Friday, 15 December 2017

Christmas Things Haul 2017

Over the last couple of months, I've acquired quite a few Christmas bits and bobs, so I thought it was about time for my annual Christmas Things Haul. 

I haven't been able to buy as many decorations or festive fashion pieces as I would usually do at this time of year, as I'm on a tight budget this Christmas, but I still have plenty of things to show you. I've picked up essentials like gift wrap and Christmas cards, managed to stock up on festive craft supplies from Hobbycraft, and even treated myself to the cutest reindeer bedding from ASDA. Well, just see for yourself...

I always do a big Hobbycraft haul before Christmas, picking up all the supplies I need for Christmas craft projects and present wrapping. This year I had to be very tame- not that you can tell, as I still came away with loads of stuff- but there have been Christmases when I've come out of Hobbycraft a hundred pounds lighter! What can I say? I find shopping for craft supplies and stationery as tempting and addictive as shopping for beauty products... if not more so. I bought ribbons, jingle bells, and red tissue paper for present wrapping, a wooden Advent house and chalk and acrylic paints in festive colours to paint it with, Christmas washi tapes, a Christmas cracker kit, a gingerbread bunting kit, retro festive stamps and stickers, double-sided tape, and a trio of paper fans which were on sale for the bargain price of £1. I'll give you a closer look at some of the best bits...

I always buy a Christmas cracker kit from Hobbycraft every year as I like to make and personalise my own crackers for Christmas Day. It's far more fun then buying them pre-made. I wasn't that impressed with the designs this year, though, and settled for the Santa and Reindeer Cracker Kit as I thought it would match our festive tableware best. The designs are a little cuter than I tend to go for, but they're kinda fun, and should go down well with the family on Christmas Day.

One of the cutest things I picked up this Christmas is the Gingerbread Man Bunting Sewing Kit which I had to buy when I saw it was only £3. Yes, £3! If that wasn't great enough, I had a discount code, so I paid just £2.70 for it! It has little felt gingerbread men and gingham hearts to sew and string together, and it was too adorable to resist. I haven't actually managed to make it yet, but I'm hoping I'll still have time before Christmas. I'll give you a peek at it when it's done.

Unfortunately neither the cracker or bunting kit seems to be available online anymore, but it could be worth giving your local Hobbycraft a visit if you want to get your hands on them.

Papermania Love Santa A5 Postage Stamps: £1.29 // Papermania Love Santa Stick Sheet £0.99

Look how cute these Papermania Love Santa mid-century style Christmas stamps and stickers are! I love fifties Christmas designs, so I just couldn't resist picking some up when I placed my last online order. I thought they'd be perfect for decorating Christmas cards and parcels. They're currently out of stock at Hobbycraft online, but Craft Stash still have some available, which I've linked to above.

I also added a set of red and white Christmas washi tapes to my basket as they were only £1, which I'll probably use to jazz up some Christmas card envelopes. Again, they're out of stock online, but they should still be available in store.

And one of my favourite Hobbycraft purchases was this £5 wooden Advent house, which I was inspired to purchase after seeing their tutorial for making a colourful Advent house (here). Last week, I painted the whole thing in chalky finish white paint, and I'm currently in the process of sticking festive patterned fabrics and papers on to the backs of some of the cubby-holes. I'm not actually making it in to an Advent calendar, but planning to use it to display some decorations, although it occurred to me that it would be ideal for displaying some of my nail polish collection, too. I was thinking about picking up another one for that purpose, but now we're so far in to Advent it's, you've guessed it, sold out online, and I probably won't make it in store before Christmas now.

ASDA always have the loveliest Christmas bedding collections, and this year has been no different. As soon as I saw it, I fell in love with the Vintage Deer Reversible Duvet Set, which is covered in fifties-style reindeer, Christmas trees, candy canes, baubles, birds, tinsel, presents and stars, with ditsy multi coloured stars on the other side. It's the best Christmas bedding set ever! For £12 for a double, I couldn't resist it and treated myself to it, along with the Happy Santa Throw, which is the softest baby blue fleece blanket ever, with retro Santas, reindeer, and dogs all over it. The best part is, it was the bargain price of £6! You'll get to see them properly when I blog a Christmas bedroom tour later in the month, or you can take a peek at them on my Instagram here now.

