Friday, 1 December 2017

DIY Painted Wooden Sign for Christmas

Hand-painted wooden signs are all over Pinterest, from wedding must-haves to Christmas decor. I recently painted a bunch of signs for my bff's wedding and thought it was time to try the technique again for Christmas. (Incidentally, the sign I'm painting today is on the back of this one I made for the wedding.) I love that these signs look like chalkboards but you don't have to worry about the writing rubbing off. 
The truth is, you don't have to have gorgeous handwriting, stress about even spacing or pay someone else to make them for you! They're surprisingly easy to make with relatively inexpensive supplies.This is a perfect craft to get the season started.

You will need:
Something to cover and protect your worksurface from paint.
A piece of wood. Get the cheapest you can find at your local hardware store  (for almost nothing they can cut your wood for you too) or upcycle something lying around the garage.
Black and white acrylic craft paint. 
Large and small paintbrushes. Cheap ones are fine here.
Containers for water and/or mixing paint.
White chalk.
Optional: Gold or silver acrylic craft paint.

Note: If you want, you can use a white paint pen instead of a brush and paint. Personally, I prefer the look of the brushstrokes and painted-by-hand look but it is completely up to you.

Start off by cleaning your piece of wood of any dust. Paint the entire piece with black craft paint and a large, wet paintbrush. If your paint is on the thicker side, thin it out a bit with water (I've used a washed-out yogurt pot as my mixing bowl). If you would rather have a natural wood look, you can try using a wood stain to darken your wood without covering it.

Leave the black paint to dry completely. If possible, pop it outside in the sun to speed things up. If there are any sheer spots once it has dried, add a second coat.

Grab your favourite font (I'm obsessed with brush lettering so that's what I went with for this one) and print out the quote you want to paint at the correct size. I used MS Publisher to create a page 30 x 50 cm (the size of my wood) and then taped the printed sheets together to create the correctly-sized quote. Play around with the size of your font and the spacing on your computer until you are happy before printing. Make sure to only place tape or glue on the front of your pages, not the back.

Now to transfer your template to your wood! Rub your white chalk behind your words liberally. Then place the template on your wood and trace your letters with a blunt pencil or ballpoint pen. (As you can see, I haven't done this obsessively neatly as this is just a guide.) The chalk should transfer to your dark wood. If the chalk outline is too faint, add more chalk to your paper and outline your letters again. If you make a mistake, you can just rub it away.

Now for the fun part! Grab your white craft paint and a small paintbrush. Based on the consistency of your paint, you may or may not need to add water to get a nice flowing paint. Follow your chalk lines to outline your letters and then fill them in. If you are a bit more confident with a paintbrush and brush lettering, you can use a larger paintbrush and paint your letters normally, using the chalk as a guideline for spacing and placement (this is what I did for most of mine).

Carry on going until you have your full quote.

If you want any flourishes, print them and transfer with chalk again (a quick google search gives you endless flourish options). If you are like me and forget to flip a flourish for symmetry (whoops!), don't worry, just rub the chalk off with a dry cloth or brush and do it again.

Grab your brush, trace the lines and colour in.

Optional: For a final festive touch, paint the edges of your wood gold or silver.

Brush away any chalk peeking out on your sign with a dry cloth or brush and that's it! From start-to-finish, this 30 cm x 50 cm sign took me 45 minutes (excluding drying time).

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas! If you attempt to make your own sign, please tag me (@whimsyisforever) in any pictures you post on Twitter or Instagram!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Travel Diary: Great Zimbabwe Ruins

