Wednesday Wants…. Totes Amazing

I’ve had a thing about bags for as long as I can remember. I recall as a child I’d blow any money I had on a new purse or bag at the first opportunity….and with all my money spent I’d have nothing to put into it! The ‘problem’ once got so bad that I had to limit myself to buying just one bag a month!

I’ve rather curbed the habit since then, favouring buying ‘investment’ bags to last me forever, and I’m currently in the process of streamlining my collection (I have a walk in wardrobe dedicated to accessories and it could do with a tidy up!). I do think though that you REALLY can’t have too many tote bags. They pack down flat, they’re inexpensive, last well, don’t mind being chucked in the washing machine and are infinitely useful to keep around. I have a big one filled with lots of others, and they’re just perfect for using for supermarket shops, throwing parcels and purse in when going to the post office, and for carrying lunches and documents to the office.

I also think tote bags are a rather wonderful way of buying into a new trend you like, your new favourite style, or just to show off your love for dogs or knitting or whatever. The nicest ones in my opinion are the pretty illustrated ones by independent designers, and I do love to carry a piece of artwork around with me!

Koala Screen Print Tote by Depeapa, £14.11 on Etsy, via Craft Gawker

How could you not feel cheered on a shopping trip with this fellow on your arm?! I love a Warly Bear (or Koala Bear if you prefer) and this chap is so charming with his smart yellow jumper!

Rob Ryan Canvas Shopper by Wild and Wolf, £7.50 on sale from £14.95 via Bloomsbury & Co

I actually have this one and I love it! I fell in love with the design when I visited the Ryantown shop on Columbia Road, and the bag itself makes me smile each time I look at it….I think it’s a rather apt saying for me! It’s a good size with a gusset bottom and a little zipped pocket inside, plus it’s a really sturdy, heavy canvas….a total bargain at the sale price!

Dachsund Tote Bag by Jeff Josephine Designs, £10 on Folksy

I adore this little guy! He reminds me a lot of my Digby hound, with his little Queen Anne legs! I am crazy about his striped scarf too!

‘Bad Mother Knitter’ Bag by Kelly Connor Designs, £13.75 via Not on the High Street

Hehehe! I love a pun, and a shiny gold print….. not to mention knitting! This one would be super cute to collect all your yarns and knitting pins together in!

Tipsy Badger Tote by Sophie Parker, £12 on Etsy, via Boys with Banjos

This badger knows how to live! Look at his shorts! I love this guy, and I have a certain badger-mad friend who will go crazy for this I’m sure…. especially as she’s partial to a glass of vino too!

‘Ignition’ Illustrated Rabbit tote by Gallons of Ink, £6 on Etsy

Pretty sure this one is my favourite….there’s something about the juxtaposition of these cutesy little bunnies and the innuendo-filled R&B lyrics of R Kelly’s ‘Ignition.’ So much fun!

How about you? Are you bag mad? Do you have a stash of totes for running errands with and cramming treasures in?

Ems x

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Foody Friday: Church Farm Ardeley and the Jolly Waggoner

A few months ago, on a drive into the countryside to visit friends, we passed Church Farm in Ardeley and our attention was grabbed….. a mixed, ecological farm, producing the widest range of meat, fruit and vegetables, Church Farm also serve fresh food from the farm at the Farm Butchery & Store, Farm Cafe and Jolly Waggoner Pub. We made a quick stop on our way back to explore the lovely little farm shop, buying up some amazing fresh eggs and other bits, and made a mental note to find out more about the place once back at home.

And we were so delighted we did! We soon discovered we could get a weekly delivery of vegetables from the farm and quickly placed our order….we now look forward to each delivery of amazingly fresh and carefully grown veg, not to mention cooking it and eating it! The produce tastes like things used to in my opinion….carrots have that wonderfully sweet and earthy fragrance, and cauliflowers have that great peppery taste. We used to have an Able and Cole box whilst we lived in London, but are finding the Church Farm box much more home-grown and honest, and it’s wonderful to know our food has barely travelled!

And it doesn’t end with the veggie stuff…. The free range livestock (and subsequent produce!) ticks all the boxes for us….They keep their animals in small extensive herds & flocks, using older slower growing traditional breeds to produce the best meat from healthy, happy animals. You can visit the animals to see for yourself, and the farm was set up with the advice and help of some of the UK’s foremost farm animal welfare experts.

