Saturday, 31 December 2011

Another year over......

...well, nearly.
2011 brought a lot more scrapping, meeting & making new friends as well as old ones, new crafts were tried, some fell to the wayside & others continued. Its been a year of some ups & a few downs but nothing majorly bad for which I am thankful.

So what will 2012 bring to Ks Crafty Corner?
Well, I still need to show you a few of the Christmassy makes from 2011 so I'll be post about them this week
Ruth & I are bringing back Scrapinspire starting in february, a lil bit of scrap ispiration that we'd love you to join in with.
I have signed up for Kirstys "Just one Sketch Course". There's still time to join up, check it our HERE
Hopefully a couple of crafty meet ups
I shall be trying to take a photo a day, though whether I post them all will yet to be seen.
A lot more crafting :-)
As for the end of the world & the olympics ..... well, we'll see how these impact on my life, I'm sure it being a leap year will have more effect than them.

So, my dear readers, I wish you all a belated Merry Christmas & A fantastic new year, thank you for all your comments & support in 2011 & welcome you all to join me again in 2012.
(((big hugs)))
K xx

Friday, 23 December 2011

I'm writing a list, checking it twice.

It was a busy busy day yesterday, with 2 weeks worth of food shopping delivered I wanted to prepare a few things to make the following weeks a little bit easier so yesterdays main jobs involved....
  • Getting the turkey out to begin defrosting
  • Cleaning the oven
  • Put the shopping away
  • De-boning 2 chickens & dividing up into tubs of white meat & red
  • 2 meals worth of meat balls made up
  • Made pigs in blankets, put them in a baking tray & put them in the freezer, ready to defrost on Xmas eve.
  • Started making a batch of mincemeat - it is currently sitting, absorbing the flavors ready to cook & Jar tomorrow.
Jobs yet to be done before Christmas....
  • Wrapping the last few presents
  • Writing my Christmas Dinner timetable
  • Writing a couple of cards for the Christmas eve visitors
  • Christmas day food preperation on christmas eve.
  • Bake mince pies
  • Give the house a last thorough clean through, no more housework to be done (except for the dishwasher) until the 27th.
 Woohoo, we're almost ready!!!!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

13 squirrels, 3 robins, 4 ponies & 4 dinosaurs..

..thats what we saw on our Yuletide walk, HONESTLY, its true, thats what we saw & I have the photos to prove it.

The other male folk were all out so Kai & I took our Yule walk together. We talk about the way things have changed along our route, whether by nature, the seasons or by man. We also spot wildlife as we go. Establishing this curiosity, a link with nature from my children, is very important to me, how can you expect someone to respect nature (or anything else) when they dont know about it.

We were out for about an hour & a half, it was fairly warm for this time of year and very peaceful.

"These are going to take FOREVER!"
Kai while walking up the steps.
Having spotted 3 squirrels in a short space we decided to start keeping count of them.
Kai also kept count of Robins, this Yuletide definately has a Robin theme due to Kai being a Robin in the school play, I have made robin hair clips & have robin ear muffs now as well ;-)

Along the route we walked past Wonderland. I'd already told Kai that if we were lucky we might spot some dinosaurs, he gave me his "Mom, are you being strange again?" look and queried "Skeletons?", "No", I answered "dinosaurs!"  I did tell him they'd be behind fences so he'd be ok though.

As I spotted the diplodocus I excitedly said to Kai "ooo, I think I can see something!!!!" He warily stepped forward looking nervous, until he spotted it & realised it wasnt real
See, proof, a real dinosaur!!!
We came across a bench so took some time out to sit down & listen to the bird song, look at the greenery, as though its winter there was a lot of ivy, ferns and holy around giving almost a fairy glen effect.

Further along were four ponies, very cute, short & stumpy, just the way ponies should be :-)

By the time we got home, Kai had worked up an appetite so I let him help get some toast spread. It definately wore him out as by 6:30, an houe before his usual bedtime, he started to fall asleep on my lap & asked to go to bed early .... well I wasnt going to argue with him now was I ;-)

Christmas Decs

A Blessed Yule everyone :-) We've been enjoying our small celebrations here, but I'll tell you more about it tomorrow, as for today

Having done a BIG tidy up the other day our place is still tidy, woohoo!! So a good time to take photos of the decorations
My lounge ...... from the door

...from my seat in the lounge.
A candle in the middle of the table, ready to burn tonight..... & as if by magic, the photo currently on the digi frame is a snowy one (total coincidence that I've only just noticed).

