Thursday, 18 September 2014

DIY Wedding: Stationery part II

Next up we have the rest of the wedding related stationery. After whetting your appetites with the formal invites, I now want to share the rest of beautiful paper pieces! Namely the orders of service, menus and place names. Three cheers for yet more paper wedding paraphernalia!! No? That just me?! ;)

For the orders of service I whipped up a quick illustration of the church for the front from a grainy old black and white picture we found online. We used some of the original hand drawn artwork from the invites for the rest of the cover. It's magic what Izzy can do with a scanner and photoshop! :) The interior itself we kept very simple in black text with a decorative loose calligraphy font called Bombshell Pro for the titles. We wrapped all the finished booklets up in a variety of bright ribbons.

The beauties we pictured here have actually been on a bit of an adventure! The morning after the wedding, I realised that none of us had kept any orders of service! I was a little distraught, but figured if worst came to worst we could actually just print out some more and pretend they were original. No one would know. But I would!!! But unbeknown to me at this point, my lovely, thoughtful cousins had quickly, and thankfully, swept up all the abandoned orders of service from the church pews after the ceremony, and whisked them all back to the reception. Without quite realising it, these then made the rounds first on their family holiday to France and then all the way back up to Edinburgh, hiding in the boot of the car!!! Clever little things these!! They finally made it home with me on a flight a few weeks back, so they definitely took the scenic route!! 

The place cards were SO much fun to make! We had all these wonderful thick watercolour card cutoffs left from the invites just crying out to be turned into placecards. Naturally I turned to my watercolours and let rip with splashes of colour to create the backdrops! So liberation to splash colour around like that - the messier and artier the better! Ha!

I contrasted the whimsical delicate colour with bold black hand written calligraphy names and loved the result. Ta-dah! Job done.
Oh yeah then I wrote 99 more of them....!

Last but not least, the menus. I wanted everyone to have a personal menu - there is nothing more important than knowing how much room you need to save for pudding!! (Not a joke.) We used a similar calligraphy font for the headings combined with a quirky handwritten one and laid it all out in a tall upright orientation.

They were packed with detail on all the delicious home grown ingredients and local reared meats and hand picked cheeses that our wonderful caterers Nikki and team sourced from local farmers and producers! The three formal meal courses were laid out on the front, plus our hand picked wines on the back along with a selection of artisan cheeses and five different types of bread for midnight munchies.  Gosh, re-reading all that has got me quite peckish, again...!

Hmm, shall just see if I can find myself a little snack before bed....nom nom.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Ditching refined sugar

I've never been on a real diet. Not since I was a kid and my Ma decided I needed a 6 week sugar and yeast detox. Cue a long drawn out 6 weeks of living off avocado on oat cakes and eating a pot of plain yogurt at the school lunch tables whilst longingly watching the rest of the kids tuck into jam roly-poly with custard. Oh the trials and tribulations of a 9 year old's life!

About 6 weeks before my wedding I read Lauren Brimley's blog 'Eating Whole' about ditching sugar for some reason something twigged in my mind and I decided just like that to give it a go. I know that I eat far too much sugar. It's my biggest vice, hands down. (yes my ma might have been bang on about that, all those years ago!) I wanted to prove to myself that I could live without it, if I really wanted to!  

When I got home that evening, Ben practically laughed in my face when I told him my decision. Little bit of perspective for you there - this is how much I love my puddings and treats!! But that response pretty much cemented the plan in my head, now I had to prove to both of us I could do it! So I am super pleased to report that I gave up refined sugar for 6 weeks. And I am incredibly surprised at how easy I found it!

The beauty is that you can still have sweet things...honey, fresh fruit, dried fruit, milk, natural maple syrup etc etc. These are the things that made this change in diet even vaguely feasible for me! Cutting out sweet things completely was never going I work long term, I have a sweeeet tooth! But this was sustainable. Eschewing my morning toast and jam for yoghurt and honey, I switched out my mid afternoon chocolate bar for dried or fresh fruit and went cold turkey on evening desserts. The nearest things to a sweet snack I now have is a spoonful of peanut butter! Yum!

