Monthly Archives: May 2014

Writer’s Tag: What Am I Working On?

It isn’t often I take part in tagged posts – but I was really pleased to be tagged by the oh so talented Icy Sedgwick – who is enviably talented as both a writer and crafter – to talk about what I’m working on!

Here’s the thing, I’m a little ‘cards close to the chest’ about my work; only the very closest people to me know much about my fiction work BUT, as I am intending to take an extended blog break in July, to work some serious magic on my novel, I thought I’d divulge a little bit!  So thank you Icy for the tag….here we go!

berlin 1Source

1. What Am I Working On?

Well, I’m still mostly working on feeling comfortable in calling myself a ‘writer’, but I have had a half-draft stashed away since my London days, based on a story that I am simply compelled to write.  It’s a piece of historical fiction, set in 1930s Berlin, 1933 to be exact, a story of love and tragedy set against the backdrop of the Nazi uprising.  A huge task in hand, I know, but it’s just something that needs to be written!  The most I’ve ever shown anyone is the first page, read out to my old writer’s club in London – it’s become The Precious to my Gollum – which really needs to change!

2. How Does My Work Differ From Others In Its Genre?

This is such a subjective question to answer at the moment as I’m the only one who has read any of it.  I am toying with writing on a multiple character platform, which is going to be challenging but, I feel, could also be the best way of telling the story.  I love reading stories that take the readers one step deeper, I think it would be exciting to read three perspectives, whilst getting to grips with each character’s motives.  I want my readers to really see all sides of each character, the good and the bad.

3. Why Do I Write What I Do?

I’m often asked this, but I can only really say ‘I Write Because I Can’t Not’.  I love everything that I do in the creative spectrum whether it’s crafting, baking, DIY-ing, but nothing quite centres me as writing does, I believe it is what I was born to do.

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

You’ll be unsurprised to hear that I have a renegade approach to writing.  I don’t tend to write in any particular order.  When I have an idea, I tend to write in a random order, depending on what I’m inspired to write and then fit around it.

With my ‘Big Novel’, I had a brainstorming wall up in my flat in London with lots of images and quotes – it was a great way of piecing bits together and I’m tempted to try and put one up in this house too, the constant visual reminder kept me going!

Well that’s about all I can part with right now! My new brand The Gothic Librarian, will hopefully be a chance for me to showcase some of my fiction writing – so if you’re interested, keep it here for more info coming soon!

Other than that – I hope to catch you on a book tour one day! 😉

Stay Peachy x

#Project34 Week 2 – Beginner’s Drawstring Bag Tutorial

floral bagDisclaimer: Tilly Walnes I am not, elatedly proud of making friends with my sewing machine I AM!  If you are learning to sew too – make sure you follow my Peachy vs the Sewing Machine posts for mini-tutorials and progress updates!

#Project34 Week 2: Drawstring Bag

Time Taken: 3 LONG hours of practice

 30 Minutes Prepping, Cutting and Controlling Shaking

30 Minutes Sewing and Making!

Ok, I’ve been pretty excited to share this news with you!  Last week, I ACTUALLY sat at my sewing machine and decided to master the basics of my sewing machine!  Week 2 of #Project34 was going to be about pushing my own boundaries and FINALLY overcoming my fears!

I forced myself to sit for three hours, whilst Daisy was spending the day with her dad, and follow lines on a tea towel and I can’t tell you how ELATED I felt when I finally felt I’d got it!  I’m sure lots of people reading this will think this is no big deal, but to me, a few straight lines and decent bobbin winding, had brought me much closer to my dreams of learning to dressmake!  With that in mind, I set to work on a small project to keep up the momentum of what I’d managed to master!  Introducing the beginner’s drawstring bag!

fabricI found this gorgeous floral fabric in my stash and already had the matching organza ribbon too.  I thought a drawstring bag to keep plastic bags in my kitchen would be a great first project.  As the cotton was quite thin, I cut four rectangle pieces (approximately 35cm by 45cm) out and practiced my simple sewing by stitching two pieces together.  Once this was done, I simply followed the edges of three sides (leaving one smaller side open for the top) with my sewing machine, stitching in a simple straight stitch.

