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.)

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Nearly New Wood Challenge

My lovely friend Alex, aka Hydrangea Girl, has started a Nearly New Wood Challenge.  Alex explains it perfectly in her post, so I won't repeat it again here.  But, briefly, the idea is to go down the second-hand route when buying new furniture, to reduce the demand on mass production and thereby help to reduce our impact on the environment.  It's a bonus that you should/could end up with a bit of individuality in your home.

When I read Alex's post, I thought I only had one second-hand piece of furniture... then I actually looked around and realised we're not doing too badly!

A friend was moving last year and wanted to get rid of the below dresser, so we took it off his hands for free!  It was the original pine when we started, but we painted it and changed the knobs.  This is how it looks today, but you can see the makeover here.

Our dining table is a hand-me-down from the Lumberjack's grandparents...

He ate many a Sunday dinner at that table as he grew up, so it's nice that we can keep the memories going.  (There is usually a fourth chair, but I moved it out of the way for the photo.)

I guess I should have styled the table with some pretty bits and bobs - instead I just removed all the piles of accumulated junk off it, so be grateful!!  Bad blogger!

The Lumberjack also did a makeover last year on an old Ikea chest of drawers he had from before we met...

Read more about the transformation here.  This is in our bedroom - mentioned, but actually hidden off camera, in that post - as the top of it wasn't very tidy!  I guess it wasn't officially second-hand - but making it over meant we didn't need to buy a new chest-of-drawers instead.

The most recent addition is the console table for the hallway, blogged about here...

That was found on Gumtree, and bought second-hand, to go with the Lumberjack's great great grandfather's clock which he recently inherited...

So that's another bit of old wood!  (Not that we would have actually gone out and bought a new grandfather/grandmother clock, mind you... but still.)

We have bought new furniture from Oak Furniture Land, and an abundance of Ikea furniture too - so we are far from perfect!  I'm pleased to see that we've done better than I thought, though.

Do you feel like giving it a go?  Next time you are planning to buy a new item of furniture, maybe have a bit of a search and see if you can find something nearly-new that could do the job.  It's very satisfying when you find the perfect piece, or transform something a bit old and tatty into a pretty new thing!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Olaf Pumpkin - Happy Halloween Eve!

My very UN-crafty (or so she claims!) sister-in-law has been pumpkin carving... 

A pumpkin Olaf from Frozen (I really must watch this Frozen film everyone is talking about!)  Roon (what I call her, not her christened name - her parents aren't insane) has absolutely no interest in partaking in any crafting activities until it comes to Halloween - then she pulls it out of the bag with elaborate pumpkins!

Love it!  We decided it needed to go on the blog - it is most worthy!  Surely I can get her to join in with other crafts, surely, surely?!  She's clearly got the talent!!

The Lumberjack and I carved up our pumpkin tonight... here you go...

... and I'm meant to be the creative one!  Ahem!

Have a happy Halloween - I'm hoping for some leftover sweets once the trick-or-treaters have had their fill!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Living More Simply

During the course of this year, I've become more and more interested in minimalism and the idea of living a simpler life.  Less clutter, less chaos, less stress.  I created a new blog - Exploring Minimalism - back at the end of April, but have only recently published my first post.

This won't make any difference to Dinki Dots - I'll still be blogging about my crafty goings on here.  And trying to live more simply won't mean I'll stop being creative (and gathering craft supplies - oops, maybe it should stop the hoarding!)

If you fancy having a read and seeing how I get on then please come on over!  There is only one post at present... but more to come...

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Washi Tape Christmas Cards

Thanks to Pinterest, I was hit with another flash of Christmas inspiration!

I spotted this pin (pinned to my Christmas Inspiration board and my Washi Projects board) and decided to give it a go.

I used to make cards years ago, so had card blanks and some red 'Merry Christmas' peel-off stickers that I used.

To make the bauble I drew around a plastic lid on some scrap white card, covered the circles with strips of washi tape, then cut them out - simples!