“All the animals are kept extensively and allowed to mature before slaughter. All animals can and are seen everyday by our farmers, co-farmers, and visitors. Our mortality rates are very low and our animals live on average twice as long as those in more intensive farm systems. We have a fully qualified on-site vet and call upon the RVC/Westpoint vet partnership for support where needed. The only way we differ from the Soil Association husbandry guides for all species (the highest welfare standards in the UK) is that we buy local straw and silage feed from local farms which are not organic.”

Well how could we resist?! As a treat to ourselves then earlier this week, we visited the charming pub opposite the farm, The Jolly Waggoner, to sample some of the farm’s other produce. The menu totally spoiled us, with stacks of us-friendly meat choices, as well as several very tempting veggie options. Adam and I both opted for the lamb though, his Dad the fish and chips, and his Mum the pork belly. ALL the dishes were amazing! Our lamb was perfectly cooked and accompanied by delicious pommes Anna and a scrummy jus….the pork belly was laden with amazing crackling and the huge battered hake was just perfect.

Prone to temptation as we are, we all went on to relish a pudding of walnut cake with butterscotch sauce….this too was just to die for and left us all very jolly and contented indeed! They serve real ales too, with a selection of guest ales from local breweries, and the wine list is pretty impressive too. We are sure to be back in search of a Sunday Roast!

Church Farm also boasts a woodland play area, walking trails, tea rooms and a campsite! All in all, seriosuly worth a visit!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants: Strangely Yours on Etsy

I’m always finding gorgeous things as I browse Etsy…..lovely new shops, unique gifts and clever products that capture my imagination. It’s not that often though that I find a shop FULL of very, very *me* things….

Strangely Yours though is very much my cup of tea. Wonderfully whimsical, imaginative and exciting, each darling piece of jewellery would sit happily amongst my collection. I adore the etched wood, the clever compartments and secrets….these designs remind me of my childhood when hidden messages and secret stashing places were the stuff of my daydreams. Not that they’re not still!

Here are six of my favourites from the charming Etsy shop…..

Polaroid Camera Locket, £22.56

“This retro little camera has a tiny film that slides in and out, making it look like your photos are really developing! If you are an avid Polaroid taker or instagrammer, this wooden camera makes an awesome accessory! Proudly display your best photo, or a special occasion in the space of the black square. Laser cut from wood, the “flim” is made from white & black acrylic, with a gold mirror for a lens.”

Personalised ‘Message in a tree’ Necklace, £16.70

“Like lovers scratching their names into the bark of unsuspecting trees with their keys, vandalize the poor trees no more! Now you can carve a special date, name or message into the hollow of your very own secret tree! A little slide up door shields your messages from prying eyes. Etch the date of your anniversary, or lover’s names. Maybe you have words of encouragement to give to someone, or perhaps a personal motto that keeps you going. Either way this little stump is your very own private hollow!”

How adorable would this be as a wedding gift?! (*Hints to her Groom*)

Bow and Arrow Layered Necklaces, £15.41

“A minimalistic bow and arrow pairing. Both arrow and bow are individual necklaces that look great layered together, or each on its own! Etched with geometric markings on wood, these lovelies are then hand painted. Gold rings accents are added for a tribal style with a single gold feather paired with the arrow.”

Having just completed my beginners archery course, I feel this would be a rather apt treat to myself!

‘The Collector’ Wooden Crate Locket, £16.70

“Little crate lockets you can really keep stuff in. If you’re the sort to pick up small bones & pebbles on long walks, or maybe some pretty glass found on the beach, this unique little locket is a cool way to hold your secret finds!Its also a great way to hide little surprises.. pop a small photo inside, or a meaningful note. If you are forgetful like we are, a folded grocery list, or just some change for bus fare. Whatever the reason, these little crates are are sure to be a conversation starter. Choose from a few phrases to fit your purpose. “Fragile/Caution/Radioactive/Top secret/Do not feed” or engrave your own custom text! These miniature crates are hand crafted in our home studio. Each piece is unique and will have its own variations in coloring and distress markings just like a real crate!”

