Tag : inspiration-of-the-day

Top 5… Inspirational Days Out!

We all need to get inspired by something, whether it be the clouds across a morning sky, a flower that has blossomed in your garden, a visit to a gallery, or even day-to-day chores and activities. Whatever the inspiration behind our art, design and craft – here are my top 5 events that could inspire your next project. Think colour, think nature, think photography, think over a hundred hot-air balloons…

 

1. <a href="http://www.nhm click this.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/sensational-butterflies.html” target=”_blank”>Sensational Butterflies

This annual event returns to the London Natural History Museum, with hundreds of free flying butterflies in their tropical butterfly house. Think of all those patterns and colours – just beautiful. On now til September 13th 2015, and at only £5.90 a ticket for adults, children and concessions – and with entry to the main museum free, you can’t go wrong!

 

2. Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea

A bit of a cop-out putting two exhibitions from the same location, but with another outstanding and inspiring exhibition at the world famous and stunningly beautiful London Natural History Museum, it explains why reefs are just so important, and what is being done to look after them. “Virtual reef dive, see live sea coral and fish in our aquarium and enjoy spectacular underwater photography.” Get inspired by “250 strange and beautiful specimens” of coral. Tickets to the exhibition are £10 per adult – children and concessions are only £4.50 – and again, as before, admission to the main museum is absolutely free.

 

3. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Our wedding was inspired by the film ‘Up‘, and with all those ballooons, I have always wanted to go and see this magical fiesta in Bristol, 6th-9th August 2015. An absolute riot of colour across the sky to provide unlimited colour inspiration. The best thing about this is, entrance is absolutely FREE! (You have to just pay a fee to park). I am sadly, already busy when this is on – but it is going on my bucket list, maybe next year! Why don’t you get this one into your diary?

 

4. 2015 Sony World Photography Awards 

Love photography? This exhibition at Somerset House showcases the Winners, the Shortlisters across all disciplines from the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. You can’t help but want to pick up your camera, get out and take as many snaps of our beautiful world as you can! Full details of the competition can be found HERE at the World Photography Organisation. On display from April 24th – 10th May 2015, tickets are £8.50 for ‘Anytime Entry’, and only £6.50 for ‘Weekday Entry’. Other concessions are available.

 

5. Kew Gardens

I absolutely LOVE Kew Gardens, and I also love the chef Raymond Blanc, so the BBC programme Kew On A Plate was a match made in heaven for me. However, you can now go and view the Kew On A Plate garden! Get inspired by their bountiful produce and gardens, with their walking tours, daily until May 22nd 2015. Included in the entry price to the main gardens, tickets are £16 for an adult, and children under 16 are FREE when accompanied by an adult. Other concessions are available. While you are there this spring, make sure you take a lovely wander down the ‘Cherry Walk’ – lots of lovely pink and delightful blossoms! There is so much to see and do at Kew – take your sketchpad, your camera, and some good walking shoes!

 

All prices and dates are correct at time of this blog post.

 

Categories: Places to Go & Things to See, Top 5

She Who Is Brave, Is Free…

Well, I’ve done it – I’ve only gone and done it. Some people have said that I am ‘brave’, some have said ‘I could never do it’, but mainly people have said ‘Wow!’, ‘How exciting!’, ‘Brilliant news!’…

So, this Crafty Lass is now a ‘full-time’ Crafty Lass. In other words, I didn’t quit the day dream, but I did quite my full time job!

So, watch this space for future updates of how this grand plan currently in my head, on slips of paper, notes in my diary unveils into one big very real, very exciting reality.

Yes!

She who is brave, is free.

 

Categories: Business, General Craft

An explosion of colour!

This time last year, I was knee deep in petals, and panic.

It’s coming up to our first wedding anniversary – where does time go?! Of course I can’t help reminiscing about what a wonderful craft proj… I mean, day it was! 😉

Our (who are we kidding, my) colour scheme… I couldn’t decide. So, in the end – I settled on not settling and going for a rainbow palette. A vibrant riot of royal blue, canary yellow, emerald green, cerise and bright orange. They clashed, they sang and due to the very-very-very fortunate early spring (hot!) sunshine we had in March, they absolutely shone.

Obviously every girl, gets excited about her dress, and shoes (mine were bright green!) and of course gaining a husband too – but there were so many little crafty touches to the day, that had built up over the course of the year and thought about to the nth degree. I was also just really excited to see it all finally come together in one explosion of colour. In a term used regularly by my mother-in-law, it was “Paula Planned”.IMG_0966

We made seed packets as our favours… “Let Love Grow!”, handmade all our table runners out of hessian and ribbons, napkin holders for every guest out of matching hessian, ribbons and lace, the big table plans, giant posters of our story, the d.i.y cake topper out of a clothes peg, 100 (yes 100!) metres of bunting, moustache and lips straws. Then collecting and turning hundreds of empty jars with coloured raffia into tea lights, a ‘Dan and Paula’ crossword (and prizes), kids party packs, oh – and – the marathon of flowers…

Each table had 7 flowers (there were 11 tables), the aisle had 20 flowers, then 9 corsages, there were spare…lets guess at 10, the bridesmaids had them on their shoes or on their wrist – each flower had 18 petals…that’s 2,304 little circles of fabric. Cut out, by hand.

