Monday, 10 April 2017

Love Themed Painted Tealight Holders

Happy spring everyone! One of my favourite times of year, when the sun is shining more, new life is beginning (how cute are baby lambs!) flowers are in bloom, and everything just seems so much brighter. With this, and the forthcoming wedding season in mind I thought I'd share my most recent glass painting with you. I had a spare pair of glass tea light holders from Baker Ross, and still plenty of paint in my porcelain pens, so I decided to do a love theme. These could be given as a gift together, or individually, as one is more for married couples, and the other could be for married couples, or as a boyfriend/girlfriend gift.

Just two different items needed (well a few more if you count all the pens used), and then its just all about being creative. Painting on glass or already glazed ceramics is probably my favourite methods to use as you can rub anything off if you go wrong or get a bit too much paint on the surface. It will even come off after drying with a bit of work.

Check out the Baker Ross website for their full range of porcelain and paint pens, there are a large selection to choose from, including some handy black ones, and finer nibs. Do you enjoy painting, what is you're favourite medium to paint on/with. Let me know in the comments below.







 I painted a different image on each of the four sides of a pair of tealight holders, one had Mr & Mrs written on it, the other Me & You. All designs and photo's copyright These City Days 2016, please do not use of reproduce.

* I was sent these glass tea light holders in a blogger box as part of their design team/blogger network. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Handmade Valentines Cards - Beautiful Botanical Stamps And DCWV Cardstock

Happy 2017 everyone, I know I am a little late, but January has been busier than expected. I have been busy looking for new work, uploading some bits to my Etsy store, and had a bit going on with one of my day jobs. I'm also working on a brand new CV/portfolio website, so it's all go, but I did find time to do some valentines crafting.

Design Copyright These City Days 2017
I have had Sarah Hurley's Beautiful Botanical stamps for a while now, but have only made two cards with them (that I can show!) so I thought I'd search for a flower suitable for the most romantic day of the year. it was also a great opportunity to try out my love themed stack of foiled and patterned card stock that I won in a competition.

There are a good mix of subtle patterns, bold black and white designs, and card with wording foiled on to it, along with journal size cards you can cut out and use, which seems to be a theme with DCWV, and one which I love - so many uses for these little cards, and some you can customise as well.

I also liked the way Sarah Hurley designed her stamps. It meant I was able to play around a bit, and ink and stamp with love as two separate words, so I could position in a different way. I also added a stalk from one stamp to the flower of another, and you'd never know; there was no mess and the elements fitted perfectly.

Designs Copyright These City Days 2017


I've attached a photo of the end results. I am really pleased with how they turned out, and I think the combination of colours brings something different, to the sometimes predictable cards I see out and about. Have you made any valentines crafts this year? would love to hear you're take on it if so, what do you do to make it different?

DCWV can be found on Facebook here.

For Sarah Hurley paper craft products visit Bee Bees Boutique.

* Sarah Hurley stamps were gifted to me as part of her design team.



Thursday, 22 December 2016

Crayola & Cake Angels Wildlife Friends Gingerbread Kit

Christmas Baking is well under way in our house, how about yours? As I write this the Christmas cake has been iced and decorated, and the first batch of mince pies are in the freezer. I thought it would be the perfect time to put up a post about this gingerbread kit my nephew and I tried out a while ago. It's not festive, but I am sure you could decorate to be Christmassy if you wanted.



This kit jumped out at me because it was Crayola branded, and I liked the biscuit icing designs on the front. I don't buy kits that often because I find there's way more icing than biscuit/cake mix and they are not always great value for money, but I love gingerbread so thought I would give this a go.

The kit came with the gingerbread mix, 2 different coloured icing sugars (yellow and red), 2 writing icing tubes (black and white), a plastic cutter and a decoration leaflet. You just need to add syrup, vegetable oil, and water, plus flour when you roll it out.

First impressions were good, the instructions were clear, and they divided them into adult, and child tasks which I thought was a nice touch. I was sceptical about using the plastic cutter, it looked a bit flimsy, but in the end it cut through the rolled out biscuit mix fine. In our oven they took the 10-12 minutes listed - so far so good.


 It was also a bit more work preparing 3 different colours of icing sugar, but I think given the fun designs you can make with them, it was worth spending a bit of extra time on that. As predicted there was more icing sugar than biscuit mix, which was a little disappointing, I was hoping this kit would buck the trend and give me more biscuits, but the design leaflet made up for that a bit. It's on thick, good quality paper, so ideal to keep and use again, there's six different designs to try out, with handy pictures to show the different stages. Really good leaflet, and although it was handy having Mum and I remind my nephew, which pictures to copy and when and a few little tips, he did really well copying the designs, and I joined in and did a few as well. We used some of the leftover icing on some normal biscuits, left them all to dry/set, then tried our gingerbread as an after dinner treat. They tasted very yum, and didn't last all that long either!


