13 December 2010

Mulled Wine

So delicious.  And if you're worried about this being only for our friends who celebrate Christmas in the northern hemisphere, where it's extremely cold at the moment, this recipe calls for a bottle of chilled, sparkling red!!

All my KK has to do is warm up one of the sachets in a little orange juice for a few minutes, allow it to cool and then decant the bottle - so easy and so delectable.

Hope she enjoys it.

Have you adapted any recipes to accommodate our warm Christmas?
Or do you still go the traditional way?

12 December 2010

Christmas Tree Cards

On Friday morning my KK arrived to find a set of 12 handmade Christmas Cards - complete with envelopes for her personal use.

The cards are virtually all identical with small differences in the placement of stars and the paper used for the tree.  I actually started with the envelope (a small gift-sized one) and then made the card and the tree to match its size.

Deviated from the Life in a Jar theme here.  Will be back on track next week.

Decorating the Pigeon Hole

Oh, the stress of it all! This is by far the most fun you can have at Christmas time - creeping into the staffroom to place your gift or to decorate the pigeon hole!! It is nearly impossible to find the staffroom empty these days. There is always another teacher present planning, spying or meeting with other teachers. If this is not going on, then many of the teachers are conducting classes where they are cooking treats as final year activities.

I do not work later than 2.00pm so I do not have the option of staying back after work to complete my decorating task. That leaves only the mornings - and that means arriving before 7.15am!!!

So yes, I did have to get to work at 7.15am in order to decorate my KK's pigeon hole (we use the phrase KK interchangeably to mean the giver and the recipient of various gifts - it makes life easier).  AND I was the first one to arrive at work - aside from the cleaners!!!

Still looks like one of the Preps decorated it - sorry Preps.

Despite being early, I was still in a mad panic trying to get it decorated before anyone walked in.  To add to my stress, the snowflakes, which are on a string garland were all tangled up, which didn't leave me much time to place them beautifully around the pigeon hole.  That's the story that I'm sticking to.

PS  After the Cookies in a Jar gift, I have been tagged already as that  particular person's KK.  Doesn't take much.

08 December 2010

Cookies in a Jar

My Famous Cookies in a Jar is the name on the label that you can see here in the photo.  This will be the next gift for my recipient in our work Kris Kringle.

The jar is capped with an inverted cupcake patty pan
Inside this jar are layers of ingredients for a cookie dough (butter, an egg and some vanilla will still need to be added) that produces cookies that are simply delicious to eat.  Also the gift is simply beautiful to look at and receive - even if I do say so myself.  Although I cannot claim any originality as the idea was taken from a Taste magazine, last year.

As a family we churned out over fifteen of these last year as gifts for my nieces and nephews at Christmas time.  During the course of the following weeks, we got many text messages and emails about how much they enjoyed making the cookies and how delicious they tasted.

Last year we came upon this recipe during December and did not have sufficient time to collect the number of jars required for the whole gang (the jar used in my KK previously held passata), so instead I begged my local supermarket for 20+ Star Studded Cellophane bags that they were using for packaging bottles of bubbly.  The overall effect was fantastic, however, the cellophane bags' contents are prone to moving around and so the final striped effect can be a little misshapen - jars are definitely better.

Do you mass produce anything this time of year?

'Tis the Season for Giving

At work we have begun a Christmas tradition that is now in its fifth year of running.  We are given the opportunity of participating in a Kris Kringle custom whereby another colleague's name is selected from a hat and over the course of December until the end of the school year, you are to spoil your person with various gifts, treats, favours and/or messages.

You, as the giver, are to remain anonymous during this time until the final day, when, during a flurry of final gift giving, the big reveal happens.  Normally anonymity would not be a problem, however, one of the suggested "gifts" is that you decorate the receiver's pigeon hole, which is located in a very public place - the staffroom.  This can lead to minor heart palpitations as you try and make the pigeon hole look like an adult has completed the work (and not one of the preppies) whilst completing the task in near record time!!!

Each year I try and select a theme with which to work as I find this makes the job easier.  However this year's theme of "Life in a Jar" has come unstuck a couple of times, so far, as I have failed to find a jar appropriate enough for my gift.  When this happened I resorted to cutting out a box, using the famous Gazelle, and I am now living with the notion that jars can come in cardboard as well as glass.

I have forgotten to photograph what I have created so far, but will try and remember from now on.

What is your favourite Christmas tradition?

28 September 2010

Collections and Collectors

Buttons come in useful for decorating cards and scrapbooking pages.  Oh, and I hear some people apparently use them for holding garments closed, or some such thing.  Apparently.

Always one to try and match the font to the message, I have used a font called Buttons & Patches on this card.  I individually selected-out the letters that actually displayed themselves as a button and coloured them separately from the other letters in the birthday message.

