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29 April 2013

Competition goodies!

Ooh, it ain't half lovely coming home to a box full of goodies from the fab Claire of Claireabellemakes

I was lucky enough to win Claire's awesome competition last week and just look at all the lovely-ness that arrived! :-)

The home-made heart bunting is sooooooooooo cute! I cannot wait to hang it up on my fabric pin board. 

I am also looking forward to popping some of those lovely stickers on a letter or two as part of Anna's #postcircle and those buttons are just adorable! In fact everything is! 

The gorgeous-ness (new word!) that are Claire's handmade ring and necklace are sooo lovely that I'm wearing them now! Being a huge bird fan, I know I'll be wearing that necklace none stop! Thank you heaps Claire! :-)

Have you entered and won any cool competitions recently?

Happy Monday,
Jo :-) x

28 April 2013

Wish list - we're all going on a summer holiday!

In exactly two weeks I'll be on the Cornish coast having a much needed holiday, so this week's wish list has a certain theme to get me in the mood! Happy holidays everyone!

25 April 2013

Recipe - Crab cakes and coleslaw

Ok, before I begin, I must apologise for the photo!! I seriously need to practice taking photos of food...it's not as easy as it looks (or at least in my case it isn't!) and I'm now in deep admiration of those professional food photographers!

This recipe is super easy, reasonably priced and VERY tasty!

Crab cake ingredients (this makes 6 crab cakes):
Mashed potato - we used left over mash from the night before
Chilli - fresh or dried
Chives - fresh is best if you can
Two tins of crab

Coleslaw ingredients:
Cooked beetroot x 6
Medium carrots x 3

Mix your mashed potato, crab, chilli and chives together. Then shape them into balls and flatten slightly with your hand to form a patty shape.

Before cooking your crab cakes, start your coleslaw by grating the beetroot and carrots into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of mayonnaise and mix well together.

Heat a frying pan with oil or butter, then lightly fry your crab cakes for a minute or two on each side.

You are now ready to eat, so get those cakes on the plate and serve with a generous helping of coleslaw. Yum!

Happy cooking, although there's hardly much cooking in it, so I'm going to say happy eating instead! 

Happy eating!

Jo :-) x

24 April 2013

Review: Crafty Magazine

As soon as I found out about this new craft magazine and before you could say "crafty", I'd got myself a copy and read it from cover to cover! Yup, I jest you not, I read it in one sitting, making appropriate coo-ing and ahh-ing noises throughout. It is utterly gorgeous.

As I know a lot of my lovely blogging friends have written some awesome reviews of this magazine already, I've decided to keep my review short and sweet...and also to challenge my writing skills! ;-) So, here's a summary of Crafty magazine in one sentence:

A magazine that supports the crafting revolution, bringing projects, reviews and interviews to the ever keen crafter who likes craft to be fun, unique, approachable and which doesn't break the bank balance.

Ok, so here are eight more phrases or thoughts that come to mind:


Beautiful photography

Great links

Mixed media


Great writing style

Matt, not glossy finish = yay!

Free crafting material given with each issue = double yay!

So there you go! And guess what's on sale now? - issue two! Here's a sneaky peek of the front cover!


Disclosure: I reviewed this independently and wasn't sponsored to write this post.

21 April 2013

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I've been super busy with lovely family visiting, going on day trips in Leicestershire, getting over a grotty virus, starting to get the ball rolling for buying our very first home (eek!) and beginning some new designs for my shop! Soooo, with all that going on, my poor blog has not had much attention, aww, but I'll be getting back on top of things this week with a magazine review, some business tips, a new wish list and (hopefully!) a sneaky peek at my new designs! So stay tuned and talking of tunes, here's an awesome tune to listen to while you're waiting! :-)

Hope everyone's having a lovely weekend! What have you been up to, anything crafty?

Jo :-) x

12 April 2013

Present making

Don't you just love creating unique presents for family and friends? The whole process is, well, rather exciting! I love thinking about what a person likes or finding out more about their interests, then letting your imagination go wild with design ideas and finding all the materials, colours and tools to create those ideas with. Though, it doesn't just end there, I even enjoy wrapping the gift up and sending it off in the post with the hope (trepidation too!) that it will make someone smile.

