09 December 2016

Autumn leaves

Autumn is over, and winter is here, but I hadn’t got round to showing you my photos of this year’s lovely autumn leaves! I feel that this fits in with this month’s theme of hygge – the idea of getting out in the crisp autumn air and appreciating the beauty of nature around you. I took these photos at Balbirnie Park. It's great to have lovely places like this locally to go and see the autumn leaves.

I also saw a house for sale here, in the little craft centre courtyard, that would have been a dream house for me, but it was three times what I could afford!

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07 December 2016

The Goldfinch

When I heard that this famous painting, the Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius, was coming to Edinburgh, I just had to go and see it. I first became aware of the painting through Donna Tartt’s novel, The Goldfinch, so it was wonderful to see the painting in real life, and made the novel come to life even more.
And the painting is so detailed and lifelike. I really liked the way that it was displayed in the centre of the room, a tiny painting among so many huge ones, but it really stands out by being placed in the middle of a large board. It really draws your attention to this little painting and makes you look at it and appreciate its beauty.
I couldn’t hope to capture the spirit of the painting myself, so I concentrated on drawing the room and the sense of scale.

05 December 2016


Here are some photos of last month's fireworks that I hadn't got round to posting. I haven’t really watched the fireworks in my town much in recent years. They used to be near my parents’ house, so we could watch them from the big window at the top of their stairs. But the fireworks moved to a new location a number of years back, that is not really near their house or mine.
This year, on the night of the fireworks display, I heard some really loud fireworks and thought they must be ones that people were setting off in their gardens nearby. But when I looked out my window I realised that what I could hear was the town’s display, which is 2 miles away, and that I could see it quite well too.
The first fireworks I saw were shaped like smiley faces, but unfortunately I didn’t have the camera ready in time to capture them!
My photos are not great, but I actually really like the out-of-focus ones, and the ones where you can see the ghostly outline of my tree against the light and smoke.

04 December 2016

Sunday self-portraits: Retro photo booth

I recently went to an fashion-themed event at the National Museum of Scotland, called Styling the Nation. I'll tell you more about the event in general soon, but here are the cool photos I had taken at the free retro photo booth run by Gladys and the Bubblettes.

I was lucky enough to be near the front of the queue when the booth opened up, so I was able to see how it all worked but didn't have to wait. I decided on a pink patterned top and fluffy hat that I'd seen someone else wearing.
There was a really cool backdrop, a big suitcase full of retro clothes, lots of wigs and hats hanging up, and a retro chest of drawers topped with all sorts of accessories. She started me off in a crazy blonde wig, then quickly whipped that off and changed around the accessories for each photo - she's clearly much practiced in doing this quickly!
I'd lost track of how many photos were taken, and I hadn't yet used the retro teacup that I really fancied, so she kindly let me have another postcard-sized photo in addition to the two strips of four!
I've just bought a really cool retro-print dress from a charity shop, so I may be trying my own retro photo shoot soon!

03 December 2016

Candle making

Making candles is one of those crafts I've always meant to try, but never quite got round to until now. I'd actually picked up this candle making kit a couple of years ago in a charity shop, but hadn't got round to using it. Now, seeing as I'm going through a bit of a Hygge phase, and using loads of candles, I decided it was the perfect time!

The kit came with wax, two moulds, a length of wick, coloured chips to colour the wax, and blu-tak to seal the holes where the wick goes through the mould. The kit only cost me £2, which is a great price for trying out something you're not sure whether you want to invest a lot of money in. But I saw the kit being sold new in a local craft shop and it was actually over ten times that price!

First you have to pierce holes in the bottoms of the moulds with a skewer, then thread the wick through (that was the really fiddly bit!). Then, after sealing the holes with blu-tak, you can melt the wax and pour it in (the wick is supported by being tied around a little stick). The box was designed to hold the moulds upright.
Because there were blue and yellow coloured chips, I was able to make blue, yellow and green candles.
I decided to make scented candles, so I added essential oils to each batch and coloured them appropriately - yellow for neroli and ylang ylang, blue for lavender, and green for rosemary. Because there were only two moulds, I had to wait some hours between making the batches of candles. If there was a little wax left at the end of pouring into the moulds, I used this to top up one of my other candles.

