Thursday, 29 January 2015

Organisation: Print Your Photos

I've made an effort in the last couple of years to start printing the digital photos I take.  You know how it is... thousands of photos stored in the depths of your computer, and on random hard-drives scattered willy-nilly about the house (ok, maybe it's not quite so chaotic, but you get the message).

I think it's a great idea to print a selection of photos each year so that you can see, hold, and access your pictures more readily.  Those stored electronically can easily get forgotten about... or worse, lost.

The problem is that it's such a faff, and so time-consuming.  In the good old days you'd get 24 photos from your film - and you'd make that last a holiday!  Or, if you were feeling extravagant, you might stretch to two films.  A whole 48 photos!  These days, you've taken that many before you've even reached your accommodation!  To then sort through hundreds (or thousands!) of photos and choose the pictures you want to print becomes a huge headache.

Therefore I've tried to make it as simple as possible for myself.  This is how:

Select photos to print on a monthly basis

At the end of each month go through the photos you've taken that month, chose a selection of photos you like, and copy these 'printables' into a separate folder.  Doing this on a month by month basis means less work in one go.  When it comes to the end of the year, you can upload everything in your 'printables' folder to a photo-printing website and order the lot.  (Alternatively, you could print them monthly depending on your preference and how many photos you have.)

Remember: if you're having trouble choosing which photos to print, don't worry - the ones you don't choose are still on your computer.  If they don't make the cut, they're not gone.  You can print them any time you like if you have a change of heart.

Use a simple album in the right size

I love the idea of a pretty scrapbook, each page decorated beautifully, but I'll never get round to that.  In the end I decided to go with a simple slip-in photo album... but the key was the size.  This takes 4.5 x 6 inch photos, which is the actual proportions of digital photos.  If you buy a 4 x 6 inch album, you will need to crop all your photos when you order your prints.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  This way, you can upload and order with minimal fuss.

I actually struggled to find a very good selection of albums in this size.  (Why are albums and frames not produced in the proportions of the photos everyone takes?!  Do not get me started on this, I could rant all day!)  Eventually I settled on a suitable item.  The album I chose was this one: 

Walther Grindy Black 6x4.5 Slip In Photo Album - 200 Photos *

Your photos just slip in and you can write a little description next to them (when you get round to it, which I haven't yet, but I've only just got the album!)

Before I seem too perfect and organised, let me just say that I ordered my 2013 photos a year ago (when I started this idea), and they've sat in the box they came in until now.  My plan to organise my 2014 photos on a monthly basis didn't happen, so I ended up doing a big sort out the other week.  I will be better this year, though - monthly photo selections will happen!

I can fit both 2013 and 2014 prints into the one album - I kept the album's capacity in mind when I ordered last year's prints so that the number I have fits in exactly.

Honestly, I love having this selection printed out to flick through.  It's better than looking on screen - plus all the duplicates and dodgy shots aren't in there - just the best ones.  Go on, do it - print your photos!  You'll be so glad you did.

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* Amazon affiliate link

Sunday, 18 January 2015

2015 Goals

The last couple of years I've set myself goals (rather than resolutions) and documented them here on the blog.  So here goes for 2015!

Firstly, I'll review how I did with last year's goals - I apologise if this gets really dull - I'm probably the only one interested!

Declutter - using William Morris as a guide:  Have nothing in your house that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful

Well, I started project Less 365 and I have managed to get rid of 365 things this year - so I'm going to call that a success on the declutter front!

In addition, I started a separate blog - Exploring Minimalism to delve deeper into that way of thinking.

Become Mega Organised

I think I've been fairly organised this year, but I wouldn't say I reached the 'mega' scale!  There are a couple of organisational projects you can see on my Organisation Page.  I'd say progress has been made, but that's about it.

Decorate Kitchen, Craft Room, Spare Room

Very happy to say that all three rooms got decorated!  You can see the kitchen here.  I haven't managed any decent pictures of the craft room and spare room yet - but I will aim to rectify the situation and show you.  You can see a sneak peak of the craft room here but it needs a bit  (lot) more tidying and sorting effort!
As a bonus, the hall, stairs and landing was also decorated - pictures here.  You can see any house progress documented so far on my Home Improvement Page.