I just adore these….and I am totally the kind of person who picks up bits and bobs on walks!

Personalised Vintage Sewing Machine Necklace, £22.56

“A beautiful rustic sewing machine modeled after a vintage Singer. Cut from solid cherry wood and engraved with detailed floral flourishes, it features a tiny spool that has been threaded with real thread, a wheel that really spins, and a tiny gold needle! Sew cute! And as added bonus, personalize “The Seamstress” with a name instead.”

What a gorgeous gift idea for a crafty sewer!

Woodlands Secret Locket Necklace, £22.56

“An adorable handcrafted piece, stash away your secret finds with this little locket! 2 squirrels holding an acorn stand atop the headpiece with a whimsically victorian motif. The little key works as the latch, pop the key and open the tiny doors! This miniature locket is fully functional and just like some closets, can hold a few skeletons!”

If I had to choose just one thing from this amazing collection, it would be this. So imaginative, charming and whimsical….love love love!!!

I want it allllll!!!!

Ems x

My NOT ON THE HIGH STREET shop is now officially open!

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It’s here! How exciting!

I now have a very professional looking shop open with NOT ON THE HIGH STREET!

You can find the shop here, which is full of my vintage stamp jewellery….it’s all hand made by me and every piece is totally unique! Look out for more treasure going onto the shop soon though….I intend to launch my treasure charm necklaces there very soon!

Hope you like!

Ems x

Something from the weekend: Treasure hunting, archery and more gardening

I do love it when the weekend starts early, and it certainly did this week! My dear friend Vixie came to visit Hitchin on Friday and we happily spent the entire day moseying around together! We hit the Antiques and Collectables market hard…spending hours there in fact! Then it was to the local vintage shops and charity shops until we were all shopped out! We both came away with lots of fabulous treasures and it was so lovely to catch up with her.

On Saturday morning we took a drive out to Chick Sands for a lovely long morning walk with the hounds….it was a beautifully crisp and bright morning and I do love exploring that place! Once home we scoffed belgian waffles for breakfast and then I spent some time in the garden, readying it for winter!

In the afternoon we set off to nearby Knebworth where we were having the first archery lesson of our beginners course! The course was a gift for Adam’s birthday and lasts four days. It’s with a great local club called the Green Dragon Bowmen (how cool is THAT?!) and they shoot right out front of the stunning Knebworth House. We started with a warm up and then the very basic techniques, just shooting at paper plates to begin with! After tea and biscuits we carried on freestyle shooting, with some great teachers who are members of the club. We had an amazing time and soon saw some progress….as well getting rather achey to boot!

We spent the evening relaxing in front of the telly, watching Buffy after a naughty dinner of pizza….a much needed rest after the day’s adventures!

Sunday morning saw another lovely walk over at Radwell, then it was back home to do some housey things before heading back to Knebworth for our second class. We progressed to proper targets this time, and further away too….my first few arrows didn’t even make it far enough, let alone hit a good place on the target! Still, with more help from our great teachers, we carried on progressing, and by the end of the day Adam was looking like a proper archer and getting some really impressive shots!

It had rained on us during our lessons so we were keen to warm up back at home with a cup of tea before heading back out again to walk the dogs. Adam’s Mum had been gardening for us whilst hound sitting so it was great to see what she’d been up to too! We now have a large new flower bed to play with, and soon will be able to grow veggies there!

Our afternoon walk saw lots of pretty rainbows and great skies, then it was back home to indulge in a take away curry as we were too shattered to cook! It was more vegging out after that, then very soon to sleep after a super tiring weekend!

Ems x

New items in my Etsy shop!… The Capy Collection

Just thought I’d update you about some new items I have up on my Etsy shop for sale now! I’ve been drawing Capybaras for ages now, as they are Adam’s absolute favourite, but when a friend told me I should really try to sell them I wasn’t sure how popular they’d be! It seems though that lots of people also think that capybaras are truly amazing, so they’ve gone down very well so far!

I’ll be making lots more capybara-based treasure before too long I’m sure, but in the meantime, here is my Capy Collection…..

