Advent Countdown Ideas

Advent Calendar Envelopes

I know it’s probably a bit late to be posting ideas for advent calendars although I think a couple of days adrift will make no difference! There’s any number of advent calendars out there to buy (chocolate or otherwise) but I particularly love these cute little cards that I bought for my nephews and niece. I started buying them a couple of years ago after seeing them in the window of a shop in Beverley called ‘Something Different’ on Butcher Row. There’s always a really good selection of cards at very reasonable prices. If only I could take a peak at some of the pictures behind the doors before sending them…..

Advent Cards

My crafty idea for an advent calendar started as something I’d seen in a magazine. That was for small, paper advent bags to put gifts in. I thought about making little bags but decided that I wouldn’t have the time (or the patience) to manage 25! I also wasn’t sure how to display them. Instead, I had seen these money envelopes in Wilkinson’s and had been turning over in my mind whether they could be used in a craft. Of course they could- advent envelopes!

Typewriter and Christmas Rubber Stamps

I bought the set of typewriter stamps from Amazon Marketplace (The Pea’s Knees Ltd, £7.99), I already owned the Christmas themed stamps from last year. It turned out pretty quick and easy to stamp up 25 envelopes and then fill them with little treats. My husband is more savoury than sweet(!) which explains the nuts and cheese. Hopefully, some of the chocolates might come my way!

Advent Envelopes and Treats

The noticeboard I used to display the envelopes was from a craft I posted about here. Of course there is any manner of ways to display them- in a Christmas bowl perhaps, or pegged onto a garland.

Advent Calendar Envelopes

Magnetic Fireplace Fix-up

Our kitchen has a fireplace that used to be covered over. When we stripped out the kitchen after we moved in we discovered behind the board was an old kitchen range. The idea then was to restore it to it’s former glory as a ‘feature’ in the kitchen. However, after staring at the dusty, dirty fireplace for too many years to mention, we finally admitted that it was better covered up!

Magnetic Memoboard

To make it useful, we decided to use magnetic paint and have it as a memo board for recipes. The paint tin promised only a couple of coats would be needed, but I reckon we did about four coats in the end. The board is just a piece of plasterboard sawed to size- it has been glued in place as have the bits of skirting round the edges to frame the board.

Magnetic Memoboard

The magnets used on the paint need to be quite strong to hold anything in place. I’m very pleased with the outcome- it means recipes from magazines don’t just get put in a pile and it gives inspiration for cooking during the week.

Things to Frame

This post will cover a lot of other ones that I’ve done in the past- a best of clips collection I guess! There are so many different things that look good in a frame and so many things that get collected and then put in a drawer/ cupboard that could actually be on the wall making you smile. Clearly there are loads more ideas out there for frame inspiration- however I only have so many walls/ shelves/ radiator cabinets to display them all!

Postage stamp art

This is one of my favourite things that I’ve made recently- it was a long time coming and required patience but the finished picture was worth all the effort! The stamps came from my childhood stamp collection and are mounted on accurately measured foam pads.

Pen line drawing artwork

This picture is an original piece of artwork by my Dad! My husband had been admiring my Dad’s sketches and drawings when we went to visit in the summer and this framed picture of the family home was one of his presents for Christmas. A lovely surprise and perfect for the mantelpiece.

Wall pictures

Here’s a few pictures that are on the wall in the hallway. The leopard cub is a birthday card, the picture of Prague is a postcard and the orchid drawing is from a natural history magazine. All things that would otherwise have ended up in a box somewhere or being recycled!

Framed vintage map

This is a close-up of a vintage map (it’s actually a brand new reproduction of an old map) of Hull, where we live. I could stare at maps of places I know for hours, especially old ones. Knowing which places have always been around and which are new, finding out what was there before fulfills a deep curiousity in the past and my present surroundings. I would definitely recommend buying some old maps to study and display.

