Saturday, November 30, 2013

do-it-yourself gifts - part two

This year, I want to try and make as many presents as possible, because I want to give nice things to my friends and family even if I am a bit poor this year, because they still deserve nice things. Over the next three weekends I am going to show you some of my favourite items you can do for friends - that will cute and thoughtful, and won't break the bank!
This week we have things that we have enough time to get making, and can be churned out, so to speak, if you have a lot of friends and relatives. 
  • Knit or crochet headbands; my girlfriends have loved these as presents in the past, and I think I'll be utilising them again because they're really quick to make and, in my opinion, much much nicer than the ones you get in Primark that are probably made somewhere horrible and will fall apart in five minutes. I would love to receive one, I know that! There are lots of variations on this theme, like the braided one above, and this Antropologie inspired version, progressing to something to something a little more complicated like this one called Saving Grace, or a real cute seed-stitch bow-headband. Failing that, get a free account with Ravelry and browse their archives, there are loads!
  • Handmade cases; this is a sort of catch-all image, but there are all kinds of patterns out there, knitted, crocheted, sewn - hundreds. Search on Pinterest for Kindles/iPad/iPhone case, and there are loads of really good ideas. I love this step-by-step tutorial from in a self-striping yarn that is really cute, and in the right kind of wool it would be good for guys as well. Here are some great ideas for crocheted iPad cases, or handmade Kindle cases. Find a cute fabric and basically sew an envelope - maybe with some foam in -  for a good protective case.
  • Homemade beauty products; obviously, everyone loves something for a good soak and everyone loves getting bath stuff for Christmas (or I do, at least). Giving a home-remedy bath scrub or cleansing balm gives it a great little twist, particularly if you find a cute little vintage jar or Kilner jar to tie a bow around. I would be sure to write a little list of ingredients just incase the recipient is allergic or sensitive to anything. OF course, there are thousands of recipes for all sorts of bath and beauty products out there, I've been making a cleansing balm of Coconut oil and Vitamin E oil of late, and I am really loving that. However, I have rounded up some of my favourites: Gemma has a very similar balm cleanser and Meg has both a cleansing clay masklavender bath soakk and a suitably Christmassy vanilla chai body scrub. Bow Tied Beauty also has a wealth of information about making your own products, which may come in useful and I love this mint milk bath from Julie Blanner, but she has a lot of other amazing sounding things which I suggest browsing if interested. 
gifts - part one
Have you started thinking about presents? I know that now I've been paid I'll have to gather my bits and bobs - I think that hopefully I have got all my immediately family sorted, now just a few friends to think about! Attempting to be a bit more organised this year - how about you?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

i want to go to there: the grant museum of zoology

File under: places I must go to. How have I never heard of this place? It looks like the perfect museum I went to in Florence, but with more squicky things in jars, oh gosh.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

quilt life

So here is a thing that I did: I made a quilt. Bit weird, I know, but let me explain. 
My mother has always sewn or knitted or stitched or quilted - as long as I can remember there have always been bit of thread or wool strewn around our living room and we frequently stab ourselves with needles or pins left on the floor.. But it's something that the women in my family have always done on both sides - one of my grandmothers worked as a dressmaker for a long time, and the other made clothes in a factory during the war, and I think it's just one of those things that has been passed down to my mum, and to me. That said; I drove my mum to a fabric shop to look for something she needed a few weeks ago, and this pack of pre-cut quilt squares caught my eye - some of them had bears and reindeer on and leaves and things, plus they were made out of flannel, so unbelievably soft! So my mum sat with me and showed me the best ways to sew them together, and how to quilt it by hand (that's sewing through all the layers by hand - the diagonal lines you can see) and do the binding and such. It didn't really take me that long, but it's not very complicated. You should see some of the things my mums friends do, they're absolutely mad. 
I am VERY pleased with my little quilt, it's super soft and even though it's quite thin and lightweight, its very cosy and comfy and I just love it. I know a few people in the blogging world are getting into crochet and knitting and such and so I thought I would share this! If you want any further details I'm sure I can do that , but please let me know what you think. (: 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

do-it-yourself gifts - part one

image from wit and whistle, rowan

Christmas is coming, as I'm sure you're sick of already! I don't know if you're like me, but my cash isn't stretching as far this year, unfortunately. I've seen a lot of posts already about gifts for him/her, even a stocking fillers under £50 (I don't have that kind of money?! I wish I did!)..  This year, I want to try and make as many presents as possible, because I want to give nice things to my friends and family even if I am a bit poor this year, because they still deserve nice things. Over the next four weekends I am going to show you some of my favourite items you can do for friends - that will cute and thoughtful, and won't break the bank!
  • Handmade candles; now this might not sound so cheap, because you do need to buy a few things for it- the wax (I recommend the soy container wax, that melts in the microwave) the wick tabs (get the premade wicks!) and some glue dots to stick the wick down. Whilst this might sound like a lot, you can make a lot of candles from one bag of wax - making it very cost effective. Then you have to scour charity shops for some cute little cups and jars (or you might have some around your house) that you can use. There lots of variations on how to make them, but these are the two simplest methods to follow: here and herePerfect for: girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers.
  • Hand-decorated sharpie ceramics; this is something that all over Pinterest at the moment, drawing on plain ceramic with black sharpies, that you then bake in the oven and it 'sets' it onto the mug! There are two ways to gift this cute little gift. You could draw it on first and do a cute design, or give it to the person with instructions. Get some cheap mugs from Tesco and go crazy. This blog tells you exactly how to make them, or search Pinterest for ideas (search; sharpie mug). Perfect for: couples (do his and hers mugs), teenagers or adults who like giving-things-a-go and are creative.
  • Hand-knit hats; now if you can't knit already, I probably suggest missing this one out, but if you have some skills in the department, brush up on them and find some easy knit hats on Ravelry (there are hundreds!). Everyone loves knitwear at Christmas, and you've probably got yarn that you haven't touched that is suitable in your stash! The hat pictured is from a Rowan Easy Winter Knits catalogue, but there are lots of free ones: beginner hat and scarf and ridged pom-pom hat are two of my favourites. Perfect for: anyone really! Plain beanies for men in blue, green or grey go down well, or in bright neon colours for fashion-conscious friends.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

