Monday, 30 January 2012

Library Love...Craft Cycle, The Gift, War Horse...

This month I've loved reading....

Craftcycle - Heidi Boyd
There are looooads of projects in this book I want to try.  They all use eco-friendly or recycled materials...I particularly like the sock babies, coiled fabric baskets, owl clothes peg holder, woven crisp bag bag, cd clock and candle mugs.  This book also has yummy recipes and eco-tips for each season too!

The Gift - James Patterson
This is the second in a series of YA books about Whit and Whisty Allgood, teen witches on the run from a brutal, bald dictator and his totalitarian regime, which bans books, music and magic.  I know James Patterson is a popular author because I see his books coming in and out of work all the time, but I've never really been tempted by any of them 'till I saw this series.  So far they've been really fact paced, the characters are great and I'm enjoying finding references to adult sci-fi/post apocalyptic books I've read (they go to the Brave New World centre for 're-education'...they even live in a shopping mall like in the TV series The Tribe!)

Warhorse - Michael Morpurgo
I feel a bit like it's a cliche reading this book at the moment, there's a waiting list at the library for it as long as my arm, but I wanted to read it before I watch the film.  I was a little put off at the start, because the horse is the narrator, but then I realised that he had to be, becuase he's the only character that's in it all the way through.  After I got over that (and the fact that the horse can under stand German as well as English - clever old horse!) I really enjoyed it, although I did cry 3 times!

I also came across this, it's in a book shop rather than a Library but it's pretty spectacular!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

How to Re-Cover a Vintage Hand Mirror...

 Last night at about 5 past midnight my mind started whirring about this old mirror that's been sitting in my drawer for at least 5 years.  It was my Nan's, and I snaffled it when she died, it was covered with years worth of hairspray, and much as I enjoy the image of her looking at her perm and spraying it solid using the mirror, it wasn't very nice to look at.  I washed it a bit overenthusiastically and water seeped into it, making the fabric go all brown and gross.  Last night I decided I could probably find that mirror, take it apart and recover it.  Cue scrabbling about in drawers at 1am (sorry mum.  sorry neighbours!)  

Sadly, I don't have a before picture of the mirror, I only thought to take photos after I'd dismantled it, but you can see in this one the pink with brown blotches fabric (top left).  And my dressing gown sleeve.

To dismantle the mirror you need to unscrew the cap off the end (number one) then pull the handle off (number 2), then pull the cap at the top of the handle down (number 3) then remove the metal frame around the mirror (number 4).

You're then left will all sorts of bits from mirror was padded with this cardboard with a picture of some sort of hovercraft (I think!) on it, which I think is very cute!

Then you need to draw round one of your pieces with the new fabric you want to use...I used this vintage flowery stuff someone gave me...and cut it out.  Next you have to sandwich all the layers back together again...mine went mirror, metal handle thingy, vintage hovercraft cardboard, new fabric, perspex cover and hold on to them really tight while you feed all of it into the metal frame.  This is the trickiest part and took several goes, in the end I had to take out a layer of cardboard (there were 2 originally) but I still only spent about 10 minutes fiddling with it.  Once you have the frame back on you can put the caps and handle back on and tighten it up again.  Et voila!  One newly re-covered vintage hand mirror!  

I'm glad it's been redeemed from that sad and sorry place in my dressing table drawer and can be used again !

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Things I Love January...

This month I'm loving...

* Seeing Em * my contract at work being extended 'til May * selling a couple of brooches in Chris's shop * new wardrobe - finally! * reading Fred the mermaid books and Warhorse and the Peach Keeper * nice Polyglot meeting * baby sweetcorn in my stir fry * buying me and mum ukuleles and learning to play somewhere over the rainbow * watching the Bake Off on TV * Hello Kitty perfume * charity shop bargains! * enormous, as big as my head onion * putting up my flowery, Emily-made fairy lights * laughing * organising fabric swaps * blogging * finishing lots of crochet things * crochet owls * nice crochet lesson with Karen * taking photos with my new camera * crunchy frost * giggling at work * 

This is the view from our bathroom window in our new house.  What, you mean not everyone can see a National Trust property while they're in the shower?!

