Sunday, March 30, 2014

Out Like a Lamb

Here we find ourselves at March's end. How did that happen? The first quarter of the year gone in the blink of an eye. (It's like that every year, though, isn't it?). Around here it's been a different sort of month. We started the month off in Scotland, I embarked on 40 Days of Fitness for Lent, had my birthday, spent nearly 2 weeks on doctor mandated foot rest (which I didn't write about here, mostly as it was exceedingly dull), and baked quite a lot. The clocks here in the UK did their springing forward last night, so today I'm feeling that little bit of "where's the day gone?"

March also brought some new faces to my sidebar! I'd like to share a bit about them, as well as my lovely not-quite-as-new sponsors. I'd LOVE to have some new faces to feature in April, so if you want to get your blog or business a bit more exposure to my ever-expanding audience, pop over to my sponsorship information page to find out more.

Allyson Rose from Don't Feed the Wendybird

Don't Feed The Wendybird

I am Allyson Rose, professional dollhair minter extraordinare and naive yet old soul. On the verge of turning 22, I left small-town Iowa in October 2013 to re-start with a new degree at a new university in a new place called Reading, England. (Don't make the mistake of reading that like you just read "reading" a few words ago. No one ever said English made sense).

On my blog Don't Feed the Wendybird, I write about life as an American abroad, about the food I love to create, about the style I try to pull off, about my everyday life as a young twenty-something doing that "self-discovery" thing that most young twenty-somethings do. Someday I will be a real estate magnate, the author of several children's books, and the barista/owner of a breakfast cafe and coffeehouse.

They're all just little fluffy seeds, but I'm trying to make them grow.

This is my space to water the dandelions.

I hope you will join me. ♥

Sarah from Sunlight After Rain

Sarah is my 2nd new sponsor this month. She lives in Virginia with her boyfriend David and writes about life, love, and paleo cooking. She recently shared a great-looking recipe for s'mores pie.


In addition to new sponsors, March also brought back 2 longtime friends:

-----> Denise from Every Hour Here has been blowing my mind on Instagram with her quilting this month and had blogged about some of the insanely talent-requiring blocks she's done. The bunny is my favorite.

-----> Alli over at Misfit Isle has been going through some big changes. She recently shared a fabulous Home Sweet Home banner DIY that would help anyone feel more at ease in a space!

A big thank you to all my fabulous sponsors this month! I hope you'll think of joining them in the future!

Friday, March 28, 2014

London by Postcode: W8

I thought it would be fun to explore the city with a camera this year and start a new series here on the blog. Last weekend, The Scot and I took a look at my list of places to explore and thought that Kensington would be a great first postcode to snap! The day took a turn for overcast between my flat and Kensington, but a cloudy London is a true London! This series will be photo-led and photo-heavy. Hopefully my words will help you know a bit more about each place, but it's really a chance to take a little visual fieldtrip.

As an American, the first time I visited London I found the postcode system a bit fascinating. Unlike in the US, where one ZIPcode emcompasses a whole town or section of a city, UK postcodes are much more specific. Areas get a general 1st half and then a very specific (to a street, development, or large building) 2nd half. The building my flat is in, for example, has its own postcode. This makes it really easy for places like Chinese delivery restaurants to be specific as to where they deliver, etc. The whole of the UK adopted this system in the post-WW2 years, but London did it in the late 19th century. London was the first and its system is based mainly on compass points. Some postcodes are small and some are large and some are tiny. They're all full of things to see and do!

W8 is the main area of Kensington stretching from the edge of Kensington Gardens/Palace area in the East to the Holland Park area in the West. It's really quite a little postcode area. The lovely St. Mary Abbot's Church and its quirky stonework-filled gardens and flowers are a great little spot to bring your lunch or coffee and have a little peace and quiet.

The Barkers building, these days home to a ginormous Whole Foods and various fancy clothes shops and such, is a huge part of Kensington High Street. It's one of my favorite buildings in the area, architecturally. Lots of buildings in the area have fun little details.

Kensington is definitely a high-end part of London. Fancy cars are common, though maybe not all parked streetside! Even fancy types have to feed their pets, though. Animal Fair is a funky, more old-school pet store. 2 of my fish came from there (and I've read that Orlando Bloom has been known to pick up doggy kibble there!).

Lots of red brick and one street (just behind Kensington Palace) that's largely full of embassies and also full of "no photographs" signs. It's the only place I've ever seen such signage and it tempts me every time I pass by.

W8 isn't a huge postcode, but I do think it's full of some old fashioned charm as well as modern sensibilities. And, heck, it's home to Kate, Wills, & little George. Not too shabby, not too shabby.

