Tag : waitrose

Life. Got. Busy.

So, blogging used to be a thing.

In fact – I should start that sentence again. It used to be THE thing.

This business started out as a blog, (and I quote) with the aim as…

” a design, craft and things to be inspired by website and blog – but the long term plan is to sell graphic design prints, greeting cards, and ultimately hold creative ‘Craft Workshops’ on how to make lots of lovely things! So, watch this space – exciting times ahead!”

And – to quote from my first ever blog post:

“The aim of this blog is to post inspirational thoughts, design, craft, pictures. To look at seasonal ideas, things I am thinking about, doing, dreaming of… Long term, I would love it to be more than just dreaming and minus the 9-5 day job.”

At the end of March 2018, it was 3 years ago that I made these announcements. I announced to the social media world, my friends and family that I had quit my job to start a blog called ‘The Crafty Lass’. And so here we are…

I am certainly minus the 9-5: it is great being self employed – you get to choose what 18 hours a day you work! 

With holding workshops on evening and weekends, making commissions, paperwork, accounts, PR, marketing (you get the idea) in the week… And, we have gained a sleepless 19 month old along this crafty journey too! There is certainly no concept of ‘time’. I quite often ask The Husband what day it is – when it is clearly Saturday as we sit and watch the F1 ‘quali’ and/or the footie scores come in (sporty household!) or, forget that it is ‘Monday’ tomorrow (no Sunday night blues here…)

Anyway, ironically, this ONE blog post has so far taken 3 days to get to this point!*

*Edit. I now started this over ONE MONTH ago (!)

There were ’21’ blog posts in March 2015. There were ‘0’ in March 2018.

So… TIME. What’s that?

In a huge contrast to the earlier blog posts – where I knew what I needed to achieve in the day – like write a blog post, perhaps a mooch into town, meet Mrs XYZ for a coffee, have a meander around Waitrose whilst trying to figure out how I was going to sort out this ‘craft business malarkey’. Ironically all that mooching and planning, plus a dog and the aforementioned 19 month old, means I now have NO TIME AT ALL. Well, no spare time anyway. Things have escalated slightly… There is a to do list as long as my arm – from work out how to make a realistic ranunculus paper flower, to (just!) do a ‘stock take’, update GDPR regulations on my website, work on those (several) press and event commissions, work out where my car keys are, just where is the missing yellow stacking cup for little man, what are we going to have for dinner… No meandering around Waitrose aimlessly now. 

I don’t see my friends, I rarely see The Husband – let alone a ‘proper’ social life. (The Little Crafty Man has more of a social life than me, that is for sure!) I can just about arrange to have a date every week with the online Tesco delivery man… 

This isn’t a ‘oh, woah is me, poor Paula’ post. This is just a genuine honest view that self employment – although amazing… my gosh it is busy wearing all those hats! And, that for anyone that is close to me, and actually bothering to read this – I am sorry if I have gone wayward in responding to texts, to calls – I do care!

Since those early blog posts 3 years ago, I am surely – living the dream? Well, a HUGE part of me is. My life has gone in directions I never knew possible, and the small (and big!) things I ultimately wanted to achieve – are happening. The dynamic of the business has changed. I miss blogging – but surely it is better be so busy going that you have no time to blog about what you are doing!

I am discovering that dreams change. They adapt, they get BIGGER!

In the past few months, I have wanted to blog about the exciting things we have been up to – but as you may have guessed, I have had no time to do this… so to wrap up everything in a neat summary:

We have featured in several local and national press articles: Prima Magazine, The Women’s Institute national magazine – WI Life, Mother & Baby, on the Telegraph website to name a few… National Press? Tick!

We have featured as a craft tutor at The Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire – teaching workshops to lots of lovely crafters… Big ambition achieved there. Tick!

And, as part of this – I was commissioned to make the ‘Super Theatre Main Stage’ display – 132 handmade paper flowers flowers, approximately over 2,500 petals (it took around 47 hours of flower making…) Never imagined this, but – hey, pretty exciting! 

Oh, and actually met, had a conversation with (and my flowers were complimented by) Kirstie Allsopp. HUGE unexpected – Tick! #fan #triedtoremaincalm #failed

I am working on product designs with several companies… Tick!

