Thursday, 1 December 2016

Wrap It Up // Shop Handmade This Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly, for spending time with loved ones, snuggling up warm, for eating all the foods (Terry's Chocolate Orange and after Eight Mints, get in my belly!) and for hunting down a little something for your favourite peoples. Sometimes it's glorious to spread a little glitter and love, getting together with long distant friends and raising a glass to good times, dusting off the old board games and making new memories with family and giving a thoughtful, unique gift. The easiest way to ensure your present is especially special would be to buy from a small business, from craft markets or even having a go at some DIY home-made badassery yourself.


I've done a little day-dreaming research just to get you off on the right foot and by searching the old faithful, one of a kind, dream gift mecca Etsy I've found a heap of beauties! If it's inspirational quotes to add a punch of positivity to the worrier in your life's day or a customised bookmark for your nerd at heart, a vintage timepiece for your antique lover or a customised watercolour print (for yourself?), whatever it is that makes your loved ones tick, take a mooch below for some serious inspiration!








Here are a few ideas if you were thinking of taking the DIY route:




Most of all, don't stress it. The festive season is all too stuck on money and stacks of monotonous 'presents', keep it small and personal and you're sure to have a happy recipient.


I'm off to whip up a couple handmade bits and bobs for my specials. Question; is it too early to break open the After Eights? Thought not!


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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Oh You Pretty Things // Mood Board Curations

Fine evening dearest friends, how's your November going so far? The end of this 2016 is just about in sight and there is so much to squeeze into Winter before we ring in a shiny new year. Here in the Netherlands we celebrate Sint 5th December, this wee post will explain further and get you in the mood for all those sweet treats!, so the Christmas festivities begin super early. There are all of those delicious Winter markets to look forward to, creating a snug and cosy home (bring on those cinnamon scented candles!) and plans to make with family and friends (always a sticky web to untangle when you straddle two countries!), my head is spinning with ideas!


One way to focus my mind and steer my creative attentions is and has always been harnessed by a good old fashioned mood board! Over on the Faded Windmills facebook page I collate collections of imagery that inspire me daily and always seem to get me into a productive and creative mood! As you may have noticed from a previous post I have decided to round up some of my favourite mood boards to share with you directly on the blog, so feel free to stick around for a bit of a mooch!






















I post these snippets of loveliness over on facebook, but if you'd prefer to see the individual images right from their source then do check out the hub of all curated beauty... pinterest!


For now I intend to soak up a little visual stimulation then put together some ideas for handmade gifts- my favourite thing to give at Christmas. I'm thinking knitted boot toppers, homemade cookies, personalised tree ornaments and make up bag/ cute coin purses... Stay tuned!


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Folded Line // Latest Make- Pleated Colette Zinnia Skirt

Earlier in the summer I decidedly steered my collective day dreams of mid-length skirts into one sure direction and eventually realised this into a navy, cotton, pleated wonder with the help of the cute as a button Zinnia pattern by Colette Patterns.




I purchased the PDF version of this pattern from their dreamy website and opted for a zip fastening version, with in-seam pockets and of course the knee length option, in a navy blue light weight cotton.


I found the instructions a pleasure to work with and made good use of their handy videos available for refining particular methods of construction and overall I was incredibly happy with the finished garment. The pattern pieces were clear, the measurements and fabric/ notions requirements were spot on and the instructions were super simple to follow. After constructing my first piece of clothing using Colette Patterns, I can confidently say that I look forward to choosing another of their designs to whip up!


















I loved the process of marking up and stitching the pleats, something so satisfying about the precision needed and the final result gives a crisp, uniform pleat working wonders with this light weight cotton!


The interfacing I used for the waistband was meant for a much heavier fabric and therefore is a little on the bulky side, serves me right for taking the lazy option and using all that was left of my supply, but it does hold it's shape nicely! Next time I make this skirt, whether I use an invisible zip or the button up option, I will certainly opt for a regular interfacing.






I can't wait to make this skirt up in all kinds of differing fabrics and colours and really look forward to trying out the button up version. This skirt has such a flattering silhouette as the waist band nips in nicely balancing out a wider hip, the pleats are petite and skim over the stomach falling into a gentle shape landing just above the knee.


