Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to say a huge Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you who have read my blog and supported Life is Peachy, since its conception in June.  2013 has been one of the best, most topsy turvy years of my life - with the arrival of Little D and a huge lifestyle change for us all!

I've met some amazing small businesses, fellow bloggers and wonderful people and Life is Peachy has become more of a success than I could have imagined. I have loved challenging myself in the creative departments, setting up #CraftBlogClub for fellow crafty-minded tweeples and I hope I've created something interesting for you all to read!  It's been such a pleasure.

I've learnt so much from setting up Life is Peachy, but over the past few weeks I've been putting together an idea for a new blog - based on my Frugally Fabulous Year Challenge.  I feel I've done all I can with LIP, but my new venture Frugally Peachy, launches in January and promises to be a creative haven for people whose tastes veer less to the consumerist.  I hope you'll join me as I sack off the high street, in favour of developing my creativity and honing those upcycling, charity-shop rummaging skills for the Frugally Fabulous Year!  I'm excited to share my ideas and projects with you - it's a new direction for my blog, but the same old love for a handmade lifestyle!

There isn't much more to say at this stage - other than look out for the link to my new and exciting venture AND, of course, wishing you a very Merry Christmas indeed!!

Lots of love and Stay Crafty

Big E, Little D and all at Peachy HQ!  X


Review: Forever Living Aloe Cosmetics

In recent years, I've become increasingly interested in using environmentally-friendly cosmetics.  It must be something to do with almost the tipping the 30-point, but I'm always on the look out for cosmetics and brands that are non-abrasive on both the skin AND the environment!

So I was really excited to receive some products from Forever Living who, founded in 1978, are the largest grower and manufacturer of aloe vera and beehive products in the world.  Just taking a look at their website, they offer a whole range of products, from make-up, skincare and aromatherapy to supplements and products for your wellbeing.  Their aloe vera products all fall under the seal of approval from the International Aloe Science Council and their products are all grown using ecologically responsible procedures, that keep the aloe gel as pure as possible; from the leaf to the body.  Even before trialling the products, I knew I was in safe hands.

I received some great skincare products to try, as well as some aloe shampoo and toothgel - which promised whitening without the use of bleaching products.  Now for someone who guzzles as much tea as I do, this was potentially the Godsend I'd been dreaming of.  I was intrigued and excited to try all the products, but the toothgel was the first I tried.  The gel itself had a familiar toothpaste-mint taste and really freshened as a 'normal' fluoride toothpaste would.  I didn't see any immediate whitening effects, but I would definitely be willing to swap my regular paste, for this one.

I received some great skincare products from Forever Living, also, in my little selection.  The moisturisers left my skin feeling really soft and I loved the 'freshly scrubbed' feeling it gave me.  Unlike other skin products, the fragrance is pretty 'natural' and unperfumed, but I felt really fresh and healthy using these products and, whilst I'm very lucky with my skin hardly ever reacting unfavourably to products; I felt as if I was doing my skin some good using natural products.  The Aloe Vera Gelly, which you apply once you have cleansed, is a great product for sensitive skin and particularly recommended for conditions such as ezcema and psoriasis.  The gelly felt like an incredibly soft lubricant on my skin and was probably my stand out product of the ones I tried.  In my eyes, you can't beat a good moisturiser!

Overall, my trial of some of the Forever Living products on sale really heightened my interest in looking into more of the available range.  I loved the natural feeling of each product and, with issues such as chemicals, pesticide interference and, of course, animal-testing high on the tackling agenda in the beauty industry, it was lovely to work with a brand that is cruelty-free and quality-assured.  I was really impressed with each product and would be keen to use each one on a more permanent basis.  

A huge thank you to Nicola from Forever Living - who sent the products and who provided such great information about the company.  If you want to know more, why not check out the Website for yourself and treat yourself to some wonderful products for a healthier you in 2014?

Disclaimer: I was sent these Forever Living products to review for the purpose of this blog post, but all views and opinions are my own and are unbiased.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

#CraftBlogClub: Christmas Secret Santa Challenge

Well patience really is a virtue! I can't tell you how busy I've been throughout December; gnome-ing, present-ing, generally tearing my hair out and driving the little one away from things she shouldn't touch/eat/look at.  It's been absolutely lovely but, as I'm sure everyone else has felt, December has run away with me and I'm now sat here, 3 days before Christmas, slightly disappointed at the lack of Christmas baking I've managed to do this year - but thankful for everything I HAVE managed to do!

I ran #CraftBlogClub pretty much every week throughout December - though everyone seemed to be rushed off their feet with work and projects (us crafty types like to put a lot on ourselves this time of year, don't we)?!  We talked a little about moving #CraftBlogClub forward and I'm so excited to start putting things in place - we have such a lovely community and I can't wait to see what 2014 brings for us all! 

In the meantime, I just HAD to share with you, the lovely gift I received from my Secret Santa!  The absolutely gorgeous Tamsyn from The Villa On Mount Pleasant was my Crafty Secret Buddy and I was OVER THE MOON to receive this absolutely gorgeous bag, complete with personalised tag!  

If you're not familiar with Tamsyn's blog, I strongly suggest you take a look at her innately gorgeous style, her taste for vintage and her eye for upcycling.  My lovely bag has all the stampings of Tamsyn's gorgeous work; I love the pastel colours she uses and I can't wait to traipse off for a cheeky coffee and a book-read with my lovely new bag! Thank you so much - I hope my Secret Santa gift is as much loved as mine is! 

Have you received your #CraftBlogClub Secret Santa gift yet? Why not link up your post below - I have really enjoyed hearing about some of the lovely crafty gifts that people have received and would love to share them with my readers!

Here's hoping everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Stay Crafty!

