Creative corner interview – Polka dot

This week in my creative corner interview series, I am so pleased to have one of my favourite twitter crafters. Her work is so full of joy and you can find something to suit everyone in her etsy shop.

Creative corner interview - polka dot



 

1. Introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Donna and I live in Devon with my partner and two children. For as long as I can remember, I have always made things. Over the years I’ve tried out many crafts including mosaic, crochet, appliqué and papercutting. If I’m not crafting (for my business or pleasure) I’m usually baking, running or gardening. 

Creative corner interview - polka dot

 

 

 2. Tell us a bit about your business

 
I love crafting special one-of-a-kind cards, gifts and needle-felted artwork, and that’s the basis of my handmade business. I enjoy working with a variety of materials and techniques and sometimes incorporate driftwood collected on my walks along the Devon and Cornwall coastline. Mostly I make one-off designs, and even if I repeat a design there will be subtle differences because it’s important to me that my customers are getting  something handcrafted with love and care that is unique and special to them. 

 

Creative corner interview - polka dot

3. What made you start your own business?

In May 2016, I posted some photos on Facebook of my first attempts at needlefelting and got asked to make a commission, this was a huge confidence boost and spurred me on to set up Polkadot. Previously I had sold my cards and gifts to family/ friends and colleagues, and at a few craft fairs, alongside working and looking after my children. I now sell via my Etsy shop and Facebook page. I have embraced social media, and can also be found on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. My business is growly steadily and I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I believe things happen for a reason , and I’m so glad I took the decision to post those first photos! 

4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?

After taking my A levels, including art, I went on to do a BEd honours degrees, specialising in the arts in order to become a primary school teacher. During my time as a teacher I was head of art in the school where I worked, which I really enjoyed. As far as craft techniques are concerned, I would I’m mostly self taught. My friend, Lynda, a fellow crafter that I’ve known for many years, introduced me to needle-felting. I wasn’t sure it was for me at first, but soon became intrigued, bought myself a kit, and haven’t looked back! 

5. Explain your creative process.

 
I’d say my creative process is informal and instinctive. I don’t make many sketches or plans before I start work, instead I prefer to handle the materials and be inspired by colour and texture combinations. My inspiration comes from all kinds of places, including nature, quotes, colours and pattern around me. 
 

6. Describe your typical day.

Three times a week, I usually start my day with a run. Once my children are off to school I’ll head out for about an hour (in all weathers!) I find it helps to clear my head and sets me up for the day. The rest of my time is then divided between making, sending out orders and posting on social media platforms to let everyone know what I’m working on. My days are always busy, and I love the variety of tasks I’m involved in each week. 

7. What’s your biggest seller?

As I mentioned earlier, most of my creations are one-off designs, so I don’t have a biggest seller as such. I make cards for all occasions and I sell lots of those. But my commissions tend to be for my needle-felted artwork , both 2D designs on canvases and 3D figures such as fairies and mermaids.  
Creative corner interview - polka dot

8.What have been the high and low points of running your own business?

 
I love running my own business and don’t regret my decision at all. It can be hard work and long hours, but the flexibility of working from home, is great for fitting in around family life. I get a high every time the Etsy kerching notification goes off to tell me I’ve made a sale, and I feel proud and honoured when I’m commissioned to make special bespoke pieces, or when followers take the time to leave comments on my social media posts. There are lows and moments of self doubt but the positives far outweigh any negatives. 

9.What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?

 
My top tip for anyone wanting to run their own creative business, is to ask questions. I’m learning all the time. There’s a lot to juggle owning your own business, and you have to embrace the idea of learning new skills such as marketing your creations. I’ve found the online community of small businesses so helpful, and I try to pay forward the help and support I’ve received as much as possible. 

10. What are your aspirations?

 
My aspirations are to keep building my business and enjoying what I’m doing. I want to keep providing great customer service and honing my creative skills. 
Links  
instagram  @polkadotcraftsuk 
twitter @polkadotcrafty 
Donna has also kindly offered a giveaway of three chances to win a £5.00 voucher for her shop.
Here are some examples of more of her beautiful work.

