31 Jul 2013

Craft Club: Booking now Open

Our Craft Club down at Norden Farm has been going very well - Thank you to all those who have come along so far.  Booking is now open for our next round of workshops.

Who's Who catch-up

We can't believe we are already over halfway through the year, so we wanted to highlight some of the amazing people we have had the honour of interviewing this year so far. We have some really cool 'Who's Who's coming up in the next few months and we can't wait to share them with you, but for now here is a look back at the last six months.  

February was the turn of Hatastic.  Chloe's advice to herself  'Take a step back and breathe a little and then see how it lies. It's surprising how some things seemed like a brilliant idea at first, and then turn out to be a bit of a turkey!' Too true!

March was the turn of Laurel Howells, Designer-Maker, Illustrator, Photographer, Collage artist and all round creative hailing from Taplow in Berkshire - Just near Sammy and it turns out went to the same Uni as H, small world hey!

In April we brought you Craft Candy.  Zoe's Advice to her past self? 'If I could go back and whisper advice in my ear it would be to get references when engaging with a company or freelancer to do work and to simply be patient.

May was Miss Maker's turn, Clare Blackmore-Davies, wife to the lovely John, mum to the adorable Finn, and around all that Miss Maker - prolific crafter and excitable sewing tutor.

In June you got a peek into the world of Holloway Smith Noir, Established in 2010 Holloway Smith Noir are stocked in luxury lingerie boutiques across the globe. their cheeky sellers can be found making mischief weekly at The Wam Bam Club, Miss Polly Rae’s Between the Sheets and a luxe collection is available at Proud Cabaret, London.

July was the month that saw Mr X-Stitch answer our questions, Jamie Chambers the king of modern cross stitch reminded us that 'it takes a very long time to be an overnight success.'

Hope you enjoyed that little look back, if you missed them the first time you can click the links to check out the full interviews.

H and Sammy xxx

29 Jul 2013

Link for the week: Excel Art (yes really)

Photo courtesy of http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2013/05/28/tatsuo-horiuchi-excel-spreadsheet-artist/
I am constantly amazed by artists all over the world with their skill and enthusiasm for their work and then someone comes along and really makes me rethink how art can be made.  

Using a different tool of the trade and some huge imagination the artist Tatsuo Horiuchi uses Excel to make art.  Yes really!  He sat down one day and thought I can make something really amazing with a very mundane office tool.  You can see more about his work on the link below:


I know you won't believe your eyes and so I thought I would add another picture from the article, so that you can see that he uses the autoshapes tool to make mini works in each of the cells, so that when combined they make beautiful pictures!  

Photo courtesy of http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2013/05/28/tatsuo-horiuchi-excel-spreadsheet-artist/
His work may not be the most unusual of subject matter but the way in which it is made really shows what can be done with alot of imagination and a programme people use everyday for spreadsheets and accounts.  As one of the people who commented on the original site said 'Just imagine what the guy could do with Photoshop!'

I am going to give it a go the next time I find myself doing some life admin, so if you try it too let us know in the comments below as we would love to see what you get up to.

Make it
H

27 Jul 2013

Crafty Creative's Birthday Box

As you may know we are big fans of a box full of crafty bits and bobs. Earlier in the year H's link for the week highlighted some of the great craft box subscriptions out there, so when we were contacted by Crafty Creatives to test drive their Birthday box we jumped at the chance!


Box 13 (the floral birthday edition) is different than the norm - usually lots of different crafty bits and one or two kits, but as it is a special box you get five kits as well as few extra goodies. The art card usually features a different artist each month with an illustration that ties in with the theme, this month it was a collage of Crafty Box fans with their boxes, so cute!. Every month there is a different theme, previous themes have been: Floral, Nautical, Oriental, Gothic, Nostaliga, Icy, Woodland, Spots and Stripes, Steampunk, Blues, Glamour, The Treat Box (sweets and cakes) - a bit gutted we missed that last one!



Anyway, onto the box.  It arrived promptly as promised, in a cute pink plastic postage sleeve housing the small but perfectly formed box (which H instantly wanted to re-use as a storage box).

We were greeted by a Thank You note from Claire and Isobel with an explanation about what the box contained. Then an instruction leaflet with a guide to all the kits enclosed with great pictures of the finished products, more about that in a minute.


