About Kate

http://www.katescreativespace.com

I blog at www.katescreativespace.com

Posts by Kate :

Recycling Christmas!

Gift tags from Christmas Cards

Possibly the simplest DIY you’ll ever see here – but a timely one!

Do you recycle old Christmas cards by using them to make other things?  it’s a thrifty tradition I remember from early childhood, though the memory of curled and yellowing card trimmed with pinking shears put me off it for a long time.  This year we received some beautiful and fun cards; whilst adults are gradually paring back on card-giving (a combination of saving-the-trees and a lack of organisation, in my house), Harry and his classmates traded cards daily, keen to show off budding penmanship skills and thrilled by the constant flurry of envelopes to open.

Yesterday we took some of them down and had fun making these over-sized gift tags for next year; a way of preserving the beauty of the cards but also of creating tags which are big enough for Harry to write on himself (because no 5yr old can be easily constrained to a tiny square of card), and also a way of refining scissor-skills; Harry busily chopped and snipped his way through a pile whilst I attempted a more measured and symmetrical clipping …

Christmas Card Recycling

I used bits of string and ribbon we’d saved during the frenzy of unwrapping on Christmas Day, and a hole-puncher and eyelets to thread the string through.  We chose the strongest cards as well as the prettiest; they’ll spend a year in the loft and then a few weeks under a tree next Christmas so we wanted to make tags that could last that long.  Also, check that your cards only have writing on the inside ‘back’ of the card and not the back of the image; if they do, you’ll need to just stick them onto another piece of thin card so you cover this up.   A few other tips;

Use ribbon or cord which picks out a colour of the main tag and it really makes them pop!

Colour pop gift tags

Cutting around interesting images on the card cane make some fun shaped-tags, like this pear tree from a larger, square Christmas card…

 

 

Partridge gift tag

Polar Bear Gift Tag

Mounting your cut-outs onto other backgrounds can  make them even more special; I glued this Christmas goose image onto a narrow strip of gold glitter card and then trimmed the corners to make a large swing tag;

Festive Goose Tag

And sometimes cards are so striking that all you need to do is snip off the back and simply make a hole for the ribbon, like this gorgeous graphic print;

Stag Gift Tag

Once we’d finished, leaving a sea of tiny snips of card, drifts of glue and wisps of ribbon fibre, we put all our tags into a leftover gift box and I’ve labelled them ready for next year – a satisfying way to recycle and have fun making things in the process!  Do you recycle your cards? Any other creative ideas for things to do with them? I’d love to hear…

Boxed Christmas Gift Tags

Have a wonderful evening tonight if you’re out celebrating, or simply taking quiet stock in the warmth of home. May I wish you a very Happy New Year for 2015!

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Interlude

Alternative Christmas Cake

This handful of days between Christmas and New Year is one of my favourite times of the year; time seems to slow down and it’s easy to forget what day of the week it is.  The rush and intensity of Christmas is over, but the abstinence of January is not yet upon us; the fires are lit, the cake tin is full, the corks are still gently popping, and there’s nowhere else we need to be – it’s blissful.

My family arrived on 23rd, so I added a few final festive touches to their rooms, including laying out our nativity set atop the butcher’s block in the guest room;

Nativity

Three old temple bells also now hang from a pole in the bay window; junk shop finds which are now a permanent feature of the room but do look especially good at Christmas..

Temple bells

We travelled to the magical Royal Chapel of St Georges in Windsor for their carol service; a mixture of carols sung by choir and by congregation, interspersed with readings by members of the royal household staff and clergy.  The music was magnificent, and the combination of celebration, contemplation, prayer and song was the perfect start to Christmas ‘proper’…

St Georges bright

St. Georges Chapel and Choir, ℅ College of St. George

On Christmas Eve there was great excitement when we discovered a telegram from Father Christmas in the hearth of the fireplace in Harry’s bedroom, containing new pyjamas and promise of a visit later that night (and thank you to those who received a telegram from me in November’s competition and wrote to tell me of the reaction it caused; wonderful to hear!)

