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Monday, 31 December 2012

RING OUT THE OLD, RING IN THE NEW - HAPPY NEW YEAR

Hi everyone

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and are looking forward to a happy 2013.  What a fantastic year 2012 has been for the UK - wasn't it wonderful to be part of an Olympic Event that so many people had thought would be a disaster?  It was great and we spent many, many hours watching events that would not normally be on our 'viewing list'.

I am sure you have lots of New Year Resolutions planned, I would love to know what they are.  This time, I have decided not to admit to any because the vast majority of my resolutions quietly disappear sometime in February, or, embarrassingly during the first week of January, without any obvious sign of starting or completing them.

2012 has been a good year, tough going at times, but we have made it to today: healthy, certainly not wealthy, but definitely a little wiser than a year ago.  I have experienced highs and lows business-wise but I honestly feel more on track now than I was a year ago.  My designs and products have changed/been added to throughout the year, plans have either been carried out or abandoned as not being a good idea and I have made lots of new friends either in the flesh (always sounds odd) or online.  Their advice has been invaluable - all seem so much more organised than me and they are more objective about my business as not emotionally involved.  Oh, and I got my website set up - although still a work in progress.  How many times have I said that!

My last event of 2012 was the extra days spent at Secretts - a steep learning curve.  I will definitely take part in the three-day event and the extra days next year, but I  need to review what I sell and also to work on displays for things such as my wreaths and gift bags.  I shared my 'extra days' with my cake-making friend and we plan to do more joint activities in 2013 - here is a picture of part of our space as well as a photograph of the Christmas cake Linda made for us - it was lovely and we don't have much of it left (despite no New Year Resolutions, dieting has to be there somewhere):



Apart from business, I began volunteering for the Woking Cats Protection (WPC).  Hard to guess from my blog posts, I know, but I am a BIG cat fan - love them all dearly and could adopt each and every kitten that has been with me this year.  Initially I found it very hard to see them go when they had been adopted but was reminded by Pauline, the WPC Welfare Officer, that it is important to remember they are going to lovely new homes.  The last two kittens I fostered this year were the gorgeous Milly and Daisy, both beautiful black and white kittens and only a few weeks old.  We have always had tabby cats, I love their markings, but when I first saw Milly I just feel in love with her.  I couldn't resist her, so Milly very soon became a member of our family.

She is a lovely kitten, great fun, gets on well with Jazz, tries hard to get on with our Daisy - not always successfully but in time I am sure they will be pals.  She does have a very odd habit of collecting things.  Imagine the scene: washing completed, taken out of tumble drier, placed on chair for putting away, side-tracked by something else only to be reminded by Milly struggling along with a pair of underpants in her teeth!  It was hilarious, they are bigger than she is so she kept getting caught up in them!

Milly started her own mid-week post on my blog and will be getting back into a routine in January - Christmas has rather thrown her off track.  My kitten fostering will begin again at the end of January so I am sure Milly will be writing about the 'new kits on the block'.

In 2010/2011 I started to write a book, nothing whatsoever to do with crafting though, but another love of mine: crime fiction.  My plan for next year is to stop 'thinking about it' and get on with it, which leads me nicely to the next paragraph.

My plans for 2013 are to have more structure in my 'working' life.  Despite being glad not to have to work to deadlines, targets, etc as in my former life, I know that I do need that sort of organisation and structure, so next year will, fingers crossed, see a more organised me.

My Friday guest blog spot will begin again at the end of January, so please do get in touch if you would like to take part.  2012 had some fantastic guest posts and I enjoyed all of them.  As well as the Friday Guest Blog spot, I have also enjoyed taking part in Handmade Monday managed by Wendy - I have read some really great blog posts and been in awe of how clever people are with their craft work.  I look forward to reading more great posts in 2013 and to get the ball rolling, Wendy has a 2012 send-off linky party going on so have a look and catch up with what everyone has been doing in 2012 and is planning to do in 2013.

Happy New Year everyone - I look forward to 'seeing' all of you in 2013.

Jill

Monday, 24 December 2012

JINGLE BELLS, JINGLE BELLS

Hi everyone

A little late with my main post this weekend, and realised Milly also forgot her mid-week post.  You just cannot get the right staff these days!  However, this is my 200th post and a brief one.

My time at Secretts over the last month has been a great success and, although it is thankfully a long way off, I am looking forward to and already planning for next year's event.  What did sell, what didn't sell - always very hard as the non-sellers could fly off the shelves next year - who knows.  Certainly my decorated gift bags are very popular.  I had one customer who called in on Saturday wanting to buy four medium sized bags, I only had one left in stock and agreed to make them for him to collect on Sunday.  I made five and he was so pleased he bought all of them.

Had a lovely lunch last Friday with the Twitter Gals - it was great to see Dawn and Lesley again, but a shame Michelle couldn't join us.  Next time, fingers crossed.  Nice to meet a couple of Lesley's friends too.  Thank you for arranging the lunch Lesley.

It is time to sign off now.  Our presents have been posted, delivered, handed out or are waiting to be given out tomorrow.  Tomorrow's lunch is all prepared and ready for cooking - thank goodness I have got out of the habit of the mad Christmas morning peeling session - it used to be a family ritual when I was growing up.  The friend who is spending Christmas with us arrives tomorrow morning and we are planning on having a relaxing day.

A very happy Christmas to all of my blog followers, Handmade Monday bloggers and friends (and family) who visit regularly.  Have a great day - I will be back next weekend.

Jill




Sunday, 16 December 2012

SANTA IS ON HIS WAY

Hi everyone

It's a crazy time of year for crafters isn't it?  Rushing to keep up with orders and replace stock, while trying to make sure you have everything for your own Christmas.

I am about to go into a full week at Secretts - not every day as I am sharing the cover with my cake-making friend.  Good really as I am finding it hard to keep on top of orders, etc, so need some free time to make stock.  We are both stall-holding on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and really hoping for some great days sales-wise.

It has been a good week so far and in particular the sales my golfing friend managed for me at her club's Christmas Lunch.  A great success and lots of lovely compliments, which are always very welcome in our business, aren't they?

Lots of makes this week, lots of forgetting to photograph them, as always, but took some pics today of bags I have made - again poor quality as it is rather dark in the tent where I am selling:




I was disappointed, and a little hurt, at the comment I came across on a crafts forum this week from a fellow crafter - in fact someone I know.  As those of you who read my post regularly know, in addition to the extra days I am in the Christmas Tent at Secretts Farm Shop, I also took part in their three-day Christmas Fair in November.  The comment made was attributed to someone else, but I wonder about this and it included this: 'the craft stalls at Secrets are a load of tat ........ the garden centre has such lovely stuff to buy why would anyone buy that stuff'.  Not only do I think this is grossly unfair and completely wrong, but I am surprised that a fellow crafter would be so harsh in print, particularly if as they say someone else said this and the writer may not have actually checked out the stalls for them self.  Oh well, it is Christmas - a time to be charitable and forgiving?

