Hello and welcome to my little section of the cyber world! I'm a working girl who spends most of her spare time surrounded by beads and wire, and when I'm not doing that I'm probably reading or baking... or wedding planning... I have an online shop where I sell my beaded creations, and this is a place for me to talk about anything that strikes me!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Folksy Favourites

Hi everyone! After a few hectic days with no time to post, it's time I shared some more beautiful items with you.

I've just been looking at my list of favourite items on Folksy, and it seems to have grown enormously since last week! But the first item is this stunning keyring by NOfkantsCurios, carved from agate.My second pick is from Dottydaisies, and is this absolutely adorable upcycled owl plushie :)And my final item this week is so cute! It's this little gingerbreadman necklace from Mozzypop Jewels:I hope you like them!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Spreading the Prettiness!

Wow, it's been a hectic weekend, but more about that later in the week. For now I'm going to focus on calming, pretty things, and revisit something I posted about a few weeks ago...

You may remember me talking about 'Spreading the Prettiness'; the idea being that a bracelet would roam the country on your wrists, spreading a bit of beaded prettiness and reporting back on its progress as it goes.

The bracelet has recently spent a few weeks in Hampshire in the company of Dottie from DottieDesigns. During that time it was worn, sparkled, admired and complemented, it went out and about and it helped with everyday tasks...

... and stolen by a little girl with a love of pretty things! In Dottie's own words

"My daughter took a real shine to it and wore it a bit too, the picture is of the night that she had snuck into my room and nicked it and was trying to wear it to bed. Bit of a worry as she's not yet 3!!"

The bracelet is now in a new home and reports will be coming in soon so watch this space... and let me know if you'd like to take part!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Interview with Careford Creations

Interview time has come around again, and today I'm talking to Victoria from Careford Creations. Specialising in stunning photography, Victoria's shop also contains beautiful polymer clay creations. I'll leave Victoria to do most of the talking:

Tell us a bit more about the person behind the craft...

Well, my name’s Victoria, or Vic. I live with my husband and son and we have another baby due in April. I was working as a primary school teacher but stopped working last summer to be a full-time mum and spend more time on photography and crafty stuff.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

I’d love to know what’s at the bottom of the ocean, so maybe a really peculiar deep-sea creature!

What is your favourite season?

One thing I love about living in the UK are the seasons and I do like all of them for one reason or the other. Sorry, I really can’t choose!

If you were stuck on a desert island, what one thing would you want to have with you?

I could spend hours reading an atlas! Not necessarily to help me get off the island, but I just find them fascinating.

What’s your favourite colour?

Probably yellow.

And now about your work.

How did you get started?

I’ve been taking photos since I got my first camera for my 9th birthday. I decided to start selling about 10 years ago, although didn’t do a great deal about it for another few years. As for other crafty things, I’ve always loved making stuff, right from when I was very little.

What’s your favourite material to work with and why?

I really love working with Fimo. There’s so much you can do with it. I love experimenting and even when something goes wrong, you often discover something you can use in some way.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Everywhere really! For photos, I may see something on TV or in a book, or just be out and about and the colours, shapes, textures will inspire me to set up a photo. For Fimo, food, animals, travel and fairytales inspire me. So as you see, a bit of everything!

What’s your best crafty tip?

Try out lots of crafts to find one you really enjoy and are good at. When it comes to selling however, I think it’s probably best to stick to one thing...

What’s your favourite item in your shop?

I really like this handbound notebook, with a photo of a pink rose on the cover:

Thanks Victoria!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I love chain :)

I've been making some new necklaces lately, much simpler than my usual fully beaded designs but striking for all that. I'm trying hard not to just steal them myself...

Though to be honest one of the things I love about making jewellery is the ability to always make a piece of jewellery to match an outfit - even if it's only half an hour before I go out (which has been known!).

For the new necklaces I've been using sterling silver chains as a base and making a beaded pendant to go on it. Generally I'll choose a colour to base the necklace around; sometimes based on a particularly lovely bead that I want to include, and then build the pendant around that colour using glass beads, wire and chain.

This is one of my favourites:I love it partly because of the colour - I think the mix of turquoise and blue works really well, but I also love the little heart pendant that I added as a focal point. The chain that this one is on is a spiral chain; it's a bit more interesting that a basic curb chain and looks really pretty.

