In My Studio · Uncategorized

My feature in Your Home Magazine

Several months ago I was approached by a local journalist who writes articles for a number of interior magazines. The journalist expressed a real interest in my house and asked if I would be interested in an upcoming magazine feature. At the time, it wasn’t yet decided which magazine it would be featured in (if any), but I was thrilled to later discover that ‘Your Home Magazine’ decided to run the feature in the ‘February 2017’ issue.

The journalist and photographer spent a whole day in my house once the house had been given the ‘go ahead’. Photographs were taken and a recorded interview was conducted, which would later be included in the magazine.

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember a craft room tour I gave you last June. I run the party business and blog full time from home, so it’s always been really important to me to make my surrounding space as inspiring and cosy as possible. I absolutely love prettifying my workspace and I’m constantly moving things around and adding more beautiful things to it. I treat the rest of my home very similar to this, as you may gather from the photographs, and I really do have a lot of fun with it.

craft-room3craftroom10craft-room4

Felix and Mabel took centre stage on one of the magazine photographs, so they are now famous, probably being admired by many… *giggles..* Blossom (our red miniature poodle, pictured left) was not living with us at the time, so she wasn’t included in the photo shoot. She’s not one to miss out though, so here she is pictured below, reading the article whilst Felix takes a long, lazy afternoon nap!

blog781craftroom8

Mabel (pictured above) is certainly not one to miss out on a blog feature, so here she is posing in my craft room for you.

It really did mean a lot to be featured in the interiors magazine. Our experience of buying a new build house really wasn’t the best, and at times, I am happy to openly admit that it has been very testing. As first time buyers, our budget has been stretched which won’t come as a great suprise to anybody, so I feel we’ve had to work just that extra little bit harder to fill and decorate our four bedroom house.

In someways, this has worked out absolutely perfectly, as the house has had a lot personality and charm injected into it – something which can sometimes be more of a challenge to achieve when the house has been decorated out of a catalogue. I definitely have nothing against that way of decorating, but for somebody like myself who loves handmade touches – it couldn’t have worked out better.

After living in the house for what is coming up to two years this year, inevitably there are a few more things we would like to do to the house. This to me is quite comforting as I love a good ‘work in progress’ and it means everything can be well considered.

I have some really exciting things planned for my shop this year, particularly in terms of my stationery range, and I genuinely feel like it’s going to be the best year yet for my business. I hope you’ll stay with me to see where the year takes me! All the very best for 2017 and thank you for reading!

Uncategorized

Ho Ho Ho… It’s Christmas Party Time

party7party5

Anyone who knows me well will know that I take any opportunity possible to host a party. I just absolutely love the excitement of the planning, the fun in preparing and decorating and the pure joy of seeing all of my guests enjoy themselves. It’s just an absolutely fabulous feeling and I’d probably host one a week if I was given the chance!

I set up a fortnightly crochet club whilst living in Bath, Somerset a few years ago and I’m really happy to say that it is still running on a regular basis. Last year we enjoyed a Christmas meal together at a local restaurant, but I thought it would be really lovely to host a Christmas house party this year. Andrew (my husband) and I moved away from Bath to buy our first house almost two years ago and we live in a fairly rural location. Most people travelled over an hour or more to get to us so I really wanted to show everybody how grateful I was for travelling so far and spending their weekend with us.

party3

I have lots (some would say far too many) cookbooks in my personal collection. They really do come in handy at times like this. I flicked through them all a few days before the party and chose a few party nibble recipes. The day before the party (on the Friday morning), I woke up very early, did the food shopping and began preparation. I finally finished the preparation at 6:30pm the evening before the party and treated myself to a hearty portion of fish and chips and a large glass of wine afterwards… (which I have to say went down very well!)

