Thursday, 24 October 2013

All that goes bump in the night!

So for those of you who know me well this will not need to be said but for those of you who don't here it is....


Sorry about the shouting but I get a little excited! 

Anyways.... with my love of all things Halloweeny I thought I would show you all some of my past favourites.  If you want to see some of this years Halloween treats be sure to follow me on Instagram @ allthingsuniqueuk and on Facebook @ All Things Unique

So where to start?! 

Well I think I'll start with the absolute essential - Pumpkins! 

It all started when I was about ten and my mum was fed up of all the moaning about having to do our turnies for brownies (there was tears, blood, tantrums and more tears!).  For anyone who doesn't know what a turnie is it is the original Celtic version of a pumpkin made by hollowing out a Scottish turnip hence the name (although they tend to call them swedes in stores as they aren't the same as turnips apparently!). If you're still not sure what I'm talking about here's a little picture...

Image courtesy of google... Pretty isn't it?!

So as you can imagine a turnie is a million times harder than a pumpkin and doesn't come with a conveniently hollow middle.  I think you can imagine the effort it would take but let me tell you there's no way to imagine the pain of the blisters you get from the metal spoons whilst trying to hollow it out!  I think I still have scars! So with this in mind when my mum came across a pumpkin carving set a few months later she decided to snap it up so we would never have to endure the pain of turnies again!

Well that little carving set was amazing! I still have all the tools (although they are starting to show signs of their age so I did buy a back up set last year just incase... Always be prepared and all that!) and the book of patterns it came with and they are still some if my favourite  patterns to carve.

This is from the book of ideas and was actually carved by my sister but I thought I would let you guys see how good she is too! 

Anyways... after spending about 7 years perfecting my carving skills and practicing my favourite patterns a competition at work was organised and I decided to enter.  For some odd reason I can't find a picture of my pumpkin lot up (I think it was on my bebo page... Gosh that seems like a life time ago!) but I do have this unlit picture that I found in a box of Halloween stuff.  

I know these are a little more difficult to see but my pumpkin on the left is a witch on a broomstick and the witches face on the right was for my brother to take to school.  For the competition I put black card inside so the image stood out but it looks amazing when lit because the light looks like an eerie moon!

So my little pumpkin went all the way to work with me to join the other entries: some of which were super inspired!  For example Ashley's little disco pumpkin complete with its own dance box and glitter ball was way ahead of its time!  Others however didn't seem to get the memo about having to hollow them out first... Yes you know who you are! 

After the competition was over I thought to myself "what if they do this again next year?! I just submitted my best design!"  So that's when I started to branch out and try some new things...  Thankfully having practiced my carving skills my adventure into the unknown went pretty well and I only had maybe 1pumpkin that didn't turn out as I had hoped... It was meant to be a scary face but I just couldn't get it to work! Go figure... Pumpkin 101 and I find it the hardest to do! Anyway he is hiding in 1 or 2 of the photos but ssshhh lets just not mention it ok? 

First up was this cute little number... Cause who hasn't loved hello kitty at some point?!

This was actually super easy to do and I used a small culinary pumpkin to make it even cuter! My advice to anyone wanting to give it a go is to draw a thin line for the out line and start by cutting the middle whiskers then the others, followed by the middle of the bow then the outer parts and then do the outline.  That way if your bow or whiskers end up bigge than planned you can change the outline before cutting! 

After that little cutie I followed up the next year with a slightly over the top number of pumpkins...

As you can see I had a little bit of pumpkin fever back in 2010! I wasn't making a costume that year so I had extra time on my hands: I think I used it productively! 

First up in this crazy collection is actually the last pumpkin I did... I wanted to keep the traditional carved pumpkin until last: cause they are my favourite!  So here's a few before and after shots to help you see how I do things.

As you can see I just draw my design on first and then cut it out.  As the meerkat says "simples!"  

My tip for anyone wanting to try this one is to start with the inside of the letters with hollows... O, R, A... And then start from the middle and work your way out.  It helps keep support in the pumpkin and should help stop letters snapping but you do still need to have a gentle touch.  

Up next came a floor vase, 3 small pumpkins, drawing pins, nail polish, some knitting needles and a small rope light... Can you guess what it is yet?! No? Well here's the answer...

This was super easy and quick to do.  If you are going to try it out make sure and pre screw holes for the knitting needles or garden stake, I used a corkscrew which worked well for the size of knitting needles I used.  Without the stake running through them the pumpkins won't sit vertically so this fiddly part is most definitely worth the effort. 

And last but not least in 2010 was the giant spider! 

Again I used a stake to keep the head and the body together and cut a small slice off the bottom of the head so it lay flat. The legs are just long fluffy pipe cleaners twisted together and glued in to corkscrew holes. You can see in the picture below the tops of the legs are slightly thicker and that's where they were twisted together.