I drew the string and bauble shanks (would you call them that?!) with silver pen straight onto the cards, then stuck on the washi-taped circles with some double-sided tape.

I didn't actually go to the website linked to the Pinterest image until writing this post now, but a slightly different method is described there using baking paper, and overlapping the washi tape.  Anything goes really!

Quick, simple, effective - gotta love washi tape!

Have you made cards using washi tape, or would you give it a go?  I think I might try some other designs!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Craft Room: Sneak Peek!

Thanks for the lovely comments on the Mini Christmas Sacks in my last post.  I planned to make some more and try out a little something with them, but I've not had chance yet.  (This is why I have to strike while the iron is hot with some ideas, or else I lose momentum or interest!)

And... I've been meaning to say thanks for all the comments on my console table post.  There were such lovely kind messages, not to mention the ones about the Lumberjack which really made me laugh!  I had to keep scampering over to him to read out the latest comment - I think he enjoyed them... ;o)

Ok... so the craft room has been a work in progress for ages.  I've been wanting to get it sorted and show you around, but it's an absolute tip - I am an animal.

One thing that finally happened recently, though, is the addition of the above shelf.  I had bought a cheap unfinished pine shelf from Homebase that cost £5.99.

As you can see from the picture, I bought it a few months ago, when the sun was shining and the flowers blooming!  The day of the picture I primed it.  Then it sat for ages, abandoned and unloved, wondering what it had done wrong... before I eventually got round to spray painting it a couple of weeks ago.

For some reason I was nervous of spray painting, but it turned out to be easy.  I used Montana Gold in Malachite Light.  I've had this for 1.5 to 2 years, but this is the first time I've used it!  I don't have much experience of other spray paints, but I'd say that this went on well and gave good coverage and what seems to be a tough finish.

Once I got started, I was on a roll and sprayed a few other things while I was at it.  A couple of jar lids for buttons...

And a cream butterfly hook that had been hanging around (pardon the pun!) for a while...

It was good to get the shelf up and some bits in place.  My Greengate clock goes perfectly with the colour.  It was originally bought for the bedroom, but as the ticking drove us mad it got kicked out into the craftroom!  I love the birdhouse, which was a present from my brother and sister-in-law last year.  (I'm afraid the birds can't use it - it's all for me!)

You can see above that the shelf had a knot in it.  I could have spent time filling and sanding so that it wasn't noticeable, but I thought it added character (ahem, or could it be I was too lazy???)  The shelf was unfinished, so a bit rough and ready, but that's what you get for less than £6.  I wasn't sure how my spray-painting adventure was going to go, so didn't want to waste too much money!

Overall, I'm very pleased with it!  I love the colour, and it adds a good bit of pretty storage.

Here it is in situ... a strangely angled picture, almost as if someone were trying to avoid capturing copious piles of crap and clutter in the shot, whilst showing off the few pretty bits and bobs!  (Excuse the poor light too, it's tricky snapping straight into the light from the window.)

Now... I really must tidy up that room so I can show you more!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Crochet Christmas Sacks

I know it's only October, but when inspiration strikes, you've got to go with it!

I've become addicted to making these cute little crochet Christmas sacks.

It all started with Sandra's egg cosies.  (Yes, more inspiration from her lovely blog!)  As soon as I saw them, I thought they would make great little Christmas sacks, so I tweaked the pattern to give them a base.

Very simple...

I've used DK yarn and a size 4 hook.  (To convert to UK terms each dc is a treble.)

ROUND 1:  ch 2 then 8 dc into the 2nd chain from the hook, sl st to join [8 st]
ROUND 2:  ch 3, then 1 dc into same st, 2 dc into next 7 stitches, sl st to join [16 st]
ROUND 3:  ch 3, then 1 dc into same st, 2 dc into next 15 stitches, sl st to join [32 st]

You then have 32 stitches to work into, so can revert back to Sandra's pattern, which starts with a 32 stitch chain.

They are so quick and easy to make.  They must be as I've made more than one of them - nearly unheard of!