E x Come Join Us

Monday, 9 December 2013

Exciting Announcement: Midlands Bloggers Meet Up!

Well I'm making a brief return from my gnome-induced hiatus to tell you about a little meet-up I am organising with the fabulous Kelly from To Become Mum

Last month, I responded to one of Kelly's tweets asking about a blog meet up for Midlands Lifestyle and Mummy Bloggers, as this was something I had been on the look out for.  Well in true Emma-fashion, we decided to mastermind a meet-up ourselves AND I am proud to introduce the Midlands Bloggers Meet Up, which will be happening on Saturday February 22nd 2014.


The finer details are still to be confirmed, but it will take place in Nottingham and we will be updating attendees nearer the time.  The meet up will run from 11-3pm and will be a wonderful chance to meet other bloggers, enjoy a few treats and share ideas and discussions.  You are welcome bring your baby or come alone, we are working on a suitable event that will cater for lots of us and will be child-friendly also.

There will be goody bags for all attendees - so if you are reading this and are a fabulous Midlands-based brand, or know one who might want to get involved, we would love to have you on board!

If you would like to attend our meet up, please email either Kelly or myself to confirm and we will keep you updated with further info.  We are also using the hashtag #midsblogmeet on Twitter and would LOVE you to share this event with your followers - the more the merrier!

It will be a lovely way to make new friends and something to look forward to in the New Year, Kelly and I are hoping to put on a fantastic event and if you are Midlands-based, you'd be mad to miss out!  What are you waiting for?  Give myself (missemmaberry@gmail.com) or Kelly (tobecomemum@gmail.com) an email and reserve your place now!  

We look forward to seeing you in February!

x


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

NaBloPoNO - A Little Ode to Blogger Burnout


So, I've been a little off grid recently, I'm sorry!  I hope this post goes some way to explain why.  When I decided to take on the #NaBloPoMo challenge, throughout November, I was excited to see if it would reignite some fresh ideas and exciting challenges for Life is Peachy.  Bloggers across the world enjoy taking part in a month long challenge of posting a blog everyday - aided by set prompts or using their own ideas.  Why not join in the fun?  So thought I...

In truth, I am in awe of anyone who can post on their blog every day!  I set about scheduling posts, following prompts and eager to write new and exciting posts about me.  I hope you've enjoyed reading little tidbits about my life, my past and my Bucket List!  But, whilst I think the spirit of the challenge is wonderful - I don't feel I can carry it on.

I'm writing this at the end of a very difficult week.  There have been very late nights, very early mornings, lots of knitting deadlines and a case of mild conjunctivitis for Little D which, as any parent will know, is most distressing.  So, perhaps, it wasn't really great timing to be throwing myself into posting every day - but then again, when is there ever a good time to do it?  I'm forever trying to catch up with emails, research, crafts, #CraftBlogClub, orders, Little D, Mr Peachy and, somewhere in there, a little bit of 'me' time.

Then again, I think perhaps partaking in this challenge has made me accept the very real existence of Blogger Burnout.  It is real, it is out there and I've finally had to accept that no person is capable of running a blog 365 days a year.  

I'm a list maker, an organiser, a forward-planner and I get incredibly excited about new ideas and projects to start.  It's been a real eye-opener of a year, having to adjust to the wondrous unpredictability of a baby; so dealing with day to day tasks can be somewhat testing. And when I didn't quite get that scheduled daily post out on time, or didn't have something planned for the following day - I started to panic.  Which took the fun out of my blog.  I worried that people would stop reading, I worried that my content wasn't as engaging as it should be, muted amongst other topics that I wouldn't perhaps have chosen to write about.  Then I worried that my worrying was coming across on my blog.  Then I stopped and had a sudden epiphany - who and what was I really writing this blog for??

For those of you who have read my blog from the start, Life is Peachy was originally set up to encourage and inspire new parents with finding their identities.  I feel so strongly about this and have forged my way into my new role as 'Mummy' whilst keeping an alarming amount of my own personality intact (alarming, only, as I was assured this wouldn't happen)!  But, it seems, in the 6 short months that I've been religiously writing this blog, it has grown and developed at such a pace, that I almost feel it is time to acknowledge a new direction and re-vamp my entire little web space to accommodate for something new.

I'm positive, always, but I'm also a worrier.  I worry that I don't craft enough right now to warrant running #CraftBlogClub, I worry that I'm running out of ideas and I worry that I have so little time to dedicate to each of my little projects at the moment that I am, sadly, suffering from an incredible case of burnout.  I have spent the last few days catching up with my gnomes, staying with my parents and nursing D back to fighting fit, but I can't ignore the constant whirring in my mind - when will I post this?  What will become of Life is Peachy?  Do I need to migrate to something newer, a clearer direction?  The answer to that last one is, yes.  I need to.  And I want everyone who enjoys reading my blog to continue following me as I am about to undertake some big changes and focus, A LOT MORE on my Frugally Fabulous Year Challenge.

I hope you don't mind, I'm breaking all the sacred blogging rules, I'm taking a little break - just 2 weeks, to get things straight and plan ahead for Christmas and beyond.  I wanted you to be the first to know this.  I'll be back, brimming and beaming again - but right now I need to think, research, be brave and be innovative.  And I guess, despite its difficulties, I have the wonder of #NaBloPoMo to thank for bringing it all to my attention!

Life is Peachy will return.....I look forward to seeing you then!



E x

Thursday, 14 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 14th: The Big 30 Bucket List


There is absolutely no use in denying that next year, 2014, I will be turning 30! T.H.I.R.T.Y.  Strangely, though, I am quite looking forward to hitting the next decade.  When I think back to my early twenties, I shudder at the indecisiveness and the years I spent babbling through insecurities and finding my way in the big bad world!  There is something to be said for a contented nature, that really only comes with age (and some kind of strange wisdom), I hope to be even more of the person I am today when I hit my thirties.

