Thursday, 27 April 2017

DIY Zipped Purse

My name is Gemma and I am a sick and twisted lover of that sweet holiday run-up time, during which you prep and organise your entire trip, plan your packing essentials, plot your route and make a big old list (to shelter and protect the 16 other smaller lists). Many people I have talked to about this generally HATE the 'stress' that leads up to your summer vaycay, all that unnecessary anxiety of 'do I have everything?', 'what weather do I pack for?', insurance, travel money, baggage allowance etc etc etc... but this is something I revel in. A bit weird, right? I can't be entirely alone with this...


I'm at the two and a half week point before we jet off to Canada (where there is currently snow on the ground still!) and I am getting my freak on with checking things off my master list and one of the items I had yet to purchase was some kind of hand baggage organisation; a purse of some kind, big enough to keep my travel essentials safe and in one place inside my on-board bag and easy to retrieve whilst on the go. Step forward this super quick and easy DIY zipper pouch tutorial by crafty blog Lil' Luna!


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This simple DIY took me about half an hour from start to finish and I was so pleased with the results I whipped up a second purse immediately after!


This uses a tiny amount of fabric (perfect for busting your fabric stash!) and can be made to any size you need and of course in any colour/ patterned fabric your sparkly heart desires. It is fully lined and fitted with a zip which makes it nice and secure for all your on the go treasures.


Here are some of the ways I intend to use my (ever growing collection of) handmade zipped purses:


Handbag / Travel Essentials

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Craft Supplies

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Pencil Case

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Make-Up Bag

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The gorgeous dotty fabric was a cheeky purchase I made from the off-cuts basket in one of my favourite places to shop for sewing supplies Guthrie & Ghani in Moseley village, Birmingham and the zips I picked up somewhere long ago! I highly recommend you give this fun tutorial a whiz, being sure to mooch through the heaps of creative posts on her blog or even have a browse round pinterest for further ideas and inspiration!


A great DIY to use up left-over materials and bright, handy organiser for life on the go. I now plan to make a tiny one to hold my Canadian dollars and one big enough for my kindle!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Colour Me Inspired // Mood Board Curations

How is everyone's long weekend going? To those of you stuck at work on this fine Monday, this post goes out to you!


A quick side note before jumping into the good stuff; have you guys devoured S-Town yet? Oh man, I listened to the final chapter over the weekend and have zero closure! I've been dipping in and out of the forums desperate for even just a sliver of something extra... Seven chapters about this bizarre, characterful man's life just isn't enough! I'll just have to get sucked into Big Little Lies instead for now!


Back to business. Let's step into this week feeling ready to slay, get crossing those tasks off your 'to do' list and start that project you've been putting off. Here is a visual boost of inspiration to start the week with a spring in your step!


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If you're in need of a little more creative mood boards to lift you out of a productivity slump or just to day dream over then feel free to check out my previous posts to set an aesthetically pleasing vibe for the rest of your week!


If you've got any suggestions for fascinating podcasts, books or tv shows to distract from my S-Town withdrawals then I'd love to hear them please!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Easter Sweets // Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

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Freshly cut flowers, hazy blue skies scattered with whisps of cloud, long evening walks in the gently fading sunshine, lazy weekends snuggled up in a duvet. This time of year brings people together to celebrate the awakening of nature, to praise the longer days and warmer weather and allows us to enjoy the simpler things in life; one of those things being home-baked treats just perfect for Easter!


When thinking of seasonally appropriate tasty treasures hot cross buns spring to mind, Dutch sugar bread, chocolatey eggs or fluffy pancakes perhaps, all of which will no doubt be consumed in our house over the next couple of weeks, but the recipe I am sharing today is for deliciously sticky, sweet cinnamon rolls!


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The basic recipe makes around 14, but you can half or double the recipe depending on the size of your tribe and feel free to switch up the flavours to really add a twist of something special! I've kept things pretty basic since this is my first ever attempt and the classic cinnamon and sugar had me from the get go, but you could add chopped pecans or walnuts, use a vanilla sugar in place of cinnamon, drizzle honey as a glaze or even add a little orange zest to get the party going!


Ingredients

For the dough:
1/2 cup / 345g unsalted butter, melted
2 cups / 355ml whole milk, warm to the touch
1/2 cup / 380g caster sugar
7 g active dry yeast
5 cups / 450g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

For the filling:
3/4 cup / 170g butter, softened
3/4 cup / 144g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

For the frosting:
4 oz / 114g cream cheese
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup / 130g powdered sugar


Get to it!

Once you've prepared your baking tins with a little butter and baking paper, add into a large mixing bowl the melted butter, the warm milk and your sugar and mix together.

Gently sprinkle the dry yeast across your mixture in an even layer and leave for 1 minute to sit.

Next add about 3/4 of your flour (saving about a quarter for later) and using a wooden spoon mix this together lightly before you cover the bowl with cling film or a tea towel and leave for an hour in a warm place.