One of my other favourites is this purple one:My favourite thing about this necklace is the little cream dove pendant. It's so pretty and goes really well with the purple and white beads which made up the main part of the necklace. I hung this one on a snake chain; it gives a really different effect from the spiral chain I used above as it holds its shape more (you can see the way it curves around rather than hanging to a point) and makes the chain more of a feature of the necklace.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Folksy Favourites :)

I missed doing Folksy Favourites last week, and since the last one I've found so much gorgeous stuff I just don't know where to start!

I think my first item is going to be one that I only stumbled across yesterday. It comes from a shop called 'Lost at Sea' and is a lovely little brooch. It's such a simple design but so effective, and I love the turquoise colour.Ok, item number two made me smile the first time I saw it, and smile every time I've looked at it since. Absolutely adorable... here is Doris the Duck by Jenbys!Now then, final item for this week, but what to choose?

As someone who is just getting into crochet and so knows the hardship of having balls of wool rolling all over the place (including down the train carriage - apologies to everyone who was on the same train as me the other day!), and who absolutely adores bags, I'm going to plump for this little offering from Nicknots for my final item. A great design for holding your wool while you work, and gorgeous fabric!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Craft Fair!

Yesterday I did my first craft fair in months, at the Oxford Literary festival. Sales weren't great but we had a good time!

My Mum came to help me out (having someone with you is a must so you've got someone to talk to in those quiet patches!), and we had a lovely day and met some great people on the other stalls :)
Working out how to display the jewellery is always the hard bit. We had two tables so there was plenty of space, and put boxes and cushions under the tablecloths to give some height. I also took the mirror off my dressing table - a nice big mirror for people to admire themselves in and a good place to drape jewellery.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Interview with Midsummer Stitches

Fabric craft this week, and for that we're heading to Midsummer Stitches. Staying true to its name, this shop is full of bright, happy and summery products; pinks, yellows, blues and greens all help to lift your mood and make you feel just a little bit happier for visiting.

Let's have a chat with Julia, the creative mind behind the shop...

If you were an animal, what would you be?

A cat, sleeping in the sunshine on my favourite cushion!

What is your favourite season?

Spring: weather changing, fresh smells and the promise of the summer ahead.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what one thing would you want to have with you?

My partner and two girls, home is where they are....

What’s your favourite colour?

Hmmm, pink no red no both! Can I have both?

And now about your work.

How did you get started?

Making everything as a child with glue cardboard etc (I must have drivin my parents crazy).

Then onto making my own clothes at about 13, feeling the need to stand out (I am sure I did).

Full time student at 25 studying design, soft furnishings and upholstery for three years with two toddlers(interesting).

Taught this for five years, then decided to go it alone I now have a great business making handsewn curtains and creative textile gifts I work full time and I love my job! This morning I have delivered an antique clown costume to a client, posted a vintage fabric cupcake and am about to start a lovely set of velvet Roman blinds for a different client....perfect.

What’s your favourite material to work with and why?

I think it has to be silk, from a corsage to a huge pair of curtains it looks and feels wonderful, its crisp texture and range of colours is unbeatable

Where do you go for inspiration?

Well, some days a blowy walk with the dogs can fire me up, tomorrow im off to London looking around the markets and the vibe of that is always good, but for me a lazy day wandering around Stratford is great sitting by the water....hmmm roll on sunshine?

What's your best crafty tip?
Take a notepad, Im always scribbling ideas, sometimes I find pictures I don’t even remember doing and you cant always find a napkin when you need one!

What’s your favourite item in your shop?

I think this decorative blooms bag

I love the colour combination and really enjoyed making it, im working on some more bags at the minute with a similar theme but a variety of colour and sizes...after all you can never have too many bags right?

Too right you can never have too many bags... :D Thanks Julia!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cake Making!

I had so much fun at the weekend. It was my fiance's birthday last week and we were having a party on Saturday night. I love making and decorating cakes so I said I'd make one for him. The only question was... how to decorate it?

Over the last few months his housemate has been getting him into the XBox (specifically Call of Duty - you know, the bloke-type game involving running around and shooting people) and it's been a bit of a standing joke, so I decided to make him a relevant cake. So here it is...

... the XBox controller birthday cake!!! :D It went down very well - caused a lot of amusement!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Book Review - Meltdown by Ben Elton

I've just finished reading 'Meltdown' by Ben Elton. I've been an avid reader of his books for a number of years now; his style of writing is so dry and he doesn't even try to pretend that he's not ripping off the X-Factor (in Chart Throb), transport systems (Gridlock) or Big Brother (Dead Famous). His general style is to take something that's happening at the moment - whether it's a TV programme or a political or social movement, and to run it to the absolute extreme. His humour is brilliant, and it's so easy to recognise yourself in so many of his characters.

