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Spring-inspired celebration cake

Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe SWEET PEA CAKE WITH BEETROOT FROSTING adopted from Veggie Desserts

(for the cake)

  • 180g sweet peas, steamed or boiled
  • 130g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest and a drizzle of juice
  • 165g flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt

(for the frosting)

  • 250g soft cheese
  • 70g icing sugar (plus some more for later stage)
  • 1-2 tsp beetroot powder
  • 1tsp other type of natural frosting such as turmeric, matcha etc (optional)

Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe

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A year to find my style again: the basics

A year to find my style again: the basicsWelcome back to my journey to finding my style. Today I am all about the basics! I am not talking only about the underwear (although this is also an important part of my wardrobe) but also about the clothing items that I think I should have in my wardrobe. You know, those kind of clothes that match pretty much everything else. These include the dresses (basic jersey type ones are my favourites), my loyal jeans, vests, t-shirts, some cardies (prefer the long ones) and sweaters (I got quite a few). After doing the wardrobe detox last month, I figured what suits me, what I already have and what is missing. When investing into new basics I always heard that you need to aim for top quality items, but from my experience this is not always the case. Read on if you want to find out more!A year to find my style again: the basicsFirst I wanted to share what I had missing. Due to my body changing during two pregnancies what I needed are the bras (hope I am not oversharing here). I had the sports bra that still fits, some maternity bras that are just too big and then my old bras that look like brand new, and I have no idea how they ever fitted me (all been donated of course!). Like with anything else when investing in something new, I really did my research, then asked for recommendations and went to bra fitting. I did not settle for any uncomfortable bra like I did in the past. This time round I knew what I looked for and that was practicality and the comfort at the same time. I think it also look good, because it really fits. And I am not against underwire bras, turns out they can be as comfortable as the seamless ones. So hey, do your own research and do try on lots on before investing on the one (or two like me). And I did not end up spending too much money. £35 for a pair!

While in Lithuania I also visited Utenos Trikotažas, the company specialising in clothes made out of jersey material. I so wish they sold it globally so you could see it for yourselves! Although they manufacture a lot of clothes for the high street brands they do have in house designers too. Their designs may not be exactly my style, but I always manage to find lots of unique basic pieces at such a divine quality and low price! This time round I bought a long sleeve dress, few basic menswear t-shirts (I like their loose fit), some vests (some of my vests started deteriorating after 10 year service) and undies of course!A year to find my style again: the basicsNow, coming back to subject where I talked that the basics don’t have to be expensive. Any high street store would sell basics and they are not that bad when you consider these few basic rules.

  • Makes sure it fits you well
  • Its the right shape to compliment your figure (I found longer dresses and high rise jeans are my yes’s!)
  • Focus on natural fiber (although not always the case, but I could not buy a sweater that was pure polyester for example)
  • Ask yourself, does material feel nice to your skin?
  • Take good care of your basics (will tell you more about this shortly)

I think this is it. I am obviously not against in investing in high quality clothing, but you would be surprised what you can find in Lidl’s for example. As you can see from the picture below I got quite a mixture. Two John Smedley sweaters that are made of high quality fine wool and then two cotton sweatshirts (one from Aldi that I am quite pleased with). I tend to focus on cotton when buying from supermarket and of course the fit may not be always great, but you might be lucky (it does not hurt to try!).

A year to find my style again: the basicsOne downside when you buy the knitwear or jersey clothing from the high street brands or supermarket is that they twist. See in the picture below, the side seams are not running straight. This does not bother me anymore like it used to. The cause of this is the way the fabric was cut for the production. You see, it takes extra care to cut the pattern of the garment on the “grain” and often this is compromised when cost is a factor. Companies like John Smedley knit the garment pieces separately, which means garment made this way should not stretch sideways and therefore should not twist. A year to find my style again: the basicsPilling happens to any quality garment with the wear. At least in my experience. I find the more fluffy the garment the greater is the pilling. Now I know that many good companies invest in testing machines that test the pilling (I have seen them used in many factories on my visits when I worked in the fashion industry), but I think this is impossible to avoid. I learned this technique to deal with this issue. I simply use a shaving razor (gently does it) and shave these pilling balls away. Once in the while should do the trick!A year to find my style again: the basicsIroning is a great way to care for your garment, not only to remove the creases. The steam that comes out from the iron (hopefully you use this function) revives any clothing and gives some breath to it. I used to be obsessed with ironing and used to iron almost everything. It took a long time to narrow down my priorities (now I iron much less), but I still believe that ironing (steaming) really prolong the clothing lifespan. A year to find my style again: the basics Mending the clothes is another way to prolong garment lifespan! I feel I could write the whole post about the different techniques of mending, but here are few stitches to learn for a start.A year to find my style again: the basicsHope (as always) that this post have been useful to everyone. Thanks for letting me share!

