10 things I learnt in the first 5 months of running my Etsy shop

I've been running my little Etsy for the past 5 months, and although I'm not yet shifting any real volumes or making a profit, it definitely has consumed A LOT of my time. So much so, that I've put it on holiday mode until 10th Jan to give me a bit of rest.

In the past 5 months, I've learnt a lot...I can't wait to see what 2017 brings!

1) People are lovely 
I've had some lovely messages from customers telling me how much they love their items, and it never fails to put a smile on my face!

2) Some people...not so much
I've actually only encountered two nasty people, but they both really threw me! The first didn't read the listing of the thing she bought, and when I offered her a refund if she returned it, hurled abuse at me - some pretty nasty stuff! The second was lovely at checkout, but because her international order didn't arrive within 2 weeks due to postal delays, she start sending me nasty messages full of caps lock shouting. Baaaaah. I've got to admit, both these encounters really put me off, and I considered stopping my Etsy, which is a shame as it brings me so much joy!

3) SEO is SO important and Etsy always change their algorithyms.
I didn't know anything about tags and wasn't getting many views, but as soon as I made some tweaks with wording, my views shot up1

4) As is recognition by bloggers, Reddit, etc
I've had a couple of bloggers link to my rings, and someone linked to one of my necklaces on Reddit. Not only did it make my traffic jump, but it made me really happy that people out there thought my work was worth linking too!

5) and Instagram, You NEED to nail Instagram. And product photography.
There's SO many beautiful things on Instagram, and I've often found a lovely Etsy shop through their posts. I've been tweaking my Instagram recently, and you can find it here...I've also enlisted the help of a local photography studio to help with my product photography, so I'll show you those when they're ready!

6) Crafting communities are lovely
I've met so many lovely people on Instagram - they're all so supportive!

7) Shipping is expensive yo', and mega unreliable
Like £9 to send something tracked overseas, and £5 for non-tracked. It's supposed to only take 2 weeks, but has been taking 4 of late :(

8) Reviews take over your life
Like, really. I live for those little 5 stars of validation.. Aforementioned crazy abuse lady left me a 1 star review and I cried. I don't think people realise how much reviews mean to people behind the Etsy shops - we're pretty much all one girl bands!

9) Fees. Fees everywhere.
Etsy fees, PayPal fees...tax...

10) It can be the best thing ever and OMG so stressful.
because of all of the above.

Do you run an Etsy store? Send me your link!

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine...

I had a lovely surprise from Cotton Traders the other day as part of their Making Christmas Warmer campaign (from which I stole this photo) - a delivery man rang the bell and handed me a huge hamper full of lovely Christmas bits. I ended up splitting the hamper between James and a few people at work as they were all in the office this week - I definitely think the lovely biscuits and Christmas tunes helped ease the pain! (I luckily have been off all week...but trying to run my Etsy which has proven to be quite the headache...) It was very much appreciated, and put everyone in a lovely festive mood!

We've just arrived at the in-laws for Christmas as I type this, and I'm starting to feel a bit more cheery - 2016 has been a tough year, but the presents under the tree and the dining room set up is thawing me* - we also have mix and match penguin Christmas jumpers which I can't wait for!

We've done a couple of Christmas markets this year - just Winchester and Southampton and I'm starting to go off them slightly - they just seem to be the same every year! We're having mulled wine wine tomorrow, which is pretty much the best thing about Christmas markets so really I could have stayed at home.

What are you doing to put yourself in a Christmassy mood? Let me know on Twitter!


(*I think it's because Christmas falls on a weekend - everyone just seems exhausted and a bit overworked at the moment :( )

Life lately...December 2016

Sundays are for lazing about, drinking coffee and not doing particularly much. Which is good. Because that's all I've done.

Truth be told, I'm still nursing a hangover from Friday's Christmas party, which I wasn't going to go to until I found out I passed my last exam and am now an exam qualified Chartered Accountant. Woooo. Our kids are going to be so nerdy.

Anyway. I also spent Friday having an amazing spa treatment at the Lush Poole Spa. I went for The Spell, which is based on foot reflexology and was complete bliss. I would thoroughly recommend it - it's the second treatment I've had there and they've both been utterly wonderful. I'm definitely going to go again pre-wedding...which is now only in 4 month's time - eek!

