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Monday, 21 April 2014

Turning Scrap Book Paper into Framed Art

So part of the flat over-haul is depersonalizing our home - a somewhat sensitive subject between my husband and I.  After almost two decades of being addicted to interior design and house selling programmes (started with changing rooms and evolved into a fully fledged Sarah Beeny crush) I know that most buyers can't over-look the array of personal items and see the potential of a home.  There is a reason that staging and show home chic is a design staple when it comes to selling, it works.  With this in mind our beloved wedding photos had to come down.

In hind-sight, it would have been a good idea to actually show you a before and after photo, but being as rushed and forgetful as I am, I didn't remember.  Basically once all the wedding photo frames were removed (bar one canvas, as we do want the flat to actually feel lived in!) we were left with a giant blank mucky purple wall.

I have hording tendencies, and so even though we painted the feature wall in October 2010, it shouldn't be surprising that we kept the leftover paint ;) Mixing a squirt of washing up liquid with warm water, the walls were gently cleaned from top to bottom and left to dry.  I then touched up any stubborn areas with the leftover paint - it was seamless and looked as if it had all been freshly painted :) Not bad for free!

Next came the idea of what could be done to transform the blank (beautifully painted) wall into something more of a feature - it is the finishing touches that will make or break a home after all!  I had a brain wave - whilst scouring Etsy for inspiration, I came across the trend for big graphic type prints grouped together in 4s or 6s.  I was in love with this idea, and knew that if I had the time I could easily whip something up.  Sadly time is something in short supply around here - two businesses, a part time job and a sick husband means that most days it's lucky if I can remember to feed myself let alone sit down and play designer for a personal project.

To my eye, a lot of these pricey graphic prints looked like fancy scrapbook paper, lighbulb moment!  To go with the purple wall, we have black and silver soft furnishings, I knew that whatever framed feature I came up with, I had to stick to those colours to make sure it flowed.  I started off scouring the web for free digital scrapbook paper (I'm impatient and wanted the ease of downloading over waiting for the postman).  This was taking too long, and understandably the free digital designs were a little sub par or too mismatched.

I'm an Etsy seller, the idea for this project came from Etsy, so it made sense that I actually buy the digital paper from there too.  Once I popped 'black and silver digital scrapbook paper' into the search bar, I was over-whelmed with thousands of beautiful designs.  I soon found the one I loved at Graceful Graphics and at £1.83 for 10 different designs, I was smitten!

Now I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a business A3 printer like me, but providing you use photo paper, and make sure your settings are for best photo, you can print out some pretty fancy artwork too.  If you're worried about how much ink this uses, I can highly recommend some of the cheaper none brand cartridges on ebay too!

I chose some cheap economical black frames as I knew that these would go best with the furniture and just had to get my sizing figured out.  Pictures framed with mounts (that white surround) always look more professional, but when I looked at the prices, they were almost as much as the frames!  No way, was I going to pay for that.  Instead, I used my silhouette cameo print and cut software to leave a 3cm border all the way around the design.  I also used my cameo to cut, so my lines were perfectly straight :)

Each of the frames were £2.85, and I used 6 - the photo paper and printer ink I 'borrowed' from my shop supplies (but most people have this lying around the house) so for the grand total of £17.10 - I am super happy with how this feature wall turned out!

Over-Hauling and Selling Up

So, we've reached another sad chapter in the current ongoing saga that is our life.  Chris has been medically retried, and as a consequence we are now a one income family; mine.  We need to make cut backs and one of the biggest is our lovely flat by the sea :(

We are fortunate enough to live on the South coast of England, and in our town you are never more than 10 minutes from the sea.  Or in our case, a five minute walk.

We bought our flat in 2009, and it was a whopping £193k - now there is now way that we could firstly afford that, and secondly that we would spend that much money on a flat with no garden - despite the beautiful views!

We were lucky enough to be eligible for a government grant (First Time Buyers Initiative) so that we only had to get a mortgage on 51% of the property.  The mortgage was much cheaper than renting, the location was wonderful and we had enough money left over each month to finally get married!

