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DIY: concrete planters

9 Apr

I have a little nugget of good news today – I’m soon moving house again and this time I’m going to have a garden! Maybe it’s the spring sunshine, but I’m getting super excited about this prospect. Until now, a few disasterous months of allotmenteering and three window boxes are the closest I’ve ever come to having my own patch and, needless to say, a ‘garden on a shoestring’ Pinterest board is already taking shape.

This contemporary concrete planter DIY  shared by my friend Heather is one I’m definitely going to try. Mix together a bag of cement, pour into old plastic buckets, add a pinch of interior stylist’s instinct and voilà!

Find the full step-by-step instructions at Growing Spaces.

DIY concrete planter Growing Spaces blog

DIY concrete plant pot and candle holder Growing Spaces Blog

[Photographs and tutorial both Heather Young for Growing Spaces]

 

Have you got any tricks or ideas for sprucing up a boring garden on a budget? I’d love to hear your advice!

Make a pretty floral wreath from wallpaper scraps

31 Mar

I loved creating my flower crown from garden blooms and blossoms last week but was a little sad to find it didn’t last more than a few hours. Today I came across this beautifully simple craft project by The House That Lars Built and thought my fellow floral craft fans might be keen to try it too!

It’s a great way to use up offcuts of wallpaper, which I always feel bad about throwing away. If you don’t have any that are right though, wallpaper shops will usually provide free samples – ask them to give you a piece large enough to show the whole repeat and it will probably be big enough to make this. The wallpaper used here is from Laura Ashley.

wreath-made-from-greenery-and-wallpaper

how to make a wreath from floral wallpaper scraps

make-a-wallpaper-wreath-with-laura-ashley

{Photographs Trisha Zemp | Project The House That Lars Built}

 

This simple paper wreath would look so pretty on a door or hanging above the bed in a guest bedroom. Find full instructions for how to make it at The House That Lars Built.

DIY: how to make a spring flower crown

20 Mar

How to make a spring flower crown - step by step at Decorator's Notebook

Celebrate spring by making a pretty flower crown - step by step at Decorator's Notebook blog

Flower crown DIY - Decorator's Notebook blog

Make a flower crown with wild flowers - Decorator's Notebook

Wildflower headpiece - tutorial at Decorator's Notebook blog

Simple garden flower crown - DIY - Decorator's Notebook blog

It all started with a Friday afternoon twitter chat. You know the sort: when everyone’s an hour or so away from pouring their first G&T and avoiding the last few tasks they should be finishing for the week.

The conversation turned to having pictures of ourselves on our blogs. If you’ve been reading for a while, you might know that I wrote Decorator’s Notebook anonymously for the first two years, without my name, let alone with a mug shot looking out top right. There was some discussion around how posting a ‘blogger’s selfie’ can feel like a horribly awkward and self-conscious thing to do. But for me, it was actually one of the most important moments for me and my blog. Until I ‘came out’ I didn’t realise how detached I’d felt from the blogging community and how much I’d been holding back for years. The second I posted a photo of myself and wrote a proper ‘about me’ was the moment Decorator’s Notebook actually felt like mine.

One of the blogger profile pictures I like best in all the world is Michelle’s – go and check it out and see how the idea for #primaveracrowns was born! So, here’s my contribution… a simple garland of flowers from my Mum’s garden to celebrate the start of spring. Is anyone joining us? You know what, it doesn’t really matter. Because this is me, wearing my crown, on my blog. And I’m proud and happy to be here.

How to make a spring flower crown from garden flowers - DIY - Decorator's Notebook blog

DIY - how to make a spring flower crown - step by step at Decorator's Notebook blog

HOW TO MAKE A SPRING FLOWER CROWN

1 | Gather your supplies: thick wire (the rubber coated sort used for garden ties works well), some thin beading wire, secateurs and a selection of freshly-cut flowers and foliage. I used rosemary, hellebores, cherry blossom, primroses and grape hyacinths.

2 | Twist the thick wire into a circle just a little larger than you want it to be once it’s on your head – the finished crown will fit a little more snuggly once it’s filled out with flowers.

