Quick and Easy Wool Pom Poms!

It’s been some time since the pom pom was ranking top of the craft slot but thanks to a new surge in focus from the fashion and interior design industry, these little sphere’s of retro fluff have been making a well earned come back!

As a child of the 70’s I remember them well, it was the era of pom pom back then! I loved them then and I still do today…And who doesn’t, even Winnie the Pooh likes to ‘tiddly pom pom pom’!  They have such a happy vibe about them and having been taught the skill of making them by my sister all those years ago, I’ve never forgotten it. Over the years (in fashion, or not) I’ve made many a cute ball of fluff which has found itself sewn on the odd scarf or cushion to give it some personality, or created something seasonal with them for the home…Not to mention using them as a decorative touch in wrapping to give some colour or quirkiness to a gift!

These days, with time being so precious though, the old way of making them just isn’t viable for me. For those not so familiar with the technique, it had a rather lengthy process of cutting out cardboard rings and winding wool around until you couldn’t see the middle anymore. So now, I use a perfected shortcut method which I find perfectly suitable for making purely ‘decorative pom poms’ and whilst they may not be quite as robust as the original, they’re so much quicker, meaning I can make mountains of them in just 10 minutes! Oh if only I knew that then (although as kids it did keep us quiet and out of trouble and so i guess it served its purpose!!)

So if you don’t know how to make them or only know the old lengthy way of making them, then do read on and I’ll show you my new quick and easy method…Along with (of course) some of our own decorative ideas on how we’ve use them!

what you'll need

What you’ll need:  Some wool (we’ve just used any we had left over in our craft basket), a piece of cardboard (or you can just use your fingers!) and some sharp scissors…And that’s it!

Step 1)  Start off by winding your chosen wool around a piece of cardboard –  We’ve used a rigid luggage tag (we use various sizes of tag to get different pom pom sizes) but you can use any cardboard or just your fingers if you prefer (works just as well!)

Step 2) Keep winding the wool until you feel it’s sufficient – the amount of wool needed will depend on the size of your cardboard tag and how fluffy you’d like the pom pom to be but certainly you need a fair bit and with practice you’ll get a dab hand at gauging it! Once you’re happy with the amount, remove the wool from the cardboard and secure around the middle with a small piece of wool – Ensure you tie it nice and tight – double knot! (or your wool will simply fall out once it’s cut.)

Step 3)  Cut through all the wool loops (top and bottom) ensuring you don’t cut through the wool you’ve tied it together with. This should leave you with a sort of raggedy pom pom …To get a more rounded version simply trim with scissors as desired!

Ah, and there you have it…A quick and easy pom pom! You now just have to decide what to do with it!

Here’s just a few of our own Springtime favorites and for more pom pom inspiration why not visit us on pinterest!  Click here to go directly to our ‘wool’ inspiration board (or find us at https://www.pinterest.co.uk/lovewrapping

pom pom wreath3

If you enjoyed our blog please do share it with others!  And if you’d like to know more about our craft or wrapping workshops then please visit us at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk
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How to make a Seed Heart Bird Feeder

Baby it’s cold outside! February can be a really harsh month, with biting winds and ice even on the brightest of days and so if you’re feeling the cold in all those layers, just think of all the wildlife braving it outside, day and night!

So as Valentines day approaches, we thought we’d spread the love to all those little birdies out there with these really super, easy to make and nutritious (for birds ONLY you understand!) Seed Heart Bird Feeders.

Now we do warn you, they are a bit messy to make but it’s well worth it and don’t worry if you don’t have heart shaped cookie cutters in the cupboard, other shapes work just as well . (Unless it’s like a big eagle shape…or a scarecrow…Mmmn yes perhaps you might want to avoid them!)  Read on for our ‘how to’ guide and…Enjoy making!

materials

We used:   Approx 275g to 300g of Bird Seed –  250g of Lard (or animal suet if you prefer) – Cookie cutters (or make your own shape from tin foil) –  A Pan –  A Tray  – Tin Foil or Clingfilm – A Spoon – A Skewer (or pencil), Ribbon (or Twine).  Oh you might want to have some soapy water and a towel handy too! (well I did say it might be a bit messy!)

