National Stationery Week

I love stationery. If I really have to admit it – I am a stationery addict… I have drawers FULL of felt tip pens and pencils and biros, and fun and quirky notelets and post-it notes, the list goes on… I am sure enough to open a small stationery shop.

However, amongst the quantity there are some particular quality items I would be lost without… really! Some are old timers that I have had a long time, some are new additions that I now can’t be without – but here, for National Stationery Week are my cherished items!

National Stationery Week runs from April 27th – 3rd May 2015.

http://www.nationalstationeryweek.com/

 

1. So, to start with – we have my ‘The Crafty Lass’ notebook from a beautiful shop in Sri Lanka. ‘Barefoot’ is full of hand woven fabric products, you name it, it is in there made out of fabric. But despite wanting to bring back the whole shop – the covered notebooks I was particularly drawn to, full of lovely cream recycled paper. It has my notes, ideas, to-do lists for setting up The Crafty Lass. It doesn’t leave my side!

 

2. My Cath Kidston pencil case. How many adults do you know that take their own pencil case to work….? Well, I do. When I was about 11 years old, I took my Mum, Dad and Auntie on a shopping trip while on holiday in Perth, Scotland to find THE perfect pencil case for the new school term. It is still talked about to this day that it took MANY shops, MANY hours to get the right one… It was important! Recently my fountain pen leaked in the case, so there is now a large blue stain inside, and you can just see that through one of the cream spots – so, it’s not perfect, but it is still my lovely pencil case.

 

3. My Parker fountain pen. This was a gift 2 years ago from my brother and sister for my birthday. I have always wanted a lovely proper ink pen, and now it is pretty much all I use! I love ordering extra ink cartridges to ensure it never runs out… sounds sad! But, I love that my handwriting always looks better in this pen, and it is very ‘traditional’ to put proper ink to paper.

 

4. When not using my fountain pen, I mainly use my pink fineliner – I was always taught in school that I should only ever write in Black, or Blue. Red was strictly reserved for teachers. However, now that I am an adult – I happily write in every colour and whatever colour suits me that day! But I consistently go back to this pink fineliner… it is starting to run out – so, soon I will need to find a new favourite, but until then, I will continue to write in whatever colour I want…!

 

5. The old traditional highlighter. I am abit of a ‘list’ person – for what I need to get achieved that day, week, year, lists on my fridge of long term life plans, lists of shopping for whatever is needed in the supermarket, lists of lists… A highlighter is my friend as I can highlight stuff off my to-do list only when it is DONE.

 

6. Car and truck rubber bands. These, are actually my husband’s, but they have conveniently ended up in The Crafty Lass office. Fun! When being used, they obviously don’t keep their shape! But, I know that they are shaped like a car…

 

7. Birdie paperclips. These are a very recent addition to my stationery collection – a gift from my lovely sister. Just how great are they! They certainly brighten up bundles of paperwork…

 

8. Giant pushpins. These, are also a new addition, again a gift. I love that they are so bright, and huge! I need to buy a corkboard simply just to use them!

 

9. Read, urgent, later clips. Bright, helpful, organising stationery! These will be much needed in the coming weeks once I no doubt have more paperwork to be organising…

 

10. ‘LOVE’ Washi Tape. What is not to love about this?! I have this design in three colours (pink, green, black) and are all from IKEA. Some Washi tape – although all beautiful can be rather expensive. IKEA has jumped on the bandwagon and gone all out with fun and quirky designs, but at traditionally low IKEA prices! Why use cellotape when you can use something as beautiful as this!

 

11. Vanilla smelling cupcake rubber. Yes, that is exactly what it is. It looks like a sweet, it smells like a sweet – but it is for rubbing out pencil errors! 🙂

 

12. Cartoon post it notes. These really get the message across!

 

13. Star pencil sharpener. This came from a Christmas cracker about 5 years ago – but it is pink, sparkly, and actually works pretty well! I love it, as it is the sort of thing I would have loved just as much when I was 5 years old – but I love it just as much as an adult!

 

14. Old, but beautiful scissors. These, used to be my grandma’s. When she sadly passed away – I was given her sewing box – full of lovely old silk threads, needles, little unfinished projects – and many pairs of scissors. Although rusty, they do still work. I owe them some TLC with some WD40 and a clean up – but I love them just as they are.

 

What are your favourite and cherished stationery items?

 

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Categories: Stationery

Top 5… Spiffingly British Crafts!

With the Queen’s birthday yesterday, nearly the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s third wedding anniversary, still a V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) to appear sometime soon, AND it being St. George’s day tomorrow – it truly is a spiffingly British few weeks! Here are my top 5 jolly good crafts to make you feel truly patriotic!

 

1. TEA – UNION JACK MUG

Us Brits love our tea don’t we – according to a recent article, we drink on average 876 cups per year, enough to fill two bath tubs! What could be more exciting than serving your tea in a home decorated Union Jack mug! This pinterest pin advises that you simply decorate a mug with Sharpies and bake at 450 for 35 min…cool in oven, wash and it does not come off!” There are plenty more hints and tips for this craft technique here at Craftaholics Anonymous. (Great website name, might have to join!) Of course, it doesn’t HAVE to be a flag – get creative! 🙂

 

2. DRAGONS – SOCK PUPPET

With St George’s Day on 23rd April – why not get crafty with the kids AND make use of those annoying odd socks! This ‘No Sew Dragon Sock Puppet‘ from My Little 3 and Me has easy to follow instructions and templates included – perfect to inspire your little one’s imagination!

 

3. ROSES – PAPER CRAFT

The rose being the national flower of England, why not have a go at creating a giant crepe paper rose with this tutorial from Studio DIY. I personally, am a massive fan of creating flowers out of paper and fabric (see my commissions page!) they last forever, look oh so pretty… what’s not to love. It may take some time to create, but certainly worth the effort!

 

4. LIONS – CROCHET

Sticking with national symbols theme – this time, the Lion – national animal of England. I have never quite got that – when did you last see a wild Lion in the UK?? Anyway, if crochet is you’re thing… check out this ‘Little Bigfoot’ knitted lion pattern from Amigurumi To Go. Cute!

 

5. UNION JACK – DRESSER

I know I kind of already covered Union Jacks with the Sharpies mug above, but how could I not include this ‘Painting a Union Jack/British Flag on a dresser tutorial‘ from Meg Made Designs. The instructions are clear, the results look great! Why not give one of your own cupboards a really British makeover?

 

T.T.F.N, Tally-ho, Toodle-pip!

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Royal Birthday Celebrations!

With a V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) on its way within the next week or two – what better way to celebrate than a cup of (Yorkshire) tea and a cupcake (or three)! And so, why not get crafty with some creative baking?

Royal blue, pillarbox red, and brilliant white to represent the gloriously patriotic Union Jack with bunting and flags a-go-go!

I made these cupcakes three years ago now in 2012 for the Queen’s Jubilee – but with the fourth in line to the throne about to be born, I thought it would be a welcome return for some spiffingly British crafty inspiration!

PS – Be warned, too much of the blue icing and it’ll leave your tongue turning blue, so easy on the colouring 😉 !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Top 5… Inspirational Days Out!

We all need to get inspired by something, whether it be the clouds across a morning sky, a flower that has blossomed in your garden, a visit to a gallery, or even day-to-day chores and activities. Whatever the inspiration behind our art, design and craft – here are my top 5 events that could inspire your next project. Think colour, think nature, think photography, think over a hundred hot-air balloons…

 

1. <a href="http://www.nhm click this.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/sensational-butterflies.html” target=”_blank”>Sensational Butterflies

This annual event returns to the London Natural History Museum, with hundreds of free flying butterflies in their tropical butterfly house. Think of all those patterns and colours – just beautiful. On now til September 13th 2015, and at only £5.90 a ticket for adults, children and concessions – and with entry to the main museum free, you can’t go wrong!

