Theo Paphitis #SBS Winner

circle SBS


I wanted to get more focused on my blog and my webshop in 2014.   I’m still on catch up, so my targets for January were just to get my workspace organised.   Simple but achievable.

However, I did start a couple of things.   I have a plan in place for what themes I am concentrating on for month by month.   I have started following more accounts on instagram, pinterest and twitter, as well as more blogs on bloglovin, and I started entering Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday competition on twitter.   Two weeks in, I won!

My winning tweet said “When I was a Guide, I earned 2 Craft badges. Now I’m a leader, I design and make badges.”

I am so pleased Theo Paphitis personally chose me, and having had a quick look through the #SBS winners website, the benefits are fabulous, I’ve increased my exposure on twitter, and I hope this, with a bit of hard work, translates to more sales in my webshop.   And best of all, I hope to meet Theo and get a certificate at his next winners event.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any creatives you think I should be following on social media.   And obviously feel free to click on the links above to follow me!

Obsessively, Compulsively Happy

my house is clean enough to be healthy

I am sitting here, watching Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners on Channel 4 and having a think.   There are people on the programme with debilitating OCD who spend most of their waking lives as slaves to their cleaning routine.   I am not one of these people.   I couldn’t afford to spend all that time on my house, let alone the hundreds of pounds they must pay for bleach every year.   I also couldn’t be one of those people they are helping who haven’t cleaned for years.

My mum had a little dish when I was small which said “my house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy”.    This is how I run my house.   I’m sure the OCD brigade would faint at the sight of my ironing mountain, the lego on the floor in the playroom, the unplumped cushions in the living room.   However no one ever got ill from a pile of magazines sat in the corner of the room.

I have the Motivated Mom app on my phone which helps me with my housework routine.   I am not obsessed with it, but I know that the bathrooms get done on a Monday, and Friday is the day for changing the beds for example.   As this scheduling is helping with the housework, I am hoping to broaden it to the other elements in my life.   This is only my second blog post this month.   I have a WIP list a mile long.   I need to launch my Etsy shop.   I haven’t been to the gym in ages.   These aren’t essential, but I feel like I want to include them in my weekly routine.   I know that this is not the time for me to start cramming things into my life, but I am hoping for a relaunch of myself in the new year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a magazine to read.

Organising Cups

There is a game we have played at Guides.   The group is split into about seven different groups and are shown a pile of cups.   Each group is given a secret instruction to carry out such as put all the cups in a straight line, keep one cup in each hand, turn all the cups upside down, keep all the cups right side up, take all the cups outside etc.   Pandemonium then ensues as the Guides run around, the cups go flying and violence breaks out.


A halt is called and the Guides then share their instructions with each other and work out if they can work together to achieve harmony.   Lots of the challenges can be achieved by working together: the person holding the cups can hold them whilst they are placed in their straight line.   However, sometimes a compromise cannot be reached: you cannot have all the cups upside down and right side up at the same time.

Cardmaking with Craftyguidelets

I have lots of cups that I am trying to arrange: kids, blog, business, house, volunteering, crafting etc.   On Wednesday evening after a day making Christmas cards with the kids and making sure they had started their homework, they were having their bath with their dad and I was waiting for the first one to get out for hair drying.   I started thinking about what I was going to do once they’d gone to bed.   I am on the cable rib for a baby’s pullover which I need to get finished.   I want to get my blog going and have lots of themes I want to cover.   In doing Christmas cards I found some of the Christmas kits from magazines that I’d never made so I could make them.   Great British Bake Off is on.   I can actually participate in #handmadehour on twitter as I’m not at Guides tonight.   I need to tackle Magazine Mountain.   This carried on until my head exploded.

handmade Christmas cards

In the end, I wrote this blog post whilst watching a recorded Bake Off Masterclass after finalising my online shopping order.   I had to abandon the knitting and cross stitching; not easy to type, sew and manipulate yarn at the same time.   I got a couple of tweets onto #handmade hour to show my face, but after several nights of disturbed sleep, a full on half term day and a couple of hours on the laptop, I wasn’t fit for anything else.

