Saturday, 14 December 2013

Crafting Cafe December - Working with Sketches

Time is running away with me at the moment, trying to prepare for the first Christmas my little boy is likely to remember into adulthood, so I was especially glad that this month's challenge at the Crafting Cafe was a sketch challenge.  Even when I think I have a clear idea of the project I want to make, I can easily spend hours moving things around and around trying to find a layout I like.  Sketches really help me to bypass that dithering stage and focus on the fun of actually getting something made.

Nikki has provided 4 lovely sketches to work with, but I don't need much of a prod to make a triangular card, as it's quite a challenging shape to work with and they can look quite striking.  The obvious association at this time of year is with a Christmas tree, but I wanted to make something a little more ambiguous, so I started with a silver card blank and made a mountain that might be a stylised tree.  I added a snowy top, using some Anita's glitter paper that is quite fabric-like in how it feels.  I wrapped it around all 3 sides, as I think it makes a big difference to the finished project to decorate the whole pyramid with this type of card blank.

For the straight element from the sketch, I've used a trio of snowman dome stickers from Papermania's ancient history, and for the curvy element I used an even more ancient See D's stamp and then drew a scarf around it.  A blue star and some snowflakes (again on all 3 sides) finishes the card off.

I hope you like it!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Crafting Cafe November Challenge - Winter Blues

I've been quiet this month, but behind the scenes I've been a Very Good Girl, as I've actually had a little bit of a craft room clear out.  I'm a terrible hoarder, so this is quite an achievement for me!  I've also made my first Christmas card of 2013 - my inspiration card for this month's "Winter Blues" theme over at The Crafting Cafe.  Our November sponsor is the lovely Lindsay at LEJ Designs, and I chose her pretty Snowy Haven image for my project.

I've gone for a night-time scene and, although it turns out I'm not Thomas Kinkade after all, I think it's quite a cosy looking cottage.  I used black and navy watercolour pencils to create a night sky, with yellow in the windows and reflected in the snow for lights.  For all the snowy bits, and to give some stars in the sky, I've used irridescent glitter glue.  The papers are from a very favourite old Anita's 6x6 pack.  I almost made the card with the black and silver version of the papers, but remembered just in time that the theme is Winter Blues :-)  I finished off with glitter ribbon and a vellum greeting.  I'd love to know what you think of it.

Happy crafting

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Crafting Cafe Challenge - Anything Goes

Another month gone, and it's time for my Crafting Cafe Challenge post again.  This month's sponsor is Stampin Dragon Designs, and our theme is the ever popular Anything Goes.  I decided to think ahead for my project this month and chose their kissable froggy prince for a Valentine card.

Here's my card, I've used Promarkers to colour the frog, and the papers, card, crown card blank and circle dies are all do crafts products.  The lettering is Doodlebug rub-ons.  Hope you like it!

Don't forget that there's still time to enter our design team call too!

(Note to self, stop using mirror card in projects I have to photograph!!)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

2 already

Since I last posted, I've become the Mum of a 2 year old, though I find that hard to believe - perhaps there's been a calendar mistake?

When I made Bob's 1st birthday card, I was aware that I was really making it for us in the short term, and for him when he's very much older - old enough to be getting nostalgic.  This year though, I wanted to make a card that really was Bob's, but I still wanted it to be something we could save for him.  The trouble is, although he's a lot better than he was, he's still not gentle enough for most cards to survive his attentions.  My challenge then was to make something robust enough to be played with, but still worth playing with.  Bob recently discovered my husband's vintage Thunderbird 2, and loves it and, with it's big bold 2, I just had to use it as a theme for his card.

This is what I came up with.  It's made from black mount board, decorated with peel-off stars (easily replaced!).  The wording is rub-on lettering, chosen because it's not tactile enough to be worth peeling off.  Thunderbird 2 is cut from green felt and coloured using fabric paints and Pebeo Touch paint.  I've mounted it with repositionable glue so it can be removed, played with, and restuck.  There was a bit more I wanted to do to the card.  Bob likes Wallace & Gromit's Grand Day Out, so I'd hoped to put the moon and their rocket on there somewhere, but time got the better of me yet again.  Ah well.  As you can see from the picture, it's faring pretty well.  There are a couple of sticky finger prints, and it looks like there's some sort of food on Thunderbird 2, but otherwise it's undamaged.

