Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Teacher gifts: first time jitters

This is the first Christmas that we've had a child in full time school and the dilema of what to offer as a seasonal gift that was likely to be appreciated but also simple and appropriate hit us for the first time. Blog-land provided the answer though. There are so many amazing posts out there with ideas and suggestions, and suitably inspired we got to work.

One afternoon of baking with the kids resulted in a nice big batch of gingerbread stars and trees (and several unidentifiable shapes), some for us and some for gifts. Actually, the ones that I made we decided to use for gifts and the kids creations we thought might be better suited for our own consumption. We all had fun making them though.

After letting the kids ice theirs I decided that the ones to be given as gifts might need adult-only attention, so last night once the kids were asleep I got busy with a bit of white icing. Keeping it simple seemed to be the way forward, not least because Midi has two teachers and a teaching assistant so there were quite a few biscuits to get through.

The final question was one of presentation. One of the homewares shops in my local town came up trumps with some fantastic flp-lid jars which were not only reasonably price but had red lids too! How much more seasonal can you get?

Add a bit of ribbon and a gift tag and they're good to go! Midi was most excited going into school with her first two to give away this morning. Seasonal teacher gifts sorted! (And another new parental challenge completed.)

Monday, 10 December 2012

The sticky jewellery organiser - a tutorial

It's been a while, hasn't it? It's been a mad year, what with a sick father, a new toddler and a new business. I'm going to forgive myself for not being here more often. I'm also not going to commit myself to being here more often again, but I'm glad I kept this place, because today I finally got round to a craft project I've been wanting to take on for a while and I'd also like to share it.

Here is the twiggy necklace organiser, or the rustic jewellery display shelf, or, well, I don't really have a name for it but here it is:

We've needed something to help organise our jewellery for a while and I've seen things similar to this online so when we had to give our big hazel a trim last month I kept a branch or two aside with this in mind.

Here's the how to:

Collect your sticks! You need a larger piece for the base (mine was about 1.5" thick and 18" long) and a selection of smaller twigs that will become the hooks.

Take a good look at your smaller twigs. Ideally they will all be a similar width. You'll need to have access to a drill bit suitable for wood that is almost exactly the same size as them. If you can't find a precise match then go for one that is ever so slightly smaller. Too big and your twigs will just fall right out the holes (unless you use a ton of wood glue).

Drill holes at a slight angle at intervals all along your base stick. You need the same number of holes as you have twigs, surprisingly enough. Each hole should go about half an inch deep into your base stick.
At each end of your stick you need to drill the holes that you will use to secure your hanging rail to the wall when it's finished. These need to be drilled stright through the base stick, not at an angle, and they need to go all the way through. (I forgot to photograph them, but you basically need one hole at each end, about 1" in.)

Once all your holes have been drilled, push the twigs into all of them apart from the ones for hanging at each end. They should be quite a snug fit. If they are loose, you might need to use some wood glue to secure them. If any of your twigs are too large to fit in the holes then you can whittle a little off the end to make them fit.

Once all your holes are filled with twigs, and glued should you feel the need, you're all done!
To hang (again, I didn't photograph this part) simply screw a screw through each of the holes you left at the ends until they protrude slightly out the back of the stick. Press the completed hanger against the wall, hard enough that the screw tips leave slight indentations in the wall. Use these as guides to drill into the wall using whatever drill bit is appropriate for your wall type and insert the right kind of plugs before screwing the hanging screws into the wall. If you're hanging it directly onto wood you can just screw straight into it.
And there you have it. One jewellery hanger that looks great, is completely free and took less than an hour to create.
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