Tag Archives: craft

Lavender and Honey Candles

Lavender and honey candles

I’d really been enjoying the sunshine, being out in the garden with the smell of blossom and the buzzing of the bees as the days got warmer… and then the summer disappeared leaving me with rain and gloom. Since Jon is in Cambridge this weekend and the rain had me stuck in the house, it seemed the perfect opportunity to try making some tea cup candles and bring the feeling of summer indoors using beeswax and lavender essential oil for that summery feel.

These were really easy and turned out really well- all you need is beeswax, essential oil, wicks, tea cups and an old saucepan. The wicks, oil and wax pellets were relatively cheap online and the tea cups were a steal in local charity shops. The blue cup and saucer came to 40p earlier today and the pink tea cup and saucer were £1.50. I even got a new saucepan for £1.95 to melt my wax so that my pans didn’t get damaged.

 

tea cup candles step by step

 

 

1)      Measure out your wax, I found that to fill a tea cup I needed about two cups full of pellets.

2)      Set up a double boiler so that the wax doesn’t burn and allow your beeswax to melt slowly.

3)      Dip your wicks in the melted wax to coat them along the length, I used pennies to weight mine and ensure they were straight.

4)      When your wick is securely in place, take your wax off the heat (I added my lavender oil at this stage) give it a stir and pour into the cups.

5)      If your candle has dipped or cracked, add a little more melted wax to level it off before trimming your wick to a safe length.

6)      Hey presto, your candle is ready for lighting.

 

 

 

I am more than a little smug about these. I’ve really been enjoying lying on the sofa as they flicker in the corner. They’d be great presents or decorations at a tea party.

Hamlet… in an eggshell

Happy Easter! I might have had a little too much time on my hands today, so how better to spend it than making the cast of Hamlet from eggs… yeah, don’t answer that.

Hamlet eggs

Omlet, Prince of Denmark

It’s only when you make the cast out of eggs that you realise how many Easter puns you can stick into misquotes. Alas, poor Yoregg, I knew him well… Don’t worry. I’m back in work tomorrow.

Valentine’s Bird Cakes

According to tradition, St Valentine’s is the day that birds choose their mates, so I’ve decided to show my feathery friends some love on their special day by making them some Valentine’s bird cakes.

I always make bird cakes for the birds in my garden using the RSPB’s guidelines for feeding garden birds (they have some helpful hints for an easy bird cake to make with children here) but have found that smaller birds are getting pushed out by the larger ground feeding birds who’ve managed to monopolize the bird table so wanted to make something the little birds could snack on that the big birds couldn’t reach. These hanging love heart fat balls (nice!) couldn’t be easier.

love heart bird feeder cake

  1. Melt lard in a pan and stir in birdseed, oats and cheese.
  2. Press into moulds and pour a little melted lard on top to help them keep their shape before poking a plastic drinking straw through any you plan to hang.
  3. Using the drinking straw to guide you, push some twine through the fat ball and tie securely when the fat has set.
  4. String from a convenient tree and sit back and watch your birds, remembering to change the food frequently to prevent it going bad.

 

 

Love Heart Bookmarks

love heart bookmark card holder

Happy February! Can you believe we’re a whole month into 2014 already? Where has that time gone?

As it’s the season to be amorous, I thought I’d share some love heart bookmarks I made having been inspired by these cute paperclip bookmarks. I decided to use little wooden pegs instead of paperclips to allow me to use them to string postcards up and brighten up my desk, and they couldn’t have been easier.easy love heart bookmarks valentine

  1. Draw your heart shape on a piece of card and cut out using a scissors or a craft knife (if you want precision).
  2. Add your desired embellishments or decoration.
  3. Add some quick drying glue to your peg and join it to your love heart.
  4. Clip onto a piece of scrap card to hold in position as it dries.

Let me hear you sing it now, “Like a rhinestone love heart….” No?

Obviously you can play around with this and use different shapes, etc. but it’s a very easy emergency homemade Valentines gift… not that you’d ever need one of those.

