i spy christmas

It’s less than 2 months until the stockings go up and the turkeys come out. You might be one of those scarily organised people that bought all their Christmas presents back in June but for most of you, I’m sure the thought has only just crept into your mind. Last year we made all our Christmas presents which turned out to be really fun and I’m sure most people enjoy receiving handmade gifts. I had a conversation with a friend the other day about DIY Christmas presents and she said she couldn’t make them because she wasn’t creative but here’s an idea which doesn’t require much artistic flair at all, especially as I’ve designed the labels for you to download. Excuse the poor camera phone photos, but you get the idea. We tried two simple recipes to fill our gift jars....

To assemble you’ll need kilner jars or any jar with a sealable lid, ribbon, brown paper, card, spray mount/glue, a hole punch and scissors. Print the fudge and shortbread tags onto brown paper (matt side rather than shiny to avoid ink smudging). Then mount the sheet onto card using spray mount or glue, cut each one out and hole punch. Fill your jars with the sweet goodies and then thread the tags on the strips of ribbon and tie in a neat bow at the top. Both these recipes keep quite well, so you could make them up to a week in advance.


I've always been a fan of Belle & Boo's vintage style illustrations but I was even more excited to come across the latest selection of cards on Nineteen Seventy Three's website. I love that they look like they're straight out of a story book and the range name 'Playtime' certainly suits this fun collection of cards. I went a little bit gooey over the colour palette as well...mmm.

ladies afternoon tea

Last Saturday was an excuse to get a bit girly with an afternoon laid on for the ladies of our weekly bible study group. It was a chance to chat and hear a bit more about how we all became Christians and our journey with Jesus since. It was also a chance to eat some delicious sweet treats and sip cups of tea (very sophisticated indeed). The tea party certainly wasn’t a unisex occasion, with the doily theme, heart bunting and mint and candyfloss colour palette running throughout. 
Speaking of all this tea, I have to say I've never been that interested in the stuff until very recently and I'll admit it's entirely down to my husband’s influence. To understand Nick's relationship with tea a little better, all I really need to say is that he has a sizeable box devoted entirely to good quality loose leaf teas and he is more than happy to tell you the origin, flush and flavours of each individual one. If guests ask for tea in our house, they don't quite realise what they've let themselves in for. This self-confessed ‘tea snob’ has some how managed to convince me that a cup of loose leaf black tea is very satisfying on a cold evening, in fact I’m pretty sure I initiate a nice brew more than him at the moment. Having said this nothing will replace my morning coffee. 

la vie et belle

Here’s some work from a talented duo that go by the name of Evajuliet. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that one’s called Eva and the other’s called Juliet. Their illustrations are gorgeous and full of personality. I love the way they bring watercolour up to date with hand painted lettering. They give me a strong urge to dust off my paint set straight away! Have a look and see a their prints and even cute plush toys on their website, as well as some lovely styled photographs of what they do.

wrap it up

Hello! It’s been a while. Here’s very simple DIY idea. I don’t think you need to be even remotely creative to have a go at this one. You can buy rolls of brown parcel paper from shops like Whsmiths, Wilkinsons, Ryman, Paperchase. Using this and a few other things you can easily create sheets of polka dot gift wrap, in any colours you like. 
To make the wrapping paper you’ll need the following....
1)Find something circular to draw round. I just had a scout round my living room to find the right size shape, but coins would work quite well too. 

2)Then draw round your object onto your sheet of card and using a scalpel, cut the circle out, whilst leaving the edges still in tact.
3) Then start placing the stencil where you want dots on the paper and using your paintbrush or a sponge to dab on the paint.

Don’t use too much paint as this will create blobs and the colour will saturate the stencil and misshape it. I made a new stencil for each colour to avoid the stencil wearing out or colours mixing. The circles won’t be perfect but that just adds to the home printed affect...or at least I Iike to think so. In hindsight acetate would make a better stencil than card, as it should warp. Maybe give that a whirl and see.

Leave each colour to dry in between applying the next and soon you’ll have a whole sheet of dotty delight!
I styled my wrap with some bakers twine and the tags were made using some cool stamps I was given as a present. They're available from amazon I do believe. You could use the same polka dot technique (it seems almost too simple to call it a technique) for decorating other things like notepads, envelopes or even try it with fabric paint onto fabric. I’ll leave it to you to think up the rest.

drip drop

Who would have guessed I’d actually be inspired by this dreary weather we're having. Here’s a little illustration to put a cheery spin on the not so cheery weather. This week I’ve felt a strong pull back to drawing, realising I’d spent quite a lot of time immersed in graphic projects recently and as a result forgetting my good old drawing roots. From the time I could hold a pencil to about 14 years old, I sat and drew for hours and hours. Funnily enough I’d chuck everything in the bin afterwards, only recently finding out that my Mum would retrace my trail to the bin to retrieve the creation in question. She has a whole box in the loft filled with my retrieved drawings from over the years! Sneaky. So more illustration is on the agenda but posts are coming a little slower at the moment as I’m working on quite a few design commissions for friends. All exciting things but it leaves me with a bit less time to play.