Father’s Day is coming up in the UK on Sunday June 17th and I’ve been looking around for ideas for things to make for dads. I always think something handmade is lovely to give because you’ve taken the time and effort to do it and that makes it special. I thought I would share some of the lovely make at home gifts I’ve found that would put a smile on any dad’s face.
First up is this fabulous Grill Set Holder form Lil Luna. Since we are having fabulous BBQ waether in the UK at the minute this would make a fab gift for a dad or grandad and there is a very detailed tutorial for making it on the Lil Luna blog.
Next up is a super cute tie card from Kiki & Company that would be so easy for a child of any age to make and would really make dad feel special. I really love this one and it comes in four different colourways so you should find one to suit dad.
My third pick is this cute keychain from Hellobee. My kids made their dad a keychain like this when they were small and he still has it on his keys ten years later. You could put any message yo like on this so could adapt it for other family members and other occasions too.
Fourth up are these amazing cookie/brownie/cupcake creations from Bakerella. If you haven’t discovered Bakerella yet go visit her site but I do warn you that you will be there for hours because there is just so much to drool over.
And last but not least is this Car Wash Kit from The Crafting Chicks. You could also do this as a movie bucket with DVD, some popcorn, coke and dad’s favourite snacks in it.
Well I hope that has given you a few ideas of things to make for Father’s Day and there are loads more to be found on Pinterest.
I also made this sweet printable for you to download, pop in a frame and make dad’s day.
Back in April one of my Instagram friends, the lovely Laura from @dibney_cottage_adventures , organised an Instagram meet-up and history photowalk around Belfast. It was lovely to meet up with some of the faces behind those little squares on Instagram and at the same time find out a bit more about some of the landmarks in our great city. Isn’t it odd how we often don’t know as much about where we live as we do about places we visit on holiday.
Anyway, on with the tour! We all met up at the Spirit of Belfast sculpture in Cornmarket. It was created by Dan George out of steel at a cost of £200,000 and was unveiled in 2009. It’s nickname locally is The Onion Rings. The sculpture is meant to reflect two of the things the city of Belfast is famous for – the linen industry and ship building.
As it was raining we decided to nip in to a well known coffee chain and have a cuppa and wait for the rain to stop. It wasn’t long before we were on the move, first stop the Jaffe Fountain. This is located at the entrance to Victoria Square. It was erected in 1874 and dedicated to Daniel Jaffe, a well known politician, businessman and philanthropist who was a central figure in the linen industry in Belfast. In 1933 the fountain was moved to the embankment near Botanic Gardens where it stayed for over 70 years, falling into a state of neglect and disrepair. The developers of Victoria Square decided to have it restored and replaced in it’s original location to coincide with the opening of the new development. It is now a hallmark of the Victoria Square area.
From here we went on to Thanksgiving Square and the Beacon of Hope, or as she is known locally the Doll (or Belle) on the Ball, Nuala with the Hula and The Thing with the Ring. The sculpture is of a girl standing on a globe and holding aloft a ring. The globe represents universal peace, harmony and thanksgiving. The sculpture was created by Andy Scott and is based on Thanksgiving Square in Dallas.
Just across the road from Thanksgiving Square is the Big Fish, also known as the Salmon of Knowledge. This is a 10m long sculpture by John Kindness. The surface is covered in ceramic tiles decorated with images and text depicting scenes from Belfast’s history. Inside the Big Fish is a time capsule containing information, stories and poetry about the city. The location of this sculpture marks the confluence of the River Lagan and the River Farset and it was commissioned to mark the regeneration of the River Lagan. Just beside the Big Fish is Sammy the Seal, which actually refers to the statues of three seals which represent the family of seals that live in the estuary.
From here we crossed over to Custom House Square and headed on towards The Albert Clock, passing one of Belfast’s oldest pubs, McHugh’s. Turning back to look across the river we had a perfect view of one of the big yellow cranes Belfast is famous for. Samson and Goliath, as the cranes are known, are located in the Harland & Wolff shipyard, where RMS Titanic was built many years earlier.