However, I've found his last couple of books to be somewhat lacking. 'Chart Throb' I found to be annoyingly repetitive (though as this is the same effect that X Factor has on me maybe it did its job!) and Blind Faith to be just a bit too extreme so it became unbelieveable.

It was fantastic therefore, to see him return to form in his latest offering, 'Meltdown'. This book follows a group of high flying friends through the credit crunch as their fortunes (and friendships) take a nosedive. He looks at the banking crisis (the first bank to go under is Caledonian Granite, reminiscent of Northern Rock anyone?!), cash for honours, MPs expenses, insider trading and the the property market. With such a wealth of subject material he can really go to town on developing a great cast of characters, some of whom you love and some of whom you want to slap.

If the credit crunch has been getting you down and you can't see the funny side, then read this book. The subject matter may be serious but the writing is hilarious.

(Picture from www.amazon.co.uk)

Monday, 15 March 2010


I'm wearing an incredibly pretty necklace today. My Mum commented on it first thing this morning, and for once I had to say that I didn't make it, it was made by Zoe of Jewelbox.

Last week I took part in a 'swap' on Folksy. It's a fairly simple premise - everyone sends a small gift to someone else, and gets one in return. I was so excited when a package arrived on the doorstep, and when I opened it I was wowed by what I'd been sent.

I received a gorgeous peach coloured necklace and bracelet set made with swarovski crystals. The necklace is really pretty and delicate - perfect to wear under a blouse at work, making me feel dressed up without being too overstated. The bracelet is made on memory wire which always looks fantastic, but I love the simplicity of the design and (it always being the finishing touches that make something special) the little bunch of crystals hanging off one end of the bracelet.

So thank you Zoe! I love my swap! And if you're looking for a really pretty piece of jewellery of fantastic quality, then take a look in Jewelbox.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Interview with Sugar & Rhubarb

My interview for this week is with Gemma who runs a shop I just can't get enough of. Just when you think it's all calm and pretty textiles - door stops, tea cosies and brooches, WHAM! there is a ninja kitty! So here we go chatting to the owner of Sugar & Rhubarb.

If you were a colour, what would you be?

Pink with blue polka dots, I’d be lying to myself if I said something plain!

Cadbury or Galaxy?

Oooh this is hard.... Cadburys crème egg, but galaxy chocolate bar- one of those embarrassingly huge ones, that you should never eat alone, but you do.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what one thing would you want to have with you?

Yumyums... but only if I could take more than one – it would be too cruel if there was just one.

Who would you want to play you in the film of your life?

Obviously someone as stunning as myself... Scarlett Johanson might be a good match ;)

And now about your work.

What’s the first thing you can remember making?

It was a lavender bot... a little lavender filled sphere with a face on. I hadn’t mastered sewing very well and it was a bit wonky... slightly

embarrassing really. I made loads and tried to sell them at a vintage fair with my friend who was selling off most of her wardrobe. The price progressively went down from £3 to 90p during the day. It caught the eye of a few kiddies, so that was nice to see their little faces light up when they paid for one. It wasn’t really my target market but it gave me a warm glow nonetheless!

What’s your favourite material to work with and why?

Any pretty cotton fabric. I love anything by Heather Ross, Kokka, Amy Butler, Liberty and Cath Kidston. I could spend hours in places like Ditto in Brighton just ooh-ing and ahh-ing at prints.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My cat... no must be serious for these interviews ... think business head. People like Poppy Treffry and Anna from Widget the Sock Bunny – they show that your once small ideas can turn into a worldwide phenomenon,

What’s your best crafty tip?

Have faith in your skills and never price too low! It takes a lot to have confidence in yourself and your creations, and too many people suffer from self doubt and price too low. Woody had a wonderful blog entry on pricing your stuff so that you can make a profit, and it’s surprising how much better I feel about listing my items on folksy and etsy now that I know I’m making a small profit from each sale I make.

What’s your favourite item in your shop?

It has to be Ninja Kitty. He took a lot of failed attempts and learning to get where he is now. He’s even got his own blog which makes me giggle whenever I write entries – I am of the LolCatz generation and having his blog lets me write those silly thoughts I have about cats without looking too strange because I can say an inanimate object wrote them!!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ladies that Lunch

I've just been offered a new job! I should be starting in April and I'm really starting to look forward to it, hopefully I'll still have enough time for jewellery making too!

My new job involves a bit of a commute, so unfortunately I'll no longer be able to meet my Mum for the odd long lunch and bit of shopping in the middle of the day...