Secret Message Cupid’s Arrow

cupid arrow valentines card hidden messageThe problem with Valentine’s Day is Valentine’s Cards. You know what I mean. If you buy them they’re all, Dave’s turn to do the washing up, Sheila decided to wear fish nets or really bad pay per word verse. So the best option is to renounce love and sentiment forever, but failing that, you can make your own.

I came across these cute date night arrows at Sugar &Cloth and decided to develop the concept using paper straws to allow me to insert a hidden message.

valentines cupid arrowI cut a heart shape from some red card and scored with a peace sign shape from top to tip and across the widest part of the heart to allow me to create a 3D arrowhead shape when the hearts were stuck together either side of my paper straw using quick drying craft glue.

hidden message valentineWhile the arrowhead was drying, I wrote out my message on some brown paper with gold tones (this message is a poem by Pushkin… I’m not going to show you my real Valentine’s message!) and inserted it inside the main body of the straw.

secret valentine message

I then cut out a feather shape from cardboard and glued it to my straw, wrapping with a natural look twine to give it a realistic arrow look and sealing the message securely inside. I then decorated (yes, with the rhinestones… it’s an addiction, okay?) and voila, my original Valentine’s card was made.

Baby Blanket Boom!

This week I finally got around to finishing my granny square baby blanket for my niece Amelie who was born on January 2nd. I am quite pleased with the crab stitch edging as it’s the first time I’ve used this stitch and like all my crochet knowledge was picked up from Youtube videos.

Amelie's blanket, made using lots of granny squares

Amelie’s blanket, made using lots of granny squares

This wasn’t nearly as late as the baby blanket I made for my nephew Joe who was born in July but got his blanket in October or November… just in time for it to get really cold.The blankets are all based around the idea of the granny square, Amelie’s as 30 granny squares joined and bordered (hint, use a square number to avoid same coloured squares touching) and Joe’s as a giant granny square with little squares around the border.

Joe's blanket, one large granny square with a mini granny square border

Joe’s blanket, one large granny square with a mini granny square border

His mother Laura, who blogs at HelloMisterMagpie kindly got me the Mollie Makes Crochet book for my birthday, so I will hopefully have lots of new ideas for crochet soon, maybe moving onto a more complex pentagon shape!

From Christmas Jumper to Reading Gloves

Hello, this evening you find me feeling very proud of myself having had a very productive evening yesterday.  I wasn’t able to wear my Christmas jumper for the Save the Children Day at work as it had shrunk in the wash (don’t worry I still donated) and I was quite annoyed about this because a) everyone’s Christmas jumpers looked amazing and b) I actually really loved mine. So I decided to “upcycle” it. While I hate the word upcycle (it should be sent to the same hell as staycation) I like the practice and had to show off my reading gloves and Christmassy cushion. The two together can’t have taken more than an hour and a half as I did them while watching Homeland.

 

The Gloves

upcycled fingerless gloves mittensSuper easy, you could make these as a no sew project and mine involved very minimal sewing. I’m especially pleased with these as I get tendonitis from excessive typing in cold conditions (or as I like to put it, working too hard…), so they will be perfect for winter blogging. All you need to do is cut the gloves to the required length, use some bonding tape to prevent the hems fraying and cut a thumb hole to fit the recipient and you have some pretty snazzy gloves. I embellished mine with some vintage snowflake buttons that my grandmother gave me and because my jumper wasn’t pure wool, used some stitching to prevent the thumb hole fraying. If your jumper is made from 100% you can wash it on a really hot wash to felt it and it won’t fray.

 

The Cushion

upcycled sweater cushionEasier than pie, I just turned the jumper inside out and sewed the waist band closed before turning the right side around, popping the cushion pad inside, trimming it to the right size and closing up with a tight whip stitch in a matching thread colour to prevent it fraying. I think it looks very Christmassy and am glad that my favourite Christmas jumper is getting a second life.