Wistful musing aside, I thought I would write a bucket list of '30 Things to do Before I Turn 30'.  I have less than one year, that really isn't very long - but when have I ever been one to turn a challenge down?!

1. Finish the first draft of my Novel.
2. Learn to Dress Make - one of the bigger challenges in my Frugally Fabulous Year
3. Feature my work in a National Publication!
4. Bake an unrivalled cake for Daisy's First Birthday!
5. Take up driving lessons - of sorts - again.
6. Take Daisy to the beach.
7. Visit Whitby
8. Take a trip to Berlin
9.  NAIL baking Mince Pies
10. Complete one month of Blogging Every Day
11. Watch Doctor Zhivago (it's been sat in its cellophane wrapper for over a year)
12. Visit Sheffield (other than passing through, I've never stopped for a shop)!
13. Add to my Tattoo Collection
14. Design and make my Dream Garden Space.
15. Organise #CraftBlogClub meet up
16. Take a Family Camping Trip
17. Draw a Self Portrait
18. Finally go to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake LIVE!
19. Learn Amigurumi Crochet...hell, just learn to Crochet
20. Visit the Bronte House in Yorkshire
21. Collect and read the final books in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.
22. Have a Vampire Marathon - watch all my favourite Vamps in one day!
23. Enter a short story competition
24. Re-visit my old stomping grounds in London
25. Learn to Knit In The Round
26. Make Memory Bears from Daisy's first outfits
27. Take Daisy to White Post Farm
28. Upcycle my first BIG piece of Furniture
29. Organise a Twisted Tea Party for my 30th
30. Learn to make something with Polymer Clay

Have I missed anything?  What's on your bucket list??

#NaBloPoMo November 13th: #CraftBlogClub 'Countdown to Festivities'

Well this is incredibly late going out...but here, I have a valid reason!  I've been juggling some of my gnome orders with a bit of a poorly babes this week - winter truly is hitting us hard, it seems!  It really is incredible what you can do with limited sleep and a lot of determination isn't it!


So Tuesday night, we had a rather relaxed #CraftBlogClub chat, where I decided it was high time that we talked about THE BIG C!  What with the names and addresses now officially out for our Secret Santa challenge, it's been at the forefront of our minds!

It was so lovely to see some new people joining in the tweets and we mostly chatted about our plans for homemade Christmas gifts and our 'staple' products!  I'm quite accustomed to making shortbread for family and friends and I'm clearly not the only one who enjoys making yummy treats to give as gifts.  We shared some amazing ideas for delicious fudge and treat hampers.  It seems us crafty lot are, as ever, in a quandry with what to make, how to make and just how much we can fit in between now and the big day!

So how do we manage our time??
Well, if you're like me, then pretty badly, it seems at times!  There were some great ideas flying around - calendars and lists are always favourite, but t'is the season to be busy and at this time of the year, particularly for those crafters who run a business too, there simply are not enough hours in the week!

I think we left the conversation (which now officially runs from 7-8.30pm), feeling a little festive and excited for the upcoming season!  I hope you're all excited about our Secret Santa challenge and I am sorry to those who missed out - if enough people decide they want to be involved, I'm happy to pair more people up!  

Right...just a quick one this week, I'm off to catch up with everything else and start planning my Secret Santa surprise!

Stay Crafty!

E x 


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 12th: Pumpkin and Pepper Soup


It's been a while since I posted a new recipe...so how about a nice warming recipe to use up a few ingredients in your fridge.  I had a little bit of pumpkin left over from Halloween, so I decided to whip up one of Mr Peachy's favourite soup flavours - Pumpkin and Pepper.

A lovely, spicy soup that I served up with some lovely, crusty onion bread;
Pumpkin and Pepper soup is one of the easiest recipes that uses just a few simple ingredients that you will have lying around.  Soup is a great way of using up those few veggie stubs and stock that would otherwise go to waste - food waste is a huge problem faced by UK households at the moment and this is a way of making sure you are not throwing food away unnecessarily.

Ingredients (to serve 2):
400g Pumpkin - chopped
500ml Vegetable Stock
4 Shallots (chopped and halved)
1 Leek (chopped)
1 Red Pepper (halved)
1 tsp Lazy Chillies/Half Fresh Red Chilli
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method
Under the grill on a medium heat, place the two halves of pepper face up and cook for about 15 minutes until the edges are slightly blackened.  Remove from the grill and place in a bowl to cool - covering the bowl with clingfilm will also keep the flavour ripe.



Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat your shallots and leak in a bit of olive oil, cover and cook on a medium heat until softened and slightly browned.  Add your pumpkin, chilli and seasoning and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add your vegetable stock and bring to the boil.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.

Whilst the soup mixture is simmering, cut the red peppers into small pieces and, when the soup mixture is ready, using a hand blender, add the peppers and blend until the soup is smooth with a little texture.

Serve with crusty bread and butter for a cosy, winter treat!



 

Monday, 11 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 11th: How Does Your Garden Grow?


The first fruits of our labour this Summer!
So I've given myself the weekend off from #NaBloPoMo...I figured a blog a day, five days a week, was probably the best way forward.  A little like full-time blogging!

Today, I thought I would share some of my ideas for growing, maintaining and keeping a garden, in a very small space!

Our little house is absolutely lovely!  We moved into the terrace in September 2012 and have been extremely happy here.  But, like most projects, our house is always a work in progress and there are still bare walls and unfinished works of art to be getting on with!  Our garden, is something of a bugbear of mine, a cute but small and concrete space that have never looked anything other than 'pokey' to me!  

