Thursday, 20 December 2012

Stollen - A Christmas Classic.

Today I have made Stollen.  I have made it in the past without much success but today I spent some time researching recipes and came up with this!

I made some changes to the fruit content, used a butter enriched yeast dough I trusted and tweaked little things along the way.

I don't like glace cherries so left them out without any guilt.  Not sure they are classic to Stollen anyway.  I also soaked the fruits I did use in some Brandy.  I used a colourful selection of sultanas and dried apricots.   I didn't have any mixed peel either but I don't think it will be missed.  There are almonds in it and I also added pistachio nuts as I had a handful of them left.  All in all it has turned out very tasty.  It is probably not going to last long once the family get their hands on it.  Maybe there will be time to make another one?

I know this entry is short and sweet but I am getting my house ready for Christmas.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Festive Season, may it be everything you wish it to be.

Love to you all.


Monday, 26 November 2012

Expect Hyperactivity!

Hello Readers.

Today I have been busy making cakes for my sons birthday. He is really far too old to still be given a birthday cake but when browsing the web recently I saw some cup cakes which simply had to be made for him.  Even at his age he is still a fan of Cookie Monster.

First came the cup cakes, standard sponge recipe nothing fancy.

Then I hit the blue food colouring BIG TIME.  Luckily Cookie Monster is a regular blue gel colour found in the food colouring section of the cake decorating shop.  I wonder how many tons of cream cheese frosting I would have made if the colour had needed to be mixed to match?  It doesn't bear thinking about.

I coloured some desiccated coconut with the same blue gel by adding some of the colouring to a zip-lock bag with the coconut.  Lots of rubbing and smooshing got the colour blended.

I sourced some mini chocolate chip cookies, bought some white chocolate drops and melted some dark chocolate for the eyes.  And voila - Cookie Monster cup cakes.

Hope he likes them - hope you like them?


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Book with no Purpose

Yet again I have been a while getting back to you all.  I seem to be busier than ever these days.

I am looking back at a project that I did several years ago and wondering if I could create something similar again?  I started making this book purely by chance when I was looking though some of my scraps of paper.    I had an idea to store the scraps by colour rather than just in a box all randomly.  I am really a neat-freak at heart and I love sorting things, putting things in order, labeling things, listing things.  Anyway, I soon built up a section with the colours you see in this book and suddenly it all made sense.

Inside showing the stamping down the spine.
I took a simple board book and stripped it of its glossy paper to reveal the grey board underneath.  I pick up these books from junk shops and find them equally as good as the more expensive blank books you get from craft suppliers.  I find that I am less worried about the final result if I re-use cheap purchases rather than brand new alterable items, and anyway, recycling is always better. In this case I cut the book away from the spine to give me individual boards but sometimes you can leave the book intact.

So once the book had been stripped, I set about recovering the pages with a background paper. I used a CD of printable images which happened to have a matching rubber stamp, purchased from the company run by Glenda Waterworth. I selected a colour and theme that tied all the scraps together.  While this was drying I spent a little while on my computer writing phrases in a suitable font and printed them off onto pieces of the same paper I had covered the pages in.

When the covered boards were dry I put them together so that it functioned like a book, turning each board to reveal the left and right sides to make sure the opposing pages were reasonably well matched.  I then used the stamp and stamped images on the boards using black ink.  I stamped on the edges and down what would be the spine going over from one page to the other so that the pages formed a pair.

Next I took all the images and phrases and mounted them up on some black card to give them a border.  This means that they stand out from the background of the page.  Once I had enough (and trust me you  can never have enough) I started arranging the images and phrases onto the pages.

Front Piece showing the binding.
Once I was 100% happy with the layout I glued the pieces in place.  I used a pile of books to weigh down the boards to keep them flat and to make sure the scraps stuck flat and firmly. When they were fully dry, I punched holes in them so that I could bind them together to make the book again.  I used a leather thong and a coffee stirrer  to bind the book.

