Saturday, 28 November 2015

Caturday: Willow, Belle and Duke

Willow, Belle and Duke are three little kittens who haven’t lost their mittens but they have now lost their Mummy, Misa, who has gone to her forever home. It’s probably a relief for Misa at least, as she was way too young to be a mother and lately was finding her kittens an irritation. Now these three beauties are looking for a home, too - contact details can be found here.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Double shaker mini treat bag

Why have one shaker when you can have two? That’s what ran through my head as I created this fun project. 

The picture isn’t great, and I was a bit tight with the sequins, but the centre star is actually a shaker, using vellum instead of the traditional window sheets. This gives a subtle - some would say disappointing - look  to the shaker element but hey, I make mistakes so you don’t have to; either be more generous with your shaker bits, or use a Window Sheet for a clearer view. 

It’s actually quite simple to make. All of the die-cutting is done with the dies from the Mini Treat Bag Thinlits set and the glimmer star shaker element is created in the usual way. 

The bag is lined with a folded piece of Whisper White cardstock (which I forgot to put on the recipe but I don’t have time to go back and change it now, sorry) and the little coloured stars (also created with the Mini Treat Bag Thinlits set) are simply placed inside the bag. Yep, the fatal flaw is that if you tip it upside down, they’ll probably fall out but then the recipient will simply be showered with coloured starry confetti… which would serve them right for being so silly. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A lesson in not procrastinating

Can you guess what this is?
Can you guess what this is? From a distance I think it looks a little like the shadow of birds lined up on a wire although, admittedly, less so close up. I’ll leave you to ponder that one while I preach a little about putting things off to the last minute. 

Procrastination is one thing; but when you go through the panic process and then realise that the solution was literally on your doorstep, that puts you into a whole new realm of stupid. 

On Friday – yep, this Friday – I have a Christmas wreath class for a small group of ladies. It needs to be a small group as it needs to be at my house. And it needs to be at my house because the hall I use only has one plug socket – and we’ll be using hot glue guns. (And before anyone suggests a four-gang socket… that would trip the electrics. Ask me how I know.)

The class is really easy to prepare so I was quite relaxed about it. All I needed was a big load of pine cones, and this is where I was beginning to stress because we simply haven’t had chance to get out for any walks lately. Finally, on Sunday afternoon we headed off in the car on a pine cone hunt. Halfway to our planned destination, the petrol light came on (aaagh, forgot to fill up when doing the supermarket shopping!) and we quickly established that the only money we had was the “trolley pound”, which wasn’t much use. 

Still, we found a Scots pine tree by the side of the road and thought we’d take our chances. I grubbed around beneath the tree for a while but only found about 20 small ones. A reasonable start but at that size I’d need to double my requirements.  

Onward… and we drove past hundreds of trees… all of them the wrong sort. 

Eventually we reached our woodland walk and optimistically headed off into a group of Scots pines, bag ready to be filled to the brim.

Turns out that pine cones are actually quite hard to find. They bury themselves (ulterior motive being to get their seeds into the ground) and, of course, are quite well camouflaged. But we painstakingly raked our way through the undergrowth and found probably just enough, although some of them were a bit manky. I wasn’t thrilled, but they’d have to do. 

Back at home, hubby said: “You have looked down the garden, haven’t you?” Er… no I haven’t actually. I confess that I don’t often go down the garden between October and March. 

Anyway, you guessed it: within minutes I had a panoply – nay, a plethora – of pine cones, perfect for the project. Well, I say perfect. They were pretty grubby, so I washed them. And quite wet (due to rain and subsequent washing) so they’re all closed up. Hence the development of my Heath Robinson-style drying method featuring a cooling rack and two lanyards. 

It puts the cones into the hottest part of the fireplace and casts a rather pleasing shadow on the wall.  Had you worked it out?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Mix It Up Monday: Happy Umpteenth Birthday

It’s Mix It Up Monday again and time for another colour combination from my In Color charts.

What’s the best thing I can say about this colour combo? Probably the fact that I won’t have to use it again. What on earth was I thinking when I created it? Actually, in the cold light of day, it’s not so bad after all… but I didn’t half struggle to come up with a project with it. In the end I settled on this birthday card for my (much) older brother. 

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Caturday: Socks, George, Katie and more...

A late post today as I’ve been on a university visit with my daughter – there are a lot of those at the moment. As it’s Caturday, we shouldn’t have been surprised to see a telltale bowl of cat food in the halls of residence. Turns out they belonged to Socks, the resident cat. “You’ll probably see him on the tour,” said our guide. With 300+ rooms, we didn’t hold out much hope. 

But in the very first bedroom we entered, who should be lounging across the bed but Socks? We didn’t take a picture, it seemed a bit rude.