The party menu consisted of:

  1. Savoury Cheese Palmiers
  2. Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls
  3. Cheese Filled Christmas Tree Biscuits
  4. Sweet Chilli, Cream Cheese, Basil and Tomato ‘Holly’ Biscuits
  5. Cheese Selection
  6. Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with Meri Meri ‘Nutcracker’ cupcake toppers
  7. Chocolate Orange Layer Cake with ‘Christmas scene’ decorations
  8. Hot Chocolate Decorating Station
  9. Winter Mocktails
  10. Sweet Chilli Crisps

Recipes were courtesy of the following books, which I thoroughly recommend for any party:

Cupcakes From The Primrose Bakery, Great British Bake Off: Children’s Party Bakes and Cakes, Home-Baked Gifts With Love: Marks and Spencer.

party6party9

Notice one of our miniature poodles hiding underneath the table? Obviously all of the food preparation she did tired her out… *giggles. You’ll also probably notice the very grey weather outside. Luckily the party was indoors, so we didn’t need to worry too much about the rain outside (typical British weather for this time of year, which is perfect for feeling cosy indoors but can make photography rather challenging!)

img_8337party4

Alongside the Winter ‘Mocktails’ I thought a ‘Hot Chocolate Bar’ would be a fabulous idea. I had some Whittards Luxury Hot Chocolate in the cupboard, so this was made with milk and served with a very generous amount of cream. My guests then helped themselves to a rather indulgent selection of chocolates, mini gingerbread men and marshmallows. All of this was served in my rather beautiful Cath Kidston trays and Santa mugs.

party10party2

When Andrew and I lived in London several years ago, we started a tradition of going to see the Nutcracker Ballet on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately since moving to the South West, we haven’t been able to keep the tradition. As soon as I saw these Meri Meri cupcake toppers, the happy memories rushed back and I just had to have them. They looked beautiful and were very well received by our friends.

For the cake, I used a Ginger Ray ‘Merry Christmas’ cake bunting topper, which did a perfect job of helping a standard chocolate cake stand out on a Christmas party table. I also used some edible toadstools and non edible reindeers to finish the Winter scene. The red, green and white sprinkles and chocolate orange Lindt balls were extra additions I added to give the cake that extra special touch.

party1party8

My friend of 15 years, Laurie (left) stayed with me (right) this weekend before starting an exciting new life in Dubai, so here we are posing for a photograph before the party (and enjoying a festive tipple or two) before the guests arrived! My Mum kindly sent the miniature poodles some Christmas jumpers, just to ensure they were dressed for the occasion (of course).

img_8348

Here are some of the beautiful gifts I was given at the party. Many people also bought useful items along with them which were used at the party and were very well received. One of my other gifts (not pictured as of yet)  is now living on our Christmas tree! This was a crocheted tree decoration wrapped in beautiful tissue paper. I adore handmade gifts and it will be treasured for years to come! How special is that?

I’m pleased to say that the party was a huge success and we all had an absolute blast. So much so, we completely forgot to take photographs after this point… doh! (a sign of good times, hey?!) Do you have a party (or two) planned this Christmas? If so, have a super duper time and I really hope you enjoyed seeing lots of snippets of ours!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2017 and thank you for all of your support this year.

 

 

Makers Monday · Uncategorized

Makers Monday, featuring RubyRedcrafts

The first instalment of Makers Monday was a real success and I’m bursting with excitement to share the second one with you! This week, I’ve decided to introduce you to RubyRedcrafts who has the most adorable Etsy shop. Rachel Whitworth is the creative genius behind Rubyredcrafts and hand makes pretty decorative homewares, party decor and gifts, all made with plenty of love and TLC in the Oxfordshire countryside.

