Sunday, 14 September 2014

My Big News and Early Halloween Jars

I know it's not even October yet but I saw some of these decorated candle jam jars on Pinterest and remembered I had made some of these a couple of years ago which comes out every year on Halloween - I can't remember if I ever posted them so I'm showing them now.
They are really easy to make just red or orange tissue paper PVA'd onto clean jam- jars, when dry  black  die cuts were PVA'd on the top.  (The cat and the crow are Tim Holtz Dies and the face is one I cut out).  I twisted some old metal wire around the handles and they're done. 
Very effective in the dark.
My other news is I have been accepted for University and I'm off to the University of Central Lancashire in Preston to do a BA Arts & Designs Foundation course.  This is for 12 months and hopefully if my grades are good enough I will be able to go on and do a BA in Textiles.  When I was made redundant 18 months ago it soon became clear that I was going to struggle to get employment.  I decided to make the best use of my time and energy and do something I wanted to. 
 I didn't have the chance of going to University when I was at school so I started looking to combine my love of crafting with this goal and came up with a BA in Textiles - I applied with a digital portfolio made up of a mixture of all my work and to my absolute amazement I received an offer.  As I have no formal qualifications I  have to complete a 12 month foundation course and I'm really looking forward to getting started  - which is tomorrow!!!!
To say I a little nervous is the understatement of the year - so wish me luck I'll be the oldest Fresher on campus but what the hell.  I'll give it my best shot and let you know how its going.
Fingers crossed

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Applique Cat Cushion

Been a busy little bee since I last posted and have been trying some new ideas.  Here is the first one - well it is actually the 2nd cushion as the first one was a bit of a disaster.  I struggled to get the eyes to look feline-like on No 1 - in fact they looked really evil and I confined it to the scrap pile.  As I was making it as a present for a friend's birthday I felt an evil eyed cat didn't give the right impression!
Here is the back with the button fastening

Well the cushion was well received and has gone to a good home.  I'm wondering how \I can rescue cushion No 1 - any suggestions on a postcard please. LOL
I have an order for 2 Christmas Stockings and I've just cut them out  ready for constructing - they are going to have names and some festive characters appliqued as decoration but I need to get cracking  so I'm off to my craft room to get on with the sewing.
I have some exciting news to post later this week and I can't wait to tell you all about it don't forget to pop back.
Have a good day

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Great Day Out

Been another busy week this week although my temporary job at the Brewery came to an end on Friday and I'm back signing on the unemployment list come Monday.  I really enjoyed my time at Mitchells and met some lovely people while I was there.  I was given a lovely bunch of flowers, a gift voucher for the local craft shop and a large bar of chocolate which was a lovely surprise - as I was only there as a temp I was so touched by their kindness.  (More than my last employers  DRI - I was there 16 years, made redundant and didn't even get a handshake off my former managers!!!!!!!!!) but I'm not bitter - Ha!

On to happy things:

We had a great day out today at the Cumbria Steam Gathering at Cark.  The weather was good and the sun shone until about 2.30 when it clouded over a little - but it didn't spoil our day.  There were hundreds of vintage vehicles, Commercial vans, motorbikes, cars, steam traction engine, tractors, ex army vehicles - the list goes on and on.  There were two craft tents where we bought some lovely Home-made Sweet Chilli Jam that is hot but not too hot and some fabulous Coconut Macaroons that were scrummy.  I walked my legs off and I'm feeling worn out this evening but it was a great day and I had forgotton how much fun Country Fairs are.  

Unfortunately I forgot my to take my camera so I have no photos to show so I will post a couple more of my recent craft obsession Felt Badges (at the moment I'm in the middle of  working on some Halloween designs to be unveiled soon!).

Another Felt Heart in white and pink with felt flowers and pink seed beads:-

And an owl which was a commission order by a friend who requested it in blue:-

I have also got a commission for two Christmas Christmas stockings for a friends' two baby granddaughters.  I'm going to start these this week as the is a bit of applique work to do on each of them.

