Friday, March 27, 2015

AVIAN REAL ESTATE .....

Here in the South, Spring is in full swing. The trees are bursting into leaf, flower buds are ready to pop open, the grass is green and the regular mowing schedule has begun. Our garden is alive, with birds collecting material for nests ... building nests ..... and preparing for the next generation, and I LOVE it !!!!
We had one birdhouse in our garden last year, that was home to 2 sets of little wren babies - this year, the house sparrows have claimed it first. The decorative African mask we have on our back patio is home to little wrens every year .....


A couple of years ago, we organized a Scout Recruitment event, and there were 4 birdhouses that the little boys "painted". Let's just say, I saved them from the trash !!! They've been sitting in our garage for a while, so this year I decided that they were very much needed in our yard. I gathered up some patio paints, brushes and lots of ideas (thanks Pinterest .... again !!!), and got to it !!!


They were very ugly to start ......



Amazing what a few coats of paint can do !!!!
The "Mushroom Cottage" has some detail on the sides too:-)


"Chickadee House" ..... hopefully some little lovestruck birdie couple decides to call this home.

We chose the trees we wanted to put them up in, then Hubby came up with a way to attach them .... I can do the creative part - I'm not that good when it comes to the practical, that is his domain !!!



Here they both are, up and ready for the taking !!!
I have two more still to paint ..... best I get busy..... Spring waits for no one :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

PERLER BEADS ......

I am so late to the party with these lovelies, that it's ridiculous. Yes, my kids had them when they were younger, and yes, I may have ironed the odd beaded creation here and there, but I never paid them much attention ..... that was until a couple of weeks ago.

I'm not sure how they made an appearance on my Pinterest feed, but they did, and I'm mighty glad about that.


I was totally amazed at the wonderful things one could make with these little plastic beads, and just how many people there are out there, who make a living on Etsy, selling those wonderful creations.
The timing of this discovery was perfect - I'm taking part in a year long craft along hosted by my friend Val (click on the badge on my sidebar for info ..... it's not too late to join in on the fun !!!). March's crafty challenge was to "Seussify" something, in honor of Dr Seuss's birthday. One particular Perler item had caught my eye ...... Coasters !!! I've been meaning to make a couple for my "office" for forever, but have just never quite got there ... well now I have, and it's another thing crossed off my (ever growing) To Do List..... with the added bonus, that they're super cute, super colourful, and just make me smile !!!



I found some charts on the net and Pinterest, that I could adapt or use as was ..... and here are the results. Grinch, Lorax and Sneetch !!!! Mr Grinch is my favorite :-)
In my research, a number of crafty people, suggested backing the coaster with cork, once you'd ironed the beads and melted them - Great idea - it makes them non slip, and it helps absorb any liquid, should that be necessary.


When I shared them on the swap blog, one of my good friends and fellow zombie doll maker, suggested that a zombie coaster would be quite fantastic ....... Sooooo


I made these two ugly, adorables, and popped them into the parcels with the dolls from yesterday's post :-)

Brittany and I sat for hours (and I mean HOURS!!!) over the 31/2 snow days we had, creating. She made some gorgeous round coasters with designs she made up ..... I'll share those with you in another post. Those buckets of beads should come with a warning that reads "Addictive". I can see so many possibilities  ..... scrapbook embellishments, card embellishments, mobiles, tree decorations, boxes,magnets ......etc.

Time for you to go and dig in your kiddos toy cupboard and see if you can unearth a tub (bet you can) of these little beads ..... pull them out, have a little play around, and you'll understand exactly what I mean :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CLOTH DOLLS .....

Hello again ..... two posts in two days .... I'd say things are looking up at the moment :-)

Type "Cloth Dolls" into the search box on your computer ..... you'll be transported to a place of such creative talent !!! There are hundreds, if not thousands of cloth dolls out there .... and Oh My Goodness, so many of them are drool worthy !!!!

