Wednesday 26 August 2015

Recipe: Blackberry and Marshmallow Cake!

Walking along the river and seeing so many blackberry bushes full of ripe berries got me thinking about blackberry picking and what I could cook with them now they are in season. It's a year ago since I first posted my recipe for this Blackberry and Marshmallow Cake- it's a lovely and unusual way to use Blackberries now they are in season and if you pick them yourself they're free! Happy baking!

Do you love baking with Blackberries? What's your favourite Blackberry recipe?

Monday 24 August 2015

Life Lately

I just wanted to share with you a little look behind the scenes at what I've been up to. Life lately has been very hectic as I'm working lots at the day job, but I'm still beavering away working on a new Fair Isle jewellery collection for the Winter and I hope to be able to share some finished pieces with you soon.

 The weather here has been lovely too so I'm trying to go on regular walks and work out in the garden when I can too. After the bank holiday weekend I will have more time and I'm looking forward to getting back to the blog as normal- I've got lots of ideas to share with you! Until then, here's some pics of life lately...

I'm working on a larger Fair Isle piece which I'm quite excited about- I'm hoping that my idea will work and I can share it with you soon if it all comes together!

Made In Colchester have their first collective exhibition in the Slice cafe in Colchester and it runs until 12th September. There is a lovely selection of work from collective members on display including artwork, jewellery, prints, photography and paintings, all made in the Colchester area. I'm very proud to be a part of it! If you're local, Slice cafe is on Culver Street West in Colchester- a good excuse to go out for lunch!

Regular readers will know that I've been trying to get out for more walks lately and it's certainly helping at the moment- although things are crazily busy, getting out in the fresh area is a great stress buster! I took this pic whilst walking along the canal, daydreaming about what it might be like to live on a boat

I can't take credit for these beautiful flowers, these are all pics I snapped in Mr Writer's parents' garden. Such amazing colours!

Hope you are all enjoying a lovely August!

Sunday 16 August 2015

5 Ways To Stay Positive and Motivated

How do you stay motivated to craft, write a blog or achieve your goals? Life can get crazily busy and hectic for us all and it can be difficult to remain focused on we want to achieve. I wanted to share something a bit different with you today in the form of 5 ways I use to stay motivated and positive when crafting and blogging. I'd love to know your ways to stay motivated and positive too, please share them in the comments!

1)  Make time for hobbies

Sometimes it can feel like there is no time in the day to do anything other than work and as much as I love what I do, in recent times I've realised that it's really important to make time to do things you enjoy away from your own work. I love to bake and I've also got numerous non work related craft projects on the go and taking time to work on these has helped me to relax and approach work tasks with a new perspective. Last week I took a bit of time out to work on a sewing project

2) Go for a walk or get a change of scenery

If things are getting a bit much I find one of the most effective stress busters is to have a change of scenery and a walk. I go down to my local park to walk along the river and it really helps to blow the cobwebs away and I can then return to my work refreshed and in a better frame of mind. Sometimes  the walk is combined with a trip to my favourite cafe for one of their milkshakes which is a bonus! I also find a change of scenery can help, even if it's just working in a different area of the house for a little while

3) Join a group and surround yourself with like minded people

If you work by yourself all day, joining a group of like minded people gives you an outlet to a network of people to bounce ideas off of and share in experiences. I am part of the Made In Colchester Collective and I love getting to spend time with a group of fellow creatives who know where I'm coming from! I always remember when I was at college, one of my tutors saying to the group "Who are you going to turn to when you're not at College anymore?" and this was exactly what she meant, building a support network 

4) Read- submerge yourself in inspiring blogs

There are some brilliant blogs out there and a whole online support network of information for when you feel stuck in a rut, in need of a boost of positivity and motivation.

I read the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog regularly and I find it an invaluable source of inspiration for living a positive life and maintaining motivation. Marc and Angel started their blog as a way to inspire others to be their best, writing articles on positivity, motivation, happiness and self improvement

Do What You Love Blog Is Your Routine Holding You Back? I first came across the Do What You Love Blog because of their article about changing your daily routine. It really struck a cord with me and I realised, as they put it, "Life doesn't have to feel like Groundhog Day." It's inspired me to gradually start making some changes to my day to day routine, which in turn has had a positive effect on my productivity

The Sunday Chapter 9 Ways To Be More Positive This is a lovely blog full of articles on travel, food, health and much more. This was a particularly helpful recent post

5) Practice Gratitude and Enjoy the Little Things

I have this plaque by Tigerlilly Quinn displayed to always remind me of this sentiment! Tigerlilly Quinn incidently recently posted this post On Choosing Positivity which is a really inspiring read

Rather than focusing on the negative I'm trying to practice gratitude and be grateful for what I have. I think it's important to enjoy the little things!

I hope this post has given you food for thought and I'd love for you to share your tips for positivity and motivation in the comments- I think we can all learn from each other.

