02 March 2015

Fleur de Lis coaster

I've been pinning a few blue and white items to my craft ideas board on Pinterest recently, and I finally got round to using them as inspiration. I based the design of this coaster on Delft tiles and Fleur de Lis designs.

When I got my Hama beads, white and royal blue seemed to be the most prevalent colours in the mixture, so this was a perfect project to use some of them! If you have a mixture of different blues, you could use different blues in different areas of the design.
1. Start building the design from the middle.
2. Work outwards, creating a symmetrical design.
3. Fill in the edges.
4. Fill in the rest of the design.
5. Iron.



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01 March 2015

Keeping a diary

Recently I've been in a bit of a nostalgic mood, and I've been reading my old diaries from my primary school days, and Mum's from the same period. One of my old high school friends mentioned that she'd been keeping a diary since the age of 12, and I read Marceline's post about keeping a diary. All of this conspired to make me wish I'd bought the 5-year diary Marceline had designed. At the end of January I realised that I could still get it, by buying the spiral-bound version from Lulu, and I excitedly ordered it straight away!

In my school days I did keep a lot of diaries. From the time we started school in P1, to the end of P4, we kept "news" books at school, jotters in which we wrote and drew every school day, and I love reading these and picking out events that I remember. A lot of them didn't have the dates written in them, so it took a bit of work to sort them into chronological order (that's what the number stickers on the top left are!). So that covers a lot of the time from mid-1976 to mid-1980. 
I had "proper" diaries in 1982, 1983 and 1985. After that, I kept very detailed diaries in hardback notebooks from the start of 1987 to early 1993, covering my late high school years and much of university.
Since then, for the 20 years of my working life, I haven't kept a diary at all (other than my travel journals), because it seemed like a bit of a chore, and I didn't think enough was happening in my life. Reading my mum's diaries, and what Marceline wrote about keeping a diary, made me realise that I had diaries all wrong! I previously thought that to be of any value, they had to have screeds written in them every day and delve into all your inner feelings! Which is a chore both to write and sometimes also a chore to reread (my high school ones are both embarrassing and repetitive, full of who I fancied and how often I'd seen him that day!). 

But reading my mum's diaries, where she just jotted down a few things each day, took me back to the moments that she thought were significant, and most of them were ones that had also stuck in my memory. It was amazing to confirm that there had, indeed, been a power cut at Halloween, and we'd ducked for apples by candlelight, and to find out what the pottery actually was that I got my Russian dolls from (it was Hornsea Pottery, not Heysham)!

So, in my gorgeous new diary, I only have space to put down the most significant things that happened. And that's actually helping me to be objective about the day-to-day annoyances that sometimes get me down - would I record this in my diary for posterity? If the answer is no, it's not really that important, and I shouldn't get stressed about it!
Before the diary arrived, I set to work figuring out what I'd been up to over the month of January. Winter is not a time of year I get out and about much, so I thought I'd end up with a lot of blank spaces. But, surprisingly, I managed to fill in almost every day! I took Marceline's advice and looked back through my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I also looked at what photos I'd taken, what blog posts I'd written (I tend to write them about 3 weeks in advance), emails and texts I'd written, and I looked at my calendar and emails at work. Our lives are so documented these days! 

One piece of advice I would give, from reading my mum's diaries, is don't ever leave a day blank - if not much happened, she writes "Not much", or "Lazy day"! That way, when you are rereading, you won't be always wondering whether something significant happened on that blank day, and you've forgotten all about it!

28 February 2015

This month on emuse


Here's what's been happening on emuse this month! At this dreary time of year I don't feel quite so creative, and it's difficult to get light to take good photos, but, all the same, I have managed to keep things going here on the blog. Things might slow down a little next month, though, as I've been decorating my bedroom and haven't had much time for crafting!