I hope you read week one of Milly's diary?  She is settling in very well and it is almost as though she has been with us for ever.  I think she and Daisy have signed the first page of a truce, but there are still several chapters to work through before the final sign-off.

I went for Christmas lunch with my pottery group on Friday and we all had a lovely time.  Nice to see everyone in clothing that is not covered in smudges, paint spots and bits of clay.  We had Christmas crackers and I collected all the 'left-over' bits to use on cards and bags.  Beautiful silvery patterned paper that will look lovely when recycled into Christmas cards and bags.

We had a family Christmas meal yesterday with my sister and her husband.  They are away for Christmas and we always try to spend a day together before they go that is as near to Christmas as is possible and is a good excuse to begin early the Christmas celebrations.  However, it wasn't roast turkey, but beef with pickled walnuts.  I know it may sound unusual, but it was gorgeous - even if I do say so myself.  We did have crackers and all the other normal Christmassy things.

That's it for today, I have to get back to the grind-stone of making (not really a grind-stone) as I need stock for tomorrow.  I hope you all have a good week and don't forget to come back on Wednesday to read Milly's diary, but equally as important is for you to nip over to read the other bloggers taking part in this week's Handmade Monday round - great blogs, great makes and good fun to read and it is the last one before Christmas so a 'must not miss' event.

Jill

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

MILLY'S DIARY - WEEK ONE

Hi everyone

I have just been called a kleptomaniac!!  Is that the way to treat a new kitten that has moved into your home?  Okay, okay, I have collected a few things since moving in: a carrier bag, a scarf, a pen, a sock - plus lots of other things that my new family know nothing about!  But name-calling is not something I expected and surely they realise that I was only collecting things I need to go shopping with!

Yesterday I celebrated being here for four weeks - but only one week has been as a 'proper' family member and I can honestly say I am loving my new life.  Good food, plenty of warm places to sleep, two humans who think I am wonderful, lots of lovely toys and a very snug igloo that I have to battle Daisy with to occupy.

I now live with two grown-up cats, Daisy and Jazz.  They are both four years old and I love Jazz, I follow him around, play with him (but he does occasionally bop me when I get too playful) and I curl up with him on the sofa each evening.  Not so sure about Daisy yet, don't think she is very keen on me but I am sure I will win her over.

My first week has been spent exploring everywhere because being in a home is brand new to me and as you can imagine there are lots of exciting places to check out.  I have discovered there is so much fun to be had here: climbing curtains is wonderful, getting into cupboards and drawers is great fun as is throwing the contents out on to the floor.  Computers are incredible - things keep moving across the screen and I try to catch them, no success yet, but I won't give up.  The keyboard is great fun too as is sitting on the iPad screen!  That one doesn't seem popular with Jill who claims she is working!  Doesn't look like work to me!

I think I need a snooze.  I am only 17 weeks old and get tired quickly, but I will be back next week with more tales of my new life and also some photographs.

Milly

Sunday, 9 December 2012

IZZY WIZZY, LIFE IS SO BUSY

Hello everyone

Firstly a massive apology to everyone from last week's Handmade Monday and to those friends who kindly commented on my post - I am so sorry that I didn't return the compliment and promise I will do so this week.  Life at the moment is making for my stall at Secretts, selling and making orders - a lovely position to be in, but organising everything else is proving a problem.  I do wonder how I managed to do all of this plus a nearly full-time job!

I even ran out of time for my mid-week post and had planned to turn that over to Milly, our 'new' kitten to write.  She has also been busy, settling in, so her first post will be this week.  You may have read a recent post on here about the igloo we have for our cats - here is a pic of Milly in the igloo.  She prefers to jump on the roof, flatten it and then snuggle inside.  She clearly appreciates that heating is very expensive and is finding ways of keeping warm.  At the time of writing this post, she is cuddled up to Jazz - she is a big fan of him, but he is not too sure yet if he likes it.


As we all know in our business, there are days when it is so frustrating to be involved in handmade and days when it's the best in the world.  I am happy to report that this week the days of 'when it's the best in the world' have occurred more than the not so good days.  I am currently in the process of making for three places: my stall at Secretts, my wall at Bourne Mill and a friend has kindly volunteered to take a big selection of my work to her Golf Club on Wednesday when the society's Christmas Lunch is taking place.  This is in addition to some orders I have to complete during the coming week, so life is hectic but good fun too.

My cake-selling friend, Linda, is helping out on the stand at Secretts and she has been covering for me over the last few days while I have nipped off early or arrived late-ish so that I can spend time making.  Thank you, Linda, I couldn't manage it without you.

At most events I attend I take work with me, but as not all stall-holders are in every day we have to provide cover (an interesting arrangement), so making time is very limited.  However, here are a few photographs of my makes this week - they are taken when in-situ at Secretts, so my apologies for the fact they are not great pics.


Another wreath made with gorgeous black-watch tartan.  I have added a spray of apples, Christmas tree branches and a fir cone to this as well as some gold leaves around the display.


A straw circle, red ribbon, silver leaves and some snow - this sold within minutes of it being put in display and I had spent some time thinking 'no, I am not too sure about this one'.


A black star-covered bag to which I have fixed strips of holographic silver card.  I have added glittery snowflakes to this as well.


A gift bag which features a house in a starry sky and snowy field

Apart from stall management and craft work I am still enjoying my pottery course and this week I collected another pendant that I had made.  This one is made of porcelain and I painted it black and white and then dipped it in a clear glaze.


Unfortunately, the bottom edge touched another piece of work I had placed near to it (it was earrings) and it smudged the glaze.  It is all part of the learning curve and I know next time to be more careful when placing them on the rack.  We have been planning what our project(s) are for next term and I am looking forward to trying something new.  We are off to a local restaurant on Friday to have our Christmas lunch, a nice finish to the term.

A short-ish post finishing with the promise that I will visit and comment on as many of this week's Handmade Monday contributors as possible and also a thank you to everyone who does visit and comment.  I do love to read your comments and really do appreciate the feedback.

Talking of comments, I have received lots of spam comments over the last couple of weeks.  The mind of a spammer is a weird and wonderful (wonderful?) place, but no place for it on my blog

Have a great week everyone.  Milly will be writing the first of her weekly diary posts on Wednesday and I will be back next Sunday; in the meantime, don't forget to visit this week's Handmade Monday bloggers and catch up with what they have been doing over the last week.

