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30 January 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Coo-ee, it's been a busy week but one where I'm not sure what the flip I've actually done! That's always a strange feeling. Anyhoooo, one thing I have definitely done is book time off for both Secret Garden Party and End of the Road festivals this year. I'm soooooooooooooo excited! And on hearing the first wave of line-up announcements for EOTR, I could scream I'm so happy - actually I think I did already!
Anyway, before I start rambling any more, here are a couple of tracks from two bands who are playing EOTR. King Khan and BBQ Show I discovered for the first time at Primavera festival years and years ago. I'd never heard of them before and they were one of my top acts that weekend....ok,  yes, I'm rambling. Here you go and don't forget to turn the volume up and dance!
Animal Party - King Khan & BBQ Show
Default - Django Django

24 January 2015

New Design: Message In A Bottle

I've been hinting at a new design coming to my online shops (Etsy and NOTHS) this week 
and ta da, here it is! 
Introducing 'A Message in a Bottle' necklace!
 
And because I'm such a tease, I'm going to let the pictures reveal the message in the bottle! 











Sooooooooo, there you go! Attached to a silver or gold plated 24" inch chain is a super cute (and I mean SUPER CUTE!) glass bottle, complete with cork stopper. Inside the bottle is a hand embroidered message of ,"I love you", stitched on to calico and hemmed carefully to create a little thread, so that your loved one can easily pull the message out of the bottle.
 
I decided to use calico fabric because I wanted to give the impression of the message being written on a piece of parchment (yes, I was thinking along the lines of a romantic, period novel!). I also wanted something that could easily roll up and of course fabric that I could stitch the message on to by hand.
I'm considering providing a range of other messages or maybe something more personalised. What would you like to see? I'd love to hear your thoughts as this is a brand new product....and well, it's always flippin' scary bringing a new design out, so I'd appreciate your comments folks!
Thanks loads!

23 January 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

On the days I work on my biz, I pretty much listen to Radio 6 non-stop on my red Roberts radio. I confess I would like one of these vintage style radios in every colour - maybe one for each room in the house?! ;-)

By the side of the radio you can usually find a scrap piece of paper, with a load of song titles hurridly written down after hearing them and thinking, "man alive, this song is amazing" and especially if a song causes me to break out in dance! A sight to behold honest, ha ha!
This week as part of this regular feature, I thought I'd share the songs I've downloaded, just in case one of them makes you dance round the living room or just shiver with sheer joy.
20/20 - Gas Coombes
Grim Cinema - B.C. Camplight - starts after a minute in
Stealing Cars - Nadine Shah
Just One of the Guys - Jenny Lewis
Between Cans - Deers
Soon Come Soon - Young Fathers
Violet Shiver - Benjamin Booker
The Party Line - Belle and Sebastian
Kathleen - Catfish and the Bottlemen
Happy dancing folks! 

21 January 2015

Colour, pattern and texture that simply sings to you


What is it about colour, texture and pattern that really sings out when all three are put together in a certain way? 

I bought this gorgeous yellow-slight-lime-tint-to-it-super-chunky-yarn for a pattern I had planned. But on putting yarn to needle, the pattern just didn't do justice to the colour. You know that feeling when you look at something you've created and it just doesn't work? It's frustrating as hell! On realising that the colour and pattern weren't exactly best of friends, I was rather stumped. In fact, I gave up after three more attempts [insert much stomping about and thinking that all yarn is rubbish].

....but, yep, there's a but! Don't you just love it when, after perhaps throwing in the needles/crochet hook/embroidery thread/etc, you come back to it fresh and say "ahoy there, I've got an idea!" And so my idea came as I decided to go off piste entirely and start knitting my own pattern. Well, I say pattern, I just chose a different stitch and it worked! The colour was alive again! The texture sung out to me and it worked, it worked! 

I love it how colours, patterns and textures can do that to you or simply put, make you say "yes" or "no". It's like a piece of art that speaks to you but not to someone else. It's really quite amazing.
**Since writing this, a few of you lovely lot have been asking for the pattern, here it is:
Row 1: K1, *P1, K1 (repeat from *)
Row 2: P1, *K1, P1 (repeat from *)
Row 3: (repeat from *)
Row 4: K1, *P1, K1 (repeat from *)

19 January 2015

New Valentine's Day Design: Love Heart Necklace

New in my NOTHS and Etsy shops, the Love Heart Necklace!
Attached to a 24" silver plated chain, is the cutest red glass heart charm. In my NOTHS shop gift wrapping comes included but it's an optional choice in my Etsy shop.
There are only 10 available, so get your order in quick! And stay tuned for another new Valentine's Day accessory, which will be hitting my shops very soon!

16 January 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

This week has mostly been about one incredible band and their latest album: Arcade Fire's Reflektor.
I love them. They are like no other band. They're in my top ten. They make my heart skip, my feet dance and my stomach flip with excitement. If a band can consistently do that, then they're in my favourites of all time list, which I have yet to write but it's safely stored in my head.

15 January 2015

Working for myself: 6 months in

I can't quite believe it. I went part time on my day job as a Librarian 6 months ago to focus more time on Adventures & Tea Parties. 6 months ago? 6 MONTHS AGO!!! Bleedin' 'eck!! Just writing that has brought me out in a cold sweat. What have I done in that time?!? Have I achieved anything? What are my goals looking like? Have I actually ticked anything off the list? I think I need to lie down in a dark room....

....but instead I'll have a cup of tea, calm down, breath and actually look at the last 6 months with my sensible hat on. If I had a sensible hat, it would look something like a bowler hat but rather than procrastinate using hats as a diversion, I'll make a list...a list of things I've achieved and not achieved and of the things I've learnt.
 

The distraction of home
It's easy to get distracted when you're working at home and for the first few weeks the house had never looked so clean, woops! I have learnt now that by setting myself daily, weekly and monthly goals, I am able to focus my attention and learn that "you wouldn't be doing the washing up until you got home from the day job normally, so it can wait until then!".

Time flies when you're doing something you love and there's never enough of it
Despite now having more time I now can't imagine how I coped before! I absolutely LOVE running my business, making shop orders and being a part of the blogging world. And yet still, I find I'm lacking in time. With that I try and set realistic daily/weekly/monthly goals and don't admonish myself if I've not achieved everything because I AM achieving stuff by running my business single handedly. I also always make sure I have some down time every evening and get a good night's sleep. You set your own deadlines (mostly!), so things can wait until tomorrow.

Sometimes products just don't work, so move on
I've brought out a few new products, some have worked and some have failed dismally for whatever reason. When this happens, it's best to dust yourself down and carry on...I have too many ideas than I know what to do with, so I should just pick one of these up and give it a go. And on that note, it's always a good idea to test a new idea out first before going ahead and filling the spare room up with supplies.

Filing and boring jobs aren't so bad when you do them regularly
Keeping on top of admin is essential and is less of a cumbersome job when it's done regularly. By inputting those purchases into the finance spreadsheet and filing the receipt away in an organised folder straight away, it's a less daunting job and doesn't actually take long. To do that, spending a bit of time initially on sorting out a spreadsheet or two for finances and a file (with tabs!) for receipts, orders etc really does help in the long run.

Treat those days at home as normal work days and the weekends as weekends
In other words, get up and be ready to start work like you would in any other job, have a lunch break and have a clocking off time. The latter is especially true, otherwise you'll never stop (*ahem, says me, writing this at 8.30pm at night, oops, still got to learn that one!). Weekends (whichever days you class as your weekends) should be free for relaxing, seeing family and friends, adventures etc etc etc. I find this really tricky, especially living on my own as it's easy to say, "well, I'll just whizz this up on the machine before I go out later" or "oh, one more hour can't hurt"....For me, there has to be some structure, otherwise I'd happily work through the night because I just love what I do! Still got to be strict about this one though.

Remember to look at what you have achieved, not what you haven't
This can be hard to do I find because I'm too modest but in an effort to be proud of what I've achieved, my sales have increased since I went part time on the day job and are continuing to do so. I've also created new products, which have sold well and I'm working on new ideas to be released soon! 

Network, network, network
It's important to get involved on twitter etc and get to know your fellow small business owners, customers and followers. I have made absolutely wonderful friends through the social media world. Friends who are supportive, funny, inspiring, totally there for you and just darn right awesome! Two people I can't not mention are Claire of Claireabellemakes and Sophie of Onetenzeroseven. You two ladies are incredible and I cannot thank you both enough for all the support you've given me on a business and personal level. You're both amazing!
So, in reflection, it's been a pretty good 6 months and I'm now super eager for another 6 months of working hard, learning and achieving some of my new list of 6 monthly goals. 

13 January 2015

New Valentine's Day Design: Love Birds


New in my Etsy and NOTHs online shops, the Love Birds Handkerchief! 

Made-to-order in beautiful white 100% cotton fabric, each handkerchief is hand embroidered with my love birds motif, which started out as a doodle in my little studio. Each handkerchief can be personalised with initials or a date, making it a perfect gift for Valentine's Day.


All of my handkerchiefs come gift wrapped for free in these cute boxes, which can then be used again folks! I'm all for recycling and helping the planet out - hence making hankies, which can be used again and again and again...

And did you know that all my handkerchiefs are made entirely from scratch? That means no pre-ordered factory produced hankies here! Instead, each one is made to order in my studio and made with love and attention to detail.

So, why not give a little love in the form of a handmade handkerchief and at the same time be giving a little love to the environment! 
 

11 January 2015

The return of Pinterest


Do you use Pinterest? What do you use it for? Does it inspire you?

I recently got back into it...in fact, it was just Friday night, whilst listening to Radio 6 and drinking chamomile tea from an old but cosy mug. A mug can be cosy right? I think so. Some mugs and cups are just plain comforting to drink from. Anyway, back to Pinterest and why I returned to it.

I'm currently between houses and due to move back into my real home in the spring. When I do return, I'm planning to continue decorating it. All the home interior ideas I have bouncing around in my head are fun to imagine but are kinda driving me crazy. I'm the type of girl who has to write, and sometimes draw, these thoughts, ideas, and images into my notebook. If I don't then they pester me.

The past few weeks I've been thinking a lot about what I'm calling, Operation Bed. I'm planning to make my bedroom the most comforting, glorious and inviting place. A place to relax with my book. A place to wake up on a weekend, eat toast, drink tea and read the papers. A place to snuggle up in after a long soak in the tub. I want pretty bed covers and knitted cushions, eiderdowns and throws. I want to paint the entire room white, so that it feels fresh and all those prints I've got can finally be hung up and stand out from the white backdrop. I want painted wooden floor boards and rugs, a blanket box and vintage, hanging mirrors. 

I could see it all in my head but needed to get it out and on to paper. Then I realised I was being completely daft - why Pinterest can help! My poor little account has been some what neglected, so I logged back in, made another cup of chamomile and started to put together a new board on bedroom inspiration. And I'm now as excited as ever because I've got a glimpse of what I've been imaginging...and not only that but it's given me further inspiration. I'm not going to leave it so long before logging in next time. 
Mmm, Operation Bed here we come! 

................
This post is purely based on my own opinion and hasn't been sponsored in anyway.

9 January 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?


This week was good and bad in terms of music. I FINALLY got around to buying a new needle for my record player. It's been waaayyy too long but with the arrival of my Dad's entire vinyl collection (full of awesome, awesome stuff from the 60s through to the 80s), it gave me the kick I needed. So, there I was popping a record on the turntable and turning the volume up only to realise that the sound was TERRIBLE! After much fiddling around with wires, it suddenly dawned on me that the pre-amp had no power, boo! In fact, the power cable was no where to be found!! Too technical? Yeah, this anecdote is going nowhere! The long and the short of it is - I still cannot play records, damn it!

When I do get it up and running again, the first record I wanted to and WILL play is Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, a mighty fine album, which is available here. If you don't know it, then you're missing a trick. Go pop it on or if you're lucky enough and own it on vinyl and have a working record player, go play it and sing along at top volume!

7 January 2015

New Year, new craft and tips on buying a sewing machine

With the start of the new year, it's always fun to kick start it with a new craft or improve on a current one. I'm looking to improve (that might as well read, learn again from scratch, for the gazzilionth time!) on my crochet and finally make a granny blanket! I also want to go on silversmithing course!

Are you going to learn something new this year or improve on something? Maybe learn a new craft with friends? I'd love to hear what you're planning! And if you're looking to learn to sew and want to buy yourself a machine, check out my tips on buying a sewing machine. You can find them here.  And if any of you fancy a crafty tutorial to get you back into the swing of things, check out my tutorials here, with some great ones by bloggers from around the world!
Happy crafting folks!

6 January 2015

Crafty Lady Feature

I'm super chuffed to be featured over on Bugs & Fishes' blog as part of Laura's Crafty Ladies series!  Read my interview here.

2 January 2015

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

This Christmas I spent with family in Somerset. It was awesome. Lots of chatting, laughter, dog walks, puzzles, sherry, cake and one particular great night staying up late, playing scrabble, finishing the cheese and maderia off and playing our favourite songs to each other. One song I was introduced to really hit a cord i.e. I wrote it down and have come home and listened to it on repeat. It's by Asaf Avidan, featuring The Mojos and it's called One Day. Have a listen here.

1 January 2015

Blog Gem Catch Up - Crafting Confessions

This is the last in my Blog Gem Catch Up series and what better way to end than with my first ever Blog Gem interviewee from way back in November 2011 -  Aimes of Crafting Confession. So, lets dive on it and find out how life has changed in the last 3 years.

Hey there Aimes! Have there been any changes in your blog since we last talked shop in November 2011


Wow! How time flies and how life can change. I think the biggest change on my blog is the recent lack of posts - ha! My time has been recently dedicated to a big career change from teaching to becoming the Editor of the UK magazine, Simply Cards & Papercraft. It's a highly challenging, exciting job that means I'm surrounded by papercrafting pretties all day and night. It's a dream come true! I'm also planning for my wedding in January and insist on creating the table decor and topper for our wedding cake - it'd be rude not to although it's taking way more time than I'd originally thought!



On my blog, I'm proud to be designing for Clearly Besotted Stamps. I've even been lucky enough to have some of my designs manufactured into stamp sets and co-ordinating dies for sale - so exciting! From a design perspective, I've dared to play a little more outside of my comfort zone, injecting more artsy/rough-around-the-edges elements to my clean and simple designs. Sometimes I revert back to my love of clean, simple, graphic designs but I'm now happy to experiment and have fun. :) 
 
What are you working on at the moment? 
At the moment I'm working on projects for various publications at work and we've recently embarked on an adventure presenting on the new papercrafting internet TV channel, The British Craft Network. This involves a lot of preparation beforehand for the demonstrations so I'm now busy preparing for our December shows using the wonderful free gifts available with our magazines that month. 




Christmas crafting is taking a bit of a backseat as I'm preparing for my wedding in January. Christmas cards are going to have to be a mass-produced simple design this year. However, I have a few pics of the different Christmas designs I've whipped up using a simple bauble die that was free with issue 129 of my magazine. Who would have thought a bauble die could be used to create a Christmas pudding and a snowflake too? 




What are your thoughts about the world of blogging? Have your thoughts changed since we last talked shop?

I still stand by the fact that blogging is totally addictive - especially when you start out. Blogging is becoming ever more popular and I've certainly seen an increase in people making a career from it. I know for a fact my blog was a big factor for me scoring this Editor job - acting as online portfolio/CV of my work. Bloggers are now being jumped on as a great marketing tool for businesses too who approach bloggers to spread the word about their products. This is great for the blogger who stands to get some free goodies to promote - the only word of advice I would have is to only promote products that you truly like. Don't be a sell out! However, blogging is not about this for me - it's still about having fun and sharing creativity with like-minded people.


I also feel that blogging is changing: bloggers now tend to link their posts to their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, twitter, pinterest etc...) and it's becoming an easy way to present your work to a wider audience and a great way for people to find you! Great for business bloggers and personal bloggers alike! 


If you could invite 3 people (dead or alive, real or fictional) to Christmas dinner, who would you invite?

Hmmmm....this is tough! I'm going to assume that they'll all get along well although it's a random gathering along with myself: 
Ben Folds (we need a piano in the room for him too! I love his music, his humour - everything!)
Athos (my favourite musketeer)
Bill Bailey (the comedian - hilarious, creative and so clever!) 
Wowza, life has totally changed for you, Aimes! I think that's every bloggers dream to get that call for an amazing opportunity as a craft magazine editor, congratulations! And thanks for dropping by for a catch up, it's been fab!

I hope you've all enjoyed this Blog Gem Catch Up series. Next month we'll be back to the regular Blog Gem monthly interviews, so stay tuned and happy blogging!


All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Aimes at Crafting Confessions. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.

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