Thursday, 31 March 2011

Fun on Fursday...

Firstly, Hello to all new visitors, especially if you have dropped by from Shimelle's BFS forum!  Glad to have you here, please take a look around, feel free to read and explore any posts you fancy; I love to read people's comments, so don't be shy - tell me what you think!

Okay, so today the BFS prompt was about having a regular slot on your blog, where you post about a particular topic/subject.  I'm not sure I'm into this idea really, but I thought I might have a try....

So here is the first of what might become a regular feature, if I feel like it...

Fun on Fursday
(well, I can't spell it with a "Th" or it wouldn't look right and "Thun" is a Non-Word!
and no, it has nothing to do with furry creatures - well, not today anyway...)

To kick off... Try following this link, to Hopeitrains' blog.  This is quite possibly the most hilarious blog post on the whole internet.  I stumbled upon it from my LizzieMade page on Facebook; it is the blog of the owner of a business called FionaT, which I follow on my page. 

If you don't agree that this is Fun, then I won't bother with any more... but if you like it, leave me a comment and I'll look out for something to post about next week!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Video First!

Hello All Blog Friends - old and new! 

Welcome if you've just come to visit my blog for the first time!  I'm joining in Blogging for Scrapbookers for the second time round; I've been a bit pushed for time in the last couple of weeks - preparing for the Workshop I taught on Saturday, visiting a new baby niece, making books...making other books!

Today I thought I would try and join in with the BFS prompt; I'm glad I did as this is something I haven't done before (must have missed it last time, though I did recognise the pictures in the prompt...hmm..)

Anyway, I don't think I have ever posted a You-Tube video before... so I found one I really like and here it is:

This is the first of a series of Simon's Cat films on You Tube.  He posted this one about 3 years ago.  Since then, Simon's Cat has become something of a phenomenon.  He had amazing success with this film, so posted several more, then produced a book of Simon's Cat drawings... more videos, a second book... It's gone from strength to strength; but I'm not surprised, because these are very funny and he's really caught a cat's behaviour so well. 

Hope you loved this as much as we do here in our house.  If you search for "Simons Cat" on You Tube, you'll find several more!

Saturday, 26 March 2011


Today I finally taught my first Workshop day for Frontiers Club - the Saturday club that J. goes to.  They offer courses to children on the schools' Gifted and Talented student register, to give them a bit of extra value/ interest beyond the school syllabus. 

I taught an all-day workshop about making Sock Creatures.   Regular visitors will know of my fondness for sock pets.  Like Bella the Monkey, my cute little White Puppy, the Apres Ski Bunny and Snowman I made at Christmas, the Easter Bunnies from last Easter time,
the Three Sock Amigos....

But today it was others making the creatures and me busy all day, showing techniques, discussing ideas, encouraging ideas, choices and decisions, helping, demonstrating, rescuing, sewing, rushing around a bit... It was a busy, busy day; but I felt that it was generally a success. 

There were 11 students and all but one went home with a creature that was either finished, or very nearly so.  The last girl was a bit unhappy about her creature; she opted to try a dog, made with 2 socks, like this one:
It's the simplest 2-sock creature I have made - for a reasonably ok sewer, it is easy; for a 10 or 11-year-old who doesn't sew well, it's not simple...  As she said (rather too late to do anything about it) "I should have made a bunny too!".  Poor lass.  She took home a body and two legs that were stitched and stuffed, with the extra sock to make the head, arms & ears, plus spare stuffing, buttons etc. to decorate it.  Apparently her dad has sewn some sock pets before, so he would help her.  Some good news for her at any rate.   

We had a number of rabbits - all made to the same design, but all very different.  There was a beautiful bee - designed and stitched by the student with only a little help deciding which bits of sock to use for which part of the bee - it was fabulous!
There was a great octopus; a white cat with button eyes and a felt bow on its head; two "Funny-foot" creatures, with fat bodies, knotted ears and fun features; a weird and wonderful something-or-other; finally, a "Thingummy-whatsit" - an alien-like creature with long atennae/ears and fat little legs.  This one had odd-button eyes, patches stitched on, a ribbon on its ear and a general air of surprise about it.   They were all fabulous!

The wonderful collection of Sock Creatures made by my students today!

So you see, today was a great Sock-cess!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

At Last!

Fanfares of Trumpets! (actually, maybe not... shh...she's sleeping....)

Announcing the Birth of my new Great Niece!

Mia Isobel was born today, 24th March, at 5am, after 55hours of labour (!). She weighs 7lb 11oz.

