AD | what I’ve changed up so that I now love doing my accounts

:: by Lizzie

 

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It’s that time of year again isn’t it!? The dreaded accounts rear their ugly head. Whether you’re self employed, freelance or have your own small business, being a creative entrepreneur isn’t all fun all of the time, is it? Particularly when it comes to the stressful and boring bits like book keeping, VAT and income tax. Doing your accounts, whether you attempt to do them yourself or you have an accountant to work with, can be very stressful and time consuming. Often stopping you from focusing on the things that actually move your business forward, help it grow and make you money, accounts can be an absolute pain. Designing, styling, curating, buying, shooting, writing, recording, teaching, coaching – those for me are the fun bits. But being a small business owner (as with great power), comes great responsibility.

 

In June of 2018, only three months after my son was born (a time that I was hoping to focus my energy on him and learning to be a new mum) I discovered that SMUG’s till operating system was about to become obsolete and that our card machines were going to stop functioning any moment as well! Our till and our card machines were also hooked up to our accounting programme, so this was a lot of stuff to go wrong all at once. You can probably imagine that this was pretty stressful news and that working out what on earth to do, how to do it, when to do it and with what software, was a huge and time consuming job. I now realise, in hindsight, that this major ball ache was actually a blessing in disguise. We’d been using out-of-date till and accounting software for years and now that the business had grown as far as it had, the systems in place really didn’t serve us anymore. Our tech, although it was functioning, had been super limited and in fact, had essentially been letting us down for years. It took the urgency of the whole thing giving up on us, for me to take the time and do the research to find out what would actually work for us and make running the business much much easier in the long run.

 

In the end the till software I went for was Vend. One of the main reasons for this was that it worked seamlessly and automatically with the accounting software I’d been thinking about moving over to for years, Xero. Now was my chance to make the change and it couldn’t have been better for us. SMUG’s card, cash and web sales go through our till and arrive automatically in Xero. Our orders of new stock once placed and received on our till, are sent wirelessly over to Xero where the brands and invoice numbers are recognised and matched to payments made through the SMUG bank account, which has a live feed straight into my Xero account. This also helps hugely with bank reconciliation as it updates transaction daily and my favourite bit, lets you set up ‘rules’ so that Xero will recognise and match transactions to and from people you pay regularly, or receive income from regularly. You just set up the rule once and it takes all the repetition out of it for you. It’s pretty seamless and soooooo much easier and less time consuming than our old system. The most valuable element though is that I have a much clearer picture of the health of my business than ever before. I can now see much better where we’re making money, where we’re losing money and areas where I could be finding ways to save some money. It’s also super easy to calculate the amount of VAT due and have a proper digital record of your accounts that you can access anywhere with wifi. I have the Xero app on my phone so can even do the bank reconciliation while on the go. It’s amazing.

 

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But I don’t just use Xero for my SMUG business. In 2016 I was lucky enough to be in a position to buy 13 Camden Passage, SMUG’s premises. This left me however, in a strange position. I was now the tenant and the landlord and needed to charge myself and pay myself VAT. It was at this moment that in addition to SMUG’s VAT number, I registered myself personally for VAT so I could be both landlord and tenant. I would also for the first time, be liable for income TAX due to the rental income I would receive as the landlord. I’m telling you all of this because I know that each of us have our own complicated stories of how our small businesses work. Sometimes these eccentricities and anomalies can feel a little overwhelming and keeping track of all of the details, let alone communicating correctly and clearly with HMRC, can be really hard work. This is another reason why I am so grateful for Xero. Since registering myself personally for VAT, I have starting taking on freelance work through my Lizzie for SMUG Studio. I’ve been working for brands on sponsored blog posts (like this one), getting sponsorship for my podcast ‘How to Curate Your Life – Work Life Balance for the Creative Entrepreneur’, selling tickets for workshops and coaching, being hired to teach webinars and speak at IRL events. Because I am VAT registered I need to charge VAT on all of this and I need to be aware of the income TAX I will be liable for. These new extra pressures when it’s come to my second set of accounts and communicating with HMRC in a new way with personal VAT and income TAX returns could, to be honest, have been so overwhelming that I’d have been put off from following my dreams and growing my business in this new way. Finding several revenue streams that all lead to work that I love has been the dream for some time now and because of Xero I’ve been able to keep a proper track of my own Lizzie for SMUG business as well as SMUG’s. Because it’s all there safe, accessible and trackable, I’ve been able to employ an accountant to do my personal VAT and TAX returns this year. The dream! How do you file your VAT and TAX returns?