Last year, I treated myself to this gorgeous set of twelve vintage style glass baubles from Dot Com Gift Shop, and I love them so much that I went ahead and bought a second box of them last week to fill the tree. The set includes twelve large baubles in four colours and three designs- an ice skating scene, Santa in a reindeer led sleigh, and a Merry Christmas design- and they're absolutely beautiful. They were originally £19.95 for the set, but they've been on offer for just £4.95 for a couple of years, which is amazing value. I love the mid-century style, and they also remind me of some of the colourful baubles we had on our family Christmas tree growing up (many of which we still have). I only wish Dot Com Gift Shop sold other decorations like them.

Cath Kidston Polar Bear Roll Wrap Set: £9

During the Black Friday sales, I purchased this year's wrapping paper, and once again I went with a set from Cath Kidston. I think it's the fourth of fifth year in a row that I've used Cath Kidston wrapping paper, so it's becoming somewhat of a tradition! I just love their Christmas collections, and their Christmas wrapping paper always makes presents look so pretty under the tree. This roll wrap pack features three of this year's Christmas prints; Polar Bears, Snowflakes, and Snowmen, and I snagged them for £7 instead of £9. They also seem to be sold out online now, but try your local store. 

Last week, I ordered myself a box of 50 Christmas cards from Paperchase online, taking advantage of the 30% off boxed Christmas cards deal that is still running. Paperchase always make the best cards, and it's a brand I almost always go with at Christmas time. Apparently, I wasn't paying enough attention when I ordered them, as I thought I'd ordered one of the charity boxes of mixed cards, where every single card is a different design, like I usually go for. I ended up with a box of nine very mediocre designs with multiples of each, and am very much underwhelmed with them. Several of the designs don't even have a message on the inside. Apart from one or two designs, they're just a bit crap. I left the card purchasing a bit late to buy some different cards, so I ended up using them along with the last of last year's Cath Kidston cards, but they're definitely not what I was hoping to send out this year. Not that anyone is going to notice either way, LOL.

About a month ago, I treated myself to the Christmas To Color adult Christmas colouring book by Mary Tanana to relax with this Christmas. It's filled with the most beautiful Christmas pictures, and has to be one of the prettiest Christmas colouring books I've come across. I actually purchased it with the hope of painting some of the pictures to destress this month, but I've not had a spare second to paint yet. I have done some colouring, though, and it's been lovely to relax with. I'm planning to review it properly for you before Christmas, but I can tell you now, if you want a good Christmas colouring book, this is the one to go for!

Of course, I also splurged on the Ciaté Mini Mani Month nail polish Advent calendar, which I reviewed here a few weeks ago. I'm loving opening the boxes to a different nail polish or nail treat every day, and it has some amazing shades inside. I'm sharing what I find inside each day over on my Instagram... but I've been so busy preparing for Christmas, it's ending up being more like every other day. Haha!

Cadbury Dairy Milk Advent Calendar: £1.50

And it just wouldn't be Christmas without a Cadbury Dairy Milk Advent calendar, so I got myself one of these bad boys, too. My sisters and I had Cadbury Advent calendars to count down the days 'til Christmas with most years growing up, so it's making me really nostalgic, and even the taste of the chocolate keeps taking me back to childhood each day! I love it!

So, that's my Christmas haul...what Christmassy things have you been buying this Christmas?

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Rosie's First Snow Day

I can't tell you how excited I was to wake up on Sunday morning to find the world outside my window blanketed in deep snow.

We hadn't had more than a light flurry in five years, so naturally I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning to find over half a foot of snow had fallen during the night, and giant snowflakes were still blizzarding down from the sky. The view from my bedroom window looked like a winter wonderland... and trust me, there's nothing wondrous about that view of terraced RAF houses on an average day. Somehow a dusting of snow can make anywhere look pretty.

I'm always excited when it snows because we don't get much snow here in south east England. If we're lucky, we might get snowfall a couple of times each Winter, but we've not had more than a few flakes in around five years, and I don't think we've had snow this deep since 2010. To wake up to so much snow on Sunday was a real novelty, and I couldn't stop myself from chucking on some clothes, and getting out in to the garden with my camera at first light. I'm just an over grown child at heart when it comes to snow!