Recently I had the joy of this process for my gorgeous, soon to be, sister-in law's birthday! I asked "randomly" what things, colours, animals etc she likes...you know, just in case I was passing a shop where a gift had her name written all over it, ha! Of course, I was finding out what she likes, so that I could create a unique birthday present.

Here are some of the things she likes:

The colour blue

With this in mind, I decided to buy a hand-made gift (I'm all for supporting independent designers out there) and make one too.

Here's what I bought from Strange Bird Designs. When it arrived, I found it very hard to put it back in the parcel - I could easily have kept it! It is the most delicate brooch, in fact beautiful. It also ticks two things off the 'like list' - a bird and the colour blue, perfect!

Here's what I designed - an embroidered horse pendant/necklace.

The tail isn't sewn down at the ends of the cotton strands, instead they flick up ever so slightly. I thought this would bring the horse to life and ensure the embroidery wasn't too flat.

I was really excited when I'd finished it and I'm now wondering whether I should explore horses and other animals to embroider for my online shops. What do you think? Is this a go-er?

Have you designed anything new recently, maybe as a gift for someone or perhaps something new for your online shop? Do send me a link to a blog post or even to your shop. I love seeing what everyone's up to!

Jo :-) x

2 April 2013

Etsy v Notonthehighstreet

What I would love to do, more than anything, is to one day run a crafty-tea-coffee-cake-making-place type shop. Ok, so I would need to work on the name but in my dreams my shop would be filled with gorgeous hand-made designs, delicious home-made cakes and treats, the smell of fresh coffee and lovely creative people teaching all manner of creative courses. 

At the weekends, my house is filled with the smell of fresh coffee, a knitting project sits happily on the kitchen table and my studio desk is covered with the latest order from my Notonthehighstreet shop. This is as close as it gets to my crafty-tea-coffee-cake-making-place type shop of dreams. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with it but I'm always trying to edge that little bit closer to my dream scenario by improving my designs, keeping my blog fresh and looking out for opportunities.

It's exciting and fun following this path but it's also bloomin' hard work and you can sometimes find yourself wondering: "is it worth it?" I guess, however, if Notonthehighstreet hadn't approached me last year, I think I would have thrown the towel in. Why? Well, put quite simply - not only do I get orders but I get custom orders to boot too. This keeps me going on my adventure in the world of crafts, blogging and sales.

My Etsy shop on the other hand, zilch, zero, nothing, i.e. not one sale. I really don't get it. The products and photos are the same, the prices identical, even the product descriptions are the same. I promote it as much as I do my Notonthehighstreet shop. This weekend I even had an Easter special sale - 15% of EVERYTHING and still nothing. 

I'm starting to wonder whether my Etsy shop is too lost in the vast empire that is Etsy, whereas Notonthehighstreet promote themselves everywhere and not only do they hand select designers to sell on their website but they only accept a very small percentage of applications. Could it simply be down to this or is my Etsy shop missing something? 

I would love to hear what folks think. Have you had a similar experience? Any advice, feedback, and top tips would be much appreciated!

Jo :-) x

** I have not been paid or asked to write this post by either company. I am simply trying to figure out the differences, therefore the opinions written are my own.**

The Great British Sewing Bee

Tonight's the night! The Great British Sewing Bee kicks off on BBC two at 8pm.

Fancy a sneak preview? Have a cheeky glance here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0171ltk

I cannot tell you how excited I am. Ok, go on then, I'm REALLY BLOOMIN' EXCITED!!! 

Happy watching everyone!
Jo :-)

p.s. Perri Lewis certainly gives it a good review over at the Guardian!

1 April 2013

Blog Gem - Lady Bird Likes

Hello to all my lovely readers and a big welcome to all of you have recently found Adventures and Tea Parties! Thank you so much for following!! 

For those of you that aren't familiar with my Blog Gems, this monthly series interviews hand picked, special and awesome blogs, which are close to Adventures and Tea Parties' heart. It delves into their world, finding out what inspires them, what their favourite crafts are and who they would invite to a blog award dinner. There are lots of exciting Blog Gems coming up over the next few months and this month we're meeting the lovely lady behind the wonderful blog 'Ladybird Likes'. Shall we find out more? Lets go for it! Hello there, who be the face behind the blog?