 

2. Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea

A bit of a cop-out putting two exhibitions from the same location, but with another outstanding and inspiring exhibition at the world famous and stunningly beautiful London Natural History Museum, it explains why reefs are just so important, and what is being done to look after them. “Virtual reef dive, see live sea coral and fish in our aquarium and enjoy spectacular underwater photography.” Get inspired by “250 strange and beautiful specimens” of coral. Tickets to the exhibition are £10 per adult – children and concessions are only £4.50 – and again, as before, admission to the main museum is absolutely free.

 

3. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Our wedding was inspired by the film ‘Up‘, and with all those ballooons, I have always wanted to go and see this magical fiesta in Bristol, 6th-9th August 2015. An absolute riot of colour across the sky to provide unlimited colour inspiration. The best thing about this is, entrance is absolutely FREE! (You have to just pay a fee to park). I am sadly, already busy when this is on – but it is going on my bucket list, maybe next year! Why don’t you get this one into your diary?

 

4. 2015 Sony World Photography Awards 

Love photography? This exhibition at Somerset House showcases the Winners, the Shortlisters across all disciplines from the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. You can’t help but want to pick up your camera, get out and take as many snaps of our beautiful world as you can! Full details of the competition can be found HERE at the World Photography Organisation. On display from April 24th – 10th May 2015, tickets are £8.50 for ‘Anytime Entry’, and only £6.50 for ‘Weekday Entry’. Other concessions are available.

 

5. Kew Gardens

I absolutely LOVE Kew Gardens, and I also love the chef Raymond Blanc, so the BBC programme Kew On A Plate was a match made in heaven for me. However, you can now go and view the Kew On A Plate garden! Get inspired by their bountiful produce and gardens, with their walking tours, daily until May 22nd 2015. Included in the entry price to the main gardens, tickets are £16 for an adult, and children under 16 are FREE when accompanied by an adult. Other concessions are available. While you are there this spring, make sure you take a lovely wander down the ‘Cherry Walk’ – lots of lovely pink and delightful blossoms! There is so much to see and do at Kew – take your sketchpad, your camera, and some good walking shoes!

 

All prices and dates are correct at time of this blog post.

 

Categories: Places to Go & Things to See, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Paint Swatch Bunting!

Been decorating recently? I bet you have lots of random left over paint swatches – and rather than just shoving them in that drawer in your house that ends up collecting all the random stuff (everyone has one of those!) what better way to use them up than being crafty and making some bunting! Inspired by my recent Easter crafts blog post, and the Modern Parents, Messy Kids Easter bunting – I thought I would make it an all year round decoration with some lovely hearts!

 

All you need is a craft ‘punch‘ to cut out your chosen shapes (I would also love to do stars!) or patience to cut them all out by hand of course… then, just sew them all together on to some thread. It certainly brightens up my new office door sign. 🙂

 

And yes, my office door does have a sign that says – ‘OPEN – Tea and Biscuits Welcome’ and on the other side – SHUT HAPPENS. Definitely with a ‘U’ 😉 !

Even The Crafty Lass needs to stop being crafty sometimes!



Categories: General Craft, House & Home, The Crafty Lass does..., Valentines, Anniversaries & Lovey-Dovey Stuff

The Crafty Lass does… Desk Art – Washi Tape Letters!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave my lovely blank and pristinely white ‘The Crafty Lass’ ‘C’ and ‘L’ alone for long… When I bought them, I had intended to simply paint them – one in hot pink, and the other in bright green – but instead, inspired by some new additions to my ‘washi tape’ collection – I went for a crazy ‘layered’ look.

The blank letters, can be found at Fred Aldous (and many other art/craft shops) and the tapes… well you can find them ALOT of places… Google ‘washi tapes’ and you’d be surprised just how many variations there are!

