Category Archives: Winter

Monday…with some Creative Accounting Accessories

January 8, 2018

Filed Under : D.I.Y - tutorials - Winter


Probably one of the worst things about January is the looming Tax Return deadline…I usually start getting up at 05:30 to squeeze in an hour of receipt sorting before the day actually starts as it makes me feel that I’ve triumphed in some small way…however I got all my tax stuff off to my accountant before Christmas, basically because they made me! Tax is going digital and I’m meant to be taking photos of receipts and uploading them to some app, but I can’t quite get my head around all that yet.

I’ve always kind of enjoyed the receipt sorting once I actually get down to it, and the first year I ever did my accounts ( as an actress in 1997 ), I had no idea what was expected and I submitted a sort of scrapbook/journal of my expenditure; notes about what I had been doing and why I could claim a sandwich I’d had to eat during a rehearsal. I’d bought a beautiful notebook from Paperchase for the purpose! My then partner discovered me gluing and stapling in the living room and told me that although it was beautiful, it was not really what an accountant wanted…

I realised that clearly labelled envelopes and a folder was the way forward, but even now I always have to make my accounts aesthetically pleasing to some degree…it’s my life; my previous year in numbers, petrol stops, cafes, trains, post offices and supermarkets. It’s my diary!

So, although I’ve already submitted my accounts, I now have to start work on sorting next year’s and so I thought I’d share some creative, cheap and easy alternatives to some of the standard stuff we buy for this onerous task…maybe it’s a form of procrastination; putting off the actual job, but I also find that if I can do something creative within or connected to a boring job, it kind of makes it all a bit easier…

  1. ACCOUNTS FOLDERBuy a cheap folder with plastic sleeves inside and then cut these leaves out, retaining the spine they are attached to…
    If the folder has an elastic fastening and a pocket save these as well… Take some nice card and draw the template of the folder onto it… I also added some flaps to keep everything a bit more secure… Superglue the spine of the plastic leaves to the new card… Make holes in the card where the elastic will need to be theaded… Cut out a new card pocket and superglue it to the inside of the folder… I wanted to give the front of the folder a personalised look; something which felt like me so I used a typewriter to make the label… ( the typewrite isn’t actually very good, so I photographed the text, then enhanced it with Instagram editing tools and then printed it out… ) I actually decided to create a more colourful label, using some of my own work in the end…

2. THE STAPLERI love using the stapler…it always feels really satisfying and official, so I thought I pimp up a boring one, which I bought for £1.80, with some vintage buttons of my grandmothers…
Basically all you need for this is buttons and glue, and any other bits and pieces you want to encrust the stapler with… The buttons made a few gaps which I wanted to fill, so I added some old beads and tiny shells I’d saved… It reminded me of a caddisfly larvae who gathers lots of bits and pieces which are floating around its environment and makes itself an encrusted outfit…( have a look at this article where gold and precious gems were added to caddisfly water ) 3. PAPERWEIGHTS I wrote a tutorial a while ago about how to make these which you can see here, but I wanted to make some which had some relevance to my year…it’s good to choose something to cover them with which is personal… I collected some ordinary stones when I was in Cornwall and then chose a map which features Amsterdam as it was a city I discovered for the first time this year, and which I really loved…

You have to cover the map and the stone in PVA glue ( I always add a little water to dilute it )… Then you start to wrap the stone as tightly as possible, smoothing the paper all the time as you work it… They’re quite tricky to get completely flat, but even if they turn out a bit rough they will have some meaning to you personally… After you’ve finished all the gluing they need to dry…I put them by the fire but a radiator is just as good… So, now you’re kind of set to start your accounts with some interesting things to look at, at least, and which are genuinely useful.

I also must have Sharpies, envelopes, a nice pencil and my old calculator which my Dad bought me when I was at school!

 

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Christmas Eve…with a Floris Advent Gift in St James’

December 24, 2017

Filed Under : collaborations - London - My St James - Winter

It’s the final day of the St James’ Advent Calendar of gifts, and today you can win a Bespoke Fragrance Appointment at Floris!

Floris is the oldest, family run perfumers in the country, dating from 1730, and their scents are absolutely incredible; their fragrances have so many layers, with echoes in history as well as unique personal experiences. The way they approach scent is more like art; creating fragrances inspired by places, people and time, and today you have an amazing opportunity to win a Bespoke Fragrance appointment.