Now to the fun stuff... we got a crepe paper streamer, a polystyrene ball, a roll of stem tape, a roll of wire, two packs of seed beads, a small reel of coloured wire, flower stamens, a stocking, some wooden buttons, a hair clip, a hummingbird pendant, a heart shaped cabochon, some paper flowers, a felt square, two pieces of card and a birthday balloon, wowzers! 

After unpacking all the goodies we got to work, can we call it work? Play, we got to play!
First we made the felt flower

Next we made the stocking flower

Then the French beaded flower
(Sammy ended up using beads from her own stash to make this one because she knew wanted to give it to her Mother-in-law as a gift so she made it in a colour she knew she would like)

After that it was the paper rose hair slide

Lastly it was the crepe paper rose ball, which Sammy made into a little tree
(The stick, bow and bucket were from her stash)

All in all we really enjoyed making these little kits, we found the instructions to be very easy to follow. The mix of projects was great, some easy and some more difficult to work up to if you are new to crafts or the particular techniques needed.  If you get a little lost with the instructions or are like Sammy and love a little video, you can head over to their Youtube channel and watch how-to's to give you a helping hand.


What we liked....
Sammy: I would say that as a very experienced crafter myself, it was nice to re-visit some ideas that I haven't had a go at for a while. I made six giant rose ball trees for my friend Kelly's Barbie party last year. It was a great way to focus, by having the kit it made me sit down an craft for a good two hours. As someone who always has a lot of projects on the go it was very satisfying to sit down and finish five things in one sitting. The products in the kit were great quality, I do feel that these boxes are good value for money. 
H:  The kit items are really easy to do and simple instructions for mere mortals always help.  They make great little projects to do after work or for a craft club perhaps.  I liked that there were a few other bits included to make your own things, like the hummingbird pendant which would look lovely on a wedding card or the heart pendant which I think will become a brooch.

What we didn't like...
Sammy: Not a lot, the only thing I could pick out that wasn't my favourite was the colours of the products. We got Pinks, corals and reds, which are not my personal choices, but I can give the finished goodies away as gifts to my friends who like those colours so that not a big issue.
H:  I am not a big fan of florals and so this kit was not the perfect kit for me.  However, you could use your imagination and make some other fun things from the supplies.  For example: you could make animal ears using the stocking flower items, by attaching them to a headband; using the crepe paper for gift wrap will always be a winner or perhaps customise a top with some of the beads left over from the beaded flower kit.

It's difficult for us to say, not having tried one, how fun the regular non-kit heavy boxes would be, but who doesn't love a box of delicious crafty goodies delivered to your door, right? From the quality and presentation of this box we can tell that trying it out for a few months would be fun, whether you are a new crafter or a more experienced one. As a new crafter it would be a great way to build up your stash. As an experienced crafter there is a great Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest community to share your projects with like-minded creatives. 

What do you think? Fancy giving it a try?
The lovely girls at Crafty Creatives have offered our readers an exclusive discount code 
CRAFTYLLM 
 the first 10 of you to sign up will get 25% off your first box!
How sweet is that? Head over to their website now and sign up before we beat you to it! 

Info:

The cost:  boxes are £10 + £2.95 p&p per month

Gift options available - 3/6/12 months - great for Christmas!
No contract - cancel when you want

At the moment subscriptions are only open to UK residents, but they are looking to ship within EU countries soon and if you are in the States or Canada you can add your info to their mailing list for updates http://www.craftycreatives.com/craft-box-sign-up.html

H and Sammy xxx

Disclaimer: We were sent this box for free as a blogger promotion, but we did not (and never do) guarantee a positive review in exchange for a product sample.  

26 Jul 2013

Santorini Instagrams

Favourite Friday this week is my Instagram photos of our Holiday in Santorini.  If you saw our post on Wednesday, you will know that we had such a lovely relaxing time on this beautiful island, but I also wanted to share some of my Instagram photos of our stay, PhotoToaster filters and all!

Sunshine, palm trees and raffia umbrellas. My position half an hour after we arrived (and for mostly the next six days). The pool bar. The pool.

Our view from the plane. Sandy Villas. Our view from dinner at Tranquilo. Hats in a beachside store.

Palm trees. White flowers. Greek thistles. Pink flowers.

 Jewellery store. The 24 hour Bakery! Beautiful mosaic plates. Cute tree display stand.

Anchor archway. Anchor driveway. Volcanic rock encrusted arch. Pretty garden gate.

