Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Hello there

Yesterday and today, Maggie and I have made some candles for the very first time. I got her a kit for Christmas as we've mentioned it loads of times before but never actually got round to it. We were going to go to the candle factory in Tattenhall but since that's almost an hour away, I thought we could first of all, just make them at home as it's a busy time of year. This is the kit we got - click here. We've made a double shaded green floating candle. The main reason it's double shaded is because the instructions for the floating candle we made was that we needed two cupfuls of paraffin but we found that we needed more than that, so the second batch we melted had more coloured wax in it. We found that it takes longer than 30 minutes to melt, which is the time allowed in the instructions. Possibly a reason for that is that we have a gas hob, whereas the instructions suggest an electric hob which emits a more steady heat apparently.

You may well notice the raised line going from left to right. That is a hitch with the kit. That line is created by the cardboard wick 'holder-up-erer', which sits on the top of the mould but when that's full of melted paraffin, the 'holder-up-erer' is in the paraffin unfortunately and has to be teased out of the candle when it's set.

We also had an 'issue' as such with the hole I had to make in the bottom of the mould to allow the wick to fit through; I made it too big and on our first attempt some of the paraffin went through the hole, hence the reason we needed to make more I think.

I do like the kit though for beginners as there's some wax crayons to grate to colour each candle and you get the special bowl in which you put the paraffin to melt it. Everything you need to create your first candles, other than a pointy tool. You need that to get rid of any air after the first pouring of the paraffin into the mould; I just used an old pair of craft tweezers. Actually another thing I found handy was greaseproof paper. We grated the crayons tonight over that and then poured it into the melted paraffin. That way you don't have to do it over the heat of the pan and also it means you don't get any all over the hob. The wax doesn't stick to the greaseproof paper of course.

We found a glass dish in the kitchen, filled it with water and Maggie lit her first candle and it was shining over our dinner time tonight. Chris had made a ham and turkey soup and my napkin box was there too. All in all a very homemade dinner time was had by us, which is brilliant.

Take care out there

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Ta dah!

Hello again

The house is complete! Hallelujah! It's rather wonky and the icing isn't perfect but it's fun and I hope the young teenage girls at the party this afternoon will love it and it will add to the spirit of Christmas which is vital or else all these decorations and cards etc are a waste of time.
Never make the mistake of thinking these things are easy, as unless you're used to using icing bags and making biscuits etc, you'll struggle with a few basics, as I have. When I was young we used to have a metal piping type tool which I remember finding alot easier to use than these bags where you lose most of the icing in the bag.

Oh gosh, when I'm looking at these photos it's revealing things I hadn't noticed, as the photo above makes it look like the roof pieces are joined mainly on the right but that's not how it appears in 'real' life.
Anyway enough excuses, here are the things I've learnt whilst doing this i.e points to remember so that next year's is amazing!!

* Add more egss to the gingerbread mixture or find a whole new recipe for it.
* Make each piece only 0.5cm thick or the whole house is too heavy, especially the roof.
* Make up two batches of icing as the house seems to need that much.
* Build the house on the base you're going to present it on.
* Have the Christmas lights on and a  bottle of wine handy with Christmas music playing
* Build the base first and leave it to harden over night before putting the roof on
* Do not be tempted to decorate prior to completing the build.
That's all I can think of for now and I need to get myself sorted out and some cleaning done; no wonder this house is a tip with two dogs and a loony in the house making stuff all the time!

Take care out there and if I don't get time to do any more fun stuff before the big day; I hope all goes well for you and you can make the most of the season as possible. Believe you me, there are days when I get down, especially with the greyness, cold and wetness all around and money and people but if you get a chance, make something for yourself or a gift and wonder in that - enjoy!

Happy Christmas and take care out there!


Hello there

After not a very good day at all at the Trafford Centre; a traffic hassled trip to Hobbycraft on the way home and an awful walk with the dogs(refusing to come back to us at 4pm when I'm tired and it's basically dark, is not an endearing feature of theirs), I decided late tonight to do some house building. I'd had calming time by then and thought that I'd try to reclaim some of the day by doing some of the Gingerbread house. This was a dangerous strategy but it turned out ok in the end.
I got into a right mess with the icing as it's not something I've done in a long, long time indeed; thankfully I made the icing up yesterday so no clouds of white tonight. I began by piping the icing along wall edges to fix them together but soon turned to 'plastering' it on. After initially managing to get the four walls up, I tried to put one of the roof pieces on - without success! I then also realised that it would be better if I erected it whilst it was sitting on what I will be carrying it to the party on, so I broke it all up and started again. This time I thought it wise to just do the four walls and leave them overnight to harden and 'cement' together. Maggie helped me at this stage but purely as she was unfortunate enough to walk into the kitchen at the wrong moment and she soon exited at an advantageous time- so much for family fun!

