Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The joy of foraging

I have been on an elderflower hunt three times in the last week.  The first time as a test run - in which I made a quick batch - a couple of glassfuls which convinced me to go on a proper search.

It is a beautiful year for elderflowers - and the perfect time - just as they are emerging into full beauty, and full of flavour, not to mention a delicious scent which permeates the whole house.

Even in an urban environment there are plenty to be had, and I seek those further away from roads to remove the risk of pollution contamination - parks, alleyways, golf courses, paths etc.

I found several recipes.  In the end I went for the instant gratification (well 24 hours) of the River Cottage recipe for half my find, and the longer term version supplied by a German friend whose elderflower cordial I have enjoyed immensely in the past, but which takes a week!  and goes very nicely with Sekt, I may add :)

The German batch is steeping as we speak in a cool dark place and I have high hopes that it will be delicious.  The River Cottage one is quite citrussy and sweet, and went down a treat - so much so that I ended up giving away much of the batch! And some more went into a Gooseberry Fool for Father's Day, as it's my husband's favourite.  Fortunately I had some left from last year.

Hence the need for another raid.  I persuaded the family to make it a team outing - mainly as my biggest boy has a longer reach than anyone else in the family!! And we struck gold - several trees in fairly close proximity - I never like to take too many from one tree as it's not fair on other foragers, or on the tree - plus the elderberries bring their own foraging joys.

The final batch is less citrussy and I only used 75% of the sugar, plus some citric acid so hopefully it will keep longer.  I have two plastic bottles worth in the freezer for later in the summer as well.

All I need now are my gooseberries, the perfect summer match for elderflower cordial.  Another week?....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Utterly addicted to Pinterest!

I've had this for some time, but lately I've got a bit obsessed - actually really obsessed!!

I have found beautiful things, recipes, ideas, tutorials etc etc ..... and so on!  My Pinterest boards are here.

My top ten for this week ...

1) Gorgeous seagull fabric from Jenny Lee Katz Textiles:

2) A moonstone to feed my addiction to turquoise from SamSilverHawk.com which is just too beautiful...

3)  An inspiring Christmas 'chandelier' that could be used anytime from the twigdecor blog:

4) Verbal bootcamp quotation  from notsalmon.com

5) Ginger Basil Grapefruit Spritzer for when I'm driving - from joylicious

6) Some upcycling inspiration from fishandbicycles.com:

7) A really cool quilt - (I'm so tempted but I cannot get into quilting, I have too many other unfinished projects lying around!)  from the bemused.typepad.com blog

8) The top of my 'recipes to try list' right now - from  mytimes.com - rhubarb upside down cake...

9) Inspiration for the herb garden I want to plant - from nurseriesonline.com.au

10)  and finally something that made me smile....

from streetartutopia.com

Like I said... addicted!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I think it can safely be said that I've had a blog holiday lately.

I've been busy, and I've been crafting but somehow just haven't had the drive to actually post something.  In fact, the only things I've been interested in writing about weren't crafty, but then I realised that it's my blog and I can write what I want to!!

I've been thinking a lot about the environment, gardens, packaging and the IF Campaign to try to ensure that world food resources are shared better and noone goes hungry.  This little meander through life, punctuated by the recent Earth Day that always makes me think, not to mention appreciate this little ball we live on, and Springwatch all contribute to my musings about how I could do a bit more for this planet's wellbeing.  So, this and other stories of the week:

1) I much prefer flowers wrapped in paper rather than plastic, recyclable paper based packaging for fruit and veg, rather than clear plastic pots (although they do double effectively as paint trays!) and I wish England would go the way of Wales and stop using carrier bags.  I don't usually have much positive to say about Primark (apart from their reading glasses) but I do like their permanent commitment to paper bags.

2)  I am so happy watching my gooseberries ripening on the bush.  Usually we would pick them around now, but this year everything is so late.  The first flowers are appearing on the raspberries too - summer soft fruit - happy days ahead.

3) Baby birds are the best - I so love the wonderful camera work on Springwatch, seeing things that the human eye rarely spots on its own.  We had a nest in our garden once, but it was a wood pigeon and very messy!!  Nature is an amazing, wondrous thing that you can never stop appreciating.

4) I've finally committed to making elderflower cordial - I mean to do it every year but this year I have bought the lemons and sugar and sourced my elderflowers - just need to do a raid now!  Plus it goes great with gooseberries - roll on that first fool of the summer - and some sunshine to go with it!!  Preserving is definitely high up my list this year - and if I can forage the ingredients, then all the better.

