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31 May 2013

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Tom Petty was played *quite* a bit while on holiday in Cornwall. When I say, quite, what I mean is: constantly. A particular favourite was the famous track, Refugee, which you can check out here.

Does music inspire you or do you have any favourite tunes you can happily listen to on repeat?

28 May 2013

Competition time!

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall"
Nelson Mandela

Ok, so I'm starting this blog post off with a very famous quote. Don't worry I'm not going to regale you with a bit of a sob story and how I beat it. In actual fact, believe it or not, this post is all about a rather unusual competition I'm running. 

Yup, you heard right, it's...

But why the quote hey? Well, the competition kind of explains it...

I recently received some rather negative feedback about one of my best selling hankies, which really knocked me sideways. Fast forward over me having a big sob, threatening my hankies that I would jack it all in...then a good night's sleep and a bit of a think later and I decide NO, I'm not handing my resignation in to, umm, hmm, well me and myself. Instead, I'm going to take a fresh look at my designs, my workmanship and how I can improve.

Sooooo, I have hunted down different fabrics, tested out new ways of sewing my hankies, and practiced embroidering my hanky motifs and personalised options, and I need you guys to help give constructive feedback.

Three lucky winners are in with a chance of winning three hankies each. Yup, that's 3 hankies per person. I will personalise them for you and package them up in beautiful packaging. In other words three of you will win three hankies as advertised in my Notonthehighstreet.com shop. They are worth between £12 - £16 each!

Each hanky will be made out of the different fabrics I have sourced and will be personalised with a date, three initials and one big letter as advertised in my shop. They will also come with a tick-box questionnaire. All you have to do is fill in the questionnaire anonymously, telling me what you think about each hanky you have received. The questionnaire then needs to be posted back to me using a pre-paid envelope, which you will also receive. In doing so, and this is where the quote comes into play, you will be providing me with some much needed feedback on how I can improve my hankie design. If you have any questions, just drop me a line.

Competition ends midnight on the 15th June. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

27 May 2013

Cornwall holiday snaps

Hello! I'm back from two heavenly weeks in Cornwall and feeling much rested for it. Didn't realise just how much I needed a holiday! 

Mrs Camera and I really soaked up all the sea views, beautiful spring flowers and sunsets by snapping up nearly 1000 photos of all the things we got up to! Here are just a selection.



Spring flowers

Lost Gardens of Heligan


Tea and inspiration

Changeable weather

Coastal walks


Rock pools



Bird watching


Boat trip

Vibrant colours


25 May 2013

Guest post - Onetenzeroseven

Hello lovely Adventures & Tea Parties readers! Thank you so much for having me while the lovely Jo is taking a break :)

Today I wanted to share some tips with you about how to set up your Etsy shop.

Shop Title // A lot of sellers chose to repeat their shop name here, but the words ‘Shop Title’ are kind of misleading. Instead, select your best keywords and put them together in a sentence. My shop title is, "Earrings, Necklaces, Bracelets, Brooches and Hair Pins". 

About Page // Etsy introduced this fairly recently so even if you’re the most experienced seller you may have missed the memo. You can build a profile for your shop to tell the story of you and your products. Find this option by visiting the Info & Appearance and switching to the About tab. 

Product Photography // You are more likely to be featured in treasuries, especially ones that are picked for the front page, if your product is the main focus on a light background. Props can be a great way of showing off your creations, but try not to use anything that will distract your potential customers from your product. You could study the images that make it to the Front Page and see how you could apply the same principles to your work.

Listing Titles // Your most searchable keyword phrase should be first. Take my moustache earrings for example: Instead of saying, “Nickel Free Moustache Earrings” I use “Moustache Earrings, Nickel Free” which doesn’t make as much grammatical sense, but potential customers for moustache earrings are more likely to search for ‘moustache earrings’ than ‘nickel free’.

Shop Announcement // Google uses this to describe your page so fill it with keywords, but also make it friendly and inviting. Something like, “Handmade in the UK, my earrings, necklaces and other jewellery are fun, affordable, retro and kitsch.” Etsy also provide you with a handy preview of your listing on Google whilst filling this out!

Social Networks // Link your Twitter and Facebook to your Etsy shop so your customers, fans and friends have an easy access to your regular updates. The easier you make it, the more likely it is they will keep in touch. Don’t have Twitter or Facebook? You should! But that’s a lesson for another day ;)

I hope you find these tips useful. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them! And if you fancy a cuppa later, please feel free to drop by my blog at http://onetenzeroseven.com/blog
Loves x xx

22 May 2013

Guest post - Miss Beatrix

Hello! I'm Anna and I blog over at Miss Beatrix. After really enjoying Jo's post where she showed us round her lovely studio space recently, I thought I'd share a few snapshots of my own creative space too!

I actually craft between two rooms - my study and my sitting room. My study is the one I'm showing you round today. It used to be called The Blottery, as it's where I did all my writing and a fair bit of studying, but these days it's called The Bloggery, for obvious reasons. So, let us begin at the most important area of this little room... my desk.

