The Crafty Lass does… Easter biscuits!

Looking to do something for Easter that is fun, cheap to make, relatively easy, and you get to eat it at the end?!

Why not make Mary Berry’s ‘Easter Biscuits‘? Here is my attempt… Mmmmmm tasty 🙂

Top tip! – always allow the icing to dry thoroughly, otherwise it won’t set properly and you’ll end up with squashed bunny rabbits and chickadees! (Speaking from experience here…)

 

 

Categories: Easter, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, The Crafty Lass does...

Top 5… Craft Events for 2015

There are hundreds of craft fairs and events running up and down our country, all throughout the year – with independent producers selling their individual, creative and interesting wares. From local fairs in your village hall, to internationally recognised events at huge venues – there will never be a time when you can’t find a different gift for your loved one, try a new skill – or find a new interest! Keep up to date with what’s on in your neck of the woods with ukcraftfairs.com. From looking around to source what exciting events are coming up – here, in my humble opinion – are the events not to be missed this year!

 

1. Further to my post about Kirstie Allsopp hosting the The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace (18th-20th September 2015) – there has also been a new announcement – that she will also be doing a Handmade Christmas Fair, to be held in Manchester 20th-22nd November 2015. Kirstie? Craft? Christmas? Sounds epic! Keep up to date with future information on Kirstie’s Facebook site here.

 

2. A bit closer in time – (only the week after next!) is the Renegade Craft Fair, April 11th and 12th 2015 at the Old Truman Brewery, London. What a brilliant venue (I actually did my final London textile design degree show here!) – and right bang smack in the middle of Brick Lane – make sure you browse a whole multitude of vintage clothing stores while you are in the area, and treat yourself to a good curry too! Brick Lane is renowned for good Indian restaurant, after restaurant, after restaurant…! Getting back to the very exciting fair – there will be over 100 independent crafty makers and bakers with goodies for sale, DIY workshops, installations – AND is free to attend – bonus!

 

3. Outlaw – ‘Celebrating the Handmade and Artisan’ – at The Passenger Shed, Bristol on 2nd and 3rd May 2015, also looks really, and simply – amazing. They have ‘taster workshops’, a ‘demo theatre’, ‘over 80 artisan makers’, a ‘supplier zone’ (ready for you to buy all the things you need to make your own lovely things.) This one’s got the lot! Bristol is such a vibrant, exciting city (it was the venue for my own hen do…!) with good bars, restaurants, shops, and with it being a Bank Holiday weekend – why not make a little trip away out of it?

 

4. Just up the road, in another of our wonderful cities in the UK – is the Creative Crafts Show 23rd-26th April 2015 at the The Bath & West Showground, Bath.”The show provides the perfect opportunity to gather inspiration, pick up some new materials and exchange ideas and tips to try at home. All types of crafts are catered for at the Show including paper craft, beading, ribbon craft and embroidery. There is something to suit any expert or beginner with a wonderful variety of workshops.” Sounds like it’s got it all!

 

5. Finally, going back to the Christmas theme (it is NEVER too early to start planning I reckon!) I couldn’t miss out the wonderful, and in my opinion – BEST – city of the North – Harrogate. The Country Living Christmas Fair from 3rd-6th December 2015. Tickets go on sale in May – and I think it has everything you could ever want from a Christmas fair! Craft Workshops, Food Theatre and literally hundreds of exhibitors. No excuses not to buy some nice presents this year!

 

So, get the dates in the your diary and get crafty! 🙂

Categories: Christmas, General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, Top 5

Kirstie Allsopp – The Handmade Fair!

Anything that involves Kirstie Allsopp and craft – and we are on to a winner…I find her so inspiring! Just seen that she is hosting The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace from 18th-20th September 2015 – and in such an iconic, historic and British venue, what’s not to love! Ticket’s aren’t on sale yet – but you can sign up to their newsletter here to ensure you get first dibs…

Categories: General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See

She Who Is Brave, Is Free…

Well, I’ve done it – I’ve only gone and done it. Some people have said that I am ‘brave’, some have said ‘I could never do it’, but mainly people have said ‘Wow!’, ‘How exciting!’, ‘Brilliant news!’…

So, this Crafty Lass is now a ‘full-time’ Crafty Lass. In other words, I didn’t quit the day dream, but I did quite my full time job!

