cross bath but in the end decided it would just be like a large bath and the main Spa offered more opportunity to keep busy. In the end we totally lucked out with the incredible weather and spent our time sun screened up in the rooftop pool.

Next up we walked to The Jane Austen Centre which houses the Regency Tea Rooms where we had afternoon tea. I say afternoon tea, but we had it at 1 pm. I didn’t want to add the cost of lunch and felt we would end up eating all day if we did both, plus it’s pretty unnecessary. I originally thought of the Pump Rooms but they don’t take bookings on Saturday unfortunately.

If you’re ever in Bath and want an afternoon tea I highly recommend this one – it was £19 for a mini bottle of sparkling wine (which I was so impressed to find equated to 2 whole glasses rather than the standard 1,) plus the usual afternoon tea sandwiches, cakes and scones. The clotted cream and jam were free flowing and the staff couldn’t do enough to help.

After that we headed home past Bath Crescent to make the crowns. 🙂

As I said, I had never made a flower crown before but I was pretty sure we could make a go of it. As well as the flowers we used some thicker wire, some florists wire (the type that is used for wiring gerberas for example) and some florists tape.

You can pretty much do it however you want but my best advice would be to create small posies of flowers and then tape them onto the wire, working your way around. For the flower crown shy, a side crown or half crown looks great too and is less intimidating, but most of the girls decided to ‘go big or go home’! Once you get used to the idea of it, you get more confident in adding to the general size and shape.

I was totally amazed at how the crowns turned out. Even the less crafty ladies managed great ones and each crown was so different!

We received 3 boxes of flowers from the Great British Florist which contained 2 ‘bunches’ of flowers and foliage in each and had plenty to make our crowns. The Great British Florist specialise in ‘grown not flown’ English flowers and it was really convenient to get them delivered to where we were having the party. If I’m honest I felt there could have been more blooms, but I suspect that may have been as a result of us getting complimentary boxes.

That evening all the ladies donned their crowns and we hit the town for some serious fun.

Dinner was at Graze and then we ended up somewhere much less salubrious for a lot of dancing. I haven’t danced that hard and that long for what feels like forever.

Of course the crowns attracted quite a bit of attention and got passed around a fair bit – bt they stood up to it well and everyone made it home with theirs!

It was epic, I loved every minute.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Thanks to The Great British Florist for supplying the flowers for the flower crowns and to Blossom for supplying the wire and floral tape.

*No flowers were harmed in the making of this blog post 😉

DIY Destination Art

You might remember a little while ago Anna from Angel in The North shared her fab modern china DIY with you all. Today she is back with a brilliant tutorial on how to create your own DIY destination print. It’s a thoughtful idea for a first anniversary or as a gift for friends who have moved house or are getting married, plus it’s budget friendly.

Over to you Anna!

I made this ‘destination print’ for my brother and his wife when they bought their first house recently.

Their travels together, whether for work or holidays, are a big part of their history. For example, they spent an incredible couple of months working together on a project in New Zealand, my brother proposed in Sardinia and they were married at Trinity Chapel, Dublin.

They’d also moved around a lot in London, all the time saving up to buy a place of their own. When they finally achieved that milestone, I wanted to give them a gift that was a fitting reminder of their journey, and to make it even more personal I decided I would make it myself.

And I was pretty pleased with the outcome – as were they, thankfully. In fact my sister-in-law said she’d been admiring similar things online and, before I told her otherwise, she thought I’d bought it. Result!

I used Microsoft Publisher but you can use any programme that allows you to create text of different sizes. Start with a blank document and set up your page as A3 size.

The background should be set as black and your text white. The font I used – the most like London transport typography I could find – was Gill Sans.

As you can see the font is of different sizes – the most important thing is that each line is full from left to right. Your text will vary in height, and you can make some lines bold, but you should try and keep the space between the lines even.

As you can see, my print has 11 lines of text.

I found the easiest and neatest way of adding the text was to create a text box going from one side of the page to the other, before writing your text inside. You can either play around, increasing and decreasing the size of your text and text box, or highlight the text and use ‘autofit’, which can be found in the format menu.

I chose to list special places and events between my brother and his wife, but I also added in the title of their first dance at their wedding, ‘Here Comes The Sun.’ It fitted in quite nicely just above their sun-soaked honeymoon destinations.