I do actually have to get up from my blanket fort on the sofa watching The Vampire Diaries - we're going to James' cousins for Christmas tea (I think they're going to Sydney or Belfast or somewhere exotic for Christmas day). I think I'm going to wear my beautiful new Zara jumper I got myself as a treat (along with some other bits...). It's made out of gorgeous velvet wool and is a stunning olive green colour. I finally got round to replacing the chain on my bear constellation necklace that James got me, so I can wear it to death again! On that note, I've actually got some similar ones in the works for my Etsy, but hummingbird based.

Actually, going off on a tangent. My Etsy has been MENTAL this month, in a good way, but also turns out to be the source of ultimate stress. I knew as I expanded I'd hit problems, but people don't seem to realise I am a one girl band. The amount of messages I get about postage time to the US is insane! It takes forever, and there's literally nothing I can do about it. People also get pretty nasty when I tell them I don't have tracking info as they didn't select tracked shipping. Another sad point of the month was that I got a nasty one star review from someone saying they didn't like their ring - this was the first I heard about it - I pride myself on customer service and even do returns, but they just didn't say anything to me! I admit I had a little bit of a cry over that. As much as I like my teeny tiny little shop, sometimes I just want to hide from my phone.

Time for a cheeky plug! I'm going to have a January Blues sale in the new year with all my blue items reduced :)

I'm now off work until Jan 3rd and I couldn't be more excited! I've got all the Christmas stuff wrapped and have got all the Christmas jumpers sorted. Now lots of time to relax, sort out the flat and sort out my Etsy - I've got loads of new photos and products planned :D

I'm jetting off to New Jersey again for work for January, but this time I'm managing the (very small) team so I'm a little bit terrified! Can't wait for the shopping though...

Turns out I didn't take that many photos this season...so here's a picture of the jumper instead!

Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes

I know I’ve been away from my blog for a while, but there’s no point in saying something for the sake of it is there? To be honest I’ve just been super busy, and haven’t had the chance to update my lil’ space on the internet. I know, I know, I said that last time too…

Anyway. I’ve FINALLY read another book, and it’s this corker. Hidden Bodies is another one by Caroline Kepnes, and follows directly on from ‘You’, a book I reviewed here and a slightly less than charming guy named Joe and his…ahem…adventures with his then girlfriend, Beck.

In this book, Beck is long gone (literally) and Joe has moved on. In fact, he’s fallen head over heels for another girl whom he met in almost the same way. Obviously, she breaks our poor protagonist’s heart by moving away, and he does everything he can to get her back…

The story follows Joe on his journey to Hollywood and his dealings with socialites along the way – one of whom he thinks is the one – the only problem is hiding his past from her…

Like You, this is very well written, but I do recommend reading You first for this to make any sense. Joe is very much as deranged and psychotic as he was last time round, so this book really isn’t for anyone who gets easily creeped out.

Again, you do end up feeling sorry for him at some points, which made me question my moral compass!

Check out what other books I've been reading as part of my 25 before 25 challenge here!

Smokey bacon and bean warming winter stew

I was recently set the challenge of creating a meal for four people for under £5 to see show that is is possible to eat properly at the end of the month when you've spent all your money - that and it was the perfect opportunity for me to start budgeting properly - we have a wedding and house buying on the horizon, and I still don't know where all our money goes! So, I brainstormed, flicked through our recipe books and got used to using my slow cooker! (this thing is a dreeeam.)

Anyway. I came up with this BBQ bean stew and hotfootted it to LIDL to get all the ingredients - that place is SO cheap, I have no idea why I haven't been before. (I've assumed you've already got the herbs and spices in your store cupboard - if you haven't, then you probably need to start one!) 

I went slightly over £5, but that's because I ended up with FAR more veg than I needed - which is perfect as these can be used the rest of the week. Or, to keep it under £5 or have a veggie option, switch out the bacon for sweet potatos.

This meal creates 4 servings - 2 of which we had on the night, and 2 we boxed up and put in the freezer for another day!

You will need: (Lidl prices)
1 red onion (56p for 4!)
2 carrots (43p for a bag!)
2 cloves of garlic (89p for 4 bulbs)
Pack of bacon (£1.69)
Kidney beans (33p a can)
Butter beans (any beans will do though) (30p a can)
Tomato passata (35p)
Squirt of BBQ Sauce (72p)
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

It's super easy to make, you just peel and chop the veg, chop the bacon and put it with all of the beans and other stuff into the slow cooker. Leave on for a few hours until cooked.


