Spring Fashion

I’ve really got into the fun of making treasuries on Etsy. A treasury is a collection of up to 16 items with a similar theme. I’ve averaged about 4 a week most week since I developed an interest in them. Some treasuiries I choose a random topic, others I have been doing series, for example I did a series on Spring 2016 Home Decor Trends and I have recently done a series on Spring 2016 Fashion Trends. Over time the number of items in a treasury can reduce due to sales, which is a good thing, triggering sales for other people.

Here are the treasuries I did for each of the key colours for spring:

tealfashionindigofashionburgundyfashioncoralfashionmoonstonefashionpersimmonfashiontaupefashionlemonfashionhydrangeafashionperiwinklefashion

You can check out the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy treasuries here

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Storage

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10 storage solutions for crafts:

  1. At christmas time, Twiglets, Cheeselets, Cheese Footballs and other savoury snacks come in a tall round container with a metal bottom, cardboard sides and plastic lid. Cover the outside with a thin layer of white paper mache. I store jewellery threads and findings in mine. These then sit on top of the radiator, which is never turned on, behind my desk, within easy reach.
  2. Old shoe boxes, particularly the one piece style (rather than box and lid style). I store paints in these. I have one for silk paints, one for glass paints and one for acrylic paints.
  3. Larger amounts of Haribo sweets can be bought from Amazon and come in a large plastic box. I store washi tape in one and use others to store the offcuts of paper from card making.
  4. I have a flat screw and nail storage case, which I use for storing sequins.
  5. I use Really Useful Boxes for storing stock and take these to fairs. I have made covers for each of the 3 sizes which I can set up on my stall as safe stable shelves. I also use Really Useful Boxes to store items as they dry between each stage of work.
  6. I have a set of Really Useful drawers with packing items such as padded bags, tape, cardboard backed envelopes, etc in the garage.
  7. A multiholed pen holder made of papermache stores all the paintbrushes, pencils, glue, jewellery pliers, decoupage and normal scissors. A copy of this could be easily made using the centres of kitchen roll cut at different lengths and put upright into a small box, such as the bottom of a family size cereal pack.
  8. My sewing items are kept in the metal tins that come at Christmas time filled with biscuits.
  9. A Doctor Who rectangular metal pail from a past Easter gift holds plastic clothes pegs. Pegs are really useful for holding things together as glue dries or for hanging small decorations from while they are drying.
  10. I use a concertina file folder to store sticker sheets. I organise them by occassion and colour.

maroonbook pink shelves_tnIf you are looking for storage solutions for jewellery, pens and other items, why not take a look at the range Didi Lou Crafts produces at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts

 

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Winter Soups

As it gets darker earlier, we all tend to change our eating habits from salads and barbeques to stews and soups. Nowadays supermarkets give us a false sense of the seasons, as most fruit and vegetables are now available all year round, but we get an organic vegetable box weekly from Abel and Cole, so have a sense of when different vegetables are available.The time for leafy greens and new potatoes has long passed and now we are getting more root vegetables.

I make soups in winter and one of my best purchases recently was a slow cooker. It leaves me a lot of time for crafting. I can put the soup on in the morning and as we pass it during the day we give it a quick stir and top up the liquid if necessary. The smell slowly permeates the house and we look forward to the soup later that evening. Even better is having it with bread done in the bread maker or perhaps with a quick soda bread done in the oven. I freeze any leftovers in individual containers.

The week before last we had leek and potato soup with parmesan soda bread. Most soda bread recipes have buttermilk in them, but I managed to find one that was just milk and added the parmesan to it, so it was my own recipe as such. Last week we had root vegetables and pasta soup, with swede, carrots, parsnip and potatoes. I also used the bread maker last week to make beetroot bread which was rather unusual, having a consistency similar to malt loaf.

I have the urge to do a bacon and corn chowder soon, it has been too long and we have lots of lovely potatoes each week. My favourites at the moment are carrot and coriander soup and spicy roast parsnip soup. I often adapt the spicy roast parsnip one, using other vegetables including potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and butternut squash.

parsnip2Here is the recipe for the spicy roast parsnip soup:

Turn on the oven to 220C. Get out a thick baking tray (think the sort you roast your meat and vegetables in for Sunday roast).

Get a clean plastic bag. Into it pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (not extra virgin). Add 1 teaspoon each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and ground tumeric.

Now peel and chop 1 large onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 carrots and 675g parsnips. As you prepare the vegetables put handfuls into the plastic bag and shake then empty the vegetables onto the baking tray. Keep going until all the vegetables are prepared and on the tray. Place the tray of vegetables in the oven. Roast the vegetables for 30-45 minutes. You want them to soften and gain some colour.

Set up the slow cooker. Empty all the roasted vegetables into the cooker and cover with water. Add 1-2 vegetable stock cubes. Cook on a slow simmer for a few hours. Allow to cool slightly. Pour into a bowl or jugs, be sure to get the last bits of the spices out of the cooker bowl.