Crochet Rainbow Reading Blanket

Sitting and reading for long periods can leave you a bit chilly in the winter, so since my last operation I’ve been making myself a crochet blanket using a pattern from a blog I found via craftgawker. It’s the first big crochet project I’ve made and, though it’s not perfect, it is cheerful and snuggly warm and perfect for cosying down in an arm-chair with a good book when it gets cold.

Winter is coming, as the Stark family are fond of saying, but I am prepared.

Everything Oz Review and Book Giveaway

I know that when I went to see Wicked I mentioned that I had a slight obsession with The Wizard of Oz when I was growing up. This may have been something of an understatement.

As well as naming my rabbit and guinea pig Dorothy and Scarecrow, walking around quacking songs from the musical (I might even share footage of this one day) and watching the film on repeat until it wore out, I insisted upon having Wizard of Oz themed birthday parties and for a while would only wear red shoes. For Halloween I dressed up as a witch, every year. I wouldn’t let my little sister dress as anything else either. My grandfather taught in a secondary school that had a production of The Wizard of Oz when I was about two and I went along to watch and meet the cast. It may have been the best moment of my life ever, though I was terrified of the cowardly lion. It’s one thing to have a lion on the TV, but to meet one in person? Terrifying.

Terrifying

Though I have overcome my initial fear of people dressed up as lions, I haven’t really grown out of my Wizard of Oz obsession. I have a Wizard of Oz tray, glasses and mugs. When I had my operation in November, a friend from work bought me a sing-a-long Wizard of Oz DVD. I have been banned from watching this when my boyfriend is at home.

In light of this, you can probably imagine how excited I was when my favourite craft authors  Christine Leech and Hannah Read-Baldrey who wrote Everything Alice (and unwittingly led to my house being overrun with lavender-scented dormice…) brought out their new craft book Everything Oz: The Wizard Book of Makes & Bakes. I’ve been feeling rubbish all week with some kind of evil tonsil virus, but when my copy of Everything Oz landed on my doorstep it lit my little world up. It is better than I ever hoped for. I am so excited to start on some of the crafts in there- they will be perfect for making the house and garden very much me. And everything will go beautifully with the “There’s no place like home” print my boyfriend’s sister Laura got me.

This is an absolute must have for any fan of Dorothy and Oz. Since I want to make absolutely everything in the book, I’ve been trying to narrow down my favourites to decide which to start with (I will obviously end up making myself the ruby slippers, but I will need to build up to these). It hasn’t been easy, I’ve even roped my boyfriend in to help me make the final selection, but here goes:

Dress up Dorothy and Toto from Everything Oz, published by Quadrille Press

1. Dress-Up Dorothy and Toto

This doll is unbelievably cute, especially when dressed in her little lion mask on page 13 of the book. I would have loved a doll like this when I was little. As it is I’ve been looking for some nice book ends for my dining room bookshelf for a while now and haven’t been able to find any that I’ve really loved, so when I make this little lady I will fill her with rice or lentils to give her a bit of weight and let her do the job. I will let you see her when she’s done. I think she’ll do a great job.

2. Toto Cushion

Not only does this look incredibly snuggly and cute, but it is the perfect way to recycle the many, many jumpers and cardigans my boyfriend has shrunk recently. He’ll also make a great Christmas present for my mother who has a Scottie and is very slightly bats about them, and my older sister who will appreciate the Radley look (while my bank account appreciates the break).

3. The Decorated Dog House

If my enthusiasm for all things Oz hasn’t made you doubt my sanity, the next thing I’m about to say will. I have an imaginary corgi called Mr Whiffles. So far, so bonkers. But fear not dear readers, I remain in possession of most of my wits- I know that I don’t really have a corgi called Mr Whiffles. I just talk to my boyfriend as though I do in the hope that he will let me have a corgi in a desperate attempt to stop his friends thinking I’m madder than a hatter… a cunning plan I assure you. Anyway, when I have Mr Whiffles, you can rest assured that I will make him this absolutely gorgeous dog house to sleep in. If it transpires that I will not be allowed a Mr Whiffles any time soon, I’ll make one for my rabbit and train her as a dog. Creative solutions, that’s what we’re about here.

