I hate food wastage, even though we put left over food or food that has gone bad into our garden waste bin or our compost heap, I still hate spending money on food that is wasted.
We eat quite a few bananas in our house but they don’t always keep long and I wont eat them if they are “too bananay” (husband cant understand that concept) so I have been whipping up a couple of banana loaves recently.
I made one for the husband to take to visit his family and apparently it was devoured in about 15mins flat, that’s a new record for one of my cakes!
This loaf is really simple to make and you could probably make it out of ingredients you already have.
You will need:
5oz granulated sugar
6oz self raising flour
1 egg – beaten
2 or 3 over ripe bananas (2 large or 3 small)
1tsp vanilla essence
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb
This is what you have to do:
- Preheat your oven to 180c/Gas 4, line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper
- Peel the bananas and chop small into a small bowl. With the back of a fork give them a really good mash until they go gloopy and not too many lumps,
- With an electric mixer, in a large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar together well until light and fluffy, it will take about 3 or 4 minutes, then add in the beaten egg and mix well
- Sift in the flour and mix it well, then add the bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and finally the vanilla essence. Again mix really well.
- Add the banana gloop into the cake batter and mix well
- Transfer the cake mixture into the loaf tin and try and smooth over the top with the back of a spoon or a spatula
- Pop in the oven and cook for about 40-45 minutes, testing with a cake tester or knife until it comes out clean. If after about 30/35 mins you notice the top browning over you can put some tinfoil over the top of the cake.
- Once cooked, leave in the tin for about 10 minutes and wrap the cake in foil and leave to cool on a cool rack.
- Eat and enjoy with a cup of tea!
Not only do I make cards to sell via my Butterfly Crafts Shop but I also make all the cards we need for family and friends. Sending a handmade card is really important to me as it can be personalised for the recipient with either an age, name or theme based on their hobbies.
July and August have been particularly busy with new arrivals and birthdays so I thought I would share a few of my recent makes that didn’t make it into my shop!
On Instagram, I have been following the Travelling Notebook of YoungOnesFive and was intrigued.
The general gist is Sarah started a notebook and has sent it on its way around the country, but with the possibility it could travel anywhere in the world.
She sent it to the first recipient and then they send it on to someone who would like it and so on until it is all full and then returned to Sarah so she can see where her little book has travelled. Simple.
Each recipient is asked to complete two or three pages with what ever they choose, it could be facts about themselves, pictures, poems, drawings – anything!
When I saw someone share on Instagram that they needed to pass it on to the next person I jumped at the chance as it’s something different to do and a chance to be creative in a different way. I love being a member of PostCircle so this is just a different way to say hello to someone.
The notebook is very apt in design with a world map on the cover, but I have to say, looking at the blank pages was a little daunting as everyone prior to me seems to be so creative and fun in their pages.
I decided that I wanted to complete my pages with a mixture of writing but also a bit of craft. I went with my favourite purple bunting washi tape, some punched out purple flowers and a page with purple tags each containing a fact about me – can you tell I like purple? On the third page I included a little poem but I didn’t get a photo of that page.
Last month I headed to Cambridge and attended a super workshop run by Pinterest to provide bloggers with top tips as to how to utilise Pinterest to their best advantage. Those attending were given a great insight into using Pinterest effectively to help drive traffic to our blogs and establish ourselves as an influential pinner. What’s also great is we were encouraged to spread the word and any tips we picked up.
If you’re not aware of Pinterest, it’s a fantastic platform for visual discovery, it helps people to find ideas for their interests and projects and helps people to answer questions where the answer may differ from person to person. Still not convinced you need Pinterest for your blog or business? Here are some stats kindly provided directly by Pinterest:
- Pinterest has over 70m monthly users,
- 1/3 of users are Millennials (those born 1980s-2000s)
- The UK is the largest growing user base after the USA
The amount of information we absorbed was immense, but here are my 13 top tips for how to use Pinterest for blogging.
1. Use Pinterest to show what inspires you and your brand. It’s great to think of Pinterest as a way to generate traffic for your blog but you also have to think about your audience, they want to see more than just your own posts. By sharing what inspires you, you are showing that you are an authentic person behind your brand. For example I love to bake and find recipes so I have a variety of boards dedicated to recipes.
2. Be descriptive in your pin descriptions and don’t use #hashtags! Have you ever searched using a hashtag? No, me neither. It is far better to provide a helpful and detailed description that will come up more in searches and make you sound authentic. For example it is much better to say “A DIY tutorial on how to make a clock using fabric and an embroidery hoop for your craft room” than “#clock #tutorial”
3. Likewise it’s good to be descriptive in your board titles and be specific about what people will see when you go and visit your board. “Craft Tutorials – Sewing and Fabric” is going to look better than “Craft Stuff” for example.
