Introducing… A Creative Thread

A new year, a new start, and a new name!

I’ve always wanted to run my own creative business and for years half-heartedly dabbled in selling handmade things online and to friends and family. I did this under the name SmurfPop, but it never really went anywhere. 

Then last Christmas my life unexpectedly changed course rather drastically, and it provided me with the motivation and determination to throw myself into trying to build a successful business doing what I love. I decided to change names as I never felt SmurfPop really “fit” with what I was trying to do. So A Creative Thread was born!

My intention with A Creative Thread is to design, create and sell both ready-made handmade items, as well as knitting and crochet patterns. It’s a daunting task, but I’ve been so inspired by some amazing people on Instagram who have built their own craft businesses, so I know it can be done! (Shout outs to Chain TwentyMiskunn and The Hook Nook  – you girls rock <3)

Finally, to celebrate, everything in my Etsy shop is currently 15% off until Sunday 4th March – no code or minimum spend required!

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Hello Again

I’ve been meaning to write this post all year but didn’t know where to start. Whoops! So I thought I’d just do a big messy post on all the things I haven’t posted about to get things up to date.

Our household grew by one…

Her name is Penny, she is a cockapoo and she is an absolute monkey (but we wouldn’t have her any other way)

She’s 15 months old now and I can’t imagine not having her pottering around the house, stealing socks from the laundry basket and chewing letters that come in the post (or, you know, passports…)

She even has her own Instagram account , if following doggos is your kind of thing…

There’s also been trips to New York, and Lisbon and the Azores (I’ve got to do posts on those, the Azores were AMAZING!)

Seriously, everywhere in the Azores was just. so. picturesque.

And yes, there has even been some crafting going on!

Got to get these on Etsy ASAP…

Can you tell that I’m totally into Crazy Sexy Wool from Wool And The Gang right now? Chunky yarn for life <3

Other highlights of this year include a stunning family wedding, and finally passing my Masters degree (with Merit, even!) and getting to graduate again next month 😀

Here’s to getting back into the swing of blogging – I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to post about but have not known where to start, so let’s see this as the start 😀

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2016

Happy New Year!

Best Nine 2016

2016 was, overall, not a bad one for me personally (although of course globally it was an utter shitshow…) Once again I did a terrible job of sticking to my goals for the year, but that’s just par for the course now!

I do, however, have a good feeling about 2017. I have so much planned this year, and I’m very excited to make it a good one!

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Etsy Update – Baby Gift Sets

Baby gift set

Well, I’ve been quiet over here but it’s not because I haven’t been busy knitting! Brand new for Spring, I’ve been working on these little baby gift sets. The indecisive perfectionist in me (a terrible combination, right?) has made getting this finished a NIGHTMARE, but finally they are now available to order.

Baby gift set

Those. BOOTIES.

Baby gift set

*hearteyes*

All the details and colour options are over on my Etsy shop now 🙂

Baby gift set

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Recipe: Chewy Oat and Date Bars

Chewy oat and date bars

I’m so excited about this recipe. I’ve been trying to make nutritious, no-added-sugar cereal bars for a good year or so, and I have FINALLY cracked it! The Roommate likes to take one to work as a snack and I like to have one for breakfast, but neither of us like coconut, peanut butter or nuts particularly, and almost every recipe I’ve seen has at least one (if not all three!) of these. Queue lots of testing, several batches that went tits up, and a Eureka moment.

These bars are so, so good – they are oaty, chewy, moist, sweet and packed full of goodness. They’re raw, gluten free and vegan too, if that’s your jam (obviously using untoasted and/or gluten free oats).

Chewy oat and date bars

Ingredients (12 servings)

  • 250g pitted dates
  • 275g quick cook oats
  • 3 tbsps linseeds/flaxseeds
  • 2 tbsps chia seeds
  • 150g raisins
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter

Method

  1. Soak dates in 250ml of water for several hours or, ideally, overnight.
  2. (Optional) Toast oats, linseeds and chia seeds in a hot oven for several minutes.
  3. Pulse oats and seeds in a processor for 5-10 seconds; oats shouldn’t be ground too fine.
  4. Combine oats and seeds with raisins in a mixing bowl.
  5. Blend dates (including the liquid they’ve soaked in) in a processor with the cashew butter for a minute or two, until a smooth paste.
  6. Combine date paste with the oat and raisin mix, until well combined.
  7. Line a container with cling film, add mixture and firmly press down, getting into all the corners.
  8. Chill in fridge for 10-15 minutes, then remove from container and cut into 12 bars.

Chewy oat and date bars

The brilliant thing about these bars is that you can sub in other ingredients that maybe you prefer, or just have to hand – any kind of nut butter would work fine, and you could definitely experiment with different seeds and dried fruit. The main thing is that the quantities stay roughly the same; the biggest problem I found when trying to get this recipe right was that the bars were too crumbly and didn’t stick together. With these quantities of blended dates and nut butter, the finished bars hold together beautifully and have a lovely chew to them.

Nutritionally, these bars come out at about 200 calories a piece, with nearly 6g of fibre and about 20g of sugar; however, that sugar is all coming from natural fruit sources, rather than processed and refined sources.

Chewy oat and date bars

Yuuuuum!

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2015

Happy New Year!

Phew, 2015 was an exciting one! A new house, a cheeky trip to Barcelona, a very happy family announcement on New Year’s eve, and of course lots of knitting – all in all it’s been a good one!

2015 mosaic

I’m nervously anticipating what 2016 will bring; the new year always fills me with a great sense of possibility, and I hope I can capitalise on that this year.

