Friday, 30 November 2012

Handmade Christmas making progress

How are you all getting on with your handmade Christmas presents? Here is the framed antique housekeeper's key I've made for my sister for her bedroom.

I made this by covering the board with vintage style paper using spraymount for a bubble free finish. The key is attached using galvanised wire fed through tiny holes in the board, tied off at the back and covered with masking tape. Then the passe-partout and board were secured into the frame using the frame's integral clips. 

I have four of these framed keys on my bedroom wall in shades of duck egg - they complement my crochet and ticking cushions perfectly.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Make do and empty those cupboards...

It's amazing what you can make with the scraps left in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. I'm in the process of the big pre-Christmas clear out and things are reaching a critical point! But you know, I do love a culinary challenge and I find the using up of every scrap of food quite rewarding in a curiously self-righteous way.

According to my long suffering partner "There is absolutely nothing to eat in this house". I beg to differ. Since he made this declaration on Sunday morning, so far, with a little culinary license, I have made:
  • Lasagne (using marmite to flavour the sauce as I had no cheese - it works a treat)
  • Fresh bread
  • Sun dried tomato and parmesan scones (using up the parmesan rinds that I never throw away)
  • Iced finger buns
  • Tomato soup 

  • Butternut squash and walnut risotto (using pudding rice - which gives a similar but softer texture to Arborio rice)

  • Thai green curry with aubergine, broad beans and peas (the only vegetables left. I'm now extremely twitchy)
  • Fresh naan bread (much easier than you think)

However, now that the tea bags and milk have run out I have to admit defeat. There are some things that you just can't live without and tea is one of them. So, off to the shops I go...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It's Christmas Cake time!

Well it's been so long since I've posted a recipe, I may as well go with THE BIG ONE otherwise known as the Christmas cake of course.

I'm the only one in our house who loves a bit of Christmas cake, but I refuse to miss out on this spiced annual treat. So every year, I make myself a modest cake, safe in the knowledge that it will be far superior than any shop bought affair. Besides, nothing can replace that mellow, spiced fug coming from the oven as the cake slowly bakes...

This recipe will make one 18cm round cake which, if you must, is plenty big enough to share...

  • 500g pack luxury dried fruits (Aldi luxury fruits are lovely and such good value)
  • grated zest of an orange and a lemon
  • 100ml brandy
  • 100ml strong breakfast tea (black)
  • 75g chopped nuts - whatever you prefer
  • 150g soft unsalted butter
  • 90g soft dark brown or molasses sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp spice of your choice (I like a mixture of cinnamon and ginger, but you could add ground cloves or use mixed spice)

1. Grease a deep 18cm cake tin and double line with baking parchment, making sure the parchment comes up 10cm higher than the tin. You can also wrap brown paper around the tin if you are worried the cake may brown too quickly. 

2. Place the dried fruit and zests in a small saucepan with the tea and bring to the boil. Simmer  until the tea evaporates, then turn off the heat and add the brandy. Cover and leave to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 150ÂșC (gas mark 2).  

4. Cream the butter and sugar and gradually beat in the eggs, treacle and almond extract.  

5. Sift the flour and spices together and mix with the ground almonds and nuts.  

6. Gently fold a spoonful of dried fruit into the creamed mixture, followed by a spoonful of the flour mix and repeat until all of the ingredients are combined.

7. Pour into the cake tin and level the top of the cake.

8. Bake for 2 hours (test with a skewer and bake a little longer if needed).

9. Allow to cool in the tin, then wrap tightly in the baking parchment and foil.  

10. Store in a cool dark place, and feed weekly with a tbsp brandy.

And as we get closer to Christmas, look out for my next installment on covering the cake with marzipan and icing...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Have Yourself a Handmade Little Christmas!

Well we all know money is becoming increasingly tight at the moment, so with this thought in mind I'm going all out for a handmade Christmas. Or at least, as far as is practical. 

For my niece, I'm making a Kindle cover with some gorgeous Victorian fabric. I'll also be giving her a toile de jouy cushion as I know she really likes the fabric.
Toile de Jouy and lace cushion cover - £14.95 each

For my sister, I've made this beautiful jewellery roll in the same fabric
Victorian Gothic Jewellery Roll - available made to order from £20.00 each
I'll  her a framed antique French housekeeper's key that will fit her bedroom decor perfectly. For our daughters, I'm making cosmetic bags and over-the-door organisers (having seen their bathrooms and bedroom floors this is a necessity rather than a luxury!)I haven't made these before, but luckily I do have a pattern to follow so at least I'm not starting from scratch.

For my granddaughter Ava, I have knitted a scarf in a lovely soft pastel green wool. I've double knitted it to make the texture extra soft and warm. If course, I'll have to make one for my grandson Cole too; in a nice charcoal grey I think. I'd love to make him a bearded beanie, but I'm not sure my daughter would ever forgive me for that!

And for my mum and in-laws, I'll be putting together food hampers. No, not a collection of random tins or luxury goods that no-one ever wants to eat. I mean a selection of home cooked supper dishes, baked goods and preserves making a practical and tasty gift that's always appreciated.

So with all this in mind, it's time I got myself organised and wrote some shopping lists. And you know how I love a list...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Gorgeous gifts galore!