Christmas card making

I see other bloggers who post every day or couple of days.   Some people run successful craft businesses whilst working full time.   Surely I can do all that too?   Am I just being disorganised or distracted too much by twitter or Minion Rush?

I have to remind myself that everyone is different.   Do these people have two bright little girls who deserve their mum’s attention?   Do they have a Guide unit to run weekly?   Do they also have other volunteer roles?

It is so important to work out how your life works for you.   You cannot know the full circumstances of someone else’s life.   They might have a cleaner to do the housework.   They may be 3 years into their chosen path whilst you are at the start of your journey.

In the meantime, I will carry on doing what I can and trying to follow my own advice!   Some of the cups will remain the wrong way up, but as long as I have the important ones in a row, that’ll do me.

Getting my craft on

I have a lot of craft stuff as I have many different crafting interests.   I am an expert at packing it away, but this causes problems as I never know what I have, or it is so difficult to get at I never use it.   This week I have a had a sort out and tidy up as in 2 months, 18 days, 6 hours and 19 minutes (at time of writing!), a certain bearded, rotund, elderly gentleman will be doing his rounds.

ribbon organisers

My ribbons are more organised, although I still have 2 disorganised boxes of scraps, lace, ric rac and “miscellaneous”.   I have also sorted my embellishments for card making so it is easier to select a box of flowers or some crystals to use on projects.

Birthday cards

I’ve had a few family and friend cards to make including supervising these 3 for my dad.   From left to right, created by eldest Craftyguidelet, youngest Craftyguidelet and me.   Having access to all my stamps again meant a stamping frenzy.

The sewing machine has also had an airing.

school drinking bottle holstersI’ve been meaning to make these holsters for the Craftyguidelets’ water bottles for some time.   When they travel to and from school they have all sorts of luggage including book bags, PE kits, music folders and cardigans, and it’s come up as a problem at the school parent forum.   Perhaps I can sell these at my next craft fair.

Rainbow magic badgesHaving posted a picture of my Rainbow unit’s latest batch of ‘patrol’ badges, a Rainbow leader on twitter requested some for her unit too.   She loves them and hopefully the Rainbows will too.

And now, those with delicate sensibilities should look away.   I am about to use the C word.


Christmas card production has started.

Christmas cardI have made 23 cards and glued together 14 decoupaged toppers.   Fortunately I have lots of pre-prepped bits and pieces so at the moment it is full steam ahead.   Needless to say it will slow down when I start on the stamping and colouring.

I have also started a bit of Christmas crafting.

Wire and bead angel decorationsThese angels came in a kit I bought and didn’t get round to making last year.   The instructions were poor but I managed to adjust them to make three decorations for my Christmas tree this year.   I also tried to finish making the leftover fabric pine cones that the Guides had last year for their Christmas craft.   The aim is to put them up for sale to put the funds back into the unit, like everything in my Craftyguider shop, however I ran out of pins so it’s back to the shop I go for more.

I am really enjoying this flurry of crafting.   In a tough week health-wise, it’s kept me going and I’m ticking off the WIPs.

Have you started your Christmas crafting yet?

Linking with Handmade Harbour’s Handmade Monday linky party.

10 reasons why I don’t follow everyone back on Twitter

I don’t work with other people.   The majority of my social interaction in a day is talking to children, or talking about children.   Apart from my husband and a few mums on the school run, I don’t get any grown up conversation at all.


Twitter followThen a little bird came into my life.   I discovered twitter some time ago and I’ve made some great connections on there.   Some people I’ve met in real life, others I’d love to meet.   Twitter connections encouraged me to start Craftyguider, to try crochet, I’ve had support when I was down, ideas to put into my Guide meetings and hopefully I’ve managed to inspire and help others occasionally as well.   I’ve still got a long way to go to be as popular as some, but I hope my ramblings in 140 characters are mainly worthwhile.

Recently I’ve been followed by people doing the Purpledog Challenge.   The object is to follow 10 new people a day and they follow you back to increase your business network.   Some timelines interested me so I followed back, but others just got ignored, which is what inspired this blog post.   One person seemed to send out her 10 tweets a day just saying “@—– I followed you with the #PDChallenge. Please follow me back.’   However she didn’t seem to tweet much else.

Sometimes I don’t have the time to sit down and go through my new follows for a few days, but I do try and keep up regularly.   And sometimes I even take the time to be proactive and browse through some of the suggestions Twitter puts forward, and sometimes, they are even relevant to me!

Why do I choose to follow back certain accounts on twitter and not others?   This is the top 10 I came up with.

1. Auto DMs – “Thanks for following me.   Check out my FB page and like me.   Visit my website.”   This is spammy.   If you want to thank someone for following you, make the effort and manually type something.   I’ve had people tweet to me and say they liked something from my website.   It may be something they looked at for 2 seconds on my homepage, but it felt like they had made an effort.   An auto DM has me reaching for the unfollow button.

2. Every tweet is a Facebook link.   I know that people link their Facebook accounts to twitter.   The odd one is fine, however, if I wanted to follow you on Facebook, I would get a Facebook account and like you (is that the correct term?).   Not all Facebook links work because I’m not on Facebook, so there’s not much point in me following you.

3. Just retweets.   Do you not have anything to say for yourself?

4. Over hashtagging.   They are meant to make it easier to search for something, not to take up most of the 140 characters.

5. People who just sell things.   Yes, it’s nice to see what you make, but if it’s not something I want to buy, you aren’t providing me with any other reason to follow you.

6. No interaction.   It’s like someone who just talks at you all the time and never bothers to listen.

7. Thanks for following.   It’s OK, but some people just tweet thank you’s and forget to tweet anything else.

8. Retweeting every tweet you are mentioned in.   I’m pleased that you have received a lot of Follow Friday mentions, but do you really need tell us about every single one?

9. Follow Friday’ing everyone in your follower list or everyone who has interacted with you in the last week.    Just pick a few who you really enjoy interacting with and explain why I should follow them, rather than a long list of names.

10. Just following people who follow you back.   I’m sure my tweets don’t interest everyone that I follow so I don’t expect to be followed back.   As long as what you are tweeting interests me, I’ll stick with you.

I’m not into twitter for the number of followers.   I’d love it if everyone bought things from my website, but it’s not why I’m on twitter.   I belong to a SOCIAL network where people interact, share and support each other.   I love having friends in my phone.

If you would like to follow (or unfollow!) me on twitter, follow the link and we could be having some deep and meaningfuls soon.

What annoys you most on twitter, or what keeps you addicted to those 140 character messages every day?

Where is my…?

I find planning a week’s meals really helpful.   It makes things so much easier when I’m taking the girls swimming after school and I only have 20 minutes to put a meal together when we get home.   Also, it stops last minute dashes to the shops for emergency supplies (and are you like me and always come out of the shop with much more than was on your list in the first place?).

I’ve blogged before about my meal planning organisers from Organised Mum.   The pad hangs on a nail in the kitchen, and whenever I run out of something mid-week, it’s always there to quickly jot down on the shopping list part.

photo (96)

Now I’m sure I bought a few to stash away when they had a sale, or to save on postage.   However, can I find them?   Not anywhere.   But what I have discovered has made me think that I need a sort out.   Here is just a selection.

I have a massive pile of party ware.   There is a potted history of all the themes we’ve had at parties over the 6 years of eldest Craftyguidelet’s life so far.   Each year we buy more than we need as plates come in tens, cups in 25s and spoons in 100s.   Youngest will start having parties next year.   Will it matter that the cups and plates don’t match?

I have a very old frozen dessert maker.   I think the bowl was thrown out years ago, and it was useless anyway.   Is it worth keeping?

I have lots of saved biscuit and sweet tins.   I also have at least 5 bought cake tins.   I can dream of having that amount of cake, but I think the reality is that one or two tins could be enough.

I’ve got some fat trapper liners for the grill.   They need to be used on a grill which you use with the door open.   I haven’t had one of those for at least 5 years, if not more.

I have a couple of cans of oven cleaner, but my oven is self cleaning.