It was then just a case of going through the book page by page and adding the odd extra feature such as images of bees and butterflies.  I also felt that the images and phrases needed 'attaching' to the pages so I drew little dots in the corners to simulate brads.  That is one thing that I will say about these type of books, you need to keep your embellishments  fairly flat.  Bulky items like brads make the pages uneven and lumpy.

The book serves no particular purpose - my husband is always wondering what my creations are 'for'.  I don't think he gets art other than paintings which quite clearly are meant to be hung on walls to break up the blandness of the wall and sculpture which is placed in a park or garden and is designed for people to walk around. Bless him.  

So, I expect I shall be going into my room later today to sort something out and maybe, who knows, I might get inspired to create another 'book with no purpose'.

Happy days my friends. x x x


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Cucumber Relish

So, it has been a while.  Life has a way of taking off at times.  It is all good and there is much happiness around at the moment. It is all to do with a new baby in the family.  Welcome my precious. x

So, the year is 3/4 of the way through and the season has turned to autumn.  The time of harvest.  Sadly my apple tree was not very productive this year.  A combination of a wet spring and a lack of bees.  The blossom was beautiful as it always is, but a fierce rain storm lasting several days battered the flowers off the tree before the few insects that were about had a chance to do their bit.  So no apple pies for the freezer this year.  

The Last of the Cucumbers.

Lucky for me the cucumbers did well, partly due to the vast amount of rain.  Nice as they are in salads, the weather now does not really suggest cold food and so I have used the last of my cucumbers to make some pickle.  A surprising result I have to say.  Sweet, sharp, and fresh and I am sure it will go down well with some baked ham, or even on a nice grilled chop.  It has a hint of dill, which is THE herb to put with cucumbers.  (I wonder if this pickle would go with mackerel?)  Some chopped red and green bell peppers, onions, home grown celery and mustard seeds add a little extra colour and flavour.

Bottled up.

It is the season to be in doors now, so hopefully I will be able to get some serious creating done.

Cheers for now friends.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Hello Readers

I have received some requests for the Chocolate Truffle Cookie recipe and so, as promised, here is the recipe.

It is vital that you use the best quality chocolate with a high cocoa solid content.  I used a Green & Blacks chocolate and cocoa powder. You will need to use proper cocoa powder and NOT drinking chocolate powder.  I used large eggs.  If you are using the best chocolate then don't spoil it by using vanilla flavouring.  Use a good quality extract - it is worth it in the end.  And unsalted butter too. The initial batter making process is fairly simple but you will need to leave the mixture for about 3 hours before baking so make sure you have enough time in the day to make these cookies.   Good luck and enjoy the cookies.


250g Plain Chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)
60g Cocoa Powder 
110g Unsalted Butter
3 Eggs
200g Caster Sugar
1.5 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
75g Plain Flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
150G Plain Chocolate  (min 70% cocoa solids)

  • Put the oven on to 180C/350F
  • Chop up the two quantities of chocolate and keep them separate. The 150g will be going into the final mixture so needs to be chopped quite small - about the size of peas is a good measure.
  • Melt the 250g of chocolate together with the butter and cocoa powder over a pan of simmering water.  Do not let the water boil or allow it to come into contact with the bottom of the bowl as this could burn the chocolate mixture. Stir carefully until fully melted.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool but not set.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar together using an electric mixer until pale, light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla extract to the egg & sugar mixture.
  • Combine the egg mixture with the cooled chocolate mixture.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, and salt).
  • Gently fold in the dry ingredients and the final 150g chopped chocolate.
  • Cover the 'dough' and chill for at least 3 hours.  Even after chilling the mixture will be quite soft.
  • Using a suitable spoon take portions of the mixture and roll quickly into balls, about 3cm across.
  • Place the balls 5cm apart on a baking sheet lined with silicone paper. 
  • Bake for 10 minutes.  The top should be crisp and the centre should still be slightly soft.
  • Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minute before removing to a cooling rack.

Obviously they are best eaten on the same day but if you can resist them for a day or two they are equally tasty but they will have a more chewy texture.

