Sunday, 25 October 2009

I won!

Yes, that's right. Your eyes do not deceive you. I have won something. Not the Euromillions, but something JUST as good. I'll get to just what it is in a moment, but first, here's how.

I became The Crafty Ninja's 100th fan on facebook and was awarded a free commission as a result. As I had my mama's birthday coming up, I asked if she could make me a card featuring painting-y type stuff, as mam does watercolour painting and is currently doing a course at the local college. Note the vagueness of my request. And now marvel at the result, which is brilliant. (Any deficiencies on the quality of the pictures are down to me and my rubbish cameraphone, as I was trying to get the card into the post quickly!)

And a close up of the easel...

Fantastic, isn't it?! Just the job.

I'd just like to say a great big thank you to the Crafty Ninja (and what a great name, by the way!) for a really wonderful card.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Craft swaps ahoy!

Yes, I've been doing the craft swap thing again. This time on a subject close to my heart - B-movies. This was organised by the lovely Apryl of Meridian Ariel fame, who also has great love for these often overlooked bits of celluloid joy.

I was partnered with Lindsey from ethel and edna and thinking that I had plenty of time to sort things out, I left it for a couple of days, whilst I planned what to make. Of course, you know what's coming next... emergency jewellery making for my mum's wedding (which was announced, organised and then took place within the space of around two months), commissions for other stuff (another blog post there) and all kinds of nonsense at work.

I found myself completely swamped, but fortunately, fate was smiling on me in her own bizarre and quirky way, as Lindsey was also having similar problems.

Anyway, I eventually got everything done and sent out. In addition to the photos I'm going to share in a second, I also included some utterly gorgeous fabric, ribbons, buttons and lace, all of which I found on Dawanda. And then there were lollipops and Revels for the munchables part.
So here's what I made.

A witch themed bookmark and phone charm and a bangle with a bat charm. The bookmark and phone charm are both done with chainmaille.

And so, what did I get... well, I do feel incredibly spoiled in return, I got SO much. I apologise in advance for the quality of the photos, as I took them on my phone. Anyway, here goes:

Fantastic handmade doll

Amazing crochet amigurumi Godzilla head

Beautiful crochet flower brooch

A fantastic tea bag holder, which also contained a handmade felty tea bag!

What you can't see there, is the little packet of buttons, in all shades of green.

I also got some craft supplies, sparkly wool, a crochet hook and some lovely rainbowy felt.

As you can see from that last picture, there was also chocolate and gummy dinosaurs. And a box of tea as well. Lawks!

We may have been the last to get our parcels sent off, but in my case at least (and I hope Lindsey feels similarly!), it was definitely worth the wait. Thank you Lindsey for all my fantastic goodies, and thank you to Apryl for organising this one. And the next one I've signed up for (which I promise to send on time!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I like bad films and I cannot lie...

And this one is a corker. Komodo vs Cobra.

From the very start, it was clear how it was going to go, given the look of the really dreadful CGI. I mean, it's on a par with Shark In Venice, so I think you get the picture. Oh, and there goes another hapless victim, eaten whole by a gigantic Komodo Dragon. (I'm not entirely sure of the need for capitalisation there, but what the hell, it's the size of a house!)

Oh, it's already eaten one scientist and a platoon of the most shoddy special forces soldiers I've ever seen.

And the giant cobra has been snacking on another scientist and a camera man.

I would explain the plot, but I don't think there's that much of one. It started off, as these things often do, with scientists on a deserted island trying to develop genetically engineered plants to cure world hunger. A laudable aim, as I'm sure you'll agree. And after their initial success, in stroll the military and order them to use their research for more 'lethal' purposes. I'm not entirely sure about why the military is involved, but there you go. I would suggest that thinking too hard about the plot is probably not the best course of action.

I don't think I'll manage to last until the end of this one. Perhaps I'll come back to it another day. Or in another life.

Sunday, 7 June 2009


I have to confess, I meant to blog this some time ago, but I got sidetracked with ... stuff. As one does. So, anyway...yes...candles.

I decided that, as this year is the year of trying all kinds of crafts (and revisiting some that have fallen by the wayside), that I'd try my hand at candle making. And with the tea swap to inspire me, off I went.

I tried out a couple of kits from House of Crafts, which included all the relevant materials and fairly comprehensive instructions.

And yes, I was sad enough to take photographs of wax melting. Action shots, I'll have you know.

Extreme close up there, with fantastic melty action. Ahem, yes, I'll calm down now.

So, once it had all melted, it was time to get pouring. Please note that I had learned from my previous experience with the lipbalms and had used my pyrex jug as the double boiler (well, it turned out as more of a bain marie, but we'll gloss over that for the time being) which made it so much easier to fill the moulds.

I wanted to put some coffee beans into a couple of the candles, so first tried just putting them in the bottom of one of the moulds and filling it up. Not the best idea in the world, as they all floated straight to the top.

