Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Make it: Spooky Spiders and Vampire Bats

Halloween is just around the corner and although it is not as big here in the UK as it is in the US we still love to get into the spooky spirit. Steve and I normally snuggle up and have a horror movie marathon, although this year we may have an American Horror Story marathon instead (literally can't wait for the new season), anyway, in my shop at this time of year we get asked for fun Halloween activities for the little ones to have a go at in the holidays. My go-to suggestion is always pompoms and pipe-cleaners! So today I am sharing how to make some fun spooky friends to keep the little ones (and big little ones) busy this half term.

I always start by making up some pompoms with my Clover PomPom maker. You can of course go old school and use two card board rings, use this u shape technique or make giant ones like Handmade Charlotte

Cut yourself a length of shearing elastic to tie around the middle. Wrap your pom pom maker with wool, try not to make it too full. 

Cut in the groove and wrap your elastic around the middle to secure your pompom strands together. Remove your pompom maker and fluff up and trim your pompom. The pompom is the base for both our little critters. 

For the spiders you will need: four pipe-cleaners (chenille sticks) googly eyes, shearing elastic, glue (I have used my glue gun but PVA would work too, just take longer to dry) wool to make your pompom and your choice of pompom maker.

Once you have made your pompom take your pipe-cleaners and twist them together at the centre, make two bends in each pipe-cleaner one about halfway along and a small one near the end. Carry on until you have bent all the legs into position.

Take your glue and splodge a generous amount on the bottom of your pompom. Then pop the centre of the legs onto the blob of glue and wait for it to dry. Pop some glue on the back of your googly eyes and pop them on too, then wait for him to dry before bouncing him up and down on his elastic bungee.

For the bat you will need: wool or a pompom that you made earlier, a felt square, a pipe cleaner, googly eyes, glue and elastic (that should already be attached to your pompom but you can tie it on if you have made it without)

Cut yourself out a set of bat wings, I free-handed mine but you can use a template if you like. Then bend your pipe-cleaner around the top edge of your wings and glue it into place.   

Once you glue has dried add your googly eyes to you pompom and glue the wings in place. I made an upside down bat because I want him to hang from a branch but you can make them either way.

Although you can hang them by their elastic they look just as cute posing on some mini pumpkins, don't you think?

We would love to see some more low maintenance Halloween tutorials, if you find any good ones link them up in the comments and let us know how you are celebrating Halloween this year.

Sammy xxx

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Always the Guest

Someone commented to me this week that I know so much about Weddings.  Now this may be that I have been to 32 of them - yep that's right, I am seriously not kidding; it could be that I used to work as an Events Organiser which included co-ordinating weddings or that as a blogger I see alot of fun stuff like cake and decorations, alot of the time.

When I was thinking about what to post this week, I was thinking back on my September, which as a frequent wedding goer, was probably the most weddings in one month I have ever been to.  All the weddings I have been to have been amazing and to see two people so in love on their wedding day is definitely something to enjoy.  Obviously it's all about the food for me really!  Only kidding.

The first wedding I ever went to was in 2002 and so I didn't have that childhood memory of being a bridesmaid in a pretty dress.  But I have picked up a few things along the way too, including alot of dresses, which although I have never been married myself, I hope will be useful.

Pick a venue you love, I know that money is always going to be an issue, but if you love it, your guests will love it, you will love the photos in 20 years time at it and you will be glad you really thought about it and made it work for you.

Pick what's important
You might want to spend more on the dress, more on the venue, more on the food.  But whatever it is, find out what you think is more important for you, not anyone else.

The food
If you love it, have it.  Simple as that - don't worry about what others may or may not like. Also included here is the cake!  I mean you know I had to talk about cake right!  Make it special, make it you, make it tasty.

Don't sweat the small stuff
I have been around many a bride and all I know is that on the day, nothing else matters apart from you and your partner.
Get a good photographer and perhaps a Videographer as then when you start to forget what actually happened on the day (cos you will, it will go so quick) you can get that DVD on.  Nothing is worse than realising you haven't got pictures you want either.  So invest.

Weddings really are a personal thing and so by no means is this me telling you what to not do or to do, just go with what you really want and it will be the day you want.

Looking forward to the next batch of invites!

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Love it: Autumn Mix & Match

Blankets 1/2/3 | Dresses 1/2/3 | Scarves 1/2/3 | Boots 1/2/3

My autumn wardrobe can be a little on the dark side, so I have been trying to inject a few pieces that are more colourful, but easy to throw on in the misty mornings with the rest of my go to pieces.

I have put together a little mix and match of a few bits that I am loving lately to inspire myself into making better outfit choices and getting out of my comfort zone.
What are your go-to pieces for this time of year? what pieces are you loving right now?

Sammy, xxx

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Who's Who: The Fox in the Attic

It's back to normal this month with our Who's who, but that doesn't mean it is any less fun!  This month we are talking to Michelle from The Fox in the Attic, a great company that we first came across at Renegade last year.  Let's see what Michelle has to say.