So, watch this space for future updates of how this grand plan currently in my head, on slips of paper, notes in my diary unveils into one big very real, very exciting reality.

Yes!

She who is brave, is free.

 

Categories: Business, General Craft

Happy Mail :)

Aren’t sisters the best?? Ok, not all sisters are – but mine is. A heart of gold and so clever and creative!

I got sent some ‘Happy Mail’ today. Not for any particular reason, other than to make me smile. A funky card design, some lovely words inside, and to top it all – even a decorated envelope! When I got in from work today, there it was on the mat, saying – ‘Oooh look at me, I am here to make you happy!’ OK, it obviously didn’t speak literally – but it did achieve it’s objective and had me grinning before I had even opened it!

I think all post should arrive like this. Imagine if HMRC letters, and your electricity bill came with beautiful envelopes – people are more likely to a) open them b) pay them on time c) be happy and cheery in life.

Thanks, sis – you’re the BEST!

 

 

Categories: General Craft, Stationery

Up, Up and Away!

Finally some sunshine today! Hoorah! And with such a glorious bright day pouring through our windows, I couldn’t help but re-look at our wonderfully bright wedding ‘guest’ print (instead of a book) on the wall in our hallway.

Our wedding was mildly themed around the fantastic film ‘UP‘. If you haven’t seen it – why not?! Stop what you are doing (although maybe finish reading this first!), hire it out, watch and enjoy! We didn’t want the whole full on Disney theme, but just little touches here and there – with a nod towards the film. The bright colours, our first dance music, and this print.

I like to think of this as a ‘live craft’ project! I bought the original PDF via Etsy and The Inked Leaf, which was personalised with our names and date, but blank and ready for the ‘balloons’. I slightly tweaked the colours of the house myself in Adobe Illustrator once received to suit our own colour scheme (although I could have easily left exactly as it was!) printed out at our local printers, and it was good to go!

We set this up in the ‘Cow Shed’ of the Tythe Barn, an ajoining side room, with colourful ink pads, wipes (to make sure no wayward fingerprints on best clothes!) and people throughout the early evening added their own finger print ‘balloon’ to create this new masterpiece to hang in our home. I did actually print two copies, just in case wine/water/champagne/coffee headed in that direction – it wouldn’t have been ideal, but we could have ultimately started again if necessary! As it turned out, there was absolutely no need, and a few months after the wedding, I finally got around to getting it professionally mounted and framed at Right Angle, Brackley. The final result, is utterly gorgeous, and looks particularly bright and happy in the spring sunshine!

 

This print is particularly touching, as amongst all our beautiful friends and family, our nearest and dearest – my dear Grandfather’s print is in there somewhere. He passed away at the ripe old age of 98 – around 7 weeks after that wonderful day. We, and all the family are so lucky and grateful that he was there to be a part of it all, he really was a guest of honour! And I even told him that on the day – as caught on camera by our fantastic photographer Mark Lord.

So, if you are looking for something different to the not very traditional ‘guest book’, why not look into doing something with fingerprints instead! A quick Google or Pinterest search will soon lead to all manner of fingerprint art ideas 🙂

 

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, Weddings

Brackley Farmers Market

Well, another cold and grey day over the lovely Northamptonshire market town of Brackley. There have been quite a few of these recently. (Did anyone see the eclipse yesterday??) I said this in an earlier post – but where exactly is this thing called ‘Spring’? It seems to have gone A.W.O.L. I have also been feeling a little under the weather these last few days, and could do with a good hearty dose of sunshine to perk myself up!

This morning, I bared the cold and headed into town and to the market square to have a lovely mooch around our monthly farmers market. The local producers are here, come rain, come shine, come snow, come hail. Today they were like their own little ray of sunshine!

