A Westerosi Feast

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Remember this little get-together?

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Well, of course I had to extend the Game of Thrones theme to the food, too!
I started out by making a few tags to label the food– I used card stock and washi tape to make the labels. Paper straws served as the “stems” for the labels.

Then I put my thinking cap on and tried to remember food and food-related events from the novels. I had to stretch a bit in places, since a lot of what gets eaten in the novels is not the most appetizing (raw stallion heart is not exactly the ideal item to serve to a group of ladies on a Sunday afternoon…).

Here is what I came up with:

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Of course we had to have Sansa’s Favourite Lemon Cake (lemon coffee cake), some Highgarden Berries and Fruits and some “You know nothing, John Snow”-ball Cake Pops. We also had Danaerys Targaryen Blondies.

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What would a Westerosi feast be without Red (velvet) Wedding Cupcakes?

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The drinks were similarly themed– Lady Arya Punch (though, upon further reflection, maybe Lady Arya Packs a Punch would have been more appropriate…), Queen Cersei’s Vintage (which ought to have been red, but I took some license), and a Dornish Rosé (which should have been a Dornish White, I know).
There was even a carafe of water from The Sapphire Isle and some Summer Isles Bellinis.

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Good Idea. Sort Of.

If you’d like to see how I went about wrapping our computer cables, read on!

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In case you want to cover your cables for decorative purposes (as opposed to for prophylactic purposes– more on that later), here is a quick tutorial. If you went to camp or grew up in the 70s, chances are you already have mad macramé skilz, but if not, never fear!
This little project is super-easy. Time-consuming, but easy.

So fire up the latest season of House of Cards, and settle in to keep your fingers busy.

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I used some hand-dyed (is there any other kind?) hemp twine I picked up a few years back in the Hippie Hemp Capital of the Universe: Nelson, B.C.
The twine is soft and a good weight for wrapping the computer cable, but it could look pretty with silk cord or really fuzzy wool.  Ooh! What about ombré wool?!

I began by wrapping the twine around clothespins, in order to keep it corralled and to form a kind of shuttle that allowed me to unroll a manageable length at a time. I learned this via trial and error– for my iPad cable, I was wrestling with a messy ball of twine that had me saying the sorts of things I wouldn’t say in front of my grandmother. Ahem.

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Ready? Start at the “small” end of the charger (so that you can weave the tail of twine into your wrapping and keep it clean-looking), and tie a knot around the cable. When you start wrapping, you will wrap around the tail of twine as well as the cable, so that the tail gets hidden neatly away. Follow the instructions on the images below. It’s important to keep the twine going in the same direction as you wrap, or you will not get the spiral “spine” feature on your wrapped cable.

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That’s it– keep wrapping until your cord is covered.
When you get to the end, cut the twine and wrap a piece of pretty washi tape around it to keep it neat and to prevent it from unravelling.

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Easy, right?
Pretty, right?

Effective…..? WRONG.
Exhibit A:

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Le sigh.

 

 

Flag Day

 Last week I was able to squirrel away a single chocolate cupcake from M’s birthday treats before I gave them to him. I popped it in the freezer to save it for my friend and colleague, R– her birthday is three days after M’s.

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To make it fun and celebratory, I spruced it up in some cute packaging.

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I made a sturdy cardboard base and wrapped it in pretty paper, then I made some washi tape flags on paper straws. A cellophane goodie bag and some glittery ribbon and ta-da!
A sweet treat for a sweet lady.

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I think these would also make cute party favours– you could serve slices of cake at the party and send guests home with cupcakes.

{Tip: use glue dots to secure bottom of cupcake wrapper to cardboard base.
Your cupcake will stay put and not slide around inside the cello bag.}

Heart’s Content

In my dressing room, I felt at liberty to go as GIRLY AS I WANTED with the decor.
I try to rein in my girly decorating tendencies in the rest of the house
(and fail miserably, most of the time), but I just let it all hang out in here! Within girlicious reason. Ish.

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One of the things I was really looking forward to styling was the interior wall of the Murphy bed. I collected images  for months and months, knowing I would use them in an all-white gallery wall over the bed, creating a cozy nook for guests.

