Filed In: DIY & CRAFTS

How To Be A Wrap Star This Christmas

It’s only a week to go before Christmas Day (where does time go?), and it’s time to indulge in my favourite part of Christmas preparations. Yep, you guessed it, GIFT WRAPPING! Okay, maybe you didn’t guess that, but I’m sure it probably comes as no surprise that I absolutely love wrapping gifts and arranging them beautifully on tables, under the Christmas tree, and on any available surface around the house. I enjoy gift wrapping so much, that I’m always happy to wrap everyone’s pressies for them. When they get worried about me ruining the surprise, I say, “Just wrap it in tissue paper and I’ll finish it up beautifully for you”.

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There’s just something so very satisfying about gift wrapping. Well, a few things really. Luxurious ribbons, double-sided papers, and tasteful little charms are definitely my jam. Oh, and nothing beats the look on someone’s face when they receive a beautifully wrapped gift. I find it so endearing and rather amusing when they say things like, “Its so beautiful, I don’t want to open it”.

How about you? Do you like wrapping gifts too? Whether you do or you don’t, it one of those necessary things you’re likely to end up doing at some point during the year. So because I’m very excited about gift wrapping in general, I decided to share a few tips on how to be a wrap star this Christmas. This is not a tutorial, but rather inspirational ideas for adding your own creative flair in making the gift of giving (and the gift you’re giving) that much more special. Follow my ideas and you’ll be the most respected gangster wrapper of the year. Ha-ha! Cheesy I know, but I just couldn’t resist.

THIS ONE’S FOR ALL THE PAPER HATERS – USE FABRIC!: I’m a real paper lover, but I really like using fabrics as gift wrap because I find them way more forgiving than paper. If you’re not very good at handling wrapping paper, this is the perfect option for you. It’s also the best option if your gift has an unusual shape, as it provides the flexibility that paper lacks. Check out this Ndebele inspired beauty I created by simply wrapping a bottle of bubbly with a brightly coloured cloth napkin. I wrapped a gold string around the neck of the bottle to secure the fabric, then added a pink bauble for a fun and elf-ish appeal. For extra credit, why not use a gorgeous Liberty hanky, or a vintage scarf to wrap a small gift for someone you really want to impress? That’ll be two gifts in one for the lucky recipient!

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TURN ON THE CHARM: It gives me the giggles when the recipient of a gift is so in love with the wrapping that they hesitate to open it for a moment. It’s like they’re scared of ruining the ‘art’ so instead of ripping it open as they should, they just stare at it for a while. For those types of people, I like to add something extra special as a gift topper, something they can keep to remind them of “That one time when the wrapping was so gorgeous, that I was scared the gift might disappoint…” KIDDING! But I’m sure there will always be someone who likes the wrapping more than they like the gift.

Here’s an idea that will give you some credit. Top the gift with a unique and beautifully made Christmas ornament, like I’ve done here with this super fine flamingo, so they can have it for adding to their Christmas tree every year. They’ll definitely think of you when dressing the tree with that special ornament in years to come. Okay, maybe that only works for hopeless romantic and sentimental like me, but I still think it’s a damn cool idea. Other good gift toppers are pom-poms, die-cut letters (choose recipients initial), tiny photo frames with their favourite image or quote, or just a sprig of their favourite herb (Rosemary is pretty hardy) to make it smell amazing. If all else fails, just put a ribbon on it! 😉

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THE CANDY SHOP INSPIRATION: I’m not a fan of giving money as gifts, but hey, sometimes that’s just what works. If you happen to be giving cash for Christmas, you can keep the recipient guessing with your unique presentation. Standard money envelopes are a little boring, so perhaps give them a miss this year. How about you just roll up the moolah and stick it in an empty loo roll and wrap it like pretty candy. Those will undoubtedly be the sweetest notes they’ll ever receive. This is also a great way to wrap gift vouchers and other tiny gift items.

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THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: Over the years, I’ve realised that I really enjoy the challenge of wrapping awkwardly shaped gifts. You know, the ones that are not a perfect cube/cuboid, the gifts that everyone gets overwhelmed and annoyed with wrapping.

My failsafe approach to wrapping awkwardly shaped gifts when there’s no box available is as follows:
Choose a bit of card stock wider than the widest part of the gift (ensuring it’s sturdy enough to hold the weight of your gift), then place the card in the middle of a wide piece of fabric or paper. Centre the gift on top of the card, then bring the sides of the fabric/paper up and close by tying at the top. Fabric is more suitable for this technique because it will gather nicely. However, if you’re using paper, you might want to consider using deliberate folds and creases to compensate for its less forgiving qualities.

Now let’s address those gifts that are so darn cute and fancy already, you can’t bear to hide them away in a box. For those, my good friends, I give you my well known solution to making just about anything look better. Yep, you’ve heard it here before… Stick a ribbon on it! It’s works perfectly for this bottle of Hennessy right? 🙂

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Okay beautiful people, that’s a wrap!

I wish you all a magical Christmas, filled with love, happiness and extra special moments shared with family and friends.

xoxo

DIY: HOW TO MAKE A PRETTY WILDFLOWER WREATH

So last weekend I had the pleasure of being a welcomed guest at what I can only refer to as the happiest, sunniest, most tear-jerking wedding ever! It was the wedding of my gorgeous friend Anna and her rather debonair fiancé Ben. I affectionately refer to them as BenAnna, and have found over time that many other friends do too! No surprises there, I’m sure, it’s really just too easy!

Now, you’re probably wondering, “What’s all that got to do with the title of this post?” Quite a lot actually! Having seen a few wreaths I made in the past, Anna requested that I created a special one for her big day! Needless to say, I was most honoured by her request, for a few reasons other than being her friend. Namely, it’s for her wedding day, the day EVERYONE wants to ‘get it ALL RIGHT’, and I’m not a professional florist by any stretch of the imagination… just a crazy lady who loves flowers so much I’d be more than happy to spend my very last penny on fresh flowers for my home, then sit pretty with them and drink water in unison. I digress… I excitedly agreed to make something beautiful for my friend’s wedding, despite not having a clue where to begin. “Yes, of course, I’d be happy to do that for you”, while an amazing whimsical masterpiece of a wildflower wreath floats about in my mind’s eye.

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Why a wildflower wreath? I chose flowers that (in my opinion) reflected Anna’s personality and demeanour, and by extension, the vision she expressed for her wedding. Anna is one of the most calm, relaxed and caring persons I know; she enjoys and celebrates the simpler things in life. She’s that girl you’d imagine ambling curiously in  a meadow interspersed with dainty blooms and butterflies, enjoying elements of nature and just being. Unsurprisingly, Anna & Ben’s wedding reception took the form of a beautiful, relaxed at-home Garden Summer Party, attended by lovely friends and family, following a tear-jerking ceremony in a quaint and cosy little Church in Chelsfield aged over 900 years. All this magical goodness on what turned out to be the most beautiful day of the year so far in the UK, it really couldn’t get any better!

It turns out, my idea to create a whimsical wildflower wreath was most fitting after all. I was so pleased with the outcome that I decided to share this post about how I made it. Incidentally, my choice of flowers included some of my favourite blooms, so that made it an even more enjoyable creative process for me.

Without further ado, here’s how to make a pretty wildflower wreath.

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WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Variety of blooms (Here I’ve used 10 stems of Camomile, 3 stems of Blue Scabiosa, 5 stems of Bupleurum, 5 stems of Craspedia, and a single Yves Piaget Garden Rose)
  • Scissors
  • Green florist tape
  • Covered medium gauge florist wire (for the frame)
  • Fine gauge florist wires (for affixing flowers)
  • Wire cutter (if your wires aren’t pre-cut)
  • Ribbon
  • A keen eye for detail
  • Tons of enthusiasm

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Use 2 covered medium gauge florist wires to form the frame for your wreath, bend the ends to form a hook and eye for the closure.

Useful tip: To cover wires with green florist tape as I’ve done, simply adhere the tape to one end of the wire, then roll the wire continuously between your index finger and thumb, allowing the tape to wrap around diagonally until you get to the end of the wire. This will ensure the colour of your wire frame blends in better with the base foliage of your wreath.

2. Select a few sprigs of 6 to 8-inch Bupleurum greenery with long stems and affix the stems onto your frame with florist tape.

3. Wrap the branches of Bupleurum greenery around the wire following the natural curves and overall shape of the greenery. This makes overall coverage of your wreath frame easier.

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4. Repeat the process, adding greenery in the same direction around the wreath. Tuck the last branch of greenery underneath the starting piece and check for desired distribution of greenery. Trim as needed.

5. Add your first layer of camomile flowers in a similar fashion as you did the greenery in step 3, only this time using the fine gauge florist wire instead of tape.

6. Repeat step 4 with camomile flowers, securing each stem with thin florist wire until you are happy with the density of the wreath. Trim as needed.

Useful tip: To help your wreath maintain a more natural, wild and free character, go easy on the trimming and allow foliage and flowers to protrude from the frame organically.

7. Wrap fine florist wire around a few gathered bunches of camomile flowers lengthwise (as done with scabiosas in image 9), and redirect the flower heads so they’re frontal facing on the wreath.

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8. Insert florist wire in the blue scabiosa flower head, make a small loop at one end and pull towards the center of the bloom, conceal the wire.

9. Wrap the rest of the wire around the  flower stem lengthwise. This will allow you to position the blooms in your desired direction once on they’ve been added to the wreath.

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10. Secure focal flower stems to the wreath and position flower heads as desired. I’ve added some stems of dried Craspedia (billy balls) here to boldly echo the yellow from the dainty camomile flowers.

Useful tip: To keep your wreath looking fresh, spritz your finished wreath with water and place in the refrigerator in an airtight plastic bag until it’s time for use.

11. Add ribbon to wreath before hanging.

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As I mentioned earlier, last Saturday was a very warm and sunny day and whilst that made me extremely happy, it made keeping this pretty wreath fresh throughout the journey a bit challenging. Of course, I’m always up for a challenge and was rather pleased with myself when I came up with this brilliant solution at the last minute.

I placed the wreath in one of my craft boxes (it fit like a glove!), and turned it into a make-shift cooler box for the journey by taping this pretty pink freezer pack to the lid of the box. I reserved a few stems of camomile which I transported in a small zippy plastic bag with a bit of water. These stems were later added to the wreath once it was secured in it’s final position at the reception. This is optional but I wanted to add more forward facing camomile blooms after installation for a fuller look.

I’m pleased to announce that, thanks to my little ‘cooler box’, the wreath arrived wilt free and was still looking very fresh up until I left the party about an hour before midnight!

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Anna loved her wreath, and so did her guests. Needless to say, that made me very happy! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this post. Have a great weekend!

Nova xo

All images in this post are property of Nova Williams at 18chelseamews.com.

HOW TO MAKE CHILI-INFUSED OLIVE OIL

I love infused oils for three main reasons. They’re delicious, they’re versatile, and they often look very beautiful when presented in nicely shaped glass bottles. Many of you know that I love spicy foods, so it may not come as a surprise that chili-infused olive oil is one of my favourites of all infused oils. Having tried many store-bought versions, I have to admit that I’m often unimpressed with their pungency, or lack thereof. I prefer my chili-infused oil to score at least midrange on the Scoville scale, so I’ve now taken to making my own at home.

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You can make your own chili-infused olive oil by using hot or cold infusion methods. I prefer the cold method as I’ve never liked the idea of heating any oil then storing for later use. Of course it takes a longer time for the oil to absorb the full flavours of the chilis with the cold infusion method but I really think it’s worth the wait.

Here’s how to make chili-infused olive oil at home using this easy cold infusion method.

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WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Dried whole chili peppers (stems removed)
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • Sterilised Glass Bottle (with cap)
  • Funnel
  • Kitchen Scissors
  • Knife

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Set aside a few whole chili peppers and chop the rest finely. Here I’ve used my nifty little multi-blade herb scissors which cuts many pieces at once
  • Add chopped chilis to sterilised glass bottle
  • Use your knife to slice the sides of the remaining whole chilis lengthwise, to allow the flavours to meld with oil
  • Pour olive oil into the bottle, using funnel to avoid spillage
  • Replace the bottle cap tightly and shake well
  • Store in a cool, dry & dark place, allowing at least 1 week for the flavour to develop
  • Enjoy your chili-infused oil by drizzling over salads, vegetables, breads and pizzas, or even as an addition to your homemade salad dressings

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DISCLAIMER:

Please do your own additional research regarding the risk of foodborne botulism when making and consuming homemade oil infusions. Although I have made many batches of infused oils with a variety of herbs and spices as described above, and they’ve all been fine for consumption, please note that you are 100% responsible for ensuring you are not at risk of foodborne botulism while following this recipe.

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All images in this post are property of Nova Williams at 18chelseamews.com

Easy DIY Easter Egg Favours

Happy Easter everyone!

Some of you are fully aware it’s been a little busy for me lately, and my plans for decorating Easter Eggs has been put on the back burner while I attempt to meet other deadlines. Although it’s cutting into my blogging time, I’m pleased to say that design demands are picking up around here and for that, I’m ever so grateful!

This post comes a bit later than I hoped, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring you a little Easter cheer, especially as I haven’t been on the blog much lately. So, today I’m sharing these quick and easy DIY Easter Egg Favours I made this morning. They’re super easy to make and are the perfect addition to your table settings this Easter, as well as other springtime entertainment you may have coming up. What’s even better is that you don’t need to take a trip to the craft store for this project; most of the materials I’ve used here are recycled packaging. Best of all, these are not just for Easter, you can customise the contents and use these all year round as pretty party favours for your guests!

 

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MATERIALS

  • Mini Easter Eggs in assorted colours
  • 2 Small Striped Party Paper Bags. Here I’ve cut recycled bags at the seams to get a single sheet of paper
  • 1 Sheets of Patterned Scrapbook Paperstock. Here I’m using double-sided Perfect Harmony Avery from Daisy Bucket Designs cut in for equal squares
  • Cardboard tubes. Here I used the inner cardboard tubes from loo rolls
  • 1 Sheet of clear cellophane wrap. Here I’m recycling left overs from my recent flower shop purchase.
  • Assorted Ribbons
  • Cello Tape
  • Scissors

 

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INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cut papers into squares, ensure they’re big enough to cover the cardboard tubes entirely
  • Wrap paper around cardboard tube and tuck the excess paper inside the ends of tubes
  • Cut cellophane sheets approximately twice a long as the cardboard tube with just enough to wrap around them with a slight overlap, then secure with cello tape.
  • Slide the covered cardboard tube to the centre of the cellophane wrap to allow room for twisted ends
  • Cut ribbons into desired lengths
  • Tie ribbon around twisted cellophane wrap at one end of the cardboard tube
  • Fill the tube with mini Easter Eggs
  • Twist the loose end of cellophane wrap and secure with ribbon

 

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All Natural DIY Eucalyptus Christmas Wreath For My Precious Little Love

This weekend we made a gorgeous Christmas wreath for our dearly departed little love. It’s our tangible Christmas gift to her, handmade with love, right here on the kitchen worktop. This labour of love has already secured it’s place as a family tradition for me, and although I don’t usually get too personal with my blog posts, I thought this might be a lovely thing to share with my readers who are also struggling with the absence of their precious loved one(s) at this time of year.

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This year’s wreath is made from two types of eucalyptus branches (one with berries and the other without) and a few stems of pink ranunculus. I chose eucalyptus because of it’s lovely fragrance and the unique beauty of the colour and shape of it’s leaves, and if you’ve read my previous posts on flowers, you’ll know that ranunculus are one of my favourite flowers.

MATERIALS & TOOLS:

  • Eucalyptus foliage (I used two types here, with and without berries)
  • Ranunculus flowers (keep the stems long)
  • Cotton string for binding
  • A sharp pair of kitchen scissors/trimmers

DIY EUCALYPTUS CHRISTMAS WREATH GUIDE:

1. Lay the eucalyptus branches on your protected work surface singly, so it’s clear to see the quantities and physical characteristics of each. This will aid your order of selection when building the base of your wreath.

2. Working with the natural curves of the branches, arrange the eucalyptus branches without berries in a loose circle with the ends overlapping by approximately 8cm.

USEFUL TIP: Think of this circle as the outer edges of your wreath, as you will mostly be filling the inner sections with more leaves, to give it a softer and more natural appearance as you build.

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3. Cut cotton string and bind the branches together, midway along the overlaps. Please ensure the string is long enough so there will be plenty left after making your ties as you might need to use these same ends to attach top layers to the wreath later. You can always cut off the unwanted excess when the wreath is complete.

USEFUL TIP: Be selective with the placement of your binding. Try to weave the ends of your branches through to the underside of the wreath before binding. Work WITH the positions and directions of the leaves to conceal your binding points.

4. Now you should have a complete, though relatively sparse circle of eucalyptus leaves upon which you will start layering more branches. Place the more dense leafy sections where there are bigger gaps and shape and soften the inner circle of the wreath as you go along.

5. Once you are comfortable with the size and fullness of your wreath, embellish with the required amount of eucalyptus branches with berries, securing with cotton string as you go along.

USEFUL TIP: Gather the berried branches, trim excess leaves and stems away, arrange the berries as you like and bind them together separately before attaching to the wreath. This helps to create a better composition of berries without disturbing the shape and fullness of your wreath.

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6. Add long stemmed ranunculus by weaving towards the underside of the wreath and secure with cotton string. Trim the excess stem away as necessary.

7. Fluff the leaves and trim any excess threads or stems that might be showing through at the front of the wreath.

Your all natural DIY eucalyptus Christmas wreath is now perfect for laying by your dearly departed with love.

Happy Christmas!

 

Handmade Christmas Dinner Party Invitation Ornaments

As promised, today’s post is a step-by-step DIY guide to crafting your very own Christmas dinner party invitation which can be later hung as an ornament on the lucky recipients’ Christmas trees.

I really enjoy making beautiful things with paper, and I have tons of the stuff in all colours and patterns you can think of. Yes, I’m a bit of a paper freak and let’s not even talk about ribbons! So when my lovely friends agreed to break away from the norm of meeting for our annual pre-Christmas dinner at a busy London restaurant and come over to mine for some good home cooking instead, I was thrilled. Within minutes, off I went, dreaming up some snazzy ideas for handmade invitations, gorgeous centrepieces and colourful table settings.

I’ve always liked the idea of giving multi-function cards and invitations, so I set out to create an invitation my friends could reuse after our dinner party had passed. Admittedly, this wasn’t very difficult; a Christmas tree ornament was among my very first ideas. My favourite Christmas ornament has always been a bauble of sorts, so that was an obvious starting point.

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Follow these simple steps below and in no time, you will have your very own handmade Christmas Dinner Party Invitation Ornaments. Please bear in mind that the quantities and measurements listed here are based on the size and quantity of the invitations I created. I invite you to share photos (or links to photos) of the ones you’ve made in the comments section below this post.

MATERIALS:

TOOLS:

  • Martha Stewart Crafts® Circle Cutter
  • The Crop-A-Dile by We Are memory Keepers
  • Olfa 45mm Rotary Cutter
  • X-cut Self Healing A4 Cutting Mat
  • Computer & printer (if the details of your invitation will be prepared digitally)
  • Pencil (to make guide marks)
  • Lighter (to singe ribbon ends)
  • Hand Sewing Needle

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Place your cutting mat on a flat and level surface and use your circle cutter to cut 6 circles from each patterned card stock. My circles were 3 5/8″ each. You should now have a total of 12 circles, 6 for the front and 6 for the back of your invitations. Watch this video for useful tips on how to use the circle cutter. USEFUL TIP: Spray a small amount of repositionable adhesive on the corners of the underside of your card to keep it in place on your cutting mat. This will prevent slippage and ensure your circles are accurate.

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2. Prepare the details of your invitation using a suitable software. I used Microsoft PowerPoint, but Pages, Word, Keynote etc works just as well. USEFUL TIP: Insert a circle in your new document, the same size of your circle and work within that circle. Then change the circle outline to ‘none’ before printing. This will ensure that your text fits perfectly within your circle when cutting the inner pages of the invitation.

3. Print the document on your Sparkling White Paper. USEFUL TIP: To maximise the use of your paper, repeat the contents on each page of your document so you can cut more that one inner page from each sheet of paper.

4. Place your cutting mat on a flat and level surface, use your circle cutter to cut 3 5/8″ circles around the printed information. These will be the inner pages of your invitation. USEFUL TIP: Use the negative from the card stock you cut earlier as a guide to ensure your written information is centred. Simply place it above your print, and once centred, make four faint guide marks at the ‘clock positions’ 12, 3, 6 and 9. Do a test spin of your cutter disc without the cutting blade, ensuring that the 3 5/8″ hole follows your guide marks. Insert the cutting blade once you’re satisfied with the position and cut.

5. Gather your circles, arrange in the correct order and alignment. USEFUL TIP: Start by laying the front cover face-down then add each page face-down until you get to the back cover. Because the print is slightly visible from the back of the inner pages, it is easy to see whether you are laying the pages straight as you go along.

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6. Pick up your stack and carefully use the Crop-A-Dile tool to punch a hole at the top centre, approximately 0.4cm inside the edge of your circle stack. I used the 3/16″ hole punch on my Crop-A-Dile to allow enough room for the velvet ribbon to slip through without bunching. There is a smaller 1/8″ punch on the opposite side of the tool. USEFUL TIP: Use the ruler guide on the Crop-A-Dile along near the hole punches to ensure you are punching the same distance from the circle edge for each invitation. Watch this video for useful tips on how to use the Crop-A-Dile.

7. On your Crop-A-Dile tool, select the correct top and base combination for the eyelet setter, this what will fix the eyelet in place on your invitations. For my invitations I selected A at the top and 1 at the base as this setting is most suitable for setting 3/16″eyelets.

8. Insert the eyelet into the hole on your invitation, place the base of the Crop-A-Dile setter into the tube of the eyelet and compress the handles to set. USEFUL TIP: To allow enough room for a smooth swivel action when reading the invitation, do not compress the handles too tightly. The tighter you set the eyelets, the less swivel action there will be between pages.

9. Tie a bow using the wire edge ribbon and singe the loose ends with a lighter to prevent the ribbon from fraying when handledUSEFUL TIP: To minimise waste, start your bow at the end of the ribbon, lay the bow flat on your cutting mat, then cut the ribbon at the second free-end of the bow using a rotary cutter. This way you will never cut more ribbon than you need.