‘Capybaras in Love’ Espresso Cup and Saucer Pair, £35

‘Monsieur le Capybara’ Pint Mug, £15

‘Mr and Mrs Capybara’ Salt and Pepper Shaker Set, £15

‘Partybara’ ‘Capyccino’ Cup and Saucer, £15

Hope you like!
Ems x

Something from the weekend….Foraging, gardening, making and treasure hunting

I had such a lovely weekend! The weather really does help of course, and all the sunshine hours make such a difference!

I spent a lot of the weekend gardening….the front garden has been transformed after many hours of hard work and is benefitting from having been totally dug over and filled with plants! I can’t wait to see it all bloom, although I guess I have to wait til Spring for that. Still, it looks better already and has tidied up the front of the house no end.

We did some great foraging too…..we picked loads of blackberries and elderberries from the local common, as well as some sweet pea pods and honeysuckle berries I’ll be planting for next year. We also raided the back garden, and came back indoors with stacks of apples, more blackberries and greengages too. There is a medlar tree that is also looking rather full, but I think we have to leave those a little longer before harvesting them.

We spent an absolute age rinsing the elderberries, plucking them off their stalks, rinsing them again and then bottling them….I hope it’s going to be worth it! We made one bottle of elderberry schnapps and one bottle of spiced elderberry liqueur….can’t wait to try them! I made jam from the greengages, and it was probably my most successful yet….it tastes yummy and is the perfect consistency so I’ll have to share some tips soon!

As is traditional, we also visited the antiques market on Friday and the car boot sale on Sunday….I picked up some great treasures to use at the wedding and the place was really buzzing in the fine weather. It was also the crafts and  farmers market on Saturday, and we dawdled around there awhile, spotting some great new stalls too.

Other than that, it was a weekend of domesticity, relaxing, cooking endless amounts of marrow, walking the dogs and watching more Buffy. Bliss!

Here are a few photos from the weekend…..

Ems x

Foodie Friday: The Copper Beech Tea Room

I do love a quaint little tea room, and when we recently found this charming place I knew it would become a firm favourite. In fact, we took my Mummy there last weekend for her birthday, and she just adored it too!

The Copper Beech Tea Room is actually part of the Copper Beech Art Gallery, which is just a short drive away from Hitchin, Letchworth or Stevenage in Little Wymondley. The gallery sits within an oak-beamed barn on a working farm, and hosts both resident and guest local artists, as well as workshops….. you can learn cake decorating, painting in many styles, mosaicking, lino printing, hand applique, gilding and lots more! The owner actually spotted the self-made dinosaur necklace I was wearing, and once we got chatting about what I do invited me to bring some of my work along for her to see and perhaps sell!

We love having a wander around the gallery as we wait for our drinks to arrive, but then it’s time to settle down in the darling little tea room!

Nothing matches in the cosy little cafe….there are charmingly mis-matched chairs, tea cups on totally different patterned saucers and art work of all styles on the walls. One wall is dominated by a gorgeous large dresser, upon which stand various home made cakes for you to gape at! The menu is great for us…nearly all veggie, but plenty varied to boot. There’s a quorn spag bol, toasted ciabattas with your choice of fillings, pasta dishes and soup. For just £7.50 you can get any drink of your choice with any main meal, and for £10 you can also choose a cake!

On our most recent visit I opted for the mushroom bake, which is a seriously yummy sort of pattie with loads of cheese inside and all crispy and breadcrumby on the outside. All the main meals come with delicious home made coleslaw, pasta salad and a nice leafy salad (which I am happy to say is not dominated by rocket or raw onion which often spoils a side salad for me!). Adam and Mummy had toasted ciabattas, both of which were devoured! We can also really recommend the (pictured) stuffed mushrooms (with with parmesan risotto or with goats cheese and onion marmalade) as well as the goats cheese puff which we’ve had on previous visits.

Tea for one comes in a pretty little tea pot, whilst my hot chocolate was served in a huge mug topped with stacks of cream and hundreds and thousands! The meals are way too big to be able to tackle a cake straight afterwards (especially as the cake portions are massive too!) so our waitress kindly wrapped up our two slices of pineapple cake and slice of apple cake to take home! We made the right choice too….the huge portions made a nice pudding about an hour after we got home, and then stretched to pudding after our supper too! Both cakes were amazing to boot….seriously tasty and moist, just like a home made cake should be.

