Saturday, 4 July 2015

Stitching, Baking and Colouring


Thank you my lovely readers for your suggestions on fabric tray motifs (see my last post). I think I'm going to go with Anja's suggestion of a strawberry - not least because it should be quite easy to sew! I am still on the fabric tray kick and this week as a variation made this little patchwork coaster set I found in Rashida Coleman-Hale's lovely book I (HEART) Patchwork. Quite time consuming but a lovely gift idea - I'm going to give these to my sister for a house-warming gift as she is moving home (and country) soon.

This week I also tried Mary Berry's recipe for Mini Apple and Almond cakes - it looked so simple on her TV programme last month. I had to buy some baking rings though and stupidly bought the wrong size so though the recipe should make 6 cakes I only got 4. At this time of year there are no cooking apples from the garden so I bought a couple of whoppers from the supermarket - enough for about 20 cakes!!!

I didn't have any flaked almonds for the topping but found a bag of ratafias on the cupboard and crushed them over the tops instead. Yummy with Greek yoghurt or Creme Fraiche!

And it had to happen didn't it! I'm such a sucker for the latest craze in the papercrafting world and THE latest must haves are the Kuretake Clean Colour Pens. Yes, I've started a small collection. I toyed with the idea of getting them from Japan as they are cheaper over there of course but there is that long long wait for them to arrive.  However I ended up buying them from my favourite on-line pen store Cult Pens, which has a really good price with free postage if you spend over £10 - and they usually arrive the next day.

So I can build up a collection slowly by purchasing a few every couple of weeks or so.  There are plenty of reviews on line if you are curious to know what this craze is all about.  I recommend Jennifer Mcguire's blog posts and videos here  and apologise if you catch the craze watching them!!!

Friday, 19 June 2015

This week......

........I tried some different design motives and a square shape for more fabric trays.  I think the hexagon makes a more attractive tray but I've a plan to make sets of 4 drink coasters to go in the squares. These should make nice little gifts or an item for craft fairs (if I do any more fairs this year that is). Four different bird shapes should be quite easy but I need to think of a fourth fruit to complete a fruity set.

And speaking of summer drinks (a very tenuous link!!) the Elder in the garden is in bloom and its time to start some Elderflower cordial. It seems to be a good year for the flowers and there are Elders at different stages on my regular walks so if I can time it right I should be able to make at least two and hopefully three batches before the flowers start to go over into berries.

Its always quite sad pouring boiling water over those beautiful frothy blooms but the end result is so delicious, so cheap and easy, and produces the most perfect refreshing summer drink.  As always I used the recipe found in my favourite preserving book Sensational Preserves. If you'd like to follow that recipe I blogged it here in 2010.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Little Free Stitchy Time

I saw these little fabric trays at A Spoonful of Sugar and thought they would be just right for my Mum's 91st birthday as she is rather untidy by the bedside, with sweets, medication, pens, headache sticks, inhalers, tissues, biscuits, etc, etc, etc, jumbled all over the bed and bedside table. At least the very small items could be gathered in a couple of these.

I tried a patchwork one for variety and then I thought these small fabric spaces were the perfect spot for a little free motion stitching. I took a couple of classes earlier in the spring and really should practise and build on what I learned there. I tried a couple of floral motives and really started enjoying the stitching instead of being rather afraid of lowering those sewing machine teeth!

I like how they turned out so now I'm going to move on to some other motifs - birds, apples, pears and cherries are calling to me!  And Mum liked her gift and is at least putting some of her bits and bobs in them.  We'll see how long that lasts!  I crocheted a jam jar cover for her pens and pencils too as she's a great crossword fan and can never find a pen!


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Gotta Stamp Again!

This little corner of blogland isn't overly visited (according to Blogger stats) but I noticed one of my most clicked-on posts was this one I wrote way back in August 2013. Well, I've had that stamping feeling again this past week, triggered by a purchase from that tempting craft store at Make the Day Special. This time I've fallen for a couple of sets from Waffle Flower.  It only takes a mouthwatering card or two spied on Pinterest for my resolve not to buy more stamps to disappear in a wink of an eye!

You will see some of those new stamps in these photos, along with some older sets from other favourite stamp brands. And if you look closely you might notice some sentiments in Welsh which are always popular at fairs here in Wales. Unfortunately Welsh language sentiment stamp choice is severely limited  and I tend to buy any I see. But I must thank my lovely blog friend Lynn at Crafty Linby for my latest "Penblwydd Hapus" (Happy Birthday) - a happy surprise in the post! Can you spot it Lynn?