Last night we hosted a ‘charity’ craft night – with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society – we were knitting Twiddlemuffs! What are they? Check out one of our previous blog posts (yes, I actually managed to post something on this!) BBC Radio Northampton were in attendance to film and record the event – and this will shortly appear on their social media and on the radio!

I am working with the WI on several exciting crafty developments… 

I have become a ‘judge’ for a local flower festival… Really fun, and great to be a part of… 

I have 3 photoshoots booked for press in the next 3 months… 

I have been approached to ‘speak’ at various local events and teach crafts to various groups…

I have set up a new ‘career’ workshop called CLICHE (Crafty Lass Inspirational Career Help & Education) to help other people who want to just quit their 9-5 and take the self employment plunge… 

BIG NEWS – if I didn’t have enough to be thinking about – I am writing TWO (why not?) books…

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick!

It is all just happening… the cogs are turning, daily developments. It is exciting, it is KNACKERING!

With these time heavy developments I am slowly learning that there does need to be a balance to all of this – I cannot function on 200% level without a stop. Especially when Little Man still rarely sleeps all night…

And so, there will be a break (hoorah!) in the Summer. August is OFF – to allow NO workshops and LOTS more mooching. But…

Knowing what I am like – I categorically CANNOT guarantee I won’t ‘work’ in that time ‘off’ – I actually already have lots of lovely things craft related planned in – as I am already thinking that would be a perfect time to make all my ‘Christmas’ demos! Yes – I cannot wait for The Crafty Lass Christmas in August!

However, it will be a nice to do: to just ‘sit’ and ‘craft’ (if little person will let me…) and make things at my own leisure… as we also have some VERY exciting news for later this Autumn, Winter and in 2019 – so, we need to get ready for that! (Watch this space!) August will be some down time, a moment to stop – reflect – sleep – have some well needed family time. Oh, and to make festive sparkly things!!!!!!

But, thank you – if you’ve got this far… for your own time, your support, your bookings. The Crafty Lass is going from strength to strength and I couldn’t have done it without you!

Right… back to my to do list! But remember – Don’t quit your day dream…

Categories: Business, Charity, Christmas, General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, Radio

The Crafty Lass does… Needle Felting workshops!

A very happy and crafty Easter to you!

The last couple of weeks have been full of Easter crafts for The Crafty Lass – especially at the John Lewis and Waitrose head offices with their Craft Club – where I spent a couple of evenings running Introduction to Needle Felting workshops – making some decorative Easter eggs!

A very therapeutic and pretty-simple-when-you-know-how craft – slowly building up layers of 100% wool fleece in a whole myriad of colours, needle felting onto polystyrene egg shapes. We had marbling effects, little flowers, hearts, initials, spots, stripes – we even had a flamingo!! Put simply – just some great evenings of fun, laughter and crafting!

I was hoping for lots of lovely photos to go alongside this blog post (and I do have some!) – but through the wonders of technology (or lack of it, and failing miserably, and user error) – I managed to delete ALL the photos of the Waitrose workshop …That also meant spending approximately an hour of my supposedly lazy Easter Sunday morning trying to fathom how to restore them – and failing. I’ve had to give it up as a bad job, and accept that they are gone. Silver lining – it is a darn good excuse to just eat more chocolate…. not that you need it on Easter Sunday!

Either way, IT issues aside – we had a great time – one quote of the John Lewis evening:

“I have had a horrible day today… but now I am fine”!

After felting their eggs – some people planned to add ribbons to hang them up as pretty decorations, some to simply add to their Easter tables, and some to add to their desk at work to make them smile! 🙂

A successful set of Easter workshops complete for this Crafty Lass. What Easter crafts have you been getting up to?

Don’t forget – if you’d like The Crafty Lass to run a workshop with your team, or at an event – why not get in touch! 🙂

Categories: Easter, Workshops

John Lewis and Waitrose Head Office – Fabric Wreath Workshops!

IMAG0219LasIMAG0168t Wednesday and Thursday evening I had the pleasure of holding craft workshops with the John Lewis Partnership Craft Club to make some lovely festive fabric Christmas wreaths!

Starting on Wednesday at the Waitrose Head Office in Bracknell, where 19 of us were not only making our fabric wreaths – we were singing along to some festive carols and music, there were mince pies, Cadbury’s roses… it certainly felt like Christmas!

