Monday, 26 September 2011

Brilliant Blogs and Incredible Ideas

Now, this week I have been putting out the Christmas cards at work. We have been putting this off for as long as possible, but this week we gave in. Half way through I was about to throw everything in the bin, but then it struck me. No not the extensive amount of cuddly santas we have, but the christmas spirit.

Yes, thats right, I am excited! So excited in fact it is very lucky that the Blattman is on nights or he would be subjected to almost as much excitement as Santa finally seeing the North Pole again after a long night shift. So, having organised my extensive handmade christmas list of knitted things, sewn things, even chutneys and spice rubs, I was ready. Ready to create and enjoy. And as you know, those things were coming along nicely. Then I looked again, and my whole list got longer. I can deal with that. And I should have learnt a thing or to then. But no, I clearly cannot learn, so I am sharing them with all of you in the hope of them inspiring all of you who havent decided yet, and those of you who have can suffer like I am!!!!!!!!!

So here is an amazing tutorial and in fact whole blog. Allsorts is an amazing blog and has so many ideas for every time of the year but I think she has Christmas down to a very fine art. Her pictures of her christmas trees are an instant inspiration and christmas wonderland. This advent calendar is made from felt and sewn.

Her blog has some amazing links for all kinds of sewing and papercraft patterns, and so many interesting posts. I am loving reading it. and her interior decoration is to die for. So pretty

Another link that I took from Allsorts was to another Blog by Jurianne Matter, and is for an amazing paper tree tutorial which looks brilliant on cakes. I am yet to play with this pattern but I am sure that I could make different sizes for the top of my christmas cake this year, and I know my sister will love this for her own cupcakes. They look pretty easy to make so I am sure everyone can have fun with these, and use all kinds of colours for all seasons

Now Disney has always been good to me. I in fact cannot wait for our trip in 2013, and my memories of our honeymoon are so amazing. So it was pretty obvious that there can be only one place to go for brilliant christmassy ideas for the whole family. The Disney website is brilliant for crafters and budding chefs alike and has so many brilliant ideas. Here is a link to the website for christmas ornament ideas. Just use the website to get to recipes and lots of other fantastic ideas.

Advent is most definately the most exciting 24 days of the year in my opinion so it is so important to me to have something fabulous to celebrate all those days. I have found a brilliant Flickr group for creative advents that are seriously not helping me focus on making things already on my list. Creative Advent Group. Seriously inspiring, I could spend all the days up to christmas just looking at those pictures!!
This paper bag one is probably one of my favourites and looks so easy and cheap to make.

And lastly, all my amazing sewing links recently are coming from a brilliant website where pretty much all the FREE amazing sewing tutorials can be found. Here at sewing stuff. Brilliant ideas, well thought out and laid out, easy to use and so very inspiring.

Sleigh safe all, it probably won't be long until I find something else fantastic to share with you!!!!

Monday, 19 September 2011


Ok so I am a huge fan of both Christmas and the wonderful notion of a list. My life is somewhat organised by lists. I love to organise all those favourite events with my lists, and the Blattman is happy because he doesnt have to do anything- just drive me where I need to be when the items get a little bigger than my motorcycle- although you would be surprised how much I can get on my motorcycle when needed!!

My christmas planning starts as early as possible, and this year has been no exception. Although this year I have decided that homemade is the future. I am fed up with buying stuff that either never gets used or the same old thing every year. Last year was my first knitted christmas, everyone got a little knitted gift, one I had spent ages creating especially for that person, and they all went down very well. This year, most have got that special knitted gift, and quite a lot of those are done now which is great, but this year I am going one more step towards handmade perfection.

So here are a few fantastic links that I have come across this year, perfect for a handmade christmas. Even if it is just amazing wrapping paper or pretty homemade tags, a handmade christmas is easy and always appreciated by most of your recipients.

The first of these afroementioned fantastic links is one I found today courtesy of Money Saving Expert, another of my favourite websites with brilliant links to getting the best of the bargains and freebies. The new forum there is about christmas savings and creating. Many have been talking of gifts in a jar. The shops towards christmas are always filled with recipe kits in jars and are normally so expensive, but perfect for the baker or chef in the family. I found a brilliant E-Book this morning to create amazing gifts at a fraction of the price. Here is the link to the blog where I found the ebook- Ultimate Gifts in a Jar.

This ebook is over 200 pages and has lots of ideas for all occasions, I personally LOVE the idea of chocolate spoons for cocoa and coffee mixes and I am intrigued by the idea of baking a cake in a jar! Also in the ebook are preserves and jams too so such a great link for all year round.