During my recent trip to Zimbabwe I was thrilled to visit the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. The ancient city was far larger than I had thought and we spent quite a bit of time walking around looking at everything. (Also, the "ancient path" up to the hill complex is steep and I am clearly unfit!) We were also completely alone for the majority of our time at the site which was really enjoyable! After leaving Harare late morning, we reached the ruins at around 4pm and stayed about 2 hours until the sun had gone down. The ruins are really remarkable, and standing beside the formidable stone walls fills you with awe. For a brief rundown on Great Zimbabwe, here's a bit of info from Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia: Great Zimbabwe is an ancient city in the south-eastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country's Late Iron Age. Construction on the monument began in the 11th century and continued until the 15th century.[1][2] The most widely-accepted modern archaeological theory is that the edifices were erected by the ancestral Shona.[2] The stone city spans an area of 7.22 square kilometres (1,780 acres) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. It is recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Great Zimbabwe is believed to have served as a royal palace for the local monarch. As such, it would have been used as the seat of political power. Among the edifice's most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over five metres high. They were constructed without mortar (dry stone). Eventually, the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.
The word great distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, now known as "zimbabwes", spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld.[5] There are 200 such sites in southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique, with monumental, mortarless walls; Great Zimbabwe is the largest of these.[6]
The ruins at Great Zimbabwe are some of the oldest and largest structures located in Southern Africa, and are the second oldest after nearby Mapungubwe in South Africa. Its most formidable edifice, commonly referred to as the Great Enclosure, has walls as high as 11 m (36 ft) extending approximately 250 m (820 ft), making it the largest ancient structure south of the Sahara Desert.




Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Empties time again!

Clearly, I've been meaning to do this post for ages, but while I waited to get my butt in gear to take photos the pile just grew... and grew... and, well, you get the idea. (#lazygirlproblems) Then today I was busy packing for my upcoming trip and I decided enough is enough! Needless to say, my bathroom cabinet now has a lot of extra space without this box of stuff!

Batiste dry shampoo, what would I do without you??!! Especially with the current drought situation in Cape Town! My hair is fine and straight and will get greasy ridiculously quickly but I've gone from washing my hair every day to every 2nd or 3rd day, which would not be a pretty sight if it wasn't for dry shampoo. The tropical Batiste is my favourite but I occasionally use the original or fresh varieties for a bit of a change. I gave the "natural and light" variety a try but I felt it just didn't have the grease-busting ability that I needed so I won't be trying it again.

You can see my review of the John Frieda Frizz Ease shampoo and conditioner here. Overall I liked these products, but not enough to go and buy them in a hurry.

One thing about having hip-length hair: you don't use any more shampoo than for short hair but you use a loooooooooootttt more conditioner. I finally finished my tub of Schwartzkopf Color Freeze Treatment and absolutely loved it, I just wish it was more budget friendly so I didn't feel guilty using it! I also finished my millionth tub of Dove Nourishing Oil Care Treatment Mask, I pick this up every time Clicks has a 3 for 2 on Dove products. I also recently tried the Dove Oxygen Moisture Conditioner and loved it, it nourished my fine hair without weighing it down.

Oh hey, more conditioner! This is just the conditioner that comes with my hair colour, and I religiously use it once a week. It also smells amazing, can more conditioners please have this almondy goodness?

On to body products. I'm awful about remembering to moisturize anything other than my face, but when I do, I alternate between a rich body butter (normally for freshly shaved legs) and this super lightweight lotion from Nivea. It doesn't feel greasy or tacky on the skin and smells vaguely like ocean breezes. As far as shower products go, I've been using quite a few lately (maybe to avoid boredom now that bubble baths are out of the question?). I quite liked Nivea's Creme Care, especially to keep my skin from drying out in winter (see previous laziness re: moisturizing). I also tried The Comforter from Lush, and as much as I love the corresponding bubble bar, this one just was a little too medicinal-smelling for my liking. I also finished a L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil and loved it, I just wouldn't buy it for myself (but feel free to gift it to me anytime!).

I loved the original Garnier Micellar Water but somehow the oil-infused version is even better! I bought a replacement for this as soon as mine was half empty. I also finished two tubes of my go-to day cream from Nivea - this stuff feels great on my skin, doesn't make me break out at all and is super budget friendly, win win win. Can we also get a round of applause - I finished not one but two lip balms instead of losing them halfway through! I normally have a Labello floating around in my handbag (I'm not really fussy about which variety although I prefer the unscented, untinted ones). I also finished a random promotional lipbalm. (I tend to prefer plain, boring lipbalms as my lips have a tendency to come out in small blisters with some products *cough babylips cough*). 