My best friend usually lives in Brazil with her lovely Brazilian husband, but her work sent her to London for a course this month, so I got to spend a couple of days with her and our gorgeous mummies, eating yummy food, nattering and having a bit of ukulele madness!  Yey!

What do you love this month?  Hope you've had a lovely one! xxx

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Crafty first shop order...

I've been selling bits and bobs online for a while now, but my brother's girlfriend's mum has just opened a real, bricks and mortar shop in Welshpool, which is about 30 minutes from where I live, and asked me to make some things to sell in it!  The shop will be behind the market hall in Welshpool, and the business is called Flaunt should check it out if you are ever having a Welshpool adventure! 

So I've spent the last week making this little lot...

Crochet head bands/ear warmers with flowers on...

Crochet flower brooches....

Crochet butterfly brooches...

Crochet flower hair grips...

All the wooly things are made from vintage or second hand yarn, bought from second hand shops or ebay.  I buy extra long hair grips from boots, becuase they are the only ones I can find that don't come wrapped in plastic...they're just on a nice simple cardboard backing...thank goodness!

Vintage fabric cards...

And a vintage (Laura Ashley!) fabric bag...

I made business cards using Piknik and printed them out on to the backs of cereal they're more eco friendly! going to have a sit down and a glass of fizzy pop now!  Have any of you ever sold things in a shop?  How did it go? Any tips?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Charity Shop Treasure...Sylvac Bunny...

I found this lovely little sylvac bunny ashtray for £4 in the charity shop!  I love these sylvac bunnies 'cos they have sweet little smiles and a knowing look in their eyes.  (yes, I know I'm a mad bunny woman!)

I know his poor little ears are broken, but that's because he's been used as an ashtray poor thing, he's come to my house for a nice bath with bubbles and then to rest his cute little lungs!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Enormous Onion...

Is enormous!

And will soon be made into looots of onion bahjis!

And the recipe will then be shared with you here!

Spanish onion, 49p from the market, I chose the one closest in size to my head, obviously.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How to Make Salt Dough Buttons. Part Two.

The second step to making salt dough buttons is the painty step!  Pretty simple really, I just did a couple of base coats, mixed paint colours to match the crochet flowers I planned on sewing the buttons to, added spots or stripes (I use the head of a pin to get nice little spots!) then did a couple of coats of spray on varnish.  Easy Peasy!

How to make salt dough buttons, painting and adding polka dots and stripes to handmade salt dough buttons

How to make salt dough buttons, painting and adding polka dots and stripes to handmade salt dough buttons

And here they are added to the crochet flowers!

How to make salt dough buttons, painting and adding polka dots and stripes to handmade salt dough buttons

How to make salt dough buttons, painting and adding polka dots and stripes to handmade salt dough buttons

And all ready with labels to go to the shop tomorrow!  I'm sooo excited!

How to make salt dough buttons, painting and adding polka dots and stripes to handmade salt dough buttons

Have you made anything that makes your heart sing recently!  I want to keep all my spotty buttons to myself!

My salt dough buttons were a winner in the Best of Craftster 2012, how exciting!

Craftster Best of 2012 Winner
I'm a Craftster Best of 2012 Winner! 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How to Make Salt Dough Buttons. Part One.

I know someone who is opening a shop soon and she wants to fill it full of arty-crafty things, she's asked me to make some crochet bits and bobs for her, how exciting!  First on my list is some crochet flower corsages with button middles, I've seen lovely spotty buttons on ebay and on the market stall in town, but they're quite expensive and plastic too, so I decided to make my own.  Which is how I found myself making salt dough in my dressing gown in a fit of inspiration this morning!

