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28 August 2014

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Today I'm heading off to End Of The Road festival to endulge in a weekend of music, comedy, workshops, camping in our new tent (eeek, excited!), trying out local food and ale and most of all, hanging out with my friends, I can't wait! So, this week has been all about listening to some of the bands playing at the festival. 

The line up is, in my mind, pretty darn awesome but like with all festivals, I only ever choose a handful of bands that I must see. I like to go with an open mind and see bands I've never heard of or bands that have been recommended. That way I always manage to discover something new and usually find that band or bands make the whole festival. Soooo, the handful of bands that I have to see are:

Lucius
Benjamine Clementine
Deertick
St Vincent

Lucius and Benjamine Clementine were introduced to me by my Mum (she rocks!). Deertick were a recommendation at a festival and are now one of my top bands and St Vincent I keep hearing on Radio 6 and I officially love them. Click on the links above and give 'em a listen. The links to Lucius and St Vincent are whole albums, which I *might* have had on repeat this week! ;-) Oh and don't forget to get up and dance!

26 August 2014

Shop closed for a week

*Shop update*
My online shops are closed from Tuesday and are re-opening again on Monday 1st September. 


25 August 2014

Blog Hop

Today I'm taking part in a Blog Hop, which the lovely Claire from Claireabellemakes invited me to take part in. The idea behind the hop is answering four questions on the topic of writing and blogging, so here goes!

Why do you write?

I write in 4 different places: on my blog, at This Is Your Kingdom, at Terry's Fabrics How To blog and for myself in my current notebook. Each one I use for different forms of writing.

With running a handmade shop and business, I think it's important to show there's a person behind the designs, work and products. Writing my blog helps with this by enabling a space to share my thoughts on what's currently inspiring me creatively. It also allows me to share my thoughts on a range of topics and also challenge me by writing regularly, often to self-imposed deadlines and creatively by thinking of new blog series. I love it!



This Is Your Kingdom is a different kettle of fish and more challenging. Here I am part of a team, which writes reviews on lovely things to see and do in the UK. So, I have to write with a target audience in mind, with a limited word count but also include enough information, so that readers get a good feel for a place and feel inspired to visit it. All of that with a personal touch. I really like having those boundaries as it forces me to write more imaginatively.



Terry's Fabrics How To blog is a recent addition for me and again, a completely different style as it's a blog dedicated to sewing tutorials. Writing, essentially a set of instructions, is a very formulaic and rigid way of writing or at least that's what I thought. Following numerous blogs and owning a few crafty books, I've come to realise you can still show your personality even when writing tutorials and that element is important to make tutorials fun and light and less like dreaded homework.



My current notebook takes a big bashing when it comes to writing. Everything and anything gets written in here. From lists to notes to draft blog posts to personal thoughts and more. There are absolutely no boundaries here and I think having this space allows me to get rid of rubbish and organise words and sentences jumping around in my mind. I don't think I could write any of the above without going to my notebook first.


What are you working on?
I am currently writing answers to a blog interview post, which I was recently invited to take part in. I'm also writing blog posts and planning tutorials in advance, so that I can keep my blog running while I'm busy with shop orders over the Christmas rush. Whilst doing that, I am also preparing to launch my new autumn jewellery range!



How does your blog differ from others of its genre?
I'm never quite sure how to categorise my blog, if I can at all. It's a combination of my adventures in sewing, craft, photography, gardening and knitting, sprinkled with tea, tutorials, my inspirations (music being the biggest) and my evolving journey in learning how to work for myself and run my own handmade business. It all comes from me and is what it is - it isn't trying to emulate other blogs or being something it isn't. I guess that's what makes it different.




How does your writing process work?
My writing process is both organised and disorganised. I write when the feeling takes me and I'll also write under press, to a deadline. I write on the move, at the PC and also in my head, storing it up to write it down as soon as I can. At the moment, I'm trying to be more organised and forward thinking with my blog. I've just "invested" in a free calendar to work as a blog schedule to help over the next four months. We'll see if that works!

As with all blog hops, the idea is to pass it on! So, I'm super delighted to be handing the hop over to two wonderful, talented ladies, Sophie from Onetenzeroseven and Anna from Tea With Miss Beatrix :-) Their blogs sit permanently at the top of my reading list!