I hope you like it and I'd love to know what you think.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Crafting Cafe DT Call and September Challenge - Altered Art

Time seems to be whizzing by at the moment, and I can't believe I haven't posted since the last Crafting Cafe challenge.  The September challenge is Altered Art and it's being sponsored by the very wonderful Delicious Doodles.  I chose the beautiful Pansy & Butterfly Frame image from their enormous collection of images and I've managed to combine three of my favourite pastimes in this project: crafting, gardening, and eating custard :-)  I've made a seed storage pot, but it started life as an empty custard tin.

I've painted the tin with dark brown acrylic paint into which I've embedded a sheet of tissue paper, cut to be a little too large so I can get a lovely wrinkled effect (think earthy).  You don't need good quality paper for this (I've used the stuff that gets used as packaging) and in fact I prefer the finish over 'proper' tissue paper as it's more porous and less glossy.  Where the tissue paper joins, it's best to tear rather than cut, as then you can blend in the join without it showing.  I painted the lid with brown paint and stuck down some green mulberry paper as 'grass' in the recess.

I printed, coloured and cut out the Pansy & Butterfly Frame image to use as a label, and added a description with rub-ons, but I've also used detail from the image to decorate the lid.  Custard lids are quite nice for this, as they have a recess that protects your decoration.  I hope you like it, and that it will inspire you to some altered art (and custard-eating!) of your own.

Don't forget we are running a DT call alongside the challenge this month.  If you want to be part of our fun team, all you need to do is add DT after your name when you link up your project! Enter the challenge here.

Happy crafting!

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Crafting Cafe August Challenge - A Baby is Born

It's time for me to post over at the Crafting Cafe Challenge Blog again, and the theme is "A Baby Born".  I chose the AKV Baby Horse image from this month's lovely sponsor, Bugaboo Stamps.  I've made two cards, a pink one and a blue one, as there are a couple of nice details in the image that you can colour code.

When I chose the image, I expected to make a rocking horse, but my good friend Christine Saunders beat me to it so I had to rethink.  I still wanted to have some rocking movement though, so I've used a circular card instead.

The papers I've used are from mostly the DCWV baby scrapbook kit in a stack and I've used an XCut nesting die to cut the flower, with its card matting hand cut.  Since I've been trying to sort out my craft room, I've resolved to use more of the scraps I've been saving, and that's what I've done with the girl card - the hearts are from an ancient Papermania set, and the blue flowers are punched from paper scraps too small to be useful for anything else.

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Crafting Cafe July Challenge - Summer's Here

I haven't done any crafting for a few weeks (eek!), but I haven't been idle.  I've been working hard to pack up and sort through my crafty stash to move it to my new craft room.  Since Bob was born, everything's been crammed into a tiny alleged bedroom and I haven't had room for a desk, but my lovely husband recently offered to move into my room so I could have his office.  Ikea brought some shiny new shelves at the weekend and I'm in the middle of moving in.  As a result, my inspiration project for the Crafting Cafe Challenge Blog this month is not really finished (I can't find half the ingredients!), but it's a decoration for my new room, so I thought I'd show you where I've got to so far.

This month's sponsor  is LEJ Designs and the theme is summer, so I chose Lindsay's pretty floral digi - Blossom.  I've printed it onto white vellum and coloured it with Promarkers before fixing it over pink blossom paper from the docrafts Henbury Lane collection.  I've matched my room's dark blue paintwork with some Coordinations card, finished with a pretty (and ancient!) XCut corner punch.  I'll add some glitter and a ribbon hanger when I find the box they're in!  Please let me know what you think!

Monday, 17 June 2013


Our happy little boy (20 months old) became a bundle of screaming misery a few weeks ago.  Everything seemed to make him upset but one thing left him particularly inconsolable.  Vehicles.  If we saw a tractor, plane, car, train, boat, digger, or motorbike, he wanted to get in or on it, but it wasn't confined to real ones.  He would try to get in toy ones and even ones in pictures, and then be very upset that it wasn't possible.  Our nerves jangled every time he picked up a book for us to read.  Luckily, we discovered that if we said something was Bob the Builder's quad Scrambler, then it was Scrambler, so we decided to press a few cardboard boxes and random bits of furniture into service as surrogate ride-ons.  I got a bit carried away with the box nominated as 'tractor', until I remembered that everything would get pulled to pieces.  As you can see from the piccy, it had already been repaired before I got a chance to photograph it.  At one point, I was sticking paper to one side while Bob pulled it off the previously covered side.  As you can imagine, it's not my best work!  However, it made him happy for a while until his scale crisis passed.  I'd love to see other parents' cardboard box creations, so please get in touch!