To enter, you should follow the @StJamesLondon Instagram account where they will reveal the gift to be won each day and how to enter on their Stories. You should also have a look over on their website for more details and terms and conditions and you can read a blog post all about my trip to Floris last year here Their Jermyn St store has a museum of their perfume with scents which have been worn by incredibly significant figures over the years including Florence Nightingale, Marilyn Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier… Rose Geranium, below, was worn by Marilyn Monroe The shop itself is beautiful and always worth a visit, but with a bespoke perfume appontment you’ll also get to see the pefumery… Don’t forget to head over to the @StJamesLondon Instagram account and look in their Stories today to find out what you need to do to win! Good Luck, and Happy Christmas!

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Friday…with a Handmade Christmas Card tutorial

December 22, 2017

Filed Under : Art - texture - tutorials - Winter

I always really enjoy making my own christmas cards but I think over the last few years I’ve been a bit lazy as I give lots of my family and friends my own printed cards, which feels kind of home made, but it means that I don’t really exercise any practical creativity in these few days leading up to Christmas. To be honest, that’s mainly because there isn’t enough time, but this morning I was ripping up some envelopes and thought how much the tear looked like snow…which is how these cards began… You will only need paper, pencil, glue, paints, crayons or felt tips and some glitter glue, a gold pen and a pair of scissors… I’m rubbish at cutting straight lines so I thought I’d make a virtue of it and create snow drift tops to the cards ( basically cut the card wonky at the top )… Then you need some white paper…if you have 3 different types that’s perfect, although not essential… Tear strips and chunks of the paper, making sure that you’re not controlling it too much…
When you have a few strips you can start sticking them on the card…don’t worry about it being neat or going over the edges…it’s better to look natural, and you can tidy it up a bit after the sticking… Try and build a sort of landscape, working from the bottom up, and include some of the bits of paper which will curl up, as this is reminiscent of windy weather in the snow… Once you feel you have your snowy landscape, draw a very simple cabin house in it… Then colour in the cabin, showing light in the window and smoke in the chimney so that there is a striking contrast between snow and the cosy life inside… You could also add some sunset colours accross the snow before adding some little dabs of glitter which act as ice as well as stars… Each card you make will have it’s own cabin and landscape which gives each one really individual character.. It’s a great, quick way to create something homemade and it’s a way you can re use  some of the masses of excess paper or packaging around at this time of year, and it’s also really easy and satisfying for kids who, let’s face it, love ripping up loads of paper!

Wednesday…with a St James’ Advent Prize

December 20, 2017

Filed Under : Art - collaborations - London - My St James - Winter

The Sims Reed Gallery in St James are offering the advent prize today which is really amazing…

You can win a special Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Gallery where the artist Humphrey Ocean RA will be giving a talk about his work to introduce his new exhibition there called ‘I’ve No Idea Either’ which is a retrospective of his prints but which also includes 2 new prints and some sculpture.

Humphrey Ocean RA started off as the bassist with the band ‘Kilburn and The High Roads’ but has had an incredible career over the past 30 years including painting portraits of Paul McCartney and Philip Larkin, exhibitions at The Tate, The Whitworth, Dulwich Picture Gallery and his acclaimed ‘A Handbook of Modern Life’ at The National Portrait Gallery in 2012. His work has a real sense of time, place and living and his vibrant prints often lead you to focus on the everyday nature of objects, which has inspired my own image at the top of the post today.

Since 2012 Humphrey Ocean has been Royal Academy Professor of Perspective, a position once held by J. M. W. Turner, so to actually hear him speak about his work over dinner is a truly inspirational prize!

If you have a look on the @stjameslondon Instagram account, there are details of how you can enter and there are more details about the whole advent calendar in St James Market Pavilion  this year on their website here

You can also read my recent blog post about the St James Advent Calendar here
The two pieces of work shown beloware by Humphry Ocean…

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Friday…with a Christmas at Home

December 15, 2017

Filed Under : Arrangements - collaborations - colour - My Home - Winter

My memories as a child of decorating for Christmas were basically doing the tree with my brother. I can’t remember any ritual surrounding the choosing of a tree, one just always appeared. I was obsessed with tinsel and always wanted to wear it and I remember how upsetting it was that my brother always felt the need to comment on the fact that the beautiful fairy doll my mum had made, had no knickers on!

Christmas always seemed excitingly chaotic; I loved seeing a white table cloth appear, shiny cutlery coming out of boxes and a general sense of sparkly specialness happening…

As an adult I can’t say that I don’t complain about having to go into the loft and find the Christmas boxes, but I can say that it’s so worth it once they’re out…
Every year I forget what’s in them, and every year I fell a sense of excitement and melancholy about the passing of time..