Some more lovely CRAFTfest stalls for you, this time from the Gifts category

Cola Creations

Handmade in Keswick




Click here for Gifts  at CRAFTfest, the biggest and best online craft fair open 24 hours until Sunday 2nd December

Friday, 23 November 2012

CRAFTfest has arrived!

It's Black Friday everyone and there's 10% off purchases over £20 on my website today. Some of our other stall holders are offering discounts too so don't miss out.

So how about some stall previews? Let's start with the homewares category and a look at MinXtures, Perfect Patchwork and of course Personal Space Interiors (me!)


Perfect Patchwork

Personal Space Interiors 


Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Click here for Homewares  at CRAFTfest, the biggest and best online craft fair open 24 hours until Sunday 2nd December

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Christmas CRAFTfest is a record breaker...

Booking for this year's Christmas CRAFtfest online craft fair closed on Wednesday. And this year, it's definitely going to be the biggest and best yet. We've broken our previous record and reached a monumental 250 stalls. So that's 250 shops for you all to visit from the comfort of your sofa!

Shop in the warmth!...Shop in your PJs!...Shop naked!...
(ahem, think I'd best leave that thought there)

Remember, we're kicking off early this time to coincide with Black Friday. And as a little incentive for you all, I'm offering 10% discount* on all purchases over £20 made from my website or from my Wow Thank You shop.

So don't forget - get along to Creative Connections on Friday and get ahead with your Christmas shopping.
*discount from my website via Paypal refund, discount from Wow Thank you at point of sale

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Kitchen capers and my new persona...

I got a little bit overexcited writing my latest article for Creative Crafting magazine. Well it being the Christmas issue, what coukld I do but write all about the biggest, best and possible most stressful food event of any home cooks calendar; The Christma Lunch. As my editor put it "more of an essay than an article!".

I love how Anna (the editor) brings my articles to life, and when I saw my article preview this afternoon I thought it looked fantastic. Especially as I now have a new persona as the magazine's chief cookery writer.

So a drum if you please as I introduce "Kitchen capers with Gill"

Look out for the Christmas issue of Creative Crafting magazine, coming soon to a laptop near you...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

I do like a happy customer...

A lovely pic today from my customer Kate. I made a super soft duck feather boxed cushion and two lovely covers for Kate's gorgeous solid wood settle. She very kindly sent me a photo today of her striped cover in situ.

There was a little strip of this fabric left over when I made this cover. And someone appears to have found a very comfortable resting place on it...
Naughty Lawrence!
Made to measure bespoke cushion pads, cushion covers and lavender frogs made and dispatched within three working days. Email for details.
Click here if you would like to take Lawrence home. I think he's feeling lonely, and he would make a lovely Christmas gift...


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Countdown to CRAFTfest - booking is closing soon...

Just a little reminder for anyone who hasn't yet booked their stall. What have you been doing? Stop dithering and spend that last fiver on becoming part of the biggest and best online craftfair.

Booking closes at 9.00am Wednesday 14th November 2012. We've already got over 200 stallholders taking part so this CRAFTfest promises to be a truly MEGA 'fest!

Visit the CRAFTfest website to book your stall today.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

It's official - I am a Creative Cow!

Drum roll please....I am now the extremely proud winner of a most coveted Cow Award.
Every month, the Cow Awards take place for all crafters to recognise the Creative, Outstanding and Weird and Wacky in the world of handcrafted goods - C.O.W. get it? Well this month I was thrilled to find out I'd won the Creative Cow Award for my Nordic felt hearts.
Thank you ladies - Bessie, Daisy and Cow Pat - for this honour. I'm off to display my badge with pride.

The Cow Awards take place on the first Thursday of every month on twitter. For your chance to win a Cow Award, simply tweet a link to your crafty item to @CowAwards using the hashtag #Cow.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

I've gone all Gothic...

Another day, another make. This time a little something for my niece for Christmas. She loves all things Victorian and Gothic which reminded me I had a piece of Victorian fabric from a skirt panel I'd picked up months ago. Beautiful fabric but I didn't have a clue what to do with it. Then it came to me - what do you make for someone who loves Victorian, Gothic and jewellery? A Victorian Gothic jewellery roll of course!

The fabric is difficult to photograph; it doesn't do it justice. It is a rich black satin brocade with an intricate floral design. The inside of the roll is black satin and features two patch pockets, a zipped pocket and a ring holder. The roll is finished with a satin piped edge, black velvet ribbon and diamante hearts. The closed roll measures 21cm x 11cm, so it's the just the right size for carrying in your handbag or light luggage.

I have a limited amount of this antique fabric available. If you'd like a jewellery roll made as a Christmas gift or simply to treat yourself, please email

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Retro kitchen envy...

Have I ever told you what I would rescue if the house was on fire? My Kitchen Aid of course - it's true love, always.

Well look what I saw today

Now don't you think they make a lovely couple? Trouble is I don't think Nostalgia Electrics are available here in the UK. If someone knows differently, please put me out of my misery.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Christmas is closer than you think...

I'm sure the years are getting shorter. Remember when you were little and you seemed to wait forever for birthdays and Christmas to arrive? The older I get, the quicker they seem to return.

So it's about time we had a countdown I think


Now, is it just me or is that a terrifying thought?!!!!