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Friday, 30 December 2011

Beach and 'Great Inspirations' plus mince pie recipes !!

Hi Everyone
weather been mixed today - cold but sunny this morning and now very wet and colder. Its been a busy week of socialising and family. Its a few days since  my last blog and the christmas break is moving at a pace. Soon it will be back to work normal phase. Not sure what I feel about this - I know I will get to find more time for creating but will miss having the freedom to spend time with my family and friends. We had our annual christmas walk with friends today followed by a pub lunch - excellent food and lots of fun chat.
A few days ago, I promised some pictures of the beach  and did not get them up here at the time. Our system has been upgraded and hopefully will be better to use. At last, here they are :

The sun was quite bright behind the boys and there was no wind at all - very mild. It could have been a summers day - amazing. This was about 2pm but looks much later.

Also, here is a picture of the christmas cake we made (talked about this too - last week)  - I did think it was completely over the top - but its actually rather nice - the boys were responsible for all the stuff other than the actual snow scene icing (which I did). The cake has almost been eaten - its one of my better versions.

On another matter - last night we watched the latest Great Expectation on TV - it was quite impressive and has inspired me to do something in the style of Miss Haversham and her house - as well as the period generally (portrayed by the clothes and furniture) it was quite breathtaking. This picture (towards the end of the drama) is a little taste of what I mean - very, very shabby chic. It was a really good watch.

Thats it for now - hope to be back tomorrow. I'm planning to make more mince pies - I use a lovely almond pasry and a fantastic little baking tray. Will share my recipe/method and pictures tomorrow.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Happy Christmas and next .........

Hi everyone
Happy Christmas to you all. I've not found any space over the last few days (anywhere near my computer) so have missed my daily blogging. We had a lovely time - quite relaxing for the first time since the kids were born. Spent time chatting and sitting around. Much too much eating/drinking.Weather has been so mild - amazing ! We all had a walk on the beach yesterday - thats how warm it was !! got a few pictures - will try and get them up later (cant get access to my normal photo downloader). Also cant quite believe how quickly the days have gone by.
I have a range of lovely gifts just waiting to get used. Must get planning to find some time to do this. My brother bought me the Kirsty Allsopp craft book - I enjoyed watching the TV programme and mentioned a few of the projects on the blog - remember the paper ring ? I especially like a felted Robin - can't wait to try.
As usual all the weeks of planning and preparing have passed into memory - almost as if its not happened at all ! Time now to look forward to the New Year.
Not sure what we will do later. I need to start thinking about new stock and ideas for the shops. I do have a few ideas but need more thinking.

Will updare with a few links and pictures later

Bye for now

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Indoor wreaths and miseltoe.

Hi everyone
weather damp again !!! - still very mild. Not much like christmas - we need our christmas songs going instead !

Finally, managed to get the indoor wreath up last night - worked out OK -  colours are right and its the begining of my display. I used artifical ivy, bits of lime green sparkly berries/leaves and a few baubles with purple wired ribbon. All I did was tie these things in place (with thin metal wire) around a metal/twig round form.Now need to concentrate on making some more little 'sprigs' of the same materials ie pinks,greens,purples. I think, I will aim to dress the pictures and dangle my sprigs from window areas etc - not sure exactly what will turn out but I've a few hours to play. I've also got some miseltoe, so thought I would hang up a sprig on a light fitting. Am quite looking forward to this little activity.

My other efforts last night (did'nt get a picture to share - will do later) are simple plates of coloured baubles - I like this look and usually do it because its quick but I do like the simple (ish) look. I know its not a new invention but the baubles are new, so it looks different from last year.

Hope to get the cake done too. Its a race against time (as usual) but loads still to arrange. The sad fact is - its only me who cares what it looks like !!! All my family (I'm sure) are not that bothered !! In the end, it does'nt matter if nothing gets arranged (other than food appearing). But on Christmas Day, I want to look around and be able to smile about the various adornments. Such as life !

Bye for now

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hope and practice !!

Hi everyone
weather much warmer today - bit damp but very mild.
Been to a friends party today and done loads of shopping for food ! - Can't find the words ro describe how much I dislike food shopping - had to be done ! especially for Christmas and a few days after. I think its almost there. Perhaps, a small list of items over the next few days but that should be it.
Did'nt manage to make my wreath last night, aiming for tonight.