The excuse of a new job to buy lovely new clothes has not been lost on me, but unfortunately with a rather detrimental effect on my bank account, not yet half way through the month and the money is gone! Ah well!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Folksy Favourites :)

I've been off searching Folksy again, not that it takes much searching to find some amazing things!

One shop that I stumbled across this week is OhGosh!, and oh gosh what a gorgeous shop it is (expecially for this self confessed bag addict!). This stunning green leather purse is just one example of one of the many items I love in this shop, but I could go on forever; why buy a mass produced bag or purse when you can get a unique item so stunningly handmade?
Going along a totally different vein now, I spent a lot of time this week browsing noodlebubble. I love the brooches and buttons, and the bright colours always lift my mood. One thing I especially love is these giant buttons; measuring an amazing 50 mm across, I have hundreds of great ideas for them - from scarves to hats to cardigans, oh boy you could have a lot of fun with these!
My final choice this week comes from Cherryloco. I was having a bit of a down day, and browsing online for some retail therapy when I stumbled across these earrings. Who could fail to be cheered up by the happy smile and the thought of blue skies and white fluffy clouds? The workmanship in all the products is amazing, definitely worth taking a look.
I hope you like these picks, I'll be back with more next week!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Cheese & Potato Pie Recipe

Ooh now this is a lovely lovely recipe. My Mum's been making it as long as I can remember, it tastes gorgeously cheesey and also ticks the comfort food box.

Here we go then....

Slice up a pile of potatoes into slices maybe 0.5cm thick.
Slice up a couple of onions.
Grate a huuuuuuuge pile of cheese.

Take a casserole dish and fill it with layers of potato, onion and lots and lots of cheese. When the dish is full, pour milk on until the milk comes up to around 1cm below the brim.

Put it in the oven and bake for.... 3 - 4 hours. It seriously does take that long to cook as it's really dense and you need the potato to get really soft. If you don't have that long, then stick it in the microwave for 10 or 15 minutes first to get it hot through, then you can put it in the oven for around 1 hr and it should be fine. Check it's cooked by sticking a knife in the middle, if the potato is properly cooked then it should go in really easily.

Dish up piles of the cheesey goodness and enjoy!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Earring Making

I had a bit of an earring making session last night!

With a craft fair coming up in a couple of weeks, I suddenly realised that my stock of earrings was phenomenally low (erm... about 4 pairs!). I had ordered some new sterling silver hooks last week and set about turning them into earrings.

I love dangly earrings, and made lots of earrings with small shell beads hanging from them. I also made some angel earrings (a bit like the angel keyrings in my shop) and some more turtle earrings which are just sooooo cute!

All in all a very good evening's work I think!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Interview with Quite Contrary Crafts

This week's interview is with Mary from Quite Contrary Crafts. This is a really lovely shop full of beautiful cards, pictures and mugs at great prices. A fantastic place to go to get a card for that special person... (don't forget it's Mother's day on the 14th!)

Let's meet Mary...
If you were an animal, what would you be?

I’d like to say something cool and sleek like a fox, but in reality I’d probably be a slightly clumsy tootling-along-happily Wombat!

What is your favourite meal?

I seem to have an addiction to Thai Green Curry at the minute. Though I think my favourite all-time meal is my Mum/Dad’s Sunday Roast, it just can’t be beaten!

Hot weather or cold weather?

Cold weather – I love the layers and knitted accessories that come with it

What’s your favourite colour?


And now about your work.

How did you get started?

I’ve always loved Art, completely absorbed into whatever I’m making at whatever time of night! It all started from creating things for friends’ and family’s Birthdays – after trying all sorts of things, when me, the craft knife and the card finally met it all seemed to fall together; my Parents loved their Christmas cards, then my friends did…and then I found Etsy and Folksy and Quite Contrary Crafts was born!

What’s your favourite material to work with and why?

It’s obviously got to be card with me – I love how it can be transformed with just one tool and a few cutting strokes into something that’s more than just a ‘card’, the way the light reflects through my designs on those rare sunny days. There’s so much versatility with it too – my new Rose paper-cut designs are the start of a whole new exciting avenue to explore! However, it is also the vain in my life when one small wrong cut can bring everything tumbling down and I have to start again!

Is there anyone in your life who has particularly inspired you?

My Grandad, in the way that whatever happened in life he constantly had a grin on his face and a cheesy Cockney joke to share, even at 93, and always saw the best in life – it reminds me to keep my head up, even through the tough patches, as something good is worth waiting for!