Needless to say, the bug bit me, and I had to  ..... just HAD to ..... make some. I raided my stash (these are great projects to use up all of those little scrappy bits on) ... fabric, buttons, lace, ribbons and even my scrapbooking inks, paints and jewelery making waxed threads .... anything was fair game.
I was particularly taken by some dolls I'd seen on Pinterest, that, to quote a friend of mine, "were so ugly, they were adorable" .... I couldn't have agreed more. All primitive looking (a little zombie .. ish to be honest :-)

I coffee stained my main fabric, and free hand drew out some pattern shapes that I liked.
Saturday morning, I jumped out of bed and tip toed to "my office", while the rest of my family were still in dreamland. I popped a Queen CD into the CD player (I'm well aware I've just aged myself :-), Made myself a mug of coffee, and let my creative side run wild ....... It was total, complete, absolute bliss!!!!



See what I mean so ugly, they're adorable !!!!
I winged my way through both of them ...... sewed where I wanted to sew ..... painted where I wanted to paint ..... it was honestly creative carte blanche !!! I'd recommend it to anyone ..... no rules creating ... It sent my creative mind into overdrive !!!


Boy, do I adore him !!!! He was Brits favorite :-)


And her too !!!

I sent them off to two of my sweetest bloggy friends ever ... Girls who have the same need to create that I do :-)

I have drawn out more shapes that I'd love to try .... Oh My a family of Ugly Adorables ... I can hardly wait !!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

PINCUSHION & THREAD CATCHER ........

Well hello there everyone .........
Spring is here, and we're emerging out from under two snow episodes, that were wonderful, but very un Texas like !!!
A couple of inches both times ...... enough to play in and build snowmen and an active snowcano (just love those baking soda and vinegar experiments they did in Elementary School) ....... It's fair to say, that I no longer feel cheated of a real Winter now !!!


Snow Day 1 .... My Snowbabies :-)


Snow Day 2. Newly fallen snow

I have been busy, creatively creating. I haven't shared much though, as most of my makes have been gifts for friends, and I had to wait for them to arrive at their new homes before sharing them here on my blog ...... what's the point of a birthday gift if someone spoils the surprise !!!!

First up .... this adorable pin cushion/thread catcher combo ....


It turned out so well ... THIS is the pattern I used. I purchased it off Etsy. It was well worth the money spent, as the directions are so well written. The only thing I did differently .... and this only happened by chance ..... was that I didn't need to use the boning that the pattern called for. I did have it, and intended to use it, but the batting/heavy interfacing I used was really heavy, so the thread catcher stays open, without needing the boning in the rim. I have already cut out another one, to make up for another friends birthday, but I'm sure there'll be plenty more of these made over the next little while. I need one for myself :-)


Here's the birthday card I made to go with the gift. Really quick and easy, but I love it !!! Four rows of complimenting washi tape, and the negative image from a butterfly punch :-)

Happy Birthday Jill ...... Hope your day was full of fun !!!!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

LITTLE CRITTERS ......

If you popped your head outside today, you'd never think that Spring is anywhere near .... it is snowing in North Texas .... and has been for a couple of hours !!!! I, for one am overjoyed ..... I LOVE snow !!!!
It wont be long though, before the flowers start blooming, and the little critters start appearing. When life seems to start anew .... a beautiful time !!! With this in mind, I baked some cookies a couple of days ago ..... little Spring critters :-)


So cute .... and delicious too !!! My favorite are the hedgehogs ..... I've always had a soft spot for those prickly little things. Brits favorite are the snails ... she just has a thing for them :-)
After my recipe testing session last time, it must be revealed that we have a new recipe for decorated cookies ...... the shortbread type cookie won hands down over my long standing sugar cookie recipe. We are a family of shortbread lovers however :-)

Time to go fetch the kiddos - they're releasing them early from school today ......Wohoo - there is some snowman building in our future I predict ....

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

FOR THE LOVE OF SOPHIE ....

A couple of weeks back (5 to be exact), a new CAL started - Sophies Universe. It is to be a mystery CAL, this means that week on week a new piece is revealed to us. At the end of the 20 weeks, we will have created an afghan.