  1. Firstly, preparation is key so line a tray with some clingfilm or tin foil and place your cutters on there ready.
  2. Carefully heat the Lard in a pan until it’s just melted and then remove from the heat. (Note that the lard can be quite hot at this stage so be careful not to burn yourself!) Stir your birdseed into the fat a bit at a time until you feel you’re happy with the consistency of the mixture.  (Don’t worry if you have a small amount of birdseed left over you can always add it in at a later stage). As a general rule you should be able to see approximately a couple of mm of melted lard sitting above the seeds in the pan.
  3. Before you can start to fill your cookie cutters, allow your mixture to cool down by placing it outside or somewhere away from room temperature until it is at a temperature where the Lard begins to go white (but just before it solidifies.)
  4. When the fat has whitened (but you can still stir it), this is the perfect time to fill your shapes with the mixture. (Note that if the liquid has not solidified enough, it will seep out of the bottom of your cutters!). It’s also the best time to decide if you need to add more birdseed. You need just enough lard to hold the seeds together and so if you need to add more, do so now. Then use the spoon to fill the cutters  with the mixture, pushing it down firmly and ensuring you fill any corners or edges well to ensure you take on the shape of the cutter.
  5. Once you’re happy they are filled enough, take a skewer or pencil and form a decent size hole (this will be to thread your ribbon/twine through at a later date).
  6. Next, place them (whilst still in the cookie cutter) in a cool place or fridge until  they’re as solid as they can be….As lard will only go so hard.

Finally….Gently press out the hardened mixture with your fingers (yep that’s the most messy bit!) and thread the Ribbon or Twine through the hole. Hang them in the garden and stand back and admire! (Preferably in the warmth of the house with a nice cup of hot tea whilst humming “feed the birds”) Nice work …Mary Poppins has nothing on you!

2 hearts back garden

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Recycling Christmas Cards

Every year I receive the most beautiful Christmas cards and the thought of throwing them in a bin (even a recycling one) after someone has spent time, thought and money buying them for me just isn’t something I can bare. So this month we’re bringing you some crafty ways to use or keep them instead!

Firstly how about getting ahead for next Christmas by making some Gift Tags. It really is easy, fun and a great way to use up any bits of ribbon or twine you have lying around too.  There are many styles of tag you can make too, we’ve used a couple of methods…

Some designs lend themselves to a spot of freestyle cutting and this gorgeous Christmas tree is one.

xmas tree cardThen there’s the easiest way I know and that’s using a luggage label as a template to draw around the chosen picture and then just follow the lines to cut it out. If you’re not confident in cutting straight then a craft trimmer or guillotine can be most helpful!

 

picture template

My top tip when making gift tags is to not just look at the front of the card but the back too as there can often be plenty of ‘white space’ and a cute picture you can use ..Like this one!

back of card

And voila…Here’s just a few I made earlier (including the image from the back of the card as shown above!)  Aren’t they just super? A sure winner to saving you time and money next Christmas…Not to mention what a goody two shoes you are for recycling!

labels collection2

If you fancy making something to give as a gift, how about a Christmas bookmark? A nice addition you can add to a stocking or home made Christmas Cracker. Just look for an image on a card that is a good length then cut to size, hole punch the top and add some matching pretty ribbon. How fab is that?!

bookmark2

And finally,  one of my absolute favourite things to do is to frame those cards that I love or that mean something to me and then I bring them out each Christmas, dotting them around the house on book shelves and dressers etc where I can see and enjoy them.  You’d be surprised just how effective this can be. Here’s just a couple of my newest editions from this years received cards…

picture stood up

most wonderful time picture in fram

….There are lots more ideas for recycling your cards but I suspect that might just be plenty to be getting on with for now!

Have fun being creative and don’t forget…If you enjoyed this blog do please ‘pass it on’ by forwarding to a friend or sharing on social media!

