LIFE & CRAFT: Chores are Bores.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Oh hello you! Yes I know I seemed to fall off the face of the earth and i'm sure some of you were worried-but don't you worry, I have returned. Just in time too really, to tell you about my brand spanking new and quite frankly life changing craft gadgets!

But first, a little back story because we all love a good sob story on a Saturday night don't we?!
You may remember my post a few months ago about World Pomination and my quest to make a pom pom bigger than a fork.  WELL! You can imagine how excited I was when the, quite frankly lovely lovely lovely, folk at Money Supermarket stepped up to the task and delivered not one, not two but three pompom makers- one of which is heart shaped.  Yes, you did read that right-Heart. Shaped.

But why, I hear you cry?! Why the devil would they be so nice?!

The reason they started the ‘Balance Transfer Your Life’ activity was because they know that some people end up paying high interest rates on their credit card debts. Although there are offers available which let you transfer your outstanding balance to a zero per cent balance transfer card, leaving you interest free on your debt until the deal expires, it’s something which is easy to put off. Despite being a big money saver, the process of sorting it is one of those little tasks that we put on the back burner, even though we know has a great outcome. I for one know I am very guilty of doing this, along with changing Doctor's surgeries, hoovering, cleaning the car.... the list is endless! In fact, at times recently I would have quite liked to balance transfer my whole life!  

Like finding a credit card with a free balance transfer, there are loads of these little niggling tasks that we just keep putting off, which is why MoneySupermarket is getting involved and offering you the chance to ‘balance transfer your life’ – no matter what the little chore! 

 So, if you fancy palming your annoying tasks off on someone else (who wouldn't want to?!) then you can enter the competition and have your life changed like mine!   It's as easy as sending a tweet!

P.S It really has changed my life!

So if you could balance transfer anything in your life, what would it be?! 

Crafty Beggars launch @ Hobbycraft

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Crafty beggarsOn Friday, I was incredibly lucky to be invited by Hobbycraft to get a sneak peek at the brand new craft programme that is starting on TLC in the next few weeks; Crafty Beggars.

As I arrived at my local Hobbycraft, I obviously had to have a quick look around the store and pick up some much needed essentials.  It was then straight into Haskins where I was greeted with Prosecco, the best chicken skewers you've seen and a tables of crafty fun.

I got chatting to some lovely and inspirational gals and guys who are involved in the programme, but you'll have to watch it to find out more about them! Julie (Peasgood) and Wendy came and sat with me: they were genuinely warm hearted ladies and really easy to chat to.  You can tell that this programme is their baby and they have a lot of love for upcycling and crafting. 

The premise of Crafty Beggars is quite different to recent craft programmes; two teams of contestants go head to head in a bid to see whose handmade crafts can make the most cash.  I really cannot believe what some of the contestants were able to produce and the ridiculous bargains they found! Not only does it mean using their bargaining, blagging, sourcing, upcycling and craftmanship skills but it also requires them to consider how to price things, what people might like and how to display them. 

 I think the two threads work really well to make this programme something I will want to watch again and again! Not only that, but each episode features someone who makes a living producing and selling their handmade works of art.  I particularly liked this aspect because it's great for local and small buisnesses to spread the word further, and as a consumer I always like discovering new small buisnesses. And look out for the Crafty Beggars Basket; curious array of items that upon returning from the ad break we see what those items have turned into.  I love it! It's really got me inspired again, so watch this space for needle felting and local sellers blog posts.

 I really can't wait to watch all seven episodes and fingers crossed there will be more series, I think  it's exactly the kind of craft programme we need; accessible, resourceful and inspiring. So before you go and stock up on lots of new resources or throw things away, think to yourself "why bin it, when it can be turned into something beautiful"?

Crafty Beggars starts 3rd November at 9am on TLC. 

Needle felting

Saturday, 25 October 2014

I've tried needle felting once before at University, but hadn't really got on with it at the time and was not all that bothered about trying it again.  At the Hobbycraft event on Friday (check back tomorrow for the blog post!), we were provided with poly baubles and felt if we fancied needle felting.  I actually really enjoyed it and found myself completely immersed in the craft, so much so that I didn't really want to stop! A few people commented on how "into it" and "pro like" my stabbing was; it's a great stress buster I bet! I found the polystyrene ball made it a lot easier for me to get to grips with this craft so I would  really recommend this for anyone who fancies trying it. 