3 | Start by covering the wire with foliage. Something quite dense that comes in long stems will make this easier. Tuck the end into one of the twists in your wire then gently wrap the stems around, securing it every now and then with beading wire.

4 | This is where you want to end up – an evenly covered base on which to build. Now the fun begins!

5 | Add your flowers, starting with the bigger ones. Hold the stems in place with one hand while you secure them with beading wire with the other. If you want to get all florist-y about it you could use special wire and tape (see how here) but I find my way a lot less faff! How you position the flowers is completely up to you… I went for even spacing all the way around but something asymetric can look wonderful too. Head to my flower crown inspiration board for lots of ideas.

6 | Once your big blooms are spaced as you’d like, add in the smaller ones using the same technique, filling any gappy bits as you go.

An important note: soft-stemmed wild or garden flowers like these don’t like being out of water for long, so you’ll need to make your crown soon before you want to wear it or it will look wilted and sad! For a longer-lasting flower crown, choose blooms with woody stems like roses and eucalyptus – these will last overnight if spritzed with water and stored in a plastic bag in the fridge.

If you’ve made a flower crown with Michelle and I, please post your photos to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #primaveracrowns and add your link below. We can’t wait to see them!


Spring flower crown DIY by Decorator's Notebook blog

{Photographs and tutorial all © Decorator’s Notebook – you are welcome to share but please do not re-post the entire tutorial and always link with love!}

Homemade Christmas wreath with a contemporary twist

18 Dec

Homemade Christmas wreath with eucalyptus DIY

Homemade Christmas door wreath contemporary foliage

{© Decorator’s Notebook}

I absolutely LOVE Christmas – not so much for the day itself but for those leading up to it. The little rituals mean so much to me: choosing the tree, making the cake, planning how I’ll decorate the table and waiting excitedly for everyone to arrive. And now this year I have a pretty homemade wreath on the door to greet them!

On Sunday Lou arranged a tasty lunch and a crafty afternoon for a handful of Westcountry bloggers and kindly invited me along as a newcomer to the group. My little network of blogging friends is one of the few things I do actually miss about London, so it was lovely to meet some kindred spirits in my new/old area. Xanthe from Ivory Flowers supplied us with a beautiful array of foliage and decorations to use and we had spent a relaxing afternoon chatting while binding clumps of earth-scented moss, lush pine, orange slices and dried flowers onto our wreaths. With such a fantastic array of ingredients to choose from it was fun seeing all the finished results… I opted for a bit of contemporary style using eucalyptus, cheerful billy buttons, cotton heads and cinnamon sticks.

Now every time I arrive home I have a reminder of a lovely afternoon and a special welcome for our Christmas visitors!

For more ideas, visit my fellow bloggers and admire the beautiful wreaths they created too: Lou at Littlegreenshed | Lottie at Oyster & Pearl | Cathy at Bristol Parenting Cafe | Kat at Housewife Confidential | Laura at Circle of Pine Trees | Natalie at Thistle Apples

Homemade gingerbread gift tags & garlands

15 Dec

Welcome to everyone joining us today from Sunday Times Style – it’s lovely to have you here!

I was thrilled to be invited to put together an idea for their Christmas gift wrap feature this weekend. These edible gingerbread tags start giving before your gift has even been opened – a definite bonus! If you fancy trying these sweet little biscuits for yourself, here’s the recipe and instructions you’ll need:

Gingerbread gift tags Decorator's Notebook blog recipe

Decorator's Notebook gingerbread cookies recipe

Gingerbread gift tags for Sunday Times Style by Decorator's Notebook

Decorator's Notebook gingerbread garland

{Photographs © Decorator’s Notebook}

Gingerbread Biscuits

It took quite a bit of experimentation to work out the recipe for perfect gingerbread biscuits that hold their shape when baked and taste delicious too. Thank you to Emily at Maid of Gingerbread for the tips!

100g butter
100g soft brown sugar
3 tbs treacle
1 tbs golden syrup
140g plain flour
140g self raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground mixed spice
 

1) Preheat the oven to 180°c / Gas 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2) Place the butter, treacle, syrup and sugar in a small pan and warm gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl.

