Sunday, 30 November 2008

30 posts in 30 days

Today's post marks the end of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month), a post every day for the entirety of November, 30 posts for 30 days. I signed up in hopes that it would make my writing flow a bit and get me to write every single day for a month.

this is post 30 and I must admit I am quite happy it is over, I tried to make my posts witty and meaningful, but I must admit a few of them were just a chore... and a few more were total cheats as I back dated a few posts here and there when I haven't been on the Internet for a day or two.

Today we went down to the Bullring in Birmingham, to gorge ourselves on Krispy Kreme Donuts at Selfridges. But mainly so H could go goggle eyed at the donut machine and tell me how it works. Then later on I wandered around to food hall cooing and fondling all the American imported food stuff... or should I say junk food stuff.. I really don't see why they have so much marshmallow fluff and Lucky Charms cereal.. both of which I would touch but seeing the packaging make me smile wistfully.

Saturday, 29 November 2008


so guess who is in a treasury this weekend? Me! well my little poison apple tree is. Its in the Crafter..oo two treasury.

thank you Kerry from Penny Dog Jewellery for creating the treasury for everyone who is a crafter...oo etsian.

Friday, 28 November 2008

I should be crafting now...

.. but I'm tired and this week has been a total whirlwind. I have done two window displays, thanksgiving dinner, meet up with a fab lot of crafty bloggers, got stuck in the rain waiting for a bus that never came. Had a wander around Chatsworth, elbowing grumpy old ladies aside so we could stake out a table. and a trip to Caudwell's mill for coffee and cake... and so H could drag M all around the mill looking at various cogs and things.

Today if I'm lucky I will get a bit of sketching done and possibly write up how I made the display for the studio window. I have had a few more ideas for Christmas presents in my hopes of having as handmade as possible a Christmas... aside from Mario things for H (the boy is obsessed), the books I am coveting, chocolates and lovely Laura Ashley things for M's mum.

I have so much that needs doing.. parcels to send out to California, Idaho, and Finland. crafts that need crafting... cakes that need baking, and a house that is in desperate need of a tidy. and coffee that needs drinking.. busy busy... . mmm coffee

Thursday, 27 November 2008

happy turkey day!

wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I have cooked and cooked .... admittedly I didn't cook a whole turkey we just had turkey steaks with Parmesan mashed potatoes, asparagus, sweet potatoes carmelized with brown sugar, stuffed peppers, and cupcakes for pudding. The dishes are done and I'm ready for my bed.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

the twinkling of lights

Window display at the Studio
This is what I have been working on all day today, sorting out the window display for the studio. What do you think? M thought the tree was a bit too creepy to being with but I love how it looks on the paper and with the fairy lights twinkling gently. Well maybe not gently I opted for them to be on straight as every time I tried the pretty twinkling setting they would switch to epileptic fit mode and I would have a temper tantrum and grizzle at the lights.
if anyone is interested I thought I might do a little tutorial about how I made the painted tree decoration for the studio window... I love it and am considering doing one on a smaller scale to go on the fireplace with one of those battery operated lights.
busy day tomorrow.. not only is it Thanksgiving but I'm meeting up with some very talented craft bloggers at a meet up in the morning.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

the Coconut Cookie Experiment

Coconut cookies
1 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup butter/margerine (softened)
3/4 cup caster (white) sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
1 eggs (large)
1 1/2 cup desiccated (sweetened and tenderized coconut*)

Pre-heat the oven to 375° F

In a large bowl beat the butter, vanilla extract, and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Add the flour slowly until well blended. By hand stir in the coconut.

Drop the dough by teaspoon onto un-greased cookie sheet. For larger cookies drop by the tablespoon.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the centre is puffed up and the edges begin to brown. Remove from the oven, let them cool for a minute on the baking tray before placing on a wire rack to cool.