Phew, what a mission…and boy was it FUN!

PDM-JS-IMG_0018_136You may be thinking I am crazy, or you may be thinking – that just sounds like a standard craft lovers wedding! I think I am just both – slightly crazy and definitely a craft lover. I just couldn’t BUY stuff, I KNEW I could make. It would be cheaper for one thing, but also nice, thoughtful and would be exactly as we would want, no compromises.

Once I came up with the ‘Wedding Grand Plan’ (yes, there was of course, a spreadsheet involved – multiple infact) it was easy to get stuck in…and I honestly used to think – what did I do BEFORE the wedding…Where has all this additional time come from to make stuff! To be honest, I still don’t really know or understand that part. I think I went out less, and definitely slept less!PDM-JS-IMG_9893_120

There were days where I’d do nothing – then there would be evenings where I was practically doing cartwheels as I had managed to make 6 or 7 whole flowers AND watch ‘Location, Location, Location’ (we do LOVE a good bit of Kirstie and Phil!)

Everyone said to me – ‘What will you do afterwards?!’, ‘You’ll get the post-wedding blues’… Swept up in a whirlwind of fabric and lace, Pinterest and decisions to be made – I thought, ‘Ah, no I won’t, I will be excited to have a new life as Mrs Milner, I will be fine’.

Once the big day had been and gone, the family had dispersed back to their own homes, the dress hanging back in its protective case (which, I might add is still hanging up in our room, I just can’t bring myself to put it away for good yet!) I remember very distinctly the first day I came home from work. The house still looked thPDM-JS-IMG_9865_110e same, all our wonderful cards, presents. I made a cup of (Yorkshire) tea, I sat at the table and thought… Now what?

And although I was so happy and grateful – I was also sad, no two ways about it. I missed the focus, the countdown, the opportunity to just absorb myself away into something creative and that had a wider mission and purpose. I enjoyed the fact there wasn’t a time pressure of course, and actually it was rather nice to have a rest, but I missed it all the same.

It has taken me a whole year, to realise – it doesn’t need to stop. There doesn’t have to be a reason to make stuff, plan to make stuff, PinterePDM-JS-IMG_9569_045st about what you want to make, do, what you love. I am sure both sets of parents would love there to be a new major event on the cards to plan for – and I am sure that this time around the colour scheme would be just pink or just blue (yet to be decided) – but for now there is not. And in the meantime – I am going to be throwing myself into lots of making and baking, of all sorts, for all seasons and reasons.

So, it’s really out of one major event of a wedding, and one year of feeling that something is missing to invent this blog, and The Crafty Lass.

Over the the next few weeks, I am going to be looking back at the wedding projects on this blog, and also with birthdays for myself, the husband (it’s a big birthday for him!), there is Easter coming up – and then summer, with the long evenings and bright sunshine , there really is plenty of craft and inspiration to look forward to!

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PS

After the wedding…I submitted some snippets of the-big-day to Brides Magazine – who chose us as ‘wedding of the week’… All very exciting of course! The link to which I would love to share with you – however Brides magazine have since removed that section of their website! 🙁

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: General Craft, Weddings

The Crafty Lass does… Cushions!

The John Lewis remnant bin, is literally one of the most exciting places on earth. Fact.

You never know what you might find! Yesterday, I stumbled across two ex-display childrens curtains, in bright and beautiful stripes. At £10 each – absolute bargain. It would be more than that for the original fabric alone!

I have now spent my Sunday afternoon turning some of the fabric into a new cushion for our lounge. The ‘How To Make a Cushion‘ guide from IKEA – is really easy to follow, and it really didn’t take long at all to go from cutting out the fabric, to et voila, a brand-spankily-delightful-and-new cushion.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, The Crafty Lass does...

The Crafty Lass does… Heart Bunting!

The inspiration for today comes from a little craft project I have been eyeing up for a while now…it started via Pinterest and a wonderful blog post by Bettina Holst. I have spent a pleasant hour on this cold and crisp Saturday evening making some fantastically bright (and oh-‘sew’ easy!) heart bunting! I can utilise my new pom-poms and decorate The Crafty Lass office too – hooray!