Check on your little beastie after an hour and it should have doubled in size. Add the remaining 1/4 flour and also throw in the salt and baking powder, stirring it all together then turning it out onto a well floured surface. Add a little extra flour until the dough isn't crazy sticky but malleable enough to roll out.

Knead it lightly, turning it into itself as you go then roll the dough out into a rectangle about half an inch thick. Try and get this as even as you can, no I mean seriously, go ahead and try, I dare ya! (I'm aiming for taste over presentation...)

Now you should gently spread the softened butter across your dough, sprinkle the brown sugar and your cinnamon powder. This is where things start to smell good!

The fun part; carefully roll the top edge (or one of the longest sides of your rectangle) in on itself all the way until you create a log, then cut this guy in half and slice your way along creating 1-2 inch chunks.

Time to get your oven going, heat it up to 180*C / 350F.

Arrange your doughy rolls onto the baking trays, starting with one in the centre and creating a circular pattern with the rest around this. Cover with cling film and leave it for 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until they reach a golden brown colour.

To make the frosting, whisk together the cream cheese, the melted butter and the milk adding the powdered sugar slowly as you go, until you reach your desired density.

Once the cinnamon rolls are cooked, removed from the oven and swirl over the frosting while they're still warm.

Test one immediately for poison, lick the frosting bowl and spoon to help the washing up stage later and generously share out amongst your loved ones for a delicious Easter sweet treat, just be sure to stash at least two in a securely hidden place, you know, for emergencies.


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If deliciously soft chocolate chip cookies are more your thing then please feel free to use my (religiously tried and tested) recipe or if you have the Easter Bunny over for a bite to eat then perhaps this ridiculously good carrot cake would fit the bill?! However you choose to spend your weekend I do wish you a relaxing, hopefully sunshiney few days.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Hashtag Adore // Instagram Accounts Currently Loving

Happy Monday, guys and dolls! We're off to a sunny start this week, following a corker of a weekend. Apologies if you see the glare off my legs from where you are, but these bad boys are out and loving it! How is this glorious Spring treating you so far?


It's been a busy few days around these parts but but thanks to my trusty bullet journal I'm on top of it. Productivity is at a high and I'm starting to get into a creative groove with work- I'm giving this epic weather all the credit for the mood boost! Talking of an inspiring booster, here are my current favourite Instagram accounts that I can't get enough of right now. We've everything from soul searching art work to Nordic street style for you to delve into. Happy reading!


@songofstyle

Luxury // Elegance // High fashion meets everyday fashion // Locations // Sophistication // style



@nikkiinwanderland

Dream-like // Gentle // Nature // Softness // Escapism // Small moments // Treasured // Breathe



@agirlnamedleney

Snap shots // Nature // Adventures // Soft-focus // Poetry // Breathe it in // Individual



@ellysmallwood

Masterful // Breathtaking // Honest // Sketches // Life-size art // Reflective // Insightful // Tone



@smileandwave

Pop // Texture // Handmade // Creative visuals // Colour love // Inspiring // Craftsmanship



@mikutas

Casual and edgy // Everyday Scandi style // Earthy // Fashion rule breaker // Wearable // Distinct



If you've any Instagram accounts you think I'd fall in love with then please oh please give them a mention below! I'm always on the look out to expand my creative resources. If you've time to slay then do take a look at my previous favourite Instagrammers and revel in all their glory and visual loveliness!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Story Time // Quarterly Book Review

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There isn't much better than finding a story that pulls you in, takes hold of your imagination and even leaves you thinking about its characters and plot long after it's returned to your book shelf. The power of a great book! Books give you the opportunity to travel to lands far and wide, to experience all walks of life from the comfort of your pjs, to develop empathy and understanding, to discover new worlds-real and fictional and to escape from reality for pages at a time.


Here is my quarterly book review round up, sharing with you the novels I read during the months of January, February and March. I have really enjoyed everything I've read so far this year, we're off to a grand start! At the end of February as a birthday treat, I decided to jump into the third instalment in the Outlander series (I know, I'm just so wild), which did take me the entirety of March to complete pretty much, but man was it worth it!


As ever, I've written a personal review of each book but not included a summary or blurb per say, as I live in fear of ruining bits or revealing too much! I have however linked the Goodreads page for each one where you can find extensive information, if you so fancy, (I got you).


The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel     4* {288 pages}

This book took me by surprise. The startlingly controversial and disturbing subject and the sheer magnetic pull of this story, caught me unawares. I reached for this book simply down to it's intriguing summary and had never banked on falling for this deliciously dark tale. Engaging and suspenseful, this story follows angry and adrift Lane, an ancestor to more than just your average family legend, who discovers more than she hoped for one twisted summer back on Roanoke. Years later, after having dragged herself away from a dangerous environment she finds herself right back where she started, coming full circle and having to face dark and disturbing truths about her family, her mother and herself.

I was hooked with this one from the get go. Not to everyones taste, of course, as many reviewers have ran for the hills after hitting a certain point in the story, but for me I found it gripping and harrowing, needing to reach the end of the book if only to catch my breath. I would be interested in seeing what else this author has written (young adult books, I do believe) and hope that they continue to produce such thrilling novels as I look forward to reading more!


Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick     4* {304 pages}

Hilarious, insightful and if possible I love her even more now!

Anna Kendrick takes us on a sarcastic and charmingly awkward trip down memory lane, sharing with her readers detailed and honest snippets from where she began her career, to where she's heading right now, with some juicy bits in between. This is one for the fans, as it is classic Kendrick, firing on all cylinders. Prepare to make all the snort-laugh noises when reading this one in public!


The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd     5* {336 pages}

Ah this book! This little treasure had been on my shelf for a while until, on a whim, I picked it up, turned to the first page and proceeded to fall in love. Beautifully written, tender and heart wrenching and such a touching story that leaves an impression long after completion.

This story unfolds in the 60s in rural South Carolina, revealing a brief insight into the life of an extraordinary young girl and the strong women who come into her life, the elusive woman who she never had a chance to know and hints of the woman she is set to become. This one is inspiring, uplifting and empowering.


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Meisje Vermisd (Girl Missing) by Tess Gerritsen     4* {256 pages}

Yes! My first Dutch book of the year! Well, I say Dutch, it is actually written by thriller/ cop drama writer Tess Gerritsen (of Rizzoli and Isles fame) translated into my second language and what a perfect book to use for practising said language!

Fast paced, intelligent characters and just lots of fun to read, what more could you want in a story? A classic 'who done it' tale involving a killer seemingly on a rampage, taking out young unfortunates framed as a drug overdose, but our hero and protagonist knows better!


Voyager by Diana Gabaldon      5* {1059 pages}

The third book in the epic Outlander series and boy what a corker this one was! Just when you start to wonder how on Earth this magnificent story can reach new heights, at the turn of a page you're back in Edinburgh pushing through the bustling, cobbled streets of the late 1700's. Then before you know it you're tossed aboard a British man of war with it's crew suffering a deadly epidemic, from which you're thrown overboard washing up somewhere in the Caribbean. Yes my friends, this one really is an adventure!

As ever, this book is packed to the gills with fantastic characters, amazing wonders and enough umph to keep you thirsty through all 1059 pages! Quite possibly my favourite in the series so far.


There you have it chums, a handful of tales but a fair amount to add to the favourites pile! I'm currently battling another Dutch book and keeping myself distracted from this with Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, which I just started! If you've time to kill do feel free to check out my previous book review posts, like this one including a serious tear jerker or this post featuring some of my favourite books ever! Until next time dearests!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Spring Fresh // Preparing Your Wardrobe For A New Season

It's time to dust off those vintage shades and dig out your trusty florals as the Spring sunshine makes itself welcome once again.


To celebrate this happy season full of blossoming flowers and frolicking lambs I've scribbled down some of my favourite looks and fresh, fun additions to ring in this beautiful time of year.


Day to day apparel







- A little lace goes a long way to adding a feminine frill to your undie draw and a peek of subtly sexy lingerie from beneath a crisp white shirt or under a classic Breton tee matched with your fave blue jeans can really work wonders!

Forever stripes is a motto I stand by and although I often reach for a basic white and black combo, switching it up with a nautical red and blue can add a fresh touch to your daytime regulars.

- How about a sweet accent to take your simple outfit onto the next level like an origami crane necklace or a snappy collar chain to embellish even the most plain of blouses?

- I'm loving a vibrant pink velvety-rich lipstick this season and find that by applying it to a balm-smooth mouth and dabbing it out with my finger creates a softer, day time friendly look.


Bedtime Routine







Pastels or florals can also adorn your jimjams this Spring and bring a little sunshine cheer to the bedroom!

- Try out a teddy or a playsuit (like mine above) to brighten up your sleepwear as the weather warms up.

- Don't forget to treat your pinkies to some love, I can't get enough of this Neals Yard Bee Lovely hand cream lately!

- Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter... my favourite way to wind down ready for bed is to dive into a good book, feel free to get a recommendation or two from my ever updating goodreads page.


Stretch It Out





- My girl Adriene keeps physical fitness fun with her yoga videos that I am simply addicted to, opting for a combination of videos to keep things interesting and keep my lazy butt on that yoga mat!

- My Spring colour-way for active wear this season is most certainly soft greys and pinks, allowing a dreamy, gentle approach to getting back into shape after a slovenly Winter.

- As the sunshine hits my window earlier and earlier, I've found that starting my day with a stretch really sets me up for high productivity and boosts my mood instantly.

- Spending a relaxed Sunday walking in the sunshine, taking in some fresh air and blowing out the cobwebs has really kicked off my Spring nicely and I highly recommend taking some time out for yourself, away from technology for a while, to truly relax, body and mind.


Outfits aside, I simply look forward to hearing the birds singing at my window first thing in the morning, my daily cycle to the train station as the sun rises higher in the sky, watching the trees bloom stretching their greenery far and wide, handwritten postcards sent from a strange land and painting my toes light pink as a wee reflection of the hopeful season ahead.