The hallway, with stockings down the stairs, & a big red bow outside the front door

Little tree in the kitchen, with table runner, made out of 2 thin scarfs.
The purple table cloth you can see is actually a kind size sheet & is big enough to nicely cover the box of pressies under the table, shhhhhhhh.

What is it with my cats & wanting to get in the photos!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas Dinner

I often hear that Christmas dinner is just a big roast, well I dont want it to be JUST a big roast, I want it to be THEE big roast, the best, most special roast of the year. In striving for this exceptional meal I have made mistakes, got timings wrong, made it too complex so by the time its all done 1/2 of its stone cold so this year I will simplfy it slight while still making it a special roast.

I prepare as much as I can on Christmas Eve, & then follow a timetable on Christmas day to have it all finished by 1o'clock

We're starting with a small sea food starter - cherry tomatoes, cucumber, prawns, mussels, crab sticks (cubed) & squid rings with a homemade thousand island sauce

For the main we're having a traditional roast turkey with packet stuffing (yes, I'm cheating on this one as I havent mastered stuffing making yet), roast pork with apple sauce, roast potatoes, carrots roasted in OJ with rosemary (these are the lil touches I dont normally do to make it special), honey roast parsnips, boiled sprouts which are then fried with a little garlic, what I call sprout mush but is actually a creamy sprout bake, boiled carrots & peas, pigs in blankets, & finally, it isnt Christmas for me unless theres bread sauce.

We sit in the lounge, pulling crackers between courses, watching a good christmassy movie.

Pudding comes later as we're normally very full, in the mean time the dish washer is filled & turned on (thank goodness for dish washers). The kids play with their new toys, Ry normally has a nap & I craft.

When we get peckish again theres a choice of puds, Mint Vienetta (a perfect contrast after a rich, heavy meal), mince pies, black forest gateau, chocolate trifle, fruit or chocolates.

Theres always plenty of left overs, non of it goes to waste, but I'll share that with you another day.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Perfect Gift...

...thats the aim when we go buying presents, frequently things get in the way though, price, avalibility and probably the worst mistake, misinterpretation, & getting the wrong one. I find the last ones the worst as I'd get soooooooo excited at the thought of their face when they see it & then the disappointment of their disappointment.
But sometimes, just sometimes, with a lot of listening & a bit of luck that perfect gift is achievable, & I think we might have one of those this year, or maybe even 2 of them :-O Of course I cant say who or what just incase they read this, though I dont think they do.

I've had a few gifts over the years that were perfect for me, but probably the most important & memorable one was on Christmas Day 2005

We were going to Christmas dinner at Ryans parents, he'd already told me that my Christmas present was there, a tv for my craft room, as it was too heavy for him to carry home. It sounded a bit suss to me as his parents bring the kids presents over in the car on Christmas eve anyway, but I went along with it.

We arrived, settled down & Ry told me to close my eyes & hold my hands out. I heard he & his Mom whispering & I was told to open my eyes. I looked round, his Mom was in tears & so was his sister. There in front of me was Ryan on bended knee holding out a ring in a box asking me to Marry him.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Rocking My World Friday

Phew, what a day its been!!! I spent a fantastic morning running around Jungleland with 2 coach loads of kids & adults (a ratio of 1 adult to each 6 children). While climbing around the place I'd pause to help smaller children climb up the levels that were a bit too tall for them ... or just to speed them up. We positioned ourselves at the top of the big wavy slide to ensure the children went one at a time, at times sliding down ourselves to then take up positions to make sure they kept away from the bottom of the slide (or at least it was a good excuse to have a go ourselves). I did get a bit over zealous with this roll & ended up helping kids up & moving them along when they werent even in our large group, oops! With a break for hot chocolate, lovely company and lots of fun it was a morning well spent. It has got to be my highlight of the week.