And oh, how I love this desk. It's from Ikea and I had wanted it for many years before I finally had enough work to do from home to be able to justify taking the plunge! It has a glass display top, which I use for some of my plates, and trestle legs. It also tilts for a spot of artistic drawing (for which of course I remove the plates first!) My dog Beatrix often sleeps under the desk while I work, sometimes resting her chin on my in-tray.

There is a bookcase to the left of my desk. It's one of two rather over-full bookcases - the other being in my sitting room - but I think this one looks a little plain at the moment so I'm ever on the lookout for the perfect wallpaper to back it with.

I listen to a lot of music and audiobooks so I keep my headphones within easy reach of my desk.

To the right of the desk are my 'writery' books. The English graduate in me has to keep these to hand at all times! This is also where I store some of my notebooks, with my box files on the shelf above. I like to keep all my paperwork supremely organised, because it makes me veeeery stressed otherwise!

Above my door I have another bookshelf, where I keep other writery books and some more non-fiction. I got the idea from Geraldine's cottage in The Vicar of Dibley.

On the opposite wall to the desk I'm working on a gallery wall - or a gallery alcove really. This is one piece I made quite recently. It's a reminder of the qualities I want to bring to everyday life. 

I also have a baker's twine 'washing line'! This is where I hang my #PostCircle post so I can admire it all the time!

Some more pictures from my gallery wall - a favourite literary poster and some postcards from my European travels. 

To the left of my window is my magazine rack. I keep my current reads in this, where I can grab them for quick inspiration during a tea break. 

Lastly, my handmade sock croc companion! He's quite special to me because I searched high and low for plain green socks in the UK, with no luck. They ended up being the only item I brought back from a business trip to Baltimore, from Macy's, so this chap represents a special adventure. The socks weren't entirely plain, though - he has snowflakes on his toes!

I hope you enjoyed this little peek at my creative space, thank you so much Jo for letting me pop in! 

20 May 2013

Guest post - Yiskah Knits

Hi everyone, I’m Jess from Yiskah Knits and I’m thrilled to be taking the helm at Adventures and Tea Parties while Jo is having a well deserved break in Cornwall. Lucky devil! In celebration of holidays and sunshine, I thought I’d share a really fresh, summery cupcake recipe with you all. If you like Turkish Delight, you’re going to love these. Rose and pistachio is a really common paring in eastern desserts, like Baklava, so let’s bring on the sunshine! 

Makes: 8 cupcakes
Prep time: 10-15 mins
Baking time: 20-25 mins

Cupcake mixture
120g flour
140g caster sugar
40g softened butter
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
120ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp rosewater

  • Preheat oven to 170’C
  • Soften butter in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, flour and baking powder mixing until you get a sandy consistency. You can do this by hand, with a mixer or an electric whisk for ease.
  • Combine the milk and rosewater in a measuring jug and pour roughly half into your dry mixture. Beat until just incorporated.
  • Whisk the egg into the remaining milk and add it to your bowl. Beat until just incorporated again, being careful not to over mix.
  • Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases about 2/3 full, you can use a piping bag for this to keep things neat and tidy, and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, or until just golden.

While the cupcakes are baking you can start to prepare the icing. I don’t know about you but I’m not a fan of super-sweet icing, so I chose a cream cheese icing for these, but if your heart lies with buttercream, go for it!

Rose Cream Cheese Icing
100g cream cheese (half a packet)
35g softened butter
200g sifted icing sugar
1 tsp rosewater

  • Drain the liquid from the cream cheese and place into a clean bowl.
  • Beat this together with the butter until just blended.
  • Sift in the sugar half at a time, be really careful not to over mix again or the butter and cheese might curdle into a soggy mess. Stop as soon as everything looks mixed in.

Pop the icing in the fridge while the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack, and then decorate to your hearts content. Whizz up, or roughly chop, some peeled pistachios to give a colourful textured crumb. How perfect would these be for a fancy picnic in the park?

18 May 2013

Guest post - Claireabellemakes

 Hello guys! I am Claire from the craft blog Claireabellemakes and I’m super excited to be here on Jo’s blog today whilst she takes a well deserved break.

Recently, I treated myself to a new Janome XL601 computerised machine and have spent my Tuesday evenings engrossed in the Great British Sewing Bee programme. I’m not ashamed to say I watched repeats too!

I figured as you are fans of Jo and her blog, most of you will also love crafts, so I want to share with you my favourite sites for sewing. These are all great for beginners and experienced sewers.

Florence writes this lovely blog to document her daily sewing, share patterns, tutorials and inspiration. A great site for pretty inspiration and learning techniques.

The Sewing Directory does exactly what it says and lists workshops, patterns, techniques, events, sales and much more. They run fantastic competitions on a regular basis and provide tips and advice on buying and servicing machines. I’d recommend their newsletter for all the latest in the sewing world!

The next blog is one I have followed since I started reading blogs and I adore Georgina’s Etsy store of felt toys. Check the tutorials tab for a step by step guide to French Seams, making a basic quilt and hot water bottle covers made from clothes. Each month, Georgina rewards one lucky reader with a “Present in the Post”.

