A DIY: Hand distressed painted picture frames

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about going to the Ruby Rhino Furniture painting workshop and all the inspiration and confidence it gave me to get on with a DIY painting project that I have in mind, (coming soon to the blog!) While we were there we also were allowed to paint a photo frame that we then took away with us to practice our technique and Hannah has very kindly allowed me to share a brief overview of what is involved. I’m pretty proud of mine!

I chose to ‘distress’ mine as it was my favourite look, but this was of course only 1 of several techniques we mastered on the day.

So here is how you could make something similar for your home, with thanks to Hannah and her Dad at Ruby Rhino for showing me the techniques.

1. First, take your chosen frame and give it a very light sand over to give the paint a ‘key’ (otherwise known as a bit of grip!) The paints we were using actually didn’t require this but I think it’s good advice for most projects, it certainly won’t do any harm.

When you are ‘distressing’ a piece, you remove a top layer of paint to show either a contrasting colour underneath, or perhaps to reveal the actual wood. In my case I wanted to have another paint colour coming through so I started with my base colour of mid-grey and gave it a single coat all over the frame.

2. After allowing it to dry, you then rub a piece of candle all over the frame, concentrating on the areas that would naturally get the most wear to make the distress look authentic – think about the corners and any raised parts of your frame. This is where your first coat of paint will eventually show through. Be liberal!

3. Next, apply a second coat of your contrasting paint – this will be the colour of the final piece and I chose a deep turquoise blue.

5. Once the top coat has dried, take a piece of light sand paper and start to buff off some of your top coat, gently revealing the colour underneath. This takes time and don’t go too heavily – or you’ll go straight through to the wood. Take it slowly and keep standing back to look at it and decide where it needs more distressing. Most importantly – know when to stop!

6-7. Once you are happy with the effect you have created, apply a layer of soft clear furniture wax all over the piece and allow to dry. Once dry, buff it off with a soft cloth, to seal your paint effect.

And voila!

The print you see here in the frame is by Brighton based photographer Cassia Beck on Etsy that Hannah sells in her shop. I decided to fill the frame there and then, as it’s often had to find something that suits once you get home and the photographs were beautiful – see more here.

Do let me know if you have any questions and thanks once again to Hannah from Ruby Rhino. I’d highly recommend the course if you have a project to plan, if only to give you the confidence to tackle to job!


Friday Food: DIY Ombre cake

So, since leaving the world of wedding blogging, I don’t have much occasion to delve into the wealth of pretty found on wedding blogs. I do however love my Pinterest account and find so much inspiration there. When there isn’t a wedding to plan I’m often found busy figuring out how to work something I’ve found there into my life instead.

Birthday sprinkles cake // Pink ombre cake with flags // Purple Ombre cake // Pink Ombre slice

Today’s Friday Food is an ombre cake, something I fell in love with and found via wedding pins but think works just as well as a celebration cake. I made this one to take to my work the day after my birthday to celebrate with them and thought I’d share some tips. There are a wealth of how to’s on various sites (See the list at the end of ones I read,) but really all you need is a dense-ish victoria sponge recipe and frosting. This is my own go-to Victoria sponge recipe (one of Florence’s actually!) if you need one.

For the sponge cake:8oz Self raising Flour
8oz Caster sugar
8oz butter (I usually use somewhere between this amount and half, depending how virtuous I’m feeling, it works just as well)
4 eggs
a splash of milk
and your chosen food colouring!

Buttercream Frosting:1/3 of a pack of unsalted butter
250-300g of icing sugar, according to taste.
a splash of milk

Method:There are 2 ways to mix a sponge, the easy way and the traditional way. If you have a food mixer there is nothing wrong with throwing everything into a bowl and whizzing it up. I’ve done this on many an occassion and it’s worked perfectly, save for the odd air bubble!.
If you want to do it properly, here’s how…
Add the butter and sugar together in a food mixer and ‘cream them’ until the sugar/butter mix is light pale and fluffy.
Next add in your (beaten) eggs and incorporate.
Lastly sift the flour in and mix together gently with your food mixer on a slow speed. Add a splash of milk to loosen the mixture if it’s too stiff, it should pour, but very slowly!
Now divide the mix into 4 equal portions. Keep one aside for the palest layer then add food colouring to the remaining three, to create a slightly more intense colour in each. I wanted mine pale so went easy on the colouring, but the strength of colour is up to you. Just go slowly, a little food colouring goes a long way!
Place each colour mixture into a separate 20cm cake tin and bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top. To test if they are ready, insert a skewer and ensure it comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

