Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DIY: Jam jar lid decorations

I've been collecting jam jars for a good few months now for our wedding.  The whole time I've also been putting the lids aside as I was sure there was something I could find to do with them! I knew if I threw them away I see a great project online or think of something and regret binning them!

Then lo and behold a few weeks ago I was in a relatively new shop in Kingston called Tiger.  They are a Danish brand with quite a diverse range of products and is really affordable. I only go in there on a weekday if I can as on the weekends it is jam packed! Anyway, I can across these flower and bird 'stickers' which, if I remember rightly were 2 sheets for £1. Inspiration struck and I grabbed them along with some plasti-kote spray paint. My jam jar lids were in for a treat!

First thing to do  was to select a group of lids of varying sizes and spray paint them.  They needed about 2-3 coats to get a good even coverage. Then once these were dry I was ready to apply the stickers. Unfortunately when I went to unpeel them, they didn't seem to be stickers after all... But not to be defeated, I got myself some spray mount, cut the designs out with a craft knife, and got sticking.

Here I've used them as a wall display, almost like a vintage plate display. You could have as many or as few as you liked on even just add one onto your inspiration wall to add texture. You could also hang them up with bakers twine in a window, or as a hanging mobile. Or you could just use them back on their jars if you are not using the jars for something else like me! :)

Such an easy little project to do, and I think looks really cute! What do you think?!  xxx

Monday, January 28, 2013

Exciting news! CYBHER 2013

Whether you make new year's resolutions or not, I always think its worth starting the year with some kind of goal. I don't tend to go for things like 'eat less chocolate' or 'drink less wine' as we all know they can't be stuck to! So I usually choose something that I've had a fear of and will challenge me in the year to come. This January, I decided my resolution would be to overcome my fear of public speaking. I've spoke briefly at a couple of 91 Magazine related things in the last 18 months, (including my 'acceptance speech' for my award!) and found it terrifying, so this year I thought somehow I need to address it.

Lo and behold, a few weeks ago I was asked to speak at the Cybher blogger conference in London on the 1st June! An event that is attended by hundreds of bloggers! Well, if there is one way to overcome a fear its throwing yourself in the deep end! So I agreed, and I am actually really excited as I am to share the stage with some people I truly admire and it will be fantastic to work with them. Myself, Natasha from Candy Pop, Tif AKA Dottie Angel, and Rachelle of Ted and Agnes will talk about our blogging stories and creative projects in the hope to inspire!

It really does look like a fab day, with talks covering personal branding, the freedom of freelancing, and a Pinterest masterclass, to name a few! The full schedule is here. It would be so lovely to see some of you down there! It really is a great experience to meet and network with other bloggers, so if you do sign up, let me know and we can try and have a chat and a cuppa! Oh, and if there is anything specific you think I should include in my talk I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Sign up for Cyhber here and follow them on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DIY: Polka dot gift tags

Following on from the previous post about polka dots, I thought I would make a few really easy gift tag ideas channeling the polka dot. I very rarely buy 'ready-made' gift tags anymore, as you can buy plain ones on eBay in bulk and then customise them yourself. These are 3 really simple ideas using coloured ink or stickers...  

The ink stamp set came from ImagineDIY and I used pencil eraser refills as the stamp. I picked these up in Bentalls in Kingston, but I'm sure you can get them in most stationery shops. SUCH a simple one to make and you can create your own patterns, experiment with the colours etc!

I think these are my favourite. I got this pack of masking tape stickers on Etsy.  Again SO simple, and you can just play around with different designs and add different ribbons to match the stickers.

The last one is probably the cheapest one, as the stickers are really cheap to buy from any stationery shop. With a bit more of a bold, graphic feel these would be perfect for gifts for males.
You'll never have to spend money on fancy gift tags ever again! :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

The stylish polka dot

Pinterest is a great place for seeing trends emerging. I've recently noticed a lot of polka dots around, but used in a more interesting way than ever before. Polka dots aren't just for kids rooms (although they do look particularly fab there!) We are seeing them taking on a more stylish persona, from ceramics, to walls; big dots, little dots and even plates that ARE the dots!

via Wee Birdy
Hello Milky on Etsy

via my-diy.fr

Luna Lighting

Stampel Studio

Source unknown via Pinterest

Up in the air somewhere on Etsy

Source unknown via Pinterest
 Would you be bold enough for a polka dot wall?! Or would you rather give a nod to the trend with a spotty mug or pillow? Check out more of our polka dot inspiration on our dotty Pinterest board.

Picture research assistance: Hannah Bishop

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tips for making great macaroons

I'm going slightly off-piste with this post today. I don't generally blog about food and I did say I wasn't going to bleat on about my wedding... BUT as a lot of people have asked me about this I thought I should do a post about it.

We decided a few months back that we wanted to have macaroons at our wedding, but we didn't want to pay the silly prices for them, so instead we set ourselves the task to learn how to make them ourselves! There have been many attempts at home (see below) but when a masterclass came up on Groupon we thought it was the perfect chance to learn from an expert. 

So this week, we headed down to OnCafe in Clapham for a 3 hour class. It was a really helpful session, where we found out a lot of things we were doing wrong or unnecessarily.  It really is a bit of an exact science, so I thought I would share a few of the things that we learnt.

Basic Recipe: 
Egg Whites - 140g
Caster Sugar - 95g
Ground Almond - 170g
Icing Sugar - 260g

First thing to do as preparation, is separate your egg whites 3 days before and put them in the fridge. Then take them out the night before you are making your macaroons to bring them to room temperature. 