North Pole Telegram

 

As darkness fell we scattered our reindeer food on the lawn and even managed a momentary glimpse of Santa’s sleigh which lit up the sky briefly with blinking points of light to the west. Harry shrieked in awe.  A greater cynic than I might have mistaken it for a plane stuck in a holding pattern over the airport, but Harry is adamant and who am I to disagree?

And at bedtime,  Harry diligently laid out a platter for Santa with milk, mince pie and a VERY large carrot (‘it has to feed all the reindeer, not just Rudolph!’ he pointed out, helpfully…

A little treat for Santa

I have to tell you, several large bites of raw carrot are not the best thing to eat late on Christmas Eve night after a large meal and plenty of wine, but these things have to be done..

Santa came!

Christmas Day dawned bright and clear so we interspersed the eating, drinking and gift-opening with time outdoors; walking in the park enjoying the rare winter sunshine.  I was given some wonderful presents, like these books I’ve had on my must-read list for a while, and a lovely simple wooden tissue box holder that just makes me smile…

Tissue box wooden houses

And a poignant and lovely gift; one of the poppies from the installation that ceramic artist Paul Cummins created at the Tower of London to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War (you can read more here).  Definitely a contender for best-present-ever-that-I’d-never-have-thought-to-ask-for.

Paul Cummins Poppy

And now we’re back to just the three of us, and are gradually returning the house to its usual state; the tree will stay up with its twinkling lights for a good few days more, but the bonfire is going now, fuelled by bags of gift wrap and empty boxes, agitated by an excitable small boy with a long poking stick.  Later we’ll be recycling some of our favourite Christmas cards, cutting out the pictures and making things for next year.

And everywhere now, touches of green as the New Year approaches.  Bulbs on the sills, promising a heady burst of scent within days, and warding off the gloom that the end of the holidays can bring.

Hyacinths

I hope that you had a lovely, lovely break, even if today signals a return to work and the world at large… I’ll be back again very soon.

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All Is Calm, All Is Bright

All is bright

I’ve been out this morning gathering armfuls of ivy to decorate our table this Christmas.  As the season of sparkle and excess reaches its climax, I find I’m already craving simplicity, freshness and green.  Hellebores, slim white tapers and old clay bells are the only other adornment to the kitchen as we focus now on just being together, and on welcoming Christmas.

In the meantime, all is calm, all is bright.

I wish you and yours a truly wonderful Christmas!

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Happy Christmas

Last-minute gifts from the kitchen

Christmas Cookies in a jar

Thanks for all of your lovely comments on the last couple of posts as we’ve prepared the house for the holidays. We’ve had a lovely weekend getting into the swing of Christmas with visiting family; the meringue wreath was mercifully able to be resurrected, the turkey was wrestled successfully into the oven without any limbs needing to be sawn off, and Harry was initiated into the tradition of family games.  Sardines saw 9  grown adults wedged variously into a bunk bed, a small airing cupboard and under an occasional table, and Twister swiftly revealed just who had been conscientious in their yoga practice this year.  I write to you from the sofa, in a happy haze of leftover Prosecco, with several joints iced-up and immobilised.

Anyway, to business, and to a last-minute gift that I promise you can knock up in the time it takes to run a bath, and which will wow with its homespun thoughtfulness.  Trust me.

Every year, I make spiced oatmeal and raisin cookies for Christmas and every year, I end up scribbling the recipe down for friends who are already planning how to secure some more, even before the last crumbs are brushed away.  They require very little skill and are actually supposed to look uneven and bumpy, and that to me qualifies them as being just about the perfect cookie to make.

christmas cookies

This year I’ve distilled the recipe into a jar, adding the dry ingredients in layers and attaching baking instructions listing the steps needed and additional ingredients (an egg and butter, very easy).  I’ve uploaded some printables below, so that once you’ve raided the cupboards and filled your jars, you can just print out the swing tags and you’re ready to go.

An important caveat for chefs and gourmands; combining all the dry ingredients in this way is not quite as good as taking a conventional step-wise approach and mixing butter and sugars before adding flour, and raisins last etc; if you are gifting to a cookie connoisseur with a refined  palate, this may matter.  For the rest of us – they’re yummy.

