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30 January 2013

This week's nails...

I think these could quite possibly be my favourite nails I have ever done.  I love the colours and the wavy detail.  I used my nail stickers to create the waves.  I started off with the green, which was a Christmas present from my sister.  Great colour and really fast drying polish which is perfect for the nail stickers.  I then applied the stickers to the middle of each nail and painted the top a Barry M blue and the tip a glittery turquoise.

Here are the colours I used if you are interested...

My nails are still like this as I type, they have chipped off a bit now though.  They do need to be re-painted but I'm so sad to say bye to these pretty nails.  Will certainly be repeating these beauties very soon.

28 January 2013

A Crochet Baby Blanket



I feel like I have been working on this blanket forever! But earlier this month my friend's new arrival was born so now that my creation is safely with its new owner, baby Madeline, I can finally share some pics.

The wool I chose was Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.  It is a really soft wool, perfect for the job and there are some very vibrant colours.  I didn't want to make the blanket too pastel and babyish, so went for quite bright colours to make it a bit different.  The wool itself is quite expensive, but is certainly worth it for a special project and for a gift.


The blanket is just a simple granny square design, using 3 main colours and I decided upon a square shape of 4 by 4, with 4 different squares.

I joined the squares in the traditional way to get the nice ridge between each square, I like this detail on granny blankets.  I then added a pretty edge.  I started with a row all the way round in single crochet in the purple, then I added a row of bright green and then a scalloped edge again in the purple. I really like the pop of bright green I think it finishes it off well.

Here is a full view of the finished blanket right before I wrapped it up and posted it off to Maddy to keep snuggly and warm in these freezing temperatures.

Have you posted any pics of crochet or crafty projects recently?  Do send me links in the comments below, would love to see...

23 January 2013

Style Crush - Emma

 This month's style crush is Emma from A Beautiful Mess which is one of the first blogs I discovered and still a very fave.  I have featured Elsie in a previous style crush post, which you can see here.

 I love blogs that feature personal style and I would much prefer to look at fashion in blogs than in magazines and on celebs.  Blogger style is attainable, the clothes affordable (usually, well the blogs I read anyway!) and the photos reflect their personal style rather than that of their hired stylist.

I must admit that perhaps Elsie's style is more to my taste, but they do have a very similar style.  Elsie wears more dresses and as I live in dresses these appeal to me more.  Here are some pics I found of Emma in dresses that I love.

 I like this cute look, preppy coat and satchel and love the beanie hat.


 Printed dresses are a wardrobe staple for me so it is no surprise that this pic of Emma in a disty printed dress appealed. I love the idea of a cardigan included in the belt, but not sure it would suit me?

 Very pretty summer look, could not get away with this of course with the Carlisle climate, but if I ever go on holiday somewhere sunny, would be nice to try to replicate this look.

 This is by far my fave of Emma's looks.  Pretty dress with a slouchy cardy finished off with coloured tights and the red beanie again, love it. (all photos from A Beautiful Mess)

Who's wardrobe do you covet the most, Elsie or Emma?

21 January 2013

Crochet Bunting

I blogged last week about some crochet slippers I made for my Grandma for Christmas, well to continue with that little theme, I want to show you another crafty Christmas pressie this week.

Yet again it is something crochet, I have gone utterly obsessed (along with the rest of the world at the moment) with crochet, I LOVE it! I think because I find it relatively easy.  I really wanted to get into knitting, and I tried and tried but made so many mistakes and got frustrated, but crochet kind of came naturally to me.  I started with granny squares but quickly found I could go onto more complicated shapes.  I am not even scared of patterns anymore, just take them one stitch at a time, they are not so scary.  I have so many things on my crochet to do list this year.

I had this little idea for my sister, as she loves bunting and has recently moved into a lovely new flat, I thought I could make her something pretty to hang up.  I saw this pattern in a book and thought I would give it a go.

The line pattern on the triangles is actually surface crochet and not just a stripe from a colour change.  I like how the surface crochet gives them a bit more texture.

I picked the colours specially, as I know my sis is a big fan of yellow and grey together, and I was so happy to find these yellow and grey buttons already in my button stash, they go perfectly.

