Friday, December 24, 2010

The day I ruined the Christmas cake

Today marked the day that I officially ruined the Christmas cake.
On this day, I have to admit that I am a disgrace to my profession as a designer.
Perhaps the Christmas cake was doomed from the start, because it did get a little too 'dark' on the outside during cooking. Some careful trimming of the cake was conducted (it was necessary actually) before the marzipan was applied. Marzipan must surely be hiding a multitude of burnt cakes up and down the land this Christmas.
I was quite happy with the cake at marzipan stage. I was even quite happy with it when the icing was applied. The downfall and ruin of the cake came in the decoration. Once I started I couldn't stop you see. I had cake glitter and sprinkles at my disposal. The result is this shameful specimen:

I'm really not sure anyone would want to eat it - the green glitter really does look like mould.
Delia advised of simple white icing and spring of holly leaves with berries. Wouldn't that have looked nice. Maybe I'll just hand everyone a pair of dark glasses with their slice of cake.

Cake aside, I'm sure we'll have a very Merry Christmas, and to anyone ready this tale of Christmas cake woe, I wish you a very Merry Christmas too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A snowy adventure

For the last few weeks I've been hearing news reports about the heavy snow in the UK. In Berkshire we had seen only a sprinkling of snow, like the kind of icing sugar sprinkling that you put on your mince pies - i.e. nothing worthy of a mention.
It was Mr Monda's birthday on Friday, so we headed up to Stratford upon Avon to the Royal Shakespeare Company to see Matlida - the musical apadptation of the Roald Dahl book. The musical score was written by Tim Minchin so we had high hopes.
 It wasn't snowing when we left home - I checked the weather reports and we looked like we'd be good to drive to Stratford. We'd been travelling for about 2 minutes when out of nowhere, thick heavy snow started coming down. I've never seen anything like it, within about 60 seconds everything was white and we couldn't see the road in front of us, it was surreal. It lasted about 10 mins, and then stopped so we pressed on with the drive.

We had dinner at the new rooftop restaurant at the RSC - excellent food and good value for money too. Then we walked over the the courtyard theatre to see Matlida, which was just brilliant. I have no doubt it will be going to the London Theatres after it's initial run in Stratford.

We were staying in a little B&B just outside Stratford, and the plan was to spend Saturday pottering about the shops and having a bit of lunch before slowly making our way home.

The only bit of Saturday that managed to happen was the 'slowly making out way home' part. I'd been checking the weather reports constantly to ensure we didn't get stranded. We were prepared for it if we did though, we'd packed some food, sleeping bags, snow boots and a snow shovel just in case.
The reports were for heavy snow from lunchtime, so we decided we ought to make an early start and get home before the snow came. We managed to get as far as the M40 motorway before the snow started coming down, at about 9.45am. The roads were still passable though, so we pressed on, but the further south we came the heavier the snow got.
It wasn't ideal or even sensible to be in the car on snowy roads with heavy snow coming down, but really thought we'd be ok.
We managed to get about half way home before we came to a complete standstill. There had been an accident up ahead, we were on an incline, lorries had jack-knifed blocking the carriageway and cars were desperately trying to find some grip - many of them slipping and sliding backwards.
The scene was quite bizarre - a snow covered motorway, where people were jumping out of their cars to help push other drivers to get them started.
We spent just over 6.5 hours in the car, doing a journey that should have taken 1.5 hrs. It was stop start all the way, driving in second gear at about 20mph and trying to stay in the furrows of the car in front of us.

I managed to get a couple of pics on my phone. This is the M40 Motorway - 3 lanes had become one barely visible lane:

This is on one of the local roads in Berkshire. It looks like it could be Canada or somewhere in Scandinavia:

 Things I have learnt from my little snow adventure:
  • Weather predictions are just that - predictions. 
  • Driving in snow isn't fun. I won't be doing it again unless I absolutely have to. 
  • Snow hitting the windscreen at -3 degrees freezes and forms ice blocks on the windscreen wipers - rendering them almost useless.
  • All the cars that were stranded or needed pushing were BMW's. I've since found out that they are real wheel drive. Perhaps they should have tried driving backwards :o)
  • It might be worth investing in some snow socks for the car
  • To keep a snow shovel in the car, along with a coat, hat, gloves, blanket, torch, sleeping bag, food and something you can have a wee in if needed. There were plenty of men lining the sides of the snowy motorway having a wee, but I guess like me, the ladies were just crossing their legs!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

this is just the best thing ever

I love catching up on blog reading, it really opens my eyes to all the happy and wonderful things out there, like this:

Hurrah for Gemma Correll!