The colours I've used are:

Stylecraft Special DK: Lipstick
Stylecraft Special DK: Spring Green
A random white DK I had

I like the fresher look the light green gives, rather than using a traditional dark green.  My favourite is the one with stripes in all three colours - but of course that was the slowest one to make... the more colours, the more ends to sew in!

So... you may ask (as the Lumberjack did), what are they for??  Well, I think they'll make great little Christmas favours, filled with a few sweets.  They could go on the Christmas table, or make a loop and hang them on the tree.  I've got another idea, but I need to see if it works - if so, I'll be sure to show you!

Go on, give them a go - quick, easy and fun!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Console Table Styling

Yep, we found a console table to go with the grandfather clock!  (Actually the Lumberjack says it might be a grandmother clock - it's short for a tall clock - if that makes any sense!)

Firstly, I want to say thanks so much for the really helpful responses I got on my last post.  I was so undecided about what to do, and your responses were so full of great ideas and encouragement - I was lapping them up!

So Kimberly, Amy, Kiwijo, Chrissie, Anna, Alex, Court B - THANK YOU!!  You don't know how much better your comments made me feel - a happy solution seemed possible.  (Ok, I'm sounding a bit dramatic, but I've been rather obsessed about the whole thing lately (poor Lumberjack!)...)

So, step one: find a console table.  Dark wood was the plan - I'd been leaning that way, and your comments sealed the deal.  We were both open to the option of painting something if we couldn't find the right colour (we liked your idea Chrissie - painting a table grey).  We had a bit of a search on various websites, without much luck, then a week of work started and other things took over.  Until on Thursday I got an email telling me that Gumtree had a new look, come check it out.  I thought, 'hmm might as well do a search for a console table'.  One quick search on my phone, revealed something which seemed to be the right colour, had dimensions that would fit into the space we had, and was 15 miles away!  To cut to the chase, we went to see and buy it that night - £40 later and we had a console table - bargain!  We figured if it didn't match when we got it home, we'd just paint it grey - for £40, it was worth a go!

But look...

It goes perfectly!!  I can't believe how lucky we were to find something so quickly that goes so well, and for a bargain price.  It does have a couple of nicks, so we're going to get a touch-up pen to sort that out.

Ok... now, what about that picture???  Well, I was all ready to follow Kimberly's suggestion of propping the picture on the table, layering in front of it etc - very excited about the whole thing I was too.  However, the picture is (in its current frame) 85 cm wide.  The table is 79cm wide.  The table needs to be no smaller than the picture or else it looks wrong and disproportionate.  When we found the console table we knew this, but the Lumberjack said we should focus on the right table for the space and deal with the picture afterwards.  We're glad we went for this one, as we feel anything bigger would be in the way of getting onto and off of the stairs.

I don't know why, but it looks like the table is tiny and the stairs are huge in the picture above.  Maybe it's the picture, or just my eyes - it looks normal in real life!

Once we got home with the console table, I tried propping the picture on it - I put pics on instagram - but it wasn't working - it all looked very old fashioned.  Obviously, the picture still needed reframing (or painting - genius (and yet so simple!) idea, Court B) and I knew it was too big for the console, but I just wanted to get a general idea.

The photos above are the quick snaps I took on my phone.  I did think that if we didn't bother with a mount and got a slim black frame for the picture, then maybe it wouldn't overhang the table.

I just found the whole look a bit drab, though.  But of course, it didn't help that I put old books on the table too (which I actually think are pretty cool on their own) and it was late and dark!  If I'd layered with bright colourful things, and had some sunshine around, maybe it would have worked - maybe it still will.

But in the meantime, I started playing with other things I had...

Like this vase that we bought on our trip to Swanage last year, that I love, but was kind of lost where it was.  The picture is one that the Lumberjack bought from Rome when he was in the Navy (yep, he gets about that one).  It only recently emerged from one of his boxes of who-knows-what, and I think it's lovely.  Just look at how well the colours in the street match the colours in the vase - it's incredible!

