Welcome to my blog

I hope you enjoy reading my posts, and please leave me a comment. I always enjoy reading them, and will try to visit you in return.

You are welcome to copy any of my designs, as long as you do not take credit for them yourself. I am very happy for you to sell them. If I have used anyone else's design, I always try to give credit where it is due. If I have missed anything, please let me know and I will put things right.

This is intended to be mainly about my crafting stories, as a personal record of what I do. However, I interpret crafting quite widely, not just paper crafting but other things too. I have a butterfly mind and like to change from one thing to another depending on what I feel like on a given day - knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, cards, baking and several others.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

WOYWW - 130 - Cameos. Cards, Cakes and Christmas Stockings

No. not this kind of Cameos, but I do like them.  Two of them came from trips to Italy and were bought from the factory shop near Naples.  the third one is just a very cheap scarf ring.  My favourite is the dark cameo, just my preference.

Anyway, this is supposed to be about our workdesks, so I had better get back on theme.  The Cameo I really meant to show you is my new baby, the new Silhouette Cameo.  I still have not had a lot of time to play with it to get  the best from it.  My biggest problem is to convert gsm to the American version of lbs.  I have now found a fairly good conversion chart so I might have more success.  Sorry about the rotten photos, it is rather on the dark side, but then we are heading to winter gloom.  I did use it to create a couple of borders for card toppers, as you can see from this one.

The image is from a MCS disc, treated in the same stained glass method of last weeks cards..  The border was cut from green mirri card on the Silhouette, and then I added a bit more bling with the stones.  It is all matted on to white pearlescent card.

You might notice from the next picture that I am really into the elbow it out of the way method of working at the moment.  This lot is mostly to do with Christmas and all the stuff I need to get rid of this year so I can start fresh next time.

Following the order in the title, these are the the cakes I made today - not too difficult.  It is Fridge Cake, very sticky, very fattening and very tasty.  We have visitors tonight who happen to love this, hence the choice for today.  I have been seriously into baking lately, having got fed up of buying "plastic" bread that goes mouldy before we can eat it.  I would rather make a small loaf twice a week and use it all, and enjoy the flavour and the texture.  It is ages since I did much baking, so most of my cake tins are fairly manky, and have had to be replaced.  At least the cakes and bread comes out of the tin easily now.  I was concerned that we would eat more of fresh things, but we don't seem to be, just enjoying what we do eat rather more.

The last "C" on my list is the Christmas stockings.  I showed you those  recently, but now I have done some of the small ones too.  I still have quite a lot of wool left, so there will be more stockings made before I finish.

I am off now to visit a few more desks, hosted by the Queen of the workdesk, Julia.  Why don't you come and and join me over there and see what all those talented people are doing and talking about.?  I did not blog at all last week, nor manage to visit anyone else.  I hope to do better this week, and I will definitely visit anyone who leaves me a comment.  Have fun out there.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

WOYWW - 128 I want to play

 Not my usual desk this week.  That has been overtaken by all the things that had to be moved out of the spare bedroom to allow the new carpet to be fitted.  So I decided that it was a good time to finish off a very long standing project.  About 38 years ago, I found a pattern for these Christmas stockings in Woman's Weekly and started one for our daughter.  Then I had to do one for our son, when he arrived.  Gradually, all the children in the family had one, and I kept buying more wool when I saw the right shades of red and green.  The result is that now one of the drawers under the bed is full of Christmas stocking wool - not good, as we are trying to clear unnecessary stuff out of the house.

As I could not get to do normal crafting things or play with my new baby, I decided that it would be satisfying to get as many stockings done as I could out of the remaining wool.  So far, in the last three days, I have completed four stockings and still have enough wool for several more.  Happily, this is  a craft I can do at night, while watching television without having to use my reading glasses.  I have reprinted the pattern in huge font so I can read it at a glance.  By the way, they are crocheted in squares, ten to each stocking (mainly trebles), then sewn together, before crocheting the gusset which goes all round (all trebles again), then there are two rounds of double crochet around the top and to form the loop for hanging.

