More Christmas crafts

30.11.12 - 12:30
This week I've been working on more crafts for the festive season. One of the things I've made I've actually been wanting to make for ages. It's a really old Martha Stewart project where you use jingle bells to make a wreath. Not like a giant door wreath, more like a decorative item that you can put on a door handle so you get a festive sound every time you enter the room.

Here is my attempt. It looks okay. I tried to make it a bit bigger by using the biggest size bells I could get. Unfortunately the bells are not very jingly so it is staying on a wall rather than a door.

Also they seem to be quite popular this year, so maybe I'll just buy a proper metal one from TK Maxx.



Ali Edwards & December Daily

25.11.12 - 21:00
This year I've attempted a couple of Ali Edwards' projects.
They've been semi-successful.
I had a go at documenting a 'Week in the life'. Actually I documented it quite thoroughly through photos, I just didn't quite transfer that into a book or onto scrapbook pages. I enjoyed making a template, but ended up with just too much stuff to fit on the pages. I found it difficult to choose what to say.

In an effort to help that issue and improve my writing skills I tried her journaling class too. It was called '31 things' through Big Picture classes. It was interesting as it gave you a prompt everyday to write about one thing. You can only write one story, so you have to pick. Say the topic is jewellery, you have to decide if you are going to write about your favourite necklace or a ring that belonged to your Grandma.

Again I did the writing, which was useful for helping me choose which things to say but didn't do the part where you make a book,which sounds like the fun-est part! I wonder if it felt more like work once I'd done the challenging part?

Now its time for another one. December Daily. There are lots of Christmas projects that people do, but this one seems to fit with me at the moment. I love Christmas so maybe that will be the imputus I need to finish a project. I also means that I can do some work on it now in preparation whilst I'm excited about it.

I've chosen to use a 6x8 folder as its not too big. I'm not going to buy a lot of things for this project mainly because I have lots of craft stuff already, but also, I'm not sure if I can keep up for 25days! Wish me luck.



Dear Santa

18.11.12 - 23:11

If someone would like to make this I would be really pleased. The pictures don't even have to be sticky, I've got five different kinds of tape. Thanks.   



Christmas Crafts

16.11.12 - 12:00
This year I am attempting to start my Christmas crafting earlier. I usually get dead into the idea in December when it's getting a bit late really. So this is my newest tree decoration. A tiny knitted sweater!

I've not done a lot of knitting before. I already knew how to 'cast on' and do a basic knitting stitch but I had to learn the how to 'purl', do a 'stocking stitch' and 'cast off', from you tube. I love the internet.

I found the pattern at Just Crafty Enough when I was looking for a pattern for tiny mittens (which they also have) but they were way too difficult for a beginner like me. They are done on circular needles. eep.

You'll see that Kathy from Just Crafty Enough has knitted a cute little pattern into her sweater. No idea how she did that. I'm thinking about sewing a snowflake into mine with white wool. I'm not sure if that will work.

Anyway, I'm really pleased with it. It didn't take too long either so I might manage another. Probably as close to knitting an actual jumper as I'm going to get any time soon.



The Most Tastiest Cookie of Them All

14.11.12 - 12:00

Do you read a lot of food blogs? I've noticed there tends to be recipes or techniques that 'do the rounds' and everyone wants to try them. Like cake pops. I've not tried them yet. But I am little behind the times trend-wise.

This chocolate chip cookie recipe is one from ages ago. It's by a guy called Jacques Torres who has a chocolate shop in New York. Apparently he has the best cookies ever in his shop and he shared the recipe with the New York Times. So what? I hear you say. Well, his recipe calls for the dough to be chilled for 24 to 36 hours before you bake it. 24 hours! Now, as someone who doesn't make bread because you have to wait an hour for it to rise ... I was skeptical. Two different flours, two sugars, 5 inch cookies? Skeptical.

I made a quick batch (scaled way down from the NYT recipe) with what I had in the house. They aren't complicated. And baked them straight away. They were pretty good.