I hope you've enjoyed this writing themed blog hop. Stay tuned for important information tomorrow about my shop closing for a few days, while I go off adventuring at a music festival, eek can't wait! :-)

23 August 2014

Terry's Fabric Tutorial: Lavender Pin Cushion

My latest sewing tutorial is now on Terry's Fabrics How To blog! Using gorgeous lime green polka dot fabric supplied by Terry's Fabrics, I've created a mini lavender pin cushion tutorial. It's super easy and can be done in 30 minutes! A great project for the bank holiday!
Happy sewing!

22 August 2014

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

If you're a regular reader of my bloggity blog blog, then you'll know that I love music. It is one of the top things that inspires me to create. That's why I like to share the tunes that are giving me a kick in my step and encouraging me to keep creating, making and designing.

I tend to discover new and old music through BBC Radio 6 Music, 1940s UK Radio, going to gigs and festivals, recommendations from friends, and as of this week, 8tracks, which is an awesome website full of mixtapes made by everyone and anyone. Being a fan of the ol' mix tape, I am one happy bunny to have been introduced to this. 

So, rather than share a tune this week, instead I'm sharing 8tracks as I've been listening to it allll week! If you're a music fan, go give it a listen and happy listening! Oh and that little picture up there, I embroidered it when I was having a music inspired embroidery day, happy times! :-)

20 August 2014

Blog feature: Onetenzeroseven


The lovely, awesome, talented Sophie of Onetenzeroseven has featured one of my handmade polka dot necklaces in her latest outfit post. Check it out here and be sure to check out her gorgeous shop, full of handmade goodness and her blog too, which is one of my favourites!

Cheers m'dears!


19 August 2014

Coming soon! Flash sale Friday!




On Friday 5th September, I'll be taking part in a Flash Sale Friday with some awesome, talented independent sellers from around the UK. We'll all be sharing our own and everyone else's discount codes on our blogs, so that you can pick them up easily and grab a handmade bargain or two! Stay tuned as I'll be sharing more details soon!

18 August 2014

This Is Your Kingdom: Chatsworth Kitchen Gardens


I recently visited Chatsworth Kitchen Gardens for the first time with my best gardening buddy, my Mum. What with becoming more and more obsessed with gardening, it was utterly heaven, so much so that I've written a little piece about it, which is currently on the front page of This Is Your Kingdom

Have you been to Chatsworth before? What did you think?

17 August 2014

New design: Stripes!

I am a self confessed breton top addict! I love anything with stripes, so with that in mind I got to thinking that some stripey themed jewellery would go great with a stripey top, cotton trousers and a denim jacket. A perfect little outfit for the end of summer, with the mornings and nights getting a touch cooler. 

So, I've created a whole stripe themed jewellery collection, which includes rings, necklaces and cufflinks. They're available in both my Etsy and NOTHS shops. And remember girls, we can wear cufflinks too! I'm currently thinking about switching the metal buttons on my denim jacket sleeves for stripey cufflinks - a great trick for sprucing up a jacket!

What do you think? Would you like to see other stripe colours? Are you a breton top addict like me? I'd love to hear anything stripe related!






15 August 2014

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Tonight I'm off out on the town with friends to celebrate going part time on the day job to focus more time on my biz :-) So, today's tune is one you can have a dance to and it's one of my favourites - I have it on vinyl and can easily listen to it on repeat. For me it's the pefect getting-ready-to-go-out-tune and they're one of my all time favourite bands. They're in my top 5 and I'm now known for my dancing impressions of the lead singer! Wondering who and what tune I'm talking about? Head over here for a listen!
What's your favourite song to get ready to?

13 August 2014

Adventures in the Garden: Squash

This week I'm looking at a new garden veggie for me, the squash. 



I love squash (baked, fried, steamed, pureed up in a soup...). It's the such a versatile veg and soooo tasty. I was therefore pretty keen to have a go at growing it myself. So, I took the same method I use for courgettes each year (read my post on this here) and planted more seeds than I needed. Either luck was on my side or I didn't need to follow this method as four out of four sprouted successfully in my little plastic greenhouse!



I potted them into a big terracotta pot, full of fresh compost and well watered before the seedlings went in. Immediately they flopped :-( I'm guessing the sudden change of temperature from the greenhouse to the outdoors didn't help.




It was then a bit of waiting game to see what would come of them and phew, they sprang back to life and started growing....

Now, I had read that they like room to sprawl and crawl across the veg patch but I wasn't quite expecting them to do this! They LOVE space! Although, there are four in this pot, so maybe I wouldn't need as many plants next time?! 