I used a basic recipe for salt dough - 2 parts flour to 1 part salt and water...I used a 1/4 cup measuring spoon (the recipe I read asked for 2 cups of flour, but I only needed a little bit and the amount I made was more than enough!)  I also added a little drop of sunflower oil, to make it easier to knead, and a few drops of lemon juice, which is supposed to make it harder (seems to have worked despite the fact the adding of lemon juice instructions were quite vague and I guessed at the amount, I have dropped several buttons and they didn't break!)   

I made up my mixture, kneaded it for 10 minutes and left it to rest for another 20.

How to make salt dough buttons, hand shaped into rounds, hearts and stars.

I used some little vintage Tupperware cutters that my Mum says are petite fours cutters to make some of the small buttons, a star cookie cutter that I got in my Christmas cracker and hand shaped most of the heart and round buttons, you can see the rolling in a ball and squashing technique I developed to make my round buttons in the photos below.

How to make salt dough buttons, hand shaped into rounds, hearts and stars.

How to make salt dough buttons, hand shaped into rounds, hearts and stars.

How to make salt dough buttons, hand shaped into rounds, hearts and stars.

I used a matchstick to make the holes.  As you can see I had enough dough to make buttons to fill this 12 inch square tray (which only fits in my oven if you tilt it at a funny angle!) 

How to make salt dough buttons, hand shaped into rounds, hearts and stars.

Put them in an oven on the lowest heat setting for up to 4 hours, mine have been in for 3 then it was tea time and they had to come out of the oven to make way for the chips!  About an hour or so into the baking time, when the tops have gone nice and white and hard turn the buttons over.  This is a good time to check the holes haven't sneakily closed up at the back, most of mine had (in the photo the hole on the left is all shrunken, the one on the right is after I poked it with a match stick again)  these need to be re-poked with a matchstick, re-poking won't hurt the buttons so long as the tops have gone hard (so you don't squish them when you handle them) and the underneaths are still yellowish and a bit soft (so you can physically get the matchstick through!) 

How to make salt dough buttons, hand shaped into rounds, hearts and stars.

I have to leave my buttons overnight to completely dry out and then I'm going to paint them!!!

My salt dough buttons were a winner on the Best of Craftster 2012, how exciting!

Craftster Best of 2012 Winner
I'm a Craftster Best of 2012 Winner! 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Things I Love This Month...

This month I love...

* Muppets Christmas Carol * swirling about in the snow * unprofessional giggling at work * shiney new big camera * candles * cliff richard singing teddy bear * She and Him Christmas CD * posh drinks in posh hotels with open fireplaces * national trust Christmas party * ordering a new wardrobe * 2 new pairs of PJ bottoms * getting a star shaped mini cookie cutter in my Christmas cracker * chocolate reindeer *  Christmas cups * getting a hair cut * Christmas drinks with traditional Christmas drinks people * fluffy the snail not being dead (he scared me for a while, but I think he was just hibernating!) * Hello Kitty plasters * granny crochet cardigan, £4.99 from the charity shop, patchwork quily £2.50 from the charity shop..yey!! *  Christmas tree lights * ceramic cup cakes * homemade onion bahjis * Dr Who stickers on my new diary *

Over on The Organic Gypsy Carolyn was kind enough to add me to her list of blogs she's loved this year...thanks should go and check out her blog, she's lovely! 

I'm not really feeling the new year this year, I find out if I lose my lovely job at the end of January (which I probably will, because the whole council is being restructured and I'm on a temporary contract that will end at the end of January...ekk!) and my best friend has just moved to Brazil (for 3 months to start with, for longer if he can find a job out there) So I think that has something to do with the lack of positivity for 2012.  I've spent all of 2012 in my PJs, sulking about the house! I like to set some goals though, so I have something to look forward to, so this year I want to do a pottery class, or a photography class, meet new friends, move out of my mums house, find a new job, and if I don't find a new job I'm going to go on a travelly/volunteery type adventure somewhere (I've looked at teaching English in Japan, American Summer Camps and learning Spanish in Spain courses..any recommendations?).  There, I feel a little better about 2012 just having planned something exciting for myself!! Do you have any exciting plans for the new year?  Hope you have a great 2012!