25 before 25 update #4

October was a bit of a quiet month for me blog wise, and that is because everything else was insanely busy! I just didn't have time to sit down and update my little space on the internet (mainly because all my free time was devoted to my Etsy...) and now that I have, I don't know what to write. I've been insanely tired lately, and a lil bit stressed as I just have SO MUCH going on right now (read: final exam) and I'm just generally a bit drained and uninspired. I have lots of ideas about where I want to be, but getting there might not be particularly easy or quick.

Anyway. I'm rambling. Let's be positive. I have actually ticked quite a few things off my 25 in 25 since my last update!

11) Pass all my ACA exams - In progress! 14 down, 1 to go!

21) Melt marshmallows on a campfire - Done! James and I went to an amazing cabin in the woods and it was perfect! Read about it here.

22) Read 50 new books - In progress! 39/50 - read about them here. I'm so surprised I've got this far! I might be able to finish it during the Christmas holidays...maybe.

24) Run a half marathon - Done! I completed the Royal Parks half marathon in London, and it was SUCH an amazing day. I didn't do it in a great time, but I'm no runner, so I'm just so happy I finished. (I did cheat a bit and stop for sweet tea and cake in an ambulance, but who doesn't like a tea break eh?)

Wool - Hugh Howey

Wool Hugh Howey

Another book in my 50 before 25 quest, and this time a dystopian future where everyone lives in an underground silo, in the form of Wool by Hugh Howey. (Bit different from everything else I've read!)

First off, fair warning - this book is very long, with very small text and is extremely addictive! Make sure you have a fair amount of time spare, because you won't want to stop half way through!

I picked this up because on our trip to the US, our senior manager at work said how she was obsessed with it - she's usually got a pretty good taste in books, so I took her word for it. It's actually the first in a trilogy, so I'm going to have to grab the others too now!

In terms of readabililty, it's easy to understand and flows well - the story doesn't let up, and it sucks you right in.

The story mainly follows Juliette, a mechanic, who is sentenced to 'cleaning' - that is, basically, going outside in the toxic air and cleaning the cameras...and dying whilst you're up there. I don't want to ruin it, so I'll just say she discovers thing aren't as they seem, and aims to pull the wool from over people's eyes...

If you can't tell, I love this book and would 100% recommend it if you're into sci-fi and fantasy - I'll definitely be stocking up on the sequels when I can!

Have you read Wool or any of the sequels? What did you think? Tweet me!

Who are You? - Megan Henley

Ahhh, another book in my my READING QUEST... (See my other conquests HERE...)

Oh gosh. 

I feel like before you continue reading, you should just note this is entirely my opinion, and you should give it a shot yourself before forming any impressions.

That being said...

I just don't know where to start with this one. 

I read it all in one go on the train to London, and it was utterly awful. Like, so bad I can't believe it's a book. It is so completely farcical. It is supposed to be based on a real life story, but I can't believe anyone is that stupid - it MUST have been warped into something un-recognisable, otherwise I really fear for humanity.

Basically, Megan meets a guy called Vic online, he turns out to be a bit weird, and everything goes horribly wrong. I don't want to go into it more as it's all so unbelievable & I don't want to ruin it for you if you do want to read it.

Ultimately, given the chance again, I'd give this one a miss.

Have you read this? What did you think? TWEET ME!

The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion, is the sequel to The Rosie Project, which is easily in my top 10 books of all time. When I read it in January, I fell in love with it. I was a bit worried that the Rosie Effect wouldn't live up to it, but trust me, it does!

(I read both of these as part of my reading quest - other books I've tackled can be found here...)

The Rosie Effect picks up 10 months after the Rosie Project left off. Rosie and Don are approaching their first anniversary, and are living in New York, whilst still working at the cocktail bar and carrying out their respective research. 

Then, Rosie gets pregnant, and everything changes.

Don being Don doesn't really adapt to this in the conventional way, and it causes him all sorts of problems. This reaction, and the fact that Gene has separated from Claudia and moved in, puts all sorts of strains on Don and Rosie's relationship - the book explores and very tense period for them!

I don't want to ruin the book, as I really loved it and was a bit unsure during it how it would end! All I can say is that it is as well written, heartwarming and funny as it's predecessor, and I really hope we get more books exploring Don's world!

Have you read either of these? What did you think? Tweet me!