Make an Item of Clothing - something I actually wear in public

Quite annoyed with myself about this one.  I spent ages working on a toile for a really simple top.  I completely over-thought it and made it too complicated.  Eventually I started on the top in the final fabric, but I haven't finished it!!  Also, I signed up to an evening course on pattern cutting and garment making, which would have definitely seen me ticking this goal off.  However, on the very day I was due to scamper my way to the college, they called to say it had been cancelled - grrr!  I was gutted.  So, I'm going to carry this goal over to 2015.

Cook Better Dinners - more variety, planned better, healthy (some of the time)

Hmm - well, didn't really do this one at all!

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - worry less and be more chilled and laid-back

Don't know about this one - just asked the Lumberjack and we have concluded that I might be a bit more chilled but, as he said, "we all have our moments"!

Escape the Rat Race - in a good way (not losing my job or dying!)

Nah, didn't manage this one - still plodding along at the same job, which isn't surprising due to my complete lack of a plan.  Although, actually there were redundancies at my work in 2014 so I could have lost my job - eeek!  So, I'm grateful that didn't happen!

Ok... now I've bored you all to tears... here are my 2015 goals:

Make an Item of Clothing - something I actually wear in public (carried over)
Finish some Crafty WIPs - would be good to get at least one finished off
Use it or Lose it - start using craft supplies rather than hoarding them
Decorate Conservatory, Utility Nook, Downstairs Toilet - and be better at blogging about it!
Escape the Rat Race - in a good way (not losing my job or dying!) (carried over)
Continue to Declutter and Become More Organised

Let's see how I get on!

In case you're interested here are my 2014 and 2013 goal blog posts.

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Crochet Hot Water Bottle Cover

I love my latest make - simple and colourful:

I've had a cover-less hot water bottle hanging around my craft room for a while, waiting to be ensconced in something warm and cosy!  I had been given it in a cover I didn't like some time ago - so I got rid of the cover with the plan of making something new.

As with a lot of these plans, time passed... but eventually I got round to it!

I've always like the way navy makes other colours pop, as in my african flower cushion, and when I saw Sew Sweet Violet's beautiful rainbow scarf, I knew I had to make something in a similar style.

This is a small hot water bottle - not the standard size - which meant less work (yay!).  I used yarn from my stash, and gorgeous funky buttons my sister-in-law and brother had given me for my birthday, so this cost nothing - just what we like!

I made up the pattern as I went along, but I'll try to explain my method in case you'd like to give it a go.

This is less a pattern, and more general guidelines that you can use for whatever size hot water bottle you have.

  • Crochet a chain or chainless foundation that fits around your bottle.
  • Alternate rows of dc (UK tr) in navy and rainbow colours until you reach the point where your hot water bottle starts to curve in at the neck.
  • On the row when the bottle starts to curve, reduce stitches at equal positions on each side.  What worked for my bottle was to dc (UK tr) 2 st together 6 times on each side, making sure there were equal stitches between these reducing stitches.
  • On the next row, I then dc (UK tr) 2 st together twice on each side (in the middle of the previous row's decreases) to continue the shaping.
  • You will need to use your judgement to decrease until the curve evens out, then keeping going without increasing/decreasing until the hot water bottle starts to flare out again.  Then increase by dc (UK tr) twice into the same stitch a couple of times in each side.
  • Decrease when the bottle gets smaller, increase when it gets bigger (stating the obvious!)
  • Always make sure the middle of your increases and decreases are at the same spots, as these will be on the sides of your hot water bottle.  Make sure the number of stitches between each cluster of increases/decreases is the same, as these will be the front/back of your hot water bottle.
  • Make your final row of stripes a navy row, and then add an additional row of navy by dc (UK tr) twice into every stitch to give a bit of flare and frill at the top.

  • To make the flap at the bottom dc (UK tr) a row of stitches in navy to the bottom of your cover, but only on one side, using half the stitches that make up the round.
  • dc (UK tr) another row of navy.
  • To make the button holes, use the first rainbow colour you used and sc (UK dc) in every stitch except where you would like a button hole.  For a button hole space ch an appropriate number to be big enough to go over your button (it was 4 for me) and skip that number of stitches before you continue to sc (UK dc).  Space your sc and chains evenly so that your button holes are evenly spaced.
  • Finish off with a row of hdc (htr) in the same colour.  Stitch into the sc of the row before, or into the chain space with the same number of stitches as chains.

  • Sew your buttons on in the right place, fasten the flap with the buttons, and your hot water bottle cover is complete!

A bit of warm brightness on a cold day!

Let me know if you have any questions on how to make this.  It's a tricky one to explain as it depends on the bottle you're working with.  It's actually very simple to make once you give it a go.