Heading towards the Cathedral Quarter we passed Transport House. This building was the headquarters of the Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union and I have to admit I have always thought of it as an eyesore with it’s giant tiles mosaic depicting some of the industries associated with Belfast. It was listed in 1994 and is one of the youngest listed buildings in Belfast. It was reported back in 2015 that the Unite Union were going to renovate the building and relocate their HQ back there, but we shall have to wait and see. Just beside it is a very large wall mural by an Australian street artist called Smug One. The mural is reffed to locally as the Lobster Chef, and is just one of a growing number of pieces of street art in the city.
Walking towards the Cathedral Quarter we passed another of Belfast’s oldest buildings which has be reinvented as a popular local pub, The Dirty Onion. The building was built in 1680 and is Belfast’s oldest intact timber-framed building and for most of it’s life has been used as a warehouse. The Dirty Onion opened it’s doors in 2013 and the owners have taken great care to maintain as many of the original features as possible.
Just a little further on is Commercial Court where an almost hidden alleyway festooned with umbrellas takes you into a small courtyard full of fabulous street art. You could spend ages looking at these amazing artworks and each time you look you discover another of Belfast’s famous faces such as George Best, Van Morrison, Jamie Dornan and scenes that depict moments from the City’s past.
Finally it was back out on to Commercial Court, passing one of the first places Snow Patrol gigged in back in 1998 before all going our separate ways, having agreed we would definitely do it all again. I know much more about my home city than I did before and I am looking forward to the next photowalk already! (Rumour has it the next one will have a Titanic theme). If you want to find out a bit more why not check out Laura’s blog (that’s her in the photo below with the rest of us in the background).
Ever wondered how people get those cute Pin It buttons that match their blog? I was getting frustrated that my blog template did not come with pretty Pin It buttons so I decided to make my own. I knew I wanted them to feel like the social media icons over at the right hand side of my site and I knew that I wanted them to match the brand colours from my logo and I also knew I could create them button easily enough in Photoshop. What I didn’t know was how to then get that image used in my blog as the Pin It button. Well it turns out it is really easy. There is a neat little plugin called the jQuery Pin It Button For Images that does all the hard stuff for you.
All I had to do was create the image I wanted to use, upload it to my media library, open the plugin, tweak a few settings and Hey Presto!
If you use WordPress on a self-hosted blog you will find jQuery Pin It Button For Images in the plugins library.
Install the plugin, activate it and then go to the settings.
On the Visual tab you will be able to upload your image and set the size you want it to be.
Save your settings and you are good to go.
I had so much fun creating my button that I thought I would make it in a few different colours and give it away as a freebie to anyone who might want to use it. It is for personal use only and if you do use it I would love to know how you got on. Click below to get your free buttons and don’t forget to Pin them!
You know you have a problem with procrastinating when you realise the fabric you bought and the wooden eggs you painted to make an Easter wreath have been sitting there for a couple of years and you still haven’t got round to making it! That was my reality this morning. I was looking on Instagram and saw a lovely floral wreath made by @justlaurajayne so I decided today was the day the wreath would be made.
I thought maybe some of you would be interested to see how I made it so I’ve put together a tutorial to show you what I did.
First get together all the supplies you will need. I used
a wire wreath frame
burlap ribbon or strips of burlap
a selection of Easter decorations
hot glue gun
a bow, or ribbon/fabric to make a bow
For a 30cm wreath frame you will need about 18-20m of burlap ribbon, depending on how full you want your finished wreath to look. I didn’t have any burlap ribbon but I had quite a bit of burlap fabric so I cut it into 12 strips which were about 1.5m long and 6 inches wide.
Start by folding your burlap in quarters and threading a small length of garden wire through it and twisting to secure it. Then use the wire to attach the burlap to one of the spokes of the frame.
Begin pulling loops of the burlap up through the outer ring on the wreath frame. Next pull a loop up through the middle ring and then through inner ring.
Once you have done these three loops, twist the burlap firmly and work your way back up the wreath frame in the opposite direction, pulling loops of burlap through each segment in the wire frame. Continue doing this until you have all the frame filled.
Secure the end of the burlap to the wire frame in the same way as you did at the start, by threading garden wire through it and twisting round the frame.
Lay out your Easter decorations on top of the wreath until you are happy with how they look and then glue in place.