Our Song - Dani Atkins

My latest book in my READING QUEST is Our Song by Dani Atkins. (See my other conquests HERE...)

I picked this up in Asda when I was looking for a book to send to Becky and Charlotte in our boxes. I read the synopsis and thought it would be an easy chick flick read full of cheating horror stories, but I was very wrong indeed!

In essence, the book is about two couples, with the wife of one being the ex-girlfriend/love of his life of the other ones' husband. Both husbands end up in hospital, and the book flashes back to the history between the two.

I don't want to talk about the plot too much as I'll give it away, but it was a breathtaking read - absolutely beautiful, heartbreaking and terrifying all at the same time.

I'd definitely recommend you give this a read - you won't regret it! (Just be prepared to cry!)

Have you read anything by Dani Atkins? What did you think? TWEET ME!

P.S. I also recently read 'The Guest Cat' and 'The Good Girl' to make up for the two in my 50 books to read that I didn't finish. They were both nice little books, but I don't have anything of note to say - just wanted to make sure they were on the record!

Day Four - Sarah Lotz

Another book in my reading quest, in the form of Day Four by Sarah Lotz. (See my previous reads here!)

I discovered Sarah Lotz when I read The Three - this book is not a sequel as such, but it is set in the same freaky universe.

Like The Three, this book is incredibly creepy, and keeps you guessing the whole way, and ends completely unexplained, leaving you to make your own conclusions.

Again, like The Three, this book will not be for everyone - it jumps around a lot and is told from different perspectives, but not in the same way - it is all the third person, and doing this allows some of the characters to meet less than favourable circumstances.

The premise is, lovely cruise for the first three days, disaster on Day 4. This book examines how humanity unravels, and focuses on a number of characters, each with different backgrounds and intentions. The main focus is Celine Del Ray, a supposed medium - this book will leave you questioning just who exactly she is, and what she can do...

In short, it's a very well written book, and I couldn't put it down! I read it in the space on an evening.

If you like horror, fantasy or generally creepy mystery books, this is for you!
(I also recommend you get The Three!)

Have you read The Three or Day Four? Tweet me!

15 beautiful things under £15

With the wedding coming up, and trying to save for a house, I'm really trying not to splurge on expensive things for myself over the next few months, but being the magpie I am, I have promised myself one nice little thing a month. I've also started this pinterest board to keep them all in one place! I'm a bit obsessed with Etsy and the new range in Paperchase at the moment, so they pop up a fair few times...


The Day we Disappeared - Lucy Robinson

The Day we Disappeared by Lucy Robinson - OhMyGosh I loved this book so so much! I read it as part of my 25 before 25 quest and I am so glad I did! (Check out other book thoughts here...)

I read this in one day on our holiday to Italy - the train from Rome to Florence took 2 hours or so, and then I finished it up in the evening when we were all carb-ed out in bed.

This book follows two friends, Kate and Annie as they slowly change their lives and fall in love with their bosses, Kate for her Darcy-esque farm owner, and Annie for her knight in shining armour...

The book flits between perspectives, so we get a few chapters in Annie's world, and then a few chapters in Kate's, with the stories running concurrently.

That's all I can say now without ruining it!

This book was lovely and happy, and up until about 3/4 through, I couldn't work out what dark secrets and surprising plot the review on the cover was talking about. Then it all happened so quickly and I was annoyed with myself that I didn't work it out! In hindsight, there were so many clues - most of which are on the blurb of the book!

The book is so well written, and on the whole believable - all of the characters are relate-able in some way, and very well thought out.

I'll definitely be checking out more of Lucy Robinson's books after this!

Have you read this? What did you think? Tweet me!

Make your own tissue tassel garland

Make your own tassel garland

Tissue tassel garlands. I've started to see them everywhere and I've become obsessed - they look so cute in the background of all the crafters' rooms I follow on Instagram and I knew I had to make my own. 

You can get some beautiful colour combinations, but I knew I wanted something a bit flashy, so I hunted down some opalescent paper to go with my pastel colours - all in all this tutorial cost me £1 for 100m of twine, 59p per pack for the normal tissue paper, and £1.49 for the opal paper. The actual garland cost me something stupid like less than a £1 when you work it out, as I have HEAPS of the stuff left to make more.