4. The Cowardly Lion Hand Puppet

He is so cool, and really makes me wonder how I could ever have been scared of the poor cowardly lion. I think he’d make a great toy for amusing a baby, and I’m pretty sure that my niece who is nearly four would have a great time with him. I have a soft spot for Wizard of Oz themed puppets. After I was run over I had to spend an entire summer in hospital, and my Dad (who is incredibly crafty and a great artist) made me a marionette wicked witch. She’s probably at home in Wales still. I’ll have to dig her out. In addition to the cowardly lion puppet, there are some really simple cut out and split pin puppets which would make a lovely rainy afternoon project for little crafters.

5. The Oz Apothecary

After all of this crafting I intend to do, I am going to have to make everything in the Everything Oz bath time section to chill me out that little bit more than I already am. There’s a great range of lovely looking things including Put a Brave Face on It Skin Tonic which will be good for my dry skin and allow me to make use of the glut of roses in my garden. I also fancy the delightfully named Sleepy-Time Salt Scrub with Lavender but the thing I’m really excited about is the Face Mask of Eternal Youth which looks like it will make something similar to an overpriced product I buy too often in Lush. The savings start here!

Quadrille have very kindly supplied me with a copy of this book to give away to a lucky reader. To be in with a chance of winning it, send an email with the subject header Everything Oz Competition to bookandbiscuit(atsign)hotmail.co.uk replacing the (atsign text) with an @ to outwit those pesky spammers by July 16th 2012.

Everything Alice- Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech

My Cheshire Cat microwave beanbag

I haven’t been reading as such this week. The reason? Everything Alice: The Wonderland Book of Makes. I picked it up in Waterstones, Oxford on Alice Day, and arrived too early to meet the authors so was left kicking myself that I bought it from the rude and surly Waterstones staff instead of The Alice Shop who also stock it, though I hadn’t realised this at the time.

It’s easy to see why this handbook of Alice in Wonderland themed crafts has spent several weeks at number one in the craft category on Amazon. Not only is it packed with ideas for food, drink, needle craft, accessories, overhauling furniture and more (no really!) but the book is absolutely gorgeous. Decorated with papercut illustrations, full colour photographs, antique looking poster style pages based on the original text and sprinkled with many of my favourite quotes from the Alice stories, this book really is a little gem.

When I was little, my grandmother often used to say (with disdain or admiration, depending on what had prompted the comment) that I could amuse myself for days with just a piece of string. In all honesty, that hasn’t changed very much, and when not reading, I love to fiddle around with some kind of project. But plenty of my friends who have very limited interest in craft have picked the book up and browsed it when they’ve been round for tea (one was even caught “borrowing” it!) so it really does have something for everyone.

So far I have made

  • The lavender dormice- I love them and have lined up a row on the arm of the sofa to freak my landlord out when he shows people around our flat
  •  A giant Cheshire cat handwarmer which also contains lavender and is satisfyingly weighty.

I have attempted to make the duchess macarons but those call for an entirely different blog post!

Prototype dormouse and "sexy mouse"

My only warning is that this book has hidden costs attached. Oh you could make the crafts with the scraps you have lying around the house as I did with the cat and first dormouse. But velveteen will always feel nicer, and who could resist leopard print velour at a knock down rate on ebay to make sexy mice with? Most people probably, but I couldn’t. Oh, and don’t tell my boyfriend but the new food processor is to grind ground almonds into dust…

On the other hand the book might just save you money. I have plans to buy my crafty friend a copy for her birthday, and the family will all be getting dormice in their stockings this year. Not to mention the white rabbit I have planned for my niece’s birthday…

Follow the ladies who wrote the book on twitter @EverythngAlice or visit their website which I will one day send a picture of my dormouse army… they have a new book coming soon. I wait with bated breath.

The macaron saga... to be continued...