About Me

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I'm 41 years old and home educate my only son, we live with my partner of 10 years. I have a very supportive family and along with my mum we have recently opened up a shop on etsy selling our creations.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Sharing wonderful etsy shops

It's been a while since I last posted as I have been very busy with my etsy shop jarg0n which I might add is doing nicely thank you very much :)

Since opening my shop on etsy I have joined the Craftbritannia team which is made up of all kinds of wonderful artists from all over the UK. We offer each other support and encouragement and a good ol' chat with a regular slice of cake!

Here is our lovely blog...


And here are some of the gorgeous shops brimming with hand made items from friends I have met within our team, enjoy!

For gorgeous upcycled/recycled yarn accessories and gifts for around the home.
Nadine has beautiful vintage items for home and garden
Susan makes the most beautiful ceramic buttons among other things
Louise creates lovely pewter embossed candles, bottles and lots more
Simmi creates gorgeous handmade gifts & decorations, keepsakes, jewellery, baby items and educational toys
An array of scrumptious findings for your craft work. Natural woodland finds, beach combings, woolen & man made yarns
Kirsty creates the most beautiful, high quality hand painted wool and vegan fibre yarns, rovings and batts
The most beautiful Original Handmade Botanical Papercut Art Prints, Greetings Cards, Unique Gifts and Colourful Homeware
Welcome to Willow's Room, beautiful bunting, lavender bags, gorgeous hairslides and little bits of loveliness to brighten your life
Here you will find my handmade jewellery and accessories, as well as a selection of vintage gifts and homewares
Welcome. Here you will find Heart Centered Original Abstract Art + ACEO's + Bookmarks + Greeting Cards + Postcards + Prints infused with positive energy inspired by life
 Welcome to Blossoming Silver, home to beautiful handcrafted jewellery for all occasions and seasons =)
 Geek accessories for gamers, the biking mad, sci-fi fans, music anoraks and yarn addicts. Tie tacks, cufflinks, keychains, bookmarks, magnets, pinback buttons
 Tree paintings & flower paintings from whimsical & abstract artist Louise Mead
Exciting contemporary glass and sterling silver jewellery, designed and made by Zoe Marsh at Glance of Shildon

Friday, 12 November 2010

A mans guide to washing dishes

As the main dish washer of our busy household I wash the dishes several times a day, occasionally I will ask my partner Mick to take a turn which he does. Why do I bother?...I am left with pools of water on the floor, a blocked up sink and having to rewash the dishes. After airing my frustration he informed me that men have a set of washing up rules which he then compiled for me, they are as follows...

A mans guide to washing up.
  1. Tea and coffee cups only need to be washed when the tannin buildup has got so great that it starts flaking off and floating in your drink, until this time emptying the cup is all that is required.
  2. Any knives that have been used to cut dry materials such as bread or cake do not require washing ever.
  3. Make sure to leave one or two bits of food stuck to anything you have had to wash so the chances of you being asked to wash up again are lessened.
  4. The can opener does not come into contact with food so doesn’t need washing.
  5. Any pan that has been used to boil something in water e.g. vegetables or boil in the bag items has had boiling water in it already and is therefore clean and requires no further cleaning.
  6. pan lids never ever need washing as the hot steam has already done the job for you.
  7. Plates that have had crumbly items on such as toast , bread or cakes on just need the crumbs to be wiped off to be rendered clean and useable again…remember if you can’t see any food scraps neither can anyone else and no-one needs know you just chucked the scraps in the bin and put the plate back on the shelf.
  8. Lettuce , cucumber and a host of other vegetables are made up of mainly water, water is clean and so any further washing of items that have come into contact with these foodstuffs is pointless. Know your vegetables water content.
  9. Recepticles that have been used to hold clear liquids look clean so therefore they are.
  10. Any food that gets stuck under a lip of a pan or underside of a plate can be safely ignored as these will not come into contact with the next foodstuff you use that utensil for.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Sweet Chilli Jam

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, life sometimes makes it difficult to write a post daily so for a little while I'll be posting once a week and to make up for it I'm going to share my recipe for Sweet Chilli Jam.

Sweet chilli jam served over baked camembert

2 large red peppers (add more pepper and less chilli for a milder jam)
10 red chillis (add more chillies for a hotter jam, I used 12)
a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes (alternativley a can of cherry tomatoes)
1 medium sized garlic bulb
1 finger length piece of fresh ginger
750 grammes of golden caster sugar
250 ml red wine vinegar

Wash and deseed your peppers then roughly chop them, don't worry about chopping into small pieces it's just so they fit in the blender. Wash the chillies and tomatoes, mine are both home grown but store bought will work just as well. If you want a milder jam deseed your chillies here, I leave mine in for heat and texture.

Peel your ginger and garlic and roughly chop the ginger.
Put tomatoes,peppers and chillies into the blender and blend until finely chopped, add most of this mixture to your pan but keep a little bit in the blender to make the next step easier.
Add the ginger and garlic to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend untill finely chopped, then add to the pan of already blended tomatoes,peppers and chillies.
Finally add your sugar and red wine to the pan, turn on the heat and bring everything to a boil stirring continuously.

As the jam starts to boil skim off any of the foamy scum that rises to the surface. Turn down the heat and simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally.
After about an hour you will notice the jam start to thicken and the bubbles get smaller so that it looks like bubbling lava, stir continually at this point as you don't want to over cook it and end up with treacle. As you are stirring you will know the jam is ready when the spoon starts to leave a trail and you can briefly see the bottom of the pan through it, using a cold metal spoon dip into the jam if it coats the back of the spoon nice and thinly the jam is ready and you can turn off the heat ( the jam will thicken quite a bit more as it cools).

looks a little like bubbling lava

Once the jam has cooled slightly (please be careful as it stays hot a long time) transfer carefully to a jug and fill sterilized jars and containers, store in dark place for upto 3 months and once opened transfer to a refridgerator.