Find out about our workshops at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk and if you’d like us to keep you up to date by receiving our monthly E-newsletter it’s simple to subscribe….Just add your email address to the box provided on the homepage!

Get Crafty with Kraft this Christmas

Bored of doing the same old thing with your gift wrapping and looking for some creative inspiration this Christmas? Then look no further than Kraft paper!

Being plain, Kraft paper is one of the most versatile papers to use. A blank canvas, it can change its look quite dramatically (depending on what you do with it!)

In this months blog we’re going to show you some crafty and creative ways to transform your Kraft paper using just a chalk marker, a few bits an bobs found around the house (or garden) and a little imagination!

Start by wrapping your gifts in kraft paper…Not looking very festive? Don’t panic! What could be more Christmassy than snow? Queue the chalk marker! Generously add lots of white spots over your kraft paper and voila….See how easy was that!

kraft white dot uni and wool

With this super snowy background whatever you now add will be sure to look fabulously festive, so it’s time to be creative and have some fun!   Here’s some we did earlier…!

stag

We simply love the Scandinavian look and it’s so on trend!  We’ve added a wooden decoration and tied it in with some plain white satin ribbon. Ta dah!

bauble coaster side view

Simplicity in itself….We’ve added a red felt coaster (that we got free in a home magazine some time ago) and tied on some matching wool we had in our craft basket. Easy but effective!

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Got lots of buttons you don’t know what to do with?  Why not use them to make a cute picture. We’ve added in some wool scarves for colour and used a marker to draw in some detail and complete the picture.  The buttons can then be placed in their final position and securely stuck with double sided tape or glue.

 

washi tape

Ever wondered what you can do with your Washi tape? Why not recreate a look of bunting with some string and write a festive message! (Well as long as it’s not ‘bah humbug’ that is!)

kraft white ribbon foliage and pine cones

Want a classy look but in a hurry?  Just add some fresh foliage and pine cones then tie with a simple white satin ribbon. 

Merry Christmas and happy wrapping everyone! x

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Fabulously Festive Gift Wrapping

In our workshops we not only teach lots of gift wrapping techniques but we also like to reveal our secrets of how to transform something rather plain looking into something stunning by adding simple to make, handmade decorative touches!

So this month we thought we’d share one of our festive favorites with you, just in time for all that Christmas wrapping – This gorgeous Pine Cone and Foliage Corsage!

There are various artificial alternatives you can find in the shops but none that will look quite as stunning  or be as inexpensive to make being that our version involves a spot of scavenging in the garden and surrounding woodland for most of your materials! By using fresh foliage it’ll not just look stunning but (depending on the type of foliage you use) it will smell gorgeous too, filling the air with a beautiful aroma and bringing that festive feeling into your home (and to the person’s you’re giving it to too!)

So here it is…Do have a go! But don’t forget…Foliage will dry out without water so to keep it looking as fresh as possible our tip is to have your gifts wrapped and cones wired up and waiting, then simply add your foliage at the last minute!

What you’ll need:  2 pine cones ,  some foliage  (we’ve used a mix of rosemary and hebe from our garden), wire (£1 for 15 wires) and florist stem tape (£2.50 per roll) both from our More Pretty Things shop.

blog 1a

Gather your pine cones, foliage and materials together.

pine cone wire

Place a wire near the base of the pine cone in between one of the sections and wrap the wire around the cone.

pine cone wire 2

Bring the two ends of the wire together to meet one another and…

pine cone twisting

…Twist! Keep twisting the two wires together and when you near the end, turn the sharp ends of the wire over so that you have a rounded end instead.

pine cone wire stem tape

You now need to cover the wire with stem tape. To do this start at the top, pinch it on and then twist it on to the wire all the way down the stem…

pine cone wire stem tape next

Continue winding stem tape down to the bottom of the stem then fold over and come back up the stem to the top. Repeat with other pine cone.

taking off greenery on rosemary

Take your foliage and remove some of the greenery from the ends to reveal about 2 inches of the stalk.

finished 2

Add your foliage and cones together and secure in the centre with a small amount of stem tape. This will prevent it all from falling apart when attaching it to your gift.

wine wrapped and bits

Take your wrapped gift and using ribbon, tie on your pine cones and foliage corsage.

wrapped bottle

Voila! A fabulously festive wrapped gift ready for giving!

