Sunday, 18 March 2012

Style versus Styles. Gifts from the heart.....not necessarily the pocket!

Not in a million years did I ever think I would be featuring Harry Styles of 'One Direction' fame in my writing! Not that I have anything against Harry. I am sure he is a lovely young man! My 8 year old daughter certainly seems to think so. So much so, and against my better judgement, I succumbed to her pressure and bought her this 'beautiful' Harry doll for her birthday quite recently. I did have to laugh at myself. I didn't think it would be that hard (both mentally.....what happened to Holly Hobbie??.... and physically!) to buy a doll...but oh no...clearly every other young girl across the UK wanted a Harry doll too. I managed to get my hands on the last one. Fortunately I didn't have to wrestle with anyone or traipse around a dozen stores to lay my hands on him (why does that not sound quite right?!!) but it was not easy nevertheless. I did have to sprint across the shop floor to make a grab before some other (youngish, very disappointed) girl got her mits on him! Ruthless, I was! He cost £12.99 and frankly was worth every penny even if I did have to don a disguise in case I saw anyone I knew whilst purchasing! My daughter was overjoyed and has since spent hours gazing at Harry, who now stands pride of place next to the second worst doll collection in the world......Monster High dolls! (Actually, I am not sure which order of hideousness I would rank them in.....)

Let me introduce you to Harry , readers! Don't you think he looks a little like Laurence Llewelyn Bowen? That's what I tell myself...and anyone who knows no better! According to a totally unreliable source, he is now a collectors item and I should treasure him. Mmmm. Don't expect to see me on Antiques Roadshow any time soon!! I've thrown his box away anyway. Doesn't that render him worthless?

Harry doll got me thinking though. Some of the best presents I have bought have been those that have not cost a bomb, hence my blog title, from the heart not necessarily from the pocket. OK. I won't win any prizes for interior styling with this one, but I did start thinking about other presents I have given people and what is possible with a little imagination and a bit of effort.

I'll be featuring some easy to do ideas over the forthcoming blogs, but thought I would post a couple of examples. The 'E' (E for daughter), was one such idea. I had seen, as with all of these, the same thing in a popular online retailer's catalogue which popped through the door, and decided it would be easy and a fraction of the price to do this myself! My daughter chose some wrapping paper, in this case an Orla Kiely paper for £2.50. I made a cardboard stencil and then cut out the letter 'E' from the wrapping paper. The frame is from Ikea...approximately £15. So, less than £20 for the finished product. Bargain!

The heart picture below is a similar idea. My daughter was born in Edinburgh and is extremely proud of the fact, even though she has not been back to Edinburgh since she was 4 months old!! She loves showing people this map whilst doing her mad impression of a Scotswoman! (Slightly Indian, slightly Welsh...with a bit of East Midlands thrown in for good measure!). Very simple. Buy an OS map from any decent stationers, cut out the relevant city, town etc into desired shape and frame! Again, £20 there or thereabouts for a finished product that I have seen retailing for more than 3 times this cost! OK. The finish may not be as perfect as something put together professionally in a factory...but isn't that the point? It's certainly not £60 less 'finished' than the online version and I made it!

Moving onto a slightly more adventurous project, a very old (as in, we have known each other from infant school...) friend of mine hit a milestone birthday a couple of years back and requested that friends give her something for her birthday that meant something to the friendship or something that she would be able to treasure.

What a lovely idea, I thought, whilst inwardly slightly freaking out as to what I could do. After a number of aborted ideas I decided to make her a cushion and not only did I surprise myself with the result (and her, probably!) but I really enjoyed the whole process. I don't need to go into chapter and verse about how I did this. The pictures show that. The cushion was made from a natural linen fabric and then the other materials sewn together separately...using velvet ribbon, natural linen, purple gingham and some pretty mother of pearl buttons. To finish the cushion, and to add an extra special touch, I stitched a separate square of linen and embroidered a little quote on the back. I didn't make the quote up myself, but I did make the cushion and hand embroidered the words so decided I could get away with putting my initials on the back! Again, it is not the most perfect piece of needlework ever produced but I am pretty sure that my friend appreciated the thought and effort that went into it and to the sentiment behind the idea. It felt as special to me making it as it did giving it to my friend. 

Anyway, I'll be looking out for other such 'DIY' projects along these lines and sharing them with you from time to time. Please let me know should you come across any ideas worth sharing.

All that remains is for me to wish any Mums out there a Happy Mother's Day! Mine started out with the central heating breaking down and the electricity cutting out! My daughter saved the day by making me a number of Mother's Day cards, one which had a poem. I'll let you decide how befitting a tribute to Mother's Day it is! It made me laugh.

Spaghetti, Spaghetti, you wonderful stuff
I love you, Spaghetti, I can't get enough.
You're covered with sauce and sprinkled with cheese,
Spaghetti, Spaghetti, oh..give me some, please! 

(Extract from a  Jack Prelutsky poem) 

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