I intended to take photos of the snow-draped wintry scene outside, but that soon went out the window, as Rosie decided it was the perfect time to play ball, and kept launching snow-caked tennis balls in my direction. I ended up taking heaps of photos of her playing in the snow instead in between throws.

Sunday was Rosie's first ever snow day. She'd never seen snow on the ground before, and barked at it through the window when she first saw it! (Though, to be fair, that dog barks at everything). I didn't get to see her venture out in to the snow for the first time, as my parents let her outside just before I got up, but she was so excited she was zooming around the garden like crazy. She was still super excited when she followed me outside in to the snow half an hour later, and it was hilarious watching her playing in the snow and experiencing it all for the first time. She was prancing around, eating mouthfuls of snow, and running around playing catch, but getting super confused each time the ball sank in the snow before her eyes, and disappeared. Her expression was like that of a small child trying to figure out how its Dad had got its nose. I was in stitches.

I stayed outside in the snow for about an hour, playing ball, taking photos, and getting covered in snow, before retreating back inside to the warmth because I could no longer feel my fingers. It was fucking freezing outside. 

I was exhausted from just playing in the garden, so after thawing dreadlocks of snow off of Rosie's little legs, I went back up to bed, and sat and watched the snow falling from my window. 

It snowed heavily all day without a break, and was still snowing when it got dark late afternoon. By the end of the day, we had almost a foot of snow on the ground! It was magical.

We still had snow on the ground the next morning, and even though the temperature had dropped well below freezing, I couldn't resist taking some more photos outside. Once again, I had an excitable dog bouncing around wanting to play ball. Her reaction to the snow really was adorable.

We still have some snow on the ground today, but the rain melted much of it away last night. It's a shame it's almost gone already, but I enjoyed living in my own winter wonderland while it lasted. It made the last few days even more festive, and is getting me all excited for Christmas now. I just hope it's not the only snowfall we get this winter because I love it. It's one of life's little pleasures.

Did you get snow over the weekend?

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

My Christmas List 2017

As it's almost Christmas, today I've put together my Christmas list, in place of my usual Wednesday Wish List. It's filled with all the things I would love to find under the Christmas tree this year, including fashion, beauty, and more. 

In case you think I'm being greedy, I don't expect to receive any of the items on my Christmas list, and I won't be showing the list to my family and friends. It's merely a fantasy wish list of some of the things I've been coveting that I'd love to be given this Christmas, and would shop from if I happen to be given any Christmas money, or want to treat myself to a present or two. I personally think most of the items would make lovely Christmas presents for other women, too, so I thought I'd share it to give you guys a little last minute gift inspiration. Here it is:

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13 // 14
15 // 16 // 17 // 18 // 19 // 20 // 21 // 22 // 23 // 24 // 25 // 26 // 27