Then, taking each section of the open top end, I folded it over to approximately a centimetre and stitched across, to create the fabric loop, through which I then threaded my ribbon!

And that, is quite literally it!  Much like cushions and machine covers,sewing machine the idea of a drawstring bag is simple, a great way to practice very simple techniques and the ‘drawstring’ feature hides a multitude of sins if you find your stitching goes a little wonky!

I was so pleased with my bag, I immediately set to work making bag number two – a laundry bag for Daisy’s room, using some beautiful Jemima Puddleduck fabric I bought to make a cot bumper with originally.  I also had a go at two-toning my fabric with this nautical I made for a very special 1st Birthday present!  This one was slightly longer and thinner, more of a pillowcase size but using exactly the same renegade measurement and sewing techniques!

francis bag 1

francis bagSo, if you fancy a go at something this afternoon and you’re pretty confident with the very very basics, why not brighten up your home with a floral drawstring bag?

Stay Peachy x

Frugally Peachy: Jam Jar Tealights Holders!

fairy flirtIn keeping with my love of all things DIY, I’ve been experimenting with some simple ideas for lighting your garden space this week.  Having seen a rather inspiring and tear-jerking post from the delightful Hodge Podge Craft on DIY Wedding ideas, I was really taken with the simplicity of some large rope covered vases that were featured.  Needless to say….the mind started ticking.

Now I happen to be in possession of about fifty million recycled jam jars.  I love them.  I love to dress set, drink and bake all sorts of weird and wonderful concoctions with them.  So, when it came to thinking about cheap, cheerful and rustically-fabulous ways to light your garden, should you be sitting out at dusk, sipping on a cold beverage (from a jar), I grabbed some garden jute twine and set to work on these bad boys!  Great little tealight holders for sitting in situ in your garden and a snip of the price of a fancy tealight holder!

how toYou Will Need…

A selection of (clean) Glass Jam Jars (lids not necessary)

Garden Jute Twine

Some Super Strong-Hold Superglue – suitable for use on ceramics, glass etc.

Now Do This…

finished!To make a simple sitting tealight holder, glue a thin long line about a cm up from the bottom of your jam jar.  Unravel your twine and glue into place, ensuring that the end is sticking securely.  Once the bottom line is firmly in place, continue to wrap around the jar in an upwards movement, ensuring your glass is completely covered.  Be sure to add a little bit of glue every fourth wrap or so.  Keep wrapping until you reach about 2 1/2 cms from the rim of the jar and repeat the glue line, cut your twine and secure firmly in place.  Leave to dry for a couple of hours before using.

Now you’re done, I think this calls for a cheeky homemade cocktail and a makeshift BBQ, don’t you??

Stay Peachy x

Wilf...you flirt!

Wilf…you flirt!

How Does Your Garden Grow? Part 2…

mini gardenWell, with the sun shining and thoughts of Summer truly on their way, my thoughts have turned to trying to do something with my tiny garden!  If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may well have read my last ‘Garden’ post about our ‘great’ sideboard idea and the little herb rack Mr J made for our kitchen.  Well, sadly, with the demise of the relationship came the swift demise of the sideboard and the rack!

herbs close upNow, I’m no horticulturalist, but I do like the thought of a nice garden that me and Little D can sit in.  So, on Friday, armed with a few Pinterest ideas, I took a trip to my nearest DIY centre and bought a couple of little plants to pot.  My back garden is entirely concreted, not to mention narrow, which leaves very little room to do much.  I am always so envious of good garden space but, instead of dreaming of acres and acres of land, opted to make mine a pretty little haven.