A rare glimpse of winter sunlight to accompany the photo.
Even as a collection in a jar, buttons have a dual purpose as they can serve as an adornment in their container.

Teddy Bear on a Picnic
And sometimes the containers themselves can become the adornment.  This treasure was gifted to me by a dear friend for my birthday about 20 years ago.  My children have grown through the years knowing that this is the button box.  My mother's button box is my absolute favourite, it's made of pressed metal - simply charming.

My daughter was a great collector as a child - her most treasured collection, which we still have, is of gumnuts.


What sorts of things do you collect?

Flowers and Chinese Takeaway

Happy Birthday to another niece of ours.  She turned 16 recently and we gave her a set of earrings enclosed in this "chinese food" takeaway container.  The template for the container was cut out on the Gazelle Diecutter.

From the leftover paper, I punched out two enormous flowers which were attached to the birthday card.  The overall package is rather sweet don't you think?

80 Years Young

This is a card we gave to my father-in-law who celebrated his 80th birthday today.  What amazing changes he has witnessed during his lifetime.  His actual present was an album containing a series of snapshots of his life from toddler up to fairly recently.  He has lead quite an interesting life, starting in Italy, continuing on in Switzerland and then finally ending up here in Australia.  Happy Birthday Pop.

I am not sure what technique I have enlisted here to produce the card.  It is a series of folds and cuts that enables the card to be closed down into a "regular" size, but when opened out, folds back on itself to give a "pop-out" effect.

The very centre of the card we kept off-white and blank for our birthday message.

And like the Waterfall Card, in my previous blog, it allows you to embellish different sections of the card to personalise it according to the recipent's various talents and likes.

Have you ever entered the world of the unknown (unable to name) to produce something you like?

05 September 2010


This is the latest craze (for me anyway) - waterfall cards.  Although I gather from surfing the web and utube that such cards have been around for several years.  Not like me to hurry anyway.

I made this card for my father-in-law to accompany his present for Fathers' Day.  As you can gather from the overall theme, he is very much in love with his wood turning tools and his lathe.

We added a message to the pull-down piece.

The card works by pulling down the bottom of the centre piece.  When you do this the card rotates towards the back and each individual flap attached cascades around to reveal its hidden treasure.  I am so in love with this technique that I have made two more such cards.

This one is for my "favourite" sister (ooops, am I allowed to say that?).  She is just as enamoured with her sewing machine and knitting needles as my father-in-law is with his lathe.  She is always making me clothes, in particular skirts, and I find it hard to reciprocate the the kindness of her ongoing gestures.

Button Cards
This year for her birthday, I have made her a collection of handmade cards to use as part of her gift giving.  She is immensely generous with her gifts and time.  As you can see with one variety of card above, a button theme was introduced as an attempt to marry her passion with an appropriate card.

This next card I made for my daughter, Sally Cakes, to give to her close friend at school.  In fact, it was my daughter who originally put me on to the idea of waterfall cards - having seen it at a paper show in May earlier this year and memorising the technique enough when we got home to reproduce the effect.  I have finally been able to put it into practise - with (modestly she says) amazing effects!!

What's your latest craze?

29 August 2010

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

A Class Card made for a Much-Loved and Much-Missed Teacher

Today I spent some time making the front page of a group card which is being given to our absent Sports Teacher, from all the Grade One students.  Everyone hopes that she will recover quickly and join us soon back at school.

The giant sun which is filled with smaller suns, was made by me in Word on the computer using ClipArt.  I reproduced the sun many many times, printed the wallpaper out onto card and then cut out a "sun" image using the Gazelle Digital Diecutter.

More is More approach

I actually started out by drawing a "caricature" of her, which I then scanned onto the computer so it could be resized for printing. Unfortunately a lot of rubbing out was done on the original and so the printed image had a slight greying effect added (mmm, added but not wanted).

A personalised message was also added.  The overall theme of colours was pink and yellow; and given that she is our sports teacher, I used the font Bend It for the word "YOU".  The words "WAIT TO SEE" similarly had a School theme.  Short lengths of ribbon were cut and glued onto the back of the message also in pink and yellow.

Her name was cut out using the Gazelle Digital Diecutter and a sponge dauber completed the overall effect around the name and the outside of the embellishment.

Have you recently made a gift for a special someone?

18 August 2010

Happy Birthday Mum

Today is my mum's birthday.  I made this pop-up card for her . . . . .

. . . . . . . with a lot of assistance from a Stamping Up YouTube site.

Happy birthday mum.  What a shame you're not spending your time in Mission Beach where it is lovely and warm.

Even though I will be visiting my mum for her birthday on the weekend, the beauty of this card is twofold.  It can be folded flat and mailed!!

