A blog for cooking and crafts

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Out with the Old Year.......

Whilst chatting with Sy on our regular Tuesday night meet up on MSN, I realised I was only 3 pages away from my scrapbooking target for the year - 10 pages a month = 120 pages. I was at work on Wednesday and our visitors for New Year were arriving that day too, so what to do?

Simple solution - I explained the world shaking importance of my completing 3 pages over two evenings and disappeared into my craft room :-) Anti-social I know, if I had been ten pages away I wouldn't have bothered. But to be so close! I couldn't not try to achieve my goal :-)

So, here I am, 3 pages later, sitting in a smug glow of self satisfaction. The page shown here is for Little Girl's second album (due in February, I only have 5 pages done.....eek!). It features a couple of things I am not usually known for, the most obvious being the F-word...... *flowers* that is :-( Also there is some white space, a scary thing, I had to resist the urge to fill it with something, anything! I am quite pleased with it overall though, a nice page to finish the year on!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Dancing Trees

So here it is, the finished cross stitch. I am really pleased with it, though it came with some sad news - the lady who does the stretching of the fabric before sending it to be framed is very ill. I got a phone call from her daughter saying that although she was in hospital, she was still worrying about all her customers' pictures - bless her. So we arranged that it could be brought over to my workplace as I couldn't get over to the shop. I sent my best wishes to her - it seemed inappropriate to say "Merry Christmas".
She has done so many of my stitched pictures over the last 15 years and from what little her daughter said, it seems likely that this will be the last. She is a lovely lady, who treated each customer's piece with as much care as if it were her own work, and I will miss discussing all things embroidery related while we tried out various combinations of frames and mounts.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas Decorations

A while ago I bought some blank chipboard tags with the intention of making some sort of decoration with them. In the end, I decided to keep it very simple (something to do with running out of time...........!)

I painted each tag with two coats of acrylic craft paint on each side, 5 tags in burgundy, 5 in green. Then I stamped and embossed using a Hero Arts cling background stamp and a gold embossing powder. Next a protective coat of acrylic varnish, again on each side. The letters are Basic Grey monograms, I coloured them gold with a Krylon leafing pen, then stuck on jewels in wine or green. To fix the letters, I used strong double sided tape.
They are now hanging above the bay window in my living room and I am really pleased with them :-)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Some Christmas cards!

How on earth did it get to be this far into December without me noticing???? Despite my resolution to have all cards made and posted out by the 1st, somehow here I am still with half a dozen left to make......

I don't do complicated cards! A stamp, a mat and a greeting, that'll do me - oh sometimes I add a background LOL. I bought this gorgeous Elusive Images holly stamp, it stamps really well with a lovely clear impression. It takes yours truly to mess up such a nice image.... on both of these, the mistakes are covered up; one with ribbon over the offending area, the other by the tiny red dots pretending to be holly berries :-)

The next one also is also a cover up job - I seriously mis-stamped the background and had to be a bit creative with silver squares, nailheads and peel off borders. I gave it to a lady at work who admired it greatly, saying she didn't know how I had the patience to put it together! Needless to say, I didn't enlighten her :-)

Finally a medallion - I tried using 1mm foam squares instead of my normal 2mm as it has to be posted - but I am not sure it has turned out quite dimensional enough, so I won't do it that way again. The intended recipient (who does not make cards LOL) will be quite happy with it, though, so that's ok.

Apologies for the not-so-great photos - I am finding it hard to get a decent picture of cards, either the flash bounces off all the shiny bits, of which there are many on Christmas cards LOL, or they come out too dark. Still, hopefully you can see the ideas............ :-) Oh and both the snowflake and swirl backgrounds are Hero Arts, again very good stamps in anyone's hands but mine!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Thursday

Thursday, according to the plan, was supposed to be continuing with cakes and bars. However, the freezer space issues (and the fact that I am a little "baked out") meant it didn't quite go like that :-)

I had to put my car in for its MOT, so decided not to start baking, as the phone call from the garage was bound to come at exactly the wrong time, I didn't want to be caught in the middle of anything! Instead, I did some cross stitch. Four hours later...... the garage phoned, apologising for having forgotten to phone earlier! So I got a lot of stitching done, a rare luxury for me to sit and spend so much time on it. Then I picked up the car and went shopping, as I hadn't been out of the house since last Saturday!

When I got back, I made the pizza bases for tea. These were not just our ordinary pizzas though - these were highly experimental ones! A while ago I bought some baking tins from Lidl, which I thought would be ideal for party pizzas, and now was my opportunity to try them out.

