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*
On Sunday Paul and I took the train into London to catch up with friends but also for me to visit the Renegade Craft Fair for the first time, excited didn’t even come close!
There has been such a buzz around Twitter and Instagram about the fair with sellers sharing images of their prep and also how it went on Saturday. So by the time Sunday came I was so looking forward to visiting and meeting a couple of people I interact with online.
Renegade is special because sellers have to apply to have a stall and so the fair was a curated selection of the finest handmade and independent makers in the land! For me, it wasn’t just about the shopping, but also a fantastic fair to research at for ideas about stall displays and how to interact with customers for when I do my next fair in June.
But on to the shopping…..I didn’t go mad with shopping but I was so happy with my purchases!
The lovely glass bottle is from Ladybird Likes, a new product that has been added to her already great range. It was lovely to meet Zoe at the weekend (she is hiding behind the peg board) as she is someone I follow on Instagram and love to see how she is being so successful with her business.
The greetings card is from the fabulous Rachel of Oh No Rachio who I interact with on both Twitter and Instagram, Rachel is a fantastic illustrator and also a big succulent advocate and her stall was very busy and looked amazing.
Finally, Oh Squirrel. I was SO excited to meet Katie as she always seems like the loveliest person on social media, has a beautiful Instagram feed and she is just the most enthusiastic person about what she does and humble in its success. Her stall looked beautiful and I picked up a great tip from her – she was promoting herself on Instagram and if you made a purchase and said you follow on Instagram they you got a lovely little bonus with your purchase.
I loved Renegade, I would definitely go again as a visitor and I can see it being a great place to go to for their Christmas dates to pick up lovely handmade or one of a kind Christmas gifts. I also found it inspiration to visit and maybe one day I will be there with a stall for Butterfly Crafts Handmade Emporium!
Spring has certainly arrived and have you noticed all the birds chirping away? We have a big garden, it’s98ft long and almost 50ft wide, we have a few trees and well established hedges and shrubs along the boundaries so we see many birds. A great way to help the birds is with bird seed cookies and here is a really simple DIY tutorial to show you how to make the bird seed cookies, they are so simple and a great activity to do with children to help encourage them to look out for birds in your garden.
To make the cookies you are going to need:
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 packet of unflavoured gelatin
- 3tbsp golden syrup or corn syrup
- 4 cups bird seed
- Vegetable Oil
- Baking parchment (greaseproof paper)
- Wooden Spoon
- Ribbon or string
- Drinking straws or skewers
- Cookie Cutter
In a small bowl, mix the warm water with the gelatin and set it aside for later. In another bowl mix together the bird seed, flour and the syrup. It will get quite stiff to mix together but keep going! Pour over the gelatin mixture and give it another stir.
Line a baking tray or two with the baking parchment and lightly grease with the vegetable oil, also rub some oil around the inside of the cookie cutter as this will help release the bird seed cookies easier.
Place the cookie cutter on the baking tray and pack it tightly with the bird seed mixture. Use a short piece of drinking straw to make a hole and pack more mixture around the straw until the cookie cutter is full.
Leaving the straw in the bird seed cookie, carefully remove the cookie cutter and repeat until you have used up all of your mixture. The bird seed cookies now need to be left to harden and dry, this will take a few hours but if you can, leave overnight.
Once dry, remove the drinking straws and tie string or ribbon through the hole ready to have the cookies in your garden.
I found that round cookie cutters worked best. I tried making Christmas trees at Christmas and the narrow part at the top broke off!
These bird seed cookies are a great sensory activity to do with children as they can get their hands messy and feel the textures of the bird seeds, they also make a great rainy day activity and can encourage them to keep an eye out for what birds they see in your garden.
Why not have a go? I would love to see what shapes you make or what birds you see nibbling away!
When Paul and I were planning our wedding last year it was really important to me to include a charitable element. Weddings, even budget and handmade ones, can still cost a lot of money and so I really wanted to make sure we gave something back.
I love to wear dresses and as a bride I knew I was going to wear the most beautiful dress in the world. I think every girl, no matter their colour, background, religion or circumstance should be able to own a pretty dress and so I knew Dress A Girl Around the World was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do.
Having previously made dresses for the charity with a former WI, I knew what I had to do, the general idea is making a pillowcase into a pretty dress, simple. There are quite a few standards that have to be met, no white dresses or anything too sheer but a little girl having a pretty dress shows they are being cared for and are dignified so are less likely to be approached by predators or be abused.
The plan was to challenge myself to make one dress for every guest invited to the wedding, whether they could attend or not I would make a dress, that meant I had to make 115 dresses. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN!!! Paul was on board with my idea and so we asked guests to each bring a pillowcase and we had a basket and a sign at the wedding to collect them.
We were really pleased that on the wedding day we received 42 pillowcases and have received more subsequently as some guests wanted to donate extra. I have also trawled charity shops and bought some myself, family have raided their linen closets and I have even received contributions from both Cath Kidston and Hobbycraft for ribbons, elastic and embellishments (but hey, if you have any spare pillowcases or duvets and you want a good home for them, let me know and I’ll take them off your hands!)
I haven’t started making the dresses just yet as I have been collecting all of the materials I need but am going to make a start at emptying these boxes soon and will update on here with my progress! I wonder how long it will take me.
A huge part of my 2014 was getting married and I will blog about that soon but following our handmade wedding we had a luxurious seven week honeymoon in Australia and then Dubai. I thought I would be a little indulgent and write about our honeymoon and share some photos but also tips of places we went to incase you ever find yourself out in Australia!
Flying business class with Emirates was AMAZING! A seat mix up on the first leg of the flight meant Paul got to swap seats with the former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen – who was very charming – and then we had seven hours to kill in the lounge in Dubai. We eventually got to Sydney extremely late almost 48hrs after leaving home but the adventure began!
We stayed in two hotels in the first portion of time in Sydney, the Mariott overlooking the Harbour Bridge and then the Ibis around in Darling Harbour. I’ve always wanted to see the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge so these were top of my list to visit.
One of our favourite attractions in Sydney was the Chinese Garden of Friendship near to Darling harbour. The weather was beautiful and it was a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours getting over our jet lag.
We spent a couple of days getting over our jet lag just walking around and seeing the sights of Sydney, we popped to Bondi Beach, the botanical gardens, took the ferry and walked around The Rocks, an area we really liked very much.
After a week in Sydney Paul had booked us a few days in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and so we took the train and off we went. The Blue Mountains were just beautiful, they get their name from the coloured ‘gas’ emitted from the eucalyptus trees deep in the valley. We had tickets for the hop on/off bus for a couple of days which was a great way to get around and see lots of the attractions. Whilst we were there, there was a dreadful bush fire and sadly some residents lost their properties, our motel was about a mile from the fire site and we spent one night wondering if we should pack ready to leave but thankfully our motel was not harmed.
It was lovely to spend a few days here, a total contrast to the hustle and bustle of Sydney. The scenery in the Blue Mountains was just stunning. Aside from just admiring the shear beauty, we also visited the Everglades Gardens (bottom three photos) and Scenic World which is an attraction park combining the steepest inclined railway in the world created for mining, a rainforest walk way, cable car and sky car rides.
Our next stop was Uluru, but I’m going to save that for another blog post as there are just too many amazing photos!!
A quick “Happy Easter” and who doesn’t like seeing cute bunnies sitting with Easter eggs…..