Very arty, I'm sure, but I didn't want them to end up on the bottom of the candle. Oh well.

So, I decided that for the second attempt, I'd do things slightly differently and layer the coffee beans with the wax, so at least some of them would be suspended in the middle of the candle. And through the gift of time lapse photography (or just hanging around for a bit), this is how it worked out.

The last bit looks a bit messy, I know, but fortunately, it's on the bottom of the candle, so not visible unless you really want to look.

In addition to the special coffee candles, I made a few other 'normal' candles and this is how they all turned out.

Close up of the two coffee candles.

So there you have it. Candles, in one afternoon. Not bad for a first attempt, really. The only thing I would say is, keep a spare pan just for wax melting/double boiling. It's worth it, if only to stop you ruining all your decent pans.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

What was that I was saying about mojo?

Hmm, famous last words.

Mind you, it's been quite busy recently, but in a good way. One weekend entirely spent out having fun (which is really the best way to spend a weekend) and lots of stuff going on at work.

I did spend this last weekend (including the bank holiday) making things, but due to annoying computer troubles at home, it was impossible to get any pictures uploaded. Still, never mind. I'll blog instead about my other current obsession: tea.

Yes, that's right, tea. Tea of all nations, in fact. I'll pretty much give anything a go (with the exception of Lapsang Souchong, which I tried once and instantly disliked).

This is the current collection of tea:

The second lot was purchased during a five day trip to Holland and Belgium. From that little lot, I've only tried the Maple Honeybush (brown box, middle front) and the Rooibos Orange Lemon Lime. Both of which are lovely.

Going back to the first group, the tiny tins at the front are part of a taster set from Leaf. It's a great way to try what they have on offer. And included in there was the best camomile infusion I've ever had. Camomile's a bit of an acquired taste and can be extremely hit and miss, but I'd recommend it to anyone to at least give it a go.

Same with Rooibos really. I will admit that the first time I tried Rooibos, I really didn't like it. In fact, I described it as the foul strainings from the devil's jockstrap. I can now admit that I was wrong. I may well have brewed it for too long, or it may just have been a bad batch. Now, however, I really do enjoy it. It's light and refreshing, with a slight woody tang (I know that sounds a bit odd - and possibly quite pretentious - but it's the only way I can describe it!) Anyway, it's well worth a go.

Finally, I'll just mention another fantastic tea webshop: Teapigs. They've got some cracking blends there (Summer Flowers is a particular favourite) as well as selling Popcorn Tea (which has toasted rice added to the leaves, to give it a very distinctive taste!) I can't recommend them enough, their service is spectacular. And they do 'taster packs' of most of their teas, in the most dinky little tins, which I'm probably going to use to store beads in, once they're finished.

Right, that's enough wittering from me for the time being, but I shall be updating you on my journey of tea discovery as I work my way through the huge stash I've got. Chin chin!

Friday, 8 May 2009

My mojo is back!

I've been a bit lax on the old craft front (and on the blogging front) of late, mainly because my get up and go got up and went. The year of craft came to a bit of a standstill, I think because I couldn't decide on exactly what I wanted to do. If that makes any sense. Plus being busier than a busy thing at work meant I was fit for nothing of an evening.

But, after a couple of well deserved holidays, I think it's safe to say that I'm back in the swing of things. And my latest creation is something I've been wanting to do for ages. A chainmaille ring. And one of my favourite weaves, Byzantine. Given that the rings (sterling silver) were so small, it was a wee bit fiddly, but thankfully it didn't have me throwing a tantrum (for a change!)

Without further ado, pictures!

Not too shabby, really. I'm keeping this one for myself, but I might well make some more to sell. Soon.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


I've decided that I've just got too many blogs on the go. And none of them are being updated as regularly as they should be, so my wittering blog (full of inanities) and my crafting blog (this one, slightly less full of crafty inanities) are going to be merged. God, I think I'm drunk with power. And on a Tuesday afternoon too.


Saturday, 18 April 2009

Tea swap goodness!

Tea swap? I hear you cry. What is this madness?

Well, it's a craft swap for members of Crafteroo organised by Yvonne of blottedcopybook. All themed around time for tea.

My swap partner was Apryl (Meridian Ariel). And this being my first ever craft swap, I was a little at a loss to think of what to do. Apryl's not really a tea fan, so I decided to do some coffee-related crafting. Firstly, a candle with coffee beans embedded. It was also my first time (since I was tiny and wee - and that's been some time) for candle making, so I put on the mad scientist hat and got melting! And here's how it turned out.

Not too shabby for a first attempt. And with a tiny bit of polishing before I sent it, it came up quite nicely (if I do say so myself!)

I also decided to make a coffee bean phone charm and a coffee pot bookmark. Both using chainmaille and the most gorgeous silver charms.

I added some craft items (cardstock and stickers), a giant cup and saucer (which I filled with chocolate covered coffee beans) and some lovely caramel wafers. And then packaged it all up to send.

So there you have it. And just what did I receive? Well, I'll tell you! Loads of lovely things - a handmade wheat-pack (just the thing for when my back decides to play up), a painting, a gorgeous hand made tag and card, some of the most lovely wool and a box of Lady Grey tea. All absolutely brilliant and very gratefully received! Just have a look at the loveliness...

Close up of the wheat pack

Tea time tag!

Gorgeous colours - just need to find a place to hang it.

Gloriously coloured wool. Just the thing to help me learn to crochet!

Hand made card

Even the envelope was decorated with a little teacup!

All in all, quite a haul! I do feel very spoiled. Thanks so much for all my lovely goodies Apryl! And thanks to Yvone for organising it all.

P.S. I've been trying to get this post written for weeks. That's what happens when life gets in the way!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

It's a bad bad bad bad film

Shark in Venice that is. It is shocking. Best viewed on a very small screen, mainly so no-one can see what it is you're watching.

If I say the name Stephen Baldwin, then I think that gives you a clue as to what you're in for. Apparently he's a lecturer at an oceanographic institute (it's not named, probably for the best) and his fiancee is also on the staff (she's very smart we're told later). His father is a deep sea diver, working in Venice on an unnamed project and goes missing after an 'accident'.

One quick flight to Venice later, we discover that Stephen is unconvinced with the official explanation of a boat propellor v diver incident. I suspect that the teethmarks were probably a bit of a giveaway, but there you go.

It's at this point that the plot takes a turn for the slightly less believable, cramming in a bizarre subplot about the Medici Treasure (complete with remarkable 'historical' sequence) and the least convincing Mafia don I've ever seen.

And don't get me started on the sharks. Stock footage, cut with bizarre CGI - though they really should have checked for bystander reaction (or lack of it) in one particularly outstanding moment.

As for the script, well, if I say it lent itself rather well to the quality of acting (presumably sponsored by Cuprinol) I think you'll get the idea.

One final thing, given that Mr Baldwin is on the slightly doughy side, it's probably a good thing that he didn't take off his everpresent grey sweater, which was disturbingly clingy.

And yes, I'll probably end up watching it again.

Monday, 16 March 2009

2009, the year of craft

Yes indeed, this year I intend to make more 'stuff' than you can shake a stick at. Be it jewellery (for the shop or for my own fair person), cosmetics (see previous post for first attempt), candles, crochet, knitting. I'm going to try it all out. I suspect the House of Craft may well benefit from this, as what I like to do if I'm learning about a craft is to try a kit - that way there's no hunting about looking for random items that I may well have forgotten to buy.

This coming weekend will see me faffing about in the kitchen with a candlemaking kit. As well as trying to learn how to do the Full Persian chainmaille weave.

Oh and figuring out what I'm making for a) the Crafteroo Time for Tea swap and b) a thank you present.

It's all go here.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Balmy weather, isn't it?

Good start, as ever. Still, I have been a-crafting, not just sitting about. No, I've been sitting about with pliers in my hands. Dead helpful.

I have also been making lip balm. Yes, lip balm. Considering I should have shares in Carmex and Lipsyl, it's probably a very good thing to learn how to do. So, having purchased a kit from Aromantic, which contained everything I needed, I set to work.

Handily, everything was measured out to the quantities necessary, so it was just a case of melting and mixing, then pouring into lipsalve tubes (also handily provided).

It turned out that the mixture actually made more than would fit into the tubes, so I had to use some stacking pots that I had lying around the house (hoarding has its uses, occasionally!)

So, that was it. Much easier than I was expecting, though I have learned that melting things in a jug makes them MUCH easier to pour out.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The book of Face

It has its uses (mainly to feed my addiction for very silly games), but today, rather than doing actual work, y'know, the stuff I get paid to do, I've been writing a big note to go on my profile, which contains 25 random things about me. It was remarkably hard work to do, so I'm going to be very lazy now and just copy and past the whole thing here. So it doesn't get lost.

1. I'm a qualified librarian, though that's not a particularly random thing, I don't think. Never mind, it'll get better. I hope.

2. I have a total hatred of txtspk. It enrages me in ways that are rather worrying. So much so that I go to great lengths to spell out all the words in text messages, even if they take me several years to write.

3. I'm also the least confident person I know. This may well not come as a surprise to many of you, but there you go. So much for me controlling everyone's perception with the power of my mind.

4. However, one day, I will rule the universe. Oh yes, it will be mine.

5. My mother is one of the most amazing and wonderful people I have ever met. No matter what life has thrown at her, she comes out smiling on the other side. I am honoured and privileged to call her a friend as well as Mam.

