Thursday, 20 September 2012

First Christmas Card of the year (inspired by Mojo Monday)

Well, I'm not normally one for starting my Christmas cards early but with sets of Christmas tags under way for Etsy I'm feeling a little festive and what better way to get my creative juices flowing than to take part in a challenge, using Mojo Monday's sketch as a basis for a new design. I really liked this weeks sketch, think I'll be referring back to it for some future projects.


Here's how the card turned out, I use my trusty distress inks: Brushed Corduroy, Walnut Stain, Victorian Velvet and Aged Mahogany, the stampers (in ranger archival ink: jet black) are from my new set of 'Lost and Found Christmas' stamps by My Mind's Eye, the card base is a 6x6 Kraft card. The rosette is made with a distressed doily and an old page of a book, and the embellishment is a flattened beer bottle cap with a snowflake circle with room for a name (for when I finally decide who's getting this card).
Here is Julee's sketch, isn't it pretty? I'm looking forward to using it again when I have circle dies and materials at my disposal :) Check out all the other fabulous enteries HERE
Mojo Monday Blinkie

Friday, 14 September 2012

What's in your filofax Friday #3

See, and you thought this feature wouldn't be back again ;) As the last post was so popular I couldn't resist sharing a filofax project I've whipped up.
This is my Mum's filofax. It's a black A5 Domino organiser from .... well, probably the dark ages. I think you'll agree it has seen better days (despite the fact that for this photo I hid 3 inches of loose elastic) and is probably in need of a nice cosy retirement on some bookshelf somewhere, but while a replacement is no-where to be seen I decided to help 'spruce it up a bit' starting with some dividers (similar to the ones you may have seen in filofax week #3).
Firstly I must state that I'm not condoning purchasing 'faux' filofax products, but if you did want to personalise yours with a bit of D.I.Y crafting then funky dividers are a quick and simple way to go.
You can basically use any card for this: wallpaper samples, scrapbook card, standard coloured card - you can even use stamps, inks and embellishments to make something totally unique (I'd advise trying to keep your creations as flat as possible so that your filofax actually closes, but there are lots of possibilities to choice from).
Materials used:
Paisley monochrome A4 card
A set of old dividers (as a template)
A single hole punch - or use an official filofax punch
The formula is pretty obvious:
Draw around template/s & mark hole sites > Cut out > Punch holes > Put it to use
If you have a full set of dividers simply draw around those, or as in my case where I'd borrowed one divider you can space them yourself or even cut straight rectangle dividers and make your own tabs (dies such as sizzix Tim Holz Alterations 'tiny tabs 'might work well for this).

I also added a couple of beads and a knot to tighten the loose elastic around the domino - I admit it's not the neatest job, but will hopefully suffice as a quick fix and certainly looks better than all that loose elastic.
It would be really nice to see a range of official filofax dividers, other than the basics, maybe themed to co-ordinate with colours in the range or perhaps limited editions designed by guest designers (I'm sure there is a market for Louis Vuitton or Gucci dividers) but until then we have scrapbook papers and wallpaper samples - the makers of FIlofax please take note ;)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cake: The Trash Can Pack / Trashies

I volunteered to bake a cake for my Nephew's birthday last week. Apparently he's really into the 'Trash Pack' and Trashies toys -he has the bin and the dump truck. Now, I've only ever seen the TV advert so a little research was needed, but I quickly decided that in the time scale a 'Trash can' cake was the most straight forward with a surprise bright green cake inside.

This is a basic guide to how I made the cake - although I'm sure there are far easier or more professional ways to achieve the same cake. I didn't have a lot of time to plan and shop for this cake, so everything had to be available from my local asda or my own store-cupbaord - with more planning I'd have located some 5" round baking tins and bought more dowels and ready coloured grey and green sugar paste.
(using a 12" by 6" rectangular tin)
14oz Self Raising flour
14oz Butter
14oz Caster sugar
7 medium eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2tsp vanilla essence
Gel food colouring: green

1 tub frosting/buttercream
1 kg ready to roll white icing
Gel food colouring: green, black and yellow
Gold luster

Firstly I made a large rectangular cake using the recipe above (if you have small enough round tins use these instead and you will have less wastage), which I have adapted from my basic sponge measurements. After preheating my oven to 170°C I cream the sugar and butter, then adding the wet and dry ingredients alternately. I added the green gel at the end so I could judge the brightness of the green. I used asda natural colouring gel, most gels will work well, but avoid the liquid colouring. To add the gel I coated the bottom part of a cocktail stick in the gel and swirled it around in the cake mixture to release the colour before turning the mixer back on, I binned the leftover stick and repeated the process 3-4 times.

