Tag : british

The Journey

People keep asking me, what is next?

There are lots of exciting things happening, but the one thing about this journey - it is all about putting yourself out there, and seeing what happens. Saying 'yes' to things perhaps I wouldn't normally do... and also learning when you actually can say 'no'. There IS such a thing as tooooooo busy. So in answer to that question, who knows what is next - anything could happen! You just got to keep going and put yourself out there...

I have always tried to please everyone - and not always myself within that. I always do things for other people, even if it is to the detriment of my own time and happiness... and actually, being self employed, with a busy family life and within that 'managing' a (nearly!) 2 year old MAKES you decisively choose! I would LOVE to do it all... but you just can't.

Although, obviously, being in my nature - I sometimes (often) think it CAN all be achieved. I set myself too high standards and then get annoyed when I 'fail'.

I am often 'plagued' by 'mum guilt' - am I too busy? Am I doing 'enough'? Am I working too hard?! The answer of course to all of these, is - yes. BUT - in reality, he comes first over all else! He is clothed, fed, healthy (most of the time - teething is officially the devil's work) has a fantastic imagination, loves 'self play' and books - and is a happy, normal, cheeky, boundary testing little person who rules our whole world. But, within all of that - I hope that when he is old enough to understand why Mummy (and Daddy!) work ALOT, is firstly - our bills and life need to be paid, but part of it is to make him (and ourselves, of course!) PROUD!

British people don't DO proud. We say thank you for a compliment occasionally, normally with a slight little smile - not really wanting to accept open and honest praise. However, in the recent weeks with so many exciting things happening - I have had to just accept it and take it all in! I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the emails, Instagram messages, Facebook comments, even a lady stopping me in the street to say 'well done' - she is in the WI...

So, for those of you who don't know - as of yesterday I officially graced the cover of the Women's Institute national magazine, WI LIFE. This goes out to just under a quarter of a million members! And, in addition to that, there is an additional 3 page interview inside that includes some glorious photos by Jenny Stewart with the fantastic words by Eleanor Wilson. How she turned my likely nonsensical answers into a coherent and factual account I have no idea, but for that I am grateful. Upon first reading, her words truly made me shed a tear. LOTS of tears! Maybe that emotion was proudness? I am British - I wouldn't know!

With all these exciting things happening, workshops and a gorgeous toddler to capture on 'film' - I am constantly taking photos. ALL THE TIME. The Husband does get 'quite' annoyed. He even refers to me as #InstagramGeneration. #OLD?!

Anyway, the point being I am also CONSTANTLY fighting with my phone for storage space. This sounds like a boring quandary to be writing about - but it had to get sorted and has actually brought about something very interesting indeed.

I don't know about you, but in addition to taking lots of photos, I do often also scroll back through the 'feed' to see all the moments and treasure them! However, maybe only for a month or two - nothing further back than that unless I am desperately seeking a specific moment in time, or a particularly 'special' shot to include with a blog post or Instagram story!

Today - while having a 'I am DONE with this phone, it is UNUSABLE with such little storage space' (due for renewal soon - YAY!) with basically bulk transferring old photos to a back up... I discovered some absolute GEMS of pictures.

These are the studio BEFORE we bought our house! I couldn't believe it! These represent the moment I basically told The Husband come hell or high water we WERE moving here! I had a vision. it was covered in cobwebs, dust, piles of wood and various household paraphernalia - but it would be a STUDIO.

Well, the rest is history as they say... but it was a reminder that we have achieved SO MUCH in 12 months! It was this time last year we were wondering if we would be able to even get Christmas workshops out... NOW we are already majority SOLD OUT on our advertised festive workshops...

Maybe I am, just a little bit, proud.

 

Categories: Business, Christmas, General Craft, House & Home, Places to Go & Things to See, Workshops

Christmas Wreath Workshops!

IMAG0064What a festive, and almost magical weekend of Christmas fabric wreaths making!

Saturday truly started the Christmas season for me – holding craft workshops at the brilliant Claydon Christmas Tree Farm. Until earlier this year, I hadn’t ever heard of this place – despite living in the local area for a few years now! However, I am so glad I now know… Absolutely stunning Christmas trees (British grown) – all very lush, and such variety! Real reindeer – who live on the farm all year round, and are part of the family there! There is a beautiful Christmas decorations shop full of every Christmassy thing you could imagine, a lovely little cafe with delightful bakes, cakes, teas/coffees… Santa himself is even due to visit there soon! Coming up in the next few weeks – I will be there at the following times for FREE Christmas craft ‘drop-in’ sessions…

 

Saturday 5th December 12-2pm – ‘Origami Stars’ and ‘Christmas Card’ making!IMAG0084

Sunday 6th December 12-2pm – ‘Reindeer Christmas Crackers’!

Saturday 12th December 12-2pm – ‘3D Paper Christmas Tree’ and ‘Christmas Card’ making!

Sunday 13th December 12-2pm –  ‘Reindeer Christmas Crackers’!

 

The workshops were so much fun! Everyone had a choice of fabric colours – and it never fails to amaze me that you give people the same fabrics, and yet their wreaths still always turn out different!

