2 of my most favourite things: books and candles in one place

Candle main image

A couple of weeks ago I went to a candle making workshop, I have always wanted to know how to make candles as I have bought so many of them and spent a fortune on them. On Eventbrite (I love this app) my friend saw Literati & Light (such a cool name) candle workshop at a Penguin pop-up store. What more could one wish for, making a wonderful candle whilst surrounded by books – I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The workshop took place on the last day of the pop-up on Shoreditch High Street and they were doing buy one book get one book free, the day just kept getting better and better.

We got to choose between 2 scents – Wuthering Heights or Pemberley (from Pride & Prejudice). The company Literati & Light (www.literatiandlight.com) make candles that are inspired by great works of literature  – such a wonderful idea. The ingredients in Pemberley remind you of Mr Darcy’s estate, the fragrance captures the scent of the woods, lawns, and flower gardens of Pemberley. Imagine reading Pride & Prejudice whilst burning your candle and the scent wafting over you. Both scents were really nice but it could only ever be Pemberley for me – Pride & Prejudice is one of the books I read every year along with The Great Gatsby. We were given an empty tin and labels to stick on, we then stuck our wick to the bottom of the tin using some silicon. We were then given some melted wax which we poured our scent into, whisked thoroughly and poured into the tin stopping halfway. We left the wax to set which was the perfect opportunity to browse the bookshop – so many books. Once the wax had set we poured more wax and left to set before putting the lid on. Once you have the ingredients it seems quite easy to make candles, these were made with soy wax which is the best type of wax due to the way it burns – who knew. I have now bought a candle making starter kit and some scents so will give it a go at home. I walked away from the workshop having learned how to make my own candles and a stack of books – it really was a perfect day spent with a dear friend.

 Smile every day


DC xoxo

London at it’s best and mostly free

Days out in London without spending loads of money

Two Temple Place
I started my day by visiting Two Temple Place to view a Jazz Exhibition called Rhythm & Reaction, it is on until April 22nd (free entry). Even if you don’t like jazz much it is worth going just to see the inside of Two Temple Place – it is stunning and an architectural gem. The building is a late Victorian mansion built by William Waldorf Astor on the Embankment, a very short walk from Temple underground.

The building was originally designed for use as Astor’s estate office by one of the foremost neo-Gothic architects of the late nineteenth-century, John Loughborough Pearson. Astor had emigrated to England in 1891 as, arguably, the richest man in the world and no expense was spared when work began on Two Temple Place in 1892. The opulent interior, beautiful stained glass windows and incredible carvings are a joy to see in the middle of Central London.

Jazz Exhibition at 2 Temple Place

Witness for the Prosecution – County Hall
After the exhibition, I walked along the Embankment, across Hungerford Bridge to County Hall. I had booked a very cheap ticket (£11 from lastminute.com) to see Witness for the Prosecution.  I had never been inside County Hall but had heard how beautiful it was. The courtroom is the perfect setting for Agatha Christie’s gripping story of justice, passion, and betrayal set in a courtroom setting. It feels quite surreal sitting in a courtroom watching a drama about a court case in a courtroom and you can even buy tickets so that you are part of the jury….so cool!

Witness for the Prosecution

East End in Colour – Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
A few days later I headed to Mile End Road to see a photography exhibition about the East End of London from 1960’s & 1970’s by David Granick. (free entry). I had wanted to join the Library & Archives so this was the perfect excuse. The exhibition is on until May 3rd and has some great photos, they have also set up a slideshow for you to view at your leisure. The photos are printed onto white paper and bulldog clipped around the room which allows people to write comments below them which makes it so much more personal.

