30 October 2013

Sponsor Spotlight : Christmas Craft Shopping Experience

Today i'm welcoming Clare who has organised a Christmas Craft Fair in Warwickshire! I am a huge supporter of shopping handmade and I absolutely LOVE Christmas so helping to spread the word about this fair seemed like a no brainer to me. If any of you are in that area then do try and pop by!

Now over to Clare!....

I founded the Christmas Craft Shopping Experience in 2009, and it is going from strength to strength!  Now in its fifth year, the Christmas Craft Shopping Experience offers a festive shopping experience for lovers of unique and quality gifts.  Based in Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, this event showcases the work of over 100 independent artists and craftspeople and attracts over 1,000 visitors!  This year I've teamed up with Save the Children for the event, and many of the childrens activites, Santa's Grotto etc are used to fundraise for them.

It's a festive day out for all the family – perfect for picking up unique gifts! Enjoy ‘make & take’ craft workshops and craft demonstrations. With live festive entertainment, an on-site restaurant and over 100 shopping stalls. Children can take part in free craft activities and pay a visit to see Santa in his Grotto.  

For what started in my mind as a large local event, stallholders have come from all areas of the country, including Devon, Wales & Lancashire, and visitors come from far & wide too!

With ample FREE parking, great facilities and lots to see, do and buy all in a warm indoor venue, this is a Christmas treat not to be missed. 

This event is on Sunday 1st of December.
Doors open at 10am and close at 4pm. 
Tickets are just £3.50 each with accompanied under 16’s FREE. 

This is an event for everybody who loves to shop & have fun away from the stress of the high street!

For further information please visit www.craftshoppingexperience.co.uk

Venue: Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, Leamington Spa. Junction of A425/B4455
SAT NAV CV31 1XN (closest motorway link M40 junction 12 approx 6 miles away)


Thank you Clare! This sounds so lovely...I just wish it wasn't so far from me!

Gemma xXx

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28 October 2013

The Windy City

Just a few pictures from my weekend, there were so many signs of Autumn everywhere! As the weather was looking terrible with storm Jude on it's way, we didn't have a lot to do and decided to spend most of our time indoors doing some cooking and baking. 

When we did venture out we went to a garden centre or two. I don't know about you but I love going to garden centres at this time of year when their Christmas stock is out. We have a fantastic one locally that does not disappoint. They put so much imagination into the displays which makes it so much more exciting!

So storm Jude wasn't as bad as we had thought, although it got pretty scary at 6am when I felt the room shake slightly. My room is the loft room and I was worried the roof might have flown off! 

I hope everyone is safe!

Gemma x

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25 October 2013

Interior Design : Bedroom Re-do Mood board!

Wardrobe doors - Ikea / Wallpaper - B&Q  /Furniture - Oak Furniture Land / Lamp - Homebase / Cushions & Curtains - Marks and Spencer / Ceiling Light - Debenhams

As some of you may know i'm doing an interior design course so I was really excited when Ian's mum and dad decided it was time to redecorate their bedroom. I couldn't wait to apply what I have learnt so far! 

They want a whole wall of sliding wardrobe (possibly mirrored) doors for plenty of storage space. A new oak bed and bedside tables have been purchased. The wall behind the bed will be a floral feature wall with almost Aubergine purple flowers. The rest of the walls and carpet will be a neutral creamy/beige. To accessorise and add more colour, we are using that deep purple again in the bedside table lamps and in some textured cushions and curtains.

What do you think? Fingers crossed it will be finished all in time for Christmas. I'll try and get some pictures of it when it is finished.

Happy Friday!

Gemma xXx

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23 October 2013

Christmas Decorations and a Voucher Code!

All from my Home Accessories shop Homemadegems.com

Today I wanted to share with you some of my Christmas Stock that I have in my shop Homemadegems.com this year. This time of year is when I am at my busiest so I thought i'd share these with you a little early to avoid a last minute mad rush! When all my items are in one place it really makes me smile. I have thoroughly enjoyed designing and making each and every one of my products, so I really hope that you like them too!

Each and everything is made to order. If you would prefer a different colour I can easily change it to something that you may like! 

If there is something that you like then make sure you quote 'Musingsofagem20' for 20% off your total order! Simply fill out our order form and we will invoice you with the discount taken off your order. Everything on the website includes FREE UK P&P so that is a bonus! The code is valid until 15/12/2013.

Gemma xXx

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17 October 2013

Silver vs Gold Jewellery - Gift Guide

Links Of London Sweetie Bracelet - H Samuel Spiral Pendant - Hand stamped  Necklace -  Ernest Jones silver Ring

Bow Earrings - Bangle - Ring - H Samuel Topaz Pendant
As Christmas is getting closer I thought each week I would do a little gift guide. I love window shopping so to share my favourites on here with you will be fun.

