The year that was

I sit at my computer looking out at the sunny afternoon outside and thinking that 2011 is just a few hours from being over. What a year it has been.

I started the year with the harsh realisation that I will now be medicated for the rest of my life on "rat poison" to keep my blood nice and thin thanks to the lovely blood clots that descended last boxing day. This is now all under control thankfully and I appreciate the compliments I have received about how well I dealt with it. Well, its not like I have an incurable disease but it does have its problems later in my life, but I can deal with it as and when it arises. I will be glad that I only have 360 more days left to wear my sexy stocking though!!

A few months later in March I got to do something I had been waiting TWO years to do - hand my notice in at my job as I had finally been offered something else. I can honestly say I hated my previous job. Not the people there, but the job. I felt worthless and like I was stuck in a hole and had no way out despite trying and trying for months on end. I struggled to find something new because although I had the job title, I didnt have the experience necessary to take on the role I applied for. But, I couldnt get that experience where I was because no opportunites were created for me and I couldnt do anything about it. I also grew tired and jaded that I had seen some very friendly colleagues leave because of the way they were treated by a particular member of staff. But my day came in March and I cried. I took the job offer phone call as I was leaving work, and when I got on my train home I sobbed - pure relief that I was free. I had to wait a week to hand in my notice and from that day I didnt feel scared going into work, the thumping heartbeat I would have as I walked through the office door each morning was gone. The day I left I was sad to leave some of my friends, but that was about it.

And so on to April when I started my new job. I dont think it will be a job I have for life, in fact Im already realising that I no longer want to work in London because quite frankly its way too expensive and I feel happier out of the city. But, nevertheless its a new job with new people and new challenges and I need to learn from it as much as I can. I have to say it did provide the best staff Christmas party EVER!

Holidays this year have been special. I took my parents to a lovely little chalet in Norfolk where we had a break for a week and just spent some time together. I did of course find a shop that sells beautiful fabric and look forward to going back when we return in June. I also took myself to Rome, somewhere I have longed to visit since I was 13 and first started to study Latin at school. Five days of walking and walking and feeling in awe at the buildings and ruins and the ice cream...only I could eat 15 icecreams in 5 days.

I turn thirty in 7 months tomorrow and so I have been working hard on my Thirty before Thirty challenge. I have visited exhibitions, visited new places and started to learn new skills. There is still much left of my challenge to go by August 1st but what I have realised is, if it doesnt get done it doesnt matter, but I will have fun trying.

November saw the safe (and early) arrive of my third niece Scarlett who I am dying to meet and snuggle and welcome into our family. I have also had friends have babies and it is so wonderful to see them turn into parents.

I have also grown my business starting out with more craft fairs, securing consignment and wholesale orders with shops both in the UK and the USA and at this moment in time I am planning a total relaunch in March 2012 having been in business for three years - where did that time go?

But, these past few months have been a particular highlight because something very unexpected happened (blushing a little now) - I fell in love. Its funny how these things creep up on you when you least expect them to. March 2010 was a particular low point for me but wow thats done a complete 180 and I couldnt be happier. In my new "friend" I have found someone who is so supportive of what I do to the point he came to my farmers market just four weeks in and is going to help me build my new website, he even was allowed to count inventory and stick labels on card bags! I joke I have "crinkles around the edges" in my quirks, and he accepts them, even my talking in my sleep! And he likes that I bake, and hoover and dance around the kitchen to crazy music! I think this has been the most unexpected, but best highlight of the year.

So what are my hopes for next year? Aside from wishing all of my friends and family a happy and safe celebration tonight, I wish them all the love they could hope for, happiness in bucket loads, warmth and shelter for the year, good health and luck in what ever they will be doing.

When I was a child I use to set resolutions (bed early, lose weight, less chocolate) but this year I see it differently, I have 2 different ways to look at 2012. The first is to pick a word which I hope will sum up my year, mine is ACHIEVEMENT. I picked this because I hope to achieve my goals (see below) along with achieving a slimmer waiseline, my Thirty before Thirty challenge, an improved business and quite honestly, achieving each day with a smile on my face.

So, my "public" goals for the year ahead are this (I do have a few more but they are private):

1) Declutter things I no longer need
2) Improve my fitness
3) Relaunch my business and new website
4) Continue to save towards a home of my own
5) Complete my 30 before 30 Challenge, even if it takes until December

I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2012! - What goals do you have for the year?

Saturday, 31 December 2011 | 1 Comment

Christmas Cards Reduced


If you still have that last minute card to send or wish to stock up early for next year, I have reduced many of the handmade Christmas and holiday cards I currently have available for purchase at Butterfly-Crafts.

Many cards have been reduced by 20-25% so now is a great time to stock up! The packs of christmas cards have also been reduced

If you have that last minute card to send, I can also send your card direct to the recipient with a hand written message, just add the "Card mailing service" to your basket before you checkout.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty before Thirty - EIGHT months to go!

Virtually a month ago I updated the general list of my progress with my thirty before thirty challenge and I am saddened to admit not much progression has happened. This is primarily due to the fact I have been so busy with craft fairs and christmassy things that my challenge has slipped. I promised that I would blog about each item as I completed it and I have a lot of blogs I need to write, I think I will resign myself to focusing on the challenge in the beginning of the new year!

But here is an update nevertheless...

1.Own a sewing machine, - not yet although I’ve dropped hints about it being a 30th birthday present or a moving in present if i am fortunate enough to be a home owner next year

2.Learn to knit socks – Once the Christmas period is over I will pick up my knitting needles again, I maay learn to knit child sizes socks then progress to adults later.

3.Visit Buckingham Palace – Done!!!! I need to blog about it though, but Mum and I had a great time in September.

4.Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall - I'm thinking this will be the Serpentine in Hyde Park unless someone can come up with another idea?

5.Own a home (the BIG challenge) – there have been developments with this but that's all I'm saying for now.

6.Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens – I work on this each and every day.

7.Visit Dickens House – DONE!!! But it was a real disappointment, I will blog about this too.

8.Go to a soap making workshop - DONE!!!! And I'm now selling natural soap through my shop.

9.Learn to hang wall paper –Mum and Dad are talking about redecorating our hall way and stairs at home in the new year.

10.Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads – Sort of DONE!! Just need to blog!

11.Learn to make pastry – Maybe in time for mince pies?

12.Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 – Um.....

13.Make and wear my own dress – I have an idea to make a dress to wear to dinner on my 30th birthday.

14.Read five books from my bookshelf - One down, four to go!

15.Have a make up lesson – DONE!!! Although I wasn’t all that impressed. I had a free session at Bobbi Brown which was educational and expensive.

16.Do something every day to make me smile – Now I have a new "friend" in my life I am smiling a whole lot more each day.

17.Learn to change a car tyre – I'm still laughing about why I included this!

18.Be able to jog a mile without stopping - with my leg issues this is a BIG thing – Ive been getting back to the gym with my trainer and she is really helping me. I can use the cross trainer for 2 miles but not sure how I would go on the actual road!

19.Go to Rome or Sorrento – DONE!!! and it was AMAZING!!! I need to blog with photos though.

20.Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently – Some nights are good, others are bad, and some are unmentionable.

21.Visit Giant's Causeway – This may not happen now as I potentially will go to NYC in August next year, but I still want to visit Antrim and that area in the future.

22.Have a dinner party - This is the plan for my 30th birthday ideally in my own house.

23.Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine – DONE!!!! – coverage of the craft fairs I've organised in the local paper.

24.Sleep under the stars - I am an option in mind for this, watch this space.

25.Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible - I am doing this as much as possible, even more so with Christmas approaching.