 Have a fab day all!

Monday 10 August 2015

BeckaBonce Crochet Accessories

The lovely Rebecca Wilson, AKA BeckaBonce, designs and makes beautiful modern, colourful crochet accessories and I was delighted when Becka got in touch. It was lovely to meet someone who shares my addiction to yarn and all things woolly! We did a crafty swap- Becka chose one of my Fair Isle necklaces and a knitted brooch and I chose one of her very cute crocheted purses and set of crocheted hair slides. 

I love receiving packages like this in the mail! 

 Becka's work is so lovely and bright and colourful, it took me ages to decide which purse to choose! After much deliberation I chose this one which is very cute in grey and mustard

Becka's business cards showcase a range of her other products. How cute are the crocheted animals?! 

I'm a learner at crochet so I really admire the skill in Becka's work. It's lovely to meet someone who shares an addiction to yarn too!

These crocheted hair slides are a lovely way to wear wool

Check out the BeckaBonce Etsy shop here. I may just have to treat myself to some of Becka's pom pom hair slide next!

Wednesday 5 August 2015

How To... Washi Tape Cake/Pudding Toppers

The Great British Bake Off is back tonight! It's one of my favourite shows and I'm so excited that it's back. I was planning to make an evening of it with some cake treats, but the icing I made for the cakes went wrong twice, so in the Bake Off spirit I turned the cakes into a trifle!

 Today I'm sharing this really quick and simple How To for pretty cake toppers made using materials you are likely to already have to hand. They would look equally lovely as party decorations for both cakes and puddings alike, if you're planning your very own Bake Off evening! 

1) You will need

Washi tape, String, straws or wooden kebab sticks, cocktail sticks

2) Decide how far apart the straws need to be to display on your cake or pudding and tie your string between the straws, allowing it to hang down slightly in a bunting-like effect

3) Stick strips of washi tape around the string at intervals and cut the ends straight

4) Cut points into the tape

5) You can make small washi tape flags in the same way using cocktail sticks. These would be sweet to decorate cupcakes.

That's all there is to it, decorate away!

If you'd like to make the trifle, I sliced the lemon cupcakes I made and lined the base of a trifle dish and then covered them with a layer of tinned mandarins (without the juice). I then made up some orange jelly and covered the sponge and mandarins and left to set in the fridge. I then topped the set jelly with fresh custard and Dream Topping (I wanted to make an 80s style Trifle like I remember from my childhood!) but you could you whipped cream if you prefer. I then topped the trifle with flaked almonds and hundreds and thousands (another nod to my childhood!). Very retro but yummy! Happy making, baking and Bake Off watching!

Sunday 2 August 2015

On Instagram In July

Happy August everyone! I hope you all had a lovely July. Today I'm looking back on July through my Instagram photos and I know I say this at the start of every new month, but seriously, didn't July wizz by?!

I've been keeping up my goal of walking more. I live in a small riverside town in Essex and my favourite place to walk is by the river. Mr Writer is a great bird spotter so when I walk with him it's amazing to find out how many species of bird inhabit the river

I'm not a sunbather but I do love to spend as much time outside in the summer months as I can, so I spent lots of time in the garden in July. The slide belongs to my niece, although she has told me I can use it!

Taking the opportunity to work on some knitting in the garden. Bourbons are one of my favourite biscuits and this giant one was a treat from my sister!

Sadly the weather wasn't always lovely in July, which caused a craft fair I was attending to ber rained off. We all got soaked and I had to quickly pack my work into the car. British summertime!

Nelson cat has had a lovely July spent napping and sunbathing- it's a cats life! I love how chilled out he is

Mr Writer works long hours and I'm often at work at the weekend so it's been nice this month to make more time to spend together. We have a couple of favourite cafes in our hometown and one of them does amazing milkshakes in every flavour you can imagine- these were Nutella flavour and they were so good!

I was chuffed to run a drop in needle felted beads workshop for 6 lovely ladies at The Made In Colchester Summer Fair. I was so pleased they enjoyed the workshops and I've got several more in the planning stage, I'm just confirming venues so watch this space!

There was a lovely atmosphere at The Made In Colchester Summer Fair- a good time had by all!

I made this Swarovski Crystal and freshwater pearl necklace as a gift for a friend. I find beading really therapeutic! I'm planning a range of these necklaces in different colours to release in my Etsy and Folksy Shops later this year- I'll keep you up to date on this!

I've been wearing my Fair Isle accessories lots. I love being able to wear knit even in hot weather!

Upcycled fabric and vintage button hairslide making, fueled by tea and my other favourite biscuits, chocolate digestives!

So that was July! What did you get up to in July?

 I'm looking forward to getting stuck into working on some new pieces in August, I'll be sure to share what I'm up to. If you'd like to follow me on Instagram you can find me here. I'd love to follow you too!