Rasa xoxo

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Date night in: paper and pen games

Idea for date night in: paper and pen games table layoutMe and Joni have not gone out for ages. When you got kids it’s just not easy. Everyone who have young kids I am sure can relate how difficult it is to find a babysitter! And when you do find a babysitter this once in the while outgoing can cost you at least £40. Am I right or am I wrong?

Recently Joni had an idea to have date nights in. And that changed the dating game completely! We set to have the date night in every Friday and we reduced the amount of tasks we need to do that day so we are free. This gives me something to look forward every week! Since the Valentines day is coming up I though I will share how we do these night ins ;-).

Me and Joni take turns who organises the date. If any money spend we budget into our own budgets. This time it was my turn therefore I could share the preview with you. I picked games theme and this is often what we like to do on our dates. We (I mean me) get a bit competitive sometimes!Idea for date night in: paper and pen games table layoutSince I decided to do paper and pen games this time round I used craft brown paper for the table layout. To be honest I don’t even have that many dining table setup props! This is why I mostly used what I already have. Kitchen towels instead of napkins for instance was one of those replacements when I did not want to buy something I may not use again.

First I rolled brown craft paper out on the table and drew what is needed using permanent oil pen. I am sure you can use any other pen you like. I was tempted to use metallic pens and I used black marker pens before. I used plates and cutlery to trace out the table layout. I wrote out the menu here as well.Idea for date night in: paper and pen games table layoutI decided to play battleships for the night. So I did make a grid so we did not need to do that on the date.  Idea for date night in: paper and pen games table layoutNext I arranged some items related to games such as dices, pens and books (for protecting the battleships). Candles and some leafy twigs were not related but pretty and I could not help myself.Idea for date night in: paper and pen games table layoutThe date night was a complete success. Joni was very very surprised! I did not want to spend too much time in the kitchen so I used the take away to order some of the food. I made the dessert and rice myself. So I only spend £20 (half of the price to compare how much we would have spend if we went out). Idea for date night in: paper and pen games table layoutAnd do you know who won the battleships this time? It’s Joni. I may not want to play this game again ( ha ha).Idea for date night in: paper and pen games table layoutHappy Valentines day everyone and don’t forget the dates does not have to be spend with you husband or boyfriend. I am sure your BFF would appreciate this kind of date too ;-).

Rasa xoxo

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Pinterest challenge: parsley cheese crackers

Parsley cheese crackers recipeFirst of all I would like to inform you that I won’t be doing any “Pinterest challenge” posts anymore (Booo! I know!). I feel like I have been doing this for ages (4 and half years to be more specific) and I felt these lack of creativity on my part. Yes, I have learned a lot, I have made my own alterations on some of the recipes, I tried many recipes that just have been sitting there on my boards and I use some of these recipes again and again… BUT I feel it’s time to move on! I realised I need to start creating more of my own recipes as well (which I have been doing already).