Fast forward to now and the government is requesting monthly interest payments on the percentage that they helped to pay for, and once the maintenance charges, ground rent and mortgage is taken into account, we are quickly coming to the point where it is no longer financially viable to stay here :(  So we are toying with the idea of selling.

We are competing with neighboring flats that are listed for £220k and that have been sat on the market for over 6 months.  We need an edge to make our home look not only on a par with these fancy flats, but to entice the buyers to settle for the full asking price.  If we don't achieve market value, the government will not let us sell (or it will take a lot of stress and hassle to convince them of why we need to sell at a low price).  We may be lucky and come away with a few £k to settle our debts and maybe enter into another shared ownership scheme, so every penny really does count!

The next few posts will show you how we have over-hauled our home for as little ££ as possible!  Fingers crossed this all helps.  The only downside is that it is going to be even more difficult to leave our lovely home once all these extras are complete.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Our Nightmare Before Christmas (NBC) Wedding Cake

So you may not know this, but my husband and I had a Nightmare Before Christmas themed Wedding.  Yep, that's right, Jack, Sally, the whole shebang!

When we were planning our wedding I found it quite difficult to find Nightmare Before Christmas Wedding items that weren't super OTT or tacky.  This is probably why we kept ours subtle, with just a few placements of the actual characters (Invitations, Stationary and Wedding Cake) and why I made or designed it all myself and not because I'm a control freak!

Originally I was going to make my cake myself, (I do like to make things as stressful as possible) but luckily I finally listened to reason and we found a wonderful local hobbyist to make it instead :) She had never heard of the film, and when I showed her the toppers I could see her struggling to hold onto her smile lol.
I showed her my design and she diplomatically told me that it was definitely possible.  I was prepared for the fact that my cake may not look as great as I had imagined, but boy was I wrong - it was even better!

We thought our wedding was pretty normal - we did have Richard Cheese playing during the sit down meal, and we picked our entire evening reception playlist (with requests from guests every third song) so we could have Slipknot, Mudvayne, Foo Fighters etc, but we also played my favourite cheesy hits like Saturday night, YMCA and even Lil Chris!  However we later heard through the grape vine, that staff and the DJs had nicknamed it the goth wedding!  I'd love to see their faces if they catered or worked at an actual goth wedding ;)

Rockabilly Giant Cupcake Baby Shower Cake

So two of my closest friends are about to pop!  Seriously, they are both due within a week of each other and there is now less than a month to go!  So when I was asked if I could make the cake for one of my friends surprise baby shower, how could I refuse?

This friend and I have very similar tastes.  I am in awe of her amazing clothes, cats eye glasses and ever present trade-mark red lips.  So I knew if I liked the cake, she would too ;)  This friend had the most rocking wedding cake ever!  I was seriously up against some stiff competition in the awesome factor.  Take a peek if you don't believe me;

A few of you may remember I made a giant cupcake for my mother in law a few years ago, (you can find the original post here) well in keeping with my friends wedding cake, I thought it would be awesome to do another giant one :)

I really wanted to make this cake personal to my friend, and knew that a plain giant cupcake just wouldn't fit the bill.  In my head I knew I needed polka dots, swallows, tattoos and of course leopard print!  I wanted to do the cake base in a really dark blue and polka dot fondant, with the cake iced in blood red 'roses'.  In my head it looked awesome, but I knew that pulling it off may be a bit trickier.

Yep, I'm sure you've noticed the flowers are pink :( I wanted blood red and even bought coloured food GEL to achieve this, but for whatever reason the icing would just not budge from pink!

Man was this cake heavy!  I ended up having to use our black Wedding Cake board just to easily transport the thing.  It seriously weighed more than both our dogs put together!

I did toy with the idea of a rolled fondant leopard print board, but when I found this fab ribbon in my ever expanding craft stash, I knew it would be perfect :)

We know they are having a boy, but the name is being kept top secret until the birth, so I anointed him Crouch Junior ;)

My last cupcake also featured a chocolate shell casing, but I had severe melting issues when applying the ribbon :( I learnt from my past mistakes and increased the chocolate quantity and switched to all plain - It held up fantastically.