This brings me nicely on to some of the bigger challenges I faced on this change in eating habits - hidden sugars!! They are EVERYWHERE!! And it's not until you start reading the fine print that you discover them. Finding a peanut butter with no added sugar is like the hunt for red October! And so many times I've ordered an iced coffee out only to find they've laced it heavily with sugar. Grrr! Sugar lurks in the most unlikely of places and until now it was easy to be oblivious...ketchup (isn't that just squashed up tomatoes?!), crisps (pretty much restricted to ready salted here), bread, ready meals, etc etc. And even dried fruits, cranberries, banana chips and coconut flakes, they are all proving to be super tricky to find without added sugar. That's nuts!!

I am also surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the challenge. This was completely unexpected! I never ever thought I could actually stick to a diet, let alone enjoy one. Turns out I just need rules. If I say to myself I'm going to 'eat healthier' I have no qualms about a little afternoon treat to get me through the day. But if I say no sugar, full stop, then I simply find an alternative that's natural and go with that. I practically ate my own weight in dates over those 6 weeks. I don't want I see another dried date for 6 months!!! I've also overdosed on dried mango and I think I'm about to meet the end of my relationship with Nakd bars (mostly dates and cashews mashed together!).

Plus it worked! Doing this and cutting down drastically on alcohol (plus a super streshful month in the lead up to the wedding day!) definitely leaned up my body a teensy little. Nothing drastic, just a subtle effect, in all the right places (sort of!). So, after three weeks of gluttony and indulgence over the wedding and honeymoon I'm back on the wagon. I've modified it a little to make it manageable for me - I simply get the weekends off now. Bonus!

To briefly mention the photos accompanying this post - I did NOT want to use pictures of all the sweet and yummy things I currently choosing not to eat, talk about torture! So instead I dug out these sugar free pizza pics. :) We had a pizza party with my folks last week when we experimented with our new wood fired outdoor pizza oven. Yep, you did hear that right! We now wood fire our own pizzas dontchaknow. We're fancy like that. ;) Slightly blurry pics I'm afraid, wasn't planning on sharing them here, but they were too yummy not to! :) 

Big shout out to Joanna for such a creative wedding pressie, the pizzas are rustic, woody and delicious! Plus there's nothing more fun that choosing your own pizza toppings. I'm definitely a delicate zucchini Romano pizza kind-a girl, every time! Whereas Ben always opts for a punchy anchovy and caper laden Napolitano. Now we just need to work on our Italian accents! What's your favourite pizza topping combo?!

Monday, 1 September 2014

DIY Fantastic: What's your perfect wedding stationery?

As other brides dream of their wedding dresses or fixate over their shoes, it was the stationery that I drooled over. And so, this one is BIG! It's the full complement of our wedding and I am super proud of it. The design and production and posting of our wedding stationary felt at times like a full time DIY job. Not the dry, chained to my desk bored out of your wits sort, but more one of the most rewarding, creative fun full time jobs ever! :) But still full time! I was determined to use the wedding as an opportunity to try some new things and lettepress was high up the list. Our first tasters at the LCBA here and here was awesome fun and a great success so were determined to build on it. We'll go into the detail of the design and production with you next, so without further ado I present the Needham wedding stationery, I hope you like it:

I was pretty clear from the outset what vibe we were aiming for: fun, quirky, colourful - specifically I wanted each item in a different bright, bold colour on crisp white paper for each item. I wanted them to look hand-drawn but still polished. Buzzing with life, but professional. So nothing like a delicate balance. 

The save the dates were block printed. Our forays into foil embossing were a massive Fail, yes with a capital F. I may share here when the pain has subsided! ;) and so we swiftly resorted to block printing with the metal plate! The results were not all bad. Each print looked unique, textured and imperfect. Yep that last bit bugged me, but it undeniably contributed to the handmade vibe! Plus the envelopes had a little glitter twist that made them a teensy bit more festive as they went out before Christmas (and probably covered everyone's doormats with green glitter!). 

We picked out a few things that Ben and I love - mostly things with two wheels - bicycles and scooters, since we're pretty obsessed with both! We added our wedding logo, naturally and lots of different hand written fonts to keep it casual. I'll share a bit more about the design and printing process sometime soon, this post is going to be long enough already! We kept the language pretty informal but characterful to try and imbue a sense of how we hoped the whole day would pan out. 

The invitation and RSVP themselves we printed at the fab London Centre for Book Arts in Hackney. Simon and the team there helped us through the whole process which was fabulous. In one long, but super rewarding day Isabel and I churned out over 100 prints! The presses are works of art themselves and it is such a privilege to be able to use them for creative purposes today. We hope to be able to head back there soon to undertake some more projects.