Next time I make them I will count how many it makes and add this information to the blog.

So there we are.  Hope you enjoy cooking them.  Let me know how they turn out for you.

Kim x

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


The weather is not being to good to us at the moment here and I really am missing the summer sunshine.  Looking at my work I came across a vibrant post card that I had made last summer and thought this would be a good thing to focus on today, maybe chase away the rain?

I have a large stock of water colour card, big A3 sheets of the stuff and one of my favourite past-times is laying colour down in random places, spraying with water, moving inks around, spraying with more ink and generally getting messy. The end results are totally unique and often very surprising.  For this piece I used diluted Ranger inks but any water based ink works well.  There are lots of sprays, shimmers and inks out there.  I often make up my own using either empty spray bottles from previous shop bought product or sometimes you can find refillable spray bottles in the holiday section of your pharmacy.  Add mica powder for shimmer if you want too.  You can get some interesting colours cheaply by using the centres from felt pens.  The core of the pen needs to be dropped into a small amount of water which colours the water.  Be aware that this ink may not be archival quality and so don't use on anything precious.

I took one of these large inked A3 pieces of card and cut it down to roughly postcard size.  Final cutting to be done at the end so that straight lines in the design ended up perfectly aligned. This gave me a bunch of cards with the same colour scheme.  

I used a big rubber stamp of a butterfly and a saying to decorate this card.  I used a permanent ink, I generally use Stazon, in black so that I could add more colour to certain areas knowing that the images would not run.  The nature of the water colour card meant that the image is not as crisp as it would be if stamped onto a flat surface.  I like this 'broken line' look.

I placed the saying first keeping it off centre and low also trying to find a lighter area so the saying is easy to read. I then stamped the butterfly making sure I had one as complete as possible given the size, and stamping others off the card.  Using less diluted inks in the same colours I then added more colour to the butterflies and the border of the saying not worrying too much about keeping the ink in the lines. Once cut to size I finished off the card by inking around the edges.  

Enjoy your day.

Kim x

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A Classic Card

Hello All

Today I thought I would share with you one of my more classic card designs.  Following the pattern of main feature, ribbon and space I created this within minutes of receiving some new stamps from Lavinia Stamps.  I love the silhouette style of the stamps. They lend themselves perfectly to being stamped over a 'full moon' background.

So, first things first, I masked the moon.  Using a round sticker (I have plain office type ones but really any circle shaped sticker would do) I first made the sticker less tacky by sticking it to my t-shirt.  It means that the sticker is more likely to come off without dragging any of the paper with it.  The sticker will be rubbed over so it does need to be very low-tack.  Of course you could cut one, but it is vital that the edge is crisp and that the circle is perfectly shaped for this to work well.

Stick the circle on the piece of card - final positioning can be done later when the card is trimmed. I used a shimmer card in a creamy colour.

Using a Tim Holtz ink pad and applicator I inked over the moon paying attention not to make the colour too intense.  The subtle fading in parts make the sky look more believable - even in the strangest of colours.
Carefully remove the sticker.  If the sticker sticks then you haven't wasted much time or product but you have learnt a valuable lesson which hopefully you can resolve on your next attempt.  Maybe less pressure when rubbing or more de-tacking?

Using the stamps I then inked them using the same Tim Holtz ink and placed the images carefully making sure part of the image went over the moon. Avoid placing the image bang in the middle of the moon.  Stamp another 2 images in the same way, placing one away from the moon completely and the other going over the moon if there is space.  Clear stamps on acrylic blocks are perfect for this type of careful positioning.

Once I was happy with the design I trimmed the image down to about the size of a playing card or ATC.  Using the same ink pad again I aged the edges of the trimmed card  staying well away from the moon and centre.

Adding mini-brads at the corners before mounting on a piece of backing card means the backs of the brads are hidden and will not catch your finger when opening the card.

I love square cards at the moment.  I buy plain ones and cover them with interesting papers. Using a couple of pieces of backing paper in a pleasant off-centre way and then covering the join with a ribbon adds interest. Or simply use one piece and add a strip of toning card.