26.Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues – the gym is definitely helping. I will never be a ‘gym bunny’ but I do feel much better to go after work and at the weekend for a little brain space. I really miss rowing but that’s off limits at the moment, one day though, one day.

27.Watch: Casablanca (done), Dr Zhivago (done - yawn), Gone With the Wind (done), The Philadephia Story (done), A Street Car Named Desire (done - yawn), The Godfather (done) and Citizen Cane (done) so just Goodfellas, Ferri Beulers Day Off and Schindler's List to go.

28.Go to a comedy club – I really want to get this one ticked off soon.

29.Finish my knitted patchwork blanket – Once the mega Christmas Fairs season is over I will pick my needles up again, I'm 8 squares down from a total of 91 plus edging.

30.Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries – Well there was Handmade Tales at The Women’s Library, Afghanistan at The British Museum, Out of this world at the British Library, and Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain and a few others I've currently forgotten!

Friday, 2 December 2011 | 1 Comment

Today, we shall all remember


The 11th of November is Rememberance Day and I will be wearing my poppy with pride as I remember. I will also be attending church on Rememberance Sunday.

Traditionally Rememberance Day is to remember those fallen in the Great Wars but for me, it's a little closer to home as my brother and two counsins-in-law have recently come back from Afghanistan for the third time. On of my sister-in-laws cousins nearly didnt make it back, but he was made of strong stuff and the suicide bomber couldnt touch him. The story was not the same for many of his friends on this past tour, and so because of them, I will remember. The picture above shows just some of those brave heroes who now shine as stars in the sky.

The Royal British Legion focus their Poppy Appeal to raise funds for the families of those fallen or injured in the Afghanistan war. Their target is to raise £36m, if you would like to help the appeal please visit the Royal British Legion website

And so, at 11am on the 11th of November:

At the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we will Remember.

They shall not grow old as we that are left shall grow old,

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,

At the going down of the sun,and in the morning

We will remember them.

Friday, 11 November 2011 | 0 Comments

Albury Arts & Crafts Fair

This weekend the online shop has been closed whilst I am attending the Arts & Crafts Fair in Albury Village, Hertfordshire.

The Fair is on 5th and 6th November open from 11am to 4pm both days and there will be a combination of local artists work, and stalls from local crafts people.

It would be lovely to see as many of you there as possible so please do come and say hello whilst browsing for some handmade Christmas gifts!

Saturday, 5 November 2011 | 0 Comments

Nine months to go!

Where does the time go to? I often find myself asking this question when I become overwhelmed by things or realise that its nearly Christmas and I still have loads of stock to prep, let alone organise Christmas gifts for me to give! As such, my 30 before 30 challenge has slipped a little, as have the blog updates for it. But as today marks the 9 months to go stage I thought it important to update!

1.Own a sewing machine, - not yet although I’ve dropped hints about it being a 30th birthday present or a moving in present if i am fortunate enough to be a home owner next year

2.Learn to knit socks – Once the Christmas period is over I will pick up my knitting needles again.

3.Visit Buckingham Palace – Done!!!! I need to blog about it though, but Mum and I had a great time in September.

4.Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall - I'm thinking this will be the Serpentine in Hyde Park unless someone can come up with another idea?

5.Own a home (the BIG challenge) – there have been developments with this but that's all I'm saying for now.

6.Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens – I work on this each and every day.

7.Visit Dickens House – DONE!!! But it was a real disappointment, I will blog about this too.

8.Go to a soap making workshop - DONE!!!! And I'm now selling natural soap through my shop.

9.Learn to hang wall paper –I think there will be redecorating at my parents house soon and I will be helping, or maybe at my own home if it all happens!

10.Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads – Sort of DONE!! Just need to blog!

11.Learn to make pastry – Maybe in time for mince pies?

12.Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 – Um.....

13.Make and wear my own dress – I have an idea to make a dress to wear to dinner on my 30th birthday.

14.Read five books from my bookshelf - One down, four to go!

15.Have a make up lesson – DONE!!! Although I wasn’t all that impressed. I had a free session at Bobbi Brown which was educational and expensive.

16.Do something every day to make me smile – I might not journal anything, but I am aware of this and try to do something, if not more than one, every day. Having new people in your life makes smiling every day much easier.

17.Learn to change a car tyre – I'm still laughing about why I included this!

18.Be able to jog a mile without stopping - with my leg issues this is a BIG thing – Ive been getting back to the gym with my trainer and she is really helping me. I can use the cross trainer for 2 miles but not sure how I would go on the actual road!

19.Go to Rome or Sorrento – DONE!!! and it was AMAZING!!! I need to blog with photos though.

20.Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently – Some nights are good, others are bad, and some are unmentionable.

21.Visit Giant's Causeway – I hope to do this next year, maybe August bank holiday which is technically after my birthday, but thats ok so long as its booked before the big day.

22.Have a dinner party - This is the plan for my 30th birthday ideally in my own house.

23.Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine – DONE!!!! – coverage of the craft fair in the local paper.

24.Sleep under the stars - I am an option in mind for this, watch this space.

25.Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible - I am doing this as much as possible, even more so with Christmas approaching.

26.Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues – the gym is definitely helping. I will never be a ‘gym bunny’ but I do feel much better to go after work and at the weekend for a little brain space. I really miss rowing but that’s off limits at the moment, one day though, one day.

27.Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca (done), Dr Zhivago (done - yawn), Gone With the Wind (done), The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire (done - yawn), Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather (done) and Citizen Cane (done)

28.Go to a comedy club – I really want to get this one ticked off soon.

29.Finish my knitted patchwork blanket – Once the mega Christmas Fairs season is over I will pick my needles up again, I'm 8 squares down from a total of 91 plus edging.

30.Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries – Well there was Handmade Tales at The Women’s Library, Afghanistan at The British Museum, Out of this world at the British Library, and Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain and a few others I've currently forgotten!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011 | 0 Comments

Last chance to spread the cost of handmade Christmas decorations

Christmas and the holidays can be an expensive time, yet one where you want to celebrate and decorate in style. At Butterfly-Crafts we understand that you may need to be watching your spending and as such are offering a pre-order service for our handmade Christmas decorations.

Until October 31st you can pre-order decorations in any of the colours on offer and pay half of the cost ($3 per decoration) at the time of ordering and then the remainder when the decorations have been made for you and are ready for posting. The charge of postage will be added to the second instalment.

Decorations available are Boots, Presents, Baubles, Stars and Christmas Puddings. Colours available are red, gold, green, silver, pink, plum, purple, blue, white, brown and black.

After October 31st, this offer will end and decorations will be added to the online shop once they have been created and they will only be available at full price, so take advantage now to spread the cost of having a beautiful tree this holiday season!




Monday, 24 October 2011 | 0 Comments

ROME Baby!!!

You may have noticed that there have not been any blogs for a week and a bit, its because I have been preparing for a farmers market and stock for an exciting new project in the USA which I will give more details about when it is ready.

But aside from that, after thirteen long years of waiting I am off to ROME tomorrow!! I will of course post pictures when I get back!

Thursday, 29 September 2011 | 0 Comments

Thrifty Thursdays - Write a List

If you are looking to make small changes in the way you manage your money and finances then the way you do your weekly grocery shop at the supermarket may help.

Generally you will currently fall into one of two categories, the first is the "no list" shoppers and the second is the "list makers" shoppers. Which are you? If you don't make a list and just walk up and down every aisle grabbing what you think you need or what catches your eye you are likely to end up spending more money on impulse purchases, potentially buying store cupboard essentials you already have or forgetting things and having to make another trip a day or two later and on that trip spending even more money.

List makers however spend a short time before they leave home having a quick check of cupboards and the fridge/freezer to see what is running low, what is empty and if there is anything you might like as a treat that week. When shopping they will then stick to the list, only deviating if there is a special offer which will help reduce their bill.

