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.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Getting ready for the New Year - trying to find somewhere to work or even sit

 I finally plucked up the courage after lunch to get started on the disaster that was my craft room.  I was very honest and took photos of the before and the after so far.  Needless to say, I am nowhere near finished, but I did make a start.  This is just to the left of my cutting mat, and everything had started to cascade and get thoroughly mixed up.  Even the clock had fallen over and joined the general wreckage.
After an afternoon of hard work, this was the same bit of my desk.  The Christmas stuff that had taken over and collapsed is now away in one box.  It had been in two boxes, but I managed to get it all into one - the only problem is that the box is twice the size.  I want to know how I can make 70 cards from what I had in the boxes, and now there is more stuff to put away.  How does that work, then?  
The whole of the desk has now been dusted and cleaned of random bits of glue.  You can see the two new sets of CD Rom's from Joanna Sheen, the Patience Strong set and the Faye Whittaker one.  (Pretty good service on those.  They were in the special offer section at half price, and they came within 36 hours of ordering.)  My now empty bottle of water is there under the light (must bring that downstairs to refill it for tomorrow - the water bottle, not the light), but you can see most of the cutting mat, which is a novelty.

I am lucky enough to have two printers in my room, one for general purpose and the other to take the thicker card, and also, as an extra, it prints pretty pictures on DVD's and CD's.  After the pre-Christmas panic, they were both submerged under piles of UFO's and general dross.  This picture does not show them at their worst.  There are replacement printer cartridges, empty containers, sheets of Christmas papers and projects, cards and envelopes.  

By the end of the afternoon, I had managed to replace the dead cartridges, and clear the tops of both printers.  Now they are both ready to use. There are a couple of things still in situ, the can of air to clean the keyboard and the air vents on the computer, a set of discs for Greeting Card Factory, and another container of assorted ribbons.  I have followed Shaz Silverwolf's advice and ordered some of that foam board to store my ribbons on, so that will have to wait until the package arrives.  

That will do for today, but I will continue the clear up tomorrow, maybe, hopefully, but I do need to do a couple of cards for early January as well.  Speak to you all later.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Jude's Blog Candy - Ends Jan 6th

Follow the link in the sidebar to Jude's blog to see the wonderful goodies she has on offer.

WOYWW - 134

Never mind all the expensive gadgets that we are all told we cannot do without for Christmas.  This is what it is all about for me.  This gorgeous canvas was a very special present, created by our very clever daughter.  All four grandchildren together for once.  The original picture was heavily photoshopped to sort out the fact that the colours all screamed at each other, and to create a professional looking background.  It must have taken hours of work, but, I am sure you will agree, the result is stunning.  I will show you the other picture she did for us next week.

It was great to have all the grandchildren together on Christmas Day, although it was a shame that son's poor wife was on duty till about 5pm, so she missed this part of the festivities.

Looking at Shaz Silverwolf's blog today, she has been busy sorting out all her ribbons, and they look really good and easy to find.  I wish that was all I had to do.  My room looked a wreck when I closed the door on it on Christmas Eve, but I thought it would do until after the big day.  Oh boy, was I wrong?  When Steve arrived with the two girls, the youngest was distinctly cross and tired, having not even closed her eyes on the journey down.   So she urgently needed a sleep in a darkened room, so as my room has black out curtains, things were moved rapidly to make room for the travel cot, out of reach of anything dangerous.   I really need to start working my way back in to make it fit for working in again.

I also failed miserably in my mission to use up all the Christmas stuff and reduce the two boxes to one.  In fact, despite making over 70 cards with the stash, I think the stuff left over got busy breeding, and I am not sure it will all fit back in even two boxes.  So my next mission is to make Christmas cards throughout the year to clear the backlog before panic sets in next year.  I have quite a few stamps that were intended to be used for this years cards, but there was no room or time to play with them.

My final card to be finished this year nearly sent me to an early grave.  The topper was already done, one of my stained glass variety of a Nativity stained glass window, with the acetate married up with the paper version underneath.   I needed a frame to cover the glue holding the two halves together, but then I discovered that nothing was the right colour.  OK, strong sticky tape round ti and Martha Stewart fine glitter rubbed into it.  That looks good.  Now back it onto black card.  Fine.  Now I need gold card as the final matt - problem, nothing matched the gold glitter.  Here we go again.  this time, spray glue on the mount, stick the topper on that and rub glitter into the edges of the matt.  Then the whole thing was finally stuck on to the black pearlescent card.  That looks fine.  Now all I need is the gold holographic sentiment - problem - I used all the gold ones, only silver left.  Out came the spray glue again.  I cut the sentiment off the sheet, sprayed it with glue and rubbed in more glitter.  Then I peeled off my newly glittered sentiment and stuck that on back card and mounted it in the same way as the topper.  All that was left the the simple job of printing out the insert, which was already set up.  Did I say simple........  What a mistake that was.  It printed fine, but then it needed to be trimmed.  After three disasters when bits got chewed off, I looked at the guillotine and found that the channel the blade runs in was clogged with glue and general stuff.  After I cleaned that out, things worked better and the card was finally finished, and was very well received.  Sadly, I cannot show it to you this week, as I forgot to photograph it before I handed it over, but I will try to remedy that and post it here in a later post.

