Wednesday, 28 December 2011

And a happy new year...

So Christmas has now come and gone, the mince pies have been eaten, Santa has left sooty footprints all over the previously clean floor and we head into that period of the year which I hate - new years. I have never been a fan of new years eve, and even less of a fan of the resolutions that people make then slip up on four, five days later. But this year I will make a new years resolution, mainly because being jobless I might actually be able to keep it. Unlike everyone elses resolutions mine will not be focused on loosing weight (although I should really), but it will be the complete opposite - over the next 52 weeks I shall bake 52 different dishes.

I had thought about this before Christmas and luckily I was given The Great British Bake Off book for Christmas, which will be a guide throughout my quest. However I will deviate from this.

Stay tuned for my first bake in January...

Monday, 19 December 2011

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

So whilst I was at the craft fair I busied myself with making some Christmas stockings.
For the last month I have been collecting different ribbons, this has now sparked a new love affair between me and ribbons and I plan to use more soon. Anyway so I made these traditional Christmas stockings with my family's names on it for that personal touch! They are very simple to do;
  • Cut our two stocking shapes by drawing your desired pattern on an old newspaper and depending on your preference either embroider the names on first of last.
  • Now turn over the top of the stocking to create a neat edge and sew it into place. Do this on both pieces of the stockings.
  • Sew the ribbons on using a similar colour thread, don't worry about the ends, they will be neatened up when you sew they two stocking sides together.
  • Now sew the two sides together and add a loop of ribbon so you can hang it on your bedpost/mantle piece.

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Sunday, 18 December 2011

My first craft fair...

I am very sorry that I haven't written a blog post recently, but I have been rather busy with my parents B&B. Anyway here is my account of how my first craft fair went and the key things that I have learnt.

What I have learnt from my limited craft fair experience:
  1. Edible glitter is even better than sliced bread.
  2. However great edible glitter is, it does get EVERYWHERE.
  3. It appears that my cupcakes have positives and negatives. Positive, when a child sees them they get a huge smile on their face (the sort you would see in a Disney movie). Negative, they can make even the nicest children have a tantrum when their parents tell them they can't have one. I really hope that as a result the children who were denied cupcakes are not on the naughty list.
  4. Know your audience, it appears that a small village in Norfolk don't get the chic cupcakes or the vintage tea cup candles - they prefer pewter manicure sets and leather mugs (how can a mug be leather, its ridiculous!). So understand whether your craft fair prefers modern crafts or traditional.
  5. Take something to do so you don't just sit there expectantly like a loser.
At least next year I know what not to make.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Make Do and Mend Bag...

Another one of the crafts that I will be selling at the local craft fair is a handmade clutch bag. I got the pattern from a British Pathe film and decided to make it as it seemed quick and easy... So here is the original video on how to make a clutch bag and my updated guide. Enjoy!

BAGS (issue title - FOR GOODNESS SAKE !)

What to do:
  1. So I pretty-much followed the video, I got a 1/4 of a metre of tweed style fabric from my local sewing shop for £3 and then cut out a rectangle 'pattern' from a newspaper.
  2. I then cut out the material for the padding, (two pieces of thin wadding), the silk lining and the cardboard to stiffen it up.
  3. I then sewed the lining to the tweed fabric, right sides facing together, but left one of the ends open. Turn the bag inside out to have the right sides facing out.
  4. Now slip in the cardboard stiffing and the two pieces of padding either side of the cardboard.
  5. Sew up the end and fold the bag over to create the bag pocket.
  6. Now stitch two of the sides to secure the bag pocket.
  7. Sew on two snap fasteners on each end of the top of the bag and where it should fasten to. Now it is finished!
  8. As the film says if you want you can 'add the broach that he gave you', well as I don't have a he, I will search the charity shops for a suitable cheap vintage broach.

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Yet Another Christmas Craft...

So in a previous post I showed the result of my first attempt at making tea cup candles. Well for the craft fair I decided to make some Christmas smelling ones. I'm hoping to get seven or eight pounds for them (which I maintain is still considerably cheaper than on So here is my quick guide to creating some Christmas tea cup candles.

