I’d love to say that I’m always creative and have ideas going round in my head all the time, but like all energies, the creative energy that generates ideas ebbs and flows as unpredictably as a river after a heavy rain. I have days, weeks, and rarely, months, where I seem to be forever creating and crafting and the ideas seem to keep on coming at me, but I also have times where my ideas and passion for creating seem to dry up and shrivel away to nothing.
In the past, staying creative was easy – university provided me with loose themed projects to work on, our own interpretation of the topic was hugely encouraged. It made thinking about topics and things to do incredibly easy, in some ways it took that ability away from me. I found it easy to come up with creative ideas when there was a topic presented to me. We had group chats about our work and the direction we wanted to go in with our projects along with feedback from our peers and lecturers. We focused on research, trial and error and then the final outcome. Having other persons input into our ideas really helped. But now I’m alone and away from group discussion, the onus is on me to continue with being creative.
After I finished university I had this itch to continue to make things but had no real idea of how to start and what to do with this energy inside me. I had very little skill in knowing how to use this energy and formulate it into solid ideas. I dealt with it in the worst way possible. I sat and did nothing, letting this feeling fester and then wither. While I did continue to take photos and create other bits and pieces here and there, it was nothing like having a project and something to really focus on.
And then the fear started to creep in. Fear that what I was doing wasn’t good enough, fear that what I was producing didn’t have a point, fear that my ideas were limiting my work and without discussing my ideas and getting feedback and opinions that my work wasn’t somehow validated. So I stopped. I stopped creating, I stopped thinking, and I felt like I had lost a part of me.
What really got me back into creating and being creative was social media, I found some Instagram accounts that I liked, I joined Facebook groups where my interests were embraced and where people shared their work with others. And I slowly started to re-gain confidence in myself and my ideas.
Now, to stay creative I read articles that are related to my interests, I read blogs about crafting and art, I follow lots of Instagram accounts that are working in a similar way to me, and I research skills I’d like to learn. There are so many craft ideas pages, tutorials and step-by-step instructions on the web that have helped me to. Lots of the big hobby stores have pages of ideas to read about too, which help.
I keep a notebook of ideas, my phone holds lots of web links, I have saved articles on my pc and I am subscribed to websites that email projects I may be interested in that I can refer to when I hit a wall which helps me to overcome an “artists block”. I have realised that I don’t always need the guidance of others to help me create and I follow my own set of rules. I no longer care whether what I create has a point, means something or whether others will like or understand it. I create for me. That’s how I stay creative.
I think it’s always a really nice idea, at the end of a month, just to sit down and think about some things that you want to achieve in the following month. I am going to share with you, today, my little list of goals I want to achieve this month. I have split my list into 4 sections covering my blog and social media, home, art and craft and personal. Here are the goals I’d like to achieve this coming month.
Blog and Social Media
Stay on track with my blog routine. December was a mad month for blog posts, I more than doubled the usual amount of posts because I wanted to share so much about Christmas and Christmas Ideas but now that is all over I’m going to try to get back to my usual routine of posting on a Tuesday and Friday.
Share more on social media. Especially Facebook and Instagram. Though I have got these platforms, I haven’t been using them a great deal for one reason or another so this month I am setting a goal to share at least one blog post image or the link to the blog post to these sites.
Change my blog domain. Upgrade my blog extension from a wordpress.com extension to a co.uk or another extension to make it easier to share my site across social media platforms and make it easier for people to find my blog.
Defrost freezer and deep clean fridge. I really like to do this in the New Year, not only do I get to have a nice clean fridge and freezer I can also take stock of everything that I have got in there, decide what needs using up, what I could do with getting rid of and what I need to stock up on!
Wash Sofa Covers. I tend to do this job every few months and love how fresh my room smells once the covers are back in place.
Create a cleaning timetable. When I lived in my other house I had a cleaning timetable in place but since moving I’ve not really had one. A cleaning timetable helps me to remember to do things like make sure the right bins go out on the correct day. This month I want to create a new timetable and write it into my home planner and (try to) stick to it.