So I picked up all the stuff (not the expensive chocolate) and gave it a go. I made half the recipe and left it in the fridge. The dough was delicious on its own. I made it late a night so I wouldn't be tempted to throw them straight in the oven.

Next night I split the dough in half and made it into 10 balls. (I don't think 5 inch cookies are helpful for portion control. I'd still eat two. So I made normal size cookies.) They were fantastic. The best cookies I've ever baked. The salt on the top was perfect.

I cooked more the next night even more yummy. I also keep a few balls of dough in the freezer and when I baked those - they were awesome too!

I am totally convinced. This is most definitely my new favourite cookie recipe.      



Happy (belated) Halloween

12.11.12 - 12:00

I pretty much missed Halloween this year due to being poorly. Not happy.

My Husband went to a horror film festival and still had time to do this creepy/cute pumpkin.

I decided I really really really wanted to make those 'broken glass' cupcakes that were on Martha Stewart's site last year. But I was still not feeling fantastic and they turned out less than great. I'm not awesome at making cake anyway but they ended up looking gruesome. Not a-bit-creepy-ooo-it's-halloween-gruesome, actually gross.

The main issue is the 'glass'. It's made from a very light caramel, poured on to a tray and then broken up. Unfortunately I used a non-stick mat with has a slight texture. It ended up making the glass look frosty and dirty and like it was found in a back alley somewhere ...

Anyway. I'm looking forward to Christmas now. So let's just forget about this whole episode and move on.



Autumn macarons + recipe

2.10.12 - 09:00

Hello macarons.

Yep. More.

I've had to change my 'current obsession' back to les macarons. I've been making them a lot more often this year. I'm still not sure why I love baking them so much. They are really hard work and I am usually so impatient!

I made these for the lovely people at my work. We had a 'Summer Social'. Yes, at the end of September. So I made Autumnal themed macs. They are flavoured with a hint of cinnamon and filled with a milk and dark chocolate ganache.

I tried to get a subtle orange-y brown colour. I didn't want them to be too 'Halloween-orange' or look like they were meant to be orange flavoured. I'm still using gel based food colourings, but I think I'll have to try the powdered ones soon.

They went down really well. I thought they were a little on the rustic side, but no-one seemed to notice. Maybe because one of my colleagues made Nigella's Chocolate Guinness cake and it was freaking awesome.       

For the first time ever, I'm posting a full recipe with my macarons. Please read it all the way through before you decide to make a start. I use the Italian meringue method which involves hot sugar so please be careful.

Makes: about 18 full macarons. Takes: some time.


150g Ground almonds
150g Icing sugar
108g Egg whites (about three large eggs)
150g Granulated sugar
38g   Water
1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon
Red and yellow food colours (or orangey-brown if you have it) - not the liquid ones.


50-60g Dark chocolate
50-60g Milk chocolate
1/3cup about 85ml Double cream
(Information about using ganache in various ways)


Electronic scale
Food processor/spice grinder
Three or four baking sheets
Candy thermometer
Mixer/electric hand mixer
Piping bag with large tip
Baking/parchment paper
Paper with circles drawn on it


- Firstly you'll need to make these the day before you want to eat them.
- Secondly you'll need to leave your egg whites out to 'age' a day or two before that. (You can microwave them for 10 seconds to skip this - it works, mostly)

