Saturday, 30 August 2014

We're Walking in the Air ....!

Well, can you believe it's almost the end of August already?!  I have spent the last week checking uniform and kit bags in readiness for the start of Youngest's new school year, (like many other mothers of school age children I should imagine) replacing those outgrown items that seem to shrink overnight and taking out a second mortgage for shoes .. why do boys need so many pairs of footwear for school?!  school shoes, football boots, outdoor trainers, indoor trainers, wellies... oof! And ... my favourite job of all ... sewing in those blasted name tapes. I still have needle holes in both my thumbs! Still, I have to confess that I love September.  I think it stems back to my own school days when I used to look forward excitedly to the start of each new school year **I know what you're thinking ... weirdo...**.  I loved opening the first page of a new exercise book (which always started so neat and then seemed to rapidly deteriorate from about page 4 onwards). I loved the smell of a brand new text book.  I loved all that lovely new stationery - a sparkly clean rubber (er... that's an eraser for my American friends) and a brand new pack of pencil crayons and best of all ... I LOVED getting the new book we would be reading in English that term.  I can still remember excitedly turning page after page of The Hobbit to find out what happened to Bilbo Baggins and what dark powers the magic ring held...  **yes .. I know .... weirdo!**

I am due to embark on new venture of my own (of the crafty variety of course)  from 1st September and can't wait to tell you all about it!  You will just have to wait a wee while longer though.  Full details will be in next week's blog **squeeks with excitement!**

Anyway, as Bank Holiday Monday turned out to be a total washout here in a Sussex, I decided to make a start on some Christmas cards and chose the super cute images from the Snowman & Snowdog.  They were the perfect choice to put a smile on my face on a dreary wet day.  I have included a few samples below - hope they put a smile on your face too!

So that's a dozen made ... now I just need to get on with the rest!

Finally, I will leave you with a pic of this week's Bake Off creation.  The topic was a Desserts, and Youngest's stipulation was 'anything chocolate', so I decided to make Delia's melting chocolate fondant puddings.  They were very light and fluffy but immediately collapsed as soon as got them out of the tin!  Never mind.... they were chocolate ... what's not to love?!

Bev x

Saturday, 23 August 2014

It's the weekend, so why not treat yourself to a Pizza?! (except this one is calorie free!)

So, this week was Week 3 of my personal Bake Off challenge and I'm still in the game!  Get in!

I approached this week's category of Bread with some trepidation as just the thought of all that complicated kneading and proving brings me out in a cold sweat!  I have only made one previous attempt at a hand kneaded bread dough before (about 40 years ago!) and the results were ... hmmm, let's see, how did my Domestic Science teacher put it ... 'less than satisfactory'!  I will never forget the humiliation as she cut into my carefully nurtured loaf to reveal one giant air bubble with a crust on top!  Oh the shame!   I therefore decided on a sweet bread rather than a traditional loaf and so I opted for a giant cinnamon roll, topped with a maple vanilla glaze ... I know ... good choice eh?!  The amazing smell as it was cooking permeated the whole house and I was immediately transported to the shopping malls of the US ...  if only ... sigh :(
**Oh, and by the way Miss Bentley, if you happen to be reading this ... not an air hole in sight!**  

In keeping with the Bread theme, this week's crafty make was really the result of another one of my "I want to learn how to make ..." quests, this time being a mini pizza box.  As soon as I saw one of these cute boxes these I thought how useful they would be to fill with either little note cards, sweet treats or small gifts and given that you can make one from a single piece of card, they are very economical too!  A quick search on t'interweb yielded a whole host of tutorials, but I opted to follow one from Dawns Stamping Studio.

It was really easy to do and I have detailed the steps below in case you want to give it a go!:

Your box is now ready to decorate using stamps, decorative papers, embellishments, ribbon, whatever you like - how simple was that?!

I made another sample, just using a piece of A4 cream card stock that had been in my stash for ever, (think it was from one of those 'stack a box with A4 card' from a craft event somewhere) this time using a strong double sided tape instead of wet glue to see which held up better.   Both gave a good bond which held up well, but the wet glue is probably the more robust of the two if you want it to withstand a lot of handling (I used Cosmic Shimmer acrylic glue as I find it dries really quickly and you don't have to have the arms of an octopus to hold them all down while they dry!).  I then experimented with a bit of stamping and some inking around the edges and made a 'belly band' to slide onto the box instead of ribbon (this was made from a 1" x 11" strip of card leftover from the bit I cut off my original A4 sheet).