Buying “art” is pricey and, while I do have some “real art,” I really just like to frame up stuff I think is pretty or cute. The frames are all from Ikea or re-painted ones I had at home. If you are thinking of embracing the gallery wall trend (which we have done in whole-heartedly around here!), here are some of the things I did to get on the bandwagon without breaking the bank.

I found the adorable Amanda Catherine print of the Kate Spade quote at Homesense and snapped it up. I strung up a sweet little Liberty garland I made with pre-cut circles from La Droguerie and some vintage chandelier crystals I found in London at the top, to camouflage the frame of the bed where it mounts to the wall & to add some softness. This is the inside of a bed, after all.

I kept the frames uniform– I went with all white for a soothing, fresh look that won’t keep my guests up at night. I added one gold frame and I mounted a sweet little box from Ladurée to add some sparkle. I like to use more than just framed images on a gallery wall to add some interest. In this case, I hung some starfish and the macaron box from Ladurée to add some depth to the display.

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Above, you can see that I used one of my favourite Dorothy Parker quotes and layered it over a wallpaper sample from Farrow & Ball. Instant cuteness!

How to get a gallery wall without a gallery price tag:

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1. Frame a snippet of vintage fabric. I got this piece at a vintage fair in Kensington, London. It’s an old piece from France and there is no way I could bear actually cutting it, so this was the perfect solution!

2. Use washi tape to hang pretty cards or postcards that tickle your fancy. I like that the flatness of the taped-up cards makes the depth of the frames and other items more interesting.

3. Keep your tongue in your cheek. I loved this postcard of a WWII propaganda poster. I picked it up at Churchill’s War Rooms and thought that I would have had a Very Hard Time with this particular piece of advice. Also, I often pick up postcards when I am travelling and then they just get stuck away in a box and I never look a them. This way, I can be reminded of my lovely summer trip.

4. Frame cards. They also make great travel souvenirs and are inexpensive and light to bring home. I got these in Shoreditch High Street; they are by an East End artist in London and remind me of William Morris‘ wallpaper designs. You will also see a Ziggy Stardust card I picked up at the V&A and a few more postcards and cards on this wall.

5. Frame wallpaper samples. This darling otter with a fan is one of the images on my beloved House of Hackney  fabric and wallpaper. Since I could not bring home the wallpaper (or convince my fella that we neeeeeeeeeed a wall of black wallpaper covered in naughty animals), I got the sample and framed it up.

In other words, FRAME EVERYTHING.
Frames can be had for a song at Ikea or craft stores and there is precious little that is truly un-frameable, so let your imagination soar.
Hung as a collection, even smallish frames and inexpensive artwork can have a big impact, so hunt around your house and see what you’ve got!

Update: Since writing this post, I have seen several posts around the web about the very topic of gallery walls. Clearly, this is bandwagon on a roll– hop on! 

I’m Just Dotty…

…for gift wrap!
Seriously, I might have an addiction.
Which is how I have ended up with roll upon roll of pretty paper.

This past weekend, I got a chance to use some of it when I was invited to a baby shower for my friend S. She LOVES grey as much as I do and, like me, is a sucker for a polka dot. So of course I had to break out the dotty grey paper I snagged at Marshalls. I also had a gorgeous interlocking circle patterned paper in a darker grey (it’s not paper at all, actually– it’s made from STONE! Don’t ask me how… but it is very cool and has the silkiest, most durable texture), also a Marshalls find.

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A Tiffany-blue ribbon, some stripey washi tape and a polka-dotted clothespin in pale blue completed the packaging. S loved it (I knew she would!) and she also loved the contents of the package: mini Chuck Taylors!*

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*Tiny Converse sneakers are my favourite baby gift– I give them to EVERYONE who has a baby, ever since a colleague of mine told me that the very best gift she got when her little guy was born was a pair of miniature Chucks. Feel free to borrow this idea (as long as we are not invited to the same shower 😉 ).