While your cakes are cooling, mix your frosting. Start with the butter in cubes, at room temperature and mix it (in your food mixer again) to become smooth. Add the icing sugar bit by bt and try not to make an icing cloud int he kitchen – you may want to add it by hand to avoid this then use the food mixer later on to whizz it up into a lighter frosting. Add a splash of milk to loosen it as required.

Assembly:Sandwich each layer together with a dollop of frosting, spread out to a couple of millimetres thickness. If your cakes are particularly ‘dome shaped’ on top you might want to slice them off to make them flatter and stack better.
Next use your remaining frosting to ice the sides of the cake using a palete knife to press it into the cake as you spread in one motion. Pay particular attention to filling in the gaps between each layer at the edges.
Finsh with the top! Don’t worry about having enough frosting, there is plenty here, but if you are concerned just apply a thinner layer and continue to build up evenly.
Decorate your cake as you see fit, I used simple sprinkles for a party finish!

Next step? Enjoy!

Feel free to shoot me any questions you have in the comments box, I’ll help if I can!


Real Homes: Thrifted Colour

This afternoon you’re in for a real treat with a real home tour by Zoe from Conversation Pieces. I knew as soon as I found her blog that I had to ask her to share her home with those of you who don’t already know her via her blog. As Zoe says below, it’s right up my street because of all the colour and the seriously quirky style she has curated through a mixture of ‘finds’, up-cycling and fantastic taste. I am more than a little bit jealous of her colour mixing skills.

When Rebecca first emailed to ask to feature my home, I was delighted… not the least because I’ve always loved how bright and colourful the Florence Finds logo is!

If you’ve come across my home before, you’ll understand why I think we’re a great match. If not, well, this little tour will probably show you why.

So… a little about me. Well, I’m an Edinburgh-based copywriter and freelance writer, who’s secretly a ‘frustrated artist’. Yes, my fondness of interior design comes from the fact that I can’t paint but I can paint furniture. (I think it’s why I also like styling and photography so much too!)

I’m also a bit of a thriftoholic (ok, maybe a big bit). My ideal day sees me hitting a car boot sale early and coming home with lots of lovely finds.

Our home gave me the perfect excuse to hone this ‘talent’… after buying it, we had next to no money (and no furniture) so decorating and furnishing our home had to be done on a very strict budget. Always one for a challenge, I became an expert at recovering old chairs from Freecycle, spotting bargains on ebay and tarting up charity shop finds.

Except that wasn’t the only challenge… the flat we fell in love with and moved into straight away was missing windows, had no heating, no kitchen, no modern plugs and no hot water. We must have been bonkers – but we were head over heels with the place! (The only low point was when my now husband tried to recreate a shower using a plastic bucket and some tepid kettle water over a freezing to touch cast iron bath… I may have uttered a few expletives that day!!)

Fast-forward three years and we still have some bits and pieces to do (no more than most people)… and we have a home filled with colourful things that make us smile. From our wedding sign that hangs in our kitchen to the felt ball rug I made in the living room, everything has a happy memory attached to it.

It’s not the first flat I’ve owned, but it’s the very first that anywhere has ever really felt like ‘home’. Though that’s probably more to do with who I live with… and that the fact that he loves as much colour as I do.

Are you not in awe of Zoe’s talent for combining her finds? This is the sort of home that always makes me green with envy. I never know how you make it look so cohesive, like all those things were meant to be together!

If you’re the car boot type (and I wish I could make myself forsake that Sunday morning lie-in!) then Zoe has some great tips here. Head over and have a look and do tell me your favourite part of her home, I’m way too in awe to choose! Thank you so much for sharing Zoe!