The box is covered with wrapping paper.  The wheels are the polystyrene 'plates' that supermarket pizzas come on (kept because I thought they'd be handy one day), the exhaust funnel is a toilet roll inner tube, and the engine is made from a stack of cardboard vegetable punnets.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Crafting Cafe June Challenge - Here come the boys!

The theme for June over at the Crafting Cafe is "Here Come the Boys", and the prize is provided by Delicious Doodles.  I've chosen their exquisitely detailed Vintage Spitfire image to work with, vintage planes being a bit of an obsession for me.  It's a great image if you're not that keen on colouring in, as all the shading's done for you.  I've added just a hint of colour to mine using my beloved watercolour pencils.

My project is a circular easel card inspired by the WWII RAF roundel.  I say 'inspired by' because I've taken liberties with the sizes of the circles - err, I did mention my aircraft obsession, didn't I? :-)  The red circle is larger than in real life, something I did to make the background to the Spitfire less cluttered.  The blue circle is too small too, and this just came down to how large my circle dies were.  The yellow circle is hand cut to fit the card blank, but hand cutting the blue circle would have looked less clean against the yellow.

I've attached the spitfire using a curved piece of acetate.  It's a really simple way of getting nice movement and depth into a project without adding thickness for postage.  You need to use thin acetate, as the thick stuff won't stay curved, and if your attachment is light, you might need to add a couple of light folds in the acetate, as I have here.

The base of the easel card is covered with a map of the area around Eastleigh, which is where the Spitfires were built.  Hmm, perhaps I should have kept that bit of geeky obsessiveness to myself...

I hope you like it.  Happy crafting!

Challenges entered:
Milk Coffee
Joanna Sheen Challenge
Pattie's Creations
Creative Belli
The Stamping Chef
Anything Goes Challenge Blog
Creative Craft Challenges2
Cuttin and Stampin
LEJ Designs
Stamping with the Dragon
Simon Says Stamp
My Craft Creations
Scrappers Delights (S is for Spitfire)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Crafting Cafe May Challenge - Lady Luck

May has been, err, challenging, so my inspiration post for the Crafting Cafe challenge blog is a little late this month.  I could have got a card done in time of course, but I had a particular card in mind, and it needed a bit of thinking to get right.

This month's sponsor is Bugaboo Stamps and, as the image I chose is called AKV Moving Car, I thought it ought to be, well, moving :-)  I love any trick cards, but especially moving cards like penny sliders.  My only reservation with penny sliders is that you have to incorporate the slot into your design.  With this card, I wanted the workings to be completely hidden and, after a bit of head scratching, this is what I came up with:

Easy bits first: the papers I've used are an old DCWV photo stack paper for the sky, and a positively ancient Papermania Colossal stack for the hill and countryside.  The hill is a half circle, and the car is mounted on a strip of mount board with a rounded end that is fixed to the back of the hill with a small brad.  The brad is disguised by being part of the drift of flowers along the bottom.  The hill is fixed to the card using a really thin strip of 3D foam tape along the bottom edge.  Supports anywhere else would get in the way of the mechanism and restrict movement of the car, although you can get away with a little bit to the left and right.

The mount board strip is layered at the car end to allow free movement and the car overlaps the hill to keep everything together.

There will be a greeting in the top left (like a for sale board off the purple edging), just as soon as I remember  what I've done with my new house greetings!

I hope you like the card.  Have a happy weekend of crafting!

Challenges entered:
Shelly's Images: Show us what you got
ABC Challenge: N (not just one)
Addicted to stamps: Anything goes

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Ruby Red

It seems to have been a very long week considering we had a bank holiday on Monday, but at last the weekend is almost here.  Bob has been quite poorly over the last couple of weeks, and I thought I was coming down with something too, but luckily we're both much better today.  I've also started a new adventure that I'll share when I have some piccies, but as a result it hasn't been a very crafty week.  The one project I did manage took all the time I had, as I spent ages dithering over the papers to use, and then had some glue issues that meant I needed to remake a large part of it.  I'm glad I spent the time though, as I'm really happy with the result.  A friend asked me to make a special ruby anniversary card for her to give to her best friends and this is what I came up with:

It's an easel card, featuring rose papers from two DCWV stacks, and (although you can't tell from the picture) a cream pearlescent heart paper from Create & Craft.  The hearts are die cut using the XCut scalloped heart nesting dies - one each of two sizes in the two colours of rose paper, a large heart in red card, and a small one in cream.  To make the 'inner' hearts, I hand trimmed a die cut to remove the scallops, as I only wanted a very tiny edge to each heart.  For the sentiment, I used the "Happy Anniversary" and "Ruby" stamps from a Papermania Confetti stamp set.  I don't generally use patterned paper for matting when I need only a thin border, as it seems such a waste of the pattern to have it covered up, but plain card/papers just didn't look special enough for this project.  Also, the big DCWV stacks have lots of sheets of the same paper, which I really like, as I don't feel like I have to eke out my favourites.

I'd love to know what you think of the card!  I'd like to enter it into the following challenges:

Paper Crafting Journey - Anything goes

Monday, 6 May 2013

Flowery Framelit wall hanger

Happy bank holiday everyone!  The weather's beautiful here, so my crafting for today is going to be limited to getting some lovely family photos to scrap when that unfamiliar yellow ball in the sky goes away again.

I do have something to share though - my second project using the very lovely Sizzix Framelits has just gone up on the Country View Crafts blog.  This time I've made a hanging wall decoration.  I was going to send it to a friend for her new home, but I don't think I'm going to be able to part with it :-)

I've used the Framelits to make some conical 3D flowers and then coated them in Tattered Angels glimmer glaze.  This not only makes them shimmer, but it makes the flowers nice and sturdy too so the project should last well.

Here's a sneaky peek, please pop over to my full post here and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Flowery Framelits

I'm extremely fortunate that my favourite online craft shop, Country View Crafts, is run by two of my bestest friends and even more fortunate that they let me rummage around their stock room as though it's my own private shop.  They also have a Henry hoover, which for some reason fascinates Bob (let's hope that lasts!), so I actually get to have a good look around without having to suddenly sprint after him.  On a recent trip I fell in love with a product range I hadn't seen before - Sizzix Framelits Dies with Stamps.  They're not new, I just don't get out much :-)  Each set contains coordinating stamps and dies and they're a great addition to your stash if you love stamping but not the cutting out, if you want to get more creative with your die cuts, or if, like me, you just like things to match really well.  I also picked up a few bottles of Tattered Angels Glimmer Glaze, and now want to coat everything I own in it!  I'll be making a few projects using these products for my friends' blog over the next few weeks, and the first has been published here today.  Here's a sneaky peek, If you'd like to see the whole thing, with kit list and instructions, please head over and let me know what you think!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Crafting Cafe Celebration Blog Hop!

Hello hoppers!  Welcome to my blog and to the Crafting Cafe's second blog hop.  This is my first blog hop and I hope you enjoy your visit!

The theme for this hop is Celebration, and I've been spoilt for choice as far as inspiration goes.  Apart from it being the weekend, today is my Dad's birthday and a friend's wedding, and other friends recently got engaged.  I decided to use my wedding card for the hop, as I've used one of my favourite products on it - heat bondable fibre.

If you haven't used heat bondable films or fibres before, do give them a go, as they really are a lot of fun.  If you're using them with a rubber (not clear acrylic!) stamp like I have here, you need a solvent ink like Staz On, an iron and some vellum or greaseproof paper.  Ink up your stamp and place it face up on the desk, pile a wad of fibres on top, making sure you don't have any gaps, and finish with the vellum/greaseproof paper.  Press down with a warm iron until you can see the ink more clearly through the paper.  The resulting iridescent motif is bonded together along the lines of the stamp and can be cut to shape and stuck down over an image stamped onto card.  Thicker lined stamps work especially well, as the fibres are really well bonded, but if you have a finer design, just be more careful about cutting out.  Clear acrylic stamps will melt if you iron them like this, so please only try this with real rubber stamps!  Here's what I made, I hope you like it:

I've used an old and well loved Papermania wedding stamp along with iridescent white fibres, just for the dress and hair.  I coloured the hair and lace detail using permanent markers.  The papers are old Papermania ones too, but also some of my all time faves.  I've mounted on pearlescent card and added glitter stickers to pick up the sparkle in the dress.  The wedding invitation had butterflies on, so I added a butterfly to the design.  I always like to use some element of the invitation in my card for weddings - if nothing else, it's a good indication of what the happy couple like!  I've kept the rest of the design quite simple, as the bride and groom are the most important things at a wedding after all :-)

Iridescent white fibres, coloured with permanent markers

Thanks for visiting, your next hop is to the lovely Debbi's blog:
If you arrived here by accident and would like to visit the whole hop, here's the starting point:  Happy hopping!