To fill your jars (I used 1 litre jars; try Kilner or the Korken range at IKEA) you’ll need: (if you’re in North America and work in cup measurements, try this recipe which helpfully is designed for a jar too and is similar):

  •  130g Caster sugar
  • 130g soft brown sugar
  • 60g rolled oats
  • 180g plain flour, mixed with 1/2 tsp of bicarb of soda, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1tsp ginger
  • 120g raisins
  • 200g icing sugar.

Pour all of the ingredients into the jar in layers, in the order described, tapping the jar gently to level each layer out before adding the next.  Try spooning them in if you find it easier.  For the icing sugar, put this into a separate small bag and add last before sealing the jar; this is for the icing so will be used when the cookies are baked.

Spiced Christmas cookies in a jar

Recipients of your gift can just pour the contents of the jar into a bowl, stir well and then add a beaten egg and 150g of softened butter, and the cookies are ready to roll into balls and bake.  Once cooled, they can be drizzled with icing.  I added a little jar of white chocolate stars and a wooden spoon with each gift this year; you could also accessorise with any pretty sprinkles or with chopped nuts, for example.

If you click on the links below you’ll find these labels; just cut out and glue front to back before tying on with ribbon.

Christmas Cookies Front

 

Christmas Cookies Back

Enjoy!

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Christmas Cookie Printable FRONT

Christmas Cookie Printable BACK

Christmas at Home

Dogs bearing baubles

Today is apparently the busiest day for holiday traffic as everyone heads for home and family in a grand  exodus.  Even though we’re not travelling, the dawn of the weekend does seem to signify the proper start of Christmas and the time when relaxation can begin.  We have family arriving tomorrow to celebrate, so here’s a quick glimpse of how we’ve decorated the house.  Firstly, the friendly stone dogs who stand to attention at our door have abandoned their usual froideur and now bear baubles and festive ribbon, illuminated by the bay trees which are now strung with lights and oversized bells..

Dogs with baubles!

The fir lady has been visited by a flock of robins who peck at her skirts (collective noun for robins, anyone?)..

The fir lady with robins

But aside from the fir lady, I’ve opted for a low-key, calm kitchen with just an oversized paper star to catch the eye from the hallway and distract from the frenetic preparations and clutter on every surface..

Christmas kitchen

In the hallway lies my new addition to our Christmas decor; this year we are honoured to host the North Pole Sorting Office, where every letter sent to Santa from around the world blows in steadily, falling in flurries around Santa’s desk and filling his mailbags to overflowing;

North Pole Sorting Office in Hallway

Santa's mailbag

Santa's mailsack

As fast as the letters arrive, Santa diligently replies to each one. He’s currently busy writing back to Harry;

Santa's Mail Room

His typewriter perches on a ladder, which also holds his reading glasses, special wax seals, bundles of letters and maps and a compass so he can work out where each child around the world is writing from;

North Pole Post Office Detail

(To make this, I printed addresses onto some regular envelopes using different fonts and soaked them in a tray of watery tea before drying on the radiator for an old, worn appearance.  The letters blowing in from above are wired together using lightweight florist wire and hung from a removable adhesive hook on the ceiling. For the letterhead paper, I used this lovely printable and simply added my text to it.)

North Pole Letters

Further down the hallway I’ve arranged a similar tableau to last year (below), with the addition of a basket of magic reindeer food to give to all Believers who cross the threshold and may need a little help to summon the reindeer on Christmas Eve…

Holiday tableau

Magic reindeer food

I’ve hung Christmas cards simply from lengths of ribbon and clips, wired to the base of the bannister poles..

