Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A naughty elf on a shelf has come to stay...

...with us this Christmas season. Every night he gets up to some gentle mischief, like hiding in a saucepan or frightening us in the bathroom, but last night he excelled himself... It even took me a while to find him:

If you are feeling completely mystified, this slightly creepy little doll is an "elf on the shelf", allegedly sent by Santa to spy on children and report back whether they have been naughty or nice. I'm not very fond of this kind of seasonal tyranny, but I have been enjoying some of the things he gets up to (have a look on pinterest if your interest is piqued).  My kids are nearly grown up, but I decided that rather than be sorry that we didn't do the Elf when they were young, I would get one anyway, and so far it's working out very well for us, as you can see!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Vicky of Crafting Clare Towers ...

... has closed the drawbridge for the last time. Sob!

My lovely ex-Stampin Up Mummy, prolific and super-creative blogger and generous friend Vicky Hayes, aka Crafting Clare, recently announced that she has blogged her last blog.

Seriously, I can't quite take it in.  This lady, if you are not already acquainted with her work, has inspired me time and time again, with her elegant and inventive paper creations gently punctuated with stories of her family's little funnies.  Luckily she has left her blog up so that crafters can continue to be inspired by her wonderful work at http://craftingclare.blogspot.co.uk/

Vicky, you have been an inspiration to me, in more ways than one, thank you.

Monday, 31 August 2015

These home made gluten-free crackers...

... have actually changed my life!

Now then, sorry if you've called in for something about crafting but may I bend your ear for a moment about a recent foodie discovery?

Like many people, I have come to realise that normal bread, pasta, cake and so on just don't work for me.  I won't go into the problems eating them causes, because if you suffer, I'm sure you already know only too well.  Suffice to say I have been attempting to avoid wheat and gluten (oats are ok) for about 15 years, and I think my gut is very grateful!

Lately I have been exploring cooking with so-called superfoods, for example through the Deliciously Ella blog,  My favourite finds are some great recipes for a loaf or crackers, my favourite is this one:  http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2014/07/the-life-changing-crackers/.  They are slightly chewy, incredibly satisfying, full of good things like seeds and oats and  I now have them instead of sandwiches for my work lunch virtually every day.  I find them delicious, and as they are full of fibre they are great for your digestion, especially if you remember to drink more liquid with your meal than usual.

The problem was I haven't got time or inclination to cook much, so I needed to make it easier to "mass produce" and clear up after.  Now it takes me about 10 minutes to prepare 4 batches of dry ingredients, and about 10 minutes' effort per batch to cook and clear up, whenever I need more. It's well worth that very small amount of effort, here's how I do it:

Line up some lidded boxes.  Into each box, mix:
1 cup of Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup of Sunflower Seeds,
2 scant cups of Porridge Oats
3 tbsp Psyllium Husk Powder
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt
Seal and store the boxes.

When you're ready to make the crackers, in a mixing bowl whisk
400ml warm water
3 tbsp warmed coconut oil.
1 tbsp runny honey

Add one box of mixed dry ingredients and mix very well. Allow mix to soak for at least an hour, then spread half the mix onto a large baking tray lined with a silicone sheet (I just use my hands, easy to wash!). Bake for 10 minutes at 180C then flip it and bake the other side for another 10 minutes or so.  I use a pizza cutter to slice it into pieces before it sets too crispy.  Once cooled, store in boxes or baggies for up to 3 weeks (I keep in the fridge).  Simples!  You can also bake the whole mixture in a silicone loaf mould: cook for about 20 minutes, then turn out of the mould and cook for another 40 minutes or so until it's nice and firm, Once cooled, slice thinly and freeze so that you can toast a slice or two at a time when you fancy it.

For lunch I just spread them with a nice runny cheese or some mashed avocado. By the way, the cup I use is 250ml, I think American ones are about 240ml, so near enough the same (it's a pretty forgiving formula, I also add a few chopped dates or nuts sometimes).

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Crafty Lass made beads @ mine...

,,, a little while ago!