Then I took a picture from the living room.  We had bought the print last year for about £2 in John Lewis because we both really liked it, then framed it with a cheap Wilkinson's frame.  For a while I've felt that it doesn't really go with the rest of the living room, but it works so much better here!

After becoming obsessed with Kimberly's blog, Swoon Worthy, and seeing her love of maidenhair ferns, I'd started to think a plant would add some nice softness to the place.  While I was reading her blog, the Lumberjack glanced over and spotted one on my screen (naturally got interested, as it involved a plant!) stated "maidenhair fern", then got on with his business.  Well, that was enough for me, I took that as my go-ahead!  (He had been saying recently that we should get some house plants.)  I bought a bright orange pot for it to add some cheery colour and pull in the oranges from both pictures.

When we bought the table, the Lumberjack came up with the idea of putting a doily on it - a white lacy doily!  In case you're thinking my boyfriend is actually an old lady, here he is in the garden with a chainsaw...

Grrrr manly!  He's not a little old woman!  (Phew, hopefully cleared that one up.)

Anyway, because he'd said that, I thought I'd put my crochet mandala on there...

It was more as a joke, I didn't expect it to go, but I like it.  The red pulls colours from the picture behind, the aqua colour kind of matches the vase, and the grey goes with the floor.  So, it's staying!

The three tea-light holders were added because I realised that I had even numbers on the table.  Two pictures, a vase and a plant - odd numbers always looks better on the eyes.  So, I added the cluster of tea-light holders.  I've had them a while, but they were currently in the cupboard as they didn't really go with anything - now they've found their home!  The colours work with the other bits.  It's all rather autumnal I've noticed too, very seasonal!

I've always been rubbish at styling.  This is the first time I feel I've given it a good go, and am happy with the results.  I am so pleased with how it all looks - very cheerful!

These are my tips:

  1. Use a plant to soften things
  2. Use odd numbers of items
  3. Overlap pictures (at first I had the two pictures side-by-side, it looked so much better when I overlapped them)
  4. Try to repeat colours throughout the vignette

But what do I know?!  What I'd recommend is to check out Swoon Worthy - I got so much inspiration and so many tips from the way Kimberly styles her home - it gave me the confidence to try this out.  (She hasn't sponsored me to say this, I'm just a psycho stalker fan.)

Of course, maybe you think it looks rubbish!  I am aware that it is a lot of stuff for such a little table, but I like it, it makes me happy - I keep going out there to gaze lovingly at it, and move things a millimetre here, a millimetre there.  The best thing is that the table was such a bargain, and the only other new things I bought were the plant and plant pot - both cheap from Homebase!

Regarding the big picture - we are going to take it to a framers in town, just to get some advice and then we'll take it from there.  I will be sure to update you on it's fate!  Maybe it'll end up on or above the console, and the whole thing will change... who can say.  I will make sure it finds a home, though.

Sorry for the extremely long post but this has been consuming me lately!  What do you all think?  Does it work?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Old with the New

Adding the furniture, pictures and general finishing touches to our hall, stairs and landing is proving to be a very slow business.

But, we have one item!

This grandfather clock was given to the Lumberjack's Great Great Grandfather when he retired on Christmas Eve 1937!

(We need to give the plaque a polish)

Cool eh?  I'm not sure anyone gets the chance to work for a company for 37 years any more.

I was a bit concerned about where we were going to put this in our home, and whether it would go with the style of our d├ęcor.  I just figured that we were going to have to make it work somehow!

As it happens, I think it looks great in that spot in the hallway!  It gives a bit of depth, interest and character to the space.  Despite being 77 years old, it doesn't seem to look out of place in it's modern surroundings.  What do you think?

Now, what I have really wanted since we moved into the house 16 months ago, is a little console table against the opposite wall.  Something quite slim so it doesn't get in the way when you get to the bottom of the stairs.