In my quest to be inspired for crochet, I've found another lovely,delicate example of what I want to achieve - here it is  (above) - just right for the linen thread I mentioned yesterday. Wish I was better skilled for the job. Practice, I think, will make it possible !!
I had limited time in the house today - what with parties and shopping- but I did manage to put marzipan on my Christmas cake. Tomorrow, the boys and I will ice the cake. Maybe, I will have some pretty pictures of our efforts and our Christmas decorated house ! I live in hope - everyday !

Bye for now

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Crocheting dreams !!!

Hi anyone
weather very 'wintry' but no snow - bit damp as its later in the day. Early this morning , it was frosty - looked magical.
We have been having lunch with friends today, the boys had a great time together and I talked to my best friend about 'life as we know it' ! What a lovely few hours.
Now, however - I need to get going - food/tidy and some creative things (I hope) I want to make an indoor wreath to make our eating area pretty - will get some pictures to share, if/when this happens.
I'm also thinking about new stuff for the shops - what do people need over the christmas break ? I'm staying open - I've sold out of Christmas stuff. I need a plan........
On another tack completely, I noticed a little note on a Twitter feed talking about crochet. I did have a go with crocheting last summer and had an element of success. Its about finding something to make which I like enough and that will make me persevere  until I get it PERFECT ! I like this pretty necklace - may have a go. One of my presents (on the WISH LIST) is some fine,pink thread/linen -perfect for this project.
Crochet is also quite a feature in the new Mollie Makes mag more crochet advice . Whenever I read about crocheting - there seems to be an assumption that its easy - I find it quite a challenge. I can knit OK but crocheting is another thing altogether. I'm determined to get it - somehow !!

Think thats about it for today.
Bye for now

Monday, 19 December 2011

Russian display at last !!!!!!

Hi everybody
weather is so cold - very frosty !!! I'm also very late in my posting -  been busy with family things all weekend and almost caught up with orders today.
new Russian Christmas display plus cards
Been catching up with my changeover of the Russian Christmas stuff and almost there with family and close friends cards.

I've also made some sweet mince (3 hours in the oven !) for our christmas mince pies - we usually make the pies on Christmas Eve (listening to Christmas carols/songs) and eat some straight from the oven - the boys have helped from being very little and will still do it this year (I hope !)
Tomorrow, we are having coffee with friends and then icing our christmas cake - the boys found some additional new animals for the cake . Should supplement a very 'tired' range of characters. Will post a picture when decoration complete.
new'friends' for the cake
Well - thats it for today. Hope to be back earlier tomorrow.
Bye for now.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Russian Christmas Bauble DIY

Hi anyone
Its actually snowing - very Christmassy - lightly but snowing (my boys will be thrilled).Not lying on the ground as such. Yet.
Russian Christmas with lists

without the lists

side view

All my plans for yesterday and the Russian Christmas needed a re schedule !!!! I did get the List It Tool up and the little Tealight but have a few more items to go. Time just ran out.


I need to do a Russian Christmas Bauble for my mini berry tree (you can just see the berry tree  in the picture below). I thought I would do a DIY on here to show how I make the bauble. So, will do that later today as a Part 2 of todays blog.
Bell Garland
Have sold another few items from my shop (Folksy). I only put them in as a last minute thing and within a few hours they had been sold. Amazing, thank you so much again to all my customers. The Bell Garland from A Christmas Wood Collection is also in there now. I was going to keep it but I would like to do a Russian Christmas one instead. So take a look before it goes !

Will be back later with Part 2

Bye for now
Part 2
Managed to get the bauble done earlier and have some pics to show the development. Its very easy and explains itself. Here are the stages by picture :

1)print 3 versions of the Russian House image

2)cut out the linked house shapes

4)fold and glue via the white flap
 3)score each seperate house shape
5)the three sided house shape

6)punch mini holes in each roof

7)thread with cotton + add mini star shape to each roof

8)tie the thread to bring roof tips together to form point

9)tie off the thread

10)hang the bauble on my mini tree

the finished bauble in the Russian Christmas scene
I now need to add to my Russian Christmas scene with more houses and cards. Have a go at making paper baubles with your favourite christmas images.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Singing Angel Memories

Hi anyone
today its a complete weather change again - bright and some blue sky. A little cold but not bad for mid December !
Been adding a couple of items to the Folksy Shop - thats the last (I think) everything else has been sold. Take a look - the shop is listed on the left of this blog.
The School Fair (see yesterday blog) seemed to go well - like all these things mass panic for an hour or so but we seemed to make lots of funds for the School - great !  Well done to everyone who helped make it happen - especially our Chair (Allison). The little snowman cakes all sold very quickly.
Today, is to be the day ! Am aiming to get my Russian Christmas things up today - been talking about doing this for ages.

