Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Nayu's Recipes #2 Blueberry Green Smoothie


 The second day of my mini vacation has involved reading, anime watching, and my family plying me with chocolate and sweets (never a bad thing!). Apart from writing this post and scheduling a book blog tour for tomorrow on Nayu's Reading Corner, the only other thing I've made today is a tasty smoothie!

You may be wondering why the word green is in it, considering the colour is not green. Green smoothies are ones which have vegetables in. I'm fond of them, and you can make it in a way that you don't taste the veg (depending on the type and amount of fruit you use). All I can taste is blueberries, but read on for today's green veg ingredient! 

Using the bunny cup I took 1 cup of frozen blueberries, which are full of vitamin K, antioxidents, and allegedly improve memory (which I'm in desperate need!) Picture source

Chopped and used a third of 1 courgette, one of my favourite vegetables which is full of potassium, soluable fibre, Vitamin C and other nutrients. Picture source

Using the same bunny cup I poured 1 and a half cups of water, which is vital since our bodies are 60% water.
Whizzed all these ingredients in my family's beloved speed blender to get...

...a refreshing healthy drink!
Were you surprised by my choice of green veg? I have to say my body loves green smoothies, they perks me up for longer than chocolate (which delicious but not the most nutritious food in the world, sadly), and are super easy to make. I make mine to a juice like consistency (but not a juice as it uses all the parts of the fruit and veg).  Here's the recipe without pictures. Experiment with different quantities of the ingredients to personalise your own Blueberry Green Smoothie!

Blueberry Green Smoothie Recipe
some frozen blueberries 
similar amount of water (depending whether you want a thin or thick smoothie) 
1/3 of a courgette, roughly chopped (you could probably put it in whole in a high speed blender like the Vitamix I use, but out of habit I chop mine) 

Mix it all up and enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #75 Relaxation is bliss!

Can you guess who this is?
I've had an extremely quiet day. Family returned from the holidays, which is nice. I finished the 3rd season of Once Upon A Time - I'd technically finished it yet, but had somehow managed to watch the 4th disc before the 5th, so watched it to fill in the gaps. No wonder I was so confused yesterday, it explained everything I didn't understand. I'm starting season 4 today which includes Elsa from Frozen!!! Not that I'm excited or anything. 

Also been watching the latest new episodes to one of my favourite anime, Aikatsu.
It's cute, fun, about friendship and working on achieving your dreams! Very inspiring.

No craft today, kind of too tired to focus. I did take my truffles out the freezer, pop them into bags, and put them bag. They are currently uncoated, will do that step at a later date. 
They currently look like these right now, only most of them are squares

Enjoying just mooching around, hope to have another day of it tomorrow (only with more craft and reading). I'll leave you with a quote which is one I hold to: I'm chasing my dreams of publication and being a successful crochet artist! 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #74 Mini holiday

Time for a break...sadly not my suitcases! Picture source
Sorry for not posting the last few days - been a little busy preparing for my family to return from a long holiday. My type of parties involve me, my cat, anime, books and craft! There's still some bits that need to be set straight, as I rearrange where I keep things so they are handy.

I made some white rolls today - so not these which are sun-dried tomato!
I've stocked the cupboard full of groceries, bought a few treats and also made a few, which I'm not revealing just in case my family see this. They shouldn't, as they've nearly 24 hours of travelling to get back from Australia (visiting family), but I like to keep some things a surprise! Truffles are included, as are other sweet treats which I can't wait to tell you about!
My yummy truffles!
Due to supervising building work in our garden, I'm sort of having a mini holiday of my own, involving lots of gaming, reading and craft! Not much different from my partying except I'll be doing it in my room and won't be 'on call' if there are any problems. The only problem I hope to have is wondering where the save point is in the game ^o^
Here's Polka from my current game, Eternal Sonata. She's super cute! & I love doing battle with an umbrella ^o^

I confess to liking being able to do mini vacations when I want, now I'm self-employed. A lot of work happens, but a few days will have me refreshed and ready to write and crochet! See you in a few days!
A random pic, but matches well with my sentiment that even if it rains this week, it'll be sunny in my world ^o^

Friday, 25 September 2015

Random test post for Bloglovin

Alpaca yarn is gorgeous!
I'm doing this test post so that I can be on Bloglovin! Bear with me please Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Nayu's Recipes #1 Carrot, Orange and Tomato Smoothie

As promised yesterday here's my carrot, orange and tomato smoothie recipe! It's full of nutrients which keep me going while I crochet. There's a concise recipe without the pictures and explanation at the end of the post.

Carrots are tasty, and allegedly help you see in the dark. I've used carrots as my main ingredient for today's smoothie.
Picture from a google search which wouldn't let me access the link for the photo
I took 2 carrots, chopped them into about 1.5cm pieces. Carrots are full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and other nutrients which are good for our bodies. 