1. Lindy Bop's red embroidered Winifred pinafore dress is the prettiest pinafore dress I've ever seen.
2. I'm in love with Tarte's limited edition 5-piece make up brush collection; the designs are just gorgeous.
3. I'm dying to get my hands on Urban Decay's limited edition Heavy Metals eye shadow palette. The shades are dreamy. I love that it has a mixture of colour, and more neutral shadows.
4. I don't often get drawn to corduroy, but Lindy Bop's burgundy Nesta corduroy embroidered dungaree skirt is perfection.
5. Still coveting Skinny Dip's awesome flamingo pool float cross body bag...
6. I also still long to get my hands on Sugar and Vice's amazing axolotl brooch. It's the cutest brooch ever.
7. Birch Please HQ's manatee brooch is another adorable accessory I'd love to adopt. I'd give it a good home.
8. Okay, this book isn't actually being released 'til March, but Listography is bringing out a one list a day three year journal, and I couldn't be more excited about it. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! I wish it was being released before the New Year, though, so I could start it on the first day of the year.
9. Look how amazing 'The Glam Clam' make up brush collection from Spectrum is! My sister has a set and it's to die for. I need a set in my life, too.
10. I love this adorable acrylic highland cow brooch from Bonnie Bling.
11. Frock and Frill's embellished velvet skater dress is the dress that dreams are made of.
12. Another Urban Decay palette I've had my eye on for ages is the Afterdark eyeshadow palette. The selection of colours is divine.
13. I'd love to add Skinny Dip's rainbow cross body bag to my novelty bag collection. It's missing a rainbow.
14. The battery on my Kindle no longer charges, and even though I have a Kindle Fire, too, I really miss reading from my basic old Kindle e-reader, so I'd love to replace it with one of the similar white 6" Kindle E-Readers.
15. I'm still hoping to get my hands on the amazing Vendula London Sewing Shop Bag. 
16. I really want to try painting with gouache paints, and this Winsor & Newton Gouache Introductory Set looks like a great set to start out with.
17. What's better than some Barry M nail paints? A set of 30 Barry M Nail Paints!
18. I can't tell you how much I'd love to get Hell Bunny's Noelle Cardigan in red to wear on Christmas Day! It's currently on sale, too!
19. This fox brooch from Layla Amber reminds me of The Animals of Farthing Wood!
20. Another set of make up brushes I have my eye on is the Real Techniques Core Collection. I already have a set of  their eyeshadow brushes and they're awesome.
21. I can't resist Russian dolls, and this Russian Doll cross body bag from Vendula London is so beautiful.
22. It wouldn't be Christmas without some Soap & Glory, and the Soap & Glory Flatterbox make up set looks amazing. 
23. I still need to get the latest album from Arcade Fire called 'Everything Now'. They're one of my favourite bands and it's been out for ages, but I've not had the pennies to download it yet. 
24. I can't wait to get myself a copy of Linkin Park's upcoming live album 'One More Light Live', which comes out on the 15th. I never made it to the tour in the end, even though I'd hoped to go, so it's the next best thing. It's also the last music they recorded together before Chester died.
25. I fell in love with the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, so I need to get myself a copy to enjoy again and again.
26. OPI's 12 piece Fiji mini collection has such a lovely range of colours in one handy set. I'd happily wear all of those shades on my nails.
27. And last but not least, I'd love to pamper myself with the Korres mini shower gel collection. Their shower gels are amazing.

If you'd like to see more of the pieces on my wish list, check out my wish list boards on Pinterest. You can also find all previous Wish List posts here.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

DIY Christmas Pom Pom Wreaths

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been busy making my own handmade pom pom wreaths, and having so much fun in the process.

I'd never made a wreath before and I didn't follow a tutorial; I completely made it up as I went along. I just got an idea in my head one day, and decided to go with it, and miraculously, it worked out really well. I sure wasn't expecting it to, so I didn't bother taking step-by-step photos for a tutorial, but I'll try to talk you through how I did it at the end of the post.

The idea to turn embroidery hoops in to wreaths came to me out of nowhere last month when I remembered I still had two wooden embroidery hoops left over from making hoop art last Christmas, which I hadn't been able to use because the hoops wouldn't tighten. After almost a year of holding on to them, I suddenly thought, 'hey, maybe they'd make good wreaths', and before I could stop myself, I was wrapping green wool around wooden hoops, and spending my early December evenings making dozens of red and green pom poms to tie on to them.

I borrowed my Mum's pom pom makers and made about sixty in two different sizes. I'd never used a pom pom maker before, but OMG they are such a genius invention. When I was growing up, I always made pom poms using two doughnut-shaped pieces of cardboard, and it used to take hours to make just one. With a pom pom maker you can make one in about three minutes! They're so clever! Where have these gizmos been all my life?

Altogether, I made four different wreaths using pom poms, corsages, felt flowers, and artificial berries, and I'm pretty darn proud of them for a first attempt. I'm going to give you a little peek at them now, and then tell you how you can make one, too!

The first two wreaths I made are my favourites of the four. They're ultimately the same asymmetric design, but one is smaller than the other, and they have different flower corsages pinned to them. After wrapping the hoops in wool, I raided my hair accessories drawer for my two red flower corsages that I hadn't used in almost a decade, knowing they'd be perfect for what I had in mind, and pinned them at 4 o'clock on the hoops. I then tied green pom poms around them, made what I hope look like poinsettia flowers from red and green felt and jingle bells and then attached them, tied some floristry berries in between some of the pom poms, and sewed a red ribbon to the top of the hoops to hang them from. Simple as that. I'm actually really pleased with how well these two turned out, especially as I've never made a wreath or anything like this before. Not bad for a first (and second) attempt, huh?