Well. Ahem. I will not be doing these for the party, in fact I think my obsession with mini food has finally met its match :-) They are very fiddly to make, difficult to put toppings on as they are so narrow, half of the stuff goes over the tin! I do not want to be making 20 of these as part of my party prep! However...... they tasted wonderful, the crust turned out really well. So I think that I will (when I eventually have freezer space!) make a batch as "snack pizzas", to be pulled out for a weekend lunch or something.

I got on with some more stitching during the evening and am really pleased with my progress, though I don't think I will finish in time to get it framed for Christmas. The photos are of the piece at end of Wednesday and then Thursday.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Wednesday

Wednesday was cakes & bars day. First I made the remaining stuff from Tuesday's plan, the surprise pies in chocolate and jam - which I have cut in half for the photo so you can see - then the mini apple crumble pies, these last being a bit of an experiment - they came out wonderfully, really yummy.

Then on with the day's list. Chocolate chip mini muffins, tropical fruit cake, flapjacks and rice krispie bars - not very Christmassy I know, but I had re-found an old recipe I used when the kids were younger .... and they are good things to take into work, everybody loves them!

At this point there were still of couple of things on the list, but I had to have a bit of a re-evaluation, as I am running out of freezer space! There are two enormous turkeys in there, after all....... I still haven't made any of my special breads, never mind the spring rolls and more mini quiches for the big party. So Thursday will have to be spent doing just enough to fill the freezer, then I will work on making more space :-)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Tuesday

Tuesday was pastry day, according to my plan. But first I made the two batches of shortbread, one batch of ginger nuts and the triple choc chip biscuits from Monday's list :-) These last are supposed to have one pack each of plain, milk and white choc chips, but I couldn't find the white packs I *knew* were there somewhere.... so this batch has two plain packs instead. And yes, I found the white ones as soon as the biscuits were in the oven :-)
Then I got on with the pastry! A dozen mini cheese and onion quiches, a new recipe for me and so yummy that not all of them made it to the freezer - I will be doing another batch of those on Thursday, along with a batch with a different filling. Then came an experiment with some frozen sausagemeat stuffing (from last Christmas!) and some frozen puff pastry (also from last year!) - can you tell I don't do pastry stuff very often??? I thawed both ingredients and cut the block of stuffing in half horizontally to make two thin pieces, then cut the pastry sheet in half, laid the sausagemeat on top of one pastry half and covered with the other, sealed the edges. As usual with my puff pastry experiments the base didn't cook well and I had to turn it upside down and return to the oven for 15 minutes or so...... Well it tasted OK, but doesn't look too appealing, so no photo of that one!

Another new recipe to finish with - mini lemon surprise pies. These are made using a mini muffin tray - a pastry shell , with lemon curd in the bottom, then a sponge mix on top. Absolutely scrummy - had to prise them out of DH's hands in order to freeze them :-) I made two more lots of the sweet pastry, to make jam surprise and chocolate surprise versions, and cooked up some diced apples for mini apple pies. By then it was time to grab one of my previously frozen meals (bolognese sauce) - you don't think I am doing any actual meal cooking this week do you.......??? So the surprise and the apple pies will be baked on Wednesday.
Not a bad day, and I think I have ended it with less catch-up to do tomorrow than I did on Monday, so hey, I must be making progress!
Oh and I have been asked what on earth I am going to do with all this stuff...... We have a Christmas party every year, and the guests get a basket of biscuits to take home with them. This contain a dozen pieces each of shortbread, choc biscuits, gingernuts, vanilla fudge, choc fudge and a small Christmas cake. Four families at the party this year - so four baskets - therefore I need at least four dozen of all the above items before I even start to think about our own stuff! Oh and I have promised to bring cakes to work for Christmas ........... :-)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Monday

Monday was biscuit day! On the list were chocolate biscuits, ginger nuts, shortbread, oat & raisin biscuits. I also wanted to make a couple of others, time permitting, which were melt-in-the-mouth choc chip biscuits and custard creams.