I n total I was able to make 6 candles out of the kit, and now I know what I'm doing I can get some wick and melt down the leftovers of some other candles! I'm also going to try using different containers as moulds - I'm saving some yoghurt pots and the containers from mini Christmas puds!

01 December 2016

20 Ideas to bring hygge to the winter months

This month I'm going to be indulging in some serious hygge, both here on the blog and in real life! Hygge is the word for a Danish concept of cosiness and togetherness. Not being Danish, I hadn't come across the concept of hygge until a few years ago, but it fits in very well with the things I enjoy in life, especially in winter - warm socks and cosy blankets, hot drinks and comfort food, a pile of books to enjoy, comfy cushions, and, more importantly, getting a sense of contentment from the little things in life. 

As someone who has always enjoyed a Friday night at home better than one out clubbing, I can definitely relate to the idea of hygge! And now the concept's become fashionable, I don't have to feel embarrassed about admitting that I am going to have a quiet weekend relaxing! We rush around so much in life these days, and sometimes it's good to take things at a slower pace.

The Danish have a word hyggekrog, which means a cosy, cushioned reading nook. But I've also found another great word recently, hibernaculum, which is the place an animal goes to hibernate. So I think of my settee piled with blankets and cushions as my hibernaculum.

Although I've always had a few candles around my living room, this is the first year that I've been using them almost every evening, and, in fact, one large candle that I've had for all the years I've lived here is now finally coming to the end of its life!

Often at this time of year I feel like going to bed as soon as it gets dark. But now that I have embraced the idea of hygge, and surrounded myself with candles, I find I'm not going to bed at a ridiculously early hour.

Another thing I've really been indulging in this year is hot chocolate, and I've been trying to mix it up by making some different variations. So far my favourite has been adding some red wine - sounds weird, but it makes the hot chocolate so rich! I've also been adding some Baileys or Amaretto on other occasions, using different mugs and cups to make each cup of hot chocolate an individual and special experience, and adding chocolate curls or chocolate sauce on top of the obligatory whipped cream! I've even been doing a bit of baking too.

Here are some of my ideas for adding some hygge to your life!
1. Wear the cosiest socks you can - whether you make, buy, or receive them as a gift (my mum knitted me these ones).

2. Wrap up in a scarf, hat and gloves, and take a cup of your favourite hot drink out to the garden so you can admire the frost.

3. Add some mood lighting with candles, fairy lights, or small lamps.

4. Make a pile of inspiring books next to your sofa or bed, so that you can pick them up whenever the mood strikes.

5. Make a cosy area to sit with lots of cushions, blankets (I just got this amazing M&S one and it's the softest thing ever!), and a footstool.

6. Get (or make) some nice postcards and some stamps, and sit and write them to some friends.

7. Go on a walk and pick up some pine cones, acorns, stones etc, then display these in a bowl.

8. Do some crochet - it's easy to do while huddling under a blanket or hanging out with friends or family, and the repetitiveness can be quite hypnotic and relaxing.

9. Get a book about baking out of the library and try making some bread.

10. Get the slow cooker on the go and cook something warm and satisfying.

11. Switch off from social media and read a book or listen to some music.

12. Have a Scandinavian-style brunch of open sandwiches.

13. Get your favourite childhood cuddly toy out of the attic and keep it by you on the sofa to cuddle.

14. Buy some lovely pastries and eat them from your favourite plate.

15. Have a long and relaxing bath, especially if you usually take showers.

16. Create your own hyggekrog or hibernaculum with lots of blankets and cushions. 

17. Wear your favourite knitted jumper and embrace your inner Sarah Lund.

18. Use neutral colours and lots of textures in your decor.

19. Read books that encourage you to appreciate the little things in life.

20. Allow yourself an afternoon or early evening nap, without feeling guilty about all the other things you should be doing. Just remember to blow out the candles first!