Photographing your creativity……..

Lots of us enjoy creating things, whether it’s crafts, cooking, gardenening or DIY and once the creation has happened it is nice to be able to take photographs whether to keep for prosteritory or to upload to social media or in fact to upload to a website to sell.




Taking photographs of the creation is often what people find tricky to do, to catch the detail, to try to incorporate some of the story of where the creation has come from and to show the creation in its true light.

It is often good to take pictures whilst you are creating, to show how you are making your product. Take pictures of the materials you are using, the methods and techniques you have  included in the process, all of which builds the story behind the product.

Don’t however be tempted to just snap the picture as it sits on you knee, pay some attention to the surroundings, spend a little time to arrange the work on a neutral background with no distracting elements that may draw attention from your work. Little touches like flower heads or pieces of beautiful lace will help to enhance the picture.

Once completed take time to arrange the items, again paying much attention to creating a neutral background, here I have used a piece of pure linen which I have crushed to add some texture. I have ribbon and lace, items I have been using lately along with the wool and needles used to create the item. I have also snipped some flower heads from the garden to dress the picture.

Happy crafting!

Renovation – crafting project, dining room chairs

We like to create unique pieces of furniture from everyday items. So when the opportunity came to renovate our dining chairs, we wanted to do something different.

We have some very comfy cream leather dining chairs which when we bought them, looked perfect with our light oak dining table. When we moved house and the large dining table no longer fitted or matched with our gloss white and black granite kitchen we were in a dilemma as to what to do with the chairs.

We had bought a gloss black dining table from Next but the cost of 8 chairs to go with it was another £1000! We decided on a temporary solution of some black stretch covers which we imported from America and they looked fine for the time being.

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Last year, having seen Pinterest articles about painting leather with Annie Sloane paint, we thought, why not give it a go. We started with just one and used that for a good 6months before committing, what would happen with the heavy traffic of Christmas or when boys with jeans squirmed on them?

 

Perfect, the one test chair lived up to the demands so we went ahead with the rest and painted several coats of AS Pure, it went on perfectly covering the cream leather with ease. We also painted the light oak legs with AS Paris Grey……they looked and matched beautifully.
Our last flourish was to add our own stamp on the chairs with a little bit of stencilling. We brought a couple of stencils from Hobbycraft so we could choose and customise our own design.

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Armed with a stiff brush, a ceramic tile and the AS paint in Paris Grey,

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we found the centre line of the chair and stencilled the design evenly on each chair.

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We combined designs from three different stencils to give the chairs their own unique look.

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The stencilling didn’t take very long at all, and I am very pleased with what we’ve achieved, a French vintage look.

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Is it time for a spring clean?

Winter has almost gone, says I as I’m scraping the ice off the car again this morning!


Of course by lunchtime that frost has cleared and the clear sky means a lovely early spring sunshine emerges.

 

That spring sunshine however has the less than desired effect of bouncing off all those surfaces covered with a layer of dust, and the cobwebs which have kept the spiders in food all winter.

So now is the official time for a spring clean, well in my house anyway!


It’s a great opportunity to have a good old sort out and a rearrange whilst I’m at it.

What I tend to do is to take a room at a time, I take all my ornaments and bits out to give them a good clean and polish. I pull all the furniture into the centre of the room to give behind and underneath a good vacuum, I then tackle all those corners where the cobwebs have been un-disturbed all winter. Picture frames, top of doors, switches and sockets get a wipe and polish. Then finally all the furniture gets pushed back.

When it comes to bringing all the ornamental bits back in, I like to have a good rearrange and swap a few bits over to introduce lighter, brighter spring colours. Another great excuse for a bit of retail therapy.


A vase of fresh flowers and voila! onto the next room.


Do other people have a good spring clean at this time of year?

Do you do anything special to prepare your house for summer?

I’d love to hear from you

 

 

I Love my lightbox

Having seen pictures of light-boxes all over social media, I really liked the idea of them. A little fun way of leaving messages/reminders around the house, or to add words to pictures.

    
All the light-boxes I seem to be looking at varied in  price between £29.99 and £40 and upwards if you wanted coloured letters etc.

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So when I eventually saw a post on Instagram which said they were available from The Range for £14.99, I decided I needed to get one. Our nearest Range is some distance away but this weekend whilst visiting our sons in Birmingham we made a special trip to the Range in Erdington and had a good look around.