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I have visions of making some more of these for Christmas in some sparkly and sumptuous gold and silvers… Watch this space for some future Christmas craft (much) later in the year!

For now, I am going to enjoy my new pink, red and green vibrant addition to the office window. 🙂

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, The Crafty Lass does..., Valentines, Anniversaries & Lovey-Dovey Stuff

It’s sugar, but just not as you know it…

I was asked a very interesting question at work today – and it really got me thinking…

What are the latest home baking trends of 2015?

My first and immediate thought was the latest craze of ‘new’ sugars. Which, to be honest, I don’t fully understand…isn’t it still just sugar – just disguised in a ‘healthier’ image? Surely if you want cake, you should be able to enjoy it (in moderation!) – and if you REALLY want cake, surely you will buy/make/eat that cake – whatever version of sugar is put into it? If the new sugars and sweeteners taste good, then GREAT! And if they are good for you too – BONUS! However, is it just ‘perceived’ healthiness? There is of course the on-going media fuelled debate with the headlines/themes that seem to change daily… “too much sugar is bad for you”, “too much fat is bad for you”, no wait… it’s “too much fat AND sugar is bad for you”. Well surely we all know too much of ANYTHING is bad for you. Isn’t it all about balance?

I am a very health conscious person – I like to make sure that what I am eating is good for me. Don’t get me wrong I am also very much a pie, chips and a large glass of vino girl at heart – and if I DIDN’T watch what I ate, then I would have to spend ALOT more time in the gym – when really, I just want to be making lovely craft things and writing this blog. At only 4′ 11″ and having a day job that happens to be in the offices of a very large chocolate factory – I just like to ensure my intake for 75% of the time is GOOD for me. I like to ensure I eat the rainbow palette of vegetables, the nuts, seeds, oats, the fish, wholegrains etc etc. So when I want something ‘BAD’ for me, do I also need to be worrying about what TYPE of sugar may be in it? Surely sugar is just SUGAR, right? Or, am I missing the point…?

I turned to the power of Google to help me in my quest to discover just what I ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be eating in sugary confections RIGHT NOW. And lo and behold – yes, many, MANY articles already written on the latest foodie crazes – do mention buzzwords of ‘agave nectar’, ‘stevia’ and interestingly to me – ‘coconut sugar’. Having been on a very recent trip to Sri Lanka – where I was drinking from freshly macheted coconuts on a daily basis (don’t you know you that coconut water is (or least WAS!) THE big thing to be drinking?) I was intrigued to find out more.

The Sterling-Rice GroupSri Lanka Machete advise that apparently, it’s all to do with the fact it is less refined than ‘normal’ white sugar, providing a lower GI sugar hit. It has naturally occurring nutrients, but importantly – it still has a great sweetness… they suggest looking up Kika’s Salted Caramels made from this trendy sugar. Now they really have got me thinking – I do LOVE coconut, and the absolute best thing in the whole entire world to me, is anything that involves salted caramel. So, this is looking like a win-win situation?

The Telegraph (my weekend-paper-of-choice) also backs this up with an article on the latest 2015 foodie trends – stating that coconut sugar is full of both zinc and iron. Good stuff!

Now, I have to admit – this all does sound very nice, and is starting to appeal to my health-conscious-self… but just how widely available and/or mind-boggling expensive is this sugar? Will it be worth my while adding it into the weekly shop?

A quick browse of the top 5 UK supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) and also via mysupermarket.co.uk shows it isn’t actually that widely available. YET. In fact, out of these five – just Waitrose (Oh, how I love this supermarket!) was the only one to have it stocked: ‘Speciality No. 12 coconut palm sugar via their online supermarket and is priced at £5.99 for 250g. That’s a whopping £23.96 per kg. The branding looks nice, and yes – I am sure some people will happily pay this… however – compared on the same supermarket website for the traditional caster cane sugar with good old Tate and Lyle – that is…£1.48 for 1kg. So, the super coconut sugar is over 16 times more expensive! I am not sure it is 16 times good for you?

Ocado stocks a dIMAG0480ifferent brand – the Biona Organic Coconut Sugar and this works out slightly cheaper at £2.99 for 250g. However, this still calculates in at £12.00 per kg!

There are of course perhaps, other places to buy this wonder sugar – and maybe, cheaper (a few other online retailers I looked at did stock various versions – none at the time of checking were any less expensive!) I am sure if this trend truly catches on, it will be available everywhere, and perhaps once the demand is there, the price will reduce. Maybe I am again missing the point – I should be willing to PAY for this new ingredient to be baking my ‘healthy’ cakes with?