Russian Christmas

 Will post some pics tomorrow. My house is still a complete mess, so will tackle that too. If I manage all that I will find something inspiring to paint - am having withdrawl symptoms - have been so tied up with Christmas things that painting has been missed out of my life.

Singing Angel
Singing Angel tags
I had a lovely lunch with some friends on Tuesday and gave them both a Christmas card - developed from one of my paintings called Singing Angel - I was reminded how nice it is to see pictures that I know so well in other places ie not my studio and the surprise of seeing an image which I have spent so long thinking and working on. Above is a version of the paining I'm talking about - I don't have an exact picture of the cards but I also developed tags and the cards are similar.
Must get to the Russian Christmas.

Bye for now.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Cup cakes and snowmen !

Hi anyone
todays it looks at bit like snow could happen ? - damp and coldish ! Very grey sky !
Busy, busy - today is our school Christmas Fair and the kids are doing lots of christmas related games/sales things. Amongst the chaos of last night we managed to get 12 decorated christmas cupcakes

best snowman award

They look great as a group - not sure what  the damage will be when they actually get there - we will see.....
The boys had been to the pantomine with school and it was a late finish last night - the wind was quite scary - always makes for a drama - lots of things blowing about on the road. However, we made home OK to get baking and much quieter today.

Also have a christmas party with scouts/cubs later this evening so needed to get a few small thank you gifts together - even managed this ?

mini thank you gift
I'm looking forward to a quiet few days organising our christmas at home - then school holidays on Friday. Am probably deluded in my thinking. I live in hope. Still dont have my Russian Christmas theme in place - must do it !

Bye for now

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tags and 'bits of tags'

Hi anyone
its a bright day today - started rather damp/rainy but now it looks great outside - probably cold - not been out yet but looks good so far.
I spent much of last night re-wrapping stuff for a school fair tomorrow. All I need now is some tags which will add a bit of colour to the wrapped stuff - its all donated things and in desperate need of some 'prettying up' to make attractive enough to buy !! Quite a challenge on a budget. However, looking amongst some very old stuff in my studio - I came across tags or rather bits of 'tags to be'.
bit of 'tags to be'
 These bits of tags must be 4-5 years old and were semi-developed for a similar christmas school fair. My studio is full of things like this - I do need a good clear out. However, am so glad I did'nt clear out before I found these - the find will save me time in terms of design decisions more  than working time. I often find I do much better(efficiency wise) if I have very few materials.
these are my favourite

this is the box I found with the tag bits in it

In addition to saving me time - in some ways this approach goes with the spirit of the fair and appeals to my From Scratch  ethos ! Gives me a good feeling too - I do like the 'make do and mend' approach (sometimes).
Here are a few pics of the basic bits - will get them together in their finished form - lets see if I can keep to the basics I have here. Will post a final picture later today.
I need to go and pick up some stuff and make and decorate christmas cupcakes !!! - just what I need !!!! but my eldest child has asked several times for decorated cup cakes (he will sell them at the fair) - will make him do a bit of decorating too. Will show them here tomorrow.

Bye for now

Here is the final picture of the 'developed' tags - all ready to go

developed tags dressed and ready to go
I think they look OK - considering how old the bits are and I did keep to my word and only use the stuff from the box (other than adding glue and the thread.

Back tomorrow.

Monday, 12 December 2011

PJ's anyone ?

Hi anyone
weather is horrid today !! Damp and cold - could snow any min. but it would be all wet snow and not lie - so no point - hope is does'nt.
Been busy this weekend with family things - sleepovers and rugby and carol services - also called in on some friends for coffee and started to put up Christmas decorations.
My house has been partially Christimasy with thepapersac stuff for a while but the kids don't think that counts. The trees are up but the place is a mess - lots of boxes everywhere. I had too many work orders this morning to tidy up. Thank you again to everyone that has ordered this year.

Anyway - took a few pictures of the boys advent models (here is the original posting of Advent ) to show their progress - nothing like the intented model but just as good or better - theres a way to go so who knows ? how it will turn out.
Also slight panic about christmas presents in the middle of it all - think I have most things but not sure !!! I was browsing (only 10mins) and came across some lovely pj's - for me ! What do you think ? Love their stuff - I would buy the whole shop if I could. Go to TOAST and check them out.
Must get on.
Bye for now.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Upcycled tags

Hi anyone
weather has calmed today - its a bright sky and a little damp but generally looks good.
One of my jobs for a few days now, has been to sort the tags for my boys presents. Last year, I recycled some old cards for the job
Christmas 2010 tags

and decided to do the same this year with different images. I've chosen cards that the boys favoured from last years batch and made some adjustments to size and shape but have upcycled again. I've put them together in a picture form of DIY to show what I did.
basic equipment plus a computer/scan
How to :  First. I cropped the image with scissors,scanned into my computer - bit more adjustment of the images, added the name. Pasted into a page and printed. Quick cut up, punch a hole in the tag and thread with coloured thick cotton thread. Thats it for the basic tag.