5) Recycling - our local council is really good for recycling and I'm happy about that, but at the moment I'm focused on decluttering ahead of a boot sale in aid of Hope4Malawi - a charity helping to provide a kitchen and feeding programme at a school in the south of the country for over 1000 children.  It costs a humbling £7 per year to feed one child - I can spend that in Starbucks (or the local equivalent) on a good day!  My eldest son is heading out there to help with the kitchen and has raised all his trip money - so proud of him, and excited for what he'll see and do.  These are the foundations...

6) On the subject of which, I learned a new version of the phrase last week - it now reads 'Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle, Rot!'

7) I bought a magazine called The Simple Life a couple of weeks ago.  It looks really nice and has some great stuff in, but I can't help hearing the siren marketing call behind it all - that it's just more dressed up shopping with a different label on it.

8) My skin is quite allergic and I've not been able to swim in pools or have bubble baths for about 3 years which is frustrating.  But for my birthday I received a present from Neal's Yard - Organic Lavender bath stuff, in the cleverest packaging ever - one sheet of card cleverly folded - I have to work out a file on my Silhouette for something similar as it would be dead useful for gift wrapping.  Long story short - it didn't make me itch and smells gorgeous - I know it's on my Christmas list already :)

9) More on recycling - I wish they would print Scrapbook paper on recycled - it doesn't seem that hard to do, I mean, you can get gorgeous recycled stationery products.

10)  I am determined to do some upcycling.  I have a couple of things that I am going to start out on, and then I have plans for a couple more things that I need for the house, but could do on a thrift basis with second hand furniture and a bit of effort.  Plus my garden chairs need respraying - I can see painty days ahead!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A little getaway.

Well I've lived three seasons this weekend.  I jetted off to Grenoble to visit friends, arriving in glorious sunshine and arctic temperatures.  The next day I ate lunch outdoors in the sunshine and walked in the mountains.  Sunday it was grey all day but we had a nice time at the market and walking round some lakes, then rainy in the evening, then this morning I woke up to snow!!!

Then I got home and it hailed and thundered - I feel quite overwhelmed by the weather sometimes!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How cute?

I love my Cameo all the time, but sometimes I love it even more than that!

I bought these files on one of my little spending sprees at Silhouette America - I have a sub to feed my addiction :)

They are just too cute aren't they?  and such a good way of using up part used or unused sheets of patterned paper from my stash.  I am going to fill these with Easter goodies and give them to my godchildren and other assorted friends.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Silhouette Negatives

Sometimes when you cut things with the Silhouette, the negative is as nice as the diecut.  If you can get them off the mat intact they can make interesting additions to layouts or cards.  I couldn't resist this gorgeous POW! glitter paper negative and positive to use on a layout of my DS.  The title shows just how divinely thinly it will cut as well - love love love it!!

With some Studio Calico printables from a previous class, all I had to do was journal.  I kept thinking that I should do more to the layout, that somehow it was too easy.  But I can't see what else it needs so it will stay as it is - at least for the moment!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Using up Old Stash... or WOYWW?

Inspired by my friend Claire's mega clearout recently, and a wish to have a better idea of what I have available I have made tentative attempts to downsize, sort, order and use up stash.  I haven't bought anything for ages and Project Life is helping me take miniscule bites on a daily basis, not to mention using up 'precious' embellishments that have been lying around for ages unused.

As a committed scrap hoarder, I have faced up to my addiction and have been through my scrap bags - cutting up part sheets into 5x7 or 6x4 pieces to make cards, chucking those bits I will never use and generally being a bit more sensible about little pieces!  However, this is left!!

Somewhat of a mountain don't you think?

Another source of happiness in using up old bits is my Silhouette which can transform old scraps into new embellishments, backgrounds and titles of delight!!  These can then be painted, inked or embellished further if the colour scheme is unhelpful.  The only problem is that sometimes you love the negative as well - which is great, but doesn't help with the using up of stash!!

Here are some of the things I have cut recently and stored in a Paperchase A5 document file.  This stops little bits getting bent or spoiled which would be a shame after I'd been to the trouble of cutting them on the Silhouette from my scraps.

I'm thinking they will be ideal for cards as well as layouts.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A little more scrapping

Fresh from the Bright Ideas Class, yesterday's prompt was to 'Go Big'.  I had just the photo!