This was a fun project and really easy to do.  It is great because you can so quickly do each triangle, and rather like doing individual granny squares for a larger project, there is a nice little sense of accomplishment after completing each triangle.

16 January 2013

Super Sparkly Nails


Just after Christmas my friend Emma from Emma's Cuti-Calls called to ask if I wanted to test a new brand of gel nail varnish she had just got in.  I jumped at the chance, my first ever gel nails and for free.  So I thought I would do a little review...

I love painting my nails, as I am sure if you are a regular reader of this blog will notice that.  I always keep my nails short, I don't like long nails, don't like the look on me or the feel of them, I cut them off as soon as you can see any white.  I also get bored of my nail varnish after so long and want to change it.  So the idea of gel nail varnish, which is meant to last longer than normal (up to 15 days, no chips) is perhaps not the best option for me.  But it was free and the varnish I was going to be trying was SUPER sparkly, who could resist that?

I loved the look of these nails, the varnish is a lot thicker, goes on a lot better, much more vibrant colours and way more sparkly than regular.  The process is easier too, no chance of smudging with the super laser fast drying machine, great if you want to do a few different colours or patterns.

The varnish itself lasted a good 8 days on me with absolutely no sign of chips at all.  By this time most of my regular varnish would be chipped off.  However I could see that they had started to grow out and there was a big gap at the top and then they started to peel.  I was meant to go and get it taken off properly by the expert Emma, but I couldn't resist, yep, I picked it all off! My nails were not in the best state after that I confess.

So to sum up, much better colours, way more sparkly,  last better and more hard wearing then regular varnish.  However the only issue for me is that it is harder to get off.  If you don't mind them growing out a bit then I can certainly recommend this.  I would definitely get them done again, for a special occasion, but make an appointment in a week's time to get the gel taken off properly. If you are in Carlisle I highly recommend Emma's Cuti-Calls, her range of colours and pattern effects etc. is great!

Have you tried gel nail varnish?  What did you think?

14 January 2013

Crochet Grandma Slippers

I went a bit crafty crazy this Christmas and I decided to make quite a few presents rather than buying them.  An idea I had for my grandma was some cosy crochet slippers.

I was very surprised just how easy these were to make.  Here is the pattern if you would like to make some yourself...

1. Ch 3, join with ss to form a ring.
2. Work 9 hdc into ring, join with ss.
3. Ch2, 1 hdc in first stitch, 2 hdc in next, repeat 1 hdc in next, 2hdc in next.  Join with ss.
4. Ch2, 1hdc in each stitch, join with ss.
5. Repeat step 3.
6. Repeat step 4.
7. Repeat step 3 again.
8. Repeat step 4 again.
Note: You should notice that the ring has increased to form the toe shape.
9 - 12. Repeat step 4, (so ch2, 1hdc in each st join with ss) for the next 4 rows.
13. ch2, work 28 hdc into previous row, turn work, this is just half way round, do not do full ring.
14-25 Repeat step 13 for 12 more rows, turning work and going back each time.
26. Sew up back of slipper with wool needle.

You will notice that steps 1-12 form the toe part, it should create a tube type shape but should get wider as it goes down.  Then from step 13 you are making the sides of the slipper, you stop going round the full ring and just build up the main slipper shape. This pattern was made for a ladies 5-6 shoe size, but I simply kept measuring it against my own foot to get an idea of size.

Note: These slippers are quite wide fitting and do stretch, simply decrease the number of stitches in the rounds to make them slimmer fitting and increase or decrease the number of rows from step 13 to make the slipper lager or smaller.

After I made the main slipper shape, I added a row of single crochet to the top in a different colour to make an edge detail.  I then made some simple circular shapes for a pretty detail which I sewed onto the toe.

These make a really nice, easy, rainy afternoon project and, I think, rather a nice present.  My grandma was rather pleased with hers and put them on straight away.

If you have any questions about the pattern, I am only to happy to help, drop me an email jothestrange@gmail.com or tweet me @perfecthiding I would love to know if you attempt these!