Jill

Monday, 3 December 2012

COUNTING THE DAYS

Hi everyone

I took advantage of extra days in the Secretts Christmas Marquee and have slowly lost the plot regarding what day it is.  I did a couple of days last week plus Saturday morning, all day Sunday and all day today. Going 'out to work' on a Sunday is not the norm for me and it has thrown me completely.  I was convinced that yesterday was Monday and therefore today is Tuesday!  This does of course mean I am incredibly late with my weekend blog post!  Or can I pretend that I am early for next weekend's post?

No matter what day it is, I am behind with everything: blogging, blog commenting, Twitter, Facebook and emails.  I need a week free of crafting to catch up with everything.  I have been busy creating and the following photographs are of my stand at Secretts and some of my makes:


I am sorry about the poor quality of this photograph.  The lighting in the marquee is not great and although at the end of the day when our Christmas lights are twinkling it looks lovely  during the day if the weather is bad, it is a little dim.  This is a photograph of a small table display: my velvet wreath a large Christmas card with matching gift tag and two decorated gift boxes.


Another wreath made with gorgeous tartan ribbon and decorated with apples, Christmas tree 'bits' and a fir cone.


A gift bag decorated with Christmas trees, a reindeer and sleigh and liberally sprinkled with snow.  I was so pleased that this sold the morning after I had made it.  A friend had suggested I get a move on with ? Christmas bags, and they are proving so popular - so guess what I am working on this evening!

In addition to the above I also completed an order palced with my by Lesley Beeton (Mad Dog Woman of Shackleford) for a Christmas wreath.  Is it wrong to say I though it was lovely?  I am so pleased to say that Lesley did too.  Here is the photograph Lesley posted on Twitter.  The wreath is made of gold chiffon, shot through with red, green, gold and tartan ribbon, and gold baubles have been added.  I took some photographs  but unfortunately (as always happens with my pics) they were not that great.

It is a short post from me this week - that's what happens when you lose track of the days.  But before I go |I want to let you know that we are adopting Milly - one of the kittens I am currently fostering.  She is gorgeous and here is a photograph of her in a rare quiet moment:


I hope you all have a good week.  I will be back on Wednesday (or judging by my current lost the plot state, who knows which day), but don't forget to nip over to Handmade Monday and have a look at the lovely blogs taking part.

Jill

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A CAT AND THEIR IGLOO

Hi everyone

It's a very chilly morning and this reminds me of when we adopted Jazz, out gorgeous tabby and white cat in February 2009.  When we saw Jazz we were told he was very shy and timid (er, not sure if they were thinking about the same cat).  We decided when we collected him from the RSPCA at Chobham that we would buy him a sooper-dooper furry igloo.  Jazz and the igloo arrived home and he climbed into it and we thought 'ah, how lovely'; he quickly got out.  He climbed into and settled down once more and then abandoned it!  So much for being shy and timid.

At the time our neighbour had an elderly cat and we thought she might like to snuggle up in the igloo (the cat, not our neighbour), so we passed it on her.  Carmen (I have written about her before in my blog) loved the igloo - it was warm and she felt safe in it.  Sadly Carmen passed away earlier this year and the igloo was consigned to the garage.  At the weekend my neighbour asked if Milly and Daisy would like it - worth a try I thought.

The igloo was put into the conservatory - their 'room' - and they spent several minutes checking it out.  I left them to it and when I went back a short while later, this was the igloo:



I couldn't see Milly and realised she was inside and Daisy had sat on the top of it!  No matter how many times I pushed the top back up, when I checked on them, the igloo looked similar to the above picture.  I gave up - Milly loved snuggling inside and peeping out and Daisy was glad of a little bit of peace and quiet and had a choice of chairs to sit on.

I had thought they might cuddle up together in the igloo, but no, it's Milly's and that's that!  I don't think Daisy minds at all really as she is a very gentle-natured kitten..

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone, I will be back on Sunday with my main post.

Jill

Sunday, 25 November 2012

WET, WINDY AND VERY MUDDY

Hi everyone

What a dreadful week weather-wise.  Thank goodness, we have not suffered any damage, although the tables and chairs and a few ornaments from one half of the garden now reside in the other half and the bottom of the garden is flooded.  We had a power cut late evening on Thursday evening and it didn't come back on until Friday morning.  However, it could have been worse and my sympathies go out to those people all over the UK who have suffered loss because of the weather.

I took part in the Prior's Field School Christmas Fair yesterday and it wasn't very busy for any of us, even the hand-made fudge stall didn't have many customers.  The weather kept everyone away and it wasn't helped by the fact that a lot of the parking was in a very muddy field (not something you want to leave your car in).  Stall-holders were asked to park there once they had unloaded and as you can imagine after several hours of torrential rain, it was a little difficult to move ourselves let alone our vehicles.  My mini-cards sold well and some of my more 'out of the ordinary' birthday cards were also very popular.  How can you gauge what customers will like as recent sales have shown that it is impossible to second-guess what will be popular.  One day a particular card is flavour of the month, next day who knows?

I forgot to take photographs of my stand - as usual, but I made some quick gift-tags, so have included photographs of them instead:



These were 'quick makes'; two of them were fabric fixed to card and I added ribbon; one is a red rose added to red and tartan ribbons and the other two are peel-offs with added flowers.  Everyone likes to buy gift tags, and these were popular.  Will they be next time?  Who knows.

We were given the opportunity to set up the evening prior to the event and this worked out very well.  It meant less of a stressful mad rush on the day and a later start than is usual.  I know that I was very lucky as I am only a few miles from the school, but about half of the stalls were set up during that hour on Friday evening and I think it made it less of a problem parking/unloading on the day - especially as it was tipping down. 

This week has been catching up on lots of things - those of you who read my mid-week blog will know that for most of the beginning of the week I was here, there and just about everywhere.  I haven't yet had a chance to answer the posts in my last Sunday's blog - something I try to do as often as possible.  I think this coming week will see me doubling up.

I am at Secretts on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and also planning to be there on Saturday - Father Christmas is arriving, so I need to meet with him to hand over my present list (I wish!).  My brother and his wife are over from New York this week - our current weather seems like a gentle spring breeze and shower compared with their recent experiences.  It will be so good to see them.  

It's a busy week with lots planned and lots of work to complete, so I am off to make a dent in the long list (well, the one that is in my head).  

I hope you have a great week, don't forget to drop into Handmade Monday today and tomorrow and catch up with my fellow crafter's gorgeous work.  I will be back on Wednesday with a kitten-related post - we still have the gorgeous mad Millie and delightful Daisy; they are so lovely and very friendly.

