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.
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.
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.
Melt lard in a pan and stir in birdseed, oats and cheese.
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.
Using the drinking straw to guide you, push some twine through the fat ball and tie securely when the fat has set.
String from a convenient tree and sit back and watch your birds, remembering to change the food frequently to prevent it going bad.
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.
Draw your heart shape on a piece of card and cut out using a scissors or a craft knife (if you want precision).
Add your desired embellishments or decoration.
Add some quick drying glue to your peg and join it to your love heart.
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.
The 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 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.
While the arrowhead was drying, I wrote out my message on some paper with gold tones (ten points to your Hogwarts house if you recognise the Snape reference) and inserted it inside the main body of the straw.
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. And voila, my original Valentine’s card was made.
Oranges are not the only fruit, unless you’re making marmalade in which case, sorry Jeanette, but they pretty much are. I know that you can technically add tangerine, ginger, grapefruit and whatnot, but for me, the Seville orange reigns supreme because of its distinctive, tangy marmalade taste, though not before sugar has been added. I don’t know if you’ve ever accidentally eaten a bit of Seville orange thinking it was something other than a bitter cooking orange, but if you have you’ll understand the quote from Much Ado About Nothing:
The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor
well; but civil count, civil as an orange, and
something of that jealous complexion.
If you want to make your own marmalade, and eat your sandwiches as Paddington Bear, intended, it’s pretty easy following this handy how to make marmalade guide from the BBC. Geeky literary quotes about Seville oranges and marmalade on the label are optional, but great fun.
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
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
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!
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.
Super 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.
Easier 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.
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.