What can I say ..... we've reached Part 6 (Week 5), and Oh My Goodness, she is an absolute beauty .....
I gave you a peek at Parts 1 & 2 (Week 1) HERE. Today I'll begin Part 6 (Week 5), and I can barely wait. There is a Facebook Group associated with this CAL, a lovely group of ladies, who are always ready to help with problems or a little encouragement. For me, one of the most exciting things about this CAL, is that the designer is a "Home Girl" !!! She's a South African girl, who also lives as an Expat (she lives in the UK).

So without further ado, let me catch you up on Sophie .....


Part 3 ..... I had no color plan moving into this. I chose the 7 colors I wanted to use throughout, and from that point on, I have just chosen my colors round on round, based on what I thought would look good - I'm very happy with how that has worked out for me so far.


Part 4 ..... we've started to square her off. I have learned SO much from this CAL. To be honest with you, I find myself sitting back and admiring my work ..... I cant believe I've made this !!!!


Part 5 ..... she didn't stay square for long - now she's an octagon. This pattern is ever changing, ever evolving. Each Week reveals another piece of this mystery pattern, and each Week, she gets more beautiful !!!
I think it's safe to say ........... Sophies Universe has captivated me :-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

PAVLOVA .....

The name alone is romantic ..... or at least I think it is.
It's one of those desserts, that at first sight looks complicated, but really it's not .... It's the dessert created to impress ... For me, it is just THE dessert !!!!

Valentines Day for us was a low key affair. The Hubby despises the day - Just another opportunity for Hallmark to make a killing. I, on the other hand, am more of a romantic, and love the idea of one special day, set aside, in the name of love ... Oh well, it is what it is :-)

Days like this in our house, are treated to an extra special dinner. The dinner table gets appropriately decorated, and there is always a themed dessert. This year it was Pavlova !!!
In honor of this dessert, and because I think everyone should have a go at making it at least once, I thought I'd share my recipe with you .....
This recipe comes from one of my South African recipe books ...... Cook With Ina Parman.

MERINGUE
- 4 Egg Whites (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 tsp White Vinegar
- 1 cup Superfine Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Boiling Water
- 1 Tbsp Cornstarch

- Beat egg whites, until foaming lightly, then add the white vinegar.
  (Remember to use a glass bowl and electric mixer ... never a plastic bowl)
- Continue beating until mixture is thick, stiff and slightly dry.
- Gradually add the superfine sugar, beating continuously. The mixture must be firm, shiny and retain its shape.
- Beat in the boiling water.
- Sift the cornstarch over the mixture, and fold in with a metal spoon.
- Place baking paper on baking sheet, and mark out a 20 cm circle (this is where I marked out a heart shape.)
- Place egg mixture in a piping bag (or Ziplock bag, with a hole cut in the corner), and pipe out a    solid base to your shape.
- Now pipe around the edge of your shape, to build up a little wall.
- Bake at 275 Deg F for 30 mins, then turn the oven temperature down to 250 Deg F, and bake for a  further hour.
- Cool completely ( I switch the oven off, and allow the meringue to cool in the oven)


This is  what the baked shell looks like (the cracks in the meringue are quite normal) ..... it has a slight creamy, pink color to it. It's quite lovely :-)
Time to fill this beauty ....

FILLING
Only fill the meringue shell, when you are ready to eat the dessert.
- 1 cup cream (whipping or heavy whipping)
- 2 - 3 Tbsp Superfine Sugar
- Pinch Of Salt
- Assorted chopped Fruit (Kiwi Fruit, Strawberries, Grapes, Raspberries, Mango)

- Beat the cream until stiff.
- Beat in the superfine sugar
- Season with a pinch of salt

- Pile the whipped cream into the meringue shell.
- Sprinkle the chopped fruit over the top of the cream.
- Serve immediately.



There you have it ....... Dessert perfection !!!


My little table gifts were very simple this year .... a Cadbury's Milk Chocolate bar, that I wrapped candy wrapper style, with some Valentines themed scrapbooking paper. I then made a belly band, which I wrapped around the chocolate bars "belly". I then used my Cricut to cut out these cute Valentines frogs, which I attached to the band with a pop dot ..... quick and cute :-)

I hope that your Valentines Day was full of love, laughter and some extra special treats !!!