It took me about 10 mins to get the first ones out and I have printed a few more sheets (for those extra presents I will buy, even though I don't intend too !!!).
basic version of the 2011 tags
Josh tag

Ben tag
Most paper and wrapping is not valued by my kids - so this is an ideal way of quickly and cheaply providing lots of individual, personalised tags. Any art could be used with this method and lots of extra embellishing could go on - I may add to this basic tag but essentially its a great way of producing personalised wrap items.
You could print onto larger paper and use as gift wrap paper, I will be doing this too.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Feel pretty to 'be in' !!

Hi everyone
today is a very dreary day - rain and cold and very dark - the forecasts are for mega storms ! schools closed etc not so far from here !! - am optomistic that we will be OK !
My house is a complete mess - needs some tlc today - still wanting to get some stuff sorted for my own christmas wrapping so will share later.
On a more important note - I developed the Russian Christmas theme to compliment my own space (in the house) because the Christmas Wood didnt quite do it.
Russian Christmas

Christmas Wood
Now, I'm not sure if I can take the Christmas Wood away ? - its 'bedded in' somehow. I guess, its the difference between something more or less sophisticated !!! This idea reminds me of the Kirstie Allsop christmas offer on TV last night Homemade Christmas (worth a look if you havent seen it). She tends to favour the 'mix up look' rather than any co ordinating thing - eclectic seems to be the word here. I'm still struggling with it - I dont want to create a shop display but I do like things to feel nice and to look nice. In my few moments of sitting looking around with a coffee, I do get great pleasure from noticing an element of my surroundings which make me smile and feel pretty to 'be in'. Sounds like a thought for the day ie feel pretty to 'be in'. On that note - I will get on and see what happens. Will share the outcome tomorrow.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

How to make my Christmas Gift Pockets

Hi anyone

weather is difficult to describe today - its been both sunny and bright as well as grey and damp - changed every time I moved around today - bit dark now !! Still, I have my Christmas Carols going in an attempt to get festive. Also been Christmas shopping - not my favourite activity ! Not sure what I have or need to get anymore !!
mini gift pockets

Also thought I would give a little DIY blog today. I've sold lots of these Gift Pockets this year and tend to use them for my own friends and family. Everyone comments on the gift packaging. They are so easy to make and they can lift a very modest gift, making it impressive. The size of the pocket is determined by the gift you need to put in it, so check first what you are going to put in it. The pocket is made from light card or strong paper, so only light gifts are suitable.
The first thing to do is get your stuff together :
materials needed to make the pockets

1) the card or paper you are using - here I've got a print of my Russian Christmas picture -approximately 14x17cms (I'm making a small pocket for some earrings which will be wrapped in tissue)
2)metal ruler
3)craft knife
5)paper string (you could use ribbon or any other string)
6) mini plastic stars (optional to match my artwork)
Having assembled your material/tools trim the card/paper to your chosen size (if you are not sure at this stage cut out a template from old newspaper and make a quck version for size).
 join the edge of the card with glue

Next glue the edge of the card/paper to make a circle - allow to bond.You can see the join in picture 1. The card is now in a circle shape
glue half the bottom edge of circle shape
When dry and secure - glue the bottom edge of the circle shape and glue together by flattening (keeping the join in the centre) - glue the botton edge of the paper/card.
 glue bottom edge and press securely together
another view of the glued bottom of the pocket (now at the top)

Press the edges together and again bond securely.

punch 2 sets of holes at the top (go through both edges - you have 4 holes)
 Using a paper punch (I use a fiskars hand punch) make two sets of holes at the other end.

open out the pocket after glueing and make this shape

Open out to make the triangle shape and use the string/ribbon to tie.
string is doubled back through the holes to make tight closure
tied and tagged pocket plus a star

I added a small star and a gift tag before threading into the gift pocket to make a firm closure

finished pockets

I also added one of my stars and a co ordinating tag from the Russian Christmas theme. There you are finished. Have a go - its very simple and does look effective. You can personalise with names and/or gift specific images. The options are endless.
Bye for now.