Wednesday, 3 June 2015

My Wedding Album - Made using Blurb Book Smart

blurb wedding album
Hi Guys, I want to share something with you today that I have been working on for aaages!

Since our wedding I have been planning to make a wedding album, but it seemed such a huge undertaking as we had over 600 photos, and I just didn't know where to start! In the end I managed to get a book made and delivered just before our 1 year anniversary, but it took a whole lot of effort! I thought I'd share my experience making the book with you, incase you are thinking of making your own wedding album, or any other album for that matter!
I wasn't sure what company to get the book printed with, so I did some research online and found that people were pleased with their Blurb books, and it looked the best option for what I wanted. I have to say, I was a little worried when I saw their page templates for the first time. The wedding album templates included a lot of text for some reason, and the boxes meant for pictures seemed to be strangely off centre and not in the dimensions I wanted. Fortunately Blub has a function whereby you can build your own template, and once I figured this out I was more than happy! I built the book using a program you can download from their website called 'Book Smart'.

I pretty much designed each page dependant upon the photos I had to go on it, which is one of the reasons it all took so long.  I think I was probably working on the book for about 4 months in total, as it was something I found I had to do a little bit at a time. 

wedding book by blurb
As well as picking which photos were going where, I spent a lot of time making sure the boxes were even as well as the gaps in between and centralising the photos.

Once I had pretty much completed the album I found that to get the best quality the photos should be resized to the same dimensions as the box they were going into. Obviously this was another job that took a really long time, especially since nearly all of my pages were different, but I think it was worthwhile in the end.
bridesmaids wedding album blurb
The above and below pictures are two of my favourite layouts which I designed. I found it immensely satisfying when the pages finally 'came together', it did take rather a lot of trial and error in most cases!
photo wedding album portraits blurb
blurb wedding album
blurb wedding photo book
wedding photo book blurbphoto book table setting
On the back of the book I chose a picture of our confetti cones, which I think looks rather pretty!

I'd definitely recommend Blurb, and I'd say that the more time you put into it the better it will look! Picking the right photos to go together, and positioning them in a complementary way, as well as knowing when a picture deserves its own page, are all really important in creating a quality product.  I am really pleased with the way that my album turned out.

I chose the 'large square' sized book, as I wanted the pictures to be as big as possible! It has 116 pages in total (probably containing around 300 photos) and I chose one of the most expensive papers, as well as 'image wrap'. Since I had spent so much time on it I didn't mind spending a little bit extra to make it as high quality as possible.

This album would normally have cost me £100, but I managed to get a 30% discount from Voucher Codes. I probably would have ended up spending a few hundred if I had asked the photographers to do it, so I think that is pretty good!
blurb photo book
Have you used Blurb or another site to create a photo book? What have your experiences been like?

Laura xXx
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Friday, 24 April 2015

Things To See And Do - Lewes

Lewes Flea Market
This week we went to Lewes for our weekly date!  I used to go to University at Sussex, so it was a bit of a blast from the past, and it was good to explore again.

Lewes is great if you are on the hunt for Antiques, and quirky old stuff! The first place we found was Lewes Flea Market, which is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful things!
lewes flea market sign
antiques at lewes flea market
Next we stopped in on a lovely little shop called Mary's which stocked some really cute items, as well as sweets! I bought some pretty cards here as I felt I couldn't leave with nothing!  
mary's in lewes
I remembered from previous visits that there was a Bill's here, so we decided to head there for lunch! Chris picked a beautiful, if rather effeminate, drink.
pink lemonade at bills in lewes
We both had ham hock and pea terrine with caramelised onions as a starter, which was really nice! Then we had sea bass with potato rosti and tomato and avocado salsa. I ate that too quickly before I remembered to take a photo, but it looked great and was equally delicious! Aside from the food, Bills has such a fun atmosphere,  and I'd really recommend going to one if you haven't been before.
lunch at bills in lewes
display at bills in lewes
We wandered around some more antiques shops located near to Bills, and then decided it was time for a drink in the sunshine!  On our way we found a really awesome shop called Closet and Botts, which had a bit of a rustic feel and had some really interesting bits and bobs!
We found a pub called The Rights of Man which had a roof terrace garden, so we decided to stay a while and enjoy a drink. It felt like summer!
After we had finished our drinks we decided to take a walk near Lewes Castle. We decided not to go in this time but maybe we will on another adventure, it was still a really nice walk seeing it from a distance.
lewes castle
Have you been to Lewes before? What were your favourite things to see and do?

Laura xXx

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Monday, 20 April 2015

DIY Hanging Wall Chart Tutorial - No Saw!

