Why I support #natstatweek #writingmatters each year

I have a confession to make, I have terrible handwriting, always have, and probably always will.

But writing still matters to me.  I think ideas flow more naturally on paper and I like to map out thoughts, linking ideas and colour coding, it’s something the researcher in me loves about working on a big blank sheet of paper!

This year National Stationery Week is running from 25th April to the 1st May, and it’s my third year supporting as a #natstatweek blogger.

I love to get involved as it takes me back to the beginning of every school year, the promise that came from a new pencil case, new colouring pens, and later even the boring stuff, the maths sets and protractors; I always have and always will love shopping for stationery, I know it doesn’t set everyone’s world on fire but I find it utterly joyful!

Over the coming weeks I’ll be reviewing a selection of products from Staedtler and Scheaffer to Maped and NuCo, here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come, and I’d love to hear about your must have products too!

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A jar of Seaham Seaglass

This summer Joss and I have visited the beach every week, exploring the Northumberland and Tyne and Wear coastlines and we’ve loved it!

When Think Money challenged us to fill a jam jar with our holiday memories for their Jam j-art project I had an idea that it would have a beachy theme, little did I know the treasure that would eventually come to fill our lovely kilner jar as we start to get ready for preschool!

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Our seaside visits took us to Seaham Beach, famed for its treasures – seaglass! Seaham seaglass is pretty special stuff. until almost a century ago there was a glassworks at Seaham and waste glass from the hand blown bottles was tipped into the sea, years on and polished by the sea these marine treasures can be found by keen eyed beachcombers. End of day glass is especially prized, tipped into the sea at the end of the day these pieces are multicoloured and so pretty!

sea glass

On our first trip we found a few small pieces which I blogged about at the time, and by the end of the summer we’d become a little bit addicted to the hunt and ended up with some beauties!

These are my favourites:

seaglass montage

Displayed in our kilner jar they’re a reminder of a summer of adventure, and as I’ve lightly oiled some of the more dense pieces to give a gorgeous glow keeping them under a lid keeps them dust free and vibrant!

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A ProjectLife tag with the date tied with some lovely ribbon from a dollypeg makes this a great memento!

kilner jar

Disclaimer: Think Money provided me with the Kilner jar and a contribution towards project materials, all words and photographs are my own

#LoveNorthEast

Displaying beachcomber finds

Displaying beachcomber finds

Finally I got round to doing something with the beachcombed finds we brought back from holiday in Druridge Bay late last summer.  As we started our little hoard and Joss sat playing ‘shell shopkeeper’ on the beach I thought we should bring some home as souvenirs but it wasn’t until we got home and I photographed them that I realised how many we had!

Displaying beachcomber finds

I scoured Pinterest for ideas and settled on a simple glass jar for our bathroom window, TK Maxx came up trumps with this beauty for less than a tenner and I really love how it turned out after some careful curating.  I saw lots of other ideas but felt they might detract from the natural beauty of the shells, displaying beachcomber finds is easy if you let the treasures do the talking!

Displaying beachcomber finds

Displaying beachcomber finds

That teeny tiny shell dangling from the top is smaller than my little fingernail and in perfect shape, Joss found it for me and I loved how perfect it stayed despite its tiny size, I may pinch it back and pop a jump ring on it to wear on a necklace from time to time!

Displaying beachcomber finds

So there we have it, happy memories captured to enjoy back home!

Air drying clay at Christmas

I absolutely love air drying clay, it’s really easy to work with and has a really nice finish.

I bought a pack for £2 and started with a project I’ve wanted to do for a while, making a little trinket dish, something I’d seen on Pinterest. Decorated with a sharpie and sprayed with some varnish to finish it off I was really pleased with the results.

Air drying clay at Christmas

Air drying clay at Christmas

I made a few more to give as gifts, then used the leftover clay to make some Christmas tags/ornaments. These probably worked out at less than a quid to make and I’m really happy with the results.

Air drying clay at Christmas

I rolled out the clay to about 5mm thick and cut out the shapes using heart and circle cookie cutters, then I used various stamps including alphabet stamps to emboss designs into the clay (the bobbly designs were printed using a scrap of an old jumper so you don’t need stamps to get a nice result!) A straw was used to pop a circle in the tops so they can be hung on ribbons.

After two days they were dry and ready to sand gently, then paint. I checked on them every so often to check they were still nice and flat, air drying clay can curl so do take care to check on them!

I used metallic paints from Joss’ stash to decorate them, then finished them with a spray of varnish too.

airdrying clay christmas ornaments

Present and Party Life Hacks and Moneysaving Tips

I’ve been invited by Voucher Codes to take part in their Life Hacks challenge and I’m really excited to share my tips with you!

Why present and party life hacks?

I decided that I’d theme my ideas around presents and parties because I think birthdays are such a special occasion that it’s important we treat our loved ones to the personal touch; it’s one area where we save whilst having fun crafting too.