Who are you?
I am Michelle Kreussel from The Fox in the Attic.

What do you do?
I make hand-embroidered soft-toy animals, cushions, pincushions, decorative items and printed tote bags.

How did you start?
As a child my grandmother taught me embroidery, and on a spontaneous whim one day a few years ago, I decided to start sewing and embroidering. I found I loved it, and quickly became more than adept at it.

What’s next?
I am currently working on a new range of printed characters that will coincide with the children's book my husband is writing.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the beginning?
Stop stressing so much! Everything works out in the end if you work hard and you love what you are doing.

The cushions are so cute, right! much more fun than the normal square ones and would look just as great in an adult room as a child's!

They make you smile just by looking at them.

H & Sammy

Please Note: All pictures are owned by the interviewee and so should not be copied without permission.

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Make it: Blueberry and Coconut Cake

In my bid to make dairy free good stuff, I came across this recipe on the BBC Good Food website.

I took it to work and I don't think they even noticed it was dairy free, so that's always a bonus.  It was really really yummy and so easy to make.  I also decided to make this gluten free too and used Doves Farm gluten free flour.

You will need:
250ml rice bran oil, plus extra for the tin
3 eggs
225g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g self-raising flour - I used Doves Farm Gluten free flour
50g dessicated coconut
175ml soya milk
140g fresh or frozen blueberries, plus extra to serve

icing sugar, to dust

Put your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease a 22cm tin. 

Whisk the oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla and in a separate bowl combine the flour and coconut.

Alternately, fold the flour mix and soya milk into the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the flour.

Spoon about a quarter of the mixture into the tin and then fold the blueberries into the remaining batter, before adding it to the tin.  

Bake for 1-1¼ hrs, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely and then dust with icing sugar.

I think the next time I make this, I might make some dairy free icing.  It did stay really nice and moist, but maybe a bit of icing would be good.

I'd never used rice bran oil before and I really think it worked for this recipe as it made it really wet - which is always what you need when using gluten free flour.  I will definitely use the oil again. I am already looking out for recipes!

Do you have any failsafe recipes that you use, let us know in the comments below.


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Friday, 10 October 2014

Live it. Sew Crafty's New Chapter

If you know me or if you have been a reader for a while you may have noticed I have been a little quiet when it comes to talking about my shop lately. If you are new here you may not even realise that my day job is running our family business, a little sewing shop in my home town of Maidenhead called Sew Crafty. Well today I am letting you in on a not so secret, secret. We are opening an online store!

It is a project that has been over a year in the making, you may remember a post from last year where I hinted at making some big decisions 'Never Making Mistakes is a Mistake' and the day is almost here that I can direct you all, our lovely readers from all over the globe, to shop at my little home away from home on the interwebs. To be honest I am still finding this thought very overwhelming.

I have spoken before about how our family business came to be, how I have always been a person who wants to work for myself and how much I love what I do. But I am not going to lie to you the last year has been one of the hardest times in my life.

Sew Crafty, like many shops on our British High Streets, has been struggling to break even (to make enough money to pay our bills). Despite filling our shop, floor to ceiling, with beautiful things and sewing essentials to supply our lovely little towns every sewing whim, it has just not been enough. We are just not reaching enough people, so last year we made the decision to invest some of our family savings in setting up Sew Crafty Online.

It has been a year of lots of stress and tears, mixed with excitement and anticipation but it is almost time to reveal all our hard work to the world. I wanted to take the chance to share some advice for any of you who are at the beginning of a journey like mine. (by which I mean' things I wish I had done sooner')
  • Plan, LOTS. But be prepared to alter your path. Don't be too fixated on your ideas of how you think things should be. You may find better ways of doing things, you just haven't thought of it yet. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Think hard about your friend's talents and skills, they are your friends and they want to help you and see you succeed.  Find ways they can help you.  Most importantly talk to them about it because they are on your side, and if they can help they will.  
  • Do your research.  Find out what people expect from what you are hoping to do. Think about what you expect, what do you like and not like about existing businesses like yours.
  • Work with people you trust.  Make sure the people who are helping you, are people that will help you to achieve your goals.
  • If you are working with a designer/supplier/estate agent or other professional, don't be afraid to ask them as many questions as you need to.  Don't feel like they are going to think that you are stupid, it is their job to answer those questions for you.
  • Don't be afraid to nag those professionals to do their job if you feel you are being ignored, or don't have the information you need, but do be kind and appreciate them when they go the extra mile. 
  • Aim high.  Make whatever you do, be the best it can be. 

I really hope that this may have helped some of you who are thinking of embarking on a new project or business, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments or find me on twitter @sammytvr
If you want to find out more about my little shop head over to our website or check out some of the posts in our archives, Sammy's home away from homeSew Crafty...We are TENLive it. Sammy's Day Job and look out for the launch announcement very soon. Or sign up to our Sew Crafty Newsletter (bottom of our web page) to be the first to know!

Sammy xxx

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