I'd like to enter this card for the following challenges:

Papercrafting Journey: Use a sentiment
Fairytale Challenge: Special occasion
Fab 'n' Funky: Love is a many spleandoured thing
Craft-room Challenge: So Sentimental
Flourishes: Wedded Bliss
The Corrosive Challenge Blog: Life's Special Occasions
Simon Says Stamp: Anything Goes

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Crafting Cafe April Challenge - Hoppy Baaday

It's the 13th again, and time for me to post my project for the Crafting Cafe Challenge Blog.  The theme this month is "Let's Celebrate".  When I started making my April project a couple of weeks ago, the sun was shining, and a warm breeze was making the first daffodils in my garden nod their pretty heads.  Full of the joys of spring, I made a card to celebrate the passing of winter.  Since then, we've had snow, gales, rain and hail, and it hasn't felt very much like April at all!  We've also had plague in our house: poor little Bob has been covered in spots.  Two doctors confirmed it was chicken pox, but then I got blisters on my hands and feet, so it turns out we had Hand Foot & Mouth disease - a new lurgy invented since I was a child.  As a result, not a lot of crafting has gone on, especially as Bob has taken to staying awake until 10pm since the clocks changed.

Well, here's my spring project, I hope you like it.  This month's challenge is sponsored by Crafty Sentiments Designs, and I chose their gorgeous Toby In Pot digital stamp for my project, as I loved the fresh spring feel of it.

I added some cute sheep and used bright and fresh colours to complete my spring theme.  I used Promarkers to colour the image, and used the wedge end in two colours for the grass.  The sheep are from the Craft Concepts Ramsey embossing folder, and I've used Core'dinations Gemstones card, as it has a shimmer to it.

I didn't have much of this card, so used the trimmings from where I embossed it to die cut some leaves and to cut a fringe for the flower centre.  Using embossed card gives a nice texture to thin die cuts.  The frame is die cut using the XCut Ornate Frame nesting dies, with a square die cut out of the middle to make it an actual frame.  I cut the frame in yellow and green, so I could fill in the gaps in the frame like this:

The spotty paper and the paper 'ribbon' are cut from the Dovecraft English Garden pad and I used an offcut to make the flower too.  I'll be blogging more about how to make these flowers later on, but I've used these two die sets:  Sizzix Framelits with stamps: Flowers, Daisies (657916) and Spellbinders Shapeabilities: Foliage

I'd like to enter this card for the following challenges:

Happy, or should I say Hoppy crafting everyone!  I hope Spring makes it to you soon!

Amanda x

Monday, 1 April 2013

Toddler crafting

I was going to say that I'm feeling my way with toddler crafting, but actually I'm just feeling my way with all things toddler!  Last week was our local tots group's Easter party, and we were challenged to make a mask or hat with our little ones.  Bob hasn't shown a great deal of interest in arts and crafts yet, I'm sorry to say.  He's done a couple of paintings, and he loves the food processor, but that's about it for making things out of anything other than Duplo.  I'm hoping that's just because he's too young to have the patience to make things, and thought I'd take the opportunity to start phasing in some crafting play.  It's not a great time to do it, as Bob has recently become very unhappy about having messy hands, so I knew I'd be very lucky to get him to do much crafting.  Even so, I wanted to make something within his capability just in case, so I went for finger painting and foam stamps.  As suspected, Bob was only interested until he got mucky fingers, but I did manage to tempt him back with the stamps.  In the end, he made most of the back of the hat.  He did watch when I finger painted the front, he picked colours for me to use and he seemed to like the cool and goopy feeling of the paint.  Later on we tried painting using balls of kitchen towel, but with similar results.

Anyway, here's the finished hat.  I couldn't get him to pose in it I'm afraid!  It's suitable for very young crafters I think, just not quite as young as Bob!
Front view

Rear view, mostly Bob's work
Sadly Bob now has chicken pox, so not a lot of crafting is going on here for toddlers or otherwise just at the moment!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Simple Projects for Children

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to crafting with my little boy.  I’ve been collecting together crafting goodies and projects for him since long before he was born, so I really hope he shares my passion for making things!  With the Easter holidays upon us, and no sign of spring yet, I thought I’d share with you a couple of projects that proved very popular with young children at Craft Planet demos I did before I had Bob.  Please let me know if your little ones enjoy making them, I’d love to see piccies of their creations!