This year, we have harvested our first batch of lovely homegrown tomatoes and have also started growing herbs and flowers - with some success!  With winter drawing in, we are tidying up our garden, ready for the cold weather; but I've started thinking about what I'd like to do to our garden, ready for next Summer.  So if you, like me, have a small garden space to work with, here are some great ideas for sprucing up a small space into a growing haven!

Plant Pot Pond
This idea really appeals to me - a pretty, rockery style pool built inside a simple terracotta pot, with layers and greenery to give it a 'miniature pond' effect.
  I'm not sure I would go as far as putting fish in there, but one or two of these pond babes would sit really well in our garden space!

Hanging Bottle Garden
I love this idea of using wall space to grow small flowers and plants, even herbs, without sacrificing ground space to move around.  The bottles in this image have all been corded together and screwed in to the walls.  If I were to do this, in my garden, I would most probably paint the bottles to disguise their, well, 'bottley-ness', but this is a great space saver and would look so pretty with the addition of some colourful flowers.

A Window Sill Greenhouse
As I mentioned, we have had some success growing herbs throughout the summer, most of which were grown on our kitchen window sill.  They thrived in the natural light and we were able to keep them fed and watered - plus picking fresh herbs straight from the plant made for some very flavoursome sauces!  

The start-up materials for growing herbs are really very small.  We used old tomato trays for growing seedlings and egg boxes work really well too.  If you find you have lots of herbage leftover - why not chop and separate into ice cube trays, fill with water and freeze.  These are great for adding straight into sauces and prevents waste.

Upcycled Garden Furniture
I LOVE antique garden furniture and I am always on the look out for an old garden furniture that I could restore to its former glory! 
Right from my childhood love of films such as The Secret Garden or Moondial, I have loved antique furniture and statues and have inherited two garden statues that belonged to my Nan - this little angel sits pride of place with her broken wing in our garden!


Jam Jar Tealights
I would love to use our garden space for entertaining and have seen some lovely ideas for jam jar tealights to light up your garden on a Summer's evening.  Simply place your tealights or candles inside an empty jam jar, cover with a thin gauze or mesh and Bob's your uncle!  A very cost effective way of lighting your garden space - but be careful to keep these out of the reach of children!

Just writing and researching a little about this, I'm really excited to get my garden up together next year - and we haven't even had snow yet!  There are plenty of other things you can do - if you have time, simple plant pots and colourful arrangements can brighten up a dull outside space and also encourage pollination!

Do you have any hints or tips for a small outside space?  I can't wait to get started!


Thursday, 7 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 8th: A Picture Says A Thousand Words...

We are nearly one whole week into the #NaBloPoMo challenge - to blog every day throughout November - and I'm already surprised at how much I've shared using some lovely prompts from BlogHer and the lovely Vonnie over at Nowt Special.

Today's prompt has been no different - to write about your picture on your 'About Me' PIcture.


This photo was taken back in August, just before I headed out for an incredibly rare night out with one of my best friends.  It was the first night out I had had alone since Daisy had been born and I was going to the cinema to see What Maisie Knew; a film I had been ridiculously excited to see for months.  I chose the photo as I think it's a pretty clear representation of me, my style and one of the rare photos I genuinely quite like!  It was a turning point for me and my blog, I had dreamt up a whole bunch of new blog projects, including the early stages of The Frugally Fabulous Year AND I was giving this lovely old Whistles blouse it's first post-pregnancy outing!

Positive Image
I love uploading the odd picture of me and Little D onto my blog and, like most mums out there, I take endless photos of each outfit she wears and each change she makes, but as my blog has developed over the last few months, I have realised the importance of showing more of 'me' than of 'us' - to reflect the 'lifestyle' nature of my blog, rather than the fact that I'm a parent.  Gorgeous as she is...of course! 

I like to think my readers can absorb themselves in my fashion and craft posts and get a glimpse of my life, my interests and my inspiration.  I guess I could be seen as confident, lots of people have said they wouldn't have the guts to 'pull off' my style.  I can't really be any other way - Mum or not, I don't care enough about what other people think and I'm not so much confident as positive; I believe in learning to see the very best in your beautiful self, without comparison.  As a Mum to a daughter too, I feel I have a moral responsibility to set an example of strength and positivity when it comes to body image.

The truth is, like pretty much everyone else who has ever given birth, I have found it hard to get used to a new body and a new way of thinking - something I've talked about in my Ditching The Jeans post and in a guest blog I did for Vintage Shopper.  My post-pregnancy body isn't quite shrinking back as quickly as I would like and my post-pregnancy 'treat outfit' (a 1960s vintage leather pencil skirt) is sat, gathering dust in my wardrobe.  
Those last few days...
I eat well, I walk pretty much everywhere with the pram and I'm desperate to get back into an exercise regime, that my lifestyle doesn't allow for right now.  So why beat myself up?  Hey, there is a big reason I stopped buying women's magazines - it's because the fairer sex are, indeed, not always fair at all.


Why Be Positive, When You Could Be Normal?
In an article in the Guardian recently, one writer discussed yet another epidemic sweeping the nation - a new obsession with the 'thigh gap' and the absurd suggestion that there should be one.  24 year old model, Robyn Lawley, graced the coveted cover of Vogue magazine, only to be condemned through various social media sites, for not having a 'thigh gap' to speak of.  So why, after years and years of mixed messages in the media and new 'imperfect' body parts to be paranoid about, from muffin tops to cankles, are we STILL turning on each other?

We know that airbrushing exists, we know that even the world's most beautiful, most esteemed females have off days and spots and yet, there still seems to be enough put-downs and imaginary beauty standards that all women MUST adhere to.  Nowa days, it's the norm to be bombarded with 'picture-perfect' photo sets and red circles of doom, adorning the hundred of magazines available to us.  It is normal to see most girls under the age of 18 try and copycat the styles of oversexed, under-stimulating pop stars and it is normal, somewhat sadly, to look for imperfection in everyday beauty.