After seeing that the four walls stayed together, I went ahead and did some decoration stuff - all I can say is the piping work is harder than it looks; especially if you don't have a very fine nozzle to do things like the windows and door. I had to buy nozzles especially for this house; hence the visit to Hobbycraft but it was only a basic set which didn't include a fine one. It was quite fun sticking the sweets on and then I found some little iced balls etc type decorations in a cupboard, which is where I got the cute little snowmen from.

Anyway, I'd better go as it's almost ten past midnight and Chris just came in asking if I was actually intending on coming to bed. Here's what it's like so far. As ever, far from perfect but please cross your fingers that it all stays stuck together.

The container and lid were there as support originally and then I wasn't brave enough to move it!

Take care out there

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Yet another napkin box

Hello there
Yes, you're right; this is my third entry today. Well, I've made time, so I might as well. I also like to push myself to work hard. I'm not working for a living as such at the moment, which means I feel I need to 'prove' myself and not be lazy. I'm certainly not that as each and every day offers up so many things to do; I rarely manage to do everything I want but I do alot of it.
As you can see, it hasn't even dried yet as the paper clips holding the box section together are still on there. The napkins I want for this box, are 21cm square, so I cut a 29cm square piece of card with 4cm score lines around every edge (4cm is plenty high enough to take the 20 napkins in each pack) to make up the box. I then used my new Winter Woodland cartridge and cut the layers needed for the poinsettias and the hollies- they were cut at 5cm believe it or not yet they still fit nicely on the edges of the box.

Some will look at this box and say it's very basic. I agree. That is no reason to scorn it though. There are only 24 hours in a day and so many things I want to do. I tend to work on so many various projects rather than just one type, so I'm constantly challening myself. For that reason, I can't expand on projects much; I can't embellish more; I can't/don't add more details. I do have to stop myself even from thinking negatively about that. At least I am 'doing'; I'm not sitting back and complaining that I don't have enough time/money/help/knowledge to do things. I can and do whinge to myself sometimes about such things but then I have to give myself a kick and push myself on to do the best I can in my circumstances at the time.
I may well (time allowing) make more of these sort of boxes and  place them around the house and put sweets in them. For those though I will need to use some patterned paper inside the box I think or the starkness of the white under the sweets won't be good- unless I use a coloured card of course, or I could stamp and colour in images inside or I could cut some Christmas phrases out with my Cricut. There's always so many options of ways to do things.

Take care out there

p.s handles for the sweetie boxes might be really cute too - decorated with the same images as I put on the outside of the box- perhaps lots of poinsettia leaves to make it look like a kind of vine handle.

Update on Gingerbread house

Hello again (yes, twice in  one day - hope you're coping under the pressure)

This is where I'm up to and it's 19.30 on 18/12/11

Kirstie says that she likes to decorate the house prior to attaching it all together then leave it overnight to harden but I'm not brave enough for that. I've put the pieces away in an airtight container for now. I'm going to assemble the house first as I'm worried that if I spend ages decorating the walls etc and then when I assemble it, it collapses, I'll be so cross and upset.

Wish me luck!

Take care out there

Guess what I'm up to

Hello there
It's all Kirstie Allsopp's fault I'm in this mess; flour everywhere, loads of washing to do and a fridge/freezer full of baking trays.

That's right; I'm in the throws of making a Gingerbread house. I have enjoyed all of Kirstie's programmes trying to encourage the British public to get crafty. I managed to watch the first of the Christmas one's on Channel 4 a couple of days ago and then I went online to see the show's website and I was inspired to try the house which she gives the recipe for -Click here. I must say though that I didn't find the ingredients correct as how can 675g of flour be gelled with it's ingredients purely with 1 egg and 6tbsps of syrup? I had to add another medium (free range obviously) egg as well as quite a bit of water throughout the process. The sections of the house are all in the fridge/freezer as I type and I'm off to do some more washing up.

Chris, bless him, has taken the dogs twice today without me as I've been busy cleaning and doing this and he went food shopping alone and got me a tonne and a half of sweets to decorate it with and some icing bags but he forgot to get me any nozzles. I'll get those tomorrow in the Trafford Centre, where Maggie wants to go. I won't be decorating it until tomorrow anyway. I'm hoping to get the icing done today and put it in an airtight container until I'm ready to do the fun stuff.

Best get on with it then, hadn't I?!

Take care out there

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas stars

Hello there

I haven't had any time to even start on the Tim Holtz Christmas tags but I have managed to get my daughter involved in a shared project of making a Christmas stars hanger decoration. Maggie found the project in a Prima magazine, which my mum gives her  after she's finished with them and despite Maggie being only 13, she does enjoy reading. There were a few things in the magazine but I chose to do this and an easy banner. Both are now up in her room, helping her feel Christmassy along with the little tree she's got in there and the paper chains we made last week. It was the first time that Maggie has done blanket stitch but we had a fun few hours the other night whilst sewing together and listening to Destiny's Child and Beyonce on itunes- the traditional mixing with the modern. I'm not a good teacher when it comes to Maggie and it wasn't all smooth sailing as I interfere too much but I'm so glad that she realises that crafty things can take alot longer than she thinks yet are so worth it for the feeling of satisfaction.

