Valentines DIY: Lovely Embroidered Wall Art

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Happy Valentines Day chaps! As my main love in life is making things, I wanted to share a quick and simple DIY today that you can make for a loved one or yourself at any time of the year. It’s also a great way of using up any large scraps of fabric you might have lying around.

I’ve made a pattern which you can download here and use*, but feel free to have fun with it – you could write your own words or a name in the centre, or use your favourite colour for the threads, or one that matches your fabric. I added a few french knots to my border, but if you have a favourite stitch go crazy with the decoration.

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Loved List: Graphic Tees

As much as I love a good vintage frock, I spend most of the time I’m not in work wearing jeans and a t-shirt or tank, with a big cardigan thrown over the top for good measure. I’m ALL about the comfort.

Grey t-shirts are my absolute favourite, and I love beautiful screenprinted, illustrated designs and sweet slogans. They’re like wearable art prints. Such is my obsession, I thought I’d round up some of my favourite shops and their tees.

You can click on the images to go straight to the shops. This isn’t a sponsored post, but I own *cough* a few of these that I’ve bought myself and I like supporting my fellow independent designer makers.

Kinship Goods

PIZZA PARTY Baseball Tee

ASK ME ABOUT MY CAT Ladies Tee

HERMIT Ladies Tee

STAY COZY Ladies Tee

Stay Home Club

Alphonnsine

Wolf Child Tees

Culture Flock Clothing

Skyline Fever

Blackbird Tees

You may notice a theme here: cats, reading, the moon, staying home, pizza… ha!

Also, all of these shops are in the US. I’d love to know about any cool t-shirt designers in the UK.

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Inspire Your Heart With Art

Inspire your heart with art

This morning I got up and painted the picture above (well, just the heart bit, the text is from the A Beautiful Mess photo app). All throughout 2015, my big sister is doing her bit to Celebrate a Day With Luke – a year-long fundraising initiative for the charity When You Wish Upon a Star. That’s 365 days of celebrations! She’s done very well at doing something every day, so I thought I’d join in and do my bit for ‘Inspire Your Heart with Art Day’. It felt good to pick up my paint and brushes again.

Please visit the links above to find out how you can get involved and donate.

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Snow Day

For the past couple of months we’ve been forecast snow but it’s always turned out to be disappointingly sleety, so I was surprised to wake up to actual snow on Thursday morning (or #thundersnow as it was dubbed on Twitter. Very dramatic!)

It was just a thin coating at first, but enough to make me not want to risk a 20-mile commute to work, so I hunkered down under a blanket with my laptop and watched the spectacle unfold. It was quite magical! When I wasn’t working I managed to snap a few pictures, and went for a lovely wander to the corner shop.

In the evening I decided to brave my driving lesson, and my instructor taught me to drive in snow. I was so scared! But pretty proud that I conquered my nerves.

We had even more today, but now the snow is melting away and the sleety-rain has returned. At least I have these pretty pictures to remember it by…

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Pretty healthy flapjacks

Healthy flapjack recipe

Hello. How’s 2015 treating you so far? My January has been ok, though I’m definitely looking forward to some lighter mornings. This time of year, with the sparkly distraction of Christmas a distant memory, is when I really start to miss the sunshine. I’ve also been ill three times in the last two months. Not good!

This got me thinking that I need to start taking care of myself a bit better. Overall I’m fairly healthy, but give me the choice of cooking a meal or eating some toast and I will always pick the option that is easier and gives me the time to do something more fun (I’m trying to enjoy cooking more, I really am). This coupled with a rather boozy festive period and being ill left me feeling a little less than awesome.

So I’ve decided to do something about it from the inside out. Nothing drastic, just making a few healthier choices about what I eat.

As well as getting organised with planning and cooking my evening meals in advance, I thought I needed to come up with a good snack. I like to snack when I’m working, so I decided to make some flapjacks rather than reaching for the biscuit tin.

Now, my usual flapjack recipe is pretty lethal (hello butter, hello sugar!) but I wanted to make them as healthy as possible.