London by Postcode will continue on a sporadic basis.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring, Sprung, Sproing

The calendars say that Spring arrives today. Here in London, we've been living with springiness for a good few weeks already. The crocuses were popping up in late January in some places, and plenty of warmer than average days. The grass - which stayed fairly green throughout the mild, wet British winter - is quite bright and lush.

Today I thought I'd head out and snap some beginning of the season photos. It was sunny throughout the day until, of course, about 10 minutes before I headed out! Oh well. Partly cloudy skies still didn't put a damper on the beauty of the pink blossoms in the trees and the bright yellow daffodils.

Even the ducks were having a nice day.

I hope that wherever you are, that your days are brightening up! The smallest bit of warm and sun is so refreshing after months of wet and cold!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I don't know about you but..


...I'm feeling 32.

One more trip around the sun, and I'm feeling good about what's to come for me on the next one. Do I have an injured foot? Yes. Do I have a fabulous new job? No. Am I working on fixing both those things? YES. Because 2014 is the year of MAKE and I can make it all great. Today = a trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show (yarn! thread! fabric!) and fondue for dinner at a Swiss place in Soho (because my husband knows what makes me tick. Cheese and fiber are both good places to start).

I slept in and had a brownie for breakfast. Life is good.


31 things to do before 32

1. Do something new/different with my hair
2. Move back to LondonYAY!
3. Get more houseplants and it continues!
4. Start a garden (of some variety respective of living space) (succulents count to me!)
5. Get back in shape. Working on it! Big help with #40daysOfFitness for Lent!!!!
6. Walk a mile a day for at least 1 month.June-July this happened more or less. I've been doing as best I can in the fall now.
7. Attend a NYC sporting event
NY Rangers vs. Winnipeg Jets, 1 April 13
8. Try 12 new recipes (proper recipes, not "I threw this together and it is dinner")  
9. Make a new friend (of the "in person" variety, not just the online variety)
10. Visit Paris again
11. Visit the Statue of Liberty (because I've never been).
12. See 3 Broadway shows. Newsies, 4/13
13. See 2 West End shows.
14. Finish Project Life 2013  I'll share this soon!
15. Get caught up on my scrapbooks
from 2011 & 2012 & get at least most of 2013 done. still working on it!
16. Finish the Valentine socks.
17. Find a job I like (if not love). NEARLY THERE!!!!
18. Learn to embroider
19. Visit Boston
20. Put together our wedding album
21. Spend more time outdoors
22. Visit Washington, DC
23. Get a new fishtank + fishies
24. Adopt a shelter dog
25. Sew and/or knit at least 50 items for BlytheCon UK 
26. Put together our mini-moon album
27. Drink (aka: buy) less soda weekly This is still improving. Every little bit!
28. Take a class or long workshop on a subject I'm interested in (this relates to #17 and also #18)
29. Volunteer for something
30. Keep in touch better with my girl friends
31. Go on proper date nights at least twice a month Mostly happening!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pom Pom Wall Decor!

DIY pom pom wall decor by LauraKateIsCrafty

Pom poms are everywhere lately. This project started in my mind last summer and came to fruition in the winter. During this time pom poms went from the usual sort of cutesy crafty fun to super trendy (at least here in the UK where Kirstie Allsopp has been a bit of a pompom evangelist). I'm ok with that. I've long been a lover of the pom.

This project took me a few weeks. Not because it was particularly difficult (it wasn't), but because one can only wind so many pom poms a day! The hanging was inspired by my love of poufy things. Our wedding was decorated with tons and tons of paper honeycomb balls of all sizes and I kept one strand of them to hang in our home (which did hang in the US and since moving back to the UK has been waiting for an inspiration of where to put it!).  Last summer I saw a picture of a honeycomb hanging and my mind thought "that would be so cool in a more permanent way if it were made out of yarn!" So I planned this. And it worked!

DIY pom pom wall decor by LauraKateIsCraftyOur living room is of double height. We have 20foot(ish) ceilings (plus a mezzanine level over half the room). This is both awesome and a bit of a pain. Awesome in that it lends itself to a fabulous sense of openness and light, but a pain in that our building has no communal ladder (and we don't own one) as well as having a 10'x20' wall that has been staring us in the face for ages (seen left center here). Big, blank cream-colored walls and oatmeal carpets are a lovely blank pallet, but we've been a bit hard-pressed as to what & how to decorate! For our New Year's Eve party, I made a fun wordy-type bunting and it put it in my head to take a shot at making the pom pom hanging that I'd been seeing in my brain for months.

