Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Easter Cards

I've had such a wonderful time making these Easter cards for my friends that I wanted to share them with all of you. Download the template here and you can either color them yourself or download the one that's already been colored in. How's that for an easy craft?

Making these cards got me thinking about elementary school. We used to prepare Easter decorations for weeks before hand. I can remember my mother buying me a white lacy hat and white patten leather shoes. I can remember twirling in a yellow dress and loads and loads of lilleys.

Like all kids, I used to love hunting for eggs around my house. I can remember one year in particular when one of my teachers told us about how for Easter dinner, her family hid the meals and had to find all of the different dishes around the house. I thought this sounded like the most wonderful, bestest idea in the world and bugged my parents for two weeks to do this. They agreed and we hid the first course and then after I stepped in the second course, my mother quickly decided that game was over and we were to eat a proper family meal (only without the mashed potatos which were mostly inside my shoe at that point) whether I liked it or not. I wonder if my parents remember this or have they blocked it from their memory.

What is your funniest or messiest Easter family moment?

Sunday, 29 March 2009


I've been busy writing the latest Easter issue of Extremely Crafty Ideas all weekend. Easter is like two weeks away and I am completely Eastered out. I started in a wild enthusiastic frenzy of stuffed rabbits, rabbit baskets, rabbit chocolates, rabbit cards, so I've now had it with rabbits. If only they weren't so darn cute.

I've also made and decorated 24 cupcakes which took all of Saturday in search of the perfect cupcake for the cover. Now, I'm going to have to force feed my boyfriend cupcakes all week. Has anyone else finished all of their Easter preparation or are they just starting?

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Alchemist

Has anyone read Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist? I bought the book yesterday and finished it today. It is about a boy who is courageous enough to go in search of his destiny. It was quite timely because I feel as if I helped my uncle move toward his destiny yesterday.

When he was young, he always said to his father that he wanted to be a painter. What he meant was an artist, but his father got him a job as a painter and decorator. At age 14, he became an apprentice to his father’s friend. He wood grained the doors in pubs and decorated the first sets of Coronation Street. My uncle became the top grainer before he left to start his own business. All of his life, he has worked with paint, but it was only when he retired that he finally had the time to devote to himself to his true calling, painting pictures.

There is a contemporary art competition here in London that he heard about a few weeks ago. I had the honor of helping him pull together his application and submitting it electronically. We should know in a month if he has been selected as one of the hundred who will receive an interview. He would be ecstatic if he got that far. What does this have to do with The Alchemist? If it’s your destiny and you really try hard for it, the lesson of the book is that life gives it to you. By chance (or is it?), we’re putting that to the test. I will keep you posted if he has “beginner’s luck” and gets in.
p.s. - Wow! I just realized that even the title of the photo I just added is called "Time to Act". Are you on the path to your destiny?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Hairy Situation

So has anyone ever had laser hair removal? If you are squeamish, do not read this post. I went on Saturday to have my underarms and legs done. I can't believe I'm writing about this in my blog, but someone gave me feedback that I have to just be me and this is something I have to get off my chest. No, I don't have hair there, thank God.

Anyway, my friend who referred me to the clinic said, no it hardly hurts at all. It feels like a little prick. Fine. I went trotting in early Saturday morning. First the underarms. My tormentor drew on me like a side of beef with a big red lipstick pencil so she could remember the area and commented that I didn't have much hair there so it should only take five minutes. Great. I settled in with a magazine, arm above my head, goggles on, and she readied the laser gun. This gun looks like a white plastic toy on a cord. She holds the end of the gun, a one inch square on your skin and beeps it. A laser light flashes and kills the hair. One needs approximately six of these sessions to kill all the hair because hair grows at different rates. Blah, blah, blah, beep, beep, beep. It didn't hurt at first and then suddenly the dagger shot through me.

Beep! Ow!

BEEP! Yeowch!


