Countdown to Easter: Eggsbox, but no games

Making a mountain out of mini eggs

Easter eggs are not just for kids, or at least not as far as I am concerned. I like to gift a few mini eggs to friends and family too. But handing over a rather dull net of chocolate is, well, a bit humdrum, so usually I try to gussie them up a bit.

In previous years I have made little ‘shopping bags’ and folded pouches but I thought it was time to try something different. This presentation is not 100% successful. It is a bit wobbly and needs to go into a flat bottom cello bag for transportation (as in to the recipient, not to a penal colony). Also I am not wild about the foil wrapping on the eggs. It is a bit busy for my tastes but that is how they come. The hard candy shell eggs would have been better visually, but obviously hygiene prohibits the use of unwrapped items. I don’t think anyone would like a mouthful of glitter along with their chocolate. Or indeed a little bit of Riley now that we are in moulting season!

Still, the idea is ok, I think. I just made a quick box base from double sided gingham card and added a layer of with shredded paper. Shakespeare, in case the recipient should also fancy a jigsaw puzzle and some light reading. The outside is covered with multiple cuts of a picket fence die that was free with issue 144 of Papercraft Essentials magazine. Good free stuff!! Then I filled the box with some polystyrene eggs (from The Works) that had been covered in Martha Stewart glitter, one of my sadly deformed chicks and as many mini eggs as seemed feasible. Think of loading to the max a salad bowl, or a skip, whichever you can best identify with.

The final touch is a banner made with Clearly Besotted Mini Banners stamps and die. I cut the shape twice – once around the stamped image and once from plain gingham cardstock. I used red liner tape to fix an couple of cocktail sticks to the back of the stamped image and then 3D foam to cover the workings with the second die cut. A couple of Lawn Fawn Hoppy Easter eggs were hanging around so they got used too.

eggsbox1eggsbox3eggsbox2eggsbox4

Having stared at chocolate so much I am now off to eat some!

 

 

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Smugglers, baking and boot camp

TiVo, get your act together!

I have to get this one off my chest. Has anyone else ever felt insulted by the ‘suggested recordings’ choices of their TiVo box? The TiVo has only been installed for a couple of years, and the instruction manual was never read because the gizmo worked and there are many more fun things to do with an afternoon. So the fact that there were suggested recordings at all, was something of a surprise. At first I thought it rather sweet that the blinking box in the corner would think of you throughout the day, get to know you a little and consider what TV treats you might like to enjoy later. Even going ‘off piste’ a bit and perhaps selecting something you may not have considered for yourself, but you end up loving. Similar to being given olives to try again, because although you claim not to like them, you like salty things, for example.

In the ‘getting to know you’ stage the suggested programmes were baffling. But early on in a relationship you can easily get the wrong signals, or send mixed messages. So, it proffered the local news programmes, and the BBC News, and the ITV News…. Well, news is fine, but watching it back at a later date is generally not so interesting. Really I have no idea how these things work but figured it would take time to somehow recognise what was watched and build a kind of profile. But then the random selections started to kick in. I can‘t remember specifically what, but they were not impressive.

Why wasn’t it trying harder? Why was it recording shows about border control and smugglers when such programmes were never actually watched, and should surely never be part of the viewing profile?

Then the ‘thumbs’ were discovered. Yes, perhaps this should have happened earlier. For anyone who doesn’t know, you have a green ‘thumbs up’ to say you like a programme, and a red ‘thumbs down’ to show your displeasure. You can hit the button up to three times, presumably to indicate your strength of feeling either way. Now, I get why up to three thumbs-worth of happy viewing might be useful information: I hope that if there was a recording clash between a one-thumb and a three-thumb the lovely considerate box would prioritise. This is an optimistic theory, not yet tested.

But why bother giving any more than one thumb of disapproval? Surely the TiVo is not going to think ‘Hmmn, well, there is very little of interest at the moment, so I’ll just record a single-thumbs-down programme. Can’t sit here doing nothing can I?’ Well, yes actually, you can. If you can’t record something good, don’t bother recording anything at all…

In an effort to train the beast, every time the TiVo is caught red handed i.e. recording something undesirable, the red thumb is pushed three times, still with little idea of why three is necessary but we are sending a clear message here. Same if it does good, although sadly this is less often. So now the on-screen TV guide has more up and down thumbs than a busy day at the Colosseum.