Feathery headdress

This simple headdress is great for dressing up games and fancy dress parties for girls and boys (think Cowboys and Indians, or 1920’s flapper girls).

  1. Cut a symmetrical curved strip from the long side of an A4 sheet of funky foam using decorative scissors.  Make a hole at each edge with a pokey tool.
  2. Decorate the front of the funky foam strip with foam shapes.  I used the swirls from the inside of the wings of the foam butterflies too.  Fix feathers along the back of the top edge using silicone glue, duck tape or a cold melt glue gun.
  3. Thread the ends of a pipe cleaner through the holes at the edges of the foam strip, and twist to secure (making sure there are no sharp bits protruding).  Twist a loop in the middle of the pipe cleaner for an adjustable fit.  You can use elastic instead, but it's not as pretty.
Shopping list:
Funky foam
Decorative scissors, eg XCU 2521106 or XCU 2521108.
Chenille stems, eg CPT 6601106
Foam shapes – small or large pack

Pen or brush holder

This part-recycled pen or brush pot can be simplified for younger children and, with the range of paints and foam stamps available, can be made to match a child’s room.

  1. Cover a toilet roll inner tube with red card or paper.  Stamp flowers onto yellow card, paper or felt using foam stamps and orange paint, let dry, then cut out leaving a border.  Stick around the top half of the tube.  Younger children can just stamp the flowers directly onto the red card/paper and let dry before covering the tube.
  2. Cut a strip of yellow card or paper using decorative scissors and stick around the top of the tube.
  3. Stick coloured matchsticks around the bottom of the tube using tacky glue.  Cut a funky foam circle or square a bit larger than the tube using decorative scissors and stick to the bottom of the tube as a base.  Older children can cut the matchsticks to different lengths for a more interesting finish.
Shopping list:
Foam stamps – eg CPT 6661103 for girls or CPT 6661105 for boys
Coloured paper
Acrylic paint

Door name sign

An easy project for boys and girls.  
  1. Cut a rectangle of funky foam with a curved end approximately 9x19cm.  Cut a circle out of the middle of the curved end and join the circle up with the top curve to create a hook.
  2. Decorate with the child’s name and stickers representing their hobbies and interests.
Shopping list:
Acrylic paint 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Manda's March Marmalade

I've always fancied making preserves, but I've always had this idea that it's more difficult than normal cooking so, apart from my Christmas mincemeat, I had never got round to it.  People talk about setting points as though getting a proper set jam is a dark art, requiring special skills, and probably some kind of secret dance performed naked under a full moon.  Probably ;-)  I also wasn't sure if I'd be able to bring myself to add all the sugar required, which is silly, as I have no idea how much they add in the marmalade factory.

We have our veggies delivered by the very lovely Riverford people, and when they had their marmalade kits on offer, I decided to take the plunge and see just how hard this 'setting' malarky really is.  The only snag is that I don't have a muslin bag, and I have a demanding toddler who barely gives me time to make the food we need to eat.  I do own a slow cooker though, and some quick Googling found this perfect recipe for me: no muslin bag, no pulpy squeezing, no chopping, and half the sugar in the Riverford recipe.

My Mum & Dad came to visit last weekend, so I finally made marmalade!  My marmalade pack had 8 seville oranges and 2 lemons, and I cut them into quarters and chopped them in the food processor.  The recipe I found (by Diminishing Lucy) had no added water, but my chopped fruit looked quite dry.  As Lucy is Australian, I thought her fruit might be more juicy, so I added 3/4 litre of water.  The final ingredient was 1kg of sugar, and I cooked it all in the slow cooker on high for 4-5 hours.
My slow cooker has room for a few more oranges :-)

The result is 7 jars of gorgeous tangy marmalade and it set beautifully, and with no naked dancing!  Well, no more than usual anyway.  It turns out that my 20 year old food processor isn't man enough for pips though - I picked quite a few out of the finished marmalade before getting bored and deciding it'd be easier to take the odd pip off of my toast as they appear.

I'm definitely hooked, and can't wait until there's a strawberry pick-your-own open so I can try my hand at jam.  If you have a favourite preserve recipe for the slow cooker, I'd love to hear about it - please leave me a link on my comments so I can try it out.

