Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition

A little while ago, I saw a post on Caroline’s blog about a competition being run by Hillary’s blinds and I thought it sounded so much fun I had to give it a go. So without further ado, this is my humble entry!

Hillarys Bird Parade

I chose the Bird Parade fabric above and had a bit of a panic when it arrived. The problem that I have with crafting is something a call The Fear – when fabric or wool arrives and it’s so pretty that you feel a bit wrong taking the scissors to it! Just look at that peacock! How could I live with myself if I accidentally cut off his head?!

After a cup of tea and a long think, I had a flash of inspiration. In my last post I talked about starting yoga instead of eating chocolates on the sofa every evening. I have officially bought myself a yoga mat now, so I’m fairly committed to the cause! The only problem is that said yoga mat is pink. So pink. Bright, Barbie, clashes-with-just-about-everything pink. Great for yoga, not so great in my calm, blue bedroom. After a quick Google, I figured that a yoga mat bag would be a lovely, easy project.

 

Pink Yoga Mat

In theory, it was easy. Its a big rectangle for the main bag, a long rouleau strap and a circle of fabric set in for the bottom. In practice? Well…I probably should mention that this was my second ever sewing project, the first being the hot water bottle cover which broke five needles and about which we do not speak. I should also mention that my sewing machine, Trixie, is a gorgeous but temperamental, hand-cranked old girl. This was not going to be smooth sailing…

So I threaded my needle and turned the handle. Things went well for about ten minutes, and then? Then I swore. I stuck more pins into my fingers than any competent adult should. I had a fraught encounter with an empty bobbin. I swore some more. I had a falling out with Trixie, and stormed off to fetch my mum’s 21st century machine, Peggy. I fell out with Peggy, too. I gave up and went to bed. When I came back to it this afternoon, I realised that in both sewing and life there is only one way to deal with tension issues – with a large glass of wine. And armed with that pearl of wisdom (and a little Sauvignon Blanc) I finally finished it:

 

Finshed Yoga Bag DIY

It might not be perfect, but I made it with my own hands, and that’s such a brilliant feeling. It’s like all those episodes of Sewing Bee are starting to pay off…

If you’re interested in having a go yourself (I’m sure it will be easier than I made it seem above!), here’s the how-to:

1) Measure your fabric against your yoga mat, and cut out a rectangle for the body of the bag. There’s no need to be too precise, just make sure you leave yourself plenty of wiggle room!

2) Cut your circle for the bottom – I did this by drawing around a small plate which was a wee bit wider than my finished bag would be.

Circle Plate Trick

3) Cut your strip for your strap. I made mine about two inches wide, but bear in mind it will be smaller once you turn it inside out!

4) Press everything. Everything!

5) Now, onto construction. Decide which is the top end of the bag, fold your fabric over about an inch and sew it down. This will be where you thread your cord to make the opening.

Top of Bag

6) Make your strap. Fold your strip of fabric in half, with the wrong side facing out, and sew all the way along the edge to make a tube. Now grab some kind of poking device, and turn that tube inside out. Ta-da! One strap.

Strap

7) Decide where you want your strap to sit on the bag, and pin it to the inside of your bag’s main body. Take care to make sure the strap is folded properly, so it won’t be twisted.

Insert Strap

 

8) Pin absolutely everything down, and you’re ready to sew up your bag. Leave a decent amount for your seam and sew the rectangle into a tube, making sure that you catch the strap nice and securely, and that you don’t sew the hole for the cord shut!

9) Now you need to sew your base in. Grab your circle and every single pin you own. Try and make it fit beautifully. Cry. Try again. Cry more. Enlist your mother’s help. Decide to just bodge it . Or, y’know, do it properly. Your call…

The Circle of Doom

10) Take a deep breath and turn your bag right side out. Almost done!

11) Thread your cord through the top of the bag. Attach one end of the cord to a large safety pin to help you wiggle it through!

Safety Pin Trick

12) If the cord is nylon (or similar), gently heat the ends with a lighter or a match to keep them from fraying. Now thread some pretty beads on!

Beads

And enjoy your yoga bag!

Thank you so much to Hillary’s for the fabric – it was great to work with, and the best bit? I still have almost half a metre left for my next project!  I’d love to see other people’s entries too – leave me a link if you’ve had a go!

 

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Get Fit (Or Die Trying)

 

photo (2)
Not too long ago, I had a terrifying moment of realisation. Having watched Shaun of the Dead, and then contemplated buying The Last of Us, it suddenly occurred to me that, in the case of a real-life zombie apocalypse, I would be a starter on the undead’s set menu.

I have always been a bit reluctant to exercise. I like to pretend that it’s because I’m creative – that I’d rather spend my time reading or crocheting than getting sweaty – but the truth is that I am lazy. At school I used my barely-existent asthma as an excuse not to participate in athletics. I would purposely get knocked out of rounders games early on, so I could sit and enjoy the sunshine instead. With the exception of the PE lesson where my friend and I invented three-legged badminton (every bit as dangerous and brilliant as it sounds), I cannot think of a sports class that I actually enjoyed.