I remember years ago that my son was so happy to have made a christmas lantern out of a yellow Post-It note that I’ve never been able to throw it away!
We choose a new bauble or decoration each year for our collection…
…and I also like to add bit’s of family history as decorations like these glass droplets from a broken chandelier which belonged to my great grandmother, some of my granfather’s horse brasses and some vintage christmas cards which belonged to an old friend… These are 3 of my favorite decorations: The turquoise bauble and purple pair were bought for my son’s first Christmas when he was 4 weeks old and the trumpet was the first decoration he chose himself… This is the ‘Infant Phenomenon’ which we use as a fairy ( it’s where the ‘INF’ bit of my name comes from ) …and this is a new 2017 decoration
So you probably know by now that I have a bit of a thing for collections, which is partly why I was so happy that Georg Jensen wanted me to work with their Christmas Collectables

Georg Jensen designs always have such simple and clear lines but also the shine on their work is to die for!

Their Christmas Collectibles started in 1984 with the intention of bringing a new one out each year for 10 years, but they proved so popular that they’ve now become a Georg Jensen tradition and this year they’re designed by Alfredo Häberli, who focuses largely on the angel to represent Christmas….

I wanted to use them to decorate the tree but also in other areas including my table as, really, decorating the table at Christmas gives me the most joy; it is my adult version of how exciting tinsel was…
but first the tree… I have a small house and this is the biggest tree we’ve ever brought home but the shape was so perfect! I always secure the base in an old galvanised bucket with a load of bricks and large stones wedging it in…I like using a worn bucket as it feels a sort of outside friend for the tree somehow…

I also like creating little Christmas areas… Part of the Georg Jensen Christmas range this year are these amazing tree candle holders which are the best things ever! I have a Swiss friend who always lights candles on her tree and I’ve been so envious over the years but never managed to find any that are beautiful and practical and these are both, apart from anything else, they are weighted perfectly… I know that the candles should be lit on Christmas Eve, but I can never resit fairy lights, so have to have both…And so now, onto the table…taking a brief moment to take in this incredible Georg Jensen pitcher designed by Ilse Crawford…I mean, I have no words for how much I love this perfect design…and SHINE!!
It’s impossible for me to embody a Christmas of muted tones; I relish playing with colour combinations and also really enjoy absorbing the usual home decor into the Christmas one, so the table is simple but with colouful punctuation, and this year, combined with Danish shine from Georg Jensen… The Christmas collectables can add  a lovely sparkle to a wreath too……or a hidden heart amongst the mistletoeI can’t wait for Christmas Day…I love cooking, I love getting the table sorted, I love having a proper day off and I just love being at home!

I hope you all manage to take time off and have a wonderfully festive and sesonal celebration.
( Thank you so much to Georg Jensen who have kindly sponsored this post )

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Sunday…with an Ultra Violet Christmas Wreath Tutorial

December 10, 2017

Filed Under : colour - D.I Y - Winter

With the announcement from Pantone this week that their Colour of the Year 2018 is ‘Ultra Violet’, I was inspired to make an Ultra Violet Christmas wreath, and so I thought I’d share a simple tutorial…

1.Basic things you will need, apart from the plant material of moss, blue spruce, statice, sea lavender, sea thistles and rose hips ( or hypericum is a good alternative ) are pictured below:

Secateurs, scissors, florist’s wire, some string or ribbon, and a wreath frame ( there are 2 sizes shown here and the silver wire can be used to make a frame in any size ). 2. Cut about 10 lengths of wire approx 35cm long… 3. Stuff the moss quite tightly into and around the frame… 4. Use the wire and wrap it round the entire frame… 5. Take a branch of blue spruce and cut about 7 sections… 6. Start to place the blue spruce sections around the moss filled wreath… 7. Take the cut lengths of wire and thread them underneath so that you can twist the 2 ends tightly together over each section of spruce leaving the ends standing upright… 8. Once you have secured all the spruce pieces in this way, start to choose your flowers…             ( pictured below are two different shades of statice, sea lavender, sea thistle and rose hips and ivy berries ) 9. Group a few flowers together in a small bunch and then cut the flower stems to between about 6 – 10cm… 10. Start to place the flowers onto the wreath, and try to follow its circular flow… 11. Secure the flower stems with wire in a similar way to how you secured the blue spruce… ( using the fine wire helps to camouflage where the stems are attached but it’s as well to try and place them in the least obvious positions )… 12. Once you’re happy with the basic wreath, you can add the little extra bits like sea thistles and rose hips; in a sort of floral punctuation kind of way … 13. Once you have secured this second layer, hold it up just to make sure, and if anything falls off use some more wire for extra security… 14. Finally choose a piece of ribbon or twine to attach to the top of the wreath so you can hang it up… Making winter wreaths is one of my favorite parts of the lead up to Christmas; they are always so personal and you should never worry about getting them ‘perfect’.

