Thursday, 31 January 2013

January highlights

Well January was a busy month on the blog after I decided to get organised and plan the posts for the month ahead. I thought I'd have a quick recap of highlights from the month both on and off the blog; I do love putting together a good collage.

On the blog:

craftypainter: January on the blog

First off there was the lovely Crafty Creatives 'Icy' box (I have yet to use the sparkly bath bomb), a walk around my garden and the crochet project with Cam City WI. I made a yummy vegan cheesecake, reopened my Etsy shop with a give away (still two days left to enter!) and finally the gorgeous 'Woodland' themed box from Crafty Creatives. 

Off the blog:

craftypainter: January off the blog

I worked mornings only for two weeks (wonderful) and discovered that my favourite place to go for hot chocolate is Costa since they have free WiFi and you don't have to do any silly logging in or registration (and the hot chocolate is massive). I spent about 5 minutes trying to photograph an upside-down swan and it snowed a bit. I started my half-marathon training and snuggled with The Cat who is feeling much better after a week of being unwell. 

Finally I learnt that if you run towards a rainbow you'll probably get rained on.

How was your January?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Crafty Creatives Box 7

I know I'm probably the last person to get around to writing about the Crafty Creatives January box but I have been a bit busy with getting everything sorted for the reopening of my Etsy shop. In case you missed it, I'm celebrating my reopening with a give away which you can enter here!

Anyway, back to the box! The theme could not have been better as my wonderful best friend Ro has decorated her new baby's room in a woodland theme. Huge congratulations to Ro and Steve on the arrival of Ivor who turned up in a bit if a hurry this morning, he is an absolute beauty.

So the very pretty art card this month comes from Lucy and this lovely box of goodies contained:
  • The kit: needle felted leaves
  • Toadstool beads
  • Wooden leaf buttons
  • Skeleton leaves
  • 5 leaf pendants
  • Owl print fabric
  • Flower soft
  • Fox beads
  • Owl pendant
  • 3 birch hearts
  • Pine cone
craftypainter: @craftycreatives box 7 contents

I got straight down to the needle felting as soon as I got the chance and made 13 leaves from the kit. After a bit of fiddling I threaded them on to some green ribbon. Hopefully there is a spot in Ivor's room where these can go.

Needle felted leaf garland by craftypainter

I haven't got started on the rest of the box yet but the leaf pendants are definitely going towards a charm bracelet. Since I don't wear earrings it'll be charms all the way with the fox and toadstool beads as well. I just need to get a few jewellery making supplies...

craftypainter: @craftycreatives box 7 contents

The flower soft, which looks like very finely chopped nylon netting, will be added to my glitter collection for future card making sessions and the birch hearts will be added to a photo frame (probably). 

Now I'm off to finish crocheting a hat for a very small person!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Etsy shop reopening giveaway

I promised more give aways this year and here is the first one. Last night I reopened my Etsy shop after a few weeks off to take stock (and make stock); this was number two on my list of resolutions for the year. I was however, a day late since I hadn't considered the time it takes to edit and upload photographs as well as writing all the item descriptions.

Old favourites back in stock include my fabric brooches (I think I have one of these attached to every coat!).

I've also been working on these felt brooches, made entirely from accumulated felt off cuts, I love the random shapes of the pieces and the spikey flowers they create.

I've also expanded my selection of gift tags, focusing mainly on mini tags because you don't need to say that much on a tag and they are just cuter.

And finally, coming soon, a new peacock cushion! It's smaller than the original but I've already been working on it for a week or so now, I just didn't manage to finish it in time and didn't want to delay reopening, so here is a sneaky peek...

So on to the give away and firstly the prize; a set of ribbon-covered mini tags and a felt brooch!

Entry will be open until Sunday 3 February 2013 at 4pm (GMT ). I'm trying out PunchTab for the first time as the method of entry, you can enter via Facebook or email initially and submit extra entries through the PunchTab widget, for example, visiting my shope or following me on Twitter will add an extra entry!

Good luck everyone! 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cherry cheesecake

This is a seriously yummy recipe for cheesecake which also happens to be dairy free! Everyone who has been forced by me in to trying it has said they can't tell its vegan and it's even received the seal of approval from some of my WI friends. The recipe is based on this one but I've swapped some of the ingredients for those more freely available in UK shops.

You will need:

2 cups of digestive biscuits
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1 cup silken tofu
1 cup dairy-free cream cheese
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoons soya milk
1 tin cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 175c

Crush the biscuits and stir in the maple syrup. Line the based of a 9 inch spring form cake tin and press the biscuit mix into the tin. Bake for 5 minutes.

In a blender, combine the tofu, cream cheese, lemon zest & juice, icing sugar, corn flour and soya milk. Blend until smooth and pour onto the base.

Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 165c and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Allow to cool before running a knife gently around the edge to loosen.

Serve with a generous spoonful of pie filling and try not to eat it all at once.

I've found that budget digestive biscuits are best as they don't contain any butter or milk powder.

If you find or know of any vegan friendly bakes, please do leave me the link in the comments, I would love to give them a try.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Cam City WI and the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens crochet project

Back in July last year I heard about a new WI group starting in Cambridge and I nervously went along to the first open meeting. There was an amazing turn out and the ladies involved in organising it all were overwhelmed by the 50+ people who attended. A second open meeting took place in September (with over 100 attendees) and I couldn't help volunteering to join the organising committee. A few weeks later the position of looking after the group blog became available and I was really happy to take it on.

