Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Its been a busy week recovering for coughs, colds, and flu... and frantically trying to make presents, wrap presents, and go shopping too.. the fridge is full to bursting, the cupboards full of chocolates, cookies cooling on the rack and fresh reindeer food in jars to set out for Santa to take to his reindeer.
Thank you to all my readers, my lurkers, my friends. Thank you to all the people that I have met through blogging and crafting, through swaps and crafter..oo. Its been lovely to meet you, e-mail and leave comments back and forth, since last Christmas I have learned to make jewellery (some of which I have even managed to sell) I have learned to embroider (slowly), and to sew (with a little machine no less) my life has changed for the craftier! Though I still knit quite badly
I wish you all the best this holiday season! I have cookies to bake now (chocolate chunk), and poor H has fallen asleep beside the fire next to Alys the cat... its all a little too much excitiment for him.
feel free to pop by for a coffee and a cookie! Merry Christmas Everyone

Saturday, 20 December 2008

lavender and rice warm bags

lavender and rice warm bags

I would probably call them heat-y bags as that's what we call H's warming wheat bag. I made these with a bit of "help" from H, for his great-grandmother and for his grandma too... they are made from some Laura Ashley fabric that any grandmother or great-grandmother would love. Probably a little wonky in places due to my less than exemplary sewing skills but they look nice and smell like lovely. They can be warmed in the microwave or popped in a bag and chilled in the freezer.

They were quite simple to make even with my sewing skills and that makes two more presents to pop on the ever growing pile of wrapping I have to do later. After I have been shopping later today to get all the things I have been too sickly to sort out during the week. Luckily we are all on the mend so its going to be very busy these next few days before Christmas. If I have a chance I will blog a few more Christmas-y recipes and maybe a few more crafty things too before I put away my scissors, my pliers, my pens and just wear an apron and carry a wooden spoon in hand constantly. Tis the season after all...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Luxury Granola (aka reindeer food) recipe

Luxury Granola (aka reindeer food)


2 1/2 cups porridge oats

½ cup flaked almonds

1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons melted butter (margerine)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

¼ cup raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries (sweetened)
3/4 cup plain chocolate chips (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 300F (150 C)
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix thoroughly and place in a single layer on a non-stick baking try ( if you don’t have non-stick then you will need to grease the baking tray with butter or oil).

Place in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Every 5 minutes you will need to open the oven door and stir the granola mixture.
Cool completely and add the raisins, dried cranberries and chocolate.
The granola can be eaten on its own, or with milk for breakfast, sprinkled over yogurt or ice-cream, and of course left out on a dish for Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve.

A little help for those who don't use cups as measurements. Oh and for the record I just use normal everyday teaspoon and tablespoons for measurements, less hassle than attempting to locate the measuring ones. Which I think have migrated to H's toy box.

U.S. to Metric Conversion Table
1/5 teaspoon = 1 ml
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml
1 fluid oz. = 30 ml
1/5 cup = 50 ml
1/4 cup = 60 ml
1/2 cup = 120 ml
1 cup = 240 ml
2 cups (1 pint) = 470 ml
4 cups (1 quart) = .95 liter
4 quarts (1 gal.) = 3.8 liters

Cooks Notes: The recipe is mine based on several granola recipes that I found on the Internet and was quite disgusted by the amount of salt, and vegtable oil used in them. In the end I ignored the recipes I had found and experimented with what I thought of as Christmas-y tastes: dried cranberries, cinnamon and brown sugar.
It smelled devine and tasted great, I kept nibbling on it as I added the dried fruit and baked the second half of the batch. I gave the granola out as gifts last Christmas and may do the same again this year when we make some that is. Both H and I have been poorly with cold and fever and haven't had the chance to do any Christmas baking just yet but we will be. H keeps asking to make Reindeer Food and this is alot better than the kind with glitter in.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

cupcake snowman recipe


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 butter (softened)
1 cup milk
3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
Grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper muffin liners. (recipe makes 24 cupcakes (not fairycake size, muffin tin size.)
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.In a small bowl mix the milk and the vanilla.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

add half the flour and mix well. Add half the milk and vanilla mixture.

Add eggs, one at a time mixing well. slowly add in the remainder of the dry mixture.

Add the last of the milk and vanilla.

spoon the batter into the cups and 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.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1-1/2 cups powdered (icing) sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (flavouring)

Place the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a bowl and slowly add in the powdered (icing) sugar as you mix. Blend until smooth.

1 large bag of plain m&ms
1 industrious child to separate the m&ms ( you only need the brown and orange ones so bribary is easy)
sweetened and tenderized coconut
1 bag plain chocolate chips


place the sweet coconut in a bowl
ice a cupcake with the vanilla icing and gently dip the cupcake into the coconut.
use the brown m&ms for the eyes and the orange ones for the nose, and chocolate chip (coal) for the snowman's smile. Its a fun job that the kids can help you with, especially seperating out the m&m colours, as H quite happily sat for an unheard of 10 minutes sperating out all the m&ms and was quite happy to steal a few.

alternatively you could use other orange sweets for the snowman's nose or colour some marzipan orange and roll flat and cut small triangles (carrots) or roll into small carrot shapes.

cooks notes: I made two batches 48 cupcakes to sell after H's school Christmas Concert. every single cupcake sold at a £1 each, M assures me they were very nice I never got one though I may have made myself just the teensiest bit sickly "tasting" the icing....and cake batter... I also made 2 trays of brownies (recipe soon) which all sold out as well, so I was quite pleased that even if my jewellery wasn't selling my cakes were appriciated and raised some money for H's school.

all cupcaked out

been busy making these for two days.... huff puff more later..

Thursday, 11 December 2008

illustrated ornaments

a little toadstool
I have been having a play around with making a few more scrap fabric ornaments for gifts. This time with more illustrations done with permanent ink on a plain linen blend fabric. I ironed (shock horror) the doodles to set the ink, though not fabric ink this time just several art pens I have kicking about the house, well not actually strewn about the place, that would be too messy they are tucked away safely in a little blue zippered pouch with Russian dolls machine embroidered on them by the very talented Anna from the Russian doll swap ages ago... though for some reason I can't find where I blogged the pictures.. hmmm blogger being evil again I assume.
a cup o' joe for M

Hopefully M isn't snooping on my blog, he doesn't visit very often anyway so I should be OK to blog this little coffee cup ornament that I made for him.. its only going to be a glorified tag on his present but still its nice to keep some secrets for Christmas.

a little pug for my mother

I posted the pug ornament off to my parents yesterday so I doubt it will make it to Idaho before Christmas but one can hope. all set for Christmas? er no not really but I'm trying to be.. though I think I'm getting a cold which is just what I need in the two weeks before Christmas.

an owl in a tree

This little owl in a tree is my favourite, its from a quick sketch I did while at a abysmal fair after I had exhausted my supply of beads to make more jewellery and it was better to draw something than to sit twiddling my thumbs. I best get going now I have brownies in the oven and they need checking then I have snowman cupcakes to make... I may blog the recipes later in the week!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Its beginning to look alot like...

o Christmas tree

....well you know how the rest of the song goes! We got the tree up yesterday, its crooked but H picked it and is very happy with his choice. He put about 5 ornaments up then scarpered with a small box he filled with all the fabric ornaments I made last week. Five minutes later he returned triumphant that he had place a fabric ornament on every door in the house to make everything suitably Christmas-y. Alys and Starbuck (the cats) glare at the tree as if its some monstrous intruder into their domain... well Starbuck looks like that at everyone so its nothing new. Alys retreated to the relative safety of the rumpled up duvet on the bed, safe from the menace of sparkly trees.

scrap fabric ornament

We went to a birthday party for H's friend over the weekend as well, and I made the little Lamb ornament to go with a Christmas card I sent along with a birthday present. My friend's last name is Lamb so I thought it would be perfect to doodle a lamb onto one of the fabric ornaments I have been working on. And now apparently need to make more as I dare not take them off the doors or there will be serious upset from the boy.

doodle button pins
Last week I had this idea to draw/paint some little faces on some fabric buttons, on brooches/hair pins, and Sam helped me by quickly sending me a batch of buttons I ordered. They are meant to be a present for a friend's daughter but I ordered more than I will be giving out. They have turned out pretty good I think.. except for an owl I did on some white fabric (the pen bleed and made a hell of a mess on the white fabric). Your can see my original doodles for the project on the picture below. I have another 5 buttons to doodle on, and the owl disaster that needs fixing ( I will try to paint over it and see what happens) though they don't have homes to go to yet.

pins and original doodles

Thursday, 4 December 2008

bad owl

hmmmm... not sure if this has worked out right or now.. its meant to be a little owl shaped rice bag for H. For Christmas... I'm just not sure.. I want it perfect and today is one of those days when everything is far from it. I will tuck him away and see if he is stilll a bad little owl in the morning.


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Scrap Ornament Tutorial

scraps and samples collected from various places Ikea, and Laura Ashley


an assortment of fabric scraps
garden twine or ribbon
needle and thread or sewing machine
(buttons, fabric pen, beads, paints optional)

step 1:
you will need two pieces of fabric the same size ( I didn't measure anything I jsut went by what little scraps I had to hand) and a small piece of twine/ribbon. I used gardening twine from a garden centre but you may wish to make fancier ornaments than me.

step 2: Put the fabrics together facing each other and place the twine/ribbon between them. You may want to hold the fabric and twine in place with a needle or two. Sew along the left side the top (careful of the twine) and along the right side.
Step 3: carefully turn right side out, pressing out the corners, with a chopstick or knitting needle. Fill the ornament with poly fill (if you wish you can add dried lavender, or cinnamon to make the ornaments smell lovely.

step 4: Fold the ends of the material in and hold them with more pins and sew along the bottom of the ornament.

Its not a complicated tutorial because my sewing skills are decidedly advanced, there are a lot of different techniques you could use, you could sew an ornament with the right side out and then crimp along the edges with pinking shears (I don't have any) add buttons, or embroidery. The owl and the quail I hand drew with a fabric pen, ironed it to set the ink and I think they look quite special. I will be giving these out as Christmas gifts as well as decorating our Christmas tree with them.

If you have any questions I will try my best to answer them, and if not I will point you in the direction of someone who can. Its a fun way to use up little scraps that might otherwise sit about in your scrap box feeling unloved and cross breeding with rogue dust bunnies. My scraps and samples have come from some lovely friends, and from ikea, Laura Ashley, and Cath Kidson online ( I er only ordered the samples too chickenshit to order real fabric)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Scrap Ornaments

little scrap ornaments
As you know I have been experimenting with learning to sew, I am now in possession of a dinky little sewing machine and a box full of scraps to play with. Its not all been easy, its difficult for me to follow directions well, as in other peoples patterns though it doesn't stop me from loving to read a good tutorial. I think its just the way my brain works.

I'm left handed and have struggled all my life to understand the right handed world beyond teaching myself to cut using the red handled scissors in school. (The green Lefty scissors were always a.) broken b.) rusty or c.) stuck together with supposedly kid safe glue). I like to look at things take them apart in my head then try to see if I can do it for myself. Sometimes it works and sometimes it hits an iceberg or several before I go my own way.

just hanging around

This Christmas I am really trying to stick with the handmade theme, I normally do a lot of baking for friends and family, and this year I wanted to do more. So I have been experimenting with my box of scraps to make these cute little ornaments. The scraps are all fabric samples from Laura Ashley that either my Mother in Law gave me or I have asked for on trips to Laura Ashley. I have more to make and more scraps to work with, I'm hoping to give some ornaments away as gifts, and gift tags, and will probably play about with adding a few buttons, and possibly drawing or painting on some scraps of natural linen I have been hiding.
the little scrap oranments are really easy to make, if you would like a tutorial I would be happy to write one up and list what materials I used.. aside from the scraps of fabric of course!