Jewellery is a great gift for the lady in your life, be it your partner, your mum or your best friend.  One thing to be sure of though is if they have a preference. Gold or Silver? Dainty or chunky? I am a dainty silver kinda girl. I had made a point of letting Ian know this for when he eventually popped the question. He must of been listening! 

So my question to you is what are you? Are you a Gold or Silver kind of person? Or a bit of both? I'd love to know!

Gemma xXx

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15 October 2013

Sponsor Spotlight : The Vintage Artist ~ Niki Jackson!

Hi all,

Sorry things have been a little quiet here over the past day or so. Apart from my laptop giving up on me, I caught a cold from Ian and it's had me worn out. I spent most of my time in bed over the weekend so I don't have anything to share with you. I'm feeling a lot better now than I was but it's still lingering. I've got a new laptop on its way so the blog should be back  to normal asap!

Anyway I'd love to introduce to you to one of Musings Of A Gems very first sponsors! I asked the extremely talented Niki to write a little about herself, her beautiful art work and her upcoming book. 

The Vintage Artist ~ Niki Jackson, with her faithful companion Ellie and pictured right, creating in her home studio in England. 

Ever wonder what animals are really thinking when they make certain expressions? Or you see two bunnies in a field that look like they are having a good ole’ conversation? That is one way my paintings come to life. 
Shall we go home now?’

I love to observe the world around me, especially nature and animals. My passion for the countryside seems to be growing each year and I love to put that into my paintings. 

‘Wild Flowers’ 

When people view my art they often say that they feel peaceful, like they just want to live in the world I have created in paint. That for me sums up my purpose as an artist. 

I take inspiration from animals and landscapes but I also take it from books, memories and sometimes I will get an image in my mind and just get straight down to painting it. 

I am currently finishing up writing and illustrating my first children’s book, called ‘The Adventures of Snuggle Bunny’. 

 Snuggle meets Mr Robin’

I’ve always wanted to create my own book and now it is happening! Due for release in November, this has been such an exciting experience. 

I’ve learnt a lot about myself as an artist and how I wanted to produce the illustrations. My aim throughout has been to keep them as true to my usual style of painting whilst still telling the story in a way that flows well. 

My email list members have been following along this journey with me, seeing some of the paintings and snippets of story as I painted them. This was the only place I shared them, making it extra special. 

I still have some more to share, without giving away the whole story, so if you would like to be part of it, come and sign up to my email list: http://eepurl.com/VaS-/ . Make sure to check the box ‘originals’ so you get the Snuggle Bunny updates. 

This has been such a fun experience that I am already thinking about my next book, but you will have to wait and see to hear more about that. 

‘The Adventures of Snuggle Bunny’ is out on 25th November 2013 and I am now taking pre-orders on my website: www.thevintageartist.co.uk and my Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/thevintageartist . 

The paintings from the book will also be released on this date, along with prints and some greetings cards. You can find all my paintings and prints available to purchase on my sites too. 

Come along and take the journey with me… 

Niki Jackson ~ The Vintage Artist.


Thank you for sharing with us Niki! I absolutely love Snuggle Bunny...if only I could jump into your art to give him a big cuddle! Niki's book 'The Adventures of Snuggle Bunny' will be a perfect Christmas gift for the little ones in your life!

If you would like to sponsor Musings Of A Gem you can find out more information here.

Gemma xXX

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11 October 2013

The twelve favourites of Christmas

Image via Pinterest

For some of you this will bring much excitement, for others you may wince a little...but Christmas is well and truly around the corner! I enjoy Halloween and the fun on bonfire night but Christmas really is the highlight for me. 

Instead of wishing time away waiting for December to arrive, I prefer to get into the spirit and celebrate the big lead up to Christmas! In all honesty I think I prefer the build up rather than Christmas day itself. There is just so much anticipation and excitement in the air. From hiding gifts from loved ones, relaxing to some Frank Sinatra on a frosty evening, a shopping trip to Oxford street among the hustle and bustle or baking something cinnamony and sweet...I love it all! It is these little things that make me feel so Christmassy inside. 

Here are some of my other favourites.....

1.Breakfast - It either has to be a soft cinnamon roll topped with cream cheese icing or Jamie Oliver's Waffle recipe with bacon and maple syrup! Not the healthiest of choices but soo good!!

2.Bake - This is probably the hardest as I am a real foodie. Either the cinnamon rolls again, Christmas cookies or Apple Bars..

3.Movie - This is a tricky one! There are so many. Either Christmas with the Kranks, Elf or The Polar Express

4.Smell - It has to be the smell of the Christmas tree and the decorations. You know what I mean right? That smell just brings old Christmas memories back.

5.Place - In recent years we've gone to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. It's kind of like a fun fair but full of stalls with yummy food from all over the world and lots of gift stalls too.  It's very magical in the evening when it's all lit up. Oxford street is only a stones throw away so it's fantastic for a day out.