With so many of us, and all nattering away, tearing up the fabric, and methodically and therapeutically knotting onto our wreath bases – at times it felt like we were in some sort of factory production line! 😉

The event was even filmed for the Waitrose Advent Calendar (a daily internal video highlighting what partners at Waitrose have been up to!) and, I have been lucky enough to be allowed to also use the video in this blog post. Check out here how we got on!

 

Thursday evening, I was at the John Lewis Head Office at London Victoria – where there were 8 of us making wreaths – and I actually also made mine tonight too! 🙂

It always amazes me, that each person starts out with very similar fabric selections – but the range and array of the results – are all so different and individual! We had ‘Italian flag’ wreaths where they blocked out colours, we had pastels only, very ‘natural’ holly-style looking wreaths, all stripes, all plain – amazing! Have a look through the photos below for all the different versions! 🙂

I had a really important moment over the last two days – with the magical mood, festive music, and lots of people enjoying themselves…it felt like – this is it! I am really doing it – The Crafty Lass workshops are really happening. Of course, I have done other workshops pre-these, but perhaps it was just the festive atmosphere, lot of smiley and happy faces – it just felt very special and I can’t wait for 2016 and all the craft workshops of the future!

If you would like a The Crafty Lass workshop in your place of work (or at home, or in a local venue!) please do get in touch!

 

Categories: Christmas, Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… Fabric Flower Corsage Workshop Part II!

Fabric Flower Corsage WorkshopTuesday 21st July was the second lovely creative workshop at the John Lewis Partnership – Waitrose Craft Club.

Everyone decided to go for the ‘spiky’ look with the ‘dandelion’ shape… but with lots of different fabric colour choices, ribbons, buttons and trimmings everyone’s turned out all very different and of course all very lovely! One of the attendees was planning to wear to an upcoming wedding as a handmade accessory – tailoring the colours to a planned outfit! Another added it to her lovely tan leather bag as a new bag charm. 🙂

Some had lace, some had long ribbons, some ribbon ‘leaves’, some without – but I think you’ll agree – they all look fabulous!

 

Please click the photos to browse through the gallery. 🙂

Categories: General Craft, Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… Fabric Flower Corsage Workshop!

Fabric Flowers

Tuesday 14th July was quite a big day for The Crafty Lass…I held my first ever craft workshop! The John Lewis Partnership Craft Club recently asked whether I would run this on ‘Fabric Flower Corsages’ at the Waitrose Head Office!

 

So, last Tuesday evening – I set off to Bracknell, Berkshire – and I’d like to think, it went very well indeed!

 

“Great class, lovely instruction 🙂 “

Ribbons

Everyone had a choice of whether to make a Carnation, Daisy, Cornflower, Dandelion or Geranium fabric flower (whether the types of fabric flowers actually resemble the real versions, not 100% sure, but it is what I have decided to call them!) Then, they could choose from a rainbow of fabrics, threads, buttons and ribbons. Everything was hand sewn and we went through each stage together. At the end, people seemed very pleased and happy with their handiwork! A very creative and flowery time all round.

 

“I can’t believe I made that!”

 

FabricsWe did have one ‘comedy’ moment… towards the end of the workshop – suddenly (and inexplicably) over the main speakers in the offices – on comes the ‘Hartbeat’ ‘gallery’ theme tune…which some of you may remember was with Tony Hart. So, there I was teaching people how to put the corsage together – with this music playing in the background! We couldn’t stop laughing…! However, it was lovely, and we all seemed to start sewing in time to the music…it was only briefly on, but a funny moment!

 

 

The workshop, when originally advertised was such a sell-out success – we are following up with a second workshop next Tuesday 21st July – so wish me luck!

If you, or you know someone that would be interested in holding a The Crafty Lass Fabric Flower Corsage workshop, then please get in touch.

 

“Thankyou very much… Amazing!”

 

Please click the photos to browse through the gallery. 🙂

Categories: Business, General Craft, The Crafty Lass does..., Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… The Brackley Community Carnival and The Bake Off!

Well…it rained. And it rained. And it rained. And, Oh! Cleared up a bit!… And then rained. To say it was ‘damp’, would put it mildly.IMAG1970

However, what a wonderful day! The event, although slightly marred by the weather, was brilliant. It was very quintessentially British!