Our children used to love their stockings, which were always stuffed with small items gathered over the year.  They always had the traditional apple, orange, and nuts, but also there were things like balsa planes, bags of marbles, spinning tops, yo-yos and anything else that we could squash inside.  Each one was separately wrapped.  Big presents were always from a person, but the stockings were always from Father Christmas, and they would leave him a glass of whisky, a mince pie and a carrot for the reindeer before they went to bed on Christmas Eve.  Even as adults, living in their own homes, they still requested their stockings for many years and never said that Father Christmas did not exist.

The son of one of our friend's once said to his parents that Father Christmas did not exist.  His parents were keen to keep the magic for his younger brother, so they told him that if he did not believe in Father Christmas, then he would not be left any presents.  When he refused to back down, they called his bluff and when it came to Christmas morning, there were no presents for him.  After a bit of swift thinking, he finally agreed that Father Christmas did exist.  Sure enough, in a short while, he heard the sound of sleigh bells and his presents appeared as if by magic.  He never voiced his disbelief again.

That's it from me this week, folks.  Thank you to all those who came to visit and left me such lovely comments.  I really appreciated them all, and I think I did manage to get back to you all.  While I disappear now to do some more Christmas stuff (did the cake yesterday), I am sure you would all enjoy the goodies on show on all the other desks on offer this week at Julia's place.  I hope to get round as many as possible myself, so I will see you there.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

WOYWW - 127 It arrived!!!

 Wait for it,  I will tell you in a minute.  Meanwhile, here is my desk at the moment - not too messy for me.  You can actually see some desk, but only 'cos I had a major tidy up again yesterday.  I went through all my Christmas bits, gathering together all the bits I cut out two years ago.  some of them I just looked at in horror and threw them in the recycling bag.  Others you can see.  On top and to the side of the cutter are four toppers I created, by printing onto gold paper, then reversing the image and printing it on to acetate.  I sprayed the gold paper with glitter.  when it is dry, you marry up the paper and the acetate images exactly and glue them together round the edges.  This makes the images really strong with much more of a look and feel of stained glass.  I usually mount them, either in a triple fold window card or straight on to plain card with a frame cut and placed over the top of the edges to keep things looking tidy. 

There are lots of other bits and pieces around, such as my Fiskars scissors, my finger blade, computer duster (can of spray air), water bottle for me, pots with lengths of pretty ribbon.  You can also see a tube of silicone glue, which I found lurking in the bottom of my glue box.  I normally use the Pinflair glue these days, and I had forgotten how strongly the normal silicone smells.  Never mind, it will soon be gone.

You can also probably see something shiny and red, yet more stuff I started and have not finished.  These three topper use a similar technique to the gold ones above.  They are clip art images, printed on card and then flipped and printed on the acetate.  The two images are married up carefully, glued together and then I mounted them on holographic wrapping paper, then on to card to give strength.  I did spray the back of the acetate with glitter again to make them really sparkle.  These two sets of toppers will be mounted later today on plain cards with a peel off sentiment.

Thank you to all those who liked my baking desk last week.  I have not abandoned the baking this week and I may post another recipe later this week, once I have tried it out in this cooker.  Watch this space!  So many of you said you were going to have a go at the cheese scones.  If you did, please let me know how you got on - good or bad.  Just as an extra, we had one left from the last batch, which had gone a little solid and not really as good to eat.  I happened to have the grill on for our sausage, so I stuffed the scone underneath for a few seconds on each side, and it really revived it, both in flavour and texture.

Now, this is what I have been waiting for - my lovely brand new Silhouette Cameo.  Not a very good picture of it.  If I get time later I may get another picture and post that instead.  I have had a Silhouette for some time, but I have a feeling that this one had been abused before it came to me.  sometimes it worked but it would often just chew things up.  Big simple shapes were no problem but the more intricate stuff did not really work as well as it should.  So I have been yearning to replace it for ages, and my very lovely and very, very kind husband said I could have the new Cameo, which has only just come out.  When I ordered it (from a company working through EBay), I was frustrated to be told that it was out of stock, but then they promised that it would be sent during the first week of November.  That was only one week to wait.  Sure enough, it arrived just when it was promised.  The postman was killing himself laughing at me, when I flew to the door to grab my huge parcel from him.  He knew I was a very happy bunny.