4. As well as using specific and descriptive titles for you boards, use an engaging cover photo so visually people can see what they are going to be getting. You can edit the cover by clicking into a board and clicking on Edit in the right hand corner. Here are come examples of my Christmas boards with engaging cover photos.
5. Move your boards around so your most relevant and current boards are at the top. If someone clicks into your profile they might not necessarily scroll and so it is good to have your most relevant boards at the top. For example as Christmas approaches I will move my Christmas boards to the top so they will be the first thing people see.
6. Never delete a board! You might not think that a board is relevant or you might have lost interest in it / stopped liking that topic, but, you don’t know who has pinned from it or linked to your board so leave it be. You can always move it to the bottom of your feed.
7. Pin consistently and constantly but don’t spam! As your followers grow they will look to you for new and inspiring content but you don’t want to jam up their feed with fifty pins in one afternoon and then nothing for a couple of weeks.
8. Have a dedicated board for your blog but also integrate your pins into other boards that you curate so that your brand and blog posts are infiltrating in other ways. Taking a small screen shot of my Things to Cook – Sweet Treats board you can see I have two of my recipes showing alongside other cakes that take my fancy.
9. Bring fresh content into Pinterest and don’t just repin from what you already find. This means that if you read a great blog or article, pin it directly into your Pinterest. Pinning your own blog posts as per Tip 8 is also a great way to bring in new content.
10. 80% of Pinterest usage is on mobile devices (stats from Pinterest) and so using vertical/portrait images for your main image is far better than using landscape images. There is a width limit to Pinterest columns and so a landscape image will be restricted but a vertical image, although will stick to the width limit will be able to show as fully as possible in length. Tied in with this is making sure your blog is optimised for mobile device usage in the first place.
11. Convert to a Pinterest for Business account so that you have access to analytics and insightful data. It is really simple to do and doesn’t take very long at all. You can find out further information on a Pinterest Business Account here.
12. Install Rich Pins, they automatically scrape the meta data from your blog post and create an extra description which is automatically added to your pin. Rich pins not only make your boards look more professional, they ensure the origin of the pin is clearly credited. There are different types of rich pin – Place, Article, Product, Recipe or Movie – and you can only select one type for your blog, this blog by The Nectar Collective explains how to install Rich Pins in WordPress. Here is an example of a rich pin from Kikki K on my Planners and Filofax Board.
13. Finally – Make your blog easy for people to pin from and add your posts to their boards by installing the Pin It button. Using this little button can provide access to unique audiences through Pinterest analytics.
So, I hope you managed to stay with me and that super long blog post but I wanted to share with you the tips that I picked up to help utilise Pinterest even more. It’s a fantastic platform to use, and a great place to lose an hour when you want to look for pretty pictures!
I don’t need an excuse to bake – ever – and so a visit by my in laws gave me a great reason to whip up some of my favourite muffins. These lemon and raspberry muffins are so quick and easy to make and the taste delicious, they are also a great way to use up left over raspberries you might have in the fridge or freezer.
This recipe makes twelve muffins and the key is not to over-mix the recipe, just combine with a spoon until the batter is just mixed.
You will need:
- 300g self raising flour,
- 1tsp bicarb,
- 150g caster sugar,
- 6tbsp vegetable oil,
- 150ml lemon yoghurt,
- Grated zest & juice of half a lemon,
- 2 eggs,
- 150g fresh raspberries (defrost first if using frozen)
And this is what you do:
- Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas5 and line a twelve hole muffin tin with paper cases,
- In a bowl mix the flour, bicarb and sugar,
- In a smaller bowl or jug mix the vegetable oil, eggs, yoghurt, lemon juice and zest,
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined,
- Stir in the raspberries – either whole or chopped its up to you,
- Spoon the muffin batter into the cases and bake for around 18mins until golden,
- Let cool in the tin, turn out and serve warm or cold.
It’s not essential to serve up on vintage china, but it certainly makes it pretty!
When we moved into our house last April I was so excited because I was finally going to have a dedicated craft room in which to create (read – create mess) and run Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium from.
The room we had allocated as BCHQ was the second reception room downstairs, it has patio doors and overlooks our lovely garden. When we moved in, the room was one of the only ones “recently” decorated, it was a sort of sludge brown/grey colour with a flattened down brown carpet and had built in wardrobes along one wall by the entrance door. When we had to move out to have building work done this room became the store room and we packed it high with our stuff.
When my career break started in July I finished work on the Friday and first thing Monday morning I started to decorate the Craft Room. I had a little help from my Dad with painting the ceiling but i got on with the rest of it – I actually like painting!