My name is Zoe Jade, I am 26 years old, and I own and run Ladybird Likes selling handmade jewellery. I live in West London with my parents, my two sisters, and my dog Jasper. I studied Creative Writing, Photography, and Japanese at university (not all at the same time), and I have a pretty serious addiction to coffee and Criminal Minds. When I'm not working (which isn't very often!) you can find me at car boot sales, or at the cinema (usually watching horror movies!)

What's your creative space area like? 

Ha, it's a bit of a mess! I have lots of things I need to work with, and I need space to lay out jewellery components and things like that, so my space isn't as pretty as I'd like it to be. But, I absolutely love my little studio - it's perfect for me. Everything has a place, and I have big empty walls to fill with whatever currently tickles my fancy. I love being able to change the look of the studio by putting new things up on the wall. As I like to spread out when I'm working, I have lots of worktop space around the edge of the room, plus a desk for my computer and printer and all my accounts/book keeping stuff. I also have shelves to store boxes of made up products on, a bookshelf for my favourite magazines and craft books, and drawers for keeping supplies in.

If you had to take only one of your crafts to a desert island, what would it be and why? 

Oh gosh - it would probably be either crochet or embroidery. Time seems to fly by when I'm doing either of those so it would be perfect for a desert island, waiting to be rescued!

How do you work and get inspired? 

Most of the time I try and just let inspiration come as naturally as possible - it's one of those catch 22 situations where the more you force it, the more stressed you get, and the less inspired you feel! When I am working to a deadline with designing, I look through lots of books and magazines - I hoard pretty cuttings and books and magazine pages just for this very purpose! I also like to go on pinterest and flickr and make moodboards of colours and patterns and shapes that I like. I then gather everything up and stick it all over my studio walls and stare at it until I feel ready! It's not exactly the most orthodox approach, but it works for me. I think that's the key really - finding what works for you, because no two people are the same. 

What top tips would you give to any novice bloggers and those thinking of selling their designs? 

There is so much advice I could offer on all manner of topics surrounding selling your work but pretty much all of it boils down to one simple mantra that I try and live by - 'work hard and be nice to people.' Everything else you can learn along the way.

Is there a story behind the name 'Ladybird Likes'?

When I was younger I was given the nickname ladybird by some elderly relative - I'm not sure why, but we had a bush in our front garden that always had ladybirds on it, and I have so many happy memories of letting them walk over my arms and watching them fly away. I wanted this blog to be a place to share all the things I like, so Ladybird Likes was born.

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you choose? 

This is such a good question! I think about this a lot, more than is probably normal, but my answers change depending on what kind of mood I'm in! Right now, I'd have to say it would be Matthew Gray Gubler (because, although he doesn't know it yet, he will be my husband one day, so it makes sense we should get to know each other better right?), Jenny Lewis (because she is one of my biggest girl crushes, and we could talk about having auburn hair, and she could sing to me), Wes Anderson (because he is my favourite ever director, and I'm pretty sure he's also the nicest man alive), Tim Walker (because I think he is such an incredibly inspiring person and I'd love to pick his brains), aaaaannnnddd finally it would have to be Hayao Miyazaki (because his animations make me smile whenever I see them, and he played a huge part in me wanting to learn to speak Japanese.)

And finally...book & tea or film & wine?

Ooooooh although I am a total movie geek, I think I'm just ever so slightly more of a bookworm, so it's got to be a book and a cup of tea for me (and a slice of cake of course!)

Thank you so much Zoe!! It's been fab getting to know you and more about your blog and creative process. That's the best advice I've seen to date - 'work hard and be nice to people'. Very, very true and good advice to follow. 

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem. Don't forget, Zoe has a gorgeous Etsy shop, which is super tempting beyond belief! Stay tuned for next month's Blog Gem, which delves into the world of a blogger who prints and I'm not saying any more...don't want to ruin the surprise!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Zoe at Ladybird Likes. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.


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