Have fun

Jill

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

CATCHING UP

Hi everyone

Dreadful weather here at the moment - I am sure it is the same for nearly all parts of the UK.

I have spent the last couple of days trying to catch up on everything I need to do - and failing miserably.  Have done some crafting, packing, listing, etc, etc and feel no further forward.

On Monday I delivered Spot, the gorgeous apricot and grey kitten I have been fostering, to Alison of Woking Cats Protection.  She was then taking Spot on to her new home.  I had lunch at the White Hart in Pirbright with a couple of friends and we had a lovely long chatty session and planned our next trip (I feel like the Famous Five planning the next big adventure).  I had the most gorgeous scallops; I am a sea food and fish fanatic and scallops are near the top of my list of scrummy favourites.

Yesterday was spent clearing up after and cuddling my remaining kittens: Daisy (no 2) and Milly.  For two young kittens, they can create a considerable amount of mess - water, food, biscuits and bedding all over the place.  They are sisters and completely unalike in behaviour, although they do look like each other.  I then went to visit two cats I am doing regular visits to - again in Pirbright.  They are tortie/tabbies - one is called Muffin and the other is called Sooty (a rather unusual name for a tortie/tabby).  I then spent time working on a friend's database/mail shot and later had coffee and chat with another friend and then returned to working on some orders I have.  After this I fell asleep!

This morning was spent battling through the rain and heavy traffic to see a friend in Chilworth and help her with her promotional leaflet.  We also went through the rights and wrongs of stand-dressing, craft/fairs in general, and what to do next time differently.  Did we find the answer?  No, but we had lovely home-made Apple and Celeriac soup for lunch.

I am off in a moment to visit Muffin and Sooty and then back to carry on crafting (a new Carry On film??).  Tomorrow is pottery, Friday is crafting and Saturday I am at Priors Field School for their Christmas Fair.  Sunday?  Sleeping all day I think.

Phew!  I feel exhausted reading my own blog post.

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone, I hope this horrible weather doesn't cause you any problems.  No guest post this week - back next year and I will be back with my main post on Sunday.

Jill

Monday, 19 November 2012

A FANDABBYDOOZY TIME

Hi everyone

A little late with my weekend post - so tired following the three-day event I attended and getting ready for it.

Friday and Saturday were brilliant sales days for me (although one stall holder said it was quieter this Friday than for the same day during last year's event).  The talk was that Friday is normally quiet, Saturday is busy but Sunday is mega-busy.  Well, the Friday and Saturday sessions were very busy, as was Sunday - but very strange my takings on Sunday were half of what I took on Friday and a little less than half of what I took on Saturday.  My thoughts had gone along the lines of Friday would attract the usual Friday shoppers, ladies who lunch, retired people and after 3.00 pm mums and children.  Saturday morning might be a mix of age groups, but after the supermarket shop had been completed, families would visit in the afternoon.  I assumed it would be everyone, no matter what age, on Sunday.  In addition to the Christmas Event, there was also a Farmer's Market in the car park and just over the road from Secretts the village hall was hosting an Antiques Fair.

Here are some photographs of my stand:

 

The good thing for me was that (apart from those pesky Phoenix Cards people) I was the only stall selling cards.  As has often proved to be the case, my mini cards and my 'slightly bigger mini cards' sold very well.  This time around I also make up packs of five different, same theme, 'bigger mini cards' and these also sold well - sop well in fact that I had to spend Saturday evening making more!

I had lots of lovely visits from friends, old and new, and they each bought something from me which was even nicer.  My sister, Anne, helped me out on Friday afternoon - she also helped the local economy by doing quite a bit of shopping at the event.

I worked flat-out for most of the week prior to the event and made some more fabric wreaths - here are photographs of some of them:


This one is made from a roll of my lovely red ribbon - the ribbon is edged with gold and I made two; the second one had strips of green ribbon inserted throughout.


This is made from pillar-box red satin.  I wasn't too sure if it was Christmas red, so decided to add a different decoration (which sadly you cannot see in the photograph): red jewel hearts


As often the photograph doesn't do the item justice   This is made of a deep rich red velvet ribbon (of course), which I wrapped around the circle.  I added a cinnamon stick, fir cone, long decorative pepper and a bay leaf, which I tied to the top of the ring.

I was very pleased to receive another order for a wreath, this time in red gingham.  My customer wanted a Scandinavian type ring, so a new type of Christmas ring for me.

The lovely thing about crafts events (and I am sure other types of events) is the friendship offered by other stallholders.  The stall  holder to my right made the most beautiful baby bibs - not just ordinary ones, but some were made to look like little jacket/short fronts and had a tie; others were made out of such gorgeous fabric.  The Woodie opposite me had some beautiful work and this was his first event, rather nerve-racking for him - a nice person who shared his red wine with us (now that's what a call a friendly smallholder).

When Secretts sent out the invoice for the final payment, they also included details of after-event Christmas Marquee days.  Stallholders were offered days from 24 November to 24 December at a very good price and I decided to give it a whirl and have booked 8 days.  I had planned not to attend any more events after the Priors Field School one I am doing this coming Saturday, but the offer from Secretts was very good and I know the stall holders taking part, so it should be good fund as well as, hopefully financially successful.

Today has been catch-up time, although I did meet up with a couple of friends for lunch, which was nice especially as one placed an order with me for an unusual Christmas Tree Decoration - thank you Sue.  Before lunch I 'delivered' Spot, the lovely apricot and grey kitten I have been fostering, to a Woking Cats Protection colleague who was taking her to her new home.  Now catching up with emails, orders, makes for next weekend, etc.

Don't forget to visit the other Handmade Monday bloggers - lots of lovely blogs to read and I know it will take me a time to catch up with them this week, so my apologies all but I will get there I promise.

A big thank you to my last guest blogger of the year, Claire from Ashtead and Tadworth Card Making and Craft Workshops.  It is a great read and also really nice to know where that odd toilet roll search on my blog originated from.  Many thanks Claire for being a guest blogger.

No Friday guest blogger this week - unless anyway would like to take part.  It will return in the new year though, so contact me if you would like to get the ball rolling in January.

Have a good week everyone.  I will be back on Wednesday with my usual mid-week post.

Jill

Thursday, 15 November 2012

TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER IS....

Claire from Ashtead and Tadworth Cardmaking and Craft Clubs in Surrey.

Blog address - http://www.ashteadcardmaking.blogspot.co.uk

Hi there

My name is Claire and, together with fellow crafter Michelle, I run two monthly card clubs - one in Ashtead and the other in Tadworth, Surrey.