The East End in colour Exhibition

Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre
Next, I headed into the City for some more culture. Near St Paul’s is The Guildhall which has an art gallery that houses art dating back 1670 (free entry but you may have to pay to enter any temporary exhibitions). There are 3 floors of art and underneath all of it is a 2000-year-old gladiator ring which I didn’t even know existed. Below glass flooring you can still see parts of the wooden amphitheater where more than 7000 spectators would have sat on tiered wooden benches in the open air – it is so interesting and one of London’s hidden gems

Guildhall Art GalleryRoman Amphitheatre

Candlelit Photography at Southwark Cathedral
This is something I have wanted to do for a while but have never managed to get organised to do it. You buy your ticket through Eventbrite which is a really great app which shows you loads of events taking place where you live. You can search by area and by subject, lots of the events are free but some you have to pay for. I paid £10 for this event which lasted 2 hours and gave you all access to Southwark Cathedral after dark with only candles to light the space (and minimal lighting) – it was breathtaking. There’s also an art installation for Lent and Holy Week in the form of a dark cloud which hangs over the chancel and high alter – ‘doubt’ by Susie MacMurray. I arrived in daylight so saw the installation in light and then in darkness – it changes how you see it and really makes you pause for reflection – the perfect installation for Lent. For the candlelit photography there were about 25/30 of us, many came with their tripods and long and wide lenses, I just used my iPhone X and Huawei Android that has a Leica lens and got some really nice shots. You also don’t have to be a professional – just someone that enjoys taking nice photos in unusual settings – it was a really fun thing to do

Candlelit Photography at Southwark Caathedral

So I had 2 packed days visiting places in London and spent just over £20 (excluding travel). There are so many places to visit in London that are free and also many events that are free – you just need to spend a bit of time doing some research which sometimes is the best part because then you discover other things taking place that you wouldn’t have known about. Looking forward to sharing more of my days out with you soon and remember…..smile every day





The time has come to start journaling

cofNow that I know how to make beautiful journals and after having seen so many examples of other people’s journals and seeing some really cool methods of journaling the time has come for me to start my own journal – January 1st 2018 is the day I will start. To me journaling means using lots of embellishments that make me happy and to make the journal come alive over the weeks and months of next year. I have started doing my research firstly by following people on Instagram and then checking out the websites that they reference. These are mostly based outside of the UK, washi tape is very popular but so expensive in the UK, it is actually cheaper to buy from China on ebay with free shipping but the delivery can be up to one month – hence my start date of Jan 1st. I also think starting anything on the first day of the year is a good thing, it pressures you into keeping it up.

What type of journal will I keep?
As per most people I love a list so journaling is a good way to do this, you can list anything, here are a few to start with:

1. List what you are grateful for
2. List the places you want to go
3. List your favourite books
4. List the people who inspire you
5. List the things that feel like home

After some more research there is a website that lists 52 lists – one for every week of the year. Guess this is a good place to start. There is so much information online to help you with deciding what type of journal you want to keep. You just need to sit down and decide what you want to do.

Journal Prompts
Lots of people also use quotes as journal prompts. I love this idea as I am a fan of quotes and write them down in a notebook when I see them. They can also become your daily affirmations. People also use visual journaling prompts – you leaf through magazines and cut out any images that catch your attention, you can then use each one as a prompt. You can do the same with photographs and discounted art books.

What to write
There are so many things you could write about:

1. Your emotions
2. Rituals and traditions
3. Ask “if” questions
4. Childhood memories
5. Thinking of the week that just ended
You can also use your journal as your diary with appointments, birthdays, shopping lists, planning ahead, etc – it is entirely up to you.

Your journal is YOUR journal so do what YOU want to do and have fun.

Below of some images from some of the people follow on Instagram, they do some great journaling.



Smile everyday


Bookbinding – a new skill

I have always loved journals/notebooks and writing/drawing in them, there is nothing nicer than a blank page that holds so much hope. The crispness of a blank page and the joy it gives you when it is finished. I love a journal/notebook.

