Saturday, 28 December 2013

Time to confess... an accidental crime!

So: we spent a wonderful Boxing Day being thoroughly fed and entertained by my sister in law Katie in the West Country.  We had a delicious full-on family Christmas lunch, the house was gorgeously christmassy, we had a great day and even left our daughters at her house while we trotted off for a quiet night at mum- and dad- in law's. THEN the lovely Katie took the girls on a mammoth shopping trip to spend their Christmas money, and LEFT US AT HOME TO RELAX. As you'd expect we're super-grateful, and when we came to pick the girls up from their Auntie's this morning, we thanked her and her partner profusely, loaded up the car with all the girls' stuff and then dashed off for our two and a half hour drive home to meet a deadline.

Except when we got home we got a call from said devoted Auntie Katie.  "I thought I'd have a lovely turkey sandwich, so I went to the plastic box outside the door to get some, and it had gone...." she said, sadly. Guess where it was? Somehow, it had found its way into our car boot and was at that moment in aforementioned plastic box sitting on our kitchen table, in the company of all the remaining cheese from the cheese course as well ... Imagine my guilt!

So this is a public confession, and apology, all in one.  So very sorry Katie, I hope you can forgive us for being such idiots!

Love from Helen xxxxx

PS, Guess what we had for lunch?  Turkey stir fry ...  errrm, it was nice .... ?

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Sitting... the fairy-light-lit sitting room watching my daughters playing Twenga (a combination of Twister and Jenga) one dressed as a dinosaur, the other a koala bear.  I myself am sporting a penguin onesie and drinking bucks fizz even though it isn't even noon yet. 

What other day could it be?

Wishing you a lovely day full of laughter and love (and good food of course!), and looking forward to sharing crafting fun with you next year. xxx

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Aawww, look... these little lovelies!

These two little monsters are the stars of Stampin'Up's "A whole lot of Love" new release available till February.  Yes, yes, I know we haven't even done Christmas yet but we crafters need to be ahead don't we, and it's not as if hearts and cute party favours aren't part of Christmas too!  Here's the whole - "Whole lot of love" offering:

I love that large heart and the Eiffel Tower set too...  Do check it all out on, and give me a call to order.  Whenever I can I will combine orders to reduce postage for you - get in touch to find out when I'm putting in my next order...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Making a personal connection... the most important thing to me in my life.

Whether it's with my family, or with new or old friends, my best days are ones where I have really *got* someone, and felt they really got me.  That moment where you meet someone's eye or read their words and you just know they were feeling it too.

If you follow any other UK Stampin Up blogs, you are probably already aware that we have just had our European Convention, a place where lots of SU demonstrators (and I mean LOTS) got together for a few days to hear about all that's new and important to us all at SU. I'm going to do another post about swaps, but I wanted to share with you what I loved most about being there:

We had some wonderful demonstrators showing us new techniques and ideas up on the main stage.  Every so often they would demo a technique that was new to us, or show us a rather special new product.  At those moments, just before a round of applause, there was a sort of collective sigh, an excited "phoar" under the breath, that rippled round the whole room.  Those are the moments I'll treasure most.  Because within it, there was not just one, but a whole room of people who at that moment, I really got, and knew they got me.

And that's why I'm a StampinUp demo.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Simply Pressed Clay... the rescue!

I wanted to make an autumn card for a very special friend recently and didn't have a template for the leaves I needed ...or did I???  My girls enjoy cake decorating and I had recently bought them a rather sweet silicone mould with an acorn and oak leaves.  I realised that I could use my stampin up simply pressed clay in these to make my leaves:

Once the clay had dried I used ink in a spritzer to get the colour on (it ran into the cracks conveniently emphasising the veins), then built up the other colour using an aqua painter.(I did use a bit of surgical spirit (US=rubbing alcohol) in the spritzer too but I'm not sure it needed it, I just like the smell....) I then glazed it with crystal effects liquid to seal.  Just love how that little acorn came out - this clay is just wonderful to use (not at all messy) and so versatile!  For the card I used matching leaf stamp and die from the very pretty secret garden bundle, a sweet doiley and the happy birthday greeting from the new hostess set express yourself.

Order some clay today - visit the StampinUp online shop search for clay or better still give me a call and we can talk craftiness... 01737 762078.

Monday, 4 November 2013

A one-day Linus quilt...

...that I made recently.