Looking forward to sharing more crafty things tomorrow - bye bye for now.

Kim x

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Hello Readers

 Chocolate Truffle Cookies
I know I missed a day - it was down to the real world.  Some of us still have to earn a crust.

Talking of crusts, I thought I would blog about some of my baking exploits.  I love cooking and I am constantly clipping recipes from magazines which I intend to try.  The recipes are stored in a folder under headings such as SOUPS, PARTY FOOD, CHEESE and VEGETARIAN.  By far the biggest section though is the one called BAKING.

With a lot of cooking I usually look at the picture.  For me a recipe simply has to have a colour picture.  Words don't stimulate my taste buds enough.  I can look at the picture and imagine what it tastes like and if it is a savoury dish I can go straight into the kitchen and make it.  OK, it may not end up being what the recipe has suggested it is but the end result is always edible.  

It is a different story where baking is concerned.  I see baking as more of a science, a chemical process if you like.  There has to be accurate measures, timed cooking, specific ingredients and perfect temperatures.

I recently made a selection of biscuits for some friends who told me they were delicious. Well,  I already knew this as I had sampled quite a few of them before they were delivered.  They were bagged up so they would travel well and  I printed labels with the ingredients so that everybody knew what was in them. 

The Chocolate Truffle Cookies are crammed to bursting with chocolate. They also contain home 'grown' eggs from the family hens, Poppy, Lin, Sesame and Henrietta. Good work girls.  The biscuits crack on top during the cooking and if you measure the mixture out carefully with a small scoop they all come out the same size.  It is the consistency on size that makes them look professional I think.  

Traditional Shortbread
The Shortbread is of course 'all butter', non of that butter substitute that claims to be just like butter.  It isn't, so I don't even bother using it.  It really does make a difference buying good quality ingredients.  I use unsalted butter which is great for sweet dishes as well as savoury.

The Nobblers are oaty and feel like they are doing you some good. They are my version of the commercially available oat biscuit with a very similar name.  They are quite crisp when they first cool but become softer and chewier with keeping - if you can resist them. Either way they taste great. 

My idea is this, if you want to see one of the recipes you will need to leave a comment saying which one you would like to see more of and the one with the most comments will be published next week. Cheeky I know but worth a try right?

Till tomorrow.  Take care.

Kim x

Thursday, 28 June 2012


Hey All

Just something quick today as I have a lot of things planned for today.

Another of my great passions is taking something that might have been thrown away, something that had a good overall shape but was lacking in appeal, something that didn't make the grade in its' original form or something that was just crying out for attention.

Here you can see a miniature armoire which started life looking fairly good in simple pine but lacked a little something.  Luckily I found that missing something and it now looks a whole lot more elegant.  It originally had glass in the door.  I replaced this with some wire mesh which I painted gold to match.  

I first primed the wood - a good rub down with fine sandpaper was all it needed.  Then using an old purple dye based ink pad I rubbed the piece all over paying attention to the edges and the places which I would not be covering with the patterned paper.  I then coloured the edges with a gold marker pen.  I didn't need to cover the entire piece as I knew I was going to cover each panel with paper.  I find this works well as it means that any small errors with the size of the paper are not so noticeable especially if the pieces of paper are also edged in the same way.  Once good and dry I sanded the edges gently to show some of the purple underneath. 

I then printed out some paper using one of the Glenda Waterworth graphic CDs. I used a purple paper which gave the design depth.  Not content with her lovely design, I further embellished some of the paper with a paisley stamp which I embossed with gold.  I only used this enhanced paper on the top and sides.  I used the basic pattern everywhere else.  This saved time, product and also gave interest to the piece.  Too much and it would have been over done.  Pieces were cut to fit.  Using the same gold marker I had used on the box I then edged the paper pieces.  When all pieces were fully dry I glued them in place with a good quality glue.  I lined the back of the cupboard with gold card to reflect some light back out. 

