Thursday 6 June 2013

Make your own lampshades

Last Valentines Day Mr. Hunter and I went to a restaurant in the Village and I was in love with the decoration. It used glass bottles and jars as lampshades. I haven't got a picture of it unfortunately, but I was sure I would be able to find a tutorial online with tips of how to create that... Well, here it is, we written by Britt & Tom, from the lovely and colourful Dutch Woonblog.

The pictures below are pretty self-explanatory, but if you want a more personal insight on how to make these, use Google Translate and read the couple's post. For me, the hardest part would be to find a lamp socket already wired. I am not quite sure of how to search for it online, but I will update this post after my next trip to B&Q or Homebase.

Photo Credit: Woonblog

Thursday 23 May 2013

Agatha the hippo

I am so pleased to welcome Margaret Harrold, from the incredible Heath Barns, with this wonderful creation: Agatha, the hippo. I will let her tell you about the great story behind the project and her insights on the making of it. Enjoy!

What to do with those lovely bundles of material?
by Margaret Harrold, guest blogger

Everyone is selling tempting bundles of material now and here is a blast from the past that uses them in a fun way.

In 1980, when my granddaughter Jennifer was born I made a hippo for her from a Simplicity pattern. Her sister Hannah is now pregnant and asked if her baby (due in July) could have one. I had to say I was sorry but I didn’t keep the pattern and am not talented enough to guess and try again after 33 years!! Then, to my disbelief, while thumbing through a Simplicity pattern book for other ideas I found this:

The very pattern that I had used all those years ago! It made me feel rather old that I was working from “Archives” but here it was and so off I went and bought two bundles of material and have ended up with a 21st century hippo… Here she is! I have called her Agatha as while I was doing the gathering stitches on all the circles I was watching an Agatha Christie murder mystery on the television!

So, was she easy to do? A little time consuming, but really not too much of a challenge to anyone who can use a sewing machine:

1) The head, feet and tail were straightforward sewing and stuffing.
2) The body is made up of large circles of material (perfect size for those bundles of material) gathered around the edges and then smaller circles of padding placed centrally.
3) As the gathering is pulled in you are left with the padded circles you see above.

Finally, a half inch cut is made in the centre and half inch wide elastic threaded through all the circles and sewn securely onto both head and tail. The legs are than also attached the same width of elastic and placed two circles from front and back. I hand stitched the facial felt to make it safer and the mouth is embroidered in chain stitch. Agatha is flexible, stretchy and a fun gift for any child.

--- // ---

I hope you have loved this post as much as I did. :) If you want to get Agatha's pattern, you can find it on Simplicity's website via this link.
And don't forget to check Heath Barns and to follow Margaret on Pinterest

Sunday 19 May 2013

Time to up-cycle: DIY chest of drawers

I hope you missed me as much as I missed writing here. I know Mango's posts date back from January 2012, but those are remnants of an old blog of mine. Mango as we know it, actually, only started in June last year... To be precise, the first post was on 15th June.

I have to admit, I am proud for keeping up with it. I think all bloggers who don't let the ball drop should be very proud of their babies. To maintain a blog is not an easy task when there are so many other aspects of your life fighting for your time.

Anyway, there is a section of Mango that I noticed needed some updating, so here it goes: some Home Decor inspiration for you!

I've been saving these pictures because I love both ideas sooooo much. So why not share it? You might very well find it useful too!

This one comes with a tutorial, by Cameras & Chaos

The first image is by Cameras & Chaos. Cindy talks us through the task of turning an old and rough chest of drawers into this beautiful piece of vintage looking furniture. Can you think of a more perfect place to store all your bits of fabric or linen?

The second is by a German blog and shop Titatoni. I couldn't find the exact post with the picture, but trust me, the entire blog is worth a visit. I could spend hours going through the lovely ideas and photos on it. It's simply gorgeous!

Photo credit:


I love the idea of using wooden apple crates to make a piece of furniture. But, to be honest, I love the whole composition of this picture. The colours, the vintage radio, the little topiary tree - or is it an olive tree? - even the cushion is adorable!

Monday 6 May 2013

The beautiful art of needle-felting

I was always intrigued by needle-felting. I found this tutorial on Pinterest and I loved the idea, but I had never tried this technique before, so I didn't dare just giving it a go without reading more about it first.

As I couldn't find the original post online - the link just led me to a Polish "Pinterest-alike" tool - I had to look for information else where. Luckily, I am a member of Crafty Creatives and one of the monthly kits contained a pretty good "how to" for beginners with no previous experience on needle-felting. So below are my thoughts on this tutorial. I am not sure about the elbow pads, but I absolutely adore the idea of adding textured shapes to plain cotton fabric. The possibilities are infinite!

