Handmade Christmas - Natural Soap

 My second project in my Handmade Christmas series is this very easy natural soap recipe. I've always wanted to try my hand at making soap as I love making other bath time products like body scrubs and bath oils plus it’s a fun afternoon project you could do with a pal. You could easily add different scents and exfoliating ingredients for each of your friends making perfect personal gifts.

What you need:

Mould - I used a cleaned out juice carton
Soap Base - I used a shea butter one
Essential oils - I used Spruce, Rosemary and Mandarin
Exfoliant - I used Rosemary
Rhassoul Clay - you can skip this but clay helps to soften skin and gives a deep cleanse, drawing out dirt and impurities

Cut your soap base into cubes and slowly melt on a low heat until melted. Use an old pot that you don't cook with otherwise you'll have to do a lot of scrubbing! My soap base took a long time to melt as I wanted to make a lot of finished soaps, so be patient. Using a metal spoon, so its easier to clean, stir continuously so your soap doesn't burn at the bottom of your pan. 

Once your soap is melted take it off the heat and add your oils. As I was making a lot of soap I added a total of 20 drops. Please make sure you buy cosmetic grade oils that are safe to be applied to the skin. As a rule always buy the most expensive essential oils you can afford. 

If using an exfoliant add that now or you can sprinkle on the top of your soap as its setting in your mould. I wanted my rosemary to be evenly dispersed so I stirred it in the melted soap. I finally added in the Rhassoul clay and poured my soap into a clean orange juice container. 

The next day I cut open the mould and cut the soap into chunky slices. I used my soap this morning and it smells amazing, plus the shea butter makes its very moisturising. 


How to Make a Wreath

Back in November I made and styled four Christmas Craft projects for the Guardian. My favourite item that I made for the shoot was the traditional wreath.  The whole article was featured in last Saturday's paper and just in case if you didn't buy a copy I have re-created how to make the wreath here on my blog.

It was such a fun project and very inexpensive as it relies on you to go gathering for most of the materials. By adding in dried oranges, bay leaves and cranberries you also have the satisfaction of your home smelling lovely as you make it too. Carry on reading to find out how to create this gorgeous wreath.

Things to gather:

Ivy or Holly
Bay leaves


Wreath form
24 gauge wire
Dried orange slices
Cinnamon Sticks

To begin the basic design of your wreath take a look at everything you have and plan where you'd like to place them. I really recommend thinking of your wreath like a clock face and focus on placing your decorative supplies at 12, 3, 6 and 9 to ensure even distribution. I started with bunches of cinnamon sticks tied with raffia and orange slices alternately around the wreath, I then added the pinecones and filled any gaps with berries and greenery.

 Before you start to attach anything to your wreath make sure you've got a clear idea where you'd like to place everything. Wrap wire discreetly onto your various decorative objects and foliage and overlap every time you place something down to hide any wire that may be showing. Using ivy and holly to hide the wire works well too. I pierced the orange slices and berries with the wire and simply wrapped wire around the cinnamon sticks before using the raffia to make the bundles look extra festive and pretty.

Its a simple case of building up slowly and ensuring that you hide any wire ( or glue if you are using ) to make the wreath look as natural as possible. Once you are happy with your wreath simply tie a bunch of raffia in a bow and leave a long tail to attach to your door.


Top Ten Christmas Decorations

Oh wow I am so excited for Christmas! My mum came down to London to visit me last week and we spent a lovely day trawling around soaking up all the beautiful festive things in the shops. I have to say West Elm won it for me and Selfridges was surprisingly disappointing. Oh by the way you must visit the Fortnum and Mason's Christmas Lodge at Somerset House, it was the most festive place I have ever been to in the U.K. Here are my top ten Christmas decorations...

Card from Present and Correct

Light from Ikea

Aged Bauble from H&M
Bumble Bee from Terrain
Jingle Bell Garland from Terrain

Narwal from Anthropologie
Oh Joy for Target

Watermelon from Leif
Fox from West Elm

Milk Wood Baubles from Toast

Anxiety and Me

I haven't written a blog post in ages, and I feel terrible about it as I love my little blog. Work has been totally manic with lots of Christmas corporate events to organise and I've also been really busy with my homeware business. I wanted to settle down and write a post all about why I've been absent for a little while.

Illustration by Nan Lawson

This post is going get personal. I'm actually pretty nervous about putting it out there but... here we go.

I have suffered from Anxiety in one form or another since I was very small. My mum and I would describe them as "funny feelings" as I was too young to understand how and what I really felt. This year I decided to take steps to help tackle my stress and anxiety.

I am a creature of habit, I like my little flat to be neat, tidy and cosy and I also like to feel very secure. Life is not always secure though, which can be an amazing thing but sometimes... not so much. This month has been a bad month for me. I've been working flat out for weeks. I have a job as the manager of a creative events company and I have to work very late most nights, I love it but boy is it tiring. on my days off I work on freelance work ( freelance pattern design, photographic styling, writing articles for craft magazines, and working on my homeware business). So understandably sometimes I just crash. Except this month I haven't been able to take a day or two to just relax and do nothing, weeks on end with no break from work really effects my ability to cope with my anxiety. In fact I'm sure everyone would feel rubbish.

I wont make this into too much of a sob story and explain exactly how I've felt this past few weeks as its very hard for people who don't suffer from any form of mental health problems to truly understand. Trust me when I say it can be absolutely awful. I always feel like I'm experiencing heart failure every time I have a panic attack. If you'd like to find out more about anxiety the NHS has some articles. In case you're wondering I fall into the Panic Disorder category.

