How to make a Pretty Summer Table Decoration

With summer finally here and alfresco dining in full swing, here’s a quick and easy idea to brighten up any table using some bits and bobs in the house, a dash of creativity and some More Pretty Things know how!

For this make you’ll need:   A jam jar, 2 napkins (we’ve used 2 sizes, the patterned one is from tesco and the plain one from ikea), a piece of ribbon (or string), flowers and scissors

materials

Firstly,  Layer up your napkins and place your jar in the centre.

cover jar sq

Then, holding the napkins up on both sides of the jar, begin to pleat them. Do this by gently pulling the napkins up towards you. Start on the front of the right side, then the back of the right side before moving to the front of the left side and then the back of the left side. This will make sure your pleats are more consistent.

pleat jar sq

When you’ve pleated all the way around secure with a ribbon or piece of string and tie into a pretty bow.

tie off sq

And there you have it….Just add flowers of choice (some water of course) and sit back and enjoy the prettiness (with a cuppa and cake…Would be rude not to!!)

flower centre piece

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Last minute Valentines Wrapping Tip!

Got some last minute wrapping to do this Valentines but have run out of wrapping paper or simply forgotten to get some?  No worries…We have the answer!

Our top tip? Napkins!  They’re a great material to use in wrapping (particularly awkward shapes as they are more pliable than usual wrapping paper) and so whether you’ve already bought some napkins for tonights romantic meal or you’ve some oddments stashed in a kitchen drawer from times gone by, this handy alternative to paper will see you through your last minute wrapping needs… Phew!

chocs and materials to wrap it

Take your chosen napkin and lay it out in front of you. Pop the object you wish to wrap in the centre (ours being some gorgeous Hotel Chocolat melting hearts) and bring your napkin together a pleat at a time until the object is covered!  Tie with some co-ordinating ribbon (or string !), add a tag and there we go, a beautifully wrapping gift, quicker than you can say ‘Be my Valentine’….well nearly!   Happy Valentines everyone.

napkin-hack-2-resized.jpg

Like our top tips?  Please feel free to share with others!  And…For more great tips, wrapping ideas and information about our workshops please visit our website at http://www.moreprettythings.co.uk

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 .

Hello birdie!

In my line of work I have the pleasure of meeting lots of wonderful people, many of them very creative!  This week was no exception and I was thrilled to stumble upon the very talented Artist and Illustrator, Iona Buchanan.

Iona has designed a fabulous collection of homewares ranging from a rather gorgeous artichoke apron to a really delightful wren tea towel…Ooh and a lovely lobster cushion that caught my eye… I have just the place for that!

Lots of lovely things there were but you can imagine my delight can’t you when Iona introduced me to her gorgeous gift wrap! It didn’t take me long before the scissors were out and I was wrapping with it…

iona buchanan guillemot

Not just for twitchers this fabulous Sea Birds Paper is an instant reminder of the seaside and perfect for anyone with a love of nature. It’s sold in a pack of 2 sheets with matching tags and is currently available to purchase along with another lovely gift wrap pack (called ‘garden birds’) as well as Iona’s full range of products on her website www.ionabuchanan.com

Our wrapping tips: From a practical point of view (for storage/posting out etc) wrapping papers can often be sold flat packed and invariably this will mean you have some creases to contend with. Before starting to wrap have a look at the paper and try to line up the creases with the edges of the object you’re wrapping. This will help to disguise them as a natural folding line and give a neater look.  Also, when choosing a lovely paper like this which is full of fabulous detail that would be a shame to hide, tie your ribbon in an off centre position that will show it off at its best (as we’ve done) and pick a ribbon colour that will bring out the colour in the wrap. We’ve chosen this lovely sunny yellow, inspired by the Eider Ducks beak!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this months blog and if so … Please do pass on the gift wrapping love by sharing with your friends!

For more information on our gift wrapping workshops or demonstrations find us at www.moreprettythings.co.uk  or contact us on 01226 492770 for more details.