Monday, 16 December 2019

INTERIORS // A Nordic Wooden Garland

How To Make A Nordic Wooden Garland

This year I have found myself getting even more simple with my Christmas decorations. Each year I seem to scale back on filling the shelves with odd trinkets and I am actually finding that my decorations are becoming more and more simple. I love that though. For a while I have been a keen follower of Scandinavian style and their simple way of living. My Hygge life still continues to be a part of real life and actually the older I get the more I am finding I am removing myself of plastic tat. The pull to it all is still very real, so much of me wants to purchase a tree train right now and that is fine but so many of my other decorations now have a different feel.

There are a couple of reasons for me turning to texture and simplicity this year; one is that nothing truly beats a natural product. I love a real Christmas tree, real greenery and berries for decoration, paper tree ornaments and fabric wrapping. All these things not only have a very natural feel to them they are all (excuse the term) "eco friendly". I didn't set out to be like that but I empty out unused Christmas decorations each year to charity shops and Christmas fairs because I refuse to fill the ground with plastic. That is something we must all be conscious of and having now bought and made great re-usable Christmas products (check out my gift bag tutorial and my Christmas Wrapping tutorial) I feel that if I ever am done with these decorations they are completely recyclable or at least burnable (non poisonous).
Anyway that is not the point of this post, this post is to share something I have made: a wooden bead garland. 
As a staple on pinterest when you search for "Scandi. Christmas'" a wooden bead garland is simply perfect as a decoration. I just love the wooded aspect, the texture and colour and in our house these garlands will suit our more minimalist approach to decorating.

I purchased some wooden beads and cotton rope and made my own garland, then I purchased more because I loved it so much and here we are!

What you will need:

I have 3 different sizes of wooden beads and the recipe makes you 2.5m of garland with beads to spare to make another smaller garland.

6mm cotton rope (get 5m)

To make the garland is pretty simple; choose a bead layout (I went small, medium, small, big, small, medium, small, big ..........) and thread away. Using this pattern I used all the large beads and had medium and small leftover which I could use to make smaller garlands. The small beads made a really nice connection between the bigger ones but go with whatever you like, that is the joy of making your own!

I have found that this is just one of these nice projects you can do at home simply and even the children can get involved. As a *Top Tip* I would selotape the end of the rope (like a shoelace) to make treading easy.

The Results

Well hung around real greenery and draped over our mantle, this garland fits perfectly with our style.
Hope you like it; are you going to have a go??


CREATIVE // Paper Snowflakes; The Simplest Of Decorations

Simple Seasonal Activities

I have to say, I have taken a step back this season and am just enjoying the simplicity of Christmas time. Being at home is my favourite and during the week when we have work and kids clubs I find that at the weekends I never get that pull to have to go out. Instead, and more recently I have been enjoying the fruits from an advent calendar my Mum gave me. This is an activity based advent calendar and it has been our best one ever. I absolutely love it and have found that it has enabled me to put into place something that I have long wanted to do, make advent a time for doing activities with each other, not singularly. 
The advent calendar I am referring to is this Advent Activity Calendar which each day gives you something to do and is really the reason why I am writing this post.
One of the early day's activities was to make paper snowflakes and I have to admit, I haven't made these for years, as in decades and I can't actually believe it. In fact I felt horribly guilty that Raph knew how to make them from making them at school and not in the family home but it is just one of those things.

Anyway, guilt aside, we have absolutely loved making them together and honestly can't stop!
Obviously this isn't a how to post but simply a little reminder of just how good these are to make and how you can display them around the home.
For us, it has been a nice activity, one that I hope we can keep doing for a good many years and only get better at.
As a little top tip, once cut, give them an iron and they will stay flat. Place a piece of paper over the top as you iron to protect them.

What to do with your Paper snowflakes

I decided to hang our paper snowflakes over our dining table. I knew that I wanted to display them in some way but just hadn't anticipated that over the table would be the best place. I still need to plan a Christmas table arrangement and redo the fireplace with fresh greenery but at the moment these snowflakes look awesome and it is nice having something the kids and I made as such a decorative feature. I used white tack and white thread to suspend them all. It has worked out so well! 

If you are looking for a simple and fun activity, get out the sheets of white paper and get cutting!


Sunday, 15 December 2019

CREATIVE // A Christmas List & Homemade Pyjamas

Making a wish list and some simple pyjamas bottoms.

