How to make your own scented soy candles

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Scented candles are incredibly popular at the moment, but can also be very expensive for long-lasted, heavily scented soy versions.  I love ones by True Grace, Diptyque, Tom Dixon, Kenneth Turner and the Cowshed -but they come at a hefty price tag, especially as I burn them constantly.

So I decided to make my own for a change, and have discovered it is REALLY SIMPLE and they smell AMAZING!!!

I wanted to make a variety of candles in both rich floral and then more musky scents, and they have come out very well.  They also work out so much cheaper than buying ready made scented candles. 1kg of wax costs approximately £7, and from that I made 5 candles, and reused old candle pots and a cup and saucer set.  I had a few bottles of essential oils lying around already, and you can get 5 bottle of candle fragrance oil for £5 roughly online.  Wicks are about £1 for 10.  have worked it out to be around £2.60 per candle, a lot better than the £28 upwards costs of my usual candle purchases!

Here is what you will need:

  1. 1kg soy wax flakes.  I used Kerawax 4015 as it has a good scent throw and adheres well to glass containers.
  2. Essential Oils or specific Fragrance Oil for candle making.  I like to mix my scents up as I am making the candles, so have a variety of both.
  3. Candle wicks with metal bases
  4. Glue Dots
  5. Wooden sticks
  6. Metal container
  7. Large Saucepan
  8. Glass Containers (but china also works well).

Instructions:

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Most Hit Posts of 2016

Today I have been looking back at last years blogging, sometimes done a bit intermittently I must admit, and noticed that the most popular posts always seem to be the DIY ones, so here is a round up of the ones that still get the most hits, and I only hope that as a result there are many Ikea hacks, Plaster Flowers and No-sew curtain pelmets floating out there now!  More DIY ideas coming soon as I tackle a spare bedroom in the coming  months.

Click on the photos to take you to the posts and tutorials…

DIY Plaster of Paris Flowers

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No-Sew Curtain pelmets

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Ikea Hack Bookcase

 

 

Slate Effect Painted Fireplace

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Moppe Drawer Makeovers

 

 

Christmas Decoration Storage

TOP TIPS FOR STORING CHRISTMAS DECOR

As Christmas draws to an end, it is all too easy to take decorations down, shove them into various bags and secrete them in attics, garages, under beds, and even in random places where space can be found, (I am guilty of the last one, for years my faux tree has been stored in an airing cupboard).

This is all very well until 11 months later, when you need to get things out and find them twisted, smashed, crumpled or just gone!  Fairy lights are particularly good at getting lost in our house, sometimes not turning up for a couple of years by which time replacements have been bought and then there are strings of them lying around everywhere.

So this year I am have a New Year resolution; packing away Christmas efficiently.

Baubles

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Decorating for Christmas

Fa la la la la, la la la la….

I LOVE Christmas decorating!  I had a photo shoot last month in the house for a Christmas decorating feature to go out next year in a magazine, and as it was not quite December it didn’t feel ‘christmassy,’ (although the photos I saw looked beautiful). Plus everything came down again at the end of the shoot.  It was quite mind-blowing how fast the stylist and photographer worked.  So it was like a Christmas-for-8-hours in a mind altering day!

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A lovely fresh berry and evergreen wreath sets the scene on the front door

But come the 1st December I get everything out of the attic and from stashes all over the house. Boxes of baubles, lights, garlands and more.  This is just some of the stash I have, it has grown over the years and I can see lots of things my children liked when they were small like little gingerbread men garlands… actually I have FAR TOO MUCH STUFF!

DINING ROOM

This year my children are 18 and 15, and I decided that for the first time we would not be doing the usual fir tree which always stands in the Dining Room, but an alternative version instead on a tabletop.  I asked the girls if this was all right, as they are the ones that the tree is usually aimed at with decorations collected over the years that they remember and coo over.  This idea went down OK-ish!  I found this really cute 3D  wooden tree at Hobbycraft, and it was a snip at £10.