Spot On

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Confession time: when I painted up the hutch above, I was really under the gun, time-wise. Which meant that I did not really finish the interior of the little drawer where I store my small, flat clutches and evening bags.  The wood is very rough in there and I only had time for a quick coat of primer, so it looked pretty grim.  Worse, it was sort of “pick-y” and a bit of a dangerous spot to store delicate vintage items. Which I put in there anyway because I didn’t have time to deal with the problem. Very bad, lazy, rushed blogger!
I figured I’d get around to it someday….

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That day came along as soon as I found the Cutest Kraft Paper Ever at Homesense the other day.

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If you’d like to do similar to a drawer or some cupboards of your own, you will need:

1. Spray adhesive
2. Sharp scissors (or an X-acto knife and a straight edge– mine are in the shambles of my sewing room, currently inaccessible due to renovations, so I used scissors and just cut very slowly and carefully)
3. Cute lining– wallpaper remnant, fabric, wrapping paper, old tablecloth cut down to size… You could stamp or write on or otherwise decorate your own kraft paper or white paper. How about black paper with chalk pen designs or calligraphy?
4. A tape measure to determine the dimensions of the lining.
(Hint: if I were to do this again, I’d wrap one long piece along the bottom of the drawer and up over the back panel = no seams, pattern stays consistent.  I am GUTTED that I didn’t think of this until it was far too late. Live & learn!)
5. A ruler or straight edge to mark your measurements on the lining
6. A pencil to draw a guideline along the measurements on the lining

Start by measuring your drawer or shelf and then transfer those measurements very carefully to the wrong side of the lining. (See #4 with hint above!)

Carefully cut your lining material to size.

Tape off edges of drawer or shelf– you need to protect them from the overspray of the adhesive; if the latter is left with nothing stuck to it, it dries VERY tacky and stays that way. Messy and horrible!  The adhesive I used gives you 15 seconds of working time, which is not much, so work in batches/pieces and get all your stuff lined up ahead of time. I did a dry-fit of my paper before moving to the adhesive stage and was glad of it; turns out my first piece of paper was a hair too small for the bottom of the drawer and I had to cut another one.

I sprayed the back of the drawer first and glued that strip of lining on, smoothing out the air bubbles as I went along. Then I did each side in turn and ended off with the bottom. I wanted to practise a bit with the adhesive and paper before doing the largest (and most visible) piece. I did it in stages, spraying the back of the drawer bottom first, using the wrong side of the lining as a shield to protect the lined rear panel. After positioning the bottom lining and gluing down the first 2-3 inches, I worked forward, spraying adhesive and using the remaining drawer lining piece as a shield. Worked pretty well, though I did have to pull it up and reposition it in the initial stage. The adhesive worked just fine– it was forgiving enough to give me time to move the paper around a bit.

DO THE SPRAYING OUTSIDE!
The adhesive is really fume-y, so you will need to be somewhere well-ventilated, even if you can’t get outside. Keep pets and kids clear of the probably-totally-toxic-but-you-are-willing-to-inhale-them-for-the-sake-of-your-need-to-make-stuff-look-pretty fumes.

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The edges of the drawer looked a bit rough (why didn’t I paint the top edge at the back?!), so I turned to my dear pal, washi tape, and rolled a bit along each of the sides and the back.

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Done! The paper camouflages some of the roughness and warped-ness of the bottom of the drawer and it is smoother against the delicate fabric of some of my vintage evening bags. Also, it just looks cheery, doesn’t it?

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Total time for this little project: 20-30 minutes.
Difficulty level: easy, if a bit fiddly.

Peonies & Polka-Dots

I realize that it is not strikingly original of me, but peonies are my favourite flowers. I love white ones best and am lucky to have five (!) bushes of white peonies in my back yard.
They smell heavenly and one of my favourite things to do in spring is to sit on my patio and enjoy the sight and scent of my peonies.

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This year there are so very many blooms and there has been so very much rain that I had to intervene in order to lighten the load on the stalks of the plants. I made bouquets to share with our neighbours and put them in empty soup jars. I could not get the labels off the jars completely, so I decided to make the best of the stubborn labels by turning them into a “feature” of the makeshift vases.