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Of course we couldn’t find them, but eventually once we’d asked a couple of different assistants, The last one was found underneath the Valentines Day display table.

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The light-box is battery operated or mains, although doesn’t actually come with a mains adapter. So we put in 4 AA batteries and on it came. There are plenty of letters to spell lots of phrases, so now some imagination and inspiration is all that is required.

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I did notice the image on the packaging was a light box displaying Christmas 2015 and did think it was very apt as this is very much a fad of the moment……..but we all love a good fad!

Gluten Free Baking – Chocolate Eclairs

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I couldn’t help myself, they were serving chocolate eclairs for pudding at school this week. Just watching people devour that lovely chocolate coated, cream filled patisserie, my mouth was watering. Of course, to my knowledge, you can’t buy GF eclairs, not round here anyway but you can buy GF profiteroles from Tesco so they can’t be impossible to make! In those famous words….how hard can it be?

I tend to take a ‘normal’ recipe and see if I can substitute in GF flour. Quite often due to the fineness of GF flour it often takes more than the recipe calls for, the key is to work out how much more.

I set about with an online recipe and by a little trial and error modified the recipe until the consistency felt right.

The ingredients are fairly straightforward;

150g GF self raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sugar

150ml water

75g butter

2 eggs

Start by sifting the flour into a bowl and add the baking powder and sugar.

Melt the butter and water in a saucepan on a low heat, then bring to the boil.

As soon as it is boiling, remove from the heat and add the flour mix in one go. Using a wooden spoon beat to form a soft dough.

Allow to cool a little then add the eggs to the mix and beat thoroughly to mix them in, initially it will feel like they don’t want to mix in, but keep going they will eventually form a smooth shiny dough.

Break off balls of dough and form them into eclair shaped pieces, lay them onto a grease-proof covered baking tray.

Bake in a preheated oven 170 deg for 25 mins. remove from the oven, turn over and pierce the underside to release the steam. allow to cool for 10 mins.

Cover in melted chocolate and fill with squirty cream

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Enjoy…….

Creating a home gym on a budget

We have been very fortunate to have had a free corporate membership of a gym for the last 8 years, sometimes we used it 3 or 4 times a week and other times we could go for 3 months without going. That is the nature of gym membership, some 70% of memberships are rarely used.

download So now that I’ve left the job and no longer have the free membership we were in a dilemma last year when we decided we really needed to get back our fitness and get into shape. We weighed up the options of re-joining our old gym. This gym in Oxford is currently £82 a month plus £30 joining fee per person. For a 12 month package that would amount to £2012 for the two of us. I know for that fee you would get the full facilities including classes and swimming etc but we also knew from our previous use that the only things we really use were the fitness machines and weights machines. In fact my preferred machine was the treadmill and occasionally used the bikes.

IMG_5726It was at this point we looked into the option of a home gym. We were very lucky that the year before we added a summerhouse to the garden the intention of which was to be a quiet sitting area at the end of the garden. The summerhouse measures 10ft x 8ft and cost approx £1000

IMG_5732 We decided however that perhaps this could house a gym, a perfect solution to our dilemma, it would be a few seconds away, so no excuses you couldn’t be bothered to go to the gym and the machines would always be available.

Our next quest was to find suitable equipment that would be professional enough to feel you were getting a decent workout but wouldn’t be too expensive. Ebay was the perfect answer and we found a 2nd hand professional treadmill only 10 or so miles away and only £150. It was a bit of a mission getting it in the car and home, but we did it.

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We also wanted a weights machine which we found in Argos in the sale, £120 and it would have sufficient weights for the workouts we were intending. Again the assembly was somewhat stressful but several hours later it was up and running.

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Over the following few months as we were using the home gym on a regular basis we had 3 or 4 trips to decathlon who do a fantastic range of exercise equipment and added hand weights, kettle bells, an inflatable ball and exercise bench to our set up.

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The total cost of equipping the gym came to approx £350 and since creating our home gym I use the treadmill every evening for 1/2 hour when I get in from work and in the morning on a weekend except during the winter months when the evenings were too dark and I used it on a Saturday and Sunday morning only. A real saving on even one years gym membership and we’ve now had our gym for nearly 2 years. Now we are heading towards the spring again, my evening routine is about to recommence…..

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