Saturday, 31 December 2011

A HUGE thank you to Jules for the Snippets Challenge

For a whole year, Jules of Always with a Heart has been hosting our Snippets Challenge. Here is my last card for her year, with a HUGE thank you as she is stepping down. It's especially for Jules from all of us with tons of love and our thanks for all the fun and fantastic inspiration and if you look closely you'll see she, very appropriately, has a heart in her hair and teeny little ones on her dress:)
I used:

-  6" x 6" square white card stock

- backing papers from snippets

- Gorjuss Girls stamp ' Bumble Bee' - coloured with Pro Markers plus some Glamour Dust on her wings. Her legs and dress are paper pieced from snippets - oops, I did give her some slightly pink cheeks after taking this photo 'cos she looked a bit like Mr Pastry!!

- Nesties to die cut (Labels 8)

- LOTV sentiment stamps - 'General Greetings - small' (a new set for me and I love them!)

- ribbon, flowers and brad from stash

So, for the last time, I'm entering this into Jules Crafty Snippets Challenge - week 51.

Next up is a confession, as Jules is standing down I'm taking over the keys to The Playground - HELP!!! I'm both excited, and really quite scared, and I do hope you don't all run away and hide - she's a very hard act to follow as I said!!!!!!

Tomorrow Jules will show her snippets - ha, ha - bet there's no reduction! I know that mine are increasing exponentially (yay, a BIG word at last) and I do hope that we can continue Jules' good work. She will still be hopping in to show her makes - and I also hope you all continue to follow her fantastic blog as well as showing us your snippet makes on here. My first posting of 2012, tomorrow, will have Mr Linky as Jules always had on Sundays. Thank you again Jules for all your support and hard work, I think that Always With a Heart is true in more ways than you know, and wishing you loads of luck in your new ventures.

Hope you all have a great evening, whatever you have planned to mark the arrival of 2012! We'll be quiet here - and hoping for a better year ahead.


Friday, 30 December 2011

Friday Feast - Ham in Coca-Cola

Having 'Geordie' roots, cooked ham and pease pudding would usually have featured during the New Year's Eve festivities. Sadly my Mum died a lot of years ago when I was 22 - but I do wonder if she would have tried this recipe were she still here today. The answer is probably yes, as a trained cook she understood the theory behind recipes and why certain ingredients work well together. In this recipe the flavour of of the sweet, spiky drink infuses the ham with spirit of barbecue without being in any way overpowering - and it also tenderises the ham amazingly well. Just think about cleaning pennies in a glass of the stuff!

I confess that, the first time I cooked this, I did so wondering if I was about to ruin a perfectly decent ham - but I think that good old Nigella Lawson came up trumps and I've used this way of cooking ham ever since!

Ham in Coca-Cola 
Not a 'food magazine quality' photo! Normally I try to set a nicer scene but there was a lot going on when I carved this - you'll see the outside of the ham and the goldy brown imparted by the Coca-Cola on the back half of the plate where I've turned the ham cut face down to prevent it from drying out.

2kg mild-cure gammon
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
2-litre bottle of Coca-Cola

Mild-cure gammon doesn't need soaking, but if you know that you're dealing with a salty piece, then put it in a pan covered with cold water, bring to the boil, then tip into a colander in the sink and start from here; otherwise, put the gammon in a pan, skin-side down if it fits like that, add the onion, then pour over the Coke. 

Bring to the boil, reduce to a good simmer, put the lid on, though not tightly, and cook for approximately 2½ hours. If your joint is larger or smaller, work out timing by reckoning on an hour per kilo. But do take into account that if the gammon's been in the fridge right up to the moment you cook it, you will have to give it a good 15 minutes or so extra so that the interior is properly cooked.

I don't go to the time and trouble of glazing the ham (it never lasts long enough here), neither does Nigella most of the time. There are lots of different ways to do this of course, but this ham stands proudly on its own without any more fiddling around.

You do have plenty of time still to cook a ham this way in time for any New Year celebrations  - just remember that it MUST be the non-diet Coca-Cola. And, you will use all of a 2 litre bottle for a 2kg piece of ham. Not even enough will be left to pour yourself a nice vodka and coke :)



Thursday, 29 December 2011

Stepping out of my comfort zone here!

For some while I've been promising myself to enter the 'Less Is More' Challenge. But, being a Pixie who flings ribbons, glitter, flowers, papers, lace and such round with gay abandon it kinda scared me too much. However, yesterday I bit the bullet - twice 'cos the first attempt went in the bin:(

This is what I came up with for the current challenge, which is 'Just One Word':
After taking the photo I've had to put the card away for fear of wanting to do more to it when my teeth begin to itch!

I used:

- 6" x 6" square white linen card stock

- 'Fancy Heart' stamp by Stampcraft, another 'pre-loved' one - stamped using a Brilliance Pearlescent Poppy ink pad

- sentiment from the Layers of Colour 'Renaissance Hearts' stamp set - stamped using a Brilliance Starlite Black ink pad

- Josy Rose nail heads - tee, hee, I sneaked one onto the heart image too :)

So, for the first time, I'd like to enter a card into the Less is More Challenge - Week 47 - Just One Word. 

And you know what, it's growing on me! 


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

WOYWW - 134

I won't show you the heap of stuff pushed to the right hand side of what I think might be a desk underneath all of the Christmas crafting stuff I need to sort out and put away - instead, this is how I left the reasonably clear centre of my desk yesterday:
I think the little break from crafting has kick started the missing mojo a bit and quite a few ideas are spinning round.