I first discovered Rachel through Instagram and it’s been lovely to see the ‘behind the scenes’ photographs and general snippets of her day-to-day life.

red, white, pink and blue fabric heart garland

rainbow coloured fabric heart garland

One of the things I love the most about Rachel’s work are the vibrant colours she uses. They all work so well together and have such a happy feel about them. The photography used is perfect, as the neutral background really allows the garlands to shine. If I had any one of these garlands hanging on my wall, they would certainly put a smile on my face every time I caught sight of them.

pink, yellow and green fabric heart garland

Red Polkadot and Floral Fabric Heart Garland

I can imagine these garlands making anywhere look special really, but especially for a party. These garlands would make any dessert table come to life, or would even look perfect hanging from multiple places in a wedding venue. I’ve noticed a long standing wedding trend for vintage suitcases and crates being used as wedding card holders. Any of these garlands would work incredibly well for that and would add a very special touch to your wedding day.

il_fullxfull.306195514

If you’re a dog lover like me, you’re bound to love this scottie dog garland. Again, the colours used are just lovely and the fabric choices are stunning. Just please don’t tell my miniature poodles, Felix and Mabel that I have been looking at scottie dogs, as they will not be best pleased, ssssh!

I’m not sure what the weather is like in your part of the world today, but it’s rather dismal in Somerset, so these gorgeous creations have done a pretty good job in cheering me up. I hope they have made you happy too! I look forward to sharing the next Makers Monday post with you and hope you’re feeling super inspired!

 

 

In My Studio · Uncategorized

Homemaker Magazine features Paper Doily

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.47.45

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.48.42

Today is a very special day, as I’ve been featured in the current issue of Homemaker Magazine as their Reader Maker. Issue 40 is out for sale today and is absolutely wonderful. Friday has surely got to be the most perfect day for any magazine of this kind to come out, right? An entire weekend ahead dedicated to stitching, knitting, crochet and patchwork? Yes please!

Reading the article this morning really got me thinking about how much I’ve achieved with Paper Doily since setting it up in 2014. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day living without taking the time to look back and appreciate the milestones you’ve made along the way.

I’ve received a lot questions lately about what advice I have for crafters starting out on a similar business path. I feel the above article really sums a lot of these questions up, whilst hopefully inspiring others, giving them the confidence they need to get going. Having faith in yourself and your work throughout the good times and the bad times is a fundamental quality in staying on the path to success. There will be absolutely wonderful times ahead where you feel you are on top of the world, followed by the times where life/day to day tasks just get on top of you completely. Keeping your faith, continuing to put in the hard work required and staying motivated are important qualities, and ones which will see you through well!

I thought it would be very helpful to share my top 10 tips for starting your own craft business with you, derived from my experience since starting out almost two years ago.

  1. Write a business plan and ask yourself what it is about your product/s that potential customers will want. Do you feel your products will be desirable?
  2. Who are your customers and where will you find them?
  3. Establish who your competitors are and ask yourself what your business can offer differently. Originality will set you apart from the rest.
  4. Have a marketing/advertising strategy. You can offer the most amazing products but without making a name for yourself and making others aware of your products, your business just won’t be sustainable long term.
  5. Spend a reasonable amount of time on pricing your products, it should not be an after thought. Find out what your customers are willing to pay and what other business costs to factor into your pricing model. Ensure you are not operating at a loss and avoid a ‘race to the bottom’ by lowering prices if you are struggling to sell. Instead, assess whether you are reaching the right target market and make adjustments to the product if you feel it is necessary.
  6. Identify your suppliers and try to make a good/long lasting relationship with them.
  7. What is your key asset? What is it about your business that will help you win potential customers?
  8. Stay motivated. There will be times when life just gets in the way of business (as explained above). Have some coping strategies in place. I live in the countryside and tend to take myself off on a long stroll. I’m also a serial list maker, so I tend to break down difficult tasks into small pieces if the task at hand seems too much.
  9. Stay on top of your accounts. Google drive is very handy for this. It will help you to avoid long amounts of unnecessary work when you could be doing more enjoyable tasks, such as being creative (as you do best!)
  10. Have fun! Remind yourself why you started your business in the first place and constantly come back to this at moments of struggle. It will keep you motivated and will help you to stay grounded!

 

I really hope you enjoyed reading. If you have any more questions or comments then please let me know, I’d love to hear from you. Have a lovely weekend and thank you so much for visiting my blog!

