Saturday, 11 January 2014

Handmade with love

Today I've got a slightly different post for you all, as it's been written with the help of my lovely sister-in-law, Fridha. This year, Fridha totally spoilt me with some beautiful homemade Christmas presents. I also got a gorgeous handmade heart decoration from my Mum (I'm surrounded by such crafty ladies!) and I couldn't resist sharing all of these lovely gifts with you, as well as, with Fridha's help, instructions on how to make them.

Notice Board
When I first opened this gorgeous notice board I didn't realise that Fridha had actually made it as it looks so professional! It's both magnetic and a chalk board which is amazing. She decorated it with vintage postcards, lovely magnets and wrapped up some chalk so that I can write on it whenever I want. I think it's even lovelier than ones you would find in the shops and, of course, so much more special!

How Fridha made it: This noticeboard was actually quite easy to make once I managed to get all of the different parts. I bought an old frame at a flea market and just sprayed it white. I used what I think was an all-purpose spray, but the can will say what materials the paint will work on. The paint that I used is from Clas Ohlson, which I believe you have in England as well (It might be worth mentioning here that Fridha is Swedish). The thing about old frames is that you won't find a perfect one, and it will probably have cracks and bumps in it like your one does, but personally I think that's part of the charm compared to buying something new.

For the 'middle-section' I could have made things easier for myself by just making it a chalkboard, but I really wanted it to be magnetic. Therefore, I had to buy a thin piece of metal and cut it to size using ordinary, cheap metal cutters (also bought at Clas Ohlson). I would have thought that you can find sheets of metal in somewhere like B&Q. Now, I could have used black magnetic paint and used it on any surface but, because it contains small fragments of metal, you can't really write on it as well as with normal chalk paint. With chalk paint, you have to paint the surface twice, waiting 12 hours in-between each go. Once it's dry, just pop the 'chalkboard' in the frame and there you have it!

Sugar Scrub
I love this scrub! I've been using it in the shower almost every day and I will happily make myself some more when this one eventually runs out. Not only is the presentation adorable, it's a fantastic exfoliator, even for tough bits of skin. This is a great present that you can make for any of your female friends or family members.

How Fridha made it: The sugar scrub was by far the easiest to make. All you need for this particular one is baby oil, baby wash and regular sugar. To get about three of the jars of the same size as yours, I mixed 2.5 cups of sugar, 0.25 cup of baby oil and 0.25 cup of baby wash. Once it's all mixed together in a bowl, you can add some red food colouring to change the colour, although I was lucky and got a baby wash which happened to be pink. If you want a different smell you can just replace the baby wash and oil with any extract such as lavender, lemon or coconut oil. Pop it in any kind of jar and you're done!

NB: Sugar scrubs don't last as long as salt scrubs because of bacteria, so you can add some salt if you want to. However, as the jar is quite small, the scrub should hold for a few months at least. You could always put a 'best before' date on it if you want to. 

Crocheted Headband
This adorable headband is perfect for winter and a fab way to keep your ears warm. Fridha crocheted this, so you would need to know how to do crochet stitches first in order to attempt this. As a crochet novice her explanation sounds very complicated to me, however she assures me that it's easy to learn! 

How Fridha made it: Once you know the crochet stitches, this headband is pretty simple to make. First, chain about 70 stitches (for an average head), then turn it and use double crochet stitches all the way, starting in the forth chain from your hook. Repeat that all the way. Then, chain two for height and continue double crocheting. Do this until you have six rows, then tie the end off, fold it in half and sew the short ends together. If you want, at this point (which is what I did), you can pinch the middle rows of the headband together, across where the two ends meet, and sew a few stitches in the middle to scrunch up the headband a bit. This will all be covered with the small middle 'bow' part anyway. For the small 'bow' part of the headband you need to chain 10, and then repeat what you did for the headband, except this time make eight rows. Once you've tied that off, just wrap it around the middle-section of your headband and sew it shut, and then you're done! Loose threads and stitches will all be hidden by the 'bow'. 

NB: I didn't know how to crochet before I made this headband - it was a bit of a trial and error but I owe it all to youtube. There are great videos showing you how to do different stitches and making it seem a lot easier than my explanation!

Hanging Heart Decoration
Last but very definitely not least is this seriously cute decoration made by my Mum. As it was a Christmas present, it has a lovely red and white Christmas theme so that I can hang it on the tree, however, this present is incredibly versatile and can be made for any occasion. All you need to do is cut out two heart shapes from whatever fabric you choose, hand sew them together, fill them with stuffing or dried lavender and attach a ribbon or string to hang it up with. I love the button design that my Mum's done here and having my initial on it makes it feel very personal. This is a lovely, special present for a birthday, Christmas or even a wedding.

I am totally over the moon with all of my beautiful homemade gifts and I'm sure that you can see why! I'd love to know if you enjoy reading crafty posts such as this and whether you made any presents yourself this Christmas. If you did, and have blogged about them, then please do send me over your links. Let's make 2014 a crafty year folks!

Love Essie & Fridha x

Monday, 6 January 2014

On the twelfth day of Christmas...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you beautiful people! As it is officially the twelfth day of Christmas today, I thought that it was my last chance to share the festive cheer before all the decorations come down for good and our New Year's Resolutions begin. December was one hell of a month, and instead of going into intricate detail (because we'd be here until, well, Christmas), I thought that I'd use the wonderful medium of Instagram to share some of my festive fun with you.