Thanks for looking.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sunday Evening - More Felt Brooches

Another week has just flown past and it's Sunday Evening again - I'm getting ready for my last week in the temporary job at the brewery - I went for a couple of weeks which was extended to 3 months.  It's been an interesting 3 months and I have missed emotions about leaving.  I have enjoyed the company and will miss the crowd in the office but it means I can get my crafts organised and get some Christmas things made ready for the next craft fair.
Here are a couple more of the felt badges I have been making:-

Autumn Leaf 2

Hearts & Beaded Flower

Hope you like them

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Universal Woman Felt Brooch


I know I have been absent for some time but honest life has been so busy - I got a temporary job in an office in a local brewery and after nearly 12 months off work I found it a bit hard to get back into the rhythm of office work.  I found it tiring and at the end of the day I thought my head would explode with all the new things I had to learn.  Anyway it is about to come to an end and so I will have more time for myself and crafting.  Hurrah!!

I have been making (and selling) some small felt brooches and pins over the last few weeks and I'm thinking about opening a Etsy Shop  - I'm not sure that the local craft fairs are the right place to try and sell my things round here.  I did one the other weekend and although the response to all my badges was really positive there were not too many sales - I did sell a couple and at least made my table money back and a bit more.  I'm not really sure what to do!!   Perhaps I will do another craft fair in the run up to Christmas and see if it would go better.

I will be posting some pictures of my current work over the next few weeks I would love to hear your feedback it would be much appreciated.  Just a quick note in comments - please.

Anyway here a  couple of the felt brooches I have made recently:-

Universal Woman
This is made from turquoise coloured felt onto which I machine stitched a wiggly line (although it doesn't show very clearly in the photo!) then I added three star sequins held in place with seed beads.  I added random seed beads in the background. Finally I made the face from air-dried clay using a push mold - when it was dry I rubbed a gold waxing paste and used Dazzle-Tac Jewellery Glue to adhere it to the brooch. There is a safety brooch bar on the back.

 Autumn Leaf

The leaf was cut out of felt and a slightly smaller version cut out of a printed cotton, over the left half of the leaf is a net layer and all layers were appliqued to the front with a machine free motion stitched.   Again a brooch bar was attached to the back.
I hope you will leave me some feedback and let me know what you think of them.
Thanks for looking


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Pumpkin Pincushions

I love Pinterest and spend many a happy hour browsing online - there is just so much inspiration out there and so many talented people sharing ideas and patterns. 
Here are a couple of really cute  Pumpkin Pincushions I have made over the weekend from a pin I found on the Fiskars Board - Its really easy to make as the instructions are in a picture format.  I have added a link.  I used a small bowl as a template and by varying the circle size you can make the pumpkins bigger or smaller.
 I made two different leaves as I couldn't make my mind up which to use and I'm still not sure.  The first leaf  is made from a piece of green batik cotton.

The second leaf is made from green felt and a little hand topstitching.  The original pattern has a piece of curled ribbon but I haven't added it as I didn't have any grosgrain ribbon in the right colour!
I have two more pincushions to finish and will add them to my pumpkin patch in the autum!
Thanks for looking

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Wray Scarecrow Festival 2014

 We had a super day on the Bank Holiday Monday - we went to the Wray Scarecrow Festival and spent an hour or two wandering around the village admiring the wonderful scarecrows on display. 

This years' theme was heroes and villains and the villagers worked their usual magic and produced some amazing  figures.  I loved the first photo of the Sacked Scarecrow  his expression was just so funny.
Barry made a new friend  - a pair of jokers together!!!

Stick Turpin reminded me of the 'Wicker Man' but I thought it was a very clever design.

Finally the winning figure - Captain Jack Sparrow  - I just loved this - its an amazing figure a worthy winner.

All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon among the Scarecrows and look forward to doing it again next year.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Chick Chick Chick Chick Chicken!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't have time to make many Easter cards this year but I did manage to make a couple.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love chickens and could watch them for hours.  I would have some in my back garden if only it was a bit bigger and we didn't have Max the cat (he would love a few chickens to chase around the garden).

I recently came across a set of  rather sweet chicken stamps  made by Woodware and just had to have them.

Here it is then:-

The words are from an old song that my Mum used to sing to us every time we had a boiled eggs for tea as children and she would have really approved of it.

Ain't it funny where the inspiration comes from some times.  Miss you Mum xx

Thanks for looking


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Little Boxes Little Boxes

I have been on leave of absence again - I have had an operation on my eye and have had a new lens implant in my left one.  Very strange experience that I don't want to repeat in a hurry but it has healed ok and I'm just waiting for my new glasses.  Hopefully they will be ready this week to pick up and I will be back to normal crafting mode.