Michelle and I are both working mums with children of similar ages. We began running the Ashtead club soon after my daughter’s fourth birthday party where Michelle discovered my crafty habits! I had planned a crafty clothes-peg activity for the children using the Sizzix doll cut-outs. Michelle recognised them immediately and we discovered we had a shared interest in crafting and cardmaking. Some months later the idea for a card club was born over a glass of wine (or two!) We have recently celebrated our 6th birthday in Ashtead and some of our members have been with us all the time since that first ever workshop. We took over our second club in Tadworth about four years ago.

So what do we get up to? Well we run 12 monthly workshops a year at each venue, as well as two or three all day workshops per year in Ashtead. We focus mainly on card making techniques, but at our all-day workshops we explore other techniques that take a bit more time, like glass and silk-painting, altered art, Christmas gift making and jewellery techniques etc.


We are currently knee deep in glitter, gems and all manner of things bling getting ready for Christmas. In the next few weeks we have a Christmas ‘speedcrafting’ workshop planned, as well as an all-day Christmas gift workshop where the focus is on making gifts like notelet sets, calendars and desk organisers. We also plan to make table decorations and wreaths.


Our members are always up for a crafty challenge and we run two main competitions per year - one in Summer and one at Christmas - with crafty prizes up for grabs.

Our current Christmas competition for members is to “Create a Christmas decoration using a household object”. This challenge was inspired by one of our members creating a glittered toilet roll tube snowflake decoration for a demo at one of our upcoming workshops. We discovered that most of us have made a toilet roll tube decoration at some point in our crafting careers! Mine was a blue painted toilet roll tube with foil snowflakes stuck on the side that still comes out every Christmas and hangs on Mum’s tree! It must have been one of my earliest crafting ventures, made at the age of three with my Granny. So we decided there and then that we would get nostalgic and revive some of our early recycling/crafting experiences with our latest competition. In fact Jill it may well have been one of our members who arrived at your blog by searching for “toilet roll crafts”! (see Jill’s entry 14th Oct on this blog!)

Our Summer competitions are always judged at the annual Ashtead Village Day event and we have been known to have the odd local celebrity as a judge. We always have a Club stall there and I have to say the celebs have been most obliging for the last three years!


We encourage our members to sell their cards on the stall and also any other hand made items. We have had an impressive array of items for sale including gift boxes, decorated tins, photo frames, mirrors, notebooks and also jewellery items too.




Our members all have varied interests when it comes to crafting and we try to encourage different members to demonstrate their favourite techniques at our workshops. It is a great way of sharing knowledge and expertise and it means that throughout the year we cover a wide variety of techniques and there will be something for everyone. This year we have started to include demo notes on our blog too, which is great for people to recap or pick up on something they may have missed. The demo notes are available to everyone and not just our members, so do check out our blog.

http://www.ashteadcardmaking.blogspot.co.uk

It’s fascinating to look at the statistics and see from where in the world we get visitors. It would be great to set up crafty exchange holidays too with some of the more exotic locations!! Well I can dream!

Happy crafting!
Claire xx

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

KITTENS, KITTENS AND MORE KITTENS

Hi everyone

My mid-week post is kitten-related.  As you know I am a Cats Protection Volunteer and over the last few months I have helped out with trapping, fostering, taking kits to the vest for their jabs as well as visiting and feeding kittens in a pen when their 'foster-person' was on holiday.  I really enjoy it and am glad I am able to contribute to an organisation that does so much for cats and kittens.

My lovely Jasper and Wallace went to their new homes yesterday and their places have been filled by Millie, Daisy (second Daisy in our home) and Spot.  Here are the photographs of them (together with more information) on the Woking Cats Protection website:







Daisy and Milly are sisters, even though one (Daisy) has long hair and Milly has short hair.  They have almost identical marks around their noses, which don't really show up in the photographs.  Spot has people coming to see her on Friday so I am hopeful that by the time I write my next post, she will be homed or about to be homed.  

Originally my post today was going to be about two gorgeous boys who are desperate for a new home for their first Christmas, so if you are able to give them a home or know someone who who is looking to adopt two lovely kittens, please do contact the Woking Cats Protection branch.  The two handsome fellows I am talking about are Chaplin and Harley:


They are so lovely and you can read about them by clicking on the link in their names above their picture.  These two were abandoned with their mum, so I am sure you agree they deserve a good home.  I love the markings on their chins.

Please check out the Woking Cats Protection website for details of how to support them, events they are taking part in and other information for cat-owners.

I will be back on Sunday with my usual main post, full of details of how I got on at the Secretts Christmas Fair.  My last guest blogger for this year will be here on Friday, so do come back and read another great post.  Enjoy the rest of the week everyone.

Jill

Sunday, 11 November 2012

EVENTS, CARDS AND KITTENS

Hi everyone

Another beautiful day - days like this are very welcome at this time of year because we never know what is around the corner.

This week has been busy, busy making stock for this week's 3-day event at Secretts in Milford.  The marquee goes up tomorrow and we can start piling in at 7.30 am on Friday.  Exciting and nerve-racking really, but really looking forward to being with lots of lovely crafters and, yum-yum, food sellers too.  Just in case your are local or likely to be in the area it would be lovely to see to see you - complimentary mulled wine and mince pies are being offered.

A few years ago I used to be a big fan of Jolly Nation (or was it called Paper Nation then?) and made lots of different cards using their decoupage sheets.  As with most crafters (and customers) tastes change and I 'filed them away', but came across them during the week while ploughing through the massive stock of craft materials I have accumulated.  I am still trying to reorganise everything in a tidy way so that I don't keep doing crazy things such as buying something and then discovering I already have it!  I decided to make up a few for my bigger mini-cards range and these are some examples:


I love decoupage and also spent time making up some A4 Christmas cards with decoupage poinsettias on, which I will photograph and add to my next Sunday blog.  My problem at the moment is that as soon as I make something I pack and price it ready for loading into my boxes for events, this means no photographs.

It's Handmade Monday (although we all post on a Sunday) time and I am linking up as usual.  Lots of great blogs to read and all posts are getting more and more Christmassy.

I am in the process of setting up another 'bricks and mortar' (B&M) spot for my cards.  I am going to visit the shop and meet the owner next week, and I will add some more information to my post-visit blog post.  I hope it works out, it certainly sounds good, and the rental terms are also good, so watch this space.  My plan (or rather my hopes) has always been to have other B&M outlets in addition to my spot at Bourne Mill, so this, fingers crossed, may be my second venture.

I hope you had a look at this week's guest blog spot - a really great way to use what must be our most favourite confectionery, chocolate.  Thank you Vicki for a great post and I think your chocolate sounds gorgeous and really is a great promotional idea.

I have one more guest blogger for November and then I am going to 'hang up' the guest blogging spot until next year.  Everyone is very busy and I know it is hard to write our own blogs, let alone a guest spot.  Thank you to everyone who has been a guest blogger and thank you to those who have visited and commented on the posts.  The spot has been running for ten months and only two Fridays have not had a guest blogger.  I hope it has been successful for everyone who took part - I have really enjoyed the variety of the posts that I have received.

Here is a photograph of Jasper and Wallace; Wallace is the kitten on the right hand side and the reason Jasper looks as though he is about to jump off of the chair, is because he has seen a biscuit on the edge!  He is a little bit of a piglet and nothing much appears to put him off of his food.  I have a family coming to see them this afternoon with a view to adopting them - I hope so as it would be lovely to see them settled into a new home.  They are still rather nervous, but so gorgeous and I am sure with lots of TLC they will soon become fantastic feline friends.


We went out for a meal with a friend on Friday to the Harrow in Compton.  We go there quite regularly and the food was, as always, very good.  Massive portions, so if you go to this place don't have a starter!  We forgot our own warning, but did have a Meze-like meal between the three of us, so we managed (just about) to eat the main course.

The pottery hair cracked on my mask - soooo sad.  He now just has a very small toupee.  Oh well, all good fun and I learn something new every time - what not to do more often than not.

Back to work now, plenty to do and I might try to get a little gardening done.  The weather is too nice to not try to get some outside time.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone. I will be back on Wednesday with my post, which will be a cat-related one for Woking Cats Protection.  My last guest blogger of 2012 will be here on Friday, so please come back and read their great post.

Jill

Friday, 9 November 2012

TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER IS....


Vicki from It's all About the Wrapper
Who do you know who loves chocolate?
Assuming it’s everyone, we have some perfect Christmas ideas for you.
Personalised chocolate bars - your chocolate bars can be personalised for:
  • stocking fillers
  • place names for your Christmas lunch
  • gifts for teachers, friends and family
  • invitations for your Christmas or New Year's Eve party

Once you have your idea in mind, you can choose from one of the pre-designed wrappers on our website www.itsallaboutthewrapper.co.uk, or you can send your favourite photo or image to add to a blank wrapper. You can have individual names on each wrapper and a message on the back.
The majority of our pre-designed wrappers are for the larger 40g bar, but we also do a smaller 10g bar which is perfect for Corporate gifts. These can be given as single bars or presented in boxes of 40 chocolates. All you need to do is send us your design, or call us to see what we can create. A personalised box of mini chocolates is an ideal alternative to the usual bottle of wine or hamper.

The chocolates look great en masse if you want to create an impressive Christmas display.

The chocolate is delicious. It’s a Belgian recipe and is sourced within the UK. It contains 20% milk solids and 30% cocoa solids, and is suitable for vegetarians but may contain traces of nuts. Please see our website for prices and minimum order volumes.
The printing, cutting and wrapping is all done in-house, so your wrapper can be as personalised as you like. At It’s All About The Wrapper we give each order the attention it deserves. Christmas is a special time for many people, and so we would like to make yours one to remember!
Please take a look at our website or give us a call. We can take one of the stresses away from you, so put your feet up and have a cuppa - it's been quite a year!

With love & yummy chocolate wishes
Vicki x
T: @AboutTheWrapper
P: 01483 208585

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

WALL-TO-WALL CRAFTING

Hi everyone

Lots of gorgeous sunshine here - hope it stays around for a few more days.

So far this week my days (and evenings) have been filled with making stock for next week's 3-day event, playing with the kittens and Jazz and Daisy, of course, as well as still trying to plough through and dispose of the loads of 'stuff' we (more me I think) have accumulated over the years and not used.  Local charities and the book bank have benefited from the massive book re-distribution that has taken place over the last couple of weeks - as well as neighbours who have acquired a lot of reading material to see them through the winter.  I find it very hard to part with things, as there will always be a need for them some time in the future (a habit I am trying to break - not successfully though).

I have a Christmas wreath order, gift tags to make and I have had three card orders this week - busy times ahead and time permitting, I will be making more wreaths for next week's event.  The difficult decision is what are priority makes for the event?  Given the nature of the event, I know lots of variety is needed and although my main 'makes' are cards, I feel that some of my other items need to be available too.  I am planning, but it is a the bottom of my list, to have some candles at the event but this will depend on available time.

I also need to bear in mind that I have another event the following weekend, and there are three days in the preceding week when I am not able to make anything due to other commitments.  Although I am sure I will have stock available, I would also like some new items just for that particular event.  I need a few 48-hour days I think.

Pottery tomorrow and I am hoping to be able to biscuit-fire my candle holder and my mask.  I need to also think about other things to make while the firing is taking place.  Perhaps more jewellery.

Back to work now, but a cup of coffee first I think.  Don't forget to come back on Friday to see this week's guest blogger's post.  I will be back on Sunday with my main post.  I hope you enjoy the rest of the week everyone.

Jill

Sunday, 4 November 2012

PHEW! WHAT A WEEK.

Hello everyone

Hard to believe that this time last week we were awaiting the arrival of Hurricane (later known as Super storm) Sandy.  I know we weren't expecting it here, but sometimes the tail end of weather in New York nips over to us.  More important though was those of us with family and friends in America who were worried for their safety.  I am so pleased that my brother and sister-in-law are safe.  The news and photographs of the devastation throughout New York and New Jersey are very hard to take in and I know that everyone there is working very hard to return things to as near-normal as possible and I wish them well.

I took part in my first Christmas event of the season yesterday (Godalming Independent Christmas Market) and I am really pleased to say it was a great success - in fact I did better at this one than at the same event this time last year.  A sign of improving times?  Not sure, the public are a fickle bunch when it comes to handmade aren't they?  right place, right time?  My mini-cards sold really well and always seem to be very popular - long may it continue.  I had also made up some packs of 5 different-design cards, but of a similar theme, and these sold well too.  I sold two of my fabric decorated hearts and my best 'bit' of the day came when one of my Twitter friends, Lesley ( known on here as a guest blogger under the name of the Mad Dog Woman of Shackleford) came to see me and ordered a Christmas fabric wreath.  Thank you Lesley, a lovely order to receive.

Here are a couple of pics of my stall.  I had ordered a new banner from Vistaprint and hoped it would arrive before yesterday - as so often happens it arrived yesterday.  A great shame as the wall behind me was crying out for some information about me.