Juicy tomatoes! Picture source
I added two medium sized tomatoes which have reasonably high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, some potassium, and other nutrients. I don't like cooked tomatoes, and when using them in a meal I prefer to remove the seeds (which saves bread getting too soggy). For smoothies I leave the seeds in because they are nutritious. 

Oranges are like liquid sunshine! Picture source
I also added 1 orange, which is also full of Vitamin C, fibre, calcium and other nutrients. I love orange in cakes and chocolate. They add sweetness to smoothies, as well as contributing to the liquid content. 

A splash of soy sauce. Soy sauce is something I've only recently started using in smoothies. We do need some sodium in our diet, which soy sauce provides. Among other nutrients it contains potassium, magnesium, and iron. I find it can lift the overall taste of a smoothie, which is nice for a variety of taste. 

Naturally my mugs are on the cute side!
1.5 cups of water. My cup isn't the type of cup you use for measuring. It's one I take from my cupboard as I've found it's the perfect size to get the smoothie to a good consistency. I like my smoothies to be like a juice, which is why I didn't get too adventurous with my old blender, as it was low powered and very good at producing bitty smoothies. Thanks to my family buying a Vitamix blender which I've yearned after for ever so long, I can use hard fruit and veg like carrots and not worry about breaking the blender or having bits. Whoohoo! 

Add an instant chill to your smoothie! Picture source
Ice cubes: if you are drinking your smoothie straight away I recommend using a handful of ice cubes and only 1 cup of water, since smoothies in high quality blenders can be a bit warm. Since I put mine in the fridge for later I don't always use them.

I whizz everything up using the smoothie function on the Vitamix blender (full power on other benders will be fine) and voila, healthy sweet juice! 
Smoothies rule!
Carrot, Orange and Tomato Smoothie Recipe by Nayu

2 carrots, chopped
1 orange, skin removed, chopped in quarters
2 tomatoes, chopped
325 mls water, use less if you use ice cubes or want the smoothie less like a juice in texture
a few ice cubes, optional
a dash of soy sauce, (optional) 

Blend all ingredients together to create a delicious, healthy smoothie! 

I hope you enjoyed today's post - I hope to bring a few more of my recipes to you as I create them!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #73 The 3 Cs: Carrots, Crochet & Chocolate!

This inspiring quote matches today's weather!
Happy Thursday! Despite early morning rain it's looking to be bright and sunny, which is good news for the builders doing some work in the garden. Rain has held up progress, so clear skies are very welcome. 

Today I'm chatting about the 3 Cs, just because they are forming part of my day. First up is carrots! 

No, I'm not making a crochet carrot. I'm certain there is a pattern for it, I just don't have a need for any. I'm talking edible carrots!
Picture from a google search which wouldn't let me access the link for the photo
Tomorrow's post gives you the full recipe (with fun pictures) for the carrot, orange and tomato smoothie which I made today. 
Super tasty way to eat fruit & veg!

Crochet is the 2nd C in today's post. While I'm busy with a secret project which I can't show you, I can let you see what I'm working on with yarn 
This is 1 of 2 fingerless gloves I'm making, with a pink border at the top and bottom of the glove. It's a present for a friend but I plan on selling them here on NRC too! 

The 3rd C of the post, chocolate, is in reference to the yummy chocolate truffles I've been trying out. Today I'm going to make some milk chocolate truffles, then coat them tomorrow with white chocolate! Mmmm, chocolate... I'd make them now but need a break after blog work. Instead I'll make myself hungry by catching up on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off! 
This is my second batch, which turned out much better than my first attempt!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #72 This week's plans

Read the post to find out why flowers are needed for this summery blanket
It's too early in the day for me to have done much crochet, so I thought I may as well chat about my craft plans for this week.

I hope to put up at least 2 new items for sale by Sunday

I hope to make a pair of fingerless gloves for a present

I hope to continue making flowers to decorate an almost finished blanket (top of post)
These are so tasty!
I hope to make some more truffes!
1st of many snowflakes!
I hope to make another snowflake, a different pattern to this one.

I'd love to hear what your plans are, be they crafty or not!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #71 Baking and stuff

These are super tasty!
Hi all! Sorry for the short break, had a relaxing weekend. Was minorly peaky yesterday so rested up with books. I have been doing some crochet - new finished piece will be for sale later in the week! Been baking - today made no bake fudge as well as crispies (using marshmallows, treacle instead of caramel and bran flakes instead of rice crispies)  both tasting delicious! Will provide cut up photos when they have both set enough (which they haven't quite yet).
More news tomorrow!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #70 Small milestone achieved! + Update

Whoohoo! Picture source

Thank you! As I logged on today to write this post which was (and still is) about my latest work, I saw just over 100 of you visited here yesterday! Thank you ever so much - it's fantastic to see so many of you enjoying my site!