3) Add the contents of the pan to the dry ingredients and mix well. Once combined, kneed gently to form a smooth, stiff ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

4) Roll out the dough to 2mm thick on a floured surface and cut out the shapes using your favourite cutter. Use a straw to make two holes in the centre of each biscuit then transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used.

5) Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown. Keep a close eye on them as the cooking time will depend on the size of the cutter you used. Cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight container.

Makes about 32 biscuits

Gingerbread recipe Decorator's Notebook blog

[click the image above to enlarge and save]

gingerbread gift tags and garland recipe Decorator's Notebook

{Photographs and recipe © Decorator’s Notebook}

Once you’ve made your gingerbread men there’s a host of ways you can use them… tying them onto Christmas presents is just the start!

  • Thread a row along a length of pretty ribbon and hang along the mantlepiece (not too close to the fire!)
  • Make one hole in the top of the biscuits instead of two and pop them on your tree
  • Tie around napkins as an extra treat on the table
  • Get the kids decorating them with tubes of icing to give to their friends and teachers

Have fun and thank you for visiting our blog… you’ll find lots more Christmas craft and decorating ideas here and please do have a look at the Decorator’s Notebook Shop for gorgeous gifts to wrap inside your parcels and luxury ribbons for the perfect finishing touch!

Decorator's Notebook Shop www decoratorsnotebook.co.uk

DIY: air drying clay Christmas tree decorations

13 Dec

I just love DAS clay… a couple of years ago I used it to make these simple clay tree decorations and this week we had a go at some more using different rubber stamps to create an embossed effect.

DAS clay Christmas tree decoration DIY LR

Air drying clay Christmas decorations LR

DAS clay snowflake Christmas tree decoration LR

{Decorator’s Notebook}

For those who haven’t used it before, DAS air-drying clay can be rolled and moulded like salt dough but dries to an off white ceramic finish. A big 1kg block costs under £5 from Amazon or local craft shops. We used about a third of  packet to make about 25 decorations.

Air Drying Clay Christmas Tree Decorations

1) Slice off about one third of a 1kg block of DAS air drying clay. Seal the remainder quickly in the packet as it soon dries out.

2) Roll out the clay to about 1.5mm thick on a smooth surface. Cut out shapes using a range of biscuit cutters – we chose snowflakes and hearts but anything festive will do… play around with the different ones you have cutting positive and negative shapes and various sizes.

3) Working quickly before the clay dries, emboss the decorations using rubber stamps or found materials like lace and hessian. Anything you can find with a pretty textures surface will work nicely.

4) Use the plastic casing of a biro to cut a small hanging hole in the top of each shape for hanging.

5) Leave until the clay is leather hard, then gently lift the decorations from your worksurface and transfer to a warm dry place to dry out. These are thin so will only take a few hours. They’ll harden up and lighten in colour when they’re dry.

6) Thread with twine or ribbon and they’re ready to hang on the tree!

These are really simple and certainly easy enough to try with the kids this weekend. Don’t forget to share the results with us on Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest @DecoratorsNotes or on our Facebook page.

Free printable! Illustrated holiday gift tags

21 Nov

This is the first time I’ve reblogged an archive post (I won’t be making a habit of it) but I thought it would be good to share our free gift tags with you a second time because we posted them a bit too late last year and I know a lot of you missed the chance to use them.

So, last Christmas I designed this lovely set of hand-drawn Christmas / holiday gift tags as a little present for you to download and print at home. Joe and I are already busy designing this year’s set which will be available soon, but in the meantime, here’s another chance to grab the 2012 design.

free printable holiday gift tags

free printable christmas gift tags

16 free gift tags to download and print

{© Decorator’s Notebook / Photographs Joe John}

There are 16 different designs which are easy to download and print on whatever card you like. We used A4 kraft (from eBay) but some readers got really creative with these last year and even got their kids involved colouring in the pictures.