Earlier in the week we went to hear author Tom Cox talk about his work at the excellent Scarthin Books in Cromford. He’s written four books, about his cats and his life in general, and also Tweets regularly, as himself and also as three of his cats: @MYSADCAT, @MYSMUGCAT and – a warning here as this one is not suitable for work or those of a delicate nature – @MYSWEARYCAT.  We sat squished together in the vegetarian cafĂ© while he spoke entertainingly about his cats, family and live in Devon, then he took questions from the floor before signing books that we’d all obligingly purchased. If you like cats, do check out his work and if you love books at are able to get to Derbyshire, do visit Scarthin as it’s amazing.

Katie biffs George on the head, but he doesn’t really care as he’s comfy in his crinkly, furry tube

But all that cat-tery (see what I did there?) still leaves us without a photo for today’s Caturday, so here’s one I prepared earlier, of George and his sister Katie from the cat shelter, sharing a lovely moment. Talking of the shelter, it’s the open day tomorrow, 11am-2pm. Wrap up warm and head off to buy cakes (I’ve made some carrot cupcakes) and calendars (designed by me!). I won’t be there as I’ll be trawling the woods for pine cones for next weekend’s wreath class. Should have thought of that before advertising it really…

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Jingle all the Way night sky card

First of all a reminder that if you want to take advantage of the four-day stamp set sale, please either get your orders to me by Friday at 9am, or use the hostess code on the left. If you email me your order and can collect from me, please add £1 for shipping; if you order through my online store, it will cost £4.95 shipping and I’ll send you a small free gift as a thank you. 

I’m typing this on Tuesday evening and it’s soooooo windy. I really don’t like it - it does something to my brain and makes me unable to think, irritable, tired and anxious. My downlines are probably saying “so what else is new?” but my response to them would be: “Imagine me at my hungriest… then multiply by 10.”  So excuse me if I struggle to string a sentence together. 

Today’s project is a bit of blast from the past, from my Christmas workshop way back when, only the sample went astray before I could photograph it. Anyway, remember this project? If you remember, the piece of Whisper White cardstock from that card made another card, too - and this is it. More bang for your buck, as they say Stateside. 

The background is very easy to create, with a piece of watercolour paper and some Night of Navy ink mixed with water in a spritzer. For extra effect, I first stamped some snowflakes and a moon with Whisper White ink and embossed it with clear embossing powder (only because I couldn’t find my white embossing powder… which has now turned up). This then resists the Night of Navy ink solution; any which remains can be rubbed off with a paper towel when the rest of the paper is dry. 

It’s a simple card and one which you can churn out in bulk for your Christmas cards. And the good news is that any of my customers waiting for Sleigh Ride Edgelits won’t have much longer to wait as they’re on their way! 

Monday, 16 November 2015

Mix It Up Monday: Sketched Dots gift bags

If ordering online before 20th November, please use hostess code: JMUYWRZR to qualify for a free gift from me. This order will close at 9am on 20th November. Thank you! Not sure how to use a hostess code? Please drop me a line and I’ll send instructions. Thanks!

It’s Mix It Up Monday again and time for another colour combination from my In Color charts.

I’m really enjoying a vellum-y kind of a theme at the moment and, while this project doesn’t use vellum, it does continue the translucent motif in the form of the polka dot gift bags. These are really sweet and if you don’t have some already, I highly recommend you add them to your next order. They’re cheap, which is always a bonus. (Trans-Atlantic friends: “cheap” simply means “inexpensive” in the UK). They’re really versatile, they have polka dots on them and, best of all when you need to make 10 quick gifts for your Virtual Hostess Club members: you get 10 in a pack. Hurrah!

But you can trawl around Home Bargains as many times as you like and you still won’t find something that fits these bags perfectly. Luckily Aldi is just a few doors down and they sell the best chocolate ever (well, the best you can buy in Heanor). And did I mention that the bags are versatile? Well it’s worth repeating because you don’t have to stick to their original shape – you can of course trim them, fold them, scrunch them… well you don’t need me to tell you that, you’re crafters, too!

Because I wanted to keep an air of mystery about the contents, I decided to line them with a folded piece of Blushing Bride cardstock, then slide the chocolate inside. This does mean I don’t know who gets which flavour, although I did peek to make sure I wasn’t sending hazelnut chocolate to the lady with a nut allergy. I decorated them with my new Oh My Goodies! stamp set and matching Deco Labels Framelits Dies. I earned these free from Stampin’ Up!® recently. Apparently, despite not doing much this summer, it turns out I am still great and they rewarded me for my efforts. Which, I have to say, is jolly decent of them. 

Anyway, enough from me: I’ve just remembered there’s some of that chocolate left in the cupboard because, naturally, I bought spares.

The small print

This is my personal blog and my sole responsibility as an Independent Stampin' Up!® demonstrator. All images are © Stampin' Up!® All content including photographs, projects and text are © Helen Read, unless otherwise stated. Please feel free to copy my ideas for your personal use and inspiration - if you are a SU demonstrator you may use these ideas for your events but please give credit where it is due. Please do not use my ideas for monetary gain, competitions or publication. The images on this blog - including blog buttons - should not be copied and used elsewhere on the internet or on CDs.