* I meant to grab the normal desiccated coconut but grabbed the "tenderized and sweetened coconut" by mistake... and I must admit it was lovely and I stole several pinches from the bag before I had finished making the cookies.

cook's notes: as I said above I had bought the wrong coconut by mistake when doing teh shopping last week and the packet was sitting rather forlornly, or as forlornly as a packet of dried coconut can sit, in the cupboard waiting to be used. I love coconut and have expirimented with several diffrent recipe creations, this one I was expirimenting with in an attempt to make a recipe up for Katy to make a dairy free version, as the last tiem she was over I made some coconut rocks. They were meant to be cookies but puffed up a bit too much, they still tasted nice though. These should work out much better and will work nicely with margarine. The turned out lovely and crisp and very coconutty!

Monday, 24 November 2008

and the winner is......

the giveaway is now closed thank you everyone who left a comment, if I was rich enough, or at least sold enough jewellery and art I would send you all a gift!

I was left 27 lovely comments that have been really lovely to read thank you so much, it really improved my spirits reading such lovely comments and all about everyone's Christmas plans. I cryed a little bit reading through the comments. Thank you for your support and I hope you continue to read my blog and perhaps one of you will win on my next giveaway.. or maybe we will get to do a swap someday!
so I suppose I should let you know who the winner is... as picked by the lovely and lazy random number generator is number
Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers: 17...
Timestamp: 2008-11-24 19:56:58 UTCRandom Integer Generator
the winner is
syko kajsa who said:

"I would like Santa to bring me some nice clothes, I haven't bought myself anything new in ages! And a pair of new glasses, if he can afford it...I love pendant and would love to find it in a box under the tree!"

Sunday, 23 November 2008

rice hand warmer

rice warmer
Hey look what I made!.... no not the picture(thought it is one of mine that M says looks like Kelly Osbourn), the little gingham pillow.. its a little hand warmer, filled with rice that was lurking in the back of the cupboard and a pinch of cinnamon. Now you all know I have been slowly learning to sew well my Mother in Law bought a little mini sewing machine and we had a play on it earlier, she showed me what to do to make it go and we made a little pillow that H confiscated for his Vampire doll (who is afraid of the dark apparently).

another view but for some reason blogger keeps turning the image sideways.

I dug a piece of material out of my scrap box and sewed this in the little sewing machine. Added the rice and a pinch of cinnamon and sewed up the last little edge. its a bit wonky but that's ok, it smells lovely and it works and I made it all by myself. I am very proud of my little hand warmer as I plan on making a special one for H for Christmas.


There is one day left to sign up for my smokey quartz pendant giveaway!

so please sign up and leave a comment on the giveaway post and I will draw the winner monday afternoon/evening time.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

seven things

a while ago I got tagged by a few people to do the seven wierd things meme, which I have done before but thought I would do again.. though I'm not going to tag anyone, if you leave a comment consider yourself tagged if you so wish to be.

I love memes, I love filling them out and I love reading them to learn intresting little tidbits about people. Its facinating and fun, and you get to know people better by seeing a bit of what makes them tick.

so here goes 7 random things about me:

1. I love gift cards... but not in the traditional sense, I love blank ones from my favourite shops, I use them as bookmarks (another unhealthy obsession), my favourites are ones from Old Navy and random coffee shops, the Flying Goat in Santa Rosa, California or the Sunflower Cafe in Sonoma, California the very first Starbuck's in Seattle, Wa. and a card pilfered from Bloomingdale's in San Francisco ( I nearly gave it to Katy but then I thought she might think I'm a total wierdo) . I have converted H who collects them where every we go, often times I just ask if I can have one and they will give them too me, I'm not sure if that is enabling me or not.

2. I'm a somewhat reformed rock hound, I used to collect all sorts of rocks and stones, arrowheads, crystals, fossils, even washed up bits of glass on the beach. I have more expensive tastes now, and just collect semi-precious beads and chunky sterling silver and semi-precious gemstone pendants. but my eyes still search the ground whenever we go for walks and especially when we go to the beach.

3. I was a rather melancholy child, sitting reading Stephen King novels instead of playing at recess time at school. The stand (unabridged) is still one of my favourite novels that I re-read every few years. I probably would have been a goth if it didn't take so much work to be pale and interesting and dressed in black. I'm more of a moral grey area type of girl than that.. though I must admit my reading tastes tend to go dark side a bit.. and my movie tastes too...

