Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Hello there

Yesterday and today, Maggie and I have made some candles for the very first time. I got her a kit for Christmas as we've mentioned it loads of times before but never actually got round to it. We were going to go to the candle factory in Tattenhall but since that's almost an hour away, I thought we could first of all, just make them at home as it's a busy time of year. This is the kit we got - click here. We've made a double shaded green floating candle. The main reason it's double shaded is because the instructions for the floating candle we made was that we needed two cupfuls of paraffin but we found that we needed more than that, so the second batch we melted had more coloured wax in it. We found that it takes longer than 30 minutes to melt, which is the time allowed in the instructions. Possibly a reason for that is that we have a gas hob, whereas the instructions suggest an electric hob which emits a more steady heat apparently.

You may well notice the raised line going from left to right. That is a hitch with the kit. That line is created by the cardboard wick 'holder-up-erer', which sits on the top of the mould but when that's full of melted paraffin, the 'holder-up-erer' is in the paraffin unfortunately and has to be teased out of the candle when it's set.

We also had an 'issue' as such with the hole I had to make in the bottom of the mould to allow the wick to fit through; I made it too big and on our first attempt some of the paraffin went through the hole, hence the reason we needed to make more I think.

I do like the kit though for beginners as there's some wax crayons to grate to colour each candle and you get the special bowl in which you put the paraffin to melt it. Everything you need to create your first candles, other than a pointy tool. You need that to get rid of any air after the first pouring of the paraffin into the mould; I just used an old pair of craft tweezers. Actually another thing I found handy was greaseproof paper. We grated the crayons tonight over that and then poured it into the melted paraffin. That way you don't have to do it over the heat of the pan and also it means you don't get any all over the hob. The wax doesn't stick to the greaseproof paper of course.

We found a glass dish in the kitchen, filled it with water and Maggie lit her first candle and it was shining over our dinner time tonight. Chris had made a ham and turkey soup and my napkin box was there too. All in all a very homemade dinner time was had by us, which is brilliant.

Take care out there

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Ta dah!

Hello again

The house is complete! Hallelujah! It's rather wonky and the icing isn't perfect but it's fun and I hope the young teenage girls at the party this afternoon will love it and it will add to the spirit of Christmas which is vital or else all these decorations and cards etc are a waste of time.
Never make the mistake of thinking these things are easy, as unless you're used to using icing bags and making biscuits etc, you'll struggle with a few basics, as I have. When I was young we used to have a metal piping type tool which I remember finding alot easier to use than these bags where you lose most of the icing in the bag.

Oh gosh, when I'm looking at these photos it's revealing things I hadn't noticed, as the photo above makes it look like the roof pieces are joined mainly on the right but that's not how it appears in 'real' life.
Anyway enough excuses, here are the things I've learnt whilst doing this i.e points to remember so that next year's is amazing!!

* Add more egss to the gingerbread mixture or find a whole new recipe for it.
* Make each piece only 0.5cm thick or the whole house is too heavy, especially the roof.
* Make up two batches of icing as the house seems to need that much.
* Build the house on the base you're going to present it on.
* Have the Christmas lights on and a  bottle of wine handy with Christmas music playing
* Build the base first and leave it to harden over night before putting the roof on
* Do not be tempted to decorate prior to completing the build.
That's all I can think of for now and I need to get myself sorted out and some cleaning done; no wonder this house is a tip with two dogs and a loony in the house making stuff all the time!

Take care out there and if I don't get time to do any more fun stuff before the big day; I hope all goes well for you and you can make the most of the season as possible. Believe you me, there are days when I get down, especially with the greyness, cold and wetness all around and money and people but if you get a chance, make something for yourself or a gift and wonder in that - enjoy!

Happy Christmas and take care out there!