Monday, December 13, 2010

the usual suspects

or perhaps the unusual suspects!
This little bunch of bow tie kitties can now be found in my etsy shop

1. Henry, 2. Alexander, 3. Martha, 4. bow tie kitty, 5. Christophe and Lisa, 6. Jeremy, 7. Christophe, 8. Randolf, 9. Lisa

I'll have some more new items going into the shop throughout this week also - busy busy busy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nathan and Anna

Nathan and Anna are looking for new homes:

They're waiting ever so patiently in my etsy shop to be adopted by kind cat lovers.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Handmade Christmas

I've been having a little look into the handmade Christmas flickr group and have picked out a few of my favourites to share:

I'd really like to see some more photos in the group, so please do upload pics of your creative Christmas makes

Is it just me or has Christmas just snuck up on us very quickly this year? As a kid, Christmas always seemed to take such a long time to arrive, from the time school finished until the big day seemed like such a long time. As a grown up I'm wondering how I can possibly cram in everything that needs to happen in before the big day arrives.
Most of the Christmas shopping is done, so this weekend begins the mammoth wrapping effort. We were actually due to have the in-laws visiting this weekend for the pre Christmas pressie swap, but as the snow and ice situation up north is still pretty bad they're quite rightly staying put.
I will need to look for a courier to deliver the presents for us. Any recommendations?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Stockings up!

I was supposed to be decorating the Christmas tree tonight but I decided to get some of my new Christmas stockings into my shop instead.

I have to say, I'm a little bit in love with the ones with the robins on - and I expect that they'll find a home here if they don't sell before the big day comes.

If however you do want to swipe a lovely handmade felted wool Christmas stocking for you or yours, then you can find them in my etsy shop here
This week is all about filling up the shop so I'll be adding new items every day this week.

Friday, December 03, 2010

baaa studs

I'm feeling quite pants today. I think I'm getting a cold - my nose is certainly quite drippy.
To cheer me up I looked for this YouTube video which I saw on rude tube a couple of days ago. I just love it.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

where I work

Life and work got in the way, you know how it is. I just realised that I never posted pictures of my new office/studio. This is where I spend my days:

It's still not perfect - there are things to hang on walls and some more storage options needed when I can brave a trip to ikea, but it's now a workable room and a guest room - the red sofa is a sofa bed.
It is important for me to have a space where I feel like I am going to work, even just into another room in the house. It also means that this room is now used every day. Previously it was just the spare/junk room, and was used only rarely.
I really like working right in front of the window. I get to see the world going, the seasons changing (those trees outside the window have no leaves on them at all now) by and the natural light is great, even in the winter months.

I'm still busying myself with lots of making. This week I've been working on small things -  phone/ipod cosies and some chunky bead bracelets:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Handmade and Gorgeous Fair - Oxford

Are you in the Oxford area this Saturday 27th November? Then please do pop into the Handmade and Gorgeous Fair in Oxford Town Hall. I'll be there - along with some of my friends, and we'd love to see you:

The fair is open from 11am-4pm and the first 100 customers through the door will receive a goody bag. It's a great chance to get some of that Christmas shopping done. I'm sure I'll be doing some, after all, there's only 29 days left until the big day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reveal - a Christmas showcase of handmade craft

This year, I will be showing and selling my work at Reveal, in Henley on Thames.

I've been at Reveal for the past three years and there is always a really great selection of quality handmade craft on sale. It's a great place to pick up Christmas pressies for your friends and family so do pop along if you're in the vicinity (click the link above for more details/maps etc).

The show is open for 2 weeks - Thursday - Sunday each week, starting this Thursday 25th November at 5pm, then all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week. I will be showing/selling at both weeks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

This morning I went to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter film - The Deathly Hallows (part one). It's become something of a marking of the Christmas season for me - as the films always come out just before Christmas.
The film itself was quite dark and very bleak at times, but despite this (and the running commentary from the kids that were sitting next to us) I really enjoyed it. It's very well made, well shot, gritty and just more grown up - natural evolution I suppose. I'm really looking forward to the next part...

Other things marking the Christmas season for me is the fairs I attend at this time of year.  I'm busy making and stocking piling my softies and accessories.
I have a pile if half made monsters on the desk here next to me and have stockings hanging up all around the room:

If you've been doing some Christmas making it would be great to see your pics in the handmade Christmas flickr group, so please do add them. In fact, if you just want a bit of festive cheer then click the link and have a look at all the handmade loveliness.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I made it back from my hen weekend in one piece. There was no tying to lamp posts involved, but thanks for enquiring after my health Lesley.

The whole weekend was organised by my bridesmaids, who know that I neither like being centre of attention or that I'm a party animal. At 34, I just think I'm a bit too old for all that. The mature affair that we were aiming for was achieved.
We spent the day at the bingo, dressed as old ladies, and the evening was a meal and a few drinks.

 my mum (she is technically a grandma, so she was winning in the fancy dress stakes)
Most people thought we looked great.  The older ladies (regulars) at the Bingo were fab, and really helped us novices out with which card to play and when - we didn't have a clue.

There is also a picture of me somewhere offering a werthers original to a very bemused ambulance driver.  At this point I have no doubt he was cursing having to work late nights.

The lady who served us in the cocktail bar said that we smelled of charity shops and wee. She might have had a point about smelling of charity shops - I can't comment about the wee mind you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

where does it go?