10. Attach the bow to the velvet ribbon. With the other ribbon velvet side up, place the bow about half way down the length of it and attach the two using a simple tack stitch on the reverse.

11. Thread the velvet ribbon through the eyelet on your invitation, ensuring the bow is at the front and tie the ends together in a knot at the end.

Voila! Now you have some nifty little invitation ornaments to send your loved ones, and they will be delighted to hang them on their Christmas trees instead of throwing them out with the trash.

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I hope my instructions were not too crazy! I must admit, giving instructions for this kind of thing has never been my strong point, given the general order (or lack thereof) of my creative process. I mostly just dream up some fabulous ideas, go splurging on a ton of materials, then work things out as I go along…. Ah well, it makes me happy!

Oh by the way, I experimented with a few colour-ways before my final decision. Here’s a shot of the invitation with pink and green ribbons.

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Not hosting an event? No problem, you can customise this project as you wish. How about using it as a greeting card  or a gift tag instead? I hope you’ll try your hand at this enjoyable project and I look forward to seeing your photos!

Nova xo

 

Fragrant Pot Simmer Potpourri Recipe For The Holidays

With Thanksgiving just a day away and only 4 weeks to go before Christmas, many of us are busy making plans for hosting and attending numerous holiday gatherings with friends and family near and far.

I love that the holiday season kind of forces us to make time to catch up with friends and relatives we haven’t seen in a while, but one of my favourite things about the holidays, is the delightful aroma of spices and baked goodies meandering through the air as preparations are being made for the next gathering. Nowadays, it evokes acute nostalgia, transporting me back to those childhood days when everyone would gather at Mama’s (my maternal grandmother) house for a reunion buzzing with laughter and fun. A brief thought about this yesterday, then I was off to buy cranberries, so I could make a classic holiday pot simmer potpourri at home.

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The best thing about a simmering potpourri is that you get to use all natural ingredients of your choice and it leaves a lasting pleasant fragrance in your home for a reasonably long time after you’ve stopped the simmer. Follow this recipe to get the smell of warming holiday spices wafting through your home.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Slice orange and lemons, add to pot with all other ingredients, bring to a vigorous boil then set on low heat and let simmer.

2. Please ensure you keep an eye on the water level; simply add more if needed, to keep the simmer going for longer.

3. Follow your nose, feel free to go lighter or heavier on specific ingredients listed above, the idea here is that you tailor the combination to suit your own needs. For example, when I want the fragrance to remain more spicy than sweet, I avoid using the vanilla on that occasion.

4. Relax, enjoy, repeat!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my USA readers and others observing the day!

My DIY Window Seat Makeover: A Cosy Nook For Creative Contemplation

Hello lovelies! I hope you’re all enjoying what’s left of the weekend. I had a relatively busy one here but it’s all for the best.

So, remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I was giving my living room window seat a makeover? Well, today’s post is all about my DIY Window Seat Makeover! Stick with me and I’ll show you how I transformed a plain boring window seat into a cosy little nook for creative contemplation.

DIY window seat - 18chelseamews.com

Before I get into all the details, I’d just like to say that the reason that spot in my apartment remained in such an unattractive state for so long, is mainly to do with my indecisiveness on whether to use it as a place to display beautiful things or an actual place to sit.

When I first moved in, I was sure I wanted to use it as a seat but was instantly put off the idea when I accepted the offer of a free quote from a local shop specialising in the most beautiful made-to-measure drapery and cushions. I knew beforehand that the quote for the curtains would have been too high for my liking but I was in complete shock when the little man told me some silly figure north of £500 for an upholstered window seat cushion! Needless to say, I politely ushered him out the door with absolutely no intention of calling to make an order from them ever! That’s when the idea of using it as a display area entered my mind.

Quite some time after the shocker of a quote, I thought of how much I had wished for a home with a window seat in the past, and now I have one just gathering dust because of one silly quote. Now annoyed with myself, I began to think of different ideas of how to execute  a DIY window seat makeover that worked with everything else in my living room, as it was pretty clear that the only way I would get what I wanted, to look how I wanted it to (without paying a pound and a crown for ‘bespoke service’), was to do it all myself.

DIY window seat before and after - 18chelseamews.com

Here’s how I did it!