The RSVPs were possibly my favourite thing out of all the pieces. They were like homing pigeons, we sent them out into the big wide world on an adventure and slowly but surely they one by one found their way home to mama! It was a teensy bit weird finding envelopes with my own handwriting on the front each morning, but still, magical! :)

I obsessed about stamps. Postage stamps. As much as I love Her Majesty, I was determined not to use regular stamps with her mug on the front! But after much investigation and many failed visits to the post office I managed to establish that the special stamps are only issued once a month and you have to get in there quickly to get them! Armed with my new calendar of stamps I turned up at the local post office on the first day of issuance one month and cleaned them out of stamps! 

Turns out is was a celebration of British film, so we had stills from the likes of 'Bend it like Beckham', 'Lawrence of Arabia', 'Chariots of Fire etc. Not exactly the world's most romantic movies, but they were good fun and hopefully added a bit of interest when they landed on doormats around the country. It was fun playing match the stamp to the invitees and trying to guess which film would resonate best with the recipients! :)

The envelopes were an absolute mission to track down. I trawled the internet high and low for bright coral A5 envelopes as this was the 'colour' we'd chosen for the wedding. What a foolhardy decision! :s  After drawing a blank we instead opted for the brightest orange ones we could find! I had to buy them in bulk and as a result I now have a box of 150 orange envelopes and another with 150 lime green envelopes sitting discreetly under my desk just waiting for a rainy day. I'm hoping to have a flash of inspiration someday soon and put them to good use, but till then they'll act as a great little footrest under the desk. The dark green envelopes for the save the dates were much easier to track down, in fact we picked them up in the local Rymans. Phew! ;) 

The envelopes I hand lettered in a loose calligraphy with white ink. This was so much fun! As I progressed I have to admit I loosened up massively and by the end was adding all sorts of fun embellishments wherever there was space. I also discovered a preference for city addresses over country ones - turns out they are much shorter! And the one that went to Japan, that was a whole different story but suffice to say I'm impressed it even made it! :)

In part two of the wedding stationary I'll share the details of the orders of service, menus and place names. A little secret, it includes neon ribbons, watercolour and more, Ah, paper heaven! :)

I didn't get to send back my own rsvp :( but if I had, I'd have put sunshine and pavlova as my special requests, for sure! What would your one special wedding request be?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Wedding Fantastic: The Location

The Barn in Kent which became Wedding HQ for the duration, complete with local Oasts!

Where to have our wedding was a pretty easy decision. My folks are eternal wanderers who make their home wherever they may be. They have the most magical lifestyle travelling all over Europe in their caravan, searching out the sunshine, culture (and orienteering events!). But, this made pinning them down to a traditional bride's side wedding venue a little tricky!! ;)

In contrast, the in-laws are much more settled. In a gorgeous old cottage in fact. Next to a dainty stream in the heart of The Garden of England, Kent. They have a lovely rustic bridge over the stream that opens up into a small field. It feels like a like alcove of a field, gently encased on one side by the stream, full of reeds and wildlife and on then other side sheltered by a large bank with trees, bushes and bracken. Suffice to say, it's the perfect setting for a party!! So we took our sweetest smiles to them to ask if we could host the party here. I'm sure if Win Stream Papa had the faintest idea how much mowing the whole thing was going to entail, he'd have said an outright 'Nope' there and then. But thank goodness he didn't have a clue, and they both agreed!!

Rather than risk a flurry of applications from strangers to get married in the back garden we decided not to apply for a marriage license, but look for a special second location for the ceremony (why have one when you can have two?!). We looked at some corkers and some crazies - no red wine after 10pm for fear of spillages? No stilettos for the ladies (or men for that matter!) for fear of denting the dance-floor? Sounded like being back at school. The in laws eventually abducted us and took us on a whistle-stop your of the local churches, in a misguided attempt to win us round to a church wedding. I was sceptical me, with a capital S!

St Peter and St Paul, Wadhurst

Ben and his Pa had scuttled ahead a little, so as I pushed open the big heavy door of the church I spotted them both down at the front. Instantly I could imagine walking down the aisle to Ben and my bottom lip started to tremble! (I know, I get my emotional side from my Ma, there's not much I can do about it I'm afraid. Apart from keep a good stock of Kleenex.)