So far today craft wise I spent a fun hour watching The Great British Bake Off while adding a few rows to this blanket. 

Slowly she grows...
There were moments that I paused because the on-screen action was captivating when baking creations both went right and went a bit wonky. 

Prior to that, in fact straight after breakfast I (finally) added a chocolate layer/coating to my truffles! I also added a few squiggles of decoration. 
They are setting in the fridge now, will take a neater photo for tomorrow's post.
I'm really enjoying making them. They are super easy, having a new mini saucepan makes it even easier to both pour from and dip in. For tomorrow's truffles I will experiment with flavour, possibly peppermint, lemon, orange, and salt - not all in the same truffle! That would be a bit too strange for my tastes. 

I'll also do alternate dipping: white chocolate centre with milk chocolate coating, and milk chocolate centre with white chocolate coating. I also would like to try using sprinkles before the coating sets to make them super pretty. They are tasty, and I haven't eaten too many either! I made sure to wash my hands before doing crochet as the yarn probably wouldn't appreciated a few specks of chocolate as much as I do. 

It's time to get some lunch, then relax with anime. I'm going to work a bit more on the baby bootie from yesterday, as well as read and work on my novel. My days are wonderfully full! 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #69 Find me on Social Media! + Updates

I made these sun-dried tomato & chilli rolls!
I'd fully intended to write a post yesterday but I ended up being busy with household tasks, errands, necessary resting. There's little I can do about the necessary things in life. I don't have telepathy, telekinesis, any kind of tele-skill - not in real life. In my head I can do so many things...

*Ahem* To get vaguely back on track, I also baked these delicious sun-dried tomato and chilli rolls which I'm having again  tonight They are a smidge overcooked but that's only the surface. I'd fail at the Great British Bake Off not just because of the darker colour, or the fact they are all different sizes, but because I used a packet mix! They are perfect for getting flavours I like without too much work (which expends more energy than I have most days). I simply pop it in the bread machine to be mixed and prove, turn it out, shape & bake!
Craft wise I've been on a secret project, (I've come to the realisation that I will almost always have a secret project going on), and after the success of completing a trial version of this cute cross over knitted baby bootie  I started another. 
I need to sew the straps down, that will be done on the for sale version
I got a bit too engrossed in the TV show I was catching up with (can't remember what it was as I watched several) that I managed to skip an entire row out so had to restart. Hopefully I'll make more progress tomorrow without the need for restarts. 

So many social media sites - for now I'm only on 3 ^o^
Enough side-tracking! The real main point of today's post is that I'd like to point out you to where you can find me on social media.
Send me a tweet!
Twitter: @Nayuleska

Connect with me on Facebook in 2 ways!
Facebook: Nayu's Crochet Dreams very own page as well as my ordinary account, Nayu Pitcairn:  which includes book reviews from my other blog Nayu's Reading Corner

Check out my varied boards!
Pinterest: Come see what craft, anime, book reviews and more on my boards: Nayuleska from my other blog Nayu's Reading Corner over at Pinterest! 

I'm still working on getting cute/funky little icons for social media sites, as there are so many to choose from that it's not as simple as I'd expected.

Now it's time for me to go write a bit on my novel, then spend an evening reading! And watching The Great British Bake-Off which I'm thoroughly enjoying getting inspired by. Planning to make a yummy frangipane tart next week! 
A delicious looking Cherry Frangipane Tart: picture source

Monday, 14 September 2015

Nayu's Craft Time #68 Interview with my new brand designed by Heather of Shop Kandy!

Heather's Shop Kandy logo
 This is a somewhat belated post, but it's with great delight that I can reveal some of the thinking which went behind Heather from Shop Kandy's design for Nayu's Crochet Dreams new digital branding! Huge thanks goes to Heather for being patient with me, for helping me get a design that I'd only dreamed of. I was a bit sad when we finished because I'd enjoyed sharing ideas and watching each design being revealed via email/messaging. 

I chose Heather because her designs popped out to me, her prices are extremely reasonable. Once I'd approached her to explain what I was after, Heather sent me a styleboard which was revealed in this post - I'd never heard of styleboards, but they are explained further on in this post.

After that her high quality designs and superb ideas (with some requested tweaks for me), in what was I think a week and a bit (due to time difference as we are on different continents) the new look for this blog was created, as well as my Facebook page, my Twitter page, my all important Etsy shop, and a few other bits including business card design. Today I'm ordering my new business cards, so I'll reveal those to you when I get them printed. I'm hoping that I need to work with Heather in the future as I thoroughly enjoyed working with her. 

Heather kindly answered a few questions about her design process for me, which gives more insight into her work! 