As the walls weren’t the best colour to start with they all had to be painted white but for the main colour I opted for Lilac White paint for the four walls and a basic white for the ceiling. The lilac was a strong enough colour to feel warm in the room but also pale to be calming. Our garden faces south and so the sunshine that comes pouring through the patio doors is incredible, its great for product photography!
If you are planning a craft room its really important to think about colours, what colours do you like? What is calming or a creative influence? Think about how light or dark the room is with natural light.
After painting, Paul laid the floor. We have opted for a wood effect laminate as its easy to clean when I make a creative mess. It’s also good to have for when I pop into the garden and might have dirty shoes.
Next step was to bring in all of the furniture but I will leave my storage for a second blog post as I have a LOT of storage!
Have you got a craft room or a space where you are creative? I’d love to hear about it, what colour did you go for?
I often share pictures of my craft room over at Instagram – you can find me here.
I love most desserts that contains lemons – lemon meringue pie, lemon drizzle cake and in particular a good lemon tart. We had my parents over recently and I had a bag of lemons in the pantry and so I thought I’d whip up a really simple, quick to make, homemade lemon tart. After posting the picture on Facebook I was asked for the recipe so here you go…
You will need:
- 200g tin of condensed milk
- Juice and zest of 3-4 lemons
- 3 egg yolks
- A sweet pastry base – I cheated and used ready made!
And this is what you have to do:
- Preheat the oven to 180c / Gas 4
- In a bowl, pour the condensed milk and give it a bit of a stir,
- Add in the lemon juice and the lemon zest
- Separate the eggs so you have the yolks and add the yolks to the mixture, give it a really good whisk to thicken
- Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake in the oven for twenty minutes
- Once baked let the tart cool and set for at least an hour but as long as you are able to give
- Serve with raspberries and ice cream!
When I decided to take a Career Break last year, I was asked quite a few times how everything will be going down to one salary.
Well, it’s not easy but by nature I am a saver, I always have been, it’s something I have really learned from my Grandparents from when they gave me a “loan” for my first computer, we had a contract and if I couldn’t pay back those few pound each week they wanted to know why and held me accountable for my spending.
I think it’s always important to be aware of your spending when you are on a budget, but there are a few ways as a household we make savings without even really trying. So here are my 9 top tips for making some savings without really trying.
We LOVE Quidco! It’s a cashback website that you use as a ‘gateway’ for online shopping. If you’ve not heard of Quidco before, you sign up and then when you want to do online shopping, get car insurance, book a hotel, magazine subscriptions etc, log into Quidco first, search for the retailer you want to use, click through to their website and then shop as usual. Quidco track your spend and then you get a % cashback. It can take a few weeks and Quidco keep the first £5 you earn as their fee. We’ve made great savings with this, both of us earned over £400 each since we joined.
You can sign up to Quidco here and get a bonus 50p when you earn your first £5.
I dont use Google as a search engine much anymore because I use Swagbucks. With Swagbucks you earn ‘Points’ and you can turn these into a variety of vouchers for various places including New Look, Starbucks, Zizzi, TK Max, and my favourite – Amazon. There are a few ways to earn points once you have created a new account. There is a daily survey, quizzes, watch “SBTV” clips (watch 10 short clips and get 3SB) and also using it as a search engine. You dont get points for every search but you can earn 5-50 points at times. I help my points by “searching” for Facebook or Twitter etc rather than going straight to the direct URL and that adds points. Since starting to use Swagbucks a few years ago I have claimed over £300 Amazon vouchers for very minimal effort.
You can sign up to Swagbucks here and get 50 points to start with.
Shopitize is a phone app available to both Apple and Android. Once you have the app and create an account you can see what offers they have. Each Wednesday a new set of offers are released, have a look to see what is included and then you have until midnight the following Tuesday to make the relevant purchases and upload your receipts. The offers are mainly for groceries in the major supermarkets (not Aldi or Lidl). We’ve been using Shopitize for a few months now and have claimed about £30 back so far.
4. Meerkat Movies
This is a new saving method for us! We like to go to the cinema and used to use Orange Wednesdays but now thats stopped, Meerkat Movies have taken over. The general deal is that you can get 2-4-1 cinema tickets on a Tuesday or Wednesday at participating cinemas, but they catch is you have to be a Compare the Market customer. The great thing however, is there is no minimum purchase needed so what I did was purchase a single day travel insurance, it cost me £2.03 and that then makes me a Compare the Market customer. You can log into their website or download the Meerkat Movies app but each week you can get access to a code that is valid for either Tuesday or Wednesday but you have access to it for an entire year! We used it last night for the first time, we saved £9.60 – not bad for a £2.03 outlay.
5. Complain / Compliment!
Us British don’t really like to complain, but it can pay off! After reading some blogs about extreme couponing, I read how some people get good deals if they compliment companies, but also complain if something is wrong. I have tried this a few times recently and it’s paid off, for the time it took to write a few emails! We had some Tilda microwaveable rice, there must have been a small hole in the bag as it was off, a quick email and I get a £5 voucher. A quick email to a bread company saying how we love their bread and I get 4 x £1 vouchers.
Taking my career break means I have a little more time, and something that is good to do is online surveys. There are many companies but I use Valued Opinions and I get at least five surveys a week paying anywhere fro 50p to £3 if you qualify. You have to go through a few qualifying questions first so not all surveys are relevant. Once you get to £10.50 you can claim a variety of vouchers including John Lewis, Boots and Sainsburys.
You can sign up to Valued Opinions here.
When we booked our honeymoon we needed to try and make our budget stretch as far as we could. One way we did this was utilising hotels.com (going through Quidco of course to get up to 10% cashback). Our reason for using Hotels.com was that for every ten nights you book you get a free night equivalent to the average price of the booked ten nights.
8. Credit Card Points
We both have credit cards, and I am not advocating everyone run out and get one. However, if you do use one, using ones that pay rewards can be helpful. Paul has one that accrues points whereas mine is a Tesco Clubcard one and I build up Clubcard points which we then use in the Clubcard exchange for vouchers towards holidays.
9. Money Jars!
Collecting loose change is a super simple way to save some pennies. I’ve done this since I was a child, I have a few separate jars – 1p’s, 2p’s, 5p’s, 10p’s and £2 – and when I got loose change I would put it in the jars. Once the jar was full it would be counted and either banked or used for a treat. This is a great way to get children to learn to save.
I’d love to hear how you save money without really trying? Any tips?
May already, a third the way through the year! April seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye, it’s been so busy and I really cannot wait to go on holiday in a weeks time to The Netherlands but more on that when I get back – Im sure I’ll be sharing pictures on Instagram!
Looking back over my Instagram photos for April I certainly managed to cram a lot in but I am also really pleased that my photography seems to be improving, in particular I am trying really hard to improve my product photography as the Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium website will be relaunching very soon.
Cake Pin Cushions / New soap bars / Packaging up orders
Girls Birthday Card / Craftea Workshops / Cuppa Cards
Accessories / Mini Brooch Pins / Hair Clips
The weather in April has been really lovely, most of the time, and so I took the opportunity to get out on Betty the Bike to run some errands and also enjoy the lovely sights in St Ives.
Betty still has L plates / Quayside / 1950s Houses
This past month has also seen a lot of baking. I love to bake and I find it so much cheaper than buying from the shops and its better to know what’s in what I eat. I’ve also been making use of the Suki teapot Paul got for Christmas, I don’t drink tea but it makes a great photo prop with my vintage china!
Late night baking / Payapa and Cranberry & Almond Cupcakes
My favourite Oat, Raisin & Chocolate Cookies / Fruit Loaf
Finally, I hope I have been improving my blog posts and getting into a posting routine. I have lots of ideas ready for the next few months and I hope to share sneaky peaks over on Instagram.
Customising Filofax / Renegade 2015
DIY Bird Seed Cookies / Pillowcase Dress Challenge
I have had my Personal Filofax for a few years now, it was a gift for when I first opened Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium but to be honest, I have never really used it much beyond noting down appointments. I think the reason was I found it a bit boring…until now!
Having seen on Pinterest many ideas for customising planners and how useful they can be I decided that now was the time to try and get to grips with using my Filofax.
I didn’t really find that the inserts included really worked for the sections I would want to utilise so I went about making some of my own, and they are much prettier than dull cream.
The first thing I did was select some really pretty paper from my craft supplies, it is about a 120gsm weight so not too thin, but a think card would work well too. Then I took out the current inserts and with a pencil drew around them. Next I cut them out and using a single hole punch, punched replacement holes in the inserts. As I used a paper for my inserts, I wanted to reinforce the holes so I found some excellent hole reinforcers on Amazon which really helped. You can find them HERE.
In the Filofax there is an acetate layer on the very top and I wanted to replace that too as it had become rather grubby over the years. I have patterned acetate in my craft supplies and so I picked out this pretty one with flowers embossed into it and then cut that down to size too, it makes the Filofax look pretty now when I first open it.
So what do you think? The before is on the left and after on the right. Do you customise your planner? I would love to hear how in the comments.
*The two links here to Amazon are affiliate links and if you click and make a purchase I receive a few pennies*