Children love crafts and making fun decorations for the Christmas tree so if you’re local to Cambridge why not come along to the Children’s Christmas Craft Drop In on Sunday 6th December.
There will be lots of decorations available including making wool wreaths, cute snowmen, penguins, reindeers, Santas, stockings and fairies.
Come along to the Community Space at Tesco Extra Bar Hill from 11.30am until 3pm, no need to book! Places are £2.50 per child per decoration and an adult will need to stay.
With less than forty sleeps until Christmas, the John Lewis TV ad on our screens, supermarket shelves filled with tempting festive food it can only mean one thing – Christmas is coming. Are you like me when asked the usual question “What would you like for Christmas” and you don’t really know what to say?
Well, this year I would really love to support independent shops and creative businesses who are people like me, running a small business. I’ve had a bit of a mooch about the tinterweb and come up with a few lovely items that I would be happy if Santa left under my tree this year.
What would you like to have for Christmas this year? Maybe my selection will give you some ideas, but, think of shopping small this year and support local and independent businesses.
Delft Inspired Habdash Box from Pocket & Pin / Felt Roll bundle from Creative Craft Supplys
Personalised wooden garden sign from SerendipityVita / Teapot Bird Feeder by Ella James
Good list notebook from OhSquirrel / Planner Stickers from PoeticSoup
Personalised Desk Organiser from SophiaVictoriaJoy / Starburst Porcelain Lamp from Futon Company
Every year it starts to feel a little festive for me once I start creating my sparkly sequin Christmas decorations. They have been in production in my craft studio for a few weeks now and they are now available for purchase direct from my shop, but also in my Etsy shop.
Each Christmas decoration is handmade and it takes a while to make each one with sequins and tiny beads but I think they are totally worth it as they sparkle next to lights on a Christmas tree. Here is just a small selection of what is available – there are boots, parcels, stars, bells, baubles and the ever popular Christmas Pudding decoration.
You can buy from Butterfly Crafts or my Etsy shop.
Running a creative business can be hard work, especially when it is not your full time job or you have a family and a home to look after. Everyone gets busy in their life and your creative business can suffer as a result of it. I have been thinking a lot about small things that can make a big difference to Butterfly Crafts and how I can be a little more organised and fit more in to my day. Basically I need to learn to juggle!
I think everyone can be guilty of “researching” on Pinterest, browsing Instagram or getting sucked in to Twitter and then before you know it an hour has passed by. So what could you do in a short amount of time, even 5 or 15 minutes that could potentially make a big difference to your business? Having given it a lot of thought, here are ten ideas of small things you could implement.
- Schedule social media posts – I use Buffer and I have the app on my iphone, it is linked to both my Facebook and Twitter. It’s great to spend a few minutes scheduling links to blog posts, Pinterest boards or other articles you like so that when things do get busy, you are maintaining a social media presence – just remember to log in to engage with your followers too.
- Update your social media profiles – You may very well have profiles on the main social media channels but how up to date is your bio or profile text? It is always worth having a quick review of these. On Instagram you can only have one link in your bio, why not temporarily change it from your main website link to a specific blog post or a product that you are promoting in your latest posts?
- Manage your emails – It can be overwhelming to have a crammed inbox, but spending a few minutes responding to emails, reorganising into files, or even deleting them, can be a great mental relief, and it’s always best to respond to enquiries promptly.
- Write a blog post – This is something I am guilty of, but it is important to try and keep your blog up to date. If you don’t have much time to sit in one go and write (and schedule) lots of posts, spend ten minutes creating draft posts with just blog titles, that way if you get stuck for ideas you have some already on the go that you just need to pad out with text and images.
- List a new product for sale – You can’t sell products unless your audience and customers can see them! Spend a few minutes getting a new product online whether you sell on your own website or though a market place like Etsy, then once you have a product live, maybe schedule a tweet to tell the world about it!
