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My 2016

Yeah so that Blogmas project went down like a led balloon.

I did start with good intentions but we have been so busy this year and with me opening my Etsy store i feel like I've been stretched thin.

Even now that its in holiday mode - I'm trying to get as many kits ready for re-launch, all while cooking big meals, extra housework as everyone is coming and going, de-christmasing my house, trying to find a bit of me time and spending time with my Agents ... Oft no wonder i am tired.

I need to get a bit more organised in 2017 before i end up running myself into the ground.

So how has the year been?

The only thing that jumps to mind is 'Busy'!

Its been fun having Agent D around a bit more during the holidays and Agent M has come on leaps and bounds with school. There are no more issues with him being bullied (thank goodness) so he's back to loving school. I'm maybe not where i would have hoped i would be. Not completing college really upset me but then i needed to think about my long term mental health and i know i was i a terrible place thanks to that lecturer. I'm slowly but surely building myself back up (even if its going slow, at least its a step in the right direction.

So what do i want for 2017?

Well next year is going to be a big one in the Crafty household. I'm turning 30 ... Agent M is turning 10 and my wee mammy is going to be 50 so there are big celebrations to be had. I'm hoping this time next year i will be back to my kick ass old self and be reaching for the stars. I'd like to think that Agent D is still coming along for the ride. We like having him in our club :)

I'm wanting to make my Etsy store a great wee business as i find so much joy in it and I'm wanting to take my blog to the next level. I just need to work out how lol.

Till then I'll still be here ... taking one day at a time and sending out massive hugs and lots of love to you all.

Have a great new year folks

Stay safe

Sarah-Jane
xxx

Blogmas Day 13 - Why i wont be spoiling my son this christmas

I want to preface this by saying i don't judge anyone for the amount of money they spend on their kids. That is a personal choice each person makes and is no-one else's business. I'm just sharing my point of view.

We are a low income family. There is no going round that. And the fact that I am a single parent means that we will always have a limited income. That's just a fact.

I think that's why I find Christmas so stressful and really struggle at times to get into the festive spirit.

Stores are trying to push the sell and at this time of year, there is always the latest piece of tech or 'it' toy that kids just have to have. I see so many parents clambering to find this toy or that and end up paying over the odds for a random toy (Hatchimals anyone?). I know of parents buying their toddlers iPads and 6 year olds getting phones. It's all so much.

I can't afford to spoil Agent M like that. And to be honest, I'm not sure that I would, even if I could. Agent M has grown up in a low income family from day dot. Being a single Mama, I've had to work hard to provide him with the basics that everyone else takes for granted sometimes- and I know that it's only made us stronger as a family unit. 

We know how to live on the tightest budget. I have gone days before without eating just so he could have dinner and I've had to go up to my Grans before to give him a bath when I couldn't afford gas. We have lived counting pennies and walking to stores at night to get reduced items just to make ends meet. I don't want any sympathy. It's just the facts. That's how it was. So if anyone knows the value of money, it's us and I won't ever let us get back in that situation again. It's just not an option.

Living like that has made Agent M more realistic when it comes to Christmas. He used to always ask Santa for the expensive present cause he knew Mummy couldn't afford it - and yet I worked my ass off and did get him what he wanted. And now that he knows about Santa he asks for only what he would really like. I will always try my best to get him what he wants and a little bit more but when push comes to shove, I just cant spoil him like other parents do their kids.

I need to use my money to get gas and power, not a new bike. I need to put clothes on his back and food in his tummy, not another game for an Xbox or PlayStation.

I'm raising a future gentleman; I want him to learn that while it's nice to get things, having a home to live in and food to eat is more important than any toy. Its about necessity over luxury.

Make it Monday #42

Hey lovely's ... Welcome to my linky!

This one is for all you creative people out there to showcase your favourite craft or recipe posts. Wither your a savvy stitcher or a brilliant baker, i want you to share your posts for us all to swoon over :)


If you made it, We'd like to see it :)

I've also set up a Make it Monday board on pinterest so I'll be adding your posts there for everyone to share.