Well, the choc and the oat & raisin dough were chilling in the fridge and I started on the shortbread, I needed to make 4 double batches (120 biscuits altogether). Then - disaster struck! I only had enough caster sugar to make two batches. Moral: never take just a sweeping glance into your cupboard and think "oh that'll be enough sugar". I couldn't go out to Tesco before DH got home as my car is out of MOT so I needed to use his. So, on to the next thing, which was the gingernuts, 2 double batches required, and the recipe uses demerara sugar so I was fine there. Then - disaster struck! I had run out of plain flour after the first batch. Moral: NEVER take just a sweeping glance into your cupboard ........ for anything! The custard cream and the choc chip recipes both use plain flour, so they were off the menu too :-)

So in the end, I made three batches of choc (120 biscuits), two of shortbread (60), one of gingernut (60) and one of oat & raisin (60). Oh and I finished off the mincemeat I started on Sunday and potted that up. So not a bad day, even considering disasters!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Sunday

I should have posted this last night, but was so tired at the end of a busy weekend! I will try to post every day from now on, hand on heart :-)

I decided to get a little headstart on the week by starting on Sunday. Mincemeat slices and small Christmas cakes, both from Delia's Christmas book. I also started off her mincemeat recipe, which will be finished off today.

Gasp - another ATC !

You don't think I am getting hooked do you? Here is the second Here Be Dragons ATC, the background is the same technique as before, in shades of blue this time. It may yet have some tiny jewels placed here and there, but not before I write on the back - I learned that lesson last time! Julia asked me what I was going to do with the first one - well I have traded it with Sy, since it's all her fault I am even doing this :-) Oh I have discovered 'ATC back' stamps ................ I bought a sheet from Tanda Stamps which includes this highly appropriate dragon design. Obviously there is no hope for me now!

I have the week off work to do my Christmas baking ..... I have decided it will be called my Extreme Baking Week .... watch this space!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A cautious step into the world of ATCs

I have to admit.... I don't really *get* ATCs. So I decided it's about time I had a serious go at doing some. Inspired by Sy, who showed me a direct to paper technique at the Debden weekend, I made some backgrounds using two different colours of chalk ink (one lightish, one dark). The light went on all over and was swirled around a bit, then the dark was swirled on the edges. Then I stamped a crackle background stamp in the darker shade over the whole lot and inked the edges with it too, for good measure!

Result: one really incredible background. I was amazed :-) For about 10 seconds, until I thought "What on earth do I put on top???"

On forums, I am known as "here be dragons", so that was my starting point. Searching among my dragon stamps (of which I have quite a few!) I found the dragon and sword stamp shown here. I stamped and embossed it and added a gem to the hilt of the sword.

The photograph doesn't really do it justice, but I am rather pleased with it and have made some more backgrounds in the same way, with different colours, which will have their own dragons :-)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Craft Weekend

Yes I know it's now Tuesday - but this is the first time I haven't been too exhausted to do anything but collapse in a mindless heap after work :-)

Sy arrived on the Saturday, we had a couple of hours crafting before lunch. Sy crocheted a scarf, while I made some bead handbag charms and a couple of what Sy calls "identi-charms" for the spines of scrapbooks. Well, all my travel albums are the same colour, I have to have some way of telling them apart LOL. I was also printing off Venice photos, so I could continue with that album at the crop on Sunday. The stock of photo paper was running low, so we we decided that after lunch we would just have to go to Staples to get another pack. By sheer coincidence (!) the Staples at Crawley is on the same business park as Hobbycraft. Well it would be rude not to go when we were so close to it.....

I spent an all-time low of £18 in Hobbycraft, just bits and pieces really. We had to go back into Staples as the dozy girl on the till had charged me for four RUBs when I had only bought three. The supervisor dealt with it very efficiently though, apologised for the mistake and I got my refund. We got back and I printed off the rest of the photos, while Sy chatted to DS2 and his friends.

Sunday morning was the usual frantic rush to pack for the crop. I still managed to forget my cutting mat, corner rounders and my pens! Next month I will be organised beforehand, I will, I will...........

At the crop I mainly did Venice pages, they are very simple, just patterned paper, the photos and some stamp details. But I also did the LO shown above, for Little Girl's second album, it uses the mystery page kit I was given at the Debden weekend, but couldn't make up 'cos I didn't have suitable photos with me. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out, though I did want to round the corners of the photo and mat. Ah well.......... I used my new apron lace punch again, such a nice effect :-) The title font is See D's Ransom Note, bought 3 years ago and used for the first time *hangs head in shame*.

Sy and I went out for a curry after the crop, then she had to drive back to London. Another craft weekend done!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Scrapbooking Retreat!

