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GOODBYE JANUARY! January sure did drag on for a while, right? Not sure if it was the shorter days and the lack of light but at some points in the month I was feeling up and down like a see-saw. Or even post-blue Christmas holiday feels certainly lingered on; seeing my friends and family over the Christmas period made me feel guilty for not being closer to them. I suppose it’s one of the downsides of being far apart from your folks, I mean, I can jump on the train and see them. But that means spending ‘X’ amount on train fares and only having a short amount of time to seeing everyone *sighs*.

The wedding prep has been a rather nice distraction from all of this and I can say that although I haven’t done as much art as I’d like to, I’ve picked up paper craft pretty quickly and I love looking on Pinterest for inspiration and ideas. In this post I’ll be writing about wax seal stamps and how to make them for letters and envelopes. Firstly, I’m going to be honest and say that I’m not a pro at this; all of these skills I’ve picked up are from YouTube and Pinterest plus trial and error! I was never intending on making wax seals for our invites but Sam’s mum sent me some photos of some (probs Pinterest if I remember correctly) and since then I was completely hooked onto the idea of it- there’s something about wax seals that makes it so much more personal since no two seals are the same. You just need time, patience and an extra pair of hands if you’ve got lots of envelopes to seal!

I bought my stamp from Etsy and it was reasonably priced for what you get: one stamp, three wax sticks, two tea lights and a metal spoon. There are loads of different designs online but if you want a custom one, then you’d need to contact the seller/maker with what you want. I wanted a simple flower design to match the invites: nothing fussy or over complicated.

What You’ll Need

  • One stamp
  • Tea lights (good quality ones though)
  • Wax sticks or pellets like the one in the photo
  • Spoon
  • Lighter
  • Damp cloth
  • A small dish so you prop your spoon whilst you’re melting the wax

I found that using the wax pellets were way more easier than using the wax sticks. The wax sticks can be quite fiddly to melt especially when you get towards the end of it and it turns into a stubby, little mess! I tried cutting it into pieces, which I failed as the stick was pretty hard to cut through. The main advantage of using the wax pellets is that you can mix different ones together much easily to get a marble-type effect. You can still do the same thing with wax sticks but it’s just a tad more faffing around with the wax sticks. Just take care when you’re doing this though especially if you’ve got children, cats, dogs etc. around your workspace- soz if I sound completely patronising but safety is always first though!!!!

  1. Heat up the metal spoon over the tea light for a couple of minutes and place the wax pellet into the spoon.

You’ll know when the wax is ready if you give it a bit of a swish. Don’t worry, the wax comes out pretty slowly as I thought that the wax would be super runny! Also, don’t fill it up too much otherwise the wax will seep out.

2. Once the wax is ready pour it into the centre of the envelope in a circular motion.

3. Now place the stamp over the wax for a couple of seconds, slight pressure to the stamp but not too much though.

4. Done! Keep going with different types of colour for a marble effect and remember to put the tea light out when you’ve finished. Give the spoon a wipe with a damp cloth to remove any residues.

You can play around with different colour waxes for different effects- the possibilities are limitless (depending on what your colour theme is).

That’s all for now and happy crafting everyone! I’d love to see what your seals look like and any tips/hints please do post them in the comments section.

This is not a sponsored post nor am I affiliated with any advertising/promotional deals.

Hello folks! I’m going to start a series of DIY guides for wedding-related craft projects. As you may know, Pinterest is such a wonderful source of inspiration and I’m forever looking at posts for ideas for our wedding. I started a board years ago and it’s been such a great tool for art and craft projects. However, sometimes I get way too carried away and go off on a tangent for several hours!

My main task for the wedding reception is that I wanted to create something quite opulent, flower-inspired since my invites are along that theme, so I’ve decided to make paper flowers as a start and from there use them to make a chandelier as well as garlands. I started off cutting out circles and then making them 3D shape so that they can sit nicely once they’re all bunched together. My only issue with this method is that it does takes ages and you need to have patience/music in the background to keep you going. I also found that it’s very difficult to get the flowers all looking the same, not like I wanted them to, but I was unable to to anything intricate due to the time factor.

I came across a die-cutter thanks to my aunt, who has kindly let me borrow hers, and I’ve honestly not looked back since I’ve been using it! It’s saved me so much time and I’ve been churning loads of flowers out like a pro! I think there are numerous brands of die-cutters but I’ve been using one called the Sizzix. It’s pretty straight forward to use and so far I’ve not encountered any problems with it. There are loads of options of different dies too so I’ll buy a few more so that there’s variations in the types of flowers. For me, it feels really durable and the die cutter has some weight to it- so it feels super sturdy when you’re holding it.

What You’ll Need

  • Die-cutting machine (you can by them online or in craft shops)
  • Paper (lots of it!)
  • Pencil
  • Heavy-duty ruler
  • Scalpel or scissors
  • Cutting mat
  • Glue (I like to use super glue)
  1. Prep your paper so that it sits nicely between the plastic board and the die. You’ll want to cut it so that it can fit through the die cutter- so I tend to measure up all my paper and cut them to the right size.

2. When your paper is sandwiched between the plastic boards and the die (the foam side facing upwards like in the photo above), you’ll want to leave at least a 1cm gap when you’re feeding it through. Gently push it through and start to turn the handle. At this point, you’ll be able to feel the rollers grip onto the plastic boards.

3. Done! Well almost. I usually keep going at this point, mixing up the papers until I have enough to keep me going.

4. Once you’ve cut out all your layers you’ll want to start layering up the bits of paper. I fold the petals inwards so that they’re 3D-looking and using different types of paper/card will give you different effects.

Note: try using plain paper and washing it down with light water colours or spray paint to get different effects.

And that’s pretty much it. I’ve found that the more you try out different types of paper, the variations are limitless. There are lots of helpful online tutorials if you get stuck but personally once you start using it’s really so easy to use.

I hope I’ve inspired you to create your own paper flowers; even with or without the dit cutter you can still make simple paper flowers even it’s cutting out the petals and arranging them on a circular paper disc, continuing to layer them up as you go.

Happy crafting folks!

Happy New Year everyone (is it still too late to be saying it at this time of the month now?!). I hope you’ve all had a restful Christmas; even if it means doing nothing, just chilling, spending time with family, and eating loads of chocolate. I did all of that including more wedding-admin which never seems ending right now.

So in terms of wedding related things, what have we done so far? Bearing in mind it’s about seven months now and right now I’m feeling rather elated and slightly stress-y just because there’s so much to do.

  • I bought my wedding dress! YES it’s done! Am I going to reveal anything about my dress? Nope!
  • Thanks to Sam he’s made an online RSVP form for folks so it’ll making the process of collecting information much quicker.
  • Invites are printed and we’re currently in the middle of writing the rest of them up. Hopefully they’ll be done by the end of the weekend. (Separate blog post about the invites will be up once they’re all sent out).
  • Honeymoon to Japan is now booked and I’m currently freaking out about it. I bought a Lonely Planet guide a while back so now I’m book marking all the pages and there’s a long to-do list, the most important one is to eat our way around Japan. Bring on the noodles.
  • Dresses for the flower girls are done plus accessories. This was a bit of a tricky one as it’s actually quite hard to find formal wear for children. My mum and I went to loads of shops around Doncaster and in the end we had to go to further afield to Sheffield but I’m happy with the dresses and so are the girls.
  • Bridesmaids dresses are also off the list.
  • The order of the Tea Ceremony has been written up. Again, I’ll write up a separate blog post about the Tea Ceremony for those that aren’t familiar with it.
  • We’ve got our caterers sorted out, all we need to do is to finalise the furniture and tableware.
  • We’re currently finalising potential florists so this should be dine either this week or the following week at the latest.

My current project at the moment is making paper flowers, thanks to my aunt, she let me borrow her die-cutting machine and it’s saved me loads of time. If you don’t know what a die-cutting machine is there’ll be a how-to-guide in the next couple of days as I highly recommend getting your hands on one if you’re planning on making paper flowers for whatever project you are doing.

I’m going to leave it here as I need to go back and write out more invites. I’m really eager to show photos of them but unfortunately I can’t do that just yet.

In the meantime though hope you have a lovely January (bye January, you were cold and it’s still dark!). Take care of yourselves and have a great evening.

Jo

I can’t believe it’s that time of the year already. TBF I say this every year, but the past couple of months have zoomed right before my eyes- my brain is trying to comprehend the fact that I can’t believe this time next week it’s going to be Christmas Day. And when I think about this I’m already imagining myself sitting in my PJs binge watching 90s films and eating loads of chocolate. Turn off that 6:00am alarm. Hell YES. 

This year has been an eye opener in terms of learning more about myself, how and where my creative journey is taking me but most of all WE’RE GETTING MARRIED NEXT YEAR! (Had to be in cap locks obvs). It’s literally countdown now until August- 9 months now folks! You’ll be seeing loads of wedding related posts and, yep, I’ve turned into a right bridezilla and why not!

At the end of the year I always do a round up post as it’s great to reflect on the past year in terms of reaching my goals or setting myself new ones, looking back at happy memories/experiences and looking forward to the future. Trust yourself and nothing we do is a failure; we always learn from our own experiences in order to grow as a person. 

I’m able to look back at myself and reflect on my anxiety (tackle the A word head on now) in terms of how I react to situations, how I am with people and being kinder to myself. My last session with my therapist she asked me, ‘How do I want to live?’ and my reply to her was, ‘I want to lead a happy and ‘normal’ life where I can go out without the anxiety taking over me. I want to continue to see and meet new people, be brave, take risks, don’t be afraid of new challenges, try things out, and not trying to mould myself to how others want me to’. I have accepted the fact that the anxiety will never go away but it’s finding ways of managing it without it overwhelming me on a daily basis. 2018 has been a year of joy, happiness, tears, self-judgement plus a whole lot of other things. 

Without further ado, here are my highlights for this year in no order:

Setting a Date for our Wedding

Okay, so I said there was no particular order but this one has to be right at the top. It happened pretty quickly in terms of agreeing with a date and committing to a venue. Getting everything in sync was a bit of a headache as we were worried about finding two venues (the ceremony part and the wedding reception) not matching with the date we wanted. Safe to say that they’re booked in, done, now million other things to sort out! Honestly, I couldn’t be anymore happier with making it officially official that I’ll be marrying my best friend, partner for life, someone who shares the same passion with me (cats, cats and more cats!)

Journey to Etsy Workshop

It was a great experience running the ‘Journey to Etsy’ workshop back in November for Doncaster Central Learning Center. For my first Etsy workshop it went really well and it was brilliant meeting the users who use the service. I’d love to run another workshop in the future.

New Artwork

This year I’ve been working on a variety of small projects which have been challenging, interesting and fun. It’s been an absolute pleasure working for Najia again as well as Karl who runs ‘Melt Dance’, a dance company based in Manchester.

I’m hoping next year there’ll be a flow of side projects as I don’t always have the time to fit it around my job as a teaching assistant. The nature of the job itself is tiring so coming back home from work means sometimes I don’t have the energy to go back to my artwork. Plus, there’s always a billion and one things to do around the house! Which is a shame as this year I was planning on focusing more self-initiated projects, however, it’s taken a back burner so 2019 will be the year of making more new work for myself.

Exploring Different Places

Sam and I have been going on lots of walks and we’ve done our fair share of camping this year. We went wild camping a couple of months ago; sleeping outside with no tent took getting used to since it was really noisy at night time! However, I’d totally do it again as there was something very pleasant about being connected with nature and not checking my phone every 5 minutes. Listening to the wildlife at night was absolutely wonderful; lots of different bird calls floating around us in the middle of the night. We’re planning more camping trips when the weather gets warmer as I don’t think I’d cope with the cold weather we’re getting right now!

We’ve travelled quite a bit this year; the Netherlands was breath-taking. Such a beautiful place to explore as well. I would highly recommend visiting the Netherlands even if it’s a couple of days. We camped for ten days, basically missioned around in our car plus camping gear.

Website Update

My website was in desperate need of an update! I asked Sam to help me out a bit as I was losing my patience with it. I think sometime next year my website will get a complete redesign as I want it to be more focused on product-based work. I’m happy with the layout so far especially the categories; it seems more fluid because before it was slightly messy as nothing was in order.

New Faces in the Family

By this I mean there have been lots of babies this year in my ever growing family: Fiona, Helen and my cousin Henry’s partner all had babies pretty close to each other. Welcome to the Cheung crew! I can’t wait to meet Fiona’s little one over Christmas as I’ve seen so many photos of her on Facebook and Instagram. I met Jaxon a couple of months ago when I was back in Doncaster and I’ve seen loads of photos of him army crawling around the living room, bopping away to ‘Gangnam Style’, generally LOADS of cute photos of him growing right in front of my very eyes. I’ll be seeing Helen’s little one next year at our wedding, really looking forward to meeting her!

So, what are my goals for next year…?

I’ve always said driving; by the looks of it it’ll take me another ten years to get it over and done with. I’m not even exaggerating!

To read more books. I’ve got a long list of books I want to read so I’ll be going down my reading list.

… getting married of course!

Being mindful, taking care of myself, letting go of negative thoughts and creating time for myself. I think it’s important to put yourself first otherwise you begin to lose your own sense of wellbeing.

That’s it for now. This will be my last post for the year as I’ll be getting ready for Christmas, the New Year, wedding-related things, and generally being busy over the Christmas period.

Thanks so much for reading as always and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and here’s to 2019!

Hello all! How’s the start of December been for you? I had a bit of a wobbly start (I like to call it a ‘blip’) to the month due to stress and anxiety as I’m finding it tricky to the CBT techniques my therapist taught me a couple of months ago. My anxiety at the moment is pretty high and sometimes I find it very difficult to concentrate on small things, entering a room full of people or talking to a group of people; it almost becomes overwhelming to the point where it sets me right off. 

Lately, I’ve been reading  books to take my mind off things when I’m feeling anxious (why are you always so loud and noisy?!) as my thoughts are constantly cycling around my head 24/7. When I’m reading it gives me that break from thinking; thinking as in thinking about things that will, might, could, should happen. Thinking about things I’ve done, said, when I’m with people… it goes on. And sometimes that thinking isn’t helpful either. I recently read Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive which is a detailed account of when he went through depression and anxiety in his early 20’s. This one line from the book really resonates with me and is embedded in my mind; he’s so on point with mental illness (in this context he is talking about depression)- it’s like your mind is on fire but no one can see it:

To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames. 

Haig, Matt. Reasons to Stay Alive. Canongate, 2015. Page 2.

 

I couldn’t put the book down. I read it in about four days between my lunch breaks and when I was on the tube- any free time I could squeeze into the day I’d be reading it. There were a lot of things I could relate to especially when he was describing the symptoms of anxiety. 

I’d really recommend giving it a read as Haig talks about a subject matter which can affect anyone at all stages of their lives. 

Thanks for reading this as always and have a relaxing and mindful weekend.