We were very lucky in the ‘Craft and Bake Off’ marquee… it was inside, warm and dry for a start! But, we had the luck to see ‘Titan the Robot’ up close and personal with not one, but two performances – the ‘Pre Hee Men’ paid us an uplifting ‘bake off – cake demanding’ visit, and, we all ‘bonded’ over our love for our crafts and how rubbish an English June could be!

IMAG1958My day started off well, I actually entered the Brackley Bake Off… And WON! Yay, go me… I even had a little prize giving and certificate presentation from The Mayor in the ‘main arena’ later in the day! Marianne’s Cakes and Waitrose and had kindly sponsored the Bake Off and my prize was a lovely selection of baking goodies, and equipment to fuel future bakes! 🙂

I know it is very British to keep talking about the weather, but, in the rain that we had on a SatuIMAG1940rday, in the middle of June – the grit, determination, and smiles that were still ever present from the organisers, the volunteers, the wonderful people all in the soggy but brilliant carnival procession, were just fantastic. One particular volunteer was physically shaking from the wet and cold, but was still happily chatting to me about the map he was trying to show me of the event, what other things that there were to see and do on in the other fields… it just summed it up for me. Just a pure happiness to be IMAG1939there! He, as did everyone – deserved a warm cup of hot chocolate (or perhaps something stronger!) last night! I personally indulged in a well deserved snooze under a warm blanket, and later a celebratory glass of vino with my upbeat and happy to get involved ‘assistant’ and well-loved friend ‘dearest’ Jenny!

There were so many people involved, I would love to mention everyone here – but, I would just like to say it never fails to amaze me just how brilliant Brackley is at these kind of events. I have only lived here for 3 years, but it has very quickly become home and mainly due to such a great and wonderful community spirit! So, a BIG thank you.

PS Despite thIMAG1952e aforementioned (many a time!) weather, I did sell (quite a few actually!) greeting cards, and chatted to many people who were interested in my ‘craft, and creative workshops’! I know I keep saying it – but the cards are coming online SOON… It just takes longer than I thought to get organised… !

PPS I can’t wait for next year’s Brackley Community Carnival AND Bake off (I surely HAVE to enter to challenge as reigning champion…!?) and this time – I plan on packing my sunglasses and sunscreen… (fingers crossed!) 🙂

Categories: Business, Places to Go & Things to See, The Crafty Lass does...

It’s sugar, but just not as you know it…

I was asked a very interesting question at work today – and it really got me thinking…

What are the latest home baking trends of 2015?

My first and immediate thought was the latest craze of ‘new’ sugars. Which, to be honest, I don’t fully understand…isn’t it still just sugar – just disguised in a ‘healthier’ image? Surely if you want cake, you should be able to enjoy it (in moderation!) – and if you REALLY want cake, surely you will buy/make/eat that cake – whatever version of sugar is put into it? If the new sugars and sweeteners taste good, then GREAT! And if they are good for you too – BONUS! However, is it just ‘perceived’ healthiness? There is of course the on-going media fuelled debate with the headlines/themes that seem to change daily… “too much sugar is bad for you”, “too much fat is bad for you”, no wait… it’s “too much fat AND sugar is bad for you”. Well surely we all know too much of ANYTHING is bad for you. Isn’t it all about balance?

I am a very health conscious person – I like to make sure that what I am eating is good for me. Don’t get me wrong I am also very much a pie, chips and a large glass of vino girl at heart – and if I DIDN’T watch what I ate, then I would have to spend ALOT more time in the gym – when really, I just want to be making lovely craft things and writing this blog. At only 4′ 11″ and having a day job that happens to be in the offices of a very large chocolate factory – I just like to ensure my intake for 75% of the time is GOOD for me. I like to ensure I eat the rainbow palette of vegetables, the nuts, seeds, oats, the fish, wholegrains etc etc. So when I want something ‘BAD’ for me, do I also need to be worrying about what TYPE of sugar may be in it? Surely sugar is just SUGAR, right? Or, am I missing the point…?

I turned to the power of Google to help me in my quest to discover just what I ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be eating in sugary confections RIGHT NOW. And lo and behold – yes, many, MANY articles already written on the latest foodie crazes – do mention buzzwords of ‘agave nectar’, ‘stevia’ and interestingly to me – ‘coconut sugar’. Having been on a very recent trip to Sri Lanka – where I was drinking from freshly macheted coconuts on a daily basis (don’t you know you that coconut water is (or least WAS!) THE big thing to be drinking?) I was intrigued to find out more.

