Guide to Craft Shopping

A large portion of the money I have earnt this summer has been spent on craft supplies. I have searched high and low for them in many different high street stores, and also discovered new shops which are absolute heaven for a crafter like me. So here is my guide on the best shops (in the UK but perhaps in other countries too) to spend your cash in and find some craft goodies! 🙂

  1. Hobbycraft

A fail-safe start for all your crafting needs. These shops are massive, often two storied, and so I have been known to spend hours at a time in there. Whether you’re mainly interested in papercraft, painting, jewelry making or haberdashery, they have various sections to suit all. I like to browse their selections of brands like Tim Holtz and Andy Skinner, as well as buying my essentials there such as glue gun refills, stamps and ink pads. The only downside is that the store can be quite expensive, and whilst products may be on offer, there aren’t clearance areas as such.img_1881img_1793

2. The Range

I only discovered The Range this summer after seeing a picture of a friend’s huge craft haul from there. I was amazed when I checked it out; the selection is massive, the prices are very reasonable, and plus they have several large clearance areas so you’re always guaranteed a bargain. I managed to get the majority of the items shown below for reduced prices and so the whole lot only cost me £20 in total! As well as great brands like ‘docrafts’ and Santoro, they also have a large section of budget items (like the alphabet sticker pad and key embellishments seen below) which are mostly just £1 each.

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3. The Works

One of my favourite shops when I fancy a little spend. They sell some lovely things at great prices, and they are often rotating the stock so you never know what you’ll find each time you visit. They have a fantastic painting section, with good quality acrylic paints, brushes and gesso and gloss varnish which can cost a lot more elsewhere. Also, at this time of year they bring out their large Christmas selection of crafts – stamps, washi tapes, embellishments and ribbons – so it is the perfect place to stock up on your festive supplies.

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4. Pound World

Pound World has recently started expanding their craft selection, and they sell some really beautiful things. I can’t resist their 3D embellishments, which are ideal for making birthday and thank you cards, as well as their range of patterned decoupage papers. They seem to sell completely different items depending on what Pound Land you visit, so I try them out whenever I see a store. I managed to find this great emoji sticker pad in the store in Brighton, which I had been wanting for ages!

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5. TK Maxx/ HomeSense

These stores are great at selling one-off, unique craft items which you won’t see elsewhere. They always have a lovely selection of paper and cardstock collection pads (I have only shown a few below, there are many more I’ve purchased from these shops!) Another bonus is the fact that they always have clearance sections – I managed to get four packs of ‘We R Memory Keepers’ journaling cards which were all reduced to £2 each! HomeSense  also sell some beautiful notelets, letter paper and gift tags which I often look through for possible present ideas.

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6. Ikea

Ikea don’t have the hugest selection of crafts, but my trips there usually end with me carrying a handful of supplies to the tills. They offer really pretty gift wrapping; tags, ribbons, bags, boxes and paper, as well as lots of stationary supplies. I love their packs of washi tapes which are usually £3/£4 for 3 or 4 rolls. The designs are often quite wacky and colourful, and I love that.

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7. Hema

This was another store which I only found out about recently, due to someone’s photo of their Hema craft haul on Instagram. I sadly don’t have any of their stores near me, so I visited the website instead. This huge order came to just over £20 – an absolute bargain – which meant I qualified for free delivery. They sell beautiful writing sets with matching paper and envelopes, which are perfect for my pen pal exchanges. I also bought lots of sticky notes, little ‘DIY Decoration Set’s (like the tea one shown below) which include themed stickers, tags and embellishments for just £1, and shaped punches.

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8. Tiger

I find Tiger’s craft section can be a bit hit or miss, but I always go in to look, because sometimes you can find some real gems. Around Christmas time they sell lovely festive items like these wintery papers which I use to wrap small presents. They’ve also introduced some cute washi tapes with fun designs which are a steal at 2 for £1. It’s another shop where you can buy items which are really unique, and it will never break the bank so you can breathe easy.

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Well there you have it! My complete guide to craft shopping on the high street! I hope this has given you all some ideas on where to go when you fancy your next craft shopping fix, and please let me know if there’s anywhere I’ve missed off. I’d love to discover even more places where I can purchase craft goodies. 😀

New Hobbie: Penpalling!

I recently decided that I would like to find a pen pal after seeing lots of people on Instagram who receive wonderful ‘happy mail’ through their letterbox from people all around the world, and feeling rather jealous! It was very easy to find people who were looking for pen pals, in fact there are lots of Instagram accounts solely for the purpose of pairing them up! You send them a short message saying a little about yourself and what characteristics you would like in your pen pal, and they then post an advert. I was inundated with requests in just a matter of days. 🙂

Being pretty busy over summer with work and holidays, I decided to only take on two pen pals for the moment. I already feel like I want more so I’m sure the number will grow shortly! One of them is a lovely law student in Brussels, and the other lives in Cheshire and has lots in common with me, including my love for pop punk. 😀

It’s important to consider that there are different types of pen pals, who want to get different things out of the hobby. Some simply write letters explaining the happenings of their day-to-day life, others might want mementos of each others countries and any trips or visits they go on. I have found people who share my love of art and crafts, and so we exchange little craft/stationary items in our letters.

This was the first package I sent to Belgium. (Luckily it all fit inside a reasonably flat envelope and so the postage didn’t cost much at all. If you are concerned by the price of packing though, perhaps find some pen pals in your own country to reduce the cost.)

This was a letter I received from my pen pal in Cheshire, who enclosed some sweet note cards and stickers.

Here is my reply. I made her a sticky note dashboard, filled in some journaling cards, and enclosed stickers and some tea with my letter.

Why not give it a try yourself! It’s a great way to make friends around the world, learn about different countries and cultures, share hobbies and interests, and if you’re like me; it’s so exciting having pretty post arriving for you in the mornings. 🙂

 

Mini Travel Journal – Rome & Amalfi

I recently went on holiday to Italy, spending four nights each in Rome and Amalfi. Whilst I was there I collected lots of ephemera – tickets, maps, receipts, so I decided to make a little travel journal with them when I got home. It’s a nice way of documenting your memories of a trip alongside photographs.

I was pretty pleased with how it turned out 🙂 What do you guys think?

Roald Dahl Birthday Cards

I made these cheery little cards using my Roald Dahl papercrafts collection. They make it so easy! I simply stuck the patterned paper to some blue cardstock to make them more sturdy, and them added the images and words from the huge selection of pop-out die cut embellishments. Some sharpie added definition and outline.

Check out this paper collection here: http://www.onestopcraftshop.com/roald-dahl

50+ Date Ideas

date ideas

Having been in a relationship with Jake for four years now, I often get people saying “but don’t you get bored?”, or “don’t you run out of ideas of things to do?”, and it has inspired me to create a list of date ideas, since going places and having fun together is a big part of us lasting for all this time!

This list features three categories: 1) at-home date ideas: for when you fancy staying in but still doing something a little more exciting than sitting on your phone in front of the TV. 2) free date ideas: I have tried to stick to a zero spending policy as far as possible, but some of these dates may involve spending a very teeny amount of money. 3) days out: these dates do require spending some money as they involve trips to fun places and activities.

At-home dates:

Movies – curl up on the sofa under a blanket with a bowl of popcorn and agree (I know this can be difficult!) on a film to watch.

Spa night – spend the evening pampering each other – I’m talking face masks, manicures, pedicures, and massages!

Video games – it can be so much fun to find a good game and play multiplayer or even against each other. You’ll probably find it can become quite addictive.

Baking – find a delicious looking recipe and bake it together before enjoying it while it’s still hot out of the oven.

Karaoke – there are so many apps nowadays that you can use, or failing that; karaoke videos on Youtube which you can use to belt out your lungs together (you may need alcohol to give you some courage!)

Crafts – decide on a project to make together, such as tie-dye shirts, decorated mugs or friendship bracelets.

Board games – an evening full of Cluedo, Monopoly, and Twister if you’re feeling more adventurous can be a lot of fun!

Blanket fort – gather up plenty of sheets, blankets, pillows and snacks and build your very own cosy fort to snuggle in together.

World record – choose a current world record that exists and spend the evening attempting to break it.

Time capsule – make a time capsule by filling a box with odds and ends which show what life is like in the current year (eg. receipts, photos, newspaper cuttings) and then bury it in your garden for someone to find in years to come.

Magic tricks – all you need is a pack of cards and some research on the internet and you can try your hand at being a magician and challenging your partner to guess the secrets behind the magic.

Workout – find a fitness tutorial video online, get into your sweats, and enjoy some exercise whilst undoubtedly having a laugh.

Food tasting – decide on a type of food (chocolate, cheese, wine, beer…), buy lots of different types of it, then spend the evening gorging on it, whilst marking it for taste of course!

Sports match – watch a game of something together, and really enter into the spirit of things with hot dogs and beers, and loud cheering.

Bubble bath – a warm bath, candles, and relaxing music to de-stress and indulge in a bit of luxury.

Film marathon – more intense than your average movie night; choose a series eg. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, and watch them in all in one sitting. This takes endurance!

Free dates:

Walk – choose a nice route, preferably somewhere rural, and go on a nice long walk.

Bike ride – dust off your bikes, fill a flask, and set off on a cycle to enjoy the fresh air.

Museum – lots of museums offer free entry, so research those in your local area and spend the day exploring them.

Star gazing – head out to a nice spot in the evening, and take a warm blanket. Lay back and star gaze; you can print off tips and constellation maps if you want to take it seriously.

Outside movie – choose a nice area – it could be a park, gardens or riverside – and take your laptop/ portable DVD player to enjoy a movie in the open air.

Make a video – take your video camera out and about, capture whatever takes your fancy, and then use a free programme like Windows Movie Maker to edit the clips and create a film. It could be a music video, a documentary about your hometown, or just a cute couple video.

Water fight – if it’s a warm day, head out into the garden in rough clothes, and take plenty of water pistols, water balloons, buckets and sponges with you to have the most awesome and competitive water fight!

Feed ducks – load up with any stale bread sitting around at home, and visit a nearby lake or pond where you can sit on the grass and feed the ducks whilst having a chat.

