Saturday, 13 December 2014

The perfect present...

A gift that keeps on giving!

So, with just over a week until Christmas , If you haven't, like me, already finished your Christmas shopping: IT'S TIME TO PANIC!!!
I've come across this amazing new concept of gifting called
And I felt obliged to tell you all about it!

If you have a person that is particularly difficult to buy for, someone with discerning tastes...maybe they've already got "everything"...or there is someone you feel deserves something extra special and you are struggling to find the right present, this could be the answer!!

NOT ANOTHER BILL was set up  3 years ago by Ned Corbett-Winder, a self confessed Art and design addict, on the founding idea that:
"No-one gets anything good in the post anymore apart from bills and a few pizza menus. So in exchange for a fee, he’d send subscribers a surprise interesting package once a month to make them smile and brighten up their mailbox."

For Mr. Corbett-Winder this is all about curating, discovery and appreciation of craft and design...
...this benefits the subscribers by helping them discover great artists, designers and brands!!

So basically NOT ANOTHER BILL collaborate with up-and-coming and established brands, that you will not find on the high street, to create a monthly surprise package that will be delivered, beautifully wrapped and with a letter explaining the collaboration to the lucky recipient!

"Each month we work with a handful of exciting brands to bring the subscribers something exclusive and unique"

necklace from tatty devine
"You simply sign them up online, telling us about what type and style of presents they’d like to receive (as well as what their address is). Then each month we’ll send them a surprise present to match. What’s more, you can also add a personalized message to accompany the gift."

There are 12 categories of present types, and you can tick as many as you feel would be fitting for the person you are buying for, then NAB will send out a "collaboration" gift that most suits..
(If it doesn't, it can be returned for an exchange)

You choose how long a subscription you want to give: Prizes start at £24 for a single surprise present, £69 for 3 monthly surprises , £129 for 6 months and £229 for a year.
The way they work with brands means that you or the lucky recipient can expect to receive goods worth more than the subscription fee!
What's more: They ship world wide, so this would be perfect if you have family abroad, and there is no hidden postage and packaging charges!!

You can read more about how it works here!

Enamel "splatter" mugs


What really made me sit up and take notice of NOT ANOTHER BILL was the quality of the gifts offered! It changes each month, but with previous collaborations with brands like TOM DIXON, FERM LIVING, HOUSE DOCTOR and FALCON ENAMEL, as well as unusual and unique gifts from lesser known, up-and-coming brands and designers/makers , the standard is set very high!!

brass letter holders from ferm living

Ned Corbett-Winder's background in design is evident in his choice of collaborations ...and what particularly appeals to me is that he has his finger on the pulse regarding all things design and his obvious love affair with contemporary Scandinavian design

There is something for everyone to like! Well, maybe not for the chintzy grandma with a penchant for doilies and porcelain dogs, but most certainly for anyone remotely interested in design:
It is not just a gift (or 3...or 6...or 12!!) It is an introduction to the world of design and beauty!!

Plant mister

From the useful for the gardener...
Papero space shuttle paper building set
Something fun for him...

Copper candlestand
...Something Luxurious for the home

HAM bouncing rabbit prints
Something cool for the kids...

Italian Lunch bag
Something for grandad to keep his lunch in...

Hexagon necklace
Jewelry for her...

Bohemia scarf
Or a cool scarf for mum....

The fun thing is, that you never know what's going to pop into the letterbox next...just make sure you select the right preferences to avoid disappointment.

If you would like to give an actual physical gift to someone, so they've got something under the tree, before the subscriptions start, there is also the option of The deluxe subscription gift box, where the recipient will get a welcome pack with a brass gift token and gift code, so that they can select their own preferences on the website. Order before the 21st December to get delivery in time for Christmas!

There is even a specific guide to create a personal Christmas subscription, and if you are still unsure of the whole gift subscription thing, you can always visit their shop for an extensive range of gifts that you would not find on the high street....even if it is for yourself!!:)

This one's high on my wish list:
Copper mirror from House Doctor

Ps! Who says it's gotta be a gift to someone else?? Why not put in a subscription for yourself, and receive a little surprise in the post every month....NOT JUST ANOTHER BILL!! 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Himmeli tree decorations DIY

A novice guide

In keeping with the Nordic feel of my Christmas decor this year, I thought I'd try my hand at making some Himmeli decorations for our tree!
Himmeli is basically making geometric shapes using hollow tubes. It is a Christmas craft stemming from Finland where people traditionally make them out of grass straws, but any type of hollow tubes will do: Brass tubes look especially nice, but for this tutorial I have just used some cocktail straws.

Himmeli can be as simple or as intricate as you'd like, and they can look like they are very complicated to make....But really it is very easy....Once you get started and get an understanding of the basics, you will see what I mean.

So today I am showing you how to get started with some basic shapes...learn with me:

All you'll need to get started is some string (or bakers twine) , some tubes: I used cocktail straws, some scissors and possibly a needle!
 It looks more difficult than it really is, and I will try my best to explain the steps in a simple way...Please use the pictures as guidance!

Lets start with a simple triangular shape:

1: Cut up some straws into 6 equally long pieces.
2: Thread 3 pieces of straw onto your sting and tie together to create a triangle.
NOTE: I didn't cut the string off my roll, and kept the string long on each side of the triangle!
3: Add another 2 pieces of straw, to create a double triangle shape (as shown in the picture above).
thread the string back through one of the straws, then add the last piece of straw....Pull together to create the 3D himmeli shape.
4: Create a hoop of sting for hanging at the top of your triangular himmeli decorations, then tie off any loose ends.

OK! So now you've probably realized that this is really not that tricky!!
From this basic shape, you can expand to create more intricate geometric forms with your straws...
...Like this more cubical/diamond form, using 12 pieces of straw:

1: Make a triple triangle shape by threading equal sized pieces of straws onto your string. To do this, just keep threading the string back through the straws to end up where you need to attach the next piece. Remember to keep the string long on both ends. When you've created the triple triangle shape, add another piece of straw at the end, as shown in picture 1 above.
2: Pull the string together to form the 3D shape.
3: Now is a good time to make a hoop in your string, for hanging your himmeli decoration...
...Then add another 2 pieces of straw. Then thread your string through the straw at the bottom, to end up at the side (I am doing my best to explain this in words, but you will work out what I mean as you do it :) I promise!!)
4: Then add another piece of straw, before connecting it in the space between the last two pieces by tying or twirling the string around.
5: add the last piece of straw then tie it off.

Now, you may find that there is an end bit of string hanging down from the bottom of your himmeli decoration. You can of course just snip this off, but why not use it to add some beads:

Not only does this look very nice, but If you are using plastic straws, like me, it also helps weigh your decorations a bit, helping them hang straight on the tree.
I had a few wooden beads left over from making my easy beady tree decorations in my previous post, so I used them...this way my himmeli decorations match!!

Once you have tried your hands on creating these basic himmeli shapes, you'll probably be ready to experiment a bit with the shapes.
Why not use different lengths of straw, like this long diamond shaped one below:

1: Cut 3 different lengths of straw, 3 of each size.
2,3 & 4: Using the same methods as described above, create an long diamond shape. Remember to create a hoop with the string at the top!

Then maybe add some beads at the end...??

Now, I must admit: Using cocktail straws doesn't make for the prettiest of ornaments, but it is an easy and inexpensive way to start experimenting making himmeli decorations.
I have got myself some brass tubing, that I plan to make some more with (using wire instead of string). I will show you how they turn out later!
But playing around with the plastic straws, I could afford to try my hand at more complicated himmeli shapes,like the one below:

For this one I used 12 equally long pieces of straw, 1 slightly longer length piece of straw for the center and 6 pieces that I cut to size at stage 5.
1: Start with your longer center piece, then add 2 and 2 pieces to create triangles on both sides.
2,3 & 4: : Keep adding these, by threading and re-threading the string through your center piece, until you've got 6 triangles coming out from the center...
5: Make sure your string ends up in the bend of triangle number 6, then roughly measure by eye how long the next 6 pieces of straw will need to be, to fit in between each triangle. Cut to size.
Then add these between each bend of the triangles all around... 

Again , I added some beads...

It really is just a matter of experimenting with different shapes...the possibilities are endless...
There are some great tutorials on pinterest on how to create different shapes, but also how to use this technique to make mobiles and lampshades and all sorts of other projects, not just tree decorations!
I really want to try my hand at making one of these beautiful mobiles at some point....but I think I need to practice a bit more with my cocktail straws before I'm ready for that!!! LOL!!

Anyway, for my first attempt at himmeli, I don't feel like I did too bad:

I've learnt a new skill, and created a few unique Christmas tree decorations in the process... I'm ready to advance to using brass tubing!!
I can't wait to show you guys!

But I really need to turn my attention to presents for Christmas now! Most of you have probably finished your Christmas shopping by now, but I am as always, still not done...
Every year, about this time, I keep repeating this mantra: DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC!....And do you know what?? It always comes together in the end!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Easy beady tree decorations DIY

Is it just me, or does the weeks leading up to Christmas always seem to get shorter and shorter??
I always find that there is just not enough time in the month of December!
OK, so I , like most people have a long list of things to get done before the holidays, getting presents, , sorting out food and decorating the house....but I always try to enjoy myself a bit as well: Spending some quality time with friends and family + some fun activity's with Little Miss Moo...
So last Sunday we made some gingerbread cookies, lit the second candle of advent and spent an hour making these cute and easy beady Christmas tree decorations...

We used some wooden beads in various sizes from Hobbycraft and some string.
Some of the beads I painted with acrylic craft paint

I also spray painted some with Copper spray paint

Then me and little Miss Moo strung about 7-8 beads of different sizes up.... various combinations...

Making sure to create a loop at the top for hanging

Simple, but pretty....and very quick and easy to make!
So why don't you stop rushing around for a hour, make yourself a cup of tea, put some Christmassy music on and sit down with your children and make some of these...

These are the moments memories are made of...