There is also a third category, people who write a meal plan at the beginning of the week, work out what they will need each day and then buy only those things (if not already in the cupboard) for their weekly shop.

Ideally you will want to fall into the list maker or the meal planner type of shopper as it will help you focus only on what you need to buy rather than what ever takes your fancy that night!

So what kind of grocery shopper are you?

(This Thrifty Tip was suggested by Birdy from Birdy's Knits. Please suggest your tip here)

Thursday, 15 September 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Chicken Apple Burgers

With autumn virtually here it is a great season for apples and this chicken apple burger is a good treat! Best served with a salad or (if you are me) chunky chips!!

You will need:
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (cored)
  • 1/2tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp ground black pepper
  • 1lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 stalk finely chopped celery (optional)
  • 4oz cranberry sauce
  • Burger buns or ciabatta buns
and this is what you do:
  1. Finely cut 6 slices from the apples to create 12 apple rings,
  2. From the remainder of the apples, coarsely grate approximately 10oz (3/4cup)
  3. Spray a rigid grill pan with spray oil and heat to a medium-high heat,
  4. In a bowl stir the grated apple with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper until blended,
  5. Mix in the chicken and celery (optional) until just combined,
  6. Shape the chicken mixture into burger patty shapes handling it as little as possible. You should get 4 1/2inch thick patties,
  7. Place the burgers in the grill pan and grill for 10-12 minutes until the chicken loses its pink colour throughout and turn over once.
  8. Serve in the buns with the apple rings and cranberry sauce.

Sunday, 11 September 2011 | 0 Comments

Friday Finds!

Don't you sometimes hate it when you get a song stuck in your head and it just won't go away? Well for the past day or so I have had a song jammed in my brain from a Disney movie and also one I used to sing when I had dance classes as a child.

I happened to be looking around on Artfire and I saw this painted wooden sign and well, it's what I've been singing

Friday, 9 September 2011 | 0 Comments

Thrifty Thursdays - Saving Water

Money saving doesn't just have to be good for your wallet, but for the environment too and saving water can really help.

In the UK, generally if you buy a new home the water board will install a water meter, this can be great as it shows the accuracy of what you are using and should also make you more aware of your water usage, for example not to keep the tap running whilst you brush your teeth or having a water butt in the garden (if you have one) to collect rain water to help with watering the garden.

One blog reader from The Beaded Branch has a bucket in their shower so they catch the water whilst it heats up and then use that for filling their washing machine or even filling up the toilet cistern.

If you have a water meter, think about how you can reduce your water consumption but also help the environment at the same time.

Thursday, 8 September 2011 | 0 Comments

Thrifty Thursdays - change your search engine

Source: Swagbucks.com
In times of economic difficulty you need to make every penny count and try and save as much as you can. But have you ever looked into ways you can earn money for free?

A friend of mine referred me to a USA search engine site called Swag Bucks which is basically a way to build up free money, just by searching, doing competitions etc.


SwagBucks is a search engine very much like Google or Bing etc except you sign up for an account and you are awarded a random amount of "bucks" for your searches. Not every search will give you "bucks", others will give you around 10 or others might give you 25! But they all add up.I once searched for "Facebook" and was rewarded with 49 bucks!

I use SwagBucks not only for searching but there is also a daily poll, questionnaires, tasks and for me, the easiest way to accrue the "bucks" is SBTV. For every 10 SBTV clips you watch you earn 3SB, some are really short and some a couple of minutes depending on which category you pick. I have a separate tab open at work and have the clips playing all the time, I just have to check and click into the next clip then enter the captcha.

So what do I use these Bucks for? There are loads of different options for vouchers and e-cards but the majority are for those in the USA but in the UK, in my opinion, the best way to redeem is to get up to 849SB and then claim a £5 Amazon voucher or let your bucks accrue even more and get a higher value voucher. It takes me about 3 weeks to get that number of bucks and redeem.

If you are interested in swagbucks you can sign up here, I wont lie, its my referral page because when you sign people up you get more bucks!

What are you waiting for? If you are an amazon shopper, switch your search engine and start saving!

UPDATE - Since January 2012 I have claimed well over £150 of products from Amazon for FREE just by using Swagbucks.

Thursday, 1 September 2011 | 0 Comments

Pre-Order Custom Made Unique Christmas Decorations

I know many people who like to treat themselves to a special, unique Christmas ornament each year. It might be for themselves as a way to build a wonderful collection, or it might be the tradition of taking children to the Christmas shop to pick out something special for them to have on the tree.

Christmas decorations can be costly, especially for the truly unique ones. I love to make Christmas decorations and last year introduced handmade sequin decorations to my online shop and at craft fairs where they were a great success!

This year I have introduced stars as a new shape but also created a special system where by you can pre-order a handmade decoration in any of the shapes and colours I have available and just pay a deposit (as I have to list on Artfire in US$, the deposit is $3 per decoration). I will then make up the decorations for you by the middle of November and then arrange paying the balance. Not only is this a fantastic way to have wonderful Christmas decorations but it also helps spread the cost of what can be an expensive holiday season.

You can learn more about this plan in the Butterfly-Crafts Artfire Shop.





Friday, 26 August 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty before Thirty Challenge - 364 days to go!

Technically I suppose I should have written this blog post yesterday to mark "one year to go" but as it was my birthday I thought you would all let me off!

It has been a good birthday weekend, rather quiet and reflective but actually just how I wanted it to be. However the panic is now on for just how much I need to do on this list to complete it in 364 days time! At my birthday dinner someone suggested a 40 before 40....we'll see!

Ok here goes....
1.Own a sewing machine, - not yet although I’ve dropped hints about it being a 30th birthday present or a moving in present.
2.Learn to knit socks – maybe over the winter?
3.Visit Buckingham Palace – a date is booked into the diary, this will happen in September and I'm VERY excited as there will be a display of items from the Royal Wedding back in April!
4.Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall - not yet but am trying to think how this will happen, the Serpentine in Hyde Park is looking promising!
5.Own a home (the BIG challenge) – this is the big one for me, the one thing I would love more than anything to complete but im not sure if it will happen, the least I can do is work towards it each and every day.
6.Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens – aware of this every day.
7.Visit Dickens House – This might happen in September along with #3 but if not then it will be a separate trip for Mum and I.
8.Go to a soap making workshop - DONE!!!! And I'm now selling natural soap through my shop.
9.Learn to hang wall paper –Mum has plans for Dad to redecorate some of the house later this year so no doubt I will be roped in - I think hallway and bathroom so I will get to learn tiling at the same time.
10.Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads – Well I had the holiday in April and still need to blog about it.
11.Learn to make pastry – Um.....
12.Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 – Um.....
13.Make and wear my own dress – I have the pattern I want to make and have found the fabric, just need to buy it and make it!
14.Read five books from my bookshelf - This one is going to be tricky as I am a slow reader and so should really start. I think once the autumn and Christmas fairs are out of the way I can get back to reading.
15.Have a make up lesson – DONE!!! Although I wasn’t all that impressed. I had a free session at Bobbi Brown which was educational and expensive.
16.Do something every day to make me smile – I think I need to start up my journal again, but by the time I get to bed to sit and write Im too tired. But I am taking time to notice more things that make me smile every day like the sun shining over the meads on my drive home at night, a text from a friend or a good song on the radio.
17.Learn to change a car tyre – all I can say to this is ha ha ha ha ha ha!
18.Be able to jog a mile without stopping - with my leg issues this is a BIG thing – I’ve got back to the gym with a personal trainer and that is helping me, I think it will take time to get to a mile but didn’t the journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step?
19.Go to Rome or Sorrento – DONE (almost) flight leaves for Rome on September 30th and I cant wait!
20.Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently – FAIL - I really do need to work on this as I can feel my sleep deprivation affecting my health now.
21.Visit Giant's Causeway – hopefully in Spring with Mum.
22.Have a dinner party - This is the plan for my 30th birthday ideally in my own house.
23.Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine – DONE!!!! – coverage of the craft fair in the local paper.
24.Sleep under the stars - Mum has joked that I should put the gazebo in the garden and sleep in there, along with the frogs that appear in the garden at night.
25.Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible - I am developing this as much as possible, making a conscious effort to opt for handmade or homemade where possible and I am learning to live more economically
26.Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues – the gym is definitely helping. I will never be a ‘gym bunny’ but I do feel much better to go after work and at the weekend for a little brain space. I really miss rowing but that’s off limits at the moment, one day though, one day.
27.Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire, Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather and Citizen Cane – So far I have watched The Godfather (good), Dr Zhivago (l-o-n-g) and Citizen Cane (really good).
28.Go to a comedy club – Soon I hope.
29.Finish my knitted patchwork blanket – I think this will also wait until the winter months when I am not pulling my hair out with fair prep for Christmas. I am going to a new knitting group tomorrow so, although I wont knit tomorrow, I will be getting back into it soon I think.
30.Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries – Well there was Handmade Tales at The Women’s Library, Afghanistan at The British Museum, Out of this world at the British Library, and Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain, only 11 more to go!