MATERIALS:

  • Foam Mattress – I used this junior bed mattress from IKEA – £25
  • Electric Carving Knife – I used this Russell Hobbs one from Robert Dyas – £14.99
  • Measuring Tape – this will come in handy if your window seat is a regular shape
  • Sheet of Paper – enough to make a template for the seat
  • Sharpie Marker – to draw the outline of your template onto the mattress
  • Ruler – to ensure your lines are straight when drawing on the mattress
  • A Pair of Scissors – for cutting your template
  • A Piece of String – to thread through the zipper so you can unzip and remove the mattress cover (I had no idea how zippers really worked until this project)
  • Fabric of Choice – enough to cover your the foam seat you’ve cut out. I used a tablecloth I purchased from Zara Home in their 50% off sale for £29.99. I was delighted it matched the cushions I purchased there several months prior
  • Cushions of Choice – mine are all from Zara Home, I can’t remember the prices but they were all reduced; less than £12.99 each
  • Designer Duct Tape (optional) – you’ll only need this if, like me, you like to switch things up pretty often and therefore cannot commit to fixing your fabric permanently to the foam seat. I used this pretty pink polka dot one from Platypus

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Measure the space for your window seat, then carefully draw the corresponding shape onto your paper template. My window seat has an irregular shape so I ditched the measuring tape and just went right in by laying my template in the space and traced loose lines along the corner crease. I then used my ruler to clean up the lines making them straight before cutting.

2. Cut along the lines you’ve made to complete your template. You should now have the exact shape of the seat of your window. Lay your template flat in the space to ensure you have the correct size and shape.

window seat instructions - 18 chelseamews.com3. Remove the mattress cover by threading a piece of string through the zipper, using the  string as a handle to unzip. (The zippers on IKEA mattress covers do not have the little handles to pull them open. I had no idea there was a lever mechanism inside that makes it possible to pull them open!) Without this string, you will never open that zipper.

4. Lay the mattress on a flat surface with template on top, then trace the outline of the template with your marker. IMPORTANT NOTE: If your seat has an irregular shape, please ensure you are laying the temple the correct way down. Otherwise you could end up cutting the wrong shape from the mattress. Double check that your lines are correctly drawn onto the mattress before you go on to the next step

window seat instructions - 18chelseamews.com5. Use your electric carving knife to score along the lines you’ve drawn on the mattress before going in for the big chop. If you’re an experienced ‘foam cutter’, you may be able to just go straight in and cut with confidence but as this was my first time cutting foam and using an electric carving knife, I found it much easier making a score on top first before digging straight in.

6. You may replace the mattress cover after you’ve cut out your seat but this is not essential. I replaced mine as a measure of added protection for the foam against spills. I simply folded and tucked the excess bits towards the underside of the seat.

DIY window seat makeover - 18chelseamews.com7. Now it’s time to cover your foam seat. As mentioned above, I used a stripe and floral tablecloth I picked up in the sale at Zara Home. The fabric is so soft and beautiful, I couldn’t bring myself to cut it into bits, especially knowing fully well that I’ll probably want to change it a couple months later when some other gorgeous fabric catches my eye. I resolved that problem by using a pretty pink polka dot designer duct tape to secure the  fabric onto my foam window seat…it’s called temporary upholstering! No sewing or glueing involved. This way, I have the freedom to change the appearance of my window seat in a minute’s notice and I’ll also be able to wash and reuse this beautiful fabric elsewhere in my home.

8. Place your foam seat in the window, and accessorise to your heart’s content, with cushions, throws, books magazines or whatever else you like.

As you can see in the last picture above, I have left a little triangle uncovered in the corner. The reason for that is to have a hard surface to place a drink or a bite to eat in the corner or maybe even stack a few books or place a vase with some beautiful blooms. When there’s no such thing over there, the cushions will do a good job masking the gap.

That’s it for today my lovelies! What do you think of my DIY makeover? I hope you like my new window seat. I absolutely love it; it’s now my favourite at home hangout spot!

I’ve added a few more pictures below. Pinterest? Anyone?

DIY window seat makeover.1 - 18chelseamews.com

DIY windowseat 18CHELSEAMEWS.COM

cosy window seat 18chelseamews.com diy

window seat morning light - 18chelseamews.com

sunny window seat 18chelseamews.com DIY

18CHELSEAMEWS.COM diy window seat

DIY window seat 2 - 18chelseamews.com

All images in this post are property of Nova Williams at 18chelseamews.com

Friday Five: Easy DIY Projects To Try This Weekend

Hello lovelies! I hope you had a great week and are now looking forward to fun times at the weekend.

Today’s Friday Five consists of 5 very easy DIY projects, 3 of which I would like to try some time soon. If you’re as picky particular as I am about the things you like, then I’m sure you’ll agree that sometimes it’s best to call off the search, take matters into your own hands and do it yourself! I hope you like this round-up and will try at least one.