What have you guys been making/ wearing lately? Are you a fan of Colette Patterns? Feel free to throw any suggestions my way of other patterns by Colette or similar companies.





Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Cosy Up // Quarterly Book Review



Good evening friends! Is it me or do we seem to have skipped the crisp, sunshiny Autumnal mornings and dove straight into Winter? It is super chilly right now, perhaps making up for that gorgeous lingering warmth we had in September... Never mind. What better way to hide from the weather than by snuggling up with a page or two of a really great book?! Here's a flash back of my reading progress from the months July through to September for my quarterly book review. If you're as nosey as I am then you can find my previous two book reviews here and here for some recommendations!


The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North     4 * {405 pages}

Well, that was original! This book covers a lot of ground... story wise, content wise and time-line wise! Jam packed full of spy action, time travel, historical politics with a sprinkling of science and romance. An unusual mixture that just works.

After reading the first page of this I was so intrigued and couldn't wait to find out more. I did however, struggle slightly getting into it for the first couple of chapters but once I reached about a third of the way in, that was it, I was sold! Incredibly intelligent novel with a frighteningly realistic element of sci-fi, one for the history/ science buffs!


One by Sarah Crossan    5 * {434 pages}

Oh this book! Such a beautifully written sorrowful story that struck such nostalgic notes with me as I was led through the tangled web of teenage emotions.

This book was my first encounter with a novel written in prose and despite it's alternative format I found it worked so cleverly for this particular story. I flew through the book as the chapters are so short but loved the swift speed with which the plot unfolds and enjoyed devouring every bitter sweet emotion along the way. It read more like a diary entry than a poem, which also lends to the building of the characters and connection between them and the reader. A controversial subject, (click on the link above for an in-depth summary of the story- I hold a strong 'no spoilers' rule here!), but handled with such care and genuine humanity. Curiosity of the unknown led me to pick this book up originally, but before you know it you are so deeply invested in the story and the characters that you find yourself relating to the 'regular' adolescent agonies and allowing this familiar air to guide you through the story, rather than a morbid intrigue in just one specific part of the plot. A sweet and touching tale you will whip right through.


Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk     3 * {208 pages}

Ah Chuck Palahniuk, the master of controversy and honest delivery- I can't seem to get enough of this guys work. Some what schizophrenic, considering my previous review, but that simply reflects my warped mixture of a bookshelf. Being a mood reflective reader, I reached for this snappy book for a quick and dirty fix, a palate cleanser as you will. Not to divert praise from this novel- I really enjoyed it and found it hilarious as well as uncomfortable- a classic combination from Palahniuk.

As far as short stories go, this one flits from varying points of view during the filming of a final hurrah from a retiring porn star, aiming to set a new world record. If that doesn't draw you in then perhaps this book isn't for you. Not my favourite of Palahniuk's but it certainly entertained and bridged a gap between genres.


Bird Box by Josh Malerman     5 * {480 pages}

Dang, this book! Quite simply- brilliant!

This book is moody and dark and almost uncomfortably stingy with it's revealing of what the heck is going on, to the point when you are quite literally perched on the edge of your seat begging for some rational answer to this excruciating building of tension and suspense. I truly endorse jumping into some books without a foretold premise or summary and highly encourage going into this one blind. Full of painfully twisting atmosphere and clever and original story, pure survival and desperation- this one will leave you with goosebumps!


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin    4 * {448 pages}

Ahh this novel is a classic for a reason. Such a wonderful, fully rounded story with a glorious mix of characters- some witty and brutally honest- Elizabeth, others traditional, stifled by societal etiquette of the time and down right stuck up- Darcy and others idiotic yet sweet; just a truly colourful and believable account of life during this hard nosed era.

A heart felt romance of the truest kind with scandal and tragedy, the game of flirtation played by naive new comers, all the while steeped with the suffocating traditions of England during the 1800s. A delightful, beautifully told story that is a must for any lovers of historical drama speaking forth and true of it's era whilst maintaining a poets delicacy.


The Little Friend by Donna Tartt    5 * {624 pages}

One of my favourite books of the year. I took my time reading this tome of a book and rather than being put off by it's enormity (typically me to purchase it in hardback...), I embraced it's lengthy story and actually found myself not wanting it to end. The perfect book to fall into and truly enjoy every page of.