I will get to blogging about the individual elements soon as I had planned to take August of but now have a fair to prep for!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011 | 2 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Lemon Macaroons

I love anything lemony, lemon tart, poppyseed and lemon cake, lemon yoghurt. These lemon macaroons are fun to have ready for a picnic. This recipe will make 20 macaroons

You will need:
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 medium egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 80g caster sugar
  • yellow food colouring - paste will work better than liquid
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 10g butter
And this is what you have to do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper
  3. Whisk up the icing sugar and almonds in a food processor or with a hand mixer until you have a fine dust,
  4. Whisk in the egg whites with the salt until you get stiff peaks, add in 40g of caster sugar in a think stream whisking all the time until stiff and a glossy white,
  5. Add the food colouring and whisk to make sure it is evenly distributed through the whites. you may want to add more colour than you initially think because the oven will tan the macaroons and knock out some of the colour.
  6. With a large metal spoon, fold the ground almonds and icing sugar mix gently into the egg whites. It is important to mix slowly.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium nozzle so that the mixture does not escape.
  8. Carefully pipe circles of mixture on to the baking sheet. Aim for 3cm wide remembering to leave a space between each as they will puff up when cooking.
  9. Holding the baking tray with both hands give it a firm bang on the work surface to expel any remaining air.
  10. Set aside for 30mins to dry out, they will be ready for the oven when you can touch the mixture and not leave a fingerprint. Cook for 12 minutes in the middle of the oven then leave to cool on a tray.
  11. Whilst cooking make the filling - pour the lemon juice in a steady stream over the cornflour using a teaspoon to mix as you go.
  12. When there are no cornflour lumps left pour the mixture into a small saucepan along with the remaining 40g of caster sugar and lemon zest. Bring the mixture to the boil stirring constantly and simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken.
  13. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pour the filling on a plate and leave to cook.
  14. Once everything has cooled sandwich the macaroon shells together with a teaspoon of filling.

Sunday, 24 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Friday Finds!

It's July so it's supposed to be summer right? Well it certainly doesnt feel like it here, no, its cool, wet and windy and it's making me think all things autumnal. For my Friday Find this week I thought I would look for something autumnal and stumbled across Madelines Wardrobe on Artfire and her beautiful hand knitted shawls and scarves like this rusty orange and chocolate brown hand knitted scarf which would be great for a crisp morning!







Friday, 22 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Apple and Raisin Chutney

This chutney would go well with roast pork or even with cheese and crackers. If you use pretty jars they would be a great gift to make in preparation for Christmas or the holiday season.

You will need:
  • 1.8kg/4lb apples, peeled, cored and chopped

  • 4 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • Juice from one lemon

  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 900ml/1½ pint vinegar (cider or malt)

  • 450g/1lb raisins

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tso salt

  • 900g/2lb soft brown sugar

And this is what you have to do:
  1. Bring the apples, onions, garlic, lemon juice, mustard seed and 590ml/1 pint of vinegar to the boil.

  2. Simmer for 1 hour.

  3. Add the raisins, ginger, salt, sugar and the rest of the vinegar.

  4. Simmer until thick.

  5. Pour into clean, hot jam jars and cover as usual. Store for 6-8 weeks to allow the flavours to develop.

Sunday, 17 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty Before Thirty – Number 23

“Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine”

Organising the Puckeridge Arts, Crafts & Gifts Fair back in May was great fun as I organise events as part of my job so I want really phased by it all (until the morning of the fair!) A big part of any event organising is marketing and promotion so that people know about it and well, come along!

I started with writing something for the local village news magazine but then from that, the local paper The Hertfordshire Mercury picked up on the story! I ended up with double coverage as the first piece went to print unedited and unfinished, so I complained and pretty much wrote a second piece for them which I am pleased with!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Simple Fruit Tart

I love a fruit tart for desserts after a meal, lemon in particular is my favourite but a mixed berry one is just as yummy.

You will need:
  • 375g/13oz digestive biscuits

  • 75g/3oz softened unsalted butter

  • 400g/14oz cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 240g/8½oz ready-made lemon curd, at room temperature

  • 125g/4oz fresh blueberries

  • 125g/4oz fresh blackberries

  • 125g/4oz fresh raspberries

  • 125g/4oz fresh redcurrants or pomegranate seeds

  • 125g/4oz fresh small strawberries, half hulled, half stalks intact

  • 10inch x 2inch deep loose bottom tart tin

And this is what you have to do:
  1. In a food processor blend up the biscuits and the butter to a sandy rubble then press the mixture into the sides and bottom of the tart tin. Place in the freezer (or fridge if that is not possible) for about 10–15 minutes.

  2. Clean the bowl of the food processor, then process the cream cheese and lemon curd and spread it into the bottom of the chilled tart tin, covering the base of the tart evenly. (Alternatively, just mix the cream cheese and lemon curd together by hand.)

  3. Arrange all of the fruit gently (so that it doesn’t sink into the filling too much) on top of the lemony cream cheese in a decorative manner.

  4. Place the tart in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. It does need to get properly cold in order to set enough for the tart to be unsprung and sliced easily.

The tart would be great served with some icecream or single cream

Sunday, 10 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Exhibition Number 2: Out of this World: Science Fiction But Not As We Know It – the British Library

Having worked at the British Library I do have a soft spot for their exhibitions and as such I know how long certain curators have wanted to present a science fiction exhibition.

I was intrigued as to how the Out Of This World exhibition was going to work, the PACCAR Gallery is vast in space and height and the last exhibition I saw, let me down in its build. This time, I was not let down.

The gallery, with its high ceilings and dark atmosphere was filled with the background sounds of strange moody noises to create a serene and separate space. Entering the gallery the first thing you come across is a flying saucer that has crash landed into a wall of books. These white walls are frequent throughout the exhibition creating separate areas for thematic purposes. Then eyes are drawn to a naked man (or alien) falling (or being sucked into) a lighted funnel, further over you could see a Tardis and a steam-punk replica of K9 and rising up above the cabinets, a tripod Martian from War of the Worlds.

