Friday, 30 January 2015

Dreaming of the beach - Coastal touches for the home

If you've been on Pinterest lately you would have seen me pinning lots of beach style decor. There are so many ideas out there from beach huts, shells, ocean scene pictures, ropes, to inspire a coastal look in any room. 

When we moved into our house we wanted to update many rooms including the downstairs bathroom, The suite was a simple white and fairly new but the floor and tiles were not to our taste. We purchased some pearlesant tiles in creamy tones, painted the bathroom a neutral colour and my husband made a built in cupboard under the sink to house cleaners and toilet rolls. The bathroom also had this nasty plastic rimmed mirror that had certainly seen better days! We thought we could easily transform the mirror using shells, so with a huge selection of shells, bought and sourced from the beach, I set to work hot gluing them all on. The plastic frame was completely covered and the mirror went back up.

I used my flash so you could really see the shells, but it doesn't do any justice to how pretty the wall tiles are. The plastic frame was pretty big as you can see by the amount of shells used. We replaced the light fitting and blind and left the bathroom like that. It has always felt though that something was missing. Taking inspiration from my shell mirror I decided to give the room a beach makeover!

I purchased a new towel rail and toilet roll holder, a soap dispenser, and some little decorative touches. I also wanted to add my personal stamp to the room, so set about making some decor for the walls and overhauling a vase.

Firstly I took the vase that I have had sitting in the bathroom for what seems like forever, and decided to change it's look completely.

There was nothing wrong with this vase and I wanted to keep the willow to put back into it once I was finished, however, the gold colour was just not what I wanted for the room anymore.

Firstly I spray painted the vase with an off white to act like a primer. I just did one thin coat.

This made the surface perfect for painting with acrylics. I didn't have the exact colour I wanted, so I mixed some light antique white and periwinkle blue and painted the first coat.

Whilst I liked the blue, it wasn't screaming beachy to me! So for my second coat I added some metallic champagne gold. The sheen of this paint reminds me of shells.

You can really see the sheen that the paint gives off. So shell like! Lastly, to smooth the finish, I mixed the gold colour with some water to create a wash which I covered the whole vase in.

I decided to embellish the vase with a small off white wooden starfish I found. I just glued this to the front with some all purpose adhesive. 

I decided the accessories should be fairly neutral in colour with just a slight pop of greenish blue to create a calm space.

I have hundreds of candles dotted about my house as well as plenty housed in a cupboard. A couple of these were begging for a change of scene and makeover so who was I to refuse?!

I found an absolute bargain lantern in Butlers for £2.50 which I filled with a white pillar candle surrounded by shells.

Since taking this photo I have added more shells to the lantern as it looked a little sparse.

I also had a large candle in a tall glass which I had always had trouble placing in my living room. The muted greens and blues were perfect for the bathroom however, and I gave it a beachy makeover by hot gluing a shell to the front and tying raffia around it. Totally pinched from pictures I have seen on Pinterest!

The colours of this candle inspired the remaining pieces of decor I wanted to create.

I love painting, I'm not very good, but there is something so calming and enjoyable about painting. I had a small hut shaped canvas that I decided to paint to look like a beach hut and also a bunch of different shaped canvas panels that I wanted to turn into a beach type scene. I kept it simple rather than getting too artistic. I chose 3 colours and 3 panels. I used a muted green/blue to represent the sea and sky, along with the champagne gold and light antique white I had used on the vase to create the sand. It may not look like much but it compliments well with the rest of the room.

You can imagine it's a beach right? It's what I keep telling myself anyway!

Finally, I had seen in a shop a heart made out of driftwood and stones. I really liked it and decided to make something similar.

I had once owned a skirt which had all these shells sewn onto the hem. The shells had started to come off and I just could not be bothered to sew them back on, but I kept them just in case! The skirt is long gone but the shells are still here just begging to be made into something new! Each shell had 2 holes drilled into it, so I got some jewellery wire and threaded them onto a length.

I knotted the ends of the wire together and made a loose heart shape from some cardboard. I used a cereal box for this. I then hot glued the wired shells onto the cardboard creating the shape.

I used some jute string and wrapped this around the shells to cover up any bits of cardboard showing but also to add a bit of interest. However, when I had finished this, the heart shape had got lost.

When I held it up to hang it became a round, not the look I was after at all. I almost gave up on the idea when I remembered I had some shells left over from my other project.

I cut some more cardboard for the top to give it a more pronounced heart shape and hot glued some varying shells to the top. I left the bottom as is so not to swamp it.

These added shells defined the shape and made it look far more beachy and interesting than before. The additional cardboard also gave the wreath more structure and strength.  All that is left now to do is hang, drill holes, sand and paint and it will all be done!

I am hoping to share the updated bathroom with you next week though blogging will take a bit of a backseat as the hubby and I have a well earned mini break away! I can't wait for that!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Oranges and Lemons - Mini muffins

Happy hump day! Is it horrible where you are? It's been rainy and windy here today but the sun is trying to shine! It's still pretty windy though! So basically it's cold and damp and I really need some warmth and sunshine about now! As that is looking pretty unlikely right about now (especially for the lovely people suffering with the horrendous snow storms!)

So to try and bring a little sunshine to at least our taste buds, I'm sharing this easy recipe for Orange and Lemon mini muffins.

They are tiny little mouthfuls of sunshine and the glaze adds a lovely sweetness to each bite.

Mmm, sweet glaze!

I can be lady like and stretch to at least two bites!

Orange and Lemon Mini Muffins
Makes 24


1/2 cup butter 
1/2 cup golden granulated sugar
1 medium to large egg
Rind of half an orange
Rind of half a lemon (I used a whole lemon as it was quite small)
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt

For glaze (optional)

Juice of half an orange
Juice of half a lemon (again I used a whole lemon as it was small)
2/3rds cup Icing sugar

For the muffins

Take a 24 hole mini muffin pan and spray each cavity with cake release spray.
Pre heat your oven to 180'c or 350'f.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add in the egg and mix well.
Add the rind of both the orange and the lemon and give a quick stir.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be quite thick.
Finally add the Greek yogurt and again mix until just incorporated. Spoon into the tray filling each cavity about 2/3rds. 
Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes (mine took about 18 minutes), until they are golden brown, spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave to completely cool before adding the glaze.

Glaze method

Add the orange and lemon juices to a small bowl. Add in the icing sugar and stir into fully incorporated. The glaze will be a little runny. You can add more sugar if desired to make more of a glace icing.
Gently spoon some of the glaze over each muffin letting it drip down the sides and pool at the bottom.

There you have it! Quick, easy, not too naughty as they are bite sized and perfect with a warm drink.

I'm off for a nibble! Have a great day!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Soft and delicious no egg Brownies

Do you ever get in the mood just to bake and then realise you don't have all the ingredients you need to make the thing you are craving and it's cold and late and you just can't face the shops? Well that was me a few nights ago. I was sitting at home after having a lovely dinner and thought some brownies would be a nice way to round off the evening.  So I looked through my favourite book by The Hummingbird bakery to see what I would need to make their brownies. A really simple recipe with eggs, flour, chocolate, butter, and sugar, except I didn't have any eggs (the family had used them up that morning having poached eggs) and I hardly had any chocolate left thanks to already using some in another recipe. Urgh! 

I didn't relish the idea of heading to the shops late in the evening so decided to look around my kitchen to see what I could substitute. What I made by tweaking the original recipe were very very soft, fudgey brownies with flaky tops. These were certainly softer, almost fudge like in texture, not the same as a traditional brownie, but the taste was sweet, chocolaty and moreish!

Oh so good!

You can order the Hummingbird bakery book here which holds the original recipe. My recipe is shown below adapted with different ingredients.


75g Dark chocolate chips
125g Nutella chocolate spread (about 2 heaping tablespoons)
175g butter or spread
165g caster or granulated sugar
130g plain flour
1 or 2 ripe bananas depending on whether you mind a slight banana taste to your brownies
Handful of walnuts (optional)
Icing sugar to dust


Preheat oven to 170'C (325'F) Gas Mark 3. I used a special brownie tin to make these but you can use a sheet pan and cut the brownies once cooked. I sprayed the pan with cake release spray before adding the mix.

Mash your bananas until they are very smooth with very little lumps. 2 bananas will give these brownies a banana taste, 1 I doubt you would be able to tell was in there. I used 2 and whilst the dominant taste is chocolate, there is a hint of the banana. I am not a huge fan of bananas but I did enjoy these. Make sure you use very ripe bananas that are easy to mash. Set aside.

Melt your chocolate chips, Nutella and butter in the microwave in 20-30 second bursts. Give the mix a stir to help melt the chips into the butter rather than melting completely in the microwave. I did 30 seconds, stired well, put back in for another 20 seconds, stired and was done.

Add the sugar to this mix and stir well until all incorporated. Next add the flour and incorporate completely. Finally, stir in the mashed bananas until the mixture is smooth and add any nuts if using.

Spread into a sheet pan or add to cavities until almost full. Bake for 30 minutes approx. The brownies should be flaky on top but will still be soft when a toothpick is inserted. Do not let them overcook, else the edges become dry and hard. These can be dusted with icing sugar if liked.

Little soft mouthful's of heaven!

Who could resist one of these with a cup of coffee to cheer themselves up on a dreary January afternoon? What's more they are an ideal bake to make with the children who can just go to town on mashing those bananas!

Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Little heart hangers

The weather is dreary and grey so I just have to get crafting and think of warmer, brighter days. I am currently updating my downstairs bathroom, just a few cosmetics changes and I can't wait to show it to you but it's not quite done yet!  Plus today is National Hug day, so in light of that I wanted to show you these lovely little hanging hearts that I made late last year.

I bought a bag of plain wooden hearts from Hobbycraft and used 3 of the largest ones for these hangers.

As you can see they are unfinished and perfect for embellishing.

Firstly I painted both sides with acrylic paint. I left the edges plain for contrast.

After this I drew an initial in the middle of the heart and painted it white. I also added dots to make them less plain.

After they were completely dry I painted a couple of coats of clear varnish to protect them. Next I drilled a small hole at the top, got some thin jute thread and chose some beads to thread on and through the hole. Finally I tied a small bow at the top to finish them off.

Pretty little gifts or something to hang on your door.  You can always add more than one heart to the hanging to make it a little larger as I've done here. I also used rub ons rather than paint to embellish the front.

If you don't like wooden hearts you could always embellish a fabric heart or make one yourself. This one here I embroidered the word 'Love' and glued tiny sequins around the edge.

Happy Hug Day!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Jute Love letters

I am so glad to be back crafting this weekend and that all the decluttering is done! 

After I sorted a craft space for myself, I made a little reading nook with a shelf filled with some of my favourite things. We had to move some towers holding CD's and DVD's which left a wall plug exposed. It is just the perfect spot to hang a little home made Love sign next to a photo frame holding pictures of the most special people in my life.

If you have been on Pinterest you would have seen the jute wrapped monogram by Two Twenty One. I just knew I wanted to have a go! I bought 4 small mache letters and wrapped the L, V and E as per the instructions by Two Twenty One. I did need to use my glue gun a fair bit on the back to secure the jute in place.

Wrap wrap wrap!

 All done!

These 3 letters took about an hour to wrap.

The O was a little tricky due to the curves of the letter.

I secured the jute at the back away from the edges and began to wrap in the same manner as the other letters.

I then wrapped horizontally to completely cover the O. I had to use a few small pieces of jute to cover the edges.

Once the letters were wrapped I added some small embellishments, buttons and wooden hearts that I painted in a co-ordinating colour to my frame.

I hot glued the four letters in a vertical shaped and attached a D ring hook to the back of the L.

This project took just the weekend to finish with plenty of time to spare to do other things!

Plus this would make a cute Valentines gift for someone special.