This is a nostalgic tale of childhood and family dynamic following a bitter, painful tragedy and shines a light on the tangled mess left after, how a whole neighbourhood is affected and shows the awkward shadow one inevitably walks under whilst growing up in this wake. Heart breaking, honest, beautiful and all encompassing- this story had me by the throat. Highly recommend!


How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran     4 * {320 pages}

Read. This. Book.

Despite it's title this book is a must for women and men alike! It is frank as it's ever likely to get and as a result of that sends the message across whilst having you roll across your living room crying with laughter. As a fellow Brummy I can relate to Moran's brilliant account of such cringe worthy anecdotes, her bold and often uncomfortable honesty draws you in, her fabulously forth right opinions and her ability to leave you gagging on the awkward moments allow you to truly relate in most every way!

This book has a very important and always ever message but doesn't box you across the ears with out dated politics, rather it slaps you across the face with the honest truth! I have never highlighted as many sentences before as I did whilst reading this, I laughed way too loudly in public whilst reading this on the train and I have recommended it to nearly everyone I've come across since!


Hollow City by Ransom Riggs     3 * {352 pages}

I am struggling to review this book as I have double edged opinions of it. Firstly I found this a great follow up to the original book in the series, full of adventure and misfortune, the wonderfully unusual characters were further embellished whilst introducing new equally as bonkers characters to round out this sequel, but... I didn't really enjoy it as much as I had hoped. I don't think this is a fair reflection of the book, more perhaps that I didn't fully gel with the first novel and therefore was left wanting more from the second. I believe that a fan of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will love this edition to the series as it really is packed to the brim with mishaps and big dramatic entanglements, I just didn't feel it. It all seemed too easily solved moving from one issue to the next without much exhaustion. A fun book with fantastic characters but perhaps would have been better saved for another moment.


I just cracked open the stunning Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon and I have to say, I can't put the book down! A perfect accompaniment to my escapism into the world of radically free thinkers and Gothic tales; besides the stunning colours of fall framed by my window, is a plate full of these ridiculously easy/ delicious cookies! Here's to a happy Autumn of reading!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Homemade Goodness // Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip Cookies



Soft. Chocolate chip. Cookies. Enough said, right? This right here is the quickest yet most valuable recipe post you may read all day. Pin it, print it out and stick it to your fridge, memorise it's content and repeat it daily as your spiritual mantra... This dang cookie recipe is the stuff and let me tell you- incredibly easy to make and even easier to devour!


As you all know, I enjoy a good stroll through the pages of Pinterest and upon a recent indulgence I found several sweet treat recipes to try out, in search of the most adaptable and satisfying of biscuits, something good enough to eat before it even hits the oven... The soft cookie! I took upon myself the hardship of testing out these recipes, the things I do for you dearest of readers... and eventually created from my findings this most basic yet scrumptious plan:


Ingredients

- 120g butter (melted for 30-40 seconds in the microwave)
- 100g white caster sugar
- 42.5g light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 210g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 130g chocolate (chopped into rough chunks), I used 2 thirds milk chocolate and 1 third white!


The yum bit

- Mix into a bowl both sugars and the soft/ melted butter until smooth.
- Add to this the egg and the vanilla and combine together.
- Next it's time to add in the flour, salt and bicarb stirring this together until you reach a dough.
- Using clean hands (duh), throw in your chocolate chunks and squeeze the mixture together into a large ball.
- Get the oven warmed up and ready to go at a temperature of 175 degrees and while you're at it line a tray with baking paper.
- Whilst eating a substantial amount of the cookie dough divide this ball into two then make six smaller balls from each half making 12 satisfyingly sized cookies once done. There are no rules here friends, you can make 6 whopping great big ones or more dinky sized treats if that's what you're feeling.
- Pop your tray of evenly spaced cookie dough balls (or whats left of the mixture), into the oven for 9-11 minutes but not one second more. Have trust in the cookie gods and despite the dough seeming not quite done, whack them out and leave them to cool (treating yourself to a gooey one as the rest do their thing).
- Pour yourself a glass of milk/ hot chocolate/ cookie munching beverage of choice and proceed to scoff the lot!