Now coming back to my final “Pinterest challenge” post. I have been doing a lot of cupboard clearing lately. This included me going through my cupboards and using up all these leftover flours and grains etc. Although these crackers does not call for any special flour, I baked them anyways as these make good lunch box fillers (Lukas calls them lunch box stars) and they make as a tasty snack on the go too! I tweaked the recipe a little bit to add some parsley. I feel better when this adds some green into the kids lunch boxes, even though I am not too sure how many nutrients from the parsley survive the process. Either way at least the parsley give some work out for the taste buds ;-). Parsley cheese crackers recipe PARSLEY CHEESE CRACKERS adopted from Winter Monroe

  • 200g flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 85g butter
  • 200g cheese, finely grated
  • 1 egg
  • handful parsley + 2tbsp water, whizzed to a paste

1. Add the garlic powder into the flour and mix to combine. Rub the butter into the flour mix with your fingertips until the mixture looks like moist breadcrumbs.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine.Parsley cheese crackers recipe3. Roll the pastry out, 7mm thick. Using a cookie cutter cut out the shapes and place them on ready lined baking tin or tray. This part is fun to do with kids!Parsley cheese crackers recipe 4. Bake the crackers in 180C preheated oven for 10-15min.Parsley cheese crackers recipe Parsley cheese crackers recipeEnjoy!

Rasa xoxo

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My 2019 goals

My 2019 goalsI usually set my new year goals on New Years eve (or even before), but this time I waited… I was worried, because I was still not sure if the new venture is going to work out. What if it did not and then I would need to cross that goal off? I realised the unexpected often happens and even when you think all the goals you set are achievable, sometimes things just don’t work out in the end. I realised the simple truth that goals are there to guide you and keep you focused, not some commandments set in stone. So have you set your goals yet? I hope you are finding your 2019 planner very useful!

I have five goals this year, just like last year! However I can only share three of my goals. My first goal is to do with my new venture; I have been planning all last year, but can’t share it due to the fact it’s not signed off. My fifth goal is too personal to share. Here are the three goals I am sharing:

1. Upgrade Friendly Nettle website goal was on my mind for five years. In fact I just copied this over from last year’s bullet journal! Hopefully this is the year I achieve this.

2. Keep on gardening my goal is a follow up from my last years “Create child friendly garden” goal. I enjoyed gardening in the summer so much that I decided to keep on doing it this year!

3. Find a new personal style this goal is a totally new goal in my books. It’s born due to huge changes in my life (kids and loosing some weight) where my style just did not follow. This is why I thought I need to find a new one ;-).My 2019 goalsHope I am not too late to say Happy New Year again!!!

Rasa xoxo

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A year to find my style again: wardrobe detox

How I did my first wardrobe detoxOnce upon a time I knew my style. Yeah sure, I did not always wear the most exciting piece of clothing all the time, but I did know what suited my body shape. After having kids this changed dramatically. Yes I gained lots of weight (and lost some too), but my figure (my bust to be specific) has changed a lot which made me a little confused for a while. I could not understand why some of my clothes just don’t look right even though I do fit them. It took a while to figure out that because of my bust changes the overall balance of my figure changed too. Things that suit a flatter figure simply do not look the same on a fuller figure. I decided I need to find my new style and I couldn’t wait to start.  Now I have lost some weight finally the time is now!

On this journey I am planning to share my top findings on how to organise your wardrobe, how I do some alterations to old clothing to better fit my new figure, how to dress effectively (thinking to try creating one of those capsule wardrobe collections). I am going to invest in new clothing and maybe make some myself too! So watch this space girlies ;-).

So where do I start now? My obvious though is to first clear my wardrobe. I am not starting from scratch however! Over these past few years I bought some basics that fit and also some clothing pieces from the past does not do any harm in my wardrobe either. I decided to do a simple wardrobe detox where I remove all the clothes that no longer fit within the strict criterions I set out. So let’s get brutal, shall we?How I detoxed my wardrobeMy criteria for clothes that stay in the wardrobe were:

  • I have to like them (obviously), similarly to Mary Condo’s saying “it needs to give me joy”.
  • Have to fit me well, lots of time spend trying everything on!
  • Have to go with my style board, I have one on Pinterest.
  • Have to suit my body shape, probably the most important criteria!

With this I probably got rid of like at least 40%, my wardrobe looked a bit empty to begin with, but then I hang some stuff that could be hung from the drawers and that fixed it. Plus my drawers are much less crammed!