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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Creation Consolidation - 2014!

Happy New Year!

Just a quick round-up of my crafty creations blogged about in 2014.  Not a lot made really this year, as a lot of focus was on decorating the house - not all of which has been blogged about yet.  I must take some decent pictures!  But, here goes with the makes (click on each picture's heading to be taken to the post):

Crochet Tealight Holders
(Actually made end of 2013 but blogged in 2014)

Blue Crochet Monkey
(Actually made end of 2013 but blogged in 2014)

Crochet and Cross-Stitch Phone Case


Washi Tape Bottle Vase
I nearly didn't put this one in - as it's a bit rubbish really!  But, here it is - complete with WEEDS!

Crochet Baby Blanket

Crochet Bracelet

Lavender Sachet

Pinwheel Pot Holder


Mini Christmas Sacks

Washi Tape Christmas Cards

Santa Bottle Topper

Chunky Crochet Bowl

Crochet Christmas Tree

Felt Olaf

I think I need to do better this year and make more!  Most of these have been little dinky makes - must do better!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Felt Olaf

I hope you've all had a great Christmas!

Since my last post we've had my birthday on the 17th, Christmas, and my nephew's 3rd birthday - lots of fun and celebrating!

Just popping in to show you a little present I made my nephew for Christmas... a felt Olaf, from Frozen:

He was a fiddly little blighter to make, but I was pleased with the outcome!

Right... I'd better get back to pigging on chocolates!  If I'm not back before, Happy New Year!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Craft Roundup

It's the time of year for Christmas crafting, so I thought I'd do a round-up of the festive things I've created and how to make them yourself.  Hopefully they will provide a bit of inspiration!

Click on the images below to be taken to the applicable post where you can find out how they were made, with links to any patterns or tutorials.

Christmas Star Jar Covers

Christmas Stockings

Crochet Mini Christmas Sacks

Crochet Christmas Tree

Washi Tape Christmas Cards

Santa Bottle Topper

Washi Tape Gift Tags

Rudolf Gift Bag

Let me know if you try your hand at any of these fun Christmas crafts!

Ho ho ho...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Crochet Christmas Tree

Hello!  Wow, December is flying by - and my Christmas crafting has rather dried up!  I'm not sure where the time is disappearing to.

However, one thing I have managed to whip up is a cute little Christmas tree...

I used this pattern.  (I changed it slightly in that I didn't do the slip stitches over the stitches to get to the next space, as I felt it made the tree slightly uneven to just have extra slip stitches at that one point at the end of each round.  I worked it in a slightly different order so that I didn't require those slip stitches.)

It's probably nothing anyone would notice anyway, so I wouldn't let that stop you just following the pattern - I was just being obsessive!  The pattern is great, and makes a lovely shaped little tree.

I've just made the one which has gone to my friend Anna, but maybe I should make another for my tree!

I hope you're all enjoying the festive build-up!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Chunky Crochet Bowl

I've made a funny little bowl!

Last Christmas I was given a kit for one of those frilly ruffle scarves...

I love the colours, but the frilly scarf itself isn't really my style.  I've been thinking for ages what else I could use the yarn for, and there are ideas out there for other non-scarf uses, but I've struggled to find anything I liked.

So, I decided to crochet it up into a little bowl!  I used a 15mm hook, and it was quite hard going, as the yarn is very thick when used in this way, as a single "thread", so to speak.  The yarn does not go very far like this, but I managed to get a dinky something.

Apart from struggling with the thickness, it was a quick make, as it's only a few rounds.

(dc = tr for UK)
Round 1: ch 4, sl st into first ch to form ring
Round 2: ch 3, 7 dc into centre, sl st into top of ch 3 [8 st]
Round 3: ch 3, 1 dc into same st, 2 dc into each dc, sl st into top of ch 3 [16 st]
Round 4: ch 3, 1 dc into each dc, sl st into top of ch 3 and finish

Although, I'm not sure what to use the bowl for now!  It's a funny little thing.  Maybe I'll end up undoing it and making a scarf after all.

What do you think, keep it as a bowl or try something else?  Any ideas of what else could be made with this ruffle yarn?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Santa Bottle Topper

Another bit of Christmas crafting.  Now, this one I made back in... June!  I'd had it pinned on my Christmas board for a while.  It was one of those moments when I just had to make it then and there.  Initially I had visions of making loads for my family for Christmas, but I'd had enough after one!