After that I couldn't shake off the feeling that the church was the right place for us. The sense of history, of the many thousands of couples who had walked the same steps before us. The serious but serene atmosphere of the church. The simple but structured wording of the service itself. Oh and the singing!

It was the best decision. We met so many locals we during our time at the church who were incredibly welcoming, friendly and fun. Felicity, the curate who married us, was wonderful and her address at our wedding incredibly touching and personal. We both independently declared that the service itself was one of our favourite part of the whole day. Which is exactly what it's all about. What's more, we can now forever go back there, to celebrate quietly together, to remember our special day and be thankful for it and for each other.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

DIY Fantastic: Floral Face Masks

Hey guys, Mrs Fantastic here! :p Got a new diy up for you today. We made these cute little masks for each of the chicks who joined me for my hen do! Hang on, hen do?? Yip, more on that soon - it was blooming beautiful, quite literally. :)

Anyway, as part of a little goody bag to say thank you we included one of these lovelies. They are perfect for travelling, trying to sleep on trains and planes and suchlike! They are also perfect for a mid-afternoon nap while the sun still shines, long Sunday lie-ins or any other time you feel like a sneaky spot of shut-eye!

So first up, the ingredients:

1. fun fabrics - we found a bunch of fun fat quarters in the local fabric shop
2. thin knicker elastic - yeay!!!! I have finally found a project that actually uses my namesake diy ingredient. It was worth it just for that.
3. matching threads to your selected fabrics
4. template for the mask - we made this through trial and error or you could use a template from an existing mask if you already have one! If you like it to be pitch black then make it big!
5. fabric scissors
6. pins and needles
7. and not pictured here, we also used some sheet wadding, medium to thin depending on how padded you want the face mask. The more padding the more comfy! :)

Step one is to take the template and cut out the front of your mask in your funky fabric. Secondly do the same with the backing fabric and then finally in the wadding.

Combine the three layers with the front and back of the mask with the corrects sides facing each other. We'll be turning it inside out after sewing. This is a little tricky to get right, but with some sound logic or just trial and error I got there in the end!

Next to make the strap - cut out a strip about 1.5 inches wide and almost twice as long as you need the strap. Mine was about 25-30 cms. Fold it over onto itself and pin down the lenth.

To create the strap we just need a straight line stitched along the joined side of the strip of fabric as per in step 7. Then turn it inside out until you have a long tube of fabric.

Step 8 - attach a safety pin to the end of your knicker elastic and slowly work it through the tube of fabric. Measure out how much elastic you need - depends on how big your head is and how tight you want it!  Mine ended up being about 12-14cms long.

Once you have the elastic poking out either end of the tube of fabric and the strap is nicely ruched along it's length I did a straight line stitch across each end to keep the elastic in place and you end up with step 9!

Take your stack of three mask shapes and slot in the end of the strap into either side - it will be coming from the inside to the outside, so the opposite of what you'll finally want once it's turned inside out.

Then as per step 10 we do a straight stitch all the way round the outside of the mask being sure to capture each of the three layers plus the strap as we go around. Leaving a small gap of about 4cms for us to turn it inside out through.

Prior to this I did a little trimming of stray threads etc and at the bridge of the nose point I cut in a few incisions in the excess fabric so that it'd be more flexible and go round the corner more smoothly.

Finally turn it inside out and you'll need to hand stitch up the small hole that's remaining, but it really is pip-squeek! And then there you have it, your very own floral face mask.

What we also added to some of the final masks was a contrast binding around the outside. This was done with matching or contrasting binding tape that's on the bias and so perfect for going around corners! :) But no need to stop there, you can embellish these in any way you see fit!

For some reason, wearing three at a time turns out to be a lot more fun that wearing just the one. So if you're on a roll, well simply keep on going! :)

Night night dreamers! Zzzzzzzz

Sunday, 27 July 2014

We did it!

We finally did it! We are now official. I am a Mrs and I have a husband.

Photo courtesy of David Bushell

We had the most magnificent day. It went like a dream, more smoothly and more fun than I had ever thought possible. It was amazing to think that so many people had come to Wadhurst for us; to witness our marriage, to help us celebrate and to share our first day of married life. Our thanks goes out to all of you.