6. That last thing just made me cry. Again, that's probably not a surprise, since I am capable of crying at most anything. Including a documentary about Lassie.

7. When I was little, I used to do tap, ballet and ballroom dancing. The ballet I'm not so bothered about, but I really do wish I'd kept up with the tap and the ballroom. I love to dance, but with the whole confidence thing (see item 3) it generally happens in the privacy of my sitting room, with the curtains drawn.

8. I have a deep and abiding love for very, very cheesy films. This includes the original Godzilla films (think man in unconvincing rubber suit) as well as other, less well known classics such as Fire Maidens from Outer Space, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Them!

9. I am appallingly supersititious. Magpies get the full treatment, I have serious misgivings when people put their umbrellas up in the office to dry them out and have been known to cross roads to avoid walking under ladders.

10. I have an unusual talent for remembering random stuff. Postcodes, telephone numbers, book codes (which we use at work), all kinds of nonsense. I have no idea how it works, but it does make me fairly good to have on your pub quiz team.

11. I like to think I am hilarious. I suspect, however, that I may not be quite as funny in real life.

12. I am an inveterate hoarder. My house is packed with odds and ends which 'may' be useful at some unspecified point in the future. I also have a vast collection of things that I can't throw out because of the sentimental value attached. This does not bode well for when I move house.

13. The collecting mania extends to books, mainly due to the fact that I work for a publisher, so get a lot of free books. I also happen to adore books and reading (so it makes sense that I studied librarianship, in a way), so find it terribly hard to get rid of them.

14. There are people who've been in my life, who I miss every single day. And I would give anything to have that one minute/hour/day more - to say the things I left unsaid.

15. Conversely, there are also people I've met, who I don't miss. But one way or another, they've all changed my life in some subtle way, some for good, some not so good. But I don't really regret meeting any of them, with the possible exception of the yorkshire gangster wannabe.

16. I have a bit of a stationery fetish. Not in a sexual way, before anyone starts. I just love to have pens and pencils and notebooks and all manner of stationery items. It started with erasers and it's just gone from there really. I don't think my dad helped either, with his 'everyone can use a nice pen' idea.

17. I love visiting castles and stately homes and gardens. It sounds a bit fogeyfied, but there are some fascinating stories to be gleaned, as well as some marvellous interior design and architecture to be viewed.

18. It's my ambition, one day, to do a tour of some of Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh's finest buildings. I have been fascinated with their work for years, not to mention the fact that they were really interesting people.

19. I have decided that 2009 is to be the Year of Craft. I'm aiming to try as many different crafts as I possibly can. I already make jewellery, I've just made some lip balm, which was huge and fragrant fun and I'm soon going to teach myself to crochet (and possibly knit as well). I'd also like to go back to doing tapestry and learn to cross stitch a bit better. Candle making is on the agenda as well.

20. I write quite a lot (which is why it's strange that I'm finding this note so ruddy hard to finish), but it's mainly just for my own amusement.

21. I love tea. The drink, not the meal. Herbal, fragranced, fruit, instant - I'll try anything in the tea arena. Coffee too, though I don't have quite as much of an obsession about it.

22. My favourite animal is the pig, though dogs do come a close second. I have an ever expanding collection of pigs and pig-related items, so if you're ever stuck for an idea for a present (all gifts are gratefully received), then pigs are always a good bet.

23. I have a massive, massive insect phobia. If it crawls, scuttles, slithers, flies, flaps or buzzes then I want nothing to do with it. Especially as they insist on flying round my head. GET AWAY FROM ME!

24. I have a bead addiction. I justify it to myself by saying that they'll be used when I make jewellery and so on, but the reality is that I just like to have them. Shinyshinybeadybeady.

25. C'mon, one more thing and you're done. Lordy. Oh yes, I broke my arm when I was 9, falling off a horse. Hence I have a very long scar on my arm, which I hide by never wearing short sleeved or sleeveless tops. Phew, that's it. I'm outta here.

So, there you have it. 25 random (or not) things about me. Blimey.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

One big pile of...

Yes, I'm sure you know where I was going with that. Especially when I reveal that I'm currently viewing (for the second time, as I couldn't believe it the first time) a film called Mammoth. I also didn't see this all the way through, so thought I'd check it out again. As one does of a Sunday evening in January.

I think it's meant to be some kind of sci-fi comedy horror. Well, one word's right, anyway. I'm actually quite astonished that Tom Skerritt (who I've always admired) wanted to be a part of this.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around a prehistoric mammoth. Which has apparently been revived by some kind of alien technology. And is now on a rampage round a small town in middle America, which appears to be populated by an assortment of complete freaks and weirdos. And two of the most useless FBI types in history.

And when I tell you that they're now using a microwave to revive a disembodied hand, I think that pretty much explains everything, really. I may not make it to the end of the film this time either.