Time. Where does it go?
I've had a manic week this week which has involved quite a bit of making for my upcoming fairs, finalising and making wedding invites, shopping for a mother of the bride outfit, buying 8 shirts for the groom and his wedding party, a trip to the hospital and a few nice orders, amongst other things.
This is another in the series of embroidered canvasses I've been working on:

Tomorrow, along with 8 of my friends I'm off on my hen weekend. Dressing up is involved, but I'm a classy lady so they'll be no L plates or tiara for me, my look will be quite a lot more mature! I will reveal all next week...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Christamas decoration SALE

For a limited time only, I'm selling my Christmas decorations at HALF PRICE. I've just listed some sets of 3, 4 and 5 decorations for sale in my etsy shop here.
Prices range from around £6.50 ($10.50) for a set of three - £10.50 ($17.00) for a set of 5. Go on, grab a bargain:

Friday, November 05, 2010


How nice to be featured on Cuteable today with my new kitty canvas:
This kitty looks a little bit mad and a bit posh. I was toying with the idea of the speech bubble saying something totally outrageous but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I'm still working some more of these though...

On a lightly different note, yesterday I ordered some rubber stamps from The English Stamp Company which I had custom designed for our wedding. One of them, says 'take me, I'm yours' and is intended to be stamped onto gifts for our guests. I'm sure the people who make up the stamps were wondering what that statement was all about.
I was totally impressed that the stamps (4 in all) arrived today. Yesterday morning I was designing them, and now they are sitting on my desk. I've used this company before and they have always been really good.
If you're looking for someone to make your custom designed rubber stamps in the UK, I highly recommend these guys

Thursday, November 04, 2010

twit twoo

I've been thinking about making embroidered canvasses for a while now. I bought some canvasses yonks ago, and they've been sitting her waiting to be used, along with my fabric mountains of new and thrifted vintage fabrics.
This little owl is the first one that I finished. I've made a couple already and will be taking them to the fairs I'll be doing this month and next:
The floral print in the top section is a vintage Sanderson print which I love, and came from a pair of curtains that I picked up at my local car boot sale.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

please excuse me

I've been a little absent this past week - both in blog terms and personal terms. I had a bit of a blah week last week - lots to think about and lots to do, and not feeling like I'm on top of or in control of it.
This week however has already started out better - I feel boosted by this extra hour - it feels like I went to bed early and got up early and I feel like I have more energy. I think it's a state of mind honestly - I'm feeling much more positive this week.
I have a packed agenda this week - I've got a few fairs coming up and I'm in making mode. I've dug back into the jumper stash and been snipping away:
I have lots of ideas for new products too, including some wooly bunting and garland, a bit like this:

Friday, October 22, 2010

monda loves... Maria Lintott Ceramics

I found Maria's website a while back, and sent myself an email as a reminder to bookmark it - fuzzy logic indeed. Now I'm cleaning up my inbox and have rediscovered it again, so am now bookmarking it in my blog.

I like the simple lines, beautiful soft colours and little details in each of her pieces:

I wish my house was big enough to fill with pretty pieces like these. Alas it is not, and this is proved by the countless boxes of books and other bits and bobs that we put in storage yesterday until round two of house decoration is complete. Round one, the spare room/office is almost complete - except for a few frames and a notice board that need hanging. We have visitors at the moment so the spare room is is being used as a spare room, but hopefully we'll manage to make the finishing touches on Sunday, and I can start working in there again from next week - instead of perching at the end of the dining table.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

what a relief

I am massively relieved to have finally sorted out dresses for my bridesmaids. It was really turning into quite a chore honestly, and that's not how it's supposed to be in my book.
These are these dresses that we have chosen, although we will have them in Navy:

We looked at and tried a lot of dresses - but we all felt that these were the best, in terms of fit and quality. They are by Mori Lee - as US company.
There is a serious gap in the UK market when it comes to bridesmaids dresses. Most of the dresses I have seen come from the US - and they do it so well in terms of style and choice. My only real gripe is that (as with many things) they are double the price in the UK. I looked at all kinds of options of buying from the the US and shipping to the UK, but once you add shipping and import taxes you lose the benefit.

I ordered the dresses from this UK shop - and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It's an unassuming little shop on what can be best described as a residential road. Their website is easy to navigate, has the right amount of info and good pictures, and the shop owner is a really lovely lady - often making helpful suggestions to help me find the right thing.

I must confess - I also bought wedding dress no.2 whilst I was in the shop today. I have been having a little wobble about dress no.1 (a bargain purchase made many months ago), so I'm now definitely spoilt for choice. Apparently it's quite common for brides to buy two dresses.

This is one of the dresses that I tried - I think it's lovely, but it just wasn't the right type of dress for my body shape. I looked like I'd just been tangled up in a parachute!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

pretty flowers, pretty palette

When my friend was visiting at the weekend she bought me some flowers. At the time they were just closed up buds but now they have now come out and they are ever so pretty.
They deserved a palette, which I think turned out some lovely colours when combined together: