A Quote

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Image from http://www.jarofquotes.com           Author of quote – unknown

I stumbled upon this quote a little while ago, I can’t remember what I was looking for but the quote stuck with me and I couldn’t seem to forget it.

For me, this quote seems to sum up my life and my art.  The quote has a sort of Alice In Wonderland feel to it which I really love.  My life has taken me on a journey that I never expected to take, even the most highly planned decisions I have made have turned out to have the most unexpected consequences and I embrace them fully, without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

The way I create art and put together my home and my dress sense seems to work in the same way.  I start out with a general idea of what I want to achieve and along the way, things happen, often other thoughts and ideas emerge and the finished thing is not how I expected it to be.

I think we all have to embrace the unexpected, try not to see things as mistakes or things we have done wrong, see them as things to learn from, things that educate us and make us the person that we are.

What quote has stuck with you?

 

Project Make – Candles

I started making some candles back in December to give away as gifts, it’s not something I have done for a really long time.  The last time I made candles I was probably 10 or 11 and had a Get Set Candle Making Set by Waddingtons (sadly discontinued) and I really loved creating my own candles.  At the time there wasn’t really much information about different waxes to use and how bad certain ones can be for the environment, our homes or our health and I’m pretty sure that the kit I had used paraffin wax.  Back to today…I had a look online at what sort of waxes were available and which would be best for what I wanted to do and Soy Wax seemed to be the best so that I what I chose to create my candles with.

I’m not a candle making expert and have since learned that there are lots of techniques when it comes to candle making which I am currently researching, but if you want to make a nice candle for yourself or as a gift then I can show you my method below…

You will need

  • Soy wax *
  • Wick *
  • Wick Sustainer *
  • Blue tack
  • Scissors
  • Saucepan
  • Measuring jug
  • Container suitable for a candle *
  • Kettle
  • Pencil
  • Something to stir with.  I used a spatula.
  • Kitchen Scales
  • Pliers

Optional

  • Wax Dye *
  • Candle Scent *

I bought these items from Hobbycraft *

Before we begin I need to just outline a few things….  Please, only use scent that is suitable for candles, DO NOT use essential oils, while they do smell lovely and have healing properties. when burned the healing properties are pretty much zero, they can emit toxins when burned which can cause respiratory problems and they are a fire risk.  DO NOT add things to your candle like glitter or dried flowers, while it may make the candle look pretty it can be a fire risk and also can clog up the wick when burning so that the flame is unstable.  DO NOT use crayons or food dye to colour your candles, for one they probably won’t work, and secondly, when the crayons melt and come into contact with flame they can emit toxic fumes, and lastly, it can be a fire risk.

Method

  1. Once you have found a suitable container for your candle you then need to work out how much wax it holds.  I found this site to be really useful. Once you know how much wax you will need you will then need to weigh the wax out.  I weighed mine into the container I used to melt it down.  Make sure the container you use is dry and free from any contaminants (like dust or hair).img_0716
  2. Once you know how much wax you will need to fill your container you will then need to attach the wick to one of the wick sustainers.  To do this thread your wick through the hole in the wick sustainer and pull through.  Once the wick end is near the flat side of the wick sustainer use pliers and crimp the pointed bit of the wick sustainer around the wick to hold it in place.  DO NOT cut the wick just yet!img_0519
  3. Now you need to get your candle container, make sure that it is clean and dry.  add a tiny bit of blue tack to the underside of the wick sustainer and then press it into the base of the candle container making sure that it is attached in the centre of the base.  I used a jar and needed to use long tweezers to help get it into the correct position.
  4. We now need to use the pencil (or other long item) and wrap the free wick around it and then balance the pencil onto the top of the candle container.  This ensures that the wick will stay straight and even all the way down the candle once the wax has been poured.                                                                      img_0503                                           img_0504
  5. Now that the candle container and wick are set up you can now melt the wax you measured out.  To do this firstly fill and boil the kettle then pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the container of wax to the saucepan of water so that the container sits in the water similar to a bain marie.  I then placed the saucepan onto the hob over a low heat just to keep the water hot and help melt the wax a bit easier.