It wasn't successful for everyone and as we all know, this is often the case.  One stall holder was selling very beautiful jewellery she had made but it was priced in the £100 region - people visiting these types of craft events are not necessarily looking to pay that sort of price.  A couple of other stalls didn't sell anything, and it seems Craft Fairs are still very hit and miss.  My cake-making friend, who had the stall next to mine, did well - her cup cakes were very popular, as were her gorgeous coffee and walnut cakes.  She is still taking last-minute orders for Christmas cakes, so if you would like one let me know and I will ask her to get in touch with you. 

Some more news 'of the week' is that I won a book in the blog hop managed by Make and Craft to celebrate the publication of the first issue of their magazine.  Each day was hosted by a different person and on the day that it was hosted by Hannah Blavins (Spans Studio) I decided to enter as I very much liked the look of the book prize: A Compendium of Mosaic Techniques.  I had decided that if I didn't win, I would buy the book as the projects looked great.  You can imagine how pleased I was to receive an email from Hannah telling me I had won - wonderful news.  Thank you Hannah and thank you Make and Craft - there are lots of projects that I plan to have a go at, in particular the dragonfly which looks beautiful.



The next two weeks will be, almost, non-stop work making things for the event at Secretts.  I am looking forward to it, but also thinking 'oh, boy, have I done the right thing booking into a 3-day event'.  Well, he (or she) who dares and nothing ventured, nothing gained, etc.  I have also booked into the next Frensham Pond Hotel Wedding Fayre in February 2013 - seems a long way off as Christmas is still to be managed, but as you all know these bookings have to be secured early.

Wallace and Gromit (oops sorry, Wallace and Jasper) are still with me.  They are slowly becoming less nervous, but it is a long process to get them over their nervousness.  They are lovely and it is great fun to sit and play with them.  Richard was Senior Kitten Looker-After on Saturday while I was at the event and I know Jazz and Daisy will have kept an eye on them too.  Of the three black kittens I wrote about recently, I am pleased to say that Mo has found his fur-ever home - hopefully it won't be a long wait for Jessica and Bradley to be adopted.

Compared with normal weekend posts, this one is a shortish one but don't forget to visit the bloggers taking part in Handmade Monday this week.  Blog posts now are getting very Chrismassy.  I hope you all have a good week and  I will be back with my usual Wednesday post and my Friday Guest Blog post - it has become such an interesting part of my blogging week and I really missed having one this week.  I have some spaces in November and December, so please do get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger (christmaspiecrafts@virginmedia.com).

Jill

Friday, 2 November 2012

FRANTIC FRIDAY

Hi everyone

What a beautiful day it is here in Christmas Pie.  My brother and sister-in-law are safe in New York - so pleased to hear from them this week.  There are transport and power problems where they live, but they are safe which is the most important thing really.

I am at my first Christmas event tomorrow and I hope the weather will be bright and sunny too.  My event is the Godalming Independent Christmas Market - have a look on the Facebook page for details about all the wonderful stalls you will find there.  I think I have enough stock ready - lots of cards, but wanted to do some Christmas-themed fabric wreaths and didn't quite achieve that aim.

No guest blog post today, but back again next Friday with a great post, so don't forget to drop in.  If you would like to be a guest blogger, please do get in touch on christmaspiecrafts@virginmedia.com and I will email you some more information.  I am going to take the opportunity today to promote some of the recent guest blog posts that you may have missed, so here are links to them:

Gorgeous cakes from Mrs Crafty B

A really great post about Craft Events

Beautiful cards from Ali

A post about the beautiful cards entered in the World Card Making Competition

Confessions of a Craftaholic

Great posts and if you missed them first time around, they are certainly worth a visit.

Enjoy today everyone, the weather is gorgeous so make the most of it.  If you are in or around Godalming tomorrow, please call into the Christmas Event which is in the Borough Hall opposite the Waitrose Supermarket in Godalming.  I will be back on Sunday with my usual BIG blog post.

Jill

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

Hi everyone

Hurricane Sandy, or is it Superstorm Sandy?  So much damage and loss of life.  My brother and sister-in-law live in New Jersey and also have a summer home in Cape May.  I heard from them on Monday when they were fixing anything and everything down, but nothing since.  I saw on the news yesterday that Cape May was one of the flooded areas and as their house is appx 500 metres from the sea, I think it may have been in the path of the floods.  They were in their house in New Jersey, so I am hoping they are safe.  Property, although important, can be replaced, I just hope they are both okay.  The pictures of Times Square empty and quiet were amazing - I have never seen it like that.  Flooded streets, businesses unable to function, public transport not working, homes without power - dare I say it is almost like a disaster movie come to life.  I know it will take a long time to recover from this freak weather, but I hope no more lives will be lost.

The good news part of my post is that Beth, my hair dresser is pregnant and she is having twins!  She doesn't know yet whether it is 2 boys, 2 girls or one of each, but does know they are not identical twins.  Twins do not run in her family or her husband's family, but as she said yesterday, the trend has to being somewhere.  She has everything planned: she will continue working for as long as possible, then her clients will be taken on by the salon where she is going to work when she returns to work.  So organised - I need to take some tips from her.  Of course with twins, I am not so sure how all of this planning will be possible when it is double the work involved.  Plenty of time for me to get my knitting needles out - er, think I will be looking for some handmade baby clothes instead as my knitting needles rarely behave.

No guest blogger this Friday, but there will be a blog post, so don't forget to drop in for a visit.

I am at the Godalming Independent Christmas Market on Saturday, so if you live locally it would be lovely to see you.

Jill

Sunday, 28 October 2012

WINTER HAS ARRIVED - ROLL ON SUMMER

Hello everyone

I know colder weather had been forecast for Friday, but it still came as a bit of a shock.  So far no frost in Christmas Pie, but very cold.  In certain areas of our garden that are protected from cold winds, there are still some summer flowers blooming - hanging on until the last possible moment before they give up until summer.

Have you read my latest guest blogger's post?  It is mouth-wateringly good and just look at the pics of those cakes and cookies.  Thank you Mrs Crafty B, it is a great post.

This week has been busy - my first Christmas event is on 3 November and I am working to ensure I have a good variety of stock.  I have done this event before and it has always been good - perhaps helped because it is based opposite a Waitrose supermarket with free car parking for 2 hours?  I started to make some snow-globe cards this week and hope to have a few ready for next Saturday.  No cards to show really as I have been making and packing as I go, so my 'make of the day' is some more of my pottery work:


This is a half-circle tall candle holder made of porcelain.  The pattern is from a piece of embossed wall-paper and I cut the top to the shape of the pattern and then pierced holes all over following the design.  It is currently 'drying' and will be biscuit-fired the week following half-term (next week).  I haven't decided on the colour yet, but definitely something very glossy.