 

HMRC is making it mandatory for small businesses to file VAT returns online. Xero have produced some indispensable guides to help you understand and prepare for Making Tax Digital (MTD). On this page, you’ll find the answers to any questions about this you have. There’s even an animated tax adviser – Dexter, who can tell you all about MTD and what it means for you. The programme goes live on 1 April 2019 so, if your turnover’s more than the £85k VAT threshold, you’ll need to file your returns directly and digitally. The good news is that Xero have been working closely with HMRC since they announced the plan, so their software’s compatible for them and straightforward for you.

 

Making Tax Digital (MTD) means you won’t be able to keep and submit manual records after April 2019. Instead, HMRC will only accept VAT returns sent using software that supports Making Tax Digital for VAT. The use of this technology is compulsory so it’s a good idea to start thinking about your accounting software soon – that way you can avoid any potential complications from upgrading or migrating your software mid financial year. It’s worth remembering it’s far easier to submit returns using online accounting software compared to traditional desktop software anyway so, like me, you might find that this change is actually a huge blessing in disguise.

 

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Just as a quick recap, the things that I find really valuable and you should look for when choosing an accounting software are: Automation – You want something that automatically calculates the tax you owe (including VAT and payroll tax). Connectivity – your accounting software should pull transaction data straight from your bank, invoicing software, or POS systems and finally, Continuity – your software should update transactions daily, helping you to stay on top of bank reconciliation.

 

I hope you’ve found this helpful and educational :) Who would have thought it – TAX can be fun! Thanks for reading and do feel free to get in touch via Instagram or in the comments below if you have any questions. Lizzie x

 

Lizzie’s London with Wizz magazine

:: by Lizzie

Earlier in the year I had the pleasure of working with Wizz Air and their magazine team on an article all about ‘My London’. I took the team around some of my favourite spots as a local Islington girl. Favourites included SMUG (no guesses there!), Ottolenghi, YMC, The Barbican Conservatory, Sir John Soane’s Museum, The Elk in the Woods and The Approach Gallery. You can read the full article here – ‘Wizz – Welcome to My London’

 

Take a look below for the cover as well as some of my favourite shots from the piece, taken by the wonderful Tim E White.

 

 

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podcast episode no.11 season round up – how to curate your life

:: by Lizzie

 

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Bonus episode anyone? I hope you don’t mind but it just felt right to do one last episode – a solo show – in order to round up season one. Have a listen below for my key takeaways from the series as well as news on season 2 and the best ways to stay in touch to keep our conversation going. Thank you as always for listening, sharing and reaching out to me to let me know what’s most resonated with you. Speak soon. Lizzie x

 

 

podcast episode no.4 Q&A with Lizzie Evans – how to curate your life

:: by Lizzie

 

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You know those days when you’ve been working really hard on something you’re super proud of and it all falls apart? There’s a technical glitch and you lose everything? Computer says no. Or you are asked to speak on a panel and say the wrong thing and feel like a complete tit!? Sometimes it’s really hard to give yourself a break, find the best way forward and move on out of the mess. Episode no. 4 of my podcast ‘How to Curate Your Life – Work Life Balance for the Creative Entrepreneur’ is entirely focused on this subject. Finding a positive outcome after disappointment or failure. 

 

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I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who got in touch with a question. Each question answered in the episode is listed below including the person’s instagram handle. Feel free to get in touch with each other to discus these topics further. Some people wrote really interesting and insightful questions and comments that you might want to feedback on yourself.

 

You can listen to the episode on iTunes here, or simply scroll to the bottom of this blog post and click play. Scroll down too for show notes. Thanks so much as always for listening. I’ll be back on Tuesday with a brand new interview based episode. Thanks for bearing with me this week.

 

Lizzie x

 

@ethicalcreature – What do you do on days where you run out of motivation or it all gets too much? I’m just starting out and sometimes it all gets a bit overwhelming.

 

@sarahstranguk – Moments of failure are often associated with the phrase “it’s how you deal with it” – what are three action points or series of steps in your creative process that represent for you, “dealing with it?”

 

@thesumofthings – I ‘tryyy’ to channel my frustration into something else worthwhile… also go out for a drink with friends, buy myself something small but lovely, eat really good food etc…

 

@quittingquince – Why is it that failure is perceived as a bad thing? And how can we REALLY manifest the mantra of “failing forward” or “failing is part of success”? I know all this in theory and I still struggle.

 

@thecoachingdiva – To cut a long story short, I moved to Melbourne and I had to wait for my visa for ages. I could only see limitations and I felt defeated until the day I made a conscious choice to see this situation in a positive light and focus on what I had control of. You cannot control whether or not you will fail but you can control your attitude. SO whilst I was waiting for my visa I designed notebooks and my business is launching in December. Try and see what doors the universe is opening for you rather than staring at the closed ones.

 

@matusbalogh – What was a lesson you learned from one of your failures that you then incorporated into your daily life?

 

@han_ratcliffe – Have you always felt creative and therefore felt justified to start SMUG? Growing up I have loved crafting, art and design and tried it all but don’t feel particularly good at one thing. I’d love to start a personal blog but my fear of a ‘lack of talent’ is holding me back… Loved your last podcast and looking forward to the next!

 

@laurenwelland – So sorry to hear about the files but this sounds like a great idea. My question would be – What’s the one thing that at the time felt like a big fail in your business but in fact turned into something positive?

 

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S H O W  N O T E S :

 

Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk – www.glossier.com

Glossier Haloscope in Quartz – www.glossier.com

Ottolenghi Islington – www.ottolenghi.co.uk

Sarah Akwisombe – www.nobullblogschool.com

 

 

Photos by Amber-Rose Photography

 

 

 

P L A N T P O T 2 0 1 7

:: by Lizzie

 

Hi guys, for those of you interested I wanted to share a quick close up of this year’s Plant Pot exhibition, curated by me and housed upstairs at SMUG for London Design Festival as part of the Islington Design District.

 

Plant Pot is a collection of 12 one-off pots designed and made by friends of SMUG. I commission each designer to produce a pot using any material of their choice. The only guidelines being that it must fit on a 12cm deep shelf and hold a plant.

 

This year marks the third (and probably final) year of the show. I have loved cherry picking designers to work with, planting and curating the show. It also remains the most instagrammed project we’ve ever produced here at SMUG. It’s been a big success and really well received each year so thank you so much for your interest in it and for your shares of it in it’s various incarnations over the years. A huge special thanks goes out the 12 designers who took part for the 2017 show.

 

The designers this year are : Make & Matter, Origami Est, Forest & Found, Benjamin Craven. Rosie Drake-Knight, All The Ways To Say, The Lovely Drawer, FreddiedeLanka, Daniel Gleadall, Lizzie Scarlett Towndorw, Earl of East London and Lizzie Evans.

 

Each pot is shown below in order from left to right, top to bottom (as the designers names are listed above). Take a look and let me know your favourite. You can find the instagram handles for every designer tagged in the group shot on my instagram feed @ifeelsmug

 

I look forward to sharing a new group show with you next year that’s a little different. Thanks for reading, Lizzie :)

 

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Photos by Manolya Isik

 

8 little luxuries that bring me joy

:: by Lizzie

 

Hi gang! So sorry for the radio silence (and for this not being the first time you’ve heard this start to a blog round these parts). I seem, like many others, to be failing slightly to find time in the day to achieve everything I want to. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll probably know that I’m a creative business owner. This means that as well as running my bricks and mortar business, a design store in Islington named SMUG, I am also trying to do a million other things related to that business to grow it and to develop my own career. Be it creating content for our social media platforms (of course), designing my own patterns and products, launching a podcast, managing the Islington Design District, spending time writing as well as speaking on a panel here and there or judging a prize, and maybe even teaching/writing a course/workshop (to name the first few that come into my head) my days can be full of all sorts. This means I really struggle to find the structure that good blogging really needs. And I’m sorry about that. I’m still hoping that I’ll develop a groove that works for me and leads to more regular content here on the blog. Thanks for baring with me.