You will need:

A large sheet of tissue paper, in each colour that you want a tassel
Some string

Decide how long you want your tassels to be, and cut a piece of tissue paper 10cm by double this length, and fold in half. For this, I actually just cut down the lines of the folds, and did a lot of them at once as it makes them easier to cut! Cut lengthwise as above, and leave about 2cm either side of the fold.

Unfold, and you should have something like this.

Twist the tissue paper in the middle where there are no cuts.

Keep twisting until it loops back on itself. Tada! You can now slide the string through the loop. Repeat until you have your desired number of tassels, and hang on the wall.

This is mine! I love how the opal paper glints in the light - so many different colours!

Changing of the seasons

As I type this, it's September the 5th.

It's raining heavily outside, and small children are walking past the window in rain macs, starting their first day of school.

People are moaning on Twitter that teachers are moaning about going back to work, and I'm smugly sat here as I booked a long weekend for some me time.

I'm snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, with some awful film on Netflix, wrapped in the tartan blanket from James' grandparents that adorns our sofa and inhaling the scent of cinnamon and warmth that the Yankee Candle Home Sweet Home jar I've just lit is releasing all over the flat.

I can hear the dustbin men collecting the bins, whilst I get lost in the pages of the Rock N Roll Bride magazine that has found pride of place on my coffee table.

I'm waiting in for a Sainsburys delivery to arrive and after I'll wrap up warm in my new jacket, a huge scarf and head to town to post some Etsy parcels and fawn over boots in the shops.

In short, it looks like Autumn has arrived and I couldn't be more content.

I've been adding a few bits to a new Pinterest board here, so hop over for some Autumn homeware inspiration.


Life lately...September 2016

It's well past time for a quick life catch up don't you think? I haven't done anything since New Year and quite a lot has happened since! (Plus I'm in a bit of a blog flump at the moment - nothing I have to write about in my in -tray has particularly inspired me, so I've scrapped the lot and thought I'd go with the flow...)

So I guess get the boring stuff out of the way first? Work wise, I got a promotion, woo, and have only got one exam in November left until I am exam qualified - I have to time qualify too though so I won't be chartered until next September. I'm not sure what I'll do past that to be honest - I'm not going to lie, the last 6 months-ish were pretty awful and it's skewed my view on things, but we'll see - onwards and upwards eh?

Home wise, we actually renewed the lease on my lil old flat for another year, with the intention of staying for two until we buy our own place. Laura graduated (with a first and a kick ass job in marketing may I add) and moved out, so we painted the spare and turned it into my craft room - my own little slice of heaven, but more on that later! I want to re-jig the front room decor a bit - I'm thinking geometric patterns and grey/yellow, but we'll see - maybe a job for after pay day!

Top photos L to R, T to B:

1 and 2 - Electroforming - I've discovered this and it's the best thing ever. I've been feeling so insoired and have made SO many projects - there's a few up in my Etsy, but more on that later!

3 - I have fallen in love with succulents - I tried to propagate my own to grow some from cuttings for free, but after 3 months of only roots, I admitted defeat this morning and binned them *sob*. I do have a fake one on the windows sill though so all is good.

4 - I'm actually running, a bit! The half marathon is in 35 days, and so far I've managed to hobble/huff my way around half the distance, and it took me forever. I've got a 10 mile jaunt planned tomorrow morning (yay sneaky holiday day off work) which I've been pushing back forever. I really need to crack on, but I'm getting there. (On a side note, I was super proud when I finished the Pretty Muddy a few months ago!)

5 - Sneaky photo of the both of us all dressed up at a wedding. I'd been meaning to wear this dress forever but didn't have the right occasion, and then our friends' wedding came up and voila - off to the dry cleaners it was. It was also £20 to dry clean. What the hell?! I mainly like this photo though as we look pretty. James hates photos of himself so I'm only allowed to have it on here if he doesn't see it...

6 - Bake Off is back! This is our second attempt at jaffa cakes from week one (don't ask about the first...) I fully intend to do a challenge from each week, but am already behind! (Cheeky plug for my Nadiya interview...) I haven't managed to bake much recently, which makes me sad, but I've just been so busy in my craft room...