Spoon into a blender and process until smooth. Pour back into the slow cooker and turn back to high heat. Continue blending the mix until it is all completed. Allow the soup to get up to a temperature that has it simmering again. Serve and enjoy. (Note: this is adapted from a recipe I found online which didn’t include using the slow cooker, but I don’t recall where I found it, so I can’t acknowledge the original source.)

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Proof Reading for Posters

Whether you are making a poster as a small business owner, the member of a sports club, on the committee of a school fete, or for your lost pet, a professional looking poster tends to get more response. There are so many free clip art sites available now, that it is easy to create a nice poster with great pictures too. Bright and colourful will catch the eye, but remember to make it readable too. Note though that sometimes less is more, especially if you want the poster seen (and understood) from a distance.

Of course there are professional companies specialising in larger posters printed on different materials, but with computers and printers in most homes, many can and do make small posters themselves at home, using graphics software.

I want to offer the following advice to avoid spelling mistakes:

  • Most graphics packages don’t have a spell checker, so type the text into a word processor first and use the spell checker. You can then copy and paste the text after it is fully checked.
  • Check against a normal plain background first. A busy background can get in the way. (If you are dyslexic, have you tried a non-white background? There have been studies in the past that have proved that people with dyslexia can often see issues better on a pale yellow or pale blue background, but the colour that works best for each individual can vary.)
  • Check your text using a normal font first. The eye can be deceived by strange fonts.
  • Check your text using normal case first. Again, all capitals can trick the eye. Most word processors will be able to convert the text to capitals later with one click.
  • Get someone else to look at the text too. We often see what we want to see, not what is really there, so a fresh set of eyes can help.
  • A spell checker will also miss correctly spelled words that aren’t correct in the context or missing words, so another set of eyes can pick those up.

It is not just posters, I do it for posts here on the website too as the software doesn’t pick up errors. I write up the text first in a word processor. I usually leave it a few days and read it again with fresh eyes. When I am happy with it, I copy and paste the text to the website software and preview the draft multiple times. As soon as it is published, my husband tends to looks over the text as well and points out any other errors, so hopefully I am catching any errors before the general public get a chance to see them.

It might seem like a bit of a fuss, to take such care, but as I said before, a professional looking post/poster will get more response. Mistakes can breed mistrust, so that little extra time is definitely worth it.

Good luck making your posts/posters.

flyer

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Card Making

yellow tree card_tnteddy motorbike card_tn

I’ve been making cards for years. Homemade cards show special effort has been taken and my friends and family have really appreciated these cards, often framing them as little pictures for posterity. I have tried many different techniques, from stamping, embossing, cross stitch, glass painting, silk painting, tea bag folding, punching, decoupage, layering and aperature paper folding to quilling, string art and shaker, shaped and 3D cards.

pink cupcake card_tndaffodil glass painted card_tn

Didi Lou Crafts has a range of cards available and I try to ensure there are different styles and images to suit different ages and genders, although I admit there are more for females than males, just as there are more for adults than for children, but I will add more over time. I have been making Christmas cards over the last few weeks.

wisemen black card_tnrussian dolls silk card_tn

The Christmas cards are available at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts/Christmas and the other cards are available at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts/Cards

 

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Autumn

greenbookmaroonbook

Autumn is definitely here. I drove down the motorway yesterday with the wind tossing the autumn leaves around. Whilst I planted some bulbs a week ago, I have a few more to put in, but it is raining, so I will have to leave that till another day. Our clocks change tonight, so it really does feel like it is heading for winter. At least the craft fairs now are all indoors, which is less work, no putting up the gazebo, but the weather can have an effect on the numbers that attend.

redwreathgreenwreath

This time in two months, it will be Christmas Eve. I have completed most of the Christmas items for Didi Lou Crafts, with a few in reserve just in case. Last fair Didi Lou Crafts had close to 300 items of stock, although many of those are small items that are not suitable for selling on Etsy. I do want to list a few more items on Etsy over the coming weeks. I have some new secret stash books to list and I will also add some wooden wreaths. Keep an eye out for these on the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts

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Paper and Books

heart angel drawers_tnsquare rose card_tn

 

 

 

 

 

Paper is the traditional wedding anniversarysequin heart box_tn gift for the first or second anniversary, depending on which country one lives in. Whilst the modern world has tried to move away from the use of paper, with paperless offices and electronic mail, diaries and books, we still use a lot of paper and crafters are included in this. Card making can be a simple craft to start with and the range of papers and card available is amazing. Decoupage, decopatch, quilling, papermache, silhouettes, scrap booking, paper flowers, paper folding… all simple paper with a little embellishment. Book folding is a newer craft, one which looks interesting, but not something that Didi Lou Crafts will indulge in. Whilst I am all for upcycling, I am not sure I could bring myself to upcycle books, especially as I have a real love of reading, and much prefer the physicality of a book rather than some form of electronic reader.

barbie bag_tnMany of the items available at Didi Lou Crafts are paper based, from cards to the decorated boxes, some of which are papermache. Check out the cards at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts/Cards and the boxes at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts/Boxes on Etsy.

