Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Crafting: Pippa Doll

I can't seem to start this post without a little explanation as to where I've been for the last month - especially as this will be my last post of 2015!
So, I have a new job! I started it in October as a part time position on my day off, and was then offered a full time position starting in December. Working two jobs, renovating our flat and the run up to Christmas meant that I barely had time to turn my laptop on let alone blog, but it feels damn nice to be sat here typing away again. I'm super excited to be heading into the new year at my new job; after a frantic Christmas there I'm looking forward to settling in with all of the wonderful team and getting to know the company properly. Yay!

And now, onto the cutie pie in the photos above - meet Pippa!
Around halfway through December I realised that I hadn't started a Christmas present for my niece, and having previously gifted her with a quilt when she was born, a bunch of goodies for her first Christmas and a felt activity book for her first birthday, handmade was my only option.

I knew that my Mum was giving my niece a little wooden pram for Christmas so I decided to make Pippa to accompany it. She was a total freestyle project, based on the amounts of fabrics I had and trying to create something cute enough for an 18 month old to get excited by.
Pippa fits perfectly in the pram and my niece seemed pretty happy with her - spending the last few days watching her fill the pram up with Pippa and her other toys, rocking them to sleep and then waking them up to rearrange them was adorable.

Anyway, I hope that you've all had a wonderful festive time with your loved ones over the last week, mine has been lovely but a little subdued. I've been thinking of trying a recap post of 2015 but haven't quite decided yet, and I also have a few plans for next year that I need to get down on paper (screen?!).

For now, Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people, and I'll see you on the other side <3

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Saying Thank You

• To Hayley, for inspiring this post and for reminding me why I love blogging...
• To my family, especially over the last month when things have been so tough, for reminding me how to live and for being such a strong support network.
• To Bing and A for always being at the other end of the phone. Soon enough we'll find a date that we can all do!
• To my phone for breaking and giving me a much needed detox for a few days. I hate how much I depend on it and needed to be reminded about life away from a screen.
• To Katie, for helping me to have fun again and teaching me how to live our twenties right.
• To yoga for giving me time to just be and helping me to be kind to my body.
• To S, for sharing all of your good stickers with me and for filling me with so much love. You are the most awesome niece an auntie could ask for, and don't worry, I've bought you tons more stickers for Christmas.
• To the world for everything you have to offer, and to all the people in it trying to prove that love will always win.
• To Pixel, for your funny five minutes that make me laugh every single day.
• To new friendships made in pubs whilst drunkenly chatting about Game of Thrones and maths.
• To old friendships kept alive in pubs whilst drunkenly posing for photobooth pictures.
• To JK Rowling for Harry Potter...
• ...and to all the other books that allow me to lose myself in another world.
• To my doctor all those years ago that never gave up on me; you told me that one day I'd lead a normal life and even work full time and now I do (albeit cautiously).
• To the plants in the flat for helping me to improve my green thumb and filling the flat with life.
• To Netflix. Sad but true.
• To Feel Free for making gluten free doughnuts - because five years without a doughnut really is too long.
• To J, for that iTunes list.
• To new starts, new opportunities and endless hope.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Yawn: Phone Off, Kettle On, Pyjama Time

Pyjamas c/o Yawn

About a week before J and I got married, I got chatting to the lovely ladies at Yawn and we ended up planning a little collaboration. They sent me these beautiful Safe Harbour pyjamas to take away on our honeymoon, and I whipped up an eye mask to go with them. You can check out my DIY to make the eye mask here.

Choosing the pyjamas was tricky. I've loved Yawn ever since Katie blogged about them yonks ago, and I particularly love the cat print set (of course!). In the end I went with the Safe Harbour full length set, and boy did I make the right choice.

J thought I was mad to make space for the pyjamas amongst bikinis and shorts, but I knew that they'd be a perfect holiday accompaniment. And why's that? One word: Aircon. Oh how I loathe it! I mean, I get it - Hong Kong was easily the most humid place I've ever been and Port Douglas stayed balmy late into the night, but when I go to sleep I need to be cosy.

The main perk with these pyjamas for me is the fit - I have no time for fitted pyjamas, or for anything where comfort isn't the top priority. These pyjamas are the ultimate in cosy - I actually ended up wearing them as soon as we got home from exploring most days as they are also the perfect thing to wear if you're sunburnt!