They’re free for everyone… all we ask is that you share a link via Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. You’re also welcome to include them on your own blog too, but please enter into the Christmas spirit and share a link to this post rather than pinching the download link!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST then click here to download your free gift tags PDF

 

Visit Decorator's Notebook Shop www.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk

15-minute make: autumn wreath DIY

21 Oct

Autumn is the most beautiful and intriguing time to live in the countryside. It’s when I get my strongest cavegirl tendencies and I love gathering nuts, berries and mushrooms to cook and preserve. Inspired by the return of Nature in the Home this week I decided to get crafty with my autumn gatherings (instead of eating them!) and make something pretty to bring indoors.

autumn wreath DIY

1) Start off by making a base for your wreath. I took advantage of the heap of prunings in the garden and grabbed a handful of spiraea but there’s no science to this and any slim, flexible stems will do. Take a small bunch in your hands and bend them round into a ring, twisting the stems together as you do. At the top of your circle, cross the tops over and wind the loose ends back around the ring to create a basic wreath. Tuck in any escaped twigs. I left on some of the fresh leaves but snip them off if you want a longer-lasting decoration.

how to make a wreath at home

2) Get out and about and gather up some interesting autumn bits to decorate your wreath. Even if you live in the city you should be able to collect plenty of colourful leaves, pinecones and feathers in your local park.

autumn collection of natural objects

3) It’s completely freestyle from now on! The basic wreath can be adapted using whatever natural ingredients you can find. I set out to try and make this wreath with only natural elements (no wire or glue) as I always find it inhibitive to have to assemble materials before I get started. Instead, use the twisted stems of you wreath to weave in the decorations – there should be spots all around where you can tuck them in tightly.

fall wreath DIY

{Project and photos all Decorator’s Notebook blog}

That’s it! The best thing about this project is that each and every wreath is going to be different and the basic idea will work just as well in other seasons. Make your own Christmas wreath for the holidays by adding fircones, evergreen foliage and red berries or an easter wreath with lots of feathers and blossom. Mine hasn’t completely dried out yet, but I can’t see any reason why the twiggy wreath base wouldn’t last and be reusable again and again.

15-minute make: vintage cigarette card garland

21 Jun

Caroline from Patchwork Harmony came up with this sweet and simple craft idea for the latest Crafty Fox Box and has been kind enough to let me share it for today’s 15-minute make.

vintage cigarette card garland DIY

Cigarette card garland

Vintage cigarette cards (try car boot sales and eBay)

Sewing machine

Thread

pretty floral cigarette cards

stitching cigarette cards to make a garland

1) Sort your cards into the order you want them to be in the finished garland. Take the first one and position it under the foot of the sewing machine so the needle is about 5mm from the top of the card.

2) Stitch across the top of the card. When you reach the end stitch a gap of about 5mm then add the next card.

3) Keep going to create a garland as long or short as you like!

Tip: The finished garlands can tangle easily so it’s better to make several shorter strings than one really long one and store them folded into a concertina.

cigarette card bunting{Project and photographs Caroline Taylor / Patchwork Harmony}

Thanks for sharing Caroline! If you’re antiquing this weekend keep your eyes peeled for bundles of pretty cigarette cards and have a go.

15-minute make: graphic painted tablecloth

7 Jun

If you can paint a straight line, you can paint this tablecloth. Now that’s my kind of DIY!

graphic-pattern-painted-tablec{Photograph and project adapted from Tina Fussell for A Subtle Revelry}

Graphic painted tablecloth

Cotton tablecloth or flat sheet, washed without fabric softener and dried

Black fabric paint (eg: Dylon)

Paintbrush

Iron

1) Iron the tablecloth, lay down on the floor (protect the floor with a waterproof dust sheet) and hold down at the corners with masking tape. You can paint the pattern freehand, but if you feel nervous mark out a grid with masking tape.

2) Paint on the crosses. Make them as big, small, regular or irregular as you like. Arrows or dots would also work well.

3) When the paint is dry, iron the tablecloth on the reverse to fix the paint (or follow the fixing instructions on your fabric paint pack).

4) Top with cakes and admire!

For more step-by-step photographs of see the full project at A Subtle Revelry
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