DIY: wooden coaster

Coasters, everyone needs them, almost everyone has a pair of them and they’re usually nothing special at all. Until I saw these coasters from a store called Rebelli. They’re simple and yet very unique. Made out of wooden beads this coaster is not only practical but also very pretty. So why don’t I try to make one myself?

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You’ll need:

– wooden beads (as many as you need to make a circle big enough)
– paint
– twine
– a jar
– thin wire
– a stick

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I put some thin wire through one of the beads and dipped it into the paint. You can paint the beads however you like. I decided to paint one bead completely blue and leave the rest of them unpainted. Let the bead(s) dry  for a while  (I used a jar for this) and grab your twine when you’re done. 

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Put as many beads as you need on the twine to make a circle. You don’t want to leave space between the beads, it has to be tight. Tie the twine in a knot and cut off the ends. If the holes in the beads are big enough you can hide the little ends of twine in the holes.

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And then you’re done. Enjoy your new, homemade coaster!

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DIY: beach cruiser

I’ve been secretly dreaming about owning a beach cruiser for the past 6 years, since the first time I saw one in real life. It has something to do with the style, the smooth design and the association with the (California) beach. I’ve never actually put down money to buy one since I already own a bicycle and beach cruisers are quite costly. Until two weeks ago, when my eyes spotted an online advertisement for a second hand beach cruiser.

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The beach cruiser was definitely used, it needed some oil, a new inner tire and some TLC (time, love and care). I was so ready to give it all that it needed.. and a little more. So, I put down a good (bargain) offer and drove the same day to retrieve it. I was beyond excited! 

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I sent it off to get repaired the same week. It came back looking better than it did before, but still scratched, filthy and in that obnoxious gold color with Haribo advertisement all over it. So, I took the plunge and bought some off-white paint that’s suitable for metal and rusty things.

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I started the process by cleaning the beach cruiser with a wet towel. Some of the filth and orange spray paint came off and it already looked nicer. Using a big paint brush I painted the whole thing in one go with an even (thin) layer of paint. I let it dry overnight and painted it with another layer the next day. The paint dripped on some places and it’s not perfect (as in, you can see it’s painted), but my attempt at painting it the best I could definitely paid off. It’s looking great and I absolutely love it.

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It’s kind of a daunting task and you’ll need some time and patience to complete it, but it’s so worth it! If you’re interested in painting your own bicycle, I bought the paint at a local (D.I.Y) store for around thirteen euros. If you’re ever bored of your bicycle or you’ve bought a second hand one, paint it a new color and it changes the whole thing!

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Happy Postcrossing!

” You’re in a store and looking at beautiful postcards that sadly no one seems to sent anymore. What kind of card would this person like? Artsy, graphic, photograph, funny or maybe serious? You’ve made your decision (grabbed that awesome artsy card) and later that day you sit down to drink a cup of tea and take out the card. Your ideas, your life, your experiences or advice, they all go down on the card. With the international stamp on it the card is ready to go and you send if off, filled with excitement. ”

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That’s usually how I feel about sending a postcard, internationally. And no, I don’t have friends or acquaintances all over the world. Well now I do, kind of. I’ve been postcrossing for almost two months now and I’m seriously loving it. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you already know that I love cards, because I wrote about it here and here. Yet, postcrossing is so much more than just sending cards. It’s about the process of choosing a card, writing a special note, sending it off on its journey all over the world. It’s also about looking in the mail box checking to see if any postcards have arrived. It’s about reading stories from people all over the world, seeing their handwriting, learning about their life and country. It’s about the excitement, anticipation, mystery and about feeling connected.

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Postcrossing is a website were, after you’ve created an account, you can ask for a random address. By viewing the profile attached to the given address you’ll learn a little bit about what kind of person he or she is, what country he/she is from, what kind of things he/she would like you to write about. Every postcard is labeled with a code. When you receive a postcard you register it on the website using that code. You can sent a digital ‘thank you’ message to the sender if you’d like. I felt kind of anxious to start this process, (you are giving away your address!), but I feel confident now in the website and process. When you sent a card to someone they don’t have your address (unless you write that on the card).

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So, what do I write on those cards? As much as possible. I like receiving cards that have a lot written on them, so I try to do the same. The profile of the receiver usually asks for something specific like something about my personal life, my country, a recipe, something written in my mother language (with translation), book recommendations, music recommendations etcetera. Surprise the reader with some extra’s like what the current weather is, what book your reading, a little quote or note, some beautiful stamps, some words or sentences in your own language. Be creative with it.