After spending many years and lots on money buying them I thought how nice it would be to make my own for myself and for friends. There is a great place in Hackney called London Centre for Book Arts, they do day workshops in various aspects of bookbinding so I signed up / http://www.londonbookarts.org/

Introduction to Bookbinding 1: Pamphlets, Stab Bindings & Concertinas

During the workshop we learnt how to fold and manipulate paper using specialist bookbinding tools – who knew how complicated it was to fold a piece paper, I had no idea.  Our first task was to make a concertina but first you get to choose the colours of paper and book cloth you want – a very important decision which involved changing my mind many times. I ended up with brown paper and a mustard colour book cloth.  We then moved onto pamphlets, where you fold sheets of paper into a pamphlet, add a cover and then sew the spine. This gives you the bases of bookbinding which helps with the next 2 workshops. The final part of the workshop was stab binding, similar to Japanese open spine where the sewing is exposed. This was much trickier and the detail in sewing was quite intense. The workshop is about 6 hours long and in the beginning you wonder what will fill that time but at the end of it you realize that you need every minute to finish the books. It was also nice to have no phone calls/emails – when do you ever get the chance to do something creative/crafty for a long period of time? It was such a joy to learn some new skills.

Bookbinding ‘tools of the trade’

Introduction to Bookbinding 2: Single Section Case Binding

I was really looking forward to this workshop as we end up with an actual journal – very exciting. We first chose our book cover and end papers, these are the papers that you see when you first open a book. So we folded our paper, stabbed the pages and then sewed them together. We stuck on the end papers, made head-bands, these are the 2 small tabs that stick out at the top and bottom of the book spine – we made our own – very cool, we also added in a book-mark to complete the look. Next thing was to put the book cover on and voila I made a book. We also got to foil block an image on the front.

Completed journal with foil blocking

Introduction to Bookbinding 3: Round-back Case Binding

This workshop was a lot more complicated. We had to make sections and then sew them together with very intricate sewing, this was so that it held together as we were using a lot of paper to make a bigger book. We stuck on the end papers, made head-bands and added in a book-mark. We then had to round the spine. You do this by putting the spine over the end of a table and hammering along the glued spine so that it rounds. The end results were amazing once the cover was put on and I was ready to start making my own books/journals to give as gifts.


Following my bookbinding courses I took a short on how to foil block, thought this would make a great way to finish of my books and personalise them.

Since finishing my course I have been to the studio at LBCA for 2 full days and I have made 7 complete journals from scratch and have given them to friends who were so pleased with the end results. For some of them I bought Liberty print and they got to choose which one they wanted their journal made in. Below are some images of the completed books.

I am so happy to have learnt a new skill and something very creative that starts from choosing what paper you want inside your journal to the finish. I highly recommend LBCA, the courses are great, the tutors are brilliant and working in the studio with like-minded people is such a joy.

Smile every day


New York New York…

Bryant Park…so good they named it twice. Never was a statement truer. I have only been to New York three times – February 97 and then June 15 and 16 and fell further in love with it each time.  I am going to share my 2015 trip now with details of my itinerary and some wonderful images that capture New York.

I decided I didn’t want to stay in Manhattan but in some of the other Boroughs and chose Brooklyn and the Bronx. I booked Air BnBs which are always great value and are a great way to experience places as those that live there. I chose Brighton Beach in Brooklyn and City Island in the Bronx. I arrived in Brighton Beach on a glorious sunny day, dumped my bags and walked to the beach – what a vista. Walked along the boardwalk to Coney Island, one off my ‘bucket list’. I have seen it so many times in movies and heard about it, it was something special and to think 10 hours ago I was in London – don’t you just love flying and the adventures it gives you.

The following day I took the bus to Prospect Park, getting buses is a great way to see any city and you always discover new places this way. I had heard about Prospect Park many times in books and on TV, it was also on the way to Greenwood Cemetery. Many famous people are buried it and you get some great views of Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan from the highest point. For baseball fans Charles Ebbets, owner of Brooklyn Dodgers and Henry Chadwick “Father of Baseball” are buried here along with many other famous people including Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Horace Greeley, Civil War generals, politicians, artists, entertainers and inventors – 478 spectacular acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and winding paths. Worth a visit for sure.

From Greenwood Cemetery I walked over Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, wow, what a bridge. Even though it was busy you still get to appreciate how great this bridge it. It somehow feels magical, I guess because it is such an iconic attraction in so many movies and tv shows, remember Sex & The City, Miranda arranged to meet Steve on Brooklyn Bridge – so cool.