Hello there

After not a very good day at all at the Trafford Centre; a traffic hassled trip to Hobbycraft on the way home and an awful walk with the dogs(refusing to come back to us at 4pm when I'm tired and it's basically dark, is not an endearing feature of theirs), I decided late tonight to do some house building. I'd had calming time by then and thought that I'd try to reclaim some of the day by doing some of the Gingerbread house. This was a dangerous strategy but it turned out ok in the end.
I got into a right mess with the icing as it's not something I've done in a long, long time indeed; thankfully I made the icing up yesterday so no clouds of white tonight. I began by piping the icing along wall edges to fix them together but soon turned to 'plastering' it on. After initially managing to get the four walls up, I tried to put one of the roof pieces on - without success! I then also realised that it would be better if I erected it whilst it was sitting on what I will be carrying it to the party on, so I broke it all up and started again. This time I thought it wise to just do the four walls and leave them overnight to harden and 'cement' together. Maggie helped me at this stage but purely as she was unfortunate enough to walk into the kitchen at the wrong moment and she soon exited at an advantageous time- so much for family fun!

After seeing that the four walls stayed together, I went ahead and did some decoration stuff - all I can say is the piping work is harder than it looks; especially if you don't have a very fine nozzle to do things like the windows and door. I had to buy nozzles especially for this house; hence the visit to Hobbycraft but it was only a basic set which didn't include a fine one. It was quite fun sticking the sweets on and then I found some little iced balls etc type decorations in a cupboard, which is where I got the cute little snowmen from.

Anyway, I'd better go as it's almost ten past midnight and Chris just came in asking if I was actually intending on coming to bed. Here's what it's like so far. As ever, far from perfect but please cross your fingers that it all stays stuck together.

The container and lid were there as support originally and then I wasn't brave enough to move it!

Take care out there

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Yet another napkin box

Hello there
Yes, you're right; this is my third entry today. Well, I've made time, so I might as well. I also like to push myself to work hard. I'm not working for a living as such at the moment, which means I feel I need to 'prove' myself and not be lazy. I'm certainly not that as each and every day offers up so many things to do; I rarely manage to do everything I want but I do alot of it.
As you can see, it hasn't even dried yet as the paper clips holding the box section together are still on there. The napkins I want for this box, are 21cm square, so I cut a 29cm square piece of card with 4cm score lines around every edge (4cm is plenty high enough to take the 20 napkins in each pack) to make up the box. I then used my new Winter Woodland cartridge and cut the layers needed for the poinsettias and the hollies- they were cut at 5cm believe it or not yet they still fit nicely on the edges of the box.

Some will look at this box and say it's very basic. I agree. That is no reason to scorn it though. There are only 24 hours in a day and so many things I want to do. I tend to work on so many various projects rather than just one type, so I'm constantly challening myself. For that reason, I can't expand on projects much; I can't embellish more; I can't/don't add more details. I do have to stop myself even from thinking negatively about that. At least I am 'doing'; I'm not sitting back and complaining that I don't have enough time/money/help/knowledge to do things. I can and do whinge to myself sometimes about such things but then I have to give myself a kick and push myself on to do the best I can in my circumstances at the time.
I may well (time allowing) make more of these sort of boxes and  place them around the house and put sweets in them. For those though I will need to use some patterned paper inside the box I think or the starkness of the white under the sweets won't be good- unless I use a coloured card of course, or I could stamp and colour in images inside or I could cut some Christmas phrases out with my Cricut. There's always so many options of ways to do things.

Take care out there

p.s handles for the sweetie boxes might be really cute too - decorated with the same images as I put on the outside of the box- perhaps lots of poinsettia leaves to make it look like a kind of vine handle.

Update on Gingerbread house

Hello again (yes, twice in  one day - hope you're coping under the pressure)

This is where I'm up to and it's 19.30 on 18/12/11

Kirstie says that she likes to decorate the house prior to attaching it all together then leave it overnight to harden but I'm not brave enough for that. I've put the pieces away in an airtight container for now. I'm going to assemble the house first as I'm worried that if I spend ages decorating the walls etc and then when I assemble it, it collapses, I'll be so cross and upset.

Wish me luck!

Take care out there

Guess what I'm up to

Hello there
It's all Kirstie Allsopp's fault I'm in this mess; flour everywhere, loads of washing to do and a fridge/freezer full of baking trays.