- Take the ground almonds, icing sugar and cinnamon and grind them together in a food processor or spice grinder. Then spread the mix out on a baking tray to dry out. You can do this in a slightly warm oven if it's damp in your kitchen.
-Weigh out your egg whites into two sets of 54g each.
- Sieve the almond/sugar mixture into a bowl and add 54g of egg whites and a small blob of red and yellow food colouring.
- Mix together really well into a smooth paste.
- Put the other set of egg whites into a sparkling clean bowl and whisk them until it forms soft peaks, it will still be a bit foamy looking.
- Put the granulated sugar and water in a small pan and start to heat it gently. Don't stir it. Keep an eye on the thermometer.
- When the sugar solution reaches 118c take it off the heat.
- Pour the hot solution in a slow stream into the eggs whilst continuing to whisk.
- Whisk until the mixture gets nice and shiny and check the temperature is below 50c.
- Fold the shiny mixture into the almond paste.
- Get a piece of printer paper. Using a upside down shot glass or a set of compasses draw a set of circles with a couple of cm gaps between them. Or download a template - like this one.
- Put a wide circular tip in your piping bag, place the bag in a glass and load it up with macaron mixture.
- Put your template on a baking tray and cover it with a layer of parchment paper.
- Pipe out circles until you have filled a tray. Then tap it on the counter to remove any air bubbles and the bobble on the top left by piping.
- Continue to fill trays this way until you have no mixture left.
- Leave the macarons to set and form a skin. Your finger shouldn't stick if you touch it. It takes about half and hour, but can be longer if it's humid or has been raining.
- Set you oven to 160c (fan) and let it get up to temperature.
- Put your first tray of piped macaron mixture on top of another (empty) tray and place it in the middle of the oven.
- Leave the oven door open a little bit (use a wooden spoon to prop it open) and cook for around 10-12 minutes. They shouldn't 'wobble' when they are done. I also like to turn mine around during cooking as I use a fan oven and they sometimes rise unevenly.
- When you take them out let them settle for a minute or two then gently peel them off the paper.
- Let them cool completely on a rack.
- Do the same with each tray.
- Whilst they are cooking, make the ganache.
- Break up both kinds of chocolate into a bowl.
- Microwave or heat the cream in a pan until it is just about to boil.
- Pour it over the chocolate and leave for a minute or two, then mix thoroughly until there are no lumps.
- Put the mix in the fridge to set.
- When all the macaron are cool, match them up in pairs. If your piping was really good, they'll all be the same size. I usually have a few that are a little larger. oops.
- The ganache should have set enough that you can pipe it. If it has gone really solid - like a truffle - just heat it a little to get the right consistency.
- Pipe a blob of ganache on one side of each pair and pop the top on to flatten it out. You should be able to see it at the sides but not have it ooze out.
- Put all the macarons in an airtight container and pop them in the fridge overnight.
- Remove them from the fridge 30-60 mins before serving.
- Enjoy!

If they didn't come out like you expected - try a troubleshooting guide like the one at foodnouveau.com.




30.9.12 - 10:31

Remember when I said I had started doing some exercise? Well I meant it.

I completed that 'Couch to 5k' podcast. Granted it took longer than nine weeks, but I got there and started listening to other podcasts when I went out running. I can't help but rave about how much it has done for me. I got one of my friends hooked too - I overheard her telling someone how she never liked PE at school ...
I think something should be done about PE. It's still not working is it?  

Anyway. I wanted a challenge so I entered the Cancer Research UK Race for Life with my Mum. Race for Life is a 5k course that you can run or walk for the charity. We ran the whole thing! I was amazed and it felt great. Plus we raised some money for a good cause. (Thank you everyone who sponsored us.)

Since then I've kept up my running and started running a bit further.

I wanted another challenge so I entered a 10k race. I had three months to double how far I could run. I wasn't sure I could do it - but on the day I ran every step. I can now run for over an hour.

Check out my medal collection ;) It really goes to show what you can do when you put your mind to it.



Burger Macarons

29.8.12 - 14:00
We've just had a lovely bank holiday weekend. We were invited to a BBQ on Sunday, which ended up being a glorious day. Traditionally all bank holidays are soggy affairs leading to large queues at the shopping centre. So it was a nice to be able to eat and drink and chat in the sun. 

In fact, this is one of the reasons why I decided to embark upon the task of creating burger macarons. I thought if play was rained off we could still eat burgers! And I love making macarons. And people love eating them. 

Obviously I didn't invent the novelty macaron. They've looked like burgers forever and you can find a few pictures of other people's versions if you look for them online. I didn't use a tutorial or anything for these though, so I'm going to add a few tips for if you fancy having a go. 

