Thursday, 14 May 2015

Glass Fused Coasters

My sister-in-law and I recently went on a glass-fusing workshop.  When she suggested it I was most excited, as I never thought I'd see the day we were crafting together!  (As much as she loves the things I make, she's never really been the crafting type - but finally that's changing!  She'll be a craft geek like me in no time - mwuhahahaha!)

You could make what you liked within the limits of a certain overall size - so I decided on two coasters, and a kind of retro square design...

I had to cut out all of those white, blue and green squares of glass.  You use a similar technique to cutting tiles.  Score and snap.  Although the glass is sharper and my hands ended up cut to shreds!  (Ok, slight exaggeration, but I had a few cuts!  Most people didn't, so I'm not sure whether I'm clumsy or something...?)

I stacked the glass squares into the design I wanted and semi-stuck them with glue.  (I say semi, because they were still moving all over the place as the glue was so wet.)  You leave your positioned pieces with the ladies who run the course, to be fired in the kiln - and these are the finished items!

I'm very pleased with them - worth the blood!!!

My sister in law made a very cute beach hut plaque...

How gorgeous is that?!  And she quickly threw together another plaque at the end with some pre-cut colourful bits of glass.  We absolutely love the result, so bright and cheerful!

She's clearly a natural crafter!!

I hope this is the start of more creative times together!  ;)

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Monday, 11 May 2015

My Three Most Popular Posts

When I read Lazy Daisy Jones' post on her three most popular posts, I thought it sounded like a good idea!  It was interesting to see which mine were...

In reverse order...

3.  At this moment in time, there are two posts exactly equal in third place:

Fabric Notice Board - this is an old post, and pretty cringeful when I read it back!  Although I do still have the notice board, and do still love those gorgeous little pins I made.

African Flower Runner - also an old one, but still absolutely love these colours!  It probably remains my favourite colour combination of all my projects.

2.  In second place...

My Christmas Star Jar Cover Tutorial - this is good to know, although I'm not sure whether anyone has actually used the pattern to make one!

1.  And in first place, with over double the page views of second place...

A random post called 'Weekend Bits' - which is pretty pointless and yet attracts so many views.  I think it is solely because it has a couple of very cute pictures (even if I say so myself) combining crochet, yarn and a pretty colander, which clearly appeals!  What more does anyone need?

There you go, said pretty picture.  Not long after this, the yarn was unceremoniously dumped out so that the colander could actually fulfil its purpose in the kitchen!

I am still working on that blanket (it's been over a year and a half!) but it's getting pretty big now.  I WILL get it finished this year!

You can check out the crochet projects I've actually completed in my crochet tab.

Thanks to Lazy Daisy Jones for the great idea.

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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Book Reviews - April

Let me first start by saying that I have started replying to your comments on the actual blog post, rather than replying via email (or more usually not at all, sorry!)  I've never been sure of the best way to respond, and some commenters are no-reply bloggers, so I can't email them back.  I've always wondered whether anyone would remember to pop back to the post to see my response, but I thought I'd give it a go.  If you have any thoughts on this and the best way to respond, I'd love to hear them!

So, if you've commented on the last few posts, you will find a response there.  (Try not to get too excited now!)

Secondly, I am getting later and later with my monthly book reviews.  I have to admit I'm not really enjoying writing them, and I'm not sure that anyone is enjoying reading them?!  I'll keep going for a bit longer, though.

Only one book read in April... I don't know what I did with my time, as I have achieved very little lately!  (Hence the lack of blog posts recently.)

The Affair: (Jack Reacher 16)

- Lee Child

The Jack Reacher reading continued.  This was a good one.  It actually went back in time to the period just before Reacher left the army, and explained the situation leading up to that point.  In all the years and adventures covered in the books (which start about six months after he left) the situations surrounding his departure were never quite clear.  Now they are!  It was a good story, and had the usual escapism you get with a Jack Reacher book.  I won't give anything away, but I enjoyed it and recommend it.

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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Small Changes

I made a few tweaks to my home a couple of weeks back, and have been meaning to show you.

I've had the below Caroline Rose print for a few years now...

But I changed up the off-white frame I had, to this black frame (both Ikea)...

I think the black frame really pops against the creamy/ivory walls, and also brings out the colourful print.  Just a small change but it makes a difference.

