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

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!

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.

Penguin couple1

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

Mr and Mrs penguins1

 

Clever birthday card for DAD stating the percentage we’ve loved each other

It’s my Dad’s birthday today – HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

I’m not going to babble but I made him a card – and I think it is pretty  clever (I sometimes have those moments) and you could use it too! Get some plain card…fold it…find a good pen…you could do calligraphy but there is also something special about a persons actual handwriting…draw out some margins in pencil…copy the messages below minus the first percentage…you could probably make it look tidier than I did…enter the correct percentage from below…rub out your margin lines…vola!

To personalise you need to find the right percentage for you! Now of course your Dad has loved you forever so 100% of your life but he is older than you remember so he has only loved you for as long as you have been alive – see where I am going with this? Take your age (24) and divide it by his age (56) then multiply by 100 and there is your percentage. Might take him a while o figure out what you have done – make him squirm.

Fathers card

Father card back

Make your own solid and hollow chocolate Easter eggs

Stripy dark and milk eggs

It’s Easter Sunday!

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”. Romans 6:8-11

Who doesn’t like a good Easter egg – quite a lot of people surprisingly – but we don’t care about those people in this post. Making your own hollow chocolate egg is easy than you might first think, and there are plenty of reasons to do it too! I’ll give you my top four:
One – They are normally made out of cheap chocolate which doesn’t actually taste that nice.
Two – There are a whole host of ethical problems that come along with most supermarket eggs. Oxfam explain a little in this article and give this article a read too.
Three – They are not just chocolate – have look on that ingredient list and see if you know what all those chemicals are. To ensure that they have a long shelf life there are lots of extras thrown in.
Four. It’s a super fun to make your own and the combinations are endless!

EGGS

The MoUldS

Firstly you need some plastic moulds – we have had ours in the family for donkeys years but it would be easy enough to pick some up from Amazon or stores like Hobby Craft. They come in halves (both the solid and hollow ones) and various sizes. Yesterday I picked to make 2 medium hollow eggs and loads of little solid chocolate ones! You can also get Easter bunnies or make chocolate lollies but I’m all about the EGGS.P1010958

The Chocolate

Firstly you need to melt your desired chocolate (ahem fairtrade). The safe option is on the stove (boil water in a pan and place a bowl with the chocolate on top and stir while it melts slowly), the quick option is in the microwave (chocolate in a bowl for short 30 second to 10 second bursts, stir in between. The chocolate doesn’t have to be completely melted as the hot bowl will continue to do its work up to a minute after). HINT: You want to keep the chocolate really runny through the whole process yes? So fill a roasting tray 1/2 way with boiling water and put over a hob on the lowest setting. Place your bowls of melted chocolate in the water bath and it will keep them warm constantly.

Peppermint flavour

Now you can get creative with your chocolate by adding different flavours – my favourite was adding 3 drops of peppermint essence to the milk chocolate to make it, well, minty. You can also use food colouring in the white chocolate to add some colour – I didn’t bother this time so no pictures I’m afraid. Now you are ready to egg make!

Hollow Easter Egg.

You need a mould as mentioned above (two halves to make a whole), chocolate, spoon, clips/pegs and a fridge – not much see! You do want to work pretty quickly here so make sure you have everything together before you start. I’ll give you a basic example: in one mould spoon in a fair amount a chocolate (you are deciding the thickness of your egg at this point) in the middle. Place the second mould on top and line the egg edges up. PEG your heart out to secure the two halves together and stop your delicious chocolate seeping out the edges. Now dance – you need to twirl and twist and move the mould to allow for an even covering of chocolate everywhere – you don’t want holes! Do this for at least one minute to get good coverage. Remember as you are doing this the chocolate is cooling to form a shell. Dunk in the fridge…one minutes later…take the egg and turn it upside down and put back in the fridge…repeat for 4 times (5 minutes)…half an hour later…turn one last time. You cannot turn it too many times but if you turn it too little when you attempt to take the egg out of the mould one side will be very brittle/thin and likely break immediately. Leave for 4-5 hours and you will see when they are ready the chocolate will have pulled away from the mould slightly and look a slightly lighter colour. Remove the clips and slowly edge the one side off. And you are done! You can give these eggs as gifts but they will need to be kept in the fridge as remember it is just normal chocolate and will melt. Try wrapping them in some coloured foil for a professional finish.

When the eggs ready
The left egg is ready to be removed from the mould but the right one needs to cool some more – note the different colours.

Stripy dark and milk eggs

Mini Solid Easter Eggs.

