Wednesday, 28 November 2012

At last! I've completed my Christmas hearts! I seemed to have made a start on them ages ago but I have finally finished them. They each have a small jingle-bell for a bit of added Christmassy-ness. I only noticed when I had taken the photo that the green stripey one seems to have a slightly awkward looking side but I will just have to hide this little imperfection when placing it on the tree. I have some other hearts cut out and ready to go but have been waiting for a delivery of some ribbon for the hanging loop. I was impatient with the waiting so I started knitting a Rico Mini Pom Pom scarf - now I have another unfinished project on the go! Have you ever made one of these scarves? The pom poms give you a wonderfully soft scarf but, despite there only being 13 stitches per row, it seems to be taking me ages to knit. The large pom pom scarves can be knitted in an hour but I've worked on this for the last two evenings and am only about half way through.
If any experienced (or otherwise) crafters are reading this, how do you keep focused on just one or maybe two projects (rather than having several on the go)? Or do you have lots of different things on the go and then they all come together at once? I've ended up having to turn down a stall at a Christmas fair because I haven't been able to make any stock because of all the Christmas orders I've taken. I'll be going along to the fairs to see what others have been up to so that hopefully next year I'll have time to make some stock and then have a stall of my own. I've been compiling a list in the meantime of things I'd like to make, along with some very amateur drawings of ideas, so I should have plenty to work with.
In the meantime, I'll try and finish the scarf and the hearts before moving onto anything else. Although I have just come across a pattern for a fantastic tote bag......
Love Natalie

Monday, 26 November 2012

I've mentioned several times that papercraft is not really my thing, it's my mums passion, and to illustrate I thought I'd post this picture of some of her creations. I have not only bought my cards but I have written them all as well! You are either congratulating me, thinking how fabulously organised I must be or you are swearing under your breath and calling me unspeakable names - either is acceptable! I know I will run out of time very soon so I have tried to get myself as prepared as possible. That didn't stop me from having a minor wobble on Friday that "Christmas is nearly here don'tcha know and I'll never be ready!", then I reminded myself that its not even December yet so I really ought to calm down dear.
It was the school Christmas fair at the weekend so not a lot of crafting went on. Archie received the Zombie Feltie book for his birthday on Friday so I did manage a little sewing to help him complete a Vampire Duck. He was really glad to receive this present (with all the materials needed to get going) as he has wanted to have a go for ages. His free hand drawing is amazing so he has no need to copy and enlarge the templates, he can just draw his own shapes. My house will soon be adorned with zombified felt creatures! My Christmas tree could end up looking a little Gothic if I'm not too  careful.
My crafting plans this week are to finish the Christmas hearts I've had on the go for ages and to make a couple of cushion covers from the spaceman curtains someone kindly donated to me. That and getting ready for #thepartyoftheyear on Saturday - 3 eleven year olds celebrating their birthdays with all of their friends at a disco before they all go off to Big School next year. I ought not to squeeze too much in before Saturday because I think I might need to conserve some energy! I'm off for a lie-down.......
Love Natalie

Friday, 23 November 2012

You can tell Christmas is around the corner - another very busy week! And still no photo! I can't apologise enough.
I have completed the up-cycled cushion covers - without the cushion pad the photo I took didn't do them any justice but I am promised a photo of them in-situ so I will post this as soon as I can. I also completed my last Christmas gift but am loath to post a photo in case the recipient sees it!
So, in lieu of lots of crafty updates I thought I'd give you a list of some of the other blogs and sites that I frequent for inspiration..... this lady and I seem to be living very similar lives in different parts of the UK. She makes beautiful craft items is great for browsing to see what other crafters are up to gives lots of hints and tips for crafters as well as a comprehensive list of other blogs make gorgeous items can offer you inspiration not only in craft but in life too goes to show just how professional craft can look is a great place to get new recipes, many a dinner in my house has started life here always makes me laugh my head off and reminds me that it really isn't only me..... as I have previously said, I know tea-towels aren't everyones idea of fun but this site is great
Lastly, I can lost in Pinterest for hours - will show you my boards then you can look at everyone elses. There are some of the most amazing photos I have ever seen posted on this site for the world to see.
Despite what the weather may throw at you, have a great weekend!
Love Natalie