The area directly above the door was then glaring at me - I hadn't been able to cover it with paper as I couldn't seem to get it to look right. It was a small area but looked so BIG without anything on it.  It needed jazzing up and so I hit on the idea of using some flat beads and brads which I coloured with the now customary gold marker pen.  I also found some flat bead spacers which I used under the paper fasteners around the door.  A little key and faux padlock were duly changed to gold and I found a piece of old jewellery chain which I used to attach them both to the front.

It looked good but there was still something not quite right.  It was only when I was sitting in my lounge looking at my furniture that I noticed what it was.  It needed feet. Some bun feet.  And so some flat wooden beads were stuck onto the base and the transformation was complete.

My one regret?  I didn't take a picture of it before it had all the work done on it.

Hope you are enjoying the blogs?  Your comments would be appreciated.

Kim x

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Well hello again

Today I want to delve into the art of Zentangle.  Or at least my interpretation of said art.  It can be described as controlled doodling but equally it often described as a relaxed art form.  Take your pick.  Make of it what you will.

This is actually a revesed/negative scan of the original
So I started Zentangling many years ago but to be fair I did not know that it was an art form back then, I just enjoyed doing it.  I would often start a piece of work during a period of insomnia.  Rather than 'wasting' the night awake I would scribble away until the morning.  This not only stopped me from worrying about not being able to sleep but it also meant that my night spent awake had something to show for it.

Original is black on white but I photocopied
it onto a piece of orange card
I would often start with the shape of a spade - as in playing card spade.  I used a ball point pen and a soft paper like craft paper or sometimes thick card.  Sometimes the patterns would be totally random and other times a little more structured.  Either way the actually 'doing' was very relaxing.  Due to the nature of the art form mistakes are not really possible and the end result is always a surprise even to the artist.

Trying to keep the pattern the same - an Egyptian feel?

One of my more recent projects involved converting a giant floor puzzle into a sort of Zentangle sampler.  I took a standard board jig-saw puzzle and stripped off the original picture.  (Sorry Fireman Sam.)  I then primed it with gesso.  Once it was fully dry I set about it with a permanent marker pen.  
 I kept the puzzle 'made-up' so that I could be sure not to have similar patterns together.  I then mounted it on a board.  It was really only an experiment but it has led me to start a similar one with slightly smaller pieces.  And no, I have no intention of doing one on the standard sized jig-saw pieces........I don't think........well maybe one day.

Jig-saw Zentangle

Ok, that is all for today.  Busy mum has work to do.

Kim x

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Do It Yourself

Good Morning (well it is as I start)

I have been flicking through some of my older photos and I have come across one of a background paper that I made.  You know the times when you can't find a piece of backing paper that works perfectly with your project?  Well, I used to have that problem all the time but now I simply make my own. 

The one I am featuring today is a subtle feather design in soft shades of brown, grey, green and taupe (such a love-it or hate-it word taupe, I personally like the word.)

I started with a piece of crisp white card.  I used a good quality card as I knew I would be rubbing, printing and heating it so it needed to stand up to the manipulation.  Using a clear embossing ink and clear embossing powder I stamped random feather images over the white base card.  Once fully set I then took my chalks and rubbed various shades of the required colours over the card.  I made sure that the chalk didn't become too intense and that there was plenty of paler areas left.  Of course where the clear embossed feathers were, the chalk did not settle on the card leaving pure white images of feathers.  I then used a multi-coloured, a stone colour and a green ink pad to stamp more feathers in the gaps.

I think you will agree the end result is quite pleasing.  Of course it didn't end there.  I went on to make copies of it on my photocopier which I scaled down thus giving me a version in exactly the same colours but with a smaller print.   My original piece of art work is kept safe so if I need more copies I just run it through the scanner.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Good to see you back again!

So today I thought I would show you one of my creations and give some insight into what inspired me to make it and how I made it.

It all started when I stumbled across a stash of envelopes under my desk.  I have no idea where they came from originally but  I felt I needed to use them before they were lost once more in the blackhole that is under my desk.