The website Tropical Traditions had another interesting slant to this buzzy trend on coconut sugar:

“…coconut palm trees cannot produce both coconuts and coconut palm sugar! When the sap used to make coconut palm sugar is collected from the coconut palm tree, from the flower bud that will eventually form a coconut, that tree can no longer produce coconuts! Think about that for a minute. No coconuts = no coconut oil, no dried coconut, no coconut flour. Is coconut sugar worth giving up these other valued products that come from the coconut??”

I think it is great there is a new cane sugar alternative product on the market – but I am not sure I would want to do without all the other wonderful features coconuts have to offer. In addition to the above – there is the aforementioned coconut water – and don’t forget coconut milk! Imagine life without Thai curries?! That obviously sounds a bit extreme, and I am sure that at some point – the balance will return to allow coconuts to be sold – in all their wonderfully different brilliant states. However, as the article points out just what financial sense it makes for the farmers to produce this new commodity, maybe not…

“This new success for palm sugar is yielding a high profit for both coconut farmers and retailers in the U.S., as “healthier sugarIMAG0481s” are among the new high-demand “health” foods. We are seeing story after story in the Philippines of how coconut farmers are converting their coconut trees into coconut sugar production, collecting the sap from the tree to make this hot new commodity. The process is very simple, allowing anyone with coconut palm trees on their land to easily convert their coconut palms into an instant cash crop that reaps great financial benefits.”

I am sure, coconut sugar would add a wonderful new aroma, taste and perhaps texture to a sponge, fondant, all manner of desserts… and for the sake of experience I would of course be willing to give it a try (my husband would be happy too – me to bake it, him to eat it!) However, for now – I think I will stick with my good old fashioned Tate and Lyle. If I was eating lots of sugary things every day, maybe it would be better to look at balancing out the whole diet – rather than worrying about what’s in the bad stuff. I am no health expert – and definately don’t claim to be. It is just common sense – eat more good stuff! Eat your greens and THEN if you’re still hungry, some cake… washed down with plenty of coconut water!

 

 

Categories: Birthday, Foodie Delights, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!

Pom-poms-ago-go!

Exciting times… Some new pom-poms have arrived in the post. Soon to be made into something exciting and Pinterest-able, hopefully at the weekend… Watch this space!

 

Categories: General Craft, House & Home

Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your LIFE!

Inspiration of the day…some wise words from Caroline Gardner:

“Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life”

I LOVE a good greeting card (and shoes!) who doesn’t?

When the post lands on the doormat and you realise that amongst the dreary white bills is a brightly coloured envelope, specially addressed to you in handwriting you may recognise. It lifts your spirits and you realise that for whatever reason, someone, somewhere is thinking of you.

I think this one with a quirky&fun slogan, bright colours – you can’t help but not have a smile put on your face! This one is for my amazing-Jimmy-Choo-shoe-loving mother-in-law (I know, amazing mother-in-laws – they do exist… they’re not all dragons!) Happy Birthday!

Caroline Gardner

 

Categories: Birthday, Stationery

Milton Keynes Handmade and Vintage Fair

Well, what a treat I was in for yesterday.

I nipped into Milton Keynes to pick up a few birthday surprises from good old reliable John Lewis. I expected to be parked, into the shops, and out again within 30 minutes. Little did I know that the Milton Keynes Handmade and Vintage fair was all set-up ready to go IN FRONT of John Lewis. I couldn’t miss it! I wasn’t expecting it, and neither was my bank balance…

There were a true array of stalls – from old vintage fabrics, to sumptuous and ever-so-tempting cupcakes, handmade ceramics, plates made of out of old records, handmade bags, skirts, the list goes on…wpid-wp-1425238380411.jpeg

There were lots of stalls that I spent a considerable amount of time perusing (I had to top up the car parking meter, twice) however, there were two stalls that really had my attention. The first was Grace Face Boutique – a wonderful mix of inspirational quotes, ditsy fabrics, fab and fun vintage inspired clothing and cute-as-a-button homemade jewellery. To top that off – they were a fun, friendly mum and daughter combo who I discovered (happily for me!) live locally to me in Northampton – and I hope to visit their studio soon!

Silver Cake Fork RingThe second, was the most amazing jewellery stand – Stapleford Silver. She put up with me for an hour (yes, a whole HOUR) trying on thumb rings. These aren’t just any old silver rings – they are upcycled. The particular one I bought in the end, was an upcycled cake fork. Just how perfect is that. I can now happily go around with a cake fork as a ring – which to me symbolises pretty much everything I stand for. It’s beautiful, it’s vintage, it’s baking related, it’s classic and stylish, and do you know what? It’s now mine.

 

PS Very happy that by absolute chance I had a manicure yesterday at Beau Ideal. What are the chances of then finally starting a blog, and wanting to write about your latest jewellery purchase – that just so happens to include a photo of your well manicured nails. Winning at life right there. (It’s the simple things!)

 

Categories: General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See

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