Are you participating in the 25 Photos Until Christmas creative event? If there's enough interest I'll even give out a prize each week!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Upcycled Baubles & Preloved Advent Competition

   I've always loved Christmas decorations, even just baubles. I get drawn in by the colours, the glitter, the shapes, even the sizes! If it's huge or absolutely tiny, I want them. So, naturally, I have a few too many. Despite about 7 trees of varying sizes going up in the house, I have more baubles than I can fit onto them - and even after stringing them along twine and hanging them everywhere else as well.
   In an attempt to finally de-clutter my house I went through a lot of storage spots and got rid of things - I am a hoarder, big time - and I've made a lot of new space in the house. I decided I'd take what remained of that motivation and frame of mind and attacked my Christmas decorations, too, getting rid of quite a few things. Of course, my motivation dropped after looking at all the glitter and I'd already gotten rid of quite a lot, so I wondered just what else I could do with them. Gift toppers, stringing decorations and table ornaments. I always do that. What else?
   I looked at them for a while and then I had it! Little bauble people! I figured that, with the varying sizes of baubles I had, a little hot glue and some felt, I could probably put something together!
   I'm loving nordic and neutral tones this Christmas, so while shopping around for felt, I decided to buy a grey mix pack from Dovecraft. 4 shades and 8 sheets, it came to £3 - perfect.

   Don't they look great? So simple but so cute!
   I gathered up some good sized baubles and paired them up, then removed the little caps. I kept them both turned the right way up so that the neck of the large bauble acted as a neck for the little villagers to give it a little more height around the top of the coat, and the neck of the smaller bauble would be hidden beneath a hat anyway. I used a little bit of hot glue at the bottom of the top bauble and stuck them together - the beauty of hot glue is that it dries and hardens really quite quickly so you don't have to stand around holding it together or trying to find some way to prop it up!
   To make the clothes, I cut some felt and wrapped it around like a little cloak and used a little more hot glue to stick down the edge of the overlapping felt beneath, and a dab at the top corner where the two join.

   I rolled some felt into a little hat and secured it with more hot glue, placed it on the head and applied a little dab of hot glue at the front centre and back centre of the hat, then cut a strip for a scarf and just wrapped it around. Felt tends to gently stick to itself so I didn't bother gluing the scarf down.

 I ended up making a few, and I scavenged a smaller bauble from a set I kept that didn't have a cap for one reason or another to make a smaller one instead, and used one of the 'head' baubles as its body instead.
   I really love how these little bauble villagers turned out, and best of all is that it only cost me £3 for the felt to make! They're bigger than I expected them to be, too, but I think that's a good thing. I've made small hanging ornaments into much larger home decorations!

   Preloved is hosting a competition this Christmas to win a wonderful piece of upcycled funiture, and I think that these little bauble villagers will fit in perfectly. The idea is to create a Christmas decoration for under £5, and at £3 for the felt, I'm pretty comfortable! I urge you all to participate in Preloved Advent because these kinds of challenges are really fun all on their own, but when you throw in the possibility of a prize, it suddenly becomes that much better!
   Entering Preloved Advent is easy enough, just email your entries and their cost to, tweet @Preloved and tag with #PrelovedAdvent, post the image on their Facebook wall with #PrelovedAdvent or tag @prelovedofficial on Instagram.
   Entries for Preloved Advent are open until December 18th and the winner will be announced that very same day on Twitter between 12 and 1pm in their chat with Eco Create.
   It's such a fabulous idea, and even if you don't get involved with the competition, it's still well worth upcycling your old decorations into something new!
   Preloved also have an advent calendar with loads of prizes from Zavvi, LookFantastic and MyGeekBox, so its' well worth bookmarking for December 1st!

