Thursday, 21 November 2013

DIY Hogwarts Letter (Studio Tour gift pack)

Like loads of people my age I've been a fan of the Harry Potter books (and films) ever since I was young and I've grown up in awe of the 'wizarding world' created by JK Rowling. My boyfriend is an even more avid fan than I am so, as a present for his birthday, I bought tickets for us to visit the Studio Tour down near Watford.

Unfortunately the gift 'presentation pack' left me a little underwhelmed - surely the most obvious (and exciting) gift would be a letter from Hogwarts? Or, at the very least, it'd be nice to have something that wouldn't look out of place on a wizard's mantelpiece!

So before I handed the tickets over, I set to work on a slightly more exciting gift package.

My version of a letter from Hogwarts; an invitation to the Wizarding World

Here's my version of a Hogwarts letter, complete with booking details on an added square of parchment. Because Matt's not eleven (and not a wizard) I created it as an invitation from Albus Dumbledore to visit the Wizarding World and tour the 'grounds and facilities' of the school (as well as other destinations).

My first thought was that it should be on thick cartridge paper, and my second thought was that it shouldn't be standard A4-sized - because why would wizards use A4 paper? :) So I created my design with very thick margins and trimmed the paper once it was printed, to make a long, thin letter. I was then able to fold it into thirds, around the tickets (still inside their paper gift wallet), and then work out an envelope/wallet to keep it all together.

I was originally going to just tie the letter with string, but it felt a little too loose - and the last thing I wanted was to lose the tickets! So I fashioned a wallet from some dark red leather-effect card that I'd used for another project.

I think the final packet came together quite effectively and I'm actually quite pleased with how it turned out! The distress ink worked well on the leatherette card too, picking out all the raised features and making it look a bit aged.

The most taxing part, though, was the wax seal. I had - rather ambitiously - decided I wanted to seal it with the Hogwarts crest. Which is fine if you have a wax stamp with the crest on it! But I had to improvise...

I made this by taping a black-and-white version of the crest onto a block of wood and drilling in at key points. Through a combination of drill bits and files, I managed to make a shape that vaguely resembled the crest.

I said before that it was ambitious, but I think even that might be an understatement! It did take me a while, and it was very fiddly! Once I'd finished it, and before using the wax, I sealed the block with some clear spray paint - very important if you don't want the wax getting stuck in the wood...

Using a small stick of sealing wax turned out to be harder than I expected, because by the time I'd dripped enough wax for the seal, the first drips had started drying (hence some of the areas only have light indentations). It took a couple of attempts before I was happy with the result (by which time I'd almost run out of wax!).

If I did it again, I would either go for a simpler shape, or find some sort of CAD carving equipment (I'm sure something must exist!) - Or I suppose I could fork out for an official wax seal stamp from Warner Bros... :) But I think I quite like the hand-made feel to it, and it was fun to give it a go!

But, anyway, let me know what you think - And let me know if you've been to the Studio Tour & what you thought (Matt and I loved it)! :)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Woah it's mid-November - How'd that happen?!

This year has gone crazy-quick. I seem to be saying this a lot of late, but there's something about this year that has just been way quicker than all the other previous years! Maybe it's just me, but I still feel like we should be winding down to the August bank holidays, not cosying up in the dark evenings with only half a month until December!

That said though - I am getting super excited for Christmas now! Matt and I picked out our advent calendars yesterday while we were food shopping, and I keep seeing them on our bookshelf and getting excited! (I want to open them now!)

We've got so much planned between now and Christmas, including two weekend breaks and lots of time with family and friends. We've both managed to get some days off work before & after the Big Day too, so there's plenty to look forward to.

Who else is looking forward to the festive season? Or am I getting a bit over-enthusiastic a bit too early..? I have a feeling that maybe I am... :)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Grow little sunflower, grow

I planted three sunflower seeds on the May Day Bank Holiday a couple of weeks ago and noticed today they're just starting to sprout! This is the first time I've ever planted a sunflower so (even though this might be slightly sad of me) I'm kind of excited to see how tall it will grow :)

My sister has a matching pot that I planted at the same time so we're having a bit of a race... Hers are winning at the moment, they sprouted about three or four days ago so mine have a bit of catching up to do...

Amelia xx

Friday, 10 May 2013

Taking my new cup on an outing

I bought the cutest coffee cup over the Bank Holiday weekend, it's plastic with a silicone heat protector/gripper for holding it. I've been wanting one for a while but never saw one which caught my eye... Until I saw this one while queuing at Primark! It's covered in cute kawaii food and other objects and it makes me smile early in the morning when I'm rushing to work :-)
I've got a meeting in London today so my little cup is coming with me on its first proper outing. Here's a pic of it chilling on the train...

Amelia xx

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

On the train

My car's been out of action the past couple of weeks. Well actually, technically, it's my boyfriend's car that's been out of action - meaning he's been using my car to get to work and I've been taking the train.

I must say it's quite nice not to have to drive... But the gruelling 40min uphill power-walk to work after the train more than makes up for the relaxing train ride to start with.

Let's just say I'm really quite excited that he's picking up his new car tonight so I can have my beloved Daisy back :) (yes- I've named my car, don't judge me!)

Amelia xx

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A postcard from 100 years ago

I spotted this in a charity shop last week and bought it for 50p. It's a postcard sent over 100 years ago, in 1912, and the little story it contains is just adorable.

"Dear Alice,
Another view for your album. I hope you will have a pleasant time for your Easter holiday, the weather is very nice indeed at present. Owing to the coal strike we are unable to get away for Easter, yours most sincerely Jim"

At least I think it says Jim, it took a while to decipher the handwriting!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I found it :)

Amelia xx

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Happy St George's Day for yesterday!

I've had a busy week last week. I can't even remember most of what I've been up to! But I'll make sure to add a few updates soon. In the meantime, have a look at the lovely roast dinner I cooked last night (I'm starting to get the hang of it now, I think that was my fourth roast chicken - how grown up of me!)

Amelia xx

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Sending good luck in the mail

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially when you really really want the job. My sister Emily has a job interview soon that she's rather nervous about, so I thought I would put my new shamrock cookie cutters to work and send her some luck-shaped baked goodness to help her on her way...
It was my first attempt at royal icing and it came out better than I expected!

Amelia xx

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Shopping for vintage things!

I went shopping for vintage bits a couple of weeks ago (I think I mentioned in my Felixstowe post at the time) and I thought I'd show you what I found and do a mini 'haul' post!

My favourite piece for the day was the lovely wooden sewing box, complete with vintage sewing ephemera which I was surprised to discover once I'd bought it!

I also picked up a couple of cute cookie cutters; a clover/shamrock and a teacup. I get slightly over-excited about cookie cutters. I'm not sure why. But I feel the need to keep collecting new shapes and sizes to add to my collection!

Another slightly random purchase was a couple of drawer/cupboard ring pulls. I think I was drawn to these because my parents used to have an old record cabinet in their living room with similar handles on. I'm not sure what I'll use these on yet but I'm sure I'll come up with something!

The last two purchases are just pretty and don't really have a story behind them. I've been wanting a suitcase/trunk for storage for ages and found this one in TK Maxx (so not exactly an antique!), and I just fell in love with the cake stand; hopefully planning to use as craft storage but haven't quite worked it out yet!

Amelia xx

Friday, 29 March 2013

Mutant Haribo??

Tucking into some Haribo Goldbears I came across this - the freakiest looking bear I've ever seen. The poor thing. Green is also a rather unfortunate colour for it too. (But it still tasted just as good!)

Have you ever come across a mutant treat in a pack of sweets? (Or anything else for that matter) And did you decide to eat it or keep it - or send it back to the company hoping for a free pack??

Amelia xx

Monday, 25 March 2013


Follow my blog with Bloglovin
So, I've signed this blog up to bloglovin as that's the service I use to keep up to date with some of my favourite blogs. I'm still trying to find an RSS feed reader that I get on with - anybody got any recommendations now that Google Reader is going down the pan?

Amelia xx

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Off to the postbox with a small batch of letters

These were actually last week's deliveries but it's taken me a while to get round to blurring the address out (I know it doesn't take much effort but I got there eventually!)
These are sadly relatively plain as my craft room is still in turmoil, but I'd found a gorgeous letter set that I couldn't wait to use. I love all the special delivery stickers and faux-airmail envelopes; it came with some quirky squared paper for writing the actual letter too.

I've popped these in the postbox with quite some excitement as it's been a while since I've sent some proper mail. Hopefully my next batch will be a little more decorative!

Amelia xx

Spring has most definitely NOT sprung

It seems my post on Thursday was a little preemptive - I predicted the start of spring and it's been snowing on and off since!

It started to melt a little today so we went on a (very very cold) walk. It was sunny, so everything looked nice and bright, but there was a biting wind and I'd forgotten my gloves and hat! I must say I was glad to get back inside in the warm!

Amelia xx

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Lunch break treats

I came across these gorgeous Mini Creme Egg cupcakes and just had to buy one! And a vanilla frappe to go with it of course!
I've brought them back to my office and I'm starting to see a hint of blue sky through the window... Could it be that spring is finally on its way??

Amelia xx

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

My craft room: Part Three

Update on the chair: it's finished!
It took a fair amount of elbow grease (and many, many wasted staples) but I got there in the end, thanks to a lot of help from Matt. We had a struggle with the back piece and couldn't get the plastic back off. So we ended up stapling as close as we could to the plastic shell and tucking it all underneath. As a result I was expecting it to end up very messy - but was pleasantly surprised. It won't win any beauty contests or any prizes for perfection, but it's mine and I love it.

Amelia xx

Weekend away to Felixstowe

I had a lovely, lovely weekend. Matt and I went to the beach! The weather was awful, with a biting cold wind (so we didnt actually make it to the beach) but I had a really wonderful time.

We went for brunch on the sea front; I had a bagel with smoked salmon and poached eggs (divine) and a Movenpick vanilla ice cream milkshake (best milkshake of my life). Matt had homemade mushroom soup which was delicious (and I don't normally 'do' mushroom soup).

After braving it back out in the cold we went to a few little boutiques and vintage shops. I picked up a gorgeous little sewing box with some vintage bits in, as well as a couple of cute cookie cutters. I'll do a separate post on those later.

Later on, in the evening, we went out for a meal with some of Matt's family. I really enjoyed the weekend despite the weather and it seems a shame to get back to normality!

Amelia xx

Monday, 11 March 2013

Five is the magic number (or at least it is for Royal Mail...)

My sister sent me a Lego man.

To be precise, it was a little collectible mini-figure in an orange packet and I loved it!

Unfortunately, while it fitted inside the small envelope with her letter, it was more than 5mm thick; so it didn't count as a standard letter, it counted as a 'large letter', which takes a special stamp and costs 11p more. My sister hadn't realised this and had posted it with a normal stamp, so they kept it at the post office - where I picked it up and paid a £1 admin charge (as well as the extra 11p).

I don't really mind, as that's just the way the system works and they have to draw the line somewhere (and my sister wasn't to know so I don't blame her in the slightest... plus it was fun receiving a special package!) - but it got me thinking... Just how much can I send with a standard stamp?

What kind of things can I find that are 5mm (or less) thick?

I think I feel a challenge coming on!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

NOTD: Duck egg shell nails

I've seen these speckled nail varnishes floating around on blogs for a while and - if I'm completely honest - have never been that keen on them.
But then when I popped into Boyes a few weeks ago I saw this cheap W7 Salt n Pepper nail polish and thought I might as well give it a try for under £2.
I tried it on my toenails, as a top coat over a pastel blue (I was fully expecting it to look awful so I thought at least it would be hidden inside my shoes!)... But I'm amazed to admit I actually quite like it!
I'm not sure if it will ever be a staple in my nail collection, but it's nice for something different once in a while.
On a side note about W7 too, I was quite impressed by the texture of the polish and it didn't feel too cheap as I was applying it. Will definitely be keeping a closer eye on W7 in the future!

My craft room: Part Two

I've been busy over the last week, sorting out all my paper and ribbon and glue and glitter, trying to organise all my crafty bits and bobs into some sort of logical order. It's a lot more work and effort than I thought!
But in the meantime, I've also been cleaning and reupholstering a second-hand office chair (which my parents have had since before the beginning of time) using some gorgeous spotty fabric that I'd forgotten I had.
I'm halfway through now, with just the back panel left to re-cover. It was hard work (and there may have been a few expletives aimed at the staple gun which only worked approx. 40 per cent of the time) but my lovely boyfriend stepped in and gave me an extra pair of much needed hands. I think it looks good so far and I'm looking forward to seeing it pride of place in the new room!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How d'ya like them apples

My boyfriend bought me this as a random gift and I love it! I was a little confused at first, but it's basically little notelets that look like apple slices, and when you fold it out it looks like an apple!
What can I say, I'm easily amused...

Thursday, 14 February 2013

NOTD - Valentines Day nails

I painted my nails red and sparkly on Saturday for a night out with the girls. It was starting to get chipped and I wanted to rejuvenate it for Valentines Day, so here is what I came up with:

I used a heart shaped hole punch and sticky address label to make heart shapes, which I stuck on the nails to protect the red sparkles underneath - then painted my black nail polish over the top (Nails Inc Black Cab).

If you're trying it yourself I'd recommend having the heart overlapping the edge of your nail so you can peel it off easily :)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

My craft room: Part One

I haven't been able to do much crafting/creating recently as I still need to set up and organise my craft room... Which seems a bit of a chore!

My stuff is all packed away, including my sketch books and even my pencils - so all I can use atm is my phone and my old laptop.

The new furniture is in place, I just need to figure out the best way to organise it... If you have any tips for me (or examples of your own crafting storage??), I would love to hear from you!

Here are a few pics.

Pancake day!!

It's Shrove Tuesday today, and I've been waiting (not so) patiently all day to get my hands on some pancakes! I got a bit carried away with the excitement so didn't take any photos, but here's a quick shot of the aftermath...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Look what arrived in my office at work...

Yum! This box of Fancie cupcakes arrived in the office today! We had a Victoria, a MintChoc, as well as a chocolate and raspberry one, a peanut butter one, a caramel one and ... I can't remember what the sixth one was.

For some reason I really fancied some mint choc flavour so I pounced on the bright green icing. The others were gone within seconds. The cake was delicious!! And I would highly recommend. They've won quite a few awards and I reckon those awards are pretty well deserved.

You can check them out at and they're also on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Love is in the air: pre-inked stamps (for love notes?)

These have been around for a while, but I've only just come across these Love Heart stamps by SuckUK.

You can buy these from between £5 and £9 (£7.50 on SuckUK's website). This 3-in-1 stamp lets you stamp your own Love Hearts anywhere and everywhere you like (I'm planning on attacking post-its, my calendar, people's faces...)

The three messages read 'call me', 'love you' and 'smile'. I'm not sure how much use I'd get out of the 'call me' stamp, but I think the others are quite sweet.

I think these would be cute on little notes, maybe to jazz up the 'please could you put some washing in' or 'please remember to feed the cat' notes and take the edge off the nagging tone..? :)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Cheap earrings and sensitive ears: is clear nail polish the answer?

I have a long-running love/hate relationship with cheap earrings. They lure me in with their prettiness and sparkles and then ATTACK my earlobes from the inside and make me feel like my ears are about to fall off.

But I recently heard there's a solution to all this madness, in the form of clear nail varnish. Apparently if you coat the post/hook of the earring with clear nail polish, it protects your ear from the metal underneath. I was amazed that I hadn't heard about this before as it could be the answer to all my (admittedly only earring-related) problems! So naturally I had to try this out for myself.

The method
I took the nearest clear nail varnish, which turned out to be my Sally Hansen hydrating base coat, removed as much as I could from the brush, and painted a thin layer on the hooks of my earrings. It dried pretty quickly as it was such a thin coat, but I propped them up on a clean coaster for a while just to make sure. I rubbed them with my finger to make sure there weren't any sharp bits, then I tried them in my ears later that night.

The results
Normally if I put non-gold earrings in, they start aching immediately and become unbearable after about 10 minutes. With these earrings, I didn't feel anything for about an hour, and then my left ear started aching (but nowhere near as much as normal). The right ear was still fine, but I took both of them out at this point as I was out in public and didn't want my ear jewellery to be lopsided!

The conclusion
I've decided the most logical explanation is I could have missed a small bit on one of the earrings. That's the difficulty of clear nail polish!

But the results were certainly interesting and I think I might follow up this experiment with a second coat of polish and test it out in the safety of my own home (where jewellery lopsided-ness is less of an issue).