DIY No Saw Wall Hanging Chart
Hey guys, you might have noticed I've had a cheeky week off blogging this week. I've been trying to put together the finishing touches on our wedding album using Blurb, and it seems to be taking up a huge amount of time! Nevertheless, it shall be perfect when it is finished!

Anyway, I have had time to complete a project for the lounge which I have been meaning to do for some time, hurrah!  In this post I talked about how I planned to make a wall hanging out of a beautiful piece of wrapping paper I bought. I wasn't looking forward to it to be honest, mainly because the DIY I had planned to follow involved sawing, staining and screwing, none of which I have the equipment for!

But thanks to a trip to the Hobbycraft shop, I figured out a way to do it without any of that stuff at all! Namely, the discovery of balsa wood! And so, with this revelation, I thought I would share the 'no saw' (get it!?) process with you!

If you want to give it a go here is what you will need;
  • Poster/Wrapping Paper - I got mine here
  • Double sided sticky tape (good quality)
  • 4 strips of Balsa Wood. ( I used a thinner piece for the back so that it would hang more flush against the wall - 0.4 x 2.5cm balsa wood, and a thicker piece for the front - 0.6 x 2.5cm balsa wood)
  • String
  • Brown watercolour paint
  • Craft Knife and ruler
butterfly frame DIY
Ok, so the great thing about balsa wood is that it is so lightweight, and can therefor be cut using a regular craft knife! I started by measuring all of my pieces carefully, marking them all slightly longer than the poster edges, then cutting them all to size.

The other great thing is that the wood is so soft, you can sand the rough edges once this is done using a nail file! Or if you are more prepared you can just use sand paper ;)
balsa wood frame DIY
I wanted to make the wood look more expensive, but I didnt have any wood stain, so I simply mixed some dark brown watercolour paint with water, and painted it that way. I think it came out really well!
Once the wood is completely dry (I used a hair dryer to hurry this process along) you need to put your double sided sticky tape along both pieces of the wood that will go on the bottom. Make sure you put the sticky on the side you don't want facing out.
Then you will need to pull the top coat off of the sticky on your thinnest piece of wood, and line it up under the back of the bottom of the page. You do have to be quite careful here and it is a bit tricky.  I marked on my piece of wood where is should come to so that it wouldn't end up wonky. Then peel the top coat of sticky off the other piece of wood, and again, line this up really carefully on top of the other piece, with the poster sandwiched in between.

The top of the hanging is a little more tricky because you need to include your string in it.  I wanted to use yellow string, but I didn't have any, so again I used my trusty watercolours to dye the string!

I took a length of string and made sure that it would be the right length to hang at the height I wanted it.  Then I tied a knot at each end so that when it was sandwiched in between both pieces of wood it would make it a bit more sturdy.  

I then repeated the process of putting sticky tape on the wood for the top, and I worked out how my string would sit on the thinner piece of wood (because you want the knot to come out of the back), when I was happy with it I added another layer of double sided sticky tape on top.

Then I just stuck the wood to the poster as I had done on the bottom!
And Tadaa, it was finished!
DIY Wall Chart Tutorial - No Saw! This cost me less than £20 in total, which I think is pretty decent.  Unfortunately the Balsa wood is quite expensive, but its still cheaper and much easier than using proper wood, so I think it is a winner! I'm chuffed that I have now hung the first picture in my lounge, I can't wait to get the rest up and show you them!

Laura xXx
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Friday, 10 April 2015

Things To See And Do - Arundel

arundel castle
A while back Chris and I started a habit of making sure we went on weekly dates. Each week we had to base the date on a letter of the alphabet. You can see our alphabet dates here. Unfortunately, we only got to D before we gave up. It turns out that theming dates on letters is actually quite tricky!  We did continue our weekly dates for a while without the letters to hold us back, but then life got in the way for a while.

But for the past month or so, we have been making a conscious effort to go out on weekly dates again. This time we have just decided to go and explore a town or village each time.  So far we have been to Winchester, Southsea, Bournemouth and The New Forest. I thought it might be nice to document the things we do and the places we see to unearth any hidden treasures, and give you some ideas if you want to visit.  Or, if you have been before and have any suggestions of places to go you can add to the conversation in the comments section!

So, on Wednesday we visited Arundel in West Sussex. Despite driving past Arundel Castle on my way to and from Sussex Uni many moons ago, I had never actually visited, so this was our first stop!

Arundel Castle has a variety of ticket choices, and so you can pick from paying £9 each for a bronze ticket, which only really includes the castle grounds and gardens, all the way up to gold for £18 which lets you get inside the whole castle including the bedrooms.  