Make a bow and glue it to the wreath, add a loop of garden wire on the back as a hanger and Hey Presto, it’s finished!
My wreath is finally hanging proudly on the door and I am off to put the rest of my Easter decorations up.
Happy Easter x
Today I have been designing new printables to go in the RecklessHen Etsy shop and it has been so much fun being back in the creative zone. I am happiest when I am doing anything creative, it relaxes me and creates a real feel good buzz. So after spending quite a few hours designing some prints and taking photos of them I logged on to Etsy to create the listings in the shop and my feel good mood quickly evaporated! I had completely underestimated the time it would take to get the listings done and how frustrating it would be to think I had finished only to find a mistake somewhere. After checking and rechecking a million times (Ok that’s a slight exaggeration but you get what I mean) I think I finally have them done correctly but I only managed to get 6 items uploaded. I am sure I will get quicker at it the more times I do it – boy I hope so. If anyone has any advice on using Etsy efficiently I would love to hear from you.
Anyways, the first items are now in the shop so I declare it officially open and you can find it here. All the prints will be available in both printed and digital form so you can either print yourself at home or get a ready made print that you just need to pop in a frame and hey presto – new wall art. I love to change the decor in my home by adding a few new prints and some flowers and moving a few decorative pieces from room to room. Such simple, economical little tweaks can change the whole feel of a room without spending a fortune.
Here is a little peek at the new prints in the shop.
I would love to hear any advice on using Etsy.
Have a great weekend x
With Mother’s Day looming how many people have forgotten to order their gifts in time for them to be delivered before Mother’s Day? I always do this whether it’s for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings etc. and I end up rushing to the shops and getting something that isn’t exactly what I wanted. So if that is you today then I thought I would do a quick round up of some of lovely, quick make at home gifts that would put a smile on any mum’s face.
First up is this sweet Crocheted Daffodil from Simply Crochet.
You could crochet up a few of them to make a bunch or add a brooch pin on the back to make a cute brooch. What mum wouldn’t be delighted with that!
Next up is a bouquet of Map Roses from Pillar Box Blue.
If you don’t have any old maps these would look just as good on pages from an old book or on scrapbooking papers.
Or what about Mother’s Day in a Jar from Hello Splendid.
What a great way to pamper your mum, giving her lots of her favourite little treats in a pretty jar that she can use as storage afterwards.
If your mum likes to sew how about making this cute little Teacup Pincushion from Pins and Needles.
You could use some fabric from a favourite old blouse or dress, or from clothes that the grand-kids have grown out of to make this gift extra special.
Lastly, if you like to bake how about making this yummy Rose and Dark Chocolate Shortbread from Waitrose.
Add some pretty packaging to make a gorgeous handmade gift.
There are loads more fabulous ideas on Pinterest for quick and easy Mother’s Day gifts to make, but I warn you that you may end up spending so much time looking at all the great ideas that you don’t actually get the time to make anything (I speak from experience here lol).
Finally, with Easter just around the corner I thought I would make a cute Easter themed freebie for you. I love to add to my seasonal decor with printables because they are such a quick way to change things up a bit. Please remember that our Easter printable is Free for Personal Use only.
The printable will fit in an A4 frame and you can download it here.
If you like our printable please Pin it and if you use it we’d love to know.
Why not follow us on Facebook or Instagram too we would love to see you there 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there.
It seems like ages ago that Tiny Little Lessons suggested that we go on an Instagram Retreat. I liked the sound of it but didn’t have a clue what to expect or who would be going and if I would know anyone or not. We booked our tickets anyway and I looked forward to it even if I was a little apprehensive about meeting so many new people. In the weeks leading up to it there was alot of surfing the net for something to wear and booking appointments to get nails done etc. When Sunday 24th September rolled around we loaded up the sat nav with the location and four of us set off on our road trip to the beautiful surroundings of Larchfield Estate. Even though it is only 30 minutes from home I had never been to Larchfield before and I have to say I was so impressed with how beautiful it is. From the picturesque gardens & courtyard, to the fabulous orangery & barn, to the stunning guest cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck, the attention to detail was just perfect. It was all a real feast for the eyes and many, many photos were taken. I apologise in advance as this post is going to be photo heavy since there were just so many things to look and and drool over.