It’s vibrant, it’s a simple craft to try, and I think – looks GREAT! It’s certainly an inspiring bit of desk art! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: General Craft, House & Home, Stationery, The Crafty Lass does...

The Crafty Lass does… Chocolate Easter Eggs!

Happy Easter!

So, the husband has gone out this Easter Sunday – the whole day – so, I have the house to myself – to do whatever I want. I could have spent a few lovely leisurely hours catching up on all my overdue to be watched Masterchef (I haven’t seen the last SIX episodes!) or, I could have gone out and spent some time in the rare sunshine. No – instead, I stayed in and made a mess, I made a huge chocolatey, fun, mess. I did make some chocolate Easter eggs in the process…but mainly a mess. 😉 The finished eggs aren’t perfect and, it would of course have been ALOT easier to go into my local supermarket and just BUY eggs. But, where would the fun be in that?

 

Chocolate, especially making moulded chocolate has always frightened me. Haha – not literally – but, ‘What if it’s too hot?’ ‘What if it’s too cold?’ ‘What if water gets into it?’ (Chocolate and water DO NOT mix!) ‘What if it just won’t come out of the mould?’ So many concerns! And, as it turned out, it was fine!

Chocolate, needs to be at the right ‘temper’ (don’t we all!) to ensure a lovely glossy sheen, a perfect ‘snap’ when you break into it, and to stop the chocolate ‘blooming’ (when fat and/or sugar can rise to the surface – which is still safe to eat, but just makes it look unsightly.) Ideally, I would have a fantastic ‘tempering machine’ at my disposal (quite a bit of cost in that!) Second to that, I would try and use a microwave to slowly melt the chocolate to the right temperatures/consistency…however our’s recently broke, and is yet to be replaced.  So, I used the the ‘Bain-Marie’ method. This ‘Instructables’ tempering guide clearly shows the step-by-step process, and the temperatures required. And, as long as you stick to these – it really is that easy.

 

Top Tip 1! Bowls. I actually used plastic (instead of glass or metal) – to try and ensure the actual bowl didn’t ‘keep’the the temperature up too hot once off the heat, so it would cool down much quicker.

 

Top Tip 2! Lakeland have a great device that I used – a ‘Thermospatula‘ – a silicone spatula and thermometer combined – perfect!

 

Once the chocolate was tempered, I poured the chocolate into the egg moulds and swirled/twisted them around to ensure all areas were coated. I then repeated this process to ensure the eggs would be thick enough – too thin and they could easily crack when coming out! Once all coated, it was into the fridge for five minutes. The chocolate doesn’t take long to set – and if tempered correctly, as the chocolate re-forms into a solid mass, it will slightly shrink away from the mould, allowing it to easily come out. Luckily for me, this did actually happen – a slight ‘tap’, and out they came, and as hoped – with a lovely shiny finish. If they don’t come out that easily – a quick blast in the freezer can sometimes help!

Top Tip 3! Once each of the ‘half eggs’ are out of the moulds – I used a heated tray straight from the oven… gently resting the egg halves on here, to slightly re-melt the edges before putting together. Et voila, one whole egg!

 

The finished result – I am happy that they do actually look like eggs (not sure what else they would look like!) – but I have learnt a few things:

1. It isn’t hard, or scary. Working with chocolate is alot easier than you think – and importantly, fun! I’d highly recommend anyone to give this a go! It doesn’t have to be Easter themed – there are a whole multitude of moulds, in all shapes and sizes out there to try! And joking aside – it wasn’t THAT messy, just a few bowls/moulds to wash up! 🙂

 

2. You need to work quickly with chocolate – I poured the tempered chocolate into the moulds, and didn’t swirl it around into the egg shape quickly enough – so the chocolate started to set – and allowed for a few air holes in the eggs. A way to combat this? I should have banged the mould gently on the work surface to bring these air bubbles to the top – and out of the chocolate – before setting, but I didn’t, so there are a few little air pockets here and there.