One was something I'd planned to do for Christmas but 'the lurgy' had other ideas so I never got round to it. So, yesterday I had a little play - see the candle just behind the glass cutting mat?

For a first attempt it's 'OK' but certainly not perfect, although I learned a few things along the way :)

First of all I stamped a couple of Hero Arts 'Delicate Blossoms' images onto white tissue paper using a black Memento ink pad. Oh boy, finding white tissue paper in the shops was like looking for hen's teeth (sorry Sarn!) in the run-up to Christmas. Patterned and every colour under the sun galore but no plain white, although I did finally find some on my last pre-Christmas supermarket run. By then I felt too rough to do more than just dump the packet on my desk though :(
Then I trimmed round one of the images. This was a bit of 'the unknown' for me as I wasn't 100% sure if leaving bits of tissue in the middle would work OK. This next photo is a challenge for you to work out what the heck it's supposed to show:
Told you! What happened is that the light was bouncing off the baking parchment plus I was taking the photo while holding the camera between my teeth (joke - although perhaps that would have worked better!). Basically you cut a long strip of backing parchment, wide enough to cover the height of the image and long enough to gather the excess at the back of the candle  in your hand. That's my hand at the bottom of the photo. The coloured image on the trimmed tissue paper is placed onto a pillar candle (I used a run of the mill one from Sainsburys), then the baking parchment was positioned over it to hold it in place and the excess gathered tightly into my left hand at the back. You can use waxed paper, greaseproof paper or baking parchment - I just used what I found first in the kitchen :)

The next stage was FUN, although it's very easy to get carried away. Heat your heat gun for about 30 seconds and then, still holding the baking parchment tightly round the candle wave the gun to and fro over the image from about 2" away. The important bit is that you'll see the image sort of deepening in colour as it melts into the candle - keep that gun moving 'cos it's really easy to begin to melt the candle too much!
And this is the end result above. There are loads of tutorials on the internet and I expect lots of you will already have tried doing this before so I could be trying to 'teach Granny to suck eggs here'.

The things I learned doing this are: Don't be frightened about tearing the tissue while you're colouring in if you use Pro Markers - I was surprised at how robust it was, although I was probably gentler than usual. Not a single tear! You should trim the tissue round the image - but don't worry too much about getting into every nook and cranny as the tissue just sinks into the softened wax on the candle. For my next try I'm going to find a way to tightly adhere the parchment at the back so I can cradle the candle in an oven mitt or something rather than wrestling with a crumpled handful of parchment. Also, don't overdo the heating - the change in colour as you wave the heat gun over the image is a good indicator. Even though I was really careful it was a close call!! Any little excess bits of wax can be whisked off with a soft brush once the candle has fully cooled.

So, what am I going to do with this? We're going to friends this evening and they have red poppies on their curtains so this is a little something to take, along with wine and such, once I've wrapped it in cellophane with a nice bow :)

So, that's my WOYWW - to see what everyone else is up to hop over to Julia's here. I bet there could have been some tidying going on - last week was such fun seeing the chaos some folk were in, including me needless to say! Our next WOYWW will be in 2012 - see you in the New Year!


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A Tuesday Tale - breaking rules

Earlier this Summer I went on a little coach trip up to London to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Our 'walking disaster', Kath from the Hospice Shop, also came along.

When lunchtime came, most of us took advantage of the chance to sit outside in The Garden Cafe:
The picture above is taken from the V and A website and shows the central water feature in the cafe area.

Poor Kath misjudged those steps and took a tumble, rolling down them almost in slow motion then ending up in the water - which is only about 4" deep. The group of ladies she was with rushed to her rescue, hauled her out of the water and began to mop her dry. Then one wag in the group solemnly pointed to an official notice beside the water and said 'You're in for trouble now Kath'. What did the notice say? 'No paddling in the water at any time'. Kath, being Kath, could see the funny side thankfully!

I think it's back to some card making for me today - yippee!!


Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Bears Bird Table

If you look in here regularly, you'll know that our garden wildlife is a source of endless entertainment to us. The birdies are tended daily by my OH - lots of hanging feeders, the bird table and - for our resident pair of Blackbirds (aka as Mr and Mrs Beak), their daily apple. No kidding, loads of you might already do this anyhow, but blackbirds adore an apple cut in half and placed (cut side up) on the ground. They peck away just leaving the outside skin - one way to get their 'Five a Day' fruit ration!

As soon as I spotted this LOTV stamp I just had to have it - and kept it hidden away for a special card. I couldn't post this card on here before yesterday, just in case Len hopped in and saw it:
In the mad scramble before Christmas I have absolutely no idea how I found the time to make this on 23rd December! Dogged determination I guess, and the fact that Len has been so long-suffering about the length of time I spent flinging cards, glitter, ribbons and paper around in the craft room in the run-up before Christmas - I just had to make a card for him as well :)

I used:

- 6" x 6" square white card stock

- Lili of the Valley stamp - 'Christmas Bears Bird Table', coloured with Pro Markers and twinkled up with Glamour Dust and some Gold Stickles (for the star)

- backing papers from the Bo Bunny 'Father Christmas' collection

- ribbon from stash

- sentiment - Craftwork cards

- Josy Rose nail heads

I hope you had a lovely day yesterday - we did! Boxing Day is another day that I do love though - oooer, can you beat cold meat and pickles?! Oh go on Kath, do hop in and say you don't like pickles :)))
For those of you who hop into Wipso's blog here - little Lexi, one of the twins, has been in hospital over Christmas with severe bronchitis. She is improving but it must have been a very worrying time for the family - please keep your fingers crossed that Lexi makes a full recovery and gets home soon. Now, Sam her twin, seems to be coughing - so please keep two sets of fingers crossed.