 

 
Creative corner interview - polka dot
You can enter multiple times using the entry options shown.  The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter and contacted by Polka Dot to send them the prize. Full terms and conditions can be found in the widget.
 

One £5.00 evoucher for Polka dot–  no monetary exchange available 

 

Contest is open until Midnight Wednesday 20th September



Distribution of  prizes is the responsibility of Polka Dot



Craft with Cartwright cannot be held responsible for lost prizes



All winner decisions are final – the winner has 48 hours to claim or a new winner will be drawn



UK Entrants Only

 

 

Gluten free store cupboard essentials

Receiving my coeliac disease diagnosis nearly two and a half years ago, left me heart broken. I looked in my bare cupboards after disposing of everything that contained gluten. Gone was the bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes etc. But also the stock, the soya sauce, the mustard and the cupboard was nearly bare. For a about a week, I just sulked and seeing anything I couldn’t eat was just torture. Once I was out of my mourning period, I decided I had to learn more about what I could eat and my fantastic food discovery has gone from strength to strength. My cupboard is packed with all my gluten free store cupboard essentials. Now I eat a wider range of food than ever before. I eat much more cultural foods and regularly eat things I had never heard of before.gluten free store cupboard essentials

So if you are starting a journey of gluten free eating for whatever reason, these would be my recommendations for what to stock in your cupboard. You will then never go hungry or be bored of cooking again.

Gluten free store cupboard essentials – Rice.

Gluten free store cupboard essentialsBefore being gluten free I only stocked one or two different rice varieties in my cupboard. Plain white rice and possibly sometimes risotto rice. Now, rice has become a main staple in my diet as I eat a lot more Asian and Indian inspired food. There is so much more to rice than long grain. Higher fibre rice’s and rice’s with much more flavour. Our favourite rices are; basmati, long gain brown rice, red rice (great for salads). I also bake a lot with rice flour, which has a great short quality, making it perfect for biscuits and pastry. Finally I love, rice noodle and rice wrappers. Great for speedy lunches and spring rolls.

Gluten free store cupboard essentials – Grains.

Gluten free store cupboard essentialsWhen you think of grains or cereals I bet ones containing gluten are some of the first to come into your mind. It’s a shame really as there are many more, interesting and diverse grains that are safe for a gluten free diet and it’s worth exploring these options. In my cupboard at the moment I have two varieties of quinoa, which I use in salads as a great couscous replacement. Also in soups, stews and baking. I also love using polenta and normally have coarse and fine in my cupboard. Finally I have maize couscous, which if perfectly safe for a Coeliac and is great if you were a couscous addict such as myself.

Gluten free store cupboard essentials – Sources of protein.

gluten free store cupboard essentialsNot only am I a coeliac, but I’m lactose intolerant and a vegetarian. So finding great sources of protein is important. The quinoa is a great source of protein as well as fibre. I also keep on hand, a selections of lentils, currently I have red and green. Puy lentils for great hearty salads and in stews. We eat a lot of nuts, peanuts, cashews and almonds are great for adding into salads and throwing in a stir fry. Chia seeds I add to my muesli and use in baking. I have tried the chia puddings, but hugely disliked the texture, which was like frog spawn.

Gluten free store cupboard essentials – Flour.

Gluten free store cupboard essentialsBaking is not all about wheat flour. Many wheat recipes can be replicated with the right flour combinations. It does take a bit of practice and experimentation, as you normally have to use combinations of flours to produce the right results. I normally use a combination of rice flour, potato flour and tapioca flour in my baking. Varying the proportions dependant on what you want to produce. Higher ratio of rice flour, for example in biscuits and pastry for extra shortness. However, some flours are great used on their own. If you want to try grain free flour baking, I would recommend chestnut flour or coconut flour. These are great for denser cakes and make great brownies, which are full of flavour.

The food world is so much more than wheat. Explore the gluten free options and have fun stocking your gluten free cupboard and cooking great nutritious food.gluten free store cupboard essentials

 

Conditioning body scrub review

After a summer of some sun and a bucket load of fake tan my skin is looking a bit worse for wear and could do with a treat. I love to find something that fits easily into my already pushed for time beauty routine. Malee’s conditioning body scrub turned out to be ideal for this.body scrub

I am a sucker for beautiful packaging and this body scrub is just gorgeous. The beautiful white and marbled green box and pot make it something you’d be happy to have on the side in your bathroom. (If my hubby let me!)