I ran a glass bead-making (lampwork) session recently, and one of my guests Paula was kind enough to blog about it here.

She blogged some great photos including this one of my "ladies in waiting"


...and this one of her in action!

Do check out her blog - lots of great crafting ideas!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A favourite pin..

...using a favourite punch.  This lovely card is an absolute gem. I pinned it in September last year, as inspiration for my beach quilt, because it uses the brilliant bird builder punch, and because it's simply great. I am constantly being reminded of it because people are pinning it all the time. Typical of Margaret who made it (of Making Papercrafts blog), she very modestly put it up on her blog, apologising for not blogging much lately and looking to get back into creating with the routine of her job at a school.  Sadly, the next post was created by her son and daughter explaining that she had passed away after a period of illness.  I wrote this post as a great many people are clearly still enjoying her wonderful creativity and I wanted to make sure all my readers got a chance to admire the many fabulous creations on her blog including this one.  Thanks for the inspiration, Margaret x

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Friday, 3 April 2015

Good work ladies...

...  Yesterday, two lovely ladies came to my house for a half-day "Introduction to Lampworking." We had a very sociable and friendly afternoon, and they both said afterwards how relaxed they felt, and how it had reminded them how therapeutic crafting is!  They did really well and afterwards I made a few little ones to go with them too - here is what we made:
Just look at those zingy colours - they're like a bunch of spring flowers.  I will be getting them off the sticks and cleaning them later and then they'll be off to their new owners to be admired and enjoyed.  Well done Kath and George!

My classes last half a day and are for one or two people - why not check the details on the "Learn to Lampwork" page above?

Friday, 20 March 2015

Today is...


No, really, it's a thing.  It was on the BBC, so it must be true.

And today I have a little happy gift for the (Crafting) world.  Seriously, at the risk of sounding like one of those adverts that pop up just when you don't expect them:

"Redhill Mum finds amazing crafting secret that costs pennies and will change your life"


Stick your Tombow glue upside down into this 49p candlestick thingy from IKEA using blutak and then stick the candlestick to your craft desk with more blutak.  You will never need to shake the glue down again, and will be able to open it with one hand, ready to use, see:


In the words of little Lola: I am really ever so absolutely happy about this! 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Who ya gonna call?....

... do I have to say it?

It was school"Rag Week" at my girls' school this week and they had a film-themed dressing up day. They and their friends put these outfits together, don't they look great? (ghost courtesy of my best bed linen modelled by my husband):

I just love that they made their "proton packs" with cereal boxes, Pringles tins and bottle tops - Blue Peter I thank you!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Annual Owl Punch post

So many creative opportunities from such a versatile piece of crafting magic!  I know that thousands of you have enjoyed looking at this owl punch post and this one  here on my blog.  So now, over a year after the last one, I have another set of ideas for you, both my own and off the ol' interweb. I have done my best to credit the originals below; please let me know if there is something to add...

Are you ready?

...and there are two more Owl Punch Compilations - you'll find them to the right under "Popular Posts".

Such creative potential!  Every primary school could use one (or more) as an end of year gift!  The owl punch is produced by Stampin Up and costs just £15.50; I recommend my demonstrator, Amanda Fowler.

Hedgehog - my own
Caterpillar - inspired by Dani at myownart.bplaced.net
OO-WL, licensed to kill - my own
Bee - Trish at encouragejoy.blogspot.co,uk
Fox -Trish at encouragejoy.blogspot.co,uk
Ladybird - Trish at encouragejoy.blogspot.co,uk
Spirit the Mustang - inspired by Trish's pony at encouragejoy.blogspot.co,uk
Bronte the grumpy cat - clare at craftycowcreations.blogspot.com.au
Dressing-up-as-Elsa Owl and Olaf - my own
Nail Varnish - Michelle at http://zindorf.blogs.splitcoaststampers.com/
Mushroom - Cecile at lezardsdecilou.canalblog.com
Present Sack - pattistamps.typepad.com
Christmas penguin - Kay at creationsonpaper.blogspot.com
Stethoscope - my own
Squaw - Bronwyn at addinktivedesigns.blogspot.com
Sully - Eve at evesoffcuts.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/monsters-inc-party-for-owen.html
Octopus - all over the place!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

An ink technique with the WOW factor ...

