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:

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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?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sunday Favourites: Christmas Special #305

With just over two weeks to go 'til Christmas, I'm sure you're set for a busy day preparing for the big day, so give yourself a break for five minutes, pour yourself a cuppa, put your feet up, and relax with this week's Sunday Favourites.

This week I've got the second of this month's Christmas Sunday Favourites for you, with heaps of festive inspiration in shades of red and green. I hope you enjoy it.

These snowman surprise balls from Oh Happy Day are adorable. You could easily fill them with little treats for adults, too.

I love these DIY novelty Christmas figgy pudding flats from Damask Love so much. I want to make myself a pair!

I don't think I'll ever stop loving retro honeycomb decorations. Oh Happy Day's DIY honeycomb ornaments look so pretty and festive.

This lovely DIY felt holly wreath from The House That Lars Built.

If you're looking for a way to gift wrap gift cards this Christmas, look no further than this free printable gift card box from Persia Lou.

This cute set of  Santa and Rudolph Christmas cross stitch cards from Riverdrift House.

This DIY wooden, glittery joy decoration by Damask Love sure makes a statement.

Also from Damask Love, these DIY printable peppermint treat boxes have to be the cutest gift boxes ever!

If paper crowns aren't your thing, how about these DIY Christmas tree party hats from Oh Happy Day? They'd make a cute Christmas tree forest, too.

These Christmas sprinkle cookies from A Kailo Chic Life are so festive. Look how cute those gingerbread man sprinkles are!

Lauren Conrad's Christmas Explosion Cake has to be the most epic Christmas cake I've ever seen.

I want to make some DIY no sew fabric gift bags using my stash of Christmas fat quarters, like these ones from Julep. They'd be perfect for filling with treats, and making in to Christmas table favours for our Christmas Day meal.

This DIY Christmas lights wrapping paper by Boxwood Avenue looks wonderful.

This Christmas tree Christmas card display piece from Brit + Co would be perfect for displaying the best Christmas cards you receive.

This sweet DIY paper bag Advent calendar from Tell Love and Party.

Meri Meri's honeycomb tree Advent calendar is quite possibly the loveliest paper Advent calendar I've ever seen.

This simple treat bag Advent Calendar by Oh Happy Day would be a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to countdown the last couple of weeks 'til Christmas.

I love these Christmas prints from Michael Mullan; they're so eye-catching.

And finally, these introvert illustrations from Introvert Doodles are perfect.

If you're looking for more Christmas inspiration, don't forget to check out my Christmas boards on Pinterest; I have twenty different Christmas boards on there packed full of festive images! You can also find all previous Christmas Sunday Favourites posts here.

Remember to pop back next week for the third of the five festive Sunday Favourites posts I'll be bringing you this month. Thanks for reading!

What are your plans for the day?

Saturday, 9 December 2017

50 Alternative Ways To Give Back This Christmas

Christmas is the season of good will and generosity; the time of year when we spoil our loved ones with presents, invite our friends in to our homes for a feast, and even spare a thought for people less fortunate than ourselves.

While most of us will spend a small fortune on our friends and family to show that we care, there are more ways to give back at Christmas time than just by buying expensive presents, and more people we can give back to than just our friends and family. There are charities we can donate to, random acts of kindness we could perform in our communities, and thoughtful gestures we can do for our loved ones if we can't afford to buy them presents this year.

If you're looking for different ways you can give back or random acts of kindness you can do this Christmas, never fear; I've put together a list of fifty ways to give back this Christmas to give you guys a few ideas. Whether you want to help out an elderly neighbour, help the homeless, or do a good deed for a total stranger, I've got plenty of ideas to get you thinking, and (hopefully) inspire a little kindness this Christmas.

Here are 50 alternative ways to give back this Christmas:

1. Buy a hot drink and / or meal for a homeless person.
2. Make a donation to a charity you care about.
2. Buy a Big Issue. If you want to be extra generous, leave the magazine so it can be sold to someone else to gain a second donation.
3. Donate to a food bank.
4. Donate to an animal rescue centre, shelter, or charity.
5. Help out at a soup kitchen.
6. Volunteer your time at an animal rescue centre / shelter.
7. Buy charity Christmas cards.
8. Donate to charity instead of buying Christmas cards and / or presents this year.
9. Sponsor an animal for Christmas.
10. Sponsor a child in a developing country for Christmas.
11. Volunteer at a hospital to spread some Christmas cheer to sick kids.
12. Send shoe box parcels to kids in developing countries.
13. Send parcels to our hard-working soldiers over seas.
14. Spend time with elderly, vulnerable, or lonely people in your community.
15. Offer to do odd jobs, run errands, or  buy groceries for elderly or ill friends or neighbours.
16. Invite lonely neighbours or friends who might be spending Christmas alone over for Christmas Day.
17. Shovel snow or salt the ice from a neighbour's property.
18. Pay for the person's meal / drink behind you in the queue or drive-thru.
19. Put spare change in a parking meter that's about to expire.
20. Take someone who might have difficulty getting out and about alone Christmas shopping.
21. Treat a friend to a coffee / drink / meal.
22. Offer to carry a friend's / loved one's heavy shopping bags.
23. Bake cookies and share with your neighbours or colleagues.
24. Give a little something to your postie and other delivery drivers to say 'thanks' for bringing you all those parcels of clothes and make up.
25. Offer to pet-sit for people who are going away for Christmas.
26. Buy a round of drinks for the house.
27. Babysit to allow parents a night off to Christmas shop, enjoy a night out, or just spend some quality time together.
28. Offer to post someone's Christmas parcels when you go to the Post Office to post your own.
29. Help out at a food bank.
30. Have a clear out and donate any money you make to charity.
31. Help a friend or neighbour put up their Christmas lights.
32. Walk someone's dog.
33. Help a friend or loved one wrap presents.
34. Let someone go in front of you in the queue.
35. If you leave a car park with time still left on your ticket, hand it to a person just coming in.
36. Give up your seat on public transport to someone who needs it more.
37. Make a gift by hand to show you care.
38. Do extra chores around the house.
39. Send thank you cards.
40. Volunteer your time for a good cause.
41. Lend some money to a loved one struggling to afford Christmas.
42. Pick up litter in your neighbourhood.
43. Make a book of handmade coupons each offering a different service (clean the bathroom, cook dinner, bring you breakfast in bed, good for one hug etc.) to give to a loved one for Christmas.
44. Run your partner / Mum a bubble bath after a long day.
45. Donate warm clothes and blankets to homeless shelters, or shelters for women who've escaped domestic abuse.
46. Give out warm blankets or coats to homeless people you pass all the time, or leave some in a dry place where the homeless can find them.
47. Get people to sponsor you to do something for a good cause (run a marathon, spend a day in total silence,  challenge yourself to hug a million people, whatever) and donate the money you make to a charity dear to your heart.
48. Bake loads of cakes for a Christmas bake sale to help your local community raise money for their cause.
49. Donate toys to a children's hospital.
50. Spend quality time with your friends and family, instead of spending money.

What do you do to give back to others at Christmas time?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Wednesday Wish List: Christmas Special

Now that Christmas is on its way, I thought it would be fun to make this week's Wednesday Wish List a Christmas special, so I've packed it full of some of my favourite Christmas fashion pieces of late to give you a little inspiration.

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First up, we have a selection of my favourite pins from Punky Pins' Christmas collection. They'd make such a cute finishing touch to any Christmas outfit. My only problem is, I can't decide which one I like best.

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I'm obsessed with Hell Bunny's range of Christmas dresses and skirts, especially the baby blue Candy pieces. These are the plus size versions, but they also come in straight sizes, which you'll find on the website under separate listings.

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I also adore Hell Bunny's Christmas jumpers and cardigans (many of which are currently on promotion!), especially the gorgeous red Noelle cardigan with the retro deer motif on the back. I need it in my life, but I can't afford to shop atm. Sob! I hope by some miracle I manage to purchase one before it sells out.

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These handmade wooden Christmas necklaces from LaliBlue Shop are so beautiful.

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These long-line Christmas print tops from Yours Clothing would make a fun alternative to a Christmas jumper- particularly if you want to embrace the Christmas spirit with your outfits but get too hot in knit jumpers.

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Boohoo Plus have some really cute Christmas jumpers right now. I have the 'Filthy Animal' Jumper in green from a couple of years ago, and it's awesome! I really want it in red, too.

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And last but not least, I love these Christmas headbands from Silly Old Sea Dog. They also have the most amazing Christmas dresses, which I shared in a wish list post a few weeks back. I'd happily collect them all.

If you'd like to see more of the Christmas fashion pieces on my wish list, check out my Christmas style wish list board on Pinterest here. You can also find all previous Wednesday Wish Lists here.

What's on your Christmas fashion wish list?
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