I cut out the word "happy" and the pointed flowers using my Gazelle Diecutter.

Will I be teaching this at one of the Friday Night - Crafting Nights?
Mmmmmm, I'm not sure if I'm game.

17 August 2010

Basket of Flowers

Friday Night - Crafting Night

Earth Laughs in Flowers
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have recently started having "the girls" over once a month for a crafting night.  Lots of food, drink and laughter also accompanies us on the evenings.

This Friday we will be completing a project I'm going to call "Basket of Flowers".

Do you get together with a group regularly for crafting?
What sorts of wonderful things do you create?

16 August 2010

Meals through a Straw

If it can't be consumed through a straw then you'll have to go hungry!!  That's not the catch cry of Nurse Ratched - just the way things are at the moment.

My daughter has recently had dental surgery - all four wisdom teeth removed - and for these first few days of recovery cannot chew any food. All her food is being blended to a smooth paste and basically taken in via the use of a straw.

Orders to the kitchen are for smoothies, soup and more smoothies.

From this . . . . . .

. . . . . . . to this!!

I keep a stock of bananas in the freezer to add to the smoothies.  This helps thicken a smoothie did you know?

The smoothest and most nutritional soup we've been eating has been Spinach and Broccoli soup.  Looks like nothing you've ever seen (enough said) but really does taste quite good.  The flavour is enhanced by the addition of green peppercorns and a tablespoon of natural yoghurt at the end.  We actually voluntarily eat it during winter - irrespective of dental extractions.

Banana Icecream
Frozen bananas, put through a kitchen processor for 4 minutes will produce the most wonderful soft textured icecream that is all banana and nothing else - no preservatives, no sugar, no added anything.  You cannot believe how luscious it tastes until you try it.

If you want to give it a go, remember, to persevere through the gritty crystallised stage.  Keep going it will eventually work.

15 August 2010

Oh, I would like to live beside the seaside

When I first cut out and assembled the milk cartons someone remarked that they looked like houses.

That gave me an idea.

Bathing Boxes

A colleague of mine is soon moving house to a place by the beach (lucky girl).  As a small congratulatory sentiment on the settlement of her new home, I have her a couple of "milk cartons" to resemble the bathing boxes that frequent the shorelines down there.  You will notice that I chose papier that was striped to assist the overall effect.

A matching card was then made to accompany the present.

A golden oldie stamp was used.

I haven't used this stamp for over seven years.  The end result was achieved using quite a simple approach to card making, particularly when you compare it to what we produce these days.  I almost felt like a cheat.  Almost.
  1. I stamped the image in black ink.
  2. Coloured it in with textas.
  3. Cut around the image.
  4. Mounted that card onto red card and cut around that too.
  5. Then used two layers of mounting tape to attach the bathing boxes to the card with a background of clouds.

Cloud Template (used) and Sponge Dauber

The clouds were made using a double-sided cloud template, a sponge dauber and a stamp pad.  I inked up the dauber on a blue stamp pad, and dabbed (or daubed) around the top of the template.  I did this 3 or 4 times to produce a sky full of clouds.  This can be quite addictive and I had to hold myself back from overdoing it and falling back to my habit of more-is-more.

Here is the final product:

A place in the sun by the sea.

Have you resurrected any out-of-fashion techniques lately?

12 August 2010

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

Have a look at these gorgeous numbers.

Would you believe paper shoes?
Now before you start asking "what would one do with a pair of paper shoes?" remember this is craft we're talking about - the land at the top of the faraway tree where all things made are quite beautiful but probably have little to add to the pragmatic side of life.  It's all about making gorgeous things to look at.

If you are of the practical nature, then I have found something useful that can be done with some Shoes.  Eat them!!

The templates for these shoes were cut out using the Gazelle Diecutter.  The shoes are made up of three parts which are easily assembled using double-sided sticky tape. 

::Trivia Fact::
Did you know that in the original story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L Frank Baum, Dorothy's shoes were silver?
The film makers changed the colour to red so that there would be more of a contrast between the yellow brick road and the shoes.

09 August 2010

My Favourite Toy

This is what all the fuss is about:::

Bosskut Gazelle Digital Diecutter

This is the gift I recently received for my 36th (again) birthday from beloved family.  And still there was some money in left the kitty to get me some body butter from The Body Shop (aptly named, as at times I could actually eat it) and another cook book (can't have too many of those) by Maeve O'Mara - Food Safari.

Back to the toy.  The Bosskut Diecutter is the most amazing machine to have ever been invented.  I cannot wax lyrical enough about all it can do.  And believe me, I am the biggest "waxer" of all time.  Forget all those cheaper cutters that are limited by the cartridges you can buy.  You end up spending $100's anyway acquiring new cartridges.  This is the cutter for you if you're serious about paper cutting - oh, did I mention that it can also cut out cotton fabric, foam and someone has even cut out fondant icing for cupcake decorations, aahhh, a woman after my own heart.