7 January 2013

2013 Goals + Resolutions


I love this time after Christmas when you start thinking to the new year, it makes me really reflective but positive for the year ahead. I have made resolutions for many years and always spend an evening going through my previous year's goals, looking back on the good things, what I achieved and then setting my resolutions and goals for the coming year. 

One of the best bits about this process is of course the opportunity to buy new stationary! I need shiny new journals and diaries to start the year off afresh. Yes, some would say I am too hyper organised but I really do need all of these 5 books above to organise my life!  The large black book is my money journal where I document my budgets and incomings and outgoings every month. The pretty camera print book is my new blog book, I write all my ideas and plans for this blog in here.  The little spotty book is my list book, I like to write weekly to-do lists for myself and larger to-do lists which are all documented (and hopefully ticked off) in this book.  Then I have an academic diary for work, just for boring appointments and meetings etc, then lastly a general diary where I scribble my daily moans and thoughts.

I always make 4 main resolutions, these are based on happiness, health, career and money and I like to keep these main ones private, but then I also make smaller goals, for little things I would like to do and achieve throughout the year, for 2013 these are as follows:

Improve and develop my blog
I have big plans for the blog this year, I really want to spend more time properly planning and creating good posts.

Spend more time crafting
I was so happy with my little crafty hobby in 2012, and I have a super long list of crafts projects for 2013.

Improve photography and photo editing skills
When I look back on my photos from my early blog posts I am happy with how I have developed over this past year.  I want to get a decent photo editing software and work on this for 2013.

Do a HTML/CSS course
I love my blog design, my sister made for me, but it would be great to have an idea of how to make more changes myself.  This would also benefit me for work as I start to get more involved in the website and e-newsletters.

Cook 1 new recipe per week
I really want to stick to this! Living on my own I tend to get into bad habits and eat the same old easy things.  I have so many cookery books it would be nice to actually try out something new.

Spend less time online and more time reading actual books
Most of my evenings are spent looking at screens, either the TV or computer! I aim to have a proper 'switch off' time or at least 1 evening off to read a real life book.

Start running properly again, actually outside
I used to run almost daily and loved it.  I then had a problem with my ankle and have not run properly in the last year which makes me really sad and frustrated.  But I am slowly getting there on the treadmill, it would be nice to get outside again soon though.

Spend time properly learning to meditate
I went to a class a while back and loved it but every time I have tried to meditate recently I have fallen asleep and woken up hours later which is not what I wanted to achieve.  I aim to practice this properly this year.

Spend more time outside, biking, camping and walking
This is a goal to enjoy with Mark.  We both love being outside, going on long walks, mountain biking and camping but we didn't do much of this in 2012, probably due to the weather.  But I want to be outside a lot more in 2013 and if we wait for good weather we will never get anywhere!

Go to more gigs
Another goal to enjoy with Mark.  We went for a little trip to Manchester to see Marilyn Manson in November and Solfest festival in August and they were so good.  I used to go to see so many live bands so it would be good to do more of this in 2013.

Have you made goals for 2013?  Send me links in the comments below, I would love to have a peak...

4 January 2013

2012 - A Crafty Year

One of the best bits of 2012 was that I re-discovered crafts and really got into making pretty things for myself, friends and family.  I used to do lots of crafts when I was little, I remember making felt animals, doing lots of cross stitch and crocheting and knitting endless scarves.  I owe my love of crafts and my crafty ability to my mum who taught me to sew, knit and crochet when I was young, thanks Mummy!

Gathering all these pics together, I am actually quite proud of all the little pieces I have made this year...