Last Saturday there was a quilting day for the local Linus Project.  Liz, the coordinator, hired a hall and set up a sort of quilter sweatshop.  Tea, coffee and some unfeasibly nice carrot cake were available as well as plenty of prepared fabric packs, and some quilty bargains.  I managed to piece this very simple quilt top by half past two, then took it home to quilt and bind at home, finally finishing at 10:30.  How satisfying!

Hopefully a child will be enjoying this in the near future.

If you'd like to get involved, have a look at the Project Linus website or get in touch with me.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Once upon a time...

...when I had only just joined StampinUp as a Demonstrator, I did a blog post with a page of examples of things you can make with the wonderful owl punch.  Since then I've been compiling another batch, reader, for you to enjoy and try out!

I made some up and found some on the Interweb but most of them were all over the place so it's difficult to know who came up with them first.  If you are the originator of any of them, please get in touch so that I can credit you here. I understand mr potato head and the wonderful little chef (at least) were designed by Ellen Kemper, self confessed punch art freak, at to Yvonne's comment below, I have found  winnie the pooh/piglet at Eve's Offcuts here.

Edited to say: you can find even more examples of owl punch ideas from my most recent sheet here

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Celebrating butterflies ...

Last week's card was bees, today it's butterflies.  Even though autumn is well and truly set in here in Surrey, I still saw a butterfly in the garden this week and it reminded me of a lovely card I saw being made by a US demonstrator, Brandy Cox, using the new "Best of Butterflies" stamp set.   She kindly gave me permission to use her design as inspiration, so here is my cased card, changed to use some shiny silver card and super-cute silver ribbon (both new in the autumn/winter catalogue), as well as a greetings set only available to hostesses:

I love the way the circle trembles, making it look like the butterfly is about to take off!  I made a second one with a different butterfly stamp (now retired), they both have a butterfly on the inside too (thanks for the reminder about getting it the right way up, Brandy, I would definitely have got it wrong!), this on I stamped on whisper white and watercoloured with soft sky and coastal cabana.

Brandy makes really informative and entertaining YouTube tutorials; here she is demoing the card I've just cased:

For today's card I used the following StampinUp products that you can purchase either online in my shop or directly from me on 01737 762078 or

Circle Framelits - set of 10 (130911).  If you have a die cutter like the Big Shot, this is an investment you would  never regret
Circles Collection Framelits Dies
Best of Butterflies (133345)
Best Of Butterflies Clear-mount Stamp Set

Express Yourself exclusive Hostess Stamp Set - (available when you spend £150 or more in the stampinup shop)130336 (wood) 130339 (cling)

Express Yourself

Foil Sheets Silver (132178) and Gold (132622)

Silver Foil Sheets

Silver 1/8" Ribbon (132137)

Silver 1/8" Ribbon

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

It's the little things...

...that make life big.

I have been meaning to make this card for ages.  I have a lovely friend who keeps bees and I wanted to give her a card featuring them.  The StampinUp hexagon embossing folder was just the thing. I haven't treated myself (yet) to the new Backyard Basics bundle that features a bee stamp and matching die cutter (it would have saved me time though!), so instead I fussy cut some critters stamped with a retired bee stamp instead.  Lots of goldy/orange coloured layers including the new gold ink pad, and I couldn't resist that lovely greeting (also retired). Finished it off with some teeny tiny pearls.

It reminds me to snap up stamp sets that I love, as they won't be around forever.  Hope you like it.

I have actually matted it onto chocolate chip cardstock, I just cropped the photo too close!

You can get these products in my StampinUp shop click on the crazy dogs to the right...

Honeycomb textured Impressions embossing folder
Honeycomb Textured Impressions Embossing Folder
Basic Pearls Jewel Accents
Basic Pearls Jewel Accents - by Stampin' Up!

Gold metallic encore pad

Gold Metallic Encore Pad

Backyard basics - stamp set, framelit set, or a bundle of both
Backyard Basics Wood Bundle

Monday, 30 September 2013

IKEA to the rescue...

... again.

I had a trip to IKEA last week and picked up all sorts of inexpensive glass doo-dads that I thought might be useful for crafting.  Here's the first experiment:

I found it in the oven-to-table section (it cost £4ish), and used some stunning StampinUp paper and lace to pretty it up.  I just lined the inside of the tray with the paper, cut it to size and used tombow glue to stick it to the base and then adhere the lace all round.  I've used it as a dressing table set here but I'm more likely to use it for those little crafting bits and pieces that I seem to always find on my floor (who can possibly have put them there?).