Christmas cards hanging in the hallway

And of course, most importantly all of all, mistletoe to greet all those who arrive…

Mistletoe in the porch

 

We have a real Christmas tree in the Snug, which I’ll share next time along with a few other festive accents.  Now, though, I must sign off as I’ve set myself the challenge tonight of mastering spun sugar to decorate an over-ambitious meringue wreath for dessert at lunch tomorrow.  The wreath has already collapsed after I accidentally turned the oven on again, forgetting it was quietly cooling down inside.  Plan B is to use whipped cream liberally as a distraction…

Have a wonderful weekend!
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The Longest Journey

DIY Winter Animal Parade

A few months ago, I saw a picture on Pinterest of a toy giraffe with a small gift tied on its back and it made me smile, and sparked my imagination; last week I raided Harry’s Ark and created a winter animal parade which is now weaving its way through the snowy  log landscape of our dining table, carrying a myriad of heavy parcels and gifts as Christmas draws ever closer…

Giraffe bearing gifts

Animal Parade

I used some leftover kiln-dried logs from when I filled in our fireplaces, and then wrapped up as many tiny boxes as I could find with brown paper  (far less decorative are the little bowls of staples, matches and paperclips now cover every surface, emptied out temporarily whilst I borrow their boxes..).  Once taped, I tied them with a mixture of butchers string and fine glittery thread, and then carefully secured them to each of the animals.  Harry’s toy wagon also came in handy, and the smallest animals were allowed to perch on top and watch proceedings from above…

Penguins in Animal Parade

I added festive bells, bottle-brush trees and a handful of glittery stars for some additional festive sparkle…

Giraffe with gifts

…and a final scattering of fake snow, which rather caught the meerkat by surprise;

Meerkat animal parade

I used up all of the animals I could find, to make a procession which covers most of the length of our (2m) table, but just one or two would look equally lovely; perhaps as place-settings.  Mine are elevated on logs which are just low enough for easy eye contact and conversation across the table, but again, you could simple set out a tableaux directly on the table itself.

Animal Parade with Gifts

I took these close-up photos above in the conservatory where the natural light is strongest in winter, but you can see here the parade as I began to lay it out in our kitchen, in readiness for throwing open our doors last Sunday to friends for an afternoon of food, drinks and Christmassy fun;

Winter Animal Parade Table Centre

Animal Parade Table Centrepiece

Alas, our festive parade will have to complete its journey soon, as the animals are being continuously depleted by Harry who needs them urgently for various daring missions and the ongoing battle with the Lego men, dinosaurs and Transformers; still, it gives me a reason to create something else for Christmas Day!

I finished work today for the holidays, with a mixture of exhaustion and elation; I’ve developed the hacking cough and bone-tired weariness that always seems to come whenever work abates, but it can’t distract from the smell of the mulled wine now warming, or the fact that two long, uninterrupted weeks of family time and celebration lie ahead; bring it on.

I’ll be back in a couple of days; have a great rest of the week…

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The Fir Lady Returns…

The Fir Lady 2014

In early December last year I experimented with attaching boughs of fir to chicken wire to craft a wintery skirt for the dress mannequin that sits in our kitchen.  The result was a quirky, 50s-style fir minidress that added a dash of festive sparkle to the room…

Fir Lady 2013

This year I decided on a more decadent and formal, full-skirted look, so the Fir Lady has flowing, floor-length boughs and an elegant hessian shawl, fastened with a red corset-style belt from my wardrobe…

Fir Lady belt

I followed the same steps as before, securing some chicken wire around the dress form and then simply pushing fir branches up into the wire, twisting it tight as I went to hold the boughs in place (excuse the poor photo; my usual moonlight crafting takes place when the rest of the house is asleep.. )

Making a fir dress

Once the skirt was complete, I folded a length of raw hessian fabric in half and just draped it around the top of the mannequin, to cover the tops of the branches and ends of the wire.  A wrap-around belt cinched tight holds it all in place (and it looks far better on her than me, so unfair..)

Fir Lady with hessian Shawl

As a final touch, I scattered birch wood stars randomly over the fir skirt, leaving them where they fell, nestled half-in, half-out of the greenery.

Fir Lady Dress with stars

And here she stands, as if she has swept in from the garden to escape the chill; a little bit majestic, a little bit fun.  The inevitable gentle flurries of pine needles underfoot at breakfast time will probably be less fun, but we’ll manage…

Fir Lady in the kitchen

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A homemade birthday!

gift wrap party hats mouse

Before I get consumed by all things Christmassy, I promised a quick post about Harry’s birthday and our paper crowns and castle cake… so here goes!