At about 2 I got a phone call to say Kai was ill with a funny tummy, could I go & get him, but even this was fun as we got to walk home in a blizzard of HUGE snowflakes before it turned back into rain.

Lastly, to make the day even better, the last of the pressies have arrived, woohoo! I'm not a smug "its all finished, I am soooooooooo organised" kind of person because its not over until the fat lady sings, or should that be until Santa goes to bed after a VERY long night. Theres still a few things to wrap, & the food delivery closer to Christmas day, plenty of time for things to go wrong if I get a bit too lax, over confident, or cockey.

Other things Rocking My World this week are ....
Posting out the last of my PIFs (pay it forward's), fingers crossed they arrive on time, this also means I got some crafting time in woohoo, they shall be revealed once I know they've arrived.

My bed, its lumpy, needs a new mattress but, o it is divine when you snuggle down after a hard day.

Zack for saying "your not THAT old", closest I'm likely to get to as a compliment like that from him, and Kai's friend Cloe for saying I was barely an adult ... seeing she's only 4 I'd have thought she'd see me as an ancient, I know I would have done at that age, lol. Or maybe I'm just that immature ;-)

Ryan for bringing in a big gooey chocolate brownie on a cold evening to share, mmmmmmmm.

Soooooooooooo what are your positives of the week, dig deep, have a think & join us over at Celtic House to link up.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Visitors

Today was spent with my Mom & I sitting on my lounge floor, watching Neverland, with a cuppa, wrapping presents. Mom had brought over the presents she'd bought for us to wrap (except for mine which she wrapped last night :-) to save her having to carry loads on Christmas day, & being the last School Day that I had totally free I wanted to get as many pressies wrapped as possible.

No more visitors are pencilled in until Christmas eve, though others are likely to turn up before then. In preperation I do a quick tidy up & clean each morning, rewarding myself when done with a cuppa, bowl of cereal & an internet break. I'm also planning on making mince-pies & ginger biscuits to give out. I've stocked up on different types of drinks to suit all tastes, but shall also be making mulled wine & home-made baileys .......... I like to be prepared.

On Christmas Eve its usual for people to pop by to drop off presents, to see us & have a cuppa. For us its a very lazy, peaceful day so I make sure all housework is done the day before, then our visitors take us how they find us. This year I've bought Connect 4 & Guess who for the kids so I'm sure visitors will join in for a game or two of those. I've been told that the atmosphere is very warm, welcoming & relaxed in our house that day, which I took as a huge compliment, and exactly what I wanted :-)
I do a few simple steps to create a festive atmosphere, all the air fresheners in the house, be they sensor sprays, times sprays or simple press-the-button spray air fresheners, are all swapped for spicy apple/mulled wine scent. There are Christmas lights & decorations going up the stairs, in tha hallway, kitchen & largely in the lounge. The place is tidy but not overly immaculate, I like people to feel like they can relax, then I can relax.

Then theres the most important visitor of the day ... SANTA!!!! Of course we dont see him but we do leave out a mince pie and a glass of Pepsi for him. Leaving out a caffinated drink started when Zack was young & didnt want a drunk Santa flying around so we give him a drink with caffeine in to keep him going. We also leave a carrot out for the reindeer.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas Past, Christmas Present & a Yule Future

Christmas Past
When I was very tiny, too small really to remember, Christmas day was spent at my Grandparents. My Moms side of the family was only small by the time we'd come along so it was Wowah (my Grandmother), Gramp (my Grandad), Nikki (My aunt) as well as my Mom, Dad & Marcus (My big bro). From the photos it looks a big tado - Lots of presents, the place fully decorated all christmassy, & knowing how Wowah liked to entertain the Christmas Dinner would have been a wonderful spread.
With my lil bro on his way we began staying home for Christmas day. I was always felt a bit miffed as we would have to have breakfast, get washed & dressed before being allowed into the lounge ..... which my parents would want to vaccum etc as well before opening the door. I understand now this was so they could have a bit more sleep, & so the place would be tidy for visitors.
A traditional Christmas Dinner was served at around 3, & if we felt hungry in the evenings we'd have pickles with left overs.
Christmas 2000, the first one without my Dad, we wanted Christmas to be totally different so Marcus, who'd moved out by then, thought it would be a good idea to have everyone round there for Christmas Dinner. After that he took it in turns going having Christmas dinner at his in laws & at my Moms, we did the same when I moved out, though the first Christmas in our new house we did invite my Mom & younger siblings over for Christmas Dinner. We'd get up, wake up Zack (if he wasnt awake already), exchange gifts & then get ready to go out, returning late evening.

