Thursday, 28 February 2013

February Giveaway Winners!

At last, it's time to announce the winners in my February giveaway!

These will soon be on their way to a good home!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and if you didn't win please don't be discouraged - I'm starting my March giveaway in a few days, and the prize will be a brand new bookshelf necklace I will be unveiling at the same time!!! (woooo mysterious!)

*drumroll* So, the winner of the second prize in my giveaway, who was selected at random by Rafflecopter is...

***Ashleigh A.!***

Congratulations!  You win a pair of book stud earrings :)

*bigger drumroll* ...and the grand prize, of a Harry Potter Bookshelf Necklace and matching book earrings goes to... 

*********Janne L.!*********

Hooray!  Congratulations!  I'll be contacting you both shortly to let you know you've won, and to request your address so I can send you your prizes!!

Again, thanks so much to everyone who entered.

And again, if you didn't win, please stick around for my next giveaway in a couple of days...!

Also, you can just go buy your own Harry Potter bookshelf necklace from my Etsy shop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Working from home - tips on how to make it work

The Shortcuts Blog on the Guardian Newspaper website just published an article about tips on working from home on Tuesday.  This was partly in response to a new Yahoo CEO recently banning staff from working from home in an effort to keep productivity from slipping away (possibly in its pyjamas).  Which I think is a bit of a shame...

My Scrabble score is getting better every day...
The article outlines 5 golden rules to make working from home work for you, since there are a myriad of advantages - childcare, spending more time with family instead of traffic gridlock, and the expense (and stress) of commuting.

As someone who did the Reading-London commute for 2 years, and even and Oxford-London commute for three months last year, working from home eradicates a major source of stress from my life.  I used to leave the office in a great mood - but arrive home grumpy, hungry, and exhausted, dirty from London trains and probably having picked up a bug or two by being stuffed in with millions of other stinky angry office workers.  When I started commuting I noticed I got sick A LOT in the first year, picking up every sniffle and flu bug around.

But since last January (2012), give or take a few temporary positions here and there, I have been full time working from home, self employed with Coryographies and loving it.  There are drawbacks though - I quickly become sluggish and unproductive if I haven't been out of the house or haven't woken up at a reasonable hour.  It's easy to sit and play scrabble all morning and drink tea curled up with a blanket because it's cold.

I know not everyone's situation working from home is like this - they may be a part of a team in a busy office, and be expected to take phone calls/Skype chats from 8:00 in the morning and will have therefore brushed their hair and actually gotten dressed, not even checking their Facebook until 5.

I know I could be more productive working from home, and the article pointed out some good tips for doing so.  The first recommendation though, is something I can't really achieve from home - Make a Sacred Space.  I live in a tiny flat, where my jewellery supplies are stored underneath a chair covered in a throw in the living room.  I sit on this chair, and that is my office.  I don't have a desk unless I use the kitchen table, which is where I do my crafts, but I'm often actually found on the floor with my computer in my lap, back up against the radiator because it's warm.  My husband is a student and has his desk in here too - it's not much of a 'scared space' as much as it is 'the only space'.

Back to work in just a minute, I just
have to finish this level!
Another recommendation is to Go on a Digital Diet.  Don't go on the internet too much.  Now this sounds great, but my work consists of 30% making, 70% marketing/blogging/photo editing/social media-ing.  I'm constantly online as part of my job, and so it's hard to stop yourself from JUST spending 5 minutes on Pinterest and not an hour.  When does it stop being 'promotion' and start becoming time-wasting?

I agree with the recommendations made in the article though, and wish I could implement more of them.  I really should schedule my time better, and I really should have an amazing soundproof light flooded well stocked gorgeous craft room.  But baby steps...

Coincidentally, I'm starting another temporary office position tomorrow, since February marks the start of the slow portion of the year for jewellery sales.  Maybe a 9-5 will make me more productive and on schedule, so that I can return to working full time from home in the future and be refreshed and ready to follow these golden rules!

Monday, 25 February 2013

I love Britain and its amazing place names...