When it arrived I’d barely taken off the outer film before I could already smell the gorgeous scent of citrus and mint. It transported me to a luxury spa, if only in my mind. This is very much a treat product making even the most hurried of showers in the morning a delight.body scrub

It is a great body scrub, you can see by the texture of it. You can see the salt and sugar grains in it. Not disappointing like some body scrubs I’ve used that feel like they have a few grans of sand in. It left my skin soft and looking nourished.

Would I recommend this body scrub?

You can see why they they got highly commended in the 2016 beauty awards. This is a great indulgent product, ideal for a bit of me time. It’s definitely going on my list of things to buy for the ladies in my life this Christmas. As I don’t know a woman who would turn their nose up. Who could resist the sweet scent and soft skin this conditioning body scrub will give them?body scrub

I was sent this Malee Conditioning body scrub in exchange for my honest opinion. You can find out more by reading my advertising and disclosure policy.

Super Wings summer review

We are delighted to be Super Wings brand ambassadors this summer. If you don’t already know Super wings  it’s a new pre-school animation series aimed at children aged 3-5 years. It’s all about problem solving skills and learning about the world. The main character is Jett the Red jet plane, who travels the world delivering packages to children. Jett and the Super Wings team have the unique abilities to transform from planes into amazing heroes who can run, climb, lift, dig and even dive deep under the sea. So you can see why my youngest loves it. super wings

The aims of Super Wings

One of the reasons I like this series is the aims of the cartoon which are to promote;

‘Friendship: The Super Wings count on their friends to help them through their every day problems and help build an awareness of what friendship means to preschoolers.
Education: The story line helps preschoolers develop creative problem solving skills and teaches them perseverance. It also provides an early lesson in cultural diversity with exposure to different traditions, languages and landscapes during their trips to countries around the globe.
High-Energy Action: Each episode is filled with high-energy action whilst delivering a positive “non-violent” storytelling experience.’super wings

Our initial thoughts

When the Super Wings toys arrived both my lads were excited, despite my eldest at eight being technically too old for the cartoon. They both loved setting up the air port, transforming the planes and playing with the remote controlled Jett.super wings

Our Super summer

We have loved been brand ambassadors for Super Wings this summer and the smallest Jett and Donny have been every where with us. They are perfect size to have in my handbag for when the youngest is bored. They’ve loved playing in the garden, going to the woods and even shopping in Aldi. The little planes have even managed to make the boring bits of the summer fun.

Don’t forget there is still chance to win the Airport play-set in my giveaway.

super wingsI am brand ambassador for Super Wings this summer. To find our more please read my advertising and disclosure policy.

3 great Caribbean vegetarian recipes

I would love to travel to the Caribbean but the closest I’ve got to it is eating some of it’s amazing food. I adore the combinations of sweet and salty, creamy coconut and fiery chilli. So I’ve cooked up three great Caribbean vegetarian recipes with the help of Grace foods for Caribbean Food week for my ultimate street party spread.

Caribbean vegetarian recipes

Caribbean vegetarian recipesCaribbean vegetarian recipes

Coconut rice

You will need:

  • 300g grams basmati rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  1. Rinse the basmati rice in a sieve under cold running water then place in a heavy based saucepan.
  2. Add the coconut milk and then using the tin measure cold water and add this to the saucepan.
  3. Bring to the boil, then simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes.
  4. Check the rice whilst simmering to ensure it is not sticking.
  5. The rice is cooked when it is soft and all the liquid had been absorbed.

Jerk Quorn

  • 1 500g bag of quorn pieces.
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Jerk seasoning marinade
  1. Mix the quorn pieces with the jerk marinade and leave to absorb.
  2. Heat the oven to 180c and grease a baking dish.
  3. Place the marinated quorn pieces in the dish and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  4. (you could also try threading the pieces onto skewers for presentation)

Ackee with peas and beans

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced,
  • 3 sping oinions, trimmed and chopped.
  • 1 tin of ackee
  • 1 tin of peas and beans
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • salt and pepper

Caribbean vegetarian recipes

 

 

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan and add the spring onions and peppers.