You may remember my hall, stairs and landing redecoration from last year.  It left a blank canvas that I wanted to brighten up.  The hall received a grandmother clock and some console table styling but upstairs was still rather plain.

The best way to rectify that was with a Cozamia print!  Nancy's work is absolutely beautiful.  I first saw her prints on Swoonworthy, but it took me ages to decide which to get, as they are all so tempting!

I eventually decided on Sweet Chinoiserie which I truly love.  Here is a close up shot I took on my phone for Instagram, but it actually shows the detail quite well (and looks better than my camera photos if I'm honest!)...

Dinki Dots - Cozamia Sweet Chinoiserie

Isn't it stunning?!  Even just looking at it here is making me smile!

Here it is in place over the stairs (and none of the walls are straight, so if things look like they're hung wonky, it's the walls to blame - we did what we could!)...

Dinki Dots - Cozamia Sweet Chinoiserie

I've gone with dark frames for the print and the mirror, to bring some contrast to the lightness of the hall.

It's very difficult to photograph, as I had to try to combat the glare from the window on the picture.

Dinki Dots - Cozamia Sweet Chinoiserie

These photos don't really do it justice, but you get the idea.  The colours and vibrancy of the print are shown much better in the Instagram close-up.

It honestly makes me happy every day.  At first I thought it might be wasted in that spot, but I end up seeing and enjoying it all the time.

It's difficult to get Cozamia prints in the UK, but Joss & Main sell them, which is where I bought mine from.  It's a member only website and has lots of different promotions for a few days at a time.  Cozamia prints often feature, so it's well worth a look.  (I'm not being sponsored by Cozamia or Joss & Main - I'm just letting you know in case you love the prints as much as I do and want to get your hands on one!  I haven't found them anywhere else in the UK.)

If you want to join Joss & Main, click on this link or on the icon below:

Joss and Main

(If you do join via my link and make a purchase, I will get a credit - but that's just a bonus, not the reason for this post!)

I bought another Cozamia print at the same time (picking just one was too difficult!) but I'll show you another time when I've found the perfect spot for it.  To be honest, looking at the Cozamia Gallery now, makes me want to buy more - aarrghhh!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Skull Doily and a Fabulous Dublin Weekend!

It's safe to say that you don't see a lot of skulls on this here blog of mine!  But when Alex (The Interior DIYer) and Kimberly (of Swoonworthy) and I made plans for a weekend in Dublin, I knew I wanted to make a little something for Alex to say thanks for putting us up.  A crocheted skull doily seemed just the ticket.

I first saw this crochet skull motif in my friend Anna's beautiful shawl here.  There was no way I was ever going to manage to crochet a whole shawl of fiddly skulls, but when I had the thought of a skull doily, I knew it was the perfect start.

I was going to study the pattern to try to figure out how to separate it into a single skull square, but luckily found this pattern which had done it for me.  (Although, looking at it, the original shawl patterns seem to be from different places, so there may be a few floating around and they may be slightly different...)

Regardless, I got to work and made a black skull square.  Interspersed with lots of comments from the Lumberjack... "What are you making?  That looks a bit racy!", "Sorry, am I interrupting your lingerie making?"... it went on.

I wanted the border to be a pretty juxtaposition against the edginess of the skull, so went for something very lacy.  After some Pinterest searching, I decided on this pattern, and it gave exactly the look I was hoping for.

I was determined it should be in Alex's favourite berry hue, so frantically searched my stash until I found some yarn in the right colour.  Things got dicey towards the end of the border...

That was all the yarn left after I made my final stitch!!!  I was actually wimpering out loud as I crocheted the final edge of the doily - I was so nervous I'd run out and have to rip it all back and start again with something different.

But all was well, and it just needed to be blocked (I obviously wove that end in too)...

One skull doily was ready to be given!

We've just had our amazing weekend in Dublin, and Alex seemed pretty pleased with the doily.

She met Kimberly and myself at the airport with these signs (and got a few odd looks while holding them)...

Brilliant!  We had such a fantastic weekend, full of constant chatter and laughter, talking nonsense about everything under the sun.  Alex's traumatised husband had to put up with a coven of giggling, screeching women for three days - that poor dear man!