We decided on a low-key celebratory lunch as we’ll have a big birthday party for Harry’s friends in January once the chaos and thrills of the festive period have abated and the days are long and more bleak; a party to look forward to during the darkest days of the New Year seemed a good way of spreading out the fun (and managing our own energy!).

Even a lunch party needs party hats though, so I had a rummage in my old plan chest for some sheets of gift wrap, and spent a happy hour snipping and stapling to make some fun hats to wear…

Party crowns montage

These are so simple to make, and you can add all sorts of embellishments and layers of sophistication if you want a hat which will last longer than a few hours.  For the simplest hats, simply…

  • Choose a fun sheet of heavy-weight gift wrap (the paper kind vs a roll wrap)
  • Use a length of string to measure around your head, then use to work out how wide you need your hat to be
  • Cut the paper in a decorative shape; you’ll see I cut around the marching mice and crocodiles, and sliced down the book spines of the ‘Book-lover’s Hat’ to make it interesting
  • Staple together at the sides and wear.  Use a strip of colourful paper tape to cover the staple and line the rim.
  • Be greatly admired by everyone!
  • Approx: 10 mins.

That’s all I did with this one..

Marching Mouse Hat

for the Book-Lover’s Hat, I used a sheet of this lovely Penguin Books paper, and used spray-glue to mount it on a thin backing of gold cardstock before trimming to size and cutting to separate and fan out the book spines.

Book hat

My favourite one to make was the crocodile hat, which I did using the same steps as above, but also added little flags made of toothpicks, paper and dipped in gold glitter, which the crocodiles wave festively.  You have to make sure any embellishments are very lightweight so that they don’t distort the shape of the hat (a droopy hat is no fun…), but these were just the thing..

Step 1: Choose the gift wrap and cut a rough-sized length..

Step 1 Crocodile Hat

Step 2: Mount it on stiffer card and cut around the motifs to make a fun outline, making sure you have a solid piece around the rim to keep it in shape.  Add decorative tape to add a bit more sparkle..

Step 2 Crocodile Hat

Step 3: Staple together and wear!

gift wrap party hats crocodile and flags

The hats were a success and added a bit of fun to our weekend :-)

The other crucial ingredient was a birthday cake; Harry’s request was for a ‘dragon and castle’ cake, given his dual loves of How to Train Your Dragon and Lego Castle.  I bought a ready-made, undecorated chocolate cake and then used a mountain of fondant and food colouring to make walls, doors, trailing ivy and log piles.  I like to think that the sagging, bulbous walls add an air of medieval authenticity to my castle, as well as revealing my decidedly amateur fondant-rolling skills…

Castle and dragon cake

I used inexpensive fondant embossing templates (try Amazon or Hobbycraft) for the brick and wood patterns, and an ivy stamp to punch out the leaf shapes.  For the main blocks of colour I kneaded food colouring into the fondant and rolled out, but I also brushed colour straight on with a soft paintbrush for the leaves and door accents, and brushed edible silver colouring over the walls to catch the light and add some variation.  I borrowed some Lego knights and a Playmobil dragon from Harry’s toy box to complete the scene, and ta-da; a rather wobbly but very fun cake…

Castle Cake

( 10 days on, we’re still eating it…)

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Since then, we’ve tipped seamlessly into a festive frenzy of decking the halls and making preparations; the fir lady is back this year with an even more abundant dress, and the hallway seems to have become a branch of the North Pole mail sorting office… more details (and pics!) soon.

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Personalised North Pole Telegram Giveaway

North Pole Telegram with PJs

At breakfast time on Christmas Eve last year, Harry was thrilled to discover a telegram all the way from the North Pole, which had been blown down the chimney in the night.

From Santa Claus, it announced his intentions to fly over that night and asked for food to be set out for the reindeer to keep them fuelled during their epic journey.  It added to the magic and anticipation of the day, and we duly followed the instructions at bedtime to make sure everything was ready.  This year, we hear that Santa is sending Harry a special pair of new pyjamas to wear on Christmas Eve, so these will be sent with the telegram (above).