As for the design... is it wrong to love pyjamas? All of the prints are designed in house at Yawn which is another detail of the company that is awesome. The anchor print is so sweet and I love the single life ring on the pyjama trousers - for me it really is the tiny details, and that is one cute detail.
The cut and fit are also spot on for me, and another nod to the tiny details are the pockets. I used to constantly steal J's pyjama bottoms because they always had good pockets (what is it with women's clothing and crappy pockets?!) so the fact that this set features pockets on the top as well as the bottoms gets a huge thumbs up from me.

If you hadn't guessed from me mentioning stealing J's pyjamas, I've never had a 'proper' set of pyjamas, but thanks to this set I'm pretty sold. I've already added the Port In A Storm nightshirt to my Christmas wish list, as it seems only right to start building myself a collection now doesn't it? :)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Crafting: Trail Tote

After a photoshoot at work the other day in which we chased some fleeting winter sun, it seemed like a good time to get some snaps of my latest make at the same time. My lovely friend Mary took these snaps for me to show off my version of the Trail Tote by Noodlehead.

I've been dying to sew something over the last few weeks, so over the course of a few evenings I whipped this freebie pattern up with some stash fabric.
I adore Noodlehead designs (and the fabric choices are always spot on!) and this bag is no exception. If I'm using a bag that is too small for me to throw tons into, I will inevitably end up lugging a tote bag around with me too, and I figured that in the larger size this bag could solve that problem without being too bulky.

I made a few changes to the pattern including adding a contrast bottom to match the strap, omitting the piping to the exterior and using an extra chunky zip at the front for a bit of detail.
I'm a monochrome girl at heart but couldn't resist adding an emerald green lining as a nice little pop of colour - I really love these fabric combos!

Having worn the bag for a week now I have to say I'm pretty smitten. Somehow this is the first bag I've made with an adjustable strap and I love it - I can comfortably wear this as a cross body bag, or shorten the strap right up to wear as a shoulder bag.
If you're looking for a relatively quick and super satisfying make, I would totally recommend this pattern - and this isn't meant to be a review, I just love a good bag ;)

Friday, 6 November 2015

We Got Married - The Guestbook

Technically we have two guestbooks from the wedding day, but only one of them is actually a book. The photobooth company we used put together a guestbook for us of all the photos taken in the booth and it is possibly my favourite book of all time! I love how different people can be behind a formal camera and then in a photobooth, and looking through that book will forever make me laugh.

Of course I couldn't turn down the chance to get another DIY out of the day so I decided that I'd make a guestbook quilt too. I cut a huge pile of calico strips, bought a multipack of Sharpie fabric pens, and set them up together on the drinks table to let people leave their messages.
I decided this way back when the wedding plans first started and J thought that no one would get involved but luckily they did (+1 to me!). I just wish I'd thought to mark up the seam allowance I'd need, but ahwell, who doesn't love to sew with a 1mm allowance?!

Now the big question is, what shall I do for the rest of the quilt?! I'd like to use calico for the back of the quilt too, but I still have a bunch of things to decide...

• Do I add any other fabric pieces to the front or just have the messages?
• If the front is solely made up of the messages, should I align them or brick tile them?
• Should I dye the back piece of calico black (possibly using Shibori techniques?) or make a stamp and print straight onto it with black ink?
• ...same question for the binding...
• How should I quilt it? Stitch in the ditch, or random quilting?

Ahhh, so many questions! But honestly, I cannot tell you how awesome it feels to have a nice and slow project on the go :)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Honest To Blog

Guys, I'm back - and I'm a married woman ;)
I'm currently nursing a 3 week happiness high combined with some harsh jet lag (we've been up since 4am eating cold pizza & being soothed by Netflix!), so if this is just one huge ramble then I hope you'll bear with me!

In the 5 years that I have had a blog, I don't think it has ever been so neglected. Of course, it's been an accumulation of things - primarily planning a wedding and honeymoon - but I finally feel ready to get back into the swing of things. You can read countless thoughtful and poignant posts that will articulate far better than me on how much blogging has changed and how it feels these days (see: here & here) but here's how things are for me.