This pattern has carried on into my adult life. I have occasionally jogged, walked and thought very hard about going swimming and that is the sum total of it. It has been something of a joke amongst my friends that I am allergic to exercise, and having always been naturally thin I’ve never thought I had much of a reason to prove them wrong. But the other day, between the zombie apocalypse epiphany and having to catch my breath on the stairs between Topshop and Topman, I realised that the joke wasn’t all that funny anymore.

So I sat and had a good think about what I want from a fitness regime. I knew I wanted to get fitter, but that it wasn’t about shifting pounds and looking skinny. I needed something relatively low impact to ease myself in gently, and so I plumped for a bit of yoga. For the last week or so I have been using the Yoga Studio app to do a short class every day and you know what? I’ve loved it. Even after such a short space of time, I feel stronger, more alert and much, much calmer. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’m off to a proper class tonight.

Ok, so yoga alone isn’t going to save me from the brain-munchers, but it’s as good a place as any to start. After a little while I’m planning to throw in some running* and who knows where it’ll go from there. Kale chips? Spinach smoothies? Protein shakes?! The way I’m feeling right now, all I know is I’m not stopping until I’ve realised my childhood dream of becoming the next Lara Croft…

 

*Just to clarify, by running I mean running for about 2 minutes, then walking until the burning in my chest stops, then running some more, then stopping while I try not to throw up. Hardcore.

Review: Bee-autiful Honey Skincare

 

Living Nature, Nue and Antipodes - Honey Product Review

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I love puns. I’m not proud of it, but I really do. So I’m afraid you’re going to have expect more of the above in this post.

Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask (£21.50) – I think I’m right in assuming that this is the Internet’s favourite face mask, and it honestly deserves to be. I will try not to wax lyrical about it it, but it’s certainly worth the hype. I have had terrible skin lately, either spotty or dry, sometimes both, and this stuff sorts out all of my issues. It also smells so delicious that it is one of the few face masks I have ever considered tasting. The price may sting a little, but it is very much worth it!

Living Nature Manuka Honey Gel (£11.50) – When my skin really refuses to beehive (nope, not sorry), this is my go-to. Unlike blemish treatments I’ve used in the past, this is nourishing, moisturising and actually works! Pop it on in the evening and wake up with calmer skin and none of the dryness you usually get with this type of treatment.  It is a bit of a lifesaver, because we all know what a buzz kill spots can be.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel (£9.50) – Another beauty blog staple and the best night-time lip balm bar none. By the evening, my lips tend to be dry, chapped and sore – not a look I would recommend – and this stuff works as some sort of overnight magic potion to return them to normal by morning. Certainly worth the blogger buzz!

So there you have it – my top three honey products and pretty much every bee pun I could come up with. I hope they’ve not been too unbearable, I was just pollen your legs, folks.

You know what, that may have been one too far…

Review: Balm Balm Relax Body Oil

Balm Balm Relax Body Oil

Until recently, I wouldn’t have said that Balm Balm was a brand which was on my radar. They were just one of those quiet, unassuming brands who got occasional mentions on beauty blogs, but not much more. After trying this oil, I’ve found myself wondering why that is!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am a bit of a worrier, and sometimes that means I struggle to drift off at night. After a recent run of restless nights, I head to Feel Unique in search of something lavendery, and stumbled upon this. At £12.99 it was a little more than I’d usually pay for a body product, but it turns out that it was worth every single penny.

The best word to describe the scent of this oil would have to be ‘comforting’. It’s like being wrapped up in your softest blanket, given a steaming cup of tea and being told that everything is going to be alright. The oil itself is also a dream – it’s seriously moisturising, but not so greasy that you can’t get snuggled up in bed straight after applying it. I’ve also tried using it as a bath oil and it was beautiful!

Has it actually helped me sleep? Well, that’s up for debate, but I’m sure taking five minutes a day to rub it in and inhale the lovely essential oils has certainly helped me find time to relax a bit more, and stress a bit less when my head hits the pillow. The brand’s natural and organic credentials have also got me thinking about going a little greener when it comes to cosmetics. By which I mean placing another cheeky order to see how their other products measure up! Any recommendations?

Lent

Doubt kills more dreams

For some reason, I have spent the last week or so deliberating over what I should give up for Lent this year. I wouldn’t usually bother with it but with things feeling a bit stale and monotonous at the moment, I thought the shake up might do me some good. My first thought was to try to cut back on the amount of sugar I eat but …no, just no.Every other idea that I could come up with was rejected on similar grounds – that voice in my head telling me that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Which is when it hit me – maybe this Lent I should try giving up on being so hard on myself. I have a tendency to over-think things and beat myself up over the silly little mistakes. It’s a habit I really want to break, and I know I can’t be alone in that.

So – at least for the next 40 days – take a deep breath and just let it go. It is ok that you forgot to indicate on that roundabout, it does not make you the world’s worst driver. The fact that your skin isn’t perfect does not negate any of your talents. It doesn’t matter that the cake you spent an hour making doesn’t look anything like the one on Pinterest. It’s still cake isn’t it?! Just eat it and enjoy every delicious mouthful.

This, coincidentally,  is why I’m definitely not giving up the sugar just yet.

P.S. I had intended on posting this yesterday but, as it turned out my village decided it was giving up electricity for the evening!