But it shouldn't be.

Life is Peachy is my haven to showcase who I am, what I do and what I believe in.  I don't believe that women should compare themselves to plastic, processed images any more than I believe Miley Cyrus is flying the flag for modern-day feminism.  I want to reach a goal weight for ME, to wear my precious vintage skirt for ME, to dress to suit my shape and size for ME and I don't want to be forced to conform to unrealistic 'ideals'.  I choose to look, dress and feel the way that I do, because I have spent far too much time worrying about the size of my arms, my straight eyelashes and God only knows what else.  I choose to be positive about how I look, in the hope that I can inspire others to feel the same about themselves, whether carrying a little extra baby weight or not.  My body isn't the body it was, but it's the body that I'm in for now and I want to be positive about it, even if it takes a little longer to push the 'publish' button on those selfies!  




 

 

#NaBloPoMo November 7th: Social Media Trollhunters


I wasn't going to use today's prompt, about how much you share on social media, but I decided to share an experience that completely rocked me last week!

I've always considered myself a very positive and happy person, which translates to my blog, I love writing Life is Peachy and I'm particularly proud of my latest project; The Frugally Fabulous Year.  But, last Monday, I was the victim of my first trolling incident. 

Having had some amazing responses about my new project, in which I have resolved to stop buying clothes from high street stores for one year for both financial AND ethical reasons, I sought out some other sharing sites to really hone my message to the 'masses'.  I've had some lovely feedback from fellow bloggers and followers, even people who want to join in themselves.  Raising awareness of ethical shopping is something I feel very strongly about, it wasn't easy to write a rounded, consistent, non-ranty post that stated my reasons behind setting up the challenge, but I was pleased with the outcome and, as any blogger knows, the comments and reactions were even better!

To try and further my reach with The Frugally Fabulous Year, I decided to share the link on Reddit; a site that allows you to share posts and articles.  Having not shared anything on this site before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's safe to say I got much more than I bargained for!  

Within one hour of posting my blog post I was surprised to check my stats, to see that I had already received lots of referrals from Reddit.  Even better than that, when I signed in to the site, I had 3 comments waiting for me!  Sadly, unlike the positive and empowering comments I have been used to from my lovely readers; these were nasty, belittling and picked apart just about every aspect of my project.

I was accused of being pointless, endlessly ranting about sweatshops, didn't understand the meaning of the word 'frugal' and had not considered that not buying from high street stores would have the same impact as buying from them (say, what?).  In hindsight, I think it was highly unlikely that these people had even read the post further than the first paragraph.  I responded to the two culprits in a polite manner, but was met with belittling replies, simply suggesting that, as middle aged men, they were over the 'fashion phase' and didn't need to prove a point like I seemed to.  These trollers had entirely missed the point of my post.  Not only that, why were two middle-aged keyboard warriors so concerned with my new project, if it weren't something they were interested in?

The thing I was most angry with, was how I had allowed these thoughtless men to make me feel.  I lost a lot of confidence in what I had written and how I felt about my work AND it was instilled by two people who were not regular readers or even in my supposed target audience.  I would never choose to write mindless comments on a blog or article that didn't interest me; I think it is unproductive to fill someone else's blog with negativity, even if you don't share their opinion.  I'm all for freedom of speech, found in the brilliance of blogging, of all places, but petty comments do nothing to help or encourage someone, who puts their heart into their writing and, in my case, simply wants to raise awareness, create interesting and inspiring posts and learn something along the way.

Thank God for wonderful friends and followers is all I can really say - not one to want to put a dampener on anyone's day, I took my frustration out on Twitter - only to be met with some lovely and encouraging messages. 
The more I delved into it, the more I found that there seems to be a lot of hatred for bloggers right now - we have to stick together.  Bloggers are, as Martha Stewart reportedly said last week, often uneducated in what they are writing about.  But, we are so much more than that - we have the freedom to write what we want, when we want, members of society who can help, encourage or just share an articulated opinion.  

I guess I've learnt, from this rather painful experience that trolling is, sadly, part and parcel of one's decision to blog.  It shouldn't be, I still think my project is a good idea, I still think I've thought about it and produced a well-rounded reason for wanting to raise this awareness and I very much doubt that this will be the last time I'm on the receiving end of something like this.  Slowly, but surely, my confidence is coming back, I even look at it as a test for later, something to toughen me up when I'm putting my novel out there!

I suppose as the lovely Dita Von Teese once said, 'you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there will still be someone who doesn't like peaches.'  Never has this made more sense to me than now - and I'm determined to carry on with my Peachy Life, leaving the trolls where they belong - lost under a bridge! 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 6th: GreenEarth, A Greener Look at Dry Cleaning


Today, I thought I would share a little post on an exciting development in the world of...dry cleaning!

I was recently contacted about a new national campaign from Johnsons, The Dry Cleaners.  Recently, Johnsons have launched a new dry cleaning service called GreenEarth, which is both innovative in its technology and much kinder to the environment.

As one of the best known dry cleaning companies UK, Johnsons provides a one-stop shop for dry cleaning and clothing maintenance needs; but they are also a founding member of the latest dry cleaning campaign, GreenEarth, and are the only national dry cleaning company that is licensed to offer the GreenEarth technology in its stores across the UK.  The technology, a process that uses a bi-product of sand that doesn't chemically interact with fabrics, is not only greener and safer for the environment, it is also proven to be softer and kinder on skin and clothes.

I was really excited to hear about this new technology, which is available for consumers to use RIGHT NOW!  Dry cleaning has always been something of a concern for me, as the harsh chemicals used to dry clean clothes, are harmful to the environment and can also be tough on the clothes themselves.

