Monday, 30 November 2015

Shrek's Adventure London

I don't mind admitting that deep down I am a big kid at heart.  Growing up I was lucky enough to have a fair few holidays to Orlando in Florida visiting both Universal Studios and Disney.  But since adulthood arrived, responsibilities set in with bills to pay and a job to hold down that luxury is a mere distant memory.  So when I discovered that Shrek was coming to London I found myself getting quite excited, finally a little taste of the magic literally on the doorstep.   

I was thrilled to finally get the chance to visit the attraction on Saturday, so with my Mum as my plus one we hopped on the train into the big city for a Shrektacular fun filled afternoon.

Shrek's Adventure is situated on Southbank right next to the London Eye, which is just perfect at this time of year.  With the ice rink, Christmas market and carousel right beside it, there is lots in the area to keep you occupied for either before or after your visit.

On arrival we collected our passes from the departures desk and set off on our journey to far far away.      

Having been to America I have always appreciated their attention to detail with their attractions, no stone is ever left unturned.  But I feel it is safe to say that us Brits are catching up.  Everywhere you looked there was something going on, and you really felt a part of the attraction.

Once you passed through the departure gate no photos were allowed to be taken and in a way I was quite thankful for this as it really gave you the opportunity to enjoy it as opposed to continuously stopping and looking out for that perfect shot.  It also means that nothing is spoilt for anyone else planning to visit.  I will be honest I had done quite a bit of research before of visit, but I was still unsure of what to expect and there were definite surprises along the way during the tour.

For that reason I don't want to give anything away so you won't be finding any spoilers here.  However I will share with you my thoughts and opinions of it.

Having now visited, I will say that I wouldn't visit again, purely because I have seen it all.  On doing my research I was given the impression that each visit would be completely different and that depending on certain outcomes in each room, would depend on the path you took around the tour.  However I learnt that this is not the case and you are basically guided around the attraction.  It worked well but once you've seen it you know exactly what to expect.

There were bits of the attraction I loved and other bits I wasn't so keen on (without meaning to sound nasty the actors although good at what they were doing, were quite irritating, but then again, without them I'm not so sure it would work as well as it did).  It is definitely geared more towards families with young children, which I completely understand and expected to be the case, although there were groups of adults attending too so it wouldn't be a problem if you were going without any children in tow. 

  We entered the attraction at just after 4pm, and fortunately didn't have to queue to get in (from what I've been told, visiting earlier in the day is much busier and so queues may be likely).  The whole thing from start to finish lasted around an hour which was just about right, I'd say anything longer would have been too long.  I would say if you were going to be at a loose end in London and are a fan of Shrek and DreamWorks then pay it a visit, you'll even get to meet the main man himself.

Huge thanks to all the team at Shrek's Adventure London for a great afternoon.

~ Gem x

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A Crafty Christmas Guest Post Over on Mrs Crafty B's Blog

Hello, now it's not normal to see me here on a Sunday however I wanted to drop in to let you know I'm writing over on Mrs Crafty B's Blog today.

I'm sharing a couple of very simple Christmas decoration DIY's so please, please, please do pop on over to have a look and show some love, the direct link to my post is here.

Mrs Crafty B has had a little Christmas craft takeover this week with a whole host of fellow bloggers sharing their Christmas DIY's so check out the posts published from earlier in the week too.    

I'd also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Mrs Crafty B for having me on her blog, it's been an honour writing a piece for her.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Christmas Gift Lists Inspiration

Each year that passes, providing a Christmas list seems to get harder and harder.  In a society where we tend to buy the things we want, when we want, a time for providing loved ones with gift lists seems to be fewer and far between.

   There isn't particularly anything that I need and at first there wasn't that much that I could think of that I wanted this year.  

But then I thought about creating a gift list inspiration blog post and all of a sudden I've discovered lots of things that I quite like the look of, actually needing them is a completely different matter.  

*Moss Knit Blanket from H&M £49.99  *Baby It's Cold Outside Hot Water Bottle from Asda £5  *Yankee Candle Christmas Sparkling Cinnamon Boxed Medium Jar from Boots £16.99  *Chalk Globe from Asda £15  *Lit Red Berry & Pine Cone Garland from Next £20  *At Home With Ashley Thomas Red Merry Christmas Cushion from Debenhams £22.40.