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Happy postcrossing! If you have any questions about postcrossing read the Frequently Asked Questions. If you’d like to talk to me about my experiences, leave a comment below!

Christmas Decorations around our House

Looking at my last couple of blogposts, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I absolutely love Christmas. I love to plan, organize and create delicious meals, outfits and decorations. I really do enjoy the weeks leading up to December the 25th! And now it’s almost here, because today is Christmas Eve. I’ll be spending my Christmas Eve at a Christmas Eve night service in a village nearby and I’m definitely looking forward to it. What about you? What are you Christmas Eve plans?

I thought about the content of this blogpost for a while and I decided I would give you a tour of my parents house and my room to show you all the decorations we’ve put up. We went with a red&white theme this year (we like to create a theme every year) and also decided that we would bring a bit of the outdoors inside to make it more natural.

So let’s start with our tree.

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Here’s the tree topper. It isn’t an official one, but it looks lovely. We used a ribbon with wire in it to create a big bow.

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And here are some decorations. As you can see most of them are red, white and grey. We used angels, hearts, stars, baubles and lights to decorate. Some decorations (like the stars and hearts) are from IKEA and others (like the painted ones) are really old and traditional.

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These are mine. I bought them in Denmark this year and I brought them home from college because I love looking at them and they make a nice decoration. I’ve named them Tomte and Nisse, which are the Danish and Swedish names for these House Elves. If you’re wondering what they’re sitting on, those are blankets.

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My mom made this side table look all festive and nice! I really like how she incorporated blue candles (from the Flying Tiger) with red and green. The branches are from a hedge in our garden. Don’t be afraid to use branches, or other items from nature. It really ties in this natural and bright decoration theme.

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This year I’m secretly a little obsessed with British Christmas traditions. And after reading about Christmas dinner at Hogwarts (Harry Potter, for you that don’t know) I decided I wanted to have Christmas crackers at our dinner as well. We’ll open them on Christmas day, but I thought it’d be fun to display them because they look festive and colorful.

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Here’s another way to use nature’s beauty for your Christmas decorations. All you will need is a glass cake stand (preferably with a cover), some moss, branches, pine cones and candle holders. Put hem on the cake stand, cover them up with the lid and there you go! Next to the cake stand we have our advent candle that shows which day it is (and with that the days that are left ‘till Christmas!).

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This is anise. It smells delicious, can be used for baking and looks, well, let’s say it looks interesting to say the least. I really love this decoration. Everytime I walk past it, I smell a really warm scent which I now associate with Christmas. You can use cinnamon, vanilla, tangerines or any other Christmas related food for a decoration like this.

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In our kitchen we kept it very simple with our decorations. We made a pile of our Christmas/December/Winter cookbooks, displayed some sticks tied together with a ribbon, hung our Christmas cards on the door and changed our regular cookie jar for a festive one.

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This little creation is sitting in our hallway. We used a big piece of a tree as a base and decorated it with a brown wreath, some Islandic moss, pine cones and tea lights.

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I found this little wreath at a second hand market and I decided to purchase it for one euro! I used the same ribbon as our Christmas tree topper to give the wreath some color. And lastly I added a festive bow for the finishing touch. It’s simple, it’s quite plain, but I really love it.

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You might recognize these from a couple of blogpost ago where I made them. These are our homemade clay decorations. We used a green garland to wrap around the bottom of the stairs and hung our ornaments on the branches. This is one of the first things you see when entering the house and I really think the clay ornaments give it a personal touch.

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I’m really excited to share these two creations with you. I purposely saved two glass jars from my birthday party in November. I took off the labels by washing them in the dishwasher. To make them into a decoration I added fake snow, two big tea lights, a red ribbon and a brown tag. With my new stamps I spelled out the words ‘Merry Christmas’. I wouldn’t recommend actually lighting the tea lights, as I don’t know how flammable the fake snow is, but they look awesome anyway.

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And last but not least here’s my own personal Christmas tree. I found this little one in our attic and decided it needed a second life. So, I cleaned it up and.. made my own paper garland for it. I used leftover paper from my homemade Christmas cards and some brown string. Using a glass as a measurement for the circles, I cut out the paper circles and folded them over to create ‘half circles’. I sew the red paper together with white thread and glued the patterned paper (which made the whole process a lot easier).