I love my blog: I love journalling, I love photography, I love DIY'ing, crafting, creating, baking, experimenting and sharing it on my blog. I've met some amazing people through my blog, made some best friends (see: Erin & Katie & Lauren & Sophie), been inspired by some incredibly talented and awesome people (see: Michelle & Bee & Ria) and worked with some amazing companies (see: Janome & White Tree Fabrics). I'm clumsy in real life, I stumble, I'm awkward. Online I am free of that. I still don't get as involved as I should (why I'm so bad at commenting on blogs I love is beyond me, but I'm trying), and I still censor myself - maybe too much.

But, that's the thing I've always struggled with the most. It isn't how to get more page views or turn my blog into a business, but trying to find the line between my blog and my real life. What do I want to be seen online under my name? Yes, I want to share parts of my life through my blog. Duh. But I don't want my whole life to be accessible online. My life is so much more than it appears online, and it is mine. I want to maintain privacy - and not just for myself but for the people closest to me too. And that's my choice.

It makes things tricky - for example, the wedding. One of the most beautiful, fun, special and creative days of my life. I want to share that on here; jeez, I spent months writing chalkboard signs and DIY'ing the crap out of anything I could for the day, of course I want to share it! But on the flip side, it was one of the most beautiful, fun, special and personal days of my life too. I don't know how I feel about that being broadcast on the Internet just yet. I need to find a way to keep that line solid, so that's what I'm working on (I pretty much talked about all of this last year here, but from a slightly different perspective!).

In the mean time, boy do I have some catching up to do eh?! Now that the wedding and honeymoon have come to an end, we have a flat to renovate (!) so you can sure as hell expect some fun posts there. I've got a whole bunch of posts planned - DIY's, recent loves etc. and I've also got some amazing collaboration posts lined up with some companies that make me happy.
Life is good, and I am oh so grateful <3

So now what I want to know is - how the heck are you all?! If you've read this far, let's catch up please x

Friday, 28 August 2015

A Little Note

A view from home <3

Hey internet! Long time no blog. Ready for a catch up?!

So to pick up where I left off - my brother and now sister-in-law had the most beautiful wedding. It was an amazing day filled with so much happiness - I've never seen either of them grin so much! The whole day did send me into a slight panic about our own wedding, but at the same time it showed me that even if things don't go to plan (english *summertime* anyone?!) it will still be an amazing day.

A few weeks later I celebrated my hen do organised by my superstar sister T. She grouped together my favourite girls and we spent the day going on a Harry Potter themed scavenger hunt (thanks to Katie for the awesome maps!), an afternoon pottery painting, and an evening drinking deadly HP cocktails whilst dressed as HP extras (complete with my personal favourite drink 'Albus Rumbledore' and amazing hand made wands). We then went to eat at the Sussex Bread Co. which I've been dying to try for dinner as their bread is my all time favourite. The allure of a totally gluten free cafe is just too good to resist.
Many more cocktails followed and I spent the whole day in a surreal bubble; surreal is definitely my word of choice when it comes to this whole wedding lark! I'd always dreaded the idea of a hen do, but my sister and friends made it so unbelievably fun; it was exactly what I needed and so good to spend time with them all.

Following those jam packed weeks I then found myself bed bound with a throat infection that completely knocked me off my feet, and I also had to tackle my garden flooding in the freak storms which saw me spending hours trying to decant buckets of water to stop the whole flat flooding.

And in amongst all of that, I've been DIY'ing like mad for the wedding. I've finished the dress, but still have some alterations to make to J's suit, signs to finish for the venue and labels for all of the food. Life is busy and is flying by so quickly!

I feel sad that my blog has taken a back seat because of it all, but I'm trying not to beat myself up about it. I still have a few more DIY's to share and have loads of personal projects that I can't wait to get stuck into, so hopefully things will bounce back here soon :)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Life Lately

It's been a while since my last rambling blog post, so I thought I'd post a little update whilst I'm curled up on the sofa doing lots of life admin.

Today marks one week until my eldest brother gets married and I am so excited. It's come around so quickly and I can't wait to see him and his gorgeous other half tie the knot - they are so perfect together! It really is a crazy year for our family this year and I'm so looking forward to spending the day with all of my favourite people.