 

3.  Quantities? You need to work out just how much chocolate is required for your specific egg mould. I melted FAR too much. It’s ok – it will just have to be eaten 😉 – but next time – I will melt less (I melted 400g for these three eggs, added in around 150g in the tempering process – and probably only used around two thirds.) Anyone out there with some ‘top tips’ for measuring what is required?

Next year’s attempt will be to try patterned eggs! Dark, milk and white, filled with sweeties, little gifts – the ideas are endless.

Now, all that there is left to do… is eat! Happy Easter everyone!

 

Categories: Easter, The Crafty Lass does...

Top 5… Easter Crafts!

With three more days left of this Easter weekend ahead of us, there is no excuse not to get crafty! The weather may be grey, but why not release your inner creative streak with a few of these egg-citing (sorry!) Easter crafts to brighten up your day!

 

1. Easter Bunting!

I am not sure about you, but I am so excited with the idea of using paint swatches to make stuff – they are pretty much in unlimited colours! Check out this idea from Modern Parents, Messy Kids for making paint swatch Easter Egg bunting! I have already asked the husband if we have any spare in the house to make some…

 

2. Wine cork chicks!

How about these super cute printed chickadees? Cork being the perfect-paint-printer-base, just add eyes, legs, a little card mouth and et voila a perfect Easter piece of art! This would be effective repeated on a paper tablecloth, as a greeting card, or just something lovely to put up on the fridge! The only downside to this crafty idea, is once that wine bottle has been opened, it will need to be consumed… 😉

 

3. Rainbow Crayons!

Now these, are pretty epic. Just how cool would it be to literally draw in a rainbow pallette with these bright and cute homemade bunny crayons from Moonfrye. You are bound to see Easter themed silicone moulds – eggs, bunnies, chicks – in any supermarket this weekend, or in your local Lakeland store – and I bet, if you have kids – you’ll have a spare few hundred crayons to make this cheap, and simple – but oh so exciting creation. In fact, even if you don’t have kids – go out and buy some crayons just to do this!

 

4. Bunny Treat Bags!

Planning to give out some sweeties this weekend? Why not get creative with how you present them with these Bunny Ear Treat Bags from Oh Happy Day. It’s a quick and easy craft that looks so effective!

 

5. Springtime Wreath!

This beautiful wreath will take abit more preparation – unless you happen to have some fluffy green wool, a wreath base, and some lace daisies already hanging about your house – but all should be available in your local craft shop or Hobbycraft. It’s such a simple concept – but the final results look beautiful! This could even be used as a table centrepiece for tomorrow’s Easter lunch! Fill will chocolate eggs for extra happy Easter guests!

 

Happy Easter everyone, let’s hope the Easter bunny pays you a visit 🙂

Categories: Easter, Top 5

Top 5… Traditional Egg Decorations!

Did you know, that actually the Easter eggs tradition didn’t start with chocolate…? Behind the rows and rows of commercialised packaging, brands and more sugary treats than you can shake a chocolate stick at – are symbols of fertility, rebirth and new life. The tradition of giving and receiving eggs goes back hundreds of years and good old UK chocolate brand Cadbury explains all with ‘The Story of Easter and Easter Eggs’ HERE.

I love chocolate, don’t get me wrong (who doesn’t?) and Easter is a great excuse to have chocolate for breakfast – but I remember as a child always having boiled eggs on Easter Sunday morning, and loved nothing more than getting all my feltip pens out and drawing pretty patterns on the shells afterwards!

So, whatever the reasons behind the egg tradition – and I am certainly looking forward to some chocolately delights on Sunday – but here are my Top 5 egg decorations – the more traditional way…

 

1. Love colour? Have some patience and time on your hands? How about creating some ‘Pantone‘ eggs as here on How About Orange?