My hanging is about 6 feet wide, accounting for the curve.If you're looking to create a bold pom pom wall hanging of your own, you will need (in addition to scissors and something to hang things from):

    DIY pom pom wall decor by LauraKateIsCrafty
  • a few contrasting colors of worsted or aran weight yarns. (I used 100gram skeins: 4 each green & blue, 3 each off-white & black).
  • a long base string (in hindsight, I probably should have used a braided of something stronger...)
  • pom pom makers! This whole project was made easy by using the Clover pom pom makers. I own all the sizes and mostly used the large set (65mm and 85mm), and the extra large (115mm/4.5in), with a bit of the others tossed in here and there. You could of course use the old standby of cardboard or the multi-size plastic ring type makers, but if you're a pom pom lover like I am the Clover doodads are fully worth it!).

I chose the colors to match our area rug (which I love so so much and is often seen on my Instagram). The green doesn't seem to photograph true-to-shade, however. The most realistic picture of the color is the one I snapped of the supplies before I started. My yarn is acrylic, for budget reasons, but if you've got the pennies to splash out a bit on 100% wool, it does make really heavy and full pom poms and would look quite lovely.

DIY pom pom wall decor by LauraKateIsCrafty

As I made the pompoms, I made sure to leave a bit of a length of yarn to attach them with. The assembly started off by hanging the base string and marking the center spot on the wall with some masking tape. Then I hung what I considered the anchor pieces - a giant blue pom pom at the center and other colors in large sizes spread out across the main piece. Then I just built on it to my taste - some attaching to other pom poms and some attaching directly to the base string - doing my best to fill in all the spaces and make it look full and even. (The 2nd "in progress" photo above is a bit askew - the small Command hook I had holding it gave up the ghost and it fell off the wall and it was a bit wonky when I hung it back up . I switched to tiny nails!).

DIY pom pom wall decor by LauraKateIsCrafty

Once it was all said and done, we have this great bit of poufy, fluffy, colorful decor brightening up our living room! I might move it a touch higher on the wall (at the lowest point it's about 5 feet off the ground  - it had far more give than I had anticipated when hanging the base string).

DIY pom pom wall decor by LauraKateIsCrafty
This was a really fun project to make and I love how it ties the area rug into a larger color scheme for the room. There's still a lot of decorating potential, so I think the pea soup green and turquoise-y blue will be making a few more appearances as we continue to make this place our own.

I think this type of wall hanging could be great in all sorts of rooms from a living room with a big empty space (like ours) to a kid's bedroom or a craft room! If you decide to make a pom pom hanging of your own, I hope you have as much fun with it as I did!

(Project sharing is something I'm wanting to do a bit more of here on the blog in 2014. This is, hopefully, the first of many such posts this year).

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Giving Up Sloth for Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season in the Christian calendar. Regardless of religious inclination, lots of people still join in with the tradition of a Lenten fast - giving up something for Lent. Lent is 40 days + Sundays and I've decided that this year I'm giving up sloth for those 40 days. No, not the adorable and fabulous slow-moving tree creatures, but the less adorable and slow moving couch creature that can be me sometimes. I'm making a pledge to myself (and to anyone reading) that I'll be exercising Monday - Saturday during Lent in some way or another.

#40daysOfFitness for Lent. Join in with LauraKateIsCrafty on Instagram & Twitter!

This morning I went to start my #40daysOfFitness (as I am calling it, though I'm 99% sure that's not a unique idea!) and put on the fabulous new feather print leggings I got yesterday and headed out to do a few miles of walking (I'm not a runner, but I do a good paced walk). Last week my left foot started feeling weird. It was rather noticeable at the wedding we attended on Saturday and when I use stairs. Within the first block of the walk, I was feeling pain. My foot was definitely finding new ways to bear weight to compensate. So I just changed my route and headed for the doctor's office (thankfully my local clinic has a walk-in element). I feared a stress fracture, but the doctor thinks it's just a strain. This isn't all good news, however, as I'm to wrap it and rest it for 7 days. So my sloth-free challenge will be more of the yoga and swiss ball variety this week. Which is ok. Anything is better than nothing (and I still got a mile of walking in)!

I invite you to join in with me! Walking, running, yoga, Pilates, biking, lifting, jumping rope, Zumba, hula hooping, roller skating, aerobics, WHATEVER gets you moving in a fitness-type-manner is a good thing. Here in London spring is seeming more and more like it's here and that means getting outside and enjoying the brief bits of sun as we can. In the US I know it's still like a Narnian winter, but there are lots of ways to get moving at home. YouTube is full of magic. I'll be posting on Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook and using the tag #40daysOfFitness and you can too! If you're a Fitbit user like I am (I have a Flex) and would like to add me as a Fitbit friend for some healthy step-based competition, send me a message and we can cheer each other on in that way as well! Together we can get a great start on establishing new habits or reinforcing those already in place. If you're a regular exerciser, maybe use the Lenten season to try something new!

Post a quick comment on this post if you'd like to join in with the 40 days! I hope you'll enjoy the challenge!