Anything that you can import onto your computer as an image can be cut out.

If you are a papier junkie like me, and need (note the use of the word need, not want) a word or an embellishment for a card, a scrapbooking page or even for your latest school project (well we do most of the work don't we?) this is the machine to get.  I sound like a spruiker don't I?

Fortunately, to complement this, I am completely addicted to the website http://www.dafont.com/, a site of many many thousands of fonts all of which can be downloaded.  Well, pretty much any one of the fonts that you can download can be used to produce words which can then be cut out by the Bosskut Gazelle.

With which one of your toys do you spend an inordinate amount of time?

08 August 2010

Madame Butterfly

Yesterday I was stuck at home, under the weather and quite miserable.  Yet I still needed to wrap my niece's birthday present and produce a birthday card.  I couldn't go out to get wrapping paper and a gift card, and really, I should be creating my own anyway.

Best angle for the present - alas not for the background (oops!)

This is what I came up with.  A box, which can be kept and reused to display photos.  On top of the box I placed a lace border of butterflies and a central embellishment of a flying butterfly. This is the gift that "keeps on giving".  When you remove the lid, the box collapses (intentionally mind you) to a flat surface of nine squares.  These can all be mounted with photographs.  Inside this box is another similar, but slightly smaller box - also made up of nine squares which can be decorated - on both sides - with photos and other embellishments.  Included in the box of goodies was an assortment of shapes, flowers and butterflies which can be used to decorate the photos.  These had been cut from the scraps of card and scrapbooking paper used in the construction of the gift/photo box.

Went with a butterfly theme.

Did you happen to notice that the paper used for the box actually matches the jewellery we put inside it?  Very clever don't you think . . . . .  and yes, as it turns out, something of a fluke on my behalf.  Isn't that usually the way?  I probably couldn't have found the matching paper if I intentionally went looking for it.

Fiddling can be Serendipitous
I'm most pleased that these photos match the colour wall of my Blog.

This obviously isn't the best angle for the photo, given the shadow it's casting on the gift card, but I wanted to show off the butterfly-themed lace border which had been mounted on top of the lid of the box.  I actually cut it out a couple of weeks ago - for no particular reason except to see what it looked like - and whilst I was fiddling about putting this box together, a serendipitous moment struck - it was the perfect size and motif for the lid!!

Have you ever had a moment like that when you accidentally discovered something?  When things just came together without you contriving them to do so?

::Trivia Fact::
Did you know that butterflies don't actually have ears?
They "hear" through their wings by sensing changes in sound vibrations.

03 August 2010

Milk of Human Kindness

He who distributes the milk of human kindness cannot help but spill a little on himself.
JM Barrie (Peter Pan)

As far as papier projects go, this took a little while to put together; so the feeling of accomplishment was tremendous when the task was finally finished.

Using my new Bosskut Gazelle "personal" digital die cutter I created a template that would cut and score a piece of scrapbooking paper which could then be miraculously folded into what you see above - a miniature milk carton.  I cannot guarantee that it will actually hold milk, unless it is in the form of a milk bottle lolly (candy)  - in the photo you might be able to see that this particular carton is holding strawberries and cream lollies.

Up, Up and Away 

Continuing with the papier theme, and because I just can't help myself, I have been working with the children at school on papier mache, covering balloons to produce hot air balloons. An oversized one is also being worked on at home to create one for my display in the school hallway. This is the brute with two layers of paper on it.

One more layer of paper to go and then a final coat of paint and it will be finished. Stay tuned for the final product.

Have you ever covered anything with gooey paper?

29 July 2010

An Inauspicious Inauguration

A tentative start in the world of Blogging and Bloggers.

So many clever people.  In the way they present their blogs, in their prose (how long do they spend getting every word just right?) and of course in the wonderful work they produce.

my variation on another's original idea
I have begun, not with an original idea, but with a copy of someone else's card which they posted on "utube".  Smarties Candy holder video (see Dawn's post dated 22 July 2010)  But I was keen to start and so photographed this pretty little gift card once it was finished.

Did you notice that a roll of Fizzers has been placed in the side of the card?  This is what is meant by the term "gift".  The fold of the card is actually like a pleat and a small section has been cut and inverted - this is what holds the fizzer lollies in place.

I also added some cut green ribbons to the underside of the pink cardboard.  This version of the card suits by colourings much better - I just love the lolly colours of pink and lime green.

Have you ever copied and varied another's card and then taken ownership?

Hope you visit me again.