I have been very bad with sheet masks this year, I have a massive stash and I never seem to use them. The only one in my empties was this hydrating one from Sorbet. I did fall in love with the GlamGlow TingleExfoliate treatment mask which I got a sample for in store... and then I saw the price tag. So, um, GlamGlow, if you wanna send me more of this stuff...*hint hint*
I got this sample of Rain's Manketti and Starflower body scrub in store recently when buying a gift for someone and had to use it asap. You can see this scrub previously on my very first Project Pan blog post here.
And just because you thought we were done with the conditioners... one more! I don't remember where I got this sample of Marc Anthony Argan Oil condition, maybe with a magazine, but I used it recently on a weekend away (anyone else save samples for their overnight bag?). It did an ok job of moisturing my hair but I wasn't blown away by it.

Phew, ok, almost at the end of this monster post! Let's start with nail stuff. I finished a bottle of Sorbet's nail polish remover and, while I loved the dispenser, I was unimpressed with the product as it took forever and a day to actually get polish off. I've finished another 2 bottles of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri top coat, which is (clearly) my go-to top coat - I love this stuff, it dries super fast, super shiny and extends the lifespan of my polish by at least 3 days.
An oldie-but-goodie fragrance is the vanilla EDT from The Body Shop - it's a beautiful pure vanilla scent which I absolutely love (and very budget friendly which is a bonus!).
I have 3 concealers in this batch of empties. The first is Catrice's Camouflage concealer, which I scraped every microgram of product out of. I just love this stuff, it's got insane coverage. I gave the LA Girl Pro.conceal concealer a go because it seems to be a cult favourite in the blog world but I found it rather meh. Finally, I have Wet N Wild's Coverall concealer. I've previously finished 2 of these and liked them but this one just didn't seem the same. Different formula? Packaging? I dunno but I'm turfing it even though there is still some product left. 
I finished my 2nd tube of Bourjois 123Perfect CC Cream - this is my go-to base more days as it feels comfortable and provides just enough cover to even out skintone while still letting a few freckles show through. I then would set it with a loose translucent powder from essence. I've repurchased the CC cream and have gotten another powder from essence (although this time a pressed powder to see the difference).
I finished two tubes of mascara, Maybelline The Rocket and L'Oreal False Lash Wings. After trying a bazillion mascaras, these two are my favourite - the former for volume, the latter for insane definition and length.
And finally, the final products in this bag of empties are these bronze Long Lasting Eye Pencils from essence. I absolutely loved these as an alternative to stark black but I fear this shade has been discontinued as I haven't found them in store to replace my last one??!! Let me know if you've seen them anywhere!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Setting up my Travel Journal

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I love journalling. I especially love keeping memorabilia and photographs in my journal, as well as pretty paper and decor. If you haven't already seen my posts, you can check out my intro to "scrapbook" journalling here and my post on how to start a scrapbook journal here.

So, what's a journal addict to do when setting out on a journey? Create a travel journal especially for the trip, of course! I'm leaving to Zimbabwe later this week to go visit family and I am super excited! So, I grabbed a blank journal in my collection, raided my stash for scrapbook paper, embellishments and watercolour paints and got started!

I sometimes find sitting with a completely blank journal intimidating, so I love that this journal already provides a framework for me to jot away every day (whether full-on pages of writing or just a few bullet points about what happened that day). I've also made sure that there is plenty of space for storing ticket stubs, brochures, labels, leaves/flowers and anything else that I want to keep. When I get home, I can then print out a few of my favourite photos of the trip and add them for that final touch.

Instead of taking photos, I thought it would be fun to film a flip-through of my journal before I leave, as well as share what's in my travel journal kit. Once my journal is filled in, I'll be sure to share the final product with you all!