Santa's telegram blow down the chimney on Christmas Eve last year

Santa’s telegram blow down the chimney on Christmas Eve last year

North Pole Telegram 2013

I shared a printable template last year for you to make your own, but if you’d like me to create a personalised version for your household or any children in your life this year, leave a comment below (‘yes please!’ or ‘pick me!’ will do :-) ).  I’ll pick 5 names at random on Friday and contact you to find out what wording you’d like; anything at all, as long as it fits on the telegram.  You may have specific family traditions we can refer to, or children who would be thrilled to be individually name checked..just let me know.  I’ll create and mail you an A5-sized telegram on heavy-weight textured paper to arrive in good time for the most important night of the year.  All languages  OK, though you’ll have to help me by providing the text if it’s anything other than English or schoolgirl-level French!  All you need to do then is to leave it carefully on the doormat, or in the hearth, or by a pillowcase to be found on waking; wherever the North Pole Postal Service might consider a good place for such important communications to be delivered.

Time is of the essence of course, given the pressures on the regular postal service at this time of year, so leave a comment before 8am on Friday GMT (midnight Thursday PST/3am EST), and I’ll get started…

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The Dream House Renovation: The Guest Room!

Guest room rug and bedside

We moved into our house almost 3yrs ago, and it’s taken us this long to tackle the guest room.  Partly that’s due to cash-flow – living in an 18th Century house means that every year there’s an unforeseen roof leak, boiler breakdown or ceiling collapse (and in this particularly costly year; all three…) – but it’s also due to the awkwardness of the room and my endless prevarication about what to do with it.  Unlike the downstairs rooms with their 3.5m ceilings and sweeping bay windows, the guest room is considerably less well-endowed.  Here’s what it looked like a few weeks ago..

old room 2 old room 1

Tired decor, floral borders, exposed pipework and the oldest piece of furniture I own – a bed from my student days.  It also became a dumping ground for the things which didn’t fit anywhere else (hello, enormous mirrored IKEA wardrobes).  So we took a deep breath, saved up our money for a while, and ripped it all out to start again…

Northlight

 

Guest room makeover 3

 

reflection

We laid an engineered oak floor – the same one as in the kitchen – and fitted tall tongue-and-groove panels to the walls, to create a shaker/scandi-style natural look.  With Northern light filtering through the windows, a palette of muted greys, bleached wood and off-whites seems to enhance it and create a calming space.  To create inexpensive peg rails, we used lengths of unfinished wood and drilled holes for pegs bought en masse on eBay; we glued these in place and left for 24hrs to harden up before painting.

Shaker pegs

wooden wreath and shaker peg rail

We used paints from the Farrow and Ball range (see below), and to save on cost I gave the battered-but-very-comfortable pine bed a couple of coats of Chalk Paint.  If you’ve not used it before, it’s a slapdash renovators dream; you don’t need to sand or strip surfaces or use primer; just clean them and go for it… it seems to stick to anything, and the colours are chalky, soft and beautiful…

Old pine bed repainted in chalk paint

Guest room base elements

Materials I used; Cornforth White (panelling and woodwork) and Wimborne White (walls) from Farrow and Ball.  Artisan Engineered Oak Linen flooring from Kahrs.  Bed painted in Paris Grey Chalk Paint from Annie Sloan.  Pegs available on eBay and Etsy, timber from all good DIY stores.

For the windows, we had shutters made very simply from lengths of MDF with moulding glued on to simulate original panelled shutters;  it cost a fraction of the price of the real thing, and looks almost as good…

Make shutters from MDF and beading

An old sofa and cable knit throw fit neatly into the bay and make for a comfy spot to curl up and read before the light fades..

sofa in bay

With the basic complete, it was time to have fun with the accent pieces and decor…

Design elements for the guest room

We fitted wall-mount bedside lights behind the panelling, and invested in a pair of beautiful tree-slice tables for the bedsides, which are wide enough to hold everything you might need through the long hours of the night…

Guest room 4

and soft reindeer hides to add some luxe comfort to the wooden boards;

Guest room rug and bedside

I gave an old, chipped console table a new coat of paint and it now serves as a dressing table, complete with over-sized mirror which helps to bounce light around the room.  A faux fiddle-leaf fig adds a splash of green and is helpfully immune to my usual rather slapdash attempts at watering and general house-plant maintenance…

Guest room makeover 1

Fiddle leaf fig

The console also houses a rotating set of treasures, like this beautiful vase by ceramicist Tina Vlassopulos, a gift from my father several years ago.