     

  6. Optional Step if Using Scent and/or Dye.  Once your wax has melted and is of a clear appearance and runny in consistency with no visible lumps you can remove the container from the water and then add the dye and scent of your choice.  I add the dye first (follow the manufacturers instructions) and then stir until all the dye has dissolved before adding the scent (again, check the manufacturers instructions).  Dont be tempted to stir too vigorously as you don’t want to introduce any air bubbles into the wax..  Once the scent has been added stir gently, again, avoiding creating air bubbles, for around 5 mins so that the scent can distribute evenly through the wax.                                                                     img_0520img_0518img_0515
  7. If you are not using scent or dye, remove the container from the water and stir the wax for around 5 mins.  Stir slowly and gently so that you don’t get any air bubbles forming.
  8. Once the wax has cooled down a bit you can now pour it into your candle container.  Do this slowly and steadily being careful not to disturb the wick.img_0536img_0517img_0516
  9. Do not move the candle once it has been poured until it has solidified, moving the candle when in its liquid state can introduce air bubbles into the wax or disturb the wick.
  10. I chose to add a plain layer of wax to the top of my candles, I worked out how much wax I would need for the container then weighed out around 25 grams less than what was needed.  Once the wax was set in the jar I then melted the extra wax and poured on top to create a 2 tone candle.  Once you are happy with your candle and it has fully set you can then trim the wick with scissors.
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Mulled Wine Scented Candle
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Warm Gingerbread Scented Candle

11.  As I was giving these away as gifts I added a small charm and a tag with the scent name on.img_0538

What Is Minimalism?

This is the second post in my “What Is….?” series.  The first post I wrote was about Maximalism and you cna find that post here.

We hear so much about Minimalism these days, its uttered like a magic word in so many different places and has been seen as a cure for mental health ailments, consumerism, hoarding, environmental issues (such as the problem we have with plastics) and a host of other things, but what really is minimalism?

When we think of minimalism images of white rooms with sleek furniture spring to mind, rooms that are soul less and personality free, junk and clutter free, but I think that is probably the most unfair, stereotypical image to have.

Minimalism is living with fewer material things, and only living with what you really need.

It’s about simplifying your life, home, your wardrobe, your possessions.

It’s about only having what you need and doing away with excess things that can hinder your life.

It’s about choosing experiences over material goods.

It is about focusing on what really matters, the things of value in our lives and letting go of the things that hinder that sight.

Minimalism is not about doing without or having a bland home, life or style.  Neither is it about being frugal or not having any fun.  Rather Minimalism enhances the fun.

Minimalism is a blank canvas on which to place your values and your goals.

Minimalism is a simpler way of life.

 

Monthly Goals

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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.

Home

  • 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.

Personal

  • 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.

What is on your goals list this month?

My Christmas Decorations

My style can be described as being bright, fun, non-traditionalist, hippy and boho, and my Christmas decorations really embrace my style.  I’m not a huge fan of tinsel or traditional Christmas decorations, though I do add elements of the traditional into my decor.

I have Christmas trees, fairy lights and stags,but not in traditional colourways, I prefer white or black trees, my stag decorations are bright pink and glittery, instead of tinsel I choose bead ropes, marabou feathers and pom-pom trim.  I have really bright baubles on my black tree and have chosen little dinosaurs to hang from my other, scroll down to see the photos that I have taken of my non-traditionalist, seasonal decor!

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I didn’t want to hang my wreath on the front door because, well, its Wales and it rains!  Not just that but I really didn’t want to get him all dirty either.  I hung  my wreath on the next available door – the door to my downstairs living room.

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Joy lights which I have placed on the shelving unit opposite the door to my living room.  This is the first thing people see when coming into my home.

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My small tree that I have decorated with multi-colour fairy lights, pom-pom trim, marabou feather trim and tiny plastic dinosaurs!