 

One of the things I’m researching and feel I’ve learnt a lot about over the years is trying to get Work Life Balance right when you’re a creative entrepreneur. You’ll be hearing lots more about that very soon, but for now I wanted to share with you the eight little luxuries that make a positive difference daily to my currently slightly overwhelming life. Everyone has their special little treats that make them smile. The items that others might see as not really worth the bother or money, but that to you are well worth their weight in gold and bring you a whole load of joy. These are mine.

 

 

1. MAGIC CREAM, Charlotte Tilbury – this bad boy is soooo hydrating. As I get older, my skin gets drier and most moisturisers don’t really do the trick for me. There are some out there that are thick and heavy enough to go deep and do the job but I find them far too greasy and I don’t like the weight of them on my skin. They also tend to not work at all well under makeup. This moisturiser however is perfection, not heavy at all and lifts any dullness right away. It’s full of wonderful things (you can see the full ingredients list here) but like it says on the pot, it’s essentially magic! It also happens to be the most extravagant little luxury on this list but it’s well worth it in my opinion. I’m 33 now, about to be 34 and I feel it’s the right time to really start taking care of my skin. Most importantly, applying this lovely smoothing cream to my face as the last step of my skincare routine both morning and evening makes me feel like I’m treating myself to something special every time. Self care and all that!

 

2. BAUME DE ROSE, By Terry – I’m totally 100% confident in telling you, if you don’t know already, that Baume De Rose is the best lip balm of all time. Ever. Like Charlotte’s Magic Cream it’s super moisturising and is packed full of ingredients that do wonders for your lips. I’ve never really been into lip balm. I’ve found most didn’t work and some made things worse. This leaves my lips feeling soft and supple and is pretty much all I ever wear on them these days. If this doesn’t convince you (which would be totally fair enough – what do I know?) then listen to the creator herself talk about how this cult product came into being on Anna Newton and Lily Pebbles’s podcast ‘At Home With…‘ While you’re at it listen to the whole series. It’s great!

 

 

3. RIND CONCENTRATE BODY BALM, Aesop – This is such a treat! I don’t actually moisturise my body for most of the year (feeling like that might be about to change however as I’m so in love with this product). I have recently had a wee holiday and got a teeny bit of a tan, so I’ve been doing my best on a daily basis to soak a load of moisturising goodness into my skin to keep the slightly bronzed glow going for as long as poss. This Aesop number is by far my favourite body moisturiser ever. Citrusy, creamy, refreshing deets here.

 

4. LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL 1932, Chanel – So, actually this is the most extravagant luxury in this list. However, it was a gift from my wonderfully generous and beautiful mother and I don’t use it every day so it’s lasting me ages. Also, I have the 75ml one! I love it so much (mum and I in fact both love the whole Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection so much) that I was in too minds to share it with you. It’s absolutely a special occassion jobby but every time I wear it I feel and smell like a million dollars. 1932 has notes of pear, grapefruit, iris and exotic jasmine. It’s stunning.

 

 

5. COLOURFUL LACE KNICKERS, Dora Larsen – I completely have a thing for fancy pants. Always have. I suspect I always will. Having gotten my face, limbs and more wobbly bits in-between smooth, moisturised and ready for the day, I rather like popping on a pair of lovely pants. Mine must be comfortable (no thongs here!) and very pretty. These Dora Larson colourful lace ones are a current fave. If you’re looking for somewhere to try some on (always try on bras and pants – online underwear shopping sucks!) then visit The Pantry Underwear on Camden Passage. Eloise is wonderful. She really knows her stuff and has a shop stocked full of everything undergarment related you could ever need. It’s a must stop next time you’re at/near SMUG. She’s only a few doors down and well worth a visit.

 

6. SIMPLE JEWELLERY, Ruberg – So what’s next? A very subtle bit of understated bling me thinks. I pretty much wear the same jewellery every day and I love it. My engagement ring which I still spend time gazing at happily every day (been married over 4 years) is from Ruberg, also on Camden Passage. Their work is beautiful, simple and a little bit interesting. I couldn’t be happier with my ring. It feels perfectly me. Thanks Kamilla! My wedding ring was my husband’s grandmothers (I know, so nice to have that special link, I’m very lucky) and my gold link bracelet is a vintage piece given to me on my wedding by my dad. He’s a very stylish man.

 

 

 

7. CUT FLOWERS, Angel Flowers and Dansk – As you may rightly assume, like SMUG, my flat is full of house plants. I love them. They are named, cared for and spoken to like children. But there’s something so very special about cut flowers. I only have them very occasionally and find every time that they bring me so much joy! The ones pictured in this post are from Angel Flowers and Dansk both in Islington and always full of sensational and unusual blooms. New kids on the block/Passage That Wild Bunch are well worth a look and an Insta follow too.

 

8. Chocolate Peacan Cookie, Ottolenghi – Hands down the best cookie in the world and my favourite sweet treat. I’m a huge Ottolenghi fan full stop and am far too often found there breakfasting, brunching or lunching. Sometimes I just pop in for a takeaway salad box and/or a cookie. Seriously though. The cookies! Try one.

 

So that’s it for my eight little luxuries that bring me joy. So much joy :) Do you have any regular special treats that keep your days intentional, bright, productive and happy? If not, I suggest you start finding some. Self care, self care, self care.

 

stationery week newness

:: by Lizzie
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It is fair to say that Stationery Week has not been lost on me. I have enjoyed a week of perusing beautiful paper flat lay curations on instagram, reading blog posts featuring notebook, card and wrapping paper favourites, the celebration of new to SMUG independent stationery designers and the continued love of the bigger brands who just keep smashing it out of the ball park.

 

Firstly a big thank you to all of you who have been busily posting your SMUG stationery favourites this week. It is very much appreciated! I have to say that buying for our stationery department is way up there on the list of very best parts of my job. So, here I am, joining many of you in throwing my hat into the stationery round-up ring. Hopefully you’re not too bored of looking at beautifully letter pressed, hand bound, foil blocked loveliness. Photographed here are my new to SMUG faves, a few old classics and some not seen before round these parts bits that you won’t find at SMUG but that are firmly placed on my desk in the studio.

 

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Monarch Writing Set – Rifle Paper Co  |  Botanic Notebook, Cactus – All The Ways To Say  |  Artichoke Notepad Pink – Les Éditions du Paon  |  Brisbane Print – All The Ways To Say  |  Terrazzo Pencils, Clip for Two Pens, Wooden Ruler Cube, Bits & Bobs Mini Orange, Marble EraserPoint single pencil sharpener – HAY

 

 

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Rivoli Notepad – CARTA PURA  |  Swimming Wrapping Paper – Kate Pugsley  |  Outline Clips – HAY  |  Birthday Suit Card – Kate Pugsley  |  Peach Geometric Notebook – Jau Goh (sample)

 

 

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Forest Blue Wrapping Paper – Kelsey Garrity Riley  |  Botanic Notebook, Agave – All The Ways To Say  |  Cape Town Postcard – All The Ways To Say  |  Delicate Scissors – HAY

 

If this is only just wetting your #stationeryweek appetite then pop over to our twitter feed or Facebook page to see all of the #stationeryweek features and posts we’ve shared by friends of SMUG. If you’d like to see more images from this shoot then keep a beady eye on my Instgram feed as I’ll be sharing more there. There’s a whole lot of loveliness to be seen. Until next time! :)

 

how to make a terrarium

:: by Lizzie
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Towards the end of last year, I had the pleasure of working with Pinterest and Stylist Magazine at their Handmade Pop-Up event hosted in London’s SoHo. The event celebrated all things handmade in preparation for Stylist’s much anticipated 2016 Handmade Issue.

 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen the event in real time and spied the Lizzie for SMUG X London Terrarium Workshop we put on. I teamed up with Emma of London Terrariums to offer a bespoke Hanging Globe Terrarium Workshop featuring Lizzie for SMUG patterns. Emma’s been running workshops upstairs at SMUG since London Terrariums started, so it seemed fitting to build on that relationship and collaborate to offer something that had a Lizzie for SMUG twist.

 

We also contributed a bit of a ‘How To’ in Stylist’s printed Handmade Issue so that those wanting to give it a try could do so at home with Emma’s advice and guidance. See below for Emma’s step by step guide.

 

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If you’d rather come along to SMUG and learn from the pro herself then you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ll be holding this Hanging Globe Terrarium Workshop upstairs at SMUG throughout the year. Keep and eye on our Workshops page for tickets which come up every month or so. If you’d like a bit of Lizzie for SMUG in your life then you can purchase my Splatter Tote as well as products in the Greenhouse fabric featured in this post here.

 

If you do make it to one of our workshops or have a go at making this terrarium at home using Emma’s guide then please tag us in any images you post using the handles @ifeelsmug and @londonterrariums and hashtag #smugxlondonterrariums We’d LOVE to see what you come up with.

 

 

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5 workshops to try in 2017

:: by Lizzie

It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it!? Tougher than I had originally anticipated. There’s been a fair amount of picking oneself up, dusting oneself off and starting again. There have been changes to adjust to too. Changes we didn’t choose or ask for. But within that frustration and discomfort there has been inspiration and hope to be found.

 

The encouraging and reinvigorating things that have happened to me this year have been due to my accepting challenges, saying yes and growing as a result. Scary stuff. I’m learning that scary isn’t so bad as I once thought. I’m still working away on my pattern collection that officially launched in September. There’s so much more to do. Rolls of fabric going missing, a serious flood in Camden Passage (meaning closing SMUG for several days at our busiest time of year), fabric coating changes by the supplier at the last minute (meaning all of the fabrics needing resampling from scratch) and various other upsets to my ‘perfectly planned schedule’ have meant that some of this, my first collection, will launch in 2017.

 

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A year ago, I not only didn’t know how to create a pattern, I considered myself someone who couldn’t even draw. It has been a year of learning. Learning to make marks. Learning to be patient with myself but disciplined all the same. Learning how to find my own illustrative voice/language. Learning new technology and new techniques. Trusting in myself. Giving myself time. To my slight surprise, I found that living in this considered and intentional way was not just beneficial to my development as a designer, but hugely rewarding in all aspects of my life. Health, skin, relationships, happiness, productivity, all strengthened by this methodology of giving myself time to learn.

 

So, my advice to you for 2017 is to learn a new skill. I think there’s something here for everyone but if the below ideas don’t take your fancy, I hope that this post inspires you to go find your thing. Go try something new, something that excites you, that you’ve previously told yourself you don’t have time for. My experience was not that it gave me less time for other things but that the joy of learning and the act of prioritising this new skill for myself, created a equilibrium in my life. A place that, after the whirlwind of Christmas, I am very much looking forward to getting back to in 2017.

 

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1.  L O N D O N  T E R R A R I U M S   :

Who hasn’t been loving plants in 2016 I ask you!? Everything’s been plants plants plants and we’ve been all the better for it in my opinion. Even if you’re not the most green fingered, learning the skill of making a Terrarium with Emma of London Terrariums is a truly lovely way to spend an afternoon. You will learn how a terrarium works, how these self-contained ecosystems survive so well on their own, how to create your own and how to take care of it. 

Find out more here.

 

 

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2.  B R U S H  L E T T E R I N G  :

Now this is my absolute new favourite thing. I took this class in the mad run-up to Christmas when I was so busy that I forgot I was even signed up to take part. Luckily the lovely Teri or The Lovely Drawer as you may know her, reminded me just in time and it ended up being exactly what I needed. So therapeutic and actually pretty addictive. I am really excited to get good and start using my own style of brush lettering on my Lizzie for SMUG cards and other products in my collection.

Find out more here.

 

 

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3.  S P O O N  C A R V I N G  :

After something a little more earthy? Max of Forest + Found will teach you the skills you need to carve your very own spoon from a chunk of wood. The process is both messy and beautiful. A good amount of hand eye coordination is necessary if you don’t want to leave with too many plasters on your hands. Hard work but very rewarding.