Moving around in the space I could hear this robotic/computer generated voice talking and was intrigued. There sitting on a plinth was a little alien robot who looked asleep until you walked up to him and his eyes opened and he started to talk with the text showing on a screen on his belly. The exhibitions and digital technology teams did an amazing job on this and I can imagine children loving it.

Now, getting down to content. Did you know the Brontë sisters were amongst the first authors to write science fiction? No, me neither. Apparently in their youth, Anne, Emily, Charlotte and brother Bramwell created stories in alternative worlds of Angria and Gondal written in tiny 5” books with text so small it is only legible with a magnifying glass. More information on the Bronte sisters.

Other items of note included a first edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, an original score from Doctor Who, the first page of the War of the Triffids manuscript and letters from George Orwell to his publisher discussing the title of his latest piece...Nineteen Eighty Four.

Overall everything is spaced out quite nicely with quite a large quantity of first editions, manuscripts, ephemera and artwork. Cabinets were not over filled and there are enough to capture attention and perhaps remind someone of books they have read in times past. Information on the works was clear and explained what the piece was about as much as what it was reflecting.

Finally, one of the most fascinating and unexpected exhibits if you could call it that, is as you leave the gallery, you suddenly see yourself on a wall of mirrors similar to those found at a fair ground, and you realise that you were captured on video entering the gallery and now it is being played back before you. Now how the software knows when to play your clip is a mystery to me, perhaps its an alien at work.

Out of this World: Science Fiction But Not As We Know It is free to enter and runs until September 25th 2011.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011 | 1 Comment

Sunday Recipe: Caramelised Apple with Brandy Sauce

I love any dessert that has apples in it, thats my only reason!

You will need:
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • ½ bramley apple with the core removed - Bramley is a cooking apple

  • ½ miniature bottle of brandy

  • 50ml/2fl oz of double cream

And this is what you need to do:
1. Heat the sugar in a frying pan until melted and bubbling, then add the apple, cut-side down.
2.Allow the sugar to begin to caramelise, then add the brandy and cream, stirring a little to coat the apple.
3. Boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened, then remove from the heat.
4. To serve, place the apple cut-side down on a plate and pour over the brandy sauce.

Sunday, 3 July 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty before Thirty - 13 months to go

Oh blimey it's creeping up on me faster than I'd like, but rather than think about my birthday next year I have been planning my party for this year to celebrate entering the last year of my '20s. My party will involve rollerskates, disco lights and probably a lot of bruises!

But anyway, back to the subject as its July 1st I thought it time for an update as there is exactly 13 months to go.

  1. Own a sewing machine, - not yet although I’ve dropped hints about it being a 30th birthday present or a moving in present.
  2. Learn to knit socks – Um......
  3. Visit Buckingham Palace – a date is booked into the diary, this will happen in September!
  4. Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall - not yet but am trying to think how this will happen, the Serpentine in Hyde Park is looking promising!
  5. Own a home (the BIG challenge) – Trying not to think about it in case it doesn’t happen yet.
  6. Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens – aware of this every day.
  7. Visit Dickens House – A summer trip or Spring next year with Mum.
  8. Go to a soap making workshop - DONE!!!! And now selling soap through my shop.
  9. Learn to hang wall paper –Mum has plans for Dad to redecorate some of the house later this year so no doubt I will be roped in.
  10. Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads – Well I had the holiday in April and still need to blog about it.
  11. Learn to make pastry – Um.....
  12. Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 – Um.....
  13. Make and wear my own dress – I have the pattern I want to make and have found the fabric, just need to buy it and make it!
  14. Read five books from my bookshelf - I currently own 40 books that I have not yet read - 1 book done Knit the Season, but I need to write a post about it
  15. Have a make up lesson – DONE!!! Although I wasn’t all that impressed. I had a free session at Bobbi Brown which was educational and expensive.
  16. Do something every day to make me smile – I think I need to start up my journal again, but by the time I get to bed to sit and write Im too tired. But I am taking time to notice more things that make me smile every day like the sun shining over the meads on my drive home at night, a text from a friend or a good song on the radio.
  17. Learn to change a car tyre – all I can say to this is ha ha ha ha ha ha!
  18. Be able to jog a mile without stopping - with my leg issues this is a BIG thing – I’ve got back to the gym this month with a personal trainer and that is helping me, I think it will take time to get to a mile but didn’t the journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step?
  19. Go to Rome or Sorrento – DONE (almost) flight leaves for Rome on September 30th.
  20. Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently – I’m trying really hard at this, I would say I’ve got it to 5.5-6hrs a night on week days which is an improvement.
  21. Visit Giant's Causeway – hopefully in Spring
  22. Have a dinner party - This is the plan for my 30th birthday
  23. Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine – DONE!!!! – coverage of the craft fair in the local paper.
  24. Sleep under the stars - I havent slept under them but I have been out late at night in a Texan field looking at them and I saw the Milky Way and Saturn.
  25. Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible - I am developing this as much as possible, making a conscious effort to opt for handmade or homemade where possible and I am learning to live more economically
  26. Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues – the gym is definitely helping. I will never be a ‘gym bunny’ but I do feel much better to go after work and at the weekend for a little brain space. I really miss rowing but that’s off limits at the moment, one day though, one day.
  27. Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire, Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather and Citizen Cane – I watched The Godfather the other day but that’s it so far.
  28. Go to a comedy club – Soon!
  29. Finish my knitted patchwork blanket – Um, I’ve not actually knitted in about 4 months as I have been busy with craft fairs, I need to pick up my needles soon I think.
  30. Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries – Well there was Handmade Tales at The Women’s Library, Afghanistan at The British Museum, Out of this world at the British Library, and Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain.
I will get to blogging about the individual elements soon when I take August off!

Friday, 1 July 2011 | 1 Comment

Sunday Recipe: Chocolate cherry brownies with cherry chocolate sauce

Brownies are delicious even if a little 'sinful' but cherries are coming into season now and this recipe is a fabulous way to combine cherries and chocolate!

You will need:
For the chocolate cherry brownies
  • 110g/4oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 110g/4oz caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 45g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 100g canned cherries, stones removed, drained
For the cherry chocolate sauce
  • 150ml/¼ pint double cream
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50ml/2fl oz cherry juice (from can of cherries)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • icing sugar to dust
And this is what you have to do....

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. For the brownies, place the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl and mix together until light and fluffy.

3.Crack in the eggs and beat well, then fold in the flour, cocoa powder and milk. Finally fold in the cherries.

4. Line a 20cm/8in x 12cm/5in baking tin with baking paper and grease well with butter. Pour the brownie mixture into the tin.

5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until well risen but still slightly gooey in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then cut into squares.

6. For the cherry chocolate sauce, place all of the sauce ingredients (except the icing sugar) into a small pan and heat gently, stirring frequently, until combined to make a smooth sauce.

7. To serve, place the brownies onto a serving plate and pour over the chocolate sauce. Dust with icing sugar.

Sunday, 26 June 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Blueberry Cake

I can't deny it, I love cake! I try to add fruit to it so it feels partly healthy! Blueberries are just gorgeous in muffins and I suppose this blueberry cake is sort-of like a giant but flatter muffin. It is an American recipe with measurements in cups, one cup is roughly 8oz or 250ml

You will need:
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon flour (to coat berries)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • cinnamon sugar for topping (1 Tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)
And this is what you have to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degreees F.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat in 1/4 cup of sugar.
  3. In another bowl, cream butter.
  4. Add salt, vanilla, and remaining sugar gradually.
  5. Add egg yolks and beat until creamy.
  6. Sift flour with baking powder. Add alternately to creamed mixture with milk.
  7. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  8. Coat the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and then fold into mixture.
  9. Pour batter into a well greased and floured 8x8 inch pan. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.
  10. Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 40-50 minutes. Cool on rack. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
Enjoy!!