I hope you all had a great time at Christmas, with various ailments taking a back seat for the day, and lots of family all around.  It looks as though Julia did, with her family together.  Just click on her name to find out what she and many other friends got up to.  Meanwhile, Happy New Year to all of you.  I have really loved reading your posts and your comments this year.  Keep them coming and enjoy your crafting and your lives in 2012.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas to all of you.

A very Special Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all of you who visit my blog, and I hope to see much more of you in the future.  I love to read your comments,

Friday, 23 December 2011

Memories of Christmas past.

Just listening (not watching cos I am typing) to Grumpy Old Men at Christmas, and really giggling about it.  They are just discussing how their fathers would always talk to each other ad infinitum about the best route through Birmingham to get from one family member to another.  That took me back instantly to my childhood.  I am now really going to show my age as it was during the time when the centre of the city was being torn apart.  We had to get from Redditch to Walsall and did it most weekends to visit family.  I don't think we took the same route two weeks running.  I still know most of the back roads of the city.

Once we got to Walsall, we went straight to Dad's parents, who lived behind the undertaker's shop in Stafford Street, so we had to go through the shop, past the chapel of rest to get to the living room at the back.  I never remember that room as anything else but stuffed full of family and friends.  After a noisy welcome there and a lot of chat, we would carry on to the next, which was a maiden aunt (my godmother) further up the road on the Wednesbury Road.  The main thing I remember there was the quietness, the lace runner on the table and the scratchy horse hair sofa (the end of which folded down so you could put your feet up).  The next port of call would be my other grandparents in Dartmouth Avenue.  The garden there was huge, and Grandad grew a row of peas just for me to eat, straight from the plant - I suspect it was to protect the rest of the peas from me so that everyone else could have some.  The Christmas visit was actually to collect them and bring them back to our house for Christmas.

Christmas dinner was, of course, turkey from our local butcher.  Each year, we would order a small turkey from him (he raised them himself) and it would turn out to be so big that it would not fit in the oven without removing bits.  Boxing Day was cold turkey and pickles, including pickled cucumber and onion (must go and make some), with my uncle and aunt joining us.  Then Mum and Dad, and uncle and aunt would spend the evening playing Solo Whist for halfpennies and pennies, very competitively and very loudly.

How did I get from Grumpy Old Men and routes through Brum to parents playing whist?  could have something to do with the Bailey's to celebrate finishing the last card.

Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

WARNING TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE IN BLOGLAND

WARNING TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE IN BLOGLAND
This is an addition to my normal post added this evening.   We have just had another phone call which seems to be another scam.  It was a telephone call from someone trying to sell us insurance for our new Sony TV.    We never do business like this over the phone anyway, and choked him off eventually (he was persistent), then did a 1471 to see if there was a number.  It came up with 0002071839757.  Having checked it out on the internet, it seems to be an extension of a previous scam to get money from Sky customers.  Put the number into a Google search and see for yourself.  The main thing is to check every caller out before you do anything.  Be careful. .  

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

WOYWW - 133 It is nearly here - Happy Christmas to Everyone

My second desk downstairs - computer desk, really.
WARNING TO ALL OF YOU OUT THERE IN BLOGLAND
This is an addition to my normal post added this evening.   We have just had another phone call which seems to be another scam.  It was a telephone call from someone trying to sell us insurance for our new Sony TV.    We never do business like this over the phone anyway, and choked him off eventually (he was persistent), then did a 1471 to see if there was a number.  It came up with 0002071839757.  Having checked it out on the internet, it seems to be an extension of a previous scam to get money from Sky customers.  Put the number into a Google search and see for yourself.  The main thing is to check every caller out before you do anything.  Be careful. .  
Today, I am so late posting after missing last week completely.  My excuse/reason,truth is all down to technology.  After buying me my fantastic Silhouette for Christmas, my wonderful husband decided that he needed to get more up to date with his phone.  That decision coincided with a call from Virgin offering a better deal on our home phone together with a contract phone at a very good price, so we decided to go with it.  The phone arrived the following morning early and I go the job of setting it up for him as it is similar to mine.  Similar - yes, but different enough to bring on a nervous breakdown.  Finally sorted that one, then mine needed a software update.  What a mistake!  The update was fine, but then I found how to download apps for it, and my credit vanished in a puff of hot smoke!

PANIC!!!!

So this morning was a rush uptown to the local Orange shop for help.  As usual with techie things, we chose the youngest assistant, who immediately stopped my money haemorrhage, and explained it clearly to me, and showed me slowly and carefully how to avoid the problem in the future.  We then discussed tariffs and what I needed and wanted, and came away two hours later with that sorted out and also a new dongle to allow me to use the laptop on holiday.