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Given that dining room had a recent overhaul, we did not use a lot of the existing tree decorations and stuck to gold and silver ones with accents of oranges (literally) around the room:

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A brief note about IKEA

Just a quick note today about the Swedish giant emporium that is IKEA.  I am preparing the house for an interior shoot this week, and thought I would pop by IKEA to pick up some spare tapered candles.  Just candles, don’t need anything else….


Am I the type of person in the world who enters the shop with such a simple intention, and leaves with what I came for? I am not.  By the time I had reached the checkout I had a trolley groaning with the following items, rationale had left me.  But I did that thing that all TRUE AND GREAT SHOPPERS DO… I made up some excellent reasons as to why I needed them:

  • Candles – what I came for.  A box of white tapered ones
  • Candles – nice big huge chunky ones, 4 of them, might be good at Christmas
  • Hallway sisal runner – mine is looking a bit jaded so a smart replacement
  • 3m long velvet orange curtains – great for the recently overhauled dining room
  • Plastic food bags – 2 boxes, useful for crafts, kids lunches and so on
  • Plastic food bag clips – to tie up the above
  • Tea towels- linen, very pretty and no doubt a bugger to iron so they will end up in a drawer and only be used once
  • King size bed sheet, they finally do UK sized fitted sheets, and in dark aubergine…
  • Two wool throws in charcoal, just snuggly and useful, but excess on top of the other 5/6 throws I already have…
  • Copper tray to put all the candles on, on trend as they say
  • Cream tin canister set for the kitchen- to hide things like cat medicine
  • Two small artificial Christmas trees – most lifelike and useful for Christmas
  • Boxes of Christmas decorations made from 3D brown paper – no time to make my own this year
  • Boxes of black Christmas tree baubles – great for the new dining room scheme
  • Black storage boxes to put things in, not sure what yet but I am sure they will be very practical
  • Table runners x 2 to sew together to make one long one for the Christmas table, but I forgot that my sewing machine is broken so they will no doubt end up in a drawer with the tea towels
  • A wad of paper napkins, to go with all the other ones I forgot I already had
  • Christmas wrapping paper – I don’t begrudge this as their lines are really nice and come with lots of different papers, ribbons and bags at a very good price.  Mind you I probably just blew the present budget for several people buying all the above.

IKEA is just one of those places where you grab things as you walk through it as they seem by cheap.  It is only at the till that you realise that you have spent a fortune on lots of things that will ultimately and probably end up in a drawer.

Does anyone else out there do this too, or am I just a retailers delight?!

Ta-ta for now…..

Retro Bedspread Repurpose

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Not quite sure what is going on with me, but my recent redecoration of the dining room with pinging accents of orange, has created a need for hunting out more orange bits and pieces ready for the festive season.  Tablecloths, candles, candles and so on.  This is quite a hard colour to source, especially with good quality table linens.  I never even liked orange much before I did this room, so finding things is quite hard as I don’t even have a mental stash of where I have seen things in the past that are appropriate.  With Christmas approaching I also wanted to spend as little as possible as there is lots of other shopping ahead to do.

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Some serious hunting for a table cloth online resulted in either horrible poly cotton banquet plain tablecloths which headed into neon territory, or 100% Irish linen dyed to order at eye watering prices.  I also looked at buying fabric directly, but I kept choosing the most expensive fabrics and £120 a meter is not really budget-friendly.   I also need an ENORMOUS tablecloth, as at Christmas I have my cunning extra large tabletop that comes out of storage and sits on top of the existing table.  It seat 14 easily, and in the past I have had to either make cloths for it or adapt king size bedspreads.  All were tastefully neutral, and not at all suitable for the colours in the room now.

I needed something to ping, and this is the sort of orange colour I needed.  Really pumpkin-like.