My aims for 2016…

    • Be more organised – 2015 was the year I became a convert to iHeart Organizing (seriously, Jen is my hero), and I would love to bring more structure and organisation to my day-to-day life.
    • Treat my blog and Etsy shop like a job – I’ve had both an Etsy shop and a blog for years, but now more than ever I would like to really develop them, and to do this I need to view it as a job that needs time every day.
    • Try new crafts – I’ve been enviously following quite a few calligraphers on Instagram for a while now, and I finally took the plunge and got myself a calligraphy kit to try it out myself. I’d also like to build on my very basic crochet skills, and possibly even a bit of cross stitch, amongst other things.

Essentials Calligraphy Kit

Lamplighter London Essentials Calligraphy Kit

Barcelona

The marina in beautiful Barcelona

Tomatoes

Our bumper crop of delicious sweet cherry tomatoes

Come on 2016, let’s see what you’ve got 🙂

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Recipe: Apple and Blackberry Crumble

crumble text

One of the things I love about autumn is that it means autumn food. Homemade soups, pies and general rib-sticking goodness… Hoo yes, get in my face! A firm favourite round here is my apple crumble, which when served hot and with a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream is the cure for many, many ills (honest, guv).

Traditional crumble recipes call for butter but I like to give my crumble a healthy twist; I use a block vegetable spread as it has about 50% less saturated fat than butter, replace plain flour with wholemeal for a bit of extra goodness, and cut down on added sugar. All in all, this is a lovely comforting dessert with plenty of goodness packed in.

Ingredients (serves 4)
For the crumble topping

  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 100g vegetable spread, cold and cubed
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 25g oats

For the filling

  • 2 large cooking apples
  • Handful of blackberries
  • 2 tsp wholemeal flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. For the topping, combine flour and vegetable spread (either by hand or in a food processor) until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add sugar and put to one side.
  2. Peel, core and dice two large cooking apples, and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients.
  3. Add the apple filling to a baking dish and cover with the crumble topping.
  4. Sprinkle the oats on top of the crumble and bake for 45-50 minutes at 200°c (180°c fan).

 

If you give this recipe a go, let me know what you think!

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What’s Growing In The Garden

Eeesh, it’s been way too long since I blogged! Unfortunately we’ve still not got internet (or TV!) set up, and I’m getting a little bit stir-crazy – two months without internet feels like a lifetime!

The new house is brilliant – it’s been more than either of us could have hoped for, and that’s especially true of the garden. As mentioned in my last post, neither of us have lived in places with gardens for some time, so it’s been our priority. Stupidly, we were so excited to get started that we don’t have any proper before photos, but believe me when I say the garden was, to be kind, a patch of dirt with a shed.

I am not exaggerating when I say we spent hours picking stones, rocks, bits of brick and chunks of concrete out of the topsoil – it was in a pretty bad way. But with lots of TLC we got it to the point where we could get grass down and plants in, yesssss. Unfortunately there wasn’t any dollar left in the budget for turf, so we sowed grass seed and have spent the last two months literally watching grass grow (I told you not having TV or internet was taking its toll…)

Grass

First proper plant in – the apple tree.

Mini apple tree

We didn’t want a huge tree as it’s not a huge garden, so we opted for a miniature ‘family’ tree. This is the coolest thing, it will grow two different varieties of apple on the same tree. Mind. Blown.

Fresh raspberries (June 2015)

Next up was raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. The blackberries are only just starting to flower, but we’re already munching on delicious, sweet strawbs and raspberries 😀 We made sure to buy varieties that aren’t going to go mad and take over the garden; the raspberries are ‘Autumn Treasure’ and the blackberries are ‘Loch Tay’ – both varieties are thornless, which is another major plus.

Blueberries (June 2015)

I’ve wanted a blueberry bush for years, but I assumed they would be extremely difficult to grow. Myth busted; these babies are doing beautifully, and the only thing I needed to do was put them in a pot with ericaceous compost.

We’ve also got tomatoes, carrots, peppers and sweetcorn planted, although progress is a little slower with those at the moment – fingers crossed they’re doing OK!

And finally, we had a bit of space at the end of the garden, and the Roommate wanted flowers…

Petunia (June 2015)

… in his team’s colours, naturally…

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New House: Garden Must-Haves

T-minus 6 days…

As I mentioned in my last post, we have both been living in places without gardens (The Roommate hasn’t had a garden in 12 years!) so getting the garden ready to enjoy before summer arrives is high on our list of priorities. We actually bought a barbecue last summer, in anticipation of our ill-fated move, so we are bursting at the seams to finally be able to use it.

garden must-haves

  1. Madison Square BBQ – Homebase
  2. ÄPPLARÖ Folding Table and Chairs – IKEA
  3. Tealight Lantern – Amazon
  4. Turf – image courtesy of rukeri.com
  5. Apple Tree – B&Q

As our garden isn’t going to be huge, we really want to make the most of the space – for us, our priorities are to grow things to eat and have space to sit in the garden and relax. This IKEA table seems to be the perfect solution for a small space; flexible and compact, I really think it fits the bill for our petite patio area.

We had the option of having turf laid through the house building company, but we’ve seen the quality of the turf they’ve laid in the public areas of the development and it is already dead, so needless to say we thought we could do a better, cheaper job ourselves… They’re also planting a sycamore tree in the garden, so we’ve decided to replace that ASAP with an apple tree to maximise our growing-to-eat space. The biggest problem is going to be having to wait for it to mature!

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