Here's a closeup of cards using Waffle Flower's Loved set. As you can see I cannot give up my beloved one layer style small note cards. I buy ready made blanks 4 inches and 3 inches square. The large sentiments above are Papertrey Ink's Graceful Greetings. Just the right size to be the focal point of a 4 inch card. 

There are a few images from Wplus9's Freshcut Florals on the heart card too. I drew round a heart die lightly in pencil and stamped within the lines, rubbing the pencil marks out afterwards.

Lastly these cards use Waffle Flowers' Flower Circles set - a bit of an unusual style for me.  However I fell for that stylised lantern stamp and just had to have it. I love Japanese calligraphy and think these three cards have a little Japanese style. Do you agree? ;o)

And now for something completely different!!!  Just have to show off a few photos from last Thursday's 'Out There' concert at Liverpool's Echo Arena. Do you remember when cameras were forbidden at live performances on pain of death - well expulsion anyway! Not any more - you couldn't see the stage for cameras and phones at times.  Of course I joined in! This was my first experience of a large gig and I really enjoyed it - even if my ears were ringing for hours after.



Of course we would not normally consider spending so much on an evening out (do you know how much tickets cost!!!! I was shocked!) but we were lucky enough to be guests of one of the band, were invited to the artists lounge for pre-show nibbles and had seats down the front.  A great night I won't forget - after all I was in love with Paul when I was fourteen! ;o)

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Bank Holiday Walking

Well not much was going on here this bank holiday (no transport available for any jolly outings) so when the sun came out I took a walk to the cemetery.  Its a lovely walk, especially at this time of year when the lanes are lined with beautiful swathes of Ladies' Lace and the hills are clear and close after rain.

Along the way I found many of my favourite wild flowers.  Here are a few you might recognise - well actually I've named them for you.

I was happy to see these bluebells were our own British variety not the invading European bells which are usually seen in hedgerows and verges near gardens these days.  Although most of these wild flowers do turn up in my semi wild garden I've never seen Bluebells there but there are dozens of the blue and white bells from 'The Continent'.  Still, I can't complain, they are quite pretty, but like daffodils their leaves have to be left to die back naturally to feed the bulbs for next year.  Can't wait to cut them off - they do look so untidy.

I often wonder why my garden looks so untidy while the farmers manage to keep their land looking so neat and tidy.  Lots of very hard work I suppose.

Its not a long walk, about two and a half miles there and back.  And its on the flat, which is unusual round here. But it was a warm afternoon so I casted my clout - after all the May was most definitely out! 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Gelatos - yes, I thought it was ice cream too!

I sometimes like to watch a couple of crafty Youtubes when I'm having my tea and happened to catch Melissa Phillips' Make it Monday for Papertrey Ink a couple of weeks ago. I was really taken with her colouring technique using Faber Castell Gelatos - a product I'd never come across of before. I ordered a set from the excellent Local Art Shop website as my 'local art shop' didn't stock them.

They arrived in double quick time and I had a go copying Melissa's technique. I stamped my first card in pastel colours and, as in the video, gingerly added the gelato colour with a piece of paper towel.  The effect was really pretty so on my next card I went a bit bolder with the colour.

There are lots of colours in the gelato range but you can 'mix' them to get the shade you need. I was able to get the right green for the leaves on my bold card by adding yellow over the lime green you can see in the box.  I love how these turned out.  Now I need to find other ways of using my new Gelatos - Youtube here I come!

Stamps used: Papertrey Ink: Honey Bee; Green Thumb; Background Basic Super Gingham

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Quick & Easy Gifty Ideas

I always need quick and easy projects I can make for the occasional craft fair I attend.  What's needed is something quick and inexpensive to produce out of supplies I've already got and that I can sell at a low price. Hopefully to draw in customers who might then make multiple purchases - isn't that what supermarkets do!

Anyway - whilst browsing in The Works craft section a few weeks ago I found these pretty sticky backed fabric sheets - £1.99 for a pack of four different designs - and the idea of these little brooches came into my head.

They couldn't be easier to make. I drew round the wooden shapes on the paper backing of the fabric and cut out just inside the pencil line. You can carefully cut off any overlaping edges with a sharp scissors but its better to get the size right on the first stick! I gave the fabric a coat of Mod Podge but watered down PVA glue would be just as good. Glue on a brooch back and present on a stamped card. These will make an appearance at my next fair whenever that is - I've nothing booked at the moment - but they'd also make pretty last minute token gifts don't you think?


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