Sunday, 12 June 2011 | 0 Comments

Thinking about selling online? It's as easy as 1.2.3....

There are many different online venues from which to sell your handmade items long with craft supplies, vintage and design work. Frequently people ask me why did I choose Artfire over all of the others more than two years ago? Well, there are many reasons but here are my top five reasons to have a Pro shop on Artfire:

  1. Monthly fee rather than listing and final value fees – I find it reassuring that if you choose to have a Pro-studio then you pay a monthly fee on the same date every month and you can plan around it, there will be no more fees beyond that so no 20p per listing or 5% of the final sale taken as a fee.
  2. Customisable shop front – you can have a large banner across your studio and a matching avatar, the colours of your studio can be picked to match your branding (has anyone noticed how I love purple?), you can add widgets to link to your blog or even a widget to create your own categories like I have.
  3. Categories – Being able to divide my items into relevant categories rather than just having them in one big pile makes the shopping experience much easier for my buyers as they can locate items far quicker. It also helps me to keep a form of inventory by quickly being able to check any categories that are low on stock.
  4. Education! I have learned so much in terms of marketing practices and search engine optimisation because the great staff at Artfire, and there are less than 20, want to help their sellers and there is a fantastic tool called a 45 day guide which is great for getting people started.
  5. Rapid Carts – Artfire realise that you might want to promote your shop on your blog or own website. For this reason they provide a tool called a Rapid Cart which enables people to purchase directly from it, I have one on the top right of this blog, there is also a large one on my main website, it is just one of the many tools provided by Artfire to help sellers get their products “out there”.

So in a nutshell that is why I choose to sell my items on this venue rather than others. I could go on and on but I will stick to just five and suggest that if you are considering selling online to give Artfire a go. In fact, if you are thinking about it there is a promotion running at the moment to sign up and have your third month totally free of fees, so why not dip your toes into online selling
and give Artfire a try. Read more about the offer here.

Thursday, 2 June 2011 | 0 Comments

Thirty before Thirty - 14 months to go

With exactly fourteen months until the big day (turning 30) I need to step up a gear and get cracking on my challenge but also blogging about my progress in a little more detail as people have been asking me about it. I shall start with an overall update:

1. Own a sewing machine – possibly for my 30th birthday present, hints have been dropped by me anyway!
2. Learn to knit socks – I have sock yarn to make stripey socks.
3. Visit Buckingham Palace – will do this over the summer with a couple of friends.
4. Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall – I may swim in the Serpentine over this summer or next summer.
5. Own a home (the BIG challenge) – saving for this every day where possible.
6. Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens – working towards this every day
7. Visit Dickens House – possibly over this summer or definitely next
8. Go to a soap making workshop – DONE!! And I have been studying towards a CPD at home course and soap will soon be available for purchase in my shop.
9. Learn to hang wall paper – Dad plans to do some decorating later this year and I will be roped in to help no doubt.
10. Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads – DONE, well sort of! I will blog about this soon!
11. Learn to make pastry – not yet.
12. Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 – not yet.
13. Make and wear my own dress – I have three patterns now, just need to buy some fabric.
14. Read 5 books from my bookshelf - I currently own 40 books that I have not yet read – one down and four to go.
15. Have a make up lesson – DONE – will blog on this too.
16. Do something every day to make me smile – I actively try to do this every day even if I couldn’t manage writing it in my journal.
17. Learn to change a car tyre – Um…..
18. Be able to jog a mile with out stopping - with my leg issues this is a BIG thing.- As of TODAY I am able to go to the gym again and I have a lovely personal trainer called Alicia so I’m working in this.
19. Go to Rome or Sorrento – ALMOST! Im going to roam in Rome in October,
20. Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently – Excuse me whilst I laugh uncontrollably!
21. Visit Giant's Causeway – hopefully in Spring 2012
22. Have a dinner party – potentially my 30th birthday party,
23. Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine – DONE!! – I need to blog about this too!
24. Sleep under the stars – not yet
25. Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible – I strive to do this every day
26. Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues – see number 18 and picture of "old" me!
27. Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire, Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather and Citizen Cane – I joined LoveFilm and am slowly working through this list.
28. Go to a comedy club – not yet
29. Finish my knitted patchwork blanket – Um……
30. Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries – I think I’m at about 5 visited, I need to blog about each one.

I will strive to have some more frequent individual blogs posted more regularly and will do a full update as close to the first of each month depending on what other blogs I have scheduled.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Turkey & Rosemary Skewers

I love turkey, I dont think it has to be saved just for Christmas and these Turkey & Rosemary Skewers taste lovely.

You will need:
  • 450g / 14.5oz of turkey breast steaks
  • 8 Sprigs of rosemary
  • 1.5 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 tblsp honey
  • 3tblsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove - crushed - optional
And this is what you do:
  1. Cut the turkey steaks into long thin strips
  2. Pull all but the top leaves off of the rosemary springs, chop some of the removed leaves to go into the marinade
  3. Thread the turkey onto the woody stems of the rosemary
  4. Place in a shallow non-metallic bowl and sprinkle with the lemon zest
  5. Mix the lemon juice, honey and olive oil - and garlic if you are using it - and pour half over the turkey
  6. Leave to marinate for at least 15mins or longer if you have the time
  7. Prepare a salad of leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, fresh mint and flat leaved parsley and mix in the remaining lemon oil mixture.
  8. Grill the turkey on a hot grill or barbeque for 5-7 minutes turning once, until cooked through
  9. Serve with the salad.

Sunday, 29 May 2011 | 0 Comments

Puckeridge Arts, Crafts & Gift Fair

I love attending craft fairs, not only as a shopper but also as an exhibitor. I love them because I can interact with my customers, see familiar faces and greet new customers, show off my products to new audiences and engage with other crafts people. I am also a very strong advocate for the handmade community and think that it is important people are given the opportunity to purchase handmade items and for that shopping experience to be made as easy as possible. It was because of this that on May 14th I organised the Puckeridge Arts, Crafts & Gift fair in the village where I live.


The day was a long one, my parents and I were at the hall before 8am to get the keys and start setting the tables up. There would be 23 of us in total with other stall holders arriving from about 9.15 ready for the doors to open at 10.30am. I was as prepared as I could be with a floor plan of the room, but it was a juggle to fit everyone in, Dad and I managed it though – we just didn’t have many tables for the tea and coffee area although luckily the bar was open to sit in.



10.30 came around very quickly and I think the first visitors must have been waiting outside as there were people looking around straight away! The visitors were treated to a delight of stalls including woodware, fabric gifts, jewellery, cupcakes, plus-sized clothes, peg dolls, plant pots, painted glass, crochet and knitting and more alongside three non-handmade stalls selling giftware. I had a stall too, in fact I had almost 18ft of space with Mum beside me selling plants she grows.



The visitor flow was steady throughout the day with only a quiet “blip” over lunchtime. The FA Cup final didn’t put the ladies off and the stall holders I spoke to seemed happy with the day. My parents and I certainly couldn’t have tried any harder with the promotion!



I was happy with the overall success of the day, I am waiting to find out if we will have coverage in the local paper (they did ask for photos!) but I have had good comments from visitors. So much so that I am planning the next fair for later on in the year, the only difference being that it will be a 100% handcrafted stalls only event! – perhaps we will see you in November!

Saturday, 28 May 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Baked Lime Cheesecake

I love the zingy-ness of limes, I have the most gorgeous smelling lime showergel and soap that really are great to wake me up in the morning shower. I've never cooked with lime, except as "ice and a slice" in a glass of water and so I wanted to find a recipe with limes. I have to confess I have never cooked this recipe but it sounds great so I thought I would share it.