Art and Craft
Make some more candles. I made some candles the other month and would like to make some more as it was really fun and a great way to relax and it means I will always have something to gift as presents. I’d also like to research methods of making candles as there are so many different techniques!
Start making cards again. I used to make lots of cards and even started to sell them for charity a long time ago. I’d like to get back into making and giving my own cards to friends and family as it is a bit more personal and special than buying shop bought cards.
Start a scrapbook/journal. This is something that, again, I used to do years ago and am thinking that I would like to start doing again. I have a La De Dah Journal already which would be perfect as a scrap journal. There are lots of different papers you can buy to add to the journal and so many different ways to use the pages that it would be the perfect choice for what I’d like to do.
Work on Lettering. I bought a dot grid book a short while ago so I could start working on my own lettering and create my own alphabets to use in my journal. I think that cold, dark, January would be the perfect time to start on this project.
Finish reading The Snowman. I started reading this book back in September just before I got diagnosed with stress and anxiety. Since then, because of my medication and symptoms associated with my mental health, my concentration levels have meant that reading a book or watching a tv show have been hard work. I’d really like to finish this book by the end of January.
Plan another craft event. I really enjoyed hosting my Crafternoon in aid of Mind and it got me thinking about maybe hosting a craft group every few months where I can get my friends together and we can learn new crafting skills together. After talking to everyone that came to my event it seems that this is something that they would all be interested in.
Arrange another trip to London. My brother and his family live in London and I really want to go and visit them again so this month I will try to make some plans to visit in the near future (hopefully end of Jan or Feb sometime!).
Go out for the day. Since I have been unwell I have really struggled with basic things like shopping and running errands let alone visiting friends and going places. Leaving the house in general has been a daily struggle as my anxiety seems to build so much that I can’t seem to even step outside my front door. This month I would really like to make a change to that and am going to plan a day out somewhere, even if it’s to the local shopping centre or park.
Most people go out and buy their friends and family gifts but there is something nice about making a gift for someone, and something really touching about receiving a hand-made gift from a loved one. There are lots of different gifts you can make so today’s post is a little bit of inspiration (along with links to instructions and where to buy things that you may need in order to make the gift.)
For someone who loves scented candles…
Why not make your own to give as gifts? You can get kits that are reasonably priced in most craft shops (such as this kit for £10 from Hobbycraft) If you have never made candles before then a kit is the perfect way to start, and should you want to then continue making candles you can buy all the items you need individually both on-line and in craft stores. I really like these tins that you can use as candle holders.
For the one with a sweet tooth…
How about having a go at making your own fudge or toffee? You can then present it in a cute container, tin or jar. There are lots of recipes online and heaps of handy instruction videos, but I’m a fan of this one for fudge (its super quick to make and tastes amazing!) and this one for toffee (I could eat this all to myself!). You can get really pretty tins, jars and other containers in most supermarkets now and its worth checking out the cheaper shops to see what they have as well. I really like the look of Kilner Jars or these clip lid jars from Wilkinson .
For the Fashionista
Nothing would be more fabulous than a one of a kind t-shirt. You can buy plain t-shirts fairly cheaply in most clothing outlets and supermarkets so why not buy one and customise it? You can use fabric paint from any craft shop (I love the Tulip range as they have lots of different finishes). You could create a t-shirt with the recipient’s initial on it, a tie dye top, or even add in sewn elements like pockets or a collar depending on their fashion tastes.
For the Beauty Lover
Home made bath bombs are a really lovely gift to make and receive. You can customise the scent to match the recipients favorite scents or add elements such as popping candy or petals, and make them any colour or shape you choose. There are some fab tutorials available on-line, my favorite one is this one over on youtube .
For the Jewellery Magpie
A cool necklace or bracelet to match their style or personality always goes down a treat and doesn’t need anything more than some waxed cord and some pretty beads in the recipients favorite colours. You can add items like small charms or shells, pretty ribbon or chains. I really like this store for my jewellery making supplies. The beauty of making a gift like this is that it can be as simple or intricate as you want it to be and can be created regardless of skill level.
