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Making Way For A New Creative Obsession

Hello my lovely friends! How are you? I hope you’ve been able to spend time outside in the recent beautiful sunshine.

I had a wonderful plan of getting some crochet and crafty bits done outside with a pot of tea, but unfortunately there was a bit of a wind and my yarn, needles and everything else kept being swept up – which spoilt my romantic vision slightly!

As you know, the Finca has been a hive of creative, crochet activities for a few months and I have been loving getting stuck into commissions and designing new bits for the Etsy shop.  Alongside this, my need to explore other creative avenues has been fired up again… I think it got to a point where I realised I had been doing nothing but feverishly crocheting for weeks and weeks, without any sort of balance.

Once I realised this, I began hunting around for other projects that I could have a go at. Yesterday, I put the finishing touches on an old family ottoman seat that I now have in the bedroom and loved every minute of the renovation.

My other new obsession, which I have been dabbling in is…

First StepsIntoSewing

… sewing!

I know that I have made things before, but to be perfectly honest, there was never any finesse to my end results. It was more of a trial and error kind of thing.  There are so many possibilities for homewares and dressmaking that I just can’t achieve with crochet. I was getting down about not being able to make certain things until I gave myself a shake and told myself that I could learn!

My dreams are now currently filled with stunning fabrics, bags, cushions, quilts, A-line skirts and broderie tops and I am being very tough on myself and ensuring that I learn all of the skills step-by-step, practising them until I have got them just right.

learn to sew by Lauren Guthrie

One of the things that I have realised is that I learn best when I have time to mull things over at my own pace and after a lot of research I decided to buy Lauren’s book above. Apart from a selection of progressive projects that all looked appealing, I liked the way Lauren set out the skills sections. There are clear images and every step has been clearly explained. Her approach is much more welcoming than daunting – which I really appreciated!

Today, I’m hoping to finish making the pocket of a bag (which is one of her first suggested beginner’s projects) and I hope to have the whole thing finished in a day or two. I already have my eye on a few Sew Over It patterns… but I better not get too carried away!

I’d be very grateful if you have any great sewing suggestions: patterns, books, fabric shops – I’d love to hear!

Have a great rest of the weekend. x

 

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A Creative Backdrop ~ Accessories That Make You Wanna Make

Ha ha – I can’t believe I used the word ‘wanna’ in my title. I’m so down with it.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time being creative with the old crochet hooks over the last few weeks. I mean A LOT.  So much so, that now that I’m waiting for my new yarn order to arrive and I’ve finished my last commission piece, my hands are twitching in a muscle memory fashion – desperate to get back to work.

I’ve filled the temporary crochet void by reading a lot of lifestyle blogs and staring wistfully at beautiful posts screaming ‘Your life could be as beautiful, golden, arty, with a touch of pale pink icing as this… insert incredible photograph.’

Gold tealight

… golden tea-light holder from Chickidee …

… and I lap it up each time. Yum, yum, yum. I always want my life to feel like that. Icing and all.

For me, having a cosy, lovely space to work in does make each part of the process a joy. Except perhaps the paperwork bit, which is not fun, whichever way I try to spin it to myself.

BUT! I have found a few more little things to add (*whimsically buy), so that I can create that I-could-be-living-in-a-blog atmosphere.

I discovered this new online shop CHICKIDEE which is like all my home decor dreams in a box. (This isn’t a paid post, but I got a free mug, which was kind of due to a postal accident… anyway, I digress, my point is that this is an unbiased post)! 

Gold tealight on mantel

… doesn’t it look at home already? …

I instantly fell in love with this star-punched, golden tea-light holder and knew that it would go perfectly with the ever growing assortment of lovely bits on our mantelpiece.

I also splashed out on this piece of greatness:

drop it like its hot mug

… oh yeah, I’m down with the kids …

As it made me laugh and feel trendy at the same time, I went for it.  There’s nothing like a good whimsical purchase to make you feel on top of the world!

So I urge you to take a look at Chickidee – if only to look through their gloriously minimalist themed website. Be warned though, they’re really nice and you will probably end up buying more than you should.  To quote Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory)… ‘What’s life without whimsy?’

I stand by that.

Have a great day. x

 

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Beautiful Things

This week seemed to be full of beautiful things.  Either surprises from friends or little parcels in the mail.  It was one of those weeks where everything seemed to come at once.

I was thrilled to find that the person who bought my festival blanket was a fellow colour-lover and fantastic company as well.  We spent a lovely morning chatting about crafts, flowers and crochet over a cup of tea.  Hilary (of Eliza James Flowers) had the perfect place in mind for the blanket and kindly sent me some pictures of it already looking quite at home in this beautiful country bedroom.

festival blanket in situ

… looks like the idea place for a cup of tea and a curl-up with a book …

Hilary also surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in her signature relaxed and carefree style.  Bursting with colour and scent from the various herbs and flowers, I proudly carried it home where it is now sitting in the kitchen for all to see!