I did not empty the whole wardrobe and then put back what I am keeping (this is what Mary Condo does), instead I removed only the items that I am not going to wear straight away. When you have kids running around I find this is much more practical.

I made three piles:

  1. clothes that I am getting rid off
  2. clothes that I am passing on to my friend Vicki (we did lots of clothes switching in the past)
  3. clothes that need some alterations.

How I did my first wardrobe detoxEventually the pile of clothes that I am getting rid off ended up being the largest of course. That has been bagged ready to go to the charity shop.How I did my first wardrobe detox How I did my first wardrobe detox The drawers! I wish I took a picture of how it looked before. It was very very crammed. Although I am generally quite organised and I would not describe myself as a hoarder, because of a busy season in my life I let myself go a bit. My clothes were not only crammed, but also as hard as I find to say it; they were in chaos. I did not know what clothes I had and were mostly wearing a couple of items over and over again that were on the top. With the clear-out I gained the space where I could insert clothes organisers/dividers and fold everything in a way that is visible. I have been using my new organised wardrobe for few days now and I can’t describe how happy it makes me every time I open it :-).How I did my first wardrobe detoxHope you find this helpful if you are also going to do a wardrobe clear-out.

Rasa xoxo

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How to install a gallery wall in five easy steps

How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy stepsOne of my last years goal was to fill the walls with art, and thanks to my watercolour challenge I kinda did! Except the wall space above our fireplace stayed empty for a while. I planned a wall gallery here with family pics and I have been putting this task off for a while. Why? Because I must admit making a gallery wall is challenging to me too. It’s overwhelming, so many pics to add, how to decide on frames (there are so many available!), how to arrange them. I get you! I got the same feelings too!

After doing some research and remembering what I learned in the past when doing other wall galleries at my old house I came up with a step by step plan that made arranging the frames on the wall much much easer. Creating this gallery was such an easy job after all!  Which is why I decided to share these 5 easy steps with you!

First thing I learned about creating a gallery wall is to deal with one component at the time. It soon get’s very overwhelming if you try to visualise everything in one go. My starting point is often choosing the frames maybe with one main photo installed in it. You can think what pictures to install in what frame later.

1. Create picture frame layout. When you remove one distraction is so much easer to focus on another aspect of creating gallery wall. Lay the frames you choose on the floor and keep rearranging and taking pictures of different layouts till you have at least 3 variations. Have fun!How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy steps 2. Arrange pictures/photos into the frames. After you have decided on the picture frame layout you can begin arranging pictures into it. I found using photoshop or other photo editing program to arrange the images into frame so much easer. That way you know what sizes to aim for when you do actually print it out. I used this technique when making our wedding album and that helped me to visualise the end result much better!

My Tip: Aim for balance between pictures and photos (or at least different type of photos). It looks a bit boring when all you have on the wall are pictures of people faces (as lovely as they are).How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy steps 3. Print and and frame the pictures/photos. It is that simple once you have the layout designed! This is when you can decide how much of white area you want to have around the photo in the frame. How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy steps 4. Transfer the layout onto the wall. Using cheap craft paper (in my case it was pattern cutting paper that I have loads of) trace around each frame and title each of them so you know what is what when you paste it on the wall. Cut the frame shapes out of the paper. Using sticky tape (not too strong as you don’t want to rip the wall paint off) arrange the cut-out frames onto the wall according to your original layout design.

Joni tip: Mark the centre on each cut-out frame so you know where to insert the nail/hook to hang the frame (usually in the centre). How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy steps How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy steps 5. Finally, hang the frames on the wall. And that is all! Don’t worry if the frames are slightly off the level. I think as long as it is pleasing to the eye then it’s ok.How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy steps How to install a gallery wall in 5 easy stepsHope you found this super useful!

Rasa xoxo

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It’s not too late to knit a hat!

kids bear hat knitting instructionsFirst of all, Happy New Year everyone!

Secondary, just because it’s winter, that does not mean it’s over very soon. I hope I am not sounding too negative for some (I know some of you are really looking forward to Summer already), but we only had one winter month and there are two left to go. My point is that we should enjoy this weather and make the most of it!

