Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Love and butterflies

I'm back with another card today, and particularly pleased about this one as it's made completely from scraps, offcuts and some old rub-ons and embellishments. I'm sure you know by now that I don't like anything going to waste, and I just knew that I had to design a card based around this butterfly-embossed Centura Pearl that I brought home from my demo (a lady asked me if she could see the A4 Die'sire Ornate Butterflies folder in action, then subsequently bought one when she saw the gorgeous results!) The actual design for it came to me in the middle of the night when I was cuddling Stanley back to sleep (this happens a lot), and originally I was going to use a hot pink mica mist on the butterfly background. However, despite rooting around my stash I appear to have run out, so I settled on some plum pearl pigments instead, which I dry-brushed onto the background to give a subtle sheen - it's quite difficult to capture this in a photo, but it does give a lovely effect in the flesh. The hot pink and lighter pink polka dot cardstock were from my scraps box, and I simply die-cut two butterflies from both types of cardstock, layered them together for dimension and added a strip of pearls to the butterfly's body. The whole design came together very quickly in the end - I hope you like it!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Homemade Cloud Dough

Ever heard of Cloud Dough before? It is possibly my favourite homemade messy play material and also one of the easiest to make! The recipe basically comprises of 1 cup oil to every 8 cups of flour and then simply mix with your fingers. I used vegetable oil because of Stanley's penchant for putting things in his mouth, but there are recipes online that also call for baby oil. Either seems to work just fine. Here I added pink food colouring and pink glitter, but I've also made a batch of blue Moon Dust with added peppermint essence for that extra sensory element. Whatever colour or scent you make it, no-one can deny that it feels A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I made this for one of my messy play classes and the mums seemed to enjoy running their fingers through it as much as the babies did! I love the way it feels soft and floury one minute, then almost damp and mouldable like sand the next. Fabulous stuff!
Another good thing about Cloud Dough is that it lasts a while when stored in an air-tight container. So, on a lazy day like the one we had last week, it's a great thing to simply get out and play with. I placed mine in a sand/water pit and added colourful plastic toys such as scoops, sieves and rakes. It's quite an easy material to clean up with a hoover, but seen as it was a lazy day, I took Stanley outside so that minimal cleaning was involved. I'd like to say he had hours of fun playing but on this occasion it only lasted 10 minutes - I had to tempt him back indoors when he wouldn't stop trying to eat clumps of it and I was worried about tummy aches. BUT, based on the way he played so enthusiastically in the sand on the beach at Anglesey, I'm hoping as he gets older this will become a firm favourite!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Demo day!

So on Saturday 19th April I had my first demo at Carole's Crafts in Oswaldtwistle. It was fab - the customers I met were a lovely bunch and the Carole's Crafts ladies made me feel very welcome indeed, treating me to tea and cupcakes! I demonstrated the Ebosser electronic cutting machine and Die'sire dies and Embossalicious embossing folders, as well as the Ultimate Pro along with the accompanying Boxer, Enveloboxer and Sweet Treat boards. I wasn't even nervous, just super excited to get started. Of course it was a learning curve and there were things I learnt that will put me in good stead for my next demo, but I enjoyed it so much and didn't stop nattering all day - I didn't even get to finish my cupcakes! The demo took place from 11am until 3pm, so imagine my surprise when I realised the day was over already and it was 3.15pm. Always a sign of a good day!
One of the great things about becoming a demonstrator is getting to play with all the Crafter's Companion goodies to make samples. To take to this demo I made a set of boxes using Centura Pearl cardstock and some flowers printed from the Die'sire CD-ROM. And of course buttons... I'm addicted to buttons at the minute!
And gems. I love gems! As I was demonstrating the Ebosser and embossing folders, I made this card using an ornate heart design that I embossed onto Core'dinations cardstock and rubbed with a sanding block to bring out the design. Gems were the perfect accent to highlight this pretty pattern.
As well as the dies and embossing folders, I had a little play with the BeBunni stamps to create this card. It's a little bit of a departure from my usual style. The ornate frame die seemed the perfect fit for this, and of course more buttons were needed!
A lot of ladies admired the shape of this card, which was made using the Ultimate Pro. It was so simple to create using this tool yet looks so effective! I had such fun preparing for the demo and I've already got my sights set for the next one in June... can't wait!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Welcome to the world