What you will need:

- Wool roving (this is wool that has been twisted, attenuated and freed of foreign matter in the stage before its conversion into yarn. It is more refined than wool batting).
- Felting needle (Caution! Felting needles are covered in tiny barbs - these are what tangles the wool together - and it really hurts if you stab your finger with it, a lot more than with a normal needle or pin).
- A foam pad (you can easily find this at Amazon or Ebay and they came in different sizes, make sure you get the ones specifically designed for needle felting, mainly because of its thickness).
- For this particular tutorial a cookie cutter is used to help with the shape. Although it is not essential, it does help first timers.

Things to keep in mind:

- This process of needle-felting through another fabric is slightly different then just making shapes using your wool straight agains the foam pad.
- Remember to work with layers and to keep your bundles about 1cm thick. You can always add bits here and there as you will see in the next pictures.
- With the wool in place, start stabbing it. Remember you don't need to stab it too far in the foam. The barbs are the the tip of the needle.

Last but not least...

- After working a few layers, remove the cookie cutter (if you're using one) and work your edges. Use the needle to perfect your shape.
- Once you've finished, use an iron to help fixing it. Remember to do it both ways (inside and out). I learnt that spraying some water over it before ironing helps make your shape denser.

Saturday 27 April 2013

They're back: Owls!!!

Well, as the clay magnets two posts ago were so well received, I thought of sharing a similar post. You probably know by now I am a big owl fan, so I couldn't resist the cuteness of this picture!

Photo credit: Design and Nonsense
This tutorial reminded me of one of the first ideas I ever shared here, almost a year ago, on Creative ways to decorate pebbles. And, not surprisingly, Emily, from Design and Nonsense, was inspired by the same picture that inspired me back in August 2012! The magic of Pinterest bringing us all together!

Well, besides a thin point marker and white acrylic paint, the third material you'll need and to me the new take this tutorial brings worth highlighting is to use self-adhesive magnetic tape. Amazing solution!

Emily still uses PVA glue, but not to stick the magnets, only as a sealant. She says you could try varnish, I would add my two cents and say that probably even the good old Mod Podge would work brilliantly to give it a nice finish. Owlsome!

Saturday 20 April 2013

A-do-ra-ble way to up-cycle old mason jars

I had to share this. It's a-do-ra-ble. Simple, but brilliant! So M&P... Use the metal rings to secure the jars on scraps of wood or old pallets.

Not sure where the original came from, please let me know if you do!

Friday 19 April 2013

Playing with clay

The simplicity of this tutorial and how adorable it looks made it irresistible to me, I had to write a post about it. Well, I love fridge magnets. When I was a teenager I had a giant metal frame on my bedroom wall, covered in photos and with tons of pretty magnets I collected throughout the years. But how wonderful would it be to make your own little precious magnets?

Photo Credit: Casa & Trend

♩♬   " Why does it always rain on me? Is it because I lied when I was 17? "   ♪♫

This idea is by Italian website Casa & Trend and besides teaching you how to do the actual magnets, it also offers a tutorial on how to make a "directly-painted-on-the-wall-magnetic-board". The pictures on the website speak for themselves, but if you're having trouble understanding it, I suggest Google Translate :)

It's this simple. for the magnets you will need the following:

- Clay (I like to use air dry clay, just because it's simple to use, less messy and as the name says, doesn't require "baking")
- Little magnets to attach to the back
- Acrylic paint and a small brush to decorate
- Glue
Moulds (this one is optional, the original tutorial suggest we use cookie cutters, but a shape like the ones above can be easily achieved by flattening a smooth round ball and maybe using a craft precision knife to assist you)  

The only tips I have to offer are:

1) Make sure the clay has fully dried before you paint it. Depending on the size of your work, it might take a couple of days. Make sure you allow all sides to dry - in other words, turn your shapes regularly, giving every surface space to breath. 

2) Remember: Once dried, your shape reduces its size. Most air dry clay brands suggest that this reduction is about 7%. 

3) For larger shapes, use stronger or larger magnets. It sounds obvious, but it's the kind of reminder always worth giving. 

Photo Credit: Casa & Trend

Monday 8 April 2013

Photoshop tricks: Another Instagram inspired post

I was updating my professional website - the one where I showcase my film and journalism work - when I came across some Instagram photos and I thought about how I had "phases" with its filters. As soon as I got into it I was an "Early Bird person", then something about Nashville caught my attention... For a while now I've been more into Amaro, but every so often, when I want to go for the bold effect, I pull out a Kelvin from up my sleeve...