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Hope you're having a Purrr-fect Christmas Day!

I made a couple of these cards for cat loving friends - and am also posting a piccie of one here to say I hope you're having a Wonderful Christmas Day - if so, should you really be blog-hopping? Get back to those chocolates immediately :))
I used:

- 6" x 6" square white card stock

- Penny Black stamp - 'Jolly Xmas Kitty', another pre-loved one, coloured with Pro Markers and twinkled up with Glamour Dust

- Penny Black sentiment stamp - 'Purrr-fect Wishes', also pre-loved, stamped using a Brilliance Pearlescent Ivy ink pad

- backing papers from the Bo Bunny 'Father Christmas' collection

- Josy Rose nail heads

- snowflake sparkly buttons from stash - originally from Hobbycraft I think

- twine from stash

Santa should have been by now - I hope he was good to you, but most of all I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful and Healthy 2012.

One wonderful thing I have to say - earlier this year I posted about the death of Alice who, with her husband Frank, was a guardian when my parents ran away moved back to the UK and left me in Germany waaaay back when. The other day, out of the blue a fabulous hamper arrived here, but with no card from the sender. So many yummy goodies and I was very upset that I had no idea who it was from. This evening I discovered it came from Frank - who at a 'senior age' has discovered the wonders of the internet and has now even popped in here for a look! That totally delights me - and, he's just asked me to be a friend on Facebook :) Perhaps he might even comment on here sometime? Is there no stopping him now - go Frank! :)) Totally brilliant, my heart is singing - one of the best and most uplifting Christmas presents I could ever have had, a friend getting to grips with computers and the internet at (I say this kindly) an age when most wouldn't even bother. Frank, we salute you!!



Saturday, 24 December 2011

It's Christmas Eve - Merry Christmas, one and all!

Oh the shame of it - that wretched Pixie has been playing games here. We preferred it when she was really not very well to be honest!

The three of us have been dressed ready for Christmas - Marcel in the middle was on a sleepover while Abi was away in Paris - ha, so she had a surprise when she came home. Left to right, Marvin, Marcel and Hank - and to make matters worse, we were posed on a white satin-like tablecloth background like new-born babies!

What a predicament......the flipping Pixie has even hidden our normal day wear for the duration! But we still got to wear our Lucky Holey stones round our necks - there would have been a real battle otherwise :)


Love and big hugs from all of us, Hank, Marvin, Marcel - and the naughty Pixie!


Friday, 23 December 2011

Friday Feast - a festive recipe with a difference!

Christmas Cake Recipe
1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
lemon juice
4 large eggs
bottle Vodka
2 cups of dried fruit
Sample the vodka to check quality.
Take a large bowl, check the vodka again.
To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.
Turn on the electric mixer.
Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add one teaspoon of sugar.
Beat again.
At this point it's best to make sure the vodka is shtill OK.
Try another cup ... just in case
Turn off the mixerer.
Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Pick fruit off floor.
Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the vodka to check for tonsisticity.
Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who giveshz a shit.
Check the vodka.
Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table.
Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.
Greash the oven.
Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
Don't forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the vodka and kick the cat.
Snigger, snort, snort! :))


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Carolling Duck!

If you're looking for WOYWW 134 of 28th December then please go here 'cos Dumbo put the wrong link in her first attempt!!

Firstly, it's just before 7am here - the day after WOYWW. So many lovely people left get well wishes yesterday, I'm quietly shaken. And the great news is that I slept for eight hours last night without stirring, or honking like a goose! I can't explain how much better I feel for that this morning - oh my, fingers crossed!! :)

This card uses another pre-loved stamp that I bought a while ago- I need to go through my own stamps for a little sort out sometime, but being a hoarder doesn't help!

I did love using this image, it made me 'smile all the while':

I used:

- Penny Black 'Carolling Duck' stamped with Memento Black, coloured with Pro Markers and a sprinkling of Glamour Dust on the furry bits

- green backing card from the never-decreasing snippets stash folder

- papers from Hot Off The Press 'Forever Christmas Cards' paper stack

- sentiment by Funstamps 'Small Merry Christmas' - stamped using Dewdrops Brilliance 'Pearlescent Poppy' ink pad

- ribbon from stash

- Josy Rose nail heads

As I used some snippets, I'm entering this into Jules Crafty Snippet Challenge - Week 50 . The playground gates close tomorrow so I've just managed to scamper in!


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Tuesday Tale - When you do NOT want to know

At the age of nine I had a very knowledgeable friend called Wendy. We were inseparable, a bit like twins joined at the hip, but Wendy was much more 'street-wise' than 'yours truly'.

I was an only child and very trusting, without older siblings to enlighten me about some things. We had a ritual - ha, a bit like Len and I sitting in the garden mulling over the day really - where my Mum would perch on the edge of the bath each evening and listen to what the day had held for me. I betcha she was also making sure I scrubbed my knees and washed behind my ears :)

This particular evening, just before Christmas, I'd come home from school very subdued and just pushed my meal around the plate, emitting sad little sighs - so Mum know that something was up. Eventually, at bath time it all tumbled out amidst floods of tears. Between my sobs and huge hiccups Mum managed to find out that Wendy had enlightened me as to one or two facts about 'The Big Fat Man In The Red Suit' - and I was distraught. Not for fear of the lack of presents but because something I'd so fervently believed in was otherwise. I'm choosing my words carefully here - who knows who might look in and no way to I want to upset anyone's beliefs right now. All the mystery and magic had been blown apart by this revelation and for days I was inconsolable! My poor parents were really shaken and felt very guilty about it all I later learned.

