Tuesday, 31 March 2015

DIY Crochet Easter Bunnies


Easter is a season I find it hard to get behind in terms of crafting. Sure, it's an excuse to eat a heck of a lot of chocolate (ohmygod I can't stop eating creme eggs, somebody needs to set up an intervention) but cute Easter crafts seem to be somewhat lacking... Anywho, you may have noticed I've been on a major crochet kick lately - no idea why, but it's like suddenly crochet patterns and yarn types/colours are all I can think about. I used to not be able to read crochet patterns at all, and if a pattern used any stitches other than single and double I'd not even bother trying, but I've been really pushing myself to give it a go recently. So when I spotted this adorable bunny pattern over on Pinterest I had to give it a go!


It was actually a really easy to follow pattern - I had to google how to do a treble stitch and a half double stitch, but other than that it was pretty simple and surprisingly quick. After the first one, they took me about 40 mins each, about 10 mins of which was spent attaching the tail and weaving the ends in! My mum has asked me to make her a garland using different coloured rabbits, so I'll be working on that on the train tonight, plus I'm making up a batch for my friends as little Easter gifts. I wanted to send chocolates, but all the best Easter chocolates (creme eggs and mini eggs) won't go in a large letter envelope, and if you know me you know how much I hate things not fitting in a large letter envelope! So these bunnies are ideal - I can pop them inside Easter cards and VOILA!


Are you guys working on any Easter crafts at all? I'd love to take a peek so please leave links in the comments if you are xoxo

Gluten Free Orange and Almond Cake


So I've been thinking a lot about this blog, and what I want it to be, and have come to a few decisions. Firstly, this blog will feature a lot more recipes, DIY projects, and WIP posts, because I love doing that. It's my favourite thing to do, so why not make that a bigger part of my blog? Secondly, I will be using the blog more as a journal of sorts. I spend too much time worrying about whether my photos are good enough, whether the post is interesting enough, whether people will enjoy reading it, and end up not posting things because I feel they aren't good enough. I started this blog as a way of keeping a record of the things I'm doing, reading, making, thinking about. That's what I want to get back to.

Lately I've been baking more - as I mentioned over on Instagram it's something I really enjoy doing, but hate being left to eat a whole cake or batch of biscuits by myself! I'm going to try and maybe join some sort of group or club where I can hand out my baked treats to others. Basically I just want an excuse to bake more and try new recipes. But I wanted to share with you a recipe I tried last week. I actually made two cakes, one being the Hummingbird Bakery banana bread which is always a hit. The other was a Gluten Free Orange and Almond Cake that I have had pinned for ages and wanted to try because of the unusual method. I used this recipe but didn't put flaked almonds on top because I'm not a huge fan of them. It turned out pretty darn awesome - it's not a sweet cake at all and, even though I have a massive sweet tooth, I loved it. It was really moist and packed full of flavour. Perfect with a cup of tea, and because it's gluten and dairy free it's great if you're taking it somewhere there may be people with allergies.

I'll be posting again shortly with a crochet project I've been working on - it's Easter themed and pastel coloured so obviously I'm in my element! This evening I'm off to meet up with three lovely ladies that I'm mentoring as part of the Crafty Fox Market Uncovered scheme - we are going to Drink Shop Do for a few cheeky drinks so I hope I'm still coherent enough to try and impart some of my wisdom on them (haha!)

PS. that awesome plate up there is by Helen Dardik and is from Tigerlily Quinn shop - I bought the fox and the lady plates too because they are too adorable!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

DIY Watermelon Wall Art


Most of you know about my studio heartache already - I am back home working from the spare room, but as I am still planning on moving I thought there was no point moving everything back and unpacking it all, so my studio is currently running on just the essentials. One thing that is still all packed up are all my knick knacks and wall art, which made the space feel so fun and inspiring. So I figured it might be fun to try and create some little pieces to put on the wall in the meantime....


I bought some cheap canvases from Tiger (told you I love that shop!) and decided to turn this one into a watermelon repeat pattern. I am definitely no artist - that's not me being modest or anything, I genuinely have no talent when it comes to drawing or painting. But I do like creating simple patterns, and even I could manage to paint a (very wonky) semi circle with a few dots on!

 

I'm so pleased with this painting - it took me about half an hour to do, and cost about £3 to make. Cheap and quick equals my kind of DIY project! It was also very relaxing just sitting and painting - I've always avoided this kind of crafting because I know I can't draw to save my life. But this isn't a GCSE art class - I can draw or paint whatever I like and it doesn't matter if it looks like it or not! Now the question is what to paint next...

Goodbye Sweet Treats


 Today is my last ceramics class - I will be sad to finish as it has been really fun, and I have learnt a lot! But I thought I'd make some sweet treats for my classmates and tutors just to say goodbye and thanks. I decided yesterday to do some baking, so had to find recipes that only used ingredients I had to hand (check me out with my serious lack of planning!) Plus I wanted to make bite size treats, rather than a whole cake say, so it would be easy to package up for people to take home. I knew we wouldn't be able to eat them in class, as working with clay gets mucky, so decided to make individual parcels of goodies for each person to take away.