Find out more here.

 

 

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4.  W E A V I N G  :

Wanting to go even bigger? Then the Bezalel Weaving Workshop could be the one for you. It’s a 4 hour class designed to give you a thorough and intensive grounding in tapestry weaving. You’ll learn foundational weaving skills, such as shape-building, colour blending and structure. I absolutely loved it and got really quite excited about the endless possibilities open to you once you’ve gotten the hang of things. A really lovely class covering advanced techniques too such as pick-and-pick, soumak and rya knotting. The aim of the class is to not only cover a wide range of styles but also to encourage you to develop your own distinctive voice as a weaver which is a really lovely angle. I’d highly recommend.

Find out more here.

 

 

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5.  O R I G A M I  :

A classic and time honoured option when it comes to creative skills to learn and master. Esther of Origami Est is a brilliant teacher who is as passionate about sourcing stunning papers to work with, as she is about teaching this beautiful and versatile craft.

Find out more here.

 

how to make a christmas cracker

:: by Lizzie
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Hi guys, I’ve been getting a little bit crafty in the lead up to Christmas and I wanted to share with you one of the things I’ve been making – Christmas Crackers! Having launched my Lizzie for SMUG collection this year, I thought it would be nice to use my wrapping papers to make something special for Christmas. Here I’ll take you through the making process, step-by-step, explaining all you’ll need to make your very own Christmas Crackers. It’s pretty easy and very satisfying, so if you have time, give it a go and let me know how you get on.

 

You will need:

Wrapping paper

3 loo rolls

Cracker snappers

Double sided sticky tape

String or ribbon

Scissors

Pencil

Ruler

Gifts/hat/joke to fill your cracker with

 

First you’ll need to cut out some 30 cm x 20 cm pieces of paper. I used my own Lizzie for SMUG papers in ‘Life Drawing‘ and ‘Patio‘. The thinner the paper, the easier job you’ll have tying the ends but having slightly thicker paper does look and feel more classy in my opinion.

 

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Measure 10 cm from each end (assuming you have 10 cm loo rolls – if you have longer ones, then you’ll need to calculate the amount of paper left over either end when you place your loo roll in the centre along the 30 cm top edge) Score two lines top to bottom along these measurements and fold, then unfold the paper along the lines.

 

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Now it’s time to add your cracker snapper. This is the most important bit! A cracker that doesn’t snap isn’t a cracker at all. I bought my snappers on ebay. Just type in ‘cracker snappers’ and select the number you’d like to purchase. Here I’m sticking mine down with a little bit of double sided sticky tape along the top 30 cm edge of the paper.

 

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You’ll now need to grab your loo rolls. 3 in total. Line them up along the top edge one after another and get rolling.

 

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This is the fiddliest bit but it’s very doable. You need to grab some string (I used yellow and white salami string), place it around your cracker at the point the first two loo rolls touch, and start pulling. You want to edge the two loo rolls away from each other slightly and have the string pull the paper tightly together so the paper is pinched and you can tie a knot with the string, making a traditional cracker shape.

 

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Once you’re happy with your shape you can tie your bow, cut off the excess string and take out the left hand loo roll. The two end loo rolls are only there to help with getting the right shape. It’s just the middle one that stays in the finished cracker.

 

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Now it’s time to fill your cracker with whatever goodies you’d like to (that will fit!) I went for some Gold Wire ClipsMast Brother Chocolate and a HAY nail Clihttp://www.ifeelsmug.com/products/bathroom/all/clipper_golden. By all means include a joke and a hat too.

 

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You then need to do the same with the string at this end to close up the cracker. When that’s is done you can remove this end’s loo roll too. And vola! Your very own bespoke cracker. Repeat the process for each guest at your Christmas table. I used two different papers that complimented each other so that I could make half with one paper and half with the other and lay them the finished crackers on the table alternately at the place settings. You can even personalise them further by adding the name of each guest on the cracker, using the cracker as a place name for your table. The world is your cracker/oyster! Happy Christmas you creative bunch. x

 

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