Question and Answer session with Heather from the Etsy graphic store Shop Kandy
Nayu 1) Can you explain the process you take once you received my custom order brief and put together the style board?
Heather: Style boards are actually a new feature I have. I get so many custom requests, and have found that it puts the potential client a bit more at ease when they can see what I have in mind for them. Each Style board is unique, taking into account what vision I have when I read what each client is requesting.

I usually take a few minutes to search through my extensive graphics collection to see what I can find. Sometimes, I know exactly what I'm looking for- other times, I may think I have what they are asking for, but I'm not sure. That takes longer, because most of my graphics carry long names based on who designed them, and not just simple names like "Pink tea cup". 
Hair colour got changed, as did the background pattern, but everything else features in the finished product!
2) You seemed to guess exactly the kind of style I wanted without knowing much about me: do you do anything in particular to figure out what a customer needs, eg looking at their blog or is it instinctive?

I usually take a peek at a clients shop, if they have one, and the graphics they are already using. If they have an easy to locate Facebook or blog, I try to find it, but I usually just stick to checking the shop out on Etsy. Then, it's just guess work. I get requests so often, and not everyone has a style that matches my own.

Those are usually the harder sets to design- they take me out of my comfort zone for style, and force me to come up with new designs. I find they often give me the most headaches during design, but usually become designs I absolutely fall in love with after.

For the most part, I go on just what clients tell me, though. If they reference sets I already have posted, or graphics they have seen my older clients use, that helps a lot. It gives me a strong starting point, and tells me what they already like of mine.

With your opening message, you referenced a couple of sets I have available as pre-made graphics, so that helped a lot in deciding what style to start off with.

Yarn Balls design: I liked it because of the yarn balls and crochet hooks

One of Heather's pre-made designs, Rainbow Pop, which I liked because of the bright colours

I also provided this image from one of my favourite animes, PriPara because it was the colour range and fun style I'd decided on for the new NCD look!
3) I felt like I was quite demanding with all the changes I kept requesting - is it normal to have a fair few changes during a custom order?
I would say it's more normal to expect change requests, than to think my vision is going to 100% match a client's vision on the first take. My clientele is made up of some very artistic people, who each have their own strong vision of what they want- whether it's changing a color, adding a gem to a specific spot, or starting from scratch.

In part, the clients who wind up wanting to start over from scratch are why I now add style boards to each custom request. It gives us both a strong idea right from the start about whether or not my vision is the one they are asking for.

Some things are easy- someone wanting pastel rainbow colors and yarn make it easier to start. Others are vague- I once had a client who asked for pink flowers. From there, it took hours of going back and forth to discover that she actually meant purple, and that she was looking for a very specific type of flower, and not just any flowers.

4) Does designing custom orders spark off new ideas for your digital products?
Absolutely- I often take the "No, that's not at all what I want," custom items and turn them into sets if I like them enough, but aside from that, a lot of my designs have evolved over the years based on custom orders that pushed my design style limits. Years ago, when I was selling exclusively on Facebook, my sets looked far different than what you see today.

Even now, my most recent design addition is the watercolor style, which has become very popular. It was borne of a custom request that grew into a love for the style.

5) What's your favourite part about custom orders?
Getting to know my clients is nice. When you have someone requesting changes, you start to see their personality emerge. Little comments back and forth let me get to know the person better, and hopefully, design something they really love.

While I am designing, style pushing ideas drive me nuts. It's like there is a cliff, and I need to just jump with something I'm not sure I love, and I'm not sure I want to show anyone. But once I do, and I see how much a client loves what I come up with, I feel a lot of relief and happiness that I was able to push my own style to meet with their style.

6) What would you like to say to potential buyers who after reading this article are thinking about placing an order, be it a simple purchase of a pre-made design or a custom order?
 Graphics, be it custom or "off the shelf" are a very strong way to give your shop an identity. It does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Graphics tends to be an area a lot of new shops skimp on- they go online, take a badly cropped photo of a product, and try to put their shop name on it.

More often than not, it looks blurry, sloppy, and letters are cut off. That can send a very strong message to their own potential clients, and it's not a good message.

Shop owners need to take pride in what they do, and sadly, poorly designed banners send a message that they are not taking care of what they make.

My shop offers options starting at just $6.99 for Etsy shop owners- an amount that is affordable to shops that are brand new. Taking the time to invest in your shop can give you a clean look that is memorable, and sends the message that you care about your image.

You don't have to spend $200 on a graphics package to get a nice shop banner. Never overlook that!

This last comment of Heather's is especially true, and as I've already stated is partly why I chose her as my designer. Some of the graphics on Etsy are over $150 just for a single logo, let alone all the graphics I wanted. I'd expected to pay much more than around $65/£42, and whole heartedly recommend Heather of Shop Kandy for your graphic needs! 

Note: I haven't received payment of any kind for promoting Shop Kandy in this post, I just happen to really like Heather's work and want to help promote her!