The afternoon was taken up with registering the SIM's and then creating two quiz rounds on a musical theme for our friends for Christmas day.  Sounds easy, but takes forever to remove all identification from each one of the tracks before recording them.  Still, it is now done, and it is just down to cooking and present wrapping.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  I am sure you will enjoy going round a few more desks thanks to the wonderful Julia.  Have fun and see you after Christmas.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bread Pudding - or How to avoid throwing away cake and bread

I think this recipe came originally from my grandmother in Walsall, Staffordshire.  I certainly remember eating it there, although my recipe says I had it from my mother.  It is a great way of using up any stale bread or cake, or using a cake that did not turn out right.  Originally, it was just bread, but after a recipe went wrong for me (I still have not worked out what was at fault), I could not bear to throw all that cake away.  So after a couple of days cogitating, I decided it was worth trying to see if I could rescue it.  The result was so successful, that I have done it several times since.  It is slightly different each time, depending on how much cake or bread you add.

Ingredients:
½lb stale bread and cake
3 oz sugar
2oz butter, margarine, or dripping
4oz mixed dried fruit (the sort with candied peel in)
¼ pint milk (you may need a little more if your bread and cake is very dry)
1 egg
a little freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Method:
1.  Crumble the bread and cake into a large bowl, and pour the milk over it. 
2.  Mix and then leave it to soak for at least one hour.
3.  Then mix in the fruit, sugar, beaten egg and nutmeg.
4.  Melt the fat and mix it into the mixture.
5.  Pour mixture into a well greased pie dish and bake for 1 to 1½ hours at Gas Mark 4***, until a knitting needle poked into the middle comes out clean.
6.  Cut it into suitable sized portions and enjoy (hot or cold)

The texture should be fairly firm but not hard.  Instead of the nutmeg, you could add your own mixture of Christmas type spices, and replace some of the milk with an alcoholic liquid of your own choice. It will be different each time you make it, according to the mix of bread and cake.  I hope you enjoy it. 

*** Temperature conversion
Gas Mark 4 - Conventional oven 350° F/180°C - Fan oven 160°C
The time will vary a little according to your oven.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

WOYWW - 131 Help!!! It's getting closer!

This is a scheduled post, so the photo was taken on Tuesday afternoon while I still had some daylight.  If I am awake at the right time, I will link up early on Wednesday morning.

I know this is not really my desk, but I am sure you will soon get bored at seeing the same desk as last week, so instead here is an anniversary card.  This was a real mix of techniques and bits and pieces. The card itself was cut and shaped on the Silhouette, using a design downloaded from a free site, but it would be easy enough to create the design for yourself.  The gold flower pattern down the side was drawn by the Silhouette and then filled in by hand with a Sakura gold pen.  

The flowers and leaves were from a kit I bought ages ago, but I cannot remember where or who they were by, but they are brilliant if you want to send a more dimensional card through the post without paying too  high a price.  They are very thin but only glued down the very centre, allowing the petals and the leaves to be curled more naturally.  They will flatten to fit easily into an envelope, and spring out again when opened.

Once everything was glued down and the pen was dry, I just added a few gold gems to give it a bit of bling.  The recipient is a crafter in her own right, and really had fun trying to work out what I had done and what I had used to create it.  

Wednesday is earmarked for getting back to inserts for Christmas cards.  I also need to make some more bread pudding (not bread and butter pudding - completely different).  It is a very tasty recipe for using up slightly stale cakes and bread, or even cakes that have gone a little wrong.  They can still be rescued and turned into something good.  I will post that recipe tomorrow for anyone who is interested.

If you are still with me at this point, I know you will love visiting a lot more blogs around the world, who are hosted on a Wednesday by lovely Julia, whose sense of humour keeps us all going.  Just follow the link here and enjoy yourself.  I hope to get round to visiting as many of you as possible over the next week.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Fridge Cake

Several people asked me for this recipe yesterday, so, as I promised, here it is.  It is not my original, but came from a friend, Trissa, many years ago.  I have not made it for a long time and I had forgotten just how sticky and rich it is.  My tastes and appetites have changed in those years, and I cannot eat the size of portions I would have done.  A very small piece is enough to satisfy my desires.

Ingredients:
8oz digestive biscuits
4oz margarine
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ cup cocoa powder
3-4oz sultanas
3-4oz chocolate to cover

Method: Melt the sugar, Margarine and syrup together in a saucepan.  Then add cocoa, then sultanas and crushed biscuits.  Mix thoroughly, then tip into a 7 inch square baking tin (I usually line the tin with baking parchment).  cover with the melted chocolate (I melt that in a jug in the microwave), and put it all in the fridge until set.  Cut into small pieces and store in the fridge.

Hope you all enjoy this one.  Me, I'm off now to start the bread off, and to make some cheese scones.  Then it is back to the Christmas cards - time to finish them and get them in the post.