Monday, 19 November 2012

No photo today as I have nothing to show off. That's not to say I haven't been busy on the crafting or baking front but I have nothing finished. I've done further work on my Christmas hearts, on the cushions covers I'm making to order and the last Christmas gift I have to make but still nothing completed. Baking wise, I had the blondest of blond moments on Saturday when I decided to make some gingerbread cookies. As I was cutting out the second round whilst the first were in the oven, I was overwhelmed with a "have I left the iron on?" feeling. It turns out, I HAD left the iron on - gingerbread cookie without the ginger anyone? How on earth did I fail to copy that key ingredient into my recipe book? I've been quite happily dipping the biscuits in my tea ever since but the end result wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I also made some flapjack which was all gone within minutes of being out of the oven. And I made another Pea and Pancetta Risotto for an impromptu supper with my BFF before we went to see Twilight. Oh my goodness! Have you seen it yet? Amazing. It is such a good interpretation of the book and I particularly like the fact that much of the dialogue is lifted directly from the book. I think this is the first film I've been to where everyone started applauding!
Love Natalie

Friday, 16 November 2012

I spent a lovely evening catching up with my oldest friend on Wednesday (oldest in that I've known her for ever, my actual oldest friend is someone else who shall remain nameless) and we managed to squeeze in some crafting. There are several Auntie Sarah's in our family and this one is "the one who always brings us something to make" - the children's words, not mine! But she does, and this week was no exception - she arrived with decopatch. Having been given some as a gift by a friend, she knew it would be right up my boys street so after a lovely tea (Pea and Pancetta Risotto courtesy of the ever fabulous Nigella Lawson) we sat down to decorate various tree decorations. I was allowed the shoe as this was far to girlie for any of the boys and I think Sarah nabbed a heart and a star. Predictably, a trip to Hobbycraft is now in order as the boys intend to make every tree decoration this year so we need supplies. I've been making some padded hearts with christmassy materials and have cut out some red felt hearts to make some decorations myself, so our tree should be burdened with a variety of homemade baubles come Christmas day. For the record, I really enjoy decopatch - I'd love to decorate one of the huge giraffes that are available. It is a little expensive but I think its a brilliant way to re-decorate old furniture and boxes and the paper does go a long way. I need to have a go using other papers but I'm not sure it would work so well. The decopatch specialist papers have such beautiful designs that I don't mind using them!
I shall be embarking on cushion covers this weekend, and finishing off another Christmas present. And finishing the hanging hearts. Blimey, the list is endless! Happy weekend everyone!
Love Natalie

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

After my impromptu browse for sewing machines last week, I went and purchased my first sewing machine at the weekend. And very pleased with it I am too. It's only an entry level one as I don't think I'll make use of the 57 stitches available with the next model up, and after having a really good play with it on Sunday, I can honestly say it does everything I was hoping for, plus a few extra things. After practising every stitch I made this little pin cushion as a test project and I think its turned out rather well - so well it has already been snapped up by someone so I shall need to make another one. I also practised making button holes for  ages because I needed to put 2 on my nieces Christmas present:

So, another Christmas present finished. This weekend I will embark on the 4 cushion covers that I need to make for a colleague of my husbands. Lots of buttonholes required as the cushions are 68cmx68cm so I'm thinking 3 buttons per cover. The fabric (an old set of curtains) is beautiful so I'm really looking forward to turning them into some fabulous accessories for their home.
I know it's only Wednesday but roll on the weekend when I'll be able to get back on with my crafting!
Love Natalie

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Liz Jones - friend or foe? Totally unrelated to craft or baking but I need to have a little rant.
Was anybody else enraged after reading Ms Jones' column in The Mail on Sunday at the weekend? Having attended the Blogger of the Year event with Mumsnet, the ever-present Liz had nothing but scathing remarks to make about bloggers and mums. Is she not a blogger of sorts herself? Anyone who can be bothered to read her piece in the You magazine on a Sunday will surely argue that her tales of woe from her luxury farm (we've now seen the For Sale pictures Liz, it doesn't look that bad to us) are the paper equivalent to an Internet blog about sewing, cooking, travelling or.....well, as we know, the list is endless. Her particular gripe seemed to be that some of these bloggers are mums who, through advertising on their sites, are able to stay at home with their children rather than go out to work. How dare they! The fact that they are interesting enough for people to read their blogs let alone have companies wanting to advertise with them should be cause for celebration. There's no advertising next to your column Liz. And her remarks about mums who, in her words, already get to have a holiday when their children are born (you and I would call it maternity leave) were almost unbelievable. The fact that some people choose to have children whilst others choose (deliberately or otherwise) not to goes to make the world a diverse place. On the whole, there isn't a lot of moaning about the fact that a childless couple gets to lie-in every weekend, can go out when they want, can come home at whatever time they want, has more money, can have an unfettered career (OK, so I may have had a little moan behind closed doors every now and then!). Is Ms Jones jealous? It clearly isn't enough for her that she was able to buy a house in the country, fill it with animals, renovate it, keep a journalism job in the city that many would lose a limb for, manage to retain a "Rock Star Boyfriend". Sometimes she is lonely. Sometimes she doesn't have very much money. Poor thing! Perhaps she should eBay some of the extensive goodie bag she accepted at the Mumsnet event to put food on her farmhouse kitchen table.........