Everyone looked ravishing, especially my husband! The food was delicious and plentiful, the booze was free flowing, the company was wonderful, the sun shone down on us and the brilliant band ensured the dancing continued well into the wee hours! We could not have asked for more. We have spent the last two weeks on a complete high, reliving every tiny detail of the day, comparing notes, remembering the conversations and sharing anecdotes.

The last few months had been a bit of a whirlwind. I (and everyone around me!) have been caught up in a frenzy of diy-ing, planning, printing, preping, panic buying, consulting, folding, sticking, posting, cutting, ordering, drawing, writing that stems back as far as I can remember. No seriously! I don't think I can remember what it was like when we simply sat down of an evening for dinner a glass of wine and a movie! I have no idea what I'm going to do with all this newfound free time, hopefully fill these pages with what we've been up to for starters. And finally get to spend more time with friends and family without asking favours and making demands! 

I have a hundred and one projects to share with you, some small, some large, some fun, some essential, some pretty, some perfect, some leisurely, some hurried (well actually most of them), some that went perfectly to plan, some that we improvised, but all that contributed the most perfect day for us. Those of you who follow me on instagram @knickerelasticfantastic may have had some sneaky peaks along the way. And a little taster photo above from the big day, expertly captured by Dave Bushell, before I return to inundate you with pictures soon!! But never fear, it's not going to be all wedding bore, we are back to working on the house, garden and a fun packed summer so expect more from all those arenas soon and I even have a few regular diy projects up my sleeve (tucked quite far up there, but I'm sure I can wrestle them out!). 

It is the last day of our honeymoon today so back to reality of work, commuting, doing the dishes, hoover and all the hum drum that general life entails again tomorrow! But who cares, I shall be doing all this with my husband by my side and for that reason I am stoked to get started. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

The New House Tour

The internet is a miracle! When you've lived without it for 3 weeks, you suddenly learn to have a whole new level of appreciation for it's little wonders!! Anyway, we've had plenty of other things to fill the internet shaped void in our lives. Namely a wedding to plan (more on that later!) and a brand new house to transform into our home! And finally we're linked back up to the world wide web of wonder.

So, as I shared not long ago, we are proud new homeowners! Since we've been in our new pad for over a month now, I figured it is high time we shared a few glimpses of what we've taken on!

First up the kitchen. It was painted a peeling and bubbling shade of deep red. Nice. We have grand plans for this too, naturally. But so far it's just had a few coats of white paint all over and added a washing machine so far. The washing machine, another one of those indispensable gizmos of modern life, that I got far too excited about when it arrived! Alrighty, I agree, not indispensable, but I remember wearing every single shirt, pair of pants and socks until I'd have to hand wash one of each every evening in preparation for the next day and then lugging my entire wardrobe to the laundrette. Trust me it is MUCH heavier when wet for the carry home. Anyway, I'm digressing. Long term the plan is to knock through the kitchen into the bathroom at the back and create a big kitchen diner. But alas, we have to find a new home for the bathroom before we do that....and not at the end of the garden! 

We have three different bedrooms, one in blue, cream and grey. As you can see, the colour in each is vibrant and dark, the carpet is mostly dodgy and the period features are all hidden away!?! However, what they do all have is period features (yey!), lots of windows and lots of light.

Plus a few other rooms like the living room and hallway, that I'll save for another day! To give you a little idea of what we've tackled so far on the renovations front, this is what the first few days looked like. I have the most amazing family that have all chipped in to help and have done so much of the initial work. They are truly fabulous and we would still be living in chaos if it wasn't for all their help, especially my Dadio. Here are the men of the family looking busy doing manly things and working their renovation magic on day one! :) (Disclaimer: flip flops do not meet health and safety standards for labourers footwear!)

This is clearly going to be a five year project! We shall not be able to flip the house in a few months and in fact, this is not what we want to do. Having longed for a house for such a long time, now that we have one the decision making is all a little overwhelming! Having only ever been able to decide the colour of the bedspread in the past, making choices for the walls, curtains, furniture, floor...eeeeek!

Anyway, I'm pining my inspiration like a mad-lady and starting to try and pick out trends in the images I like. I'm car-booting like it is going out of fashion and generally finding inspiration in all sorts of strange places. So, watch along with us as the space becomes our home and evolves with us as we grow as people and as, well, interior stylists! Ha!