I personally love love January (I learned to love every season), because it’s time for refocusing, spring cleaning (would like to call it winter cleaning but it sounds weird), detoxing (If you are into it) and knitting of course. I love January because it is a beginning of the year and the plans are not strictly set therefore it is often not a busy month.kids bear hat knitting instructionsOver holidays I have started knitting because we have gone away and I was free from doing all the house tasks. I find knitting (or any other crafting) is something I can do while chatting or watching a movie. I find it very relaxing! I knitted this hat for my nephew that Tomas is modelling here, hence blurry pics because he can’t stay still. If you fancy knitting this hat then you can access the project here!kids bear hat knitting instructionsHave an enjoyable January!

Rasa xoxo

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My reflections on 2018

My reflections on 2018As I sit here and reflect on the past year, I am actually panicking due to the many tasks I still need to complete. It has been a busy year indeed! I think I need to accept that some of the goals I planned were not achieved. But that’s ok, right? Having set goals does not mean you have to achieve them all, but have them as a guideline to keep you focused. And I definitely felt focused this year. Therefore I decided today to reflect on what I have achieved so I can set new goals for the next year instead. Sounds fair? I think so!My reflections on 20181. This year I have created more art, thanks to my watercolour challenge. Not only has it been lot’s of fun, but also taught me a new few tricks for handwriting and definitely created more wall art that I can hang on our wall. My reflections on 2018 My reflections on 2018 My reflections on 20182. I really enjoyed the gardening, thanks to my goal to create a child friendly garden. We  were very lucky with the green house and very hot summer. Gardening has been the most enjoyable goal so far! I think I will carry on gardening next year as well!!  My reflections on 2018 My reflections on 20183. We have had the most enjoyable holidays. Although we did not plan most of it, the trip to France with friends made my year!My reflections on 20184. I enjoyed more walks this year, discovered our local forest and a new forest school for kids too! We have even started sharing one car to reduce costs and motivate me to do more walking. Hope to walk even more this year as we start doing school runs.My reflections on 2018 5. Have been more experimental with baking thanks to all the birthday cakes I baked for both of my kids!My reflections on 2018 6. And finally we have completed our kitchen renovations! Although I thought we would have completed it earlier this year, we took a little longer then expected. We have however have something exciting coming up next year, so bear with us ;-).My reflections on 2018Happy New Year everyone!

Rasa xoxo

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Our new kitchen reveal

Our new kitchen revealIf you knew how long it took us to build this kitchen then you would understand how excited I am right now when it is finally finished! We started this project two years ago, just few months before Tomas was born.

Originally this was a study or a front room (pic bellow). We have our office upstairs so this has been used for various things such as storage, laundry, Lukas playpen and Joni desk was kept here at some point too. From very early on we have decided this space was perfect for the kitchen. We pretty much copied this idea (but not the layout) from next door neighbours who also transformed their so called front room into the kitchen.

Initially the chimney has been knocked down that took over so much space and then of course there were a break when Tomas was born. Once Tomas turned five months Joni started fixing floor and then we both were tiling (hexagonal tiles again). Then Joni’s dad helped us out to build the kitchen and then we got somebody to install the worktops. After that very hot summer came and I have been doing more gardening then DIY. I came back to painting and tiling walls by the end of summer thankfully. Only recently Joni finished installing shelves and now I am working on the organisation. If you think moving into new kitchen is easy, think again! Through this time we have been using our old kitchen and now we are so used to it that it is hard to change and start using our new kitchen. I am sure we will get into the habit very soon!Our new house tour: front room aka studyOur new kitchen revealI always liked the idea of shelves in the kitchen. I think above counter storage needs to be clear to see and because it is not hidden by the doors this storage needs to be ascetically pleasing too. This is why I organised my dry ingredients into jars (read how I did that here) and then I had cook books stored on other shelves. If you have any space left then you can always add little things such as vases or potted plants. I love my Fittonia that my friend gave, it does really well in the warm kitchens I think. Our new kitchen revealOn the shelves that are little hidden by the fridge we stored our microwave and other essentials for microwaving kids milk and porridge. It felt only natural to also store plates, bowls and glasses here too!Our new kitchen reveal My new planner is also ready for the next year ;-).Our new kitchen revealNow we probably need to work on our dining room which happened to be in the same room as kitchen. Painting walls are in order hopefully soon!Our new kitchen revealThanks for letting me share!