For the Blogger
A notebook is always a welcomed gift (talking from experience) and if you know anyone who blogs then why not gift them a customised note-book? I really like Kraft books for customisation purposes and they are pretty cheap to pick up too, though you could choose any plain hard backed book. Once you have chosen the book you can let loose with your design, maybe you could personalise with the recipients blog name or a favorite hashtag? And if the blog has a theme (like recipes or food for example) you could decorate the front and back to match. The fab thing about a personalised notebook is that you can decorate with any material you want, whether it be painting something onto it, sticking things like feathers and sequins on to it or decopatching it, the possibilities and customisation possibilities are pretty much endless!
For the Student
Fabric can be bought in many different places these days and in tons of different designs so why not try your hand at making a pencil-case or zip close pouch for the student in your life? I really love fat quarter fabric bundles and experimenting with making my own zipped pouches and they are super useful, not just for pens and pencils, you could make smaller ones to gift as coin purses, larger ones for makeup or even to keep an e-reader in. I love the fat quarter bundles you can get at Hobbycraft though you can buy these at most fabric or craft shops and you can pick up zips there too. I found the Wikihow tutorial really easy to follow!
For the Photographer
As a photographer, there is nothing better than taking photos, printing the best ones and displaying them around the home. A DIY photo display using an old picture frame, some cheap string lights and some tiny pegs would be a lovely gift to receive, especially if you added prints of your favorite photographs that they had taken too. You can find old picture frames in charity shops, at boot sales and local selling pages and can customise to suit by spraying with a colour of your choice, after removing the glass and back of the frame before adding a string of fairy lights. Once the frame has been put together add the chosen photos using tiny pegs like these. If you wanted to, you could add to the back, a piece of fabric or wallpaper with a cool pattern or design on it or just leave the back open. The beauty of this gift is that new life has been given to something old, its been re-purposed and upcycled, the pegs mean that the images displayed can be switched around easily and there is the flexibility to display anything you want, from photos to lists.
For the Book Lover
Instead of gifting another book token, how about crafting a customised tote bag for the book lover in your life to carry around their books in? If you purchase a plain tote bag (like the one here) you could use some printable fabric transfer paper (which you can find in most good stationery, craft or fabric shops) to print out and iron on to the bag a quote from the recipient’s favorite book. To make the bag extra special you could use beads, buttons or sequins to enhance the quote.
For the Foodie
My Dad loves cooking and I have made him flavoured oils a few years running. You can make almost any flavour of oil that you want but I have found that things like rosemary and thyme, garlic and chilli seem to give the best flavour pay off, not only that but the oils can be used in cooking, as salad dressing, dips and many other things. The method I use is …
Cut up whatever ingredient you are using to flavour the oil, and bruise it slightly so that it starts to release the flavours.
Warm up some olive oil, you want it to warm, not bubble or boil.
Add the cut up flavorings and stir gently at intervals over about 10 mins while the oil is still warming.
Remove the oil from the heat and leave to cool.
Strain the cooled oil to remove the bits of flavoring.
Before adding to bottles, I always add fresh flavour ingredients, such as a sprig of rosemary and thyme to the bottle that will have the rosemary and thyme oil added to it (this adds a bit of visual interest and lets you know at a glance which oil is which)
Add the oil to the bottle and seal.
Add a tag or sticker with the oil used, flavoring and when it was bottled.
You could give several different flavoured oils to your recipient along with a little leaflet about what you could use the oils for.
For the Eco Friendly
How about creating a unique soap dispenser repurposed from an old bottle? You could choose an empty bottle of their favorite tipple, sauce or an old glass oil bottle. Just clean out the bottle and use a pump top (I found this but you can find lots via a google search) just make sure that it will fit the bottle you will be using! There are other ideas here, which is where I found the above image! You can give the dispenser empty, or why not fill it with a lovely scented hand wash?
For Your Partner
For a gift that shows you really care how about a 365 Jar? Write down memories, songs, reasons why you love them, fold them all up small and put into a jar. The idea is that they get to pick a new note each day to read right from the 1st Jan to the end of the year. You can get really pretty jars here though any glass jar will do so long as it has a wide mouth to it.