The Sterling-Rice GroupSri Lanka Machete advise that apparently, it’s all to do with the fact it is less refined than ‘normal’ white sugar, providing a lower GI sugar hit. It has naturally occurring nutrients, but importantly – it still has a great sweetness… they suggest looking up Kika’s Salted Caramels made from this trendy sugar. Now they really have got me thinking – I do LOVE coconut, and the absolute best thing in the whole entire world to me, is anything that involves salted caramel. So, this is looking like a win-win situation?

The Telegraph (my weekend-paper-of-choice) also backs this up with an article on the latest 2015 foodie trends – stating that coconut sugar is full of both zinc and iron. Good stuff!

Now, I have to admit – this all does sound very nice, and is starting to appeal to my health-conscious-self… but just how widely available and/or mind-boggling expensive is this sugar? Will it be worth my while adding it into the weekly shop?

A quick browse of the top 5 UK supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) and also via mysupermarket.co.uk shows it isn’t actually that widely available. YET. In fact, out of these five – just Waitrose (Oh, how I love this supermarket!) was the only one to have it stocked: ‘Speciality No. 12 coconut palm sugar via their online supermarket and is priced at £5.99 for 250g. That’s a whopping £23.96 per kg. The branding looks nice, and yes – I am sure some people will happily pay this… however – compared on the same supermarket website for the traditional caster cane sugar with good old Tate and Lyle – that is…£1.48 for 1kg. So, the super coconut sugar is over 16 times more expensive! I am not sure it is 16 times good for you?

Ocado stocks a dIMAG0480ifferent brand – the Biona Organic Coconut Sugar and this works out slightly cheaper at £2.99 for 250g. However, this still calculates in at £12.00 per kg!

There are of course perhaps, other places to buy this wonder sugar – and maybe, cheaper (a few other online retailers I looked at did stock various versions – none at the time of checking were any less expensive!) I am sure if this trend truly catches on, it will be available everywhere, and perhaps once the demand is there, the price will reduce. Maybe I am again missing the point – I should be willing to PAY for this new ingredient to be baking my ‘healthy’ cakes with?

The website Tropical Traditions had another interesting slant to this buzzy trend on coconut sugar:

“…coconut palm trees cannot produce both coconuts and coconut palm sugar! When the sap used to make coconut palm sugar is collected from the coconut palm tree, from the flower bud that will eventually form a coconut, that tree can no longer produce coconuts! Think about that for a minute. No coconuts = no coconut oil, no dried coconut, no coconut flour. Is coconut sugar worth giving up these other valued products that come from the coconut??”

I think it is great there is a new cane sugar alternative product on the market – but I am not sure I would want to do without all the other wonderful features coconuts have to offer. In addition to the above – there is the aforementioned coconut water – and don’t forget coconut milk! Imagine life without Thai curries?! That obviously sounds a bit extreme, and I am sure that at some point – the balance will return to allow coconuts to be sold – in all their wonderfully different brilliant states. However, as the article points out just what financial sense it makes for the farmers to produce this new commodity, maybe not…

“This new success for palm sugar is yielding a high profit for both coconut farmers and retailers in the U.S., as “healthier sugarIMAG0481s” are among the new high-demand “health” foods. We are seeing story after story in the Philippines of how coconut farmers are converting their coconut trees into coconut sugar production, collecting the sap from the tree to make this hot new commodity. The process is very simple, allowing anyone with coconut palm trees on their land to easily convert their coconut palms into an instant cash crop that reaps great financial benefits.”

I am sure, coconut sugar would add a wonderful new aroma, taste and perhaps texture to a sponge, fondant, all manner of desserts… and for the sake of experience I would of course be willing to give it a try (my husband would be happy too – me to bake it, him to eat it!) However, for now – I think I will stick with my good old fashioned Tate and Lyle. If I was eating lots of sugary things every day, maybe it would be better to look at balancing out the whole diet – rather than worrying about what’s in the bad stuff. I am no health expert – and definately don’t claim to be. It is just common sense – eat more good stuff! Eat your greens and THEN if you’re still hungry, some cake… washed down with plenty of coconut water!

 

 

Categories: Birthday, Foodie Delights, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!

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