- Take or Edit photos – Having a creative business is very visual, you might need photos for products in your shop or for social media or your blog. Good photos can be reliant on good weather for natural light so it can be great to bulk take photos for products or social media when the light is good, and then spend a little time each day editing photos ready for those product listings or scheduling social media. PicMonkey can be great for photo editing, and it’s free, or the phone app PicTapGo.
- Send out an e-newsletter – Sending out an e-newsletter can be a great way to communicate with your audience, share with them those new products you have listed or what your latest blog post is about, maybe you have a special offer on at the moment, let them know! I use MailChimp as my e-newsletter programme, want to receive it? Sign up here.
- Tidy Up – I can’t stand working in a mess, if my studio table is messy then I struggle to be creative, or if I have lots of filing to do. Spending a few minutes putting things away can clear your brain and enable you to be crafty again (it can also mean you rediscover supplies you forgot you had!). Or if you are one of those many people who do their accounting and tax return at the last minute, spend a little time organising your receipts and sale records to make it a bit easier for yourself when the time comes.
- Get some fresh air -You might think this sounds odd as a way to be more productive, but actually getting away from your work space and out into the fresh air can be fantastic for you. Not only is the fresh air good for our health, I personally find that short amount of time having a walk or cycle helps me to mill over a new blog post or a business plan problem I might be having. Getting out an about is also a really beneficial way to get away from screen time and give your eyes a rest.
- Brainstorm – Have too many ideas running around in your head but you can’t get on with any of them? Make a cup of tea and sit down quietly with a nice notebook (any excuse for stationery shopping!) and have a brain storm of blog titles or product development, that way when you have free time you can look at your list, get focused and be productive. Brainstorming is something that I think is key because it’s always good to regularly spend a little time thinking and contemplating what direction you want to take your business and what plans you have. And a good brainstorm is a great excuse for a pretty notebook, and how lovely is the ‘Little Book of Big Ideas’ Notebook by OhNoRachio?
Notebook from OhNoRachio!
If you only have ten minutes or so, what would you do to help your business? I’d love to hear your tips so please do comment or come and share with me on Twitter.
Today I wanted to make quite a personal post and I’m afraid it’s a long one. I’ve been toying with the idea of even writing this blog but I’ve said all along that this blog will include what goes on behind the scenes at Butterfly Crafts . Mental health can affect anyone and at any time in their lives and its frustrating that there is still such a stigma in society about it, people are scared of it, scared of people with it, don’t want to talk about it or, and perhaps even worse, don’t know how to talk to people with it. So this is me, doing a little bit to break the stigma.
Today is World Mental Health Day 2015, and I live with mental health issues. That sounds quite dramatic writing it like that, but it’s true – anxiety and depression are facets of mental health and I live with them on an almost daily basis. Anxiety more than depression. Thankfully I’ve not always had these companions in life, I know how they started, I know the person whom they are of a result of having in my life (but not anymore!) and I am dealing with them in the best way I know how. I have good days and I have bad days, the bad days are known as “Unknown sad ons” in our house and they sometimes involve wearing a post-it note on my forehead so the husband knows its a bad day – but to be fair, he can tell anyway, he’s pretty darn amazing like that.
The focus of World Mental Health Day 2015 is to focus on the facts, so that people with mental health problems in their life can live that life with dignity. There are some big stats out there, such as work place stress being a huge factor in mental health absence in the working environment, causing 70 million working days to be lost each year. (Stats from here, above image source here.) This is a statistic I can sadly relate to, I have experienced work place stress so much that it was in part what led to a career break in 2014.
It can be very hard knowing how to talk to, support and be there for someone as they go through mental health problems. Personally I know people can find it hard to relate to me when I am having really bad anxiety days, days when I doubt everything from my products not being up to scratch to feeling overweight; a lack of self confidence, not wanting to really leave the house, worried that I haven’t cooked a tasty dinner or that my house is a mess. Often there is no logic to high anxiety – hello brain?? I’m living through a house renovation!.