*Woodland Animal Socks from Next £8  *Metal Tab Shoulder Bag from Accessorize £35  *Red & Yellow Check Scarf from Primark £5.

What have you got on your Christmas list this year?

~ Gem x

Monday, 23 November 2015

Kirstie Allsopp's Handmade Christmas Fair Manchester

I've been on a little adventure in the last few days, driving up to Manchester to visit Kirstie's Handmade Christmas Fair held at Manchester Central.  I've missed both of her summer fairs held at London's Hampton Court Palace over the past 2 years, so when discovering this show was going to be Christmas themed, there was nothing that was going to keep me from going. 

I've actually found today's post really hard to write.  I always try to look for the positives when writing for my blog and although there were definite positives to the show, on the whole I was bitterly disappointed by the experience.  I hope what I've managed to come up with explains this fairly without sounding too negative.

I booked my ticket early at a reduced rate and paid £17.  This ticket included entrance to the shopping village plus 3 workshops which I booked at the time of ordering my ticket.    

I arrived at the venue shortly after 9:30 wanting to make the most of my day.  My first workshop wasn't until 10am so it gave me  little time to try and get my bearings.  The place was practically empty so stepping into the shopping village I was free to look at the first few stands without having to peer across peoples shoulders which is usually the case at these type of events.  

Heading over to the super theatre for my first workshop, the Giant Gingerbread House with Richard Hunt & Kirstie, I was surprised to see that the amount of people about were still very few, although it did mean a seat right near the front and a much cosier session.  It was a really good giggle to watch and I did enjoy it.  Anyone who has watched any of Kirstie's handmade TV programmes will know when it comes to the foodie crafts she can't help but have the occasional taste as they are cooking, well let's just say that this was no different.

What you see of Kirstie on the TV is exactly how she is in person, or certainly how she came across during the show.  She was really friendly and was happy to have a little chat with me and pose for an obligatory selfie after the session.

Selfies completed I headed back into the shopping village.  It was still feeling rather empty, which wasn't so much a bad thing as it wasn't all that big.  The majority of the stands were selling items they had made, which don't get me wrong were all lovely.  However I think for a creative fair the majority of people visiting would be creative people looking for inspiration and crafty materials as opposed to buying ready made products.  I did make a couple of purchases though, some beautiful heart shaped wax melts from Lubylu, a delicious chocolate orange cupcake from One Sweet Day and a gorgeous vintage hanky from Miss Clementine.

After strolling around for a while it was time for my second workshop, my grand make.  I'd opted for the papercut cards with Sian Williams-Clarke (making a name place card).  The session only lasted 25 minutes which was plenty of time to complete the task at hand but in all honesty I kind of wish I'd never bothered with it.  Sian was lovely and did the best she could with what time she had but I really don't feel as though I learnt anything from it and wasn't able to take anything away from the workshop.  No skills or techniques were learnt in terms of the best way to hold the knife and there was a little hiccup in the set-up of the workshop in that we were supposed to have a template on our card to cut out so instead some freehand drawing was needed before we could begin which meant if your drawing skills weren't up to much you were already off to a bad start.   

Feeling quite deflated by this point I took the opportunity to visit the Press stand while waiting for my next workshop and had a chat with the lovely pocketfulofdreams where she talked through some Instagram tips.  Their stand looked beautiful, it was a real feast for the eye with so much detail.  Just what I needed to lift my spirits.

Walking away from here I spotted some familiar faces and had a wonderful chat with the lovely Suzie Johnson from The Wool Sanctuary and Dolly McGrath, it's always nice meeting people in the flesh that you've been conversing with on Instagram wouldn't you agree?  A big highlight for me, I do like meeting with you lovely lot.

It also helped pass the time to my last workshop for the day, Book Folding with Kate Bufton.  This was by far my favourite workshop during the day, I guess I really did save the best till last.  We were making a tree from a book (kind of ironic really when you think about it) and I loved it.  I actually learnt something and have already bought myself a couple of hardback books so that I can make some more.  This session lasted an hour which seemed perfect time to achieve a finished tree.

So it wasn't all bad, but I feel there is lots of room for improvement.  I just felt as though it were lacking in atmosphere, there was no music being played and no real Christmas feel if I'm being honest.  Perhaps there not being many people about had an impact on the feel for it all, it may well have been different on Saturday and Sunday but from where I was standing I wasn't all that impressed I'm afraid.  If you visited the show I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, or the London shows for that matter.  It has made me dubious as to whether to bother with the Hampton Court Palace Show if it comes back again in the summer, then again I have plenty of time to think about that.

