Two weeks ago I went to one of the most special and gorgeous weddings I’ve ever been to. Obviously I’m biased,as it was my little brother’s big day,and I travelled 11,700 miles to the other side of the world (Queenstown,New Zealand) to be there,but the day really was overflowing with love and fun from start to finish.
Billy and his gorgeous Brazilian bride Dani kept things small,with around 50 guests – a real melting pot of nationalities,with an eclectic mix of people from all over the world. The ceremony and reception were held in their back yard (transformed from an overgrown patch of land into a fantastic garden),and together with friends and family,lots of effort went into making the day look and feel as magical as possible on their tiny budget. Billy and Dani have a wonderfully laid-back approach to life,and their wedding suited them down to the ground.
The colour scheme started off as purple in the planning stages,but other colours later found their way in for more of a carnival feel. A homespun,handmade approach gave the whole event a real sense of warmth and heart – homemade decorations included birds and butterflies,and there were lots of natural materials and vintage and rustic elements mixed in too.
The altar was made from driftwood found by the lake,and more driftwood was used for an archway leading into the garden. After a rainy start to the day,the sun shone for the ceremony and the rest of the day was warm and dry – perfect weather for an open air celebration.
Flowers were simple and informal – pretty,wild flowers arranged beautifully in jars by Dani’s friend Viviana,dotted all over the garden,deck and house. I brought a couple of sprigs of the lavender home with me to keep as a reminder of the day. The afternoon tea included British favourites such as cucumber sandwiches,vanilla cupcakes and homemade fudge (made by my mum),as well as Torta fria,a Brazilian dish,homemade hummus by Billy and Dani’s landlady and friend Catherine,and gluten-free,vegan Bliss Balls made by another friend.
Drinks were a help-yourself affair,with vintage teapots to mix cocktails in,and glass jars to drink from (well done to my parents for cleaning off all the sticky labels in the sink in their hotel room!). Having sampled a number of teapot mixologist’s creations,I can confirm that Brazilians make the meanest cocktails! Yum.
Instead of a traditional first dance,the couple entered the roda (a circle of people singing capoeira songs and clapping along with the traditional capoeira instruments) for a spot of capoeira action (a Brazilian martial art). Then friend and DJ Tony kept the tunes coming for well over 12 hours with the bride finally leaving the dancefloor at 8am (I crashed many,many hours before that)! What a day and what a party.
Congratulations Billy and Dani. I hope your life together is full of as much warmth and happiness as your wedding day.
One of the things I loved most about the build-up to my brother’s wedding was working with their friends to pull all the details together. Plenty of hard work had gone on before we even landed in Queenstown – clearing their back garden of the waist-high grass and weeds ready for the big day,as well as huge amounts of planning and prop gathering – and then it was all hands on deck on the days leading up the wedding to add the details that would transform the garden and house into a gorgeous venue.
Watching the garden take shape was so inspiring,and it was wonderful adding all the finishing touches on the morning of the wedding,knowing that the bride wouldn’t see them until she walked down the aisle. It really proves how far a tiny budget can go when there are lots of creative and practical people who are willing to get stuck in and help out. From carpentry,to cooking,to crafting and flower arranging,everything was done by friends and family to create a magical setting for my brother and his wife-to-be’s special day.
Pictures from the wedding itself will follow soon.
Home for three days,the post-holiday glow is wearing off and the tan is fading so here’s a selection of snapshots from our truly incredible trip to Queenstown,New Zealand to remind me of the warmth of the summer sun and the stunning beauty of a place that really stole my heart.
I made this crochet rainbow blanket for both my nieces this Christmas. One blanket has already been given but this one has travelled to New Zealand with us as a belated Christmas gift for my nine-month-old niece who lives out there and who I will be meeting for the first time on this trip.
The blanket is made from six giant granny squares,each round of which was hooked in a different colour from the rainbow. I chose a daisy design for the centre of the square,and then added a scalloped edge border in white to suggest the outline of a fluffy cloud.
I’m thrilled with how both blankets turned out,and giving them as lasting gifts felt really special. My love affair with crochet started last year, and shows no sign of waning. I’ve taken yarn and my hook to New Zealand with me to get going on the next project.
Right now we should be somewhere on the Dubai –Syndney leg of our 28 hour flight to New Zealand. My little brother lives in Queenstown and is getting hitched next week,so the twins and I have flown over to join in the celebrations.
My word of 2014 is ‘explore’ so when Rose &Grey offered me this Giant Globe storage bag to review it seemed the perfect product for our home this year (if Rose &Grey isn’t on your radar,you really must check their beautiful range of home furnishings and accessories).
When folded flat,you can’t imagine this bag will store much but it opens out to a really generous size and the map design on it is really gorgeous.
I plan to use the bag in the twins’bedroom for their dirty laundry,but for now it’s joining us on our 11,748-odd mile trip to NZ,where I’ve no doubt it’ll come in handy. Lucky old bag.
Disclosure:Rose &Grey gave me the giant globe storage bag for the purposes of this review
I first tried out the Pinterest favourite of decorating plain ceramics with a sharpie pen (permanent marker) at Christmas when I made mugs to fill with truffles made by the twins to give to family. In the festive craziness I completely ran out of time to blog the results so I’ve been patiently waiting for Valentines day to come around so I can try again.
The process is really simple –take a plain ceramic piece of crockery such as a mug,plate or bowl,draw your design onto the surface with a Sharpie (I’ve got a rainbow of different colours in my craft kit),and then bake in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the piece to cool in there before getting it out.