It's activities like these that make Christmas for me; sharing activities together and enjoying the time; not just buying presents that nobody wants really and placing way too much pressure on yourself both time wise and financially.

They don't stand up to close scrutiny, since I haven't blanket stitched in years and it was Maggie's first time. I had some trouble getting the little stars in the middle to stick, as I had originally just glued them on, then I tried Bondaweb but with one of them I just had to stitch it on, going over the original stitches.
Hopefully we can keep these for years though and each year remember the fact that we made them together.

Take care out there

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tim Holtz is causing me stress

Hello there

I'm sure my crafting friends will all of heard of Tim Holtz's 12 Christmas tags. It starts each year on December 1st and he does a new one every day - hot off the presses, so to speak i.e he makes them on the day and puts full instructions on his blog- Tim's blog -click here. I haven't got a chance in hell of doing all 12 but I'm going to try to do a couple. Well, I say 'do', what I mean is, use a few as inspiration to make something almost similiar as Christmas decorations. My stash won't stand up to his huge studio full of stuff, although he does encourage improvisation, so hey, who am I to let him down?!!
His day three tag uses a gorgeous stamp with loads of Christmas associated words on it. Sufficive to say, I don't own it, so I'm creating my own stamps with my Cricut and Cuttables. It's taken a little while on CricutCraftroom to get the words the correct size and location on the scrap of Cuttables I had but it's worked. Well, to be honest, I made a mistake with the word 'Happy' which I fitted in after doing the other four words. It cut them in the right place but silly me was unsure about whether or not they had cut properly or not, so cut them twice; that only led to the letters being broken up. So I won't be doing that again!

The top bit shows you all that is left of the one piece of Cuttables I've used so far - there's not alot left there, which is great! The bottom section shows you the stamps of course. Now I need to get on and use them.
This one tag might take me days but hopefully I'll enjoy it.
Maggie actually asked me to do some specific crafting things with her tomorrow, so I'm going to enjoy doing that with her. She's found some projects in a magazine and torn them out to show me, which I love as it's all her idea; no pushing from me. We'll have to go to Hobbycraft to get some red and white felt but I'm sure I can tolerate that - hee hee.

I'll post any further work I manage on this tag, when I do it basically. So don't hold your breath!

Take care out there

Monday, 28 November 2011

Christmas cards

Hello there

Yes, Christmas. I have to say at the offset that Christmas isn't a favourite time of the year for me. There's too much emphasis on possessions which cost money and back in my single parent days, that wasn't something I had alot of; money. I also hate cold weather, so the winter doesn't rate highly with me anyway. I also think people start Christmas far too early, so by the time it actually arrives, alot of the 'magic' has gone. I do love it when it snows and people can make snowmen outside their homes. I also love carol concerts in Churches. I love midnight mass. I loved the Christingle services Maggie's primary school used to do - when they turned the lights off in the Church at the end of concert and all the kids were stood in the aisles with their candles lit on their oranges, it made me cry every time as they sang a traditional carol. I remember making paper chains with Maggie to decorate her room when she was much younger, much to her delight. I like Christmas cake but I always gave the marzipan to someone else as I can't stand it. Noone else likes it in this house now, so I don't bother getting one. The rest of it can pass me by really.

But before you go away thinking the worst of me as everyone is meant to love Christmas, one thing I have also enjoyed over the last few years has been the making of cards and the family calendar. I'm really old fashioned and I love receiving hand made cards and hand written letters, so I work on the premis that other people do too. Besides, I just love making them. It's alot of pressure in many ways as there's so many to be made in one time but that's some of the challenge. I've made some basic ones this weekend but I really enjoyed the process as things seem to just go my way i.e "that small piece of green mirri board is the perfect size for the tree I want on that card"; "the stamp I want to use fits exactly onto that circle I've just cut out" etc. For some of the cards, I used some papers I got from the Cardmaking & Papercraft magazine which my youngest sister subscribed to for me, for my birthday- thanks again Shell xx. I do get a peculiar buzz from using what others would call scraps of paper in a creative way.

None of these cards will win awards for creative expertise but I'm just sharing the joy I suppose. The joy of me making things. The joy of times when things go well. The joy of relaxing. The joy of getting lost in the experience.

Take care out there

Monday, 21 November 2011

Advent calendar

Hello there

Here are the stages I went through to make an advent calendar. I got the original idea from Sheila Weaver in her tutorial for the Joanna Sheen newsletter this month. I can't afford to buy the Nostalgia collection Christmas cd so I've had to make alot of it up myself, including the little pictures behind the doors.
I will direct you to the actual page on Joanna Sheen's page as I don't want to get into trouble for copying anything - Advent Calendar by Sheila Weaver. You will need to read that to make sense of my instructions and that link will help me for next year, if I want to improve on this year's effort. Here's my adaptation:
I used images about 1 inch square for the little images behind the doors; I got them from C.A and paper stock. I then laid them out fairly randomly on the A section of the 3 section layout and took a photocopy of it; so that I could cut the doors out of that as a template to create the doors on the main picture.

As per Sheila's instructions, put foam tape inbetween the pictures; randomly again is fine as it's purely needed to raise the main picture away from the small icons. I used the template to place over the main picture and I used a clear star gellyroll pen to mark around the 3 edges of each door onto the main picture - see below:

The reason I suggest a nice pen like the clear star is because you can still see it on the finished item. Use a craft knife to cut along the lines, obviously remembering only to cut the three sides on the right. I then used my Cricut and Plantin School book (PSB) cartridge to cut the numbers for the doors- 3/4inch size. I had to use Lyrical letters for the 4's though as the card stock I was using was quite thick and fibrous and the PSB design 4's kept breaking. Glue them on randomly then glue the main picture over the base with the icons on it. I would suggest using card for this main picture, as the paper I used makes the doors rather flimsy.

Now for the inside of this advent calendar where the goodies will be stashed. It's a different design with this  calendar to the 'norm', as you reveal the picture under the doors on the front and then you go to the inside to find the correct little box to get to the chocolate- just think of all those extra calories you're burning off with the extra effort, so you can have more chocolates later as well!   The little boxes seem difficult but they're definitely not - I even measured 1cm for the flap to tuck in on the first one I made- that's excessive to say the least as all you need to do is cut off the pointed end of that top section, so that there isn't too much to tuck under; I just made sure it was wide enough for my tape runner to dash over it before tucking it in. I'm going to put a photo of some of the papers I used as I like them and I created the one with the deer, house, robin on the bottom of the photo (with C.A) and I rather like it.

I also glued down at least one of the flaps that come into the centre, as at the time of typing this, I'm not sure that I'm going to bother putting matching images onto the front of each box as I like the papers themselves and the top white section of the box will have a number on it anyway. I decided that the two inner pages looked far too bleak just white, so I printed off two backgrounds from C.A and glued them in. Place the little envelopes three in a row of four rows and glue them down and then put the numbers on; either peel-offs or handwritten. Do it in that order as they do need to overlap a bit, so if you put the numbers on first, they might end up getting covered up.

I decided to put pictures on the  back too as I may well end up putting it in the lounge room window, so at least walkers-by can see Christmassy things too.I created these with C.A. Mounting them on mirri board also acts as extra support for the whole thing.

Take care out there

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Hello there

Just a quick post to show how I ended up using a card I made not long ago in a craft class. I'm sending it to the owner of the cottage we stayed at in Northumberland ,as this week he sent me the pyjamas which Maggie had left there. I can't begin to describe how we made the card but it was made using Stampin' Up products and Helen taught me the technique, so please do visit  Helen's blog for an explanation on the split negative technique.

I made the envelope with the help of MyCraftStudio cd-roms 'Fab Glam 50's'  and 'Flourishes', as I knew I wanted a scrolly monochromatic look and to use my Ultimate Pro to make it, I would need a 12x12 paper to start off with and I haven't got a paper of that size in that style. I chose the paper first and because the paper is so busy, I had to also do the interim measure of choosing a dark, plain coloured background and place it on top of the swirls but behind the template, as the template is transparent until placed over coloured paper and that just made it so much easier to see it, in order to  adapt the C6 envelope template to fit the 6in x5in size of this card. Don't forget to delete the blue layer before you print, cut, score and glue and off you go.

Take care out there

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Concert banner

Hello there

I'm rather excited at the fact that I'm going to the Children in Need Manchester Rocks concert tomorrow night with my daughter and my mum. There's a host of stars appearing including Michael Buble, whom I've tried to see several times, especially with an old friend Sue but it always seemed to be sold out by the time I saw anything about it. I only found out about the concert last week as I got an email from Ticketmaster saying that there were still some tickets available, so I had to make a very fast decision to buy two. Later on, after talking to mum I managed to book her a seat on the same block and row as us. We can only hope that people won't mind moving along one seat, so that she can sit by us. Maggie's keen to see JLS despite the fact that she's seen them before. I'm not sure why mum said she was keen to see Lady Gaga (I'm dreading it)?!!

Anyway, to get into the fun of it all, I've made a banner for us to hold up when we're there. Unfortunately I haven't got any fusible web to cut the letters out on my Cricut, so I had to hand draw the letters and cut them out and then sew them on, which has taken me two and a half hours, which is far too long considering the use the banner will get. I had other things to do in that time but it's still far longer than I would've liked. I really could do with a machine that can do freehand embroidery as that would've made going round the letters, so much quicker.

Let's hope he sees it and blows me a kiss!!