Wedding planning has been the thing most people want to talk about when they see me - or when they meet me and hear, they want to know everything. I know it sounds awful but I'm just not that fussed about talking about it - especially when everyone asks all the same stuff - I'm more fussed about being married than the actual wedding day, but we have actually booked everything now, so it's more the details we need to organise. 
I found THE dress and put the deposit down last week, have looked at rings, and now need to practice the cake making and decide on colour schemes I guess! I still very much want a pastel themed whimsical wedding, think sweet stall and pom poms, but everyone seems to have their own opinion on things. Luckily I'm fairly stubborn. We also need to actually send out the invites - it's now 8 months away, eek!
OH! I almost forgot but we booked the honeymoon and it's going to be the BEST THING EVER. A month off work - 3 weeks away and half a week either side to relax at home. Two weeks in Orlando to do all the parks and then a week sunning it up in St Lucia. EEEEEK.

I know I've gone on about it, but I can't update about life and not mention my craft room - it's my own little crafty paradise! Mumma got me a sewing machine for my birthday, so I've been attempting to make lots of skater dresses recently - my current project is a black pin heart polycotton with the same pattern as the ones in the picture. The yellow was my first and worked perfectly, but is unfortunately rather see through. The blue is beautiful, but awfully wonky up close, so both of these will be worn with a cardigan. I've also got all my electroforming things in there for my Etsy, and the printer for the prints. I've themed it with pastel colours, covered the wall in prints and hung an awesome peg board from Typo. I love it! I can't wait till we own our own place and I can go all out. You can keep up with my craft exploits here, as I want to make crafts more of a thing on the lil old blog, or you can follow my craft instagram to get a peek behind the craft room doors!

A quick plug for my Etsy, which has become like my baby recently.  I started doing rings about a month ago, and  I just like being able to make more stuff  - check out the instagram account here. (I definitely need to up my social media game I think!)

I guess the more general stuff is what I will wrap up with. I'm still working on my 25 before 25 goals, and we've had quite a few adventures so far this year. My perspective on things have shifted, especially work-life balance, so I'm determined to cherish the moments I can. I've also been a bit scared recently as I've been dropping things, my muscles have been spasming and I'm getting lots of pins and needles randomly. Hopefully it's nothing, but it's definitely scaring me into treasuring the little things, like a hot cup of tea and Sunday morning snuggles.


P.S. After discovering a beautiful community on Instgram, I think I want some snail mail pen pals to trade updates with the old fashioned way. Ironic, but Tweet me, if you're up for it!

Dream a little Dream - Giovanna Fletcher

I originally started this book as part of my 25 in 25 reading quest, but I didn't finish this one, so it doesn't count. You can find some of the other ones here...

So, it pains me to say, that this is now the third book I started reading, but couldn't quite stomach the whole way through.

Let's start by getting the obvious out of the way, which ironically I didn't know when I ordered it!

Giovanna Fletcher is Tom from McFly's wife - you know, the one with the cute baby video? Yeah, that's her.

Anyway, I didn't know this when it popped up in the side bar on Amazon, otherwise I would have been a bit more skeptical approaching it.

Let's get the actual cover out of the way shall we? Firstly, the capitalisation on the second D annoys me - I'm not sure why it's there - I know most authors go full caps on the covers to avoid this problem. Secondly, the spine. Fletcher is in massive caps, while Giovanna gets tiny print squidged in at the top. If the quick google that shows 'Tom Fletcher's wife's book' didn't drop any hints, this does, which is a shame if the inside cover is to be believed and she was a journalist prior to kids - I can't help but feel this is a) an attempt to piggyback McFly's fame (which is fair enough if you can) or b) a bit sad that she hasn't done it outright in her professional name and carved her own way. Either way, these are only observations made after I attempted to read the book, so are probably a bit too scathing - apologies!

In summary, this book follows Sarah, a PA, who for some unknown reason is friends with her ex of seven years and gets a bit upset when he gets engaged. She makes up a dream relationship with a guy she passed quickly at uni, and then shock horror, this guy appears in real life. 

That's as far as I got, because the book is done in Sarah's POV, and she is incredibly annoying - I just couldn't do that to myself. Most of her life choices are inexplicable, and her thoughts are littered with references to reality TV and current celebrities (including Tom from McFly(!)) that will incredibly age the book, and go over the heads of anyone who doesn't watch those shows (me included.) (Also, the 'dream' sections in the book are written in italics, which is super annoying.)

In short, this book was far too ditsy for me and I really didn't like it, which is a shame, as I usually quite enjoy a quick chick flick. 

Anyway, onwards and upwards eh? I may scout out another of her books and see if it wasn't just bad luck with this one.