Box frame memories

Again, this is a previous post on creating a memory box frame. The deepness of the frame means things such as champagne corks, shells and other trinkets can be displayed. The perfect way to remember a happy occasion/ great holiday.

Framed Wallpaper

The simplest and cheapest idea of them all- framing scraps of wallpaper. Either use some wallpaper left over from another project or do what we did and get some free samples at the DIY store of your favourite patterns! The clip frame is a bargain from Ikea. There are so many lovely wallpapers available online that would look great as framed pictures and most sites will send out a number of designs for free as test samples.

So which ideas have you already used in your house? Let me know of all the good ideas I’ve missed!



Displaying Photos

We have so many photos taken of all our holidays stored on computer. They get shown to friends and family and every so often we take a look at them to reminisce about an enjoyable time or laugh at the rubbish outfits and stupid expressions. Most of the time they stay hidden away, forgotten about and pointless, just taking up storage space instead of being treasured. Photo albums seem a distant memory- the last time I filled one was our wedding album and even then it took ages to sort it all out!

Photo wall display

well, last year I decided something needed to be done about it. The inspiration came during a visit to the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art. The museum had on an exhibition of photographs (which in the main I didn’t particularly enjoy, I’m not sure modern art is for me….) but it did have a wall with photos that people had donated to the the museum which were displayed on thin ledges in rows covering the whole wall. This got me thinking that I could do something similar at home on the landing wall- a big blank white space that’s been screaming out for something to cover it. Instead of ledges to prop the photos on I decided on using string and some of those little craft pegs you can buy. I had some cute ladybird ones that I’d never found a use for and also bought some plain red and natural colour ones. The baker’s twine I found on eBay along with the plastic sleeves for the photos (they’re meant to be for cards). The hooks to tie the string to at each end of the wall and the cable fasteners to keep the string in place along the wall came from a DIY store.

Photo pegs display

I absolutely love it! It traces all our holidays over the last 10 years and has all of our favourite photos on it. The photos make me smile every day when I look at them- and isn’t that what your photos should do?

Personalised Coasters

One of my presents for Christmas were some glass coasters to put in your own photo or pretty paper.

Personalised Coasters

It’s taken me this long to get around to cutting out some pictures to put into them. I’ve had these roses pictures for ages, they were also given to me and I’ve used them already in a couple of different frames. I picked the best bits of the photos, drew around the guide picture that came with the coasters and then cut them out. The whole thing took about 10 minutes, I can’t believe it took me so long to get them done! Easy to change as well if I get bored with the roses…..

Rose Picture Coasters

Uses for Old Coffee Jars

I’ve been storing up loads of different jars for who knows what reason and decided I needed to use them or recycle them. I’m going to blame my mother for the overwhelming urge to hoard things (especially empty jars) and always feel slightly guilty when I have a purge of the clutter in the house. I do try to keep on top of things – although the charity shop pile has only left the house this weekend after being in the spare room for the last year!

Jars for Food Storage

Back to the jars: smaller ones I keep for the few occasions during the year that I turn my hand to chutney making or mincemeat making at Christmas. A tall, thin passata jar became a vase. And finally all the coffee jars (Douwe Egberts) with fancy glass lids are now being used to store various food stuffs. As you can see from the picture this includes sugar, chopped dates and mini marshmallows! The jars were a bit of a nightmare to clean –  all of them went through the dishwasher, however the sticky gunk from the label never came off. Thus I spent almost a whole afternoon with a green scourer trying to remove it all. I have to confess- some of the jars are still slightly tacky! It was definitely worth it as now my cupboard looks tidier and the food shouldn’t perish as quickly!

Spring Flowers and Showers

The weather in the last month has been as changeable as any you would expect for Spring. No wonder it is a very British occupation to spend so much time discussing and fretting about what weather the day will bring.