I'm lucky to own some beautiful garments, which I have preciously maintained and looked after since my days in fashion retail.  I believe in keeping these items in mint condition - which often comes with a hefty dry cleaning bill!  Through experimentation, Johnsons have discovered that the new GreenEarth process has proven to keep clothes looking newer for much longer, with little abrasion to other components such as zips and buttons.   Not only that, but GreenEarth technology breaks down into natural elements if released into the environment which, in turn, makes it much safer for the environment.

Recent trend research, commissioned by Johnsons, has suggested that consumers are, thankfully, changing the way in which they buy their clothes - research that has really interested me, specifically since the launch of my Frugally Fabulous Year Challenge.  It seems that, in light of tough economic times and with less disposable income, more and more people are beginning to put their hard earned cash into higher priced, classic clothing that will stand the test of time, as opposed to fast fashion pieces that will, no doubt, be thrown out in a matter of months.  With more expensive fabrics, the need to maintain and care for them can often mean more trips to the dry cleaners - which is why Johnsons are so pleased to be able to offer a service such as GreenEarth that supports this change in consumer behaviour, emphasising the importance of durability and sustainability in their wardrobes; whilst not compromising our environment.

Why not drop in your local Johnsons to test out the new service and do something for the environment today?  Your clothes may just thank you for it!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Johnsons and have not been paid for this post.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 5th: #CraftBlogClub The Big Pricing Debate


So, for those of you who are new to Life is Peachy, each week I run #CraftBlogClub on Twitter; a twitter chat hour for craft bloggers and lovers of craft to talk about all things, well, craft and blogging!

This week, we stepped slightly out of our #CraftBlogClub comfort zone and, for the first time, started to discuss the difficult subject of pricing your crafty work and, more importantly valuing your time!

I think tonight's #CraftBlogClub crew will agree this was definitely a more difficult topic to discuss - not least a difficult thing to work out, when taking the leap from hobby crafter to professional crafts purveyor!  As usual though, we had some amazing advice and tips and I've pulled together just a few for you here!

1. Do Not Underestimate Your Skill As A Crafter: The first issue we came across during our Twitter chat, was the issue we all have in believing in ourselves, our talents and our ability to produce something really special for a potential customer.  I can completely empathise with this sentiment BUT, if you do decide to make the leap from hobbyist to professional, you have to believe in what you are creating and your skills, before you learn to charge fairly and accordingly for your crafting and your time.

2. Work Out A Daily Rate: Are you charging per hour?  Are you charging for a few hours work?  Whether you're providing workshops like Gift Frippery's wrapping wonders or selling by the product; it is advisable to work out what your ideal daily rate would be and then use this as a pointer for working out your charges.  This will give you a great idea of what you can charge per hour for workshop services etc, whilst an hourly rate will help you to decide what to charge for individual products.  This is, undoubtedly, one of the hardest things to do, but the lovely Anthea who sells her lovely products on Folksy, under the name Forest Flower , reiterated the importance of working out a daily rate for yourself and STICKING TO IT!
3. Do Not Allow Your Work To Be Undervalued: Your work is representative of hours of hard work, sourcing materials and fabrics and painstakingly creating something individual and special for your customers.  The handmade arena can be so hard, with craft merchants battling against the cheap and cheerful wonders of the High Street.  It may be difficult at times, but you must never allow your work to be undervalued by potential customers who don't want to pay for something unique.  It seems a fairly obvious point, but this can be one of the hardest hurdles to overcome in the crafting world. 
I experienced this quite a bit in my previous life in the professional baking industry and it can be really tough to convey how much time, effort, blood, sweat and tears goes into each handmade item.  But stay strong, do not work below your asking price and be sure to regularly review your prices versus your costs.
4. If In Doubt, Aim High: Verity, furniture upcycler and glue-queen over at Rascal and Roses put forward an ingenious idea her husband suggested.  If you struggle to decide on a price, why not aim high and charge more than you planned - the price is not ridiculous if you can find a customer who is willing to purchase it.  A strong, if slightly risky idea, which raises the point of finding the right market for your product and the amount it really is worth!

As ever - thank you for sharing your thoughts tonight, I think we have managed to discuss a tricky subject and if you have any more topics you would like to suggest, please drop me an email or a tweet over at @LivePeachy - I would love to hear from you!

In Other News...

We have had a couple of call outs for crafty types who might be able to knit or crochet some display items for newborn babies.  Are you interested?  Could you put something together?  Please let me know and I'll forward your details for more information!

Claire from G is for Gingers is also on the look out for people who craft parts for doll houses - why not check out her blog and let her know if you can help?

And finally...last week I launched our latest #CraftBlogClub challenge!  A Secret Santa that will run over November and December - all the details are at bottom of last week's post and there is still time to get involved!  If you would like to take part, please email me at missemmaberry@gmail.com with your name and postal address - I have had lots of entries already and I am planning to get everyone's Secret Santas sent out to them by the end of this coming weekend!  So you have until then to enter, if you have not yet emailed!

Thanks again for this week's chat - it was lovely to tackle something a little meatier and I hope you all enjoyed taking part - as ever I love hearing your feedback!

Stay Crafty!

E x


 

Monday, 4 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 4th: Hello Winter!


Winter, despite its unpredictable weather and turn of bad bugs tearing around the place, is my absolute favourite time of year.  As you can probably guess from my photos, I'm no sun-worshipper, for me, there is nothing better than cosying up on the sofa with a spicy chai latte, or taking trudging walks through the snow.  I have always loved Winter and, of course, Christmas, and this year I am really looking forward to the holiday season; as it's my first with Miss D AND for the first time in about ten years, I won't be at work for it!