Eliza James Flowers 1

Eliza James Flowers 2

…. breathtakingly beautiful …

All of these events were certainly making my week a great one when something else exciting dropped through the mailbox.

custom stamp

… great product wrapping from Creatiate

Now if you go crazy for stationery like me, this shop will have you in fits and whoops of joy.  I found it after a lengthy search for a custom stamp for The Dorset Finca.  My plan was to stamp away merrily on the backs of envelopes, packaging and anything else I could get my hands on.  It seemed like a much more eco-friendly solution than buying branded stickers all the time.  Although saying that, I love stickers badly too. 

When I found Creatiate’s shop, I knew they were the ones to sort me out, mainly because it took me about four days to choose which design I liked – there were too many delicious ones.  Furthermore, once I had chosen, I already had my eye on another purchase! Yes, my whimsy-self was in true form this week!

The Dorset Finca Stamp

… ahhhh, perfect …

This bad boy was made, wrapped, shipped and delivered within 1-2 weeks. From America.

Me = one very happy customer!

To keep up-to-date with these two creative dreams you can check them out here:

Hilary at Eliza James Flowers; click here for the website, here for the Facebook Page and here for Instagram.

Sarah at Creatiate; click here for the website, here for the Facebook Page and here for Instagram.

 Speak soon x

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The Secret to Successfully Growing Supermarket Basil

Ok, so the warm weather arrived this week and if you’re anything like me, you had a vision of mediterranean salads with fresh herbs and large dollops of cool mozzarella. In the excitement, you may have bought fresh pots of herbs from the supermarket to line your kitchen windowsill and stood back to bask in the loveliness.

“Look at this, this is the good life,” you may have thought to yourself.

…and then a week later, the herbs look a little worse-for-wear despite your best attempts at caring for them. Then the realisation sinks in and you remember why you only bought them once last year too.

However, this can change! You can have the dream of fresh herbs in your kitchen to pick at will and add to your spaghetti bolognese or to garnish your soups with flair.

supermarket basil repotted in dip dye pot

The first thing to do when you get home with your new herbs is to repot them straight away. Choose a pot that is at least 3cm bigger in diameter. Fill it with lovely, nutritious compost before taking your herb plant out of the supermarket pot and re-potting it into your chosen vessel. I like to choose really pretty ceramic pots for this purpose, either ones that I have bought or those that I have painted myself. The picture above shows my newest basil plant in a plain terracotta pot that I painted in two colours to give a dip-dye effect. More pictures and a very simple DIY post can be found here.

Give your newly planted herbs a good watering before placing them in your chosen location. They seem to do well near a window with good, but not harsh, light.

repotted supermarket basil

In order to keep your herbs in tip-top condition, continue to pick leaves off to encourage new growth (although take care not to reduce your plant to mere stalks – it needs leaves to survive)! You could also consider giving the plants the occasional feed with a liquid fertiliser such as this one (affiliate link).

In these new conditions and if repotted when they have noticeably outgrown their original pot, the herbs should last a long time. In the case of basil, the green spindly stems will start to get woody and hard (a healthy sign) and you will have a constant supply throughout the summer season.

Hurrah that we can enjoy the good life!

Have a great day x

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Four Ingredient Coconut Macaroons

coconut macaroons

… freshly baked …

It felt like a baking kind of a day yesterday and it didn’t take long for the cry of ‘ooh macaroons’ to confirm what I was to make.

I had planned to spend a morning, perusing my beautiful new recipe book The Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home, over a cup of tea. I thought that it might take me a good, restful half hour to decide upon which of the delicious treats to make. However, this was not to be the case. As soon as the page turned to macaroons, all other cakes, biscuits and puddings were forgotten and mutterings of ‘I might hold my breath until you say you’ll make macaroons for me’ were heard. From my husband.

coconut macaroon recipe

… lining up the eggs …

This recipe only consisted of four ingredients: eggs, sweetened condensed milk, desiccated coconut and vanilla essence. It was quick and easy to make, but I was a little dubious about the lack of sugar and chocolate. I’m not a massive sugar fan, but I wasn’t sure where the sweetness of the macaroons was going to come from.

eggwhites

… whipping up some stiff peaks …

Despite my reservations, I didn’t deviate from the recipe. The condensed milk, coconut and vanilla were mixed up before I whipped up my egg whites and folded them in. The mixture definitely looked as I imagined it would and I spooned it out onto three baking trays. There wasn’t an indication in the book as to how many macaroons would be made from this mix but I managed to spoon out at least 20 coconut blobs.

unbaked macaroons

… pre-baked macaroons …

I was pretty impressed that after only 15-20 minutes, the macaroons came out with the perfect consistency and were crunchy with soft centres. Mr D-H obviously took it upon himself to conduct the taste test and the macaroons were given a thumbs up of approval. My thoughts were that they had a good flavour, but I would still stand by my earlier musings that they needed a little something extra, perhaps a drizzle of melted chocolate would add a bitterness to them, which I think they would benefit from.