Obviously, we're all very relieved, very excited and very proud of her and her brave, hardworked Mummy! They are now at home, resting and getting used to one another.  Both are well after their long ordeal.  Mia is beautiful (as are her mummy and big sister).  I'm thrilled to bits! 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Few of My Favourite Posts!

Today I thought I'd join in with the new Blogging For Scrapbookers prompt.  I've been working hard on the course notes, for the Sock-Pet making workshop I'm teaching on Saturday, but my niece is in the hospital, having her baby (slow going but all ok), I've been up since very early because DS has gone on a school trip today (7:30am at the school... yawn...) and I have the fidgets; I need to Do Something Nice!!! So I'm writing a blog post - yeah!

Shimelle invited us to post about some Favourite Things.  I thought about the notes she wrote and decided to do something slightly different, but which I hope is still in the "spirit of BFS"!

The list below is all links to posts on My Blog.  However, almost all of these reference other Blogs and/or other places on the Web, where you can go and see all sorts of interesting things, read other fab blog posts, meet other bloggers or artists... They hop around all over the place, from very recent posts, to some I posted at the start of my blog (November 2009, on BFS!).  My 100th post is featured there somewhere too (the Sock Pets one).

So why not start with the one that you fancy and have a read or two?  Some of the posts are quite long, I will warn you - so maybe you'll come back another time, if you don't have time for all those you would like to look at?

I don't expect you to read all of these and I won't be offended if you don't read any at all - I chose these because they are among my own Favourite Posts and all include some of my own Favourite Things, in whatever form!

Lizzie's Favourite LizzieMade Blog Post List

More Books (I love books - well, I make them so I must love them!)

And Something for Dessert...

Pirates and Treasure!

and Last Year's Day 3 BFS Post about Favourite Things!

And of course, another way to find out about my Favourites, is to look in the sidebars of my Blog.  There's a list of some of my favourite blogs from the original BFS (but which probably needs updating now!) - that's on the left.  On the right are lists of Clever Things I've found on other blogs, also Recipes I think others might like, from my blog and other people's. 

Have fun!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Today has been exciting, but also a bit nerve-wracking.  My niece (the elder one) is in labour with her second baby girl. It all started overnight, but unfortunately things have taken their time and not much is happening yet. 

Summer 2010 - My niece, great niece (#1!) and me

Everyone got excited this morning, so we all feel a bit flat just now. My mum's all worried - she is so far from everything that's going on and doesn't have internet access, text messaging etc, so relies on people to phone her up with news. Unfortunately, she was told early on in the proceedings, so has spent the day fretting and worrying, believing that something is happening and that there must be problems, since no-one has called yet, to tell her the baby is safely here.

Sigh...  There isn't anything wrong; no problems. It's just that it is early yet... my niece has had lots of those "trial contractions" for the last few weeks - once it even looked as if she was in labour, as it went on all night long - then stopped as suddenly as it started.  This time, it's "for real", but just sloooow... The midwife has been in and checked her over. She's happy with her condition, but I think she has said it'll be a while yet.

I think my niece must be so tired. I hope she can get some rest, or even a bit of sleep.  My sister has been in and out (as well as going to work today), so she's keeping an eye out too, but she went home, to leave the family to have a bit of peace and time together.

I hope I'll be back with some more positive, solid news tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I've got the fidgets and have flitted from one job to another all day, without really finishing most things. 

Tomorrow's another day - I'll hope for news in the morning and wish you all Good Night!

Baby Shower, January 2011

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Corn Bread Turtle-style!

D'you remember the wonderful parcel I received recently, from a certain DebTurtle

It had Sweeties!!

And some Cornmeal, with a recipe to try out my very own American-style Cornbread!

So, today I did just that. 

I found the recipe and cornmeal,

 got my ingredients together,

and also my equipment - don't you love my Cup Measures? So cute! 

I measured out my 1 Cup of Cornmeal

This part is strange for me - here in U.K. we generally write / measure recipes by weight or liquid measures, rather than cups-full (or part-cups).  It seemed strange to put my cornmeal, flour etc into those little cup things. 

All the dry ingredients in the bowl.

I then mixed up the "wet" ingredients in a jug; again it seemed strange to measure the liquids in cups (except the egg, which is 1 Egg in any "language"!).

The other odd thing was using vegetable oil, instead of margarine or butter.  In U.K. we generally use a solid fat in our baking recipes, or sometimes a softer "tub margarine", which is still solid, but has been softened already.  Margarine is a mixture of vegetable fats (sometimes with animal fats too), which stays fairly hard at fridge temperature and needs to be beaten quite hard to soften it (or put in the microwave for a short while - but don't tell Delia!). So I have very few recipes that use liquid fats, so this was an interesting experiment for me!