From an idyllic evening in Galicia last year, this photo showed the stillness of the water at dusk and I wanted to scrap it big!

More from my Lilybee kit and some simple stickers, washi tape and a drinking straw, a little bit of journalling - you don't need much when the photo is just what you want.  I thought the swirly buttons just reminded me of gently moving water.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bright Ideas Part 2

There have been some great ideas during this class at Studio Calico - not necessarily new, but it's always good to see a fresh take on something that you haven't done for a while.

This time it was an ad inspiration  which you can see in on this Pinterest link (as the class is sign up only) here.  I liked the combination of shapes and the way some of them overlapped the edge, but I didn't want to scrap with a small photo as I didn't have any, so I tried to work out how I could use the placement ideas with a large photo.  This is what I came up with:

Now yellow is not my first go-to colour when I'm scrapping, but I had a sheet in a kit with Lily Bee papers from Sarah's Cards last year which I was trying to use up and the yellow door in the photo led me to make the decision.  The 2 card matched the door perfectly and I was off!  I needed to keep the palette under control as I'm not a big fan of multicolour madness so stuck to the two shades of yellow, pale grey and black, with some small wooded touches (I couldn't resist the tree button).

I wanted to replicate the title in the bottom corner as seen on the ad, to mix shapes and to add some dimension as the ad shows little 3d boxes.  I decided sewing would do the trick, along with some layered embellishments on the shapes.

The top right shape is cut from Prima wooden button packaging with a Studio Calico stamp backing acetate added to it.  As ever there is ancient stash included - the flower centre has been hanging around so long I can't actually remember who made it!

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Studio Calico Bright Ideas class

... and some layouts from the recent North Cheam Crop.

Inspired by some of the ideas in the classes, particularly Shannon Tidwell's Colour Pop, I had a go at a neutral background with some small additions of colour.  I'm afraid I didn't tart up my background with stamping, sewing etc. to make texture - I can only carry so much to a crop!!  I'm really pleased with the result though, especially having the batik butterfly on the layout - I have had these for at least 18 years - from my card making days - I have a couple left and have always wanted to incorporate one onto a layout -tada! it's happened.

The title is from a My Minds Eye sheet which I have had for a while, but wishful isn't a word I'd use on its own as a title - however, as the journalling reads, 'wishful thinking' sums it up much better '... I wish she would get rid of that fringe and she wishes I'd let her follow fashion in peace!'  Definitely wishful thinking as neither is likely to change our minds in a hurry!  Thanks for looking.

The next layout is also of my DD, in full beauty - I absolutely love this photo (and she does too, for once).  She was outdoors in the snow, happy as can and ready for any snowballs coming her way.  I love the smile in her eyes and the glow in her cheeks.  Teenage years can be wonderful!!

The paper is SEI from a couple of years ago - can't remember the line.  Gorgeous rose ribbon and Prima buttons - chipboard star shapes and snowflake stamps, a bit of K&Co lacy tape and a die cut from my Cameo, lettering from Sassafras.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Inspired by.... Sainsburys Magazine

I'm not one to see inspiration in everything I see, and I often have trouble even interpreting sketches beyond the most literal copy, but I saw this on the side of a page in the Christmas Sainsburys Magazine, I was immediately inspired to have a go at a layout.

In typical me-style, it has taken a while for ideas to percolate - I do this with many of my layouts, but this is my first attempt at using the inspiration.  I think there will be another one in the 'series' using smaller items but as I was sorting through stash I 'found' the chipboard - long forgotten - which forms the base of the design.  Add that to some snow photos from January and I had the beginning of a layout.

This is how it turned out:

The extra embellishments are - remaining bits after I had cut some Christmas lanterns on the Cameo - most of the scraps were miniscule, but these were retrievable and reminded me of snowflakes, so I hoarded them with something like this in mind.  Ancient snowflake brads - I am down to my last couple now, and they will probably be used up on PL given that we are having more snow right now.  I stamped little snowflakes directly onto the paper and the little red dots came with the Cosmo chipboard - they add just the right touch of another colour.  The silver snowflake is another negative from a Cameo cut which I couldn't bear to throw - that glitter paper is soooo precious :)  The chevron heart is a precious new embellishment I had in my Advent Swap - thank you Santa!! and the little turquoise heart and camera (on main photo) are digital embellishments from American Crafts.  And thank you MA for the gems :)

I don't seem to move far away from White Bazzill at the moment - this is a Swiss Dot version, but I'm running out so I'm going to have to challenge myself to use something else - or buy more!!  My Bazzill stash is dwindling and is probably less than 1 inch high now for all colours!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Some simple cards

I've been inspired to make cards recently, with so much internet inspiration, there's almost too much choice, so I started with something simple - a couple of birthdays coming up, and a friend who recently had an op are the likely destinations of these cards.

