Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A short pause

As of today, I shall be taking a short break and pressing 'pause' on crafting, the business and work in general as I'm heading back to the Homeland for my sister's Big Fat Scottish Wedding.

Normal service will resume late next week!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

WIP: Becoming a bona fide business lady - update 1

In my last post re this WIP, I talked about the first steps I took to becoming a proper business. Well, the business course is over with now and for the most part I found it very interesting and helpful. Although, I haven't done anything with my profit and loss or cash flow sheets since then... numbers are just not my forte!

Today I want to update you on the most recent developments:

  • Princess Crafts products are now stocked in two shops - The Traditional Vintage Flower Company and Make Do and Mend. This makes me feel like a proper business!! And there's a long list of shops still to be contacted for opportunities!
  • I have two blog sponsorships here and here plus another one in the pipeline for the beginning of August.
  • I'm organising my very own craft market in August. This scares me but it's so exciting!
  • I have a number of events booked between now and Christmas plus a few more in the pipeline.
  • And I'm working on some new ideas for product lines and there is plenty more to come in the next few months!
Phew, that's just the highlights from the last few weeks but it does seem like things are coming together now and hopefully the run up to Christmas (sorry to say the C word!) will be busy and exciting!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Fabric related indecision

I'm a very decisive person and it is rare that I dither about trying to decide what to do. However this all changes when I visit my local fabric shop. Once I step foot in this fabric filled Aladdin's cave, I am so overcome with indecision that I can spend hours in there umming and ahhing about what to buy.

My most recent visit saw me going with no particualr needs but 'just for a look' and I came home with some fabulous fabrics that are just too nice to be chopped up and made into something! Take a look at these beauties!

Ginormous cupcakes!

Vintage style rose print


I have no idea what I will make with these, but for now I quite like looking at them and admiring their prettiness!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Embracing 'Previously Loved'

I don't really 'do' second hand stuff. There I said it. Shoot me now. Until last year, I hardly ever went to charity shops except to make donations. But when I started Princess Crafts, I found myself visiting charity shops and the odd antiques centre. I buy a lot of the china I use for my candles in charity shops and I do like the idea of taking something old and turning it into something new. But I'm still very picky selective and I still, on the whole, dislike charity shops. (It's the smell and the depressing nature of most of them that makes me want to spend as little time in there as possible.)

Mr PC has discovered an interest in visiting boot sales and has picked up some good finds. I absolutely refuse to get up so ridiculously early on a Sunday morning (or any morning, for that matter) to plod around a field looking at people's junk. I know one man's junk is another man's treasure, but as I said, I don't 'do' second hand. But he enjoys it and has bought some nice things for me to use for Princess Crafts, for ridiculously low prices.

There are a few good boot sales near us and there is one on a Saturday that starts at 11.30 (much more civilised, I say!) so we went along one day and while the turn out was dire due to the dubious weather, I did spot a lovely mirror which became mine after Mr PC bartered with the lady.

We have a rather dark hallway downstairs, so this mirror is perfect for shedding some light on the subject. It needed a good clean and I ditched the dodgy chain it's meant to hang from and whilst it's not worth anything, I think it looks quite expensive. 

I'm slowly adding to my collection of thrifted items and while I don't think I'll be wholly converted from brand spanking new and modern, I am now more open to previously loved items which I can give a new lease of life.

What thrifty finds have you had recently?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Garden Post

Today's post is over on the Garden Diaries page where I've loaded some pic of the first flowers in the garden. Go take a look!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Finished WIP: Granny Square Blanket

It is finally finished now and I'm really rather pleased with it!! I made this blanket up as I went along and I think it turned out pretty good!

The blanket measures 1m across and is made up of 36 large granny squares.

I finished the blanket with a large scalloped edging.

Some blanket facts

Weight : 800g
Balls of wool used: 16
Cost to make: £8
Hours to make: approx 40 hours (1hr per square + sewing and edging time)

Monday, 18 July 2011

My 1st Blog Award!!