Right then, time for toast :-)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

March Crafting Cafe Challenge - Favourite Colour

When I signed up for the Crafting Cafe design team I was a bit sad that I only needed to post once a month, but it's just as well as this month's flown by!  The theme for March is "My Favourite Colour", the sponsor is Delicious Doodles, and I picked their vintage chevy image to work with.

I already had some great papers in mind when I picked the image - Tim Holtz's 'Destinations' paper stack that I bought earlier this year.  The papers are double sided, with travel images on one side, and gorgeous textures on the other.  I didn't know exactly what I was going to do for my project until this weekend though, when I visited my friends at Country View Crafts and spotted these fab cog Nestabilities dies in the warehouse.  I also decided I 'needed' these embossing folders for the project - I used the cog folder in that set to emboss the medium cog after cutting it from grey Coordinations card. It's a shame I didn't spot this 3D embossing folder though, as I would have 'needed' that too :-)  Here's what I came up with.  It's quite different to my normal style, so I'd love any feedback.

The cogs, card blank and sentiment peel-off are all coloured using an espresso paint dabber.  I used paint rather than ink and peel-off markers to get a more textured finish.  The car is coloured using Promarkers, and I've used two colours of blue (powder blue and pastel blue) plus quite a bit of grey, so the car looks more old and used.

I'd like to claim that this project is my first foray into steampunk, but I must confess that I only have a vague idea of what counts as steampunk.  It's got cogs though, so maybe that's enough.  Or maybe that's like Yankee Doodle Dandy sticking a feather in his hat and thinking he'd managed to pull off 'macaroni' style!  What do you think?

I'd like to enter this project into the following challenges:
Crafty cardmakers
Delicious Doodles
Left of centre

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Masculine monochrome

It's hard to believe almost two weeks have gone since I last posted, and even harder to believe that it's taken nearly a week to get this post finished!  The most recent delay was blogger not saving my changes :-( Ah well, it's done now.

I visited my parents at the start of last week, so I had some bonus crafting time while Bob had some Nanny and Grandad time.  I was a proper grown up, and finished my Crafting Cafe blog post and did a commission for my neighbour before I did any crafting for myself.  Inevitably I didn't get round to the scrapbook page I meant to do, but I did have a lot of fun with my neighbour's card.  She wanted a 30th birthday card for her son who loves Formula 1 and is a fan of Lewis Hamilton.  I showed her the piccy on this blog of the carting penny slider card I did a few weeks ago and she said she'd like something similar.  Lewis Hamilton is driving a silver Mercedes this year, and I recently found some fab chequered flag paper in my stash during a rare bit of tidying, so I decided on a monochrome scheme.  I know it's a bit cliche for men's cards, but black and white is a very safe choice when you don't know the recipient, and it's smart and unfussy enough for men of all ages.  This is what I came up with:

It's A5, so I had room to have the car spin underneath the chequered flag, like this:

It makes the card very fat, but it wasn't being posted, and it was still an easy fit into a vented envelope.  If you make a larger penny slider like this, it's important to use a thicker card for your base, as they often won't stand up without bending under the weight of all the card and foam tape.  This card was a real step back in time for me, as everything I used was years old!  The background paper is from the DCWV Black & White stack, and I used it to make the 'speed limit' sign too.  The dark paper and the chequered flag are cut from a Bits 'n' Pieces pad, and the F1 car is stamped from the See D's Boys Toys stamp set.

By the time I finished playing with this card, I had very little time left for a birthday card for my father-in-law. My Dad loves gardening and the arts that are well represented in crafting supplies, like Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Pre-Raphaelite, but I often struggle with cards for the other men in my life, as none of them like the traditional male sports or hobbies, and none like cute cards.  Balloons, cakes and presents always seem a bit young to me too.  Luckily do crafts has brought out some really nice sentiment toppers in the last couple of years, and these are great as the main image for a card.  As I had my DCWV black & white stack out, I thought I'd use that with one of the Anita's white and silver sentiments.  I die cut the paper and mirror card with the XCut Doorplate nesting dies.  Of course, using white and silver card has made it a nightmare to photograph, so here's a rather grey picture of the end result:

I was really happy with the nice bright white real version of it, and made another one in landscape for my card box:

Just as I finished sticking it all together, I noticed a blemish on the mirror card, hence the little arrangement of gems at the top :-)  I very rarely give up on projects when I either make a mistake or they don't turn out how I liked.  I've discovered lots of new techniques by rescuing projects, and have often found that my 'fixes' have been my favourite bits!