So what does November hold for me at Life is Peachy towers this month...

You Used To Be My Gnomeo.... 
This month sees the final batch of my handmade knitted gnomes going out to their new homes, ready to see in the festive season, Swedish Yuletide style!  I have been so overwhelmed with the response to these little guys and I'm looking forward to making more in the future.  November will also see me start to finalise and make some more products ready to launch, finally, Peach and Daisy, my craft store.  Expect traditional gifts with a twist, a nod to the gothic, the macabre and the cute!  Watch this space for more information!

Frugally Fabulous Festivities
Having spent the last few months, scouting out some projects to make for Christmas presents, I'm planning to handmake many of my Christmas presents for
family and friend-folk this year - and I plan to share some of my successes on my Creative Fridays!  This month I am really hoping to get to grips with my sewing machine!  Wish me luck!

Music for the Soul
I don't know about you, but I go through phases with my music collection - catching up with old and forgotten CDs is something I love to do and if I'm not finding new and exciting music to listen to,
 image credit
you'll find me going Mad about Marilyn Manson, Loving Lana or Dotty for Duran Duran.  This month, I've really stripped back my listening pleasure and I've become pretty obsessed with 'The King' himself, the gorgeous Mr Elvis Presley.  There is something so soothing about his slower numbers - there is nothing quite like the beauty of 'Love Me Tender' played against the sounds of battering wind and rain against your window!  Elvis, this month, you are Always On My Mind!


Winter Wardrobe
As usual, I'm dazzled by gorgeous winter jewel colours (which sit so well with my penchant for black) and I have some great staple pieces that come out each and every year.  I'm looking forward to sharing these with you in an upcoming post
, as I prepare to NOT spend any money for The Frugally Fabulous Year!

Aside from taking part in the #NaBloPoMo challenge, I want to slow down a little and see out the end of the year with Little D.  Christmas is always such a special time for our family and, this year, I plan to really enjoy every moment of it!

A Handlebar Boyfriend...
For the first time, my OH has decided to enter the world of Movember!  I'm quite excited about this - partly because I've always said facial hair would suit him AND it's all for a great cause!  Why not check out his progress HERE I shall be donating to change the face of men's health this month, will you?


This Month You Might Well Find Me...
Curled up with a chai latte, hopefully dipping into 'The Ghost Hunters', a fantastic debut novel from Neil Spring, which centres around the legendary paranormal investigator Harry Price and his investigation of the infamous Borley Rectory.

I have some amazing reviews coming up on the blog - I can't wait to get stuck in to my copy of The Sewing Manual by the amazing Laura Strutt (who blogs over at Made Peachy) and tell you all about it.  PLUS I shall be divulging a few beauty posts over the coming weeks too, as I get to grips with some environmentally friendly cosmetics!

You Definitely Won't Find Me...
Complaining about the weather OR watching X Factor!! Sorry!

What are you most looking forward to about November?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 3rd: Danishes and Dracula

Well, we are onto day 3 of #NaBloPoMo and this post is VERY late today!  Partly because I wasn't sure what to write about or how to interpret the prompt in pure 'Life is Peachy' style.  But partly because my 8 month old is now crawling...and anyone who has a crawling baby will know, most of my day is spent removing her from areas she shouldn't be in, around things she shouldn't touch!

The lovely Vonnie over at Nowt Special set a suitably autumnal prompt about jumping in puddles or leaf piles; so I thought I would do The Week That Was Instagrammed - the first of this post theme for me and, as a great form of social media, also a HUGE guilty pleasure.  I hope you enjoy!!

 

This week I've really noticed a lot of changes in Daisy's developments.  She is now fully crawling and, with that, her interraction is getting stronger and her strong-willed nature is really starting to show through!  We spent Wednesday with Daisy's Nana and Aunty Debbie and she was enthralled with the birds on show at a local garden centre!


It's been a great week for creativity too - I've been beavering away with my gnome orders and on Monday, I made my first batch of Lamingtons, an Australian delight made from vanilla sponge, chocolate and coconut. They were gorgeous, but slipped a little too easily into the mouth too! I used a simple recipe from Fay Ripley's book - they were quick to make and take about 45 minutes in the oven to bake.  They got the official seal of approval from My OH (chief-taster) and my bestie!

We also launched our Halloween projects over at #CraftBlogClub - and I introduced Lestat the Bat!  A little felt creature I managed to put together, with amazing help from my boyfriend - when I had to admit defeat with teaching myself crochet! There have been some amazing projects linked up this week and the link is open for another couple of days - so please join in and link your #CraftBlogClub challenges up!

Lestat the Bat!

Our Halloween was quiet this year - Mr P was out playing a gig and Daisy seems a little too young for trick or treating (something I never did as a child). 
We took a lovely walk to our park - it was wonderful to see the seasons changing again and I didn't dress up, though from some of the looks we got, you'd have thought I had!  By the way - I'm sporting my new velvet dress - a mere 99p from eBay and a new plum lipstick purchase! A change from my staple red - but I like this darker lip for winter !
I spent the evening with my friend's Amanda's pumpkin carving, my knitting bag, some yummy pastries and even yummier Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the new Dracula programme!  I'm undecided on the programme, as I'm a die-hard Stoker fan, but I'm willing to keep watching - can't imagine why!!


Fancy a bite, Baby?

















 

 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 2nd - Your Favourite Recipe

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you will know that there isn't much I don't love about tinkering around in my little kitchen, concocting new recipes! I started off posting a new recipe every week but, sadly, have had less time as I have had so many other projects on the go with the blog - and otherwise!


So, today, I thought I would share two of my favourite go-to recipes, which are perfect for the chilly winter months ahead!