Fry until softened, then add the tomatoes, ackee and peas and beans.

Season well with salt and pepper and cook for a further five minutes.

Take care not to break up the ackee when stirring.

Bonus recipe – BBQ jerk dip

  • 2 tbsps natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp BBQ jerk sauce

Caribbean vegetarian recipes

Measure out the yogurt and jerk sauce into a dish and stir to combine.

Serve with plantain chips as a great snack.

Caribbean vegetarian recipes

 

What do you think of our great Caribbean vegetarian recipes. The boys and I had great fun making and eating this food. We put on some great tunes and got into the street party vibe.Caribbean vegetarian recipes

If you want to find out more about grace foods and the Caribbean food week use these links or search for the #CFW2017

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

The perfect summer nails

Sponsored post for Destination2.*

Summer is the time when I allow myself to have nails. As I’ve said before being a food teacher means I can’t wear polish when I’m working and most often my nails are very short from all the hard work they go through. So when the holidays arrive all I want is to get the perfect summer nails.perfect summer nails

What would my perfect summer nails be?

My perfect summer nails can be summed up by this great picture of the Maldives. Not only is this where I’d like to be in the holidays. Here’s hoping but also this inspired what my perfect summer nails would be like.perfect summer nails

 

Not being a great nail artist, when given the choice I’d go to the nail bar to get them done. There is something fabulous about taking a short amount of time out for something that is just for me.

In the summer, I like my nails to be slightly longer than I have at work, but not so long that I can’t function. I love to get gels in the summer as they stand up better to the efects of the sun, sea and sand. I would have them shaped with gently curved sides. Then painted in a tropical blue with golden sand coloured tips would be fabulous. I might even go the island look and get a palm tree accent nail. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

perfect summer nails

This is a sponsored post for Destination2. You can find out more in my advertising and disclosure policy.

Interview in Creative corner plus giveaway!

This is the fifth creative corner interview. The series continues to be well received and its great to be able to showcase so many different talents.

This week let me introduce you to Aeyshea Jones from the Boutique of the Kitsch and Strange. She has kindly answered my interview questions and she has showcased her work. Which is so creative and continues my aim to show a wide variety of skills and styles.

1.Introduce yourself.

Hi my name is Aeyshea Jones, and I am a Welsh vegan crafty lady who loves roller derby I skate with Reaper Roller Derby. I graduated in Carmathenshire’s West Wales School of the Arts. Where I specialised in fine art and painting whilst also undertaking a large deal of sculpture working with molten metal materials such as Bronze and Cast iron. In recent years I have applied my skills and material based knowledge to the realms of a much smaller body of work. Including crafts such as jewellery making, sewing, polymer clay sculpting and even up cycling old mannequin and doll parts.

2. Tell us a bit about your business.

Aeyshea Jones – Boutique of the Kitsch and Strange, well what more is there to say! It’s right
here in the title haha……. I am an eclectic eccentric individual and my Boutique of the Kitsch and Strange is essentially a real reflection of my personality. This in turn means I find myself making a lot of miniature crafts, art , jewellery and more with a kitschy, weird, wacky, nerdy, fan-arty, alternative fashion and even roller derby accessories.

3. What made you start your own business?

My idea to start it all was totally born from my passion to live and breathe all things creative and to maximise my time spent in an artistic and craft based environment. I just have to make things! No really I do! But it’s a real joy for me so it just came naturally and made total sense to work towards turning my love for the artistic realm into a dream career working with like minded creative individuals who share my passion.

4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?

The creative areas that I am formally trained in would be Fine art, Painting and sculpture. The jewellery making has been all self taught, as with the polymer clay sculpting. I have worked with much larger scale sculpting with traditional clays during my college and university training but nothing so small as the polymer clay jewellery I work with now.