I really wanted to make a dress to wear to their wedding, but with everything else going on time just kept slipping away from me. Luckily I found a gorgeous dress from People Tree which is a win win as I don't need to feel guilty about buying something new - they're one of my favourite ethical companies - and I get a super cute new dress without a meltdown over trying to make one!

As the dress was new though, it was only right to make myself an accessory for the occasion so I whipped the above clutch up a few days ago. I've never had a clutch bag before so we'll see how I get on! The top fabric is a Liberty piece by Jamie Oliver from a few years ago called Apple - I love it so much! I used everything I had for this so decided to two tone with some leather to make it bigger which I think works really well and the lining is a gorgeous neutral that Erin gave me as part of a yummy fabric bundle for my birthday this year.

Beauty Gems at The Body Shop & a sneak peek at their new collection Spa of the World launching on the 11th August.

Moving away from weddings (I really have become one of those people, argh!), a few weeks ago I was invited along to The Body Shop #summeredit evening at Brighton Marina. I felt slightly nervous at being asked along to a beauty event (even though I worked out I use over half a dozen TBS products every. single. day!) but it was a lot of fun and the lovely TBS ladies were super friendly and helpful. I had a skin consultation and discovered that I already use 3 of the 4 products recommended which is pretty good going, and nattered on to anyone who would listen about how great the Vitamin C range is. Seriously though, I've used the Skin Reviver ever since I was ill at uni and it's the only product that stopped people commenting on how tired I always looked.

Along with my favourite Brighton blogging ladies, we were introduced to some new products launching this summer and spent the evening sniffing every product in sight and discussing how few of us actually give ourselves "me time". We were also given lovely summery goodie bags to aid us in the quest for said me time, and I spent an hour in the bath a few evenings ago with a book, a mug of peppermint tea and their new Dead Sea Salt Scrub which is heavenly. They've also launched a new range of perfect summer perfumes and the Italian Summer Fig was also included in our goodie bags. I'm gonna be totally honest and say that that scent is not for me, but I could quite happily wear the Indian Night Jasmine one forever; even if Lauren did say it reminded her of air freshener! We all have different tastes eh :)

And a few more random things that are making me smile at the moment...

My mum bought me this cute little cacti/succulent garden a few weeks ago and it may have just taken the top spot for my favourite plant in the flat! I've been on a plant buying ban for a few months as I've genuinely run out of room for them, but this adorable guy is a very welcome addition.

Finally, one more wedding mention comes from these CD's which are part of a quickly accumulating pile in the lounge at the moment. J and I are putting tons of playlists together for the day and we've had to search high and low for some old school albums that we didn't have. This has been super fun and I really hope people will love our choices as much as we do :)

Thursday, 9 July 2015

We're Getting Married #6 - The Invitations

With just two months to go now until the wedding (eep!), I thought it would be nice to share our DIY invitations.
They went down well with our family and friends (although some people found them a little bizarre!) but hey ho, we had fun making them and I think they turned out pretty awesome.

The invites started life as a big book of antique postcards that I won on eBay. J and I spent an afternoon rifling through them and picking out our favourites - some were super creepy (portraits of babies with fake backdrops etc.) and some were beautiful; there was even an Isle of Wight one in there.

J designed the information we wanted to have on the front and back of the postcards, and then it was time to get them printed. I already posted about our screen printing experience HERE, but again I'll say that it was so much fun and I love how they all turned out. Some of the postcards were written on, some were blank, colour, black and white etc. so each one printed differently.

[Bonus snap of Pixel getting involved :)]

Once the postcards were finished, I set to making the envelopes for them. I made a template and used brown card that would hold the postcards and then fold up into a self contained envelope. These took a while to make but were also very satisfying to finish!
The longest part of this whole project was the calligraphy on the front of the envelopes. I still consider myself very much an amateur with calligraphy and writing out so many names was slightly daunting! I got into the swing of it though and they didn't turn out too badly. It was damn good practice!
The finishing touch was a little sticker to seal the envelopes with which was another little design from J with the wedding date on. These were so cheap to have printed and although not a necessity, definitely very cute.