I love British place names.  When I was moving to the UK my image of the country, gathered from Location Location Location episodes, Harry Potter and Coronation Street, was a muddled mix of quaint, traditional, and quirky.  It's certainly lived up to its expectations.

One of the most quaint and quirky things about the country are the multitude of hilariously adorable/strange place names.  My husband and I have a game where we try to make up funny sounding village names like 'Twickleford-on-the-Wold' or 'Picklington Lacey'.  Yeah I know, we're mature and interesting people.  I'm guessing some of the ones we come up with might really exist though.  Here are some of the stranger ones I've found having a quick look on Google Maps:

  • Appleby-in-Westmorland
  • Newton Poppleford
  • Winterborne Stickland
  • Puddletown
  • Beer
  • Mousehole
  • Booby's Bay
  • Crapstone
  • Stoney Littleton
  • Honeycombe Leaze
  • Coldcomfort
  • Horsington

Strange but cute.  That's what the UK is to me :)  Please post in the comments if you know any particularly charming place names!  Maybe I'll come back with a list of strange Canadian place names...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Only 3 More Days to Enter My Giveaway!

Have you entered my February giveaway yet?  There isn't long!  Enter to win one of my Harry Potter Bookshelf Necklaces and a pair of matching book earrings:

Enter here:

or visit my Etsy shop and see which other bookshelf necklaces you like, or purchase a Harry Potter one now!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Ice Age Art - Venus figurines by crafters on Etsy

Here is a treasury I made on Etsy featuring different items inspired by European Palaeolithic Venus Figurines:

Sunday, 17 February 2013

My New (Old) Portable Typewriter!

I found an amazing little item at a charity shop yesterday, and I've fallen in love:

Isn't it beautiful?  It's an old portable typewriter in the prettiest colour.  I took it home and scrubbed it up and it looks really nice.  I need to replace the ink tape, and the 'a' button is a bit sticky, but other than that is works great.  I love how I can put on the lid, and it turns into a cute little case for carrying!  And it doesn't use electricity like my parents' old typewriter did, so no cord to fiddle with or loud humming noises.  Just an extremely satisfying 'clack clack ding'.

I did a bit of research on the model, which is a Smith-Corona Corsair, and this model was patented in 1963, and was made up until 1980.  So it's from somewhere in that timeframe.  It seemed to be a pretty popular and affordable model, so it's probably not the rarest of typewriters.  I think I got a pretty good deal though, as I see one on ebay going for £50 and another on Etsy going for £250!!

I love this ad I found for it:

I wish only that I had a nice place to put it out to sit pretty - I don't have enough space in my tiny flat for it to be seen unfortunately, so into the closet it goes beside my also beloved sewing machine.  One day I'll have my dedicated craft room, one day!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Perfect Valentine's Treat Recipe from All That I'm Eating

One of my favourite blogs is Caroline's All That I'm Eating.  She posts really special recipes as well as reviews of restaurants she visits around the UK.  It seems every time I visit there's another recipe that I just have to try, and this one is no different, and perfect for a Valentine's Day gift:

These are white chocolate truffles with a little suprise inside - a pomegranate seed, and rose flavoured truffle inside!  So pretty, as well.

Check out her blog post here QUICK and start on this recipe for your sweety (or yourself) so you can suprise them tomorrow:

And follow her blog - it's great, I promise you.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Kraft Dinner Recipes: Canadian food that brings joy series 1

Here are some amazingly delicious Kraft Dinner recipes for all to try.

Kraft Dinner is the one food that, while a student living on a typical Canadian student diet of perogies, instant noodles and sushi, never got old.  One reason for this is there are just so many ways to jazz it up!  Here are some of my favourites:

Maple Beans and Tomato Kraft Dinner

The title isn't too mysterious.  Make Kraft Dinner according to the original recipe, and add half a tin of Heinz Maple flavoured beans.  Top with chopped fresh tomato.  My all time favourite!  So good it doesn't even warrent ketchup.