Being a market town, to state the obvious – it is just MADE for a market. The whole town just lifts when the farmers market is in situ. There is a happy hustle and bustle, people buying stuff not just from the standard supermarkets, supporting local producers, getting some tasty tucker and treats. Yes, there aren’t a HUGE amount of stalls, but there doesn’t need to be – a lot of markets I have been to offer very similar stuff across the stalls – providing competition yes, but not always new products. Here there is a wide enough range of stalls offering a nice selection of quality produce – from freshly baked bread from our local bakery, sumptuous – and absolutely delicious – cupcakes, delicate desserts, vegetarian, gluten free, coffee, beer, everything you would expect from a good market!

Each month, they run a new competition. Last month, I was extremely lucky to WIN! And, it was a whole (HUGE) hamper of stuff – worth around ÂŁ70! Very lucky, very happy, and very full… There were cakes, cupcakes, bread, welsh scones, pies, chicken, beef, sausage rolls, cheesecakes, cheeses, scones, chutneys, relish, beer (and beer glass!), handmade soap… and a lovely hessian sack to keep it all in. I was definitely an over excitable foodie lass that day – calling my husband up listing all the produce we had to (couldn’t wait to!) consume! I ended up sharing with friends and neighbours too – share the wealth!

There is only one downside to this market – and it is that it is only on one Saturday a month! I personally am counting down til the next one on April 18th. In the meantime, I am off to enjoy a Saturday afternoon treat of a cupcake or two from the fabulously pink Wonder Kitchen!

Categories: Foodie Delights, Places to Go & Things to See

Food Memories

I did something wild and crazy on Monday evening – I applied to a new BBC TV Programme called: The Box! It comes from the makers of Masterchef, and I am guessing from their description – it will be similar to the ‘Invention test’ – where you have to make something wonderful with whatever ingredients you have to hand. Friends and family are often telling me I should go onto the ‘Great British Bake Off’ (I have applied a couple of times)… so why not give this a go. And, if I don’t get on – well – at least I tried. 🙂

I know this blog is mainly about ‘craft’, but actually – I think food in itself is a craft. Maybe a pot noodle isn’t, or beans on toast – but a lovingly prepared, created and crafted dish, that’s different and special.

I do love food so much – and I am so thankful we get to eat at least three times a day! Imagine if we were like crocodiles – they can survive up to THREE YEARS without food!

The application form asked lots of good questions that really got me thinking – like ‘What has been your proudest cooking moment so far?’ (which by the way was – when I was 11, I cooked a three course meal, all by myself for my mum and dad on Father’s Day!) Thinking about my foodie past reminded back to a wonderful article I read a couple of years ago by Skye Gyngell in RED magazine “My Life In Recipes”, where she considers the ingredients and recipes that have inspired her throughout her life so far. I can’t find a copy of the original article, which is a shame – as I remember it being such a lovely read.

Some of my own first food memories I treasure dearly are from going to visit my wonderful family in Ireland, and particularly to my Grandma’s house on the south coast, on a small beautiful island called Cobh. When she was able – I remember beautifully rustic soda breads – the smell of fresh baking emanating into every pore of her delightful cottage. Fruity and traditional Barnbrack cakes, where I would I always, ALWAYS get the ring (my family swear it wasn’t fixed!). Big piles of fluffy potatoes, where the skin would just gently drape off before being swathed in golden swirls of fresh butter. I remember the large hams boiling on the aga, and cabbage stewing for colcannon. Fresh mackerel caught down by the shore, and frying them with garlic and butter to please my dear grandma. (I used to think it stunk the whole house out, but grandma loved it!)

Back at home, it was the fresh garden produce that I remember – digging the first potatoes of the season – and watching for the treasures to appear from the earth, the excitement of finding a hidden courgette underneath those canopies of leaves and bright and beautiful flowers. Podding the broad beans sat under our apple tree – fascinated with the silky and smooth delicate interior. Bright and crisp rhubarb fit for stewing with ginger, or crumbles. Fresh loganberries from the garden on a warm summer’s day – the bright juice no doubt ending up on my no doubt clean top!