Here is what you need:
  • Tea cups - I have used 3 different types of tea cups and made 10 in total.
  • Fragrance (I brought Blue Christmas and Hollidazzle)
  • Wax
  • Colouring
  • Wicks
What I did:
  1. Weigh out how much wax you need, to fill a tea cup with a candle it is the ratio of of a cup and a half of unmelted wax.
  2. Once you know how much wax you need and have weighed it, choose your colour. The amount you will need about 1g of colour to every 100g of wax, but add more or less depending on how much colour you want.
  3. No melt the wax, I did it in a old jug in the microwave. This took about 2 minutes, but I checked it regularly. If it is not totally melted then pop it in for another 30 seconds.
  4. Now wait for the wax to cool until it is approx 55c. You need to let the wax cool before adding the fragrance otherwise it will evaporate. Add about a ratio of 5-10% fragrance to wax (e.g. 100g of wax 10ml of fragrance).
  5. Once you have stirred this in well, dab the end of the wick in some of the wax and stick it onto the bottom of the tea cup.
  6. Holding the wick, slowly pour the melted wax into the tea cup.
  7. Hold the wick until it stands up by itself.
  8. Now leave to cool for a day, trim the wick to 5cm and light your Christmas tea cup candle!

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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Claire's Christmas Orange...

So I saw this idea in a garden centre the other day whilst I was wondering around the Christmas section in awe. Anyway, a bag of these orange slices/decorations cost £8.99! I maintain why buy something when you can make it much cheaper? So here is my cheaper version:

All you need is:
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Pastry brush
  • A baking tray with a cooling rack on top of it
  • Oranges
  • Cinnamon

What to do:
  1. Slice the oranges into 1/4 inch slices, discard the ends of the oranges.
  2. Dab the oranges with kitchen towel to get rid of the excess juice.
  3. Pour some of your Cinnamon powder onto the chopping board, then using the pastry brush, gently spread a small amount of Cinnamon over the front and back of each slice.
  4. Then pop them on the cooling rack on a baking tray and place them in the oven at 120c.
  5. Let them cook in the oven for at least 3hrs checking them occasionally.
  6. Let them cool on the cooling rack then use them to decorate your tree (by threading ribbon through them) or arraigning them in a pot porri bowl.

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Friday, 11 November 2011


So today is the 11/11/11. As (hopefully) you all know, it is armistice day. So I decided to post a video of the armistice day in 1920 when the unknown solider was buried. Here is a British Pathe following the soldiers final journey.


Read a extract from a woman's diary in 1941 on armistice day here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Crafty Little Air freshener...

As a quick and simple little stocking filler for the craft fair we decided to make these Christmas car air fresheners. Sew two pieces of fabric together on three edges, right sides facing in. Turn it out to make a small bag, and fill the bottom of the bag with three teaspoons of cloves. Then add a few scraps of wadding above the cloves. Cut the tops off the bags with crinkle craft scissors and tie them close with a piece of ribbon. Then, there you go, a quick and lovely smalling Christmas car air freshener!

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Thursday, 3 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like chirstmas...

So this year (at the last minute) me and my mum have found out that we have a stall at our local Christmas craft fair in our village. It appears that in Norfolk this is a big deal and this fair gets a lot of people coming to it! Anyway with less than a month to go we are now on hyperdrive to try and make enough sell able items in time. So today I am going to make mincemeat! Not just any mincemeat though, Mrs Beeton's mincemeat.

Like with so many of my projects they start out with one thing in mind and often divert off the subject as my craft supplies/ingredients change, so instead of all the specified amount of raisins I am adding in 200g of dried cherries. So here is my sampled Mrs Beeton's recipe - please not that these quantities are for 18lbs as I am making lots of jars for the craft fair, so reduce the quantities for your mincemeat (as you probably don't want a dyslexic to do the maths)!