But the text can be anything at all that you want it to be.

When you’re happy with the design, print it off and then fit it in a black Ikea Ribba frame.

And there you have a handmade, personalised print which is a great gift to give for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. And the best thing, especially in these austere times, is that it only cost you a few quid and a bit of your time.

Thank you so much Anna! I love the strong typographical look to this print in black and white but you could also customise it with different fonts and a coloured background. Do let us know if you’ll be trying this DIY!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS! Find Anna on her blog Angel in The North and on Twitter @Angel_In_North

#JanuaryJoy – Home Spa

I perhaps should have run this earlier in the month as it is definitely in the ‘budget friendly’ category of January’s activities but I also think it nicely rounds out the outside of your body in a month where so much emphasis is placed on improving the inside.

Home Spa January Joy
Image Credit

I was a late-comer to the concept of spa-days and still hesitate to splash out due to the cost, but I have since being a teenager set aside evenings at home to completely switch off, buff, polish and smooth myself into a state of complete relaxation and then slip into bed early to re-charge.

Here are my 5 easy steps to the perfect DIY home spa experience.

  1. Set the atmosphere. First and foremost, make sure the temperature is right, it’s simply not relaxing getting down to your birthday suit in a draughty house. Light a couple of scented candles, make sure you have towels warming on the radiator, a cover up or dressing gown and a magazine to hand if you wish. You might even want to play some music then start running your bath.
  2. Start at the top. Remove your make up (and nail polish if you’ll have time to paint your nails too) and then cleanse again for super clean skin. Pat your face dry then exfoliate (I use No.7 micro-dermabrasion exfoliator) and dry again. Lastly, apply a face mask to give it time to work while you are in the bath.
  3. Let your skin soften in the bath first then exfoliate. If you need to shave, do it after exfoliating. I prefer body scrubs with an oil base (like this one,) as they add extra softness to the skin. Exfoliate your entire body from the collarbone down, focusing on dry patches like elbows and heels and problem areas like the back of arms or waxed areas. Then do nothing else, just wallow. Read a magazine if you must.
  4. Extract yourself from the bath before the water gets cold and dry off, then slather yourself in moisturizer from top to toe. Gently wipe or peel off your face mask and moisturise your face.
  5. Wrap yourself up in a big fluffy dressing gown or your favourite pyjamas and either head straight to bed with a good book or to the sofa with a chick flick.

(You can incorporate a hair mask into this routine, washing your hair as soon as you get into the bath and applying it while you soak, but I find the hassle of blow drying afterwards negates the relaxation!)

I like to do this once a month at least (although as I write I can’t remember the last time I actually did!) and if you remember throughout winter you won’t have to make any effort at all to be summer skin ready when the warmer weather arrives!

Do you ever create a home spa and have you got any favourite products to recommend?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Make something crafty

Today’s post has been somewhat thwarted by the weather. Each #JanuaryJoy prompt was designed to get me to tackle some of the things I love spending time on but so often get overlooked for life’s mundane tasks. With all good intentions I had my craft supplies at the ready this weekend then was unable to get outside due to snow to do my spray painting and start today’s crafty experiment. But I thought I would share what I was planning anyway and make some suggestions for what you might embark upon.


Image Credit: Up in the Air Somewhere

If you have ever been on Pinterest, you must have seen this beautiful handmade gold stripe tray. Made by ceramics design store Up in the Air Somewhere on Etsy, it satisfies all my design lust and current love affair with rich glamorous gold. So I decided I would make my own.

Initially I planned to buy some clay and make its exact likeness, but not only is that time consuming, but it is also ripping off somebody else’s design. Whilst somebody may choose to do that in the privacy of their own home, I don’t want to encourage it here. I also wanted to keep the cost down, or I may as well buy the coveted ceramic tray, so I bought a simple (purple incidentally,) rectangular tray with handles cut out of the sides from Home Sense, (very similar in shape to this one.) I have worked with gold leaf before, so have a bit of a head start as it can be fiddly, but my plan is to spray paint the tray high gloss white and then tape on the striped pattern and gold leaf the exposed surface on the base of the tray’s interior before removing the tape to expose the pattern and sealing with a varnish.