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Crafting for Kids

The summer holidays are a greatChildren_Playing_2 time to try some crafts with children, and they probably work out cheaper than a day at a fun park or going to the cinema. If you have the space, craft in the garden under some shade, or perhaps save the crafts for a rainy day when they are climbing the walls. Your mileage may vary on how much mess you can stand, so choose a craft you can tolerate. Obviously the younger the children are, the more they need supervising and the simpler the craft needs to be.

xmas-tree-clip-artHow about making all your Christmas cards early by having the children do painted hand prints for the youngest, Christmas trees, bells or balls can be painted or use ribbons, glitter and other embellishments to decorate pre drawn shapes. For the older children look for “fingerprint robins for christmas cards” in your favourite browser, e.g. Google, Bing, etc. Beading can offer age appropriate options, with younger children happy to make simpler bracelets with large holed pony beads, whereas your tweens and teens would probably enjoy making a zipper pull/mobile phone charm/key rings of a favourite movie or cartoon character from beads or even cross stitch. Teach your older children life skills they will need like sewing on buttons by making sock puppets for the younger children and then have them all put together a show for the family. Older children can be taught to knit or crochet. In fact, both are things you can ask their grandparents to teach them. For a community spirited project, as a group have them crochet a sleeping mat for the homeless from old plastic grocery bags. Look up “sleeping mats for the homeless”. You will even find videos on YouTube with instructions on how to do these.

Search through online craft pages with the tankchildren for many more ideas. Then look for the required materials on various sites. I find Amazon and Ebay reasonable, but sometimes good ideas at better prices can be found on sites such as The Works, The Range, Hobbycraft and Baker Ross. You may have difficulty finding ideas for older males, so look at model making and 3D jigsaws too, but don’t rule these out for the females either, space perception is a useful skill for all later in life.

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Bucket Lists

When I moved back to the UK, I had a bucket lists of sorts, of places around Europe I have always wanted to visit. I’ve managed to do a few of them, for example:

  • See the Book of Kells
  • Visit Rome and see the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Trevi Fountain
  • Visit Greece and see Delphi, Olympia and the Acropolis
  • Visit Pompeii

Book of Kells
But I still have many I want to do:

  • Eat black forest cake in the Black Forest
  • Cruise down the Rhine to see the Bavarian Castles
  • See the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • See the famous balcony of Romeo and Juliet fame
  • See heather in bloom
  • Visit the Statue of the Little Mermaid
  • Visit tulip fields
  • Visit Loch Lomond
  • Have a romantic break in Paris
  • See the Great Pyramids

I also find myself making mini bucket lists, like a few weekends ago I went to London, so I took the opportunity to visit the Tate Modern, seeing some artwork by some very famous artists, such as Picasso, Klee, Warhol, etc, or I’ve locally walked Moor Copse, Calleva Atrebatum and Dinton Pastures, but I want to do Fobney Island. A bucket list gives me things to look forward to, even if at the moment I am too busy with getting Didi Lou Crafts up and running to be able to do another longer overseas trip.

green tulips pot_tnceltic circle box_tntulip pot_tnceltic oval box_tn

Some of the crafts available at Didi Lou Crafts are influenced by my interest in history, culture and nature, for example, the tulips and the celtic influence can be found on the items shown above. These and many other items are available at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts.

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Sun Care

shelterAs people start to head off for their summer holidays, can I remind people to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day, to find some shade, drink plenty of water, cover up when possible, to use sunscreen as needed and wear a hat and sunglasses.

I grew up in Australia. I have fair skin and red hair. As you may guess, I had problems in the sun. Our primary school uniform was a sleeveless dress, but my mother made one with sleeves to protect the tops of my arms. Every time I wore that dress there were comments made about it and my parents were called into the school several times about the issue, but they insisted I wear that dress on the sunniest days. It wasn’t until my secondary school days that the “Slip, Slop, Slap” campaign started about sun protection. In full, it was “Slip on a shirt, Slop on sunblock and Slap on a hat”. I am glad to report that the primary school uniform was eventually changed to include short sleeves and a hat.

Please take care this summer, sun protectionnot just for yourself, but for those around you who need your help to understand the risks of the sun and the need to cover up, whether with clothes, a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses or a shaded area.

Didi Lou Crafts does not have any items that will help with protecting your skin in the sun, but this is an issue I feel strongly about, so forgive the lack of product recommendation today.

A handmade craft item can be a wonderful gift for a summer birthday, but don’t forget to order well in advance to allow for your vacation time. Our range of products can be found at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/DidiLouCrafts.

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