I then got working on the inner hoops, and decided to turn the bigger or the two in to a full wreath. I didn't have any more corsages to repurpose, so I chose to make two poinsettias for this one, and surrounded them with red and green pom poms in two sizes, and a handful of artificial berries. I then tied a length of red ribbon to the top, and added a tartan bow with a pom pom attached, which I think came off a Christmas present last year. Apparently, I've now turned in to a frugal old lady who keeps random crap to use again... 

Of the four wreaths, this one is probably my least favourite. I don't know why, but I'm a little underwhelmed with it, and I can't decide if I like it or not. Perfectionist problems, I guess. It has grown on me since I made it a week or so ago, though, and I think I'll like it better after I swap the ribbon for a thicker one. (I ran out of wide ribbon, so I had to make do with a delicate one for now), and have it hanging up with my other decorations.

By the time I got to the last hoop, I'd ran out of green wool, and red and green felt to make pom poms and poinsettias from, so I decided to make a simple asymmetric wreath using the last of my green pom poms, and a handful of red ones. Again, I bulked it out with a few berries, and tied a piece of red ribbon to the top to hang it from, and voila, it was complete. It took me no time at all to put together, and even though the design is quite simple, I personally think it looks pretty cute. It's the perfect design if you want to make a quick and easy wreath to hang for the holidays.

The best part about these wreaths is that they were so inexpensive to make. In fact, they didn't actually cost me a penny to make this December because I already had everything I needed, and I just raided my craft supplies and hair accessories box! I admit I was tempted to shop for new supplies, but I had to be frugal and use what I had because I'm skint. If I wasn't, I would've probably gone rogue and added in loads of baubles, decorations, and fancy ribbons, but I'm so happy with the four I made as they are. I honestly wasn't expecting them to turn out so well, and without meaning to toot my own horn, I'm pretty proud of all four of them. I surprise myself with what I can do when I put my mind to it.

If I can make my own Christmas pom pom wreaths, you can, too! Honestly, they're so easy to make, and you don't need to be a skilled crafter to be able to make one. I genuinely think anybody could have a go and end up with a beautiful pom pom wreath. 

As I said, I unfortunately haven't got photos for a tutorial and I've ran out of supplies to create some now, but I'm going to talk you through how I made them, and hope it makes sense. I'll hopefully add in photos at a later date if you wish to bookmark the post, and return to it later.

Christmas Pom Pom Wreath Tutorial 

What You'll Need

♥ Wooden embroidery hoop. (Mine are 7 and 8 inches, but you can use whatever size you like. One hoop will make two wreaths!)
♥ Pom pom makers in two sizes (I used 35mm and 45mm).
♥ One ball each of green and red wool.
♥ Sheets of green and red felt. (An A4 sheet of each colour should make two flowers).
♥ Green and red embroidery threads.
♥ Red flower corsages / hair accessories, or silk flowers.
♥ Jingle bells.
♥ Artificial berries.
♥ Red ribbon.
♥ Scissors.
♥ Sewing needle.
♥ Double sided tape.
Fabric pen.

You should be able to find everything you need in your local hobby shop or haberdashers. Almost all of my supplies came from Hobbycraft.

To Cover The Embroidery Hoops

1. Take your embroidery hoop, and separate the inner and outer hoops. You can turn them both in to wreaths!
2. Take a hoop and wrap a small piece of double-sided tape around a small section of the wood so you can attach the wool. If you're using the inner hoop, you can do this at whatever place you like, but if you're using the outer hoop with the metal at the top, stick the tape at the top beside the edge of the metal.
3. Stick the end of your green wool against the tape, and start winding the wool neatly and tightly around the hoop so each strand sits beside the one before. When you come to the end of the strand, wrap another piece of double-sided tape around the hoop to secure the end and continue with another length of wool. Repeat the process until the whole hoop is wrapped in green wool. When you close in on the circle, wrap another piece of tape around the hoop to seal the wool, and cut the end of the wool to fit.
4. Don't worry if it's a little scruffy in places; you can hide any flaws with pom poms or flowers!