You will need:
For the base
  • 10 large digestive biscuits
  • 6 ginger biscuits
  • 85g/3oz butter
For the filling
  • 675g/1½lb cream cheese
  • 150ml/¼ pint double cream
  • 140g/5oz caster sugar
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 3 limes, zest only
For the topping
  • ½ pineapple
  • 4 passion fruit
  • 300ml/½ pint double cream
  • icing sugar to taste, plus extra for dusting
And this is what you need to do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Break up the digestive biscuits and the ginger biscuits and place them into the bowl of a food processor.

  2. Place the butter in a heavy-based pan and melt gently.

  3. Process the biscuits in the food processor, until the mixture has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

  4. Line the base of a 24cm/9in-10in loose-based spring-form cake tin with a round of greaseproof paper. Brush the bottom of the tin with some of the melted butter and place the round of greaseproof paper in the base.

  5. Add the remaining melted butter to the biscuit crumbs in the food processor and process again briefly.

  6. Tip the crumbs into the bottom of the cake tin. Using the back of a spoon, gently push the crumbs from the centre outward, until smooth and level. This will form the base of the cheesecake.

  7. Bake the cheesecake base in the oven for 10-15 minutes until it's lightly browned and just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the cream cheese, cream, sugar and eggs in a large bowl. Using a grater, grate in the zest of the limes. Using an electric whisk, beat together on a low speed, until smooth.

  9. Carefully pour the filling onto the cooled base. If making the cheesecake in advance, you can prepare it to this stage, then chill in the refrigerator and bake the next day (allowing it to first reach room temperature).

  10. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake for about one hour, or until just set. Allow to cool completely, then place in the fridge and chill for about an hour.

  11. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and place on a serving plate, using a palette knife to loosen the cake base from the bottom of the tin.

  12. For the topping, use a sharp serrated knife to remove the top and bottom of the pineapple. Cut away the tough outer skin from the pineapple and cut in half lengthways. Using a mandoline, thinly slice half of the pineapple (be sure to use the finger guard if the mandoline has one). Reserve the other half for use in another dish. Place the pineapple slices into a bowl.

  13. Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the pulp with a teaspoon. Add to the bowl with the pineapple and toss together well.

  14. Whip the cream in a clean bowl with a hand whisk. When soft peaks form, add icing sugar, to taste, and whisk gently until well blended.

  15. To serve, spread the sweetened cream over the surface of the cheesecake and pile on the fresh fruit. Pour over the passion fruit juice from the bowl. Dust with icing sugar and serve in generous slices.

Do let me know how you get on!!

Sunday, 8 May 2011 | 1 Comment

Thrifty Tips Coming Soon

Most people I know are finding ways to try and economise and save some money and cut-back where possible. I have always tried to live economically but with focusing hard on saving up a house deposit it is even more important now.

From mid-May I plan to add a weekly "thrifty-tip" to my blog known as Thrifty Thursdays and it would be great to include as many ideas as possible, initially just one a week but I may group ideas by theme etc. I really would like to include ideas from other people and have created a really short form for ideas if you would like to take five minutes and share your thriftyness with others.

The form is here: http://bit.ly/jpTniu and in a couple of weeks it will magically appear over on the righthand side as a box to click into.

I hope you will share lots of ideas and stay tuned for Thrifty Thursdays!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011 | 2 Comments

Friday Finds!

I like to knit, im not the best at it, I'm still working on my blanket as part of my Thirty before Thirty challenge and so I admire people who have kitting as a master skill and who can make clothing or toys. I had a good look on Artfire at the immense knitting talent but decided to show Rose the Love Dragon as my Friday Find as its creator, EddysPressies is a fellow Brit!

Friday, 29 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Simnel Cake

One of my favourite Easter treats is a Simnel cake as it combines two of my favourite things, a "sort of" fruit cake and marzipan which I could eat by the slice!

The Simnel Cake signifies the end of Lent which is a period of fasting and repentance culminating in a feast of seasonal and symbolic foods. The Simnel Cake recipe is rich with fruits, spices and marzipan, all forbidden during the period of Lent.

To make this cake you will need:
  • 1 ¼ lbs/ 560g ready made marzipan
  • 1 lb/ 450g dried mixed fruits (currants, raisins, sultanas, glace cherries)
  • 3 oz/80g candied chopped peel
  • 8 oz/ 225g all purpose/plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 oz/ 175g butter
  • 6 oz /175g fine/caster sugar
And this is what you have to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C/Gas 3,
  • Line a 7 inch cake tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.
  • Divide the marzipan into three and take one portion and roll it to a round the size of the cake tin.
  • In a large roomy baking bowl mix the mixed dried fruits, peel with the flour, salt and spices.
  • In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition - do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tbsp of the flour and mix again, this should bring the mixture back together.
  • Carefully fold in half the flour and half the fruit into the egg and butter mixture, once incorporated repeat with the remaining flour and fruit.
  • Put half of the cake mixture into the tin, smooth and cover with the round of almond paste. Put the remaining cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface carefully. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour.
  • Lower the heat to 300°F/150°C/Gas 2 and bake for 3 hours until the cake is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  • Roll another third of almond paste, again to the size of the tin. Make the remaining almond paste equally into 11 tiny balls.
  • Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin and brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and cover with the disc of almond paste. Place the 11 tiny balls of paste evenly around the edge. Brush the paste all over with a little apricot jam and place under a hot grill until lightly browned.
  • The cake can then be decorated as you wish with tiny Easter eggs or any other Easter theme.
Enjoy!!!

Sunday, 24 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Thank You - a collection

Its so nice to have items selected to be included in collections on Artfire. Im a bit of a traditionalist and I think it's important to say thank you to people in an appropriate manner and that includes thank you cards so I was particularly pleased to be included in a collection of thank you stationery.

The roses decoupage card seen here was included in the collection and you can see all the other great items included by visiting the Thank You collection

Tuesday, 19 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Sunday Recipe: Suprise Tatin

I will admit it has been a few weeks since there has been a Sunday recipe blog, I am hoping to improve this now and moving forward. Not to long ago I had an email saying I should perhaps do a vegetarian recipe, I didn't really know where or what to start with as I am a meat eater and don't really 'do' veggie meals, however reading through a magazine yesterday I found this recipe and thought I would share it (please note I have never tried this):

You will need:
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 2tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling in the tin
  • 500g baby potatoes with the skins on
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 40g sugar
  • 10g butter
  • 3 oregano springs
  • 150g hard goats cheese, sliced
  • 1 puff pasty sheet rolled thinly
  • Salt and black pepper
And this is what you have to do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 130C/240F/Gase mark 1/2
  2. Halve the tomatoes and place them skin side down on a baking sheet, drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, place in the oven dry for 45mins,
  3. Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 25minutes, drain and let cool
  4. Trim off a bit of the top and bottom of the potatoes then cut them into 2cm thick discs
  5. Saute the onion with the oil and some salt for ten minutes or until golden brown
  6. Once all of the vegetables are prepared brush a 22cm cake tin with oil and line the bottom with baking parchment,
  7. In a small pan cook the sugar and butter on a high heat stirring constantly to get a thick caramel
  8. Pour the caramel into the cake tin and spread evenly then scatter over the oregano leaves
  9. Lay the potato slices close together cut-side down on the bottom of the tin,
  10. Press the onion and tomatoes into the gaps and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  11. Spread the slices of goats cheese evenly over the potatoes
  12. Cut a puff pastry disc that is 3cm larger in diameter than the tin and lay the pastry lid over the filling snf tuck the edges down around the potatoes
  13. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6 and bake the tart for 25minutes then reduce the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas4 and continue to bake for 15minutes
  14. Remove from the oven and let it saettle before holding an inverted plate over the tin and turning the tart out onto the plate
  15. Serve warm

Sunday, 17 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Friday Finds!