When Kai was born we decided it wouldnt be fair to pick a parents house to spend his first Christmas at, or rather it wouldnt be fair on the grandparent(s) who'd miss out on it so we stayed at home. We did go out the following couple of years but decided that it was better on the kids if we had it at home, it meant they could play with all thier new toys rather than taking one with them.
Christmas Present
Christmas eve is spent relaxing in our new PJs, I always get the kids something to do such as a new board game or creative activity, & I prepare as much of the Christmas meal in advance as I can. To maintain the relaxed feeling I dont cook that day, we have crackers and cheeses for lunch (or as I grew up calling it "snacky"), and then the big treat of Pizza delivered for Tea. In the evenings we all settle down to watch a film after having a bath each with new toilettries, as the kids are too excited to sleep we allow them to each have a new dvd on in their rooms to watch in bed

Christmas day we wake up & slip on yet another set of new PJs (helps with everyone looking nice for photos ;-) the kids have a little present in their room, just incase they wake up early. One of them usually ventures into the others room.
I try to get downstairs first, initially to pop the Turkey in to cook & then to sneak into the lounge so I can get a photo of everyone walking into the room, with that curious "what have I got?" look on their faces. Presents are opened before I set about getting breakfast - croissants with a couple of pieces of chocolate melted inside.
The rest of my morning is usually spent cooking the Christmas Dinner & helping kids open the boxes to get to their toys ..... isnt it mad how much packaging they use & how annoying the plastic ties are.
Phone calls are made to family to thank them for presents & wish them a Merry Christmas.
Christmas Dinner starts with a sea food starter (Ryans opting out of his starter this year as he gets too full other wise :-) followed by a traditional Christmas Dinner. We then ususally have quite a bit of a break before having trifle or chocolate cake for pudding. If anyones hungry later they can help themselves to left overs.
The afternoon is spent playing, napping & watching TV.

A Yule Future
Even though we celebrate Christmas I'm not a Christian, I am Pagan & therefore my religious celebrations are held on the 21st of December - Yule.
Currently in the UK we are fairly well geared towards celebrating Christmas, almost everywhere is closed that day, there are decorations everywhere, its when the best programmes are on etc etc etc & it is a time of year I love. Its not something I want to see change, and think that there is a lot of hype that the PC police are slowly destroying it - personally thats all I think it is, hype, I see no proof of it.
Christmas to us is not the story of Christ, you will not find anylink to it in my celebrations or decorations, they are all pagan based, which is very easy to do but my post would be HUGE if I started to explain that. Christmas is family time, a time of fun, to exchange gifts & show our appreciation for our loved ones. Its a time of togetherness.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

It was the best of times & the worst of times...

...Christmas reminds me a bit of friday the 13th, odd I know but bare with me while I explain.
On friday the 13th, if we spill something its "because its friday the 13th", its a day where we focus more on the bad things that normally we'd let slide with barely a thought. At Christmas we can dwell on things that have gone wrong, wring our hands & exclaim "all is ruined" when really no-ones really noticed, or laughed it off.

My favourite Christmas was Kai's first one, it was also the first one I'd done at home for my kids & Ryan. It was so relaxed, Ry & Kai were still asleep so Zack and I made Christmas morning muffins (nigellas recipe) & I popped the turkey into cook, by the time they were cooked everyone was up. We opened our presents, each receiving things we wanted - I got my infamous long leather coat. As I prepared dinner the kids played with their toys, all of us still in our PJs, except Kai who was in an elf costume.