... is guaranteed to excite me, so I was very pleased to come across Shaving Foam Marbling when researching new projects for my crafting groups to try.  It's cheap, simple and really effective.

 Just make a layer of shaving foam on a baking tray or flat dish, drop on some ink colours (I used StampinUp re-inkers) and swirl them artistically (or randomly, it will still look great).  When you're happy with the look of them, lay a piece of paper on the top, press down gently, leave for a few seconds, then lift off.  When you wipe off the foam, you will have a lovely print underneath.  You can then take more prints until the ink goes too smudgy, when you can throw the foam away and start again.

I first tried this with ordinary white card stock, but then I had the very lucky idea of trying this with photographic paper (very cheap nowadays from the pound shop), and Oh. My. Goodness!  The colours came out fabulously vivid and the glossy finish just made them sing!  If you've done marbling but not tried it with glossy photo paper, I'd really suggest you have a go.  Here are some of the things my crafting group make last Monday, just snapped on my cheapy phone so not very crisp pictures:

Would you like to try this?  I still have a few places left at Paper Playground at my house in Redhill, next Tuesday 25th February where you can experiment with shaving foam marbling to your heart's content, and then use one of the pieces for your greetings card make-and-take. Please phone me to book a place.

Hope to see you then... xxx

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

What do you call a fish without an eye?....

...one of my hand made glass fish!

Two lovely sisters called Lisa and Helen came to play with glass on Saturday morning and I had a great time introducing them to the joys of glass bead making.  They made some beauties and after they had gone I set out to make some extras for them.  Then I decided to try one of those little glass sweeties you sometimes see in trays.  I'd just finished the first wrapper twist and it was like it called out to me "I'm a fish, not a sweetie,,,a fish!".  So I had to do that instead!   For the eyes, I just grabbed what I thought was a black rod.  Only it was dark transparent blue.  So he hasn't got proper eyes...

I just realised he hasn't got fins either.  Not so great as fish go, but I feel a little bit attached now.  So, eerrr... what should I call him?

Monday, 16 February 2015

WIP: A Rainbow quilt....

....has been gestating in my head for a few months since I saw one on a blog but then couldn't locate it again to "pin".  Anyway, I found myself in the neighbourhood of "Eclectic Maker" on Friday so I paid a visit, and got a psychedelic rainbow jelly roll to do my experiment with.  Things are very quiet chez moi at the moment due to daughters doing revision and dh inhabiting the gym, so after lunch I got down to it and by bed time not only had I caught up on all my favourite TV series, but I had a very jolly looking rainbow quilt top.  This afternoon I found some very cute polka dot fabric to do a border and the backing, et voila!

It looks a bit backwards somehow, maybe because I had to stand on a chair to get it all in the photo.

The method worked really well.  I excluded some of the strips, added 2 purples (every rainbow has purple, right?), sewed all the remaining strips into one big square, pressed, folded, then sliced into 2.5" strips.  Then all I had to do was lay the strips out and unpick one seam in each strip so I could stagger each strip by two squares. I have made a scrappy border out of a few left over multicolour strips. By the way it's called "BEST. DAY. EVER." by Moda.

I'll be starting the quilting tomorrow night at my quilting club - would you like to join me?  Only £5 including refreshments and very friendly, hope to see you there,

Helen xx

Friday, 13 February 2015

Nom nom....

...as you know dear reader, I am not a keen cook, but I am VERY keen on eating, so when I saw a recipe for a no-cook superfood healthy sweet snack, I thought that sounded pretty cool. They're called "Ultimate Energy Bites", the recipe is on Ella Woodward's lovely blog here, and my eldest and I made some last night. Yum.  All I can say is, it's a miracle there are any left. They are sort of like a chocolatey-er, firmer, smoother, slightly coconutty version of fig roll filling, are refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and packed with "superfoods" like almonds, cacao, coconut oil, linseed and chia seeds, so although they are delicious you don't need to feel guilty eating them (well, we'll let the scales be the judge of that next week, but for the moment, they are classed as "good" in my head...).

