Decorative reindeer decoupage

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Returning home after a fantastic (and knackering) season on the coast I am now back on the crafting trail! Being home in the all so familiar run up to Christmas, that somehow this year started mid October, has given me plenty of opportunity to churn out those Christmas crafts. I’ve got far too much stuff – more on that thinking another day – so decided it is time to make and do and sew all this projects or give them away to somebody who will.

I got a little obsessed with the idea of very outlandishly fake taxidermy last year and my mum got me this perfect cardboard reindeer head to decorate. Safe to say I was super excited to be able to transform it into something creepy, yet beautiful. Popped straight to the shops to get a variety of papers – experimenting with the cheaper options such as tissue paper as well as the specific (and crazy expensive) decoupge papers.

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First things first – I brought a tiny bird house – perfect for a bit of experimentation! Conclusions: it is worth spending the time and effort painting the base in the appropriate colour (white). You can use tissue paper but it does rip and crease so so much easier than the more expensive papers. I personally favour to rip my papers into odd shapes rather than cut into specific shapes and squares.

It was pretty tough deciding what should go where as I like all the papers but got there in the end by just getting on with it and not thinking too much. Incorporated a bit of painting and staining to add another dimension. Don’t think I can argue it takes the crazy down much mind. I’m super happy with the end result, and this bad boy is going to be staring  at visitors from the wall for years to come.

The materials my projected used were; 3 different decoupage papers; watered down PVA; white paint; gold paint; 2 glass pebbles (eyes) and oak varnish/stain.

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Crocheting Tails…granny square project…slippers

crochet booties

Crocheting Tails – end of week – project time!

Once I “mastered” the humble granny square I really wanted to make something, a real useable something! And I did! After trawling around the blogsphere I came across this amazing concept of using granny squares to make a slipper. What?! YES! AWESOME!

This project has come along with perfect timing as a good friends birthday is on the horizon and she deserved a special present. Last year I made some home stamped shortbread and a jar candle but this year I wanted to up the anti with some slippers/socks.P1070017

I used Purl Soho (what a name!) to start me off. My squares were a lot smaller than hers so I did an extra round and missed off the extra line on chain around each square. I did the squares the way my mother taught me and they seemed to come together just fine. Her blog was invaluable however when it came to crocheting the squares together – now those were some instructions!

slippers side view

As you can see below each slipper is made up of 6 granny squares. I chose to make the bottom squares plain and the others all uniform. The time it takes to make the slippers can be worked out based on how quickly you make your granny square though give at least two evenings to get them crocheted together. That was the bit that tricked me out at the end!

Granny square slippers

I’m a happy bunny – I like the way that the colours have come together. I only worry that they might be a little big but then all one would need to do is sew up the sides slightly and that would fix that. I’m going to have a little break from crocheting now but will be making ME some of these when I get back!ladies crochet slippers

Crocheting tails…day four…becoming a granny square

Armed with a few good stitches under my belt, tonight was the time to expand. Taking what was created on day two, I simply expanded a further two rounds, changing colour every round. It has become a mini granny square, perfect to transform into a coaster!

Feeling pretty happy with chain and treble stitches, tension is mostly on the up and even managed a pretty subtle colour change! Onto the bigger and better.

first ever mini granny square

Crocheting tails… day three … swimming in circles

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I’m giving Mr circle-square a break today as we conquer the mighty circle…almost.

For the first time instead of mum making something up on the spot we decided to follow a pattern. Both mother and I learnt a new stitch, the bobble stitch (not to be mistaken with the popcorn stitch). Using a blog (which I can’t remember -sorry!) and a useful YouTube video we (think) we figured this one out. It’s pretty much an over excited treble stitch. The colour changing is just as uninspired today as day two, maybe another YouTube video is called for.

I’m in love with the overall finish, my favourite blob thus far. Reminds me of a star or flower. The more you look the better crazy owl eyes they become!

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Crocheting tails… day two… adding a round

I’ve managed a second day, and in the same week as the first too! Must be an exciting project!

Day two… adding a second round in a different colour!

The evening started with creating an exact copy from day one, with less dodgy tension. This was pretty fantastic in itself. I got a better understanding of how to hold the hook and yarn at the same time. But shall this small victory be enough…NEVER! I also changed colours in a very dubious fashion and then repeated similar steps as the first round. This is sets of three trebles, going into the corners twice, chain and slip stitch. Used a smaller hook today which was a definite advantage.

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Circle-square thing starting to resemble something you may actually recognise as crochet, and the beginnings of a humble granny square.

 

Crocheting Tails… day one… finding fins

New year and time for a new skill. I’ve been wanting to crochet for a long time, I have all the equipment and a mother who is a wonderful teacher, so procrastination no more! This is the start of a short series journaling my exploration of a new craft, CROCHET.

Day one…finding I have fins.

This evening we had a go at learning a few basic stitches, and made a circle-square sort of thing. I learnt (and may even remember) how to “cast on”, apologies for the knitting terminology. Followed by learning chain stitch, treble stitch and slip stitch. Below, four sets of three trebles interspersed with two chain stiches and finished with a slip stitch. Tensions is amusingly terrible. Feeling pumped!Crochet day one

DIY teabags. Dead simple.

Homemade teabags

A handful of materials = awesome homemade DIY teabags!

My boyfriend never used to drink tea…ever…then he met me…converted! So what better than some homemade teabags to go along with his birthday presents.