We started off the afternoon with welcome drinks and nibbles in the Orangery provided by Panacea Drinks, Clearer Water and Graham’s Bakery. They are three local companies and their drinks and food were really good and I will definitely look out for them in the shops now.
From the Orangery we headed into the barn which was decorated beautifully and all set up for afternoon tea. It was lovely to be able to put faces to the Instagram names and everyone was so friendly and chatty. After an inspiring talk from Anna from Blossoming Birds we went on a photo walk in the beautiful gardens of Larchfield Estate. There were plenty of props at hand from giant balloons and letters to lovely lanterns. It was funny seeing so many Olympus Pen cameras every way we turned and boy were there so many opportunities to get some amazing photos. Here are some of my favourites.
After our walk we headed back into the barn for Afternoon Tea which was catered by French Village. The food was amazing and it looked so good no one wanted to be the first to lift something and ruin the photo ops but we forced ourselves 🙂 No words can do justice to how delicious these treats were so I will let the photos do the talking.
After lots of eating and plenty of chatting, we heard from some more inspiring local Instagrammers and bloggers. First was Kerry and Tara from Sisters and Sons, followed by Mel Wiggins and then a panel with Rachel from The Breton Bird, Laura-Ann from All That’s Pretty and Anna from Blossoming Birds. All had plenty of good advice and tips and lots of food for thought. We had a short break after this so it was off into the grounds again to have a look at the gorgeous cottages and Myrtle the glamping truck and to take lots of photos of course. First up is Myrtle. Wouldn’t you just love to spend a night here! You even have your very own sauna.
Next up is the cottages. All of them are absolutely gorgeous and I would happily stay in any one of them and be very happy indeed. The decor is flawless and the little touches and attention to detail are so perfect. It made me want to go home and redecorate the whole house.
After tearing ourselves away from the fabulous cottages it was back into the barn to hear from Andrew (@littlewoodmr) and Colin (@father_of_the_birds) with a light-hearted look at what life is like as an Insta-Partner.
All too soon it was time to depart Larchfield Estate with our goodie bags filled with treats and offers provided bygreat graet sponsors.
It was an amazing afternoon spent meeting new people in fabulous surroundings, being fed delicious treats and hearing inspiring words. Thanks to Emma from Life at the Little Wood (@littlewoodlife) for organising it all, can’t wait till next time.
I will leave you with this quote from Brene Brown that Mel Wiggins reminded us of “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.”
In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection‘ Brene says that “I’m not very creative’ doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people, and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”
I love this reminder not to let fear stop us releasing our creativity, to go full steam ahead and live our best life on our own terms. We will make mistakes as we go and that’s OK, just learn from them and move on. I’m definitely going to print that quote out and post it somewhere I will see it everyday.
Do you have any quotes that inspire you daily?
We are so excited to be able to tell you that our Spotty Dottie font is now available on dafont.com. Spotty Dottie is available free for Personal Use. If you are interested in our Commercial Licence please email us for details.
When my kids were smaller I used to have fun being OTT decorating the house for Halloween, the scarier the better. Now that they are older and not that interested in it anymore I was missing the decorating, so I decided a couple of years ago that I was going to decorate with an Autumn theme instead. I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.
I have picked up bits and bobs over the last few years and I’ve also made a few things, and each year I bring out whatever bits take my fancy to make the house all cosy and autumnal. I love all the rich reds, oranges, golds, greens and browns that this time of year brings. This year I have added a little leaf garland to the fireplace, added some orange candles from IKEA and put them in with some of the other pretty little things I had and I am pretty happy with the result. The red wall in my main room always comes into its own at this time of year and makes the whole room look very cosy and welcoming.
This year I made a few things to add to my collection. I made an Autumn printable that you can download here and I crocheted a few pumpkins too. You can find the tutorial for them here. I also bought a new candle that I spotted in TKMaxx. It is a lovely orange pumpkin spice scented candle that says ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart’ on it and the gold lid has the cutest, teeny, tiny pumpkin on it. I love it. You can see it in some of the photos below.
In the rest of the house I added in some Hydrangeas from a friend’s garden, a jug full of Gerberas, some silk autumnal leaves, some greenery from my garden and some nuts and conkers. I love to settle down at night with the fire on, the candles lit and do some crocheting or knitting while the wind is howling outside and I’m all cosy indoors.
When it comes to looking for inspiration online for my Autumn decor a few of the places I love to check out are Pinterest, Country Living, Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Here Comes The Sun and Ideal Home. I also find that garden centres can be full of inspiration. I don’t know much about plants myself but their fabulous displays mean I don’t need to as I can just pick plants that are in their displays and know they will work in my autumn decor as well. We have some amazing garden centres here in Northern Ireland and three of my favourites are Creative Gardens, Camerons and Hillside Nursery. Here are some of the photos I took this year when searching for inspiration.
And did I mention that they all have lovely coffee shops and it would have been rude not to take the time to sample the coffee and cakes while I was there 🙂 Speaking of coffee, when RecklessHen went on a roadtrip the other day we stopped off at Starbucks for our first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season and Heather delved into her large handbag and out came some handmade autumnal props ready for an Instagram photo. The pattern for the leaves and acorns is from Just Pootling and the conkers were just made up as we went along.
Do you decorate for Autumn? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I don’t know about your house but in my house at meal times I often hear that delightful refrain from my kids of “Yuck, I’m not eating that!” This is particularly true when vegetables are involved. There are not that many meals that everyone in this house enjoys with no complaints whatsoever but my Sweetcorn Chowder is one of them and for that reason it is, as far as I am concerned, the best Sweetcorn Chowder recipe ever.
I can be sure that whenever I make this, there will be no complaints at all, just happy faces and full tummies. I don’t remember where this recipe originally came from but I am sure it was inspired by something I read or saw somewhere. I have been making it for so long now that I tweak it from time to time or add something extra now and then, but the basic ingredients and quantities stay much the same. The recipe below is just how I make it, timings may be different depending on your cooker.
1 onion, diced
2 long celery sticks (or 3 short ones), diced
1 pack of 12 slices of smoked pancetta, cut up into small strips (or 2 of the small packs of ready cubed smoked pancetta)
A knob of butter or some olive oil
2 vegetable stock cubes
3 medium sized potatoes, cut into equally sized chunks
3 large corn on the cob (or you can use a couple of cups of frozen sweetcorn)
200ml double cream
1 litre of boiling water
Salt & pepper to taste
I have been known to substitute bacon for pancetta and have used milk when I have had no cream. Method:
Put the onion, celery and pancetta into a large pan with the knob of butter (or oil) and sweat it slowly over a medium heat until the onion and celery have softened and the pancetta is starting to change colour. I usually do this with the lid on and check it regularly. It takes about 10-15 minutes. If it looks like it is starting to stick I add a little water to stop it.
Once the onion and celery have softened I make up the vegetable stock cubes in a litre of boiling water and add it to the pan. I turn up the heat and leave this to come to the boil and then I add in the potato. The potato acts as a thickener so if you like thicker soup you might want to add another and if you like thinner soup you might want to use one less. Trial and error is how I ended up adding 3 potatoes, as we like our soup quite thick.
Turn down the heat slightly and continue to cook until the potato is soft. While the soup is cooking prepare the corn on the cob by stripping the kernels off the cobs. If you are using frozen sweetcorn you won’t need to do this step. Once the potato is soft add the sweetcorn and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. At this stage you can add a little more boiling water if required.
Take the soup off the heat and use a handheld blender (or you could use a jug blender) to blend the soup until it is a consistency you are happy with. We like ours quite chunky but I know other people prefer it smoother so you can blend it as little or as much as you like. I do recommend that you do this very, very carefully as more than once I have ended up splattered with boiling hot soup.
Once it has been blended I put it back on the cooker, add the cream, heat it through for a minute or two and it is ready to serve.
We like ours with heaps of crusty bread just out of the oven. I often buy those packs of bread that are ready to bake but equally often I just buy a french stick or some other crusty loaf and heat it up.
I hope you can follow this and it turns out delicious. If you use the recipe I’d love to know.
Have a lovely weekend.