1) Handmade cards and gifts demonstrate that we want to put the time and energy into showing that we care, and these small touches can often mean more to their recipients than big flouncy gestures!  This is where life hacks and budget busting tips really come into their own as they’re the gifts that keep on giving, both to the person receiving them and also to your purse!

present and party life hacks

2) This past year all of the gifts I’ve given have been prettily wrapped on a budget. I buy huge, huge rolls of brown paper from our post office for £1.20 for a whopping 30 metres and either cut off sheets which I get Joss to decorate or I use my stamp sets to decorate them myself. A favourite life hack is to get a pencil that comes with an eraser on the end and dip the eraser in paint to stamp cute polka dot paper! This means we can tailor the decoration to each person and don’t have loads of rolls of half used paper around the house.

Present and Party Life Hacks

3) This brings me to my next hack, recycling wrapping paper. I’ve blogged about this before but my favourite tip is to use wrapping paper to make pretty envelopes. Look for a simple template online, print and hey presto, you’ve a sweet little envelope to pop that giftcard into, or to house a homemade greetings card!

Present and Party Life Hacks

4) One of my favourite home organising tips is to keep a wipe clean board in the kitchen to jot down bits and bobs you need from the shops as you finish them, this one was just a quid but it’s so handy. Try to get everyone into the habit of writing on there when they notice the washing up liquid is running out or they’ve just used the last scourer and as you’re washing up or cooking you also have a space to make a note of any random ideas that pop into your head, I often jot down ideas for birthday gifts for people whose celebrations are coming up!

Present and Party Life Hacks

5) When I made these recycled milk bottle elephants it struck me that this could make a great kids party theme; you could have enough bottles washed and pre-cut for little ones to decorate, just pop some glue and crafty bits and bobs out for them, and everyone gets their own recycled Nelly to take home!

Present and Party Life Hacks

6) Keeping on the party theme I settled on a winner when I started making our own birthday cakes, my top tip for tasty bakes is to use value jams and preserves for fillings, this gorgeous lemon curd cake was made with a 59p jar of lemon curd and it was so zingy that I’d definitely use a budget buy again!

7)I also made the little flower decorations with bits and bobs from my cardmaking set, decorated with buttons and stuck onto skewers, this was one seriously thrifty cake!

Present and Party Life Hacks

8) Two more tips from the recycling box, this time using old jars, I like to make party lanterns with mine, simply wash them out and decorate with washi tape, then pop a tea light in and enjoy the glow.

9) Or make party sweetie jars by gluing a small plastic character or animal to the lid and spraypaint, filled with sweeties these would make lovely take home gifts!

Present and Party Life Hacks

Present and Party Life Hacks

10) And finally, one of my favourite hacks uses printable transfer paper, this stuff is great and can be picked up for a couple of quid for two sheets.  I used my transfer paper to make affordable personalised gifts like these drawstring toy bags, sometimes I’ll print the recipients name out and iron on the fabric, most recently (pic 5 below) I used a seashell motif with some jazzy striped fabric for a summer seaside feel!

Present and Party Life Hacks

Happy Partying Folks!

Disclaimer: In association with Voucher Codes

Fabric transfer paper gift ideas

These 5 fabric transfer paper gift ideas were inspired by some great tutorials over at Wolves in London, Sabrina’s blog is a great resource and so I have to start this post by thanking her for introducing me to a great new craft addition! If you’re of the crafty ilk I urge you to check out her tutorials

I have been beavering away with making gifts for a while now, part of my moneysaving plan for birthdays and ahead of this Christmas I have been trying to make as many cards, gifts and wrapping as possible. I sort of hit on a slow period this Summer and decided to look around.  When I saw Sabrina’s lovely fabric transfer projects I had to have a go and made a list of fabric transfer paper gift ideas.  As I was going for a low cost base I picked up transfer paper in Poundland.  Two sheets for a quid made all of these projects plus I have made a further ten tags, five mini cards and countless fabric drawstring bags! Essentially I pasted all the images I wanted to print into a Word document and adjusted the sizes til they fitted on two pages, then I printed them and cut out the images ironing them onto my projects as and when needed.

I sourced my images from a range of places, including by searching for ‘free vintage printables’ on Pinterest.

Here’s my rundown of 5 fabric transfer paper gift ideas

Five fabric transfer paper gift ideas

1 – Vintage sweetheart print gift tag with lace and pearl embellishment

Ironed onto some plain calico and then cut out and layered onto fabric this sweet tag was then embellished with a piece of lace from my stash and some pearl braid which I use for so many projects but picked up from my local fabric store for a bargain 5p a metre in their fantastic sale.  I have since made oodles of these little tags, they make simple presents look really special!

