Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Butterflies December 31, 2008

Filed under: Crafts — lauravw @ 9:17 am

This is such a simple and effective idea, but one that never occurred to me: a framed picture of paper butterflies, along the lines of those displays of pinned butterflies that you might see in a natural history museum. I even have a butterfly punch already and so it would be so simple to create one of these masterpieces over the long new year weekend. (Via Craftzine.)

On a related note, my grandfather has a framed poster at the top of his stairs that is a painting in much the same style – lots of lots of rows of butterflies. If you look at it carefully, on the very last row you might notice that one of the pictures is not a butterfly at all – it is a nude man holding fake butterfly wings. When someone pointed this out to my grandparents sometime in the 1980s, they were quick to cover up the offending parts of that picture by cutting out a very tiny picture of some pansies and sticking it in place.


Getting organised December 29, 2008

Filed under: Shopping — lauravw @ 1:03 pm

I like to get the house in order before the new year starts – I feel a bit better about things if I know there’s no clutter lurking around the place. Clearing the clutter is not necessarily a good excuse to buy new storage gadgets, but sometimes having a pretty shiny place to file things in makes the difference… and so I’ve been enjoying the Independent’s guide to the 50 best storage ideas. It highlights a few UK-based shops to try, which is helpful – when I’ve been in the US and visited places like Storables and the Container Store I’m always disappointed that there’s no easy way of bringing all those wonderful goodies home…


Happy Christmas December 23, 2008

Filed under: Christmas — lauravw @ 12:09 pm

BaublesLast year I mentioned some of the Christmas traditions that shape December for me, and I will be sticking with them this year. On Boxing Day my parents are coming over for lunch, and I might just try to slip a £5 note in a Christmas cracker, and then let my dad find it when we pull the crackers.

I hope that you have a relaxing, happy and fun Christmas, whatever you’re getting up to and wherever you are in the world.


The closet

Filed under: Interiors — lauravw @ 12:03 pm

Nicole’s closet (or wardrobe for us Brits) is an inspiration. I consider myself to be pretty lucky, wardrobe-wise: when we moved into our house three years ago, we got ourselves some Ikea wardrobes, with all the internal workings that that entails (racks for shoes, drawers, trouser-hanging bits), and for a long time they were the only good thing about our house. As we’ve improved the house, the wardrobes don’t stand out quite so much, but they are still something I’m glad I spent money on. Nicole’s pictures show a wardrobe filled with dresses, and the way that the Ikea wardrobes can be customised means that whether you have lots of dresses or lots of jeans, you can make the wardrobe fit what you have. I love that I have a place for everything now – for years we lived in a flat with built-in wardrobes that were horrible and made it very hard to access my clothes. They weren’t really wardrobes, but damp little cupboards tucked into the eaves of the roof.

I keep my wardrobe pretty tidy (confession: I hang things in colour order…), but now I’ve seen Nicole’s I feel motivated both to improve how I organise things, and to wear more dresses. I wear dresses so rarely that the few I have are in a different wardrobe in the guest bedroom at the moment.


Christmas possibilities December 17, 2008

Filed under: Christmas,Crafts,Food — lauravw @ 8:38 pm

Now the Christmas cards are all in the post, and the presents are all wrapped, I can turn my attention to making a few things to eat over the festive season. I’ve got my eye on a few projects:

Mandarin Macadamia Shortbread Sticks at Domesticali – yum.

Melted snowmen cupcakes, via Craftzine.

And also:

Christmas stockings in non-Christmassy fabrics, at How About Orange. (I made some Christmas stockings a few years ago but haven’t found them this year – I wonder where they are hiding?)

A cautionary tale which accompanies details of how to make a fabulous ornament wreath. (Via Craftzine)


Christmas wrapping

Filed under: Christmas,Crafts — lauravw @ 8:20 pm

All wrapped upIt seemed to take weeks to wrap up all our Christmas presents this year, but I’m so pleased with how they turned out.

I chose plain brown paper for several reasons: it’s cheap, it’s environmentally-friendly, and I thought it would look great dressed up a little.

The string is bakers’ twine from the Martha Stewart Crafts range (bought in Seattle back in April – I had no idea what I would end up using it for, but wanted to buy it all the same).

The little Christmas trees are cut from Amy Butler craft paper – which also arrived with me in April, by way of a birthday present. I did make butterflies for some of the presents rather than trees, but soon switched to trees when I realised it would have taken me until February to cut out enough butterflies.


Very British December 11, 2008

Filed under: Christmas,Shopping — lauravw @ 8:37 pm

I am fascinated by the comments people are leaving on this post at Ask Metafilter, about what sorts of gifts you should take when flying to America from the UK.

People have made all sorts of suggestions, almost all of which I agree with – crisps, chocolates, magazines, Christmas crackers, anything related to Dr Who… I’ve not seen anyone mention advent calendars yet, which I think are more common on this side of the Atlantic than they are on the American side.

And I felt VERY British when I got to the comment about jewellery from Accessorize – because this was the website I had been on immediately before I visited Ask Metafilter (looking at mittens, not jewellery – which I think makes me even more British). Apprently I am very predictable in terms of my Britishness.


Rocky road December 8, 2008

Filed under: Food — lauravw @ 1:35 pm

Rocky Road.It was my mum’s birthday on Saturday, and I decided to make some rocky road bars for her. She loves marshmallows, and I saw a recipe in Nigella Express that I thought she would really enjoy – the recipe is also available online.

I am vegetarian and so marshmallows are, strictly speaking, off the menu for me – I should confess that I do eat them occasionally though, and had my fair share of the rocky road bars… But in the interests of making a vegetarian version of this recipe, I set aside half of it before the marshmallows were mixed in, and to that half I added macadamia nuts and dried cranberries. This worked out really well and I would definitely make them this way again – you can see a picture here.


December! Already! December 7, 2008

Filed under: Christmas,Crafts — lauravw @ 8:21 pm

I don’t know where November went. But here we are in December – I’m already part way through my advent calendar, have done all my Christmas shopping (and wrapped most of it), and am procrastinating about writing my Christmas cards.

I have seen two wonderful and seasonal things that I want to make: very cheerful Christmas stockings made with non-Christmassy fabrics, and this knitted hoodie for a cat, being modelled by a lovely cat on a snowy day. I’d also like the talent and patience to make things like this ornate paper wreath.

But mostly I seem to be sitting by the fireplace in the glow of the fairy lights, drinking tea and reading books magazines. I will work up to making things once the Christmas cards are in the post…