Today, late morning, the box pinged up a message to say it wanted to switch from the current programme (you know, the one you have actually chosen to watch) and record Mary Berry doing some cooking instead. Interesting. Not the choice of programme – for once it was a good choice – but that meant it was sneakily off recording another couple of shows, because it can only record three things if you are watching one of them. On further investigation these turned out to be Police Interceptors (or something like that) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Excuse me?? I honestly don’t think ANY of the viewing history would suggest these as likely to meet with approval. Knowledge of the Ninjas is sketchy, but a programme about the real Donatello or Raphael would stand a better chance!

I have just deleted more suggestions of yet more border control programmes, ones about sheriffs and debt collectors, gadget reviews, and a marriage boot camp, all of which would never have been watched. This feels more like a marriage of convenience, or of one where apathy has taken over. Like those who shop for their spouse’s or partner’s gift in the last hour on Christmas Eve. Just get something, no matter what. Who cares if it is the wrong size and wrong colour? It’s the thought that counts right?

Wrong, Mr TiVo, wrong.

Neither of these cards are for you. We are not friends and you are not awesome.

halftone and super scripthalftone super script 2

I have used current stash from Altenew plus a guilty purchase of a stencil. It cost under a fiver so I don’t feel too bad. Sometimes you just need something new to freshen things up a bit. These cards are very similar to one of the marketing shots, but it is kind of an obvious thing to do and I was just itching to use it! I blended three different colours of Altenew inks onto my base card, then stamped and die cut the Super Script words and cut out the Label Love sentiment. I love the look of the spotty symmetry!

 

Mother’s Day Cards

Either late, or early depending on where you live!

These are the cards I made for Mother’s Day this year. I waited until after the day as my mother reads all my blog posts. She also still watches to make sure I cross the road safely, and yet this is something I have been accomplishing without incident for years…

For the first I used some Tonic dies I have had for a long time. They are very adaptable as you can cut the hearts out completely or leave them in the card. I decided to make a kind of layered window effect, so the top layer has the larger heart cut into it and the second layer has the smaller sentiment. It doesn’t show up too successfully in my pictures, I’m afraid! As I was going for an all cream card I thought I needed a bit more interested so rummaged through my embossing folder trough and selected one from Sizzix that has some pretty details but is not an all-over pattern. Sometimes a little bit of blank space is good. I tied the ribbon knot and thought I had finished, but then changed my mind and added the trail of pearls too.

mothers day heartmothers day heart 2mothers day floral muse

The second card is made with Dovecraft Floral Muse papers. I know I have used these a few times now, but they are my current ’go to’ when really pretty and feminine patterns are required. I was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, but I changed it up a bit and added several details of my own. The various layers of papers were edged with Vintage Photo Distress Ink to give them some definition. Butterflies were fussy cut from one of the pages in the pad and then I spent ages trying to find a good match in my ink colours for the sentiment. Many a green was tried and tossed and finally I went with Brilliance Pearlescent Beige. A few more pearls again (well, why not?) and I was happy. Oh, and another doily from my doily mountain has been used….

Supplies: Dovecraft Floral Muse paper pad; Clearly Besotted Mini Banner stamp and die; Tonic On Mother’s Day Affections Insert die set; Sizzix embossing folder (it has no name on it!); string pearls from The Ribbon Room and individual pearls from Dreamees

 

Countdown to Easter: make up your own joke about bunnies multiplying…

Firstly, an apology. I have been rather behind on replying to comments and checking out what everyone else is up to. I am, once again, having struggles with technology. From last weekend the internet has been on some kind of random strike action. It works fine for a while, then fades away. Comes back, fades away. Like some Gothic novel heroine, suffering an attack of the vapours.

I am also struggling with ongoing Reader and Notifications issues and then, because things always come in threes, I woke up with a swollen and painful eye, streaming nose and a banging headache. Peachy. I couldn’t see well enough to use WordPress for anything more than a few minutes at a time, nor could I get stuck in to anything creative. It has now improved significantly and I think it may have been an allergic reaction or a foreign body of some sort causing irritation (I have summarised enough medical records in my time to self-diagnose pretty accurately!!). I suspect it may have been glitter….