The christmas dinner wasnt quite upto scratch, it was nice but not quite Christmas. It was something for me to work on & practice for the upcoming years.
The cats sat outside the closed kitchen door, wanting the left overs.

While Kai & Ryan had a nap I watched tv & Zack played on a new game.
We had visitors towards evening, exchanged gifts & had fun
It was a peaceful, easy day in contrast to our usual Christmasses of getting ready & rushing to a relatives house to have dinner there & coming back late.

My worst memory of Christmas is the one I cant remember, its not so much because it was a bad Christmas, its just I wish I could remember the last Christmas with my Dad.
I can remember the build up to Christmas, I was almost full term with Zack due on Christmas eve. Dad let me have some of his Christmas bonus, originally it was going to be for baby stuff but as that was all bought he said I could use it to buy presents for the family.
I know he was rather moody at the time but being preoccupied & rather used to Dad being a bit moody due to tiredness (he would work long days) I paid little attention to it.
I can search & search my mind for memories of that day but there are non, maybe due to it being less important at the time than the following events.

My local midwives werent working on certain dates over christmas & new year so on the thursday (new years eve) we saw the dr who was quite amused to be giving me a check up which the midwives would normally do. He said if the baby wasnt out by Monday I'd be sent to hospital to be induced, obviously Zack didnt like that idea as he was born on the sunday.
3 weeks later my dad unexpectedly died.... I'm just glad I have so many other memories of him, maybe in a way I'm blessed not to remember that last Christmas, because now I cant pin point that single memory, ripping it apart in my mind, focusing on individual parts & have it almost tainted by the thought that our last Christmas together wasnt the  perfect Christmas

Monday, 5 December 2011

Advent Calenders

My memories of advent calenders as a child are vague, I can remember them sitting on the piano (I say them as I'm 1 of 4 siblings), I can remember wanting to fold down the in built sheet music holder on the piano to place my advent on. We had the bought chocolate advent & my biggest decision was whether to remove the door after eating that days chocolate, leave it open or close it again.....I usually left it open wheras my older brother would totally remove the door. & if I was very lucky I'd get a comic that came with a free advent calender, the sort where you'd turn back the door to see what picture was below, then I'd have 1 more advent then my other siblings.

I've always bought my children a chocolate advent each, when Zack was younger we'd have to put it out of his reach otherwise he'd open it up at one end & nick all the chocolate out of it. Kai enjoys sitting on my lap after school & going through all the numbers until we get to the date, we then have to study the design on the chocolate before he eats it.

I tried refillable ones one year thinking they'd save us money in the long run but found they actually cost us more, 50 individually wrapped sweets cost more than a £2 for 2 calendars

My favourite advent though was my advent swap with Ruth & Noonie a couple of years ago. I had so much fun making & choosing items for them. I was sooooooooooo excited to open my gifts each day, it felt like I was 5 years old again, with all the excitement & magic of Christmas.

You can see what I gave them HERE

& what they gave me HERE

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Baby Blues

Heres the page I made in coalport, the branch took quite a while to draw from a template I'd made, then cut out, arrange etc, especially as I kept getting distracted :-)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Christmas Cards - an explanation

I enjoy handmaking my Christmas cards, I want them to be a little bit different from the usual, to reflect my personality along with a bit of humor thrown in.

Inspiration doesnt normally hit me until mid november, I dont push it, I dont stress over it, I just wait, I know it'll come when its ready. I also tend to mass produce them, I say mass but this year will be the most I've needed to make in a while, a grand total of 28+2spare. I add a personalised message in each to show I'm thinking of the person. The 2 spare are just incase I recieve a card from someone I've ruled off my card list purely because our friendship has run its course & faded out.

Writing Christmas cards also gives me a chance to make sure all addresses are upto date, I shall be adding them onto my ipad this year & making sure I have a paper copy as well, just incase.

I always keep the card design a secret, though I did give a few clues away while out last weekend, until they've all been posted & in theory received, then I share them with you guys.