I showed you a few of my favourite cold remedies:

There were some alpine-themed posts:

I started a new feature on travel memories with an introductory post then a post about Yasui Konpiragu shrine in Kyoto.
There were some craft tutorials and projects:

27 February 2015

This month I have been mostly...

Doing:
Close to the end of last month I created a Facebook group for former pupils and staff of my old primary school, so I've been having a rather nostalgic time putting things on there and looking at the things other people have posted. I also dyed my hair a reddish brown (Chilli Chocolate by Casting).

Buying:
When I was nostalgicising about my primary school days, I began reading my own old diaries, and my Mum's. I read this post by Marceline on Asking for Trouble, then an old friend mentioned on Facebook that she'd been keeping a diary since the age of 12. When I reread Marceline's post and realised that her 5-year diary was still available on demand on Lulu, I ordered it straight away, and have been figuring out what I've done so far this year to fill it in! I also ordered some Pilot Parallel Pens (after seeing this post on Andrea Joseph's blog), because I've been bemoaning my lack of a good italic pen recently.

Watching:
Wolf Hall, Broadchurch, Spiral (and crying at what happened to Pierre!).

Reading:
Wolf Hall (still!), and The Martian by Andy Weir.

Listening to:
I found some more podcasts that I like, Invisibilia and The Allusionist. I've also been listening to this, because my class's primary school leaving song was to this tune!

And this album, the amazing soundtrack from the film Wild. It's got Simon & Garfunkel, one of my favourite REM songs done by First Aid Kit, The Shangri-Las, Leonard Cohen, and Portishead. One of the best compilations ever, could have been composed just for me. And I couldn't believe it when the last track was Red River Valley, we used to dance to it at primary school and I had just looked up the name of it the other day!


25 February 2015

Braces progress


I got my braces fitted on the 9th December, and I've been amazed with the progress so far! Even after just four weeks, in early January, I had seen a lot of movement, and it was a big thing on New Year’s Day when I noticed my two front teeth no longer overlapped! And after another month there was even more progress.

I didn't have anything I would describe as pain when I got my braces. One or two teeth at a time feel uncomfortable to chew with, but not painful. And I've only felt the braces rubbing on the inside of my mouth a couple of times, so I've only used a teensy bit of the wax that the orthodontist gave me. I’ve got quite used to the brushing routine, and my dentist and orthodontist were both happy with how clean I’m keeping them.

I had my first adjustment on the 3rd February, and I decided to get turquoise ligatures this time! They are in a figure 8 shape on my top teeth this time. I also have wire ties on a couple of teeth at the bottom, and there are elastics in a couple of places at the top - both the elastics and wire ties are so difficult to see, that it took me ages to figure out exactly where they were! The first night I didn't sleep well as my teeth were a bit sore, and one of my teeth has been a bit sensitive to cold, but other than that it's been fine!

24 February 2015

Calligraphy


For ages I've been thinking that I need some new calligraphy pens. All I had to write nicely with in Christmas cards were some old Berol italic pens, and a fountain pen I've had since the 80s.


Then I saw this post on Andrea Joseph's blog, where she used Pilot Parallel Pens, and I just had to have some immediately! 


Part of the reason I wanted new pens was that I was getting a new diary, and wanted my writing to look good in it. Unfortunately the paper was a little thin for these pens, so I won't be able to use them for that, but I will use them for lots of other things!

From the beginning of primary school, we were taught the handwriting style of local man Tom Gourdie, so I had a good grounding for starting calligraphy. Most of the calligraphy books my mum and I have are written by him!
Here's another book that I love, The Calligraphy Source Book - it's got lots of alphabets to be inspired by. The pens themselves come with a handy sheet of calligraphy tips.


I'm loving these pens, partly because of how smooth they are to write with, and partly because of the vibrancy of the ink colours. And they have a fun feature that you can transfer a little ink from one nib to another, meaning you can create writing that flows from one colour to another. I also hope to take some inspiration from Andrea and do some drawings with them.