 As for the eyes and fangs...  

The are simply black pearly beads, some super glue and some sewing pins to hold them in place and the fangs (which you can see in the pic below) are simply 2 pumpkin seeds glued on! 

This makes a fabulous outdoor pumpkin during the day and at night can be simply lit up by candles in jars.  The flickering candles outdoors make it almost look like it's moving! Soooo sooooo creepy!! *shudder*

So all together in the dark the 2010 collection looked a little something like this...

(PS - The pumpkin lanterns are from partylite)

For 2011 I was asked by the produce department to do a little display pumpkin which had to last for 4 weeks! Yip 4 weeks in an air conditioned store... If that's not a difficult challenge then I don't know what is!  So as carved pumpkins were a big no go this is what I came up with:

I ordered different coloured duck tape - white, yellow, orange, red and black - and cut out tiny squares to make a chequered circle to represent the moon and then matched the edges with a mix of all the colours to make almost a diamond shape of colour so that the moon stood out but the pumpkin could still be seen from the back and sides.  

The trickiest part was out lining the moon in black and the silhouette of the witch but I just took my time and did a piece at a time.  This was time consume but well worth the effort. Oh and in order to hang it I used the trusty old cork screw and made two holes and pushed the trusty knitting needle through and then ran a straw over it, glued the staw in place with hot glue and removed the kitting needle before threading string through the straw.

Oh I should probably have said this at the start but always start by washing down your pumpkins with a mild bleach solution or dettol spray and be sure to dry them properly to stop any undue rotting.

I know this has been a super long post but I just have one last pumpkin experience to share with you... 

The pumpkin patch! Oh yes! 

Now if like me you didn't grow up in the states pumpkin patches were the thing of legends until Cairnie farm in Fife started to grow them a few years ago.  Naturally I was one of the first ones there!  My pumpkins weren't that experimental that year but I had so much fun at the farm I wanted to go back to basics... Not turnies! Just pumpkin basics and carving!  So here are  a few pics of my first day at the pumpkin patch -

Note - you will need a strong BF to pull the cart!

And don't forget to pick up a teeny tiny cutey pie pumpkin before heading home to put your pyjamas on and carve...

So that's the mega post finally finished... Phew!  I hope you managed to find some inspiration for your own pumpkins in amongst my excited ramblings and if so I'd love to see what you do!

And as for my creations this year...? Well you'll just have to wait and see... Make sure and follow me on Instagram and Facebook for sneak peeks and of course images of the final creations!

I hope you all have a hauntingly good time over the next week and remember to stay safe and be seen when out and about... Because we wouldn't want it to be you that goes bump in the night!

Love always

L x

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The princess and the pea - Room tour!!

So when it comes to sleeping it's safe to say I am worse than the princess and the pea. I need dark, I need quiet and I need comfort. So as I am about half way through finishing off my bedroom I thought I would do a little tour and show you guys what it looks like at the moment... I hope you guys like it and if you have any suggestions please feel free to leave a comment!

So first things first - the view as you walk in my room looks like this...

For those of you who follow me on Instagram (find me at allthingsuniqueuk) this image will look familiar.  I posted it to see what people thought about room tours: tacky or inspirational? The response I got was super positive so here we are! 

I'll go in to each area a little bit more to let you know where I got things from etc but if  I miss anything I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.

So I guess you would call this my dressing table/vanity depending on where you are in the world.  I love this dressing table! It was one of my first DIY projects and is still one of my favourites.  I've had it for about 6 years now so it is starting to wear but the scuffs on the wooden end tables just make them look more vintage and the glass has barely a scratch on it. The end tables were from TKMax and were originally bright yellow and I mean BRIGHT yellow! So I got a pot of dulux gloss in antique white and painted them.  It was surprisingly easy, although if I had the chance to do it again I would tape the handles as they have ended up with a little paint on them and the helpful people at TKMax super glued them in to the screws so I can't even get them off to replace them!  Anyways! The top was custom made by a glazier and it was around £28 which is amazing! I had it toughened for an extra £5 or £10, I can't quite remember, but as I said it's barely scratched so it was worth it.  If you want to do something similar my advice would be to check your yellow pages and phone around for quotes, the smaller local companies are often cheaper and they are so friendly and helpful.  They will probably quote you the minimum thickness for the size but if you want something a bit chunkier just let them know so you are both on the same page.  On a side note I get so frustrated when I see people giving trades people bad reviews when it is clearly their own fault for not communicating properly with the tradesman at the start about what it is they want. So please, please, please remember: if you want it, explain it! If you don't think they understand go speak with others until you find someone you feel happy with.

Enough of my side rant... Back to the point Lisa! 