Have you read this? What did you think? Tweet me!

Make your own patch jacket

Patch jackets. I've seemed to have started seeing them everywhere, and I'm slightly obessessed. I got a beautiful bomber from Zara with some embroidery (see here) and I've wanted patches and designs ever since.

Obviously being me, the ever-ambitious crafter, I decided to attempt one myself and collected a variety of patches from eBay and other places. I used this khaki denim jacket from Topshop which I actually only bought last month, but which I've gone off slightly since I bought it - makes me look a bit awful...

You will need:
An iron
Assorted patches
A plain jacket

Step 1) Collect your patches and jacket - these are mine! Most are from eBay from China, but the guy with the pencils is from my Papergang box, and the deer and small butterfly are from Sass and Belle.

Step 2) Decide on your arrangement and iron on! I used a high heat, no steam for about 30 seconds on the patch until secure...aaaaand you're done! I wouldn't tumble dry it or anything but now you've got a brighter, more fun jacket.

The back....(oopsie iron marks - always use an ironing board!)

Tada! A super easy way to upgrade a plain old jacket.

I'm definitely going to be adding to this over time - here are some patches I have my eye on from some small businesses:

Tweet me yours if you try it!

The Watchers - Neil Spring

The Watchers by Neil Spring

I was completely blown away by this book - it was nothing like what I expected!

 I picked up the Watchers by Neil Spring, not really knowing what to expect but thinking it would be about spies or something due to the Ministry of Defence on the blurb. I was wrong. It is one of the darkest books I have read in a while, and really kept me on my toes - everytime I had a theory about what was going on, I was proved wrong and was left completely thrown by the ending.

(I read this as part of my 50 before 25 quest - see the others here...)

This book blends fact with fiction, and left me questioning the things I thought I knew! It has both sci fi and supernatural undertones, both fighting it out within the book, keeping you guessing the whole way - I'll definitely check out more of Neil Spring's work - it's not often I'm left this captivated and unbalanced by a book!

This book follows Robert Wilding as he explores strange goings on in his childhood village, that people think are connected to aliens, or maybe a strange cult. Weirder yet, the government are interested, and may involve the US airforce...

There's plenty of death, creepiness, supernatural goings on, aliens, and Thatcher in this book to keep me stunned for a while yet.

Can you tell I don't quite know how to explain it? All I can say is it is extremely well written, and you won't regret reading it! It's a bit of a long one, so make sure you set aside enough time as you won't want to put it down...

Have you read this? What did you think? Tweet me!

Focus on Makers: Elle from Nutmeg and Arlo

Welcome to the first in a new series of blog posts where I focus on my favourite small independent makers!

Let's kick this off with Elle from Nutmeg and Arlo, where I got my super cute narwharl pin from! (I'm still stuck on a name for him- any ideas?!)

After buying my narwharl, I caught up with Elle to get a bit more info about her lovely little shop...

1) Tell me a little bit about Nutmeg and Arlo - how would you summarise your brand/what's your motto?

My brand is totally cute and full of pastels, and I would say that my motto in life is a perfect one from Lemony Snicket - "If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives." 

2) How did you get started? What inspired you?

Nutmeg and Arlo was started because I have a love of stationery and cute things! I don't really have any hobbies and I have a background in design, so I wanted to do something after work on an evening that didn't include sitting on the sofa watching TV. So I started Nutmeg and Arlo! 

3) What's your favourite item in your shop?

My favourite item from my shop is probably Mr Narwhal because he is what helped me gain popularity! However, I do have a secret soft spot for my Tormund Heart pin - just because I LOVE Game of Thrones and love Tormund. 

4) What advice would you give to people out there with their own crafty ideas?

My advice to people getting started - create what you love. Don't be afraid to fail! It's a cliche but it's so true that it's better to fail than to not try at all. If anyone wants any advice then I love to chat and help people out, feel free to drop me an email :) 

5) Who are your top three other makers?

My three favourite makers... This is a hard one, it changes all the time. I find it difficult to pick favourites! At the moment I LOVE Wink Pins, Rosebud Casson and Fairy Cakes

You can find out more and Nutmeg and Arlo here:

I'd love to see if you add anything from this super cute shop to your collection - I'm currently eyeing up this fox pin! Tweet me if you do!