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A DIY Christmas

   I've worked through a high street Christmas, a designer Christmas and a handmade Christmas. Now it comes down to the individual: a DIY Christmas. Make it all yourself - the decorations, the food, the accents. It can sound daunting, especially if you want it cohesive, but once you pick a theme - such as the arctic, rustic or traditional Christmasses I've already touched on - you'll find it can become quite simple. An arctic theme, for example, is dominantly white, silver and glass with a few warm or coloured accents. So typical stainless steel cutlery, white crockery, white baubles and lots of paper decorations and you're all set with the basics. But if it's going to be handmade by you, you'll want it to be wondrous - I do, anyway. So cut paper snowflakes in intricate designs; add pearlescent sheens and silver glitter to existing white decorations; paint usually bright or detailed pieces like stag decorations, antlers, even a bowl of fruit, entirely white; use white fabric paint to paint snowflakes or spots onto a white table cloth - they would never be exactly the same shade of white.
   In short, in such a case, the handmade quality is in the detail and, occasionally in the case of a white deer or bowl of fruit, lack thereof.
   See? It doesn't need to be daunting!

   I'm on Pinterest an awful lot and I've done every Christmas search under the cold, winter sun. There are lots of things I want to try that I will, won't and would love to but can't, and I've collected up the best for this DIY Christmas post! All link back to their original sources - or as close to the original source as the pins will allow - to various blogs and websites. I've tried to pick out crafts that are simple but also pack a big punch, but not all are the case. I may have also slipped in a post or two of my own...

DIY Tree Ornaments

Simple letter ornaments by Pizzazzerie ♥ Easy glitter baubles by A Pumpkin And A Princess

Home Decorations

Rudolph toy animals by Camille Styles ♥ Candy jar mantle on Midwest Living

♥ Homemade evergreen garland by Craft Thyme

Mini marshmallow topiary by A Blackbird's Epiphany

Christmas Food & Baking

Sugar cookie decorating gift set by The Partiologist ♥
♥ Pinecone cakes by A Blackbird's Epiphany

Peppermint egg nog punch by The Crafting Chicks ♥
♥ Peppermint Stick Platter by Munchkin Munchies

Chocolate orange Christmas tree puddings by A Recipe For Aperture ♥
♥ Chocolate forest cake by Chocolate And Carrots

Christmas Table

Moss & red berries tea lights by Kristin Eldridge ♥ Christmas tree place cards by Martha Stewart

Swanky stir sticks by Julie Blanner ♥ Wreath chair backs via Merriment Events

♥ Miniature Christmas stocking favours by A Blackbird's Epiphany

Christmas Wrapping

Christmas wreath gift wrapping by Craftberry Bush ♥ Black & gold marker wrapping by Lil Blue Boo

Confetti wrap by Style Caster ♥ Home printed wrapping paper by The Pretty Blog

Ornament cluster gift topper by Homey Oh My ♥ Lace gift wrap by A Beautiful Mess

Christmas Fun

Gingerbread man pinata by Studio DIY ♥ Washi tape snow flakes via KNOT Magazine

Giant ornament balloons by Studio DIY ♥ Ceramic tree tealights by A Beautiful Mess

Christmas story snow scene by Salt Tree ♥ String ball winter scene by Sempre Clarisse

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Christmas Gift Guide for Fitness

   I'm a fitness junkie - it's true I like my chocolate and my biscuits, and my crafts page is made up mostly of sugary recipes, but I love a good workout. But no one ever indulges that passion of mine when it comes to gifts unless I specifically ask for something in particular. I understand that because my dress size has dropped so far now (UK 16 to 10, booyah) that no one is quite sure what size to buy me, so the easy option of buying me workout clothes isn't really as safe a bet as it seems on first thought, and as for everything else, well, no one knows what I want or need. So it's too difficult for my friends and family to gift anything along these lines.
   Though I know that no one gifting me will see this wishlist, and I'm certainly not going to look up and say "hey there's a fitness gift guide on my blog you should take a look at" because I hate giving hints at all, let alone obvious ones, I thought that, at the very least, if anyone else wants to buy someone a fitness gift this Christmas, this guide might help them figure out where to start.