Thanks for stopping by and hope you enjoyed this week's crafty visit! 

Finally, for those that are curious, here is a picture of the Cinnamon Roll (which didn't last long once the boys got hold of it!).  Can you smell it?!!  ... next week is Desserts ... bring it on!

Bev x

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Box It Up - It's a piece of cake!

So sad to hear of the death of Robin Williams this week.  Like many, many others, I feel like I have lost a friend :(  He made me laugh so much in Mork & Mindy, Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs Doubtfire and too many others to mention, but was also incredibly moving in Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting.  I hope he is now at peace.  Goodbye ... I'll miss you.  Nanu Nanu x.

So, Week 2 of Bake Off and some fabulously creative biscuit constructions from the GBBO tent!  I loved Chetna's beach scene complete with carousel, and Richard's pirate themed construction was fabulous.  I fear if I was a contestant though, mine would have been much more akin to poor Jordan's 'monster mash' and had Paul Hollywood proclaiming it more  "a complete train wreck" than merely "a bit of a mess"! **now why didn't anyone thnk of that for a theme? Easy!**  I did however manage to deliver on my own personal challenge after last week's episode and baked biscuits ready for this weeks family viewing.  They were not my best creation if I'm honest, and were a plain vanilla shortbread type bake **you can see a picture at the end of this post!** 

I am clearly still obsessed by all things baking though as my crafty creations this week were literally ... erm ...  a piece of cake. I have been playing with the Cricut Sweet Tooth Boxes cartridge and fell in love with this cute cake box.

I cut these at 11.5" and made them up using a combination of plain Bazzil card stock and sparkly glitter card, finishing them off with some American Crafts ribbon and some cute flower embellishments from my stash.  They are quite big, however, if you are wanting to use these to hold an actual piece of cake or a cup cake, you would not want these much smaller but you could of course scale these down a bit if you just want some cute treat boxes.  I think it would be cool to make more of these, maybe 8 would do it, and then fit them all together to make one large cake as a table centrepiece. Great for a girly party!

Here is a closer look at the inside, designed to hold a single cup cake, but you could leave this out if desired.

and a closer look at one of the individual boxes ...

Whilst still on the subject of boxes, below is an old chocolate box which I 'upcycled' and made into a pretty gift box by covering in these lovely summery papers (from Craftwork Cards) and adding a few paper flowers and a pretty pink organza ribbon.  Voila! How much would something similar cost in a posh card shop? This one cost pennies.  Why not have a go?!

Finally, here is a picture of my 'biscuit bake off' technical challenge ... Hmmmm ... roughly the same size , no soggy bottom, but I'm sure Paul would say ''hmmmm ... not an even bake''  **or as youngest kindly remarked ... "They're ok ... but hardly a show stopper Mum eh?" Cheers... thanks for that...**. Beginning to seriously doubt though whether I will be able to deliver anything edible for next week as it's BREAD ... eeek!

Until next week ... TTFN

Bev x

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Tea and Cake

Morning folks!  So finally, this week we saw the long anticipated return of The Great British Bake Off to our TV screens.  I don't know about you but we are completely addicted in our house!  I even baked some cupcakes to eat with a cup of tea whilst we were watching ... **is that going too far do you think?!**  Who's your money on for this series?  I think the men are pretty strong this year ... Richard the builder, (what a shame his name isn't Bob), Ian the fiery haired Scot, (who I think could be this year's dark horse), and of course the lovely Norman with his home made cake stands! Roll on next week!

So, to continue with the tea and cake theme, I decided to make a shaped card this week using the teapot template and Afternoon Tea papers from Craftwork Cards.  Here's how it came together:

  • I stuck two of the teapot templates together, scoring the back one just above the handle so that it stands up, and covering the top one with one of the pretty papers.  
  • I then inked the edges with Tim Holtz distress ink in Victorian Velvet.  
  • Next, I layered up two of the die cut butterflies, also from the Afternoon Tea set, and shaped them slightly with a bone folder to make the wings 'flutter' and then decorated with a few fuchsia pink dew drops from Kanban down the centre.  
  • I added one of the large toppers from the Afternoon Tea collection and then made a quick flower from a piece of leftover paper from the Paper Artistry pad (also Craftwork Cards).  
  • Finally, I added a pink grosgrain bow at the top using some American Crafts ribbon from my stash.