Rasa xoxo

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2019 planner + giveaway

Free printable 2019 plannerAfter trying out bullet journaling I had and idea… to use this organisational system to create my own wall planner. And here it is!! Tam tam taram tam (intro music sounding)!! Hope you like it and I am looking forward to your feedback. But more about it later. Let me go through this wall planner so you can have a better understanding of it.

Like every year, I create my own planner that fits my needs, then following year I review it and make even better for the next year. Therefore 2019 planner does have a lot in common with the 2018 planner. The major difference is the fact that is organised like a book. And like any other book this planner starts with the index. Index page is is a very good page to come back to when you make different notes through the year and want to find it again later. I will show you how this works in just a moment.Free printable 2019 plannerBut first I would like to talk about sweet nothings about the Year Goals page. This is my favourite part of the whole calendar! Identifying annual goals really helps me to achieve big dreams and stay on track with my bigger plans. I urge you my friends to set your dreams/goals on paper and review your set out tasks once in the while through the year. Tip: Don’t overdo with too many goals, you want to set achievable goals! Free printable 2019 plannerMonthly Log page is essentially an overview of the whole year. Did someone send you “save the date” card for their Wedding? Well this is where you can record. It’s so much easer to see the date in a bigger picture then scrolling through the whole calendar. I also like to put monthly tasks into one place and then distribute them weekly onto my Weekly Planner.Free printable 2019 plannerNow about the Week page. This is the main area where you will be actioning most of the tasks. This is where you set the timeline for every task.  Failed to complete the task on the set week? Not to worry! With symbol system this planner can be flexible and forgiving as much as you want.

Let me introduce you to the bullet planning symbols. Events are marked with “” and located on the left of the Week page while tasks are located on the right and marked with “.“. When I complete the task I mark it with “X“. At the end of the week I review my uncompleted tasks and mark it with “>” if moving tasks to the next week, “<“if moving the task back to Monthly Log and I cross the task off completely if I decide the task is no longer relevant or needed.

Meals and Shopping List worked well past few years so I am leaving this tool here unchanged. First timers, check this out!Free printable 2019 planner Finally if you have any notes, like recipes, party plans etc etc, all of this can be stored on the Notes page that is located after each Week page. These then can be recorded onto the Index page.Free printable 2019 plannerWhen you need to find a particular note (that you hopefully recorded) then all you need to do is look up on Index page. Amazing, right? You won’t need to search for it through the whole planner again.Free printable 2019 plannerHopefully I got you inspired to be more organised/productive/and more for the next year? Then go get your printable planner here. I would recommend to get it printed by the printers as there are lots of pages and it is in A3 format.

Now if you like, I am giving away three planners to three lucky winners. All I need in return is your feedback. Be quick as there are a lot of interest already! Just send me a quick shout to rasa@friendlynettle.com

Rasa xoxo

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Origami advent calendar

Origami advent calendar DIYSo here it is, our advent calendar for this year :). Very very simple to make and I have already received many compliments from friends! I simply used some pattern designs that I created for watercolour challenge few months ago and it brighten up our living room already. Yey!

Each package contain origami idea which is great for me (I love learning something new!) and great with involving kids. I am planning to either teach Lukas how to make stuff by folding paper (for easy ones) or let him decorate completed origami item. I am also considering not to be stuck with using only paper. The possibilities are endless, regular blanket could turn into star for all you know. For those who are following me on social media be prepared for daily dosage of origami!Origami advent calendar DIY You ready to make your own origami advent for this year? Then let’s crack on!