My dad has always been the ‘chef’ of the house. If we had and have people to stay, he will get every recipe book out and plan, and invent and create a masterpiece. Sometimes delicate and sophisticated crab pancakes, or succulent chicken breasts stuffed with mushrooms and garlic. Or just beautifully simple lasagne – rich with layers of thick ragu and white sauce, sheets of fine pasta…and a few secret ingredients! Or wonderful Asian dishes – where he will spend time getting quality produce and whipping up ‘delicious and nutritious’ concoctions. Or delicately spiced curries that sometimes, might be slightly hotter than planned! The BBQ king of the UK, at the first hint of sunshine, it is always sausages and charcoal at the ready.

However, the recipes I yearn for when requiring comfort on a cold Wintery day – like today (it’s March – where is Spring?!) – are my mum’s beautiful hearty dishes, that you can always rely on. Are also cooked from scratch. And put a smile on a weary face – making the world appear a much nicer place to be. Quiche – with crumbly, delicate pastry, thick wedges of beautiful fresh eggs and cheese, herbs, using whatever vegetables are to hand and often delightfully contrasted with salty bacon. Or using up the left over roast with thick chunks of chicken, ham, leeks and a silky, smooth comforting sauce in her perfect and most requested chicken pie. I think every mum has the best roast potatoes, but I am sure, my mum’s really are the best. They are legendary – they are perfectly golden brown, crunchy on the outside, and wonderfully hot and fluffy on the inside. I’d come home from school to hearty liver and onions, Irish beef stew or sausage casserole that would have been whipped up sometime early in the morning and would have gently bubbled away for hours on end – until meltingly tender and served with a substantial portion of lightly seasoned buttery mash potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables.

Now, I try to replicate these idyllic meals in my own home – whilst I don’t always succeed in matching the ingredients or method entirely – it brings a warm and satisfied glow to know I have a golden chicken pie in the oven waiting to be devoured, and to think that these recipes will be recreated, adapted and handed down for generations to come.

In the meantime, wish me luck for the application – let’s see if we can do a blog post of ‘The Crafty Lass does… TV!’

Categories: Foodie Delights

First Wedding Anniversary – PAPER!

I was taken away for a surprise weekend this weekend – it led to a new craft, a new set of inspirations and a reconfirmed realisation I definitely married the right man!

So, one whole year since our big day. And this year… all I knew was I had to pack a bag, and be ready to leave at 7am on Saturday morning. He accidentally let slip we were off to Manchester… But apart from that, I had absolutely no idea. I had a 3 hour car journey to ponder what surprises might be ahead…

Manchester. Football? I do like football…but maybe not for our anniversary. The new BBC studios…Maybe to see something being filmed? No, maybe not… Perhaps a gig?? Then if so, why leaving SO early?! This had better be worth it.

And, wow. It WAS. It was such a good surprise! 

We walked into quite possibly, THE BEST shop ever called Fred Aldous in the Northern Quarter of the city centre. Lines and lines of blank notebooks with quirky and original covers just waiting to be purchased and ideas scribbled in, a fantastic array of unusual and brilliant greeting cards, lovely picture frames, books, gifts (and lots more!) I could have been there for hours! THEN we went downstairs… This place is MASSIVE and has EVERYTHING a Crafty Lass could EVER want or need. You name it, I BET they have it. Paper, metal, fabric, beads, paints…

I was intrigued – why are we in here?? ‘Perhaps,’ I thought, ‘we are here for a general mooch around before going on somewhere else.’ That’s when I noticed the sign.

Ministry of Craft – Classes here today!

He had booked us on Clear Cut: Beginners Paper Cutting course – in honour of my love of craft and for the first wedding anniversary traditionally being ‘paper’! (All together now… Awwww!)