Take care out there

Monday, 14 November 2011

I'm not a happy bunny

Hello there

Monday mornings when it's damp and grey and has been for days and the dogs have chewed and dug their way through a few things are quite trialling. I needed a break from the chores of clearing up after them, so I made this card for my step-dad whose birthday it is this Thursday 17th November. It was made using the 'You're never too old' cd-rom with artwork by Sue Janson. She's Australian, so the slant is wrong really but I like a few of the elements and pictures in there for the more mature of my card recipients, so I bought it in February at the Manchester Craft fair at the G-Mex or whatever they're calling it now.

It was so quick to do, even the design just seemed to happen for me which is just as well, because I would've lost my rag completely if it hadn't. It has made my morning and I'm now feeling alot calmer with myself and relieved that I can get it in the post this afternoon.

I'm off to meet Jenny now as she has two cocker spaniels too, so we're going to compare nightmare stories about them whilst we go on a long walk. It's not raining, so long may that last.

Take care out there

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

What a day!

Hello there

Oh yes, what a day indeed! My first big news is that my Expression now works, courtesy of assistance from Cricut who suggested downloading Design Studio and updating my Expression's firmware from there and it all went tickety boo i.e went well. As a result I've also made two cards using the free cartridge on the Cricut craftroom software which was revealed to me by Melanie from Everyday Cricut. The card she displayed was the inspiration for these two.
The card on the left, I created the backing paper myself with the help of CraftArtist; I'm afraid I'm rubbish at remembering which digikit the items came from. I also created the green banner on CA but it was just a rectangle shape as I couldn't find the shape I wanted, so I just cut the triangle out of the end - I've left the right hand side loose so that it adds a tiny bit of 'life' to it. Please see Melanie's post for cutting sizes of the topper. The card on the right has backing paper I got from a magazine which I thought was just the job. The trees could possibly do with some bling to look like decorations but that's for another day as I'm shattered now.

My second big news is (I must stay awake to tell you this) that just tonight, I've booked for myself, my daughter and my mum to go to the Children in need concert in the MEN arena on November 17th. I wasn't expecting it at all, I just got an email from Ticketmaster around 6p.m and it sounded brilliant so I went for it. It has loads of stars appearing but the headliner for me will be Michael Buble, whom I've been dying to see for years but keep missing out on tickets. Maggie's keen to see JLS despite the fact that she's seen them before - "oh but mum, they've had at least two new albums since then!" - silly me for not knowing that. My mum will just love the whole thing as I'm sure we all will. It'll  be a brilliant family event and I can't wait! I'm a very lucky girl.

Take care out there

Monday, 7 November 2011

I need sandpaper!

Hello there

I've had a delivery (well, that's half a truth, as I was out when they tried to deliver it last week, so I've just been to the depot to collect it) and I'm rather excited. Look, look!!

I've finally got my hands on some of this infamous paper. Crafter's Companion had a special deal on for their birthday. The Kraft Core paper pack was free and I got a little Humphrey's Corner stamp collection free too; which has a nice 'handmade with love' stamp in there which I might use.

I now need to find some sandpaper and get my embossing folders out and try these babies out. If only my blinkin' Cricut expression was working, then I could cut something straight away. Unfortunately on that note, I still haven't had a reply about another question I asked them, about the firmware update instructions they sent me. That's very upsetting/annoying but I'll use this little high of the paper arriving to cheer me up.

Let's hope I can create something nice with this. Non-Crafters won't understand how I can get excited about paper but it's the potential it holds for making good stuff that excites me. I've always loved colour and I think my crafting enjoyment stems alot from that.

Anyway, take care out there


Hello there

Yes, the male of the species rears it's head again, as a friend of mine has a son who turns 18 this week. The thought of making a card for that age and genre would normally fill me with dread  but since Alex was 18 last year, I'm on the ball! I've used the same layout as I did for Alex's card but used slightly different embellishments. This time I've used my tiny bubbles embossing folder on the beer froth, which I really think helps bring the beer glasses alive. I've also used a banner I found on the 'Stars' digikit from Craft Artist. I didn't have any troubles with the envelope with this card as it's a simple A5 design - I use my Ultimate Pro for making 90% of my envelopes. The beer glasses background paper comes from a digikit I bought on 'printable heaven' called 'one for the boys'.

He's a lad, so probably won't look at it for longer than 10 seconds but I feel good about it and hopefully his mum will keep his cards for a few years, so that he can look back and remember the people who sent them to him, when he's old i.e 25!!

Take care out there

Friday, 4 November 2011

Solutions are amazing things!

Hello there

You'll be glad to hear that I've recovered from my midweek crisis and not only did I get that card sent off with the present, hopefully in time but it has also prompted me to go one step further in the search for an envelope template for a 20cm/8in card. I've made my own! It's not rocket science but maybe somebody out there, one day, will be in the same boat as I found myself and they'll do an internet search and there my little blog might show up to help. I need this template for a card my daughter needs to give to a friend tomorrow, so I'm extra chuffed that I worked it out in time for that large card. I know they're a bind but I do like the square cards.
Firstly, here's the template:

You'll probably need to click on the photo to see it in more detail and see the measurements I've put on there. I started off with a piece of A3 paper and then did the flap section on it's own. You could always change the shape of the flap to suit your taste. Before I took the photo I forgot to mark the score line across the flap but hopefully that'll be pretty obvious once you've got this far, as will the fact that you glue the flap onto the inside of the lower part of the envelope.