 Glass Coke bottles. A burger that had my name on it (literally). The burger in question. I can only describe this as 'The Taste of Christmas' flavoured shot!

Just in-case you forgot where your room was. Perissa Church. A cute blue window. Selling paintings by the sea.

 A comfy place to eat ice cream. H and Sammy. Our villas. Two blue mopeds, just our colour.

 Shrimp spaghetti. Apple pie. Banana waffles. Chicken & avocado wrap and seasoned wedges.

These are the photos that are going in my holiday mini album. I will show you that as soon as it's finished too. 
Have a beautiful weekend
Sammy xxx

25 Jul 2013

Make it: Sunny Orange cake


Hey guys, something about this week made me want to bake and I thought why not my favourite Orange cake for a bit of (not that bad for you) cake.

I am not saying that it's perfect, but lots of Vitamin C must be good right?  It makes a nice change from Lemon Drizzle cake too, which although gorgeous, it's nice to have something a little different. Plus when I took it into work, it was demolished within a few hours, so it must have been ok.


The ingredients you will need are:

for the cake
4 eggs, seperated
100g/4oz caster sugar
150g/5oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp finely grated orange zest
juice of 2 large oranges

for the icing
juice of 1-2 large oranges
icing sugar (as much as to make the consistency you want)
orange zest to decorate

Preheat the oven to 190°C/ Gas mark 5.  Line a 20cm/8in cake tin with non-stick baking parchment.
Place the egg yolks, caster sugar, self raising flour, baking powder, orange zest and juice in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until softly peaked, then fold them into the egg yolk mixture.  Spoon this mixture into the prepared cake tin and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is risen and firm to the touch.  Leave to cool.  (just to note, this cake does not rise hugely, so don't think it hasn't worked if it's not the usual size).


When the cake has cooled completely.  Place icing sugar bit by bit into some of the juice and mix well.  The consistency you want is up to you.  You could pierce holes in the top of the cake and pour a thinner mixture over for it to soak in, or make it thicker like my version, to make it sit on the top.


Then Voila!  Just try not to eat it all and share it about.

Let me know if you bake this and how it went?  Also if you have any failsafe recipes for me to try, do let me know in the comments below.

Make it
H

24 Jul 2013

Live it: Santorini Style

H and I had a brilliant time on our recent holiday to the Greek Island of Santorini, We wanted to share some of our photos with you guys. We stayed in Perissa, to the south of the island about 40 mins from the airport by coach. 

We booked our Holiday in H's local Thomas Cook, they were super helpful, despite us being quite picky about what we wanted for our trip away. They managed to find us a great deal with Olympic Holidays, at the family run Sandy Villas. Despite the 'mixed' reviews on trip advisor, we found it to be a great place to stay, just perfect for our expectations and budget. The rooms were basic but clean, the location was great, about a 5-10 mins walk to the long beach and lots of local restaurants.
 I am going to honest we chose this holiday because it was the cheapest deal we could find at the time we wanted to go, however we were really lucky and it turns out we got a great deal and the location was brilliant. Olympic offered a good selection of excursions, but as we were there to just relax, we chose to stay at the villa's pool (which was beautiful) read books most days and head down to the beach for dinner every night. 




It was a short, pretty walk down to the beach, which we made everyday. There was a supermarket and 24 hour bakery at the end of our road, which we also visited everyday, mostly because of the amazing cakes but also because the baker was delightful eye candy!


Perissa Beach


Neither H or I are fans of being on the beach during the day preferring the pool, particularly as it was volcanic sand, but it was really nice to be there in the evenings. The promenade ran along the beach front and was lined with restaurants, bars and shops. We managed to eat in a different place every night and there were still plenty we could have tried.  Every meal we had was a good one, but we really liked Tranquilo and Noma. 









One of our favourite places was the ice cream parlour, we ate there three times! It was a winner for me because they had my favourite pistachio and coconut ice creams. They also did waffles and crepes, so of course we had to sample those too! The decor was really cute, I loved this table made out of two baskets and a door.

I would totally recommend Santorini as a holiday destination, we had a great time and we didn't even take in any of the beautiful sites that the island has to offer.
We had a completely relaxing week, we chilled out and read books, swam in the pool and enjoyed the sunshine, or shade if your H. 

Now where have you guys been this year, where are you off to? Have you posted on your blog about your trip, comment with a link below and we will come and check it out!
H and Sammy xxx

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