For Your Bestie
What would be nicer than a friendship package? You could include a small hand-made candle, a bath bomb, a CD of both of your favorite songs, a little book with photos printed out of the pair of you along with little notes about the day that they were taken. Package it all up in a pretty gift box or wicker basket along with some chocolates or treats that you know they would enjoy.
What sort of gifts will you be making? And what would you love to receive?
On Saturday I held a Crafternoon – a crafting afternoon, in aid of Mind, the mental health charity. I chose to host the crafting event because Mind, while I have not used all of their services, have found their on-line resources to be really helpful and informative. 1 in 4 of us, in our lifetime will experience some kind of mental health problem and its charities such as Mind that can help when these problems arise. I believe that Mind do a really good job offering support, advice and campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health issues and wanted to support them to continue to carry out the work that they do.
My Mind Crafternoon started with signing up for the event via the Mind website which was a really simple process of form filling with your name, address, email and the date of your Crafternoon (if it is to be held on another day aside from 1st December – the official Crafternoon date). Once you have submitted your information Mind will then send out a kit that includes ideas of things to make including instructions, ways to raise money, bunting to cut out and make along with balloons and a money-box to keep the donations in. They also supply the paying in forms for you to use when banking the money raised. When I received my pack I was really amazed by how informative and helpful the pack was, there were so many tips and ideas so even the least crafty person would be able to hold an event like this!
I first set up a Facebook event and invited some friends and then bought some notecards and invites, wrote a bit about Mind and my Crafternoon in the cards and wrote out the details of the party onto the invites then sent them out to the attendees the week before the event.
The notecards and invites
The notecards and invites
I then put my Christmas decorations up, dug out all my craft things and set them up on the table. Sam and I baked a Vegan Devil’s Food chocolate cake and my friend Jez made some cakes and things for my event too. My lovely neighbour, Heather, made earrings and wine glass charms to sell and I had some sets of nails that I’d decorated to sell as well so we could raise extra money for Mind.
I decided to have a raffle, originally I was going to buy a tub of chocolates to raffle but decided to make a Christmas Mulled Wine scented soy candle to raffle instead.
Jez showed us how to decorate compact mirrors and I decorated a phone case. We used Mod Podge, glitter and 3d elements such as bows, flowers and pearl flat back beads to decorate them. I’d never done this before and it was really fun! Everyone got stuck in and it was really lovely to see how each persons style and taste came out when we all used similar elements in our work.
Everyone’s work looked really fab and I think everyone was really pleased with the outcome! I know I’m super happy with how my phone case turned out! Jez was a really good teacher to have!
I led a Snowflake Making Masterclass using white paper, double-sided sticky and scissors to make 3d snowflakes. It was fun to be able to share what I’d learned with my friends and see how happy they were to have been able to make something so lovely from simple sheets of paper.
I then showed my friends how to make paper Christmas flowers from folded paper, scissors, a stapler and cotton thread. They all agreed that it would be something fun that they could do with their children as a Christmas activity.
And finally I did a brief demonstration showing everyone how to make Christmas Snowflakes and trees from toilet roll tubes.
It was a really fun day, there was a lot of chat and getting to know each other, laughter and fun, cake eating and wine drinking! I think I will definitely be hosting another one in the future! In fact I’ve already started thinking of different Crafternoons I could hold and the sort of themes that I could base them on!
This month I have a bumper lot of Christmas posts to share with you! I have been busy making things, researching, writing, photographing and compiling ideas, hints and tips on all things Christmas related!
You can expect to see posts about
The Crafternoon event I held in aid of Mind
An Alternative Advent Calendar
Christmas Decoration Ideas – from making your own decorations, how to decorate your table and little touches to add to give an extra special touch.
I will be writing about food ideas to serve on the day, how I decorate my home for the Festive Season, DIY ideas for gifts, my own Christmas Wishlist, preparations for the day itself and ideas on how to relax.
After Christmas Day I will be sharing how I spent the day!
I hope you will enjoy reading the posts as much as I have in researching and writing them!!!