The envelopes are small, about 12cm x 8cm, are off-white and made from a good thick paper almost like childrens craft paper, I know it as sugar paper.  Anyway, there are some tiny inclusions in the paper making it look a little rustic.  I also had a large amount of watercolour card off-cuts from a previous commission which I couldn't bear to throw away that happened to be big enough to make cards to fit in these little envelopes.  I love it when things come together like this.

I have a HUGE collection of rubber stamps and set about looking for a single image that would fit well on the size of card.  I quickly came across this one of a hare in full flight.  The hare is a creature mentioned in a song by my favourite musician, which is why I bought it in the first place. The image of the hare was not going to do enough on its own so I needed something to fill out the space.  I love the natural look of seed heads and have a lot of this type of stamp too and again I found a lovely image just right for the job.

So, onto the method.

I used a black archival ink to stamp the hare onto a piece of white card which has tiny flakes of mica in it. (White? Yes it was originally.)  I then added some grass using some tiny stamps to give the hare some 'ground' to be running across.  With a Pro-marker pen I coloured all around the hare so as to leave the hare white amongst the background.  The image was trimmed and then mounted onto a black piece of card giving the image deffinition.

I then stamped the seed head image over the main body of the card making sure that the image on the far left, at the spine of the card, showed the stalk and the seed head going off the page. This makes such a difference to the overall look of any card stamping off the page.  With the other images I made sure NOT to show the stalks so that the space under the image of the hare remained clear.  Again this makes all the difference to the final look.

After positioning the image of the hare towards the bottom right of the card I felt it needed a little something else.  I once made a board-book which I dotted with torn phrases from a poetry book.  Obviously it would take me a long time to find the right phrase from a book and I really wanted to make these little cards quickly so I used a tried and trusted method of printing phrases onto vellum.

Using a great font that looks like and old typewriter I printed  'the wonderful things seen'  out and tore the strip to give it a rustic edge.  When printing phrases out like this I centre the phrase on the page of vellum so that I have plenty of paper either side.  This means you have a ribbon of vellum which can be cut to the right length.  I attached this to the card using mini brads in silver. 

Overall the finished card is quite simple in colour and style but I think you will agree it is a great use of some very small envelopes.

Till the next time

Kim x

Friday, 22 June 2012

A Good Place to Start.

Looking through my folder of photographs I couldn't decide which one to load first.  Some shots have been published already on my web site, some on my Facebook account and a few others on Folksy.  I didn't want to put on pictures that have already been seen before, but making choices about what to upload onto here was proving to be quite a challenge.  Until I came across this one.......the madness that is my craft room.

It is a classic example of organised chaos.  I know where everything is and can lay my hand on almost anything without getting out of my seat.  Of course what you can't see are the equally full shelves behind my seat, the cupboard overflowing with 'useful bits' and the stash under the desk.

It is a room quite literally full to bursting and I have every intention of adding to the contents.  There is always the latest rubber stamp, the prettiest paper, an essential piece of equipment just waiting to be bought.  And I haven't hung anything from the ceiling yet.

So, keep coming back to see what happens next.

Kim x


Baby Steps

Well Hello

Not sure how to start this but I suppose the first steps are the hardest; learning to run comes later.

I have always made stuff.  My passions are paper and fabric, but I have dabbled in probably all crafts known to womankind. I do not sit still for long, multi-tasking is my middle name.  I knit, sew, paint, stamp, stitch, and cook.  I love to potter around my garden and am currently growing some pretty healthy veg. I am easily inspired to try new things.  I remember in my youth being very drawn to car engines and spent a happy few weeks restoring an old car.  Ah the smell of Swarfega........  But that was another world. 

I try to keep my hands a little cleaner now.  I look forward to sharing with you my latest project and showing some of my existing work.  I will probably end up sharing more than just my craft-life so the ride might get a bit random but then variety is the spice of life.  I hope that it all works out.

So, I have opened the blog with a few words hastily thrown down on the page. 

Look out for the next entry.

Kim x

P.S.  I will surely be fancy-ing up the page layout - bit bland at the moment.