The charity Mind has some excellent resources about how to be supportive of someone with mental health challenges. One of the ways they suggest you can help someone going through a particularly anxious time is with distraction. And this brings me to my next point of this blog post – craft.
There is much research ‘out there’ suggesting that craft can be great to help mental health, knitting in particular, but other creative pastimes too. In a study by Betsan Corkhill of over 3545 knitters, over 81% said knitting left them feeling happy, and many said they knit for the sole purpose of relaxation and stress relief. Those people in the study who knitted more than three times a week felt less stress and were both happier and calmer in their life, leading Corkhill to conclude “Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to well-being and quality of life.”
What’s so great about knitting? Well for me, I like being totally absorbed in what I am making, probably because I have to concentrate on my stitches but also, when I have me needles out I find my mind is focused on what I am doing and it can calm my anxiety because other thoughts seem to disappear, even if for just a short period of time. At a TEDTalk in 2004, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said
“When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life…You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”
but it doesn’t just have to be knitting. Being creative, whether it be baking, painting, sewing, singing, writing, cutting and sticking or scrapbooking, can be so good for you because:
- mental stimulation,
- focuses your attention,
- develops hand-eye coordination,
- teaches patience (even when you drop stitches!)
- can create a sense of pride and achievement,
- social time – particularly if you craft with friends or in a group
Being Creative With Friends Can Help
And so, if you are a sufferer of mental health, why not try out a craft, you might just be surprised at how much you enjoy it. And if you know someone who is struggling invite them to be creative with you, it will not only have the benefit of time spent together (especially good if cake is involved) but you will be helping them in more ways than one.
Has craft ever helped you? Or do you suffer from anxiety and have ways of coping? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Today I am super excited as the lovely Rachel, over at Oh No Rachio!, has allowed me to be her guest blogger whilst she is off having a super fab time in Japan. I really enjoy reading Rachel’s blog so to be a guest post today is very exciting.
You should know by now that I love to share a recipe and my guest post is no different, go take a read of how to make mini banana and walnut cakes, they are so easy to make, are very tasty and a great way to use up overripe bananas.
It’s been quite a while since I have made an Instalife post and so I thought it would be fun to share a bit of a round up as to what I was sharing over on Instagram in September.
The month started with the husband and I taking a few days break to Centre Parcs in Woburn. We did something similar last year a few weeks before our wedding and we both really appreciated the time out, and so we did it again this year but at a different park. The weather was rather cold but we had a fun time although Paul kept thrashing me at pool!
The lake at Centre Parks / Getting beaten at Pool by Paul
In the past couple of weeks the garden has been showing the last of its beauty before autumn takes hold (I love autumn and the beautiful colours in the trees), and we had a great crop from the beans and the tomatoes.
Pretty in Pink Sedum / Autumn Leaves
Growing our own beans and tomatoes / Japanese Anemones
I managed to squeeze in a little crafting too, with rearranging my new “Crafterobe” and getting my craft room much more organised, and I ran my first Craftea Workshop making fabric hearts which was a lot of fun – You can find out more about Craftea Workshops and Socials here.
Emptying my wardrobe ready for Crafterobe
Making Fabric Hearts at a Craftea Workshop / Fabric storage
Finally I managed to fit in a couple of days out, Paul and I went into London to celebrate his birthday; and Mum and I had a day out to the Handmade Fair. I wrote a blog post on how I found the Handmade Fair this year, but here are a couple of photos I shared on Instagram of the day.
The Handmade Fair 2015 / Calligraphy Skills Workshop
Fabric purchases / Ric Rac Rose with Jane Means
September does seem to have flown by and now we are in October. I am looking forward to this month as we celebrate our first wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks, later in the month I start a run of Christmas craft fairs, and there is lots happening with our house renovation.
Was September good for you? What are you looking forward to about October? I’d love to hear about it in the comments……
Recently, on a lovely sunny Sunday, I took my Mum along to The Handmade Fair 2015 held at Hampton Court Palace sponsored by Mollie Makes and Hobbycraft and hosted by the lovely Kirstie Allsopp. I attended the fair last year and I had high hopes for this year so I thought I would share my thoughts about the Fair and share a few photos I took.