Burger Macarons
The 'bread'

Just make the shells with your favourite macaron method/recipe. Personally I find the Italian meringue method easier to get the correct consistency. A lot of recipes seem to say it should be a magma like texture? That seems a rather bizarre thing to compare your cooking to. I think it looks more like melted marshmallow. It's shiny and pourable but not runny. 

I got the colour by adding some yellow colouring and a little bit of red. I was a pale orangey shade which went a bit darker when baked. I wouldn't add too much though, even plain macarons are quite burger bun like. After I'd piped them, but before they set I sprinkled on some sesame seeds. 

The 'burger'

For the burger I used a chocolate ganache. I left it in the the fridge to harden up a bit, but not completely. I piped globs about the size of a cherry tomato (or a large cherry I suppose?) onto a plate. Then I took each one and placed it between two pieces of cling film and squished it down with the bottom of a glass dish. Using something made of glass made it easier to see when the 'burger' was the right width for the shell. Pressing them down like that also made a nice uneven edge.

The 'cheese'

I didn't make fondant or colour it or anything. I just bought a bar of bright yellow ready to roll icing. I rolled it really thin and cut some squares. Make sure everything is covered in icing sugar or it'll all stick together. eugh. 

Didn't last long!
The 'tomato sauce'

These are pretty time consuming little things to put together so I didn't make this icing either. I used a little tube of writing icing. You know the kind they do for piping 'happy birthday' on a cake? I added a couple of 'drips' where you could see them from the outside of the burger and a little bit in the middle so you would see it when you bit though.

I also added a dab of extra ganache on top of the 'cheese' to make sure the lids stayed on. Once the lids were in position I popped them in the fridge for 24hrs.

Just before the BBQ I wrapped them individually in squares of baking paper so they looked like fast food burgers ready to go.

What do you think? Would you try one?  

Check out this amazing time lapse video my friend made of the BBQ.




Outdoor cinema

12.8.12 - 13:00

We went to see Jurassic Park ... in the park.

There was an outdoor cinema screen set up and when it got dark enough they projected the film onto it. We sat on the grass. We took a few snacks but usually you are not allowed to drink in the park, so we didn't take any alcoholic beverages. Some other people had beers, so I walked up to the pub and bought a bottle of wine. The guy behind the bar was very helpful and found me some paper cups to take back with me.

We should have brought some warmer clothes - it was quite chilly by the end of the film! Well worth it though.

Jurassic Park, it's a classic, isn't it?



Heston inspired turkey burgers

11.8.12 - 20:20
Hello, I am still alive! I've had a bit of a stressful month and I've been spending a lot of my time on another project I can't you about yet. But I really wanted to stop by and tell you about this 'recipe' I tried. The pictures are rubbish, I tried to get a tasty looking one when I was consuming the left overs for lunch but it is not pretty.

Now, I know you've heard of Heston Blumenthal. He cooks in some crazy ways, but what I find interesting is how he tests and tests things to find out the best way to do it. A little while ago he had a show on TV where he took one ingredient each week and explained some great, though unconventional, techniques for getting the best out of them.

The first week was beef and he got some guys to make their best burger recipes. Then he made this one using only beef and salt.


No breadcrumbs, no egg yolk, no onions, no herbs, no cheese hiding in the middle. It relies on the 'grain' of the meat created by keeping all the strands of minced meat going in the same direction.

I decided to give it a go with some turkey mince. Partially out of laziness and partially out of experimental spirit. And it worked great! I just added some salt, rolled up the mince and after a bit in the fridge, cut some slices. I made six from 500g of turkey and cooked them for about three minutes each side. Lovely and juicy and great in a squishy white bread cob with lots of salad. Yum.



Patriotic (red, white, and blue) Macarons

9.6.12 - 19:06
It's been a little while since there was any macaron action around here hasn't it? In fact last time was my Cherry Pie macarons over a year ago. That seems to be just enough time to forget how tricksy they are to make ...