As we are on a budget, making a website for the bulk of the information seemed like the most practical option, so we had a stamp made with the URL on and placed that on the card flap underneath the postcard. This turned out really well as we could embed a map into the site and list lots of helpful information that would have taken up lots of paper otherwise. Huge thanks to our friend Luke who built the website for us - you're a superstar :) Plus, having the RSVP's online also means that I can print out a nice geeky spreadsheet when everyone replies - ah the little things!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Posh Totty Designs

Last Thursday I headed down to Posh Totty Designs with some of my favourite Brighton bloggers to celebrate with them at their #poshbloggersparty.
The shop itself is a treasure trove, and had been given a party makeover with lots of drinks, party straws and colourful nibbles. We were greeted by the super lovely team and instantly got chatting and I basically played 20 questions with everyone because I wanted to know all about the shop!
Everything at PTD is hand made and crafted in Brighton which is such a huge selling point for me. I loved talking to the team and hearing them talk about not just the jewellery but the homeware products too - they definitely all love what they do and it shows!

When I was younger I resented my name quite a lot; remember all those key chains, necklaces and velvet headbands with your name on? Well, I couldn't get any of those! So as childish as it may sound, I still get so excited at the idea of having things with my name on and PTD is perfect for that.
I especially loved the infinity necklaces and rings - I think they'd make an awesome anniversary present. J and I have been talking about getting something engraved on the inside of our wedding rings too so it was great to see some examples of what they offer.

We also got to try our hand at leather stamping which I was super excited about. The crafty ladies showed us the ropes, and then we got to choose a bracelet or keychain to customise. I was cheeky and had a few goes - it was so much fun! I chose to stamp personal messages on mine for family members, but lots of people were stamping favourite quotes, blog names etc.
I was also lucky enough to receive a notebook in my goody bag with my name stamped on the front, which as you can imagine I was chuffed with, and a necklace with my initial stamped on; such thoughtful presents and they really really made me smile!

All in all, this was one amazing evening and it was so nice to meet everyone involved at PTD and get to know them. They also gave me a discount code for you lovely readers to use which is valid until the 22nd September - simply enter "ARTICHOKE15" to receive 15% off your order - and enjoy the thrill of getting something hand made, crafted and personalised :)

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Crafting: A First Birthday Book

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen a few sneaky photos over the last few weeks of this book in the making. My amazing little niece turned one on Sunday and I wanted to make her something special - a book seemed like a pretty good place to start!
I spent a few evenings on Pinterest looking at felt activity books (I think they're called Quiet books in America) and started to sketch out some pages that I thought would be fun. I wanted the whole book to be colourful, fun and interactive and to hopefully be something that my niece can grow up with over the next few years.

I originally intended to share this as a DIY post, but to be honest I ended up free styling most of it; I got very caught up in the whole thing and loved every minute of it! ...Apart from the last part which originally involved using eyelets to join the pages together. Alas, the layers proved to be too thick and I ended up hand sewing the eyelets instead. Considering this was a bump in the road I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, and I think that they really tie the whole thing together (no pun intended!)
Also as a sidenote, velcro dots were my best friend for this project!

FYI - be prepared for a lot of photos!

On the first page I made an envelope with a little note in it addressed to my niece - she loved taking this out and putting it back again!

I wanted to include some learning pages and had seen versions of these on Pinterest - learn how to tie laces and matching shapes.

This spread is just for fun - make your own pizza and solve the puzzle to find a cute cat.

In my head this spread was the centrepiece and one of my favourites to work on. The orchard has a big picnic basket to fill with apples from the tree and carrots and parsnips from the soil. This was also another very well received spread from the birthday girl!

More learning pages; I loved the idea of a page for learning colours, and decided to create a little ode to Up with these rainbow balloons. The cupcakes are for learning to count to five - if learning to count with chocolate buttons on cupcakes isn't a good idea then I don't know what is :)

And finally on the last page I added a big pocket for any loose shapes, pieces of fruit etc. (I didn't think this page was essential, but the pocket came in handy almost immediately). I also embroidered the year on the back page.

Thankfully, the book went down really well with the birthday girl and it was actually quite emotional watching her with it. She got stuck in straight away with every page and my brother and his girlfriend loved it too - definitely a successful DIY :)