The first, is my recipe for Chai Lattes which I posted as part of my 'Change One Thing' recipe theme, in August.  This recipe is absolutely delicious and so versatile - I used agave nectar syrup and almond milk, so the chai lattes in this recipe are both sugar and dairy free; but you can 'fatten' it up with milk and honey if you prefer! Chai Lattes are one of my absolute favourite winter treats and, controversially, I love this flavour a lot more than the coveted 'Pumpkin Spice Latte' from Starbucks.  Once you have the various spices you need for this recipe, it's really cheap and easy to make - and involves absolutely no long queues!

 

My second, is a more recent recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Bread and Butter Pudding which could do with a bit of blog loving!  This is one of my favourite original recipes and it's perfect for when you're entertaining in the winter!  A lovely dessert with spicy pumpkin, hints of orange and cranberry and lovely served warm with custard!  If you have leftovers from pumpkin carving - look no further than this recipe!

Finally - I thought I would share my latest published article - a recipe for Berry and White Chocolate Ganache Cake, which I published as my 'Indulgent Winter Recipe' over on Yahoo!  It's a great versatile cake, which you can add almost any berries to depending on the time of year - the ganache is great and surprisingly easy to make too!


I hope you enjoy checking out my recipes and I always say - if you have a go yourself, why not head over to my Facebook Page and upload the results?  I love to see them!

I'm really enjoying linking up with Vonnie over at Nowt Special for #NaBloMoPo (National Blog Posting Month) why not head over to check out some more lovely bloggers who are taking part?
 

Friday, 1 November 2013

#NaBloPoMo November 1st: 5 Things You Don't Know About Me...

#NaBloPoMo...A Little Introduction
Hi there...If you're new to Life is Peachy...then a very warm welcome to you indeed! Here at LIP HQ, we are all about lifestyle - crafting, trying new things, frugal fashion, interesting recipes, quirky gothic-ness, wonderful start ups and small British businesses.  My name is Emma, I am 29 and new mum to Daisy - now nearly 8 months old!  I suppose I am now officially a WAHM - in the early stages of a fledgling freelance writing career and working on my first novel.  I am also in the process of setting up my first craft shop.  The most important thing you need to know about me, is that being busy is like second nature to me!  Things I love include; My Babe, My OH, Music (some appropriate, some very inappropriate), Reading, Writing, Homemaking, Knitting, Gnomes, Vampires (Anne Rice and Bram Stoker - I'm no faddy Twi-hard), Heavy Metal, Vintage Fashion, Matthew Bourne, Sweden, Tattoos and Sustainable Chic!

Things I hate include; Mass Consumerism, Bad Hair Days, Misogyny and most modern music!

It's here!  November's Blog A Day challenge begins today and what a beginning it is!  Today's prompt was to write about something your readers wouldn't know about you...here, have 5!!  I look forward to getting to know you all a little better!

I used to blog about my dating nightmares when I lived in London!
Yup, when I was young, free and single, I started writing a blog about my life, loves and general dating hilarity called The Skinny Mocha Musings.  Strangely, I never really thought about using this blog to aid my writing career, I was very wrapped up in my new and exciting job and lifestyle in London.  It does make some funny, if slightly emotional reading, remembering the bumbling mishaps of a twenty-something, who mostly spent her time wishing and hoping on (an) oblivious boys (boy)!  I had some great readers (not just my Mum and best mates) who used to read The Skinny Mocha Musings avidly!  If you ever have 5 minutes - take a read of it HERE, I hardly even recognise myself!!  Highlights include, a fight with an Evening Standard Newspaper unit, the closeted ex and an entire post about my love of ginger beards!


I once sang at the Royal Albert Hall!
I was a performing arts girly through and through - I studied Dance as a degree and originally wanted to be a choreographer when I graduated.  When I was 15, I sang and danced solo in a huge show at the Royal Albert Hall and, to this day, this remains one of my greatest memories and achievements!

I was a member of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles Fan Club - Aged 6 (ish)!
I bloody loved that show and my Mum's friend signed me up to the fanclub!  Of course this was in the days before the Internet, so I struggle to remember exactly what I GOT for being in the fanclub - except perhaps for a keyring - but I wore my badge with pride.  And no, I won't be going to see the film re-make, some things are better left untouched!

I'm a loyal, but terribly slow fan of old-fashioned Snail Mail!
I love penpalling - and I have a fantastic penpal in America, whom I connected with through the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club, earlier this year.  Sadly, time is never really on my side and it seems to take me an age to write back to her!  But letter-writing is something I feel really shouldn't die out, it's a lovely form of keeping in touch and I have a stack of letters from people I used to write to during my school years!  Including letters from old school friends adorned with stickers from Smash Hits magazine!

If I decided to retrain in a new career...I would be....
A florist.  No, a teacher.  No, a make-up artist!  The trouble with me, is I have too many hobbies and interests and not enough discipline to choose one career path!
After pursuing my dance dreams for a while, I fell into a job I loved in retail - and so began years of the industry finally grinding me down, whilst I found myself in my sideline projects and interests.  And gin, I found myself in gin too!  I think, if I did decide to re-train in the future, something creative would be wonderful and I could perhaps use my natural flair for cake-decorating or make-up.  But, really, something a little more unusual like floristry really interests me!  You never know, I could be the next Eliza Doolittle! 

I guess, for those if you who haven't read my blog before, my latest Friday Round Up post gives you a little insight into the various projects I have on the go.  Last month I also launched my Frugally Fabulous Year challenge - in a big to learn dressmaking, save more money and promote ethical shopping! I would love you to join in!  Yesterday I also shared my love of the paranormal with a true ghost story - have a read HERE.

So there we go, a little peek into my life!!  Do you have 5 things people don't know about you?  What would you share?