What you'll need:
-Various sizes of polystyrene balls
-Felting needle.

 I didn't really have a plan or method, I just went with the flow- i.e. draped the felt over the ball and starting making incisions into the ball using the needle.  The needle serves as a way of attaching the felt to the ball, and it is advised you push the needle in up to the ridge, in order for it to be nicely secured to the surface.  Here is how my first try turned out: 

I'm actually really pleased with it as both an end result and the project as a whole.  Usually new crafts stress me out, mostly because I feel unconfident about giving it a go.  But this time I just went for it without putting too much pressure on myself. 

Here are some projects I might look to try in the future:

 Have you tried needle felting before?

The return of We Heart It..

Friday, 24 October 2014

I don't know if i'm late or early to the party on this one, hell, i'm not even sure if it went away at all?! So really, maybe this should just be renamed "The day I remembered We heart it exists".

Before Pinterest, there was We heart it.  I used to go on that site religiously just to scroll page after page of latest posts.  I'm pretty sure I even linked from there on here in the early days, but then I found Pinterest and I was so busy building boards about Fimo and "my dream toilet seat"* that we heart it seemed to be lost from my psyche.

Until last week, when I was on a must-find-quotes-about-inspirational-pugs- hunt and We heart it popped up in my google search.  That's when it happened. The addiction returned. And I have been on it every day since.  What I really like about it as a form of social media is the fact that you get no judgement, no bullying- just beatiful imagery and words. 

Here are a few of my favourites from this week:

If you too are resorting back to the noughties and enjoying We heart it, you can find me here.Warning, you will find yourself involuntarily grinning to yourself/crying.  As a side note, I recall people having issues with finding who to credit for the image- I suggest you click on the photos above and they will take you as close to the source as possible.  

They've updated it to make it a bit easier to search images and upload your own.

Do you like We heart it?

*FYI I don't have a favourite toilet seat. SPOILER ALERT.

6 tips for dealing with sleep deprivation....

Thursday, 23 October 2014

As someone who is a self confessed sleepaholic, adjusting to managing on less sleep has been a hard process! Ophelia generally sleeps now 7:30pm-5am but means I usually get six hours maximum- hey, I can't complain, I know any recent Mothers may be sitting there reading this and running on zilch! Working full time and lacking sleep has meant i've had to find strategies for functioning and so I thought i'd share them today!

Food for fuel- I find having certain foods at certain points at day really makes a difference to how I manage to push through the day.  I'm sure i'm not the only one that suffers from carbsnoozemania if I have a heavy lunch.  But for me it goes further than that, I need to pick the right time to eat and the right amount in order to keep going both physically and mentally. I find nuts and fruit particularly useful for snacks and I generally try to push my lunch as far back as possible because for some reason i'm always less productive after lunch. 

No 7 eye...stuff- Sorry, i've forgotten what it's called and I have run out of it, but this really has been a life saver for me! I happened to have got given it in a No7 gift set years ago and not touched the set, but after one particularly rough night I was willing to try absolutely anything- I felt like a completely different person afterwards! It smells a bit like turkish delight (which, incidently I don't actually like to eat) and you massage it onto your face then wash off. 

Naps-Unfortunately for me, I have not really been able to use these fully for months and months thanks to Nursery and full time working. However, I highly recommend them.  Who am I kidding? I highly recommended these prior to having a child!

Awareness and strategy- If you can tell the lack of sleep is having an effect on your concentration, behaviour or functioning be mindful of it and work out how to adjust things to compensate.  I find concentration, thought processing and decision making is particularly difficult and so i'll try to adapt my day to give myself a chance to get through the day.  At work I try to take regular small breaks, fresh air or constant change in tasks, in order to give me some chance of productivity.  Sometimes it has been so genuinely bad that i've been worried i'll fall asleep driving, if this is the case I try to work at home of drive as little as is possible. 

Caffeine- I hate to say it, and i'm fully aware of the adverse 'come down' effects of using caffeine, but if i'm honest, this is the main way I function daily! Since my time off sick and my adjusted case load at work, i've found i've not needed caffeine til about 11-which is a massive achievement for me! 