I hope you enjoy this video :)

PS if you want to know more about any specific feature or product, comment below!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Floral Wreath Friday 2

It's time for another Floral Wreath Friday! (If you missed it, you can see the previous post here.) Since Mother's Day is coming up, I thought I'd make a soft, pretty wreath that can be turned into a Mother's Day card - either simply write on the back or adhere the wreath to the front of a card. I used my die-cutting machine to cut my watercolour paper into a circle but you can skip this step (or test out your cutting abilities - I'm hopeless with a pair of scissors!) I sneakily stole my brother's camera and tripod so that I could do something a little bit different: film myself crafting! I hope you enjoy it! (FYI, I sped the video up to 1.5x real speed.)

If you liked this video and would like to see more video content on my blog, be sure to hit the "like" button on YouTube!

Supplies:Amedeo Mixed Media paper
Couture Creations GoCut and Emboss machine
Xcut nesting circle dies
Staedtler Compass
Distress Ink in "Salty Ocean"
Distress Ink in "Peacock Feathers"
Distress Ink in "Picked Raspberry"
Distress Ink in "Seedless Preserves"
Pentel Aquash Brush, medium tip
W&M pearl rhinestones

(GoCut and Emboss machine and circle dies bought on, all other supplies bought at PNA Eikestad.)

PS: My nail polish is Essence Colour & Go in 171 Galactic Glam

Friday, 21 April 2017

Floral Wreath Friday 1

Welcome to the first "Floral Wreath Friday". As I was doing this post, I kept on thinking how I would choose one design to feature. And then it hit me - I don't have to choose! This first post will be a detailed step-by-step tutorial but future weeks will be shorter, focusing instead on different motifs and ideas to use in your projects.

You will need:
  • Watercolour paper, or good-quality heavyweight cardstock cut to size (my piece is a 10 cm square but I've also done floral wreaths the size of dinner plates)
  • Pencil and compass (if you don't have a compass, you can trace a circular item)
  • Eraser
  • Watercolour paints
  • Brush and water (I prefer using a waterbrush, but this is just a personal preference)

Start off by lightly drawing a circle on your paper in pencil. It should be just visible to you, but not so dark that pencil trapped under paint will be visible.

Start off your wreath by picking one element and spacing them around the circle. For this wreath, I wanted red roses, so I started off with a watered-down red and made irregular blobs as the base layer. In general, I find that the smaller your elements get, the less water you want to use in order to maintain control over where your paint goes.
When spacing your elements out, remember that odd numbers usually are more appealing than even ones.

Now chose your second element. I went for a simple purple daisy. Paint one of these in the spaces between your first elements. Remember, you don't have to do any fancy art here!

Now it's time to start filling our wreath in. I wanted to give the roses bright green leaves. I painted the two stalks first, and then added the leaves to them in short strokes.

Continue around the wreath. I prefer to keep my hand and brush in more-or-less the same position and just rotate the paper until I've gone all the way around.

Now that we have a simple wreath, it's time to add in detail! Using a more concentrated red, I added swirls to the roses using the very tip of my brush to give the illusion of rose petals.

Next, I added a wash of pink-purple to the daisies to fill them out. Adding leaves in different shades of green is a great way to fill out your wreath and bring it to life. Finally, I added some details like the red berries and small orange flowers.

Once your paint is dry, carefully erase any pencil lines that are visible.

Now, if you wish, you can leave your wreath as-is or add something to the center. An initial is always good. You could also add a date to commemorate an occasion or carefully add a name or sentiment.

And there you go!

I will be showing more examples in the future, but here are two projects I recently did. We recently celebrated my grandmother's 85th birthday with a fancy family dinner. I cut out circles of cardstock with my die-cutting machine, then painted and laminated them to make coasters for everyone's wine glasses. I also added some coordinating roses to the menus that were on everyone's placesetting.

My largest project to date was for a friend's bridal shower that I hosted (hi Helene!). Again, I made coasters, monogrammed with the bride's initial, for everyone to use for their champagne glasses. In total I made 27 wreathes in 9 different designs. Overkill? Yes. Lots of fun for me? Yes! I also made two A3 sized posters, each with a giant wreath, welcoming the guests.


If you would like to commission a hand-painted monogrammed floral wreath, contact me on to receive a quote.