23 February 2015

Retrocraft: Dolls


Today I'd like to share some of my much-loved dolls, which were made by my mum during my childhood.
Suzy, a knitted doll, was one of my first dolls, and I used to carry her around with my elbow clamped around her neck all the time, so her head got a bit floppy! Pretty much every photo of me at a young age shows me carrying her. I also got told off once when I was older for hurling her around my head in the garden shouting. "Suzy the skeleton!"
Alice has a pretty pink dress and a pinafore of white fabric with tiny pink roses on it. She still sits out in my bedroom! When my bedroom was blue I made her a blue dress, but I prefer her in her original pink. Mum made a number of these dolls for friends and neighbours, all in their own unique outfits, my favourite (other than my own) being one in a green velvet dress and white pinafore. I used to love taking her next door to my friend Ann's house where we would play with our dolls together.
Finally, my Cinderella doll is a reversible doll, with her rags on one side and her finery on the other. She was a real favourite with my friends, who always preferred the rags, while I liked her white dress.

22 February 2015

Hair chain

This is the simplest project ever here on emuse! It doesn't even take a minute!

All you'll need is a length of chain (or an old necklace, like I used) long enough to reach across the top of your head, and two hair grips. You'll need another two hair grips to secure it, though.

1. Attach one hair grip to each end of the chain (if you're using a necklace, double it up like I did).

And that's really all there is to it, one step!
To attach it to your head, place one of the hairgrips at one side of your head, angling slightly upwards. Cross another hair grip across the first one. Bring the chain across the top of your head and do the same at the other side of your head with the other hair grips.

A variation is to have the two halves of the loop sit on top of your head like a crown!

20 February 2015

Recently thrifted

A new charity shop opened in town recently, a furniture shop run by the Salvation Army, and I finally got round to going for a look!

I was really pleased to find a few amazing things! First I had a look at a couple of retro mirrors, couldn't make up my mind, and will go back for a look at them another day. Then I saw two wooden shelving units, each triangular with three shelves. I didn't know where I would use them, but I had to have them! I also found a small thimble rack, and then I spotted the vintage Lotus Pottery bull to match my fat bird ornament!
I headed for the checkout, not knowing how much any of the items cost! But I discovered that the shelving units were only £3 each, and the other things were only 50p each! The bull's horns are slightly damaged, but I can't complain at that price!

I love the shelving units. I always like seeing ladders used as shelving for plants indoors, like this one on A Beautiful Mess, but I didn't have space in my house for that. However, the shelves are almost a miniature version. They are intended for going on the wall, and I probably will put one on the wall eventually, but by cutting the bottom part of the wooden struts off they neatly sit on a tabletop! 
This means they can be used for temporary displays anywhere around the house. And if I want to wall mount, I can drill the lower mounting holes between the bottom two shelves, as the holes are in the bit I'm cutting off. I managed to hide that part down the back of the desk when I was taking these photos!

18 February 2015

Beehive hair comb

Here's how to make a padded comb that can be used for a beehive or for other hairstyles that require a bit of height.

This project started when I tried to follow the fantastic beehive hair styling tutorial on A Beautiful Mess, and had a complete disaster! The padded ball just kept falling out of my hair while I was trying to pull the hair over the top! Maybe my hair was too freshly washed, or not backcombed enough, but I just couldn't make it stay there!

So I decided to work from their starting point, of a bath scrunchie (or whatever those things are called) covered with fabric, and add a method of attaching it to the hair.
You'll need a bath scrunchie, fabric in a similar colour to your hair, a comb, thread, and hot glue.

The great news is that your sewing skills don't have to be very neat, as it will all be hidden under your hair!

1. Cut a square of fabric large enough to fit around the scrunchie.
2. Sew it into a tube and stuff the scrunchie inside.
3. Sew the ends of the tube shut.
4. Sew a comb to the back.
5. Add a line of hot glue to secure the comb.

I still need a bit of practice at making the perfect beehive hairstyle, mind you!