I next visited Trinity Church and St Pauls Chapel before going on a guided tour of Ground Zero and the Museum. Our guide was called Tony, he was amazing and the tour was incredible and very moving culminating in walking around the 9/11 Museum. I spent the rest of the day walking around Manhattan, seeing City Hall and City Hall Park, Washington Sq Park, Flat Iron Building, walked down 5th Avenue, Madison Sq Park, Marble Collegiate Church, Met Life Building, New York Public Library, 42nd St, Saks, NBC and finished at Radio City Hall before getting the subway home – a crazy busy day but thoroughly enjoyable.

Another sunny day, got the Q Train from Brighton beach to Times Square. Walked down Broadway and went to Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, what an incredible experience. The Church was packed with thousands of people, I have never seen a Church look so beautiful with the sun streaming through the stain glass windows. After Mass I took a guided tour of Rockefeller Centre that ended on the observation deck.

Another day and more to do. Caught the train to Union Sq which has a great Farmers Market, walked by the Chrysler Building (one of my favourite buildings in NYC), shopped at Macy’s, sat in Herald Square to watch the world go by on a glorious sunny afternoon, went back to the New York Public Library which is such a beautiful building. Went and sat in Bryant Park, a great space surrounded by stunning architecture. Ended back at Times Square to get the Q train home.

Next day I got the train to Battery Park to get the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty. As the ferry approaches Lady Liberty the commentary talks about the immigrants who passed the statue on their way to Ellis Island in the hope of a bright new future. I must say you do feel the hope that they must have felt when you see Lady Liberty, she gives you a sense of greatness, the statue is something very special. I had booked in advance a ticket for the pedestal so made my way up many many many steps which was so worth it, the views are incredible, breathtaking, such a great way to see Manhattan. Ferry back to Manhattan and the Meatpacking District to walk The High Line – what a wonderful experience and so much to see, such a great idea to use old rail tracks.

Another day and time to move, checked out of Brighton Beach and checked into City Island, wow what a great place. The apartment looked out over the water and the town seemed to be frozen in time where nothing has changed or changes. It was like stepping back in time – very surreal.

My next stop was my first Yankees game – lifelong fan, you would not believe how excited I was to see them play especially at a day-time game. The weather was perfect, my seat was in the sun, I had the classic hotdog and pretzel with a soda, the smallest I could buy looked like a gallon. I must say I have never seen so much food in one place. The Yankees played The Nationals, the game lasted about 3 hours and ended up in a draw. Today was the perfect day.

Spent most of the next day in Central Park, another glorious sunny day. Spent the next couple of days chilling out ready for my last day. I have packed so much in a couple of days chilling was so nice and the weather was so beautiful.

My last day started with a day trip to Hyde Park to visit Roosevelt’s house/library and the Vanderbilt Mansion. Took an Amtrak train from Grand Central along the Hudson to Poughkeepsie, took about 2 and a half hours but the journey was so nice and the train was amazing, very spacious, bench seats and the views out of the windows were just stunning.

Arrived at Hyde Park and wow, what a vista. I had heard and read so much about it but nothing can really prepare you. The house had been preserved exactly as when FDR lived in it, nothing had changed. `The museum was extremely informative and very enjoyable. The Vanderbilt Mansion was exactly as you would expect – it was such a great day and the perfect way to end my New York trip. I returned to Manhattan to fly home back to London. A great 10 days.

New York – my favourite city and perfectly summed up by Alicia Keys –

“These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it from New York!”

Smile every day



My Blog

My name is Della and welcome to my blog. After finally making the leap from memories to words, this blog is to share the many things in life that have made me smile.

Holidays, museums, art galleries, exhibitions, views, beauty products – anything that has made me feel excited and adventurous, inspired to learn or to try, or that has brightened my day.

If you read or see anything in my blog and would like more info please feel free to reach out to me.

Smile every day