Florence’s Florals: A DIY Easter tree

Yay! Just half a working day before the long Bank Holiday weekend and I hope you all gain some inspiration for easter decor and general floral loveliness from todays post by Becky Hay from Blossom

Hello Findettes, I hope this DIY post will bring a Bank Holiday weekend full of sunshine your way. Last month I mentioned that spring in the shop heralds the arrival of the Easter window. It’s one of my favourite displays of the year. A tree of branches decorated with colourful eggs, rabbits and chicks.

I can’t remember how old I was when my Mum first brought home the box of tiny carved wooden decorations to hang, but it has become as much a family tradition as the Christmas tree and I now uphold the tradition in my own home.

I’m not religious, more of a ‘Mother Nature’ kind of girl which is why I think the pagan tradition of the Easter tree appeals so much. The trees originate from Europe, most likely Sweden, where they are often decorated with feathers and eggs. Although decorations are widely available in the UK now, look out for the more unusual and intricate ones if you’re on holiday in Europe. I purchased the white eggs in the DIY photos below in Prague one November.

The two DIY’s I’ve created for you are, as always, to inspire you. There are no rules, just make what you fancy out of whatever you can find easily to hand. I’ve included some additional Easter tree images to give you even more food for thought as well.

DIY 1 – The Anything Goes Tree
What you’ll need:

  • A vase/ jug/ urn/ pot – choose something with a wide neck if you want to fill it with lots of flowers as well as the twigs.
  • Twigs – I used white Blossom in bud
  • A selection of mixed Spring flowers – I used Hyacinths, Narcissi, Tulips and Roses
  • A small piece of florist’s foam – soaked.
  • Decorations to hang

What to do:

  1. Wedge the florist’s foam into the base of your container before filling it with water.
  2. Arrange the twigs in the centre of the container using the florist’s foam to secure them.
  3. Take your largest flower, in my case, the hyacinths, and arrange them amongst the twigs.
  4. Next I placed the narcissi through the twigs and other flowers, cutting them at very different lengths. Florist’s tip – pick off the dried papery protective hoods from narcissi or daffodils before displaying them. Your design will be a little more polished.
  5. I cut my roses short and used them at the very neck of the container and finally added the tulips. Tulips continue to grow even after they’ve been cut so use them to flow through your arrangement. You can support their heads with the twigs.
  6. Once you’ve placed all of your flowers, make sure your container is topped up with water and have fun hanging your decorations.
  7. Keep the water level topped up and remove individual flowers as they wilt.

DIY 2 – The Simple Option
What you’ll need:

  • A vase or Jug
  • Twigs of your choice – I used contorted Hazel twigs which don’t need water and can be stored away and re-used next year.
  • Real eggs
  • Thin ribbon or very fine string
  • I used the small headed Narcissi Soleil d’Or but regular Daffodils will have a similar effect

What to do:
Firstly, I hold my hand up and admit that I didn’t make the hanging egg vases. I cheated and bought them. That’s not to say that you can’t make them yourselves with a little patience and a gentle touch!

  1. To make the vases you will need to gently take the top off your eggs, empty the contents out (I suggest into a mixing bowl, ready to be baked into a delicious cake) before rinsing the shell out. The tricky bit will be piercing the holes in the sides of the egg to thread a thin piece of string or ribbon to create your handle. I suggest using a pin and a cork to press onto.
  2. Alternatively, if you’re a boiled egg fan, just save the shells once you’ve enjoyed your breakfast!
  3. Hang your eggs and fill each of them with a little water.
  4. Cut your narcissi very short and place them into your egg vases.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter break and that this will inspire you to bring some Easter cheer into the house. Do let me know if you’ll be creating an Easter tree this year.

A display that cheerful can’t fail to warm your heart and home for Easter – I’m inspired to go and make something beautiful for my easter table now.

As always, Becky is around if you need to ask any questions, fire away and let us know if you’ve been inspired by her Easter tree.


Florence’s DIY Mani-tips

Hello lovelies!

This afternoon it’s a ‘beating the January blues’ kinda post, because what can possibly cheer you up more than a slick of colour on your nails?

You may be a regular getting your nails done, or have never ever had them done, either way, there’s always a time when you might need to paint them. For a special night out perhaps, or maybe you’re a regular polish addict and want to save some pennies by DIY-ing at home sometimes. For anybody who needs it, this is my DIY guide to painting your nails with success and the top products that I use each and every time to make it last.