Decorative accents

The vintage wooden dough bowl that usually sits in our bathroom is enjoying a spell on top of the butchers block where it holds guest towels and extras like spare toothbrushes, shower gel and other easily-forgotten essentials.

Butchers block with old suitcase and dough bowl

I like the spartan simplicity of the room, but couldn’t help but add a few final decorative touches; the old tin barn star is an antique-fair find, and perches on an old milking stool;

Barn star on milking stool

And this feathered cape makes a timely escape from my wardrobe to hang near the window where the light can filter through the feathers..

Guest room makeover 2

Other features below; fresh flowers scent the room and add a burst of life and colour; the bedside tables have simple glass bottles as carafes. You can find my tutorial on folding books here; the wifi code is discreetly framed and sits on the dressing table; the overhead light is the Norm 69 pendant; a nightmare to assemble but beautiful when in place!

Guest room accents

Enjoy the rest of your weekend; we’re having a small birthday lunch for Harry and excitement is already off the scale!

I’ll be back in a couple of days with some DIY party-hats and a Knights and Dragons cake…

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ps If you missed them, you can see our kitchen, hall and bathroom makeovers too.

Miscellany…

Guest room makeover 1

A brief miscellany this week, of projects either finished-but-not-photographed, or started-but-not-yet-finished.  A succession of gloomy, rain-filled days has meant a lack of good light to take pictures, but conversely we’ve spent a lot of time this weekend sheltering in the warm and making, baking, painting and sticking to alleviate the weather.

I’ve a whole host of things to share with you as soon as I find myself at home, in bright daylight, with 10 minutes and camera.  Until then, here’s a few pics of our work in progress – like the guest room, which used to look like this below…

old bedroom

… but now has beautiful oiled oak flooring, shaker-peg panelled walls, shutters, and seems somehow infinitely more welcoming and cosy than before.  I’ll give you a proper tour and pics next week. Also the story of this butchers block, which took two strong men and lots of swearing to manoeuvre from the hall to the first floor…

Guest room makeover 3

Two last pics, and then I’ll wait for the proper post. I just couldn’t resist..

Guest room 4

Guest room makeover 2

In other news, we’ve been continuing our festive preparations with some more card-making; Harry drew a Christmas tree which I’ve magicked onto cards for him to write in and sign (I’ll show you how we did this; very simple and fun).  The labour involved in forming careful letters when you’re 4 means that we’re doing a couple at a time to ensure that enthusiasm and concentration is sustained…

IMG_4425

…and I’ve been playing around with my art supplies, forming wreaths and trees and other shapes with soft pastels and paint trays to make some imagery befitting of a crafter at Christmas…. I’m thinking these might make lovely gift tags or cards. Hmmm, watch this space.

Pastel wreath

paint palette christmas tree

The house looks more than usually chaotic; as I write, most of the kitchen surfaces are topped with pieces of coloured fondant as I figure out how to make a castle birthday cake for a would-be-knight who turns 5 in a matter of days (where did the time go? I can hardly believe it).  The Snug is becoming Christmas HQ and has rolls of paper and part-wrapped presents and tags strewn around.  Harry is bursting with the excitement and pressure of keeping secrets about the presents he is aware of for grandparents and for each of us, and keeps trying to drop heavy hints and clues, accompanied by  his newly-perfected wink; it’s very funny and poignant in equal measure.

If you too are feeling crafty and looking for holiday inspiration, here’s our take on advent calendars, paper star decorations and a few of the festive projects we were making last year  - enjoy.

Have a great week!

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