   Clothing. I know I said above that it's not necessarily the safest bet for someone who is losing weight unless you're prepared to ask them specifically what size they are, but it's something basic that everyone who works out, be it pounding the pavements, hitting the gym or dancing in their living room, needs. Non-restrictive, moisture-wicking, 4-way stretch clothing is ideal. Being a science nerd, too, I love these Northern Lights capris by Fabletics. They're fantastic quality, they look great, and the stars are all reflective. My only issue is that there isn't much in the way of the aurora borealis on it, just a starry sky, but they still look fabulous. So fitness clothing, if you've got the size right, is a fabulous and functional fitness gift.
   Alternatively, for those already strong on the fitness scene, this 'Things I Can Do' fitness notebook is great for recording their big achievements or little victories. Running a half marathon in record time, beating their personal best, or simply being able to hold a full eagle pose for 8 long breaths. That's my little victory! It's always a good idea to make a note of your victories - not everyone will be impressed by them, but if something was tough for you to achieve, you need to acknowledge it. It's available as hardback and spiral bound.

   Then there are fabulous little post-workout sets, like Trevarno's Post Workout Recovery Set or Athletic's stuff, perfect as a little post-gym pick-me-up to work alongside stretches in cool down recovery. They work to cool and soothe the muscles and the scents to calm your mind and reinvigorate you - not that the post-workout high isn't enough! But it's another functional and thoughtful fitness gift.
   Then there's the delicious but guilt-free indulgences, like Aduna's baobab! To me, baobab tastes like sherbet, which is wonderful to add to your porridge on a morning for a little extra kick, without the guilt. Baobab is fruit, after all! And Aduna have just released this lovely little gift set that includes a whole tub of baobab and all its wonderfully healthy properties for your body and your beauty, as well as a tub of moringa (great in omelettes), and a two delicious baobab and moringa bars. Like nakd, but their use of mango and baobab or moringa set them apart and give them an amazing sherbety taste. I adore them, and the Aduna gift box makes a great health and fitness gift. The powders can be added to anything - smoothies, porridge, shakes, ice cream, lasagne, and so on! Available as small and large gift boxes.

   And another gift for fitness foodies, a spiralizer. What is it? It's a spiralizer. It spiralizes food. In short, you can replace your spaghetti in your spag bol with courgette or sweet potato and sneak in 1 of your 5 a day without even realising it! Such a method of food preparation puts old carb-heavy and indulgent dishes back on the menu, as well as opening up new ways to use food. They can be quite pricey, but at £23, the Lurch Spiralo is a pretty basic but reliable option, great for new users.

   Gym bags, water bottles and headbands - the essentials for gym-goers. Bags with enough space for kit and clean clothes, water bottles for hydration, and a headband to keep away stray hairs. And Fabletics have you covered on all three with this convenient set and many designs to choose from, so there's something for everyone - these three are my picks!

   Protein! It's always best to have high quality carbs and protein after a workout to help your whole body recover - a chicken (protein) sandwhich (carbs) is a great option. But this isn't always easy. You might forget to bring one out to the gym with you, if you had any chicken on hand at home, or you might not be able to find one except something pre-packaged and full of additives - and after a successful workout, why would you want to load your body up on junk? So it's great to have protein and a shaker on hand. PhD Nutrition is my favourite brand for protein shakes. Diet Whey comes in at 20g per 100 calories and a great number of flavours. I particularly love the chocolate orange. A lot of protein shakes have poor consistency and don't taste like they claim, but PhD has always been reliable in both regards. PhD Woman has a great little 2-week PhD Woman gift set consisting of a 10-serving tub of post-workout protein, a meal replacement bar, gold shaker bottle and sachet of energy-rich greens and berries. It's a gorgeous little set and extremely useful for busy gym-goers.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

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