So, that probably explains why I bounced back with a vengeance and far from ideas being destroyed they are probably more magical then ever - despite the domestic rushing around, I adore Christmas!

The little extra to this story comes from that same evening when Mum and Dad had eventually calmed me down enough to be tucked up in bed and then some explaining was done by them.

As I settled down under the covers finally quietened down and feeling sleepy - just before the bedroom door was closed by my quite shaken parents this is what happened. I popped my head over the covers and with a shake of the head said 'By the way, Wendy also told me where babies come from. And you know what, I wasn't impressed by THAT one either'!!

The Christmas ritual was always to leave a mince pie and a glass of port out for Santa - plus a carrot for Rudolph. I rather suspect, that evening the port was opened in advance of Christmas and that Mum and Dad had a glass each to steady their shattered nerves!! The interesting thing is that 'where babies come from' was waaaaaay down there in the 'shocking revelations league' with me - the focus was all on Santa and the babies had almost been forgotten.


Monday, 19 December 2011

Just monkeying around :)

A while back I got the 'pre-loved' stamp I used on this card from, I think, e-Bay:
I made a couple of cards, both from Hank and Marvin, our adopted monkeys. One has gone to our young neighbour Abi and Marcel her adopted monkey, and the other is winging (ha, or should that be swinging) its way to Monkey, Darrell and Nigel :) If you like a smile do hop over for a daily look - you'll be hooked!!!

I used:

- A6 white linen card stock

- Penny Black stamp 'Monkey in our Tree' - coloured with Pro Markers and touches of white Gelly Roll pen then the fur on his hat sprinkled with Glamour Dust

- Papers from the Marianne Design 'Merry Little Christmas' paper pack

- red backing card from snippets

- Josy Rose nail heads

- dark green ribbon from stash

Thank you for calling by, and I hope your Christmas preparations are all done - if so, my address should you have some free time is:............................. :)


Sunday, 18 December 2011

That'll teach me!

I hate to embarrass folk by sending them cards year after year when perhaps they don't really want to keep up the tradition. So, after a couple of years without and if it seems they don't want to send cards back, I remove them from our list - not out of malice in any way, I just don't like folk to feel awkward. So, what happens - yup, they pop back up again and send cards after all!! It's happened in the last couple of days and both senders know I make cards - one elderly and very distant relative umpteen times removed went so far as to mention the hand made one I sent last year. Eeek, some quick footwork needed and I came up with these:

This is the first time I'd inked this stamp up and I love, love, love it for quick and easy cards - I'd fallen in love with it on the super-talented Jules blog a while back. She has an amazing talent for finding wonderful stamps - err, or is it that I always love what everyone else has?! :)

I used:

- white linen A6 card stock

- Penny Black 'Adornment' stamp - stamped using Brilliance Pearlescent inks

- Nitwits Heavenly Collection papers which came free with Simply Cards and Papercrafts - the papers had matching plain papers too which was a great help

- sentiments from Craftwork Cards

- Josy Rose nail heads - yet again, I'm so in love with these right now :)

That's it, and a couple of spares in hand just in case. Isn't it funny though, often the ones that come together very quickly are the ones voted a 'hit' by my in-house critic. Or, is it because in between times I can be seen running round the walls in a flat panic over Christmas and he daren't say otherwise :))


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Almost caught out!

Yesterday I realised I hadn't made any money wallets for Len's great-nephews and great-niece - eek! Minor panic until I remembered I still had the Christmas Pudding cards for the boys at least. Len's g-niece is a quite grown-up young lady though and a Christmas Pudding card with wibbly-wobbly eyes didn't seem right :)

So, I rustled this up in two shakes of a donkeys tail - it has to be a donkey rather than a lamb..... as it's almost Christmas:
I used:

- red, black and white card stock - all from the snippets folder, to the rescue once again

- stamped image by Denami Design - I love this funky stamp which I'm sure was sent to me by the lovely Bernie - coloured with Pro Markers and some touches of gold pen

- a sprinkling of 'Pixie Dust'

- sentiment stamped using Fun Stamps 'Small Merry Christmas'

- Josy Rose nail heads

Now all I have to do is remember to post the cards/cheques off! I think my 'to-do' list is getting bigger not smaller :(

Oh, and I also want to enter this into Jules Crafty Snippets Challenge Weeks 48 and 49. The playground is quiet right now, not surprisingly as I suspect everyone is running round in headless chicken mode!! Ooops Sandra, I hope Harriet and Margot don't read this blog? :)


Friday, 16 December 2011

Friday Feast - Farmer's Breakfast

........also known as Eggy Mess, to give it the nickname from schooldays! This one is for Moira :)

No-one could say we ever went hungry at school, but we did have our favourites of course. Tuesday and Saturday breakfasts generally included Farmer's Breakfast - yummy:

Farmers Breakfast

Makes 2 good servings

4 or 5 eggs plus a little milk, beaten together
6-8 rashers back bacon
1 medium onion
4-6 leftover cold boiled potatoes
1 tablespoon olive or cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice the bacon and onion and fry in the oil in a frying pan for a few minutes, then add the diced potato and continue to fry on a medium heat