Easy peasy DIY teabags

Materials – coffee filters, loose leaf tea, thread (sewing machine), embroidery thread/string and card.
Take you coffee filters and cut them into whatever shape you like and big enough to hald 1 1/2tsp loose tea. I chose some classic rectangles and some extra large circles. Leave one side of the shape sealed to keep the two sides together while sewing. Giving around 0.5cm as a seam allowance, pick your (or his) favourite colour and sew up the three open ages. Cut the remaining sealed edge and you have a pocket just asking for some filling!

Coffee fillter tea bags

For a normal cup size I used one and a half tsp of loose leaf tea, I doubled this for my extra large circle teabags, I have a special mug in mind for those! Spoon the mix into the pockets you’ve just created.

Full pockets

If using a rectangle, fold the two corners into the middle and the point it forms down. Under the point place one end of a piece of embroydery thread/string. Either using your machine or by hand, sew the fold down to secure the thread and close the pocket. If you have decided on a more adventurous shape, sew up the gap the with the same stitching.

All wrapped up and ready to brew

As an added extra make your own lables to stick onto the loose of the string. Simply, cut a rectangle out of some medium gsm card and decrate. Fold it around the end of the string using prit stick to attached the two sides together. You can be really creative here, I opted to print my face onto card – he’s not forgetting who made him those awesome teabags!

It's my face on a teabag!

Make your own miniature banners as cute and useful cake toppers

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It was my birthday last week!! And there is this strange English tradition of bringing cake into work on your birthday (you bring in your own cake – who knows who invented that one). But as an eager baker it is a great excuse to try and make a GBBO showstopper. We are a pretty big team at around 22 so I decided to make a lemon blueberry layer cake, who I affectionately (not really affectionately) named “Dumpy & Dense”, but let us not linger on that disaster. I also made some sugar-free brownies from a trusty source and BBC Good Food.

P1020683 I wanted to dress the cakes up a little to show them off around the office as well as letting everyone know what they were getting into, especially those pesky dieters. I decided to make miniature banners as cake toppers instead of following the cakes round announcing them – plus they are CUTE!

P1020670 All you need is medium weight card, coloured felt tips, pen, scissors, ruler, double sided tape and 2 toothpicks. Depending on the size of your cake and how lengthy your title/description is depends on how big you want your topper to be. For my 9 inch wide monstrosity (I’m allowed to call it that but don’t you get any ideas) I wanted to keep it elegant and clean so made slim banners, but made two to ensure I could fit all the text on. They are 1.5cm down and around 20cm long, with little triangles cut out of the ends. After they are cut use a felt tip (I love the Berol broad and fine liners) to colour around the edges and do a pattern.

Cake toppers You might want to make a plain topper in paper to get the folds the way you like before doing the real thing – learn from my mistakes. I did this bit by eye but you want to fold a little less than one third in from the end, front to back. Do this on each side. Now those bits you folded back – we are going to fold them forward again by about two thirds of that piece. Do you folds at a slight angle so that the back fold can be seen at the top. If you are a little unsure practice on some paper first.

Finally write your message, probably not best to go with something like Dumpy & Dense if you actually want people to eat it. Happy? Good. Grab your toothpick and wrap double sided tape around it covering the top 1.5cm. Place inside the first fold and squeeze shut. Repeat on the other side and then all that is left is to pop it on top of your cake. P1020690

Wedding token- Mr and Mrs origami penguins

Marriage penguins1

Weddings are beautiful and amazing, and unfortunately a mine field for gifting. The increase in online wedding lists at shops like Amazon or John Lewis are taking a little of the magic away. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they are used, and it is for the best to get a gift that you actually want and can use, however, this doesn’t mean that you cannot throw in something a little homemade and special too – a touch of real wedding fever! This origami couple are a doddle to make, and you don’t have to stick to penguins…but FYI penguins are pretty awesome.

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It doesn’t take much but will make the happy couple smile when this penguin couple pop up out of a card or fall out from a present. I mean when you are sifting through blenders and slow cookers who wouldn’t be delighted to get a visit from a cute penguin couple giving their well wishes!

I have a origami book which I brought a little while ago and so used those instructions, however the internet is riddled with them so if you don’t succeed with one try another and there is no need to buy a book – unless you plan on getting knee deep in all sorts folding. I have a friend who has a Starwars origami book! Anyway happy making!

Penguin Collage

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Elephant lover birthday bunting card for Mom

Elephant card

April is still birthday month, with Dad’s card down Mum’s to go. The best thing about homemade cards is that you can draw inspiration from the person’s hobbies or interests or favourite colours.

My mum loves elephants – always has and always will. From that I thought of all those cute silhouettes of baby elephants clinging on their mummy’s tail whilst trekking across the bush. Plus it is a card for my mummy so seems rather fitting! I must confess my first instinct was to try and draw the elephants myself, after two attempts I realised that wasn’t going to turn out a pretty card (or anything that really resembled an elephant either).

Elephant card for mom

I sneaked my card to work with the brilliant idea to print the design straight on. It is not my normal style since I think you run the chances of loosing that homemade element but in this case because there was further work to do I settled on it. I found the images of “African trees” and the elephant duo, pasted them into publisher. I did a few test prints on paper to get the alignment just right before printing my final copy on the card stock.

From here I folded the card in half (yes it was a rather big card!) and put my Crumpet Creation stamp on the back. Draw lines between the trees, little triangles for each letter – I used a nice shiny gold pen. Colour each triangle with coloured pencils then write each letter with a good black pen – the font style is up to you. And it is that simple.