Extra Cheezy Broccoli Kraft Dinner

This title isn't too mysterious either.  Cook according to usual instruction, but while boiling the pasta, drop in chopped broccoli florets.  Top with cubed cheddar cheese.  Yum!

Kraft Dinner Primavera

While boiling the pasta, add frozen peas and follow the rest of the directions normally.  Mix in 5 or 6 tablespoons of vegetable pasta sauce.

Tuna Sweetcorn Kraft Dinner

This one doesn't really need explaining does it.  Add tin of tuna.  Add tin of corn.  Mix.  But!  There is an option: instead of using milk, use mayonnaise!  It gives it a nice creamy taste with a bit of a different flavour, that goes nice with the tuna and corn :)  Give it a try!

These are the ones that I cooked time to time (but lets be honest - nothing beats the original with ketchup!).  

Take a look at some of the other Kraft Dinner recipe that are out there though - you can get pretty extravagant!  Check out this collection on Pinterest:

I think this entire blog post was inspired by the fact I realised I only have one box of Kraft Dinner in the cupboard, and you can't buy it in the UK.  I need a care package :(

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Oxford Chic: treasures from Oxford shops on Etsy

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Book Review: The Wild Life: A Year of Living on Wild Food by John Lewis-Stempel

The Wild Life: John Lewis-Stempel
John Lewis-Stempel was motivated at first to save money, but really because of his natural curiosity and appreciation of the landscape of Herefordshire, to try and live solely off the plants foraged and animals hunted on his 40-acre farm.  The Wild Life is his diary of that adventurous year, and it's hard to put down once started.

I really liked reading this book, and I connected with John's desire to have a greater relationship with the land he lived on.  Month by month, he goes through not only what he eats, but how he finds it and prepares it, and he really conveys the sense of how getting food becomes an all-consuming full time job for him.

The best thing about the book is the recipes he gives for different dishes he tries - dandilion coffee, making elderflower wine and other alcohols using the natural yeasts in the air, and endless recipes for spicing up rabbit dishes.  You sympathise with the boredom of rabbit as the go-to meal, even though rabbit to my husband and I is a tasty treat we only cook once in a while!

A possible feast awaits!
There were some strange illogicalities in the book, which I couldn't really fault, as they were more differences of ethical and moral opinion between John and I and not 'bad writing' in any way.  His wife noted that he shouldn't use the freezer, since that wouldn't be very 'natural'.  Yet he uses a gun to hunt the wildlife on his farm, and all the modern conveniences of his kitchen such as an oven, stove, grill, forged steel knives, and pickling jars.

Harking back to any 'olden' way of living off the land is near impossible anyway, since he is confined to his farm and bound by hunting regulations - so he cannot hunt a deer for example, and he cannot fish in the stream that belongs to his neighbour, and he cannot shoot ducks out of season (and endangered species are right off the list of course).  Taking the freezer out of the equation was just an unnecessary challenge I thought.

I miss knowing the names of all
 the birds I see
It seemed a bit arbitrary how he chose his rules to live by, such as when his daughter asked him to stop killing the cute bunnies, he acquiesces, but when he shoots to kill he seems to revel in a couple extra rounds to the head of an animal.  He doesn't fish for the lingest time, because he is scared of his failure.  We also find out that he has been feeding the carcasses of the animals he kills to his dog, and is not boiling the bones for stock or anything.  And he always needs an alcoholic drink in the evening, of something, anything (there are lots of recipes for alcohol)!  Just a few of the things that made me raise my eyebrows.

Salmon berries - I miss picking them!
I enjoyed this book, and it opened up a new area of reading possibilities for me, learning about Britian's wild food and living off the land (and hedgerows).  I'm unfortunately not in the best position to try that, living in residential urban Oxford, but it's the knowledge that I crave, growing up in rural Canada where I knew all the names of the plant and animal species that I lived with in my childhood, thanks to my dad's knowledge from being a logger (lumberjack to you Brits) that spent/spends most of his time in the bush.

I'd rate this book 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it to anyone that wants to learn more about having a meal gathered solely from the back yard.