Phew! I'll be back to cushions and cakes tomorrow, promise.
Love Natalie

Monday, 12 November 2012

Here is the post that I "misplaced" last week........!

As requested here is a photo of the birthday present labels that I recently made. As I've said before, papercrafting is not really my area of expertise but I really enjoyed making these and have used a couple already.
Not too much else to report on the crafting front at the moment - except for a impromptu shopping trip to look at sewing machines last night. A cheap, entry level one looks like it will do me but would it be better to spend more money, despite the fact that many of the additional features would go unused? I'd be grateful for your suggestions if you have ever been in a similar situation - comment below if you have any hints and tips. I'll get cracking with some projects so that I have more to report by the end of the week!
Love Natalie

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Apologies for no picture today but I had a technological hiccup yesterday - I posted a lovely picture of my birthday present tags (as requested by an avid reader - the only avid reader? the only reader??) and discussed my lack of finished projects - but clearly forgot to click on "publish"! I went straight on to delete the photo, use the labels and then returned later to see if anyone had made a comment and realised my mistake. Never mind - I like the labels so much I will definitely make more so will show you pictures at another time.
Due to the aforementioned lack of completed craft projects, I thought I would plug a fabulous website for anyone looking for a quirky Christmas gift - Now, I know that a tea towel is not everyones ideal present but go to the site and have a look - I first heard of it through and ended up spending ages browsing the site. They aren't cheap but are great quality and certainly brighten up boring kitchen chores. I'd be more than happy to receive one if anyone cared enough to buy one for me!
Love Natalie

Monday, 5 November 2012

Despite having the last week off work I think I've been at my most productive over the last couple of days. I managed to get all of the cutting out done for 2 more cushion requests yesterday and make a complete cushion cover. I also squeezed in three baking activities - Onion and Stilton Soup (a Nigel Slater recipe from the Sainsbury Magazine which was divine), Stilton biscuits (from the same magazine - they don't look great but taste delicious) and a Pineapple Upside Down cake that didn't go terribly well.....It went wrong in the making the syrup stage, which I've never done before (and possibly won't again!). The sponge was lovely, and we just picked off the pineapple and had lashings of custard, but if you know a)how I went wrong with the syrup, or even better b)which syrup to use rather than make from scratch, I'd love to know because I'd like to make it again.

Today's photos are of the Christmas present labels that I made with my Mum last week. They have turned out just as I hoped they would. I can't wait to wrap my presents now so that I can use them! I can honestly say that I had a warm feeling inside when I was making these labels - watching the embossing glitter start to sparkle when it was heated with the heat gun I felt really Christmassy (yes - I do need to get out more). Paper craft is Mum's area of expertise so I'm sure she watches such marvels everyday but to a novice like me it was amazing and left me with a big grin on my face. I also made a few birthday tags as I have many friends who (like Mum and I) have birthdays right on top of Christmas. I'll definitely make some more - I'll never buy a label again!
I think 7 weeks today it's Christmas eve.........eek!
Love Natalie

Thursday, 1 November 2012

I've finally got around to making something for myself! I love these cushions, I've made a few now and have several more to make as gifts. I'm really pleased with how it has turned out and despite a certain friend trying to steal it on her way home this morning, I am going to keep it for myself. I've recently ordered a beautiful charm pack to make a couple more in this style with a different colour scheme.
I also had a surprise parcel in the post today - I won a Search Press competition and received a copy of The Complete Machine Quilting Manual. Fantastic! I was so excited. I have never tried machine quilting before so this book will help me to try a new skill. It has some fabulous pictures of truly amazing quilts which themselves are quite inspiring. What a lucky girl I am today!
Last day of half term tomorrow so one last trip out with the children. Shame I'm back to work next week really!
Love Natalie