As I mentioned, this is a super simple recipe with huge potential to get creative adding exciting flavour combinations such as sea salt and caramel chunks, try chopping up a Terry's chocolate orange or add hazelnuts for some crunch! The options are plentiful but please be warned, if you as much as think of putting a raisin anywhere near your cookie dough we can no longer be friends. I'm kidding of course. I'm really not. But mostly, have fun baking them and enjoy yourself a little pick me up as the days get shorter and the frost creeps ever closer!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Review: The Handmade Fair, Hampton Court Palace 2016



There are bustling Sunday markets, indulgent foodie fairs and rocking summer festivals; add to the lively atmospheric elements of these exciting events a hearty dose of creative energy and you have The Handmade Fair, presented by the DIY queen herself Kirsty Allsopp. This yearly feast of all things crafty is held in the wondrous grounds of Hampton Court Palace, impossible to miss with it's bunting held high and buzzing hive of fellow makers uniting.




This was my first year attending the event and boy was I not disappointed. Albeit a rocky start to the day arriving upon London with a wake of destruction in our path, it was the day of the unfortunate train accident leaving the entire transport network in chaos for the whole weekend, ALSO making us miss our very first (and highly anticipated) workshop... This did not discourage our excitement though, as we commiserated the loss of our tote printing session by partaking in several of the ridiculously scrumptious food vans (hello deliciously rich coffee and pastries!)




The Handmade Fair boasts shopping galore with two 'villages' jam packed with small businesses exhibiting all manner of handmade delights ranging from beautifully scented candles to vintage clothing to devilishly good brownies (chocolate and peanut butter, with peanut brittle...) to dressmaking patterns to embroidered cushion kits, there was so much to see and take in (and buy!). If you are lucky you may even spot a familiar face or two amongst the sellers, I had several fan girl moments when meeting and sharing a giggle with so many creative people, the work of whom I have admired and continue to be inspired by, such as the super friendly Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons who so kindly signed her book for me,  the gorgeously charming Genevieve from Floss and Mischief, Hannah Bass who chatted to us about her stunning cushions, Kirsty Gadd displaying some textiles goodness, and the bright and sparkly Zeena of Heart Zeena fame. There were heaps of new companies and makers I had the pleasure of talking to and can't wait to follow their progress and see what they create and produce next!






























Of course, what would a handmade fair be without a little DIY action? Throughout the day there were continuous workshops available to sign up to (ahead of time or on the day), including a class that we found fascinating- wire flower making, something neither my mum or I had ever tried before, hilarity and naughty school children giggles sang from our corner of the tent but resulted in some seriously epic flower pins and a want / need to run off and start creating things immediately!








There were also talks throughout the day in the Super Theatre, we signed up in advance to the talk with Kirsty Allsopp and Patrick Grant and boy am I glad we did as it was the quickest sold out feature of the weekend, I wonder why... We enjoyed hearing about Patrick's background and his unusual route to tailoring, he offered some great advice to young sewers and was inspiring in his humility and proves that if you have enough gumption and drive that you can achieve all kinds of goals and Kirsty was, of course, her usual witty, stylish self!






All in all it was a fantastic day, inspiring, fun and yes a little tiring after running about like a hyperactive child on Christmas morning (sorry mum), but I can't recommend treating yourself to a ticket enough and will be first in line to attend next year! My top tips for making the most of your visit would be to avoid booking the first workshop of the day (just in case) // travel light but do take a roll up tote bag or two for all your goodies // get involved in the spontaneous free workshops scattered about the grounds but sign up early to avoid full classes // wear comfy shoes but do feel free to spice up the rest of your outfit, you are among fellow eccentrics so go bonkers if you please! // Check the weather before you go, this is still England and we were super grateful of our brolly but even more so of the free plastic, log flume ponchos they were handing out. I styled the crap out of mine with frizzy drizzle hair and a shit tonne of sass // but mostly, soak up the atmosphere and ENJOY!


Keep your eyes peeled for a follow up post containing the goodies I scored on the day and for more info on my favourite exhibitors at the event!