Kollabora is a fabulous US site with the tagline “We Are What We Make”. Yarn lovers amongst you will likely use Ravelry, so think of this as a similar networking/project sharing platform for Sewing, Jewellery marking and yarn crafts. Still developing and adding new categories, the site boast a shop (UK shipping coming soon) and has a whole bunch of friendly, inspiring and creative members. I utterly love it.

I’m dying to visit New York to drop into Kollabora HQ for one of their open labs!

I hope you have enjoyed my picks of the sewing sites today! I would love to hear your recommendations for blogs and sites that inspire you all.
Follow my “Sew What” Pinterest board to see what I am inspired to stitch! My next make will be a gardeners apron and some curtains for my craft room.

15 May 2013

Guest Post - Jenny & the Magic Feather

Hi lovely Adventures and Tea Parties readers! I am Jenny from Jenny and The Magic Feather and Jo has very kindly asked me to do a guest post while she is enjoying the sun on her jollys in Cornwall! .... naturally we're not jealous in the slightest! hmmm....

So I am guessing like Jo,  most of you are quite a crafty little lot! So I thought I would share a quick and easy tutorial (with tons of follow along photos!yey!) with you all today. I have made so many of these little lovelies, it is one of my favourite tutorials and projects for quick, homemade lovely gifts, presents or just something for yourself to compliment your home!

Plus,  hello sun!! Lets get those doors propped OPEN! ;D

Lets get started then:-

You will also need a sewing machine. Although you can do this one by hand too if you prefer, but for the purpose of this tutorial, I've used my machine.

Start by drawing out your template pieces, like the picture below you will need 1x 15cm by 15cm square, 1x 15cm triangle with a 15cm peak and 1x 10cm by 6cm piece.

Cut out your fabric pieces using the templates. You do not need to leave seam allowances, cut them to the same size as the paper templates. You will need four triangles, if you're using two different fabrics like I have, then cut two of each design. 

Don't forget to cut your 10cmx6cm piece too, which I have missed off the below picture (oopsie!).

Sew your triangles together, two pieces at a time for now. So I put one spot with one chicken and sewed the left hand sides of the two bits together, turning four pieces into two pieces. Remember we are sewing inside out, so put the fabric with faces together, as we will be turning the door stop right way out when we are done!

Also be aware your triangles are not the same all the way around, there is a clear bottom to them.  If you don't have a clear pattern direction to your fabric, use your paper template to check you're sewing sides to sides, and not a bottom to a side ;D

If you are using two different fabrics like I have, your two pieces should be the same. So I have a chicken piece to the right side of both my spot pieces, so when I eventually sew them all together it goes; spot, chick, spot, chick.

I used my sewing machine foot as a guide for seam allowance, as shown below.

Next up,  press out the seams of your now two pieces of fabric...

... so you have something like this!

Now take your 10x6 piece, we are going to make our little top loop with this. 

1. Fold in half.
2. Press in half.
3. Fold back out flat.
4. Fold outer edges to the crease in the middle.
5. Fold all back in half and press together.

Sew down the open edge....

... and down the other side too. This is just for decoration and optional! You do not have to sew the ends closed.

Next, fold your now skinny 10x6 piece in half to form a loop. 
Pop your new loop in the middle of your two spot and chicken pieces (right sides together still!). Remember to put it in loop down, so the loop comes out of the top, when we turn our door stop right way out.

Raw edges should be on show, just like the picture below.

Now pin the outside edges together of your two spot/chicken pieces. You may need an extra pin in the top, to hold your loop in place. Now sew just these pinned edges together, start from a bottom edge, working up to the peak.

When you get to the peak, stop your needle when you reach the centre of your pressed open seams,  this should be the middle of your loop too. Lift your foot up, with your needle down,  spin your fabric and sew down the other side. By doing it this way - as opposed to sewing off the edge and starting again down the other side, you avoid any potential wonky loops! 
Again I have used the edge of my foot as a seam guide.

Your inside should look something like this now!

Pin on your bottom 15x15cm square piece, again the right side of the fabrics should all be together, so you're sewing on the back. Leave a gap in your pins, this will remind you to leave a gap when you sew up the edges. We need this gap so we can turn the whole thing right way out, and fill it up! I started sewing from the gap, and worked around to the other side. 
Remember to do a couple of back stitches so the stitches either side of the gap don't pull out when we come to turn it right way out.

Once you're all sewn up, before you turn the whole thing right way out trim off any bulky edges and snip off your corners at a right angle, like shown below. Watch you don't get too close to your threads! This will make it easier to poke out your corners.

I also snipped off the top of my loop in to a peak, following the lines where I had stitched.

You should now have an inside out pyramid shape, like so...

Turn him right way out by gentle pulling and working the fabric through the hole we left in the base. Poke out all your corners!

Pop a hand full of stuffing in to the top peak, this will help keep the shape of your door stop.

Use a piece or card to make a funnel (or an actual funnel!) for your rice and pipe it in!

You should get a full 300g bag in there, pop a little in at a time and keep shaking your door stop to even out the rice and create more space.

Now just hand sew (or if you're like me just try and squeeze it back under your machine foot!) the hole up in the base and we are done!

Hope you enjoyed this one!


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