The Products:
I am a firm believer in painting your nails properly. That means using a base coat and a top coat and I have 2 great recommendations for you.

Leighton Denny Base coat

First up. Leighton Denny Base Coat. This dries matte and I have no idea how it makes the colour cling on so well to your nail, but I couldn’t be without it. It’s quick drying too so needn’t add any time to your routine. It’s a little more than your average nail polish in terms of price but I’ve had mine for 3 years and it’s still going strong.

For a top coat, it’s the cheap and cheerful Rimmel Pro Super Wear Top Coat. This has 2 great actions – firstly it really makes a difference when it comes to chips and making the polish last, but it also gives a wicked shine to any colour. (Please note, this polish is clear, but mine has taken on the colour of the polishes I layer it over, most notably Rouge Noir.) 😉

On the left here, you’ll see my Leighton Denny Miracle Drops. These are a must for people who smudge out of impatience. You drop them onto the nail as soon as you’re done with your top coat and the chemicals suck the oxygen out of the polish making it dry quicker. You can apply several times if you’re in a hurry and it really works.

Bodyshop Almond oil nail and cuticle treatment

You will also see I have photographed a cuticle oil that I use occasionally. It’s cheap and moisturises the nails well -I used one before my wedding and dip in occasionally now, worth a try if you struggle with yours being dry or scraggy.

The How-To:
First up, start with clean, filed nails. I use the Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File and prefer mine short and square-ish. I bought the mini file (£12) over a year ago and it’s supposed to have a lifetime guarantee. It’s also make light work of the job – I hate filing my nails, surely we all have better things to do with our time?

Apply your base coat first coating the whole nail from the cuticle up and right to both edges.

Once that has dried, start applying your colour. The trick to looking like your nails were done professionally is all in the base of the nail. Try to make a straight line with a millimetre or two’s gap from the cuticle. I like to press the brush onto my finger half way up the nail then edge it down to create this line, before swiping it along the length of the nail. I do each nail in 2 quick strokes. Be decisive! It’s when you stress over getting it straight that you wobble! Like the base of the nail, don’t paint right to the edge of the nail either, it helps avoid mistakes and elongates the nail if yours are short.

If you’re messy (and it happens to everyone) just use the nail of the other hand to scrap it off, or wrap a bit of tissue tightly around a cocktail stick and wipe away – you can also do this at the end to tidy up if you dip it in a bit of nail polish remover.

How to paint nails

I applied 2 coats of this fab metallic white gold colour from Topshop – it’s like molten metal on and I’d recommend it for this time of year – it’s bright enough to look cheerful for spring, but also wintery with it’s glitzy edge. 🙂

Next apply your top coat. The Rimmel one has an extra wide brush so you should be able to do the whole nail in one coat, try to take it a tiny bit wider than the actual colour and slightly lower, to really seal in the edges.

Finish with the Miracle Drops and Voila!

(I took this photo less than 2 minutes after applying the miracle drops and you can see they are touch dry already. They wouldn’t take a big knock or swipe but the drops are incredibly good.)

Let me know if you like DIY-ing and found this useful or of course if you have any recommendations for products to try that make a DIY manicure easier.

Lots of fancy-fingered love,

Florence’s Florals: A DIY Christmas Berry Wreath

Good afternoon readers!

This afternoon we have part 2 of Florence’s Festive Florals with Becky from Blossom. It’s the second of her 2 wreath tutorials, this one is still rustic but more traditional and includes living elements, hence us deciding to post it closer to Christmas – it will last through the holidays if made this weekend. Enjoy!

Hello again, and welcome to version 2 of the festive wreath tutorial. If you haven’t already seen the rustic winter owl wreath, pop over and have a look, as the principles for making them both are identical. I’ve used fresh materials in this version which will look good for a couple of weeks if you keep it somewhere cool. Please don’t be put off by the amount of text below, once you’ve mastered how to wire each piece, it really is very easy. And once again, please remember that there is no right or wrong addition to a wreath. You can add as little or as much as you want, of whatever takes your fancy.

