Saturday, 30 June 2012

This is Wiss...the next step!

Wow! This week has just flown by. I was hoping to have blogged before now but what with a bout of hand foot and mouth, Sell it Mama last weekend, going to see In the Night Garden Live! and trying to buy a new house I've just not found the time!

NB: Wiss is all recovered now and it seems he had hand foot and mouth very mildly, but it has been spreading quickly round nursery. We are currently keeping everything crossed for the sale of our flat and the purchase of a new house. If it all works out then I'll post all about it then! And In the Night Garden Live? What can I say? Yes, it was expensive but Wiss loved it...
Anyway, now that I am actually writing this post I should get round to what I really wanted to talk about. This is Wiss... the next step!

I've been doing craft fairs and mums and babies fairs for around a year now. I started out tentatively, mainly just wanting to gauge if there was a space in the market for my products. It seems there is (which I am over the moon about!) but now I feel that it's time to plan the next step. I want to see if This is Wiss has the potential to become a proper cottage business. I know it's the dream of many mums out there, but it really would be amazing if I could start making proper money from something I love doing (and that fits in perfectly with childcare and school terms!)
As many of you will know, I joined Twitter at the end of last year and through it I have 'met' many fantastic, inspiring, creative people. People who are pursuing their dreams, whatever they might be, and people that are happy to offer advice or simply get involved. I think Twitter is brilliant for networking and already I've made connections that I just would not have been able to do alone.

So here I am, thinking about what step to take next, where to put myself to get seen and how I should go about it all. Stacie Swift has some great posts on her blog Swift Somethings that deal directly with the practical sides of setting up and running a business. She is a fab illustrator, and her boyfriend handily is an accountant! There is information about business accounts and you can even ask her boyfriend questions, but her recent post on reviewing your business came at the perfect time for me. (Do have a look round the rest of her site as there's so much more fun stuff too.)

I'm still working through my SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) but think it's a great way to take stock of where I am and where I want to go. I have a few big plans that I hope to share with you soon, but I'd also love to hear your opinions: good or 'constructive'! If you have purchased anything from This is Wiss then let me know what you think, how you are using it and what could make it better. Where would you like to be able buy stuff: online, at a market or in a shop? Does it matter to you that all my products are handmade in the UK using the best materials possible? (All my stuff can be found in the gallery on my website)
I know this is a big ask and it's time consuming but your opinions are invaluable to me and I'd be really grateful if you would leave me a comment below.

As always, thanks for reading and I'll be back tomorrow with another #silentsunday photograph, and some more sewing projects next week.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


I'm going to start something today on my blog, well actually, join in with something that's been going for a few years. People have been blogging and tweeting #SilentSunday photos which are just that: no words required. Already I am breaking the rules (just this once)!
Silent Sunday
If you want to find out more about #SilentSunday then just google or search twitter. But the rules are simple: Just one photo, that you took yourself in the week leading up to the post, and no words in the post or the title.

For me, it's a great way to get back behind the camera again (something that has slipped now that I am often chasing around after a toddler) and to ensure I blog more regularly. So that's it, no more words today or any other Sunday. Just a photo...

Friday, 15 June 2012

Pitter patter raindrops, I'm wet are you!

After all the fun and sunshine leading up to Jubilee weekend it was somewhat disappointing when the actual event itself was a washout. I hear that London had some good weather on the Monday and the news reports we saw looked glorious. My family and I went to Ireland so we missed out on all the celebrations but don't worry, we didn't miss out on the weather. Wet is the only way to describe our week in the Emerald Isle, and that's being polite!

We did a lot of driving (1014 miles in total!)
We saw a lot of this:
We spent a lot of time in our waterproofs and wellies (and I was sure I was going to get Trench Foot as my feet were permanently soggy!) It's such a shame; we thought a week in a cottage on a farm in June would be heavenly. I like a real log fire as much as the next person but in summer??!

It was a great opportunity however, to spend time together, slow down, relax and introduce Lewis to the Irish side of the family. We visited Secret Valley Farm and were lucky enough to help feed the kid goats. Even in the rain it was a great place to visit and there's so much to do.

And then one day, the sun came out! It's amazing how the sun transforms everything and everyone.
Unfortunately the rain returned just as quickly as it had disappeared and the end of our stay was just as soggy. Oh dear!

Children are amazing though and it takes more than some heavy precipitation to dampen their spirits. Lewis had a ball, quite literally...
And he now knows all the words to 'I hear thunder...' !!!

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Diamond Jubilee Build-Up - Day Five!

Welcome back to the final day of my build-up to the Diamond Jubilee. I hope there has been something for everyone to find useful, interesting or even just amusing! Today I've got a couple of recipes with a jubilee flavour. They are both pretty quick to make and you could enlist some little people to help if you have them. They will be perfect for any celebrations you've got planned this weekend.

I love a good trifle and think they are typically British, but I was hoping to make something even more patriotic. I thought for ages about what could be the red, white and in particular, the blue. In the end I settled on an interesting combination of blue sponge cake (hmmm!), red strawberry jelly, white rice pudding (Lewis's absolute favourite) and fruit and sugar balls to finish.
I made the individual trifles in jam jars once again as I think they look really cute, and are also easy to transport if you're taking them to a party. To serve, I served the strawberries and blueberries on the side so that each person could decorate their own trifle. I have to admit that they were a bit odd looking - my husband said the blue sponge cake looked like the foam you find inside sofas! But they sure tasted delicious...

This next recipe is from the River Cottage Everyday cook book. I have tried almost all of the recipes in this book and they have all been good, but these cookies are particularly delicious. And they can be ready within half an hour! I have added the red, white and blue myself...

125g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
75g soft brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
dried cranberries
dries blueberries
white chocolate chunks

Melt the butter in small pan. Put both sugars in a bowl, pour in the melted butter and beat well. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and stir them in. When mixed well add the cranberries, blueberries and white chocolate chunks.

Dot dessert-spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper. Make sure you leave 4cm between them as they will spread. Cook at 190 degrees centigrade/gas mark 5 for 8-10 minutes, until they are turning golden brown. They will firm up as they cool but you want them to be a little squishy. Try to eat with restraint!

I wish you all a wonderful Jubilee weekend, and I really hope the weather holds for all the street parties that will be taking place over the next few days. My family and I are off on holiday for a week so we will be missing out on all the fun here in the UK but I look forward to seeing all the pictures from the different events.

A big thank you goes to my two special guests on this series: Stacie Swift and No More Disco. We've really enjoyed getting into the jubilee spirit and I hope you have too? Now all you have to do is eat, drink and have fun!