The lovely Kath (read her blog here) who I know from Knit and Natter has given me the Versatile Blogger Award which I'm pretty chuffed about. My first blog award! I have to reveal seven facts about myself before passing the award onto seven other bloggers. So here we go:

1 - I am Scottish although I've not really lived in Scotland very much and I was actually born in Spain. People think I have a funny accent and many have tried to convince me that I am: South African, from the West Country, Australian, and even Canadian. This is incredibly annoying.

2 - I am bilingual and have spoken Spanish (as well as English) since I learned to speak. I also speak French and some Italian and have an MA (HONS) in Translation and Interpreting.

3 - I have lived in: Madrid, Puerto Rico, Edinburgh, Granada (Spain), Mons (Belgium), Billericay, and now I live in Braintree. Edinburgh is where my heart is and one day I'll live there again.

4 - I am rubbish at maths and generally steer away from even trying any difficult sums. I think this is to do with the fact that I changed schools as a kid and went from learning British maths then American maths (so different) and then back to British maths. Confusing!! I can actually do the same sum three times using a calculator and get three different answers... And don't even bother asking me about algebra...

5 - I absolutely cannot eat eggs. The mere thought of eating them makes me feel queasy. I can only eat eggs in cakes and in Spanish omelette if I have made it myself. My husband always has scrambled eggs for breakfast when we stay in hotels and it always makes me want to vomit. Bleugh, even just writing this has made my tummy flip over.

6 - I recently learned to crochet and absolutely love it! I have so many ideas of things I want to make and more styles I want to learn that sometimes I don't know where to start!

7 - I am impatient, hate being told what to do, and detest being late. If I am late, it's always because of someone else (usually my husband) and that really annoys me!

Ok, so now that you know a bit more about me, I nominate seven other bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award and they are:

Mrs Thrifty of A Thrifty Mrs
The Girl from Just Me
Clara from Welcome to My World
Hummingbird Vintage
Mrs Biddle from Mrs Biddle's Bits and Bobbins
Sami from Teasemade
Mollie from Wild Olive

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Ugly Side of Perfection

Recently in the blogging world, there have been murmurings about how blogs only shows the pretty/perfect/idyllic side of bloggers' lives and what an unrealisitc view readers get. To get what I mean, best read A Thrifty Mrs' blog posts and hte comments here and here.

This got me thinking about how blog readers only really get the image we as bloggers choose to portray. Nobody is perfect, and even 'showhomes' get dirty/untidy from time to time but no one is likely to read a blog that's all about how lazy you are with the housework and how crap your life really is.

In order to produce (hopefully) lovely photographs, I usually end up making the biggest mess ever. If I do a 'photo shoot' in the garden, all the chairs and pots need to move so they don't create unwanted shadows. If I take photos in the living room, all my ornaments/vases/candles get shoved out of the way in order to create the blank canvas on which I can place my items. If I take photos in my study then I have to shift all the junk paperwork off the desk. When I take photos for the Garden Diaries, I whiz round the garden tidying up the pots and take the washing line down first. And you can only imagine the state my dining room gets into when I have the sewing machine out! To create the look of tidiness, sometimes the only way to do it is by making a huge mess!

On this note, I thought I'd show you some 'behind the scenes' pics of what my living room looks like this week after Mr PC went to the school fair with all my wares. This stuff all lives up in the loft when it's not in use but for a number of excuses reasons, it's still lying around a week later. I will blame it on my busted up knee which has meant I can hardly stand or walk properly at the moment and therefore plenty of housework chores have gone undone.

Now, anyone who knows me will know that I am a tidy person and they'll probably think that my house is always spick and span. Well this is true to some extent, BUT sometimes life is too interesting for housework and I only do the dusting when we are having visitors!

So here, in all its untidy glory, is my living room!!

Opened boxes and stuff everywhere after a garden photoshoot

Half emptied drawers not put back together yet

Yes that is a mountain of ironing, and there's another lot hanging over the bannister!