We went for the silver ticket which meant we payed £12.10 each and could see the grounds, gardens and also inside the Castle Keep.  They also offer a Gift Aid scheme wherein if you pay a voluntary 10% gift aid then you get double that donation to spend each in the coffee shop.  We thought this was a great idea and it was nice to get an ice lolly and drink inside!
Arundel castle keep

Since it was such a sunny day and we wanted to spend most of it outside, we probably could have just gone for a bronze ticket, and spent all our time looking at the beautiful gardens, and the castle from outside. But it was nice to get a glimpse inside the castle too.

My favourite bit was definitely the walled garden!  It was really pretty spectacular! It included loads of beautiful colourful flowers, and also had lots of wooden sculptures, fountains, and GOLD!
Arundel castle walled garden
water fountain at arundel castle
I think this fountain was the prettiest!

After we had finished wandering the grounds we popped into Arundel for a spot of lunch.  We found a nice little place called  Pappardelle Ristorante and Osteria (I think they must have had an update because the pictures on the website do not look like the same place inside). The decor was rustic and modern and I particularly liked their copper tables. I ordered a WooWoo!

The menu looked pretty delicious too, and in the end Chris and I both ordered the Duck Salad. It. Was. Yum.  
After eating we went for a look around the village. I really liked the look of their local Butchers!

We found some fantastic Antique shops. The one pictured below had some really unusual (and expensive) pieces inside. Can you see the Hippo in the window?
Antiques shop in Arundel
There were also more antique shops hidden behind this one, all selling pretty cool stuff. I liked this room pictured below in particular, it seemed to have an industrial chic theme mixed in with a bit of vintage school ware.
Antiques market in Arundel
We also ventured in to another shop called Arundel Bridge Antiques Centre, again which had stalls from many different sellers.  My favourite was Arundel Photographica, which sold the biggest collection of vintage cameras I have ever seen!

Have you been to Arundel before? What was your favourite part?

I'm not sure where we are off to next week. Any suggestions for nice places along the South Coast?

 Laura xXx
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Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter Bank Holiday Happenings

Happy Easter chaps! I hope you are all having a great bank holiday weekend!

I've been having a lovely time, with family, friends and lots of crafting!  We had a couple of our friends over on Friday night for a dinner party, and they brought us the pretty tulips in the picture above.  We ate lots and had a fun time playing Cards Against Humanity!

On Saturday I started some craft projects. I recently bought a little loom from Tiger. I think it's really meant for children, but it only cost £7 and I have wanted to give some weaving a go for a while now. I'm not sure if I like how this one is turning out yet, but we'l see how we go!
I also tried my hand at some sculpting using air dry clay. If the project turns out well I'm sure I will post a little tutorial about it. 
air dry clay
We spent the rest of Saturday playing the new Resident Evil game and then watching films!

Yesterday I had a nice catch up and coffee with with a friend, before heading out to have lunch with the family.  My Mother-in-Law surprised us with a build your own Sundae competition, which was great! Really we all won because we got ice cream and lots of treats!

Today I am plotting the final touches to our lounge re-decoration. As I said in this post, I was on the hunt for some botanical style pictures to hang, and now, thanks to lots of help,  I am spoilt for choice!

My friend's Mum read that last blog post, and spotted a book while she was out and about which she very kindly bought for me! It's got lots of cute little illustrations of plants, animals and trees inside with the name of each written below it.  Lots of which include the colour yellow which will fit perfectly with the yellow and grey theme we've got going on!  I love the cover of the book too! I think I'll maybe pick 4 pages and arrange them together all in one frame.
botanical book
botanical pictures of flowers
Chris also found me a book whilst visiting an antique shop which had lots of botanical pictures inside. It only cost £1 so I snapped it up and got to work ripping it (neatly) to pieces! The pictures below are just some of them, but there are a few I think would work so I might make a little picture trio to go beside our shelves.
pictures of nature
If you remember, I also wanted some sort of botanical wall hanging/chart, and I think we may have cracked this one too! While my Mum was out shopping the other day she came across some wrapping paper with butterflies on it.  Knowing that it was the sort of thing I was after she sent me the name of the company that made it. I looked it up online and unfortunately it was an American company, but then I found a UK ebay shop which sold loads of different papers made by this company, and they were all beautiful! In the end I managed to limit myself to just buying 4 (including the one I initially wanted).
butterfly poster
I decided that I would buy these papers and then turn them into wall hangings myself.  Whilst I was researching how I could do this, I found the most wonderful tutorial, using the very same paper no less!  What a weird coincidence! Here is the what their finished product looked like, and you can find the tutorial on the Chris Loves Julia Blog.
So it looks like a trip to B&Q is in order!

What have you been up to over the bank holiday weekend?

Laura xXx
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