Easy once you know how isn’t it? Know someone else who might like to try it? Please feel free to forward our ‘how to’ with a friend or share on social media.

Happy Festive Wrapping!

For more information on our Gift Wrapping Workshops and Demonstrations please visit our website at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk .

Anniversary Years – A Gift Guide

Have you ever wondered who invented the Anniversary Gift List?  It’s a tradition that seems to have been around for centuries but with very little known about its origin. The cynical might wonder if over the years it’s been developed to become something that benefits the retail world significantly.  Maybe, but I suspect that someone at some point in history did something lovely for someone else and that’s stuck, which in itself I find rather lovely and am very happy to keep going.

I also love the way traditions connect us to others, including those who are no longer with us and remind us that no matter how much has changed (some for better, some for worse!), somethings gladly remain the same! With this tradition you get the thrill of receiving something rather lovely or a thoughtful gesture year on year, so what’s not to like?

And…When it comes to giving gifts, some people really struggle to know what to buy, so having a list like this is a great starting point! One of the things I enjoy about this particular tradition is using a little imagination and creativity to translate the traditional meaning into a gift or thoughtful act that fits in with the modern world. Although when it comes to year 13, it takes some imagination!

So if you need a reminder of what year is what, here’s the guide we use and something you can find easily when you need it or can print off and keep handy! It also makes a great gift in itself for newly weds so do pass it on and keep the tradition going!

We’ve added some (budget, luxury and just a bit left of field) suggestions of our own …but only up to year 10!  Well anymore and my hubby would think I was dropping hints and besides, after 10 years you start to get to the pearls and sapphires etc and I figure Tiffany’s has it covered from there!

1st Anniversary Paper – So much choice! From a handwritten love note to plane tickets!

2nd Anniversary – Cotton –  Who doesn’t love huge fluffy towels. Add initials for a truly personal gift.  

3rd Anniversary – Leather –  From a coaster for their morning cuppa to a Mulberry handbag or travel bag,  leather is a luxury gift that lasts a lifetime.

4th Anniversary – Fruit/flowers –  Their favorite fruit tree/shrub to plant in the garden or surprise them with a fresh fruit hamper delivered to the door. 

5th Anniversary – Wood –  A ‘Mouseman of Kilburn’ bread board or how about a bench for the garden to enjoy watching the sun set together for years to come. 

6th Anniversary – Sugar –   A Jar of their favorite sweets or afternoon tea for two at somewhere lovely like Bettys!

7th Anniversary – Wool –   Depending on the time of year, a throw or a picnic rug – Want to splash out? Add a picnic hamper from Fortnum and Mason to go with it!

8th Anniversary – Bronze –  Keyring/s with a personalised message or bronze look firepit to cosy around on a cool summer evening.

9th Anniversary – Pottery – Locate a pottery workshop and recreate that ‘ghost’ scene! Or at least make a pot to take home and laugh at for years to come!! Failing that, you can’t go wrong with pretty Emma Bridgewater mugs!

10th Anniversary – Aluminium/Tin –  Tin has never been quite so interesting until ‘Poldark’ appeared! I’m not suggesting a box set but perhaps more a luxury hotel stay in Cornwall/Devon (the home of tin mining) instead!

And here’s the rest. Imagination at the ready…

11th Anniversary – Steel

12th Anniversary – Silk

13th Anniversary – Lace

14th Anniversary – Ivory – (Please note: Traditional Ivory is an absolute no no these days for good reason!  The modern approach is to incorporate the Ivory colour or go for jewellery that’s white/rose gold instead!)