 

2. Simple, but effective – are these ‘Oodles of Doodles‘ pastel coloured eggs from Pattern Stitch Blog, that look great! Or, get inspiration from her previous year designs in minimalist black and white! Go wild with edible pens and creating your own wacky doodles!

 

3. Now when is there a time in life when glitter doesn’t improve everything?! Why not try these Glitter dipped eggs from ‘Frugal Mom Eh!‘. Bright, sparkly and fun!

 

4. Living at Home has this great idea of just simply decorating using tapes wrapped around in vibrant colours! (use Google Translate to turn German – English, simples!)

 

5. Lastly, but not leastly – these beautiful and intricately designed eggs by The Caroline Johansson add a further touch of inspiration by adding on a little hook – which you could then hang up on a tree!

 

There are hundreds, thousands of ideas out there! While searching, I came across ‘Minion’ eggs, ‘Super Mario’ eggs, simply dyed, painted, metallic, wax resist… go wild and unleash your imagination!

 

P.S. Ok, I know I said ‘Top 5’ but I couldn’t resist also adding a link to these ‘eggcellent’ (sorry) Disney themed cuties!

 

 

Categories: Easter, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Easter ‘Egg and Soldiers’!

Are you having friends and family over for dinner this Easter? And need an interesting dessert? Well, look no further than this scrummy delight of ‘Egg and Soldiers’!

I made this last year for a post-Sunday-roast-pud, and it went down a storm! Even serving it in empty egg cups/boxes, for extra presentation points! 😉

I was inspired originally by Raspberri Cupcakes – where she makes these, and with such beautiful photos and ideas – I couldn’t resist giving it a try for myself!

I used ‘Kinder’ eggs as the outer shell – perfect size, and actually, on the day I was hunting for hollow chocolate Easter eggs – after four separate supermarket visits – they were the only ones anywhere had!! This was Easter Saturday and everywhere was sold out! However, they worked just perfectly in the end… Our nephew especially loving it – as he got SIX Kinder surprises!

Gently taking off the top, without cracking the main part of the egg was the hardest part…

Top Tip! Leave the foil wrapper on, and put the eggs in the freezer for around 10-15 minutes to slightly harden the chocolate before gently carving off the top with a sharp, ideally serrated knife… Just be gentle! 🙂

For the ‘egg white’, I used a ‘Nigella community recipe’ – Quick Vanilla Cheesecake – (it really does do what it says on the tin and is quick and simple)…and then, just simply spooned into the eggs. Ideally, I would have piped it in – which of course you could do, if you have the time/a piping bag/nossle to hand! Then – simply pop into the fridge for around an hour or so, or until slightly set. Using an empty egg box to put them in is ideal at this stage – as it ensures the ‘eggs’ stay upright whilst setting!

 

The ‘yolk’ was made from a fresh and juicy mango and around a tablespoon of caster sugar. I cubed a whole mango into a saucepan, added in the sugar and heated gently until a slightly thicker, and gloriously yellow puree, before allowing to cool. For the six eggs I made – I had quite abit of coulis left over, which I had the following day with ice-cream (just like a Solero!) So, maybe adjust to however you see fit… I am sure it’ll still get eaten if any left! 😉

 

Whilst the cheesecakes were setting, and the mango cooling – I made the amazing shortbread. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe – and the clue is in the name… The Best Shortbread in the World from his book ‘Cooking with Jamie‘. I can’t find an ‘official’ link for it, but here it is on one of Jamie’s forums.  It takes a little longer than ‘normal’ shortbread, but it is thick, buttery, crumbly, sugar coated amazing-ness. It makes the kitchen smell truly fantastic!!

 

Once the cheesecake was set, I simply spooned out a small part in the centre (reserve, and eat later!), poured in the coulis – and ‘et voila’!

Then, served up in egg cups and/or boxes – with the ‘soldiers’ on the side.

Enjoy! Let me know if you give it a go!

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

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