Once it was all mixed together, the batter/mixture went into the tin,

then into the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (same as Deb's 400F!). 

It came out looking a bit brownish on top, with a slightly crusty surface - like bread or scones. I let it cool for a while,

then I cut it into pieces.

We had Hungarian Goulash (sort-of!) for dinner tonight, with rice and a nice sun-dried tomato bread, from the Italian deli. stall at the Farmers'/Local Produce Market that is held at the local garden centre once a month.  It seemed a good chance to try out our interesting new food, so I put pieces of Corn Bread in the dish, along with the warm bread slices. 

We put butter on some of it and dunked it in the paprika & tomato sauce with our stew. 

It was yummy!

This one's definitely a "keeper"! 

I made this batch without sugar, as I wanted a plain, savoury bread.  Next time I will use a little sugar.  I think I'll also use my slightly smaller square pan, as the bread was a bit thin and dry - I think it will be moister and nicer if it's in a smaller pan and can be in deeper chunks!

So, thanks Deb - it was fun. X

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A Present for Natasha

 A lady I know, called Natasha, had a baby girl recently.  I will be seeing her on Tuesday and have made her a gift:

A small photograph album, size 8"x6".

I bought some 100% cotton fabric yesterday and backed it with tissue - remember my post about making bookcloth?

I have used it for the front and back covers.

It has a silk edging on each cover, with a Japanese stab-stitch binding, in ivory linen.

There are 16 pages of Snow White Canford card (300gsm).

I used my embossing machine to make a little decorative plate for the cover, enhancing it with pink Conte pastel and mounting it on a piece of silk, to match the cover-edging.

It's all wrapped up and pretty, ready to give her on Tuesday...

I'm really pleased with this little book - I think she'll love it!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Ins, Outs and Vagaries of the Postal System

A lovely lady contacted me via my Etsy shop today, asking about this book:

This is my Birds and Flowers guest book, with a moss green and natural linen Coptic stitch binding.

She would like to buy the book, but needs it (in NY, USA) before 30th March.  The enquiry was whether this is possible. 

Sounds simple - that is 15 days' time and normal postage takes 7-10 days for delivery in most of USA. 

Except... just before Christmas, lots of Etsians were reporting that items ordered from non-US shops, for delivery to USA addresses, were not arriving.  Customers were upset and asking for refunds.  In some cases that I heard, items posted at the beginning of December had not even arrived by end of January - and they had been ordered for Christmas presents. 

What was going on?  It turns out that US Customs had been keeping items back in much larger volumes, for extra security checks.  I believe there was a perceived bomb threat, or similar, so they needed to check more items.  This caused a huge backlog, which meant that lots of items just never arrived... Etsy shops were losing money, having to refund customers and/or re-make and re-send missing items.  We were warned about this problem by Etsy and other Etsy sellers, and advised to pass on the information to customers.

And no-one has yet confirmed that the problem is resolved... so, I have had to tell this customer that I can't be sure of the item arriving in time, though so far I haven't had any items go missing.

She asked if I could look into ways to speed up delivery (aside of the possibility of Customs delays).  I looked on the Royal Mail website and found prices for various postage options.

Assuming the parcel would weigh up to 320g:

Option 1 - Standard Airmail postage.  Target 7-10 day delivery to US addresses (most of them).  Not insured, no signature on delivery. Not tracked. Cost, £4.71 ($7.66).

Option 2 - International Signed For delivery.  This is an enhanced Airmail service.  Delivery still 7-10 days. Compensation for lost items (up to £41 - 100 times cost of a 1st class stamp).  Signature on delivery.  Tracked within UK, but not in destination country.  Cost, an additional £4.95 ($8.05) - so £9.66 total ($15.71).

Option 3 - Airsure.  Priority handling, target up to 1 day sooner than Airmail - ie. 6 days to USA.  Insured up to £41, or extra insurance available for an additional fee.  Tracked through UK and US postal services, with signature on delivery. Cost, £11.05 for my parcel ($18).

All good so far... I recommended Option 3.

Option 4 - Parcelforce Global Priority.  This is a guaranteed delivery service.  The package is tracked the entire way and delivered within 3-4 days, to US addresses (some exceptions).  There is insurance for non-delivery or lost items. Cost for a parcel of 300-310g, £48.09 ($78).  

OUCH!  The book is only $45 (around £28 just now). 

I told the customer I will use this service if she wants, but it will cost her an extra $72 on top of the book price (I factor in packaging and UK postage for many of my books, so the postage for elsewhere is the difference between UK and foreign rates).  Somehow, I don't think she'll fancy paying $117 for this book, however lovely she thinks it is!