Ella says roll them into balls, but I remembered my silicone chocolate button mould and that worked great!  They apparently keep fine in the fridge (don't suppose they last long enough to be honest), but are also lovely and chewy straight from my freezer.  Here they are going into one of my stack-a-boxes... (blimey, now I'm giving the impression of someone who actually likes being in the kitchen, eeeeek, no, it's the craft room for me every time!).  I admit they look a bit dingy, but go see the photos on Ella's blog, they look much nicer!  These would look v. cute packaged up into little gift bags, if I managed not to eat them first.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Tap, tap. tap...

...says the typewriter!  Ever since I saw the "Tap, Tap, Tap" stamp set from StampinUp I have been wanting to have a go at making a 3-D item with the Typewriter image and somehow it has taken me till now to really get to grips with it. I had the idea of silver-embossing the typewriter on a black petite purse and putting a little roll of paper inside the purse that came out through a hole cut in the right place on the typewriter, but it didn't look right and I was a little disheartened.  Then I saw this super project by Cecile at Lezards de Cilou, that reminded me of my lack of persistence and that it could be done, and I had another go.  I have come up with this dinky little Valentine's project, that I lurrve, hope you love it too! Sorry about the excessive watermarking, I haven't quite worked out how to do it nicely yet...

Isn't it cute?  But wait, it gets cuter:

There's an 11inch strip of paper on which you can write lots more messages, that rolls up and is stored in the bottom of the box.  There is also just enough space for a little gift in the bottom too: maybe a RING????, or a teeny chocolate heart or even your last Rolo...

This was a fiddly project to work out, but it's not difficult to do... Would you like a template and instructions?  Leave a comment for me below and if I get enough interest I'll oblige...

I just love this versatile little stamp set.  Would you like it?  Follow this link to order it online from inkredibly creative and my absolute favourite UK demonstrator, Vicky Hayes. xxx

Friday, 23 January 2015

Lampworking (glass bead making) lessons ...

... have been a popular Christmas gift this year and I ran two separate sessions recently. My Introduction to Lampworking half-day is a great way to explore this brilliant hobby, and get a lovely set of beads to keep. You can come on your own, or bring a friend or guest, and you get to learn how to make a basic round (ish) bead, pull a stringer, make dots on a bead and shape a bead using various methods.  At the end, you'll have made at least 8 beads plus the ones I made during the demos and I will also make you a selection of coordinating spacers..  After they're fired I'll send them to you temporarily strung into a metal bracelet so you can show them off straight away!

Here are the ones that Katrina and her husband made when they came for her birthday treat:

...and yesterday Monike came for the morning and made this lovely set of bright beads all ready for spring.  Here they are still on their mandrels about to be soaked, but they are now cleaned, temporarily strung into a pretty bracelet and posted!

Monike is in the area on holiday from Canada and was looking for something exciting to do for the day - what a good way that would be to keep your visitors happy!

Please get in touch to book a lampworking session, it is £58 for the session (three hours or so) whether there are one or two people.

I really love teaching lampworking so I hope to see you soon

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Brrr, it's cold...

...time to get together with friends in a cosy kitchen and dream of spring.

Well, what a coincidence, that's exactly what's on offer next Tuesday 27th January at my Paper Playground papercrafting group!  Come along between 7:30 and 9:30 and have a good old chat and play, make some cards, scrap book a page, use my equipment, whatever takes your fancy.  All the details are under the Events tab above, but the £10 includes refreshments, use of all my equipment including a mass of stamps and this cute make and take card (with your choice of name on of course!):

All you have to do is get in touch on 07814 918232 or email me (helen@tiaratiara.co.uk) to let me know you're coming. If you can't come this time, don't worry, I will be running a Paper Playground every 4th Tuesday of the month.

Hope to see you Tuesday, and in the meantime, wrap up warm!