4. The X-Files brought me and M together. And is the reason we named our cat Starbuck, though most people assume its for the coffee, actually he is names Starbuck because its Scully's nickname from her father.

5. I wanted to be a girl Indiana Jones for years when I was little, but as I got older I realized he is actually a rather crap archaeologist, though I still adore the moves and M just bought me the new boxed set. H has been running around the house singing/humming the theme music, its adorable.

6. I once had a cat named Daisy, named after my favorite TV character at the time Daisy Duke from the Dukes of Hazard of course I think I was 5.

7. When we moved into this house, sitting in its lovely little close but I couldn't help think what it would be like if the zombies came like at the beginning of Dawn of the Dead. So now you know what a total geek I am.

Friday, 21 November 2008

a little peek at what I'm working on

a little peek at something I am working on... if it works out then it will get blogged and its own tutorial.. if not then you never saw this.. right? oh and the tube of filler has nothing to do with the project I'm working on.... it was just on the table and I forgot to move it.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

...oops I almost forgot...

king of all he sees, but not a mouse in sight for little owl show you the pictures of my little craft table from Sunday's craptacular pamper fair. At least Little Scrap Owl hid in my art box and popped out to survey that I had done a decent job of displaying my jewellery and art. The he made a little nest out of some bubble wrap and discarded tags and went to sleep. I wouldn't have minded but he did snore a bit, it might have been what kept people away from the event.

I think the paintings mix well with the jewellery

I thought the stall looked nice and I did get a few compliments on my vintage book page art and the use of book pages to display my jewellery on. I was quite proud of my sign as well, its a magnetic frame from Ikea that M helped me print a sign for me Meridian Ariel art, craft & jewellery design by Apryl Lowe.. it looked professional-ish.. at least for me.
p.s. there is still time to leave a comment on my giveaway.
I would be ever so greatful if you could link back to it from your blog! thank you.
the winner will be drawn on Monday.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Tile Magnet Tutorial

Stone tile fridge magnets

5cm x 5cm stone tiles (they come in sheets from your local tile or DIY shop)
acrylic paints
magnets (as many as you have tiles)
1x tube superglue (or all purpose crafting glue)
1x can varnish spray

Step one: remove a tile from the sheet of backing it is stuck to. Clean and leave to dry out.

Step two: sketching your design. I sketched directly onto the tile, but you can draw your design onto some tracing paper and transfer it to your tile. Alternatively if you don’t draw or sketch you can used rubber stamps to stamp on a design.

Step three: paint your design using acrylic paints. I used them because I normally use acrylics in my art, they dry quickly and are pretty durable.

Step four: I sprayed my tiles with an acrylic varnish (2 coats)

Step 5: glue the magnet to the back of the tile. (the magnets I bought came with adhesive on the back but it was not nearly strong enough to hold the tile up. I know because I tried it and the tiles clattered down to the counter top)

I'm really happy with how they turned out, and seeing as there are several more sheets of tiles in the garage I plan to make some more tiles up as Christmas presents. I may even rope H into helping by getting him to make some Jelly Bean People magnets. I hope you find this tutorial fun and helpful.
p.s. if you look closely at the last picture you will see that they are indeed my kitchen tile leftovers. The noticeboard is a metal topped shelf from Ikea.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

recycling the kitchen tiles

upcycled/recycled stone tiles (aka magnets to be)
In a box in the garage are several sheets of unused sheets of small stone tiles left over from the kitchen. In an attempt to amuse myself yesterday I dragged my paints, and tatty paint brushes out and had a go at painting on stone. My idea is to turn them into magnets, once I have sourced some strong magnets to glue to the back of the tiles.

teal cup (my favourite)
I think they look pretty good for a small quick experiment, and once I have found some magnets and sprayed some varnish/lacquer on top they will make a great little stocking stuffer for Christmas. The teal cup and the toadstool are my favourites so far, and I have a few more sheets of tiles to rip from the backing and have a play with. When I have found some magnets I will share with you what I have found and maybe write a mini tutorial if anyone would be interested?

a starbuck's red cup for M

Monday, 17 November 2008

Smoky Quartz Pendant Giveaway

smokey quartz and onyx beaded pendant

I have been wanting to do another giveaway for awhile now, and as yesterday was such a bust I spent the whole time I was at the fair making a few more pieces of jewellery and made two more pendants identical to this one. With Christmas come soon I thought it would make a lovely present to give or something to keep and wear when going out.