If you fancy giving macaroons a try, you can buy the book here (affiliate link), or try these links to free recipes on the internet:

Enjoy! x

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A Unique Mother's Day Gift

sleeping hares

golden sleeping hares by Charley of *Artist Not Included …

It’s my birthday next week and I know that somewhere lurking in the Finca are two beautiful illustrations by Charley of *Artist Not Included, all wrapped up and waiting for me to open. Well, I hope all wrapped up… it wouldn’t surprise me if Mr DF hadn’t quite got that bit organised! 

Art can be a difficult gift to give. It’s so subjective and if you are presenting something quite large, the recipient can feel a little pressured to display it on their walls for ever more, even if it’s not quite their thing.

On the other hand, giving someone an illustration, print or painting can indicate that you’ve thought outside the box a bit. That you want to give them something that will last and will be a little bit special.

My new friend Charley (I met her when I wrote about her Christmas pop-up shop) has created some beautiful designs, which are for sale in her Etsy shop. Not only do I want to own almost every single one… but I think they would make the most perfect gifts for Mother’s Day.

sleeping hares 2

sleeping hares

Her range of sleeping hares are particularly apt for Mother’s Day. Lying in a nest of grass or straw, a mother hare curls up with her baby. It’s just too sweet and beautiful.

This versatile print could be displayed just as it is, on a bookshelf, framed for a nursery or placed in the kitchen. Either way, it is bound to get some admiring looks and would give enjoyment daily to the lucky mother in question.

Charley Artist Not Inc

What’s more, Charley (being seriously lovely and polite) is always on hand to offer framing advice or to take commissions, if you would like something bespoke.

If hares aren’t your bag, there are cushions, cards and canvases with a range of animals from pugs and dachshunds to birds and foxes.

You can either visit her Etsy shop here, check out her beautiful blog, or get in touch on Twitter to see what she has stashed away in her gallery studio. Please let me know which one you fall in love with…

Enjoy your day! x

Photographs kindly provided by Charley of *Artist Not Included

Please note: this post includes affiliate links. 

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FOUR WAYS TO TRANSFORM AN ORDINARY-LOOKING LOAF CAKE

make it cute

Last week, I took a lemon loaf cake to a bring-and-share lunch.  I was impressed with myself for putting in that little bit of extra effort to provide a homemade offering.  Saying that, I didn’t actually get time to ice it, like I had planned, but thought that if it was cut up attractively and put on a colourful plate, people would still have a try.

I tentatively placed my cake next to the brightly coloured, far more beautiful puddings that my friends had bought, before helping myself to the savoury bits and sitting down to have a good chat.

It was about half-way through the lunch, when people had been up for seconds and some were starting on their pudding, that I realised that my cake stood there… untouched.  I could almost hear its sigh of ‘I’m not good enough’ as it lay there in between chocolate coated marshmallows, biscuits and small iced cakes, all of which were already half demolished.

Many of my hilarious friends tried to cheer me (and the cake) up by having a slice and exclaiming to the room, in very loud voices, how simply delicious the lemon cake was, in an attempt to draw a crowd of plate-wielders.

The main fact is… that my loaf cake is yummy. I know it is… but I now know that a little more effort is needed to jazz it up and entice people to try it.  So here are my 4 ways to transform an ordinary-looking (but tasty) loaf cake:

make it cute 2

1.  Make it cute… Lots of people seem completely bamboozled by the sight of a large (normal) slice of cake. It terrifies them into thinking that they will be under pressure to finish the whole thing. What if it tastes like marzipan and I don’t like it? and other such questions spill through their heads!  My solution is to cut up the cake into cutesy squares, before securing small towers of them with adorned cocktail sticks. Words like eat me should help relieve any fear and encourage people to do just that.

inner child 2. Appeal to the inner child… If you’re anything like me, I love to choose cakes that would have been seriously rationed by my parents when I was little.  Anything dripping with icing and looking like it belongs in a 6-year old’s birthday party is the cake for me.

throw the kitchen sink

3. Throw the kitchen sink at it… Everyone appreciates a good effort in the cake making department. So if in doubt… go a little bit crazy with the sprinkles and sweets. It shows a sense of fun and opulence and generally goes down well.

do the drizzle

4. Do the drizzle…For something a little more elegant you can’t beat a traditional drizzle. The cake above called out for a lemon glaze, which provided moisture, a little extra sweetness and finished off the cake in an understated, classic manner.

I hope that you never have to experience this mortifying situation like I did. You can rest assured that I will be bringing the most spangly, outrageous-looking cake to the next bring-and-share lunch.

…and then we’ll see…!

 

Have a great day! x