I am sorry, if you're not into Instagram at all this will all sound like gobbledygook. But anyway... This post is an homage to my "Nashville phase" - and I don't mean the TV series. Let's get down to the tutorial:

I have a super old version of Photoshop, but I am sure you can get the gist of it. The idea, again, is to make the most of using layers and blending effects because that's pretty much how the filters on Instagram work. You don't need to know much about photography to understand it either. When you compare your pictures before and after Instagram you just need to get an idea of the "temperature" of your filter. You can find a big breakdown of what it means on Wikipedia, but I think the image below translates it better than all the words they use to explained it.

In simple and plain English, you need to think of how blueish or yellowish or any-other-colour-ish the Instagram filter made your picture. Look at my example below:

On the left you have an Instagram photo that I will use as inspiration, on the right a similar picture (also taken with my iPhone) that I will use for the purpose of this tutorial. I start by creating a new layer that I will colour with some "orange" than change the opacity (check the next two images).

I kept the blending mode as "normal" but changed the opacity to 25%. You might notice that for some images that will be enough, but I thought, maybe because of the label, that my inspiration photo had a tint of pink, so there I went, creating another layer and now painting it pink. (I choose the tones very randomly, the whole process is a bit of guess work, trying here and there, until you achieve your chosen look). 

Because I didn't want my "pink" layer to overpower the previous one, I chose under the blending mode  the "soft light" option and changed that to 25%. You can tell the colours are a lot similar now, but I am precious and I wanted that kind of brightness, almost like there was a white light crossing my image... Can you tell that by looking at the inspiration photo or am I too picky?

So on top of my three layers I added a fourth one, a white layer! I kept its blend mode normal and changed its opacity to 18%, than I went down to the option gradient overlay and played around with it for a bit. 

For me my composition had a line, so after changing the style to Reflected, ticking the box to "revert" the brightness/darkness and reducing the scale to a minimum of 10% (to allow me to see it better), I adjusted my angle to meet that "line" of my composition. If you want, you can even skip this stage, your photo might not need it, but this can add that little bit that makes all the difference depending on your frame. Check the other options like Radial and Angle and see what they offer you. I tend to keep the reverse window checked at all times though. 

Well, in the end I thought that 100% was the scale that I needed and you can see the result below. 

You could say the effect was achieved. Sometimes I like to select my original layer, go to image > adjustments > Brightness/Contrast  and play around with it a bit. Below I will explain a cheeky way of making a quick border that might come handy - again, I will use the Nashville filter as an inspiration. 

Start by adding another layer to the top of your composition. I coloured mine black because I am using Nashville as an example, but if you like Polaroid style, go white, or maybe a shade of grey? 

On toolbar I selected the "rounded rectangle tool" and drew it over my black layer, leaving the area outside the shape to be the border I am looking for. Then on my layers window I selected the path tab and clicked on the little arrow on the right to see my options. I clicked on "make selection" and the border of my shape became that flickering dashed line, similar to a marquee tool. I then selected my black layers again on the layers tab (not the shape) and cmd + x (cut) to remove the black on the inside of the shape. 

That's it, you're done. As you can see from the image above, I only adjusted the brightness and contrast of my original layer (the photo layer). Also, after using the rectangle tool shape you can delete that layer, it served its purpose of helping you to select the area and now there is no use for it. 

I hope this is not too techie that puts you off and remember not to feel that you need to match the percentages and tones of this tutorial, it's all about finding what your photo needs. Be creative and play around with the possibilities! 

Thursday 4 April 2013

Ikea like stool and table make-over

It's weird how the more we do, the more it seems we would like to be doing. Or is that just with me? When I haven't got any work on, I can hardly feel like getting off the bed - particularly when we have snow and is already April! However, whenever my diary is full on, I somehow manage to find time to add more things to it, including this post =)

I was so excited this morning when I was packing the items of the giveaway to send to Laura, the lucky winner, and as I was placing everything on my side table I realised I haven't yet shared with you that make-over! So here it goes...

I really like the way they look now, but they weren't always like that...

This table and stool on the picture above weren't always like that. They looked more like cheap Ikea furniture that they don't even bother to put on the website! I tried to find the respective links, but no luck... The stool, I cheekly admit, Mr. Hunter found outside our flat... I guess the neighbour who threw it away couldn't see the potential I saw.

When we did the first part of our living room make-over (read about it here) these birch veneer colour bits of furniture looked even more out of place than they had done before, so I thought - why not trying to paint them? But we all know what a nightmare it can be to work on "fake wood surfaces". I did my homework before attempting anything.