I ended up settling on Chocolate Truffle Cookies and Coconut Macaroons, both of which are from the Hummingbird Bakery's 'Home Sweet Home' book. I halved the macaroon mix though as I only had 200g of dessicated coconut, and doubled the ingredients for the cookie mix. The macaroons came out really awesome, though next time I will use more condensed milk than the recipe says, or less coconut, as I like my macaroons a bit more gooey. The cookies I think I left in the oven a tad too long - they aren't burnt or anything, but just not as moist as I reckon they should be. For a first attempt though I am pretty darn pleased!


A few days ago in Tiger (pretty much the best shop EVER, am I right?!) I bought three colours of this super cute cello wrap because at £1 a roll I basically couldn't leave it behind! I used it to wrap the baked goods up in little parcels, and tied them off with some white ribbon and handmade tags. I love being able to use up supplies I already have, though mainly because it gives me a good excuse to go and buy more!


One thing I really miss about working in a job with other people is having excuses to make cakes and treats - I do still make them from time to time, but it seems kind of greedy to make a tray of brownies just for myself! I want to join some sort of club or group so I have people to give them to on a regular basis! Maybe I should start a cake eating club or something?!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Books to Inspire You


If you've been following me a while you'll know I'm a real bibliophile. I absolutely adore books, of all shapes and sizes and subjects! I posted my 'to read' list for 2015 earlier in the year, and have been making steady progress with it, athough I'm currently reading Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger and have to admit I am struggling. I flew through Catcher in the Rye and thought this would be the same, but I've been reading it for three weeks and am only about a third of the way through! Whenever I get bored reading a book I end up buying more books to read as a sort of incentive to finish the boring book, so I bought The Maze Runner series to tempt myself with. Fingers crossed I can get into Franny and Zooey and get it finished soon because I'm really looking forward to starting something new!

But on to the real subject of this post - I have so many books that I love browsing and dipping in and out of for inspiration, and I thought it'd be nice to start sharing a selection of them on here each month. I absolutely love getting recommendations of new books so thought some of you might too!


 I've always been really into Japanese culture, particularly the 'kawaii' aspect, so obviously I had to get this book! It has small sections (small because they aren't whole chapters, some are just two pages, others are up to ten pages) on a huge variety of areas of cute culture in Japan, from brands to artists, to trends. Lots of the areas it covers I knew about already (I read a LOT of books about Japanese culture!) but there were some new ones too. Plus it was great to read more about artists and companies that I'd hear of but didn't really know a lot about.

 

 Also, it's such a feast for the eyes which I KNOW sounds so cliched, but it's really true here! Every page features colourful photos and illustrations so there is tons to look at, even if you don't fancy reading the whole accompanying text!


 Who would have thought you can buy a book dedicated to vintage American signs? I've always loved novelty signs - hot dog signs shaped like giant hot dogs? Heck yes! With neon lighting? Even better! When we were in Austin, Texas last year I took more photos of amazing signs and typography than I did of anything else.

 

 I think my absolute favourite has to be the 'Pancake Place' sign - I wish I could just travel around America and photograph old signs. Why don't we have ones like these in the UK?! The book isn't just a cornucopia of vintage artwork and typography though - it's also super interesting reading about the history of this type of sign.


 Pretty sure everyone knows by now that I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan, and The Grand Budapest is possibly my favourite of his movies. So when the accompanying book to the film came out I knew it was going to be incredible, and it doesn't disappoint! Packed full of sketches, interviews, behind the scenes photos, stills, storyboards, and so much more, if you loved the move then this book is for you!


 Like everything Wes Anderson touches the book is visually stunning, and I love just flicking through and looking at the images. But it's also incredibly interesting reading all the background behind creating the movie, the characters, and hearing Wes speak about his artistic process.


 This is the only book I could find on Amazon about Margaret Keane and her work. Although it is primarily an accompaniment to the 'Big Eyes' movie by Tim Burton, it does also contain lots of information about Margaret's life and her artwork, including pages and pages of images of her paintings.


It's so nice to finally have a book about her life and work - I've adored her art for such a long time. If you are also a fan I cannot recommend this book enough - even if you're not specifically a fan of Margaret Keane, the book encapsulates something of the life of an artist in that era which is so interesting in itself. I'm really excited to see the movie now!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

DIY simple flower arrangement


 For mother's day (and as a treat for myself) I wanted to put together some simple little flower arrangements using some glass jars and bottles. I prettified the containers using some basic craft supplies - washi tape, tissue paper, and a few other bits.


My sister got me the flowers from the florist where she works - just some basic flowers, plus a few roses add in for good measure. I picked up this neon pink polka dot tissue paper in Paperchase and had to get some - I love how it looks with the flowers. I made the little flag stuck on the front using a toothpick and some message washi tape.


 I decorated these bottles in a gold theme - I got some gold sequin thread in Tiger which I wrapped around one of the bottles, and cut some gold self-adhesive vinyl into sprinkle shaped bits to stick on to another one. Lately I've been trying to make things using supplies I already have because, let's be honest, I have a hell of a lot of craft supplies and need to start making use of some of them.


 In future when I give someone flowers I will put them in a decorated container first because I feel as though it makes the gift feel much more thoughtful and personal. You could coordinate the decorations to tie in with a room in their house or something that they like - next up I want to try making crocheted holders for glass jars.

 

These decorated containers took me about 15 minutes to put together, most of which was spent arranging the flowers! So simple but so effective, and perfect for any occasion, from a birthday to a 'thanks for being a friend.'