There is a further option - Parcelforce Global Express - guaranteed delivery within 1 working day.  Cost? £53.19 ($86.51) for a package of 310g.  Super-Ouch!

I didn't even offer her this one... I wonder why?

I suppose it's nice to know the option of 1-day delivery does exist, should it be needed.  But it still doesn't prevent US Customs from swiping the parcel for Security Checks, should they so desire... and it would have to be a pretty special item to be sent by 1-day express mail at such a huge cost!

The good news though, is that I've probably sold this book - just waiting for the customer to make up her mind, click the green button and pay her pennies... Then I'll make it look nice and send it straight away.  Fingers crossed that US Customs don't fancy a peep and decide to keep it for a month or two!


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Round the World - A Photograph Album

Okay, I know it's not normally "polite" to boast of one's achievements, or crow about one's supreme cleverness (au Peter Pan), but today, I think I deserve to do a bit of Own Trumpet Blowing!

So, "Da-da-da daaaa!"

I finished another new book for my Etsy shop and it's gorgeous! 

It's a photo album, 11.75" by 8.5", covered with a gorgeous paper, with a design of vintage trunk labels from a round-the-world cruise.  The back, front edge and inside covers are all a smooth ocean-blue art paper and the binding is a Japanese-style stab-stitch, in warm-red linen thread.

There is a dust-protector on the bound edge, in matching patterned paper.

The pages are stiff card, in the same ocean blue colour (both are Canford paper/card, so they match). There are interleaves of vellum paper, to stop photos sticking together.

It will take two 6x4" photos, either way round.

I LOVE this new book!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Recording the Disaster

So the shelves fell down, all was chaos, the chaos began to assume some semblance of order...

Somewhere in amongst all that mess, I found my missing scrap-mojo!  Last Sunday I made two pages and last night I made the third page, that had been planned for the Sunday crop (I ran out of time - always happens).

My page to record the Event!

I just had to call it this...

The big photo lifts up, to reveal two little pictures beneath...

... and under that mini-book, there is a great space, where I will attach the story of my Disaster, when I have typed it out and printed it (still thinking how best to do this - paper, font etc).

I deliberately kept the design simple, having only the one large photo on the front and keeping the journalling out of sight too.  I wanted the layout to have impact, so the strong black ribbed cardstock and striped Basic Grey scrap paper were ideal.  The grey-blue patterned paper is just great with these other two papers - so glad I still had some of it left.

Another page to cover some of the scary holes on the wall above my desk!

Oh, and I finished the new Wedding Guest Book for my shop:

A Wedding Guest Album, with 40 pages of white cartridge paper; covers in Birds and Flowers design paper, with peach lined covers and peach art paper section wraps.  10-needle Coptic Binding, in Ivory and Dark Moss Green hand-waxed linen thread.

Progress is being made! I'm off to start the next Book!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Definite Improvement!

The Studio is back in operation - yippee!  It is so much better than the huge heap of chaos from last week.  DH kindly helped me to tidy the worst of the mess on Saturday and I spent some of yesterday afternoon and this morning getting it a bit straighter and tidying the desk.

It's by no means done yet - the new storage solution needs to be organised and it could definitely do with seeing a vacuum cleaner (DH will carry it upstairs for me!!), but it's a Definite Improvement.

The boxes that were on the shelves are now stacked neatly against the back wall. At least I can now get to my stuff - and as I had already labelled them, I can see which box I need straight away - woo-hoo!

The wall above the desk still looks scary... huge holes to be filled and painted over...

... but the desk is pretty tidy now and I can work at it.

I got out that photo album project today, to see what I could do with it.  Two of the 12 pages were ruined, but the others are fine. The cover boards are undamaged and the interleaves are fine. The sheet of paper I was going to use for the cover did have a hole in it, so I will use it for a smaller project - it wasn't going to look right anyway, as the design didn't line up as I wanted.  I now have another plan for that book and this afternoon I bought another sheet of card to replace the spoiled pages. I may even give it extra pages!!

Then I started on another book, which is currently on my desk, under weights, all cut and ready to sew tomorrow.  It will be similar to this, which I recently sold in my Etsy shop:
This is the same paper that I was going to use for the photograph album, but the covers are smaller, so the design lines up really well.  The binding will be slightly different, but overall it's a very similar book. I'm excited about it, as the original was really lovely - I hope this one will be too!

So, my desk is back in use and I'm coping okay without my extra work table.  I didn't like the blank wall with holes that is now above my desk, so I decorated it up a bit:



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