It is a fantastic bit of kit, and well supported by Silhouette.  They have been constantly updating the software for all the Silhouette machines, so the version I already had was more up to date than the one in the box.  All I needed to do was to exchange the power and USB leads and I was away.  If you succumb and upgrade to this gorgeous machine, do not try to use the connectors for your old machine - it does not work properly.

Once set up and connected to your computer, it acts like a printer, but cutting rather than printing.  You can still use the Silhouette pens and the other pen adaptors in place of the blade to draw.  I can now cut quite intricate shapes with no problems.  It will cut a full 12x12 piece of paper or card.  All the other things it will do can be better found on other web sites and YouTube videos.  Suffice it to say, I am ecstatic to be able to use all the designs I already have. 

The real benefit of the Silhouette over other die cutting machines is that you are not limited by the imagination of others.  You can design and save your own ideas, either onto your computer or onto a SD card.  You can cut your own fonts, using any font on your computer, any style, any size.  You can set it to cut your own decoupage designs.  You can cut all your own backing shapes for your toppers.  You can buy loads of designs for $0.99 from the main Silhouette site and there is a free design to download each week.  The limit of your use is just your imagination.

As you can gather, I am so chuffed to get this for an early Christmas pressie.  I shall use it this afternoon to cut the frames for those gold toppers, plain or with swirls - not decided yet.  While I am doing that, You should go and wander round more of the desks on display at Julia's place.  by the way, well done to Debbie for getting herself on this week with no help from me.  Go, gilr, have fun.  Hope to visit as many as possible of you this week.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bogus virus and spam warnings.

I have already posted about this one but it will bear repeating.  Yet another friend has been attacked by a phone call, asking her if she had a computer with Windows on it (a fair bet that, as not many o us run other systems) and telling her that her computer had a virus.  She told them it was not even turned on, so the next thing they said was could she tell them when she was turning it on so they could ring back,  Fortunately, she had the sense to realise that she was being conned and asked them for their number so she could call them.  Needless to say,  they refused, so she hung up.

There is no way that anyone else can know that your computer has a virus unless they are illegally hacking into it.  It is a con to get lots of money from you after playing on your fears.  One suggestion to deal with it that I have heard is to say you are putting them on hold for a moment, then you press the play button on some awful music, put the receiver next to it and go off to do your shopping.  I bet they will get bored very quickly.

Also, do not be taken in by well-meaning friends sending you emails with warnings of a new deadly virus coming their way.  Most of these emails have been doing the rounds for years.  Before you pass them on and create more panic, check online for yourself. 

Never, never delete files in response to such an email warning.  You will crash your own computer very fast.  Just ensure you have a very good virus checker, a malware checker, and a spybot type checker.  Keep them up to date and set them to check your computer automatically several times each day.  That should keep you as safe as it is possible to be.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

More cake chat - Kunzle, Japs and "Cup cakes" and other things.

Since I posted the recipe for the cheese scones, so many people have said they are going to make them.  I hope you all enjoy the results, which should be fairly light and melting in texture.  We went to see our grandaughter, Merlin, in a school performance yesterday (it was billed as a Grandparents's tea party).  Shaz Silverwolf and her husband (our computer doctor) also came as they are our co-grandparents.  The singing was superb. the school is very lucky to have a brilliant musician in charge, who believes in really stretching them to sing quite complicated things.  One of their songs was the Lord's Prayer from African Sanctus, sung with excellent harmonies, and these children are only 9.  It was superb.

Afterwards, we came home while Doug and Shaz took Merlin home, before coming to do some more work on our computer.  Between getting home and them arriving, I made another batch of cheese scones.  We managed to demolish most of that batch between the four of us, so they seemed to like them.

This morning, as I finished my coffee, my husband asked me what temperature I wanted the oven on, so I took the hint and started again with the Vickie and the scones.  I must say in my defence that we have not eaten all that I have baked this week.  We have shared with a lot of visitors.

Back to the Kunzle cup cake bit, they were proper cup cakes.  The ones we are bombarded with these days are not cup cakes, they are just larger versions of what we always called fairy cakes.  If you cut the tops off  and in half, putting them back on top with butter icing, then they become butterfly cakes.

For those of you who have problems with the new words creeping into food these days, here are a few translations for you:
Fairy cakes (UK) = Cup Cakes (USA)
Icing (UK) = Frosting (USA)
Gravy (UK) = jus (posh cookery programmes and restaurants)

I will add more as I get to them.  By the way, I still cook in imperial measures, as most of my tried and love recipes are from a pre-metric age.