I made full use of some Bazzill scraps, plus scraps of Anna Griffin (ancient), Echo Park and I think it might be October Afternoon papers.  I inked a Pink Paisley mistable card and stamped it with a message, and I raided my collection of washi tape to add coordinating stripes to each card.  Stamped messages and gems finished off the cards.  Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A card from my Silhouette!

Well, sketch pens are the bomb as far as I am concerned.  They can do just what I can't - draw!!  and they can size things that stamps can't - I can have my cupcakes any size I like!! The drawings can  much more detailed than a cut file and I can choose from the various coloured pens available.

I printed this on the Silhouette using a Sketch file and pen instead of a blade.  Then I added Promarkers, beads, gems, glitter and ribbon to make them prettier.

I love it when a whole new world of possibilities opens up!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Project Life my way!

Well, I've started, and so far so good, and fun!

I decided to do this year as my eldest DS will be 18 this year, DD 16 and DS2 13 - so a big year for us in the sense that it probably is our last year at home living as a normal family.  Next year DS will hopefully be at uni and things will change.  For this reason I wanted to take a closer look at our lives this year.  Part of me is very regretful that I didn't know about PL when they were little.

Armed with an album and a load of page protectors - a big Becky Higgins variety pack - like this - and some other smaller ones I had spare.  I'm hoping that one album will do me for the whole year but I may have got my maths wrong!

The only other thing I bought - mainly through sheer laziness - was two sets of gridded white cards - 6 x4 and 3x4 which will help me with the bulk of my journalling.  Other than that I plan to use existing stash, printables and my trusty Silhouette.

Actually, it isn't the only other thing I bought - I did invest in a typewriter this week.  Partly because I wanted to!, and partly because I'm hopeless at going to the computer and journalling, then printing it off, my printer doesn't particularly like cardstock, and I generally have to join a queue behind my children for the computer in the first place!!  This way it sits on my desk and I can tap away as the mood takes me.

It's gone well so far, but I need to invest in some Tippex as I do make mistakes and they don't just disappear like they do on a screen :)

I can't quite get my head round the week thing though, I mean NewYear's day was a Tuesday, and I never know what number a week is anyway so I'm just going to add stuff as I please in more or less chronological order.

There are so many ideas out there it is hard to fit them all into one little life document, but I'm loving all the input and have a page on my Pinterest here if anyone is also doing PL.  I have some stuff, but there are lots of links to other people who have loads more.  There is also a board of printables and another of Silhouette files for additional interest.

I am still going to scrap in 12x12 for the momentous occasions of the year, but I'm also hoping to catch up on past years' scrapping as well.

Finally a big shout for Photobox who sent my photos so fast that they arrived this morning having only been ordered yesterday - my kind of service!

Happy New Year - belatedly

Well it's been an age since I wrote on my blog - I've just been too busy, with Christmas and various other things - illness, darling daughter's English Revision - what horrid people schedule GCSEs in the first week back? - not to mention boring chores like getting new tyres for the car.  But I'm back and the new year is beckoning with lots of exciting new projects to do.

Most of them will include my Silhouette - already a valued part of the family :) - and pulling its weight in terms of contribution over Christmas.  I made my cards with it and a pile of delicious lanterns which held LED tea lights which doubled up as cards for some of my friends.

My new best friend is now helping me with Project Life and yesterday I discovered how wonderful the sketch pens are - they printed me some gorgeous bits and pieces for my PL (of which more another day) - and since I am a hopeless artist most of the time, will help me no end in creating beautiful things.

I am trying a new sock pattern  (called Hermione - free on Ravelry) as well, using metal needles this time.  I thought it would help if I had 2.25 needles in a different medium to my 2.5 bamboo ones as I can't tell the difference, but I'm regretting the choice as they are much longer and poke into my cuffs when I'm trying to knit.  DD wants them for her birthday at the end of March which shouldn't be a problem in theory, but with these needles ....