I love how it turned out!

Finally, here are the cupcakes that I baked to celebrate the return of Bake Off!  I used the vanilla cupcake recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book, which makes lovely light cakes, and then decorated with vanilla frosting, coloured with a little pink food gel and topped with hundreds and thousands ... Mmmmmm ... perfect!

Right, better start searching for a biscuit recipe to eat with next week's episode (the biscuits, not the recipe) **oh heck ... what have I started?!**


Bev x

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Project Life - Recording the every day.

So,  12 months ago I embarked on a project of a slightly different nature to that which I was used to in my day job!  I had seen a lot of references on t'Interweb to something called 'Project Life' ... it kept popping up in various blogs I was reading and on Pinterest ... and I didn't really understand what it was all about.  More about that in a minute ...

I have been what I would call a 'traditional' scrapbooker for the last 12 years, mainly in 12x12 albums, and would describe my style as being quite simple, preferring to focus on the photos and telling the story **those who know me will not be surprised by that bit! ** rather than creating very detailed layouts with lots of patterned papers and embellishments and maybe just one or two photos  My problem though, was keeping up to date and whilst I got quite efficient at scrapping holiday photos not long after we got back, I found that all the 'in between' photos that were taken of the everyday stuff were getting neglected, not just due to the sheer number of them **it is not just about those on the camera these days, but photos on my iPhone, iPad, my husbands phone, iPad etc. etc.!** but also the lack of time available to dedicate to getting them done.  I think the last time I looked, I was still completing 2008!!  I began to feel that that I could never catch up and what had started as a relaxing and pleasurable activity, began to stress me out and I found I was rushing to just 'get it done' rather than enjoying the process.  This is where Project Life comes in ...

After some further research, I determined that it was really just a much simpler, back to basics way of scrapbooking that would still allow me to capture the everyday and tell the story but best of all ..... it was QUICK!!  Photos & memorabilia just slot into the plastic pockets - no scissors or glue required - write your journalling on one of the predesigned cards & slot that in a pocket as well and hey presto, you're done!   Of course you can absolutely add additional embellishments and be more creative with the cards you slot into the pockets if you want to and have more time, but for me this seemed like the perfect solution.

So,  just under a year ago I decided I would give it a try for 12 months and see how I got on.  I decided I would do a double page layout per week (although this could be fortnightly, or even monthly if you don't tend to take that many photos) and whilst I know that some people do use Project Life as a true daily record and take one photo every day (conveniently, there are 8 large slots per double page - one title card and 7 photos), I haven't been quite that structured and I tend to just use it as a weekly summary.  If it has been a quiet week and I only have one or two photos, I take a couple of photos from around the house that capture the REAL everyday such as the contents of my skincare/make up cupboard; **Mr Crafty Cow would argue that that could easily take up a double page on it's own!**... doing the laundry; shopping at the supermarket; a piece of Youngest's school work, etc.  You are probably all yawning at this point and thinking I have gone quite mad,  but I often think how cool it would have been if my great-grandmother had been able to leave me a similar record of her life over 100 years ago?  I would have LOVED to have that today!   **Btw, if either of my boys are reading this, I WILL come back and haunt you if you even think of throwing any of my albums away!**

To make it simple, I tend to take all my photos on my iPhone and then, via Photostream, open and print them off from my computer each week.

Here's an example of one of my pages: 

A lovely weekend spent with friends in Dorset
 (which constituted the whole layout for that particular week) 

... a closer look

So, I am almost at the end of my year's experiment now and what is the verdict?  I love, love, LOVE it!  I can print off my 7 photos, complete my journalling and slot it all in my album within about half an hour on a Saturday morning.  Boom!  No stress, no agonising over which paper goes with which or how I should design my page.

I still plan to stick to my 'traditional' scrapbook albums for those special events and holidays where I might have lots of photos to scrapbook, but for recording everyday life, this is the perfect solution for me and I will definitely be continuing to record our story using 'Project Life'.

If you would like read more about Project Life,  hop over to Becky Higgins  site for more info and inspiration.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by ... see you next time.


Bev x