my innocent big knit contribution!

So I'm sure you're all aware of the teeny knitted hats that are littering supermarket shelves at the moment are part of Innocent Smoothies' Big Knit campaign, which donate 25p of the sales of their drinks to Age UK. I really wanted to get involved with it this year (even if I did leave it a bit late) because of a bit of family scare we had last year.. 
Two nights before Christmas, we received a call saying that my Grandmother had fallen down the stairs (she's almost 90!) and had broken her wrist and hit her head. After the initial shock of it all, we had a horrible few months where she was in and out of hospitals, catching infections and organising carers and the trouble of finding a safe home for her (which turned out to be not nice at all). It made me realise that even though I see my little Grandma as this very stubborn, strong willed person, she was very frail and if she didn't have such a good family.. well, I don't like to think about that. That said, I wanted to get involved because there are a lot of old people who suffer alone, particular in the winter when they can't get out as much because of the weather, or suffer because of the fuel prices being so high at the moment, can't afford to put their heating on.
I posted a few snaps of these on my Instagram whilst I was doing them and got great responses, and I got to see quite a lot that people had made, too. Mine weren't the most complicated, purely because I only started the fortnight before the deadline, so wanted to make as many as I could in that time, but there are some amazing ones out there! I picked up one yesterday that looked like a bunch of grapes..But if you see any of mine in the shops, let me know - and show me any links to ones that you made! And if you can't knit, go and buy a smoothie, because you're still helping. (:

(PS: Two of these were made by my brothers girlfriend, and one my mother, so I can't take all the credit! Most, but not all.)

Note: This post isn't sponsored or anything, even though it sounds a bit like it is, I just think it was a good thing for people to get involved with, and I'm glad I did it.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

current flame

My favourite thing at the moment, now that it is dark in the evenings is to tuck myself up in my room with my quilt and my knitting with all my candles lit - it's really nice and relaxing, having wintery scents around, I think. I thought I'd show you some of my favourites at the moment...

Wax Lyrical Red Berries
Waitrose Christmas Spice (A bit like this one.)

Saturday, November 02, 2013

halloween watch: films to make you jump in the night

So I know it's technically November, but I sort of space on the last installment of this post! I had a busy few days and I wasn't feeling 100% so I had written it and everything - just forgot to post it.. Ooops. So hopefully you don't mind me posting this this morning, as I know there were a lot of Halloween parties last night/tonight. Continuing from earlier in the week where we covered funny-horror films and Witches, these are films that make me scared, every time.

I have a bit of a thing for Spanish made horror films - there was a point a few years ago when they were producing really interesting things (see Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone, The Orphanage, Timecrimes, etc). This still gets me, even though I know what's coming - it's filmed in that hand-held, first person style, (Also, I know the remake is not that different, but you should definitely watch the original, the girl in it is much less irritating!) 

The Exorcist 
This is a strange one for me, as I don't find it that scary, but some of the scenes make me very uncomfortable (which is weird, looking at how tame it is now). I think there is something to do with the fact my mother forbid me to watch it, yet I snuck out to a friends house to see it one Halloween, which made it feel all that much worse. 

Ju-on (The Grudge) 
The original Japanese film, I mean, not the remake. There is something so spine-chilling about the noise (if you have seen it, you'll know what I mean) that gets me every time. Good one to watch with friends, I think, so you can all scare each other stupid. (Even looking at google to find an image for this post has made me shiver!) 

My first foray into a Lars von Triers film was Antichrist, watched alone in the house and night - a giant mistake. It is a very compelling, atmospheric film, with some very intense scenes. I adore the actors in it, and it gives me a chill every time. I know a lot of people think it isn't very good, but I find there is something interesting in the parallels between the animals and the nature of people and everything.. I don't know, I just think it is a good film! 

This is one of those films I found very hard to watch - I had heard of the premise and thought it sounded interesting and probably didn't read enough reviews before I watched it! It is graphic - violent and graphic and probably much further into the realm of torture porn that I would like to go! It's got an idea behind it that intrigues me, but if it's gore you want, I recommend. (Also, trying to find an image for this that isn't completely graphic was so hard! haha) 

Honourable mention: The Woman in Black, it's not as scary as the stage play that i went to see (which was truly terrifying to a 13 year old me) but there are a couple of moments (well, one) that makes me damn near wet myself every single time, which I think makes it worth a mention!