1. MODERN GEOMETRIC BACKDROP 

I found this super easy DIY project over at ProjectWedding.com and it’s something I definitely want to make. In my mind’s eye, this backdrop would have a lovely effect against a wall with a ‘statement’ piece of furniture in front; like a stylish, single colour, minimalist design armchair. Based on my level of experience in paper-craft, my personal advice is that you use high-quality card stock to get the best results with this project. The quality of the card stock you choose could make or break the overall effect of your finished piece.

DIY GEOMETRIC SCREEN

2. STRIPED ROBE BASKETS 

I think these DIY striped baskets from Martha Stewart are perfect for holding little bits and bobs on your work desk or anywhere else around the house really. I would like to make a relatively wide one for the sole purpose of holding my million-and-one things that suddenly need a place to live when I’m switching handbags. You know, like when you switch to a smaller handbag midweek and have to leave a few items behind? Yes, this basket will be the holder of those items, it will be the thing that saves me going off to buy another Dr. Hauschka lipstick because I think the one I bought two weeks ago is lost, meanwhile it’s still sitting in the pocket of that other handbag I haven’t used in over a week. A bit methodical I know but it works for me.

A word of caution for those of you who skim as opposed to reading it all, Martha’s team forgot to include the most vital ingredient in their ‘Materials’ list so please ensure you have the rope to make these rope baskets. See the introduction for details of the rope they’ve used.

rope baskets

3. NO SEW BEACH TOTE 

No sewing machine? No excuse. I really love this project from Amy over at Homey Oh My blog. It’s the perfect DIY project for beach season! No trip to the beach on the horizon? No problem! Just make yourself a reusable shopping bag for the groceries or an anything bag for that matter. I’m sure you’ll be proud of your handy work either way.

diy beach bag

4. PAINTED TRAY 

So Amy from HomeyOhMy.com has won me over again with another of her DIY projects. This time it’s this tray which she’s painted ever so stylishly for a flower display on her coffee table. Yes, this is one of those things in the “I just can’t find one anywhere so I’m just going to make it myself” category. You know, like “the tray is the wrong width” or “the stripes are too thin” or “I’d prefer a different colour”… I could go on but I’m sure you get it.

diy painted tray

5. MACRAME PLANT POT HANGER 

Last but by no means least – The Macrame Plant Pot Holder from thehome.com.au. Macrame as an art-form will always be of sentimental value to me because my mom taught me these intricate and very useful knotting techniques when I was a very little girl, and although I went for many years without practicing, I’ve never ever lost the knowledge. It’s probably not surprising, given that we spent hours at a time making the loveliest macrame everything! Belts, plant hangers, wall hangers, bracelets, you name it, we made it. In some ways, I even feel a bit guilty sending you off to some other website for instructions when, given my thorough knowledge of the techniques and the countless items I’ve created, I should really be posting a macrame DIY project of my own here. Eek! Sorry mom! Hhhmmm, that day will come, I promise.

For those of you who have never done macrame, please don’t be intimidated, this project used the most simple knotting techniques and is pretty quick and easy to complete. 

MACRAME DIY 18chelseamews.com

plant pot holder

Have fun!

Nova xoxo

 

LINK LOVE: 1. Modern Geometric Backdrop 2. Striped Rope Baskets 3. No Sew Beach Tote 4. Painted Tray 5. Macrame Plant Pot Hanger

 
 

Love Your Lips: DIY Sugar Lip Scrub Recipe

Hello lovelies!

After all that smooching about on Sunday, how about giving your lovely smackers a tasty treat today?

diy SUGAR lip SCRUB 18chelseamews.com

During the summer months our lips can easily become dry, chapped and less than kissable due to over exposure to the sun or simply dehydration. Now, now, there’s no need to rush out and purchase every remedy in stock at the drugstore, because everything you need is most likely already in your kitchen cupboard.

Try this all-natural, easy-to-make DIY Sugar Lip Scrub at home and you’ll never want to buy a branded lip scrub ever again! 

INGREDIENTS:

diy sugar lip scrub 18chelseamews.com

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Mix all ingredients in a small container to form a paste.

2. Apply to the lips and massage gently in a circular motion for 30 seconds and leave on for 2 – 3 minutes.

3. Gently wipe or rinse away the excess with warm water.

4. Repeat every 2 weeks if needed. 

Yep, it’s that quick and easy. Enjoy the results!

Thanks for stopping by!

Nova 

LINK LOVE: Title image: The Wonder Forest | Other images: Pinterest