I started with a good old sweep of the area, over time our ground has become so cluttered with weeds and ‘bits’, it was great to get things straight.  garden sweepI had several plastic and terracotta pots lying around from previous attempts at joining ‘Club Horticulture’, so I simply potted a couple of Conifers, a Dahlia and some Fuchsias, to begin with.  And, being me, I simply HAD to surround them with my weird and wonderfully small collection of garden creatures!  The outcome?  Well, I still have a way to go, but it was a great excuse to make a start and GUESS who has already taken a keen interest with her brand new watering can??

I’ve got BIG plans now!  I’m on the lookout for a nice garden table and chairs to upcycle and I’m planning on trying to grow some strawberries and tomatoes from hanging baskets – I’ve made a start on some tomatoes and I’m keeping everything crossed (I don’t have a great growing track record – I’ll refrain from telling the sad tale of Simon Le Bonsai…and Simon Le Bonsai 2)…more updates on my dream garden to follow, I’m sure!  I’m armed with secateurs and I’ve got the bug now!

Daisy Garden CollageNot content with not really getting into the ‘grow your own’ spirit this year, I also took this old mini palette I’d been given and set to work making a Jazz Domino Holly/Queen of Crafts -inspired Victory Herb Tray.  Lined with mini pots and a spot of basil I’ve had for a while, I potted and labelled up some of my most used herbs – a great thing to start growing and maintaining as they keep all year round!  I even knocked up some miniature bunting for the tray just, you know, because!

herb tray vintageWhat are you growing in your garden this year?  Do you have any great ideas for a small garden?  I would love to find some more inspiration! x

#Project34 – Week 1- Cross Stitching, Across The Universe

cross stitch finish#Project34 Week 1: Cross Stitch Poetry

Time Taken: 3 x Daisy Naps

                     1 x Sex and the City Film (it was one of THOSE weeks)

               2 x True Blood Episodes – admittedly I was distracted at points!!!

       3 x Listens of the latest Pretty Reckless Album

If you have read one of my latest catch-up posts, you’ll be aware that I’m trying to take a little bit of time to get back into crafting for myself.  One of the best ways I thought I could introduce a little more craft and DIY back into Frugally Peachy was to create my own little #Project 34 – a project in which I create one thing per week (in the last 34 weeks of the year), for myself (or a gift).  I sometimes feel I babble on a lot about crafting and learning to make dresses, with very little evidence of doing so – the desire to do it is there, it really is sadly the time.  In between looking after D, I’m running the home, setting up The Gothic Librarian, Writing, running #CraftBlogClub, amongst other things – that can often leave little time for myself!

So, last week, I got a bit DIY creative around the house and made a start on reclaiming the space in my home.  My bedroom needed a bit of a facelift so I painted one red feature wall, put up some lovely red curtains from eBay (bargain) and treated myself to some much-needed new bedding.  The result?  A gothic-inspired haven of loveliness, my room feels comfy and reflects me!  It is still a little work in progress – I want to upcycle my chest of drawers – but my little home is starting to feel just like mine and I’ve got the DIY bug now!

I didn’t want to put too much on my bedroom walls, I have a little selection of postcards, but I decided I wanted a centrepiece for the wall behind my bed.  I’m all about positivity at the moment and I decided to set myself a little cross stitch project for my first week of #Project34.  What do you think?

cross stitch 2The words are taken from a poem by Tyler Knott Gregson, from his Typewriter collection.  This particular poem means worlds to me, for reasons I won’t go into here – so I thought it was important to have something wistfully romantic and positive to read every morning.

In keeping with the ‘Typewriter’ tradition, I tried playing with fading out the colour of each silk as I stitched the lower lines, as if the ink on a typewriter is fading.  I think working with block colours would have worked just as well, but I like the colour scheme on the finished piece.

From my early days on the Cross Stitch Train (a club I went to at primary school) – as much as I love it as a craft form, but it really is a labour of love –cross stitch 1 everything takes a lot longer than you think, but I’m really pleased with the outcome.  I love the simplicity of working with cross stitch to create words and I’m over the moon to have something personal on my wall again!

Do you feel like you need to take some crafty power back?  Why not join me on #Project34 – I’d love to see some of what you guys are up to!