Churches – churches are almost always open to the public for free, so why not explore the ones in your area, and enjoy the peace and quiet, and beautiful architecture they have to offer.

Fly kites – if you don’t own a kite, borrow one from a friend, or even make one (tutorial here: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Kite) and then head to a open, windy area to enjoy the simple pleasure of kite flying.

Picnic and paddle – rustle up a picnic out of whatever food you have in the fridge, and then find a nearby river or stream where you can enjoy lunch on the grassy banks before dipping in the water.

Library – libraries are great places to spend a relaxing day together; browse the shelves, pick out books for each other and then find a chair to sit and read.

Park – local parks can be great fun. All you need is to take a ball, bats, or even a skipping rope, and enjoy playing games together in the fresh air.

Berry picking – there are always going to be hedgerows with berries growing. Pick them together and if you don’t eat them all as you go, you can then go home and bake a pie or crumble with them!

Dancing – research bars where dancing takes place, then get glammed up and spend the night having a boogie alongside other couples. Even if you have two left feet it will still be good fun, and a chance to master a new skill.

Animal shelter – looking around animal shelters is a lovely way to spend the day, seeing adorable creatures, and maybe even deciding to take one home!

Days out: 

Bowling – head to a local bowling alley and play a few games, with half-time nachos to share. The winner can pay!

Zoo – the zoo is one of my favourite date locations, as there’s always so much to see and do, and who doesn’t love looking at cute animals all day?

Cinema – agree on a movie, then go all out on the snacks – popcorn, hot dog, and pick and mix – don’t hold back, just don’t annoy everyone else in the theatre with your rustling!.

Theatre – this can be pricey, but it’s possible to find cheaper tickets in advance. It’s a nice excuse to dress up fancy and feel sophisticated for the evening.

Restaurant crawl – go out for three courses in three different restaurants. It’s great fun having starter, main and dessert all in different places!

Historic houses – many historic buildings such as castles and palaces are open to the public, and are brilliant fun to explore. They often have beautiful gardens for picnicking, and it’s fun to imagine you live in such a place.

Tree top adventures – there are now many companies who offer these adrenaline-fueled activities, which include zip lines and climbing ropes up in the trees. It’s also a great way of building communication and trust between you and your partner.

Café – discover a quaint little coffee shop and enjoy tea and cake together.

Swimming – public swimming pools are generally cheap to use, and allow you both to get great exercise whilst spending time with each other.

Spa – purchase a day pass at a spa and relish in the novelty of being completely pampered and relaxed.

Seaside – if there is a beach that isn’t too far away from you, pack a picnic and some games and head to the sand.

Pub quiz – many pubs now host quizzes, and they can be fun evenings to test your knowledge and meet other people. There is also often a prize offered, to act as further incentive!

Shopping – even if you are only window shopping, it can be nice to have a wander through a nearby town or shopping centre, and help each other pick out clothes.

Ice skating – this has always been a popular date idea, as it is good fun, and gives you both an excuse to spend the time holding onto each others hand.

Roller skating – the same applies as above; you can help each other along, and roller skating rinks often organise fun evenings involving themes and DJs.

Market – track down local markets, such as flea markets, vintage ones, or farmers markets, and wander along looking at the stalls with a coffee in hand.

Crazy golf – this is another activity which is brilliant fun, and can bring out the competitiveness in couples.

Fun fair – there is something very old-fashioned seeming about a date to the fair, and it simply wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the dodgems, a sticky of candy floss, and your partner winning you a cuddly toy.

Milkshakes – head to a local milkshake bar, and try the most adventurous sounding flavours. Be extra cute and share one with two straws.

There you have it folks! I hope you have enjoyed reading my list of date ideas. There is always something fun to be doing as a couple, even if you don’t want to spend any money. Let me know if you have any more ideas! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Handmade Christmas Cards

I haven’t posted any Christmassy crafts before now, for fear of my family and friends seeing their gifts before receiving them! So I hope you guys will forgive me, and maybe you can use some of the ideas for next year!

These Christmas cards were simple to make- I find that if you have some nice embellishments and ribbons, the job is always going to be a goodun’. I used ribbons adhered with double sided sticky tape, and then stuck on some festive embellishments (Wilkinson had some great Christmas crafts at amazing prices). Then I added text with either black pen or stamps. I think the effect on simple brown paper was quite effective! ☺️

Pop-out Card Making!

I enjoy making greetings cards for different occasions, but sometimes find it difficult thinking of new, creative designs. So, I decided to try my hand at pop-out card making, as they always look so bold and exciting!

I used a craft manual in order to understand how the folding system needed to work, however I soon found that it was best to half follow the instructions and half make it up as I went along. Experimenting allows you to find what works best for you; you may even find that books and online instructions do not give you the look you desire anyway.

It took me lots of refolding and changing the lengths of the cuts before it folded down flat and I was happy with how it looked.  I was pleased with how it turned out in the end, however next time I must make some alterations as part of the pop out sticks out of the card slightly when it is closed. I look forward to trying out another pop-out soon! 🙂

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