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Here’s a close up of the dinosaurs!

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My second tree which is decorated with beaded ropes and baubles.

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A close up of one of the decorations on my black Christmas tree – my initial!

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Pink stars, green stars and purple stars also adorn the tree.

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Skull and Crossbone upcycled tree which I’m thinking of having as my table piece for Christmas dinner.

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My pink glitter stags, my mini Christmas Tree and its pom-pom decorations (which are also lights!) on my back windowsill.

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Here’s a close up of one of the stags!  I’m really liking the effect the rain on the window has!

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And lastly, my santa card peg fairy light garland.

How have you decorated your house for christmas?  Do you have a theme or colour palette that you use?

Project Make – Hallway Floor and Back Door Mat

The hallway in my house had laminate wood flooring which hadn’t been laid very well, was a bit battered and never seemed to look clean which always irked me somewhat. I really wanted to cover it with something as I was unable to remove it due to being rented accommodation.

I looked everywhere for a hall runner rug that would fit the 4 meter 10cm length and that would also fit width ways. The hallway starts off wide at the door and becomes narrow toward the foot of the stairs which made it awkward to find something suitable that would work well. The cost of the cheapest rug that I found was around £80 and came in really mundane solid colours – brown, grey and a golden colour, and most of the others I found I didn’t really like the pattern or colour of in a higher price bracket. There was nothing that I truly loved that fitted my style, that is until I started thinking about other types of flooring.

My first thought was carpet tiles as they were pretty cheap to buy and easy to fit too but, being a hallway I thought that might be a bit impractical with dirt being bought in from outside. I then thought about vinyl flooring as it is hard-wearing and can be cleaned really easily but the patterns that were available were not really anything that I liked. I wanted something bright, fun, easy to install, easy to keep clean, and even easier to replace if I needed to for whatever reason, it also needed to fit my budget. It was when I started to rethink over getting carpet tiles that a thought occurred to me… I knew what would fit my specifications perfectly and would be a pretty unique choice for flooring…kids soft foam play area tiles!

This is the outcome! I ordered these from here. When they arrived I opened up the packets and went about sorting them into colours before starting on laying them down.

I prepped the floor by sweeping and hoovering to get up every last bit of dust and dirt, I didn’t want to cause any further damage to the laminate underneath so this was a vital step.

I then chose the colour scheme I wanted, choosing to place the coloured tiles together to create a stripe effect and placed the first tile at the foot of the stairs and worked my way back towards the door. I then removed the first tile I had laid and cut one of the edge flat, removing the “teeth” before placing it back down and shuffling the tiles up so the cut edge butted up against the rise of the step.

The next cut I made was the tile to go against the door. Once I’d got this row in I was able to work my way back up towards the stairs and remove the teeth from the side closest to the wall and move the tiles into place.  I then added the next row which just needed the teeth removing from both ends.

The third row was the trickiest as I needed to cut down some of the tiles to fit the shape of the wall so that the tiles fitted snugly without any room for movement.  To do this I took each tile, laid it over the tiles that were there and made marks where the teeth and tile met.  The tricky part to this is to remember to make the marks on the opposite side of the tile to where you are measuring otherwise you will end up with the cut going in the wrong direction… so mark the left side of the tile to be cut with the right side of the tile that is already in place.  Be sure to put the tile fully against the wall before making the mark too!

Once all the tiles were in place the only thing I needed to do was to finish the edge near the doorway, this was fairly simple as I was working with a straight edge so only needed to take a measurement and cut a straight line.  I did have to go around a pipe but that too proved to be fairly easy to navigate… once Id cut the tile to the right size I laid it down and made a mark where the cuts needed to be to fit the tile around the pipe, then using scissors I made a small cut to each mark, then refit the tile to see if the cuts were deep enough to accommodate the pipe before removing the tile and making the last cut.  I then re-fitted the tile.

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I had left over tiles and decided to use these to make a back door mat in the same way!