All that I ask is that you leave me a nice comment (I could do with a bit of cheering up) and tell me about something you plan make this Christmas Season or what you want Santa to bring you.

I will draw a winning name next Monday!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

crap day at the pamper fair

Had a really crap day at the pamper fair organized by the parents of H's school, it was very well organized, we advertised everywhere and sent leaflets home with all the parents but it wasn't enough. only about 10 parents came to the event which was quite shameful as the event was to raise money for the school Christmas fair, Santa and presents for the kids.

there were a lot of stall holders but no people really. Some of stalls closed down early and went home... I stayed till the end but only made one sale, to the main organizer of the event. I think she felt sorry for me. Everyone felt really down about the event after all the effort to organize it. I was supposed to give a percentage of my sales to the school but I only sold the one bracelet, to the main PTA lady and she wouldn't have me give the money in... so I bought a few snacks to at least give some money back to the school.

My only other pet peeve at the event, aside from it being a ghost town, was that i was next to one of those stalls selling shitty- glittery tat from China. "Any item of rhinestone encrusted crap, that will tarnish your skin and fall apart on the first wear for a fiver."


p.s. my little table did look nice but you will have to wait a few days for pictures as M has the camera, and my computer is poorly again... *sigh*

Saturday, 15 November 2008

toadstools in frames

Just a quick post to show you some of my toadstool paintings sitting in brand new frames. I think they look so different. I was sitting in the living room looking at them and it was like I was looking at something someone else made. I didn't feel like I had made them because they look nice.

more to come soon as desperately trying to finish stuff off for tommorow.

why has this image turned out so big? I'm not getting along with blogger at the moment.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Thursday Night Project

smokey quartz bracelet

The Thursday Night project is an ongoing community crafting project through Crafteroo and
Flickr . The aim of the project is to photograph your work in progress and what you have finished for Thursday night. Its a great way to push yourself into finishing those few crafty things that you started and have been ignoring and setting aside for awhile.

smokey quartz and onyx pendant

I probably should have gotten more done last night than I did, but I had to help M book flights for visiting the states in the spring, and it took a lot longer to sort out than we had hoped. But its sorted now we fly from Heathrow to Seattle on the first of April, then the next morning (our Anniversary) we get to spend 6 hours driving across Washington State to get to my parents home in Idaho. I can't wait.

rose quartz and silver bracelet

The chunky faceted smokey quartz featured at the top of this blog post is one of those happy accidents, I ordered the beads because they were on offer, what I didn't pay attention to was how big they were, I knew they were rough, which is what I wanted and I have completely fallen in love with them and want to order more, as I hope I can sell a few pieces this weekend in order to buy more of these beads so I can justify keeping a bracelet for myself.. as it is I may just have to keep the pendant and wear that on Sunday as I set up and mind my jewellery an art stall. M says the beads look like something Betty Rubble or Wilma Flintstone might wear, but I think they are beautiful.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Working for the Weekend

snowflake quartz, teal glass, and metal bracelet
This Sunday I have a table to fill at a pampering event in town to raise money for H's school. M signed me up for it and to be honest I'm quite terrified that no one will want what I am selling. I have been working hard the last few days to make as much jewellery as I can to fill the table. I plan on bringing some of my painted pages as well so have bought a few frames to put them in and hopefully create some sort of display by draping the jewellery over the framed paintings.

faceted black onyx bracelet
I'm note sure if I will sell much, but have promised to give %20 percent of my profits to the school instead of paying for entry. We shall see hoe it goes, perhaps I should make some cupcakes as well.. at least I know that my baking will sell if nothing else does. I should be working away at some beading now, but I'm waiting for a delivery of some findings and have a huge amount of housework to sort out. arghh
red quartz and carnelian pendant
My favourite pieces are the onyx bracelet, the beads are so gorgeous and the red quartz and carnelian pendant. If they don't sell I will put them up on etsy, and if not then well I will just have to keep them for myself. The phone charms are something new I have been playing with, although I probably wouldn't use one myself I do like how they turned out. I best get going and do some sorting out, and make some vague attempt at cleaning the house.

red coral and turquoise bracelets

nephrite jade and red jade pendant

deep rose candy jade, snowflake quartz, and metal bracelet

a few phone charms, teal glass, strawberry quartz, red jade and onyx
and a key chain made with new jade and white quartz

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Through the Woods

A few days ago I recieved a lovely package from Selena for the Fairy Tale Swap I ran what seems like ages ago, inside the package was a lovely note from Selena and some beautiful gifts. My favourite fairy tale, or at least one of them is Little Red Riding Hood, so Selena gathered together some beautiful red felt, some Japanese red riding hood fabric and commisioned her friend to make the most beautiful felt wall hanging.
The above image doesn't really do it any justice, it lovely, with such pretty little details, in the curling blond hair, the vibrant flowers, and velvet ribbon and vintage button fasteners. Thank you very much Selena, and your very talented friend Jacki for making me so happy.
If you haven't been to Selena's Apron Thrift Girl Blog please visit her, he blog is brilliant, and she took some lovely photos of the things I sent her. which I erm sorta forgot to photograph in my haste to send the package to her. Thanks again Selena for swapping with me and for taking the time to send me lovely emails, and to witter on with me about Dr. Horrible, Buffy, the crew of the Serenity, and stealing Melinda's house, and the house from Practical Magic too.
Oh and Selena, just so you know the knitted cuff is also a java jacket for your coffee/tea cup when at a coffee shop, better than the card board ones. I always carry one in my purse, it makes me smile to place it on my coffee cup and sit down with it. It doesn't matter if anyone else notices, just a little handmade something that brings a little happiness into the day.

red felt and Japanese red riding hood fabric

p.s. I hope everyone had fun with the swap, and perhaps we can do another Fairy Tale Swap in the new year.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lattes, Ikea jars, and hidden mushrooms

another toadstool painting
M did take me for a Starbuck's we sat together happily at the new one by Ikea Nottingham, sipping from wintery red cups and listening to Christmas music while looking out over the half empty car park pretending we were in America. I had a red cup with a latte (extra shot please)in it, and I was happy. Then we dragged ourselves around Ikea in search of a desk for the bedroom and I wanted some of the little glass gars with lids ( canning jars) for some Christmas crafting.
The desk ended up being a full serve item so we must have waited twenty minutes or more for them to bring two small flat packed boxes while I sat there being thankful that I don't still work there. M will be spending the rest of the day reading flat pack instructions and grizzling at said instructions, while i carry on playing with beads for a stall I have over the weekend.

my little seahorse

The toadstool painting and the seahorse are from a few days ago, I misplaced them and forgot about them until this morning. I used to doodle seahorses all the time when I was little, that and erm unicorns. But anyway I have been really busy stocking up on bracelets and beaded pendants, with a few key chains and mobile phone charms mixed in. Pictures soon I promise. I best go as I'm being shouted to sort something out.

Monday, 10 November 2008

I need coffee

I need coffee today, M has made me one... or two.. possibly three but he has promised to take me to Starbuck's by Ikea tommrow for a tall latte with an extra shot, in a red cup. Yes I am that sad to be excited about getting a red cup from starbucks, I might even paint one.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Toadstool in Teal

teal toadstool

The last toadstool I did went for a custom order so it dissapeared before I could take a semi-decent picture of it so what's a girl to do? Why paint another one of course. Its really simple but I love it, I only wish I could take a picture to show how pretty these painted pages really are.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

A little Cheer

little owl is a bit previous on Christmas

My computer is fixed, as least for now! I don't know where I picked up some nasty virus from but I have managed to fix it myself... well RegCure did all the work, I'm just happy I could run it because I couldn't turn my computer on for three days! Now I have literally tens e-mails to reply I have been missed, though mostly by amazon apparently.

little robin

Here are a few of the painted pages that I finished off over the weekend, so at least I had something to do while unable to be on my poorly little laptop. I'm not happy with the reindeer, he turned out somewhat menacing, which I'm pretty sure reindeer aren't supposed to be. I love how the robin turned out though, and little owl decked out in his Christmas hat. They have been painted on pages from a vintage 1950 copy of Alice in Wonderland.

one slightly demented looking reindeer

Friday, 7 November 2008

computer problems

having a few computer problems.. hopefully will have it sorted tommorow!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

the water nymph

water nymph

Beautiful and alluring, she lurks in the depths, hair green as the sea, and a heart just as cold. Don't listen to her song my friend, her lyrics may be sweet but death lurks behind those smiling eyes. Don't listen to the siren's call, cover your ears and turn you ship from the rocks. She's waiting my friend to take you in her cold arms, wrap you in her long flowing hair and drag you down into the depths of the sea.

so er yeah anyway I have had my paints, and book pages out today. this is the first finished one, the rest have details to be added later tonight. But the water sprite/nymph/mermaid is my favourite. I think its the long flowing hair, I can imagine it floating on the current, or as a dark mass as she hides among the rocks singing her mournful song. Time for a warm up and a spot of coffee I think.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Fabric Brooches

little fabric brooches

Not the best picture, due to today's dismal grey weather but its another step in learning how to sew. They are fabric brooches, or will be when I add backing pins. I have one somewhere I'm pretty sure. I saw some similar (rings and key chains) while in Paris last week, the price was a bit high ( I don't mind paying more when things are handmade and lovely, but not the tourist rates), that's not what put me off buying them, it was the ugly fabrics and colours that I turned my nose up, I'm fussy and if I'm going to wear something it should be something I like and will actually wear.

I think they look cute anyway, and were simple and fun to sew with some little scraps of fabric that AnnieB sent me. Thank you Annie!

Oh and received my Fairy Tale swap in the post from Selena, Which I hope to try and photograph tomorrow if i can get any light decent enough to do it justice its fabulous! I have apple cake to make now and apple sauce too, and if there is time I may just drag my beads out.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

a short post about a forgotten teapot

I haven't forgotten about posting today, I have been working on something for awhile now, its not finished but it is something very close to my heart. Its a story, a fairy tale to be more accurate, its not complete but if you would like to read what I have so far, please visit here my often abandoned writing blog.

It started as a blog for drabbles, and now its whatever random bits of writing I can muster, if you look at the dates of the posts you will see a lot of cobwebs. I haven't added anything to the Teapot Nebula for a very long time. But now it has part I of The Poison Apple Tree. And if you need some imagery to go with the story than look here.

Monday, 3 November 2008

A Chair, a Book, and some Paintings

chapel chair

A few weeks ago in our wanderings H and I went to Arkwright's Mill in Cromford, Derbyshire, for little lunch in the cafe and so H could have a wander around the exterior of the Mill. There is a small Charity shop for the mill, a tiny little room filled with books, bric-a-brac, a little thrifting was called for. Sitting forlorn and dusty in a corner behind some truly hideous pottery was this little chapel chair. It was love at first sight, and a bargain at £15. I have seen others for anywhere between £50 and £100 so it was definitely a keeper.
1950 copy of Alice in Wonderland
My Mother in Law helped me clean it with some wire wool and oil it down and it sits happily beside the fireplace. M isn't entirely convinced, but I think its fits perfectly into the house it just needs a little cushion on it to make it perfect. Along with the chair I bought a copy of Alice in Wonderland from 1950, its battered and torn in places, so it was the perfect to tear up and stain for my vintage book page paintings.

pages from the above book stained and painted

Which as you can see above is exactly what I did, painting some toadstools for a custom order. They turned out brilliantly especially the teal one, though for some reason I can never seem to photograph the book page paintings to do them any justice. I stained another dozen or so pages in the same tea staining sitting so might attempt to sketch out some doodles to paint on the pages. I really want to paint more toadstools though, no particular reason I just really like them, I definitely need to do some more teal ones, I love teal and mixing toadstools, teal, and tea stained book pages just seems to fit together so well.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Lazy Sunday and NaBloPoMo

Today was the first day in what seems like forever where we haven't been working, painting, cleaning, tidying, shifting furniture, painting doors, shopping or whatever. The first day in ages where we had nothing to do so we didn't do anything. Aside from play Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii, and get this we did it as a family, all three of us, and Mario of course. A small piece of bliss before taking H to his best friend's birthday party at a soft play centre with the usual chaos, bad music, and shouts of "He pushed me." , "She wont play with me." "He stole my car." etc.