The rules are simple ...
  • Link up maximum TWO posts - They can be old or new. Please don't just link up your blog home page.
  • Comment on the 'Host' post and at least 2 others, though more if you have the time. Its all about sharing the love here.
  • When commenting use the tag #MIMLinky so that they know where you found them.
  • Add the "Make it Mondays" badge to your linked post so that others can find the linky and join in. 
Feel free to tweet your post(s) along with the hashtag #MIMlinky and mention @justacraftymama so i can retweet for you.

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Blogmas Day 11 - My Sunday Photo

So last night Agent M and i had a movie night and after we watched our films and ate our pizza, we retired to our respective beds and settled in for the night. Agent D was out on his works night out and said he could come over in the morning rather than afterwards so i knew i wouldn't be seeing him last night.

He was kind of true to his word but at 2.30am this morning the dog went crazy and started barking and bolted down stairs. I got the fright of my life and went down to find Agent D coming in as he "missed us". I wasn't happy about how i was woken up (he seemed to think he could let himself it and up to bed without waking me up - clearly doesn't know how mum sleep works lol) but i loved that he just wanted to be with us - and it was a nice surprise for Agent M when he got up in the morning ( he slept right through the dog losing his mind).

Today though i am absolutely knackered ... Which has resulted in me drinking copious amounts of coffee and trying to function while Agent M shows off his latest Lego creations. Even Shabba is having to nap.

I predict an early night tonight.

Blogmas Day 10 - Christmas night in

Usually on a Saturday Agent D comes over after work and we spend the weekend chilling out or going shopping. Generally family stuff. But last night was his Christmas works night out so it was just Agent M and i.

We decided to make it a nice wee mummy and M day, starting with going into town for some shopping and so i could post some orders.

I really don't like the town as the best of times but during December is always mobbed which makes me really anxious, so we too a breather in Costa Coffee and tried out some of their festive treats. Personally i didn't like the Salted Caramel Cappuccino cause it wasn't very caramel-y butt Agent M loved his Orange Hot Chocolate and we shared a slice of their caramel and chocolate shimmer cake which was delicious.
  

When we got home and put the shopping away we started out movie day by watching the Santa Clause. It was the first time Agent M seen it (though he's seen the 2nd and 3rd before) then we watched the Grinch.

I love the Grinch and even got into my Grinch jammies (cause I'm a big kid lol). Agent D got us a Domino's pizza for our night in too which was both really nice of him and really yummy!


All in it was a perfect night in with my baby boy

Blogmas Day 9 - Store Giveaway

I've been working very hard to create some lovely stickers for my store and I'm so proud of them that i want to do a giveaway.


Up for grabs is £10.00/$10.00 credit for my store that you can spend on whatever you like.

The giveaway is open internationally and will end on the 16th of December at 9pm (GMT). The voucher can be used in conjunction with my current Christmas offer (see CraftyMamaMakes for more details) but will be vaild for 2 months so you can take your time to chose what you want.

A winner will be randomly selected and notified via email.

There are 5 chances to win - just follow the instructions below.

Good luck!

Blogmas Day 8 - Catch-up

Its been a rough couple of days here.

Between Hospital appointments, Dr appointments, Antibiotics and the dog doing a runner, Its been a wild ride.

Am glad its starting to wind down but I'm exhausted!

Tonight I've been playing catch-up with everything and I'm thankfully up-to-date.

So rather than worry over the missing day 5, 6 and 7 ... i am going to chill out ready for tomorrows fresh launch Friday in the store and watch a movie.

Bliss!


Meet the Maker #4

When i started this feature, i didn't think i would have such a brilliant response. On top of that i have found some brilliant crafters that are seriously talented. One such crafter is this weeks featured maker.



Let me Introduce you to Rosie, who is the proud owner of PomPomPaints

Hi Rosie, Welcome to the feature. Can you tell me a bit about yourself? - I'm from Somerset, UK. Frome, specifically, a lovely little town full of crafters. When I'm not painting, I'm training as a counsellor. Although I've always wanted to paint, I also love people, so I love when I get to work with people as a counsellor and help support them through hard times. That said, I do love the solitude of my living room on a rainy afternoon, with nothing but a cup of tea and a palette of water colours. I'm easily pleased!

