Friday, 27 June 2014

Empower International Fundraiser

Today I wanted to let you all know about a handmade fundraiser in which I'm participating.  This Tuesday, 1st of July (AEST), there will be a camel-themed fundraiser organised by The Crafty Camel and Outback Australian Camels to support the work of Empower International (are you seeing where the camel theme is coming from?).

image camel coloured apple cozy crochet vintage button two cheeky monkeys

The fundraiser will be run via The Crafty Camel's Facebook page, where there will be an album of camel-inspired handmade goodies up for auction for one week.  Bidding on items starts on the 1st of July and all proceeds will go to the work Empower International does to help end child sex slavery in Asia, a very worthy cause.  As you know, I'm not in the habit of making camel homewares or jewellery, so I've decided to contribute by crocheting a camel-coloured apple cozy (okay, so maybe I'm stretching the theme a little).  I've had a sneak peek at some of the other creations on offer and there are going to be quite a few delightful offerings for the auction - so I look forward to seeing you online come auction night!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

My Creative Space: Crocheted Pebble Magnets

image crochet pebble cozy magnet yellow ombre variegated domum vindemia stone fridge

Yes, yes, yes, I am still supremely excited by my latest crochet venture!  So much so that, even though I was originally planning to launch the new crochet pebble magnet range in July/August, I decided to release a few designs now before my official launch in the coming months.  I am having so much fun creating these sweet magnets and it is veeerrry tempting to fill my fridge and freezer doors with them.  For those of you who can't wait till the official launch to see all of the designs available, you can purchase the early release designs from either my Etsy or Madeit store.  I'd also love to hear your suggestions of teeny designs I could add to the range - do you have a favourite?

image crochet pebble cozy magnet red heart white love domum vindemia stone fridge

Monday, 23 June 2014

Business advice to my younger self

I was looking through my old purchases and sales the other day, reminiscing about when I started my handmade business five years ago, when I got thinking about the advice I would give myself if I could go back in time to 2009.

One of the first asymmetrical necklaces I sold. Thankfully, my photography skills have improved a bit since then!

I'm no wunderkind entrepreneur, but there are so many bits of advice I could give my more naive self back then.  Most of my advice I am still learning to put into practise now, but I'm sure I would have saved myself so much heartbreak and many mistakes if I had thought of it back then!

 Mr Cheeky Monkeys took drastic action to help me sort out my craft storage issues.

So my first piece of advice to my younger self would be to go easy on the supply purchasing.  With so many beautiful items for sale both online and in bricks and mortar stores, it is very easy to go a bit crazy and waste your business budget (especially if you're a bit of a magpie hoarder like I am).

 My weekly planner.

Another piece of advice I would give myself would be to sit down and systematically plan my days/week.  When you're a parent of young children, running a small business from home is pretty crazy and I have found that writing myself a list of tasks is very useful.  My list helps me not to overschedule my day and also keeps me accountable (to some extent) so that I don't neglect important or essential tasks.

 I am slowly learning to incorporate my least favourite colours into my designs. Just because I don't like a colour doesn't mean others won't!

There are lots of other things I would tell my younger self, but I know that some advice is specific to particular personality types or businesses so I would love to hear from you, my readers.  Do you own your own business (or have you done so)?  What advice do you wish you could have told yourself when you first started your business?  What advice would you give to other budding business owners?