What I used:

  • Large ready made willow wreath
  • Fresh ivy trails
  • 2 x stems Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ – this is also available in bright red from all good florists
  • 8 x natural pine cones
  • 3 x whole dried oranges
  • 6 – 9 x dried orange slices
  • 9 x cinnamon sticks
  • Natural raffia
  • Medium – thick gauge florist stub wires

What to do:
1. Wrap pieces of trailing ivy around and through the wreath. Secure it by tucking into the gaps in the wreath frame.

2. Wire each item that you want to attach to your wreath. You may find it easier to wire everything first and attach the pieces to the wreath afterwards.

  • To wire the Ilex: Cut each piece of Ilex down to approximately 2 cm below the lowest branch of berries. Fold a piece of wire in half to form a hair pin shape and hold it against the base of the piece of Ilex. Wrap one half of the wire around the base of the stem and the other end of the wire to secure.
  • To wire the pine cones & whole oranges: Take a single piece of stub wire and dig the middle part of the wire in between the scales at the base of the cone (the fatter end), pull each end of the wire down, and twist them together as close to the bottom of the cone as possible. Pull each end of the wire back together and straighten. In floristry terms this is called a ‘double leg mount’ – the two stems of the wire are known as ‘legs’.

Use the same principle to wire the whole dried oranges, piercing the base of the fruit with the wire.

  • To wire the orange slices: Group 2 or 3 dried orange slices together, overlapping them so that you can see the segments of each slice. Pierce through both of the slices at the base, pull each end of the wire down and twist the wires together to secure the slices.
  • To wire the cinnamon: Make 3 bundles of cinnamon sticks by wrapping a wire around the middle of 3 sticks and twisting the wires together. Don’t worry if the wire feels quite loose, you can secure the cinnamon by using a piece of raffia to wrap over and around the wire. It not only secures the bundle, it also hides the wire in your display. Tie the raffia in a bow or knot on the top of the bundle (the opposite side to the twisted wire).

3. You can now attach each individual piece to your wreath by pushing the wires through the gaps in the wreath and twisting them together at the back of the wreath to secure. Tuck the excess ends of wire back into the back of the wreath so they don’t scratch your front door.

4. Tie a big bow using the raffia and pierce through the back of the bow with a wire. With the bow at the centre of the wire, pull the two ends of wire together and twist together. Use the wire legs to attach the bow to your wreath in the same way you’ve attached everything else.

5. If you need to create a hook to hang your wreath from, you can use a piece of raffia or a piece of wire.

I’ll be on hand later to answer any questions. Just leave a comment below 🙂

Thank you Becky!

Did you have a go at last week’s wreath, or will you be attempting this one – perhaps this is more up your ‘Christmas Street’?

Do leave a comment if you love it, or if you have any questions as Becky said – Becky will be back in the New Year with more Florence’s Florals!


Christmas Inspiration #3 – Table Decor by Pocketful of Dreams

Welcome back this afternoon folks and I hope you’re all basking in a smug glow of cool factor after reading this morning’s music post by Penny B.

This afternoon however, you might want to put on your favourite Christmas mix tape and get festive as my lovely friend Michelle from Pocketful of Dreams is popping by to help you bring some serious festive style to your Christmas table.

Decorating the table for festive food is one of my favourite decor projects and I try to do something different every year so I can’t wait to share what Michelle has in store for you. Michelle burst onto the planning scene about a year ago now and I really rate her creativity so if you’re looking for help with any kind of event, please do look her up (details at the bottom of this post.) Thanks Michelle, it’s an honour to have you!

Christmas Table decor by Pocketful of Dreams
Image Credit: Style files

As a creative event planner this time of year is really my favourite. Everywhere looks so pretty and inviting with the twinkly lights, a warm glow, festive sounds and general feelings of merriment. It’s like little glitter fairies have been allowed to play all across the land, what could be cooler?

This feeling of celebration, decadence and abundance is essentially what most people wish to capture for their Christmas feast, with an invitingly beautiful table all expertly laid out with fresh flower centrepieces, unique place settings and the most beautiful chinaware.