Some people had brought along little decorations to add into their designs – like dried pinecones, little ceramic toadstools, fake berries… just lovely to see the inspiring ideas!

It was cold, boy was it cold in the big beautiful barn – but we had plenty of tea, mince pies and festive spirit to keep us warm!

 

Sunday, it was the turn of the Brackley Christmas Craft and Food Fair at Brackley Town Football Club. The cold, rain and almost gale like conditions at time seemed to deter some of the punters – but we still had a steady turn out especially in the morning – and I always think at these kind of things – of course you want hundreds of people and lots of sales – but it is also about meeting like minded people – and was lovely to speak to all the other stall holders. I even picked up a few little pressies for Christmas myself! We were making wreaths on our stall (I had a lovely helper Elf with me on Sunday!) and I was also selling make your own wreaths kits – with the fabric, frames, baubles for people to take away and make their lovely wreath at home! I am looking forward to seeing the photos of their finished results!

 

Hopefully see you soon at Claydon Christmas Tree Farm!

Categories: Christmas, Workshops

Kirstie Allsopp’s The Handmade Fair

Wow, what an epic day of craftyness, shopping, making, thinking, doing and inspiration!

So, to review the fair – I have my cup of Yorkshire tea in my lovely Emma Bridgewater mug (of course! See later in the post…) and to make sure I don’t miss anything, I am going to try and go through this in a blow-by-blow chronological order… I always knew The Handmade Fair would be a great day out, but I think you aren’t prepared for the sheer number of ideas and things to see and do until you are actually there!

I went full force into booking into pretty much as many different workshops as I could possibly get my hands on. The main ticket included one ‘skills workshop’, one ‘grand make’ and one ‘super theatre’ event… but I additionally booked (on the day) three more workshops – I kind of wish there could have been two of me so I could go to more, but I had to be brutal and pick the ones that really stood out for me. So, here goes:

 

9.30 – The fair opens, with a welcome from Kirstie, great jazz singing and much delight! Then…quick! Book as many workshops with spaces as I can… at only £10 each for around 45 minutes of crafting, often a new skill to be learnt and inspiration to be had I think this is a bargain!

 

IMA9.45 Skills Workshop – Christmas Crackers with Zeena Shah

We started out with lino cutting – picking out our own design, carving it into the lino – and using ink stamps printing on to paper we would use to make the crackers. I wasn’t actually expecting lino printing to be part of this particular workshop – but it was a lovely surprise. I haven’t done it in years and you can get some lovely, quick and fun prints – it has already got me thinking how to incorporate this technique into my own creative workshops – which actually, is kind of the point of this whole fair, right? Getting you thinking in a new way, inspiring you to try new or retry old techniques, and to think how you could use them for yourself! Zeena was great – very clear with what we needed to be doing next – which once we had printed our paper, we rolled up, tied the crackers with some hessian, added a snap and et voila – crackers!

 

11.15 Skills Workshop – Biscuit Icing with Biscuiteers

Not sure about you, but I absolutely LOVE the Biscuiteers designs. Their attention to detail out of icing is just incredible! Take a look at some of their work HERE.

So, when I saw you could go to a workshop on a how to ice with them, it was of course a must! We started out with a beautiful bag and box – containing four delicious butterflies. A great technique demonstration for ‘flood icing’ and creating some fabulous tricks with cocktail sticks to make the icing look like real butterfly wings. Impressive! As we didn’t have access to an oven to dry the icing afterwards, we were just working with the thicker outline style icing which dries alot quicker. It meant we couldn’t try some of the techniques demonstrated – however, it has certainly got me thinking of when can I next have a reason to bake biscuits just to try them out! Perhaps I don’t even need a reason – make them just because I can! We just had some fun piping, getting messy, and admittedly one of the butterflies didn’t make it home… in fact it didn’t make it out of the workshop – they tasted delicious! 😉 The rest were saved for when home and even now I think there is only one left. Art you can eat! Perfect.

 

12.30 Skills Workshop – Wedding Fascinators by HarrietDSC_0278

Starting out with the ‘do’s’ and ‘do-nots’ of birdcage veils – we learnt how to sew the veil in to the ‘correct’ shape (no horn shapes allowed!) Considering it would take Harriet far (far!) more time to create her beautiful fascinators I was surprised to find how quickly we had created something that vaguely did resemble a veil! Then we selected our fascinator base, and sewed our veils into place. Next – and the most fun bit I think – the decoration. There was a lovely selection of buttons, and some ribbons to make into flowers/loops/whatever we wanted really! I didn’t get time to finish this within the allocated slot, but I was allowed to take away the remaining bits and I will certainly be finishing this lovely craft at home. The workshop definitely got me inspired – I plan to make a fascinator for the next wedding invite!

 

Lunchtime! By now, I was certainly ready for a lunch break – and what a great selection of foodie delights. Crepes, posh burgers, pies, ‘pimp my porridge’, fresh smoothies, wood fired pizzas… makes your mouth water! I went for the Soulful Foods truck and their onepot Moroccan Chicken Tagine. I certainly wasn’t disappointed – chunks of chicken, vegetables, apricots and almonds all served with some British spelt and red quinoa! Sounds perhaps very ‘healthy’ but wow, the flavours packed a punch!