Even Bubble is impressed with the mess!
So there it is, the reality of my bloggy 'perfection'!!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Creating a New Market

I have done a number of craft fairs in the last 6-7 months and have really enjoyed meeting other crafters and also the lovely peeps who buy things from our stalls. I'm tarting to get repeat visitors now which is super exciting! 

For me, meeting other like minded crafty folk is a big part of it and I do believe we should all support the handmade market. To my knowledge, there are no craft fairs in my immediate area but this does not mean that there are no artisans looking to sell their wares. After a particularly awful craft fair one weekend, I got thinking about what I felt went wrong with it and how it could have been better. This led me to thinking about what I would do if I was the organiser. And in turn, this has led me to creating my very own craft market!

I may be biting off more than I can chew, and it may go completely wrong and turn out to be a rubbish idea. But then again, it could go swimmingly and be a super successful day which can turn into a regular event..! Who knows, but I'm going to give it my best shot!!

The very first Braintree Food and Craft Market will be on Saturday 20th August 2011 at the Braintree Community Centre 10am-4pm and my aim for this event is to make it fun for all the family. More details on what will be on offer will follow in due course, but for now I'm searching for stall holders so I am unashamedly shouting out to all foodies and crafters in the Braintree/Essex area who would be interested in having a stall at this new up and coming market to get in touch!!

More info about the Braintree Food and Craft Market can be found here but you can also email me: adminATprincesscraftsDOTcoDOTuk

Please please please tell everybody about this market as without public support these events cannot survive so I urge you all to come along, bring a friend and tell everybody you know!!!!

Thank you!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Mr PC runs the stall

Last Saturday I had a stall booked at a school PTA fair but managed to double book myself with my sister's hen night. I could only attend one event so obviously went to the hen night (I was organising it) which meant that my lovely Mr PC did the stall for me at the school!!

Not many hubbies would do that for their wifey so I am a lucky girl. Mr PC always comes to my events and helps me out so I wasn't concerned about him doing this one on his own altho I did think it might dent his street cred standing there with all my really girlie stuff, seeing as he works at the school! He didn't mind and actually had a pretty successful day! He even took pics of the stall with his fancy new camera, so here they are for you to admire:

Looks good doesn't it? Might get him to do some more stalls...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

New Product: Phone covers

Hello! Here we are, it's Wednesday again, which means we're halfway through the week, woo!!

I've been experimenting with some new ideas and putting my crochet skills to good use and so have created some phone covers. If like me, you hate getting your gadgets bashed and sratched, then these might be right up your street!

Crocheted phone covers

These little pouches fit snug over the phone and will act as a barrier to sratched and scrapes, particularly when in your bag.

Burgandy and light blue - £5

Royal blue with silver fleck - £5

At the moment, these goodies are available exclusively on my Facebook page, so shout if you'd like one for your phone or gadget. I can make them any size you need! More colours and patterns to follow soon so keep an eye out.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wedding makes

As I've mentioned, my sister is getting married soon and we had the hen night at the weekend. I thought I'd show some pics of a few things I did for her.

Customised veil with sparkly beads

Customised keepsake box

A few keepsakes for the box

What wedding related makes have you made?

Monday, 11 July 2011

I Do Cookies

A few months ago I spotted some bride and groom cookie cutters and just had to have them. I first used them for my Royal Wedding Tea Party but the real reason I bought them is cos my sister is getting married soon and so I used them to make cookies for the hen night. I used the vanilla biscuit recipe from The Great British Book of Baking (tie in with BBC2's Great British Bake Off) and I must say they were rather tasty!

I also made some heart shapes just to mix it up a bit.

Decorating these cookies was a challenge. Royal icing is not my friend so I decided to steer clear of that. Last time I made a sugar icing it didn't dry out and they all stuck together. Fondant icing is too much effort for a few cookies. So, I thought I'd be smart and use some 'ready to use' icing from Sainsbury's and I bought a pink tube and a white tube of Silver Spoon Designer Icing.

