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!
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!