After a visiting my local B&Q and asking for some advice, I got myself the following kit:

- Dulux Difficult Surface Primer (but any primer that can be applied to melamine - the stuff that Ikea furniture is usually made of - works)
- Dulux Wood Sheen Ebony colour
- Crown Quick Dry Satin on Pure Brilliant White (mid shine finish)
- Plasti-Kote Spray Satin Black
- Lots of poly sheets (as I didn't want any paint on my living room floor - I wish I had a garage to work from)
- A small tray and a very good brush (the secret to a good finish, sometimes even more than the paint you choose. Living and learning)
- Sandpaper in three different roughness (light, medium and hard)

I started with the table. I already had some masking tape at home that I used to cover all the details I didn't want to paint, like the screws. Only to later realise that I would be better off taking (or at least loosening) them out. Because the table looked like "real" untreated wood, I used the light sandpaper to distress the surface a bit, enough to be able to apply the satin paint on the legs straight away. I didn't want to waste the primer on it as it was a bit pricy and, if the stools worked fine, I had bigger plans for it.

I applied the first coat and left it to dry for about 6 hours (I am too anxious to leave it overnight). Second coat on, I moved to doing the top, that I wanted in black. The wood sheen is meant to work as a paint and a varnish - two months now since I've done it, I think I will apply a clear varnish, just to make it easier to clean. It might be just me, but since I painted I seem to notice dust on it much more than before and cloths tend to stick to the wood.

After one coat of black wood sheen it looked like a second coat wasn't needed at all, but I decided to do it just in case, for peace of mind. The wood sheen dried much quicker than the white paint, so I didn't have to wait as long to apply the second coat.

I still don't know if the best way to spray paint something like those legs is with them lying flat or standing...

I wasn't expecting the stools (have I mention they were a pair?) to take as long as the table. They ended up taking twice as much time though. I started by separating the top from the legs and then I used the black spray paint. I still don't know what is the best way to use it, if indoors or outdoors. I explain: Indoors the smell is almost unbearable and you need to protect the surroundings really well from the "paint dust" - it goes everywhere, I mean EVE-RY-WHERE!!!

Outdoors, the slightest wind will drive you crazy. It just makes it impossible to hit your target, because you need to keep the bottle at an arm's distance from the surface to be painted. I did one set of legs outside and one inside, it worked in the end, but after a lot of trial and error.

The other problem I found with the spray paint is that it runs... Or at least on a tricky surface like the one I had. To cover every corner of the legs, some areas ended up receiving more paint than they needed and I had to be careful not to let those runny bits clog and dry that way.

I thought the seats would be easy after that, but I was wrong. Even with the hard sandpaper it's difficult to distress the melamine and you need to be extra careful not to overdo the edges. Once you've sanded and wiped your surface, it's time to apply the primer. I am happy with the one I got, it adhered to the wood really well. However, it takes time to dry, so I had to leave it overnight. Then I applied two coats of the satin white paint. I wasn't counting on balancing the seats as you leave them to dry being a problem, but it's definitely something you need to put some thought on before painting the surfaces, definitely not after.

I guess that's pretty much it... I am sorry for not having all the answers and clever solutions for this "how to", but I will have a go again at some furniture make-over and I hope to learn more through other experiences. And I am definitely sharing them here when it happens =)

Tuesday 2 April 2013

And the winner is...

The winner of last month's crafty kit giveaway is Laura Strack! Congratulations Laura and thanks for being part of the M&P community =)

The next giveaway will be when we reach... 200 Likes on Facebook! So spread the word among your friends, get them to join our community, and you can be the lucky winner next time.

PS: This is a quick post to announce the winner. I am pretty busy this week, but later on I will write about some projects I've been saving to share with you.

Friday 22 March 2013

Easter decorations on the way

I know... I've been away for too long. But life sometimes decides to play tricks on us and when you see, weeks have passed! And now I have to sort of catch up, so I am starting here.

Easter is pretty much a week away and if you're thinking of decorations I am sure the idea below will help. I came across this blog around Valentines, but as I wasn't planning to hang up buntings around the house, I pinned it for later. Well, later has come!

Photo Credit: Glorious Treats

Isn't this idea by Glorious Treats great? Use burlap and twine to make your bunting and decorate it to fit your theme.

Instead of hearts you can use stamps of sweet little bunny rabbits, cover it in glue or paint and if you want, even sprinkle some glitter over it. It's the sort of thing the kids will love to help making and hanging afterwards and it will definitely brighten up your Sunday lunch table.

Follow the link above for the full tutorial by the wonderful Glory!

You can win a lovely crafty kit and to enter you just need to
like Mango & Passion Fruit on Facebook.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Crafty kit giveaway

Post updated on 30/03/2013 - I know you're expecting the end of the giveaway for today, but I had already given a hint that I could potentially extend it for a few days. Well, I didn't realise that it would end on Easter weekend... So I thought we might as well wait until the 2nd to announce the winner. And maybe Easter Bunny will add some chocolate perks to the bag!

I am sorry for the delay, but I was putting a lot of effort in making this post very special.

This is a giveaway post! Yay!!!