I've had to learn as I grown up how to deal with situations that make me feel unhappy, stressed or ill as those three things could ultimately lead to an anxiety attack. Now, my best friend Erica is the coolest cucumber of the bunch, totally unflappable and seemingly maxo relaxo and happy at all times.  I am a control freak, I relish in creating things that are perfect and I love arriving half an hour before my train leaves. Opposites attract, clearly. But its extremely important to recognise that you can't make everything perfect all the time, you cant work yourself silly and you also have to enjoy the little things. Oh and I have to start following my own advice!

Something that helps me calm down is practising mindfull meditation. It doesn't always erase all feelings of stress but it does help me think more positively.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has done wonders for me too, my boyfriend Simon is amazing at this and he is a wonderful help to me. Read more about CBT here. The point of me writing this is just to let you know that if you suffer from any mental health problems you can help yourself and find others to support you. I would never wish to change my personality (I love being a control freak) but I do try to take steps to change my outlook. Calm problem solving is the key for me and I'm sure one day I will be able to totally control my anxiety problems.

Thank goodness that my work load has eased up a little bit. I am now feeling so much better and in more control, and now I can just concentrate on getting things ready to spend Christmas with everyone I love. I hope that if you suffer from anything like what I have talked about here that you are taking steps to find help and support.

Sorry if this post was a rambling piece of poop but I wanted to get it out there. Expect many more enjoyable posts from me soon.

Handmade Christmas - Simple Brass Necklaces

This year I have set myself the very daunting task of making all of this year's Christmas presents. By January my year long high street shopping ban will be over so I thought I'd finish with a bang. Handmade presents for everyone!

If you too would like to be a little more creative this year I have a series of posts to help you out. This first project is so simple but very stylish. Here's how to make Brass Charm Necklaces.

 You Will Need:

Geometric Brass Charms ( I bought mine from Etsy)
Waxed fabric cord or leather cord

Begin by cutting a length of cord that will easily slip over your head. Attach your charm to the cord by using a loop knot as seen in the photo below. Pull tight.

You will then need to create a sliding knot using both ends of the cord. Take the strand of one side and tie it around the other strand of the other side in a simple knot, repeat to the other side. Your necklace will now be adjustable. This may sound confusing but its very easy, try find a video tutorial if you get stuck. 

 If you don't need your necklace to be adjustable you can tie whatever knot you like. These easy necklaces only take a few minutes to make and look very chic, you could spend half an hour making them and have enough for all of your friends. Good luck!

Have a Free Typeface!

I saw this on Poppytalk ( a fantastic blog you should check out right now ) and I had to share it. I feel like poor Bob a lot of the time.  Download the Milkshake typeface for free at fairgoods.com

Milkshake from Fairgoods on Vimeo.

DIY Wire Cat Ears

I wanted to whip up a super quick cute accessory today for work as I was teaching a group of children a few Halloween crafts. I ended up making these super delicate and quite chic looking cat ears. I paired them with a leopard print dress and some winged eyeliner - outfit in 15 minutes flat.

My hairband went down so well that I gave it to one of my little students!

What You Need:

Jewellery Wire
Metal hair band

Choose the shape and size of the ears you would like to create. I went for cat ears but I think bunny ears would be so sweet too!

Using the wire, shape your ears. This can be quite rough as jewellery wire is so fine its very easy to mould so don't worry if its wonky. Double up the shape, I used two triangle shapes per ear to make them a little stronger.

To attach your ears to the hairband start winding a length of wire around 30cm around the base of each triangle connecting it to the hairband as you wind.

Thicken up your ear shapes by neatly winding the wire around the sides up to the point and down the other side. You can easily trim any excess wire with scissors.

Rock your ears!

A quick silly photo before the kids came in!

Colour Loves: Green

Its time for another Colour Loves post. I've been feeling pretty chilly since coming back from Turkey so I thought I'd try to cling onto Summer a bit longer by going for green, probably should have chosen orange in homage to all Autumnal Pumpkins everywhere right now. Oh well! Enjoy all the green goodness.

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A Spooky Day Out in London

Yesterday Simon and I travelled into the centre of London to have a wander and also visit a few galleries. I was pretty excited as both the exhibits we went to see had gothic themes, as such a big fan of Halloween and horror in general I couldn't wait.

The beautiful architecture of the British Library

My favourite print from the exhibit at the British Library

Our fist stop was the British Library to see the Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition. That morning we had watched the new BBC series all about the history of Gothic art so we were ready! I'd never actually been to the British Library and as Simon used to study there he gave me a guided tour. The show was excellent and I recommend it if you're a fan of Gothic literature, architecture and films.

Perfect Autumnal leaves

Slightly windswept but still enjoying the pretty buildings near Russell Square

It was a freezing day so I picked up a Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks ( my first of the season, so proud) then we walked to Abeno on Museum Street as I was craving Japanese food, we both enjoyed some delicious Okonomiyaki. Not very spooky but still good! After lunch we headed to the British Museum to go see the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibit which was less varied than the Gothic exhibition as it was mainly prints. However I would still suggest going as the collection of art was impressive, plus it was free. We also managed a sneaky look at the mummies before the Museum closed for the day!

I highly recommend the Qail's Egg and Mushroom Okonomiyaki

Simon at the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition

Maltesers blondie and coffee

We got caught in the rain in Seven Dials (possibly the most romantic area of London when its raining) so headed to Timberyard for a coffee and cake. The coffee was really good but the blondie we shared is nothing compared to the ones at Violet Cakes on Wilton Way. After the rain had stopped we headed home, I made some dinner and we watched The Blood on Satan's Claw a kinda funny (not on purpose) kinda creepy film made in the 70's about a coven of teenage devil worshipers.

What do you have planned this Halloween? What ever you're doing I hope its fantastic.

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