You will need:

  • A4 or square size patterned paper, either printouts or shop bought gift wrapping paper
  • number tags
  • origami idea “ribbons”
  • scissors
  • treats to add into the packages (optional and we decided to go without this year)
  • a hanger
  • string or slim ribbon

First, cut out all the tags and origami idea “ribbons”.Origami advent calendar DIYMake all the packages for every 24 days. Begin with folding in corners (1.), then fold in the sides and insert all the contents (2.). Finally fold in the pointy corners once again on both sides (3) and secure it using double sided tape. Use a string or a ribbon to wrap the package like a gift (4.). Don’t forget to insert the tag before tying the knot.How to fold an envelope from A4 Once all the packages are complete, then all you need to do is tie them on the hanger and hang it on the wall.Origami advent calendar DIY Origami advent calendar DIYHappy Christmas waiting!

Rasa xoxo

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Watercolour challenge: starry sky

Galaxy watercolour painting for card makingIt’s that time of year when the nights are long, Christmas cheer is all around us and neighbours started lighting up their fairy lights. It could not be a better time to learn how to do galaxy paintings (A must must have skill for water colour painters!). These could turn into magical magical Christmas cards, and invites, and so many other things as well as wall art.

First I began by working on my brush strokes. To achieve a deep night sky impression I moved my brush in circular movements to form cloud like patterns. It’s important to use a generous amount of water as well as layering the paint to build darker shades. To begin with I only worked with two basic colours which were black and blue.  Galaxy watercolour painting for card makingOnce the sky painting is dry, I sprinkled some “stars”. I used a heavy type of brush and using my thumb movement on it I successfully applied the micro sized stars. I then used thin paint brush to paint in bigger stars. Although majority galaxy paintings I have seen around are white, I thought it would be very cool to try gold colour acrylic paint to create some gold stars. I am totally in love with the variation!Galaxy watercolour painting for card makingOnce I mastered the galaxy painting with two colours I of course then tried including more colours. I even tried gold colour! Now, I don’t have gold watercolour paint, so I used watered down gold acrylic paint. This experiment actually worked!! The picture bellow cannot do its justice though, the painting sparkles in the real life!Galaxy watercolour painting for card makingFinally I experimented with painting into confined shape (circle). What changed are the brushstrokes. I tend to do longer brushstrokes to define the edges. The borders also meant that the painting had some sort of structure rather than ending up looking like continuous repeating pattern. Galaxy watercolour painting for card makingTip: when watercoloring with high amounts of water the paper becomes uneven and wrinkly. The best way to make the paper flat again is to iron it. Cover the painting with baking paper and iron it with steam free setting. I find this is safe even with the high temperature setting.Galaxy watercolour painting for card makingWhen the time came to make the Christmas cards I decided to experiment with foiling (I am so in love with gold right now!). Sadly this did not work out. I am sure it’s all my fault! This foil I bought meant to be used with the foiling machine, but someone suggested this could be used with iron. At the end the foil melted instead sticking onto paper. I even used PVA after unsuccessful application using toner pen. Nothing worked! I decided to leave foiling for later, I am sure I will figure this out some other time. Galaxy watercolour painting for card making I ended up using gold paint to paint the letters which was acceptable, but not ideal (hope my neighbours like it).Galaxy watercolour painting for card making White acrylic paint works fine too. If only I did not misspelled “Christmas” over here!Galaxy watercolour painting for card makingHope you found this helpful! Are you making your cards yourself this year?

Rasa xoxo

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Foraged winter wreath + make your own willow wreath base

