Thursday, 22 August 2013

Crafty Creatives Box 14. WARNING: contains spoilers!

Howdy there!

This month, Crafty Creatives has gone all-out Western! I was fully unsold AT FIRST, but I've definitely changed my tune!

Despite being home pretty much all week, i had to pop out for a bit yesterday. And, of course, the box arrived whilst I was out. A few hours later, i successfully reclaimed it from the post office, having avoided all spoilers (a weakness of mine...). I needed to pop into the supermarket, and with suspense killing me, i hastily pulled out the art card, and read it quickly.

I'm not going to lie: I was pretty disappointed. I thought it was a bit of a boyish box, all Cowboys and Indians, and it just didn't really appeal to me.

But when i got it home, and had the chance to rummage, i quickly realised it was less cowboys and indians, more patterns and textures. Fab.

Also, I LOVE turquoise. It's not a colour i would have associated with this theme, but there's a lot of it in the box and it blends so well :D

So, what's in the box?!

This Kit: a dreamcatcher.  I have to say that I'm not really 'into' dreamcatchers, or the whole Spirits thing... but i thought it was a great idea for a kit, and will be searching out options for the components. The kit states that there should be two types of suedette lace, and I only got one? But my box did contain some extra wool (pictured), so maybe it was replaced? Hmmmm!

 Mini bonus Kit: rope basket! love the look of this, excited to try this out this afternoon!

Two types of denim: not sure what to do with this yet, but have a lot of spare denim in my house at the moment, so I'm sure it won't go to waste.

Printed fleece in a Native American pattern: The colours on the fleece are really rich. Going to save this until i can work out a way to use it as a feature on something.

 Turquoise beads: LOVE them. such a great colour! 
A tiny little bear charm: Very cute, reminded me of a cave painting.

Bronze star studs: I never really think of using studs, but now I have some I think I might just have to try them out!

Double-sided craft papers: Lovely, great quality. The one on the left is my definite fave!

 Suedette floral trim: I really like the trim! I'm in the process of 'upcycling' some of my old pairs of jeans, and this might come in handy for some pretty edging.

Feather charms: I do love them, but some of them are not the best quality (as you can see above). Will be using some of the better ones to make some earrings, i think.

What did you think of the box? Do you have any exciting plans / ideas?

Having been away for most of July and August, I'm pretty behind on my makes from my Crafty Creatives boxes, and blogging about them! Hoping to catch up soon!

Fran xx

P.S. - The background fabric is a scarf that I love. Doesn't it just compliment the theme so well?!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Manchester Musings #1 - The Tea Hive

This is the first in a series of things to do in Manchester! I moved here a year ago, and am still finding my feet with exploring some of the great places Manchester has to offer. I love digging out independent coffee shops, and places that help to make Manchester feel 'homely'. 

So, first up is the Tea Hive. Located in Chorlton, I first visited the Tea Hive in February with my friend Laura. We'd both heard great things about it, and wanted to try it for ourselves! The menu has a good array of sweet and savoury, so with neither of us being very hungry, we decided the share the Light Lunch, and both ordered different teas.

The lunch was great, but certainly not what i'd call light! It came with a good sized bowl of lentil soup, which we loved, along with a houmous bagel. Both dishes were so full of flavour, and we honestly loved it. The light lunch also comes with a huge slab of cake, and we chose the carrot cake. Carrot cake is a definite favourite of mine, which means I'm also hugely critical whenever I try a different one. This certaintly passed the test, and we left Tea Hive that afternoon as very happy customers, eager to return.

I next returned in May with my friend Ruth and once again it came up-trumps! I ordered the lemon cake, which is two sponges cut in half, so you essentially receive a 4 layer slice of cake. AND it tasted soooo good! There was lemon curd and some kind of buttercream in each layer. Amazing.

The last time I went was last week! There is some renovations going on around the shop, and it looked as if it was shut, but happily it wasn't, so Ruth and I got to return!

Once again, Tea Hive lived up to expectations and we were served really yummy cakes. They seem to shake-up their cake menu quite a bit, so it's always unknown what choices you'll be faced with.


 The only really 'negative' experience I've ever had there, was last week. We both ordered Chai Tea Lattes which ended up arriving in a large teapot, and we got at least double the amount it would have been if it had been served in a mug. It was also loose leaf, and so we just ended up with quite milky drinks, and the pot had lots of milk foam mixed in with tea leaves... not the best chai tea latte experience i've ever had, and i certainly won't order it again, but their drinks range in huge so i think it'll be ok!

All in all, great place, great cake! Highly recommended!

Fran xx

All opinions are my own and I was not asked, paid or sponsored to write this post.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A little trip to Chester

I recently spent a lovely day out in Chester. My school friend Becky lives in London, but was in the area and so we grabbed the chance to spend the day catching up on life, and combined it with a little explore of Chester!

The second most photographed clock in the UK, i do believe!

A city I last visited when I was 12 years old and remember very little of, Chester really surprised me with what it had to offer. It combines the very old with the very new, and is composed of an assortment of higgledy-piggledy buildings, each one built in a different century to the next.


For so many reasons, I felt Chester was very 'York-esque.' I lived in York for three years, and found myself comparing so many things in Chester to things I loved about York. The comparison was definitely not helped by the 'York Hog Roast' chain, which made for a very satisfying lunch.

Becky enjoying her Hog Roast

A massive highlight of our day in Chester was the discovery of 'Central Perk', a cafe themed, surprise surprise, around everyone's favourite retro sitcom, Friends (well, maybe not everyone's favourite. My Dad HATES it with a passion!).
 Please excuse the bad photo, and the poor Bin Man!