Stay Peachy x

The Importance of Happy Mail!

flowers in springWhat do you like to do when you’re relaxing?  Do you like to take time to connect or reconnect with people?  Today I thought I’d pop a little post up about Happy Mail and the art of sending letters!

Over Easter, I took part in a lovely little Mug Swap, held by Hannah over at Cupcake Mumma.  The rules?  You were given a swap partner and send them a present – which should consist of a mug!  You had the opportunity to send a few likes and dislikes to each other – I always pity anyone who gets me – my tastes can be off the wall to say the least!  I thought this was a lovely idea – I have some incredible friends around the country, and a very lovely penpal in America – who I don’t write to often enough; not to mention some of the fabulous tweeple I regularly chat to on the Twittersphere.  I always have great ideas to send postcards and bits and bobs to people I don’t see regularly, no matter how often I see some of my closest friends, they are always on my mind and I wish I had more time to spend with them!  So this mug swap with a new snail mail friend would prove to be a turning point!

mug swapThe lovely Sarah from Young Ones Five was my swap partner and I was thrilled to receive this lovely big red mug with the word ‘Love’ on and some wonderful Easter-themed chocolates and a little notecard.  I’m happy to say I use my mug every day – it’s perfect for the first brew of the day!  So a huge thank you to Sarah for her lovely gift and I’m SO PLEASED she liked mine! You can read Sarah’s post about the swap HERE and I was so pleased to receive another postcard from Sarah from her holiday in gorgeous Clovelly, the week after!

I plan to do a LOT more letter writing in the coming weeks – I love getting old-school mail and it’s such a great way of making new friends as well as letting our long-standing loved ones know they are always with us!  So next time you have a spare five minutes and a stamp, why not get creative and handwrite a bit of happy mail?!

Stay Peachy x

The Frugal Kitchen: Avocado Brownies!

mixtureAVOCADO…what now?!?!  Yup, that’s right…and guess what?? They are deliciousness personified!

It’s been a little while since I got creative in the kitchen, I’ve been busy readying meals for me and D, plus trying to eat healthily and shed a teeny bit of weight.  When the chocolate cravings call though, one must act – so I decided to try something a little different!

I’ve had an interest in this amazing cross-genre baking for a while, I tried sweet potato brownies a while back, which were gorgeous and cakey, and low in calories!  avocadoAfter reading several sweet recipes using avocados, I decided to try my hand at a quick, simple and healthier alternative to a full-fat brownie!

When it comes to a bit of frugal baking, I like to use as little ingredients but without sacrificing taste.  A classic brownie recipe should be fuss-free, gooey and satisfying.  We keep avocadoes in abundance in our house; D loves them and I am on a continued quest for long, ebony Priscilla-locks, so they do their bit for me as well!  The recipe below took about ten minutes to mix (once the chocolate had melted) and about 20 minutes in the oven.  The result?  Beautifully rich, gooey, chocolatey goodness and (if you’re a calorie counter – which I, sadly, am) they come in at abotu 272 calories for a large slice!  Go on…give ’em a go!

You Will Need (To Make 10 Large Brownies):

100g Dark Chocolate

4 Eggs

100g Dessicated Coconut

100g Caster Sugar

100g Demerara Sugar

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

70g Cocoa Powder

Handful of Flaked Almonds

1 Large Avocado – mashed

ready to bakeMethod

Over a pan of boiling water, melt your chocolate.  Preheat your oven to 180 C and grease a baking tin (ideally square).

In a bowl, mix your flour, sugars, cocoa powder and vanilla extract.  Pour your melted chocolate and add the eggs and mix until combined.

Finally, add in your mashed avocado and continue to mix until your batter is combined, brown (!) and fairly smooth!

Transfer to your prepared baking tray, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Your brownies should be very dark in colour and slightly gooey on the inside.  Remove and leave to cool – or shovel one in straightaway!

finishedStay Peachy x

 

Hello May!

Buttercups

May indeed….I’d still like to know what happened to April!  One minute, I was clearing away the paper plates from Miss D’s BIG 1, then suddenly I blink and the sun is warmer, the days are longer and we are fast approaching the half way mark for my Frugally Fabulous Year!