More Ikea finds coming soon...

You can get all these products that I used in my StampinUp Online Shop

Modern Medley Designer Series Paper (Pack of 12 pages)
Modern Medley Designer Series Paper

Tombow glue - I LOVE it
Tombow Multi-Purpose Adhesive - by Stampin' Up!

Victoria Crochet trim - Instant Vintage!
5/8 Inch Crochet Trim Victoria - by Stampin' Up!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


...I'm thrilled to tell you that there are masses of genuine bargains over at the stampin up website, with lots of only recently discontinued products at genuinely rock bottom prices: designer paper, cardstock, ribbons, buttons, fabric, you'd be mad not to check it out.  I have no doubt it will go really fast, so be sure to visit my shop asap - CLICK ON THE DOGS TO YOUR RIGHT, choose SHOP and pick Clearance Rack!

Just look at these bargains:

12x12 Brights stack (last year's collection) only £3.59
12 X 12 Smooth Card Stock - Brights Collection - by Stampin' Up!

Crumb Cake 12x12 scrapbook including inserts, only £10.79

Crumb Cake 12 x 12 Linen Ring Album

Floral District Designer Fabric only £2.49 (yes, really!)
Floral District Designer Fabric

Lots of designer paper sets eg sunshine and sprinkles only £3.99
Sunshine & Sprinkles Designer Series Paper

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sympathy cards are best made...

...when you DON'T need one!


Well, when I'm sad about something the last thing I want to do is craft about it, so I generally have a small stash of sympathy cards ready in case I need one.  I also happen to think that sympathy cards shouldn't look like you've enjoyed making them toooo much!  This card design crept up on me as a combination of bits and pieces waiting to be put away. I'm really pleased to use the lily I made in seconds with my "Simply Pressed Clay" from StampinUp (wonderfully versatile and fun), and those oval framelits are coming in useful again, including the one I used "upside down" to emboss the outside oval that you can just about see!  I used Kraft White Ink and a sponge dauber to soften all round the edges, maybe you can just about see?   No need to adjust your set, Reader, sorry for the fuzziness -  my camera can't cope too well with depth of focus!

Here are the main products I used:
Simply Pressed Clay 130685
Simply Pressed Clay

Oval Framelits 129381
Ovals Collection Framelits Dies 

Organza Ribbon 114319
Whisper White 5/8 Inch Organza Ribbon - by Stampin' Up!
Occasions Alphabet : (26 greetings stamps) 128688
Occasions Alphabet - Clear-Mount Stamp Set - by Stampin' Up!

Order online through my shop here.  Spend and Save: when you spend £150 or above, you will receive at least £25 credit to spend on any of the current catalogues, including the exclusive special value hostess products. Or give me a call anytime with all questions crafty on 01737 762078!

Thanks for visiting, see you next time x

Friday, 13 September 2013

It feels like ages...

...since I blogged; it's great to be back!  I haven't been able to put any photos up because my dh is off on holiday with my camera, but today I had a brainwave: use my scanner durrr.

Hope this card gives you a giggle:

I made the hippos with the wonderful owl punch (still my favourite crafting buy ever, only £15.50 from StampinUp - item number 118074 -, click here to buy on-line, or even better give me a call on 01737 762078) and the extra large oval punch, cut out of the very versatile soft suede cardstock, and some retired water-effect paper.  The top-left googly eye seems to have got stuck with static, but I have decided it adds to the comic effect!

Have a great weekend. x

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

My leaf-shaped mini-book...

... is ready to complete; here it is, unembellished so far, but it might get a bit more dressy as the month goes on:

Habit 1 - starting easy 

And a blank page just waiting - how inspiring, so pretty!

And a few words about method.  I have found with projects like these that they fall by the wayside if they take too long, plus they can create a lot of mess, so I have decided to do it in a very simple way - just the resolution will be enough, I might add a pic or photo if the moment strikes. but am not going to let it hold me up.  I love the papers so much I don't mind not covering them up!   I have a box and have assembled everything I can envisage needing, pens, glue, scissors, spare papers, die cut lined paper, notebook and here it is:

Oh yes, and when I mentioned mess, this is the kind of thing I mean...


Finally, I mentioned my squash-drinking resolution to my husband this morning and he expressed incredulity that anyone would want to read about it.  So, I have decided not to bore you with daily photos, but will just produce an update occasionally!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Do Something New Every Day...