I'm fascinated by dichroic glass, I hold my hands up and say I don't know a lot about it but I think it can look stunning especially as pendants in necklaces and so this is what I searched for as todays Friday Find on Artfire.

Regular followers of my blog, or of Butterfly-Crafts in general will know I have a love of all things purple and so when I saw this beautiful purple piece from Willow Walker I knew that I had to pick it as my Friday Find and if you live within the US you can purchase this piece and have it shipped free of charge!

Friday, 15 April 2011 | 1 Comment

The thirty first challenge item!

Back in September 2010, I set myself a challenge of thirty things I wanted to strive to complete before I hit the big 3-0 in August 2012. I took a long time to finalise my list and am trying to make a conscious effort to work towards it. Many of the things are areas I want to learn and develop for example learn to knit socks, sew a dress and change a car tyre; places I hope to visit (Rome) and catch up on some reading, film watching and exhibition visiting. The idea was I would blog along the way as part of this blog so you would get to know the person behind Butterfly-Crafts. I will admit to being a bit slack on the blogging front.

The was one challenge item I went to and fro with over including within my challenge and that was to get a new job. I decided not to include this within my challenge because I didnt want to tempt fate. And if im honest, I'd been trying to find a new job for 2.5years after returning to work from my first DVT, so what difference was it going to make putting it on a list? Was that going to make it happen?

Well, actually, by not putting it on the list, it did happen! and only two days in I cant even begin to tell you the difference it has made to how I feel. I won't go in to too much detail but I cant say I particularly enjoyed my previous job, it grew mundane and of no challenge and it got to the point I felt ill just walking through the office door every day for about two years. So you ask why I was there for 3 years? Necessity - the right job wasnt ready for me yet. Until now!

I have moved on to a wonderful new place where I will continue to learn all about fundraising and development within a cultural and arts background with the emphasis being on contemporary dance. For someone who went to the ballet barre at three it is so wonderful to be in an environment I can relate to and the buzz and atmosphere I hope will be catching!

Starting a new job is always tiring, I need to get into a new sleep pattern (actually going to bed before 1am would be a good start) as it is tiring from the brain overload, and that means I cant spend as much time as I would like running Butterfly-Crafts and maintaining blogs etc. But I hope soon I will settle into a new routine and gain improved time management skills and get back to normal. So please bear with me whilst my brain wakes up again from being dormant during the day and until I can get on to a new schedule!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011 | 0 Comments

Happy Mother's Day

There will be no Sunday recipe today because today is a very special day, it's Mothers Day here in the UK and I wanted to wish every mother a wonderful day no matter what they are doing.

My mum is super special to me, she is always there for me no matter what happens in my life be it celebrations, upset or health - of which there has been so much to deal with. She is finding today a bit hard as my brother is in a land far far away fighting the baddies which means I need to step up even more which I dont mind in the slightest. She has had a mothers day card (handmade of course), cards from my brother & wife and from her grandaughters and some flowers and skincare things. I am also making a rare venture into the kitchen to cook her lunch then spend time in the garden helping her sow seeds and pot plants on.

My mum is such a wonderful person because without her support (and support from my Dad too) I dont think I would have managed to run Butterfly-Crafts because she helps me at all the craft fairs and is a great people person, she comes to classes with me so we can both learn new techniques and she is the knitter and crocheter (is that a word?) and makes the wonderful beaded fabric necklaces that are in my store.

Without my mum I wouldn't be the person I am today so I wanted to say - I love you mum!

Sunday, 3 April 2011 | 0 Comments

An April Fool's Challenge Update

Rather than have the usual Friday find today, I wanted to give an update on my thirty before thirty challenge as it is April 1st and I have exactly sixteen months to go. I wish I could say this update was a joke in the spirit of April Fools Day but no, I really am that far behind!

The original blog post explains a little more about the challenge but here is the list with updates:

1. Own a sewing machine, - Possibility this may be my birthday present next year or a moving in present for when i have a house, in the meantime I have two at my parents to use.

2. Learn to knit socks - Not yet, it's too easy to buy them from my friends Linda at CalicoCat.

3. Visit Buckingham Palace - hoping this will happen in the Summer open season this year

4. Swim in a lake or stand under a waterfall - Not sure when or where this will happen in the UK.

5. Own a home (the BIG challenge) - working HARD towards increasing my deposit on a daily basis and the wheels have been set in motion

6. Be debt free except from a mortgage if Num 5 happens - working hard towards this every day

7. Visit Dickens House - likely to be a summer thing as I often visit places like this with my mum

8. Go to a soap making workshop - I did this in January and still need to blog about it, but have taken it a stage further and am doing an at home study course to get a certificate as a soap maker

9. Learn to hang wall paper - I've observed how to do it, but wont be able to do it until either I have a house, or we decorate at my parents house.

10. Spend a night on the Norfolk Broads - We're going to Norfolk later this month, although we wont be sleeping on the Broads, we will be exploring.

11. Learn to make pastry - still need to do this

12. Learn the succession of kings and queens from William the Conqueror in 1066 - I have a book and a rhyme

13. Make and wear my own dress - I have the pattern and want to buy fabric but have fabric to make some skirts first in practice

14. Read 5 books from my bookshelf - I read Knit the Season and need to blog about it, the next one to read will be The Memory Keeper's Daughter

15. Have a make up lesson - hoping to plan this soon

16. Do something every day to make me smile - I have been doing this and lasted three months writing it in a journal, but got bored of the journal even though I am still smiling

17. Learn to change a car tyre - hmmm - why did I include this?

18. Be able to jog a mile with out stopping - Unfortunately I have had my gym membership suspended since January due to my DVT so this is actually very hard

19. Go to Rome or Sorrento - potentially happening in October

20. Sleep for 6.5+ hours sleep a night consistently - If anything this is what I am progressing with the most as I have a new job to start on Monday and am consciously aware of the time i need to get up in the mornings so am trying to get my 6.5hrs sleep

21. Visit Giant's Causeway - Im hoping this will happen next year for a short driving holiday

22. Have a dinner party - This is the plan for my 30th birthday

23. Have Butterfly-Crafts mentioned in a newspaper or magazine - Well as I am organising a craft fair in May (14th) I have had an article published in our local village news but am still aiming for the local newspaper

24. Sleep under the stars - I havent slept under them but I have been out late at night in a Texan field looking at them and I saw the Milky Way and Saturn.

25. Live as much of a handmade/homemade/economical life as possible - Well so far this year i have given only handmade cards and am making a hard effort to give handmade presents where possible and I am always trying to be economical

26. Begin to have the stamina, strength & body shape from pre-leg issues - this was going well as I was enjoying the gym and feeling much fitter, that was until the ticking bomb in my leg went off and I got DVT again

27. Watch: Goodfellas, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago, Gone With the Wind, The Philadephia Story, A Street Car Named Desire, Ferri Beulers Day Off, Schindler's List, The Godfather and Citizen Cane - I think later this year I am going to do a LoveFilm membership to get access to some of these films.

28. Go to a comedy club - After a friend cancelling on me at Christmas, I have not done this yet

29. Finish my knitted patchwork blanket - I finished another square! But have had to put the blanket aside to work on a mini blanket to sit in the park with at lunchtimes.

30. Visit 15 exhibitions at museums and galleries - I've been to one 'Handmade Tales' and written a blog on it and been to 3 more that I need to write blogs about if i can remember details about them, if not then I need to see some more!

I must make more of an effort really or Im not going to get all of this done and I need to blog more.

Friday, 1 April 2011 | 0 Comments