I seem to still be a little sporadic with posts at the moment.  I have every intention of getting there, please bear with me!  I guess, at the moment, I don’t feel as if I have much to say.  I’m still not spending – other than in cheap DIY stores and a tad on eBay – I’ve been vaguely creative in the kitchen, but everything has been overshadowed with adjusting to a new routine.  I feel a bit silly saying that, about twenty minutes ago I watched the most inspiring interview with Michelle Knight, one of the women held captive by Ariel Castro for over a decade, which really puts my minor niggles in my, otherwise lovely, new life in total perspective.  If you get a chance, and if you can handle some slightly difficult content, I would definitely recommend watching it – the strength and spirit of that woman is just out of this world.

So…what have I been up to for the duration?  Well, I’ve been busy prepping a few bits for my new brand, slowly adjusting to a new routine and I’ve been making little plans for big changes to my house!  On Tuesday, I took the plunge and painted a red feature wall in my bedroom.  Having always been drawn to the gothic – I figured a fresh coat of deep red and some lush new bedding from a local soft furnishings shop in Sherwood, would help to reclaim my space.  I’ve just won some fab curtains on eBay too and can’t wait to show you more of my handy work around the home.

new bedroomAnyway, as usual, May is shaping up to be busy busy with lots of exciting bits to look forward to!  This month, I’m hoping to get a little more in-depth about my second-hand wardrobe and I’ve been back in the kitchen conjuring up a few recipes – both frugal with a healthy focus – everyone’s a winner!

With all these recent changes, my own crafty mojo seems to have hit the fan recently.  I’ve had barely enough time to do all the bits and pieces I need to – I’m a little late joining in with MeMadeMay, so I’ve decided to take back a little bit of control and launch my own #Project34 on the blog.  To celebrate the last 34 weeks of my Frugally Fabulous Year – not that I have any plans to return to the High Street – and to continue to challenge myself in the crafting arena, each week I will be taking on one personal craft/DIY project and posting about my progress with it.  I figure, with the unexpected winds of change 2014 has brought my way, I can be forgiven for not being able to stitch a dress together right now, but it doesn’t mean my handmade lifestyle isn’t important to me.  So, with #Project34, each project could be as big or small as I see fit – something for the home, the wardrobe or even just getting on with a bit of overdue painting.  I think when you start crafting for a living, you need to take the time to enjoy it for yourself as well – so I aim to wow you with my handmade goodness over the coming months!  Look for for my first #Project34 post coming this weekend…here’s a little teaser for now!

cross stitchIf you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you might have seen a couple of subtle updates about my new brand The Gothic Librarian – a handcrafted brand that I’m launching in June.  After much deliberation, time-management planning and to-ing and fro-ing, I’ve decided to go ahead and start making literature and culture-inspired things to sell! gothic librarian I’m pretty excited about it, I’ll be telling you a little more about the premise of The Gothic Librarian in the coming weeks, but I’ll be running a blog alongside it to partly showcase some of my fiction writing – I do hope you’ll give us a follow and like what I come up with!

The end of May also sees our next Midlands Blogger Meet – this time in Birmingham, with a focus on beauty.  Kelly and I are busy behind the scenes putting together something spectacular for our attendees – we will be emailing everyone on our attendees list soon, but if you want to come along please do drop me an email at missemmaberry@gmail.com – the more the merrier!

#midsblogmeet Brum

With all this excitement, I can hardly forget to mention that in 16 days, I am going to see NINE INCH NAILS!  The one band I’ve loved for half my life, who I have never seen! I really can’t wait to go – I can feel the 16 year old me fighting swiftly to the surface, I’m just gutted I threw out my DMs and stripy tights!  I’m sure I’ll be insta-spamming the heck out of my evening!

I think that’s about it from me, for now, I best go get scheduling, planning and stitching away!  Wishing you all the very happiest of Mays…

Me piercedStay Peachy x