I am glad to say we reached 100 likes on Facebook and, as promised, here it is:

So here it what YOU, the lucky winner, will take home!

By the end of the month one of you will be the lucky winner of this crafty kit I put together. There is a bit of everything you need to brighten your day and your DIY projects. Here is a list of what is included:

- 2 fat quarters polka dotted pink and beige (50x55cm) by Papermania - Capsule Collection
- 3 x 3 metres of baker's twine (yellow, pink and blue) also by Papermania - Capsule Collection
- 5 mini wooden pegs
- 5 mini wooden leaves buttons/beads
- 4 pieces (8'' x 5'') of cotton felt in pastel colours (yellow, green, orange and blue)
- 3 wooden hearts with fabric patterns and a sticker back
- 7 assorted blue buttons
- 1 large wooden heart with flowery pattern
- 3 metres of 3-ply thick string (white)
- 1 metre of satin pink ribbon
- 3 Project Book (3''x4'') double sized cards by Becky Higgins

I hope I am not forgetting anything on this list. Note that this is NOT a sponsored giveaway. I actually put together this kit myself as a way of saying thanks to all of you that keep visiting M&P. Thank you soooo much!!!

So now that I've tempted you with these items, let's get down to how you can enter the giveaway: Like the M&P Facebook page (enter your email on the form and the app should recognise if you already liked it). Don't forget to leave a comment below saying what you enjoy about the blog, or tweet or pin! And you can earn some extra points =) So simple...

The giveaway will run until the end of the month, but I might extend it for a few days if I manage to add a few more items to the package. I don't want to promise anything yet, but will keep you posted. I hope you enjoy! =)

Friday 8 March 2013

Flowers on the International Women's Day

My Facebook newsfeed since the early hours of this morning was a very bright and flowery place. Although - and as like most of the posts reminded us - I believe women should be celebrated 365 days a year and instead of roses we should be spreading tools and information to stop the ongoing abuse that so many of us still suffer, I can't help but to offer flowers to my lovely and inspiring female friends. And to every women in the world I wish strength and a reason to smile every day.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), "around the world, as many as one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in some other way - most often by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member; one woman in four has been abused during pregnancy".


Photo Credit: Carmela Biscuit Blog

I came across this image on Pinterest and I want to share with you this lovely Bulgarian blog by Carmela Biscuit. She is sharing with us the pattern for these wonderful little crochet flowers she attached to twigs to make this arrangement. A sweet idea, as crochet flowers will brighten your life everyday of the year! I strongly recommend you to add her blog to your favourites. I've done it already =)

I've been trying different patterns and should soon be writing another post with more flowers you can add to this arrangement or to any other project of yours! If you're into crochet, check the section next week. Also, this Sunday I will announce the next giveaway as we reached 100 likes on Facebook! Thanks everyone and before I forget Happy International Women's Day!

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Jar cosies pattern

This has to be one of the sweetest blogs I ever came across. Yvonne Eijkenduijn - I couldn't pronounce her surname to save my life - is the writer behind the lovely and Belgian The Yvestown Blog. And she made available the crochet pattern for these jar cosies in the picture below, just follow the link for this and other cute crochet projects.

I am definitely giving it a go whenever I have time... Always time!

Photo Credit:

Tuesday 26 February 2013

A dozen wedding dessert ideas!

I am glad to welcome a guest on M&P! US based Savannah Brinkley wrote this insight on how to make your wedding look expensive without blowing your budget. Her secret is to go for one eye-catching piece - and it's more than ok to accept professional help for it! - then DIY on the details. That's exactly what I did on my wedding... With the help of my wonderful bridesmaids that spent the night preparing Brazilian sweets with me!
xx Z

Sweet DIY Wedding Treats 
by Savannah Brinkley, guest editorial 

Although you may be a master when it comes to DIY projects, homemade gardens or bathroom reconstruction are a bit different than creating special treats for an entire wedding. Unlike home improvement projects, weddings can’t be done over if mistakes are made. Planning and launching a wedding is not a simple feat and even the best of us may feel the need for a little help from professionals when it comes to our special day.

Photo Credit: Dessert table by

There is no harm in accepting professional help and it doesn't need to blow your budget. The secret to keep it personal is to incorporate your own unique touch to the details. You don't need to cook the main meal, but you can, for example, make the desserts! One of the latest trends in reception dining is having a multitude of lovely sweets and other goodies for your guests to enjoy

Baking may not be akin to brain surgery, but unless you are an experienced baker, particularly one who bakes for the masses, making you own wedding cake may be a daunting task. Your wedding won't be less personal if you choose to have a professionally made cake, like these great value M&S wedding cakes. It's worth spending a bit on an eye-catching piece and adding little touches around it if it will give you piece of mind. There are plenty of simple DIY recipes that you can easily make and the secret is to know which ones go with your cake and your theme. [that's exactly what I did on my wedding for exactly the same reason!]

Tiny pies and cupcakes are just a few examples of the sweet treats that your guests are sure to love. [like the Brazilian recipes Quindim and Beijinho previously published here]Candy bars are popular fixtures at children's parties, but they can also make a great addition to the desert table at your wedding! 

Creating a dessert buffet with a variety of treats is a great way to offer your guests an assortment of goodies. Matching the candy bars to your colour scheme is easy and will bring cohesion to your table. Use trays and plates to establish depth and height to your display. Be sure to take advantage of your flowers and other table features and don’t be scared to use coordinating details, like linens and ribbons. 

Small bites of decadent baked snacks are the way to go when designing luscious desserts for your wedding. But mouthwatering baked goods, like cake pops, doughnuts, sweet pretzels and s’mores drizzled in caramel sauce are everyone's favourites and work great as well, particularly with more informal receptions.  

My dessert table, simple but totally in theme with the wedding!
Photo by Graham Morgan

If you plan on having a summer wedding, cool desserts like ice-cream and gelato make the ideal treats to beat the heat, but you can also display your wedding colours on shot-glass parfaits. Or if you want to keep it even simpler, shaved ice liqueur infused in tiny little glasses will look great. 

Want to make your desserts unique? Try your hand at creating homemade whoppie pies with fluffy crème centres or waffles dipped in chocolate. If you have the time and patience, desserts like crème brulée can add some sophistication to your buffet. If, on the other hand, you're running out of time, why not design a "build-your-own cookie station", with delights like macaroons, raisins, coloured sugar, chocolate chip and biscotti for your guests to make their own cookies. Remember to make your dessert table enticing by arranging a fancy display with a bake-shop appeal and your guests will surely adore.

--- // ---

Inspired on Savannah's post, I went searching the web for recipes and came across this incredible website I had to share with you. has tons (seriously, if you could weigh all the dishes it would be tons) of amazing recipes. Check this link for a few wedding dessert ideas. 

Saturday 23 February 2013

Felt needle book tutorial

This tutorial is very special to me. You know when you set yourself a challenge but end up finding reason after reason to postpone it?! I bought the felt to make this project over a month ago, but kept telling myself "later...". Well, today I did it. And I am so happy that I couldn't wait to write this post!

Since when I first saw the picture below I thought two things: 1) This is so very cute! 2) If only I had a sewing machine. Problem out of the way, it was now a matter of gathering the materials.

Photo Credit: Paper Fish @ Etsy

The obvious ones were easy to find: felt scraps, assorted buttons and satin ribbon were already in my crafty kit. But what about the metal parts?! I didn't even know how to search for them, as I couldn't figure out what they were called (that tells you something about how long I've been in this craft business). Well, after looking for these rings in pretty much every single haberdashery section I came across, I found the eyelets kit by Milward (this site sells it, but I got mine from a shop in Windsor). As I couldn't find these exact clip on binding rings, I bought regular 25mm split rings (like the ones we use for key rings) on Ebay.

So let's get down to the tutorial:

1. I started by cutting 6 pieces (3 x 3 inches) of felt, then with the help of a glass I marked and cut the circles.

2. I drew the bird on a piece of paper first, just as practice, but if you feel confident enough you can draw it straight away on a piece of felt. I started by hand sewing the wing to the bird, then the bird to the colour I had chosen to be the cover of my book.

3. I cut 3 pieces of ribbon of about 2 inches each, folded and placed them in between two circles of felt. Making sure to hold the ribbon in place, I set my sewing machine to the most basic stitch I could find (it's literally called "straight stitching") and joined the two bits together. Note: I found it much easier to move my circle anti-clockwise. I am not sure if this sounds obvious, but as a beginner when it comes to sewing machines, I thought it worth mentioning.

Photo Credit: Zaira Brilhante, with iPhone 4S

4. With my pages ready, I went on to attaching the eyelets. I simply followed the instructions on the back of the box. Cutting the hole on the felt was easier just by rotating the tool (instead of hammering, as advised). Sticking both parts, however, required a very firm hand and a few goes (I don't think my downstairs neighbours appreciated the hammering on a late evening).

5. I added the buttons last, being careful to hide the knot inside the fold of the ribbon and in between the two pieces of felt. That was it, now I only had to pass my pages through the slip ring and my needle book was ready!

I find this so handy to carry pins and needles when you're going away for the weekend. It's just the right size.  I might make another one and experiment with lace and other types of fabric. Maybe I will add a pocked, as the one on the top of this post. But this one is just perfect for me and so pink!!! I love it!!!