Foraged winter wreath DIYSo it turns out this kind of wreath (pic above) is called a foraged wreath. I am so surprised! You see I have been using tree branches and dried plants for deco for years and never considered it as a positive thing to do. When I was little my grandad told me off for breaking the branches off the tree, “if someone broke your fingers off, you would’t like it would you?” he said. So ever since I have been feeling guilty when I “vandalise” (as I call it), but then felt inspired when I see the beauty of nature in my home. Therefore word “foraging” is so much more positive! It sort of makes you feel like you are being savvy and forest wise. Hmm, besides foraging a bit of fir tree branches (pine tree in my case) is better than taking the whole tree just to decorate for Christmas?? Also, not forgetting this is free!!Foraging with kids + Foraged winter wreath DIYTo make a foraged winter wreath collect some tree branches from your forest. Since it is for Christmas you want to pick evergreen tree branches. I picked two pine tree branches and some larch (I was surprised to see that it got coloured for the autumn!). Sadly there were no fir trees in our forest. I did however pick a few bits to accessorise my wreath. Dry dead plants and red berries are great! Foraged winter wreath DIYSince I wanted this wreath be as natural as it can be, I decided to make my own wreath base out of willow. To be honest I made mine out of any twigs I could find. Willow is good because it is supper flexible, but do not worry if you don’t have it in hand. It’s important to pick long twigs that comes from a live tree. You really can’t bend dry tree branch. It would just break! To make the wreath base you will also need florist wire and some good gardener shears. Foraged winter wreath DIYTo begin with take the largest twig and bend it to a circle. Secure the ends with some florist wire. Use the next twig to wrap around the circle you have already made. Secure the ends with the florist wire. Carry on wrapping the wreath base with more and more twigs till you achieve your desired thickness. Try to avoid using florist wire on any areas you are planning to leave exposed.Foraged winter wreath DIYI ended up leaving the top of the wreath base exposed. I deliberately focused on tree branch arrangement in the bottom part of wreath base. I as I added more on I placed different pine tree branches between the twig gaps I could find in the wreath base until I filled in the gaps. Foraged winter wreath DIYI secured the ends of the pine tree branches at the back of the wreath. This way it is less visible on the exposed side. Foraged winter wreath DIYFinally I added dry plant bits and berries to decorate the wreath.Foraged winter wreath DIY Now the question is how long this wreath will last. I wonder if my wreath would last till Christmas. Turns out there is hope! Apparently it lasts best outside in the cold (check!), then I read that it may last longer if I spray it with some water when I can (will do!). Finally if any part of the wreath dies out, you can carefully replace it with some fresh branches. Foraged winter wreath DIY Foraged winter wreath DIYHappy Christmas waiting (sorry, but not sorry for mentioning it so early!)

Rasa xoxo

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Salted chocolate apples

Salted chocolate applesNormally I only share a recipe after a lot of testing and tasting and often with a bit of modification to improve it.  This time however I made these apples for Hallowe’en and it was such a hit that I did not even get a chance to taste them! I am sure they tasted lovely though. So here we go; apples that are good for any autumnal celebration (did someone mention Bonfire night?)

Now let me share more about my feeling re Hallowe’en. I still dislike it even though I was more involved this year. I think I mentioned before I dislike this celebration mostly due to tacky decorations and creepy dress ups (It does not seem so bad in USA, but here in the UK kids dress up in grotesque costumes). I even wrote a post in the past on how to survive halloween! But beside all these reasons my real real reason for disliking halloween is the fact that it celebrates fear and a spiritual realm that does exist. I am not going further with this and try to argue. Instead I want to explain why I am involved more this year. My prime reason is to get to know my neighbours and to experience Hallowe’en a bit from a broader perspective so decide what if anything I should do with my kids next year.Salted chocolate apples SALTED CHOCOLATE APPLES

  • 12-17 small eating apples
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 200g white chocolate (optional)
  • sea salt
  • descanted coconut (if using white chocolate)
  • sticks (can be reused ice lolly sticks, tree branch bits or even skewers perhaps?)

Salted chocolate apples 1. First arrange apples on the baking paper. Insert sticks so you are able to hold onto them when applying chocolate.Salted chocolate apples2. Melt the chocolate either carefully heating it in the microwave or over a pot of hot water.

3. Swirl the apple into chocolate so it gets evenly coated. Drizzle some more chocolate of different type on the sides for a pretty look. Don’t forget to salt it ;-).

4. Let the apples set in the fridge.Salted chocolate applesI found that white chocolate does not go back to solid state very quickly. Once applied, white chocolate would just slide off the apple. I think it is important to either wait till the chocolate starts thickening or roll the apple (with chocolate on it) in some descanted coconut so it holds everything together. The apples decorated this ways look as pretty as other apples I think :-).Salted chocolate applesHope you feel inspired

Rasa xoxo

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