I hope you have some fun crafting planned for this weekend.  It's snowing here, so a good one to spend indoors!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Crafting Cafe Challenge Blog - February Inspiration

Happy Sunday everyone, I hope you’re all having a crafty weekend – it’s certainly the right weather for it here - yuk!  I had my first proper crafting session of 2013 yesterday and, as someone who used to craft every day, I can’t tell you how happy it made me J  Here’s what I made, it’s my February offering for the Crafting CafĂ© Challenge Blog:

This month’s sponsor is the lovely Lindsay at LEJ Designs.  She has a great range of images to choose from, but I just had to choose the cute baby giraffe taking its first tottering steps.  Giraffes are very popular in our house.  Bob has a little fabric book about a giraffe with a very big laugh who says “Ho ho, ha ha, hee hee hee”, and now Bob is starting to talk we’ve discovered that the little sweetheart thinks that’s the noise giraffes make J  Every time he sees a giraffe he points and says “ha ha, hee hee”.  It’s very cute - we make sure he sees a lot of giraffes!  I had just bought some yummy Tim Holtz papers in giraffey colours to scrap about Bob’s book, but I think the image will be great for scrapping piccies of his early walking too.  Hmm, I'd better get a lot quicker at crafting…

This project was my first foray into digital crafting and I really enjoyed it.  Stamps are quite an obsession of mine (after paper of course!), but they are just the one size, and do take up a lot of space.  I loved being able to decide how big to make the image, it opens up so many possibilities!  It was also, I’m ashamed to admit, my first ‘proper’ go with my Promarkers.  I bought them just before I became pregnant, and they got packed away soon afterwards when I had to move out of my craft room.  I printed the image on some do crafts decoupage paper.  It’s lovely and glossy, and I’m very happy with the finish, but my laser printer’s ink did bleed a little with the Promarkers, so I have some experimenting to do.

For the background I used a patchwork of four papers from Tim Holtz’s Retro Grunge paper stack - this is a great technique for paper addicts, as you get to play with more of your papers :-)  The flower and 'ribbon' loop are cut from these papers too, the greeting is from a Boofle card kit, and the grass is cut using a sadly discontinued Sizzlits decorative border die.  I wanted to add a punched twiggy leaf in the same green behind the flower too, but my punches are all still somewhere in the loft waiting for my craft room to be finished, so I'll just have to try not to let the lack of balance bother me too much!  OCD? Moi?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Lurgy, first words, and a new challenge

Greetings!  It's nice to be back in blogland again, I'm afraid I disappeared for a while.  All my plans for festive projects and posts fell by the wayside after my little boy had an adverse reaction to one of his jabs at the beginning of December.  We had a difficult couple of weeks where he was not a happy camper and didn't really eat.  Just as he was recovering, he caught a truly horrible bug just in time for Christmas.  Being a lovely sharing boy, he gave it to me, and I duly passed it on to my parents.  No eating for any of us for quite a while!  Luckily for little Bob I'm still nursing, but I was the most ill I've been in several years, and I don't suppose making all of his food at the same time really helped with my recovery!

The new year saw us back to full health and Bob made the most of it by starting to talk!  It's such an exciting time, as there are new words every day.  My favourites so far are "kiwi", because of the delight with which he says it when offered or requesting his favourite fruit, "happy", for obvious reasons, and "bubble", because it's the cutest thing I've ever heard :-)  I do get treated to the occasional "Mummy", but I suppose the fact that I'm always there means he doesn't have to use my name!  He's also become much harder to keep occupied for the day, so I've found toddler groups for us to go to every day of the week.  Great for his social development and my sanity, but he has another cold already...

On the crafting front... Before all the illness, I did manage to get some projects done for my best friends over at Country View Crafts using some gorgeous Sizzix Ink-Its Letterpress Plates.  My blog post is here and my projects are below - I'd love to know what you think of my projects.

I have loads more projects planned using them, and hope I get time to explore those over the next few weeks.  I do have a new crafting challenge that I'm straining at the leash to get stuck into though, which might distract me a bit.  I've been selected for the design team for a brand new challenge blog linked to the Crafting Cafe group on Facebook.  I'm so excited about this, as I'm keen to get back into regular crafting again, and I'll be trying out some great digital stamps, something I haven't really used before.  There are some great designers on the team, and I hope I can justify my place with them.  Please come over to Crafting Cafe Challenge Blog to see what we all make.  The theme is "Anything Goes" and there's a lovely prize, so why not come and enter yourself?