Friday 22 February 2013

M&P under maintenance...

Hiya! Just a quick post to let you know that the blog is going through some design/template updates, so apologies in advance for the weird things you might come across during the next 48 hours...

I hope you will enjoy the final look in the end! =)

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Post-Valentines update

So here I am, a bit later than I expected - due to some intense film editing work that came along - but nonetheless keeping my promise of showing you my Valentines gift to Mr. Hunter.

We swore to keep it small as we celebrate the date twice a year (in Brazil, Valentines is on the 12th of June), so I gave Mr. Hunter a t-shirt, but I put some thought into it. As he is a massive Big Bang Theory fan, I decided to present him with a Bazinga!

And this leads me to the DIY part of the gift: The card. Sometimes creating your own card makes all the difference. For this one I used the same technique you can see in this selection and printed it on an old book page.

The idea also came from the Big Bang Theory, as Sheldon Cooper's character loves his spot on the couch and is very protective of it. =)
He got it straight away and really appreciated it!

Well, for those of you who love or know someone who loves Big Bang, I am making it available to download, just follow the link. It's made to fit half an A4, but you can adjust the percentage when printing it to 85% to fit a standard card size (10.5cm x 15cm).

Photo Credit: Zaira Brilhante, with iPhone 4S.

Mr. Hunter is pretty much Chandler, from Friends, so he never ever smiles in picture!

Wednesday 13 February 2013

❤ Pre-Valentines Post ❤

Valentines, as every "meant to be romantic commemorative date", is always a struggle for me. Mr. Hunter is a guy. That should suffice and require no further ado.

Whilst any cute, loving or thoughtful idea would make my heart melt - and somehow, despite knowing Pinterest exists, Mr. Hunter struggles for ideas... On the other hand, to please him, unless I surrender to the safe option of any sports related gear, I have to start thinking about what to get him weeks, if not months, before...

Just as an example: When we got married, I had to pretend I had a freelance job to go to his football (soccer, if you're on the other side of the Atlantic) team ground, buy a jersey, contact the press office, buy some pretty good fabric marker, get the jersey & marker shipped to the press officer that was sympathetic enough with my gesture and who got the entire team to sign it for me, then I went and had it framed and - hold your breath... - last but not least, had to still hope with all my hopes that QPR would be promoted to the Premier League that year! Luckily enough they were... 

I guess the point I am trying to make is that somehow it's so much harder to be creative and original when you want to give a present to a guy! Most of the times they don't care about cute or it never cross their minds how much work it goes into baking or sewing or preparing any handmade gift, so it can really put you off... Below, however, a couple of suggestions for you in need of a last minute idea. 

And if you're curious to know what I got him this Valentine, I am afraid you will need to come back Friday or it will spoil the surprise! :)

Personalised Beer bottles
1. If you're not going out, but having a meal at home, why not surprise him by buying his favourite beer, but changing its label to something you personalised? If Photoshop is not your best friend, this website is one of the many out there that helps you with it...

Less than 5 minutes on the website, with a little help on Photoshop

Sound Canvas Art
2. Is he into music? If so, he will probably enjoy this one. If it is too early for you to go with the "I do", why not settle for "I love you"?! You'll need to record you voice and open it using a sound editor software to see (and, if you want, print-screen) the "wave". I use Audacity, but there are many other free ones out there. With the pattern in hands, you can blow and get it printed/framed, use as a reference and paint it on canvas or simply make a sweet little card.

This amazing heart was made by Aimee Weaver, but why not try yourself? 

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Sewing sewing sewing

I am so sorry I've been away for almost 10 days! I am making up for it this week... And I should come back tomorrow evening with a proper Valentines post.

In the mean time, did I say I am in love with my sewing machine?! If I didn't have so many things going on at the moment, I think it would be pretty hard for anyone to detangle me from it... Anyway, on my online research for sewing patterns, I came across this lovely selection by See Kate Sew and I though I had to share it. Enjoy!

Selection by:

Sunday 3 February 2013

A few Photoshop tricks: Instagram inspiration

Ok, so I won't pretend I am an expert on Photoshop. However, I read a lot. The same way I like to know a bit about coding for the web (html, css basics) I like to know my way around making pictures that little bit more interesting. So I thought I should share the last insight of Photoshop I learnt.

I love Instagram. I know I don't post pictures as much as I would like to, but that doesn't stop me from loving the idea of a bunch of filters that make a sometimes average picture, taken with a mobile phone, a super edgy image.

I have a terribly old version of Photoshop, so I am sorry if this looks outdated. I also don't know if this is "old news" for most of you, but I want to write about using layers as "masks" to achieve an "Instagram like" look. I know you're probably thinking Instagram has a x amount of different filters/looks to choose. Well, if you know the principles behind it, you can double or triple those to fit your needs.