This jam is good with almost anything, i love it poured over a baked camembert or try australian style poured over cream cheese and eaten with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A bad summer for the garden.

Although spring looked promising summer turned out to be quite disappointing with regards to growing veg.
I set out at the beginning of the year enthusiastic and planted my usual seeds, plus every year I try to grow some unusual varieties of Chillies, Tomatoes, Cucumber etc.
My favourite tomato variety this year was San Marzano, an Italian plum tomato that is very versatile, has very few seeds and is great if like us you like fried tomato on your full cooked breakfast.
I always like to grow chillies every year as all the family enjoys spicy food. This year however my harvest was slim to say the least, although we did manage to harvest a few chillies from the new variety I tried which was Lemon chilli, a hot variety with a slight citrus taste that we plan to use to create a Lemon chilli vodka.
Last year we just grew jalapeno chillies and the harvest was so plentiful that we quickly had to work out a way to preserve them. I made batches of my famous sweet chilli jam which I will talk about at a later date, we also made chutney, jalapeno poppers etc but we were still let with a huge quantity.
Mick, my other half decided he was going to try to make chipotles but we found that the mexican way of drying over smoke was too strong a taste for our english palette. We decided to come up with our own method which involves smoking, curing and drying and the results were absolutely amazing! We documented the whole process and put up an instructable about it which got featured and made it to their front page for a week.
Our Chipotles

Monday, 18 October 2010

Hand felting a shrunken head

Continuing from my last post on hand felting...
I was happy with my goth bags but also intrigued about the technique of hand felting, how far could I push this to make a more unusual item, what were the capabilities?
After juggling some ideas and getting a feel for the process I decided to embark of a very experimental project.
I decided I was going to try to recreate a realist looking shrunken head in fact a shrunken head bag.
At first I needed to research shrunken heads and google some pics, a task definitely not for the faint hearted ...
Although not nearly as grisly there are definitely some similarities in the process of creating a real shrunken head and hand felting one.
I wanted my work to look like it had been shrunken down but had retained all the details, albeit in a rather deformed and macabre manner, so I decided to crudely tack areas that would be the nostrils, eyelids and mouth and hope that during the felting process these areas would take on a 3D and lifelike quality. I was happy with the result of the basic head and set about decorating it pretty much how it would have traditionally been done, I used natural twine to sew up the mouth and eyes and beaded the hair and voila....my shrunken head bag!

traditional shrunken head - bag

Hope you enjoy this article, please stay tuned for more...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Hand Felting.

One of the many things I love about having an etsy store is that nobody can dictate what I have to do, I can explore my creativity and try out new creations.
I am learning many new skills but one of the most rewarding and exciting techniques I have tried so far is hand felting. In the past I have seen felted items and thought how lovely and formed they looked but never considered the process involved.
I decided I wanted to have a go at making something that was very unusual and gothic looking but also cutesy, I've always liked gothic styles so this would seem to be a good place to start. I saw a pattern for a little drawstring felted pouch bag and thought it would be nice to try and put my own twist on it. In my mind I knew exactly how I wanted it to turn out, a very cutesy but scary bag that looked almost cartoon like - if that makes sense.. and so the dead goth bag was about to be created.
I did some reading up on hand felting and although it seemed quite a daunting prospect I was ready to begin.
I knitted up my bag much bigger than I wanted the end creation to look because felting shrinks your item a lot, it was recomended to use a swatch of knitting to practice on first but I was too eager for that. Another important thing to remember is that not all wool felts, it needs to be pure wool or a decent percentage, acrylic wool and super wash just don't work.
Hand felting is basically agitation and hot water..it's that easy!  I equipped my marigolds filled the sink with hot water and put in a few drops of washing up liquid as that helps to open up the fibers in the wool. I put in my item and after a few minutes I could see the fabric start to fuzz. If you decide to give it a try don't be worried if your item seems to get bigger first it usually does but will then start to shrink down.
Here is a before and after felting of the basic bag, see how after felting almost all of the knitted look starts to disappear? and it takes on and almost solid appearance.

You can take the process as far as you like, when you are hand felting you are in control and can keep checking your work every few minutes until you get the desired effect.
I have to say I have got pretty confident these days with hand felting and recently realised I was stirring the dinner on the stove with one hand and felting with the other :)

Here are the finished products of both my bags - enjoy and thank you for reading.


                                                                    Scary Mary.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Opening up my etsy store - an ongoing project.

Six weeks ago I decided to open my own store on etsy. I wasn't sure what to expect but quickly realised that it's certainly not a case of just banging your goods up there and waiting for them to sell. The last six weeks have been a huge learning curve and I've learned so many new skills.
First I had to buy a decent camera as mine was definitely showing it's age and not doing my items justice, so armed with my Polaroid i533 I began snapping away. Some of the pictures were a lot better and this was certainly the case in natural daylight but a lot of the items were still missing that certain something. I looked at other shops and some of the photography was amazing, so slightly disheartened I went away to deliberate. My partner is an avid reader of instructables and tired of my whining he decided to research how to build a light box. Eager to get started we set off to buy the necessary supplies and a couple of hours later we had a working light box!
The light box and a new camera have made a huge difference to my pictures,  here's one I am particularly proud of...

Chado tea set.

This is my first post for this blog, I hope you've enjoyed reading it. Future posts will include lots more about opening an etsy store, cooking, gardening, crafting, home educating and much more.
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