These are even easier. Again you’ll have a set of half moulds and there will be an even number per sheet normally. Use the same chocolate as with the hollow egg but these you fill each half to the brim. You can mix the chocolate or put in crushed sweets – Werther’s Originals go pretty well. Also if you put in sprinkles before the chocolate they will be stuck on the outside at the end. HINT: it is important to knock out any air bubbles – hold one end and gently tap the other end on the counter top – you might see a couple pop to the surface. Switch sides and do it again. Put the moulds in the fridge until solid. After a couple hours you can knock the chocolate out of the moulds in the same way you would an ice cube from an ice cube tray. Turn upside down and knock on a hard surface, you may need to use a knife to tidy up the edges. Re-melt a little chocolate and you will use this like glue to stick the two halves together. Again store in the fridge until you would like to eat them.

Mini solid eggs

PicMonkey Collage

 

Children’s Easter Egg HUNT with 6 printable clues

It’s getting close to that time of year again…EASTER! Now it is important to remember what the weekend is all about, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But it is also about chocolate. Chocolate in the shape of a pre-baby-chicks ie. eggs! I’m not even a huge chocolate egg fan, but at easter some weird creature takes over me and I am powerless to its’ every whim.

A great way to feel better about plonking down on the sofa and eating your weight in fairly average chocolate is to have to hunt for it first. When we were little’uns our parents used to hide loads of eggs all over the house some little cream eggs others the proper boxes. There were no clues and it was great, running around like headless chickens (I think there is a pun or something funny in there somewhere) throwing them all into a pile. Very democratically our parents used to split them all up fairly between us kids to be devoured. There were always a couple we’d find in Autumn that we missed too! In the later years (I mean my 20s) I persuaded them to make a clued hunt – and I think I liked it MORE!

A clue to lead them to the fridge

A clue to lead them to the fridge

In this post I have also tried my very first FREE PRINTABLE! So super excited I feel like a girl being asked to the prom…an American girl being asked to the American prom! In a group effort between my mother and I we have come up with 6 clues for children to do a little hunt and they are all in your average homey places. So pretty please print the PDF below and have some fun (let me know of those inevitable issues too please). UPDATE ME LATER MY ANNIHILATORS OF CHOCOLATE! Easter Clues PDF

Pillow

A clue for them to sneak a peak under the pillow on their bed!

 

DIY leatherette iPad/tablet case

iPad case DIY

Hello lovely readers… I hope you’re still with me as the blog is not such a newby anymore! And I’m still here so I hope that you are too! You should by now know that I am a big fan of handmade gifts, especially homemade ones too! What do you get the man that doesn’t really need anything? Well you think outside the box. What does he (or she) have that you can build upon. Well mine, he has an iPad semi permanently on his person..but…no case! TaDa!

IMAG1331

IMAG1326

Leatherette is a great vegan alternative to leather, it has a awesome look and feel and there are so many types that you definitely are not limited by picking this option. I’m not even vegan and I still pick to use it so maybe that’ll persuade you to give it a try before you write it off completely.

The first and most important step is to decide your fundamental design and cut the fabric accurately. I did a lot of research on Pinterest looking both at tutorials and cases for sale to get some inspiration before sketching out my favourite features. I like the idea of the bottom being a fold and not a seam, raw edging showing and a statement fastening so that formed the basis of my design. I find it best to find a few statements and then allow one’s imagination to fill in the blanks otherwise you can find you move around in circles.

Lay out the leatherette, place the iPad down with a 1.5cm allowance on three sides then flip it once (this is important as to take into account the width of the tablet itself!). If you are basing your design on an envelope style like me, flip the case again add 1.5cm allowance to the top and cut your fabric out. Now here is your basic to work with. Next shape you envelope/flap by trimming the scissors (remember to add that width thickness all the sides otherwise your envelope might not be big enough! If you want to add something extra try sewing the persons name onto the front, my machine does letters – still a bit of skill is needed so make sure you practise!

Case lined with black linen

I lined the inside of mine with black linen, using a spray adhesive. I then sew the top flat line to keep the fabric in place as well as wanting my stitching to show (a tight zigzag stitch). Sew up the sides, as I already said I put the inside side together as leatherette doesn’t fray and I love the look of exposed stitching! Pop on a statement button (this one really reminds me of a wax envelope seal!) and cut a slit in your envelope for it to go through. If I was clever enough I would have done a button hole stitch..but not too worried – remember that amazing no fray-ness 😀

I really love how it turned learnt a few things for next time. It does have a homemade feel about it but that’s half the charm! I didn’t get any complaints from the man either! I hope this encourages you to give something a try and make your own design/pattern. Happy experimenting!

Mini Jar Candle

Finished candleYou can buy all sorts of candle making kits and they are normally pretty great for the amature candle maker. If you are unsure of yourself give one of these a go and see how you get on.