 

DSC_02842pm Skills Workshop – Christmas Garlands with Rebecca Moyster, Bon Bon Balloons

This was a riot of colour, bright foil, ribbons, cords, cut out stars, hearts! Rebecca briefly explained what we were going to make, and the majority of the time was dedicated to the actual making part, which was great! We made handmade tinsel, and lovely little festive bunting style garlands. It was a very simple craft – but has got me thinking of ways to incorporate this into my own Christmas tree. Perhaps swapping the foil for fabric, and the cord for hessian for a more natural look. Fabulously festive and fun!

 

4pm Grand Makes – Ric Rac Rose with Jane MeansDSC_0290

Would you believe me if I told you that literally within 3-5 minutes we had created a rose from ric rac ribbon? Well that is exactly what we did – a simple technique that was surprisingly effective. I am thinking to incorporate the one I made into the fascinator from earlier! Jane was so much fun – telling us how to produce a last minute gift and the wrapping all within a few minutes with a speedy envelope technique. Great stuff considering there must have been a hundred people to teach in one make!

 

DSC_02965pm Super Theatre – Kirstie and Emma Bridgewater

The piece de resistance for me, and a great way to finish the fair. I was lucky enough to be sat in the second row, and was a good hour listening to the life and times of Emma Bridgewater. How she set up the company, her full undying love for her Stoke-on-Trent factory, and for buying British.  Some good advice for women in business, some very comical anecdotes of growing the business whilst juggling childcare and life in general. Just lovely and once again, feel inspired – this time to push forward with my pure vision for The Crafty Lass. As Emma said – if you can see it, you’ll get it.

 

 

In between all the making and eating – there were two shopping ‘villages’, an Artisan market place – full of lovely foodie things, a Hobbycraft tent, a Mollie Makes cafe – various other make and do tents – no rest for the crafty!

 

The husband did very well out of the fair too, not only did I get out of his hair for a few days in London, I also purchased some amazing ‘Espresso’ chocolate from Seed and Bean (it was hard to pick which of the many, quite unusual flavours!), an Oatopia Energy Ball made from Raw Cacao and Almonds, AND a delightful ‘Man Cave‘ wooden carved keyring from Betty and Dodge. I had to get some good pressies to make up for the ‘7 days til Handmade Fair’, ‘6 days til Handmade Fair’, ‘5 days…’ ok you get the picture!

All in all, as expected a great – long – day. Top tips for next year: wear comfy shoes! Make sure you take plenty of cash…most places took cards, but a few didn’t. There was an onsite cash machine – but as expected there was a fee – so get organised in advance and nip to the cashpoint before arriving. You certainly will want to book/buy things! And, perhaps consider going on more than one day – to allow you to try/see/make/do more things! I certainly will be going again next year.

Categories: Places to Go & Things to See, 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...

Top 5… Spiffingly British Crafts!

With the Queen’s birthday yesterday, nearly the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third wedding anniversary, still a V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) to appear sometime soon, AND it being St. George’s day tomorrow – it truly is a spiffingly British few weeks! Here are my top 5 jolly good crafts to make you feel truly patriotic!

 

1. TEA – UNION JACK MUG

Us Brits love our tea don’t we – according to a recent article, we drink on average 876 cups per year, enough to fill two bath tubs! What could be more exciting than serving your tea in a home decorated Union Jack mug! This pinterest pin advises that you simply decorate a mug with Sharpies and bake at 450 for 35 min…cool in oven, wash and it does not come off!” There are plenty more hints and tips for this craft technique here at Craftaholics Anonymous. (Great website name, might have to join!) Of course, it doesn’t HAVE to be a flag – get creative! 🙂

 

2. DRAGONS – SOCK PUPPET

With St George’s Day on 23rd April – why not get crafty with the kids AND make use of those annoying odd socks! This ‘No Sew Dragon Sock Puppet‘ from My Little 3 and Me has easy to follow instructions and templates included – perfect to inspire your little one’s imagination!

 

3. ROSES – PAPER CRAFT

The rose being the national flower of England, why not have a go at creating a giant crepe paper rose with this tutorial from Studio DIY. I personally, am a massive fan of creating flowers out of paper and fabric (see my commissions page!) they last forever, look oh so pretty… what’s not to love. It may take some time to create, but certainly worth the effort!

 

4. LIONS – CROCHET

Sticking with national symbols theme – this time, the Lion – national animal of England. I have never quite got that – when did you last see a wild Lion in the UK?? Anyway, if crochet is you’re thing… check out this ‘Little Bigfoot’ knitted lion pattern from Amigurumi To Go. Cute!

 

5. UNION JACK – DRESSER

I know I kind of already covered Union Jacks with the Sharpies mug above, but how could I not include this ‘Painting a Union Jack/British Flag on a dresser tutorial‘ from Meg Made Designs. The instructions are clear, the results look great! Why not give one of your own cupboards a really British makeover?

 

T.T.F.N, Tally-ho, Toodle-pip!

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, Top 5

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