Turns out I didn't have much time to bake for the freezer (other than some bread), because I spent the entire rest of the wek getting ready for a scrapbooking retreat :-)

Karen and I travelled to Debden together, my car was full to the gunwhales with bags of paper, trimmers, embellishments..... you name it, we took it! I took along my entire collection of punches - they filled seven boxes (and a large portion of the car boot!). The journey wasn't so good when we had to queue for the Dartford tunnel from 8 miles away.... I have never done 8 miles in first gear before, and hope I never will again!!

Still we got there eventually, it took a while to unload the car, but then we could finally get down to some serious scrapping. Over the weekend I managed to finish off my 2008 album, apart from a couple of bits of journalling, and start my Venice album, which had proved very difficult to choose photos for..... In all I managed a total of 15 pages, then I ran out of photos! Did some stamping and made a couple of ATCs, then the weekend was over :-(

The journey back was a lot quicker and after I had got back from dropping Karen off, I collapsed in a heap on the settee with a nice glass of wine :-) What a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

It's freezing!

Yesterday I finally, after some months of saving, got my brand new freezer. I went for a frost free one as I was so tired of having to defrost the old one every 6 - 8 weeks....... So yesterday morning DH got the old freezer out of the kitchen before he went to work and I waited for the delivery men, who turned up at about 8:10.

They got it into the kitchen, but after much umm-ing and ah-ing, decided it wouldn't go into the slot without other things being moved, which wasn't their job, so they left. I asked them for the cardboard box it had been packed in so that we could move it around the kitchen without damaging the floor, but they didn't want to take the polystyrene out of the box and didn't have any other empty ones. Then they drove off, leaving me with an barely accessible kitchen (it's galley shaped, so a freezer in the middle fills it up quite substantially!) and worrying about having to move everything.

10 minutes later it dawned on me that if DH had got one freezer out on his own, couldn't the two of them have got one in, reversing what he did???? Why is it I never think of these things when I am actually talking to the delivery men???

Last night DH came home from work, he and DS1 got the freezer in, without moving anything else, in about 10 minutes!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing or what :-)

I feel a baking session coming on :-)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Recipe - Indian dip for samosas or poppadoms

When Sy got here on Friday, we did samosas and the minty, yellowy dip which we invented a few weeks ago and which I promised you all the recipe for! Here it is, though I forgot to take a picture and then we ate it all :-)

1 200g carton tzatziki dip ( we used Tesco's own)
1 tb sweet chilli sauce (we used Amoy sweet chilli dipping sauce)
100g (approximately 3 or 4 slices) tinned mango
1 tb syrup from the tinned mango

Put everything into a blender and whizz until smooth. It is quite thick rather than drippy, you could thin it either with a bit more syrup or maybe some yoghurt.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Friday Fun

Well here are the other two DLOs I did over the weekend, as promised! They are quite simple, an 8" square of DCVW Old World in the centre of some bazzill aztec and sienna, with stamped borders and corners. Unusually for me, the photos aren't matted, I didn't think they really needed it.
It's the first weekend of September! That can only mean one thing, Saturday is a craft day and Sunday is a crop day :-) Sy is on her way here as I type and everyone else (Karen and Eve) will be here tomorrow. We are going on a long-planned expedition to the Craft Barn in Lingfield! Though I don't think I will be spending as much as I did at the Glitter Pot, since I have other commitments this month, such as buying a new freezer! More on that another time.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Bank Holiday weekend

What a weekend that was! Not sure where it went, but it was good while it lasted. DH and I tackled the half of the study that usn't occupied by my crafting stuff, and managed to make it organised enough so that not only can we find things, we can get to them too...... :-)

I finished 6 pages that I had started at the previous crop, 3 double LOs, will post the other two tomorrow. I also did Misty Morning from the page kit I had made up from the crop but not got around to starting - just as well because the finished page is very different from my original idea :-) It hasn't photographed very well - there is a flash reflection in the photo and the purple colours look more brown... trust me, it's better in real life and I am very pleased with it. Calais is what I call a "serendipity page" - a page resulting from desperate attempts to cover up mistakes, which ends up as a good page you would never have thought of otherwise! No, I am not going to say where the mistakes were......