But in reality, with lots of people squashed round a table that’s too small, borrowed chairs of varying styles and heights (come on, own up who does the bring a spare chair thing?) and a mountain of food that could probably feed twice the amount of people, the practicalities of dishing up the Christmas dinner can often overtake the stylish dreams of even the most creative host.

Image Credit: All the Beautiful Christmas

So here’s my tips on how to create a super-stylish, yet totally-real table this Christmas:

The Planning

  • If space is a real issue for you then consider serving the food in a separate serving area rather than all those dishes jostling for space on the dining table, let each guest grab a plate and help themselves, it keeps them busy and adds to the feeling of feasting.
  • Before you even start to dress the table, think about who will sit where, note where the chair legs fall and if you really need to sit someone in that spot, make sure it’s a man. As the host always make sure your chair is within easy access of the kitchen for gravy top-ups and checking on the Christmas pud.
  • Last year we had 14 for Christmas dinner so we used two dining tables, improvising by bringing the garden table indoors, once it had a tablecloth and various pieces of decor added no-one was any the wiser and it gave us plenty of room to spread out. If space is an issue in your dining area or kitchen consider moving into another area, can you extend the tables into a hallway or living room for example?
  • If you’re stuck for space on the tabletop then a fancy tablecloth will provide some much needed impact, think bold colours in keeping with your decor, or maybe add in a vibrant table runner to give another dimension to the table, striped and checked ones work really well.
  • If you want to make your table interactive then why not turn your tablecloth into a guestbook? Let everyone doodle away on the cloth, maybe sign their names with the date and a sweet message, then have someone stitch over the doodles for a permanent reminder. You could get this out year after year and look back on all the messages.
  • The essentials you’ll need for the table in addition to all the cutlery, crockery and glassware: A tablecloth, a table protector or heatproof mats, napkins and napkin rings, place mats, place cards, decor items such as candelabras or votives, centrepieces and don’t forget those Christmas crackers.

Christmas Table decor by Pocketful of Dreams
Image Credits: Angel at Table, Tabitha Emma, Stipje, & Real Simple.

The Place Settings

  • There are so many ideas for making the place settings interesting, I always use a charger plate in a contrasting colour as my base and plain white chinaware on top.
  • You can make the napkin into a bow-tie shape for a fancy touch, or make your own napkin rings from ribbon and twine, adorning them with natural elements like ferns and cinnamon sticks, perfect for adding a little festive charm, not to mention a wonderful scent to the table
  • I love the idea above of having a peppermint candy cane or a christmas ornament as your place setting, adding a handstamped or handwritten manilla tag (like the ones you get in the post-office) is a really quick and simple way of making these into place settings, and they double up as gifts to take home too
  • Or if you prefer something a little quirkier why not give everyone a snowglobe, a miniature christmas tree or a cute little figurine as your place setting gift instead. If I got the little man adorned in glitter below left, well I think I may just love you forever.
  • Again if space is a real issue on your table, why not create a place setting that can hang over the back of the chairs, Christmas ornaments and bows are perfect.

Christmas Table decor by Pocketful of Dreams
Image Credits: Sitting in a Tree, Martha Stewart, Home Klondike & House to Home.


  • A festive decoration for the centre of your table will always add that little extra something to the proceedings and there are so many ideas for Christmas centrepieces that you dont have to restrict yourself to just florals.
  • A vintage cake stand filled with sparkly Christmas ornaments is a quick fix if you’re pressed for time, or fill beautiful enamelware to the brim with moss, holly branches and ferns and a few pillar candles, if they’re scented then even better.
  • Bowls of fresh fruit, like those red apples below, make an interesting display, simply add a co-ordinating ribbon and plenty of berries
  • Paperwhites are also perfect at this time of year, I actually love these so much, and once flowered are really fragrant and beautiful
  • Although you can’t beat a bunch of seasonal fresh flowers adorning the table at Christmas. Crisp white and luscious red flowers look wonderful in simple containers, or you could try single arrangements of cedar branches, spider mums and eucalyptus in contemporary milk glass vessels.

Image credits: 1. Blossom Floristla, Real Living, Mochatini & Sjarmerendejul.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed my festive decorating tips and I’d love to hear what you have planned for your table this year.