Inside it is adorned with neon lighting, and TV screens showing continuous re-runs of Friends. The cafe stocks an impressive array of American candy (such as Moon Pies, Twinkies, etc), and there is a good variety of home made goods, such as cheesecake and Red Velvet. I am SUCH a sucker for Red Velvet, and had to try some, despite the overwhelmingly colossal slice that I was presented with. And it was good. The cafe was very reasonably priced (£2 for a latte, £3 for a mammoth slice of cake), and I'm planning a return trip already!

So all in all, a great day in Chester. I only live an hour away, and I'm pretty sure I'll be back again before too long!

Fran xx

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Just one Sorbetto...

So, as mentioned here, my next big step in exploring the big wide sewing world is clothing. I found a pattern I thought looked simple enough, cut out all the pieces and then braced myself.

Instruction 1: Gather.

I crumpled. I went from feeling brave, to feeling completely clueless and wanting to scrap clothes sewing as 'good intentions but a bad idea'

And then I discovered the Sorbetto. 

Ok, so I realise I'm so late to the Sorbetto party, but I'm ok with this! 

Colette Patterns free Sorbetto download is such a beautiful idea for the less experienced clothing sewers like me, yet the finished result and potential adaptations keep the more seasoned sewers coming back for more. I discovered that Guthrie and Ghani... Are giving the Sorbetto a lot of love at the moment too! ( check out their Gallery...!)

Anyway... My Sobetto journey was not fault-free sadly, and I certainly seem to make life harder for myself. such as...

1. Having cut up my nice fabric for the definitely-too-difficult to currently attempt top, and eager to give the Sorbetto a try, I didn't have a piece of cotton big enough, so... I found a cutesy £2.50/m navy polka dot poly cotton in my stash and went for that, figuring it was cheap enough to mess up! I sewed two pieces together and then cut out the pattern, using the new seam as my fold line. It means the back pieces of fabric don't follow the grain line, and are cut on different lines themselves, so will probably misshapen quite quickly, but I decided I was ok with that.

2. I completely, absently mindedly, did NOT register that this was an American pattern, therefore American sizing. Massive Rookie Error. The realisation came once the side and shoulder seams were sewn, and i tried it on for size. i was completely perplexed for a while as to why i was wearing a tent... Sigh. I roughly marked and pinned and sewed, and so my end result is a 'pointy' look in the bottom corners; the top 'flares out', so to speak... Oh well. At least I won't make that mistake again in a hurry.

Anyway... here's my completed Sorbetto!!

Sorry for the bad photos and the creases!!

Despite all it's imperfections, i'm SO proud of what i accomplished! A top I made! That I can wear?! AND it looks good?!?! WOW.

I'm excited to make another!!

Fran xx

Sunday, 11 August 2013

#Pinitdoit - Anniversary Photos

This is the first in a #pinitdoit series on this blog (does anyone know anywhere to link this into?). I have a bit of a Pnterest addiction (I can be found here) and thought this might encourage me to actually do something with them! And to blog about them when i do!

As mentioned here and here..... our first wedding anniversary was spent in Sofia. I loved this idea of taking a picture of yourself with a sign every wedding anniversary:

So here are a few that we took! We didn't have a pretty little blackboard or a good photographer, but i was happy to improvise with a crumpled piece of paper and some imagination :) We tried to be selective, and only take photos by what we deemed 'most impressive'...

By the Sveti Georgi (built in the 4th centrury, it is the oldest building in Sofia) and Roman ruins, taken by a happily obliging tourist

By the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, taken as a selfie

At the ampitheatre of Serdica, taken on self-timer

I love this idea, REALLY hope I remember next year!

Fran xx

Friday, 9 August 2013

Bulgarian Travels #3 - Sofia

This is the third and final installment in the Bulgarian Travels series (for now!). The previous posts can be found here and here.

So, at the end of our trip, the husband and I booked a little apartment for a few days in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital. The reason was two-fold: we wanted to have a little holiday and some relaxing time just the two of us, and it also coincided with our 1 year anniversary! Perfect timing :)
We are definite city sight-seers, and love cramming things in, but i hurt my foot a few days previously. This meant we had to take it a bit slower, but that was probably a good thing!
We are definite city sight-seers, and love cramming things in, but i hurt my foot a few days previously. This meant we had to take it a bit slower, but that was probably a good thing!

 Inside our little apartment

 Our apartment block

 Sveti Georgi - the oldest building in Sofia, built in the 4th Century 

 Ivan Vazov National Theatre

 Russian Church

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - easily the most iconic building in Sofia

 Amphitheatre - discovered when they were building a hotel... so they just built the hotel on top! It is a little hidden gem, and the hotels lets tourists wander round the remains for free!

 Have you read about the ongoing protests in Sofia? This was on Day 30, when it was noisy, but violence-free!

 Our anniversary meal - we chose Italian :)

 European Parliament

 Mount Vitosha, overshadowing Vitosha Boulevard

 Mineral Baths

 The fascinating Archeological Museum is located in an old Synagogue

Hope you've enjoyed reading about Bulgaria! It's such a beautiful country; well worth a visit!

Fran xx

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Bulgarian Travels #2 - Plovdiv

The Bulgarian Travel posts are to share just a few snap shots of my time in Bulgaria over July. You can find the first post all about Ascenovgrad here.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city, is a 30 minute train ride from Ascenovgrad, so we visited a few times.


Ethnographic Museum in Plovdiv's Old Town

The Ancient Theatre

Modelling our FREE Nestea (iced tea). We were excited!

On our day off, we went Go Karting!

Believe it or not, this Ferrari is made out of Lego!

My first Bulgarian Doner experience. it was GOOD!

One of the rides at the Aqualand water park that we visited. Not 
sure this would pass saftey regs in the UK...

Come back next time for photos round Sofia!

Fran xx