This tutorial uses a recycled mini jar, wax (which was pre-sented using oils and coloured with old wax crayon shavings), wick and some tissue paper to cover the lid. All you need to make it is a double stove top burner, HOWEVER you cannot share this with you food equipment! I’m also going to give a few suggestions to help the cleaning process.

One. Clean out your jar as normal, fill it with boiling water and let stand. After an hour or so empty the water and let air dry.

Two. Get your wax ready – cut, shave, chip or grate your desired amount of wax away from your block in whatever fashion you like. If it is your first time try a few methods until you find the one that best suits you.

Three. Get the water boiling in your bottom pan. Water and wax don’t mix well, you’ll end up with a hot mess so try to be careful not be splashing around everywhere. Put the wax from point two into the top pan and put over the boiling one. I’m always amazed at how quickly it melts! Swirl around every now and again and when everything is melted take the top pan away. Let the wax cool slightly. Be REALLY careful hot wax is very dangerous!

Equipment for melting waxFour. As you are melting your wax get your final jar prep ready. Trim your wick a little too long as you can trim it at the end. If you are using a tiny jar like me you can wrap the top of the wick (if pre waxed) around a toothpick and balance that on top of the jar giving it a nice central position to ensure the best result when burning. You can use a bbq skewer if you want something bigger.

Five. Put some old plastic packaging where you are going to be filling the jar as wax is a really hard thing to clean away and this way you can just throw away the plastic if any drips…drip. Pour most of your slightly cool wax into the jar (exciting!!) taking great care. Fill your jar about 1-2cm less than your final desired level. Now leave to cool for an hour. As the wax cools you will find that it dips in the middle.

Fill her up

Six. When your wax is cool enough to touch you will find that you have a crater in the middle, you now need to top it up. Use the leftover wax (it needs to be of the same batch – especially if you are making your own wax combinations) which may or may not need to be reheated slightly. Pour this to fill the crater but ensure that it also fills a cm deep across the whole surface of the jar. This stops any problems of air spaces when burning.

Seven. Leave to cool completely, trim the wick. Use paper and PVA to decorate the lid and there we go.

Finished jar

Eight. Now to clean – you NEED to do this immediately…or there will be trouble ahead. Pour any residual wax back onto your block or into a new container. Throw away the plastic you were pouring over. While your pans are hot (but not scalding) use kitchen roll/paper and wipe the inside of the pan. You’ll be amazed at how much wax you cannot see that comes off, I’d suggest doing this at least three times and a quick one in the boiling water pan. No need to scrub in the sink but make sure that you DO NOT USE THIS PAN FOR COOKING FOOD.

And there you have it! I hope you give it a try and I would love to see your photo’s!

Ways to wrap your present to make them stand out

We are almost there! Only 2 more days of Christmas to go for the challenge to be a success and I cannot wait! It’s Christmas eve tomorrow and man am I ready to celebrate!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me… ELEVEN WRAPPED PRESENTS!

I have always liked wrapping presents, but this year I really tried to do something a little special for each. It does take time but when I see people’s faces I am sure that it will be worth every minute. I’m pretty chuffed at the way they all turned out too!

I am going to start with my couple fun and colourful ones. There may even be a couple really silly ones (REINDEER!!) which are great for a younger audience, or those young at heart! Christmas is all about laughter remember.

Patterned paper

Pretty colourful patterned wrapping paper spruced up with a homemade colourful label and some yarn.

Santa belly wrapping

Santa’s BELLY! Some red paper with a simple belt made from black and yellow card.

Big box? Turn it into a reindeer!! Just crumple up some brown paper, paint on Rudolfs nose and add some ears.

Big box? Turn it into a reindeer!! Just crumple up some brown paper, Paint on a Rudolph nose and add some ears. (And a tail!)

Little box? Turn it into a reindeer head of course! A massive red pompom is all you really need to give this fella a personality

Little box? Turn it into a reindeer head of course! A massive red pompom is all you really need to give this fella a personality

Get some pretty paper and stick some yummies on top. I love the candy cane with matching ribbon. Wrapping a couple things together can be tricky so why not place them in an interesting way.

Get some pretty paper and stick some yummies on top. I love the candy cane with matching ribbon. Wrapping a couple things together can be tricky so why not place them in an interesting way.

Now to move onto my more artsy and pretty ones too. I tried to tie the themes into the people the presents were for, since it is about what they like not me! I hope you enjoy the photo’s and get a little inspiration too.