The card I've done for Maggie's friend is my first Tinkering with Steampunk, courtesy of a MyCraftStudio cd-rom I got recently. I love the querkiness of Steampunk. This card is prettty tame in Steampunk terms. I made a couple of mistakes with laying it out as I forgot to cut out a section of the gramophone and I used the wrong frame stamp (the correct one is another one in the Stampin' Up Vintage labels set I won at Helen's crafting class). I like the way the bird and the gramophone stand out due to colour contrast and raised by Pinflair glue.

The finishing touches
Right, I'm off for dinner and to make the envelope for the card.

Take care out there

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Hello there

Yes, I feel it's a crisis when in the last couple of weeks, my Gypsy has broken beyond repair or replacement as Cricut won't touch it with a barge pole because I didn't  buy it from Ideal World. I then downloaded a new software from Cricut called Classroom which gives you all the functionality of the Gypsy, without the portability which wasn't any use to me anyway. Last night, that said that my Expression needed a firmware update and (cut a long story short and hopefully less boring) now I have an Expression which doesn't work. These tools have been at the forefront of my creativity for 18 months and I'm now feeling rather uptight and stressed, frustrated, annoyed and many more things besides. I was on holiday last week, so I didn't 'craft' at all and this week I haven't done a thing besides try to work the Cricut issues out and I'm craft starved and it's driving me insane!!! Grrrr

Ok, after taking a calming breath, I will continue. I have so many birthdays this month and Christmas of course and I'm feeling way behind. Just quarter of an hour ago I decided that I had to do something, so I got some magazines out and just made two little very basic 'paper' cards as I call them to try to make me feel a bit better. I do, although the cards will only go to Maggie's friends who don't care about cards really. The only vaguely interesting thing I did was spray 'Spray and Sparkle' glitter on the sentiment tags.

I now also feel a tiny bit  better because I've found out that Maggie's brand new 'made by me' pyjama bottoms were found at the cottage where we stayed last week and he's going to post them back. Big relief although they're not fancy pyjamas but it's all part of me feeling useless and if they had been lost for good, then I'd be depressed that my efforts are all coming to nothing.

The card below is one I made a few weeks ago for my step-daughter's son's first birthday. I've had so much hassle trying to work out how to make a 8in/20cm square envelope and all the Cricut nonsense that I still haven't sent it and his birthday is on November 10th and he lives in N.Z. I also like to make the interior nice but even my software items (seeing as I can't do anything with my Cricut!!!!) are causing me bother but I think that's because I'm getting too wrapped up in it all and not concentrating properly.

Thanks Melyssa Connolly for the inspiration anyway in the Cricut magazine but boy will I be relieved when this card is sent.

Right, off I go to take the dogs for a short romp before I get my hair cut and basically on with the day.

If you've managed to read through all these 'mutterings' of mine; thanks.

Take care out there.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Haarlem October 2011

Hello again

This post is all about my daughter's 13th birthday in Holland and about the Stampin' Up Technique University which I go to once a month.

This layout was done in last month's class but I hadn't got round to doing anything with it. It's a 12 x 12 layout and I don't have an album for these yet but looks like I'll have to now.Since my daughter and I went to Holland last weekend to celebrate her 13th birthday, I had the photos in my mind and handy, so I just printed some out and used these layouts. I tried to get the colours in the right sector, so I was glad about that. Unfortunately it looks like this 'fancy' i-phone I've got now, doesn't take good photos, so I'll try to be organised and have a proper camera to take my next post's photos.
This layout was created last wednesday i.e October 19th. I just added the 13 candle shapes from a new cartridge I have, called Sweet Treats. All I can say is that it looks better in real life, especially with the fabric 'yo-yos' or Suffolk Puffs as I'm supposed to call them in this country apparently. The fabric is from the Stampin' Up new range of fat quarters and all papers (other than the 13) are also Stampin' Up papers. The top photo, Maggie took herself as she'd just tried some of the lipstick she got from a friend as a present for her birthday. the other photo is of her on a canal side just down the road from our hotel in Haarlem - very nice icecream and location.

We also made these cards on October 19th - it was a busy night! Helen (the Stampin' Up demonstrator) is very particular and we had to sew the concertina flower together, as that prevents it from falling apart in years to come when any glue breaks down. A good idea as such but not really necessary with a card but I'm not complaining as she's trying to show us techniques, which is the whole aim of the classes. The father Christmas card is great - his beard is actually made from an embossed Christmas decoration punch and his moustache is from a 'bird' punch - very ingenious and effective.

Although we only actually stamped one tiny stamp all night, that doesn't bother me - it's all fun crafting things and that's the fun for me.