Consequently, crafting has be a little restricted but I went to craft club this week and spent a very happy evening playing with a small plain box, diluted PVA glue and a book of old maps.  Here is the end product:-

I have some Easter Cards to show but they will have to wait for another day.

Thanks for looking.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Happy St Patricks Day

I meant to post this yesterday but got all behind with various chores and didn't manage it so it's a belated Happy St Patricks Day to everyone.

I made myself a little present of a Shamrock Mug Rug with some fabric bits I had  left over and considering I made the pattern up as I went along I think it turned out rather sweet. I still need to practice binding the edges but I'm getting there with my sewing. 

Thanks for looking


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Here's a view of Morecambe basking in the early Spring sunshine - and isn't it about time.  The last couple of days have been lovely and I have been out walking on the promenade with my camera taking a few photos.
It was great to feel some warmth on my face - I think it makes us feel so much more positive.  Everyone's smiling and say hello as you pass by.
Roll on summer.
Thanks for looking

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Bara Brith - A Childhood Memory

Browsing Pinterest last week I realised that it was St Davids' Day (the Patron Saint of Wales) and I had a wonderful memory of my Mum's best friend - Aunty Eirwin (a lovely Welsh Lady) who lived almost next door as we were growing up.  Now my Mum was a brilliant baker but Aunty Eirwin gave her a run for her money and she made the most amazing fruit tea loaf called Bara Brith (Welsh for Speckled Loaf).  It was the most amazing fruit loaf  full of currants, sultanas and spiced with cinnamon and mixed spice - spread with butter it made the most amazing treat after tea. 

It sent me off searching for a recipe and there are loads to choose from - I found this one  on Marriage's Master Millers website and it was very scrummy I can really recommend it - the whole loaf disappeared rapidly with shouts of 'make this again PLEASE'. 

One for the family recipe book I think.

Thanks for looking


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Latest Cushion Creations

I've spent  a lot of time recently playing with my new sewing machine getting use to all the 'magic' it can do and the more I use it the more I find out how much sewing machines have moved on. It was not the most expensive machine on the market (I looked at one that was over £2000 !!*@£$$). 
The one I decided on was a Brother machine and what sold it to me was the automatic needle threader and the free Quilting Kit that came with it  (well almost - there was also one or two more features I liked lol).  Buttonholes are a dream, embroidery stitches are as easy as ABC, and it has opened up a whole new world of free embroidery - a very steep learning curve but this is work in progress and I'm hoping to improve.
I have just made these two cushions with appliqued Scottie Dogs machined on with a blanket stitch although you can't actually see the stitches - Note to self  I must start using my camera and not my phone to take photos as the quality is much better. 

I have plans to make more cushions and personalise them for family members for Christmas this year - just a bit different. I have just drawn a Hare silhouette and this will be my next project but I have some bunting to finish first.
Hope your watching The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC 2.  I know I am - who would have thought a sewing competition could be so addictive.
Thanks for looking

Monday, 27 January 2014

Banana Cream Pie - Made from Scratch!!

Browsing the internet I came across several recipes for old fashioned Banana Cream Pie that reminded me of the Banana Flan that was served as a dessert when I was at school and stayed for school dinners - a long time ago!!!!!  So I set off to recreate my interpretation of Banana Cream Pie.

I made a pastry flan case that Baz said was the best I had ever made - a shortcrust pastry with a flaky texture - the basic recipe came from momswhothink blog but I added one or two tweeks of my own.

Flaky Pie Crust

Makes 1 pie crust
1  1/4 cups plain flour - sieved to add lightness
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lard (keep in fridge until ready to use)
1/4 cup butter (keep in fridge until ready to use
3 Tablespoons ice water
1. Combine flour and salt in medium bowl, grate lard & butter and add to the flour and lightly rub in.
2. Sprinkle water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, over flour mixture, tossing lightly with a fork until mixture forms an even dough.
3. Form dough into ball and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, for 1 hour.
4. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface into circle about 12 to 14 inches round.
5. Carefully fold in quarters, lift gently and unfold into 9-inch pie pan.
6. Gently press pastry against bottom and sides of pan. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch, then fold the edge under. Pinch edges to flute.
7After placing dough into pie pan, leave in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
9. Cut a large circle of parchment; fit into the pie shell, extending above edges. Fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans.
10. Bake pie shell 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove weights and parchment; bake 10 to 15 minutes more until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

The filling as I remember was made using ordinary custard powder but I decided to make a Crème Patisserie - again I adapted a recipe from momswhothink blog adjusting as I went along.

2-3 ripe bananas, sliced
1/4 cup cornflour (cornstarch in the USA)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
3 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons good raspberry jam
1. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, cornflour, and salt; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened.
2. Reduce heat, cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
3. Separate egg whites; (save for meringues). Beat egg yolks slightly.
4. Gradually stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks. Return egg mixture to saucepan; heat gently stirring all the time for additional 2 minutes or the egg yolks will scramble.
5. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla, butter.
6. Spread the raspberry jam over the base of the cooked pie shell  arrange the sliced bananas on top. Pour filling on top. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

Delicious - well - we thought so.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Souper Monday!

Been busy cooking today and managed to make a big pot of Chicken Stock from the chicken carcass that was leftover from the Roast Chicken we had for dinner yesterday - Its so easy to make and I can't understand why more people don't make their own stock as it tastes far superior to any stock cube you can buy.
Anyway, I went on to make a large pot of Leek & Potato Soup which is one of my favourite soups ever,  (the soup isn't  really that colour that's just the light over the cooker top!!)

and I enjoyed it for my lunch with a slice of toasted cheese bread.

 It was just so scrummy.  I will freeze most of it in individual portions later today when it has gone cold and will be great for easy lunches in the next week or so.  I still have enough stock left to make an extremely tasty Chicken Risotto later in the week when Barry is at home for tea.  I have added the recipe for my version of the soup I hope you try it


Leek & Potato Soup

2pts good chicken stockI medium onion – diced2 medium leeks – sliced and washed1 stick celery- diced2 large potato – diced1oz butter2 bay leaves½pt milk¼pt double creamSalt & white pepper to taste
Good grating fresh nutmegTblsp fresh chopped parsleyMethod In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the onions – sweat gently without colouring for 5mins. Add the leeks, celery and potato and sweat for a further 5 to 10mins without colouring.
Add the stock, bay leaves and milk – bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 30mins or until all the vegetables are cooked.
Remove the bay leaves and liquidise the soup until smooth. Return to the saucepan reheating gently adding the double cream, chopped parsley and the grated nutmeg.
Adjust the seasoning if required and serve.
For a real touch of luxury add a little swirl of extra cream (you could also add a little grating of extra nutmeg but be cautious as it can overpower

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Banana & Carrot Cake

Happy New Year  - I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Great New Year. 
Life has been a bit frantic in the first few days of 2014 with various Government Departments and Doctors giving me the run-around but I have decided to rise above the petty-minded bureaucracy that appears to dominate all aspects of normal living and ignore them all and bake!!!!
I set of to make a Banana Bread but threw caution to the wind  and decided to add some additional ingredients.  The result was a really good bake - a cross between Banana Bread and Carrot Cake and was demolished in record time.  I managed to get this photo only after I chased the family off it for 5 minutes. I have posted the recipe below - I hope you'll try it out - any problems please let me know.
Carrot & Banana Cake
8oz SR Flour
4oz Butter
6oz Light Muscovado Sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas
2oz Chopped walnuts
2oz Sultanas
2 medium carrots – grated
½tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
½tsp cinnamon and ½tsp mixed spice
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 (if using a fan oven reduce temp to 160C).  Grease and line a 20cm x 12.5cm loaf tin (I used a square brownie tin and just lined the base with baking parchmentJ)
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Mash bananas with vanilla, add to the eggs and when well combined add to the butter and sugar mixing well (it may look a bit curdled at this stage but don’t worry it all comes together).
Sift flour, salt, cinnamon & mixed spice together and fold into the butter and egg mixture. Finally add the chopped walnuts, sultanas and grated carrots and mix gently until well combined.  (My mixture was at a dropping consistency but if yours looks too dry just use a little milk).  Spoon into prepared baking tin,
Bake for approximately 45 minutes and the cake is well risen and golden brown (or a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean).
Cool in the tin for a few minutes, turn out on a wire rack and leave to cool.
I hope you enjoy I know we did.