In my head I yelled "MOTHER F**KER!!!!" I jumped up and grabbed my armpit back.
"What's wrong?" she asked all innocently.
"You're murdering me." And she'd only just started.
"Oh, you must have a pain threshold."
"I don't know if I can do this."
"You have to, so lie down."
"Please just let me pay and leave."
"No. Lie down and do as you’re told."

I couldn't believe it. She shocked my into submission. Every third beep, she had to stop and give me time to recover. Tears formed at the corners of my eyes.

She kept trying to talk me into having my bikini area done. It's not as painful. Yeah right. She told me all about her bikini area for the next fifteen minutes as I passed in and out of consciousness. The smell of burning hair wafted up from my armpit every few minutes. When finally the armpits were over I almost jumped off the table, but oh no, the legs were next and they are so much bigger! AAAHHHHH!!! Again, she marked me into sections with the lipstick pencil, like a side of beef.

"You know, just like they do for cosmetic surgery," she said. No, thank you I don't know. I haven’t had any cosmetic surgery. More like just like they do at the butchers before the slaughter.

I can happily report that the legs were nothing in comparison to the armpits. So if you are keen on doing something, do the legs or you know what, just wax. I don't think I'll be signing up for those other five appointments anytime soon.

p.s. - you're not allowed to take a bath after treatment with the laser for at least 48 hours. Where she bought that lipstick pencil, I have no idea. Usually if I ever wear it on my lips, it rubs off after 10 minutes. This pencil is still marking my legs. I tried to smear as much of the butcher lines off as possible and hope my dark tights covered the rest when I went into work on Monday.

Manly Chocolates

Warning to the Boyfriend - if you are reading this, don't scroll down. Go away immediately. Everyone else, please proceed.

He has a small screen on his laptop, so I think I'm safe. Anyway, I just thought I'd share a recent find which is going to be an Easter present for the boy. As you may know, I'm obsessed with making chocolate. I love to make handmade things, but sometimes you find something on the shelf that is just too amazing not to buy.

I recently found the below chocolates and just had to buy them. Luckily, my boyfriend is as obsessed with eating chocolates as I am in making them, so we make a good pair. Anyway, I thought they looked wonderful and he would love them, but looking at the photo below I think I have done what I used to do when I was six - buy the presents I want myself and give them to those closest to me so I can share (or let's get real, take them back).

Perhaps I will have to make some manly chocolates to give him in addition to these or maybe I'll just keep them for myself. What is a manly chocolate anyway?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Vintage Sweets

I found this wonderful magazine from the 1940's or 1950's a weekend ago at the Malvern Hills giant flea market. It is battered and has been dripped on, but it's absolutely brilliant. There's recipes for cherry candy, coconut creams, pineapple cream jellies, harlequin marzipan, and floral fondants. I will make some soon and show you the results. Some of the recipes are a little hard to decipher. Many call for the sweets to be boiled over the fire. No mention of stoves. I shall have to ask my mother when stoves first appeared in England. The ingredients call for a "gill of cream". What is a gill? Green spinach colouring is also one of the keys apparently. Not sure if I'll be able to find that in the supermarkets nowadays. And what is a "loaf of sugar"? I do hope it's not as big as a loaf of bread. Does anyone know? Forgive me if these are standard baking terms.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Flamenco Festival

Yesterday evening, my boyfriend bought tickets to Carmen at Sadler's Wells during the flamenco festival. We were within ten rows of the stage and could see close up all of the foot stomping and sweat. Luckily, we weren't that close to actually be hit with any sweat. Always a hazard of flamenco.
Flamenco is a great passion of mine. I used to dance it for many years, but stopped when I moved to London because I couldn't exactly practice in flat shares and sheer laziness. My cassinets and nail tipped shoes are waiting in my cupboard and last night they started to call to me. The foot stomping was so intense, my boyfriend had to practically hold me in my seat lest I jump to my feet and make a spectacle of myself. My favourite part is when the dancers pound their feet so fast that their feet become a blur. My feet never went that fast, but I could always feel the excitement welling within me. My feet wanted to go faster and faster and faster - as fast as my soul was dancing. The Spanish bug has bitten me again. Watch out neighbours. This time my shoes might just win and find themselves tip tapping out of the closet.

photos courtesy of Sadler's Wells

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mother's Day Mum!

