#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Having Coffee on 23rd October 2016

Thanks for joining me for this Weekend Coffee Share, created by Diana at Part Time Monster!

If we were having coffee today, I would invite you over to my place. I’ve recently discovered Beanies Flavour Coffee so I can offer you a choice of Cinder Toffee, Gingerbread, Cinnamon Hazelnut or Amaretto Almond as well as the usual tea or coffee… which do you like the sound of? I’ve always been a huge fan of anything Amaretto flavoured myself.

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After having such a hectic week last week, I’m relieved to say that this week has been much quieter, which is just as well as I’m feeling rather under the weather at the moment with a bad cold. Aside from catching up with all of the housework and jobs that built up whilst I was away, I’ve also been able to finally sit down and work on my Lilac Fairy which I’ve not touched since April last year! I’m making really good progress with it and I’m roughly 3/4 of the way though now. Are you working on a project at the moment?

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Speaking of 3/4, my husband and I decided to do some shopping in Cambridge yesterday. It’s just over half an hour away from us and such a beautiful place to wander around, so when offered a choice between there or our local shops it wasn’t hard to decide which we were going to visit! I was surprised at how much Harry Potter merchandise was for sale (not that I was complaining) and couldn’t resist buying a Platform 3/4 sign to go in our Harry Potter themed guest room/craft room.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you if you’re planning on decorating your house for Halloween and if so, how soon do you decorate? I’m planning to put ours up sometime this week, which I’m excited about… I absolutely love Halloween, it was always my favourite holiday growing up (even more than Christmas) because my mum and dad always made it such good fun, with fabulous decorations and amazing food. We used to host a Halloween party every single year up until I moved down South. I really miss them, but hopefully in the future I’ll be able to host them myself.

It’s such a lovely autumn day that I think I’ll go for a walk now that I’ve finished my coffee, care to join me? Don’t forget to visit my fellow bloggers for a cuppa and a catch up!

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X is for X-Stitch*

This Blog is taking part in the April 2016 A to Z Challenge. Don’t forget to check out the other Blogs taking part HERE and follow #AtoZChallenge on Twitter!

*Cross-Stitch really, but I had to find an X somewhere!

What is it?
Cross-Stitch is a needlework technique which uses stitches to form a picture. The X is formed by a diagonal stitch from one corner to another (for example top left to bottom right) which is then repeated in reverse (bottom left to top right). The most commonly used fabric to stitch on is linen, aida or evenweave. The easiest of these to use is aida because it has clear squares, which makes following your cross stitch pattern much easier.

Kitten 4/4

Cross-Stitch birthday card

What do I need?
If you buy a cross-stitch kit, it will usually have everything included that you need to make a particular design. If you have found a pattern in a book or online, you will need adia, needles, embroidery floss, an embroidery hoop, pin cushion and scissors. Cross Stitch UK has a fantastic range of patterns, accessories and kits.

How do I make it?
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of cross-stitch patterns and kits for every skill level, most are very easy to follow but if you’re not confident with half-stitches or French knots it’s best to start out with a basic design first. The Cross Stitch Guild has some great tips to get you started!

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A selection of cross-stitch kits, pin cushion and pomander

Why do you like it?
I’m somewhat of a cross-stitch addict, I buy all of the magazines I can get my hands on and have several books and folders of patterns saved… not that I’ll ever have the time to make all of them! Over the years I’ve made bookmarks, pomanders, jewellery, pin cushions, birth announcements, cards and pictures to name but a few. My ongoing project is my Lilac Flower Fairy which I really need to start working on again!

Sewing Supplies

My suitcase of sewing supplies

What’s been your favourite design to stitch? I’d love to see your pictures!

A is for Appliqué

This Blog is taking part in the April 2016 A to Z Challenge. Don’t forget to check out the other Blogs taking part HERE and follow #AtoZChallenge on Twitter!

What is it?
Appliqué is a needlework technique using different sizes and layers of fabric. Smaller pieces of fabric are cut out to create a shape and sewn onto a larger piece of material to create a design. This technique is used a lot in quilting and banner making and it can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine.

What do I need?
You will need embroidery thread, a needle, fabric scraps, fusible webbing and a pattern to work from. There are a whole range of patterns online, such as the lovely designs on Free Applique Patterns to give you some ideas of what you can make.

How do I make it?
There are lots of different methods of appliqué but the basic premise is as follows; when you have decided on your pattern, trace the design onto the fusible webbing and roughly cut around the shapes. Then iron the webbing onto the reverse side of your chosen fabric scrap and cut out the exact shapes. Peel off the backing from the webbing and lay out your shapes according to your pattern and then iron them in place. Finally sew around the edges to finish off your design.

Why do you like it?
You don’t have to be a sewing expert to create something truly unique, appliqué can be as simple or as complex as you like and you can create all sorts of things from cushions and wall hangings to customized clothes and gifts. On a more nostalgic note, I had a beautiful Christmas stocking when I was little which was made using the same method and I have been fascinated with appliqué ever since.

Do you have a preferred method, favourite book or tutorial? Let me know, I would love to hear from you!

Not the gumdrop buttons!

Before I start rambling on about gingerbread, cake and more gingerbread (seriously there’s a lot of gingerbread in this post) I want to congratulate my best friend Michelle and her fiancé. They welcomed their beautiful baby girl into the world on Saturday. I’m so happy for them and I wish them all the luck and love in the world for the future!

With less than week to go until Christmas, I’ve been busy making and baking all sorts of gifts and ornaments for people (which sadly I can’t put on here as they’re a surprise) whilst watching the fabulous Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas.

First up was this fantastic glitter jelly from Hartley’s which you can buy in strawberry or raspberry flavour. I’m a fan of anything that involves glitter (much to the despair of my other half) so when I spotted it in ASDA I just had to give it a try. I’ve not tried the raspberry one yet, but the strawberry one was delicious.

Then I made some of my own gingerbread men, which were pretty nice but not gingery enough for me… I must dig out the old Ormskirk gingerbread recipe I have in a folder somewhere, nothing compares to it!

Speaking of Ormskirk gingerbread, I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I could purchase a figurine from the Ormskirk Community Partnership. It’s a perfect reminder of my home town and never fails to make me smile! You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more details.

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Also on the gingerbread theme, I made this little guy from a felt kit. I’m still undecided as to whether or not I want to give him away, just look at his little face! Looks like I’m going to have to make another one…

I had a lot of fun making these melted snowmen cupcakes, I was a bit wary when I first started because icing and I usually don’t get on (so many cakes have ended in disaster once icing has been introduced) but I think this time I might have cracked it!

My final bake for this week was a batch of scones, which wasn’t festive, but very enjoyable (both to make and eat) regardless. I’m looking forward to trying out more advanced recipes in the new year and hopefully increasing my confidence, especially with savoury dishes.

Despite spending all of my free time working on various mini projects, I took time out to see Simply Red on Friday and Duran Duran on Saturday. As usual with my favourite artists, no one will do anything for ages and then all go on tour at the same time! It was an exhausting weekend but I loved every second of every song.

Simply Red: Big Love Tour

Duran Duran: Paper Gods Tour

I’m off to pack my suitcase and everyone’s presents for Christmas with my family, I can’t wait! If I don’t manage to update before January, I hope everyone has a lovely holiday and great New Year x

Pumpkin Pies, Advent Calendars and other Christmas Crafts

December is here, which means I’ve been busy baking gingerbread cupcakes, cross-stitching Christmas cards, working on a wooden Christmas tree and making a dark chocolate Advent Calendar (which you can find out how to make here) among other things!

Another thing I attempted was pumpkin pie which I’ve always wanted to try, so mum and I decided to have a go at the recipe. We had to convert most of the measurements and use a little bit of guess work, but we ended up with a really nice pie at the end of it. The ingredients we used were:

  • 1 x 8 inch sweet pastry case
  • 2 x eggs
  • 1 x can of pumpkin purée
  • 170g of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 pint evaporated milk

First, Pre-heat your oven and mix the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves together in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat your eggs and stir in the pumpkin purée and then add in the mixed spices.

Gradually add in the evaporated milk, continue to stir until all of the ingredients have been fully mixed together, then pour the mixture into the pastry case.

Bake the pie at 220°C for 15 minutes and then lower to 175°C and bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife in the centre comes out clean.

Leave the pie to cool and then refrigerate until required. Serve the pie with whipped cream.

Latest Makes and Bakes

I’ve been trying a few new things with my baking and crafting recently, most of which I am pleased to say have been a success.

The other day I made some orange flavoured Halloween cupcakes and used a piping bag for the first time (instead of my usual method of using a spoon and hoping for the best) and I was really pleased with how enjoyable it was to do and how the icing turned out. I’m definitely going to have to invest in a piping set now!

I had a go at 3D Cross stitch for the first time and made a hedgehog pin cushion… It was a bit trickier than I was expecting but I got there in the end, after a few :

I also successfully baked a lemon cake using our awfully unpredictable oven (the turney button things are a lie) and it was very yummy indeed. I may attempt something more challenging than cupcakes and sponge cake in the near future… I just need to practice a little more first.

I made this Christmas dove ornament for our tree this year. It will be our first Christmas together in our own place, so I wanted to make a keepsake to mark the occasion:

Finally, I found my Clippy tote bag which I’ve spent ages looking for! I love the Clippy range, it’s such a simple idea but you can do so much with it and the various accessories you can buy means you can change it to suit pretty much any look. I decided to give mine a Bond makeover for my upcoming 007 adventure in London:

Well, I best get started on my next project…

So much to do, so little time to do it…

Hello again! It looks like this will be yet another summary post as I’ve been rushed off my feet again and my free time is now spent volunteering for the British Heart Foundation which is a very important charity to me, and I really enjoy helping out in our local store.

♥ I’m sad to see yet another chapter in the Harry Potter world come to an end, as Pottermore announced they are going to “move beyond the gates of Hogwarts” and change the site as we know it. I have loved exploring every single moment/chapter of Harry’s story and Hogwarts, and I shall miss it terribly. If you’re a member, don’t forget to download your personalised certificate by the 16th September!

♥ David and I visited the National Media Museum in Bradford, and I definitely recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area. There are loads of things to see and plenty of interactive sections (including a floor of old arcade and console games, which you can play) and best of all entry is free!

♥ We have also been to the Bradford Classic Car Show, Passion for Power Classic Motor Show, Ormskirk MotorFest and The Oulton Park Gold Cup, all of which were entirely different styles of car show, but all equally entertaining (although I will always have a soft spot for the MotorFest because it’s my hometown).

♥ It was Bailey’s first birthday on the 21st August and I can’t believe how much he’s grown already! Naturally he was spoilt rotten by us and had a lovely mini birthday cake and his favourite food for dinner.

♥ I’ve put my Lilac Fairy on hold for now, as I just don’t have enough to time to sit down and concentrate on it at the moment. Instead I’ve been working on smaller projects, such as this monogram pendant and chocolate cupcakes:

♥ Wedding planning is picking up speed now, even though we’ve done a lot, there’s still SO much more to sort out! I would be completely lost if it wasn’t for Weddingspot, which has been fantastically helpful so far. I’m also very excited for my next dress fitting with Kirsty at the end of the month!

♥ I’m loving the latest products from Lush at the moment, especially The Experimenter (which is an explosion of rainbow colours) and Pink Flamingo, which smells divine. Skydancer is also gorgeous, and it’s for a good cause too!

♥ Finally, we went to see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. the other week, which was pure brilliance:

New Look

I’m currently taking a payroll and accounts course, which is taking up most of my time at the moment, however I have been working on a new look for this blog.

I wanted to make it look fresher, easier to navigate and kinder on the eyes. Hopefully I have achieved this, but if you do find any glitches or pages that are hard to read, please do let me know.

I’ve also been concentrating on my Lilac Flower Fairy, which is certainly taking shape now. I’d say it’s about 2/4 of the way done… then I’ll start on the next one!

Lilac Flower Fairy

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Lilac Fairy Progress

Spring cleaning and days out (including visiting the Egyptology Gallery at The Atkinson and finding some gems in Bygone Times) have been keeping me busy this past week but I’ve still made time to work on my Lilac Flower Fairy, and I think it’s coming along really well:

It’s proving to be a good way to relax and de-stress, which is certainly something I need at the moment!

Kittens, Peacocks and Fairies

I’m on a roll with my stitching at the moment!

I’ve finished the kitten cross-stitch I started the other day:

And the dried lavender arrived, so my peacock project is now complete:

Peacock

Now I’ve got my motivation for sewing back, I’m starting on a much more complex design… The Flower Fairies, Lilac Fairy!