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What do you think of my flooring idea?  Is it something you would try in your home?

Upcycle Project – Dining Chairs(Part 4)

I’m finally on the last part of the posts about my dining chair upcyle project (Part 1, 2 and 3 can be found in the following links – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 ) and today I will be sharing the finishing touches that I have added, lessons I have learned and how much the project cost per chair.

Firstly though, the finished chairs…

I finally finished the chairs, it took several weekends to complete but I’ve done it and am really pleased with the outcome!  The final finishing touch that I have added is some pompom trim that I used for the alcoves when I decorated the downstairs which I purchased from Amazon (if you missed that post you can find it here) .  I decided to add the trim to add a further element of co-ordination into the colour scheme and design of the room and I feel that it pulls all the elements together really well.  I like the idea that people will notice all the little touches and will allow their eye to investigate the room in greater detail.

This chairs project was really my first major foray into the world of upcycling and upholstery.  I have not worked on a project quite like this before and along the way have learned a few lessons…

  1. However long you think it will take, double it and add an hour.  Sanding the chairs was probably the longest part and I couldn’t believe how much time I spent clearing the old varnish from the frames of the chairs.
  2. Clearing all the varnish and stripping the frames back to bare wood is the best thing to do for the paint to adhere properly.  Failing to clear all the varnish, like on my yellow chair, has resulted in patchy paint and the colour of the varnish bleeding through all the coats of paint I applied.  It still looks patchy now and seems to be more noticeable at the bottom of the legs.
  3. Sometimes it pays to sit back and think a bit…I tried to create a fancy curved corner and edge on the first seat that I tried to upholster which didn’t really work and frustrated me when it didnt go to plan.  I should have sat and thought about what I was doing and ways to cover the seat before starting.
  4. Have fun with your project.  Think about what is fun and makes you smile and go with what you think will work.  The worst that can happen with a project like this is that you have to sand the chair down and start again.

And here are the costing calculations on the attached document…

Costings for chairs

So, in all the chairs cost £17.63 to upcycle which doesn’t seem too bad when you consider that I have bespoke, one of a kind, unique chairs that fit my home and style perfectly and I have had the experience of learning new skills along the way.  And I’m proud to show them off and say “I created these”.  I would recommend to anyone that can’t seem to find furniture that they completely like or keep finding thing that are not quite right to go out and see what is available for sale second-hand and try your hand at creating something that you love!

 

Upcycle Project – Dining Chairs (Part 3)

I have shared the first two parts of this project already, you can find the first post (about finding my chairs) here, and the second part (about preparing them and painting) here .  Todays post is about upholstering the seat part of the chairs.

I had decided to replace the seat part of the chair fabric with white vinyl and decided that I would replace the seat padding at the same time as the padding was fairly flat and on some chairs felt pretty non existent.  I decided to use a thick, 2 inch deep foam for the seat padding which I bought from Amazon.  I also needed to buy a staple gun and the vinyl material which I also ordered from Amazon.  As the width of the material I chose to use was 1.4 meters I purchased 2 meters in length which gave me enough fabric to cover all 4 seats.

The first task I had was to remove the old fabric from the seats once the seat had been removed from the chair frame.  Sounds fairly simple doesn’t it?  This task took an age!  The old fabric had been stapled to the seat base with about a million staples per seat, and it wasnt just the sheer amount of staples used that made it a lengthy task, the staples were really tough to remove, some of them embedded into the wood quite deeply.  I used a screwdriver to lever the staples out one by one.  Once the staples had been removed I could see that the seat padding was made up of bits of milled material and foam had been used around the edges of the seat to make them less hard.  The foam had disintegrated fairly badly and had in many places turned to dust.  I had to carefully remove the fabric and use a Hoover to clean up as I went along.

The foam pads that I had bought were slightly bigger than the seat bases which meant I needed to cut the foam down to size.  as the seats were not square I also needed to make sure that the foam shape matched that of the seat so I used the seat as a template and traced around them onto the foam with a sharpie marker before cutting the excess foam away with scissors.