So, yesterday I was finally at least able to rustle up a little something, whilst squinting. This first card is made with Lawn Fawn Hoppy Easter stamps and dies and some Martha Stewart papers I have had for years. The tag die is from a set of three that was a magazine cover gift years ago and the cute row of crosses are made with Die-namics Basic Stitched Lines.

hoppy easter tag trio

The second card is more of a Heinz 57. I used the same Lawn Fawn bunny, scraps of the Martha Stewart papers and the free tag die again. The Easter egg and small bunny dies are another free gift, from Docrafts Creativity magazine recently. The embossing folder is from Teresa Collins and I think it is called Modern Stripe. I am on a mission to use up some of my doily mountain too. Gonna take a while…

hoppy easter bunny and eggs

Now have you every worried about your brain?! About some vital bit of rational thought just not occurring? Here is my recent example giving cause for concern. Feel free to laugh at or despair of me.

I bought this box of chicks on a whim a couple of weeks ago, because they were quirky and cheep (sorry) and I thought I might use them for photo props.

easter cards 012

At the point of purchase I wondered why they all sported Mohican haircuts. But then they do have specs and ties too so I guess my brain concluded that clearly anything goes. Perhaps it was some character franchise of which I was unaware? Or just the latest ‘thing’, maybe? Like loom beads, deely boppers, hula hoops, yo-yos….

Anyway, they have been sitting in their box on my workdesk and every day I have looked at them and mentally shook my head at the Mohican bit. Yesterday I decided that I would open the box and try and give one a haircut, take him back to the yellow only. Don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to a Mohican, but not on my chicks, I think.

And of course, as soon as I uncovered them and took one out, I realised my mistake. But for two weeks my brain has been fooling me and unquestioningly substituting a random hairdo for a (vaguely) appropriate anatomical feature. NOT a good sign!

 

 

Mind the Gap

If you have ever been on the London Underground you will have heard that warning as you get on and off the tube train. I can’t remember now if it is said at every station – I think it used to just be a few that had, for some reason, curved platforms, resulting in a mildly alarming space between the carriage and the platform edge. It was the way the warning was delivered that unnerved rather more. This stern voice, clearly enunciated, booming around the underground hall like some alien overlord. You could see that some tourists were taken by surprise.

But this is a different gap. I made this card for a family member to give to another family member – an aunt. The aunt loves tea, and small floral patterns. Because the card would be posted twice (from me, to them, to auntie) I needed it to be flat. How ridiculous is it that I can send several cards in one jiffy bag for 96p (Large Letter cost), but posting two small cards separately and First Class costs £1.28?? Nuts!

So anyway, flat is required. But I wanted it to be a bit different too, so decided to go for a gappy look. Granted that may not sound too appealing. I guess a career in advertising is not for me. What I mean is that the central motif holds the card together. It is very easy to do.

Grab (or make) a card blank and decide on where you want to position your chosen image on the card front.

Measure down from the top (if you are making a tent fold like me) to where you need to ‘meet’ the image and give yourself a bit of an overlap, of course. Cut the rest of the card front away.

Use this cut piece (or you could go for another colour) to make the bottom section. I went for a panel the same size as the top.

I layered other papers onto the panels, then just assembled the card. Lining up the bottom panel with the back of the card means you should be nice and straight and make sure you only use a little bit of glue or tape of course as you don’t want it showing or sticking the wrong bits!

I added an embossed panel inside to highlight the gappy look.

tea gap 3

 

This was made with an old Kraftyhands CD Vintage Chic Boutique. Sadly I think they are no longer in business.

 

April Showers

How to make something seemly simple take for EVER!

Now to look at this card, you might think it was the work of a few minutes. Stamp out the umbrellas, add a bit more stamping using the colours and the sentiment, grab a band of ribbon and Robert is your father’s brother. Hell, no.

april showers

For a start, the umbrella comes in separate bits. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. It is a feature of the stamp set that I really like, because there is room to play. So, I started my repeat pattern with the central umbrella, to make sure it was where I would want it. Handle first, then the canopy outline.