2 – Children’s party favours or travel storage bags

I made this little calico bag in about ten minutes to store Joss’ farm puzzle pieces which kept getting lost.  She loves this simple pig print and I think it would look great on a tea towel too!  These would make cute party bags filled with sweeties or a little colouring book and crayons

3 – Fabric cards

This does what it says on the tin, I have loads of fabric samples and often stitch them freehand onto card but don’t always have complementary Happy Birthday stickers, instead I typed and printed up some Happy Birthday motifs to add to my cards!

4 - An Axolotl’y Fabulous  Tee

Joss’ favourite word is axolotl, for those not in the know an axolotl is a ‘walking fish’ and there is one at our local museum.  Joss loves them, she also loves printed tees but the chances of me ever finding an axolotl tee were pretty slim, now she has one!  I know this won’t be for everyone but it’s made a Mama and her Girl very happy!

5 – Fabric drawstring storage bags for shoes, undies, you name it!

These become an altogether nicer gift for the addition of a little ironed on motif, this beachcomber print is perfect for my seaside loving girl and stores her precious cuddly toys, I made myself one with a print of a pair of special shoes and another to give as a gift with the recipient’s name printed on.

I hope you like these fabric transfer paper gift ideas, if you have a go yourself do let me know what you make!

Button Craft Tutorial Mumslist

Real Life

This week has been more relaxed but relaxing myself if something I find hard so I took to crafting again as I like to have busy hands to keep a busy mind calm!  We’ve also been potty training but more on that later!

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You can make this little button heart in less than half an hour with some fine craft wire and an assortment of buttons.  Just thread your buttons onto the wire one after the other gently bending the wire to get the buttons to sit close to each other, then when you have a long line of say eighteen buttons bend the ends of the wire together to form a circle, then bend into a heart shape and keep moulding the wires til you’re happy with it.  add a ribbon and admire your handiwork.  This works really well with little crystal buttons or a mix of crystal and silver too!

heart

Blog Life

This week I have been joining in with some comment linky groups and have come across some lovely new (to me) blogs in doing so.  I have also been working on my photography, still not great but I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been trying here with my five photo tips for fellow non artistic bloggers!

Inspiration

I came across Keri-Ann’s blog through a blog comment linky Gingerlillytea is pure whimsy and gorgeousness you must stop by with a cuppa and have a good old read!

I am also hugely inspired by this pin and am looking at creating something similar in our little space!

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Mums' Days

- See more at: http://www.mumsdays.com/#sthash.afvKx888.dpuf
 

Deckchair Stripe Lavender bags

I made some of these little lavender bags as a gift for my Mam; I’d booked a massage for her birthday and wanted her to have something relaxing to unwrap as I don’t like giving a gift token as a gift with nothing else, must be related to my wrapping paper obsession!

These are really easy to make up, if you have your own lavender plant as I do harvest the heads as they are drying at the end of their season, bundle and hang them together and then when they’re dry take the husks and store them in a dry place until you’re ready to use them. Stitch together two scraps of complementary fabrics insides facing, I liked a summery deckchair stripe, leaving a small gap to turn the right way round through, then fill with lavender and hand stitch the gap closed.

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So satisfying seeing something from your own garden brought back to life!

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Eco Friendly Fashion Upcycling Ideas in 30 Mins

This is the first post in a series of Eco Friendly Fashion Upcycling Ideas in 30 Minutes (or less!)

We’re starting with a simple brooch

brooch1

For cash and time poor crafters like me it’s nice to put old fabric stash items to good use

This brooch is made from fabric scraps cut into different sized circles and layered up. You want to get loads of different textured fabrics going on here!

Stack your circles and machine or hand stitch four lines to attach them as shown, then cut through all the layers at a midpoint between stitches as shown being careful to stop short of the centre

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Ruffle up your petals and pinch them in the centres to give more texture

Add a simple safety pin and pop on a coat or bag

brooch

Washi tape ideas 101 – Summer Garden Lanterns Tutorial

We’ve been working on our back yard for a while now and decided to buy a wooden bench so that we can sit out and enjoy the summer evenings.

As well as making some robust cushions I’ve been working on some little garden lanterns made from jam jars, to light the way on summer nights.  I’ve posted a lot of washi tape ideas lately but this is my fave!

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Want to make your own?

You’ll need:

A clean sticker free jam jar

Some fine wire

Washi tapes

Scissors

(Optional beads)

A tealight

Start with your jam jar

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Add washi tape in rows or stripes, you can leave a gap for the night to shine through or cover the whole jar, whatever takes your fancy

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I’ve done stripes

3

Take your wire and cut roughly half a metre, folding in half

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Wrap the wire twice around the jar and twist at the side, then create your handle, tuck the handle wire under the wire wrapped around the jar to secure in place and twist firmly to make a sturdy handle (I added beads but you don’t have to, just be careful to make a long enough handle so it doesn’t get really hot!

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Slip a lit tea light in there (carefully!) and enjoy!

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