Original picture I took yesterday in Brighton...
... and after I played around with it in Photoshop.
This might be a bit of an extreme example, but I was inspired by the 1977 filter. 

Basic principles:

Layer dominance - The top layer is always dominant, so if you want to create a filter, that "new layer" should be placed above the one with your main image.

Blending and opacity - You probably guessed by now that for you to be able to see through that top dominant layer you will have to change its opacity to something below 100%. When thinking of Instagram, there are two elements that repeat in pretty much every filter: the light varies from the centre to the edge of the pictures (usually a lighter centre and a darkened edge) and some filters have a yellowy twang to it whilst others have a blueish twist. When talking about colours and light, we say some are a warmer filter, some are colder. (Again, I am not trying to be a specialist, far from it, just sharing some pretty basic information I learnt with time).

Click on the image to see it bigger

Getting started - First thing I did was to create a new layer, then tint it with that pink colour you can see (rgb: #EF4277).  Under the layer blending properties, I changed its opacity to 40%. I also disabled the green channel by unticking the box. 

Next step - I added another layer, a white one now. I also changed it's opacity to 40%, but under the gradient overlay option, I chose Radial for style and ticked the box for Reverse, so the brighter part was the centre, and not the edges. I raised the scale to 110%, but I could be bolder if I wanted, by reducing it, or make it softer, by increasing it to up to 150%.

Last but not least - I selected my main image layer again and played a bit with the Brightness/Contrast. In the end, I chose to keep the contrast as it was, but reduced the brightness to -20.

That's it. Well, my point is not to show you how to create this particular effect, but how you can add as many layers to achieve the effect your want on your chosen image. The secret is playing around, finding out what you like and what makes your picture stand out. I learnt it by trying many tutorials like this in photos I took and, after being extremely frustrated for not achieving the look I wanted, despite following the exact steps, I realised I had to learn the principles and make my own choices... I guess it's a bit like life, isn't it? You live, you learn... Said Alanis :)

Photo & Effects by Zaira Brilhante

Thursday 31 January 2013

Making Ikea furniture work for you (part 2)

I finished last post saying I had decided to get a new desk and that I needed to sort out the storage in our living room... Well, let's get down to it.

Our desk space should be big enough to fit an iMac, Mr. Hunter's Macbook and, as I had already in mind to buy a sewing machine then, it would have to fit that as well... Last but not least, it should have some space to store my stationary!

The only wall the desk could go had a window, which made the search a bit harder... In the end, I decided to "make my own desk". I bought two trestle legs and a table top that was exactly the size I needed (not too deep, but wide enough to fit all that stuff I mentioned!). They're both from the Vika range and extremely cost effective.

As you can see, I got a regular filing cabinet for the stationary and it worked well underneath the desk. I also opted for having the trestles on an angle. I confess I was afraid that having them straight would leave the middle of the desk unsupported and I would probably have to add an extra single leg. To avoid that - as I thought it wouldn't look good - angled legs it was! And as I am a pretty short girl, it ended up working as an amazing foot rest, despite the many paper rolls! =)

Moving on...

Time to sort out the storage... Well, we started by changing our bookshelf, as it was old and didn't have as many shelves as we would like it to, leaving a giant mess at the bottom. 

Next step: to get a replacement for our awful TV rack. You see, in our defence, we got our old TV rack when we first moved to London 5 years ago. We were living in an already furnished flat and at the time, it was the only affordable TV rack that a) would match the rest of the furniture b) would fit the tiny space available, as the room had one of those sloped ceilings. But that's in the past now (and in the bin!).

The Expedit series is one that grew on me. Although it was conceived as a traditional bookshelf, I see it quite often on Pinterest being used "horizontally". Well, I thought "why not?!". This way our TV would go slightly higher and it would give us the option for some "hidden storage space", as you can opt to add drawers and doors to it! 

Now anything else would be a bonus and, miraculously, within our budget, I found something that seemed to be made exactly for our living room: a single bed headboard! (click here to see the original)

I know, it sounds weird and I am sure Mr. Hunter thought it also looked weird in the Ikea showroom. It was pretty hard to imagine how that could work with our living room, particularly with the red details, which were really off-putting, but I had it all in my head.  

We have this giant heater taking up half of the space behind the sofa. Half! What about the other half, then? What a waste of a wall, I thought. And when I realised I could store tons of things inside it and, as a bonus, get two extra shelves, well, I simply couldn't resist!

I used some wrapping paper around cardboard and placed it at the back following this tutorial to hide the red. 

So here we are, the living room as it is now. (You can click here to see how it was before...) You will notice that two pieces of furniture don't match the new "black & white" style, but I am working on it and I promise a "make-over" post very soon!