 

DIY Party Crafts · Uncategorized

Paper Doily Makes: Christmas Tree Cupcake Liner Garland

xmas tree 8

1 xmas tree

xmas tree 2

As my regular readers may know, I moved house in July of this year and have just taken the festive decorations out of storage. This house is a brand new build, so it’s the first time it’s been decorated for Christmas. How special is that? I’ve loved giving it lots of festive cheer over the past few weeks.

I’m still getting to know where certain decorations are best placed and I’ve moved the Christmas tree twice already. Yes, really! I happened to have a really bare wall in the hallway and thought I’d make something bright and colourful to cheer it up a little. I enjoy hand making at least one decoration each year, as it feels much more unique and special than purchasing, doesn’t it?

Anyway, with that ramble over, I just wanted to let you know that I had so much fun making this christmas tree garland that I decided to make a tutorial for you. Excited? Once you’ve found the materials below, you’ll be good to go. You’ll need:

Materials:

  • A selection of your favourite cupcake liners/wrappers
  • Double sided selotape
  • Clear selotape
  • Scissors
  • Star paper cutter (optional)
  • Twine, thread or ribbon
  • Glitter Paper, or other complimentary decorative paper

 

Method:

xmas tree 3

xmas tree 4

First of all, take 3 of your cupcake liners/wrappers and fold them in half, and in half again, like so.

xmas tree 5

xmas tree 6

Cut three small strips of double sided selotape and attach them to the inside of all of your cupcake liners/wrappers, like so. After you’ve done that, turn your trees over to their reverse side.

Place them together exactly where you want them (in the shape of a tree) and take two strips of clear selotape. Place the selotape on top of the middle and bottom pointed edges on the reverse side. Turn your tree over to the correct side and you should have something similar to the image above.

I used different sized cupcake liners/wrappers for my garland which created a beautiful layered effect. I had some mini cupcake wrappers in the cupboard, similar to what you’d use for making truffles, petits fours etc. These worked very well in giving the garland a bit of interest/uniqueness.

xmas tree 7

If you have a star shaped paper cutter, now is the time to cut out stars for your Christmas trees. You can either use a small piece of double sided selotape to attach it to the tree, or some glue. I used glitter paper for the stars, but any paper that works well with your theme will do the trick.

If you don’t have a star paper cutter, it’s not a problem. You can just draw the outline to a star on the reverse side of the glitter paper and use a sharp pair of scissors to cut it out. You also don’t have to use star shapes, heart shapes would look nice, as would most other decorative shapes.

xmas tree 9

xmas tree 10

Once you’ve made enough trees for your desired garland length, take your ribbon or twine and your trusty clear selotape. Turn your Christmas trees onto their reverse sides, with the twine laid out in front of you. Cut a small strip of clear tape per tree and attach them together by placing a small strip of the clear tape in between the twine and the back of the paper star. Voila!

You now have yourself a beautiful Christmas tree garland made out of inexpensive materials and plenty of love and care. Enjoy and do let me know if I’ve inspired you to make your own!

DIY Party Crafts · Uncategorized

Paper Doily Makes: DIY Christmas Gift Wrapping

christmaswrap1

christmaswrap2

Happy December all! It’s that time of year when Christmas shopping becomes a priority for many of you, as do copious amounts of toasty hot chocolates with marshmallows, right? I absolutely love gift wrapping, so I usually wrap the gifts as immediately as possible after getting them home. However, I do realise this isn’t normal and many people leave gift wrapping until the last minute.

There is such an incredible selection of gift wrapping available, the choice can be overwhelming. I personally like to have one specific theme, so all of my gifts look beautifully styled and uniform under the Christmas tree. Brown paper, available from most stationery shops and supermarkets is my favourite wrapping paper to use. If you’re anything like me and happen to have a very large patterned paper stash, you can really go to town with the personalisation. The brown paper gives the gifts a fabulously blank canvas, meaning you can use any colour, theme or style of paper on top of it.