Small Yellow Daffodils

In mid-March were the hottest days seen for a long time- I spent a good few hours sat outside in the backyard getting a few rays of sunshine on my pale Winter skin! This soon gave way (as is always the case) to overnight frosts and a return to snow in some parts of East Yorkshire. The past week has seen the typical April Showers appear, just as hosepipe bans are put in place across the country. Today has been especially bad with hail and rain and sun in equal measure.

Tulips in the Hallway

Oh, to be in a country where the sun always shines! But of course that would mean no lovely Spring flowers to brighten the house with. From tiny pale yellow daffodils, looking lovely against my new throw, to my absolute favourite flower the tulip, bright yellow in the hallway.


Just to complete the Springtime joy are these wonderful purple and pink hyacinths with their strong, fresh aroma. Luckily I had enough vases for all of them!

Butterfly Appliqué Pillowcase

After seeing a cushion in Laura Ashley with cute cups on it, I thought I could do something similar with some scraps of fabric I had bought ages ago when contemplating making patchwork quilts (as if that was ever going to happen!). Instead of making a cushion cover, I decided to use a plain pillowcase as it would require less sewing. So, along with the pillowcase and some scraps of different fabrics I used a pattern, pins, thread, scissors and a sewing machine (probably not essential, however it would take longer sewing by hand).

Laura Ashley teacup pillow

Firstly, I decided on a shape for the appliqué patches. As I have butterfly patterns on other things in the house, and it’s a simple shape to draw, I went for that. Alternatives could be the teacups mentioned above, hearts, cupcakes, flowers, birds, basically anything that is relatively simple to draw and then sew.

I drew the pattern freehand on some paper- only half the butterfly though as I could fold the paper in half and then cut out to give a completely symmetrical shape. I had a couple of attempts to get a size I was happy with- I guess with some careful measuring beforehand you could be more precise!

Butterfly applique design for pillow

I then traced around the pattern on the reverse of each of pieces of fabric, making sure the fabric was ironed flat. These were carefully cut out. I spent a bit of time positioning the cut-out butterflies on the pillowcase, making sure they were spaced evenly across the cover. Carefully pin the butterflies in place.

Applique butterfly pillow

The final stage is to sew the butterflies to the pillowcase. I used a contrasting blue thread and zig-zag stitch, but any stitch that will secure the butterflies in place is of course fine! Finally, I hand stitch the thread ends to neaten everything up. This should withstand going through the washing machine, as long as the fabric chosen is cotton.

DVD Storage Boxes

A few weeks back my husband put up the extra shelf in the front room. Since then, we’ve been looking for storage options for the DVDs and computer games that were to find their home there. We wanted storage that was easy accessible but hid the actual DVDs/ games from view. Basically, it came down to what type of boxes to buy! No other option was really available that would hide the DVDs/ games.

DVD and Computer Game Storage

As luck would have it we were passing Ikea last weekend and popped in for a few things. As I’m sure everyone knows they have loads of boxes in different colours and sizes to choose from. We went for a combination of black and white stripe, white hessian and olive green. Only four of the boxes are filled however, we overestimated the number we needed! Now it’s a case of deciding what to buy to fill the remaining three boxes…..

New Throw for Spring

I picked up a copy of the latest M&S Spring/ Summer Home catalogue when I was in their Beverley store one lunchtime. I love flicking through the home catalogues (I also had the John Lewis one sent out last week) to see what the latest trends are and dream of rooms that look as lovely as they do on the glossy pages. At the moment the trends seems to be new takes on Scandinavian and mid-century design. Clean lines, bright colours, geometric patterns, pale wood and white.

Throw for Living Room

Anyway, what caught my eye was this lovely throw with it’s bright colours to banish the winter blues! On the internet at lunchtime I happened to notice that M&S were having a sale event on their home department and luckily enough the throw was 20% off. Really love it- brightens up the sofa and matches our lemon yellow walls. Since then, I’ve seen it recommended on both Ideal Home and Guardian- does this mean I have style?!