Ahh. Look at my beautiful little pud as a shiny newborn, less than an hour old when this photo was taken. I can't believe how much he's grown in such a small amount of time. He's the funniest, happiest, most headstrong little dude and he's a credit to me every day. I loved scrapping this photograph and had the design for this layout in my head for ages. I dry-brushed a large white square background onto blue cardstock as the base for this one (yes, I do love this technique), then worked on building up the paper layers. The large photo and the huge sun meant that I wanted to keep the rest of the design fairly simple to help these big striking features stand out. The sun was actually cut from some old American Crafts Amy Tangerine patterned paper (waste not, want not!) and made me think of a sunrise = new beginnings = the birth of my gorgeous little boy. Stanley's birth was not an easy one and for a while I couldn't face the thought of revisiting it, but now he's turning into such a lovely little boy the bad memories of his birth pale into comparison. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Easter baking party

Now that half-term is upon us (or nearly upon us for some), all the baby groups have stopped. My group of lovely mummies were a little stuck for things to do to keep the babies entertained for a morning. The weather isn't great so picnics aren't the answer, and soft play centres are places to be avoided during school holidays. So what to do? My friend Kirsty is a bit of a domestic goddess, and she came up with the idea of holding a little baking party at her house. I thought it was a great idea - I don't bake very often (I hate my kitchen, which doesn't help!) and Stanley hasn't had much of a chance to bake with me, so this was a fun new activity for him to do.
First Kirsty laid out some pre-made cookie dough onto a floured table and we set about rolling out the dough and creating Easter-shaped cookies using cutters. I have no photos of this. Must try harder! Once the cookies were in the oven, we broke up pieces of milk chocolate into bowls, which Kirsty melted before adding a handful of cornflakes. The babies loved mixing this together...
...but they enjoyed eating it more!
Mmm yummy!
We spooned the mixture into pretty Easter-coloured paper cases and added some egg-shaped sweets on top...
...some of the babies even attempted this themselves! The cornflake cakes looked fab and, while we left them to one side to set, we were able to have a go at decorating our cookies, which were baked and cooled by this point.
I was so impressed at how the babies got on with this, and they all attempted to use the icing to decorate their creations.
Even Stanley gave it a go, and he's the youngest of the group at nearly 17 months. It just goes to show what they can do at this age! I wouldn't have thought to try this with babies so young as they are still mastering their motor skills, but it seemed to come naturally and they really enjoyed it!
Stanley's cookies turned out beautifully. They tasted pretty good too!
One of the good things about getting together to do this activity is there were four of us to clean up. Within 10 minutes you would never have known we'd just been on a baking spree! I would definitley do this again, especially as the babies get older - think cupcake decorating, or baking and decorating Christmas gingerbread. A different way for the babies to socialise and explore their creativity, and a great way to spend a morning!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A quick card and some good news

Oops! Broke my promise, didn't I? It has been a very busy few weeks and I just haven't had the time to blog, but now we're back from holidays and all my cleaning, unpacking and washing has finally been done, I can breathe and take a few minutes to think and create! Since being back I've also had some wonderful news that I couldn't wait to share. The training event in Darlington that I mentioned in a previous post was actually for Crafter's Companion as part of becoming an Accredited Demonstrator. It wasn't an easy course and I had to wait 3 weeks to find out if I'd passed - but I have!! My first demo will be at Carole's Crafts in Oswaldtwistle on 19th April and I am just excited to get started. I feel so grateful and hugely honoured to have been given the chance to demo for this company, espeically as so many of the other ladies on the course were so qualified and successful in the craft industry. This really is a new chapter in my career!
And so on to my latest project. I've had these text accent Thickers in my stash for aaaaages but never used them... I think the grey colour is what's been putting me off. So, I challenged myself to use them for a super-quick card. And here's the result. I like using up old products for my blog cards, as I can't use them for my magazine work. I find it so frustrating that I have all this gorgeous stuff but I can't make the most of it because it's been discontinued. I wish manufacturers would keep their products on the shelves for just a little bit longer, because I never have the time to get through everything!! So that's my new mission for this blog - using up things in my stash and mixing new with old. Just because I can! ;)

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