Once the foam had been cut to size I then needed to cut the vinyl down too.  I cut the piece I had bought into 4 sections, one piece for each seat.  I then laid this down on the table with the facing side to the table and the underside of the fabric facing up.  on to this I laid the cut foam and then placed the seat on top.  From that point I was able to start securing the fabric to the seat using the staple gun.  I started in the centre of the front of the seat, then the back centre, making sure the fabric was taught and evenly stretched over the foam.  I then secured each side before trimming down the excess fabric and then continued to staple the fabric into place.  Once I reached the corners I chose to fold the fabric and tuck it in, creating a neat looking corner.  I had, on the first chair. attempted to be fancy and create rounded seat edged but it didn’t work particularly well and I ended up with excess fabric in one corner and an awkward looking seat covering.   In hindsight I think that if the foam hadn’t been so thick then that idea would have worked a lot better!

In the pictures above you will be able to see that I started with stapling the corners of the fabric first…this was the first seat that I covered where I thought that making the corners rounded was a good idea…it wasn’t!  And starting on the corners meant that the tension of the fabric was out which made it harder to get the fabric to lay nicely over the foam.  On the other seats I secured the fabric in the centre of the sides and worked front centre 0 back centre, then both sides in the centre before working my way along the rest of the sides and out towards the corners.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take any more pictures of the full method I used….

Next week I will be showing you the completed chairs and the fun decoration I have added to the chairs!

Room Divider

The downstairs of my home consists of a front door that opens onto a narrow hallway with a door that leads into the living area.  The living area consists of 2 rooms that have been knocked into one with a bit of an archway separating the 2 spaces with a kitchen right at the back that leads onto my garden.  I love the main space, it feels big and airy and light, and I love that even though it is one big space it still manages to hold the definition of 2 separate spaces so well.

Having the space set up as 2 separate rooms, the main “living room” area at the front of the house – where watching tv, sitting and relaxing, chatting with friends, reading takes place, and the “dining room” area towards the back, nearest the kitchen, made the most sense to me.  I liked the idea of having areas defined by their use and making the most of the archway between what was the partition wall at one point.  I started to think about creating a proper divide for the space, the idea that I could close off one part of the space if I wanted for privacy or if it got chilly in winter and I wanted the space to feel more cozy seemed really appealing.  At first I thought about using my Ikea Kallax Unit to divide the space and had seen some really neat ideas using units in this way on Google, however I was worried that it could make moving between areas awkward, that I would lose floor space in one of the areas and that it would look more clumsy than cozy.

I settled on the idea of using material to divide the space, something similar to curtains, not only would it be cozy in the winter, it would be tactile and a playful addition to the pompoms Id already added to the space.  I thought that more texture and print would fit together perfectly.  I found just what I was looking for one evening on Amazon…  I knew that I didn’t want anything to heavy as it would be a pain to hang, I also didnt want fabric that was too thick as I wanted them to be easy to clean, wash and dry.  I also didn’t want anything to plain or “traditional” as it wouldn’t fit my style.  What I wanted was something that was bright, patterned, fitted with the colours of the room, was a little bit hippy, easy to care for and even easier to hang and live with!  I love the mandala print of these hangings, and the colours too, they seemed perfect to me.  I was a bit unsure, once they had been delivered as the colours were not as bright as I had imagined or seen in the listing but decided to hang them and see what they looked like anyway…

I hung these with Command Hooks and some pegs for the short-term, though they have been hanging since July and I’ve not changed the hanging method yet, so that may not change!

I’m really happy with the space divider, using hangings to create the divide has worked out really well, they have added texture and colour as well as being a privacy screen when needed though I have not really used it to its full capacity –  the curtains mainly stay open but as it gets colder and the nights get darker that may change!  And despite my reservations on the colour difference when I recieved them, I’m liking them a lot, they are not overbaringly bright and garish and really go well with the rest of the room and the decor!