I did consider making this out of painted fondant, but I wisely chose to print it instead (using the print and cut function on my silhouette cameo of course!).  I figured this way it could be removed and scrap booked as a memento should my friend want.

The cake and frosting are orange flavored, and coupled with the thick plain chocolate shell, it was divine!

I love giant cupcakes, as they are fairly easy to decorate and look fantastic!

If you would like to make your own, please check out the links to all the different components :)

To make this super orangey, I substituted the vanilla essence for 4 teaspoons of orange essence, and decreased the milk to only 2 table spoons.
You can also add the zest of an orange too!
I had enough batter left over to make two small Victoria sponge cakes from too :D

I doubled the quantity of this as I wanted enough to assemble, crumb coat and pipe the roses
Again, substitute the vanilla extract for 4 teaspoons of orange essence - you may need to add a bit more icing sugar to get it to the right consistency

My friend love the cake, and went so far as to say it was far better than one they had recently had professionally made for £90 - Happy face!

Us Vs Life

Hi guys, I'm afraid that I've been awol for a few weeks as my poor husband is really ill again :(

We've had lots of hospital visits (in the next county over) to deal with, and have learned he has heart failure, and je will need a major operation.

To say that the house is feeling a bit low is quite the understatement.

We are trying to remain positive, and I will post when I can.

Spare a thought for us


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Wizard of Oz DIY Wine Glass - Dishwasher Safe

So a few weeks ago I stumbled across glitter wine glasses and mugs (read my diy here) I have been wanting to transform a wine glass since I spotted the original pinterest posts, but didn't want to do the stereotypical covered wine glass.

The Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite films, and after posting about it on my shop page I realized that I wasn't alone.  When I posted our latest papercut, things went a bit crazy!

Inspired by the obvious interest, I went back to pinterest and found this

I was smitten!  I had found a wine glass design that would do my new craft justice!

So following the same steps as the mug tutorial, I covered stem and base in ruby red glitter, and used my silhouette cameo to add a Dorothy vinyl decal and an adorable gingham bow.  I am so in love with the results! <3

Depending on how well my facebook fans receive the pics, I am hoping to do a glass for each of the main characters!  I can't help but think that they would be the most adorable thing ever!

Glitter Wine Glasses and Mugs DIY - Dishwasher safe too! UK

So I made a vow this year to do more crafts that were for me, rather than geared towards selling in the shop.  When I cam across this picture on pinterest, my heart literally swooned <3

courtesy of whitehouseblackshutters blog

It is pointless, something only a gal would understand, but I needed one!

The blog mentions that in order to make the glitter mug dishwasher safe, you need to use Martha Stewart Decoupage glue - what followed was an epic weekend long search to find a supplier in the UK

I was frustrated beyond belief, and about to bite the bullet and import it from the US (to hell with the import tax, I NEEDED it!) when I stumbled across a site called emerald crafts and they had one bottle left in stock.  It was mine!

So once it arrived, I gathered up all my supplies and set to work!

  • Rubbing Alcohol / Surgical Spirit
  • Mug
  • Masking Tape
  • Brush
  • Glitter
Rub down your mug with the surgical spirit and make sure it is dry before applying the masking tape.

I initially used a glue dabber to get the decoupage glue onto the mug, but the first coat turned out super streaky :(

After switching to a brush I found the results were much better :D

The decoupage glue is really thick, so it is better to build up thinner layers, than great big thick layers or else it will run!  Once the glue is just slightly tacky, carefully remove the masking tape.

Once the glue is completely dry, touch up any areas that need it and once fully dry, apply a final coat of the glue.

Your mug is hand wash ready a week after the final layer has been applied.  Once your final coat has been set for 4 weeks, it is then dishwasher safe (top rack only).  How awesome is that?!

Now you may have noticed I don't have a final picture of the finished mug, that's because in true butterfly style I got distracted by the thought of upcycling wine glasses.

To see my awesome (cause of distraction) Wizard of Oz glasses, click through to here