Michelle x

Please do leave Michelle a comment if you’ve enjoyed her post and share your Christmas plans…


PS Find Michele online at PocketfulofDreams.co.uk or on Twitter @PocketfulDreams. The blog is well worth adding to your reader 🙂

DIY MakeUp – The Lady is a Vamp

This morning we’ve got another DIY tutorial for you and it’s just a little bit bold… I really wanted to try this as part of the looks we shot for the DIY tutorials, I really fell in love with the vampy looks I saw in the September issues and strong lips have been slowly creeping in for a couple of seasons now. The tricky bit is just how does the average girl pull it off? I think there’s no mistaking that this is a party look, so that’s how we staged it and it’s also one that perhaps darker skins are going to be more suited to wearing, therefore I hope you’ll welcome the lovely Mahj who leant us her fabulous pout for this look 🙂

Image Credit: Zoe Hodson. Makeup, Catherine from Ivy Clara Makeup.

Catherine from Ivy Clara, the makeup artist who glammed Mahj up, is going to talk us through how to create this look – take it away Catherine!

This year, dark lips featured a lot in the A/W collections of a number of design houses. Some of my favourite looks belonged to Gucci, Givenchy and Holly Fulton where dark, glossy lips were the ‘black’ cherry on the cake. I loved this look and stared in awe at the gothic-esque models with their pale skin and vampy look, but even as a makeup artist, have been a bit scared to try and pull this off on my own pout. I should not have doubted this gorgeous winter look. In my opinion it’s all about less is more. By that I mean a dark lip looks classy, but on an average girl like myself, to team it with a dark gothic eye as seen on the Givenchy catwalk, would definitely be too much. Being brave with makeup is more to do with being clever with makeup. Look in Vogue for ideas of course, (I am addicted to the magazine) but don’t assume that the looks you see can’t be transferred from the catwalk to the sidewalk! Think, ‘Maybe I could wear a bright pink lip but leave the orange eyeshaow out’ or as in the case today ‘Maybe I could actually wear a dark lip, but with a little warmth to the skin and a neutral eye…’ Here goes ladies. The makeup for Holly Fulton’s collection, in my opinion, was one of the most wearable, and inspired me for Mahj’s look.

For this look, I created a matte, flawless base, lightly bronzed. Eyes were highlighted with gold to create a really ‘expensive’ finish. The black element was added to the eyes only by lashings of jet black mascara and lips were a sumptuous glossy shade resembling black cherries.

1. Create a flawless base by applying a medium coverage foundation strating at the centre of the face and blending outwards. Skin coverage is needed mostly in the centre of the face so this method ensures that skin is not over loaded with product. Next, apply a concealer such as Laura Mercier’s ‘Secret Camouflage’ under the eyes and pat with your ring finger (the finger with the lightest touch,) or lightly buff with a fluffy brush like the Mac 224. Mahj’s facial skin is flawless and creamy in colour which worked well with this ‘vampesque’ look. A subtle ‘warmth’ was added by sweeping bronzer lightly across the forehead, bridge of the nose, cheekbones and chin. I used Daniel Sandler’s Mineral Bronzing Powder. This helps to soften a winter complexion.

Image Credit: Zoe Hodson. Makeup, Catherine from Ivy Clara Makeup.

2. For the eyes I began by sweeping a light gold irredescent eyeshadow all over the lid and ended just above the socket line. I took this colour right into the corner of the eyes to highlight them. I used L’Oreal La Couleur Infallible Eyeshadow in ‘Goldmine’.

3. To create socket definition, I then applied a rich bronze to the outer socket line and buffed this into the gold base underneath. For this, I used Illamasqua Pure Pigment in ‘Rich Russet Bronze’.

Image Credit: Zoe Hodson. Makeup, Catherine from Ivy Clara Makeup.

4. I then added a soft brown line along the upper and lower lash line with Mac’s ‘Espresso’ Matte Eyeshadow to create definition. This finish created a look a lot less harsh than a black eyeliner would have.

5. I then lightly combed through Mahj’s eyeborows with Mac’s Brow Set in ‘Beguile’ to create a groomed look without being too harsh.