Keep cooking and turning the bacon, onion and potatoes until lightly to medium browned

Turn down the heat under the frying pan and pour over the beaten egg mixture

Toss together until the eggs begin to set

Form into one large omelet, turning now and then until golden brown

The weird thing is that, although I've made this for donkeys years, I only just checked up on it in a book which was published about our old school in 2004 - and I'd been spot-on all along with my guess work taken purely from memory of the taste! I also came across a week's menus - here's what we scoffed on one particular Tuesday:

Breakfast: Porridge and milk, Farmers Breakfast, bread, butter, marmalade, fresh toast, tea

Break: Cocoa and sultana bun

Lunch: Minestrone soup, Melba toast, roast lamb, gravy, mint sauce, 2 types of vegetable, ginger pudding and custard, bread

Tea: Tea, bread, margarine, jam, jam doughnuts

Dinner: Mixed grill, bottled sauce, Parmentier potatoes, baked beans, Vanilla slices, bread, tea

Hmm, there was a lot of bread there to fill you up, as if you were likely to go hungry - in fact, I'm amazed at the amount of food we packed into ourselves in just one day. And yes, there was only butter at breakfast - tea time was margarine, which many of us tried to improve by having our own jars of Marmite.

We should have been a load of Billy Bunters but I think all the sports plus keeping on the move to keep warm helped! One year the North Sea froze over but we still weren't allowed to stay indoors and cosy - instead of hockey we went trotting along the deich, round the snowy playing fields or even skated on the 'flooded then frozen' netball courts. There was no danger of those calories not being burned off - huh, I think it caught up with me now though :))

Thank you for your sweet comments yesterday, the battle continues but at least I tasted what I ate last night! Gotta be a good sign :)


Thursday, 15 December 2011

I've thrown the towel in - and the rubber duck, or goose even!

After weeks with a couple of back to back bugs, or one that keeps popping up again like a flipping jack-in-the-box, I actually just might be getting over it, it's hard to tell if it's just the panic of knowing that things have to be done regardless. But, I managed a nights sleep without wandering the house in the wee small hours :) Yippee!!

But, at this time of the year, it means we neeeeeed to go to Costco and also the supermarket to buy some replenishments just in case it returns again! Lately I've felt like a honking goose on the surface and paddling like mad under the water - so, if you hop in today my lovely bloggy friends this is me - over and out for 24 hours!

Thank you for calling by, normal service will be resumed ASAP I promise :) I hope to post a recipe tomorrow, thankfully I have a couple up my sleeve - along with a bunch of tissues :( Mwah!!


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

WOYWW - 132 But first of all............

......last week on WOYWW, before the dreaded bug got me once again, I showed how I made some 'sparklies' (snowflakes, icicles and baubles) for cards - go here to take another look. A few people asked me to show the cards I used the embellishments on, and this is one of them:
It's for a special neighbour and his wife. He's given us some of his super 'fishing catches' over the year -  OK, so I doubt if he has a little penguin with him when he goes off fishing and he most definitely doesn't dress up in girlie outfits!

I used:

- white 6" x 6" card stock

- image stamped using LOTV 'Fishing Buddies' image, coloured with Pro Markers

- pearlescent beige card from the snippets folder 

- blue background patterned 'snowflake' paper from Craftwork Cards 'Frosty Christmas' paper pack - bought at Ally Pally in the Autumn

- snowflakes and icicles made last WOYWW - the snowflakes had a blue 'moonstone' brad added to each of them, from Wild Orchid Crafts

- sentiment from Craftwork Cards - edged with a Quickie Glue Pen and then sprinkled with some 'Pixie Dust'. That's my new name for the unmarked tubs of fine Glamour Dust-like sparkles I have here - it saves having to explain every time!! :)

- more Pixie Dust on the fur, stars and snowflakes on the image

And, as to the rest of this calm and peaceful environment.........take a look at this, taken just before I scampered to bed early last night:
A total MESS while I've been writing cards - but see the Pricing In Proportion Gauge ruler thingy lying there - such a life saver and not expensive from Staples to check the thickness of your cards
A swing to the right and a shed load of stash to be put away!! And poor Norman the Bunny still waiting to be mended
Man, this is doing my head in, I can't cope with mess like this - I'm off to console myself by seeing how many other crafters are in just the same boat this week - in between trying to sort out that pickle. Join me here at Julia's if you want to feel a bit better about any current panics in your pre-Christmas activites :))

Happy WOYWW!


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Tuesday Tale - talking after 'lights out'............. boarding school was punishable by various means, warnings, groundings, having to wear school uniform at weekends so that everyone knew you were in 'deep doggy doo-doo' and very often having to get up and totally strip your bed and fold everything neatly before trooping out of the room to stand at intervals down the corridor. Often this would be until you were almost asleep on your feet - and only then could you return to the 'dorm', remake your bed and inevitably fall straight asleep through tiredness. But, it never stopped us I'm afraid :(

It certainly wasn't St. Trinian's, but there could be similarities!
In my first year there I shared a room/dorm. with four others - and naturally there were the inevitable ring leaders. I'm not sure if Moira, who pops in here, was involved or whether she'd had the sense to team up with another crowd to share with by then.

This particular night one of the ringleaders had the bright idea of playing hide and seek in the dark. So, we dutifully counted to the agreed number and then it was time to search for the 'hider'. The rooms weren't massive so it was always easy to find whoever was hiding. But, before the search could begin, our chattering was heard by a member of staff and the room door was flung open - at which point we heard a muffled squeak of pain from behind the door. But, the teacher in question just roared at us to 'go to sleep immediately' and slammed the door shut again. The door slamming was immediately followed by a whoosh, a thump and stifled groans. When we eventually turned on the light there was a crumpled figure on her knees on the floor, in her PJ's, part way across the room.

In an attempt to beat us at hide and seek the 'hider' had been ultra-clever. She'd taken her bed side chair (bit like an old fashioned dining room chair) and hung it from the pegs on the inside of the door, on which we hung our dressing gowns. Then she'd quietly hopped up onto the chair and was sitting suspended up there waiting for the search to begin when the door was flung open. At that point her knees had crashed against the wall but she stifled her squeaks of pain - damaging furniture was another,much more serious, punishment altogether! And of course, when the door was slammed shut the momentum had shot the 'hider' out of the chair and across the room - where she landed on her knees once again! Some of the most spectacular bruises I've ever seen as well :))

Sometimes I wonder how we survived - but I'm so glad we did and to this day I still have Moira as a friend to share our memories! I do remember the name of the 'hider' but that's not essential to the tale - besides which, I don't want to be had up for libel :))


Monday, 12 December 2011

Cards for our little grand daughters at Christmas

As ever, I'm right on the end of the wire with these. I need to go and queue in our Post Office today (might take a book) after going to a funeral at lunchtime and also nursing a stinking cold and cough - once again!!  New bug, old bug - I dunno (: However, I did make some cards for the girls in Germany - which I hope they'll like:

It's from a card set from QVC called 'Patchwork Pals', I'll be honest, they aren't all my favourites, but I got a couple of acceptable cards for Mia and Livi in Germany. What is very cute is that the fronts are covered in acetate and then right behind the image there's a back view!! Kids will be nosy :))

I said, I'm struggling here with yet another cold/cough, as my Dad would have pointed out, it must have been drinking out of damp glasses on the Wednesday night out! And his 'remedy' was to rub your chest with an empty whisky bottle - after drinking the contents - he was a bit of a scallywag :)) But, the show goes on!!


Sunday, 11 December 2011

A few Christmas gift tags

Harumph!!!! I thought I was being so clever when I bought some gorgeous plain red metallic paper and a load of white organza ribbon to wrap the little ones Christmas presents ready to send off to Germany. I didn't think about gift tags!

So, yesterday I set to and made eight of these:
My original idea was to stamp some images and then colour them with Pro Markers but that would have meant backing the card where the colours bleed through - also time wasn't on my side. So, a quick rootle through a box of neglected embellishments brought these little snowmen to light - thereby keeping the theme of red and white parcels :) I  know, the little ones probably won't look twice at the wrapping paper - they'll be much more interested in the contents!

I used:

- white card

- a Marianne Creatables die, from the labels set LR0154

- red scalloped circles punched from red card using a Stamping Up punch

- little sparkly snowmen toppers from stash

The fun bit was wrapping a couple of the gifts which are shaped a bit like Christmas puddings (I'll leave you guessing as to what they are) - ended up almost playing football with them around the house!


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Smile - it's Saturday!

I was out most of yesterday at the meeting to narrow down venues for the next school reunion. No decisions so far, but if you live North of Stratford Upon Avon you can probably breathe a sigh of relief. Err, if you live South of there I can be bribed so that we don't pick your home town though :)

Being out all day meant I couldn't finish off what I was working on until the light was totally gone - and besides which, I was weary so I'll save that card (err, I made three the same - I must be crazy at this stage!) until tomorrow.

But, my little outing on Wednesday evening, famous for the head band with those stars on, did produce a reminder from my friend (who was sporting some reindeer antlers - as you do) of another Pat tale :) This is Pat of the 'following a bus into the depot in the smog and also ripping her hat to shreds whilst hanging onto a train door for dear life' fame.
 I think we've all done this trick at some point - blown down the up-ended cap of a pen to produce sounds and whistles. Pat discovered this whilst in a classroom and found it very amusing - well, she would with her record! So, there she was happily tweeting away at the back of the classroom producing some amazing sounds and totally in her own world when up loomed the teacher - having spent some time working out where the 'chirpy tweety' sounds were emanating (haven't used a long word for a while) from.

Pat was promptly hauled from her desk and whisked to the front of the classroom where the teacher said 'Do you know what we do to quieten budges and canaries down?' 'No Miss' replied Pat innocently. With no more ado, the teacher then marched her to one of the front corners of the classroom, whipped the chalky duster from the blackboard and draped it over Pat's head - just as you would cover a caged bird at night. Poor little sausage had to stand there for the rest of the lesson - trying not to sneeze through all the chalk dust!! At the end of the lesson, when she was released, her navy blue uniform was almost white - and her hair and face were totally white. She scurried off into the playground after the lesson leaving little puffs of chalk dust everywhere!


Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday Feast - Steak and Mushroom Pie

This recipe is really a steak and kidney pie one, Len doesn't like kidney so I use mushrooms instead. If you do prefer kidney instead of mushrooms, then use four lambs kidneys, quartered and add them at the point in the recipe where it says to add the mushrooms. It also uses mince instead of cubed steak - it's always a winner here.

Steak and Mushroom Pie

The pastry leaves are just something I automatically do - for some reason my Mum always put pastry leaves on savoury pies and I picked up the habit from her!

Ready for some mashed potato, green vegetables and a touch of extra gravy

Serves 4 - but see my note below

300g (10oz) plain flour
1 tsp salt
75g (2½oz) chilled butter, cut into cubes
75g (2½oz) chilled lard, cut into cubes
2 tsp sunflower oil or your preference
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
500g (1lb) lean minced steak
150 g (6 oz) or so of button mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
250g (8oz) potato, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp gravy granules
1 egg, beaten, for glaze
20cm (8in) pie plate, greased

Put the flour into a food processor with the salt. Add the butter and lard. Pulse the processor until the mixture forms crumbs. Measure out 5-6 tbsp ice-cold water. Pour in most of the water, pulse until the mixture just combines; add the rest of the water if needed. Lightly knead dough on a floured surface, wrap and chill.
Heat the oil in large frying pan, add the onion and cook for a few mins until softened and lightly browned. Add the carrot and fry for a couple of mins, then add the mince to the pan. Breaking it up and continuing to cook for about 10 mins, until it’s browned all over.

Set the oven to Gas Mark 6 or 200°C. Add the kidneys (or mushrooms) and potato to the mince, then add the Worcestershire sauce, followed by the gravy granules. Stir well. Simmer gently for 15 mins until meat is tender. Tip into a bowl to cool.

Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line the pie plate. Spoon in the cooled meat filling. Brush the pastry rim with water. Roll out the remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to cover the filling. Pierce twice with a knife. Seal edges, cut off trimmings and crimp rim.

Brush the pie all over with the egg glaze and bake for 35 mins, until the pastry is golden.
Things I do: First of all, I do sometimes cheat and use  pre-made pastry sheets from the supermarket - although the pastry recipe above is very easy to make it just saves on a bit of messing around and also on some washing up.
I've already said that I substitute mushrooms for kidney. But the main thing is that this recipe makes a lot of pie filling - so much so that I always only use half for the pie itself once I've cooked it to the point of tipping into a bowl to cool. If you try the recipe I'm sure you'll see just what I mean - the rest of the filling gets frozen, then fully defrosted and used another time which is a great time saver. That's got to be a plus :) 

I'm off out to a meeting for most of today to discuss where to land on go for our 2013 long-weekend school reunion. So far, in almost 20 years of these reunions, we've never gone to the same place twice - I wonder why?! It reminds me of the saying about only going somewhere twice when the second time is to apologise!


Thursday, 8 December 2011

My head hurts after the night out!

I only just beat getting home by midnight from last night's outing, thereby narrowly avoiding turning into a pumpkin :) And my head hurts this morning - but not due to over indulgence I can promise. We were all given our choice of headgear at the start of the evening - and Len did grin when I arrived home sporting an alice band with a couple of long springs from the top and silver sparkly stars waggling round like fury. Well, you didn't expect a pixie to choose a Santa hat or reindeer antlers did you?! But, wearing them for hours has left me feeling as if they're still there!

Anyhow, onto today's cards and it's the Kan Ban kit that had the reindeer toppers in - galloping to the rescue once again:

I used:

- DL card stock, length ways

- plain backing card in a mix of cream, dark red and turquoise

- patterned backing card, die cut leaves, poinsettias and sentiments from the kit (I layered the poinsettias for some dimension)

- burgundy organza ribbon with narrower turquoise grosgrain ribbon layered on top

I managed to squeeze eight cards from the kit, all very similar. When the backing paper ran out I used the vellum that was also in the kit, in the same pattern, by using the double sided A4 'sticky sheet' trick and layering it onto white card before treating it like patterned card. 

That's me for today - I just wandered into the lounge and spotted Marvin the Monkey wearing the wobbly stars on his head! Now who did that I wonder?


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

WOYWW 131 - and as if there isn't enough to do

.............this is the state of my desk:
Most cards to post are finished so now I'm about to work on some hand delivered ones. I must be barking as I decided to make some 'sparklies' for those cards using some Marianne Creatables Dies which were leaping up and down asking to be used this Christmas and not next :) As they were to be sparkled up a bit there was a little bit of head scratching here, I couldn't see that they would cut ready glittered card OK as what I have is quite thick and crunchy stuff neither did I fancy trying to cover the intricate designs with glue and glitter.

Ta,da!! That wonderful double sided adhesive A4 stuff galloped to the rescue. I've used it to back mulberry paper, and more recently some vellum, as well as sticking it over stamped images then sprinkling with glitter for a snowy effect - it's versatile stuff!! Joanna Sheen has it in her shop here, free postage with a £5 minimum order too. This latest use was an experiment but worked a treat!
First I covered a sheet of A4 card with the sticky double sided film, leaving one side still covered with the protective film and chopped it into the sizes I needed for the dies

Then I ran the dies and the covered card through the Cuttlebug with the protective film side facing into the die to get the proper cut
Peeled off the protective film, a poky tool or say a pin was really useful just to gently peel a bit of the edge to get it going
Then dunked it into the sparkly stuff which I love, not quite as fine as Glamour Dust and a whole lot cheaper!

And here are some of the end results. I dunked the baubles into very fine gold glitter, which also worked just great.

A tip - if you use the Marianne Creatables icicles die - you can see from the second photo down in this series of piccies that once the die has been cut you're left with a mirror of the die cut, the one on the bottom right shows this well - two for the price of one! I've even used the leftovers from the back to back ones on the left of the photo - if they'd been spaced further apart it would have been better but this was a bonus I hadn't expected anyway :)

That's me for this Wednesday - to see what other crafters are up to, head over to Julia's here. There could be a lot of activity going on, so long as folk have time to stop and take a photo of what they're up to in the rush towards Christmas :)

Edit: Following a couple of comments there are two things I should clarify. Firstly Jude, the glitter I used is really fine iridescent stuff, almost the same as Glamour Dust, and can be bought from the Art of Craft. I do love, and use Glamour Dust, but for large areas the miser in me uses the pot of stuff from AOC as it is most definitely not your average glitter, much cheaper and the closest I reckon you could ever find to Glamour Dust. I've been trying to find it in their online shop so I can put a link to it here - I'll have a little search again later :). 