  • 6 large cooking apples
  • 3 large lemons
  • 2lb of raisins (but we did 200g of cherries, 500g of sultanas and 500g of raisins)
  • 2lb currants
  • 2lb of suet
  • 4lb of soft light brown sugar
  • 2oz of candied orange peel
  • 2oz of candied lemon peel
  • 4tbsp of orange marmalade
  • 18 fl oz of brandy
What to do:
  1. Core the apples, and put them in an oven at 200c and cook 50-60 minutes until tender. I put mine in the microwave for about 3 minutes (800w) and leave them to cool.
  2. Wash, dry and grate the lemons, squeeze out the juice into a big mixing bowl.
  3. Once the apple is cool, scoop out the flesh and add it to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients and give it a good mix.
  5. Cover the bowl and leave it for two days, stirring occasionally.
  6. Pot up the mincemeat and press it down well to avoid air pockets. Cover and store for two weeks before using.

*remember you must cook this before eating it*

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Sunday, 30 October 2011


Well, I apologise for not writing a blog for AGES, there is no excuse as I have only been slightly busy. Anyway so here is a blog about the flower arrangements I have been making for my parents Bed and Breakfast. Another idea from Martha Stewart I recently found was a pumpkin vase...

So here is how to do it...

1. This time I decided to use squashes however I do warn against this as squashes are very hard to carve. Use pumpkins, so much easier and the effect is the same. So, carve the top off your pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and flesh (use the flesh to make pumpkin soup).

2. Put either a small pot in the pumpkin or I used a freezer bag in the centre and fill it up with water.

3. Now start arranging your flowers. Make sure you hide the tub or freezer bag by arranging flowers over them.

And finally here is our family carved pumpkins, left is my aunt Jane's, middle left is my bothers, middle right my dads and right is mine... Happy Halloween.

Also, thank you to everyone who has been visiting my blog from Ikea Hackers.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Happy Birthday Singer!

This year is the 160th anniversary of Singer Sewing Co. We have four in our house, I brought mine two years ago and since then have made a dress and a number of crafty projects on it. My parents have three! Once they saw my beautiful Singer it appears my dad became obsessed at buying them from our local auction. We now have the three, each in their own window in the living room. So as you can tell we love Singers.

I recently found a brilliant website where you can post your Singer Sewing Machine stories in celebration of the wonderful item. So take a look at other peoples stories here.
And to end this post on the beautiful Singer Sewing Machine the brilliant Beatles movie 'Help' dedicated their film to Elias Howe, "who in 1846 invented the sewing machine." And the film finishes with a picture of a Singer Sewing Machine, classic and brilliant.

And here are two British Pathe films on Singer Sewing Machine...



Saturday, 8 October 2011

Breakfast at Tiffany's

On October 5th 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's was released in US cinemas. This year it is its 50th anniversery and well worth a watch! And so here is one of the best bits from it...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

This weeks top craft picks from other websites:

Sorry for the lateness of this blog post but I have had a very busy week making jams, soups and jelly's!
  1. From Apartment Therapy is this brilliant light decor. I really want to have a go at this one!
  2. All the crafty blogs are now getting ready for Halloween and I love these! Very imaginative! Have a look over at Craftzine.
  3. Another Apartment Therapy is this brilliant 'back to school' canvas which would liven up any classroom or children's room.
  4. Finally is this chest of draws painted and then decoupaged with birds on it. Usually I don't like this sort of decoupage but I love this and will give it a go next time I need to decorate a piece of furniture! Have a look at Cottage Hill for details.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fig and Apple Jam

Today we picked our apple harvest. 106 pounds (48kg) worth of apples. So we decided to use some of them to make fig and apple jam to add to my parents jam menu at their Bed and Breakfast. So here is the recipe I used for the fig and apple jam, which I found on google.

  • 1lb of figs, diced.
  • 2 cooking apples (approx 1/2 a lb), peel, cored, diced.
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 2 cups (500ml) of white sugar
What to do:
  1. Place the chopped apples and figs in a large heavy base pan. Add the lemon juice and rind and cook gently over a medium heat.
  2. When the figs are very soft and the apple is mushy add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Bring to the boil and boil until the jam has reached its setting point (check this by the saucer test or using a thermometer until it reaches 105 degrees).
  4. Ladle into clean jars.

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