So far, so good. Now, each canopy, either spotted or striped, comes in 3 pieces. Again, I was happy with this because I wanted to mix it up a little, both with colour and pattern. I wasn’t confident I could stamp exactly in the right place 20 times and not fudge up though, so I decided to stamp then on scrap card and cut them out individually. Nobody say anything, OK?

Cutting curves accurately is not in my skill set. I had to re-do a few, but, eventually, I had a full cast of canopies, spotty and stripy, at my disposal. Hurrah! Assembly time!

Casual abandon is not in my skill set. Whatever arrangement I came up with, something offended me visually. Two blues too close together, yellow stripes too far apart… I decided that maybe it was because I didn’t have enough sections. Perhaps there was a basic maths principle I should use, to work out my pattern requirements?

Maths is not in my skill set. Pretty much the only thing I remember about maths is the Fibonnaci sequence and how to quickly tell if a number is divisible by 3. How often do either of those come in handy?! Unless I am trying to make small talk with two Italians whilst splitting our restaurant bill, not so much. I gave up on the maths idea. Back to winging it.

Winging it is not in my skill set. Rational thinking occasionally shows its face though. I gave up on the idea of mixing the colours and patterns and went for uniformity. So, a card which could have been relatively quick ended up taking ages. Just peachy…

Supplies: Clearly Besotted April Showers stamp set; Brilliance Pearlescent inks in Rocket Red, Sky blue and Sunflower Yellow; Memento Tuxedo Black ink; ribbon from The Ribbon Room

 

 

 

3D Thursday: Easter Pillow Boxes

Pillow boxes. An ‘in and out of fashion’ item, I think, for crafters. Actually I don’t know if they are in or out right now, but I do know I was for some reason possessed by all the devils of craft to make some this week.

I was also convinced that somewhere I had an one on an embossing board – crafters will know what I mean. A big slab of some science-y compound or resin or such, with grooves and channels to score the lines, to then be cut out.

A craft hunt! Hurrah! I NEVER do one of those, right?? So, donning crampons and grabbing belaying thingies I tackled the craft mountain. Like A-ha, I hunted high and low but could not find a scoring board. BUT, after a bit of pondering and some much needed Kendal Mint Cake I remembered an ancient purchase, back when the internet was in short trousers, of a bunch of Anna Griffin templates. Back to the north face! The templates had survived their spell in the wilderness and I could get going. Of course I could have downloaded one, or used my Cricut, but you know how it is when you get a bee in your bonnet. Oh, no, I have just reminded myself of the bridesmaid bonnets. On reflection I am quite surprised we weren’t attacked by a swarm of bees, actually, mistakenly thinking we were a good pollen source…

Anyhoo, back to the pillow boxes. I used quite a few things on these. The base is an old pad of Kanban card and the rabbit is from my Rabbit’s Tea Party digikit. The other bits and pieces are just from stash.

easter pillow box paireaster pillow box spottyeaster pillow box floral

I know the ribbon has fallen in a rather unfortunate place on this one – I only noticed after I had taken the photos!! I’ll go fix it…..

 

 

 

Countdown to Easter

Easter is a month away, which means it is time to break out the bunnies and scramble the eggs.

This is my first Easter offering. I say ‘first’ implying that there is a whole raft of projects lined up. That is not true. At the moment there is not even a ‘second’. I have though dug out all my seasonal supplies, and stared at them for a few hours. Not feeling it so far. Maybe inspiration will strike overnight. Does the Easter Bunny do house calls?

hoppy-easter-1hoppy-easter-2

Sorry about the state of the little chicks. I bought them either last year or maybe even before then, but never released them from the box. I think one or two were rather hastily put together, with little regard for realism, or indeed basic chick anatomy. But, I can’t resist them, so they had to get an outing or two. In fact I picked out some of the most oddball individual ones. Perfect is not always the best!

Supplies: Lawn Fawn Hoppy Easter stamps and dies; MFT Die-namics Basic Stitch Lines; Memento Tuxedo Black ink pad; Embossalicious A4 folder Picnic Plaid; Adorable Scorable card (yellow); various alcohol markers; glitter card from stash.

 

Florals Two Ways

I have a quick post today – two cards using florals and a lot of white space – but with quite different results.