As we head into the final full week before Christmas day I thought I would share with you where we are as a family currently. The children have written their Christmas letters to St.Nick and have both asked for 3 things. 3 things that very much suit their characters and three things that reminded me that they are still children without any technological needs which is really refreshing. I think it was Giulietta's gift list that made me really smile, She wants roller skates, PROPER ballet shoes (i.e. ones with ribbon ties, not her usual elastic ones) and a ballet tutu. They are all things I am sure I asked for in my youth. I specifically remember one Christmas getting a very, very expensive ballet tutu. I only found out how expensive it was later in life but I remember how beautiful it was. I also remember getting roller skates which I played with for hours and hours. All my siblings and I had them through our lives and begged our parents to tarmac our gravel drive so we could use it as a skating surface, needless to say they didn't! Raph's list is so him; a Nerf crossbow, a remote control car and some lego. That boy is very predictable if nothing else. I was relieved that neither list contained anything "grown up". Our children know where we stand as parents on gaming / tablets and I am thankful that they understand that right now that is not what they need to have fun. 
They break up for school this week and I can't wait for their carol concert, it is a fitting end to the school term and it means we can get away from school that bit earlier which always feels like a bonus. Once that is all done it means that we can relax into the Christmas holidays and begin our celebrations with no thoughts of school looming over us. 
With that in mind we plan to watch loads of Christmas movies, eat plenty of my cinnamon biscuits and spend time seeing family and enjoying the fact that we all get a bit of time off work. Rob usually takes around 2 weeks which is just amazing and it feels like a real luxury to have him around for all that time. 

There is still time to 'make', ready for Christmas

I thought I would share a quick sewing project that you yourself can also enjoy in time for Christmas. I whipped up some basic PJ bottoms for the kids in a lovely brushed cotton fabric. They seemed like a nice way for them to have something made (they really love anything I sew for them) and I was even surprised at just how easy they were to make.

You Need:
A sewing machine {I have the JUKI DX7}
Elastic for the waist

I am not going to offer you a step by step guide because the pattern pack does that for you. I am however going to tell you that this truly is a simple pattern and I really found it easy to follow as a complete novice sewer. 
What I found easiest was that for the first time, the cutting out was simple. I suppose it is a basic idea, but it really was a pattern that as soon as I started working on it I understood what I needed to do.
I have to say I made one adjustment. As Etta was a bit in between the suggested sizes I actually put a roll hem on the bottom cuffs of the trousers rather than a turned hem. This is because I wanted to make them so they could be rolled up to make them shorter and then rolled down as she grew. I thought the rolled hem would work best for this.
Other than that, here are some pictures of the kids modelling them and being thoroughly pleased they have some Christmas pyjamas.

Head into Christmas with the right attitude

With all sorts of things going on it seems right to end with a reminder to just enjoy this whole season  and not focus on just one day. Christmas day is just a small part of a bigger picture so remember to enjoy each day in the lead up to the actual day itself and enjoy the celebrations as they continue to the new year.


Saturday, 14 December 2019

FOOD // Follow The Star Biscuits

Let's Be Kings & Follow The Star

It's simple. Sometimes you just have to live faith in the easiest way you can and at this time of year it is just that; easy. We believe in the young woman, the trustful man and the miraculous baby. Why not? There are loads of theories about why we celebrate Christmas but the reality of it all is that celebrating the birth of a baby is the most romantic of reasons to celebrate and one that sits in line with our faith.

One of my favourite biscuit recipes is one that comes out at this time of year; my Cinnamon biscuit recipe, and it makes me feel all Christmassy on the inside.
I shared this recipe years ago but thought it could do with a revival and a new use. Not only can these biscuits be used for hanging on the Christmas tree in a more traditional German style, but they can be used as part of the Christmas story and that is why we now make these.

Star Of Wonder

We were watching NATIVITY this last weekend and I must say the best song in this very good film is the stars song 'Sparkle & Shine'. As soon as it came on I proclaimed to the family that this is the best song. I just think the words are really good and the line "Here's something you won't believe, it's the first time ever Christmas eve" just puts simply the joy that the symbol of the star brings to the Christmas story.
A key character we need to remember in the night sky and that one bright star that showed the shepherds and kings the way to the manger on that very first Christmas eve. 