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And lo, along came ebay.  I have not used it for a while, mainly as postage has got so expensive in the UK that people seem to have stopped selling on it so much.  But I started to hunt for anything orange, and then this original 1970’s St Michael (M&S) bedspread appeared tucked away in the bedding section.  It is woven damask in shades of orange, perfect for a pop of colour, and looks like something from dressing a 70’s TV sitcom.  And Reader, I bid immediately.  In fact no-one else bid on what looked frankly pretty awful in the picture, so I got it for a song. Here it is, looking a bit grim and dated on ebay.

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It turned up yesterday, and actually it really works in the room!

It is really bright orange and yellow with lovely fat bullion fringing.  It works with all the other soft furnishings in the room.  And it is massive and will easily fit the Christmas table top.

img_3962Until then, I have used it in the corner of the room on a round table, replacing a ‘tastefully beige’ one.  It would not work anywhere else in the house at all, but it does suit the dining room scheme.  Job done, total cost £8.50.

Creating a Gallery Wall

Once Upon a time…

I used to help out at an Art Gallery where the positioning and hanging of the art was as important as the pictures themselves.  I think that apart from basic hanging ‘rules’ about eye levels not being too high, hanging pictures is a very personal thing.  However some people get very nervous about putting up art, so here is hopefully a helping hand…

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Here is my latest area where I am going to create a gallery wall, a finishing-off part of a dining room makeover.  You can read about the main bulk of work doing the room here.  After finishing the room I was left with a really large wall which has a mirror and two very large formal prints on it placed very formally.  I do like them, but wanted to create more interest and jazz it up a bit.  In fact, I noticed that when I was trying to find photos of that wall, I had hardly any as it was never that inspiring, so that is a bit telling!

I want to create a gallery wall that is much more contemporary, and uses a variety of artwork and interesting pieces.  I find I always lean towards hanging art very symmetrically and I suppose that is my comfort zone, but this time I am intentionally going to offset the pieces and push the boundaries for myself.

Can I apologise in advance for glare on the photos, the wall faces a large french window and the reflections were murder in my pictures!

So you can sort of see the wall in the back of the pictures, and it is definitely time to make it more interesting.  It is nearly 4 metres wide and has 1.7 metres clear vertically in the dado to picture rail space  There is a radiator below the dado rail bang in the middle, and I might have get a cover made for it as it does stick our like a sore thumb, but that can be a later project.  I know some people paint their radiators in the same colour and paint as the wall behind, so that could be an option…

STEP ONE

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How to make your own Street Art

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ROLL OVER BANKSY… AND APOLOGIES TO DAVE…

I have been preparing for a gallery wall, and wanted to make some of my own artwork for it as well as using existing pieces.

I had started to hunt around for original prints, and found some images I really liked, but the artists’ works are REALLY expensive, and then they would need framing and so on.  So I thought I would pay homage instead and get creative for next to nothing.

I found this very cheeky artwork by Dave Buonaguidi.  He has worked in advertising for over 30 years, founding St. Luke’s, the world’s first Co-operative ad agency and most recently Karmarama in 2000. In 2003 he created the iconic MAKE TEA NOT WAR poster for the anti-war march. It now is part of the collection at the V&A and hangs in the Trento museum of modern art. He loves to make work that creates a reaction.  And this one really is a bit full on, but I like the text over a map.

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Obviously I needed to tone down the wording on my homage to this, I can just imagine the looks of horror from people visiting with kids if I copied the above verbatim!  So this is how I made my own version by changing the working to ‘I bloody love this place’, far less brutal text than the original but still a bit cheeky and a bit ‘English’.  I also have older teenage daughters who would not be offended than younger ones would be, so I think I can get away with it…. maybe… just!?

HOW TO MAKE YOUR STREET ART

I had a vintage framed map of Milan lying around in storage.  It has fond memories for me as I lived there for a few months many years ago, and had a blast whilst there.  So I thought it was a personal piece that I could adapt.  This was going to be the base of the artwork.  I carefully opened it up, and cleaned up the glass on both sides. I measured how much space I had free on the part of the print which would be visible when re-framed.

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Download the free font ‘Marigold’ from fontspace.com, and then you can make any text you want and it is a lovely curly handwritten font.  If you don’t want the bother of making your own document I enclose a pdf you can use but it does have my wording on it, be warned!

I then printed out my wording, in my case on A3 paper as my print is quite big.  Print with black ink.

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Dining Room Makeover – Before & After

Colour Changes & Furniture Makeover

My dining room is a multi-tasking space and so it is also a crafting room, office, homework spot and sewing space.  So it has to work hard, yet be ready to switch back to a dining room in a second.  Here it is in its current incarnation:

It has very tall ceilings, 3 meters, so the curtains on the french windows are always a challenge.  The existing ones are goblet headed and were made to measure.  The main wall colours are a pale stone colour with paler toned woodwork and wooden floorboards.  The furniture is a mixture of antique woods and painted pieces.  That huge dresser has to stay as it is the only wall clear in the house for its monumental proportions. I have already updated the fireplace with a paint effect, changing it from brown pine to make it look like slate.

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Then after a while I got bored with the fireplace wall and painted it a deep olive which I liked as my convex mirrors looked lovely against it.

Anyhow, after a couple of years I have decided that I am bored with the same room.  Who else gets that?!  As I am in the room so much, I wanted to look up and see something else.  I also could not be bothered to redecorate the whole room, mainly as there is so much furniture and stuff to get out to clear the room that it becomes a major operation.

Chairs

As mentioned in my last post, I found some chairs that I thought I could do a good makeover on, and they would replace the incredibly formal Georgian chairs that I inherited from my grandparents.  In my mind they would go from dark wood to Jonathan Adler inspired pieces:

After washing them down with sugar soap, I started to paint them by hand and used a satin finish water based wood paint instead of the usual chalk paint.  Wow, nightmare!  I would have been painting them up until Christmas as they were very fiddly and they would have needed 4-5 coats by hand.  So I then hunted around for a paint spraying company, and found a couple within 50 miles, but that then meant hiring a van to get the chairs to them and back, plus extra costs.  There had to be another way…. and then I found this beauty…

This is the most wonderful thing, a Wagner paint sprayer.  I braved it, as I have never used one before, and purchased one.

It is really simple to use, you just dilute the paint, (about 10% water to my water-based satin wood paint), pop it in the white container and off you go.  I built a very basic spray booth in the garden, (stepladders with dust sheets one them), and sprayed 6 chairs in an afternoon.  It was a sunny but very windy day, so the paint dried in an hour between coats.  The wind meant I looked like I was covered in fine snow from paint blow-back, and even the cats looked a bit whiter at the end of the day.  I also learnt not to get too close on the first coat as sometimes drips appeared and ‘less is more’. But the result was amazing:

Any drip marks were sanded out after the first coat, and then the chairs sprayed again.  Job done.  This is a great machine, and no doubt many more things will get sprayed soon, including passing cats. Continue reading

Hatfield House – the best ceilings in the world ever…

This week I was near London with the eldest child whilst she was performing as part of the Hatfield Chamber Music Festival.  We had an hour free afterwards, and although this was not much time at all, it seemed madness not to go into the house and have a peep.

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Hatfield House is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. The Estate has been in the Cecil family for 400 years. Superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship can be seen throughout the House. I got very over-excited looking at the wonderful portraits, all of my history lessons at school, (and I was a bit obsessed with the Tudors), came to life again as names and faces appeared.

 

 

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It is an iconic building in British architectural history.  Thousands of hand thrown bricks in red clay, and a lot of glass leaded windows.  The turrets are also very similar in style to Hampton Court and the Tower of London.  It is also famed for its beautiful knot gardens and parkland:

But is THE CEILINGS which amazed me.  The most ornate plaster work, pargetting, gilding, embellishment and decoration is pretty much in every main room of the house.

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