The first difference I noticed from last year was the location of the Fair itself. Although still advertised as Hampton Court Palace, it was more in the field opposite. In my opinion this was an improvement as it was much better for parking and if you travelled by train then the station is also closer. The Fair seemed more compact in layout which may be due to a change in location but it also felt easier to navigate. The only downside I would say about it moving is you don’t actually get a glimpse of Hampton Court itself like you did last year.
As I’m a bit of a fussy eater I took my own lunch with me, but we both commented that there was much more variety and choice of food on offer this year than last year so you certainly didn’t go hungry. Mum opted for the lunch menu at Hotch Potch Vintage where we were entertained by the talented Haywood Sisters and ate quiche from vintage china.
The main highlight of the day for me however was attending the various workshops we had booked as part of our experience ticket. You can just buy an entrance ticket and then book any workshops on the day but if you book early enough in advance you get a better deal and can pick a Grand Make, a Skills Workshop and a talk in the Super Theatre.
Last year Mum and I had hoped to attend the calligraphy skills workshop but it was booked out so we were pleased to see it scheduled again this year. Claire Gould is excellent at her craft and she managed to get everyone to practice the basic line skills before trying their name, this all came after the nip had to be stuck in a potato first!
We had to rush off from the skills workshop to get to the Super Theatre where Kirstie was talking with Fiona Cairns about making the wedding cake for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and also giving Kirstie a lesson in sugar craft. Kirstie is not a skilled cake decorator. It was incredibly funny watching her attempt to make a mini handbag out of fondant icing, we saw her later in the afternoon and were chatting about it and she said it just confirms that she doesn’t practice beforehand so she can experience it from a beginners point of view.
The final booked session we had for the day was with Jane Means learning how to make a ric rac rose which would be added to gift wrapping. Although I found it fun learning a quick new skill, I did find this session a little disappointing. Jane talked for what felt like ten minutes of a 20mins slot all about her business and so we hardly had time to make something. A few people sitting close to me who had booked the Grand Make on the day (paying £5) said “oh is that it” when they had finished and didn’t find the session value for money – I would’ve felt the same.
Something I did think though with the various workshops was how similar the line up was to last year and how it is great for dipping your toe into a new craft for a quick session but it might be better if the programme was shaken up a little and try some new things. If we go next year I would be tempted to just get a day ticket and then book any sessions that grab my attention on the day.
As with last year there were two shopping tents, or villages, which was an easy way to pass the time. However I felt that firstly they were too packed and hardly gave any room to move around, in particular at lunch time; but also there were so many fabric stalls. I like fabric as much as the next crafter but it would have been nice to have a bit more variety, perhaps paper crafting or stationery need to be added. One tip I would say though is going on the Sunday meant some sellers gave great offers towards the end of the day. In particular was the stall selling craft storage (I didn’t catch its name) who ended the day giving shoppers a big plastic bag and you could fill it as much as you like for £10 – and so I did!
There were a few other stalls and tents dotted around from brands such as Sizzix, Janome, Mollie Makes, Hobbycraft and Craft Asylum and some ran short taster sessions; but the biggest difference I noticed to 2014 was the lack of the Etsy tent. In 2014 Etsy had a series of workshops across the three days focused on small business owners and how to make the most out of Etsy but also selling your crafts. I felt it was a real shame not to have this opportunity this year and feel that the Handmade Fair, whilst great as a day out, could perhaps support the independent small businesses a little more with these type of workshops.
Overall both Mum and I did enjoy The Handmade Fair 2015, it was nice to have a day out together in the sunshine and indulge in some crafts. I think it’s a great day out if you want to have a bit of a dabble, try something new and spend a lot of money. But perhaps next year the Etsy tent will return!
Did you go to the fair this year? If you did I would love to hear what you thought of it or what workshops you attended. Let me know in the comments.
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!