Friday, 20 June 2014

Mollie Makes Cross Stitch

image mollie makes issue 30 cross stitch freebie eline pellinkhof rose shabby chic

Okay, so I am almost a year late, but I finally sat down and made this cute cross stitch hoop from issue 30 of Mollie Makes magazine (which came out in August last year).  The project came as a kit with the magazine (minus the hoop and fabric scraps wrapped around the hoop) and the design is by the very talented Eline Pellinkhof.  It's been a while since I'd done any cross stitch so it was nice to work on an easy project.  I think I'll be adding this hoop to the Two Cheeky Monkeys' art wall, which is a work in progress and still in the planning stages only.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

My Creative Space: More Mr Darcy

image mr darcy headband hair accessories jane austen pride and prejudice brass filigree two cheeky monkeys

I was inspired to work on more Pride and Prejudice creations this week after making a P&P thumbtack set for a Domum Vindemia customer and also after having a big clear out of my creative supplies.  The Mr Darcy earrings are a variation of the existing designs available in-store, but the cabochon and filigree headband above is a brand new design for Two Cheeky Monkeys.  So what do you think of my new creations this week?  Do you like the glass and brass look, or are you more a wearer of silver or gold?

image mr darcy ear studs earrings asymmetrical pride and prejudice jane austen brass glass vintage two cheeky monkeys

Monday, 16 June 2014

A week in the life of...

Do you keep a weekly/daily schedule of tasks to remind you about all your appointments and "to do" lists?  I'm a little OCD and also a little goal-oriented, so I love to have a list of everything I need to do set out for me (plus I'm a little forgetful too and need reminders).  The photo above is an example of what my week looks like: appointments, chores that need doing around the house, tracking numbers for packages shipped to customers and store-related tasks.  I also keep track of my jogging progress as well as jot down blog or business ideas I might have (though those usually go in my business journal).  And of course, there's nothing sweeter than being able to cross off items on my list as I accomplish them and feel like I've achieved a lot that day!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Adventures With Herman the German (Friendship Cake, That Is!)

A few weeks ago a friend of mine introduced the Two Cheeky Monkeys family to the whole Herman the German friendship cake enterprise.  I don't know about you, but I had never heard of this cake sharing concept before and was a little intrigued to find out more (because who can resist cake?).  For those of you not already in the know, a Herman cake is basically a cake made from a very basic "sourdough" starter batter.  The starter batter is left to ferment for nine days with minimal supervision (except for a bit of stirring and occasional adding of extra ingredients).

image herman the german friendship cake starter batter
This is what the starter looks like on day ten before the final cake ingredients are added.

Day nine is where the "friendship cake" bit comes in because you divide your starter into four portions, keep one for yourself and pass on the the other three portions to friends.  Said friends need to ferment the starter for one more day before adding in a (rather lengthy) list of ingredients to make up the final cake.  The Two Cheeky Monkeys family were very happy with how our Herman tasted (even though I was naughty and added less sugar than required and also substituted in some wholemeal flour).  Although really, you can't go wrong with cake in this household, especially if it has sultanas and apples in it, as this Herman does.  Mr Cheeky Monkeys is keen to try out the other Herman variations (double chocolate, anyone?), as are the little Cheeky Monkeys.

image herman the german friendship cake sultanas apples sourdough cake yeast
The final cake full of juicy sultanas and apple chunks.

But in all honesty, I'm not really sure what all the fuss is about.  Yes, the cake tasted great and had a nice, moist crumb.  But the fact that I have to leave the batter to ferment on my kitchen bench for TEN DAYS before I get any cake doesn't sit well with someone who is low on patience and bench space.  And giving friends a cake batter which they then have to add a good 10-11 other ingredients to before they get a cake seems to defeat the whole sharing and friendship cake idea in my mind.  Maybe I'm overly practical, but I'd much rather bake up all four cakes myself and give away three finished cakes to my friends and family or someone in need.  What do you think?  Are you really into the whole Herman friendship cake concept?  Or are you just a little puzzled like I am?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Crochet for your fridge!

image crochet pebbles cozy crocheted stones pink purple domum vindemia rock

Can you remember all the way back to October last year when I first posted about crocheting cozies for stones?  I've been playing around with the technique since then and have made the decision to add a line of crocheted stones to Domum Vindemia.  However, due to the excessive cost of shipping stones (those things are heavy!), I'm currently limiting the range to crocheted stone magnets.  The two you see above are prototypes I made for the Two Cheeky Monkeys, much to their delight.  I'll be making these magnets in a variety of colours and designs and can take custom orders too.  The new magnet range should hopefully be in-store some time in July or August - what do you think?

Monday, 9 June 2014

Colour Inspiration: Yellow and Blue

Looking through my onlines stores, you can probably guess that yellow isn't my favourite colour, due to it's rather limited presence in my creations.  Not that I don't like yellow, I love yellow flowers and foods, but it's not a colour I look good in so I don't work with it.  I know that this is a little short-sighted since many others out there love yellow and look great in it, so I have made the effort to work more with this colour.  And one thing I've discovered when working with yellow supplies is how beautifully yellow and blue complement each other.  I put together this mood board to inspire me to try working with colours I wouldn't normally use.

image yellow blue mood board cake shoes dress fabric flowers yellow cream starlight blue pantone

1. Pantone 12-0738 yellow cream
2. Pantone 12-4609 starlight blue
3. Belle by Amy Butler in coriander blue
4. Cake via A Stylish Design
5. Manolo Blahnik sandals
6. Bridesmaid's dress by Wtoo
7. Bouquet by Debbie Co Flowers
8. Table setting via Trendy Bride
9. Vintage Aynsley teacup via Shop on Sherman

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Shoes On My Feet

Did you own a pair of Converse sneakers when you were growing up or were you, like me, sadly frustrated by parental claims that they were "not worth the money"?  While my parents happily bought me Nikes and Reeboks for sport, I could never convince them to buy me a pair (or two) of Converse shoes (or Connies as I called them) for casual wear.

However, now that I'm all grown up I've discovered that Converse and other sports shoe stores have factory outlets where they sell off excess Connies made in less popular designs or sizes.  Now when you're a woman with size 6-6.5 feet, "less popular size" is music to your ears (and all you size 9, 10 and upwards girls will like this too)!  This is my second ever pair of Converse shoes; I tend to favour vintage-looking designs and neutral colours that will match most of my casual outfits.  Do you wear Converse?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A new Mr Darcy necklace

image mr darcy locket necklace pride and prejudice jane austen brass blue white vintage

Okay, so you may be excused for thinking that I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time making literature locket necklaces.  Well, not quite, but I do really love making them!  I have always loved lockets because of their vintage feel and I am a bit of a romantic who loves the idea of carrying a photo or tiny trinket from a loved one around on a necklace.

image mr darcy locket necklace pride and prejudice jane austen brass blue white vintage two cheeky monkeys

My latest literature locket necklace features not only a snippet of text mentioning Mr Darcy, but also some of my favourite vintage supplies.  There are vintage milk glass-style beads, a vintage Japanese-made cabochon and the locket itself is vintage brass.  Of course, I threw in a bit of asymmetry because I just can't resist asymmetrical designs.  What do you think?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Things I Love - Tea

I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to drink tea almost literally by the gallon in the colder months, especially now that I am a work at home mum/jewellery designer/upcycler.  I think this is partly because I am conscious of my need to stay hydrated (and warm) and partly because in my days as a research scientist, I didn't have the luxury of sipping a delicious drink while I worked (wouldn't want to accidentally drink that bacteria culture or experimental cell line!)  So today I am sharing a few of my favourite teas to drink, some of which are very affordable, others not so much.  And for all the coffee drinkers out there, I'm afraid I don't have any favourites to share with you.  Not because I don't like coffee, I just can't drink a lot of it for various health reasons (insert sad face).

I love chai tea, and Madame Flavour makes one of my favourite blends.

Okay, T2's Cocoa Loco is technically more of a tisane than a tea, but it kind of gets me a bit of a chocolate fix without all the calorie issues.

I think it's hard to grow up in a Chinese family without developing a taste for herbal teas, and Dilmah's green tea with jasmine is a favourite in our household.

I'd happily accept any tea blend from Tea Leaves, but Irish Breakfast is a firm favourite.