Alex and I had met before, but it was the first time we had met Kimberly in person - it was safe to say we all got on like a house on fire.  In fact, we have become unhealthily dependent on each other - we'd barely separated at the airport before we started messaging each other with more nonsense!  Thanks to you both for a fantastic weekend - and to our chauffeur for ferrying us about without a word of complaint!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Book Reviews - March

March was a very slow reading month.  Only two books, and the first one wasn't a full length book, more a guide.

I was clearly in a very decluttering mood...

- Joshua Becker

This is an e-book and as the cover says, it is seven guiding principles to help anyone declutter their home and life.  It's a short guide, I read it in an hour or so (I think, I wasn't timing it!)

I discovered that there is such a thing as a minimalist way of life over a year ago, and Joshua Becker's blog 'Becoming Minimalist' has been a great source of information and inspiration.  In the past year I have done a lot of online reading, and have started my own blog, Exploring Minimalism.  Therefore, I would say that this book didn't really provide anything different for me.

However, I think if you are new to the idea and are interested in cutting the excess from your life and living more simply and contentedly, then this would be a very inspiring and motivating read!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying
- Marie Kondo

I'd read about this book here and there online, and decided to give it a go.  I was impressed!

The way of tidying detailed in the book has been named the KonMari method.  The book describes how to tidy and declutter our homes - once and for all - using this method.  As mentioned above, I have been researching minimalism, decluttering, simplifying for the last year or so.  However, I still felt that this book gave a bit of a different perspective and fresh food for thought.

I can see that Marie Kondo could be considered somewhat eccentric in her views, and the way she seems to almost humanise the items we own.  However, when you get down to her method for tidying our homes, I can't help thinking that it's got to work!  I can honestly say that reading this book inspired and excited me - maybe I need to get out more?!

I would definitely recommend it if you are interested in decluttering and tidying your home, leaving only those things which make you happy.  I plan to publish a series on Exploring Minimalism, showing how I get on trying out the KonMari method.  Keep an eye out for that!

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* Links to the books I've read are Amazon affiliate links

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Radiator Pipe Transformation

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

This isn't a particularly pretty or dramatic makeover, but it has made me very happy!

If you've been following for a while, you will have seen the bathroom transformation I posted about getting on for two years ago now.  (I really must take more pictures of it with bits and bobs in - it was just finished in those pictures, without any accessories.)

Since then, it has been on my list to paint the pipes on the heated towel rail... which looked like this:

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

Not exactly in keeping with the rest of the bathroom!  It's shameful that it's taken me until today to finally sort this out.

It is purely by chance that it's now complete.  A guy from my team at work showed me a before and after of some radiator pipes he'd just covered (him and his wife have moved into a similar style house as mine, so I force him to tell me every bit of decorating and DIYing they carry out!)

Not only did he enlighten me to the fact that chrome-effect radiator-pipe covers existed (who knew?!  Not me!) but - after I got ridiculously over-excited by the discovery - he brought me in some of their leftovers so I could cover mine.  I am most grateful!

If you have any that need covering yourself, this is what you need:

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

Tubes of covering which are longer than the pipes you need to cover (I believe these came from ebay), a tape measure, pencil and scissors.

Measure the pipes, mark up the correct length on the tubes (pencil probably wasn't the best thing to use, but I made it work), then cut to size.

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

You can see above that it is just a roll of the chrome-effect material that you can open out and wrap around the pipe when it's the right size - soooo easy!

So, let's see a before and after:

Dinki Dots - Radiator Pipe Covers

As I said, it's not a very exciting project, but I am so glad to cross that little job off the list and it just finishes things off in the bathroom at last!

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Washi Tape Pen Pot

This is a very quick easy project, using our favourite... washi tape!

Washi Tape Pen Pot : Dinki Dots

I had an empty Betty Crocker buttercream tub.  (I usually make my own buttercream, but the Lumberjack bought some for the birthday cake he made me in December.  He thought it was the best bet, after the year before he tried squirty cream which soaked into the cake, aaww.  Still appreciated, though!)

Worth mentioning too - those buttercream pots are dangerous!!  The temptation to just tuck in with a spoon is too great for a mere mortal such as myself to resist!

Anyway, back to the project... not that it needs much explaining.

1.  Remove the label from the tub and wash thoroughly.

2.  Pick some coordinating rolls of washi tape from your collection...

Washi Tape : Dinki Dots

3.  Wrap around the tub in stripes, overlapping very slightly at the back.

Washi Tape Pen Pot : Dinki Dots

Done!  It couldn't be easier.

Washi Tape Pen Pot : Dinki Dots

An unnecessary number of pictures of the finished pot for you - you'd have got the idea with just one!

It's a great project for when you feel like some instant results, and a useful item too.

And, for fun, here are my Valentine's tulips in the early morning sun back in February - the sun was catching them beautifully.

Tulips: Dinki Dots

Tulips: Dinki Dots

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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Cable and Cotton Lights

I first saw Cable and Cotton lights a couple of years ago or so and, after admiring them for some time, I am now lucky enough to be in possession of a beautiful string of their colourful lights!

Let me tell you now... what a great company and what a great product!  Customer service was spot-on and delivery was prompt.

The only hold-up in the whole procedure was my extreme indecision over my colour choice.  Damn them for their many gorgeous options!  They have pre-selected sets and the option to choose your own colours, and I veered wildly between different sets and my own colour concoctions.  Eventually I had to stop annoying myself and those around me, bite the bullet, and pick.  I was very excited when this package arrived in the post...

The balls look so pretty laid out in the box, I almost didn't want to unpack them!

Any doubts about my colour choice quickly disappeared.

I picked my own colours and chose:

Pale Blue
Sky Blue
Anais Green
Pebble Grey

The lights are available in a string of 20, 35 or 50 - I've got the chain of 20.  The balls are separate from the fairy lights when they arrive, and you assemble the string by pushing a bulb into each ball through the hole.  This means you can play about to get the order of colours that you like before inserting the bulbs.

That part was the bit I wasn't too keen on, as you have to give the bulbs quite a firm push to get them in (so that they're secure once in place) and I was nervous I'd break something.  You get used to it as you go along, though, and if the balls do bend in, you can pull them back in place - this is all explained in the simple clear instructions.

Then the exciting part - plugging them in!

They look great off and on...

And as it gets darker, they just get better and better!


Another important aspect of the Cable and Cotton company is that they are very ethical in the treatment of their tradeswomen in Thailand.  You can read more about that here.

I may be gushing, but I really do love these lights.  They make the room cosy and inviting - I can see myself succumbing to further sets in different colours for other spots around the home.  (Seriously tempted by the Turkish Delight set - so vibrant!)

I can wholeheartedly recommend Cable and Cotton - go to the website and take a look!

Cable and Cotton
Colour Sets
Choose Your Own

Disclaimer:  I have received a complimentary set of lights for the purpose of this review.  All pictures, words and opinions are honest and my own.

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Bias Binding

Last July I started making myself a top.  After much struggling, I had most of a top made in my final fabric and got to the point where I had to make some bias binding for the neckline and armholes, and that's as far as I got...

Months have passed... until last Sunday, when I gave myself a good talking to and got on with it.  The Lumberjack was working, and I thought it was the perfect time to get stuck in.  Not that he has a problem with me sewing, but for some unfathomable reason he seems to get alarmed by scissors and random scatterings of pins on the floor.  Just watch where you're walking, I say!  (I know I have a craft room, but I tend to spread throughout the house with these sort of projects!)

Anyway... I cut 1 inch wide strips of fabric on the bias, or diagonal:

I did some very fiddly pinning onto the neckline:

And some rather neat sewing, even if I do say so myself!

I can't believe it came out so well - it looks like a proper neckline!  Who'd've thunk it?!  I've never done this before, so was very relieved that it came out looking neat.

I've done the armholes too, and hemmed the bottom, so in theory it's wearable now.  I just want to add some buttons to the front, and look at shaping the back a bit, as it still has a bit too much fabric.  I'm either going to do a couple of back darts, or attempt a bit of gathering.  (My attempts at swayback adjustments on the toile didn't work out, so I scrapped them).  Once I'm finished I'll be sure to show you the top in all it's glory!

Let me just add - this binding took me HOURS!  I'd never make it on the Sewing Bee - how do they do it?!

Oh, and the fabric is actually more of a teal/turquoise colour - it looks more on the blue side in these pictures.

Fingers crossed I'll have a presentable top to show you soon!

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