You can find the recipe below (makes 12):

healthy-flapjack-ingredients

  • 150g oats
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 50g chopped dried dates
  • 4 tbsp runny honey
  • Banana* (mashed)

How to make them:

  • Pre-heat oven to 170°c fan/190°c/375°f/Gas mark 5
  • Lightly oil a shallow baking tray
  • In a bowl mix the oats and coconut together
  • In a pan over a low heat, melt the honey a little
  • Stir in the mashed bananas then the dried fruit
  • Add all of this wet mix to the dry mix until it’s all combined (*I used one and a half bananas – I’d suggest having two on hand just in case your mix is too dry)
  • Turn out into the tray and spread out so it’s flat
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown
  • Leave to cool before cutting into squares.

I love flapjacks as they’re so simple and you can really chuck anything you like in. This was a bit of an experiment really, but I think they turned out pretty lovely. The combination of coconuts and dates is a winner, and the cranberries add a sharp edge to the natural sweetness of the other ingredients.

I’ve called these ‘pretty healthy’ because obviously there’s a lot of sugar (albeit natural) in there and dried fruit isn’t the best. But there is no fat, plus banana and oats are prebiotic making them nice on your tummy.

Let me know if you try out the recipe and what you think.

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Hello 2015

Happy new year! I hope that the first few days of 2015 have been good to you. I’m slowly pulling myself out of my Christmas hibernation and back into the real world.

I don’t really go in for traditional new year resolutions. I don’t find anything where the main focus is giving something up particularly motivating, personally. But I do love this time of year; it feels shiny and new, and a good time to set some intentions. A few challenges – and fun things of course – to tick off throughout the year.

2015 goals

The year that was

2014 was a funny old year. I don’t often write about personal things on the blog but here goes nothing…

About this time last year my relationship ended, one which spanned almost a decade and pretty much all of my twenties. It was a strange, uncertain time. In February I moved in with my parents full time (something I hadn’t done since I was 19). To be honest, I felt like a bit of a failure; almost 30 and living at home in a spare room with nothing to show for myself. Many pity parties were had, I can tell you.

But I live to tell the tale and there have been a lot of positives to focus on too. When I look back at 2014 I feel a stronger, more confident person. I’ve learnt to drive (I didn’t quite achieve my goal of passing my practical test by the end of the year but I’m not far off), I travelled abroad by myself for the first time to Amsterdam for my 30th birthday, I ran another 10k, improved my time AND raised £250 for Macmillan, I developed a regular yoga practice, I went to my first festival, my first blogging conference (much social anxiety overcome), I spent quality time with family and visited friends around the country, I learnt to use my DSLR properly, we got Fi & Me stocked in an actual proper shop, I delivered a huge project at my 9-5 job, I saved money, and I had afternoon tea! Yes that was actually one of my goals for 2014.

So when I look back on the year, I mainly feel happy and proud. I’ve not done anything incredible or outstanding, but I’ve been grateful for what I’ve got – and that feels pretty awesome my friend.

Intentions for 2015

I’ve always liked the quote above (I thought it was a line from a Paul Simon song myself, but it’s often attributed to Carl Sagan and Carl Sandburg, who knows?)

It dawned on me recently whilst contemplating my goals that whilst I have lots of things I want to DO, I don’t really pay much thought to the bigger picture. So I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about what matters to me, and then I thought hell, why don’t I just spend the whole year dedicated to exploring that stuff – trying new things, learning?

Sure, I want to pass my driving test, visit my friend in Spain, learn to weave, grow my tiny business, run a half marathon and all that jazz (no honestly, I’m going to run a half marathon!) But I also don’t want to limit myself to a set of things I MUST do – or just feel plain bad about when it gets to November and I’ve not done half of them.

And if the last year has taught me anything it’s that the stuff you never planned for while you’re doing all the other stuff you did is actually where it’s at. So I’ve decided to take steps to simplify things, make more space for the things I enjoy and people I enjoy spending time with, move more, get outdoors, embrace my creative side and take what opportunities come my way.

2015, let’s do this!

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Christmas Fair

I know, I know! Christmas is pretty much over now but I just wanted to hop on here and share a few pictures from our local Christmas fair where we had a stall earlier in December. 2014 has been a busy year personally for both Fiona and myself, between 9-to-5 jobs, commuting, childcare, etc. there isn’t always a lot of time for fairs. We love meeting new people, and their is nothing quite like that instant feedback you get from chatting to customers.