The 1st December... that was it, decorations up, Christmas jumper(s) on and time to get the festive tunes on (who am I kidding, I'd been listening to Bublé's Christmas album since the middle of November.) / My friend Sarah and I going shopping for cake ingredients for our society's Christmas bake off. / Writing my Christmas cards. / So, I know it's all just commercialism, but Christmas chocolate really does taste better... / Probably London's most Instagramed tree, but the one in St Pancras really was beautiful this year. / The Christmas twins sitting on Santa's knee.  / Home sweet home at last! / The house was decked with so many beautiful decorations (this was the treatment that the cloakroom got!)
These two fellas were most definitely my favourites. / Our red and white Christmas tree. / I wrapped all my presents in red and brown paper with string and buttons this year. / My Mumma's amazing Christmas cake. She's such a talented lady! / After all the horrible storms, the sun came up on a beautiful Christmas morning. / Very happy faces on New Year's Eve (or New Year's Day should I say... it was several hours after midnight...) / My last Christmas mug hot chocolate before they got put away for another year. / Packing up my lovely presents to head back to Uni.

That's a rather flying tour of what seemed like a long month and a very special Christmas, but I hope that you enjoyed a peek into it. I don't bother with New Year's Resolutions any more because making a promise for an entire year seems incredibly unachievable and instead think that 'new week's resolutions' or 'new month's resolutions' are the way forward. For instance, surely 'I'm going to go to yoga twice this week' is far more achievable than 'I'm going to have a totally sexy bod by the end of the year' (I promise never to say 'totally sexy bod' again in my life!) So, as I take that approach to my aims and resolutions throughout the year, I would like very much to focus on increasing the number of blog posts that I do. I enjoy blogging so much and, whilst I would never want it to feel like a chore, it does get so easily gets lost in the busy bustle of life which is something I would like to change!

I hope that you've all had an absolutely fantastic time over the past few weeks, wherever you are and whatever you did! Even with all of its stresses (and bad weather!), I still think that December is a very special time and I love spending it with my friends and family. Right, this really is the last time I'm going to say it for another year, I promise... 

...Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Love Essie x

Friday, 20 December 2013

It's all just an optical illusion

Trousers: Zara (£29.99)/ Top: Primark (£3)/ Necklace: Urban Outfitters (old)

I thought that I'd introduce you to my absolute favourite trousers of the moment! I'd never even tried on cigarette style trousers as I had always thought that they'd be unflattering, but these just drew my eye as soon as I walked into the shop... and you can probably see why. 

I've taken my lead from the trousers here and created an entirely monochrome outfit by pairing them with a long sleeved black crop top from Primark, which was only £3 and I'd probably label my bargain of the month. As I've got a few Christmas drinks parties lined up over the next few weeks, I thought that wearing this outfit with some skinny stilettos might make a great alternative to the classic jeans-and-a nice-top combo. Saying that, I've also enjoyed dressing down these cheeky checks with a cropped jumper, some Chelsea boots and an oversized denim jacket. I'm not really a Dr. Martens kind of a girl, but I do think that these trousers would look great with a pair.

I'd love to hear what you'd wear these trousers with. What are you planning on wearing to get festive over the next few weeks?

Love Essie x 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas is coming!

 Photo Sources: Pinterest 

It's getting so close now folks! I'm literally an overly excited, tinsel infested bundle of Christmas joy right now! Therefore, when I saw this tag over on Alexandra's blog I simply couldn't resist. Anything to talk about Christmas some more! 

1. What is your favourite Christmas song?
Shakin Stephens' 'Merry Christmas Everyone' never fails to cheer me up and make me feel oh so Christmassy. Saying that, I of course love the classic 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues. And who in this world can resist a bit of Mariah?  

2. What is your favourite festive drink?
I've recently become a huge fan of mulled cider and I think I'm going to pick it as my favourite festive drink this Christmas. It's so warming and dangerously moreish. 

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas film?
Hands down, it has to be Love Actually. Like most people, I could probably quote this film from start to finish but, even so, I still have to watch it every year without fail. I also love The Snowman because it's such a beautiful film and it reminds me of my Christmases as a child. 

4. What is at the top of your Christmas wish-list this year?
I was cheeky and put quite a few things on my Christmas list this year so I can't wait to see what Santa's decided to get for me. You can check out my Christmas wish list here.  

5. What is your favourite festive makeup or nail art look? 
I've got some metallic navy blue nail varnish that I'm loving at the moment. I'm normally not a fan of metallics but as it's Christmas I thought that a bit of sparkle was necessary and I love it. I know it's not particularly traditional, but I'm calling it festive with a twist!  

6. What is your favourite outfit at Christmas time? (LBD? Christmas jumper? Pj's?)
Definitely Christmas jumper all the way! I've got two very garish, 80s style Christmas jumpers that I've been alternating between over the last few weeks and they just make me smile! I'm of the opinion that people who don't like Christmas jumpers definitely take life too seriously :) 

7. Would you rather play out in the snow or enjoy it from inside with the fire and a cuppa?
Ooh I think I'd like to do both! I'd love to get wrapped up really warm, go make a snowman and then, once I'm worn out and frozen, head inside to snuggle up on the sofa in my dressing gown with a hot chocolate.  

8. Wrapping presents - love or loathe?
I really love wrapping presents. I like trying to make it all look as pretty as possible, although I would definitely prefer it if every present was square. Books for everyone next year! 

9. What is your favourite Christmassy food?
Can I answer with an entire Christmas roast? Because honestly, that's my favourite! Turkey, pigs in blankets, roasties, veg, gravy and lots of chocolate to follow. Mmmm perfection! 

10. What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
I think that's an impossible question to answer, because I love all of it. I love the run up to Christmas with all my friends, I love how cheerful everyone gets, I love the songs and films and decorations. I love spending Christmas with my family, I love the festive feeling and of course, I love the presents!

This tag is for anyone who wants to do it! Do let me know if you do so that I can read it :) 

Love Essie x