Image via Google

6.Tradition - I think a lot of people do this one! I just have to get the Radio times Christmas edition and circle everything I want to watch. In reality I only manage to watch a handful of shows though !

7.Song - Chris Rea's Driving Home For Christmas. I just love it! 

8.Christmas Carol - O holy night.

Image via Pinterest

9.Childhood memory -  Getting up early for school when it was still dark outside. It was so exciting being the one to put the tree lights on and sitting in a fairy light lit room eating breakfast. Also getting to eat the chocolate from my advent calender!

10.Place to shop - Either John Lewis or Dotcomgiftshop. I love looking at all the little knick knacks around John Lewis, they stock so many perfect stocking fillers! Dotcomgiftshop also stock so many pretty and perfect things. If I received anything from their shop I would be happy!

11. Tipple of choice - I love to have a cheeky small glass of baileys with ice.

12. Christmas toiletries - I ask for Lush's Snowfairy every year. That smell is Christmas time for me! I also love the cinnamon line that Waitrose have...perfect for a bubble bath!

I hope you enjoyed my 12 favourites that get me in the spirit of Christmas!

What are your favourites during this time of year? Do you have the same as mine or something different? I'd love to hear from you!

Gemma x

This blog post is also being used to enter a dotcomgiftshop competition to win an iPad! I'm keeping everything crossed x

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9 October 2013

Made to last

When Ian & I got engaged we received lots of advice from our family & friends. Something that really stayed with me was to try and buy the best quality household items that we can. My grandparents were given good quality pots and pans as a wedding gift and they are still using them to this day. 

On this note I was given the chance to put an Ozeri Green Earth frying pan * to the test! We knew the perfect way to test it out was to fry some eggs for breakfast one morning. If there is one thing that gets on my nerves, it is when a fried egg sticks and you end up with scrambled eggs instead. The Ozeri pan could hold 3 eggs comfortably, 4 at the most. The egg white glided so easily and didn't stick at all and flipped so easily!

You can feel the pan is good quality. It's a good weight but isn't too heavy to carry to the sink. It also has a silicone handle for extra comfort. 

I love the fact that it has a natural ceramic coating and that it doesn't release harmful chemicals when cooking at high heats. You can definitely tell this pan is made to last!

Do you own anything that you think will last a lifetime? Which brands do you recommend us to look at? 

Gemma x

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7 October 2013

Relaxing Weekend

This weekend was a pretty busy but relaxing one. Ian surprised me on Friday by taking a day off! I love surprises like that. I had such a big smile plastered on my face all morning. We had a relaxing day doing a little shopping and went out for dinner.

On Saturday we spent some time with Ian's family looking around furniture stores as they are re-doing their bedroom. I'm using it as a chance to help with the interior design and practice what i've learnt so far. It will be great to use it as a start to my portfolio!

We also spent the weekend eating like Kings and Queens. October is full of birthdays and anniversary's in my family so we have lots of meals planned. I baked a Red Velvet cake, so this along with potato shells and a burger makes a very happy Gemma!

I did hope to get a bit of crafting time, watch a film and do a woodland walk but it just did not happen. Sometimes you've just got to go with the flow. What did you do this weekend?

Happy Monday!

Gemma x

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2 October 2013

Apple Cake with Streusel topping

I was hoping to bring this recipe to you a lot sooner but my laptop has given up on me after 5 trusty years. I didn't realise how much I rely on it to blog. Hopefully we can get it fixed/replaced soon as I hate using the iPad to blog..it's just not the same. Please bare with me!

So now it's October Autumn is officially in full swing. Last weekend my nan gave us some apples from her garden so it was the perfect excuse to bake something with apples and cinnamon.  You just have to have that combination..it's perfect. I came across a German apple cake recipe on pinterest. We didn't have all the ingredients so I experimented a little and it came out great!! The streusel topping was out of this world and was a lot easier to make than a normal crumble topping. Give this a try!

Adapted German Cake

For the streusel

4oz unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/4 cups plain / all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups plain / all-purpose flour
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
2 medium eggs
1 cup milk
2 apples peeled and sliced
9 inch round baking tin

Preheat your oven to 170c . Grease your cake tin.
To make the streusel, melt your butter and allow to cool. Mix together all the strudels dry ingredients and finally stir in the melted butter. You should see a crumb like texture. Set aside.
Melt the butter for the cake mixture, set aside to cool. Combine all your dry ingredients then add your wet ingredients. Mix until all the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix.
Pour your cake batter into the prepared tin. Lay your sliced apple over the cake mixture evenly. Finally sprinkle your streusel topping to cover the apple. Bake for 45 minutes, checking that a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

It's such a lovely moist cake and tasted even better the next morning with a large cup of tea!

Please do let me know if you make this :)

Gemma x

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