Allowing your plant material to do it’s own thing, without interfering too much, is absolutely key to creating a natural look for your wreath, and will always make it far more unique than anything you’d be able to buy in a shop… making your own also makes you stop for at least half an hour and actually smell Christmas on its way!

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Friday…with a St James Advent Calender

December 1, 2017

Filed Under : Art - collaborations - colour - exhibitions - London - My St James - trips - Winter

Today, being the 1st of December, means that it’s the first day we can officially open the first door of an advent calendar…

When I was a child we either had some glitter encrusted nativity scene ( and is it me or was glitter different and much messier in the ’80’s ? ) with little windows to open containing, often less than relevant, seasonal images. I loved them!

It’s something about the anticipation of Christmas combined with the contemplation of each day leading up to it which feels so cosy.

So this year I was really excited when St James told me that they had asked London Fashion Week Men to curate a physical advent calendar in St James Market Pavilion with a selection of twenty-four amazing gifts to be won every day; presents gifted by exceptional retailers, restaurants, art galleries or hotels in the St James area.

To enter, you should follow the @StJamesLondon Instagram account where they will reveal the gift to be won each day and how to enter on their Stories. You should also have a look over on their website for more details and terms and conditions.

I was at the launch of the Advent Calendar last night ( with gorgeous mulled wine and Scandinavian canopes provided by Aquavit ) where the first window was opened by Dylan Jones and Caroline Rush with carols sung by The London Gay Men’s Choir. It really reminded me of the illuminated shop windows in Jermyn St, which at this time of year look incredibly pretty.

If you’re in London over the festive season you really must go up to St James…it’s so beautiful and very atmospheric, even if you’re just having a wander around. It also feels like a true piece of London which isn’t losing it’s character; full of authentic independent retailers, galleries and restaurants.

I have been asked to work with 2 of the advent ‘windows’ for the 20th and 24th of December which have really wonderful prizes, and I’ll be posting about them on Instagram ( @5ftinf ) on the day, so do keep your eyes peeled for the reveal.

So I thought I’d give you a taste of some of the shops in St James…( some of which are participating in the advent calendar ), as well as a bit of the atmosphere from last night…
( Jermyn St is just a short walk accross the Regent St from St James Market ) Floris Paxton and Whitfield
Grenson Shoes…Thomas Pink… Turnbull and Asser… New and Lingwood…Hilditch and Key…Trickers…Sims Reid Gallery…
D R Harris… Cubitts…Emma Willis…Fortnum and Mason… I particularly love Jermyn St, but there are also loads of other beautiful streets with some lovely windows to have a look at..
I will be telling you a bit more about the gifts offered behind these 2 windows on the day they are opened via my @5ftinf instagram account but do keep an eye on the @StJamesLondon IG account for details of how to enter each day…and good luck!

You can read more about St James and the area on a few My St James blog posts here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

* This post has been very kindly sponsored by St James

Thursday…with a Yorkshire re-cap

February 16, 2017

Filed Under : Arrangements - colour - trips - Winter

This Half Term my son and my mum decided they wanted to watch films together ( as well as a couple of ‘Midsommer Murder’s’ I expect if my mum had anything to do with it!! ) for 3 days at her house in Warwickshire, which meant I was able to sneak off to Yorkshire to visit my cousin Rachel @welliesandlove … ( well we’re sort of cousins;, her Grandmother and my Grandfather were an item for years! )

Rachel’s mother sadly passed away last year which meant she has suddenly inherited her Grandmother’s boxes of vintage threads, costume jewellery and old magazines which I helped her rummage through, and we spent hours into the night looking at it and arranging it  just for the sake of it…

I also became obsessed by Rachel’s windows…particularly the round ones and now have them on my bucket list for the perfect home!

I love driving North to see friends and Yorkshire is probably my favourite part of the UK and I was able to visit a couple of other friend’s too as well as meet up with Sara Tasker from Me and Orla ( instagram @me_and_orla ) to chat about all things creative and Instagrammy for her new podcast; Hashtag Authentic, which you can listen to HERE

So, here follows my visual re-cap of a lovely few days away…
( above is Rachel’s Grandmother Louise, and both of us below with our mums and Louise circa 1986! ) ( I amused 2 small elves just before their tea time by getting them to collect items and toys in their favourite colours so I could create eye-spy images for them…) ( magazine pages from 1948…imagine what instagram lifestyle images would have looked like then! ) domestic foraging for white things with Sara Tasker after we’d recorded the podcast muted tones were replaced that evening with wine and multi coloured thread action… …which was still there in the morning! I got home to Brighton last night and this morning was inspired by my trip; Sara’s white ceramics, Rachel’s boxes of treasured bits and as always telephone boxes…