How long have you been crafting? - I've been crafting for as long as I can remember. My mum has always been very crafty, and I've picked up a lot from her. I've tried sewing, knitting, pottery, photography, all sorts! When I was quite small, I would sit in front of Water Colour Challenge (a slightly boring TV show) and join in with my little easel! I've always been a crafty and artsy person, for as long as I can remember.

Awe i love that. Its like a family trait. What are your favourite crafts/ways to get creative? - Although I love all of the crafts I've mentioned, I have to say, painting has always been the thing I love most. I am a huge fan of knitting and crochet, too. When I'm feeling very creative, I like playing the ukulele – I'm really not very good, but it's so much fun!

Tell me a bit about your store - In my store I sell calligraphy prints. I always find myself really inspired and motivated by quotes – song lyrics, or little phrases, lines remembered from movies, or just things I've heard people say. I think being able to display some of that inspiration around your home can really help you to stay upbeat – and it certainly doesn't hurt if they look pretty.

How do you make your items? -  I hand draw and paint each of my designs, using water colour paints and brush calligraphy pens. I then scan them and clean them up, before printing them in high quality on thick, glossy paper. Because I draw them all by hand, when I get a custom order, I'm free to personalise it as much as the customer likes—any colour, style, paintings or words.

What is your favourite item you have made? - I'm currently working on a custom order that says "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." It's a quote from Mulan, one of my favourite movies, and the customer is buying it as a gift for a friend who has gone through a hard time. It's often the stories behind the custom orders I get that really motivate me- I'm so glad I can be a part of one best friend cheering another up.

What have you learnt about turning your hobby into a business? - I've learnt that It's so worth it! I've put off selling anything I've made for years, and always worried that it would turn my hobby into a chore, but It's amazing to do something that I love and actually be able to share it with others and make some money from it.

And finally what advice would you give other small businesses? - I'm not sure how qualified I am to give advice, as I'm still learning, but I would certainly say it helps to be aware that self doubt is normal. Just don't be too hard on yourself! Getting sales is hard, starting up is hard, and it's easy to drive yourself crazy trying to be successful. Work hard, be patient, and for goodness sake, be kind to yourself! You deserve success.

You can find out more about Rosie and her beautiful paintings by following her Instagram and Facebook.

Make it Monday #41

Hey lovely's ... Welcome to my linky!

This one is for all you creative people out there to showcase your favourite craft or recipe posts. Wither your a savvy stitcher or a brilliant baker, i want you to share your posts for us all to swoon over :)


If you made it, We'd like to see it :)

I've also set up a Make it Monday board on pinterest so I'll be adding your posts there for everyone to share.

The rules are simple ...
  • Link up maximum TWO posts - They can be old or new. Please don't just link up your blog home page.
  • Comment on the 'Host' post and at least 2 others, though more if you have the time. Its all about sharing the love here.
  • When commenting use the tag #MIMLinky so that they know where you found them.
  • Add the "Make it Mondays" badge to your linked post so that others can find the linky and join in. 
Feel free to tweet your post(s) along with the hashtag #MIMlinky and mention @justacraftymama so i can retweet for you.

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Blogmas Day 4 - Trimming the Tree

What is tree trimming? I assume that goes back to the days when you had actual formally alive trees in your living room and you had to cut it into a more manageable shape. But we have a fake tree - pre trimmed as it where lol.

I didn't really want to do a tree this year. I used to be so festive but in the last few years my holly jolly has fizzled into a "meh" but Agent D insisted we needed to have a tree up so i caved today.

  

I have to admit, it does look really nice and i do love my Disney decorations.


Blogmas Day 3 - Christmas Activity Printables

Sometimes its hard to keep up the festive spirit. especially when the kids are going 100 miles and hour, the washing is piling up, work is a nightmare and all you wanna do is have some egg-nog and watch a cheesy Christmas special on TV.

When i feel like this i turn to my colouring books. Art therapy really does work and is a great way to just wind down after a manic day.

Here are some festive sheets for you to print and enjoy.