I absolutely love the artist Rob Ryan – and all his ‘cut-out’ style designs – but personally paper cutting is not something I had ever considered to do myself before. However, I soon discovered it is such a therapeutic and beautiful thing to do. It’s both simple to get started and achieve – starting with only paper (of course!), a pencil, a sharp scalpel and a cutting mat. However, it is also sometimes more difficult than it first appears! Making sure your design all connects together properly, making sure any font is correct (you have to put the design on to paper backwards so it all appears correct once cut out and turned over!)…and curvy lines take abit of practice – but our brilliant tutor Jes Panesar was there to talk us through everything. The example works she brought with her from her portfolio were so beautiful it didn’t take long for us to be inspired and to come up with our own ideas.  She let us be ambitious but importantly to also understand when to reign those ideas in to ensure that the final design would actually work. So we spent abit of time planning, and sketching – ultimately, this is the longest part of the process – there was plenty of tea and biscuits to keep us going! The class was a reasonably small group – which allowed for plenty 1-1 time with Jes, and once we had everything to paper, we just… began cutting!

My husband says he isn’t the most creative person – but I think actually, he really is, and his cut out of a racing car (I know – stereotypical!) turned out to be really amazing! (I think you’ll agree!) Backing the design with colours too to give it real definition. My lovey-dovey flower garden, with our initials and wedding date seemed appropriate for the occasion, but I am also really happy with the final result. The three hours absolutely flew past – I could have spent all day there to be honest!

So, thank you Jes for passing on a new skill – I am looking for ways to use this new found love into future projects! I am also working out how to get back to the Ministry of Craft in the (hopefully near!) future. I’d highly recommend attending a class to anyone wanting to try out something new!

PS The rest of the surprise weekend – was equally as good – with some time looking around such a vibrant and exciting city – with plenty of good food…and good wine. We even had a little boogie and a night cap in an appropriately named bar – The Crafty Pig!

Categories: General Craft, Valentines, Anniversaries & Lovey-Dovey Stuff, Weddings

The Crafty Lass does… Paper Flowers!

I was bought a truly amazing birthday present – something really REALLY brilliant. A glue gun.

YES!

Today – I was planning to go to the gym, do some needed food shopping – but no, no today became a lovely crafty filled day of tea, leftover birthday cake, and paper flower making!

I have wanted to try and make these paper flowers ever since I saw this pin on Pinterest… but without a glue gun, it was a no-go zone… until now!

They are remarkably easy to make, and I think would look fantastic at a wedding – imagine giant ones, small ones, all scattered over tables in pastel shades, or whites, or whatever your colour scheme really! They could be used at a dinner party as a table centre piece, imagine at Christmas in reds and green, or silver and gold. I plan to use mine as a decoration on a friend’s birthday present next week.

A nice and easy to follow tutorial on how to make these – can be found here on the love, pomegranate house website.

 

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Categories: Birthday, General Craft, The Crafty Lass does..., Weddings

The Crafty Lass does… Cupcakes!

So, it’s the eve of my 32nd birthday. Uh oh… well, I’ve got cake to console my ever growing age. I know I’m not THAT old… I mentioned in my last post how quickly a year had gone… But where have 32 years gone?! Saying that, my husband pointed out to me recently – I’m probably only just half way to retirement…

So, the tradition in our office is, if it’s your birthday, you bring in the cakes…and this year I have opted for Mint choc chip, and Terry’s Chocolate Orange cupcakes! I originally learnt to ‘properly’ make cupcakes at The Gourmet Cupcake company – an inspiring course that makes fluffy sponge and sugar paste roses seem accessible and easy… and yummy! The Terry’s Chocolate Orange cakes are inspired by a local cupcake superstar… The Wonder Kitchen cakes, always so jealous of her wonderful pink, goodie-laden van at our local Brackley market! The Mint choc Aero cupcakes are just a recipe I have been making for such a long time… A few years ago, in a previous job – I made a double batch for a charity bake sale, and they sold within 10 minutes. I should have made more!

A tradition started by my Mum and Dad when I was only 1 was reinacted tonight, and happens every year – they rang to say “Goodnight 31 year old!”, and tomorrow morning, they will ring me with – not “Happy birthday!”, but – “Good morning 32 year old!”. Love it, love them. Gotta love birthdays, no matter what your age! Right, off to get some beauty sleep – I need it, for all that cake, chips and champagne tomorrow! 😉 (Not sure why the wink smiley, we both know all will be consumed within the next 24 hours!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Birthday, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, The Crafty Lass does...

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