There are web sites and blogs devoted to finding Kunzle cup cakes, so I am not alone in my yearning for those delicacies.  There are also sites devoted to finding Jap Cakes, also luscious and melting.  By the way, do you remember Spangles, square boiled sweets in a square packet.  They were brought back briefly a few years ago, then the name was changed, and they vanished.

As you can see, I am in a seriously reminiscing mood at the moment.  What else do you miss that you used to adore?  Let us all know.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

WOYWW - 126 Part 2 - Cheese scone recipe.

Several people have asked for the recipe for these tasty cheese scones.  It came from Mollie Harris, who played Martha Woodford in The Archers.
3oz grated cheese (I prefer mature cheddar)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of dry mustard (Colemans)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ oz margarine
6 oz SR flour
Milk to make a soft dough
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, roll out and cut into scone shapes as usual.  Put on a flat baking tray, brush the tops with milk.  the cook at 425F, 220C or Gas Mark7 for about 10 minutes.  Remove from baking tray and put to cool on wire rack.
You can either cut them and butter them, or freeze them for use later, or even toast them in they last long enough to turn a bit stale.


WOYWW - 126 Part 1 - Are you hungry yet?

My workdesk this week is actually in the kitchen, so don't expect to see any Christmas or birthday cards etc.  And I am writing this on Tuesday evening, as I want to do some more baking tomorrow.

First of all, how many of you will own up to knowing what these cakes are?  Every time I hear someone talking about cup cakes, my thoughts fly to these beauties.  For those of you who are too young, they were a smooth cup of dark chocolate(round, square, hexagonal, or triangular), with a very thin layer of sponge cake in the bottom and them a very thick layer of luscious creamy mix on top, flavoured orange, chocolate and vanilla, and were topped with a chocolate drop or a slice of orange etc. 

Having wet your appetites with those, I then decided that it was time I really gave my new cooker a good try out by cooking a Victoria Sandwich.  I haven't done any baking for some time, so it was a major operation to gather all the ingredients and implements needed.  However, this is the result, full of raspberry jam and waiting for our visitors tonight.  It looks OK, but the acid test will be when it is cut and tasted. 

Right, having now got into the cooking mode again, I thought I would like to try some cheese scones.  It is a lovely recipe, and came from the broadcaster, Mollie Harris, who played Martha Woodford in The Archers.  These came out so well, very light but very tasty.  A couple of them look a little dark but they are not burnt, it is just where the cheese has coloured.  Those will definitely be back in my list of top recipes.  They freeze well or can be toasted if they last long enough to get stale.

If you are not drooling too much, you will probably want to get back to our normal idea of crafting.  I recommend that you pop over to see what Julia has to show us, and from there to all the other bloggers out there.  If you visit someone, I hope you feel able to leave us a comment.  Your thoughts and ideas do mean a lot to us all.  (I was so chuffed with myself as I got round every single one, and only failed to leave a message on 2 - could not find the link on those for some reason).  I do not promise to do that every week, but I will do my best.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Guess what - I cannot wait.

Could not resist teasing you with a hint of my news and a tiny sneaky peak.  I have been trawling through the internet, looking at reviews, YouTube videos and other information about a certain brand new piece of equipment, and finally decided that it was just what I wanted.  Not only that but my DH watched me digging up every bit of info I could find, and yesterday told me to go ahead and order it.  I think it will be my Christmas and Birthday present for quite a while.  Anyway, it is on order - out of stock at the moment but expected in this week.  I can't wait.  When it arrives, I will let you know how it performs.

Anyway, it is time for lunch - a little sod, roast potatoes and mixed veggies - Yum.  Then as it is sunny at the moment, I might  go and do some cards as I still have a lot of stash to use up.  I need to get them done and out of the way before my new toy arrives.

Have a good day, all of you, and remember that crafting is supposed to be FUN.  If it isn't at the moment, find something new to do for a while.

PS It is not the Christmas tree.   By the way , the little sod is not swearing - it is what our butcher calls a chicken breast with stuffing in and bacon wrapped round the outside, and they are delicious.