So, being a bit short of time we only chose to do one fair this entire year, and of course it was a Christmas one! This time in our home town of Marple for their annual Christmas Cracker celebration. It actually felt really nice to be in the place where I grew up and seeing some old, familiar faces.

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It’s taken us a few years of doing fairs, but I really love the set up of our stall now. I feel like our range, style and branding has all come together and it really makes me proud of what we’ve achieved (aaaw!) Plus, we have some awesome vintage props and twinkly lights to make everything really shine.

I’m slowly slowly getting all of our stock on to our Etsy shop, and if you’re local to Stockport we’re also stocked in the excellent Cloudberry Cafe (which is worth a visit just for the hot chocolate alone).

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. x

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Halloween DIY: Black cat stripey arm warmers

black-cat-armwarmer-pattern

Happy halloween! I know we don’t really celebrate it that much here in the UK but literally any excuse to eat sweets and dress up a bit, and I am all in.

I wanted to make and share a little halloween themed make with you today. Recently I’ve got back into knitting (my autumn/winter hobby) and I’ve gone a little mad with making up my own intarsia patterns (that’s introducing a new colour yarn to create a contrasting pattern). So I thought why not some halloween-shaped intarsia… but I wanted to make it something you could wear more than once a year.

I came up with these long stripey armwarmers, with added black cats (certified crazy cat lady over here). They’re super quick to knit up, I managed them in two evenings in front of the TV, and all you really need to know how to do is knit and purl. Plus they’re SO cosy.

cat-armwarmer-full

I’ve put together a pattern, including a chart for the cat design, which you can download here. It’s my first time writing a knitting pattern, so feedback would be lovely. Let me know any corrections in the comments below. And, even better, let me know if you make your own!

P.S. They look especially cool worn with double stripes. It kind of reminds me of Beetlejuice for some reason. Love that film.

cat-armwarmer-2

P.P.S. Don’t ask me why I’m only wearing one. I am a dork.

You can check out my previous halloween DIYs here: happy halloween cross stitch pattern, printable halloween garland

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Personalised Illustrations by Fi

My absolute favourite birthday present when I turned 30 back in July was from Fiona, who drew an illustration of me incorporating a few – ok lots – of my favourite things.

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There are dresses, books, baking, wool, mushrooms, leaves, pencils, tea, all manner of sewing references, cats (uh, a seal!) and much more in there. It really means so much to me because it’s made just for me and I know no one has the same thing anywhere in the world. How special is that?!

personalised-60th-illustration

Fi started doing personalised illustrations a couple of years ago when our grandma asked her to draw a birthday card for our auntie’s birthday. She’s a keen gardener, and Fi was sure to add all these little details into the design.

Here’s a few of the other commissions she’s done recently…

personalised-wedding-illustration

birthday-cake-illustrations

If you’ve got a birthday, wedding or other special occasion coming up that you need a gift for, get in touch fionameakin [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Prices start from £30 and all you need to provide is a picture and an idea of the theme, or things that the subject loves! You’ll receive an original, hand drawn illustration (not a print).

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We’re Jammin’ (Again)

If there’s one thing that makes me feel like autumn is definitely here, it’s making jam.

This year was kind of different, because I was teaching my mum to make jam. This seems odd to me as she is the person who has passed down all her cooking and baking knowledge to me (thanks Ma!) So the fact that I was the one teaching her was a complete role reversal.

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She has a wonderful allotment, and this year saw a glut of red and black currants. So we decided to make them into jam.

I won’t bore you with the recipe, it’s really simple and explained perfectly here. But I thought I’d share some of the pictures I took.

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I just love the process, it’s basically a chemistry experiment in your kitchen, but with tasty results.

Red currants, like the gooseberries I used last year are fairly high pectin (the natural agent that makes fruit set) so there was no need to add any extra (which can be bought from most big supermarkets). Though if you use low-pectin fruits like strawberries you probably will.

Have you made any jam this year? What’s your favourite?

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