If you fancy doing the same thing, a quick scout around the internet found me several tutorials of how other people have interpreted the design:

1. This one uses high shine gold tape to get the same effect
2. Use liquid leaf on a ceramic tray for an easy way of getting the glow of gold leaf.
3. The easiest way would be to use spray on gold paint like this (also simpler) design.
4. Or if you’re feeling wild, how about an animal print look?

Do you need a craft project?

Tell me, what will you be turning your hand to this January for a hit of creativity? Inspire me readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS, I’m also planning on making initialed or monogrammed thank you cards with my embossing tool. 🙂

Not being ‘the Mrs’

Losing my Dad at 13 had a profound influence on me, but not just in the way it affected me at the time, but the way I looked at the future. It made me make a lot of decisions about the future – obvious ones like living for the moment and not dwelling on the retirement fund (who knows if you’ll get to enjoy it,) but also a pledge of independence.

I watched with pride the way my mum picked up the running of our household. I dont mean the day to day – obviously she already did the shopping, the cooking and the traditional roles any Mum would do in the home, (actually she was working by then too,) but also the more traditionally male roles. My Mum became our financial decision maker, book keeper, accountant and gardener. Looking around, many women in their fifties might have fallen apart, not even knowing where to start with household admin they didn’t normally even see. She was able to do it because she and my Dad had unusually always done things like that together and of course it would be obvious to say she also had to. I made me realise I never wanted to become the kind of woman or wife that ‘left things to him’.

A few years on, after only 3 years of marriage I can already feel us slipping into separate roles. I convinced myself it was delegation with things like holiday planning when I was too busy or looking for a new insurance quote, but I felt a bit guilty every time I asked Pete to take out the bin! It’s like that old leadership adage, don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t be prepared or able to do yourself.

More recently, its been all about DIY. For over months the cold tap in our bathroom had a washer problem and although the tap turned, no water came out. It wasn’t sudden, both of us watched it get worse for months and neither of us did anything until one day it stopped. I nagged (no, not my favourite word but I’m prepared to admit that’s what it was,) Pete for months, first to fix it and then to get someone who could. He actually didn’t know how to fix it but I wanted him to look it up or something, there’s always Google right? Of course the answer was that I could just as easily have done something about it myself instead of letting it become the butt of every argument. Eventually the tap got fixed (Pete’s solution was to replace the taps, but that’s another story) and before long there was another minor DIY job… the hook the blind cord wrapped around in our bedroom worked its way loose from the wall along with the surrounding plaster and we couldn’t raise the blind. We both carried on, the hook could be left in place and if you crossed your fingers, it might not fall out during the day, but obviously it wasn’t ideal. The nagging started again.

A couple of weeks ago one Saturday morning I realised, I was becoming that woman. The truth was that although I was busy, really I was also out of practice. I had gone from someone who used to put her own shelves up, to being scared to try to fix this minor problem because I didn’t know how to tackle it any more. So I went and found the tool box, customised some rawl plugs to fill the gap and used a shed load of no-nails to secure the hook. Not all that technical I know, but I felt empowered to start doing these things again. Next on my list is the broken bathroom window lock. I’m told you can buy new double glazing locks and fit them yourself…

I guess some women look at men taking the traditional male roles of DIY etc as being ‘looked after’ but I don’t need Pete to do this stuff to show he loves me, I need me to do them, to make me feel strong. So if the worst ever happens, I know I can manage by myself.

I’d love to hear your take on this readers, it’s high time we had a bit more life-discussion around here and I hope to be bringing you more posts like this, but they don’t work without your input and conversation. Do you DIY and how do you feel about apportioning roles in your relationship? Have I made you think about retaining your independence?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

DIY Decor Ideas

I’m having a real surge of interest in my home again right now and for times like these, I like to store up snippets of inspiration I have found around the internet for when the urge strikes. I have been accumulating quite a Pinterest board on DIY projects although they range from fashion to interiors to party ideas. Today I thought I would round up a few of my favourite DIY interiors tutorials that might inspire you if you’re using the longer days to tidy up or do a spot of decorating and design projects.

Do let me know if you’re feeling inspired!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS You can follow me on Pinterest here and if you want to know what all the fuss is about or how you can use Pinterest – check out this tutorial over on Dream. Find. Do. A Bloggers Guide to Pinterest

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