That's right; I'm in the throws of making a Gingerbread house. I have enjoyed all of Kirstie's programmes trying to encourage the British public to get crafty. I managed to watch the first of the Christmas one's on Channel 4 a couple of days ago and then I went online to see the show's website and I was inspired to try the house which she gives the recipe for -Click here. I must say though that I didn't find the ingredients correct as how can 675g of flour be gelled with it's ingredients purely with 1 egg and 6tbsps of syrup? I had to add another medium (free range obviously) egg as well as quite a bit of water throughout the process. The sections of the house are all in the fridge/freezer as I type and I'm off to do some more washing up.

Chris, bless him, has taken the dogs twice today without me as I've been busy cleaning and doing this and he went food shopping alone and got me a tonne and a half of sweets to decorate it with and some icing bags but he forgot to get me any nozzles. I'll get those tomorrow in the Trafford Centre, where Maggie wants to go. I won't be decorating it until tomorrow anyway. I'm hoping to get the icing done today and put it in an airtight container until I'm ready to do the fun stuff.

Best get on with it then, hadn't I?!

Take care out there

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas stars

Hello there

I haven't had any time to even start on the Tim Holtz Christmas tags but I have managed to get my daughter involved in a shared project of making a Christmas stars hanger decoration. Maggie found the project in a Prima magazine, which my mum gives her  after she's finished with them and despite Maggie being only 13, she does enjoy reading. There were a few things in the magazine but I chose to do this and an easy banner. Both are now up in her room, helping her feel Christmassy along with the little tree she's got in there and the paper chains we made last week. It was the first time that Maggie has done blanket stitch but we had a fun few hours the other night whilst sewing together and listening to Destiny's Child and Beyonce on itunes- the traditional mixing with the modern. I'm not a good teacher when it comes to Maggie and it wasn't all smooth sailing as I interfere too much but I'm so glad that she realises that crafty things can take alot longer than she thinks yet are so worth it for the feeling of satisfaction.

It's activities like these that make Christmas for me; sharing activities together and enjoying the time; not just buying presents that nobody wants really and placing way too much pressure on yourself both time wise and financially.

They don't stand up to close scrutiny, since I haven't blanket stitched in years and it was Maggie's first time. I had some trouble getting the little stars in the middle to stick, as I had originally just glued them on, then I tried Bondaweb but with one of them I just had to stitch it on, going over the original stitches.
Hopefully we can keep these for years though and each year remember the fact that we made them together.

Take care out there

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tim Holtz is causing me stress

Hello there

I'm sure my crafting friends will all of heard of Tim Holtz's 12 Christmas tags. It starts each year on December 1st and he does a new one every day - hot off the presses, so to speak i.e he makes them on the day and puts full instructions on his blog- Tim's blog -click here. I haven't got a chance in hell of doing all 12 but I'm going to try to do a couple. Well, I say 'do', what I mean is, use a few as inspiration to make something almost similiar as Christmas decorations. My stash won't stand up to his huge studio full of stuff, although he does encourage improvisation, so hey, who am I to let him down?!!
His day three tag uses a gorgeous stamp with loads of Christmas associated words on it. Sufficive to say, I don't own it, so I'm creating my own stamps with my Cricut and Cuttables. It's taken a little while on CricutCraftroom to get the words the correct size and location on the scrap of Cuttables I had but it's worked. Well, to be honest, I made a mistake with the word 'Happy' which I fitted in after doing the other four words. It cut them in the right place but silly me was unsure about whether or not they had cut properly or not, so cut them twice; that only led to the letters being broken up. So I won't be doing that again!

The top bit shows you all that is left of the one piece of Cuttables I've used so far - there's not alot left there, which is great! The bottom section shows you the stamps of course. Now I need to get on and use them.
This one tag might take me days but hopefully I'll enjoy it.
Maggie actually asked me to do some specific crafting things with her tomorrow, so I'm going to enjoy doing that with her. She's found some projects in a magazine and torn them out to show me, which I love as it's all her idea; no pushing from me. We'll have to go to Hobbycraft to get some red and white felt but I'm sure I can tolerate that - hee hee.

I'll post any further work I manage on this tag, when I do it basically. So don't hold your breath!

Take care out there
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