I also roasted a huge turkey on Sunday, which was lovely ....... as were the turkey sandwiches and turkey curry we had on Monday .... and the turkey sandwiches today ...... should be having the last of it tomorrow :-) Oh apart from the two bags of chunked meat, the three bags of turkey & gravy pie filling and the pints of turkey stock that are in the freezer!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

I can't believe I haven't posted since the beginning of August! After I had done so well posting every day of my week off..... Well, going back to work hit me like a sledgehammer, I was exhausted, no energy at all :-(

So what's been happening? Well I have had a birthday! I had great trouble thinking of something I wanted as a present, then finally, as I was trying to craft in the tiny area of my desk that wasn't covered with stash and scraps and glue and rubbish ............... it came to me. I needed a new desk! DH was a little bit puzzled.... "you want a piece of furniture for your birthday?"

So the order was placed with Argos, and they actually delivered on my birthday, which was nice. I resisted the temptation to sit at work phoning DS's to see if it had arrived yet.....

We built it over the weekend, and I have spent the last week or so taking everything out of my craft room and then trying to put it back. I now know exactly what I have, a blessing and a curse because now I have to use it!!! Everything is stored properly rather than stuffed into a gap where it will fit :-) My main problem seems to be fabric rather than paper - the result of too many visits to Crowsons fabric factory sale .... oh and all the patchwork fabric I have bought....

And here it is! everything to hand and still space to work ..............bliss :-)

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Strawberry mini flans

Just a quick update to show you what I did with those mini flan cases I baked on Friday. I haven't done anything like these before, and they got the thumbs up from Karen and Sy at the craft day yesterday - I made a cream cheese frosting rather than using whipped cream.

I managed to break my craft robo yesterday....... will have to be a bit creative about making titles until a new blade arrives LOL

Off to pack for today's crop now :-)

Friday, 31 July 2009

Day Five - Bread and Whine

OK Sy, suspense over - we did bake some choc chip muffins last night!

Today I had a wine delivery from Tesco, due to be delivered any time between 7am and 7pm ..... so I got up early (yawn!) and waited... and waited.....

In between, I did quite a lot of baking - I actually used two of my new tins from Lakeland, something of a record for me, usually I buy them, put them away, then discover them again later :-) I made an onion granary loaf, some mini sponge flan bases and some multi grain bread rolls. Also got five more patchwork blocks done - only 147 left to go :-)

The wine man finally arrived at about 4:30, and was a bit put out when I wanted to check the delivery - he wanted me to sign the little electronic gizmo without even seeing any paper work! Oh the paper will be in the box, he said. Hence the 'whine' in the title LOL. I opened the box and checked anyway :-)

Tomorrow is our monthly craft day, this month it's at my house. Sy turned up about an hour ago and she is offering helpful suggestions as I type LOL. Then Sunday will be the crop at Cardinal Colours, so I should have some LOs to post then.

So endeth the 5th and last day of my holiday. Look Sy, finally a baking blitz!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Day Four - shopping!

Today I planned shopping , baking and patchwork. Went off to Eastbourne in the morning, got most of what I wanted (though Next didn't have any socks -boo!) and had a good walk round. Lakeland had a baking tin I wanted, it's a bread tin with a lid, so the loaf is completely enclosed. Might try that out tomorrow...... They also had their new super duper baking range on 3 for 2 offer - so I bought 3 flat trays for biscuits. But when I got them home, they didn't fit my oven!!! Yes I know they say measure your oven first, but I didn't expect any problems with my new, standard size oven - not like I had with my old narrow one - and really, I would not have thought that the depth of the tray would be an issue! They stick out so much at the front of the oven shelf that I can't close the door on them, I am really disappointed. Apart from that, Lakeland was fab as usual, and I will have to take the trays back on Saturday morning before I pick up Karen for craft day.

I was a bit tired to start baking when I got back, so decided to try some patchwork instead. I have an awful lot of books on patchwork & quilting, but have never actually done a project from any of them! My previous attempts have just been sewing squares together, I have never made a proper patchwork block. Until now! I had a box full of DH's old work shirts, all the same sort of fabric, all blue toned, and I have kept them for years meaning to make a patchwork from them. I am now the proud owner of two blocks from these shirts! They are a bit wonky and could do with pressing, but they are my very first proper blocks :-) The project is from "Stashbuster quilts" by Lynne Edwards, for a single quilt I need 154 blocks. Two down......

It's now 8:30pm and I have cleared the kitchen from tea, not really sure I feel like starting any baking now - might see if DS1 wants to give me a hand, if not it will have to be tomorrow. I have to be in all day, not to mention getting up early, as Tesco are delivering some wine (slurp!) at any time between 7am and 7pm.

So endeth the fourth day. Sy, I am keeping you in suspense as to whether I bake or not :-)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Day Three - How can something so simple take so long?