I haven't completely finished the wreath I displayed last week - I changed the embellishment from red velvet ribbon flowers to white roses.  The colour difference is more striking, but I haven't completely forgotten the red velvet flowers and they will appear on another wreath.

It's a good time to visit this week's Handmade Monday post to see other great blogger's work as I bet there will be lots of lovely Christmassy things to read about.

Following the Wedding Fayre I attended recently, I checked out one that was taking place the following week very near to where I live.  I emailed the organiser asking if they had spaces and what the price was.  They asked me to ring, which I did but the price was outside of my budget.  I told them this and they immediately reduced it by £25.  Still too high and they said 'well it is going to be a good event'.  Ten minutes later I received an email reducing the fee by a further £25!  I replied stating this was still outside of my budget (which it was, it wasn't me applying any stall price-reduction tactics) and they responded dropping the price to nearly half the original cost!  I couldn't decide whether this was a genuine offer to help a small business or a desperate plea because the 'two spaces left' really had a zero after the two.  I didn't do the event and felt sorry for anyone that had paid the full price if others came along later in the pre-event stages and paid considerably less.  I know it is possible to negotiate (sometimes) the prices of stall rental, but how fair is it on others?

I placed an advertisement with Adgo - I used this to specifically promote my wedding stationery.  If you place one of Adgo's banners on your blog or website, your advertisement is permanently free - how could I refuse?  Thank you Adgo.

Outside of my crafty world

The other side of my crafty world has been sociable this week.  I spent Wednesday helping a friend with her website - embarrassing really as I am still slowly, very slowly working on mine.  I am trying to convince her of the value of a blog, but not succeeding so far.  I am also encouraging her to use Twitter more to promote her work and the events she is taking part in.  As we live is a world that thrives on social media, I feel every opportunity should be taken to use them to support a small business.  I know my friend's priority is her website, so I am sure once that is up and running everything else will follow.

I helped out at the Woking Cats Protection Christmas Fayre yesterday and it was a great success.  Lots of visitors who contributed to making it a great fayre and help raise much-needed funds.  I won a prize in the tombola and bought some cat nip twists for Jazz and Daisy and the kittens: Jasper and Wallace, who are still with me.  They are progressing very slowly - no longer spitting, purring more and hissing less, but still a little nervous.  They are off to the vets on Tuesday for their first jabs and to be chipped.

I hope you have managed to read my post about National Black Cats Day?  Three gorgeous black kittens waiting for new homes - have a look at their pictures on the website.

I met up with friends for a meal on Friday - we re-visited a restaurant we had been to before, but sadly it wasn't as good this time.  The service was poor, food not very hot and does it really take 15 minutes to make/serve a cup of coffee?    One off of the list for either future visits or recommendations.

A day of kittens and cards beckons.  Don't forget to come back for my mid-week post.  At the moment I don't have a guest blogger for this week, so if anyone would like to have a guest blog spot, please let me know (christmaspiecrafts@virginmedia.com).

Have a good week everyone

Jill

Friday, 26 October 2012

TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER IS.....


Hi There!

My name is Annie, known in the virtual world as Mrs Crafty B. I live in Cambridge with Hubby B, my beautiful Baby B, a grumpy old ginger tom cat called Tigger and a crazy little young cat called Tess. I recently left my job as an office manager to be a full time mummy, a child minder and a crazy crafter. I run a community crafts group and hope to hold more charity crafts fairs like the one I held this year for the Rosie Maternity Hospital.

I started writing my blog ‘Crafting a Daydream’ at the start of 2012 with a view to sharing my crafty world. I am sure as all of you who craft will know, the project list is never ending, just like the collections of crafting goodies. I wanted a place to share as I learned new skills and looked into crafts on a deeper level and I hoped to connect with lots of like minded people. The latter has most definitely happened!

I really hope that I can inspire something in others. It’s a totally selfish act. It brings me immense pleasure when I give someone a recipe and they make something they are so proud of, or when I teach someone how to cook something. A smile comes across my face when I realise that I roused something in a friend that has seen them start to craft as a sort of therapy and start their own blog. I absolutely love it down to my core. I love to see others enjoy something as much as I do and if I can help from the sidelines then great!

I’m a strong believer in crafts for children and encouraging creative thinking. Crafting is such social activity and gives opportunity to count, see colours and shapes, help the development of motor skills and so many other things that I could never see a downside. An afternoon spent drawing, playing with playdough, painting or picking blackberries for baking with Baby B is an afternoon well spent.

I have always been a bit crafty and I love to be creative. I’m never satisfied with following patterns or instructions. I have to make something my own! I am totally obsessed with crochet and I like to make gifts for the people around me. I hope that everything that I make brings a smile to at least one other person and I truly believe that the effort that goes into making a gift says as much as the gift itself. Sugarcraft is another craft that I like to dabble in and baking is where the love is! I love to make occasion cakes or whip up a batch of cupcakes for visitors or as an offering when visiting others. Some of my biggest achievements in the baking world are a white chocolate and caramac cheescake that I made for my friends wedding, my engagement cake decorated with self made sugar roses and my own wedding cupcake tower with self made sugar flowers for the topper.







As Christmas is almost upon us, I would like to share a couple of bakes from last years festivities in the hope that you will give them a go. Do you all have recipes for vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cookies and chocolate cookies that you love to use? I’ll tell you how to add a bit of a festive twist to these classics. First of all, take your cupcake mixture and add a bit of mixed spice. Spoon half of what you normally would into the cases, and then add a teaspoon of mincemeat. Fill the case with the other half of the mixture and bake. Top with some almond butter icing and you have yourself some yummy mince pie cupcakes. If you don’t want to use butter icing and decorate, why not add a crumble mixture to the top before you bake them. Here are some that I knocked up last year decorated with red and green stars. The green iced cupcakes are lemon and white chocolate flavour.



When it comes to your vanilla cookies, spoon a bit of mincemeat on top of the cookie mixture before baking and once cooled, sprinkle with some icing sugar. These went down very well.



The absolute favorites were my Christmas pudding cookies. I took a favourite chocolate cookie recipe and added a few cranberries and raisins. I used some glace icing to ice half of each cookie and decorated with some handmade holly leaves and berries.


Here are some Christmas shortbreads as well J



I hope that you feel inspired to give some of my ideas a try and if you do, please mention my blog if you decide to post them online. It would be fab if you could share the pictures with me as well. I blog at www.mrscraftyb.co.uk and you can post pictures on my Facebook page or Tweet them to me. Just find ‘Mrs Crafty B’ on either of these sites. I can’t wait to hear from you and see your pics!

Thanks for having me over here at Christmas Pie Crafts!

With love from
Mrs Crafty B