It's Santa's boots stuck out of a chimney pot.  The boots are boot-shaped, but it's quite difficult to get a good angle to photograph them.  The pattern I used is here.

I think it turned out ok, although I showed my Mum back in August and the conversation went a little like this:

Me:  Oh yeah, look what I made!
Mum:  Mickey Mouse!
Me:  No, think Christmas... (giving the benefit of the doubt, as it was August after all)
Mum:  Oh yes, a reindeer!

Ahhhh well..... 

Sorry, I went a bit mad with the sparkle effect to make it all more festive!  Shown here with my star jar covers (free pattern).

On the topic of Christmas, whilst wading through the mess in my craft room (nope, still not tidied it!) I came across some Christmassy ribbon I'd forgotten I had.  I got very excited, pulled out a couple of fat quarters from a stripy pack, and am loving how it all looks together!

It seems very elfish to me.  I can't decide what to make, though.  I'm probably just going to keep looking at it and produce nothing!  Any ideas or suggestions?  I'm sure there must be a really cute Christmas something or somethings I could use this for!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Vintage Knitting

Thanks for the great comments recently - I always love reading them, and appreciate you taking the time!

This is a project I've been working on for I don't know how long - over a year and a half for sure.  The Lumberjack decided that he had his heart set on a sleeveless cardigan - and bought a PDF of a vintage pattern online...

Don't laugh!  Ok, do laugh - I can't take it seriously myself!  Well, it's been very slow going, and it's nowhere near finished.  My original plan was to tell you about it when it was finished, but who knows when that will be!

I've never knitted an item of clothing before, so this is a first.  I don't really know what I'm doing, but so far it's just standard stocking stitch.  Unfortunately, the colour doesn't really inspire me, which is one reason why I've taken so long with it.  (I mean, where's the aqua... or pink?!)  Also, I take forever with most projects.

I've picked it up recently and knitted quite a few more rows, so hopefully I can start making some progress with it.  I thought for a second it would be good if I could get it done for Christmas, but maybe Christmas next year would be more realistic!

What do you think?  Is it going to look ridiculous?  Will he look like an old man??  (Well, by the time I get it finished he probably will be an old man, so it could be perfect!)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Make Your Own Gift Basket - How To

It's always lovely to give a gift that has that personal touch, but we can't (or don't have time to) make everything!  A nice idea is to collate a few chosen items into a gift basket.

There are plenty of these sorts of gift sets for sale in the shops, but I enjoy putting the contents together myself.  It's fun to do and shows a bit of extra thought for the recipient.

A month or so ago, I was shopping with the Lumberjack's Mum and she pounced on some beautifully wrapped soaps in TK Maxx, saying how much she loved it when they had these in store.  My little brain took note ready for Christmas!

One that I remember she particularly liked was the orange scented soap.  After spending some time this weekend smelling nearly every one they had (don't mind me passed out on the floor in a soap-induced stupor!) I decided to go for an 'oranges and lemons' theme.

Not only do those soaps smell delicious, but look at the gorgeous packaging!  (This isn't a sponsored post by the way.)  Some lemon hand-wash and orange body-wash went with the theme and also smelt delectable.  The flannel was from BHS as there was nothing suitable in TK Maxx - it had to be orange or yellow!

I found a cute little basket in the perfect size (also TK Maxx) and then it was just a case of popping the smellies in the basket in a pleasing arrangement...

To call this a 'how to' is a bit of a stretch really...
  • Buy some stuff
  • Buy a basket
  • Put stuff in basket
Wow, bet you'd never have figured that out on your own!  But hopefully it might spark some gift ideas for some of you out there.  It's fun to put together something you know is going to be liked and enjoyed, and it doesn't have to be smellies.  Other gift basket themes could be:
  • Nail Care Kit - nail-varnishes, hand-creams, emery boards, etc
  • Baking Basket - cake cases, biscuit cutters, wooden spoon, pretty spatula, etc
  • Tea and Biscuit Basket - posh tea bags, pretty cup and saucer, fancy biscuits, etc
  • Car Care Kit - (this is too boring for me even to list what you might want to put in it! - but it might be a good one for car-loving men in your family)
  • Book Lover's Basket - a good book or two, some cosy socks, some chocolates to nibble on (oooh, I like the sound of this one!)
The possibilities are endless - have fun creating personalised gift baskets for the people you love!  (And do let me know if you get any inspiration from this post - that would put a smile on my face.)

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