I need to make envelopes for the cards but I haven't had time as we're going away on holiday tomorrow, so I've only just managed to squeeze in time to get this blog done. I'm just glad I got to do the scrap pages tonight and I've also made Maggie a pair of pyjamas this week too, so it's been as busy as ever.

Take care out there

Sunday, 16 October 2011

My baby is a teenager!

Hello there

Yes that's right, my little girl is a teenager on October 15th. That makes me rather old but that's not up for discussion at the moment :-)
I could easily have made her a card with either a MP3 player, clothes, handbags or a mobile phone on it but I wanted to go back to basics sort of thing and make a pretty, colourful card instead. I got my inspiration in the end from Lisa Houpt from a scrapbook page she had in the August 2011 Cricut magazine. I was attracted by the layers, country feel and colours, so I made my version with the tools I have available to me. Maggie's favourite colour is red at the moment. Lisa used Alphalicious and Serenade cartridges, neither of which I own, so I used Paisley instead. Maggie's birthday cake was a butterfly shape, so I stuck to that theme for the card. I used my Gypsy to help me create the scalloped frame shapes as I welded together a basic scalloped border and added small circles to each 'mount'.

The stamped image on the right hand side of inside the card, are from stamps I made myself!! I'm not sure how long it will take me to get over the excitement of being able to do that. I haven't done a great job of putting the butterfly on, as you can see through his wing - I should've masked that part of the wing so it looked like it was behind the plant or embossed it so you couldn't see through. Either way, I'm really chuffed with the leaves I made into a stamp and they very kindly sat nicely on the plant stem.

I'm scheduling this post for the day after her birthday, so I can only hope that we have a lovely weekend and that she's happy.

Take care out there.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Rather exciting!

Hello there

Way hey! You'll never guess what I just did. I just created my OWN stamp!! Yes, that's right; you read correctly. I CREATED my own stamp! £12.95 please madam :-) I've got the equipment I need from Cricut and I've just this minute created my first stamp in moments - it's so easy. I just had to come on here to share my news! Thousands of people will have done this before I know, especially in America but I'm rather chuffed. I'm not very good with stamping but this might change my thoughts. I'm not keen as a rule as you have to have them the size provided on the stamp and invariably I want the shape to be a different size. I can now create a stamp in whatever size block I have. They're clear acrylic too, so perfect for lining up right - oops there goes any excuses I might have for lining up errors. Stamp purists won't like it at all but I'm not one of those, so I'm happy to go along with this new technique I've found. Mel Heaton is responsible for showing me this on Create and Craft a couple of weeks ago and I was dubious but not anymore. It works! It really works. Trouble is, now I'm going to want tonnes of inkpads and embossing powder etc :-) That's where my friend Helen is going to be happy as she's a Stampin' Up demonstrator and they have tonnes of stamping options.

I know that's just a block (shadow) image so I'm off to try something more detailed but even if these are the only types of images I get, then the tiny sum it cost me for the folders is still worth it. The deep cut housing unit I bought is also well worth it, as I can't wait to try that on Bo Bunny chip board as apparently that's smooth enough for the Cricut blade to cope with. Watch this space!
Little Mrs J - I also know that I'll now become your BFF :-) 

Take care out there

Monday, 10 October 2011

Butterfly Cake

Hello there
Well, I've done it; I've made a shaped cake for my daughter. She turns 13 on October 15th but we're going away that weekend, so we had a little birthday tea last night. It's a rather big cake for just 5 people but my daughter said that she was going to take some pieces for her friends but that hasn't happened. My friend Viki has inspired me to finally make a cake for Maggie as she's really getting into it and has commissions to do. I used to buy the Asda ones but I always found them far too sweet and sickly. I don't think she had any cake last year as I took her to water world with her friends. I've made victoria sandwich cakes before and I used to do gateau decorating when I was in school but I've never made and decorated a shaped cake.

I used the 8oz s.r.flour, 8oz caster sugar, 8oz margarine, 4 eggs recipe. We've recently bought a Kenwood Chef mixer, so that makes the mixing just so easy and quick.  I didn't have to slice any raised sections on the cake as it was a perfect height and flat, which I was rather pleased about, especially when you consider that I had to dash out in the middle of cooking it as I'd forgotten that I was going to a Stampin' Up new catalogue launch. Chris took it out of the oven for me and didn't get cross about me not being able to eat the prawn and pea risotto  he was in the middle of making. I had that at 9p.m when I got home. I froze the sponge until the next day. I then made the buttercream and covered the sponge with that and froze it again. I then covered it with Betty Crocker's chocolate frosting as Maggie doesn't like icing. My inspiration initially came from watching a video online - the best place to see this and print out the template they include is the Betty Crocker website (click here). I made it chocolate as that is what Maggie originally wanted before I even thought of the butterfly idea.

The body part was meant to only be a candy cane but I couldn't find any in the short amount of time I had, hence me using a swiss roll instead which really makes this a large cake.This cake caused me a little bit of stress, especially with the cutting out as I hadn't seen the template at that stage and the result is basic but I hope that Maggie realises that even though I'm not good at certain things, if it makes her happy, then I'll give it my best shot as I love her rather alot.