Today I had the firm intention of finishing off the Venice picture, and baking something. But I started the day with a lie in, then a trip to Tesco .... it was nearly midday before I even started :-) The picture took a lot longer than I thought it would - the backing card is too short for the frame so I cut borders for top and bottom (which I knew I would have to do, just didn't think it would take so long!). Then it was time to stick the photos down, also took a long time as my plan had them lined up quite accurately and it was fiddly to do. Thank heaven for repositionable adhesive, that's all I am going to say......! I am really pleased with the (finally) finished result.

I also got another layout finished (adding journalling, again) and did an awesome dinner of braised beef (in the slowcooker) complete with veg and yorkshire puds - yummy. So the baking fell by the wayside today, but there is always tomorrow!

So endeth the third day. Sy, no cooking, as you said dinner doesn't count ...... :-)

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Day two - Have your cake and eat it

I spent most of today wrestling with what I had originally thought was a brilliant idea........ a large (50 x 65 cm) photo montage of Venice. We have some beautiful pictures, which will of course be scrapped - eventually - but I wanted to put some of them on the wall too. First I drew a plan on graph paper of how I wanted the photos arranged and what sizes they needed to be. Then I spent some time choosing 18 pictures from the 3000 or so that we took - most of the time was spent waiting for the dratted things to load onto the screen! Then I resized, printed and laid out on the backing card, to be stuck down tomorrow. It sounds so simple, but it took ages.

In between, I managed to bake a cake and finish another layout. The cake is called hummingbird cake, I have no idea why - no hummingbirds were harmed in the making of this cake - it contains pineapple, coconut and bananas and is a really good lunch box cake. It's from an Australian Woman's weekly cookbook, called "Cafe Cakes". I managed to restrain DS1 from eating them until I had taken a picture!

The layout is another one started at a crop (the month before last, I am ashamed to say!) which needed the title stamped - I hadn't taken along the right stamps - and some journalling done. I added some eyelets on the spur of the moment and really like how they look. My page count is going to be really good this month, if I keep finishing things off like this :-)

So endeth the second day. Look, Sy, cooking!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Week off, Day One - The Layout from Hell

I have a weeks holiday :-) Time to catch up on crafty stuff, cooking stuff, oh and some of that housework (sorry, didn't mean to swear) too. Sy says she expects a progress report on crafting or cooking every day - oh dear!

Well, day one. A lie in, a bit of shopping and a walk round town (exercise is also on my list for this week). Then some crafting interspersed with helping DS1 organise the piles of stuff he brought back from uni. First up was the Layout from Hell - I had done a bit of this on Sunday but was determined to finish it today. It had been started at the last crop, the central block and the photos had been stuck down, but I was stuck on it after that, because it was just too symmetrical - even for me, the queen of straight lines. So yesterday I thought I would knock off the symmetry a bit by adding the title, some journalling and some stamps in a more random way. Well everything that could go wrong, did. I tried a large corner stamp in the bottom left corner, it didn't stamp properly and looked awful. So I dug out some flocked card (Doodlebug, I think) and cut a large corner to cover the mis-stamping, a medium corner for the bottom right side and two small corners for the top. Then I found some Rusty Pickle letter stickers for the sub-titles (Castle Dracula and the King's Palace). So far so good, and that was how I left it on Sunday.
This morning I found that a letter F sticker had dropped off the backing sheet and stuck itself onto a photo. Took the most care possible in removing it, but it still left a nasty smear across the picture. Arrgghh! So I had to print another one, which meant guessing how big I had printed it the first time - I ended up getting it right second try - and putting it over the top. I decided to stamp along the top edges of the pages, this isn't exactly perfect either, but it will do! For the title I used the McGill fancy squares punches, small and large, and punched the squares from the flocked card. Then I wanted to use some gothic-y/medieval-ish letters for the word "Romania" and remembered that I had bought the alpha set a couple of years ago but had never got around to sticking the rubber on to the little wooden blocks. Ok, so 20 minutes later..... stamps are mounted and ready to go. I stamped them on the same cream as the background of the page, punched them into little squares, mounted them onto foam blocks and put them onto the punched flock squares. They didn't really show up, so the title was more or less unreadable. Grrr! So I dug around in my thickers collection to see what letters I had left in the chestnut set, and amazingly, I had all the letters for Romania. So they went on top of the little letter squares on top of the flocked squares. The last thing was the journalling, which I printed onto Safmat (along with a few others I need to add to other pages), put it on a mat and stuck it down. Finished at last..... and actually, I rather like it now!
The second LO was a piece of cake after that, another one started at a crop, but needing some journalling, which I had also printed onto the Safmat. Matted up and stuck down, looks good!

So endeth Day One. Sorry Sy, no cooking today.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Scrapbooking progress update

I scrap chronologically - an family album or two for every year, with side projects such as our friends' daughter's yearly scrapbook and albums dedicated to one holiday. At the moment I am working on the second Little Girl album and our family albums for 2008. The first half of 2008 is nearly finished, just a couple of pages to finish off and some journalling to put in.
The second half of the year is coming along nicely and I was up to one of the most important pages - DH's birthday! Only one of the photos was any good, so at least I didn't have to worry about fitting lots of pictures on the page :-) Having printed out the photo, I then lost inspiration completely and the picture sat on my desk for a few days. Then I got an email newsletter from Scrapshed - with a July challenge sketch. The sketch had a portrait photo, while mine was landscape, but I thought I could make it work by flipping the sketch 90 degrees ...........
The background paper is Foof-a-la from Autumn Leaves and the patterned paper blocks are made from a Daisy D's paper, Boho Paisley. Cardstock is Bazzill 'Travertine'. The blocks are raised up with foam squares for a little dimension and I even used a new stamp within days of buying it - the vertical border is a Melissa Frances clear stamp. I had to crop the photo in the end as it was too big, and departed from the sketch even further by putting the central square at an angle instead of straight!
The title was a little tricky, I wanted to put something about scoring a half century for Yorkshire... but DH wasn't keen on that one! So "Yorkshire born & bred" it is.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

UFOs (UnFinished Objects)

I have several UFOs stashed away in various places, many of them stitching projects, but there are other things too :-) One of them, a decorated box, has been lying around for months, taking up space on my craft table and just generally getting in the way - it wasn't worth putting away because I "was going to finish it soon". Finally, after a good shove by Sy ("do it NOW!"), I put the final touch to it, which consisted of two coats of varnish. Yes, that's all it was awaiting, for all that time. Procrastination is my middle name.........

Anyway, the box itself is a wooden one, painted and decoupaged. I wanted to use some Christmas images which I had bought as a pack a couple or three years ago and not really made use of. First step was an acrylic primer, then two coats of cream emulsion. Then I chose my images and overlapped them on top of the box, sticking them down with PVA glue. When dry, and when I had made sure all the edges were firmly stuck down with no air bubbles under the image, I started to varnish. It would have taken fewer coats had I not overlapped them, but I did like the effect, so six or seven coats later....... the top was done. Because I had used a polyurethane varnish, the box had a yellowed tint to it, a really nice effect, but it did mean that the bottom half of the box looked noticeably different from the top even after 4 coats. That's when the project ground to a halt, as I kept putting off doing those final two coats! But now it is finally done, and I have plans to do some more decoupage, I had forgotten how much I like the effect.

Now all I have to is think what I am going to put in the box, come next Christmas......

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Forbidden Planet

A bit late in posting this one, but my excuse is that we have visitors and had 12 people over for home made pizza on Saturday and I had a crop on Sunday........

Anyway, last Friday was DS2's 18th birthday, and he wanted to have a day out and go to the Forbidden Planet store in London. So off we went on the train and met our London guide (aka Sy!) at London Bridge. After a convoluted tube journey we arrived at the store. I was amazed - I had thought it was just comics and action figures, but they had all sorts of stuff, including a fantastic book section. Most bookshops have fewer SF books than we do on our own shelves, so to see such a selection was a great treat. DS2 was in heaven and got the books he wanted, plus some Star Trek goodies including a starship model that he had been after for ages. We then went off to the Cinema shop, where he found a Star Trek T-shirt (did I mention he is a trekkie?!), stopping off in a new age / crystal / tarot type shop on the way as they had some really lovely gemstones, which both I and DS2 collect.

Sy took us to lunch in Pizza Hut, then we made our way back to the tube station, stopping off at Blade Rubber Stamps - I was very restrained, just one stamp and two pens...... Dozed off on the train journey home while DS2 read his new book, well it had been a long day!

In the evening, after a much-needed resting of feet, we took DS2 out for a meal, he chose a Chinese restaurant and had his favourite lemon chicken. When asked if he had had a good day he said that it had been fun! Thank goodness for that..... :-)

Monday, 22 June 2009

We made it back from Devon!