*I don't own any of these images. Click on the images and you will be taken to the owners site*
  

Even the kids can have a bit of colouring time :)


You can find loads more Christmas colouring and printable activities for all ages in my pinterest board.



Nutella Hot Chocolate

Winter is one of Agent M's favourite times of year. Taking Christmas out of the equation  (cause every kid loves Christmas) he loved winter cause,to him, it's hot chocolate weather.

The weather has been so all over the place recently too that I have taken to making a hot chocolate when we get in from the school run. This time though I decided to make something a little different. Nutella hot chocolate!

It's so easy to make and it's a nice change to the powdered stuff.

You'll need
250ml milk per person
1 tablespoon Nutella per person
Whipped cream and marshmallows to serve

To Make
In a pot, heat the milk and add in the Nutella. 

Whisk till combined.

Pour and serve with the cream and marshmallows.

Its really that simple, and unbelievably delicious.

Blogmas 2016 - Day 1 Intro

It's December peoples .... I feel like it's only been a few months since we had Christmas and now it's back again. Deary me!

So with December here - I'm taking part in the blogmas tradition. 


Blogging every day up until (but including) Christmas day.

I'm actually looking forward to this year cause I had to bow out last year due to work, college and family commitments but this year I'm geared and ready to go. I've got my planner packed with post ideas and have crafts and recipes I'm looking forward to trying.

Bring it on :)

Meet the Maker #3

I'm really encouraged by reading all the applications for this Meet the Maker feature. I like finding out all about the different processes and crafts. Like today's maker.


This is Lisa who is the proud owner of LKSjewelry

Tell me a bit about yourself -  I live in Oxford but i’m Canadian :) I moved to the UK in July this year. 

By trade, I’m a Cancer Nurse. I found myself lost in a whirlwind of emotions felt by my patients, families and those surrounding me while working full-time as a care-giver. I knew I needed an outlet and luckily I found two! I began my journey to become a Yoga Teacher and it was there that my focus switched in my jewellery business. 

Spiritual practices became very important to me as I connected to a deeper part of myself. I have found that creating jewellery was a meditative practice. I truly believe we all need an outlet in life whether it is through movement or creativity. I am lucky enough to offer both.

How long have you been crafting? - oh gosh, too long! About 15 + years but only became serious about it the past 3-4 years.

What are your favourite ways to get creative? - I’m always inspired by the way materials make me feel. If it has a good vibes, I need to create something special. I found that following my gut has led to more success.

So you trust your gut instinct implicitly then? Tell me a bit about your store - I now create jewellery with intention. 

What does that mean? In my shop you will find pieces created from beautiful gemstones which hold properties to allow us to embody certain intentions. Did you know that stones are energetically charged? My favourite gemstone these days is rose quartz. Rose Quartz provides unconditional love in all forms - platonic, romantic, familial, etc. It is a great stone for someone trying to have a baby, becoming a mother, struggling with depression and so many more. I want to provide the gift of healing through my jewellery and working with gemstones allows me to do just that! 
How do you make your items? - Right now, my main focus is Mala’s. I plan out each Mala on a BeadSmith and if i’m drawn to the design I will start creating. I hand-knot between each gemstone and finish each Mala with a Large Clear Quartz Pendant. Want to learn more about Mala’s? Check out my FAQ’s in my shop :)

What is your favourite item you have made?
- I think my favourite item I've created is the Boho Bib - it’s chic, trendy and full of intention which is right up my alley!

What have you learnt about turning your hobby into a business?
- It’s hard but allows you to grow. When you’re passionate about something, you want everyone else to be too. When you don’t succeed at first, you want to give-up but searching deep inside will always give you a push. Sometimes what brings your spirit down is actually an opportunity to heal. Being able to share a hobby and then create a business does have its challenges but if life was easy, it wouldn't be as fun! :)

And finally, what advice would you give other small businesses? - Never let another person’s success discourage you. Be happy for the success of your competitors and eventually that success will come your way!

Make it Monday #40

Hey lovely's ... Welcome to my linky!

This one is for all you creative people out there to showcase your favourite craft or recipe posts. Wither your a savvy stitcher or a brilliant baker, i want you to share your posts for us all to swoon over :)


If you made it, We'd like to see it :)

I've also set up a Make it Monday board on pinterest so I'll be adding your posts there for everyone to share.

The rules are simple ...
  • Link up maximum TWO posts - They can be old or new. Please don't just link up your blog home page.
  • Comment on the 'Host' post and at least 2 others, though more if you have the time. Its all about sharing the love here.
  • When commenting use the tag #MIMLinky so that they know where you found them.
  • Add the "Make it Mondays" badge to your linked post so that others can find the linky and join in. 
Feel free to tweet your post(s) along with the hashtag #MIMlinky and mention @justacraftymama so i can retweet for you.

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Meet the Maker #2

I'm really pleased with this feature and we are only on week 2. I've been reading through so many peoples stories on how they got started crafting and I've been both laughing at their funny stories and welling up at some of their experiences. I love how crafting has become a haven for so many.




This weeks Maker is no different. And i'm very pleased to introduce Mirry, who is the proud owner of MirryMirry.

Hey Mirry and thanks for taking part in the feature. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? - My name is Mirry and i'm from Boston - the original one; home of the Pilgrim Fathers, the Mayflower & the tallest & widest parish church in the whole of the UK

I'm a quiet content soul with a passion for watching Columbo, supping drinking chocolate & heading straight for the woofers whenever i see one! I spent a whole year entirely bed-bound once & I'm also a wheelchair rider. My electric chair is called Mabel & boasts a discreet groovy basket under the seat where i can store my lipstick, phone & goodies & embarrassingly that was one of the reasons i chose it!

You seem to have a fantastic outlook on life. Tell me how long have you been crafting? - for as long as i can remember. But it didn't become a routine thing until disability hit hard about 15 years ago. I'm mostly housebound & crafting has become my daily antidepressant.

What are your favourite crafts/ways to get creative? - everything that i craft i love. If I don't enjoy it I can't do it. Hand embroidery is one of my passions, I have tremendous patience (so i'm told!) which this is essential for pieces that take many weeks and days. Being the kind of activity i can pick up and put down at any moment it works well for me. I love being at my sewing machine too, but my poor stamina doesn't allow me to go there as often as i'd like, but it does beckon and boy do I have fun.

I love hand embroidery and your right, it can be very time consuming. Tell me a bit about your store - My etsy store is stocked with only pieces i love myself. I have a small variety of things because i adore creating them all. I've been trying for a long time to get to 100 stock items but I just can't get there. As soon as I add more, more sell - i'm not complaining of course, I love my buyers, I owe so much to them for saving my sanity : ) 



How do you make your items? - My items are made by hand, by me, in my cosy little sitting room that overlooks my sweet English garden full of chattering visiting birds. I'm mostly home alone, with my two tiny fluffy pupsters (who are now 12 & 9) by my feet & a little Gladys Knight on the stereo (drinking chocolate too - there's always a drinking chocolate).

I try not to embroider once the daylight goes; even a bright lamp isn't as good as natural light & I need really excellent light if i'm going to stitch the best that I can. During those darker hours I will 'hoop' my embroideries, prep my etsy shop stationary & craft cards & enjoy a little knitting. It's also the time when i will free my flowers from the many presses & group them ready for listing. 

WOW, so your kept busy and put a lot of tome into your store. What is your favourite item you have made? - probably the custom wedding embroidery hoops. I created one initially for my niece - used her wedding colours for the piece, loved it so much, & it has since become a regular shop item.

What have you learnt about turning your hobby into a business? - Not to ever assume you will know what people want! I've been bowled over by which has become my most popular pieces, & surprised by other items that I thought would be a hit to only fade into the background.

And finally, What advice would you give other small businesses? - give your customers a genuine reason to want to come back to you. Be approachable, friendly & amenable - it's one of the few advantages we can have over the online chains. Price properly, it's ok to charge for your time. Don't be afraid to close for vacations (or a catch up), i'm often closed due to relapses - the longest closure being 11 months, & it has never once affected my sales. & of course, always enjoy yourself : )

You can find out more about Mirry and her makes by following her Instagram too :)

Make it Monday #39

Hey lovely's ... Welcome to my linky!

This one is for all you creative people out there to showcase your favourite craft or recipe posts. Wither your a savvy stitcher or a brilliant baker, i want you to share your posts for us all to swoon over :)


If you made it, We'd like to see it :)

I've also set up a Make it Monday board on pinterest so I'll be adding your posts there for everyone to share.

The rules are simple ...
  • Link up maximum TWO posts - They can be old or new. Please don't just link up your blog home page.
  • Comment on the 'Host' post and at least 2 others, though more if you have the time. Its all about sharing the love here.
  • When commenting use the tag #MIMLinky so that they know where you found them.
  • Add the "Make it Mondays" badge to your linked post so that others can find the linky and join in. 
Feel free to tweet your post(s) along with the hashtag #MIMlinky and mention @justacraftymama so i can retweet for you.

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Meet the Maker #1

Hey and welcome to my first ever Meet the Maker feature. I'm quite excited by the responses I've been getting about being featured and I've found some amazing crafters and some gorgeous shops because of it. I'm hoping this will become are regular feature so if you want to take part please get in touch.



So lets get to know our first maker.

This is Alya Sayer who is the proud owner of A. S. Miniature Studio.

First off thanks Alya for joining me in this feature. Tell me a little bit about yourself - I’m a geeky mum from Amersham, Buckinghamshire. I have two wonderful but hard work children.

Wow so when do you find time to run your business?
 - I run A. S. Miniature Studio in-between school runs and once everyone is in bed.

I get that, i do the same when Agent M is at school or in bed. So how long have you been crafting? - I've been crafting for just over 27 years but it wasn't till around 10 years ago that i started to enjoy building and painting figures. – I have always loved working out new techniques to painting miniatures, which I hope allows me to stand out as a commission painter.

Its great then that you have been able to turn your hobby into a business. Tell me a bit about your store
 - This will make you laugh as I consider my shop to be my third child, yet it can be more demanding than the two children I already have. In my Etsy shop I am slowly building up a stock of pre-painted miniatures from a wide variety of companies in-between working on separate commission pieces.
  

How do you make the miniatures Alya? - The detail is so intricate - I make my items using pre-cast kits, then build the actual figures with either super glue or plastic glue (depending on what the piece is made from), prime them using an acrylic spray and hand paint each figure using acrylic paints and washes. Then once the hard work is done I make sure each piece is based allowing the miniature to instantly join a game.



I know its hard to pick favourites, especially since A.S Miniature Studio is like your child but if you had to pick a favourite, what would it be? - I have always loved working on the more sci-fi themed figures as you can create some really wacky colour schemes that you hope no one else has come up with before, as well as go a little over board with the fine details.

What have you learnt about turning your hobby into a business?
- It’s the hardest thing I have ever done and I’ve been forced to change how I think about it so many times it would make your head spin. I always knew the market was competitive but I didn’t realise just how competitive it was until I went from a simple hobbyist to a commission painter so networking can be very frustrating at times.

Networking is definitely important. finally, What advice would you give to other small businesses looking to succeed in the craft market?
- Go with your gut, if something feels not right then don’t do it.

You can also find Alya and her miniatures on Facebook.

Make it Monday # 38

Hey lovely's ... Welcome to my linky!

This one is for all you creative people out there to showcase your favourite craft or recipe posts. Wither your a savvy stitcher or a brilliant baker, i want you to share your posts for us all to swoon over :)


If you made it, We'd like to see it :)

I've also set up a Make it Monday board on pinterest so I'll be adding your posts there for everyone to share.

The rules are simple ...
  • Link up maximum TWO posts - They can be old or new. Please don't just link up your blog home page.
  • Comment on the 'Host' post and at least 2 others, though more if you have the time. Its all about sharing the love here.
  • When commenting use the tag #MIMLinky so that they know where you found them.
  • Add the "Make it Mondays" badge to your linked post so that others can find the linky and join in. 
Feel free to tweet your post(s) along with the hashtag #MIMlinky and mention @justacraftymama so i can retweet for you.

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