... is what I'm calling my latest project.  I am taking part in an online class for September that is called "Learn Something new every day" (see my previous post) or LSNED for short. As this is my third time doing the class I was looking for a "twist" and decided in a flash of inspiration yesterday to try out some new habits this month. So it will be "Do Something New Every Day" instead!

The expression "Turning over a new leaf" was going through my mind, so I have started a leaf-shaped book using some beautiful hoarded papers from Basic Gray (mostly the Indian Summer Collection) plus one grungy tim holtz paper.  I picked up a sycamore leaf outside church yesterday to use as a template, and so far I'm really pleased with the book I'm making. I have needed some really pointy sharp scissors and my StampinUp snips have turned out to be perfect.  Hopefully I will finish it today and will be able to show it to you tomorrow.

My plan is to choose a new habit every day and then keep it up till the end of September.  As I've given myself Sundays off for a weekly "review", that makes 25 new habits by the end of the month, so these are not great big resolutions, but very quick, easy, small habits, although maybe part of a bigger goal. Today, for my first habit, I thought I'd start really easy and it is: "Drink a large glass of squash before breakfast".

Wish me luck!

Friday, 30 August 2013

Have you ever tried an on-line class?

In September 2009 I started my papercrafting journey with a class called "Learn Something New Everyday".  It's a life enhancing daily journal workshop that you can scrapbook or leave plain (I don't have to tell you what I'll be doing!  Plain - what's that?).  Shimelle, who runs the class, offers lots of suggestions including daily emails through September and you have access to a forum where you can share what you are doing (or just spy on everyone else's books!).  There's no marking or evaluation, it's just for you, for fun.

My first LSNED was 2009, my second was 2011, it's definitely time for another one!  The first one took me ages every day,  but that was partly because it was the first scrapbooking I had ever done, so I was learning a lot and starting from nothing.  For the second one I had a plan!  My book was the exact same size as the photo, one side the photo, the other side some journalling, with a cluster of grungy embellishments.  I precut the pages and pre-selected the embellishments, that I kept in a big biscuit tin, and pre-made the numbers. The setup took a couple of hours but then it really did take only 15 minutes a day. I remembered to work out how I was going to bind the pages before I started - this has been my biggest mistake in the past, and it is really crucial when you come to finishing your project!

For this year, I love Shimelle's idea of polaroid-style photos, I'm thinking maybe tucked into pretty paper pockets? (there HAS to be pretty paper...) .  £10 will buy you access to the class this year and in the future. Watch this space for occasional updates on this truly enriching project and hop on over to Shimelle's to read more!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Yum Yum, ice cream....

..I laughed out loud when I saw this picture of me in our holiday snaps.  There is, regrettably, nothing that makes me smile quite like the prospect of an imminent sweet treat!  And what better in 40 degree heat than an Italian ice cream?

And as soon as I got back to my craft room, I was inspired to make this little card:

I used my lately neglected stampin up cupcake and pennant punches and four of the five lovely new in-colours to produce this monster ice cream - yum!  These colours even sound yummy: strawberry slush, pistachio pudding, baked brown sugar and crisp cantaloupe.  I didn't fancy coastal cabana as a flavour much, but think it makes quite a good background!

There is a full range of products (pens, inks, ribbons etc etc) in these five in-colours that will be available for two years till June 2015.  Contact me to order some today, or check out the catalogue by clicking on the right hand side bar ----------->

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Just back from Bella Italia...

...not our local italian restaurant, but the actual country, where we have just spent two sizzling weeks. We visited Lake Garda, Florence, a villa in Umbria, Siena, and Verona, which were all beautiful in different ways.  Here's my favourite photo of the trip, which captures our view from the villa.

If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Umbria near Tuscany for a big or small group, I thoroughly recommend Caicresce!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Do you prefer cheese or quilting?...

.. what a strange question, you might be thinking!  Let me explain:

At my quilting evening last week I was finishing off my cushion with some really pretty buttons (Vintage Faceted Designer ones from StampinUp) to cover up my little mistakes.  I like this pattern very much and explained to my quilty mateys how to do the pattern, which we were all happily calling "Cathedral City". It eventually occurred to me that is actually known as Cathedral WINDOW, and Cathedral City is, in fact, England's Favourite Cheddar!

So there's your question!  What's it to be - Quilting or Cheese?

The next QUILTING meeting is 20th August 7:30-9:30 - why don't you come along too? Contact me for details.  And if you're after cheese, I might even be able to provide some of that too!  xxx

Friday, 2 August 2013

Oh Happy Day...