The Recipe

350g plain flour
3tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
1tsp of bicarbonate soda
175g dark brown sugar
85g golden syrup
100g butter
1 egg

Melt butter, syrup and sugar together in a saucepan on a low heat.
Mix all dry ingredients together (flour, spices, bicarb.) in a bowl and set aside.
Lightly beat one egg.
Pour egg and melted sugar mix into the dry ingredients and mix until you have a squishy brown mixture. (you will find a rubber spatula is your friend).
Leave to cool.
To make the biscuits you will need a well floured surface and some cookie cutters, for this we just use a star shape.
Once cookies are cut and put on a lightly greased baking tray, bake them at 180°C for 12-15 minutes.
Leave to cool and decorate. We used icing and silver balls but go wild!

Enjoy The Journey

The best bit about all of this is the eating part. Obviously you can use these Christmas biscuits however you want but for us it is that nice reminder of the star in the story of the nativity which we try and make come alive at this time of year. Enjoy.


Monday, 25 November 2019

CREATIVE // Our Thanksgiving & Home Sewn Table Decor

Thanksgiving As A British Family

As a British family I can categorically state that we do not celebrate Thanksgiving for the same reasons as US citizens. For them, they have a history embedded within the celebrations which is a wonderful thing for the country.
We celebrate it along side our US friends as a reminder to feast together as a family and be truly grateful for what we have.

Life is so busy, we can all agree and we can find that we do not sit down together as a whole extended family all that often to recognise and celebrate all that we are thankful for.
For the past 6 years we have got together as many family members as possible (sometimes on different nights) to celebrate our version of thanksgiving. A big meal and an individual toast to each of the things in our lives we are thankful for. For each of these years it has always happened at our home, with a few extended tables and plenty of food to cover them. I find it really exciting preparing for it all, decorating and getting everything ready. To say it is easy in our small house is a lie and as the family keeps expanding I have a feeling that the church hall is probably going to be our new venue.

Over the years I have found that each thanks giving has offered me some kind of valuable learning experience. Not all positive but things I can learn from all same.

I don’t think anything will ever beat our first meal though. Etta was only a few months old and we had just finished our extension. It was the first time I had the opportunity to decorate the “new” house for an event and Rob and I were so proud of how everything looked. It was the end of a lot of work and the beginning of a new journey as parents of two little people. I will never forget my mums reaction to coming in. I thing the soft glow of the candles and the house looking fresh and new completely shocked most people. Etta was asleep in a cot in the corner and Raph at 2 and a bit was the toddler wondering around. I really clearly rember my mum saying to Rob as he worked on the food, “ Thank you for giving Emily all she has ever wanted.” The beautiful house, the children, the husband, it was all there, and it was true, it was all I ever wanted. I never expected it to appear in that way but at that point in our life, 4 years in to our marriage, that was us completely. In our little space, with our children. It was all we needed.
I think after our extension our home took on a new role that night. It became part of us and I remember that as we worked round the table and each shared what things we were thankful for the top of mine and robs list was the re-creation of the house and almost the new life we were about to have. We felt we had already achieved so much and now, six years on it is amazing to reflect on all the life changing experiences we have had since that day.

My goodness, I couldn’t even begin to write everything down but the reality is I have had a couple of big travel experiences this year which I couldn’t have even imagined 6 years ago and these things have taught me so much!

This thanksgiving is going to be a time for celebration. Another reason to get together and make sure that, as an extended family, we share a table, a simple thing that can just be forgotten about!

Making a Thanksgiving table

I thought I would share a little table "how to" as I have made my napkins and table runners for Thanksgiving this year and I am really pleased with how it looks.

For this you will need;
Fabric, I have one metre of RUST and PINK from my favourite HIGGS AND HIGGS and an Overlocker, I used the JUKI AIR THREADING OVERLOCKER

Runners: Simply cut your fabric into three lengths. My thin table suited only needing a 1m length as it was 1.45m wide.
Then overlock your edges and iron.

That is it! Just like that you have some table runners.

Napkins: The joy of the overlocker is that it does the job so simply. Cut your napkin into squares, about 40cm x 40cm and run the overlocker around the edges and iron. DONE!

Making the table is then pretty simple. Lay the runner across the table, load up with your crockery, candles and some greenery. Add in your napkins, glasses and cutlery and you are ready to fill those plates up with hot food!

I hope you have enjoyed this post and can find ways to celebrate thanksgiving in your own homes.


Friday, 8 November 2019

LEARNING // What Blogging Is All About.

This post is an educational tool for me to use to help teach children about Blogging. I have been asked to attend a local school and talk about it so this post is part of that. Feel free to share it with other young people if they are interested in this online world of work.

Welcome to my blog: Brick Dust & Glitter. On here I am going to leave some key points to help you understand blogging and how to write a blog.