Early bed time- Callum is the opposite to me,  due to our lack of down time or time to relax, Callum will always try to push through his tiredness as long as possible, which usually results on him falling asleep in the middle of playing Fifa! I, on the other hand, try to make sure I am in bed by 11pm at the latest... although most of the time i'm dead on my feet by 9:30pm (so rock n roll!).  The downside to this is that I end up frustrated that my day mostly involves; work, Ophelia's bed time, dinner, sleep.

Now, excuse me whilst I go zzzzzz.....

Baking: Pumpkin pie recipe

Saturday, 18 October 2014

With spiced pumpkin lattes now in full autumnal swing, and my teapot on constant refill with Bluebird Tea Co's spiced pumpkin pie tea, I thought it was about time I attempted to make pumpkin pie.  This happened to line up quite nicely with the Get Baking For A/W14 With Topps Tiles competition AND National Baking Week! As a side note, is it me or does there seem to be a week celebrating every single thing, nowadays?!

I was lucky enough to be one of a select few, handpicked bloggers who were asked to submit a recipe to the Topps Tiles A/W14 National Baking Week Challenge to celebrate Autumn and baking! Two things I can definitely get on board with! It was also far too tempting when I realised the prizes, if won, would be two ticks off my 30 before 30 list (otherwise they were looking unobtainable like the rest of the list)!

Seeing as it is October, and nearly Halloween, I had my heart set on doing something spooktacular/Pumpkin related! Tesco (World food aisle FYI), proved to be my source of inspiration to take the plunge and try my hand in homemade pastry related goods! I mean, I eat enough of the stuff, so it's only fair I give something back to society! I'll be honest, the Libby's pumpkin pack smelt exactly like baby food, which put me off initally but I think i've just about recovered.  With no further ado, here is the recipe:

Sophie's Pumpin' Pumpkin pie.

Stuff that you need:
-9oz shortcrust pastry.
-2 eggs slightly beaten (by your ill boyfriend).
-1 can of Libby's solid pumpkin pack (or baby food might do?).
-6oz granulated sugar.
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
-1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger.
-1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves (or just do what I did and use a Schwartz mulled wine pack!).
-1/2 pint of evaporated milk.
-9inch flan pan (!).

What you need to do:
-Pre heat the oven to 220C.
-Roll out the pastry onto the flan pan.
-Pop in the fridge to chill.
-Bake the case in the oven for about ten minutes.  You're meant to put baking beads or dried pulses in it. I googled alternatives and instead just pricked all over with a fork, which seemed to work!
-In the meantime, reduce the oven temperature to 180C and mix the ingredients all together.
-Pour into the chilled pastry case.
-Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
-Allow to cool.

There you have it! Let me know if you give it a try! In the meantime, i'm off to drink some pumpkin pie tea and eat some pumpkin pie! I'll leave you with this amazing photo of my daughter as a pumpkin (that's reason alone for me to win, surely?!).

LIFE: Lately

Saturday, 27 September 2014

 Baking yummy treats

Buying cute snack pots...
Eatin' cake with my favourites in my garden
 Cooking Autumnal food....
 Hangin' at the park (s). 
 Hangin' with celebs (Jorah Mormont) whilst on the way to Manchester Orchestra at the Wedgewood rooms. 
 Finding new coffee shops in other cities...

On Friday we headed to Portsmouth or more precisely, Fratton; to see Manchester Orchestra play at the Wedgewood rooms.  On the way there, I saw a man who I thought I recognised and then proceeded to spend at least five minutes not very subtley, loud whispering "is that-" "i'm sure that's-" "Try and get a photo-".  Before we could gain the answer from google for confirmation he may be in the area, the man was in front of us recounting, in his softly spoken dulcit tones, how he had left his phone at Chichester and requested use of our phone to call it.  This led to the most awe struck, awkward encounter by us whilst Callum fumbled to use his phone and  then muttered an awkward "Thanks" as he walked off.  The poor dude was evidently pondering what to do about the situation and was clearly exhausted, so we didn't feel it appropriate to ask for a photo.  What a genuine and nice guy though. 

In other news, Fratton is not the nicest of places to spend time if neccessary; we spent a good while looking for somewhere decent to grab a coffee and nice food before eventually finding Southsea high street which rewarded us mildly for our troubles.  As I sat there in a below average pub, with no drink that tickled my fancy, I pondered why anyone would live here until I realised just how spoilt we are, here in Brighton.  The gig was awesome, whilst the sound was a bit dodge (less drums noise, more vocals please) the band were very atmospheric and played a good set list.