Baking times will vary depending on the size of tin, but for mine it took 30 minutes, although I was expecting between 45-1 hour for a thicker cake.

Once cooled I cut the large cake into 4 individual 5 inch cakes, I levelled the tops and stacked them with frosting between each layer and using a dowel rob for stability ... again, ideally I'd have used 4 evenly spaced dowels and cut them to size but time was an issue and as it had to be transported I left the dowel in (which I tried to hide a bit with the 'lid' handle). The cake did 'slouch' a little by the end as a result of the lack of even support, but I like to think it added to the 'old trash can' look of the cake.

Once assembled, I crumb coated the whole cake in frosting (store bought betty spoon as a time saver) and refrigerated for half an hour.

Now the interesting part, the icing. Firstly I died most of my 1kg of white ready roll icing grey using black food colouring gel - you can buy ready coloured icing from sugarcraft and specialist shops if you have more notice. Then I rolled out a large rectangle of icing and cut it to straighten the edges and measured to the height of cake, I placed the cake onto the rectangle and rolled the cake up in it, cutting at the overlap and using a sugar craft tool to bleng the join a little.

Placing the cake upright I then rolled out a circle to cover the top of the cake. And used a ball shaped sugar craft tool to make grooves around the cake to look like the indentations on the outside of the 'trash can'. Next I died most the remaining white icing green to match the inside of the cake and cut 'oozy dribbles' to go around the cake, I hid the tops of these with a long flat 1 inch piece of grey icing - which was supposed to look like part of the lid.

To one side I used more green icing to cut the letters 'j-a-c-k' and the number 5 out, and laid a 1 inch strip of grey icing over a stack of two flat wooden spatulars to dry out and give it a 'handel' shape. the remaining tiny bit of white icing was then died yellow, formed into 'screw' shapes and painted with gold luster.

The cake went down very well, the kids all liked the shape and theme of the cake while the adults where impressed with the favour of the sponge (despite the vivid green colour, lol).

Handmade card: Happy 70th Birthday Uncle Don

For my Uncle's 70th Birthday I was asked to make an additional card for the occassion. It was quite tricky coming up with 2 unique cards for one occasion, and I spent so long on the other card I ended up with litterally 45 minutes to design and make my own card (also the first official outting for my sizzix big shot).
This is the first card, as my Uncle was once an Elvis Tribute act and played the clubs, I wanted to theme the card around it. My starting point was this old photo, which I aged with distress ink around the edges (Antique Linen). I recently discovered my old badges collection, so threw in this lovely pin - which almost acts as a title. I added a vintage playing card (found the pack for 20p at a carboot sale). I hand cut the cork lettered and distress inked (Peeled Paint and Pine Needles) - really need to invest in some number dies now I have the bigshot. And embossed and distressed a ticket from the tri-boss range.
This is the 45 minute ,and actually I quite like the way it turned out - there are things I'd have done better, but I quite like the simple layout. I stamped a sentiment on the background with ranger jet black archival ink. And now for the bigshot: I cut the the photo and cork frame with Xcut's Square Parenthesis nesting frames, and the bookplate from Xcut's tags set. I added buttons to the bookplate and a flower.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Upcoming updates

Well it's all go in our family at the moment; birthdays, house moving, BBQs, painting & decorating, and nursery starting ... not to mention the accociated card making, cake decorating, cooking, sewing and other side projects. (Plus Mr.S's race running and toe breaking)
In all the chaos it's been tricky to find time for a proper update, but I promise more is coming soon!!! For now here is a sneak peek at my new toy...
... eeek!!! Previously I've held off buying any of the die cutting machines, prefering to muddle through with my punches and handcutting skills, but Christmas came early when this arrived :D So, expect lots of new projects involving my brand new Big Shot :D