Today is Mother's Day in England. I had been thinking of what to get my mother (who believes that her mother's day should be celebrated in two countries - England because she's English and American because that's where she lives) and walking home the flamenco show at Sadler's Wells last night, I saw this adorble painting of a puppy.

And then I saw the title underneath itMy mother's name is Winnie.

I am sure she will kill me for even posting this. Of course I would have bought it for her, until I saw the price tag 425 Sterling - roughly $600! for a painting where they didn't even color in all of the lines!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Knickers to This!

Some pictures of the lingerie I've been working on. I'd had the idea for a while and started sewing, then aw that Amy Karol of Angry Chicken has also been making lots of underear too. Is is the credit crunch that's making us all think of making the nights in more exciting?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Knickers to This!

I need underwear. Preferably fancy with lace and ribbon and silk. Something like the gorgeous night set I saw in Harrods for 200 pounds, so I set off last week to John Lewis and bought some lovely hot pink silk and a lingerie pattern. I also bought a lingerie book which was delivered though the post in a brown wrapping. My boyfriend wondered if I had been buying pornography. No, thank you very much. After studying this book on the tube all week, trying desperately hard not to look at the pictures of knickers when anyone was looking over my shoulder, I learned about sewing lace to silk and matching darts. Yesterday, I sat down to make a pair of tap pants(little sleeping shorts).

Well, you'd think I would know better, but I made every mistake possible. I forgot to flip the pattern which meant I had two left sides for the shorts. I started again and flipped the pattern to cut the mirror image, but somehow managed to cut a third left side. I didn't have enough material and going to the store would waste another two hours, so I sewed together the pants - one side shiny silk, the other side the underside of the fabric. Of course, if ever questioned by the boyfriend, I will say I designed them this way.

I then managed to sew seams on the outside so I had to unpick everything. Later, when ironing down the top to create a tube for the elastic, I melted the fabric on the iron, so had to cut off a large chunk of the waistband. The shorts now are actually quite short and actually quite cute. Don't know if I'm ever going to tap in them though. I hear this is how Catherine Zeta Jones seduced Michael Douglas.

I had the pants. Now I needed a top. I didn't have much fabric left, but cut it out the best I could. Again, I forgot to cut the mirror image of the pattern piece that fitted over the bust. How can I do this 3 times in one morning!!! Yes, I had had my cup of tea. I sewed and gathered it, pinched and pulled. Finally when I tried it on, the back was gaping open and the top in general was far too short. I forgot I had a long body and usually have to add extra fabric. Not that I had any. Anyway, I added elastic to the back so it fit. The sides kind of stick out to the side, but again, I of course meant to do this. Yeah right.

I tried making the straps the fussy way the pattern company did - sewing a seam on the wrong side and pulling through to the right side. How the heck anyone can pull it through, I have no idea. After stabbing myself with the needle six times and straps that look like rags, I threw them out and dug out my ribbon box. I found some lovely bright pink ribbon I had bought in Amsterdam and sewed that on. It wasn't exactly the right shade, but it'll be dark when I'm wearing it and if anyone says anything different, I shall snap them with my knicker elastic.

Pictures to follow soon.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Buses All Come at Once

You can wait for a bus all day and then they all come at once.

This was yesterday on Oxford Street. There's a credit crunch, but there were still a million people out shopping. I went in Primark for the very first time. For those of you who have never heard of it, you can buy clothes for a few dollars each. There were hoardes of people pushing, shoving, and grabbing things off the shelves. It was like the day after Thanksgiving sales in the States. People campaign over here against child labour, but who do they think is making all of these $1 fancy knickers?

While we're on the subject of clothing, I went to the Czars exhibit at the V&A museum today and saw the costumes of the Russian kings, queens, and courtiers. The gold and silver embroidery was fantastic. The clothes were so lavish. I would love to have a jacket like the one below, wouldn't you?