The first was partly a result of playing around with die cut letters on busy patterned paper and partly inspired by a card I have seen somewhere…but I cannot recall. The designer had either stamped a whole lot of flowers and then die cut the letters, or die cut the letters then stamped on the lower portion only. It was a thing of beauty and if I could find it, I could tell you what they had done! I loved the look, but wanted a really quick version so took a shortcut. I selected a floral border from a digikit, resized it, and copied and pasted several times. This would give me lots of choice for positioning my dies. After that I just placed the letters to give plenty of variety in colour and flower. Once cut I popped them onto 3D foam and spent far too long painstakingly positioning them. Not quite as quick as it could have been but there you go. I make my own trouble.

flowered-happy-white

The second card is black and pink. Again. But actually I have been very good and not abused this colour scheme for a while. What can I say? I fell off the wagon and indulged in one of my favourite combinations. The roses are from a Craftwork Cards USB I have had for a while, which includes printables of the totally gorgeous Heritage Rose range. Hurrah! So all to be done was print a page of roses, fussy cut and layer them up. A die cut sentiment from Tonic, a knot of narrow black ribbon and we are good to go.

sent-with-love-and-heritage-rose

So, one understated card and one that kind of smacks you in the face, but smells of roses so you have to forgive it…just mind the thorns…

flowered-happy-and-sent-with-love

Supplies: XCut Wedding Alphabet and Numbers dies; Tonic Sent With Love die; Craftwork Cards USB including Heritage Rose Collection; Louise Tiler Birthday Florals digikit for Serif CraftArtist; card and ribbon from Create and Craft

 

Bridesmaid Revisited

Sorry Evelyn Waugh.

One of my lovely aunts has got married. So, some paper craft was called for and I had a chance to rustle up a little something. Well, two little somethings, actually. I felt rather out of practice, to be honest, using paper and card again after a bit of a break. Inspiration was somewhat tricky, and I had a few epic fails, but overall I am happy with what I have made in the time I had.

It is a second marriage, so I didn’t want to use any bridal dress imagery, but any wedding is a happy event so a few bells and whistles are not out of place, right? So, and hearts and pearls for nuptials.

wedding-congrats-1wedding-congrats-detail

My one and only experience as a bridesmaid was at this aunt’s first wedding, back in the 1970s. Being the youngest sister in her family, unfortunately Auntie C had little choice but to select all of her elder sisters’ female offspring as bridesmaids. All five of us, ranging from about aged 10, to aged 2 or 3. She had my sympathy, even then. My sister, as a the eldest, was head wrangler chief bridesmaid. Not an easy job, and she was possibly suffering from PBSD (Post Bridesmaid Stress Disorder) anyway, as she had filled the role once before, years earlier, for another aunt, and lost her headdress down the toilet….

We were so excited about being bridesmaids. I think that is why Auntie C couldn’t refuse any of us the chance. I don’t suppose she really relished it, but bless her, she never let on. I do remember a LOT of talks about being on best behaviour from every other adult that knew us though.

So, in Britain in the 1970s, or at least in our corner of it, weddings were rather different to now. Rather more low key; a ceremony and a bit of a house party with family and friends rather than the larger affairs that take place in the 21st century. I can’t help but think that the 1970s version had something going for it. Everyone chipped in, got involved. And although obviously it cost money, it could not have been anything like the frankly astonishing amount that the average wedding costs today. Plus, less pressure for the ‘perfect day’ to remember. A church, a frock, some photos, a party, super.

Actually it is probably good that ‘perfect’ was not expected.

Back to the delirious bridesmaids. Our dresses were handmade by, I think, my mum and her other sister Auntie B (mother of the other three bridesmaids). They were yellow, broderie anglaise, lined (for extra swishiness, I assumed, probably modesty and a touch of luxury, in reality), with peter pan collars and puff sleeves. We were all pretty much in love with the frock. Then shoes. Ballet shoes. Some cups of happiness ran over.

Now, here is where it could have ended. But, for a reason which has never been explained to my satisfaction, headgear was apparently also required. Perhaps it was the fashion, I don’t know. I was a kid. But if I had known the acronym ‘WTH (polite version) were you thinking?’ well it would have been extremely apposite right then.