I've never seen this kind of icing before and am quite impressed to see it comes with three nozzles!

Normally I wouldn't 'cheat' and would make the icing myself, but sometimes life is too short for the aggro icing causes me. So I was feeling quite smug about it all as I was coming home from the shop

Long story short, this icing is CRAP. I had to squeeze the tube so hard I instantly had cramp and maintaining the pressure is just not possible. The icing comes out really thick and gunky and is almost impossible to control. I did a few test runs with the star nozzle and the stupid icing wouldn't stay put when I tried to take the nozzle away.

I'm pretty nifty with an icing bag so I was unimpressed at how difficult this stupid tube is to use. I decided maybe it was because the icing was too cold, so popped it in some hot water to see if that loosened it up. WRONG. This just intensified the not-quite-set jelly consistency. At this point I was inventing some new swear words and cursing the stupid idea of cutting corners with shop bought icing. I thought the white tube might be different but alas it was the same crapola as the pink stuff...

Crappy icing

So, I ditched the silver spoon crap and dug out some 'icing pens' from my supply box and got to work. Ahh, much better!

See how much fatter the pink stuff is?

The end result was actually quite good, and I'm most impressed at my freehand bow ties on the grooms. I'm rubbish at drawing but they came out quite well. (Altho my mum thought the grooms were penguins...)

The cookies were scoffed at the hen night and everyone asked about the recipe. We also had some adorable cupcakes courtesy of one of the other bridesmaids. These were really good!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Happy Birthday

Today Princess Crafts turns 1!!

A whole year ago today, Princess Crafts started as a hobby/blog and in that time it has developed into a real business. To celebrate, I have decided to offer a 20% discount on everything in my Etsy shop!

AND for the very 1st person to make a purchase, there will be an additional suprise gift!

So, head over to my shop right now and see what you fancy! Use promo code HAPPY at the checkout to get your 20% off until Wed 13th July.

Happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

WIP: Granny Squares - update 2

In a previous post I wrote about my growing pile of Granny Squares and I just thought I'd let you know that these are now all crocheted together and I'm now working on the edging to finish off the blanket!

I have no pics of this current stage as I'm too eager to get it done and show you the finished article in all its glory (a bit like a painter who won't show his work til it's finished).

If anyone knows of a good edging I could use to finish it off, please let me know! Watch this space for the finished pics...

My next crochet project might be to have a go at one of these. I just HAVE to know how to make these ripples!!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Garden Diaries

Yesterday I mentioned Mr PC is a bit green-thumbed and likes to grow fruit and veg. Well there's a whole page dedicated to his growing efforts! Go take a look and see what we've got growing in our garden.

This is what our garden looked like in 2008 when we moved into our house:

And this is what is looks like now!!

 You'd hardly believe it's the same space...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Apple and Raspberry Cake

Since we moved into our house three years ago, Mr PC has developed an interest in gardening and mainly 'growing food' as he puts it. This year we have had a bumper crop of raspberries and we can hardly pick and eat them quick enough! I love rasps but rarely buy them as they are expensive and generally tasteless, so having an endless (free) supply has been fab! 7 kilos of fruit and counting!

Rampant rasps

Aside from scoffing them straight off the plants (who, me?) or eating them in a flan, I've been keen to find some other uses for them so when A Thrifty Mrs posted a few days ago with a new cake recipe, I jumped at the chance to get baking! As if I need an excuse...

Apple and raspberry cake = num yummy

And let me just say, it was so good, that there is none left! It didn't even last a whole 24 hours. I urge you to make it!
On the subject of cake, I also made a raspberry cheesecake at the weekend from Cake Days and while it tasted great, it looked rather sloppy. I think this was to do with the bain marie you cook it in which I think caused some water to get in the mixture, making it slightly loose. I guess I'll just have to make it again to get it right...

What have you been baking recently?
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