6. Next I tackled the lips. I didn’t use a lip pencil as I wanted to ensure the line created was the same colour as the lipstick. These days, a good lipstick does not ‘bleed’ and their formulations lend themselves to being used in this way. It also saves you having to buy a lip liner in various different colours – especially if you are only experimenting! I used a fine lip brush with short strokes until I had taken the line around the entire lips. You can then go over again until you are happy with the lip shape. Don’t attempt to draw a solid line without stopping, this will more often than not look wonky! The product I chose to use was ‘Rouge Interdit – Lune Carmin Lipstick No 52’ by Givenchy.

Image Credit: Zoe Hodson. Makeup, Catherine from Ivy Clara Makeup.

7. At this point I should add that even makeup artists can make the odd mistake, especially with such pigmented colour! Clean up any mistakes with your concealer brush and a spot of concealer. Next fill the lips in with the same colour and blot before re-applying.

8. This could be the last step for the lips but I really wanted Mahj to have a glossy lip to create even more glamour. I added a thin layer of gloss in a similar colour over the entire lips. To create this I used a gloss by the same Givenchy range which compliments the base colour, ‘Gloss Interdit – Lune Carmin Lip Gloss No 31’.

Image Credit: Zoe Hodson. Makeup, Catherine from Ivy Clara Makeup.

9. To finish the look I added lashings of black mascara, tipping my hat to Givenchy but avoiding a run in with Dracula.

I think this is such a strong look, but it’s also a grown up one. I love seeing women who aren’t afraid to play with makeup and are no longer wearing it so everyone thinks they look ‘pretty’ – men included, but because they love it. This is what this look is about for me. I’ll be wearing it come the festive season with loose curls and sparkles 🙂 Thank you so much Mahj, Zoe Hodson and Catherine for showing us how it’s done!

I’d love to hear what you think of this look – is it something you do or don’t like, or have we made you consider trying something new?


PS. I have posted this in the comments below, but as a few of you have been asking for advice on shades for paler skins here is a twit pic of me wearing the same look. Catherine will pop by later to give advice on other shades too. xo

Spotted: A DIY necklace

Good afternoon readers!

Today I’m sharing a DIY that I gave a little peek to you all of in my monthly round up last week. It’s a project I found over on Glitter Guide – one of my favourite daily reads and just had to get me some of.

Image Credit: Rebecca Norris using Instagram, for Florence Finds.

I’m a huge fan of a statement necklace, but I have to admit that often when I try them on I feel like they really take over, or are wearing me rather than the other way round. Perhaps the well spaced chain or the clear crystals makes this one easier to wear but I love it!

Image Credit: theGlitterGuide.com

I do have to confess however, I am a bad bad DIY-er and actually asked my Mum to make this for me. It’s a super easy DIY and I could have done it without much effort. (so don’t be put off!) Not only was I a bit time strapped but my Mum makes jewellery all the time, so it was much easier and she scoped out the best place to find the parts you will need 😉

I always find half the battle with DIY projects like this (particularly from the US,) is that it’s difficult to track down the component parts so I thought I’d include links to what my Mum used to re-create it.

PJ Minerals is the shop she uses (in Ainsdale, Southport, if you happen to be local!) but it has an online store which all the links above are for, and where you can also find the clasps, links and tools to make the necklace – Bead Sales.

I think all in all she estimated it cost about £4 to make, and I think it would make a fantastic gift for your friends this Christmas.

You can find the whole DIY crystal drop necklace tutorial over on Glitter Guide.

Do you like? Would you like to see more DIY on Florence Finds?


Spotted… Advent Calendars

It’s not too late! With a few days to December the 1st, if you’re looking for an advent calendar, there’s still time to make a purchase.

I spotted this super cute option over at Daisy Ley last month and have been holding out to post it but now is perfect timing to make that purchase!

I love the little messages and festive instructions that you get when you turn each little flag over. 🙂

Alternatively, Cox and Cox are having an advent sale for all their advent products, including these advent stickers (add each number to your display to count down the days,) or advent pegs for your treats or DIY essays.

There’s also a DIY advent kit for you to try your hand at making something as pretty as this Advent calendar with fabric pockets and ribbon or felt embellishments.

Too. Cute.

Will you be having an advent calendar this year?


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