We got back from Devon at about 8:00 last night, had a bite to eat and a glass of wine or two, then off to bed - we were so tired!

The journey there was, er, interesting ........ Sy doesn't like single track country roads, so that is exactly where the sat-nav took us! We had to swerve into a hedge to avoid an AA van driving a wee bit too fast while towing a vehicle - it looked like there was room until suddenly we realised that the trailer was wider than the van ........... When we arrived, Lyn said well why didn't you come by the main road.........?!!! We made sure we left by that route :-)

A good time was had by all - Sy made some beads with her melting pot, Karen got lots of Christmas cards done and our hostess Lyn showed us some new techniques for backgrounds. We actually made Karen do something "messy" with ink (though she did cheat and wear gloves)!

I took my cross stitch and some medallions to colour and assemble ........ unfortunately I forgot my magnifier, so couldn't do any stitching - it's a pale colour thread on 16 count aida and I just couldn't see it properly even with my glasses on! So I made up my medallions, which look rather good - I will take a photo and add it to this post later.

So it was a lot of fun, but I am glad I have the day off work - I definitely need to recover :-)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Three Go Mad in Devon

Wow, two posts in the same day.... :-)

KraftyKaren, Karma-Sy and I are going to Devon for a crafty weekend, staying with someone from a craft email list we are all on. After much anguish and trauma, I have finally made a decision on which projects to take with me - I am taking my cross stitch and a lot of stamped medallions to colour in.

Karma-Sy came down from London yesterday and we had fun trying to make a minty sauce like the one at Indian restaurants, the one that comes with the poppadoms. I think we succeeded, will post the recipe next week after we come back. At the moment we are waiting for KraftyKaren to arrive, then we will setting off on our 5 hour drive ........

Hmmm, better start packing the car then :-)

Seriously Underwhelmed

Last week at the Glitter Pot I bought some of the new 'huge' Woodware punches, including the oval and rectangle. Now, I use punches in different sizes mainly to make mats for the next size down. But when I tried out the new rectangle and oval ...... they are NOT THE SAME SHAPE as the next size down!! So they are absolutely useless for making mats. You would think that at the design stage, the manufacturers would have put some thought into this? Surely it would be common sense to have the entire range of punches in a shape to actually be the SAME shape?

So I have to say that I am disappointed in Woodware :-(

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

"Last one to £100 is a sissy!"

What a weekend! The first one of every month is always pretty hectic, as me and some of my crafty friends have a craft day on the Saturday and go to a crop on the Sunday. Karma-Sy travels down from London, so it makes sense for her to combine the two days into one trip, but it does make for an exhausting weekend :-)

This time was even more hectic than usual, as we had decided to go on a shopping trip to a craft shop, to make up for not being able to get to the Ally Pally stamping and scrapbooking show. Karma-Sy and KraftyKaren had never been to the Glitter Pot (in Scaynes Hill) and I had told them how great it is, so that was where we headed as soon as KraftyKaren got to my place on the Saturday morning. With the battle cry of "Last one to £100 is a sissy!", in we went..........

Well, I came in under budget - ahem - it was a large budget :-) Karma-Sy won the sissy title as she never even got close to the £100 :-) I spent most of the rest of the day admiring what I had bought, and printing photos to make up page kits for the next day's crop.

On Sunday we went off to the crop in Polegate, run by Jilly of Cardinal Colours. I managed to finish two LOs and almost complete four others, they just need titles and a bit of journalling.

I now need to reach my monthly challenge target of 10 layouts, 4 down, 6 to go!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Do I hear the patter of tiny blog-feet?

After months of talking about "having my own blog........" I have finally taken the step! Or the leap from the cliff, depending on how you look at it :-)

So..... scrapbooks and cookbooks? I have been scrapbooking since 2004, after a trip to New York inspired me to record it in a way that was "more" than a digital shoebox of photographs. Though I have been crafting for much longer than that, 20 years or more of mostly cross stitch and a bit of knitting and sewing. Then in the mid nineties, I was introduced to cardmaking and rubber stamping, then scrapbooking - with a little patchwork, furniture painting, decorating objects (long before it became known as "altering"!) and beading along the way.

As of today - it could change without notice! - I have 224 cookbooks, around 180 baking tins (haven't counted those recently) and am famous at work for my shortbread! I like to make my own bread, pizzas, and cook mostly from scratch, though I have found that longer hours at work do mean more shortcuts!

Well, that's the first post, late on a Friday night ..... I have a craft day and crop this weekend, so there will be more to come :-)