This is another Idea I love for any time of the year, christmas, easter, birthdays or even weddings. I love sweet topiary and this is such a brilliant idea too. Use florists foam for these to get them all in properly.

How about these fun wrapped chocolate bars? What a lovely gift for co-workers or teachers, or just a great addition to a stocking or hamper. These are really easy with some printed tissue paper and a plaque printed off the computer. Easy, but looks amazing! These come from Flyingpig58 over at MSE, and here is the link to the whole topic because she has so many brilliant ideas. Scroll through for the coaster calendar and the beautiful baubles and tree decorations. I am getting so many ideas. It is so exciting! Here is also a link to her blog because there are so many ideas on there too!

And of course there will always be a few of you scrooges out there, and to you I say...
Lots more to come over the next few weeks up to christmas so keep an eye out, and thankyou to all of you who read my blog, you make my day!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Curl in a chair with a good book

It has not been a good day. I dont mind working in retail, in fact sometimes I quite enjoy it. I love merchandising and most of my customers are nice and friendly, and buy one of the many thousands of cards that are in the shop. Today, it was not so great. "this card is entirely the wrong shade of green" or " I like this motorbike mug but his motorbike isnt on you do one with his exact make model and colour?" And I continued with the never ending battle with people's inability to match up the pictures. I could actually spend all day putting cards back in the right places. Add to that the cold ive been battling for ever (ok 16 days but that is a long time), a rather nasty and painful nail bed infection and a particulary stroppy early morning doctors receptionist and you can imagine I've pretty much had enough. Oh and due to aforementioned infection, I can't knit- I know- end of the world right?

Luckily this morning I picked up a book from the pile next to my bed. Now this is the bedroom equivalent of the Booker Prize, if you get next to the Divan, you've made it. Pultizer eat your heart out. This made me think about sharing some of my favourite books with you all. Now as hard as it is to get your novel next to my bed, you can come from any genre and be in any format.

When the Blattman is on nights or lates I always have a book on CD to put on. I used to do this when I was a child, when Phillip Schofield and his bible stories used to lull me to sleep, but now I like to be somewhat more intellectual. (Given half the chance mind you, and if good old Phil wasnt on tape, He's be on like a shot.) Alison Weir is my late night author of choice. My favourite is probably the Lady Elizabeth.
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
Alison writes an amazingly researched and wonderful story about Elizabeth I from the day she learnt of the death of her mother, Anne Boleyn to the day she became Queen.
There are two other books by Alison Weir I have, The Captive Queen, about Eleanor of Aquitane and her life, and Innocent Traitor about Lady Jane Grey up to her execution. All these books keep me enthralled throughout and you cant put them down.
Finally in the book on CD catagory is The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick, about the life story of a Knight, William Marshal, and his life in the court of Henry and Eleanor and Richard the Lionheart. A wonderful story teller and a whole life story

Now in Paperback, I hvae read so many it is tough to get to that all hallowed place. Today, the book that accompanied me to work was Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil. It is the sequel to the equally brilliant Divas Don't Knit. Both live happily on the pile. They tell the story of Jo Mackenzie and her life on the Kent coast running her wool shop with her two young sons. They are two of the funniest books I have ever read, and I have read them countless times and I am never bored. (Having just looked for links to the first two, I have found that the third is out this year- I could    not be more excited!!!) 

Another Knitting related entrant is the story of Mary after the loss of her only child. The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood is a sad, funny, happy and brilliant novel and I could not recommend it more. For those of us who already knit, we can all find comfort in the act of knitting and in the act of reading this book. If you dont knit, this will give you a bit of an idea why we knit.

I am not a great fan of a cliff hanger. I like an proper ending. Idealy I like a whole story, where no questions are left unanswered. All three of these come under this catagory.

My non knitting related favourites are The Island by Victoria Hislop. This tells the story of a family, Crete and leprosy. It is amazing, and you really get behind the characters and will them to succeed and it is a sad and happy wonderful book. It was on the Richard and Judy Book list and I cannot recommend it enough.

Another of my favourite authors is Adriana Trigliani and my favourite of all her Books is Lucia Lucia, the life story of Lucia and all about the mistakes she makes in her life. it is a wonderful fashion novel too, as Lucia is a seamstress and Adriana creates a world you would long to be in.