We had yellow bonnets, made from scratchy net, like you would use for a tutu. When I say bonnet, think of those thingies that Cosmonauts wear under their helmets. So really, a skull cap, covering the whole head. And wreathed all over in several big, big, big fake white and yellow flowers. Kind of like a swimming cap from an old Esther Williams movie, but feeling more like a pan scourer. Then, it was fastened with a mahoosive bow, under the chin. Maybe my sister’s previous experience was being considered. Lash it to them, so they can’t lose it.

As if this wasn’t enough, I was also the object of scientific experimentation. My hair was permed. Apparently, it was because it was ‘so fine’ (as in thickness, not as in splendour). But then it was covered up with an enormous floral ritual offering, so why bother?! I don’t think Social Services would allow it these days…

So, the wedding day. We were of a generation that was taught to behave in public, do what you were told, drilled, even, by the adults who wanted the ceremony to go well. In a Catholic Church in the 1970s, there was precious little informality. Impeccable behaviour was expected, and, generally, delivered. Any deviation, signs of boredom or outright naughtiness was NOT good and you would be left in little doubt that you had let the side down. But the youngest bridesmaid was 3. Good luck folks! As I said earlier, this is from the perspective of a kid. I was both mortified by what happened, as the Bridesmaid Etiquette had gotten massively trampled upon, and yet couldn’t help thinking ‘well, what did you expect…’

I only recall what happened in the church. There was probably more. Perhaps I have just blocked it out with my own PBSD. The 3 year old cousin, we will call her D, was really not keen on the job. She was cross that she had different footwear to the rest of us. Apparently ballet shoes were not available in her size so she got snazzy new white proper shoes. Fair enough, she wanted to be like everyone else. But you know, deal with it, right? We are all standing here getting net rash, but doin’ it for Auntie C.

There was some kerfuffle as we prepared to parade down the aisle. D could not understand why she had to go last in the cloud of lemony scratchy flowery bridesmaids. She wanted to be front and centre. Some rank was pulled. Maybe some hair too? I don’t know. But she ended up back at the back, and grouchy as hell.

So, we have made it safely down the aisle, despite being hamstrung by the slightly blinkering effect of the stiff bonnets and blooms and the chafing of the double fisherman‘s knot they had been secured with. The couple are at the altar, bridesmaids assembled in arrow formation 2,2,1 – oldest to youngest – behind. Some solemn words are being said by the priest, and four of us are doing our best to look angelic and attentive. The fifth, Cousin D, has had enough. She stomps to the front and started fussing at the bride’s gown. The Chief Wrangler lived up to her title and executed a stealth manoeuvre. Order was restored, briefly. Then cousin D changed tactics, and started counting the holes in my sister’s broderie anglaise dress. Loudly. And poking each hole, vigorously. Enough to bruise. So the congregation is treated to “ONE! (ouch) TWO! (aargh) FIVE! (oooh) EIGHT!” (whoa).  ‘Bless the person that taught her numbers‘, I am sure the adults were thinking. Then, cousin D again, with slightly less confidence “NINE! NINE! NINE! TWO-TY TEN!” Okaaaay. Some querulous looks between the bridesmaids, hushed instructions and a snatch and bundle operation. Back to positions, pretend that everything is fine. Nobody noticed, right?

A bit more of the wedding service went on. Don’t ask me what. Cousin D decided it was a dull affair. She wandered in the direction of our grandmother (mother of the bride) and threw her bridesmaid’s posy at her, and hollered “here, you hold this, I have had E-NOUGH”. Yeah, the work of a 3 year old is truly hard… She spent the rest of the service pinioned to the front pew, humming as only a toddler can. Namely a selection of nursery rhymes mashed up with a smattering of her own interesting compositions, with gusto.

The photos were a bit hit and miss. Some had four bridesmaids, some five. I expect remonstrations and toilet breaks were the cause. Then the party, afterwards, in my grandparents’ house. A real meeting of an older generation and my aunt’s super cool friends, who were so lovely to the bonneted scratchy ones, now blessedly bonnetless and craving the calm of calamine lotion.

Anyway, Auntie C is married again. I know she will be happy, and had a lovely day, but she didn’t ask us to bridesmaid this time…..

wedding-heart

Supplies list – I used so many individual items! If anyone wants to know what something is, or how I made these, drop a line in a comment and I will get back to you.