15th Anniversary – Crystal

20th Anniversary – China

25th Anniversary – Silver

30th Anniversary – Pearl

35th Anniversary – Jade

40th Anniversary – Ruby

45th Anniversary – Sapphire

50th Anniversary – Gold

55th Anniversary – Emerald

60th Anniversary – Diamond

70th Anniversary – Platinum

wedding tag long

We hope you’ve found our blog of interest – If so please do like and share with your friends!  To find out more about us or sign up for our e-newsletter do visit our website at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk

 

A bit of a do – Peter Rabbit Style!

There’s something rather special about a first birthday isn’t there? Turning one is such a milestone and warrants a certain amount of effort on the party front…Even if they won’t remember it!

Last month I was given the opportunity to plan and host my Grandsons 1st Birthday party. (You can just imagine my excitement!)  It was to be a small family affair and (as we were in the middle of some major refurbishment in the house) it would be a little compromised as space (and time!) was limited. The hallway being light and airy with a view of the garden (and the only room unaffected by all the upheaval) seemed the obvious (if not the only) choice as the party area. As it happens, it worked so well, it’s likely to be used again!

To my absolute joy I was given reign to come up with any theme I wanted and already knowing what this would be, ideas began to hop around in my head. What else could it be but a traditional Peter Rabbit Party!

Oli make bunting3

And I was in my element! From home-made bunting to marshmallow bunny tails, veg pots and a cauliflower tissue paper centerpiece, coming up with ideas and putting it all together was the most fun I’ve had in ages!  Now not that there weren’t some challenges… Planning around building works, running a business from home, working out party food for a dairy free one year old and the usual family melt downs is no mean feast! I literally had 2 days in total to plan, organise and implement it! Never one to say no to a challenge, there was nothing for it but to make a list and hop to it!  Having a limited amount of time to plan certainly makes you focus and if I do say so myself…It went pretty well!  That is, if we overlook the Rabbit Jelly that didn’t want to leave its mould and when it did, looked a bit like road kill!

But moving swiftly on… If you’re thinking of hosting a Peter Rabbit Party too it really is such fun and has so much scope for being creative. Given longer I would have done much more but if (like me) you need to create something and you’re pushed for time, here’s just a few tips and ideas that work a treat!

 

DSC01970 - Copy (2)

No time to order anything online, I chose to go for a cost effective personalised welcome to guests by buying a chalk board and writing my own message on it. Then just a wipe clean and totally reusable for another day! (Chalkboard a real find at just £1 from poundland!)

Oli make bunting alt

Making your own bunting to fit your theme is so easy and cost effective. For this one I hole punched some Peter Rabbit postcards I already had and thread co-ordinating ribbon through. You could however print images or buy a cheap book and take pages out and use instead.

Oli veg pot

Table decorations included:  A Cauliflower made of tissue paper,  a clay pot which housed veg for nibbling on and Peter Rabbit Wooden shapes  –  I preferred these to paper ones as they were part of a shape sorter toy (purchased at M&S) and could then be reused in the toy box afterwards!

Oli rabbit buns

The buns were made with diary free margarine (Tesco) and decorated to fit the theme with sugar carrots/paper bunnies. To save time I placed pretty coloured biscuits in a jar that could be easily moved from kitchen to table then back again.

oli bunny tails alt

As Oliver is a big fan of raisins I incorporated them into our scheme….well it’d be rude not to! Bunny droppings seeming the obvious choice. I used white marshmallows for bunny tails!

oli jelly

It wouldn’t be a traditional party without Jelly and it certainly gave us all a laugh after it failed to hop out of the mould without lots of coaching and then when it did , it looked a little worse for wear. My elderly Mum and Dad were thrilled to pieces.. Took them right back to their childhood!

oli not liking jelly

Birthday Boy not quite as taken with the rabbit jelly. Somethings are, after all, an acquired taste.      Happy First Birthday my gorgeous Grandson…You may not remember your special day but it was a day made out of  love for Grandmas very special baby bunny…YOU!  x

Thank you for reading our blog, we really hope you’ve enjoyed it. We are a gift and gift wrapping company and teach lots of creative skills at our workshops. Information can be found at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk