A New Year, A New Start

And that’s why you have new year’s resolutions.  In all honesty, I end up breaking mine a month or so into the year, so they’re pretty useless to make in the first place…

However this year, I am making resolutions (albeit a little late uploading them to here!), and they are manageable ones that I will be able to keep.

So with no further ado, my resolutions for 2012:

1) To be more organised – I’ve realised that this is one that I really need to make an effort at sometimes.  On the weeks that I’m working 50+ hours between my two jobs, it’s easy to not tidy up at home when I get back from work, as I’m often too tired.  However, if I can organise things well, it will be easier to keep things tidy on a day-to-day basis.  It’s not just that though, it’s getting rid of clutter and items that I no longer use, as inevitably I’ll have to pack up my belongings once more when I move to a new house, and I don’t want to have to box up things that I won’t use.

*This has already began:  I spent my Saturday morning going through my wardrobe and chest of drawers, sorting out my clothes… I’ve already put aside a substantial amount to sell via eBay (yay, extra cash!), and sent 4 bags of clothes to the charity shop.  I’ve tidied both wardrobe and drawers, and organised them.  I took my summer clothes out and stored them in a box under my bed, so that there’s more room in the drawers for my winter jumpers, and I can look forward to swapping my clothes around come April time.

2) To reprioritise my life – say yes to the right things, and not be afraid of saying no when I’m overworked and when I don’t want to do something.

3) To make a profit doing the things that I enjoy; blog, crafts, baking and composing.  Even if it’s starting a small shop on Etsy for Christmas crafts, or going to a couple of farmer’s markets with my cupcakes.  It can be as little as making birthday and Christmas cards more regularly, to save money in the long run, and making Christmas decorations again for next year.

4) To be more healthy, to be more fit, and be happier in myself (and maybe even lose a bit of weight whilst doing so).  I’m already pretty good at being healthy, but I’d like to think I could be even more so, and will be more aware of what I cook.

5) To make more of an effort to save money for important things. I need to think more when doing a food shop sometimes, especially after watching Extreme Couponing!  I’ll definitely be featuring a couple of easy, quick, healthy and cheap meals on the blog this year!  (Starting with a yummy and cheap Leek, Spinach and Potato bake, and a healthy version of Eton Mess this week, once I have a card reader to upload the photos from my camera!)

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Hello World!

I have a new toy: my new camera. Hola awesome Christmas present! (I’ve clearly been watching too many American TV shows, but to be fair, “shwmae awesome Christmas present” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it).

I went a bit snap happy playing with the different lenses, so forgive the inevitable posts in the New Year that will be full of photos (and the fact that the photos in the blog now will be much better quality than before)!

I’m still learning about how to take better photos – I’m far too used to my old iPhone ‘point and shoot’ camera, so it’s really nice to be able to take photos that have clarity and focus, rather than looking a little pixelated!

Hope that you’ve all had a fantastic Christmas, and that you got what you wished for!


Welcome To The Family

Say hello to my newest additions of spray paint…! (The matt red, matt black and matt white spray paints).  They join my big silver spray paint in a big old happy family that will sit in my craft supplies and appear from time to time probably quite often.

 One friend joked half-seriously that come January, they’d have to pry the spray paint out of my clutching hands, but I’m sure I’m not that far gone with it yet (note to that particular friend – You.. Just… Try…it!). Me and spray paint = match made in craft heaven. Easy to use, relatively no mess (if you prepare and put protective bags over surfaces etc first), and a nice clean, professional-looking finish. What more could a girl / craft-obsessive nutcase want?!

Here’s a sneak peek at what I used the sprays for:

Also, the red and white spray paints will be being used in an upcoming Christmas project – keep an eye out for it!

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*Phew* now that shameless self-promotion malarky is over, I can go do another project.. with paint… maybe!…

Paintpots and Pancakes goes all Facebook Style!

So, along with the brand new shiny pretty polkadotty redesign of the blog, I’ve been busy making the Facebook page for Paintpots and Pancakes, which will feature a couple more photos, little updates on projects, and ridiculous and mundane thoughts of mine from time to time.  I’ll be updating this Facebook page regularly, so please check it out, ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ if you’re feeling generous (you may get a cake out of it, you never know).

Paintpots and Pancakes – On Facebook!! (and all capital lettered words!… I’m still a little excited about this clearly…)

Considering that’s my second post this week that has been made the day after another post, it’s probably a record blogging week for me.  This is the final one this week, I promise!

I hope everyone enjoyed Guy Fawkes night last night – As this was the first time living in my new area, I went up to one of the hills by the sea and watched the town fireworks.  Felt properly Autumnal doing so too (i.e. was wrapped up warm with scarf and mittens and absolutely freezing!).

Also, heads up for the first Christmassy preparation post which will be appearing in the next week or so… Only 48 days to Christmas, and I’m determined to make the majority of my decorations from scratch. We’ll see how this self-challenge goes!


Cupcake crazy

Just a short post this time, and some gorgeous photos courtesy of Ruth Morris, of Albatross Archive.  I was asked if I would like to come along to the SWIGEN festival on Saturday 22nd October in Cardiff.  So I made cupcakes… Although the stall didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, the day was really fun, and I got to see a lot of great Cardiffian bands, which are definitely worth checking out:

The festival ran from 12pm – 11pm, and was in aid of Shelter Cymru and Oxjam Cardiff.  More info that on here, and here.

So here are the beautiful photos (thankyou again Ruth for allowing me to use them on my blog!)

I had a very definite idea in mind when searching for a tablecloth. Thankfully the Kitchen shop in Cardiff (my shop heaven!) had exactly what I was looking for: a green and white polka dot vinyl (wipe-clean) tablecloth. Hurrah!

Cupcake Label Flags

Entire Cupcake...

Half Cupcake...

All gone!

And a rare photo of me (albeit in the background!)

More cupcakes

The cupcakes I made were as follows:

  • Vanilla:  vanilla sponge and vanilla buttercream icing, topped with pink and white sugar sprinkles.
  • Vanilla chocolate:  vanilla sponge and chocolate buttercream icing, topped with half an Oreo cookie.
  • Chocolate: chocolate with chocolate buttercream icing, topped with half an Oreo cookie.
  • Chocolate Orange: chocolate with chocolate orange buttercream icing, topped with some orange matchmakers.
  • Lemon: lemon sponge with lemon buttercream icing, topped citrus sprinkles and a sugar lemon decoration.

Simply Sweet: Sarah Lewis (via Chef Of the Moment)

Here’s the blog I mentioned a while back, which I have been featured in.

It was great to meet Mandi, the creator and photographer of the Chef of the Moment blog when she came round to my house, and we had a fun time drinking tea and chatting about creativity and cakes.
Didn’t she do a great job making my cupcakes look lovely in the photographs?

You can visit the Chef of the Moment blog here: http://chefofthemoment.wordpress.com/

And you can see Mandi’s website here: http://www.amandabathory.com/

Simply Sweet: Sarah Lewis The day the Chef of the Moment Project met Sarah Lewis, she had invited us over the sample some of her homemade cupcakes. When we arrived, Sarah had set places at a tea party, the contents of  were overwhelmingly perfect, but at the same time appeared effortlessly pretty. Dainty cakes spiralled up ornamental displays and cwtched together on decorated plates. Fairy lights twinkled around the fireplace and diffused through oil jars full of cloves a … Read More

via Chef Of the Moment

Fairtrade Fortnight: How we can all get involved

Fairtrade Fortnight is coming up (28th February – 13th March 2011), and there are plenty of ways to get involved in your local UK city.  Check out the Fairtrade Big Swap page with a list of events happening in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Liverpool and Dundee.

Supermarkets will also be advertising their Fairtrade goods more prominently in the coming weeks, so look out for those promotions and free samples whilst shopping.  Also Oxfam will be advertising Fairtrade loads; the first 350 Ethical Collection orders (their Fairtrade collection) over £10 will receive a free pack of Cafédirect medium roast Fairtrade coffee. Yum.

The Fairtrade website also advertises what products are now available in Fairtrade form, so before you next go shopping, be sure to look at the loooong listof all the Fairtrade swap-ups you could make.  You can also download their Little Book of Swap.  It’s a short and sweet booklet, which gives you information on why we should all think about swapping to Fairtrade cotton, fruit, coffee and other products.

Fairtrade products available in most supermarkets

Fairtrade Product Prices:

Wine: Sainsburys from £5; Co-Op 3 for £12.

Tea: Sainsburys £1.64 for 80 bags; Co-Op 2 x 80 bags for £2.50; Tesco £1.83 for 80 bags

Coffee: Sainsburys from £3.18; Co-Op ground coffee 2 for £3; Tesco £2.59

Cocoa Powder: Sainsburys, £1.89;  Tesco, £1.89 (both Green & Blacks Cocoa, 125g)

Oranges: Sainsburys £1.95 for 5; Tesco £1.50 for 4

Bananas: Sainsburys £1 (was £1.39); Tesco £1.37

Sugar: Sainsburys £1.09 (1kg own brand); Tesco 68p (Tate & Lyle, 1kg)

Honey: Sainsburys & Tesco, both £2.99 (Rowse Chilean Fairtrade Honey, 340g)

Ice-cream: Sainsburys & Tesco both £4.29 (Ben & Jerry’s Fairtrade ice-cream, 500ml)

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It’s easy to make a couple of changes to become more Fairtrade.  Tate & Lyle sugar has now become Fairtrade, Bournville cocoa powder is also Fairtrade (I get through so much of it with my cooking!), and Fairtrade options of tea, coffee and bananas are readily available in all supermarkets.  Though food might be one of the options that you decide to try Fairtrade, there are other options as well.  Marks & Spencer now do a range of Fairtrade t-shirts for both men and women (plus all their coffee and tea in their cafés are Fairtrade, organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™).  Read more about their Fairtrade cotton and their tea and coffee.

Boots also do a fantastic range of bathing and beauty products called Boots Extracts, that you can check out.  The body butters are divine, and though a bit on the expensive side of moisturisers, they are so worth it.  I bought the Extracts Fairtrade Cocoa Butter Body Butter (200ml) for £7.92 in the Autumn, and I’ve still got half the tub left, after using it regularly for several months.  They’d make a fantastic gift for someone’s birthday (and you can get smaller 50ml versions too, for £2.55).

You could also search for Fairtrade shops around the area that you live.  Shared Earth – which has shops all over the UK – sells beautiful hand-crafted wooden boxes, jewellery and ornaments, which make perfect Christmas and birthday presents.  Whenever I go into their shop, I find it so difficult to not just go buying lots of things for myself…!  They also have a website, which you can use to find your local shop, or shop online (they offer free delivery to all UK orders over £20).

Though it might seem daunting (and expensive) sometimes to swap your normal options for Fairtrade ones whilst shopping , especially if you have a limited budget, think of it this way; 20p more for a Fairtrade packet of tea isn’t that much of a change to us.  However, it could change the life of a child in the Third World by giving his family a fair wage, allowing them to send him to school to get an education, something that we take for granted all too often.  That 20p seems insignificant to us, doesn’t it?… But it changes that child’s life.  Pretty cool stuff when you think about it.  And by making that stand and choosing Fairtrade products, we’re showing the supermarkets and chain stores that they need to introduce even more Fairtrade products, in turn helping more families and communities in the Third World.

So what do you all think about Fairtrade?  Do you actively choose Fairtrade options over others?  And how do you find it balances out with your normal shopping budget?

(P.S.  I seem to have gone a bit link-happy for this blog post… Sorry about that, but seriously, check out those links, there’s some fantastic stuff there!).

(P.P.S.  I’ll be cooking and baking using Fairtrade ingredients to support Fairtrade Fortnight, so check back for recipes soon!)