I don't know why but they kinda remind me of a waterfall, tumbling out of the pot. Would love to know how they would look planted straight into the ground.




I'm yet to try one as I've decided to let them grow a little more, although I'm thinking this one might be ripe for the picking soon! Eek, can't wait! Just need to decide how to cook it. Decisions, decisions!

What have you been growing in the garden? Have you given squash a go?



11 August 2014

Working for myself: First Month




I officially went part time on the day job a month ago. That's 3 days on the day job, 2 days on Adventures & Tea Parties. My first day on A&TP? Well, it was pretty dreadful in terms of business but great for the long list of household chores. Yup, my first day I got totally distracted. As it was a sunny day, all the possible washing combinations got washed, dried and put away...and the garden finally got mowed and weeded. Woops!

So, the second day, I sat down and made a plan - a 6 month plan of targets and a weekly routine. One month in and I'm sticking to it but I've certainly learnt a few things.

I thought I'd have no problems getting motivated, being the kind of person who can't sit still but I failed that on the first day. My motivation went into the boring jobs. I'm not sure why. Maybe a mixture of nerves at this whole new world I was and am entering? Maybe not knowing where to start and a slight freak out at the pressure I had suddenly put on myself? 

I'm trying not to worry about why I initially reacted like that and instead get on and enjoy the ride. Doing that means I've got to remember to treat it like a normal day at the day job: get ready for work, turn up on time, have a lunch break and have a clocking off time. It would be all too easy to work on through to the small hours because I love everything about my business but that way burn out lies, so being realistic and sensible it is. I now have time allocated to orders, admin, finances, marketing and pushing my business forward through setting monthly goals. One month in and the routine's happening. 

Oh and getting dressed for work I've suddenly realised helps get me motivated and by that I mean actually putting some nice clothes on and not just sitting in my studio with some old jeans and t-shirt. Now I'm not suggesting I'm putting my finest party frock and high heels on but instead I'm picking some nicer items out of the wardrobe to give a little boost to the ol' self esteem. It works a treat!

Sooo, that's where I'm at on my first month in. Bit of a rambly post I know but it's all new territory, so a ramble/diary type blog post is where it's at.

Do you work for yourself? What are your biggest hurdles? Do you have any tips or advice? I'd love to hear from all you fellow working-for-yourself folk!

Cheers!

8 August 2014

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

This week it's all about this beeeeeaauuutiful song by Nat Johnson. Isn't it just stunning! And the animation makes my heart sing - swoon!
Music is definitely one of my biggest creative inspirations. What's yours?

6 August 2014

Don't forget my Etsy summer sale!



Don't forget my Etsy summer sale, folks! 15% off EVERYTHING! Just use the following coupon code at checkout: SUMMER

Pop on over to my Etsy shop and pick up something handmade!

Happy shopping! 

4 August 2014

Adventures in the Garden: Courgettes

I've been growing courgettes for years, both in the ground and in pots. I've always grown them from seed, usually starting them off in my trusty plastic greenhouse to give them a head start. I always plant more seeds than I actually need because every year one of the seeds doesn't make it. My Dad taught me to do that. Glad I listened because it never changes. Out of my six seeds, four made it.




This year I was hoping to pop the courgette seedlings in our new veggie plot but what with one thing and another, the plot wasn't ready in time, so I simply potted them up in some HUGE pots. I put two plants per pot.




As you can see, they've been producing some great courgettes but not quite as many as last year. Realise I shouldn't have put two courgette plants per pot. The plants aren't as big as normal (they can be gigantic if you give them ample space, e.g. in a veggie plot) because they're competing for nutrients and space, so the result: less courgettes.




 Seeing as it's just the two of us that's ok but next year I'm going to dedicate one of my veggie plots to courgettes because I want an ambudance to try out numeous recipes with. The year I grew them in the ground, they produced 3-4 a week atleast! That year I made pretty much every courgette recipe going in the Sarah Raven Garden Cookbook (my favourite recipe book).




One thing that hasn't happened as much this year is powdery mildew on the courgette leaves, which is surprising as warmer weather can be one of the causes of this. 

So, my three courgette lessons learnt this year: 

- give them ample space
- if growing in pots, restrict to one plant per pot...and make that pot a whopper!

Have you been growing any veggies this year? Have you learnt any tips and tricks? What is it you love about gardening? I'd love to hear!


3 August 2014

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Last weekend I headed to the Simon Says music festival. It's a weekend celebrating and showcasing local talent and it's now in its second year. I love going to music festivals. Hearing and watching bands play inspires me to create. It's one of my biggest forms of inspiration.

So, this week I'm sharing one of my favourite local bands, who played an outstanding set at the festival. They're called Preacher and the Bear and they play and perform old school, foot stomping blues! I say perform because they put on the best show ever and you cannot fail to dance along!
And the song I'm sharing is, Weed & Wimmen, which you can watch and listen here. This is an instant foot stomping tune, so turn the volume up and get dancing - it's good for you! 

1 August 2014

Blog Gem - Live It. Love It. Make It.

Yay! It's Blog Gem time, my favourite time of the blogging calendar! For those of you who are new to the world of Adventures & Tea Parties, my monthly Blog Gem interviews find out about the face behind a blog, what inspires them and more. 

This month I'm super duper excited to be interviewing the duo behind Live It. Love It. Make It., who blog about all of my favourite things: adventures, food and craft. Sammy (the Brunette) and H (the Blonde) are awesome, inspiring and well, their blog is pretty darn fabulous! So, wanna know more? Me too!

Hello there! Who be the faces behind the blog?


Sammy: We met at Art College and have never looked back! We love to find all manner of crafty adventures, whether that be creating an awesome make or eating our way through tea and cake. 
H: We both grew up as crafty kids and these days I spend my days crafting at a museum whilst Sammy runs her fabric and haberdashery shop, Sew Crafty. You think we would be all crafted out but we love making time to share their creative adventures on our blog.

What are your creative spaces like? 
S: I am lucky enough to have the spare room in my house dedicated to crafting and sewing. I also spill out on to the conservatory, kitchen table and the landing (opps!) my room is usually very messy and piled high with supplies. 
H: I house-share and so my craft space is a corner of my room, which has to get tidied up to go to bed or I do spread out over the house sometimes.  I can be found trying to cut out fabric on my tables at work though as there is so much space.

If you had to take only one art/craft tool to a desert island, what would you each choose and why?
S: My Silhouette Cameo would be all but useless so I would have to choose my new Fiskars Servocut heavy duty shears because they are lightweight but can cut lots of layers or thick materials easily. 
H: I would keep it pretty simple and have a paintbrush to be creative, you could make your own mud type paints on a desert island right?

How do you both work and get inspired? 
S: I get inspiration from TV and films, Pinterest and blogs, but I love talking to my customers in our shop the most. Hearing about what they are making and the ideas they have is so much fun.
H:  I get inspired by exploring and reading and seeing what other people are up to on blogs and Pinterest.  I love seeing what the adults and children get up to in the museum I work in too, which means I get different ideas everyday.

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog? 
S: Try and write a blog that you would want to read. Don't be afraid to try something new, even a failed attempt at something can make for an interesting blog post. Always give credit to anything that is not your own work, people will not think less of you just because you didn't take every photo or write every quote, but they will if you don't tell them who it belongs too.
H: Don't compare your self to other people or blogs, you will grow at your own pace and make sure you are writing things you would enjoy reading. Also don't over do it, as long as you are consistent, you don't have to post every day or even every week. 

Is there a story behind the name 'Live it. Love it. Make it''?
S: It took us an afternoon to come up with it, but no real story behind it but we do often wish we had come up with a shorter name, especially when you have to write it out over and over.
H: It just sums up everything we love to do, so it just seemed right, rather than picking one particular thing.

If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people and/or fictional characters (dead or alive), who would you both choose? 
S: I would choose Elsie and Emma from 'A Beautiful Mess' blog, Alexander McQueen, Chandler Bing (Friends) and Phil Jupitus.
H:  I would go for Claire Marshall (Hey Claire) and Gracie Francesca (Ugly face of Beauty) because they both ooze confidence and coolness, Kurt Cobain because he was my first crush, Zooey Deshanel as who wouldn't want to be her! and Ross Noble as he knows so much and can put it all together in one show without even a hint of a script!

And finally...book and tea or film & wine?
S: Can I have Film and Tea? I don't really drink alcohol and I would rather watch a movie than read a book. 
H: Book and Tea everytime! Although I do love films. But nothing is like loosing yourself in a book, I read about 6 in a week on the last holiday I had!
Ooh, thank you so much ladies! It's been wonderful hearing more about your creative worlds! I couldn't agree more about blogging - just be yourself and always credit other people's work.

I hope you all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem and happy blogging everyone!




All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Sammy and H at Live It. Love It. Make It. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.

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