Lastly and another of my favourites is The Future Homemakers of America by Laurie Graham. This is another of my escapist novels. This is the story of 6 women thrown together thanks to the USAF and the story follows the twists and turns of their lives. It is funny and well written, very entertaining and brilliant. So very much one of those books you cant put down.
So these are what keep me happy, Id love to hear what you think of them if you read them, or your favourites and recommendations too. 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Let Them Eat Cake!

Well Sunday is my little sister's birthday, and she will be the grand old age of 14. I know, almost mid life right?!!! Well every birthday means cake in our house and this birthday is the first one since the Blattman has been diagnosed as lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is not overly difficult to deal with now, there are so many dairy free products and dairy substitutes, and most are available in all supermarkets, not just the health food shops. So I have to create a lactose free birthday cake for my sister, so Hubby can enjoy it and also taste just as good as a regular cake, because lets be honest, normally an intolerance or an allergy means it tastes worse than normal and no one without that intolerance wants to eat it!! If you dont believe me, try carob!

One thing the Blattman has missed is chocolate. I am allergic to chocolate so we rarely have it, and now the milk chocolate he enjoyed is not a possibility. And my sister does love a chocolate cake- lets be fair, who doesnt? So as the Blattman is our head chef, I definately run the patisserie section and ive made up a lovely recipe for some dairy free chocolate cakes- and if you and lactose are still best friends then you can use this recipe with lovely butter instead.

Ok, here we go, this recipe will make 12 big cupcakes.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 5. Put 12 cake cases in a tin.

100g Pure Sunflower (available in all supermarkets and holland and barrett too) or butter
75g Light Brown Sugar
25g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour, once weighed out, remove 2 tablespoons of flour back to the bag, replace this with
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream the butter and the two sugars together until well mixed.
In a seperate bowl, mix together the flour cocoa mixture with the baking powder.
Add each egg individually alongisde a tablespoon of the flour mixture and combine.
Add the remaining flour to the mixture and combine completely.

Put a tablespoon of the mixture in each cake case.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Check after 10 mins and then every few minutes until cooked. As every oven is different, some will take longer than others.

You can top with a buttercream made using the pure, as well as icing sugar and cocoa powder, or with jam of your choice. The Blattman prefers cherry jam on his for a blackforest edge.
Enjoy and let me know how you get on with your cakes. Oh and Happy Birthday Ellie!!

Happy Halloween Patterns

So now it is officially September, ive decided to look at a few halloween patterns, as we have a couple of months to prepare now. Ive been happily knitting away for the last couple of days with some new patterns so I thought I would share a few of these patterns with you all.

Firstly if you are looking for halloween patterns, there can only be Ravelry!! If you are a knitter, and you are not on Ravelry yet, then what are you waiting for? Do it now!! It will be the best decision you have made, so many patterns. The patterns im going to link to are all free patterns and found on Rav so have a good look.

First pattern up is from my favourite designers on Ravelry,Phoeny. If you love monsters, or Harry Potter, then Phoeny is a fabulous desginer. Russett the Pumpkin is a great little decoration and would look great on a shelf, or sitting anywhere in your halloween home. Mine is coming along nicely and his pumpkiny body is almost done. I love the rib work on his body, it is easy and looks brilliant.

Another great pattern is over at GigglinGoblin's Blog, and is for a set of three juggling eyeballs. I love this pattern, they are so fun and would look brilliant in a jar somewhere.


My final pick for today is my little ghost pattern. I made one of these yesterday and it took about half an hour to make and created a really fun little decoration. This pattern is written in both English and Spanish too.

Lastly, the newest issue of Knit Today, out today on September 1st, would be a good buy. There is a quick knit section in the magazine now and it has some fun small patterns for halloween decorations including spiders, bats and a great egg cosy. Ive made my own changes to each of the patterns, my bat doesnt have knitted wings but felt ones, and my spiders have some big fluffy pipe cleaner legs. The big pipe cleaners I got in the Range and they are about three times the size of a regular one and look brilliant. They cost me £1 for a bag of them, with at least 20 pipe cleaners. I also bought the felt in the Range too and they were 50p a sheet and were 3 for 2.

I have recently subscribed to Knit Today, and this was the first month of my subscription. I got a great deal, 5 issues for £5, and then £9.40 per three months after that, so for a magazine that normally costs £4.99 a month, this was a great deal. I actually do like the new look Knit Today, with the quick knit section and they seem to have solved the problems of very expensive yarn in their patterns. This month the magazine also came with a calendar with 12 (funnily enough) patterns, with a couple I instantly liked.