Overall, throwing icing sugar in the bin isn't ideal, and the kit only made 5 gingerbread biscuits not 6, but I've kept the box, leaflet, cutter, and icing pens, and will definitely be using those again, so from that point of view it was worth buying. Most of the other kits I've bought before, I wouldn't bother with again, but while this one was a bit small, there's future value in what I get to keep so full marks there Cake Angels.

Here is a link if anyone fancies trying it out for themselves. Wasn't too bad for an impulse buy, and was definitely tasty. What baking kits or recipes have you used with your children? Any suggestion post them below.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Bark Star Tealight Holders

Hi everyone,

How is your Christmas prep going? I feel quite behind, mainly because of my up and down freelance income, and I've still got shopping to do. I'm also stuck on what to buy some people, and have yet to make my family cards. There's still plenty of time to craft though, and I did have the chance to make a couple of tealight table decorations, using some bark stars, and a few other items from my Baker Ross blogger box, and stash.

Layered Flower Tealight Holder


Copyright These City Days 2016. No copying or reproduction
Thank you. 
For this I experimented until I found 3 stars that would sit on top of each other fairly well flat, using the one with the flattest surface for the bottom of the flower. I arranged them on top of each other, twisting the top flowers around so the points filled the gaps, then stuck them together with a glue gum, and added some glitter and a tealight (which I stuck together with a glue gun as well. I wasn't sure how well it was going to stand up, but in the end it wasn't wonky at all and looks really effective. The combination of rustic bar and glitter works really well. and it's quite quick to make.



Long Star Tealight Holder 


Copyright These City Days 2016.
I had a lot of  fun doing the first candle holder, so decided to play around with the stars, and see what else I could create, that would stick together well, and sit nicely on the table. This long design is three stars stuck together with a glue gun, slightly overlapping. I then used self adhesive felt and stars from Baker Ross to decorate, and experimented making a bow with Baker Ross Twine. For me a double bow worked out best, and left a little room to use a flat back snowflake to decorate the centre. Both these tea light holders have been finished off with a glittery tea light and put on the sideboard with our other Christmas bits.

Really enjoyed these festive makes, and will definitely try and find more uses for the twine, felt, and bark stars, I am already planning some Thank You cards. Baker Ross have been a bit hit and miss with their combinations in blogger boxes before, there's been items that I've not known what to do with, or didn't fit with anything in my stash, but I was really pleased with this box, and the quality of the products I had with it. I look forward to seeing how the blogger network grows and develops in 2017. If you are a Baker Ross blogger or a fan of their products, I would love to see your makes.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

On My Doorstep - Sandford Mill, Chelmsford

Hi everyone,

A while ago I decided to do another 'On The Doorstep' and went off to visit Sandford Mill which is in the Chelmer Village area Sorry it's taken so long to get up, but this is a review of an annual event so maybe it'll help you plan for next year. Waste not want not, with local content!!

The Mill is a place that I've always heard of, but never been in before, or really knew where it was, so this was a little bit of an adventure. The mill buildings are used as a museum housing a lot of industrial material and science related content.


One main thing, is it's rarely opened to the public, and you can only get access on their open days. The rest of the year the buildings are used for educational visits.


Most of the work there is done by volunteers, and I think they have done a great job setting up and maintaining the displays, in what must have been a big, abandoned, and perhaps not ideal space at one stage. There were displays on Marconi, The Titanic, with a replica of the control room from which the famous SOS signal was sent, details on local industry, old TV equipment, and a barn packed full of science type experiments, and an old omnibus...!

There was a lot of information displayed around the museum spaces, with some artefact's, and the Marconi radio hut. In a way too much to take in on one visit, and I missed the tour. Outside they had some miniature engines that were merrily puffing away, and in some cases giving train rides, and an old machine, which I think used to be used in hay making.

There was also a refreshment area, canoeing (which you had to pay for) and archery - I saw some 'targets' set up around the site in a trail, but I didn't see anyone running this activity. It's a nice location to have a wander around outside, and they even had a little nook they'd turned into a small blacksmiths.


My only little comments, or criticism, and they were only small things, but the ladies in the refreshment area got confused adding up 2 small sums for my drink and snack, and it would have been nice if the volunteers involved in the museum had name tags to identify them - I wanted to know who I could go and talk to, and ask about things, and where it was obvious people were involved with something (like with the miniature engines) perhaps they could have been more forthcoming with talking to people. They were just small things in my experience though.

Overall it was a nice bike ride there, nice weather, a nice view of the lock/waterway on the cycle route, and it was well worth visiting. There was almost too much information to take in though, so I may have to go back again next year.

To find out more about Sandford Mill Museum and their open events, please visit the Chelmsford City Council Website.


