October Monthly Favourites

Happy Halloween everybody, I have a less than spooky post for you today, we are going to try something new. I have been loving October and it has made me nostalgic, I have missed my Friday Favourites that I used to post last year, so I thought I would bring it back with a twist - this is my monthly favourites. I will kick off with Reloved Magazine, I am a bit biased as we had a six page feature in this issue, but I am a long time fan of this independent magazine.

In March I gave up smoking and last month I gave up drinking full fat Coca Cola. It may seem like a silly thing but I was using it as a replacement for the cigarettes so I am so glad I have managed to quit both now. I have been drinking water as an alternative, but since my taste-buds have been recovering from quitting smoking I am a little picky about which brands of water I like. The solution for me has been the Bobble bottle. This water bottle filters tap water as you drink it and it tastes great.

I am a long time Max Factor fan and I really enjoying channelling my 16 year old self and bringing back lip liner into my daily routine. In particular the colour elixir lip liner in pink petal paired with the colour collections lipstick in rosewood. As well as lippy, my nails are getting into the season with BarryM nail polish in Vintage Violet.

My new blog planner The Monthly Times planner pad from one of my all time fave online stores Fox and Star is an epic addition to my desk. They are out of stock right now but there are tonnes of others to choose from at Fox and Star.

The last thing I have been inseparable from this month is my hot water bottle, it's so cosy and comforting. This one is from Argos and matches my favourite slippers.

What have been your favourite things this month? Let us know or link to your own posts in the comments below.

Have a Happy Halloween weekend and stay safe out there.
Sammy xxx

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Autumn Wishlist Home Edition

I love changing up my wardrobe for the Autumn but I also love making our home cosy and comfy for snugly evenings in. I have been making notes of some little bits that I have found to make our living space more autumnal. For me H&M are rocking it in the home department right now! They have some really affordable pieces that make an easy finishing touch to any room. What pieces have you bought lately to get your home ready for the colder weather?

Sammy x

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Make it: Pumpkins 3 ways

With Halloween just around the corner it's definitely Pumpkin season.  Now I am not really into Halloween and so I prefer to think of Pumpkin pie and autumn themed decoration instead.  So, I thought that making Pumpkins in three different ways would enable those who do or do not like Halloween to enjoy this week all the same in a pumpkin kind of way.

Guest Pinning for Simple Stylish Knitting

H and I are always up for learning new crafts and brushing up our skills. We are heading off to learn a few new techniques ourselves in November. One of the crafts we both want to work on now that the colder weather and darker evenings have kicked in, is Knitting.

H and I know how to knit and crochet but we are by no means confident with either. We wanted to go back to basics so when Simple Stylish Knitting asked us to guest pin for them we were so excited! We are pinning all month on their 'Knits to Give' board.

We will let you know more about what else we have coming up with them later in November, but in the meantime head over and check out what we want to make as gifts to help us sharpen up our skills with some fancy yarns.

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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.

Always the Guest

Someone commented to me this week that I know so much about Weddings I should write a book. 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.

1. Venue
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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.
5. Photos
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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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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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

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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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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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Make it: Primark Style Heart Cushion

Happy Wednesday everyone, it's DIY day here and this is one that I have had a lot of requests for from friends of mine to make.  Every blogger and vlogger from here to eternity has been 'Primark hauling' the fluffy white heart cushion that is the seasons must have. When I told my girls how easy they were to make I was inundated with requests for these cushions in lots of different colour ways. They are so easy and you can even do what I did and use your old velour pyjama bottoms to make them.  I thought I would share this DIY Primark style Heart cushion with you so you can make your own too.

You will need: 1/2 metre of velour (short-pile fur, fleece fabric or an old pair of tracksuit or pyjama bottoms will also work), a cushion pad or loose stuffing, scissors, a sewing machine, fabric marker pen, pins, a needle and thread.

If you are using your tracksuit bottoms you will need to cut up the inside seam and open out the legs, place the legs with right-sides together.  Draw yourself a large heart shape with your fabric marker.  I just freehand drew mine, but you can make a simple template with newspaper if your unsure of the shape.  Then pop your pins around the edge of your shape in towards the centre with the heads of your pins on your pen line.

Cut around the edge of your heart leaving a 1.5cm seam allowance.  Hop over to your sewing machine and stitch, following your pen line as a guide, around your heart shape, leaving a 10-15cm gap at the end.  I usually start at the point, so that when I am stitching up the last bit it is easier than stitching on the curve.  Turn your cushion right side out and stuff with the loose fibre from inside your cushion pad.  Stitch the gap closed you left open at the end and you are all done.

I loved the first one I made so much that I made another one and kept these ones for myself. I have added them to my bed cushion collection.  They are so cosy and comfy to snuggle in on these chilly Autumn evenings and read my book. These are so sweet, and you could make them in any fabric, how cute would they look make in some ditsy floral fabric or Liberty prints, the possibility's are endless.
How cute do they look with my star cushion and my gorgeous 'Good Night' cloud cushion from the amazing Fox in the Attic. Who, by the way, are featured in our Who's Who later this month, so keep an eye out for that.

Which home furnishings are you loving at the moment, are you swapping up your d├ęcor for the Winter months to come? Let us know your Autumn favourites in the comments.

As usual let us know if you have a go #livelovemake

Sammy xxx

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Live it: H's Berlin Adventure

Back to reality with a bump today! This time last week I was checking out what Berlin has to offer! So, what better way to combat the back to reality blues than a round-up of what we got up to. Now this will be a whistle stop tour as we did so so much in our 5 days.

Love it: Autumn

Autumn is by far my favourite time of year. I am a person who loves being cosy, and snuggling up at home with my hubby and our cats is my favourite thing to do in the whole world. It is a time of year when for me work gets hectic so my home is the calm, soft, warm place I can retreat to when it all gets a bit crazy. It is a time I usually get to reflect on the year that, like so many before it, has gone by way too fast and dream of the plans I can make for the last few months of the year.

Makers Month Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Hey all, by now all the excitement of our Makers Month has been and gone :(  But we have been able to feature some amazing British Designer/Makers and some other cool brands along the way. We thought, what better way to round off the month than with a Giveaway. You could win all of this...

Fat Quarters from Dashwood Studios (Cable Cozy tutorial)

 Cloud Brooch by TigerLilly Quinn

All you need to do is tell us your favourite British Designer/Maker in the comments below and all this could be yours!

Don't forget to leave your email address in the comment and we can contact you if you are our winner!

Competition closes at midnight (UK time) on Friday 10th October and is open Internationally, so everyone can benefit from our best of British selection.


Lots of Love
H and Sammy xxx

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