Wishlist - Autumn/Winter

Ahhhh, summer is quite obviously over isn't it? I think we had about three days of sun, all of which I happened to be locked inside studying for exams for...oh well - I've got to admit, I much prefer autumn/winter clothes anyway!

On that note, and to celebrate my promotion at work, I've pulled together a bit of a A/W wishlist - you may notice it's a bit...well, black. I've decided to just buy high quality staple items from now on to build my wardrobe and try and save space. Plus, if I keep to it, I might not fritter away anyway spare penny I have in Primark....

Olivia Burton watch - how gorgeous is this?! They also do it with rose gold detailing and I just can't decide between the two!

Mac Mineralize Skinfinish - because I'm FOREVER running out of this stuff. I don't really use foundation anymore, so this really is the only thing protecting people from my bare face.

Leather biker jacket - I'm eyeing up one from River Island at the moment. I've had so many faux ones over the years, and they just don't last.

Black Skinnies - I've got my eye on these Topshop ones since my old ones were involved in a puppy incident and are now a bit holey.

Biker boots and wellies - I actually don't think I've got any boots left that survived last winter. That needs to be rectified - I'll probably grab some from Jones as they're known for quality. 

Oasis V&A dress - I've seen this dress in pretty much EVERY fashion magazine and have fallen in love. It's £150 though so it might go unfulfilled. The entire collection is beautiful!

What have you got your eye on at the moment? Tweet me!

Burnt Paper Sky - Gilly Macmillan

I picked this up on Amazon to help my hit my target  when I was in a bit a of thiller/mystery/twisty crime phase. (See here for my others)

Burnt Paper Sky is Gilly Macmillan's first book, and a shame as it's a cracking one at that and I'd love to read more of her stuff! Alas, I'll have to wait.

This is actually a fairly long book so it took me a couple of days to read - and I'm talking 'intensive, page turning, don't want to put it down' kind of days. It's really good!

The story focuses around Rachel, a recently divorced photographer, and is written from her perspective. At the very start of the book, Rachel lets Ben, her 8 year old son, run ahead whilst she is on her phone, and he doesn't come back. What follows next is the hunt for Ben and his abductor, as it soon becomes clear from some pretty nasty events that someone has taken him - but who? His dad, the surgeon? His new step mom? The creepy teaching assistant? Someone who wants to hurt his dad?

This book keeps you guessing the entire way - is Ben alive? Who has him? It's littered with clues that I didn't piece together at all, but I am overall happy with the resolution of the book - it's not one of those where the narrator actually lies to you throughout (I'm looking at you, Moriarty...)

It kept me engaged the whole way through and is easy to read - I think the reviews on the cover sum it up well when they say it is 'Deceptively clever' and 'Utterly gripping'.

Overall, if you're into the twisty-thriller type books that are around at the moment, I'd definitely give this one a try!

Have you read it? What did you think? Tweet me!

Make your own foil prints

Foil prints. They've sprung up everywhere recently haven't they? I can't get enough of them! My craft room has a whole section of wall dedicated to them. I spent ages deciding which ones to get, and then wondered how they were made. I realised I could probably make them myself and did some research, and thus this blog post was born - a simple DIY on how to make foil prints yourself. (Though you could always just pop over to my Etsy here and get some...)

For this DIY you will need:
A laser printer (VERY important - Inkjet printers WILL NOT work)
White card
Heat activated toner foil (I got mine from eBay)
A laminator (I 'borrowed' my dad's one from Asda)
A frame (Fiskbo from Ikea is like 65p for postcard size or £1.50 for A4)

Step 1 - Print off your inspirational quote, or picture that you would like foiled. It's super important that you use a laser printer/photocopier, as this uses toner, not regular ink. Cut a section of your foil that will cover the design. I recommend using a print colour close to that of your foil in case of any imperfections, but I've used black for this one as it is easier to show you.

Step 2 - Place the foil shiny side up onto your design, and send through the laminator! (Note - do NOT laminate, just send through without laminator sheets.) The way this works is that the toner powder heats up and sticks to the foil, meaning when the foil is removed, some of it stays behind.

You can see it has bonded when it has gone all crinkly...

Step 3 - Peel off the foil carefully to reveal your design!

I then traced round a postcard and cut mine out so it would fit in a frame - but it's up to you!

Tada! Your very own foil prints.

I'd love to know if you give it a try - tweet me your results! Or if you buy one from my Etsy, I'd LOVE to see it displayed.