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Of course I turned to my dear friend, washi tape, to help me out.
A black fine-tipped pen to write on the labels and a few strips of washi tape and ta-da!
Cute little vases that don’t need to be returned, all ready to be delivered to our neighbours.

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Wraparound

Because they are long and a bit delicate, packaging up paper garlands can be a bit tricky.

I decided the best way to do it was to wrap each one around a cardboard tag. That way, I could write an explanation of the garland and give some suggestions for how to use it on the tag itself (in case the recipients wondered why I was giving them a string of paper flowers…).

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To make it coordinate with its garland, I stitched some confetti to the bottom of each tag.
No sewing machine? No problem. Use glue to attach the confetti or add some washi tape to pretty up the tag.

Next, I wrote a little message on the tag and then started wrapping the garland around it.

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Finally, I put a bit of washi tape on the garland to hold it in place. Ta-da!

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Confetti Garlands

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This weekend, I had the pleasure of making some thank you gifts for a couple of teenaged girls. Both of them are currently at boarding school and will be off to university next year, so I thought they might like a little something to personalize their spaces. I decided that confetti garlands would be cute.
When I Instagrammed a photo of the process, the lovely Kate Durie asked for a tutorial. So here it is!

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I made myself some of these a few months back and it is an easy, fun craft.
You will need a few little supplies.

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I decided to use one “main” colour, plus three complimentary and contrasting colours. Punch out more of the “main” colour and successively fewer of each of the next two colours. For the “accent,” or contrasting, colour, punch out only a few. I used my little floral punches, but any shape will do.
How about hearts? Circles in varying sizes?
Don’t have a punch? Why not cut out squares?
Try using patterned paper or a mix of patterned and plain.

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Arrange your piles of confetti by colour and then fire up your sewing machine.
(You will need to replace your needle after you are finished– you don’t want to be sewing fabric with a needle you have dulled by sewing paper!)
Place the first piece of confetti under the needle and slowly stitch across it; line up the next piece and repeat.
Keep going, stitching a long, looooong row of confetti together.
For the colour pattern, I was just pretty random, but you could be more mathematical about it if you prefer. To keep the thread from unravelling at either end, I sandwiched the ends between a bit of glitter tape at each end of the garland. You could use washi tape or sandwich the thread ends between two bits of confetti with a dab of glue.

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Use the garland swagged over a curtain rod (I do!), as “ribbon” for wrapping gifts, draped over a mirror, or just taped to the wall or the ceiling with some fancy tape. Use it to pretty up your daily decor or for a party.

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No sewing machine?
No worries– check back here on Wednesday for the “by-hand” version of the project!

Winter Wonderland

And by “wonder,”  I mean, “I wonder if winter will ever END?”

I see on my Instagram feed that the folks I follow in places like the UK, California, France and even NYC are all posting lovely shots of sunshine and trees in blossom. Meanwhile, take a look at what is going on outside my window as I type this post:

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So, though other folks are busy pinning Easter crafts and doing their spring decor freshening up, I am going to talk about a problem to which those of us who live in northern climes are no strangers. It is, Gentle Reader, the problem of how to keep all the necessary GEAR required by 5-6 months of wintry weather under control.

I love our house, but it is not huge and it is nearly 90 years old. As a result, storage is at a premium. Our front hall closet is very tiny and the upper shelf of that closet is always a seething morass of tangled scarves, toques, gloves and mittens. It used to stress me out just thinking about having to find a hat and a matching pair of mitts every morning.
So, this year I FINALLY got serious about getting things organized.

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I was able to find three not-very-inspiring fabric-covered bins at Winners. The key was to find some that would actually fit in our tiny hall closet, but still be large enough to hold all the STUFF that normally spilled down onto our heads every time we opened the closet door. Given their utilitarian appearance, I decided they needed a little jeuje, so I trotted out my trusty alphabet stamps and washi tape and made some labels.* I tied them on with some twine and, ta-da!
Organized, handy, useful and, best of all, I find I am wearing a greater variety of my winter gear, as I can actually find it all.

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*Also, my dearest love is not what you’d call “naturally organized,” so I thought the labels might help prevent him from just tossing his gloves and toques into any old bin.