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Hessian Christmas Bauble Project / Baker Ross Craft Baubles

This is a project using Craft Baubles from a recent Baker Ross blogger box. They are an easy, effective, and pretty quick make to do, and there's plenty of time to make a few - they would look great on the Christmas Tree, or you could use them to decorate gift wrapping/bags, or even just as a gift as they are quite different. To make them you will need:

Craft Baubles - Pack Of 6  for £3.49
Ribbon
Stick On Gems
Stick On Pearls

To make just follow these steps below:



Unroll the hessian and place a craft bauble on the material, lifting up the sides around it. Move the bauble until you have a good amount of material around each side of the bauble, leaving room for the hanging loop to peek through.

Cut the hessian to size, then place the bauble in the centre again and wrap and fold it around. Tie several knots with the ribbon of your choice round the top, and then tie in a bow and cut to length.

Next gently fold back the piece of material at the top to give it more shape and to reveal the hanging loop.



Finally, it's time to decorate. I used small stick on gems, and pearls to add some colour, but in a subtle way, and I'm really pleased with the results. I'm sure you have all sorts of things you could use in your stash to decorate yours, and make them a bit different.

I'll be back soon with a make with some bark stars, please check in again soon, and if you've made anything for Christmas do share in the comments below, I'd love to check it out if you blogged about it too.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Beyond The Point - Local History Project In Essex

Sometimes, things don't go to plan, but that's okay, because I recently had the chance to catch up with one of the guys behind 'Beyond The Point' and had to give the content a new home on my blog. I really enjoyed their website, and some of their documentaries that I've been able to view. Maybe it's because a lot of their content is Essex related, or they just present things in an engaging way, but this is what I wanted history lessons to be like when I was at school.


BTP at Dover Castle

“Never leave the camera at home” that’s the message from Joe Mander, co-founder of ‘Beyond The Point’, a website bringing the history of South Essex to life. If you take the time to look through the photos and documentaries Joe and Liam have made, you’ll realise how true that message is! This is a blog on what 2 young men, their cameras, and their passion, have created.

When I was at school you could have divided our year quite easily into the history or geography camp. I was the latter, and absolutely loved geography at school, but became quite frustrated with the history teaching. I wasn’t inspired, and felt the curriculum was quite narrow. Thankfully for Essex Joe and Liam had a different learning experience, and were able to explore history in a creative way from a young age. “When Liam and I started junior school we set up the ‘History Club’, where we would make small art and craft items on a Friday afternoon. This was everything from Roman belt buckles made from foil, to cardboard pencil pots. We had always enjoyed history and just did this as a hobby.”


BTP at Vange Well
Joe and Liam continue to explore history in creative, traditional ways, and combine this with technology, to film, photograph and digitally preserve content on historic sites and abandoned buildings. Even ruins and former factories/farmland have made it onto the site. Recognising the role technology can play in connecting people of all ages with history has been an important one, and helped the site grow from a modest blog into a full website and hobby organisation. Joe comments that, “Back in our early days all we had was a horrible history book. Now kids can learn about their history through fun interactive games and videos, which is a really good thing. I think technology has played a big role in changing how people learn about history, now that it is much more accessible for everyone. You can find information in minutes.”

Search the ‘Beyond The Point’ website, and in ‘minutes’ you will find articles on medieval food, the Guildhall and Roman Amphitheatre in London, the gunpowder plot, and Dutch Cottage in Canvey Island. It’s a mix of museums, general historical articles, visits to historic sites, and public land with a story. Then you come to the documentaries.

I have a point and click camera, and just hit record on my videos, but the pieces Joe and Liam film and edit are full documentaries, covering the familiar tourist trails, areas around where they grew up in South Essex, and uncovering lesser known places.


Filming For Their New Website
“Hadleigh Castle is one of South Essex’s most notable tourist ruins, but we are fortunate enough to know that directly adjacent to it you can find a Second World War gun battery, viaduct, pond, and jetty, over a century old, all unmarked. The sheet multitude and variety of locations we have visited is in itself a rare treat, considering it is such an eye opener to what lies un-signposted within our immediate locality.”


As a hobby, building up ‘Beyond The Point’ to the resource it is today has definitely kept them busy, and helped shape their futures. Joe has a role as an ITN news cameraman, Liam is heading off to university. Joe describes ‘Beyond The Point’ as “the best work experience they could ever ask for” and while both boys are looking to their future careers, with the launch of their new website, and expanding the areas and subjects they cover, something tells me they’ll be uploading content for many years to come.

Find Out More:
Beyond The Point has recently re-launched online, and their new website offers an interactive map to help you digitally explore photo and video content from all the places they have documented, and new guides to help everyone else explore the outdoors – I know I’ll be reading those to pick up some tips. Click over to http://www.beyondthepoint.co.uk/  or find them on Facebook.

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Love Themed Painted Tealight Holders