Here is a little story. This last weekend was the Queen's Jubilee in the UK. My friends decided that the extra bank holiday would make it ideal for their housewarming party and gave it a Jubilee theme. Now, I'm not much of a royalist but the opportunities for crafting and baking around an event like this are awesome. I mentioned I might bring some iced biscuits which I vaguely remember being countered with, "Why would you make biscuits when you can make macarons?" I think I took that as a challenge. (I may or may not have been in the pub at the time.)

So, I decided to make red, white, and blue macarons for the occasion. I think Patriotic Macarons is a good title - they would work in the UK, USA, France, Norway, Russia, Iceland, Luxembourg, Australia ... you get the picture. I wasn't convinced I could make 'white' macarons. They are always a little bit yellow-y from the almonds, so I went with a white filling instead - white chocolate ganache. Plus ganache is super easy to make and very tasty.

This is how they turned out. I was worried no-one would eat the blue ones, since blue food is meant to be really unappetising, but they all disappeared no problem.

Here is the recipe for the ganache, you can use it to make truffles too.You need 5oz of white chocolate and 3oz of double cream. (I used a whole 150g bar of chocolate.) I think the ratio might be different for milk or dark chocolate, so this is just for white. All you do is warm up the cream in a pan until it just about simmering - then pour it over the chocolate and leave it for a minute or two. Mix it up well so there are no lumps left then leave it to cool. I popped mine in the fridge for half and hour. If you leave it longer it will get a bit more solid - which is not useful for filling macarons but you can roll it into balls and make delicious truffles. As a side note, making macarons tends to leave you with a lot of egg yolks. If you don't have anything to do with them right away, I read that it's best to cover them with a little water before you put them in the fridge to stop them from drying out. However, this time I used all the yolks and the left over cream from the ganache and made a pint of custard which I've put in the freezer. Next time we have apple pie or something, I think I will be mighty pleased that it's there waiting.



Make your own totally* free rubber stamps

18.5.12 - 23:15

*Okay, not totally free but almost.

I had this idea the other day, it's probably been done before (for the net is vast and infinite) but I was hit by a flash of inspiration and had to try it out. Graphic patterns like chevrons are really in at the moment in various crafts and certain kinds of design. I wanted to be able to use them in paper crafts without a) printing them out or b) forking out a lot of cash. See, I like rubber stamps, but they can be pretty pricey and sometimes I don't want to use the same shapes again.

Basically, I made simple stamps from rubber bands. I cut up some Amazon packaging and taped it together to make a sturdy base then used some strong double-sided tape to stick bits of rubber in place. Now I did say almost free. Obviously we paid for the stuff that was delivered in that cardboard, but corrugated card is easy to pick up at the supermarket. Free. The elastic bands? The postman regularly leaves them on our porch when delivering said merchandise. Free. The tape though, I did pay for.

These are just pages from my sketch book (and I only have black ink) but I think they work quite well. For free. The flags are my favourites. I could have cut all the little pennants out of paper, but this was fast and has a nice hand made feel. Maybe that's why I didn't want to just print them out? I do that kind of work all day, when I get home it's nice to play with more tactile art forms.

Obviously these are not sturdy pieces of kit. Yes, some areas are still sticky where the tape is not covered. Yes, that meant they stuck to the sleeve of my jumper whilst I was reaching for the cmd button just now. But, who cares? I enjoyed making them and it's a super fun way to recycle.



Recent triumphs and disasters in the kitchen

7.5.12 - 19:05
Well, hello there. Today I want to talk to you about some of my recent culinary adventures. In the main my savoury endeavours have been triumphant and my baking more on the disastrous side.

My baking inspirations have been about being a bit more calorie conscious. I've found a couple of recipes that sounded ... viable whilst not being insanely calorific. Not that I'm against a calorific piece of cake. Chocolate fudge cake is one of my favourites, but if its 550 calories, its obviously got to be an occasional treat (or else I've really got to step up the exercise!).