~ Gem x 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My Current (Christmassy) Mood

The mood is certainly moving from Autumn to Winter, or more specifically Christmas.  There is that sparkle in the atmosphere that I just cannot get enough of.

I'd not wanted to focus too much on Christmas this month, saving the excitement and celebrations for December.  But I think it is fair to say that those thoughts are well and truly out of the window and the Christmas mood is well and truly settling in.  Who was I trying to fool with that anyway! 

I've started to sneak in little decorations here and there.  I obviously wasn't discreet enough as James noticed straight away.    

The wax melts have changed from the fresh summery scents to scents of apple, cinnamon and winter spice, and home is beginning to smell just like Christmas and that couldn't make me happier.

Temperatures outside are dropping and cosy nights spent indoors listening to the wind howling past the windows are becoming more frequent.  I've been feeling thankful to be warm and cosy indoors, it has been rather blustery here the past few days.

So with just 36 days to go till Christmas, I'll be keeping you updated with events I'll be attending and all things Christmas in my little world.

~ Gem x

Monday, 16 November 2015

Christmas Jumpers

I'm a huge fan of Christmas jumpers and am so pleased that they have become more and more fashionable over the years.  I own 3 already but do you know what, 3 isn't nearly enough.

I've been searching online for those perfect Christmas jumpers to add to the collection. These are a few of my favourites.

1. Sequinned Honey it's Cold Outside Jumper from H&M £14.99
2. Candy Cane Jumper from Next £22
3. Christmas Home Alone Sweater from Primark £10
4. Stone This Girl Loves Christmas Jumper from New Look £14.99

I reckon a couple if not all of these will be landing in my basket over the next few weeks.  A girl can never have too many Christmas jumpers, wouldn't you agree?

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Creative Photo Displays with Snapfish

I'm a big fan of photographs.  I take an endless amount, in fact there is rarely a day that goes by where I don't take a photo, so I was very pleased to work with Snapfish recently on a creative little challenge.

Now that all of our photos our taken digitally, gone are the days where we remove the film and send it off to be processed and eagerly await the prints.  As a result of this some of us seem to display far fewer photos around our homes.

Have you ever thought of the different ways that you could display your prints?  We are all so quick to turn to a photo frame, yet there are so many other creative ways we can share and enjoy our memories.  They can make the perfect little keepsakes for yourself or even as a gift and with Christmas right around the corner why not consider this as a gift option for your nearest and dearest, I'm sure they would love being reminded of that special moment shared together.  

In a throw away society we often don't think about other uses for our rubbish.  How about using those jars to display photos?  Depending what way up you have the jar you could even pop some dried or fake flowers in there too.  To create this look I have just bent the photo into the jar and have pressed the image up against the glass.

You could even hang a photo inside the jar with a few treasured items.  I've used some of the confetti left over from our wedding in this one and included a photo of the confetti shot.

Another re-purposed item I've used is an embroidery hoop.  Nice and simple, just loop some twine around the inside hoop, add some cute pegs and you've got yourself a custom made photo holder.

A lover of the great outdoors?  If so I reckon you'll like this next one.

A simple frame made using twigs and twine.   

I think this would look great in a little boys bedroom, and the bonus is that it's so easy to make.

On the subject of making your own frames, have you ever thought about creating your own multiple photo frame?  I picked up a few photo frames from the local charity shop, gave them all a base coat of paint, then added a colour coat.  I've been meaning to do this for dare I say it a couple of years now, so was pleased to have finally gotten around to it.

Next I used some super-glue to glue the frames together and wall-ah there you have it, your very own multiple frame.  You can paint the frames any way you want, use what ever size frame you like and position them however suits you best.  And what's else is I'll bet you'll be able to do it at a fraction of the cost you would pay to buy one of these frames from a shop.

I've created a new board on Pinterest featuring lots of different creative ways for displaying your photos, the possibilities really are endless.

Snapfish offer a whole range of products as well as just your standard prints so why not take a look for yourself, and you never know, you may be able to cross a couple of gifts off that Christmas list.

~ Gem x

* This post contains press samples, although all images and words are my own.