About Me

My name is Emily and I have been writing a bog for over six years now. I started when my little girl was just six months old. 
As a family we wanted to share what we got up to and we thought that a blog was a good place to do that. Sharing this publicly was an easy thing and I enjoyed writing about all things creative. Click HERE to read my first ever post.
I don't write as much any more but I love it when I do. I hope you enjoy this post.

What Is A Blog?

A blog is an online website where a writer can share information about chosen subjects. It can be personal to you or you could write a blog for your community. There are lots of areas of interest such as:
Movie Reviews
Days out

I write around an area called Lifestyle. This means I share lots about what we do, what I wear and emotional conversations about parenting and life that I may want to share.

What Is A Blog Post?

A blog post is an individual article that you write to go on your blog.
I write about things that interest me and I like to share pictures with each post. 
I choose one subject or situation to write about and write a few paragraphs that I then upload onto the main blog website.

Is Blogging Safe?

Blogging is safe but you have to work hard to protect yourself and your private information.

If you write anything online you need to be aware that anyone can see it. Even if you think it is private, sharing information between other people online is very easy.

When blogging you should NEVER share:

Where you live
Your telephone number
The full names of your parents
What School you go to
Where you like to play
Pictures of people's faces who you do not know
Pictures of your body if you feel uncomfortable about it.

There is a lot of cyber bullying online nowadays and people find it very easy to say things on a computer that they would never say in real life. People can write nasty comments on blogs and criticise you. If you feel that someone is being mean to you online you must ALWAYS tell an adult.

Remember, behave online like you would do at school. Always try to be a kind person. 

How Do I Write My First Blog Post?

Pick an area that you want to talk about. For this post I thought about what I wanted to tell all of you about blogging.
If you don't have any ideas here are a few that might help you:
  • Review a film or book. Talk about the actors or writers, plot twists and if other people should read or watch it.
  • Write about a day out. Write about if it was good, what your learned, any bad parts or things you may change about it. If you loved all of it tell people why it was a good experience.
  • Talk about a hobby. I really like dancing. What do you like? Tell people why it is good.
  • Discuss current news. Share your opinion on current situations around the world. Remember not to offend others with your opinion though.
  • Share a photo walk around a local area. Focus on something like plants or animals, maybe looking at birds or flowers. Make sure to not share exactly where it is though if it is at your home. Think about privacy.
  • Write fiction. You can share stories you have written yourself, let people read you own work.

Can Blogging Ever Lead On To Other Things?

If you work hard at something you will be rewarded.
Blogging for me gave me a new career. I started working in this school as a teaching assistant 11 1/2 years ago and always wanted to work with children, but my life changed and so did my work. However, once I started blogging I found that people were interested in what I had to share and that opened up all kinds of opportunities.
Now I work in a completely different area to the one I studied in earning money though writing and photography.
I write for my own blog where brands pay me to share information or products. I write for other people's blogs where I send them work and they publish it. I write for a local magazine which is a paper version of my blog. I also now work with another blogger building her website. My working life is busy, but really creative and really fun. 

I hope you can use this information to help you write a blog. Think about all the things we have discussed and you to could be a blogger.


Friday, 1 November 2019

FASHION // Neutrals For Winter

Neutrals in winter may scare you, but here is how best to wear them:

For a few years now I have really enjoyed taking neutrals colours into the autumn winter. In fact, I have previously written about my love for wearing cream all year round. I love colour, I wear a lot of it, but sometimes nothing beats blending soft neutrals for that ultra chic look. Greys don’t suit me as much a brown tones do. I love the minimalist trends that use a lot of grey as their base but I find my skin tone needs the warmth of a brown. It has taken me a few years to realise this but brown colours really lift me.

As we head into the dark grey days, I find I need to just lift myself a bit more so investing in a good metallic skirt is a must. This gold one is a few years old now and I originally bought it for a party but it has been an invaluable piece in my wardrobe; the kind that is worn for all sorts of occasions and goes so well with so much. I love it styled casually and with these Grenson boots, (I know, they are going to feature lots) they bring a modern cool to the whole outfit.

For me, Autumn/ winter also means you need to up your layering game. Cashmere jumpers are always a winner; they go with everything! Investing in a wool blazer is also a good idea. This one, in a classic caramel brown colour I will use for years!
As always, building great outfits comes from enjoying your clothes. Things don’t always need to be new, just find ways to rework your items and wear them with confidence.

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