First up - Chocolate chip blondies that are supposed to be 75 calories a slice. I pinned the recipe from Chocolate-covered Katie. They are made from chickpeas. I found them just about edible, Marc said they were horrid. Before I even told him what they were made of. Fail.

After that, I thought I'd go a slightly different route. There are lots of recipes around that use bananas to sweeten cakes. So I had a go at Banana/oat breakfast muffins. These were also not nice and actually give me a terrible stomach ache. Epic fail.

You'd think I'd learn after these escapades that cake is calories. If you remove the sugar/butter/flour there is no tasty cake left ... but I felt like one more go. So I went with 'World's Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies?' I can tell you right now that they are not. They did actually taste quite nice, which is good compared to the previous two. But they are not even low in calories. They are about the same as a Bourbon biscuit. And technically you get two in each of those.

My savoury inspirations have been about upping the variety in the cuts of meat I use. My interest in this is twofold. Firstly I want to eat more of the less popular bits of animals. I'm not squeamish about handling raw meat and I know where it comes from. But I do think we should eat as much of the animal as we can. Someone who is really into this is my friend Di (who blogs at Veg Box Chronicles) she is an awesome cook and uses odd bits all the time. WIth delicious consequences. The other factor is cost. These are also usually cheaper cuts, and saving cash is always good right?

In the last couple of weeks I've cooked a ham hock and pulled pork (pork shoulder). Both are dishes which are full of flavour but need low and slow cooking. Using the slow cooker is great for this. It takes 6-10 hours to cook things, but you don't have to do anything. Just chuck it in and then its ready at tea time.

I really enjoyed the ham and Marc loved the pulled pork. Both are going in 'the book'. This is where recipes go that we want to use again. The last recipe to make it in there was Chicken Fajita Lasagne, but that's a tale for another day ...



Getting healthy

28.4.12 - 10:57
One of my goals this year is to work on getting more healthy. I'd like to lose a bit of weight too, but that's not specifically my aim. I'd like to eat less processed food, make better choices and do more exercise.

Exercise has always been a big issue for me. I'm not good at sport and I always hated PE at school. This really didn't set me up for a lifetime of good habits, actually apart from a couple of ill-fated attempts at going to a gym, I've pretty much ignored it. The problem was always that I couldn't actually do the tasks. At the gym, they'd say, 'then jog for ten minutes' TEN MINUTES! I had no clue how people did that.

Finally I realised I needed to learn how to do exercise from a more basic level. In the same way you have to learn cooking. It's all well and good to have a recipe, but if you don't know what boil or whisk means? It's not going to work.

That's when I found this: NHS Couch to 5k plan.
It's a series of podcasts which guide you from doing nothing to being able to jog 5k (about 3 miles) after nine weeks.

It starts you off running for 60 seconds at a time. The first week I even found that difficult, but I quickly learnt that breathing in enough air is one of the most important elements. Getting out of breath, amongst other things, was why I couldn't do ten minutes on a treadmill. Each week the amount of running you do builds up, you run for a bit then walk for a bit to recover. The podcast tells you when to speed up and when you can slow down again.

I can now run for 25 minutes in a row. I'll admit that it's taken much longer than nine weeks - some things got in the way. But I'm getting there.

I really recommend you give it a go if you want to get moving, it's free to download, so what have you got to lose?



New home

23.4.12 - 00:10

You might have noticed a couple of changes around here over the weekend. The most notable being that 'Other Amusements' has moved to: www.otheramusements.com 

This name not only reflects the contents more accurately but also marks the beginning of a new chapter. I'm looking forward to doing more blogging now I have a new computer (finally) and working on my writing and photography skills. I hope you'll join me.

p.s. Everything should redirect automatically.



Week in the life project

22.4.12 - 12:12
Ali Edwards is a scrapbooker and graphic designer who teaches classes and designs digital assets for the scrapbooking community. Her work is usually very modern and has a nice clean style.