Chalkboard effect

Chalk board effect using black paper and a white colouring pencil. I cellotaped 2 A4 pieces together and then went freehand. You can have so much fun with this idea!

clay labels

Simple brown paper with ribbon. The special thing here is the clay name tag/label. Simple using air dry clay, cookie cutter and a paint/permanent marker.

washi Collage

Brown paper though mine’s a little on the grey side 😦 with washi tape to jazz it up and hold it all together! Also featuring a clay label.

Brown paper once again. Grab some pens and decorate it yourself - these hand drawn branches are a doddle. Add some sparkle with ribbon or coins and hot glue some pinecones to finish it all off.

Plain paper is great as you can grab some pens and decorate it yourself – these hand drawn branches are a doddle. Add some sparkle with ribbon or coins and hot glue some pinecones to finish it all off.

Wrap it like a cracker - doesn't really take much more explaining than that.

Wrap it like a cracker – doesn’t really take much more explaining than that.

Sticky Toffe Pudding gift basket. I'll be sure to dedicate a post to this beauty in the new year!

Sticky Toffee Pudding gift basket. I’ll be sure to dedicate a post to this beauty in the new year!

Hand decorated baubles

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me… SEVEN BAUABLES-A-PAINTED!

This year was the first time I have EVER been real Christmas tree shopping – it was magical. No tree is quite complete unless it is covered in baubles. Colour coordinated and refined is not my decorating style at all! I love putting everything in tree, and my family has accumulated quite a lot over the years. Saying that doesn’t stop us making more to add to the collection.

These do take some time to do, mostly because there is paint drying time in the middle of the process so don’t start at 8 o’clock and expect to hang on the tree that night. I used a clip hanging dryer that you usually use to dry your underwear to hang up the baubles when drying.

Snowman finger print

snomen finger print2Snowmen handprint. This can be done on any colour bauble though I really like the dark green. Just take some white paint and small persons hand (cue 7 year old!). They hold the bottom with their fingers coming up – the trick is not to get it too smudged. Now comes that irritating drying time I mentioned. Best to leave all drying over night just so you can be confident that all is good to go. Grab a pen and make those fingers into snowmen! The additional of googly eyes is most definitely recommended! It’s also a nice idea to date/name the bottom (the palm of the print) for future reference if you are in the habit of making lots of decorations.Trees

Winter tree silhouette. A break from the silliness to this rather elegant bauble. Again use whatever you like a base. I was originally going to use a green but forgot and by the time I went to this one they were all gone. I think that was a blessing in disguise because I absolutely love the glittery background. It did take more paint than I was expecting and would suggest you do a couple coates if you have the time.

 

String baubleHollow yarn bauble. Getting a bit more crafty now we are. Blow up a little balloon, I would say so it could fit into your hand but do it according to how big you want your end product to be. Dillute some PVA in bowl (not too much!) and then put your string/yarn into it. Slowly start to wrap the yarn around the balloon ensuring that you are getting lots of crisscross motions in there and the string is always really gluey. Keep building it up until you are satisfied then leave to dry. I just left ours sitting on/in a glass. It took a really long time to dry completely so I put it over the radiator and left it for a couple days. You don’t want your hard work to be ruined because you didn’t wait enough. When you feel the result it should be dry and hard. Pop the balloon and pull it out through one of the gaps. I finished miSnowman facene off with a little glitter glue.

Snowman face. Now this is very typical of my mother. He is rather cute though. Again stuffed with fake snow glittery stuff (the benefit of hoarding is all the wonderfully random things you have) then those all important googly eyes and the rest of his face. Use pompoms to make some awesome ear warmers – because you know snowmen get cold ears too!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Only managed to stretch to one, and of course that would be Leonardo. Use a green based bauble and simply draw/paint on the turtles features. I was disappointed in my Sharpie marker and when trying to do the outline of the eye mask the pen kept drying out and I gave up and used a permanent marker in the end. The pictures don’t do his justice!TMNT3

Melted snowman

 

Melted snowman. This is no new idea! In Hobbycraft we found baubles that split in half. I really wanted to find some that you could just take the top off but unfortunately couldn’t see any about. Simply stuffed with our fake snow and common snowman attributes.

 

 

Clay noel2Clay ornament. Now this isn’t a bauble – don’t call me out on it! I simply rolled out some DAS air dry clay and used cookie cutter to get the shape. I struggled to get nice clean lines but I put that down to old and blunt cookie cutters. Again wait for the clay to dry completely. And once again my sharpie let me down and died a disgraceful death because apparently sharpies that write almost anything do not write on paint AND CLAY. I think the best would be to use paint pens but they are pretty pricey so I just went though quite a few pens. I would have made more clay ornaments if I hadn’t had such problems. If you know of anything please let me know.