I'd been thinking oak, but now we've got the dark wood grandfather clock, do you think we should go with dark wood?  I've grabbed an oak side table from the living room, just to see how the colour of the wood looks.  What are your thoughts?  Looking at this, I think dark would be best, and the oak doesn't look right.  But then I look again, and think maybe it is ok... nah, definitely leaning towards going dark.  Very interested to hear your thoughts, as I find I can over-think these things to the point where I really don't know what my opinion is any more!

On the subject of the old... the Lumberjack has also inherited this picture:

Now this I really am struggling to assimilate into our home.  I do think it's a nice picture, but it's not really my style - it's not something I would ever have bought.  It brings the Lumberjack lots of happy memories of visiting his grandparents, though, and I want to find a way to make it work.  I actually like the moody sky and trees - it's the horses ploughing I'm not keen on.

I know you could say, just hang the damn picture and stop being so selfish!  But I just feel strongly that your home should be full of things that make you happy - not that annoy you every time you look at them.  If you can't have things you like in your own home, where can you?!  (But of course, it's the Lumberjack's home too, I know...)

Well, I'd been reading the Swoon Worthy blog (which really does make you swoon - Kimberly's home is incredible) and she did a post on custom framing with  The thing that really caught me is that you could upload an image of your picture in order to see how it looks in the frame.  I'd been thinking that re-framing the picture might make it look less old-fashioned, and this meant I could actually see how it looked before committing to anything!  Here's how it would look with a black frame, and black second mount:

(Picture above has been removed and replaced, as I'd accidentally done something to the cropped image I uploaded to the framing website that make it look greeny - no idea how! - thanks for the comment Kiwijo!)

Does it look better?  Worse?  Just as old-fashioned as ever?  I'm not sure it helps really.

Well, I'll end here - as I've bombarded you with questions... heaven forbid I solve my own problems!!

All opinions welcomed, I need help!

EDITED TO ADD: I should say, it's a big picture.  In the current frame, it's 60cm tall and 85cm wide.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Hall, Stairs and Landing Redecoration

Thanks for the lovely comments recently, on my magnets and fudge - I loved reading them!

Well, I have alluded recently to the works going on around here... so it's now time to show some before and after shots - yay!

(Yes, I've been trying to be fancy in PicMonkey!)

We started with this...

Here is a closer shot of the wallpaper:

Actually pretty inoffensive and neutral really - could have been a lot worse.  Not what we would have chosen of course.  Well, the walls got striped, plastered and painted.  We had a new front door put in, new skirting, and new banisters... then we pulled the carpet up...

Those tiles were quite a job to remove!  We were having ply put down and Karndean flooring on top of that.  We couldn't ply on top of the tiles as we had to make the floor level with the kitchen.  So the tiles had to come up.

This is the original wooden flooring with the remainder of the tile adhesive and who knows what else stuck to it!  (I kind of like it in a weird way - but anyway, it's gone!)

Then the new flooring went down, the finishing touch...

Here's a side-by-side before and after view:

You can see how the flooring flows through into the kitchen...

As well as the front door, the internal doors were replaced too.  We also had the stairs and landing re-carpeted, and removed the handrail.  Here is another before and after view:

Upstairs it looks like this...

Ahh, all those fresh new doors!  (Not easy to photograph this small space really.)

Excuse the mess lying around in the before shot - things were in disarray!  We're glad to be rid of the delightful old floral curtains - not to mention the peeling wallpaper in the window!  At the moment we still have the old nets up, as we are yet to sort out a blind.  But, I actually think they're quite pretty.  (I know, what am I saying?!  We're meant to be de-grannifying the house!)

I will show you more pictures when we've got the blinds up and have personalised it all a bit.  At the moment it's just the bare bones, without furniture, pictures, hooks etc.  We hope to inject a bit of colour into the space.

The walls were painted in Dulux Just Walnut:

It's a kind of greyish/beigeish neutral.  It looks different as it gets caught in different lights, which is nice.

There you have it - sorry for the picture-heavy post!  

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