I’ve got a perfectly respectable amount of mugs and tea cups.   Do I really need all the corporate/Easter egg/novelty ones?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.   I could go on but I’ve probably lost most of my readers already.   Thanks for sticking by me if you’ve got this far!   I am an expert in squeezing things into cupboards.   As long as I can get stuff in, I’ve been blinkered to the problem.   My kitchen is organised but I think it needs a good sort out and an action plan.

1. Do I need/use it?   The donated wine glasses that I used for candles that didn’t sell could go to the charity shop.

2. Could it be stored somewhere else?   Time to store all the rice together so it gets used up rather than just reaching for the microwavable sachets all the time.

3. I need to make a list of what I do have so I know that I’ve got 3 deep 8″ cake pans and don’t need to buy any more.   Or is it 5…?

4. Before buying a new packet of something, do I really need it yet?   On average we use 7 dishwasher tablets a week.   Am I going to get through 20 this week or can I wait?

5. Are all the things I use regularly to hand?   Equally, are all the things the Craftyguidelets use at their height?

6. Do more cleaning!

7. Use up all the bits and pieces I have.   I also need to educate husband that he needs to stick to the shopping list I give him and not to buy the new cleaning products he spots on his way round that do the same job as all the ones we have already.

8. Think twice before adding the latest Lakeland gadget to my stash.   Sushi seemed a great idea a few years ago.   Number of times I’ve used the kit?   Zero.

9. Use the gadgets I’ve got.   The family love the homemade burgers I make in the burger press (Lakeland purchase!) but I hardly ever make them.

10. If I buy something for a reason, use it.   Time and time again I have a great idea to make butternut squash soup.   The squash gets stored in the cupboard for months before I get round to it.   My eldest was even weaned on a butternut squash I’d bought before she was born!   Therefore it was at least 6-7 months old when it was pureed.

Now will someone tell me where my meal planners are pretty quickly or I’m going to miss the cut off for my shopping order tonight!

Who gets your cards?

As someone who makes cards to sell, I should use this post to try and persuade you to buy everyone you have ever known a card for each wedding, birthday, anniversary, thank you, RSVP, new school, exam good luck, exam congratulations etc. etc. etc.   It would generate a good income for my Guide unit and I could happily craft away all day and all night.


However, I am having a dilemma.   As I make cards, people expect handmade cards from me.   I can just imagine family members thinking “This is a shop bought card.   Why don’t I deserve one of her handmade cards?   Couldn’t she be bothered to make me one?”   However, I know so many people through school, university, work, family, friends, their kids, their grandchildren…   I was there when they got married.   Each date gets religiously entered on my fruit phone and set up to remind me every year of the date.   Can I really keep coming up with original cards for every occasion (and also remember which ones I sent them last year)?



Where do I stop?   How many anniversaries do I send cards for?   Do I keep sending cards to a friend I haven’t spoken to in years, who never sends me cards and whose kids I’ve never met?   “Mummy, who is Louise on this card?”



I’ve made a decision over the last few months to stop sending cards to most friends’ kids once they’ve had a couple of birthdays.   My friends don’t send them to my kids so I’m sure they won’t notice.   Equally, I think I’ll cut back on the anniversary cards.   We just got cards from our parents, one relative and a friend this year.   We’ve been married 8 years now so it’s not a big anniversary.



I’m sorry dear friends and family.   I do still think of you on your birthdays.  Hopefully you’ll all get a handmade Christmas card this year (or at least one of those school fundraising cards drawn by the Craftyguidelets and printed), but perhaps I won’t be sending a card for your second cousin twice removed’s decree nisi.



Having said all of that, please do support crafters who hand make cards.   They can usually create personalised cards to a specified theme in a few days for around the same cost as the celestial hog lot, and to a higher standard.   And you know that there will not be another card like it on their mantelpiece for their special day.

And obviously I would like to put in a special word for my Craftyguider online shop.   100% of the profit goes to my local Guide unit to contribute to running costs, and the postage cost is a flat fee so no matter what you order, you only pay £1.50.

How many cards do you send out each year?