I wouldn't be on the computer now were it not for e-mailing my dad and because I signed up for NaBloPoMo, the National (shouldn't that be international?) Blog Posting Month.. whether or not that actually happens I have my doubts but I will try my best to do a blog post each and every day of November, I managed two yesterday, and forgot to to say I signed up for NaBloPoMo.

M's Watching some dreadfully boring show about big buildings being made, or destroyed or whatever, then we will be vegging out to Stephen Fry in America, a little bit of Americana to whimper over.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Red Velvet Creepy Cupcakes

Red Velvet Creepy Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 ½ cup caster (white) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons red food colouring
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl mix the milk and one tbl balsamic vinegar. *

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and food colouring and blend well. One at a time, add the following ingredients: the milk and balsamic vinegar mix, and slowly add in the dry mixture. Pour the batter into the cupcake cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and onto a rack to finish cooling completely. Ice with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food colouring.

Place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and food coloring in a bowl and slowly add in the powdered sugar as you mix. Blend until smooth, then add the food colouring if desired. For H's Birthday cupcakes I separated the icing into three bowls, and made orange, green, and grey (oh yum) for H's Halloween themed birthday party. Honestly its my favourite icing ever, its georgeous.
*Why is there vinegar in the cupcake batter? Baking soda, the ingredient that makes these cupcakes rise, starts to work only when it comes in contact with an acidic ingredient. Some common types used in baking are lemon juice, buttermilk and vinegar. Balsamic vinegar, which has a sweet flavor that goes well with the rich flavor of cocoa. It gives these cupcakes a deep, full flavor. They wont taste anything like vinegar after the batter is baked.

cook's notes: I used the same icing recipe for H's cupcakes and for a batch of vanilla cupcakes (basic vanilla cake recipe here) I made for the Harvest Festival at H's school, they all sold and there was apparently a rush on the brownies I made for the festival as well. They should have charged twice the amount. Frizbe says I should take orders, and bring cakes to school every week to sell.

Autumn Harvest Cupcakes

Renegade Robot

needle book and pincushion
So what seems like years ago, when in actuality is only a few months I signed up for the 2008 Robot Swap hosted by Claire. My swap partner was Annieb we had ages to make robot swap items, or so I thought, with the house move and trying to fix up the Money pit I lost track of crafty swap time and didn't send off my offerings till quite late. I dithered back and forth emailing Annie, my doubts about my robotic creation, (and asking quite a few other people to look at the little robot cushion I made and tell me if it was good enough to send.

inside the needle book (with a lovely overmilkwood tag)

I sat wringing my hands waiting for Annie to receive my parcel, worried that my little sad robot would be a failure, but Annie said he is loved and isn't quite so sad anymore. Annie assured me my swap was nearly completed, then tragedy struck, the robot pincushion had gone awol. She searched and searched, and accused poor Miss Bester of hiding him away.

But that wasn't the case at all you see, he had run off and hid himself in the vegetable bin. I wouldn't blame him though, just have a look at how badly he was treated prior to being sent to me. I don't know if there is a Charity for robot abuse, but there should be. Annie sent me frantic emails over loosing one small robot, and whipped up another pincushion from the same delectable Japanese robot fabric as the needle book.

renegade robot voodoo doll pincushion

At the very last moment she found one tiny spotty blue foot stick out from behind some carrots and popped him in a parcel to me. Now I think he dodged a bullet there, if he stayed he might have ended up chopped into the next batch of vegetable soup. Now he is sitting safely and quite happily on my bookshelf near one small brown owl.

pile o' scraps

I have placed all my needles in the needle book, though I haven't attempted to sew anything since the robot cushion and the scrap owl. Though I am now in possession of heaps of new scraps to play with as Annie sent me a bag full of brightly coloured scraps. Thank you so much Annie for everything. and thank you Claire for such a great swap.

the cushion I sent Annie