To Make The Pom Poms

Now it's time to make some pom poms! For my wreaths, I made 35mm and 45mm pom poms in red and green, but you could use whatever sizes or colours you prefer. I personally think red and green looks the most festive. I used seven pom poms on the asymmetric wreaths, and sixteen on the full wreath, but the amount of pom poms you need will vary depending on which size hoop you use.

1. Take a pom pom maker and wind two to three layers of wool around each side, being careful not to overfill.
2. Holding tightly on to the pom pom maker, cut the wool down the middle on each side.
3. Tie a long piece of wool through the centre of the pom pom maker, and double knot to secure it. Make sure the piece of wool is long enough to be able to tie easily on to your wreath.
4. Carefully open up the pom pom maker and remove your pom pom.
5. Roll each pom pom in the palm of your hands, and trim off any excess wool with a pair of scissors to neaten.
6. Tie it on to your wreath.

To Make The Poinsettia Flowers

1. Take your sheets of red and green felt and draw two stars of the same size on each, and one slightly smaller star on the red using a fabric pen, and carefully cut them out with a pair of sharp scissors. (If you can't draw a star freehand, find an image of a star online, trace it on to a piece of paper, and cut it out to make a template to draw around). 
2. Score each of the 'petals' down the middle with a pair of scissors to add some shape and texture to your flower.
3. Now layer your stars on top of each other, alternating the angles so the points sit over the gaps between the points of the star beneath. The two green stars should be on the bottom, followed by the two larger red, with the smallest red star on top.
4. Thread a needle with two strands of red thread.
5. Holding tightly on to your carefully arranged stars, turn them over, and using your needle, sew the two strands of red thread on to the centre of the back of the bottom star. Poke your needle through the centre of all five stars to the top, and pull the thread tightly. Now push your needle back through to the bottom just beside where you came up, and repeat the process, as if you were sewing on a button, until the five stars are securely sewn together. When you're done, bring the needle back to the bottom, and sew the thread on to the back of the bottom star to secure. Snip off any excess thread.
6. Take your jingle bells, and sew them on to the centre of the smallest star, the same way you'd sew on a button. I found four small bells or six tiny jingle bells were enough for each flower, and I personally think gold bells look better against the red than silver.
7. Now thread your needle with five or six strands of green thread, and sew two lengths half an inch or so apart on to the back of the flower. This is so you can tie it on to the wreath!
8. Take the flower, and gently give the ends of each petal a twist to add some shape to your flower. Voila, you've made a felt poinsettia!

To Assemble Your Wreath

1. Take your covered hoop, corsage, pom poms, and poinsettias and play around with different arrangements until you're happy with your layout. Once you are, it's time to start assembling your wreath.
2. Tie, pin, or glue your corsage or silk flowers in place. Mine both had metal brooch pins to the back, so I threaded the pins through the wool on the hoop, and clipped them shut, and they stay in place perfectly. 
3. Tightly tie and double knot your pom poms and flowers in place around the corsage, so they sit close together. Once tied, cut off the excess wool and thread, and position them in place. It's up to you if you want to cover the whole hoop, or just part of it. I personally like my asymmetric wreaths best, but that's just me.
4. If you want to add in artificial berries, poke the wires between the pom poms, and bend the wire tightly around the hoop to secure.
5. Take a length of red ribbon, and tie it to the top of your hoop. If you prefer, you can sew the two sides together with a back or running stitch for a neater look, which I did on the two hoops with the metal screws on top.
6. Tie the ribbon in to a loop, and hang your wreath.

Well done, you've just made a pom pom wreath!

I've probably made the process sound more complicated than it is, but I promise you, it's a really simple Christmas craft that anybody could easily make. If I can make something like this without any guidance or previous experience, you sure can! You just need a little bit of patience and a few supplies, and you could easily make one from scratch in a couple of evenings sitting in front of the telly with a Christmas movie on.

The pom pom wreaths will make such lovely decorations to hang in your home this Christmas, and judging by the response I've had from other people, they'd make great Christmas gifts for your family and friends, too.

If you decide to make one, make sure you send me a link to your photos so I can take a peek!

Will you be making your own Christmas wreath this Christmas, or do you prefer to buy one ready-made?
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