Simplicity 5540 WIP

I am the WIP (work in progress) Queen.   I have drawers and boxes of the stuff.   You can hardly move in my office, spare bedroom and wardrobe for fabric, Christmas crafts, Guide crafts, kits off the front of magazines, paper, card, lino printing, stamps, embossing folders, ribbons, buttons, thread, bobbins…   Got the picture yet?

This drawer contains a dress that needs mending, several bag making projects from my ‘make every bag in the Lisa Lam book‘ quest, a couple of dress patterns with fabric, fabric to make Olivia the Rainbow Guides mascot a new uniform, and some big knitting.

drawer 2

This drawer has more big knitting, a Tilda Sewing Angel, more dresses, a cancelled Craftyguider order and loads more.

drawer1The drawers are full, and do not include all the ‘buy a metre of fabric to use for a project that may come up one day’ projects.   I did manage 4 months of not buying anything unless it was specifically to make something, but after April, I was back on the treating myself slide.

Anthea Willis (@ForestFlower23 and Tales From Mount Pleasant) has a similar addiction to mine and has started a #WIPslinky party on her blog on the last Tuesday of the month.   She’ll show you hers if you show her yours.

My first entry is Simplicity pattern 5540.   It should look like this…

pattern girls…but for the last couple of weeks mine has looked like this.

dress bitsThis is two cut up dresses; one each for my 6 year old and my 4 year old.   I need to get a move on or a) there will be no more summer and b) the girls will grow out of them before the first stitch has even been sewn.

Hopefully I will be able to post a picture of the finished garments soon and then I will be back on the last Tuesday in August with my next WIP to complete.

Anyone willing to share their WIPs, head over to Anthea’s blog and link up.   See you there!

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Busy doing nothing

Fridays are my day off.   I don’t have a paid job, but as my stay-at-home mum/housewife/volunteering ‘job’ continues 24/7, I like to have a day when I don’t feel guilty sitting on the sofa watching Biggest Loser or doing some crafting for me rather than the website.

I think it is really important to just take a break: to take some time off, rest, slow down, reflect on life and sort your head out.   Lots of mums get mum-guilt if they aren’t filling up every spare moment with an activity.   I need to try and educate my brain into just switching off the guilt and be happy doing nothing.   I am not a failure, I just need this time to myself so when life switches back on, I’m more energised and ready to face dressing Polly Pocket in her 28th outfit of the day.

Meanwhile my day off today has included being woken up at 4am from a deep sleep by a 4yr old Craftyguidelet because her duvet was ‘being silly’, filling in on the school walking bus, doing some more preparation for Guide camp, changing the girls’ beds and doing 5 loads of washing, collating ideas I’ve collected for new Craftyguider products, doing 3 school runs, attending a parents meeting, vacuuming up downstairs in preparation for a delivery, tidying, doing some admin for my dad’s bakery, and cooking 3 versions of dinner.

Day off?

WIP Busting Cross Stitch

A few years ago I spotted a cute Winnie the Pooh themed cross stitch that could be personalised.   “That’ll come in handy” I thought as I put it in my basket.

Turn forwards to 2013 and it looked like this.



The design had more flowers cascading up and down from this central portion, but by this stage, I was screwing my eyes up at the pastel flowers seemingly blending into one, and having tried backstitching around the flowers (have I moaned a teeny weeny bit about backstitching before?), I decided to just concentrate on this central oval.

Progress on what was left was a bit haphazard.   Having looked at the backstitching diagram, and not being able to tell where pastel yellow one finished and pastel yellow two started, I sort of made it up as I went along.



With the deadline of my latest Godson’s Christening looming, and my new Motivated Mum mentality, I beavered away and finished.   All that was left was to decide how to frame it.



Twitter and Instagram came to my aid and 100% of people who expressed a preference voted for the hoop.

Ta dah!



The Christening was lovely.   My Godson behaved himself impeccably and I had a lovely snotty cuddle.

And every present needs a card.   This was finished weeks ago.   I’m not last minute with everything!



Linking to the Handmade Harbour Handmade Monday blog.   And while you are there, look at her new digi stamps!