I had a play yesterday with the lovely SU "Happy Day" stamp set, some washi tape and a teeny bit of bling.  I really like how they came out, though the photo's a bit naff because I'd already put them in their little cello bags:

...I've been singing "Oh Happy Day"  ever since...

Monday, 29 July 2013

This and that...and the other!

I have been a big fan of making journals for several years  (Gratitude, Christmas, Wise sayings, Goals, Daily learning, Books and Films, Holidays and Trips...). I can honestly say that creating a journal is always an enriching experience; my past journals are incredibly precious to me, and one day I hope, to my children.

Friends have often been kind enough to say they admire my journals, but resisted taking the plunge themselves, saying they would not know where to start, and not have the time!  This is why I'm so delighted that StampinUp have just produced the most beautiful journal "This and That", with lots of lovely coordinating products to make your journal making quick and fun. Have a quick look at this cute video about it:

This simple style of "smash it in" scrapbooking is such great fun and is bound to look great given how pretty the pages are.  You could also use it for Baby Memories, Wedding Preparations, Special Photos, Family Tree, a Prayer/Readings journal, Book and/or Film journal, Autograph book, Leaving/end of school messages, Party guest book, event planner....seriously, I can't think of any teenage girl or woman who couldn't use this!

To make it completely straightforward for you, I've put together a special value kit, for you to enjoy or give as a thoughtful and desirable gift.

Your "This and  That, and the other" bundle contains

* This and That Journal - 30 gorgeous designer double-page layouts with cute pockets and two pretty envelopes (catalogue price £9.95).
* Perfect white signo gel pen (worth £3.50)
* Tombow glue - the BEST paper glue ever (£3.25)
* Pack of coordinating hexagon die cuts to help you embellish your pages
* Pack of 10 handmade journalling Tags to write your stories on
* Washi Tape and clips sample collection (alternative methods for attaching things to your journal pages).
* Beautiful handmade, handstamped drawstring bag to protect it and keep it all together when you're out and about, and for storage once it's finished.
(it's free to collect, and I will charge postage at cost)

All for only...£18.50! In fact, it's such good value you might want to upgrade your kit with some gorgeous coordinating extras from Stampin Up:

* Remember this Date and Words Stamp - £4.95
* Set of 4 coordinating sticker sheets  - £4.50
* Bundle of 3 rolls of Washi Tape Epic Day or Gingham Garden - £4.50
* Epic Day designer paper pack (12 double sided 12"x12" sheets - £9.95
* Double ended Stampin'Marker/s (use to write and to ink up stamp) - £2.95
* Ink Pad (full sized click shut pad) - £4.95

Look at the loveliness!

And here's a close up of what you get with the Rotary Stamp - basically, it's 12 scrapbook-friendly phrases AND perpetual dates for only £4.50!

And here's a (rather bad) picture of my own kit, all ready already to go on holiday with me!

Friday, 26 July 2013

What a treat...

...I took a class today, just for once, instead of running one!  I went for a one to one lesson in silversmithing with a lovely lady called Aileen Hamilton.  And I got so much more than I bargained for! My request was for her to teach me how to use silver solder, and how to make silver head pins with my sterling silver wire.  Well, in only two hours, not only did I learn these things, but I made a sterling silver ring textured with real lace in a roller:

Added bonus, Aileen very obligingly mended my daughter's Claddagh ring which is now even better than new!  I loved my lesson and will definitely be going back because I am going to bring the gold rings that I inherited from my grandmas to melt down and make something new for my girls.  Aileen works from a mind-bogglingly well equipped studio at the bottom of her garden in Redhill, and is an inspiring and very skilled teacher - do visit her website!

And I'm very pleased to announce that Aileen is going to join me at my Open Studio on August 31st, where she will be demonstrating some of her beautiful jewellery-making techniques.  I hope to see you there too!

Cake decorating...

...with a certain flair.

I don't often write cooking-type posts as I am not a cook by any stretch, but I thought you might be amused by my daughter's culinary efforts yesterday.  We bought a cake to celebrate all being on holiday at last, and she offered to decorate it.  This is what she came up with:

I'm calling it the drunken Freddo cake, I wonder if it will catch on.... 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Put the flags out...'s a boy! 

 Congratulations to our Prince William and his lovely Katherine on the birth of their little boy.

I have put up my new bunting in their honour!