Heres last years...
Blogged about HERE
Blogged about HERE
I have made circular card holders for the cards I receive
More details about how I made them can be found HERE and HERE
Handmade ones are always my favourite & get kept :-)

Altered book: A Melshionary with a secret

I'd been mulling over what I could give to Mel for her Pay It Forward, while looking around pinterest an idea formed in my mind. I know Mel likes books, as well as Green & Blacks chocolate so why not combine the 2.
I started off with an old dictionary
I attached some chipboard which would become 3d detail, and using thick twine I made a few large stitches over the spine
Then I watered down some pva glue (50% glue 50% water) and painted the outer covers with it before placing on top of a sheet of tissue paper. I used a dry brush to smooth it over & get the tissue paper around the chipboard. I didnt worry too much about creases & wrinkles, it would all add to the finished effect.

Next I mixed up the colour I wanted, I was aiming for a tan brown, like the traditional leather bound books of old, so I mixed up my poster paints, add a drop of pva & covered the book with it. This took a little while to do as I had to wait between coats & also to the front & back.

Once dry I started on the inside, I found a page with what I thought had a relevant word in the corner, "bake", and carefully cut out a rectangle using a ruler & craft knife. I repeated this until I got to a satisfactory depth, removing the inner layers as I went.

I then pasted the edges with pva glue & put a large book on top so they'd glue nicely together.

When all dry it was time for the finishing touches, the title along the front & spine along with "a K publication" on the back. I used peel off letters for these.

To give it added durability I sprayed with clear plastic spray paint.

I bought the choccy bar, laid it in & ... was too long. I contemplated nibbling the end off but that just wouldnt be nice now would it, so I cut a bit more from the bottom of the gap.

& so it was finished, a Melshionary with a secret hiding place.

Mel was very happy with it, she tweeted these photos she took of the finished item, Green & Blacks retweeted the photo of the inside!! My books famous ... well, kinda :-)

Friday, 2 December 2011

I'm dreaming of a White Chritmas...

...just like the ones I used to know.
Really & truely my memories of white Christmasses here in Shropshire are rare, we're far more likely to get grey weather with the odd sprinkling of rain. I dont mind this though, a grey background makes the christmas lights shine even brighter, it makes the colours pop & creates a warm cosey atmosphere inside. Then theres the excitement if it DOES snow on Christmas day.

Today felt like the coldest day of the season so far, it is the first day that I really felt like I needed to put all the different winter woolie layers on. Of course I have multiple wooly hats to choose from because, as many of you know, I do like my hats.
Its suddenly feels like things are getting festive. I love curling up in my chair with a warm drink at the end of a cold cold day, or sitting at the kitchen table, craft items out, feet on my tigger hot water bottle.

I love it when it actually does snow & I can take my lads skiing, sledging, builing a snowman or simply making snow angels

I do miss the winters of my youth, maybe its nostalgia clouding my memory, but I remember the snow being deeper, & I dont mean just in comparisson to my smaller self. My dad used to build an igloo outside our house, it always seemed huge to us & we could crawl inside with a few friends. He would use a hose in the evening to water it which in turn turned to ice & strengthened it. The igloo would last far longer than any of the surrounding snow. I wish I had a photo of one of them.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Journal Your Christmas - Day 1

This is my first year doing Shimelles JYC. I've decided to start by doing a daily blogpost based on the prompts to find my feet, then turn some of them into Scrapbook pages.

So lets get started.....
Why did I join Shimelles JYC?
I've made a few Christmas pages in the past and they are starting to threaten being repetitve so I'm after a few new ideas, a different perspective and to learn, while recording the fun we've had.

What will I be journalling about?
December is a busy magical month for us, theres making the house look magical with decorations and the traditions that go with it, school plays & events, making & writing christmas cards, visiting family, having friends visit, birthdays, celebrating Yule & then Christmas....all the way into New Year & Zacks birthday. I want to record these special times, record the smiles & fun we've had so my children can look back with their children, to remember & see how times have changed, as well as what stays the same. Its a time that appeals to all the senses, the smell of baking, the sounds of carols & laughter, the sight of lights a flickering, the taste of spices and the touch of wrapping paper, I want to get these across on the paper, in the words.

Hopefully from all this I can come up with a nicely worded manifesto


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