5. Explain your creative process.

Well in the beginning I was fresh out of uni and just making stuff for myself, I enjoyed making it but I had no market as such to sell it to. I was making a lot of big expensive things that were time consuming and never sold. I started making smaller things, jewellery, cards, ect and I saw lots of people making really cool things with polymer clay and wanted to give it a go, a friend asked me to make a sandworm gauged earring and even though it was extremely ambitious as a project I found I loved the challenge.

From then on I realised I could make much more complex things than I ever thought possible and started selling them alongside my other crafty things, and now I love being challenged with commissions to make something new. But the actual creative process I guess, is to have a thought, sketch a visual plan out and then get hands on with my materials making whether I am sculpting clay, painting or making jewellery.

6. Describe your typical day.

My typical day starts as any good day should with a nice healthy brew of tea. I have recently embarked on the most extraordinary journey of motherhood spawning my greatest creative make yet! My beautiful 8 month old daughter. This means my typical day is no longer organised as it would once have been. So I work around the clock as an when I can, normally nap times and evenings. So I have become a bit of a crafty night owl that avoids night time sewing to avoid stirring the little beastie. My Fiance helps out a great deal looking after her so I can work and also helping to paint and sculpt some of the pieces we work collaberatively on.

7. What is your biggest seller?
My biggest seller has to be my fan arty polymer clay Beetlejuice Sandworm Gauged Earrings

8. What have been the high and low points of running your own business?

Highs have got to be when I can see that my customers are genuinely thrilled with what I have made for them. It really gives me a sense of achievement when somebody gives me that sort of feedback. I have received a few emails where a customer has told me how thrilled their child has been with a necklace for instance and having a sense of something I crafted made somebody else smile and brought a bit of joy to there day is what I take home at the end of the day.
Lows would be there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything I would like done, but I am told that I can be extremely hard on myself so maybe being my own boss
sometimes makes me my own worst enemy?!

9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?

Top tips would be,
1, Network, surround yourself with other creative people. Don’t lock yourself away it’s very important to bounce ideas with other creative thinkers
2, Social media presence. Its such a powerful tool to reach your audience and it is totally free and a great visual way to reach out and find those people looking for all the beautiful art and craft that you have to offer
3, And of course always make sure that you dip your paintbrush in the water vessel and not the precious cup of tea!

10. What are your aspirations?

My aspirations are to keep crafting and making for as long as humanly possible. Whilst also helping to inspire others to find self expression trough arts and craft. I always quite fancied the idea of becoming an art teacher or art therapist. So who knows what the future may hold

11. Where can we find you?

You can find me at my Etsy store and on Facebook: Twitter:  Instagram: Tumblr:  Website:  WordPress

Thanks to Aeyshea for taking part in my interview.  She has kindly offered a prize for a giveaway for my lucky readers.
You could win this Moana style Heart of Te Fiti Pendant

You can enter multiple times using the entry options shown.  The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter. The Winner will be contacted by Aeyshea Jones to send them the prize. Full terms and conditions can be found in the widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One Moana style Heart of Te Fiti Pendant  –  no monetary exchange available

The contest will close Midnight Wednesday 13th September

Distribution of  prizes is the responsibility of Aeyshea Jones
Craft with Cartwright cannot be held responsible for lost prizes and all winner decisions are final. The winner has 48 hours to claim or a new winner will be drawn

UK Entrants Only

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Rachel Bustin

Summer gift guide for Men

This post contains sponsored and affiliate links*

I have a lot of men to buy for in the summer. It’s often harder I think in the summer months to be inspired as there seems to be less ideas out there for inspiration on what to buy the men in your life. So I’ve put together my Summer gift guide for men. Whether you are buying birthday, graduation or wedding presents I’ve got something perfect for every type of man in your life.summer gift guide

What summer gift guide would be complete with out some smellies?

I love this set from Baylis & Harding. It has a really fresh scent of citrus lime and mint. I love these lighter scents in the summer and more musky scents in the winter. Packaged in contemporary silver and blue it makes a great gift for any man who like to smell great.

Store those smellies.

Now you’ve bought the smellies. It’s great to have a place to keep them all. This leather wash bag from Men’s Society. Is a great grown up version. Get the men in your life to ditch the comic book heroes and plastic wash bags and upgrade to something much more classic and sophisticated. Great for travelling with plenty of room for all the essentials.

summer gift guide

Free those toes

If the man your buying for is yet to go on holiday. You can beat a good pair or flip flops. Ditch the tacky plastic ones and opt for something a little more classic this summer.