Top tips? If you make a mistake at the drawing stage,don’t panic –you can rub off your mistake with a baby wipe or cloth and they redraw it. I personally don’t have the patience,but you could always draw on your design first with a chinograph pencil and then go over it with the pen when you’ve got it perfect. Finally,I recommend washing the finished piece by hand rather than in the dishwasher or you’ll see your design magically disappear!
To give mine as a gift I filled the mugs with peppermint creams (made by the twins),wrapped it in cellophane and used my new Dymo labelmaker with neon tape (one of my best Christmas presents this year) to add a Valentines message.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a novice when it comes to using my sewing machine,but I’m getting braver. I got it out in the run up to Christmas to make my DIY felt triangles garland,and then last weekend I headed down to Kat’s house for a day of crafting with some fabric,where the clever and very patient Kelly was ready to teach me to make a basic dress for my daughter Ez.
Kelly makes sewing look easy so I was thrilled when she offered to write me a tutorial on how to make a colour block envelope cushion. She swears there’s nothing to it. I have to admit that she made this cushion and gave it to me,but I promise that I will have a go at making one myself as soon as I get the chance. I have the perfect craft spot now,so there are no excuses.
Without further ado I shall hand over to Kelly,with her easy step-by-step instructions…
You will need:
- 2 fat quarters of solid colour fabric of your choice.
- Sewing machine
- Scissors or rotary cutter
- Tape measure or ruler
- Start by ironing your fabrics and cutting them into rectangles that measure 16.5” x 22”. Lay the two fabrics on top of each other. If you are using a patterned fabric instead make sure the right sides of your materials are facing each other.
- Sew a seam down one of the short edges using the edge of your sewing machine foot along the raw edges of the fabric as a guide. I have used a thread that shows up for the purpose of this tutorial but you can use a matching colour if preferred.
- Press the seam with the iron,making the seam allowance lay towards the darker of the two fabrics so it will not be seen from the other side.
- At this point I got my cushion pad and wrapped the fabric round it to decide which colour I would like more of on the front of the cushion. I chose to have yellow as the main colour. Remove a strip 3” wide of the fabric down the short side of the colour you want less of on the front of the cushion. In this case that was the blue.
- Fold over one short edge by half an inch. Press. Repeat a second time,and press again,creating a hem. Repeat for the other side.
- Sew along both hems,using the edge of your foot as a guide again to fix them in place.
- Lay the fabric out right sides facing up towards you with the shorter colour on the right. Starting with the shorter colour,measure 5” along the bottom edge from the middle seam and add a pin. Repeat on top edge.
- Next measure 16” to the left from the pin in the bottom edge from the middle seam and add another pin. Repeat for top edge.
- Using the pins as a guide fold over one side. Repeat on the other side so you are creating the envelope shape. Fix in place with pins and remove the ones in the corners.
- Sew down each edge as before,taking care to catch all the layers and get a nice straight seam. Once sewn remove pins and use pinking shears to trim the seam allowances to prevent fraying. You could also do this using a zigzag stitch on your machine near the edge. Turn right sides out and press and then add your cushion pad.
Pop it in its new home and admire your handiwork!
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When my parents asked if I wanted the old wooden table that that was covered with a mountain of plant pots in their shed,I said yes straight away,thinking I’d put it in my office next to my desk to use as a craft table. The table has now been in my office for over two years,and I can honestly count the number of times I’ve used it for crafting on one hand. Or possibly even one finger. It just became an overflow for my desk – my piles of paperwork,unopened post,filing,magazines and brochures spread out and the effort of clearing them to create space to do something creative never quite seemed worth it. Instead I’d use the kitchen table downstairs,or I’d find a spot on the living room floor somewhere.
Recently,I’d become obsessed by the idea of getting an old wardrobe for my office,in which I could store all my craft-related gear,such as sewing machines (the one I use,and the two gorgeous vintage Singers that I have no idea how to use),a guillotine,my beloved Cricut mini,a laminator and plenty more ‘useful’tools and gadgets. I finally won a great vintage gentleman’s wardrobe on eBay last week for the bargain price of £28,and so a space for it in the office had to be made.
The twins have reached an age (four) where table-based activities such as Lego,colouring,painting and board games occupy them more and more,and the more the kitchen table got selected over their small play table and chairs as the location for these activities,the more I suspected I needed to update the play space in our open-plan living/dining/kitchen room which had become a bit young for them. I decided to solve the problem of the table and the play space in one go.
The play table that was here has moved into our smaller,separate playroom (they often need a surface for playing shops etc),and in its place I’ve popped the wooden craft table from my office. This area of our L-shaped room felt a bit forgotten before,and I love how the table has given it a much stronger focus and sense of purpose. The table can be pushed back towards the window when the kids are running circuits,or pulled out when we want to sit down to do something altogether. And now I don’t have to clear the Lego/colouring/junk modelling when it’s time for dinner like I did when everything was happening in the kitchen.
The kids’craft materials are sorted in this cabinet (which they can access themselves whenever the creative urge takes them),and in a stack of plastic storage boxes (clear so I can see what’s in them quickly and easily). Glitter is the only thing I keep hidden away after I came downstairs at just before Christmas to discover the twins throwing it in the air and pretending it was sparkly rain.
Today when the kids were out all day at preschool I found myself sat here with my laptop instead of at my desk upstairs. It’s warmer in the living room,and I’m closer to the kettle when I need a cuppa. Plus my office upstairs is in a state of total chaos while I try to find a place in the newly-acquired wardrobe for all the things that used to be crammed under the table. I staged a strategic retreat until tomorrow when I shall tackle it afresh. There’ll be a post to follow at some point,I’m sure.