We’ll definitely be going again soon and couldn’t recommend the place enough….it may be small but it’s certainly perfectly formed, and beats the in-town chain lunch haunts hands down!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants: Back to School with Not On The High Street

This week I got the very exciting news that I’ve been accepted to join Not On The High Street, and I’ll be opening up a little Under A Glass Sky shop there very soon! Naturally, I’ve been using this as an excuse to spend ages browsing this lovely site, snooping around and window shopping…..And what with it being that time of year (not to mention my stationery obsession) I’ve been very much led down the ‘Back To School’ path. And that’s despite not actually having been to school in some time now!

Still, a girl can still hanker after some fancy new stationery can’t she? Here’s my picks….

Personalised Pencil Case, by TILLYANNA, £8

Well this literally has my name all over it! And not only was this lovely pencil case clearly *made* for me, but it also stipulates it’s to carry my ‘creative kit’….which means I could fill it with all kinds of marvellous things!

Pack Of 12 Personalised Colouring Pencils, by ABLE LABELS, £6.50

And to fill that personalised pencil case? Why, a set of personalised pencils of course!

‘Stuff I’m Likely To Forget’ Notebook, by BREAD & JAM, £13.50

Another thing *clearly* made for me! I just have to keep list upon list, lest I forget where I’m coming from and what I’m doing. And there’s nowhere better to keep all those lists than a super cute note book like this one.

Personalised ‘From The Kitchen Of’ Stamp, by PRETTY RUBBER STAMPS, £12.50

I love stamping things. I used to have a self built toy post office as a child and would merrily stamp anything that sat still for long enough. This one would be great for home-baked gift giving….and you know, just anything that sits still long enough.

Rob Ryan For Alphabet Bags Initial Tote Bag, by ALPHABET BAGS, £16

Of course, one always needs a pretty new bag to carry one’s pretty new things in. I adore Rob Ryan and these initial book bags with his darling paper-cut initials on make me smile.

Bunny In The Field Paper Clip Holder, by KIKI’S GIFTS AND HOMEWARE, £15

And now for the pièce de réstistance…. I am just crazy about this little bunny rabbit! He cleverly gathers up all your paper clips, and he’s silly cute to boot. I want him on my desk this instant!

Are you allowing yourself any ‘Back to School’ time extravagances? What type of stationery really floats your boat?!

Do keep an eye out for my Not On The High Street shop….my vintage stamp jewellery should be live on there in a week or so!

Ems x

Tuesday Tutorial: Jewellery Picture Frames

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I actually first made these to display my jewellery in at a pop-up shop I was exhibiting in, but once I’d brought them home I thought they’d just be perfect for keeping my own collection all tidy! I have a beautiful big jewellery box, and a big hat box that’s crammed with jewellery too, but despite all that my things invariably end up strewn across the fireplace in the bedroom!

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I have my flavours of the month, then they get buried underneath the next favoured few, and before too long I’ve forgotten what I have! This way though I get to show off several pieces at once, keep them all de-tangled and then just swap them back into the jewellery box when I want a change!

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These are super easy to make, and only took me moments. They’re cheap to put together too (I made them using bits and bobs I already had at home!) and don’t take any special skills!

What you will need:

  • Picture frames (broken, or with the glass and backing removed)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Small cup hooks
  • Drawing pins
  • String
  • Mini pegs
  • A bradawl tool, if you have one, or something sharp and pointy if not! (Please be careful!!)
  • White tack or picture nails

How to make:

1. Along the top edge of your tallest frame, measure the inside edge and mark out where you’d like each hook to go using the pencil

2. Using the bradawl, start off a hole at each mark

3. Screw your hooks into the holes, ensuring they all end up facing the same way

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4. Along each side edge of another frame, measure out and mark with a pencil where you’d like a string to cross, leaving a good 5cm in between each

5. Push a drawing pin into each mark

6. Tie string across and between each set of drawing pins

7. Attach pegs to the strings

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8. Now they’re ready to go on the wall, either suspended on nails or just attached with white tack (like mine!)

9. Hang long necklaces from the hooks, and rings, brooches etc. from the pegs

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10. Stand back and admire your work!

Ems x

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