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas Cards 2013

So, I did a bit of brainstorming and I checked some websites to make sure and I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas is only fourteen days away! In fourteen days I’ll be eating a lovely dinner, listening to christmas music, celebrating the birth of Christ with my family. I can’t wait! I felt so festive this last week that I decided to do something with this positive energy and made my own Christmas cards.

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I’m not one to skip an opportunity to be festive, nor am I one to send the modern e-card. I love a good old postcard. I love how the paper smells and how excited it is to post it! I went into a craft store and bought some green, red, dark and light brown (almost cardboard) paper. I also added some gold and red sparkly ribbon and some patterned paper to my basket. I used my mom’s leftover buttons as a fun little extra.

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The fun of making your own Christmas cards is that there are no rules, no guidelines no obligations to be met. You can use whatever color, whatever material and whatever pattern you like. Make the card your own, give it your signature style, or just have fun making them and don’t worry about how they look. You’ll need some blank cards, some glue, a scissor, a pencil and your choice of materials to get started.

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This card is really easy to make. It’s a Christmas tree with a modern twist. Use two different kinds of paper (I chose one with a pattern to make it more fun) and cut them into strips. Create a Christmas tree by making the tree with a vertical strip of paper and the branches by horizontally placed bits of paper. I placed the horizontally bits kind of crooked to make it more playful.

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Sticking with the Christmas tree theme, here’s another example. Cut two triangles as shown in the picture above. Make sure one is a bit larger than the other. Us another color of paper to create the tree and use one, two or three buttons to create Christmas baubles. Place the baubles in the largest tree as the little one isn’t strong enough to carry them!

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I think this one is the most fun to make. Grab some buttons, choose four or three different ones you like and that kind of ‘go together’. Place them on the card in a way that you think looks good. Use a thin lined sharpie to create vertical stripes that connect the button with the top of the card. Glue the buttons onto the card and draw little bows. And you’re done!

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And finally here’s another example of a Christmas tree. For this card you’ll need two colors of paper and a button. Cut the paper that you’ll be using for the branches into strips from big to small. Cut a rectangle from the other color and place the bits of paper as shown in the photo above. Add a festive bow, button or sparkle at the top of the tree and there’s your card!

You can also write greetings or wishes on the front of the card. Add some glitter or sparkle to the trees. Write a message or your name in stamps on either the front of the back. Go with the flow, do whatever feels right! I wrote a message on the back of the card wishing my friends and family a merry christmas and a happy 2014!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

DIY Clay Christmas Ornaments

It’s December! Time for a cup of tea, some christmas music, cozy lights and.. a christmas tree filled with delightful ornaments. Even if you don’t have a tree put up yet, this blogpost will get you into the festive spirit in no time. So make some tea, and here’s what you’ll need to make your own ornaments form clay. My awesome friend, Emmelien, made this tea cozy for my birthday! I am so in love with it! Thank you, Emmelien! 

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You will need:

  • self-drying clay
  • rolling pin
  • transparant foil
  • cookie cutters
  • cocktail stick(s)
  • string or cord in the color of your choice
  • a flat surface (I used a cutting board)

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I found this self-drying clay at the local toy store for the awesome price of €1,99. I used about one third of the package for the ornaments. Sit down at a table and take out a bit of clay. Put the clay onto some foil and fold it (the clay is now ‘wrapped’ in between the foil). Take your rolling pin and roll as long as you need to give the clay an even and flat shape.

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When you’re satisfied with how thickness of the clay, carefully remove the foil. It’s important that the clay has no unevenness, no lines or cracks. Also make sure that the clay isn’t too thin, because that would increase the risk of the ornament breaking.

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Next comes the fun part! Take your cookie cutters, anyone will do, and press them down into the clay. I used all christmas related shapes, but you can go for whatever you prefer. When you’ve firmly pressed the cutters down in the clay, carefully remove them and take the figure out of the clay.

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Use your cocktail stick to make a hole. I made tiny holes because I used a small string for these ornaments. You can make the hole as big or as little as you’d like. This is also the part where you can make any changes or additions to the ornament. For example you can use the cocktail stick to give the ornament a texture or to add some glitter. I chose to keep them clean and simple.

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When the clay is up or you don’t want anymore ornaments it’s time to let them dry for a good while (I suggest overnight) on a flat surface. Remember that the clay pieces will dry in the way and shape they’re laying, so make sure they’re flat and even.

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When they’ve completely dried (you’ll see the color change from gray to white), add a festive ribbon or string to make them into ornaments. And then you’re done! You can hang them in a tree or give them as presents or use them as a decoration for your room! Happy December everyone!

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DIY: Fall & Winter Candle Holders

Who loves a good DIY? Well I hope you do because last sunday I made two fall/winter candle holders. Candles don’t have to be fancy. You can use tealights and normal holders to lighten up your house.

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You will need two small tea light holders to start this project. You’ll also need:

  • cinammonsticks
  • icelandic moss
  • two medium sized elastics
  • two ribbons
  • two tealights
  • scissors

And some time to complete this project!

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I had this DIY all planned out and I thought that I’d use double-sided tape to tape the cinnamon sticks and icelandic moss to the holders. That didn’t work. They just wouldn’t stick, but I couldn’t give up on it quite yet. So, with the lovely assistance of my mom, we figured out another way to make the items stick to the glass.

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We wrapped one elastic around the glass. As you can see the elastic needed to be wrapped around it twice to hold the cinnamon sticks to the glass.

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All you need to do is start adding cinnamon sticks all around the glass holder. Eventually the ribbon will go over the place where the elastic is, so keep that in mind when you place the elastic  (I’d say place it in the middle).

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When you’re done adding cinnamon sticks you can add either a bit of tissue paper, paper or, as you can see below, some Icelandic moss. This will be the bedding for your tea light. We don’t want the tea light to sit on the bottom of the holder, because we want to see its light. If you do, however, want the light to sit on the bottom, skip this step all together!

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As for (Icelandic) moss, you can get this at flourist or any other place where they sell plants. The thing with this kind of moss is, is that it needs to be wet when you use it. So either make it wet or buy it wet. When you’re done using it, it will dry up and keep its shape!

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For the finishing touch I added a nice ribbon (I wrapped it twice around the glass holder) and cut of the extra ribbon with an angle.

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The next holder is quite similar, expect that we’ll be using Icelandic moss instead of cinnamon sticks. So wrap your elastic around the holder and start adding moss.

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When you’re done adding moss, take some scissors and cut the moss to create the shape you prefer. Yes, you’re giving moss a haircut. How funny is that! 

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Add a ribbon in your preferred color and cut the ends in a nice diagonal angle to give it a great appearance.

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And you’re done! Aren’t they awesome? And you’ve made them yourself! If you don’t like/want to use cinnamon sticks or moss, you can exchange these items for leaves, sticks and bark.

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Have fun and enjoy your candles! If you make these be sure to send a picture to @CatieMcCartney on twitter!

 

DIY: Lemon Hand Scrub

From time to time I splurge on something. It might be a more expensive piece of clothing, a book, a gadget or a luxury item. Beauty luxury items are everywhere around us, sadly most of us can’t afford to buy them on a regular basis. That’s why I was so excited to find this ‘recipe’ for an awesome looking (and smelling) hand scrub that you can make yourself. This hand scrub, or the recipe for it, is all over the internet. So it’s not something new, but it was for me and it might be for you!

The benefit of making beauty products yourself are many. It’s a fun activity, it’s rewarding, it saves money (in most cases) and it makes for a great story/gift or… blogpost. So here it goes: a homemade lemon hand scrub.

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The ingredients:

1/4 virgin olive oil
3/4 white sugar
1 tbs lemon

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Measure each ingredient carefully. I used my new set (yes, this is one of those splurges) of ‘american’ measuring cups from the brand Joseph Joseph. Take a glass jar, mason jar or any other pot and clean it with water. Dry the jar and add the sugar, then the oil and finally (this is optional, but I would recommend it) the lemon.

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I used a freshly squeezed lemon, but you can also buy lemon juice at the grocery store. The lemon is optional but it transforms the hand scrub from an average handscrub to a delicious smelling one. And adds a little bit of extra ‘luxury’ to it.

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When you’re done adding the ingredients, all you’ll need to do is mix them together with a spoon and you’re done. Put a little bit between your hands, rub them together and your hands will get exfoliated. Be sure to wash and dry after using it and enjoy your smooth hands.

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