Elizabeth asked whether the adhesive film makes dies sticky - the answer is 'no'. That was my biggest concern when I tried this idea out. When you cut you still have the flat surfaces of the card 'non'sticky' and the 'point of cut' around the dies is not left with any sticky residue - I've checked! I think this way is less harmful than cutting ready-glittered paper/card. Mind you, ask me again when I've cut a shed load more!!  If I find a problem then I'll own up :)

Happy WOYWW!! It's my first Christmas 'outing' of the year this evening with a crowd of friends for a meal and some fun and frolics. Tee, hee - it also means I don't have to cook an evening meal here :))


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A Tuesday Tale - St. Nicholas Eve traditions, slightly more serious but with a smile at the end

Most folk will have gathered that Moira, who hops in here regularly, and I met up at boarding school absolutely donkeys, and a lame donkey at that, years ago. The school was for children whose Fathers were working in Germany, generally in the Armed Forces. A lot of the staff were German, although the teachers were from the UK, and certain German Traditions were followed.
Each December a large Advent Wreath would be suspended in the stairwell of each House. The Houses were three stories high with cellars running the whole length underneath - it had been a U-boat submarine base during WW11 and we were terrified of those cellars - with good reason, we discovered many years later. The ground and first floor were made up of our rooms, staff flats and dormitories then the top floor was attic space with a massive 'prep. room' where we did our homework, wrote the obligatory weekly letter home every Sunday (those letters, in the first term at least, often begging to go home!) and held little socials and dances (the school was co-ed so there were boys to dance with too!) and so forth.

During Advent, until we all went home for the Christmas hols., each Sunday evening there was a really beautiful tradition. After our supper (generally cold meat and pickles on a Sunday evening) and just before the little ones had to go to bed we would all get into our PJs and dressing gowns (remember those floral nylon quilted dressing gowns - yeah, me too!!). Then we would all gather round the steps around the stairwell banisters from top to bottom, the Advent candle(s) - one more for each Sunday in Advent - on the wreath would be lit and we'd sing a selection of Christmas Carols. 'Stille Nachte' (Silent Night) was always a 'must' and even our stern Matron Frau Habercost who, despite us lived to the age of about 100, could be seen with a little tear in her eye at the freshly scrubbed faces, illuminated by candle light, all chirping their hearts out. Thinking back, it must have been very moving and I still remember it as a very special ritual.

The House Matrons were all German ladies, and every 5th December, there was another little ritual. In Germany, St. Nicholas calls on all children on that evening - known as St. Nicholas Eve - and leaves a little pre-Christmas treat or two in their shoe. Our Matrons used to tell us that the shoe we left outside our room/dorm. door had to be bright and shiny otherwise we might not get a treat. Needless to say, on 5th December there was a little hive of activity, brushes and polish flying round, in the 'boot room' where we kept and cleaned our outdoor shoes, hockey boots, wellies and such. And sure enough, the following morning there would be a little cellophane packet in each shoe containing chocolate and other little treats when we woke up.

And, it was also really easy the next morning to spot the more 'tardy' amongst us ......wearing one bright and shiny shoe and the other one totally unpolished..... in all the excitement and rush to nip into bed and fall fast asleep, lest we didn't leave at least the one shiny shoe and St Nicholas didn't call!

Happy days!


Monday, 5 December 2011

The last of the ribbon tree Christmas cards

Just a quick post today, a couple of softer coloured ribbon tree cards, using the Woodware 'Christmas Ribbon Tree' stamp set. It does surprise me just how different cards can be using this set - and I haven't even explored the paper piecing possibilities yet - that can wait until next Christmas I think:

Both cards are 5" x 7" and the backing papers are from Dovecraft Paper packs ('Noel' for the gold/beige one and 'Let It Snow' for the blue one).

Coloured with Pro Markers and a bit of Stickles on the stars and the tree tubs as the backing papers have a bit of sparkle in them. I mixed Silver and Frosted Lace Stickles together before applying with a little brush for the blue one - never satisfied with the choice I have :)

And of course, Josy Rose Nail Heads!

I think most people are running round chasing their tails right now getting ready for Christmas and the Big Man in the Red Suit is probably polishing the reindeer's bells today in readiness.......err, or would that be the Elves who do that? Pixies don't do polishing, they just flit around sprinkling stardust and glitter - and generally getting into mischief :))


Sunday, 4 December 2011

More Christmas cards.................

........using a different 'peg' stamp set - shame on me, I've had it for years and never inked it up before this weekend:

Still in 'batch mode' here I made a couple in each set of colours. As previously, I ran an embossing tool round the edge of a die on the reverse of the front of the card to have a better chance of something resembling a circular wreath! This stamp set can be used for birthday cards too as it's made up of little parcels and bows.

I used:

- 4.5" x 4.5" white square card stock

- Tapestry stamp set 'Boxes and Bows' - and a selection of Brilliance Inks

- an Anita's sentiment stamp

- little red pearls and clear gems from stash

Another four all done and dusted....I think there might be a little chink of light at the end of the tunnel - whoopee :)

Hope you're having a great weekend!