Using either a food processor or a electric whisk, whisk your egg whites until they start foaming, roughly doubling in height, then add your caster sugar. Don't add it too quickly or too slowly.  Do it in one go, but relatively slowly, don't just dump it in. Whisk together until you have stiff peaks. It is better to over whisk than to under whisk. So if you're unsure go for a bit longer. 

Sift your ground almonds into a bowl, and then sift over your icing sugar. Do not mix them at this stage. Put your chosen food colouring on your spatula - only use gel, paste or powder food colouring. You can get these in most good baking shops, or online at somewhere like Cakes Cookies and Crafts

Then put your meringue mixture on top of your almonds & icing sugar. The folding of the mixture is a really important stage. Using your spatula to fold the dry ingredients from the outside of the bowl into the middle. Once all the dry ingredients have been folded, then start folding from underneath and over the top. Try and get a good rhythm, so that you are getting plenty of air into the mixture. It is ready when all the ingredients are evenly mixed, you shouldn't have any meringue bits left, and it should be of an even consistency. Do not overfold!! This will make your macaroons go too flat. 

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a plain 10mm nozzle. Ideally you should use a macaroon template - something like this - so you will get evenly sized macaroons. Pipe vertically from above and about 0.5cm above the mat. squeeze mixture in the middle until it fills the circle.  We were told to leave the 'peeks' on ours so we could see if we had got the right consistency - but to get rid of the peeks, pipe your circle, stop, then swipe a small semi circle in the middle. Apparently it is harder than it looks!

Leave to set for around 20mins, but it does depend on the temperature conditions in your room, so check by touching them, as a skin should have formed and no mixture should come off on your finger.  A lot of the recipes we used before said to tap your tray on the table to remove air bubbles, but our teacher at the class said this is not necessary for French macaroons - you want to keep the air in them.

Bake at 160C for 10 minutes. But this really depends on your oven. Ideally you should put a thermometer in your oven to make sure you've got the temp. exactly right. It may take a few tries before you work out the exist time, so this is just a guide. 

Leave them to cool. They should hopefully lift off easily from your sheet, but if not you can help them along with a palette knife. If you have any that have cracked - then you did not mix all the meringue in at the folding stage. If you have macaroons that are quite flat, you have overfolded. 

But hopefully you should have a pretty decent macaroon! If you want to have flavoured macaroons, it was suggested to use a good essence, and add this to your filling rather than the shell. You can either use a buttercream filling, or a chocolate ganache. There are lots of options for this, so I suggest you find one to suit you. All that remains is to match up your shells in pairs of the same size (hopefully they are all the same!) But do make sure your shells have cooled completely before adding your filling. 

You can then keep them in the fridge to serve later or the next day! They should keep for a few days in the fridge. I hope this has helped a little! I am by no means an expert, but if you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll try to answer!! 

Happy macaroon making! xxx

All photos: Patchwork Harmony

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Floral wrapped soaps

I've just added these pretty floral wrapped soaps to my shop. You can add your own ribbon to decorate, or even pair them with a vintage side plate as a pretty alternative to a soap dish to make a lovely gift... There are 2 scents to choose from - Lavender or Country Garden, which is a lovely floral fresh smell.

I only have a few so if you'd like one make sure to order asap! x

Visit my Not on the high Street page to order now:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My latest vintage find

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm rummaging in a vintage shop or a market, I tend to 'um and ah' over things for ages, often talking myself out of them, walking away to think about it only to discover later its gone. But then other times, I just come across something and I grab it with both hands, and skip off to the till straight away!

This morning I had one of those moments. I'd just popped out to collect a few things from town, and as always when I've got a few spare moments, I popped into the Kingston Antiques Centre. After about 10 mins of browsing, this lovely tray was just there, perched on a stool. Oh! the colours, the floral motif, the perfect dinky size!! And an extra bonus to be had - just £8! which I thought was a pretty good price. Here she is, do you like?!

Other items: Spoon - I got this in the Oliver Bonas sale for £1.50 //  Mug - I used to stock these in my boutique // Gold Pencil - Paperchase, 85p // Mini Notebook - Bentalls, Kingston, £2 // 'Smile' postcard, Paperchase, 60p //

Have you had any vintage finds like this recently, where you know as soon as you lay eyes on it, it has to be yours?! I'd love to hear! xxx

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Live what you love in 2013

Photo via Kikki-K

So here we are, a week into 2013 already. I hope you all had a very happy new year! We spent a lovely few days in Switzerland, appreciating nature at its grandest. Sometimes I think you just need that little escape from the daily grind to sit back and take stock, and decide what you really want from life and how you are going to get it.

We get so caught up in our routines that until you break it, you don't have a chance to think about how you could change things for the better.  You just keep plodding on, and before you know it, another year has passed. Not this year though! 2013 is the year for change! Its time to follow our hearts but still use our heads!

New Years resolutions rarely work, it is better to start the new year with a fresh outlook on life and try to maintain those positive thoughts. Goodness, I am starting to sound like a life coach! But what I'm really trying to say is, if you have a dream, roll with it. Don't continue to 'dream' it. Start making plans to put it into action. Buy yourself a notebook and start writing down your thoughts & ideas, but also write down how you think you can achieve it. Chat to trusted friends about your plans and bounce ideas off other creatives.

I never would have thought that just over a year after launching 91 Magazine that I would have won an award for it! It was a seed of an idea back in the summer of 2011 that I easily could have put to the back of my mind, after all, I already had a full time job, an online shop and a blog to contend with! But I thought, lets just give it a go. If it doesn't work, then it doesn't work, and there is no shame in trying.

So, this year I intend to keep 'giving it a go'. You only have one opportunity to live your life and I for one do not want to look back when I'm 80 and regret not trying.

Whatever your endeavors are for 2013, I'd love to hear them, and hopefully we can all support each other making that change and living what we love!

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