The mirror (the large one) is from B&Q and it is simply mounted on 2 square blocks of off cut timber so that it protrudes from the wall by about 3cm.  I then used fairy lights (originally with a white cable but they broke) and some cable tacks and pinned the lights down before screwing the mirror on top. I love the way it glows.  It's softer than the Hollywood dresser lighting so if you like super bright lighting for doing your makeup I would recommend a replacing the small makeup mirror with one that has built in lights as well.  

The last few things are the hooks that hold my hair bands (I think I may have a problem!) they are from B&Q (around £4 each), the small mirror is from TKMax (around £18), the stool is from ikea (around £25) and the pillow is homemade (more on that one later).

Moving on to the next portion of my room ...

This is one of my favourite parts of my room but you don't get the real effect until night time and all the candles are lit... But that's ridiculously hard to get on camera! I'll show you a daytime close up in a second but first I'll explain where the main item, the tall boy, came from.  

I had been searching for one of these for about 6 months when I had given up hope of finding one that wasn't over £200 when I stumbled across this in the Argos catalogue...

The 7 drawer tall boy may not look like much but as it is unpainted pine it's super easy to stain or paint to your chosen colour.  Usually the unit is  £89.99 but sd I was looking through the reviews (which are pretty good!) I found a comment or two about buying them at half price. So as I was in no rush I decided to wait around 4 months and got it at half price!  Luckily for you though it happens to be on sale right now!  So if you're interested you can get this unit for only £44.99!

Again I got my trusty paint brush out and painted it in an off white.  I then ordered the crystal handles from pushka knobs available from their shop on ebay for £6 each and ta dah! All done!  I don't expect this piece to end up in our master bedroom when we move but I've already got plans for it to move to another room.

So a close up of the top section looks like this...

I have to say I love my lanterns and the way the top of the unit looks. The lanterns are suspended from hooks that are screwed in to the ceiling.  The chains are all different styles and are available by the meter in the larger B&Qs.  I just used cutters from hobbycraft and little craft rings (like tiny key rings) also from hobbycraft to secure the chains in a loop (you can just make this out on the lantern on the left).  The lanterns are (L-R) from TKMax, my friend Rachel's wedding and TKMax.  The jar isn't actually a lantern but I used garden wire and some pliers and made a make shift handle by wrapping it around the jar top a couple of times and then securing a handle shape. It's been up for over a year so I must have done something right! 

The other items are mainly gifts so I'm not sure where they are from but my adorable little piggy I did buy and he is from Dunelm Mill.

Moving on to the snap happy sections!! These are the parts that still need finishing but they are getting there...  

Most of this section is from ikea... The picture shelves, chair, bedside shelf, lamps (which are definitely going to be changed!), bedding and various photo frames are all from Ikea. Other photo frames are mainly from Tesco, as are the photo books.  All the other frames have been gifts.  The frame clock was also a gift but I do know that it's from urban outfitter.  

I am pretty happy with the layout on the shelves but I am looking to make the frames more in keeping with the room. Now all I need to decide is whether to paint or cover them... Decisions, decisions! 

So as I said before I handmade these pillows (the other one is on the stool) by using left over fabric from upholstering the headboard and some metallic ribbon from Hobbycraft.  The ribbon has wire in the edging which helps keep the shape of the bow.  If you would like to see a tutorial on how to do these just let me know.

The headboard now looks like this...

You don't see much but it's enough to get the jist! Anyway it was originally brown with a tan strip in the middle when I got it from my aunt but I got the fabric from Dunelm Mill, borrowed a staple gun and literally took 10 minutes to cover it.  Super easy, super quick and super cheap in comparison to buying a new one and you get it exactly the colour you want! 

As you can see above the bed is the area that still needs the most work!  

Finding frames to match my layout is not easy but I am slowly getting there and for those I can't get in the right colour I am planning on getting the paint brush out once more! The others spaces are a little more difficult but I think I've come up with a solution... I just need to find the time to do it now!  Hopefully more to come on that soon.

This next picture may not look like much but these were originally just mdf doors I had fitted and with a little dowling, some tacks, paint and some crystal handles from B&Q I turned what looked like cardboard doors into these French inspired lovelies!

So proud of my efforts on these! And for some extra storage for my daily bags I put some more of the hooks I used for my hair bands up next to the wardrobe.

Last but not least is my door area... For most people this would simply be a door!  But I like to use every space available and so this is what I have hidden away out of sight...

It's super practical and the pin boards and white boards help me keep things organised.  As for above the door, this all comes from Ikeas expect the small boxes in the middle which I found in a store on ebay.  I don't keep everyday items in here as I need to ask the BF to reach or use a stool but for those things you only use occasionally and for seasonal items it's perfect!

Well that's it folks! It did take slightly longer than I expected but I hope you enjoyed it!  Remember if you have any comments or suggestions please let me know and for a little sneak peek at my up coming projects make sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook @ allthingsuniqueuk.

Speak soon,

Love L x