For these gifts here, I used the brown packing paper as a base and then simply cut several strips of patterned paper, attaching them to the present with double sided sticky tape. (Remember not to use too much of this though, given as though they need to be relatively easy to open on the big day). I’ve been rather guilty of making presents too hard to unwrap before, sometimes wrapping them in several layers of paper to add to the anticipation. I’ll be quiet now, shall I!?

christmaswrap3

christmaswrap4

I bought a star paper cutter from Hobbycraft some time ago. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just happen to love using them. I have them in all shapes and sizes and decided to make little star wands and star embellishments for the gift tags.

The star wands were made by cutting two stars out of equal size. I then took a bamboo skewer and some double sided selotape. (Selotape becomes a lifesaver this time of year, doesn’t it?) I turned both stars over onto their reverse side and attached several strips of double sided tape to them. I then placed the skewer on top of one of the stars and finished the wand by placing the remaining star on top of it. The beautiful thing about the star wands, is that they can also be used as cake or cupcake toppers or placed in clear jars as table decorations, meaning the theme can run through your house this Christmas.

You may have also noticed a patterned peg in one of the images above also? This is a washi tape peg and can easily be created at home and used for your Christmas gift wrapping. You can see my earlier washi tape peg tutorial here.

The brown gift tags were purchased from Amazon some time ago. I used my small star paper cutter to cut out several silver glittery stars and attached them to each gift tag with a small strip of double sided selotape. I left a space for writing the recipients name. A gold pen would be perfect for this. You can also handstamp the gift tags like I have done here. (scroll down to number three).

I had some beautiful, sparkly gold sewing thread left over from a previous project. This was wrapped around the present horizontally and threaded through the gift tag. I cut a second, smaller piece of the gold thread and used it to attach the wand to the gift tag and main piece of gold thread. Alternatively you can use decorative ribbon or twine, the choice is yours entirely.

Voila! I’m so happy to show you the final result above, which I am very pleased with! I really hope I have inspired you to start your Christmas gift wrapping earlier than usual. Do let me know if you decide to use my tutorial as a basis for your gift wrapping, I’d love to know.

 

Party Craft Tutorials · Uncategorized

Paper Doily Makes: Crochet Christmas Stocking

stocking1

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without stockings, right? Anybody who knows me well knows that it doesn’t take much effort for me to get into the festive spirit. I’ve been known to have a fully decorated Christmas tree in the lounge by mid November before, but this year I’m trying to be very controlled by holding off until December 1st. How very grown up of me. *giggles!

I browsed the web for an easy crocheted Christmas stocking pattern and happened to come across this. It’s an American pattern, so be sure to use a crochet stitch conversion chart if you’re based elsewhere. Being the creative person that I am, I didn’t feel like using the specified yarn, colours or finish suggested. I free-styled and feel very pleased with the final result. I feel it’s one step further to writing my own patterns, which I’m keen to experiment with in the new year.

For the crocheted bow, there are a multitude of patterns online, I used the Kat Goldin one and added some pom poms for extra prettiness.

stocking2

Here’s a close up. I’m very tempted to make a second stocking with a light pink bow for a real kitsch Christmas kind of feel. I can imagine this stocking hanging from a pretty fireplace until Christmas Eve, when it’s obviously only right to leave it at the end of your bed. These crocheted stockings also make the perfect gift for a special family member or friend as they are reasonably quick to make. (I spent a few hours each evening, over the course of a few days crocheting mine). I think handmade gifts add that extra special touch to Christmas and surely mean so much more to the recipient when you’ve put your heart and soul into it.

DSC_3018

As Felix (the miniature poodle) spent so many hours cuddling me whilst I was crocheting the stocking, I felt it was only right to include his picture. Here he is doing what he does best, snoozing!

I really hope I’ve inspired your Christmas crafting and I’m looking forward to working on many more crafty blog posts in the coming weeks. I’d love to hear from you and see your results if you decide to crochet this beautiful stocking.