Take care out there

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Rather chuffed!

Hello again
For once I'm actually not going to sit here typing my moans and groans about how long or how not quite to my liking my project is, I'm actually going to say that I'm pleased as punch with this one. Perhaps I'm starting to actually absorb the masses of inspiration and knowledge I get from looking online and in the Stampin' Up classes I go to with Helen Ding. I only started making this this evening and it's now 23.25 and I finished over half an hour ago - it's almost a miracle as I had dinner in that time and actually had to speak to family members!! :-) Everything just seemed to fall in place or I found the right materials to use and techniques just worked. If I have to be mega critical (why stop the habit of a lifetime?! ) then I'd admit that I had to do two envelopes, as I did the first one too small but I've kept it for another project; thankfully I hadn't inked it when I realised the error.

My original inspiration came from a 'Thinking of you' card by Melyssa Connolly in a Cricut magazine. Hers' is actually a tag and I've obviously varied it to suit my materials and ideas. The bird is bird2 from the Create a Critter cartridge; I can't tell the size as I did it on my Gypsy but it was about 3 inches tall. The card blank is 17.5cm/7 1/4in. I placed the bird at an angle as I wanted it to look as if the music score was part of him singing happy birthday.
It's for my friend Jackie, whom I've made a project for before. She's really talented creatively, so I do hope that she likes it. I'll schedule this post for after tomorrow in respect of her birthday. You deserve a good one Jackie - I hope it turned out that way!

Take care out there

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A winner!

Hello again

A brief (did I hear you sigh a sigh of relief?! ) little entry to say how pleased I was to actually win something recently, other than the Lottery but that was only £10 so not too exciting. I was watching Jennie Rayment on a show on Create and Craft t.v channel and she offered this book as a prize for sending in an email to the show. People normally only win a card (although I use the term 'only' guardedly as I've won one of Nancy's cards a couple of years ago and it was brilliant), so to be offered a book by such a talented lady was too good a chance to pass by. I sent an email and a photo of that bag I made using the Clover templates (see previous entry) which she had demonstrated a month or so ago and my email was read out and the photo shown. Unfortunately I actually sent in the incorrect photo which wasn't such a good shot of it but hey ho, no matter. Jennie also signed the book exactly like she said in the show she would; it's little things like that which show people's true personality. Jennie is a real character; full of confidence but she's obviously excellent at all things sewing and very knowledgable. This is a book about patchwork projects.The book has step by step instructions with photos, which is perfect for me. There are loads of great projects in there but the one which stands out for me is the one she calls Scrappy Zappy Do! It's probably the hardest in the book, so I'll see if I ever get time to do that.
Anyway, I'd better stop now as I promised this would be brief :-)

Take care out there

Friday, 30 September 2011

A handbag!

Hello again
I've finally managed to finish the handbag I feel like I've been making for months. It hasn't been months of course as I only got the template about a month ago but it has taken me longer than I would've liked due to 'life' basically, which isn't such a bad thing. It's for a friend of my daughter's 13th birthday on Thursday, so it's a good job I finally finished it yesterday i.e Tuesday September 27th. It's the first time I've made a handbag and used a Clover template. I'm not that impressed with some of the instructions and the basic way Nancy Zieman has designed the bag, especially the handle attachment and top finishing but you usually have to adapt these things to your own style or what equipment you have handy. Obviously Clover want you to buy all their stuff and I did use their magnetic snap closures and their Shape 'n Create (Bag & Tote stabiliser) but I improvised on things like the sewing ruler and the rotary cutter as I don't have those. I am putting them on my Chistmas list though as they would've made a few things alot easier.

I had quite a bit of learning to do about cutting on the bias and making piping but I got there and it's pretty basic stuff, so hopefully I'll be MUCH quicker next time. Visit Peg Baker's youtube page to learn about how to join the bias strips and there are loads of videos out there explaining about cutting on the bias.

There are several good things I do have to say about the Trace 'n Create California bag collection template though, as it does allow you to make 6 different bag styles and I'm sure once I've made maybe one more, I'll be on a roll and able to adjust per my own specifications. It doesn't mention about the 'bag feet' which were mentioned on the Create and Craft show I watched a few weeks back which inspired me to buy a template. With the Carmel petite bag this is though, I don't think you need feet on it as it's more of a 'hang it over a chair' kind of bag rather than a 'plonk it on the floor' type.

I bought the material from online fabrics (click here) and I found their service to be excellent - I made a query about interfacing and was 'called' about it and they just added it to my order without me having to do anything. For them to actually speak to me was unreal in some respects as everything happens online these days but I loved that. The material was presented brilliantly and the delivery was very fast although it should be at £5.95 but I'd definitely recommend them. I got a fair bit so I'm hoping to make more of these bags, perhaps as Christmas presents.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings, here it is:

Take care out there
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