Every year she runs a project called 'Week in the life' where you record in detail your everyday life. She produces templates which you can buy if you want, but you can do it any way you like.

I've decided to give it a go. I doubt I'll get each day finished on that day, but if I take lots of pictures and make some notes, I should be able to catch up quickly.

With this in mind, I made a start by designing some base pages to work with during the next week. The folder I am using is around 6in x 8in, so they are set up for that size.

Quite a few people seem to have already said they'll be taking part. I like the idea that everyone will be documenting the same week but they'll all be so different. I'm also looking forward to seeing how others  approach the project creatively.

If you want to know more about 'Week in the life' click on the banner at the top to head over to aliedwards.com for lots of info and inspiration from past years.



Easter treats

19.4.12 - 23:15
So, Easter. We are not religious at all, but we do like to celebrate. In the way that Christmas is our winter feast, Easter is our Spring shindig. We usually have a tasty family dinner and then eat lots of chocolate. This year instead of buying giant eggs, I made a few treats for my family. I'm not ashamed to say that they are 100% Pinterest inspired. You can check out the originals on my 'food board'.

First up - Easter bark. We don't really have 'bark' in the UK, but I've seen it a lot on American blogs. It mainly seems to crop up at Christmas but this version from The Browy Blog looked pretty easy to do. It's not quite as simple as she makes it look! Chocolate is a pernickety substance and one drop of water makes it seize. Which is gross. It goes from a glossy liquid to a lumpy dry mess in seconds. This happened the first time I put a tiny bit of food colouring in even though I used the paste kind. Luckily it was only a very small amount of chocolate and mixing more in saved the day.

I packaged it up in cellophane bags and added the cards on the top. I was going to create some cute bunny themed designs for the tops but I had this scrapbooking paper from My Mind's Eye. The colours are so Easter-y, and it's such lovely quality, I couldn't resist using it. I used a punch to make the scalloped edge then stamped a simple message. Done.

I also made these fun teabag shaped biscuits. They go quite well with a cup of tea apparently, though I can't guarantee you be able to un-dunk them using the string.

I used matching paper to make the tea tag and stamped it with a t. I suppose it should have been a T, but there aren't any capitals in my set. I don't think anyone minded.

Happy (belated) Easter!



Our wedding invitations

15.4.12 - 20:08
Hello there. Today I was taken by the idea of photographing our wedding invitations. There was some light coming in through the windows which was ideal, and you want to see, right?

I didn't write much about our wedding before the day as I didn't want to give anything away to our guests. Not that we did anything crazy, I don't think it was a surprise to our friends and family that I didn't wear a white dress! I also doubt it was very surprising that I made a lot of the bits and pieces myself, including the invitations.

I designed and made them from scratch. As we got married in October I wanted to incorporate a pumpkin, but not have it be too Halloween-y; so I designed a pumpkin-heart which became the main motif on the other pieces. They took quite a long time, but I think it was well worth it. What do you think?





27.2.12 - 23:23
I have discovered tea, podcasts and Instagram. Yes, I am behind the times. Several thousand years with tea.

People are very surprised if you don't like tea, especially if you don't like coffee either. Perhaps even a little put out. It's like saying you don't like bread. Who doesn't like bread? There are people who can't or don't partake. But just can't abide by it? Not so much.

So I thought I'd make a bit of an effort. See what all the fuss is about. I'll be honest, I still don't like real tea. Apparently what I like is a 'tisane' or herbal tea. I started with green tea and then, lemon and ginger. My current favourite is chamomile. I'm part way to being acceptable in an office environment.

The podcast thing is not linked to the tea thing. Not listening to podcasts does not make you a workplace weirdo. Though like the herbal teas, I did know about them, I just didn't seek them out. The main reason why I've not looked for podcasts before is due to the areas in which I am interested. I couldn't see how you could talk about crafts, sewing, photography etc without having any visuals.

However, I have discovered that you can talk a lot about process and how you work in these endeavours. How you keep your creative ideas and grow them for your projects. And in fact it is a really great thing that you can't see any actual work whilst you are thinking about this. It's about coming up with your own ideas rather than finding inspiration in other people's. As Paul Smith says 'You Can Find Inspiration in Everything - (And if You Can't, Look Again)'. That's an interesting book, the foreword is written by William Gibson who is one of my favourite authors ... but that's another post.

I am currently listening to the Paperclipping.com Roundtable podcasts. They talk mainly about scrapbooking, but also the idea of 'memory keeping' in general. I like that term as it covers so much, photo albums, sketchbooks, journals and blogging.

Which brings me nicely to Instagram. An iphone app which is a fun and easy way to record everyday life in pictures. I've been using it to share pictures of things which catch my eye, like the picture above.

It makes me smile.



Book club journal page

17.2.12 - 22:33
I've joined a book club. I said that I wanted to read something which I wouldn't normally choose and my wish was answered. The book for the February meeting was 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog', it was written by a French author - Muriel Barbery and translated into English.

It's quite philosophical and not an easy read. I had to look up at least ten words whilst reading it and I'd like to think my vocabulary is pretty good. I probably wouldn't have made it to the end if it hadn't been for the book club, but I'm glad I did, there was a lot more story towards the end.

I mainly enjoyed meeting some new people. They were very welcoming and had some great insights into the book.

I made a page in my scrapbook/journal about the meeting. It probably needs a bit more work, but I had fun putting it together. I'd like to keep a record of each book this way, though I don't how long I'll be able to keep it up.



First Snow

7.2.12 - 12:00
This weekend we've had the first snow of the season, it's nothing compared to last winter but it's still got everyone excited. There wasn't enough for a snowman (mope). But it was nice and bright on Sunday morning; so I thought I'd pop out and take some pictures before it all went slushy and brown and decidedly un-photogenic.

I didn't want to go too far since it was still freezing cold. On the other hand I've photographed everything within a mile radius of my house in minute detail. I didn't set out to do this, it just happened and now I feel guilty if I don't put in a bit of effort to find an interesting subject matter. With this in mind I walked up to the cemetery.

The cemetery in question has been there a long time and has lots of amazing stone monuments. There is a section which is still in use, so obviously it's not very nice to be hanging around there with a camera on a normal day. Today however, there was no-one around, so I headed towards the oldest part without fear of reprisal.

It was totally silent. I mean it's usually quiet in a graveyard, but the snow added another layer insulation. There were no footprints at the entrance and I thought I had the place to myself. Except I noticed some tiny paw prints. Then every time I turned a corner there were some kind of animal prints, maybe a fox? I thought. Probably a cat more like.

The light on the snow was beautiful and it was very peaceful.

This is my favourite picture from the visit.



Happy New Year / Introducing my Lomokino

5.2.12 - 18:22
Happy new year! How are you feeling about 2012 so far? I've got lots of plans and I'm excited about starting some new projects to share with you. First of all I've decided I'd like to read some different books this year so I've added a page where I can record what I've been reading. I'm also going to try out a book club and hopefully meet some new people along the way.

I'd like to continue experimenting with photography this year and I've made a start on that with my newest camera.

Santa brought me a Lomokino for Christmas and I've made my first attempts with it. The Lomokino is a new 35mm film camera from Lomography which works like a movie camera. You turn the handle and it keeps taking pictures which you can eventually join together to make a little film.

One of my favourite still pictures from this first roll was a picture of the gallery where I got married.

Well, sort of! You can just about see the roof and part of the terrace. But I love how the sky came out.

It's in four pieces like that because they are the 'frames' of the video. It can fit about four frames in each normal photo, so you can use it like the Super Sampler.

I've had a go at a video too. To join the frames together into a film you need each of these panels as an individual picture. I usually get the photo people to do my scanning so I just had to spend a bit of time cutting each photo into four. Then I used a really basic piece of movie making software to join them up.

So this is the train I catch every morning and my nod to the history of film-making. It's very VERY short and pretty jerky, but I had fun making it!