Brand your burger.

Some guys love to be barbecue king in the summer. Make no mistakes on whose steak it is with the BBQ branding iron.

Natural timepiece.

I love the combination of leather, bamboo and sandalwood in this watch. It would look great with a tan and is the perfect accompaniment to many a summer outfit. 

Stay cool in the sun.

Hubby has long been a fan of a straw cowboy hat in the summer and for good reason. Stay cool in the summer and keep their head protected from the sun.

summer gift guideThis post contains sponsored and affiliate links. Find out more by reading my advertising and disclosure policy.

Vintage lighting review

Our house is an eclectic mix of many different styles and time periods. We inherited some great furniture for our lounge when we moved into our most recent house and have been slowly getting it how we want it to look. Lighting is often a key element in interior design and we have struggled to find something unique enough to fit in our room. The solution has come in this vintage lighting from Dandelion interiors.vintage lighting

Thoughts.

It’s an unusual combination of old curiosity and turn of the century modern. With it’s glass dome cloche you might expect to see a stuffed bird or treasure from the ancient world from travels to far off distant shores. Combined with the oversized line filament retro bulb and it makes a great feature piece at night for our French dressing table which we use as a side board in our lounge.

It doesn’t throw out masses of light but it does cast a warm glow around the room. Great for snuggling on Autumn nights in front of the fire. You might want more lighting if you wanted to read or sew in the evening.

Vintage lighting – daytimevintage lighting

The only downside I have found to this lamp is it doesn’t look like much in the day time. If you want to show it off to it’s best  in the day, you need to have it lit all the time. Energy saving is a big thing with hubby and me, therefore we always turn lights off. As you can see with it off it almost looks like an empty dome.vintage lighting

What do you think? Where in your house would you use this vintage lighting?vintage lighting

I was sent the Vintage lighting from Dandelion interiors in exchange for my honest review. To find our more read my advertising and disclosure policy.

7 fabulous summer accessories

Post contains sponsored and affiliate links* Summer is still in full swing and if you haven’t yet had your holiday. I’ve rounded up seven fabulous summer accessories that will make you rock your vacation outfits.summer accessories

For me blue is the colour of summer. Think azure skies and turquoise sea. Bring that perfect summer feeling to your outfit even if the sky is grey.

Cover up with a pashmina.

Perfect for when the evening turns cooler or if you just want to keep the sun from your shoulders. I always have a pashmina in my bag for flying as I tend to forget how chilly the plane can get. This is the perfect in flight accessory as it can pack up small but still make you look fabulous when stepping off the plane.

Cuff it in style.summer accessories summer accessories

I am in love with my new arm candy that Sue Gregor made for me. It’s a navy leaf cuff bracelet and I love how it looks with my tan. A contemporary acrylic cuff bracelet combined with the beautiful natural forms of the conifer leaf skeletons makes for a striking statement piece. Wear it with a short sleeved linen shirt dress and really show it off for it’s glory.

Blue-tifull toes

Give your toes a treat and paint them in this charmingly named port-a-loo blue Rimmel Nail varnish by Rita Ora.

Beach proof summer accessories

This Brakeburn purse is the perfect summer accessory to see you through till Autumn. The floral pattern is whimsical and it’s made of splash proof coated canvas so it won’t get damaged when you hit the beach.

Kitsch glasses.

I just couldn’t resist this cute blue heart glasses. Not to everyone’s taste, but summer is the time to be a bit more playful with your look.

Give your phone a new summer look.

This Samsung galaxy case is a beautiful addition to your summer look. Keeping your phone protected and the perfect summer accessory. I am a sucker for blue butterflies and this is such a lovely design.

It’s all about the tassels.

The tassel trend is still going strong. If you fancy adding some tassels to your summer look but don’t know where to start this elegant beaded chain silver and blue tassel is a great way to start. It would look amazing with a simple white tee. 

summer accessories

This post contains sponsored and affiliate links. To find out more read my advertising and disclosure policy.