What’s your best crafty tip?

As ‘classy’ as it sounds, wrapping a bit of sticky plaster around your scalpel handle can make it a lot more comfortable – my poor right hand kept getting various aching red bits in odd places until I discovered this!

What’s your favourite item in your shop?

It’s got to be one of my newest ideas, my ‘I love cake!’ card. It just makes me smile (possibly as I’m a bit of a cake-o-holic!) – I’m thinking of framing a couple of the ‘I love’ cards and putting them in my kitchen to make it all nice and cheery!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Help to Spread the Prettiness!

I'm looking for volunteers to take part in a bracelet walkabout...

I have this very pretty bracelet which sadly has been languishing at the bottom of a box for some time now. This is a very sad state of affairs as this bracelet's whole purpose in being was to be pretty and to sparkle on a wrist somewhere, and to soak up the admiration of everyone who saw it.

I feel it's time that this bracelet was given a chance to fulfil its purpose, but for this I need some help and that's where you come in...

Basically the idea is this: You get the bracelet for about a week, during which time you wear it somewhere nice and take a photo of it looking pretty and sparkly and generally doing what pretty things do best. Then send me the photo and a little write-up about where it has been that week and the prettiness that it has spread around, and I'll post it here so that we can all appreciate the prettiness.

Then I will send you the address of the next person in the list and you can post the bracelet onto them, and the cycle continues...

If you are interested then send me an email, a folksy message, or leave a comment here, and I will work out an order :)

Help to spread the prettiness!

Monday, 1 March 2010

My Favourites on Folksy

Browsing on Folksy over the last week, I've stumbled across more gorgeous items and I think it's time to share my favourites again.

For my first stop, I'm going to a shop called Kelso Kreations. This shop has a real mix of items with stunning paper crafts and lovely wooden items, but for me it's the bright funky colours that are really eye catching. I just love these photo frames; they'd brighten up any room!
My second item this week comes from Driftwood Boat Builders. If you thought you'd seen everything that the world of handcrafts had to offer then think again... this shop is full of ornamental boats (free standing and wall hanging) made from driftwood. They are absolutely gorgeous pieces, and definitely worth a look.

My final choice for this week is another really unique one, and to be honest I don't know why I haven't featured this shop before now! We're taking a trip to Grandma's Miniature Market, the home of all things tiny. Mini pork chops, mini cheese, fruit, veg, cakes, all made out of modelling clay! The worksmanship is stunning (personally vouched for as I have some of the products sat in my dolls house at home :D), perfect for a dolls house or as an ornament for a miniatures shelf.I hope you enjoy looking at these, I'll have some more for you next week!

My Moussaka

Last night I made moussaka for dinner... at least, not having a recipe, I made my variation of it! So here we go...

Serves 6-8 people depending on how hungry you are.

Fry 1 chopped onion, add 800g lamb mince and stir it up until it's all brown. Add two tins of tomatoes, one beef oxo cube, a good squirt of tomato puree, about 1.5tsp nutmeg, a bay leaf and a good bit of black pepper. Let this simmer for AT LEAST 1 hr!

Slice up 3 aubergines fairly thinly (about half a centimetre thick). If your hob is working (unlike mine - I had to go next door to fry the mince lol!) then you can fry the aubergine slices, if not, then brush them with oil and stick them under the grill or on the george foreman grill (what I did!).

Also slice up a couple of courgettes - but not if one of the people you are cooking for is allergic to them (which I only found out once I'd put the whole thing together).

Take a big casserole dish and lay cooked aubergine slices over the base. Put half the mince on top, add a layer of courgette slices and then spread a good handful of spinach over this. Put the rest of the mince on top of the spinach and top it with a second layer of aubergine slices.

Next make a super thick white sauce. Melt 4oz butter, stir in 4oz flour and cook for a few mins (lack of hob, I made this in the microwave). Add a pint of milk and keep cooking and stirring until it gets really thick. And it will. Get really thick I mean, really really thick so you can hardly stir it. Then beat in two eggs, keep stirring past the stage where it looks disgusting until it starts to look all glossy and gorgeous. Pour this sauce over the top of the moussaka, then sprinkle a nice layer of grated cheese on the top.

Stick it in the oven to bake for about 40 mins, the topping will bubble up and go all brown and gorgeous.....

Then take it out, let it stand for 5 mins, and serve! (Do let it stand, it makes serving it a whole lot easier!)

I served it with jacket potatoes and green beans :) num num num!