Cambridge was clearly desperate for a new WI group and the open meetings were so popular that the number of members had to be limited to 150. Joining Cam City WI was an excellent decision, in just four months we've had talks on local archaeology and the perception of beauty, we've enjoyed live jazz and tea tasting as well as learning new crafts. With such a big group I haven't got to know everyone just yet but I have met lots of lovely new people so far.

On Saturday I joined 24 members of Cam City WI who are taking part in a 10 month project to create a crochet display for Cambridge University Botanic Gardens as part of the 2013 Festival of Ideas. You can read all about how we got on at our first session on the Cam City WI blog and check out some of our crocheted leaves.

craftypainter: crocheted leaves

Sunday, 13 January 2013

January in my garden

Part of my plan to reorganise my blog is to introduce some regular posts. So this will be the first of my monthly posts where I'll be checking in with what's happening around my little garden. I always tend to subject  it to a few months of neglect towards the end of the year and at the moment it needs a lot of work. There's lots of cutting back to be done but I'm waiting for a warmer day when I can get properly stuck in. 

craftypainter: January in the garden

For now I'll satisfy myself with the winter gems that can be found and think about what needs doing.  January is always an exciting time of year when things start sprouting and you can think about your plans for the coming year (indoors with a cup of tea). I especially like to get all my seed packets out and decide what I'll be planting and when. 
craftypainter: January in the garden

One problem I have is I love sowing seeds but I'm not so good at remembering to pot them on or plant them out in time and I hope that my regular garden catch-up will motivate me in the same way that my blog has helped me to be more creative. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Crafty Creatives Box 6

craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 6
Wow wow wow! I loved the contents of the December box but sadly had no time to get stuck in before nipping away for Christmas. The beautiful art card by Eleanor Carter set the icy scene. In case you haven't caught up with any of the other Crafty Creatives box bloggers the December box contained:
  • The kit: mini bath bombs
  • Snowflake stickers
  • Two glass drop pendants
  • Icy glass beads
  • Paillettes
  • Strand of fluorite gemstones
  • Two glass hearts
  • Furry white yarn
  • 20m of elastic
  • Memory wire
  • PLUS - 3 Crafty Creatives badges
craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 6

I LOVE bath bombs, especially sparkly glittery ones, so the kit was perfect for me. If only I had time to make some for Christmas presents! I guess I'll just have to keep them!

Since I love glitter so much, I couldn't resist adding some to my bath bomb recipe. This was a really easy make although I think I did add a little too much water to the mix as once I pressed the mixture into the mold it started to expand, a lot!! Once it started to dry though, out I was able to press it all back in. The orange oil provided with the kit smelled amazing too.

craftypainter: Crafty Creatives - bath bomb kit

As soon as I saw the memory wire I knew exactly what to do with it. I had been planning to make the crochet snowflake by Hannah of Span's Studio which was featured in the first issue of Make and Craft magazine but hadn't managed to get the right size of wire. The choker wire provided in the kit was perfect but my first attempt with the fluffy yarn didn't quite work so I went with plain acrylic yarn.
craftypainter: Crafty Creatives Box 6 makes
I used the snowflake stickers to make these quick gift tags and then used the fluffy yarn to make some mini baubles. I've seen projects for yarn wrapped around polystyrene balls to make festive baubles but a screwed up piece of paper work just as well.

Now I'm off to catch up with what everyone else has been making with their box 6 items.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Make & Craft Magazine Home Decorations Swap

Regular visitors will know that I do love a craft swap; back in October, Make and Craft Magazine launched their first craft swap with the theme of home decorations. This was my third craft swap and I was paired with Steph of Stickytarts.

Steph's email said she likes unusual fabrics so I decided to go with a set of my strawberry decorations made using floral William Morris fabric, I also made a lavender heart using some of my scraps. As part of the swap rules I needed to buy a £3 treat; I found some festive snow flake socks, a bar of mint cream chocolate, and added a bundle of coloured ribbons.
craftypainter: William Morris strawberries and lavender heart

In return I received a wonderful package containing a Santa tin stuffed with three of Steph's star-shaped decorations. I absolutely love the colours of these and am really pleased to have received them. Also included in the package from Steph was a yummy nakd bar and some glittery fabric paints.
craftypainter: Home decorations craft swaps by Stickytarts

If you love Steph's star decorations as much as I do then do vist her shop.

Have you taken part in any swaps recently? Do let me know, I'm always on the look out for new things to try.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New year's resolutions 2013

It's 2013 and time to set my goals for the coming months...

Last year I simply wanted to blog more. I did manage this but my approach was somewhat random; if I made something that I deemed blog worthy it would be featured.  This was great for keeping me motivated to try new things but there was little structure and at times I felt at a bit of a loss as to what to write about. So my first goal for 2013 is to introduce a bit of planning to my blogging to help keep a better grasp on what I need to do and hopefully reduce the list of draft post in my blog list. I currently have 16 un-published blog posts!
Blog planning kit!
In September 2012 I opened my Etsy shop, I made some sales but towards the end of the year found it difficult to keep up with everything that needed to be done. I've decided to give myself a holiday from the shop for a couple of weeks in order to restock and catch-up. So goal number two is to reopen my shop on the 25 January and to celebrate with a giveaway on the blog. Watch this space!

Speaking of giveaways, I really enjoyed hosting my first giveaway in 2012 with Make and Craft Magazine. My third goal will be to run at least four giveaways via my blog in 2013.

Some other goals to add to my to do list for 2013:
  • Finish my epic braided rug and write tutorial post
  • Invite some guest bloggers to feature and write more guest posts of my own
  • Finally finish my current painting
  • Use up the huge stash of jeans and cloths and upcycle them in to lovely new things
What have you got planned for 2013?

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