From L-R...
  1. Maisy cushion, my first project on my sewing machine.  It has Maisy print, bright colours, ric rac, polka dots and buttons, all in all a perfect cushion! It is sitting proudly next to me on the sofa as a type.
  2. Knitted snood, I kind of gave up on knitting after discovering crochet.  I could never really get the hang of it and this snood unfortunately has little 'imperfections' but I do still wear it, it's extra warm and snuggly. It never made it onto the blog though as I made it before the blog started.
  3. Felt star garland, I am disappointed with the photos on this post but these little stars still hang in my bedroom window.
  4. Felt Heart bookmark, I made this little heart as a present for my mum, very easy, but I think it's rather pretty.
  5. Curtains! My first attempt at curtains, they are still up but I am planning on a change this year and to develop my skill making these.
  6. Curtains again.
  7. Bunting, I made this raggy bunting for my little Jubilee party from scraps I found in my craft stash, it is now hanging in my bedroom.
  8. Crochet iPhone cases, I made these when I first got my new iPhone and then made another for my sister.  Super easy and fun project to do.
  9. Crochet baby blanket, this was a project I made with my friends for another friend's new baby.
  10. Crochet bunting... full post coming up on the blog soon!
  11. Crochet button snood, I love this snood and wear it all the time.
  12. Crochet Christmas ornaments, I made these as pressies for my friends and family, they seemed to go down well.
  13. A granny square blanket for me! This is still an on-going project which WILL be completed this year!
  14. Yet another crochet baby blanket, full post coming up on the blog soon...
  15. Crochet slippers, I made these for my grandma for Christmas, again full post coming soon...
  16. Felt Christmas ornaments. I actually made these at the end of 2011, but I only blogged about them recently so I am including them in this little round-up.
I have a stupidly long list of crafty projects I hope to achieve in 2013! Including: finish my granny square blanket, crochet mittens, complete bookcase, do more painting, attempt a quilt, a crochet beanie hat, new curtains...

I love reading about crafty projects, if you made anything great in 2012 or have any projects on the go, I would love to hear about them in the comments below...

Here's to a crafty 2013!

2 January 2013

This Year... 2012

Looking back on 2012 it has been a pretty good year for me. Yes, there have been very sad times but I like to remember all the fun and positive stuff that has happened, here are the best bits of 2012...

« Getting lovely job I actually enjoy « learning to crochet « starting my blog « getting a new camera and developing photography skills « getting a sewing machine and learning to use it « joining the gym « Solfest « My big brother getting married to the lovely Nikki « my little Sister moving closer « friends moving home « friends getting pregnant and meeting new little ones « lovely family meal to a posh restaurant « dancing the night away at a ceilidh « teaching interviews and dreaming about the perfect job « shopping trips to old book shops with my mum « walking in the rain at the beach « visiting pretty craft fayres « a candlelight romantic meal « Whinlatter biking fun « birthday biking at the beautiful Mabie Forest « meg coming to live with me « lovely long country bike rides « dinner parties with friends « re-discovering our city's castle with a best friend « lovely walks to Aira Force, and I'm sure many more little things...

One of the best bits of 2012 for me was starting and developing this little blog.  I have learnt a lot from it, and developed new skills along the way.  Here is a little round up of my favourite posts from 2012...

My favourite of my Hero series was Nancy Mitford, mainly because I love these pictures of her, so pretty.

I have really enjoyed painting my nails crazy colours and experimenting with dotting tools and nail art stickers.  You can see all my nail posts here.

I love putting together my Style Crush series, these pics of Keira are some of my faves. 

I love these little old family photos, it was nice to share this little series on my blog.  I hope to post more old photos in 2013.

I had so much fun putting together this little Jubilee party for friends in the summer.  Baking themed cakes, and of course painting patriotic nails!

This was the first weekend I got my new iPhone and went a bit crazy instagramming pretty pics of my home city of Carlisle.  I hope to take more pics of the pretty bits of the city this year.

The highlight of the Summer was Solfest, my first festival in many years.  Yeah it rained a bit (hmmm, rather a LOT) and was a little muddy (snigger) but was super fun!

Inspired by Kirstie, I shared my own little vintage home details from my little loft flat.

We had the most perfect weather in Keswick at the start of Autumn.   Was a great day for photographing the beautiful scenery.

I introduced this little person in November, having Meg come to live with me is probably the best bit of 2012 for me!

The prettiest place I visited in 2012, was Shambellie House, the Museum of Costume in Dumfries.  Goodness me, I want to live there, stunning!

I can't wait to see what 2013 brings... Happy New Year lovely readers, thank you for supporting my little blog.

Have you done a 2012 round-up?  I love reading these types of posts, leave me a link in the comments so I can have a peak...