Tuesday, 1 December 2009

1st December

I am well prepared this year. With my daughter's help we have made Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mincemeat for mince pies, some rustic decorations, hearts, stars and birds.

The Cranberry Studded Mincemeat was a recipe by Nigella Lawson in her Christmas book. Very easy to make and no suet required. It made 2 jars so I will be able to make plenty of little star topped mince pies.

All who were at home at the time of making the Christmas cake gave it a stir and made a wish, a traditional thing to do. We stirred and made a wish for our son who is away at Uni.

The preparations continue.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Good things on U-handbag Blog

I read Lisa's blog called U-Handbag. She does wonders with bag making and sells all the bits you need too. At the moment she has a great Giveaway.

The giveaway includes Cath Kidston's new book, and 2 half yards of fabric from Lisa's shop.

Go over to her blog to add your comment to be in a chance to win. What is so wonderful about this giveaway is that you are asked to link to your favourite craft tutorial. So if you go and read the comments there is a wealth of fantastic links for all things craft.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

In short bursts

Shimelle's prompt was about finding a pattern, perhaps something to do on a regular basis. My first thought was that I didn't want to tie myself down to something regular but then Sharyn posted an idea, on the forum, that she found on Ali Edward's Blog and I liked the sound of doing something like this from time to time. So here it is. I have since found out this came from The Simple Woman's Daybook, you can find here.

Outside my window
...I see into the conservatory where the string of fairy lights is reflecting in all the glass.

I am thinking...about getting ready to visit my parents and seeing my son in Dartmouth.

I am thankful for...the wonderful company of my daughter, the gas fire warming my toes, my helpful, smiling hubby and knowing I will get better after a rotten cold.

From the kitchen...homemade spaghetti bolognese, with a sprinking of parmesan and some shared warm bread.

I am wearing...pink top, no surprise there, black comfy trousers and black cardigan done up with a kilt pin.

I am creating...tags, a la Tim Holtz style, with embossing and inking and bits of sparkle.

I am going...to be better tomorrow.

I am reading...magazines at the moment, Beads & Beyond, Craft Stamper and Country Living.

I am hoping...my daughter will settle in to her new job.

I am hearing...the sound of our clock chiming 10pm.

Around the house...i see lots to do, bare plaster that needs painting, that goes for ceilings too, a kitchen floor that could look a little cleaner and a pile of freshly laundered clothes ready to put away.

One of my favourite things...taking time out to talk to my hens.

A few plans for the rest of the week...dodging raindrops in dartmouth, a hug from my son, dinner at Kendrick's, making fabric decorations with my daughter.

A picture to share...

Autumn colours, Westonbirt, 2009.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Little Fun

Shimelle's blog prompt no. 8 was about taking time for something fun. I am all for a little fun. Something to lighten the spirits a little, something to exercise those smiling muscles.

I was looking for something fun on YouTube about chickens because I know that my chickens can make me laugh. I love the way they dash for cover at the slightest thing, a real case for Chicken Licken, The Sky is Falling In. I found a couple of chicken ones but I also found one on birds that I have seen before but I would like to show. I think their little faces are lovely and it is a little of a moral type video too, but non the worse for that. Especially as today we remember those who have suffered so much in war and conflict.

I hope this brings a smile. It is fun.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

My aim is to Move


One of the Principles with Beyond Chocolate is Move. I have decided to take up walking in a more energetic way, with an aim to start running. The book I bought to guide me in my aim is "Running and Walking for Women over 40" by Kathrine Switzer. It gives you all sorts of tips on healthy, clothing and various programmes to get you on your way.


My daughter and I started on the walking programme last week. So far we are keeping up and we are determined to get out there in any weather necessary to do our 3 times a week. Sunday it was 6 degrees C, I found it a little hard going with the breathing as I had a cold, but we did it. And we are enjoying it, even doing the cool down exercises.


My aim is to keep up with the book and to end up jogging, which sounds amazing to me, but I know we will do it. Think I will need a sports bra when the jogging starts!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fun weekend

Friday night saw us at friends for a fireworks party. Loads of children having such fun. A very warming punch to keep the cold at bay as we stood outside watching fireworks; which were magnificent, the bangs echoed across the valley, the Catherine Wheel went on and on, varying colour and speeds, it received a huge round of applause. Delicious food. No, not 'delicious food' but absolutely amazing, fantastic, delicious food. Hot Chilli, pasta salad, potato curry to die for (recipe please), chunky bread, cheeses, pate, dips.

Saturday was Mod Scraps Crop day and the same friend's birthday. Hurray. She bought such a huge chocolate cake for everyone to share, it was so light and moist and went very well with a coffee.

I was very productive at the crop today, having planned in advance. I worked on my "Life Tunes" Album from the Big Picture Scrapbooking class, "A Life Well Crafted". Ellie of Mod Scraps called the raffle numbers and my number came up, so now I have a Bazzill Jewel template, that I already have several ideas for.

It was great spending crafting time with my friends. It was a lovely weekend

Friday, 6 November 2009

A few firework photos

Guy Fawkes night at the Chantry in Thornbury. I found the fireworks quite mesmerizing, they just kept flashing their fantastic lights.

Fantastic Fireworks.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

5 Things I would like right now.

This is day 3 of Shimelle's Blogging class about listing some favourites. A way to bring your inspiration to others and guide them to things you like. I have been thinking about Christmas the last couple of days. Notice I only said thinking, I haven't actually been doing anything about it yet. And some of my thoughts have been what I might like as gifts, so here are 5 things I would like for gifts.

1. Cake stand
2. ipod dock
3. iphone earphones that fit

These are the Apple In-Ear headphones with remote and mic. The ones that come with the iphone are really hard and too big, they hurt my ears.

4. Nigel Slater's book "Appetite"

5. Lovely hand cream in a pump dispenser

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Blogging for Scrapbookers

I have embarked on Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class.

I would love to get this blog and my Beyond Chocolate Blog going in a more regular manner. I think this will help me both with the technical side and the content. A quick blog workflow with photos is what I am looking for and ideas for what to blog about and how to capture those ideas for future blogging.

I have created a layout saying why I will be blogging. The journalling reads "I look out onto the world and see my days in colour and words. Events, happenings, thoughts, feelings, family and friends. A quick blog post, when things are fresh in my mind is an easy way to capture memories and thoughts. My blog will be a quick form of scrapbooking, memories held safe until being created in full colour, texture and prettiness, which is Scrapbooking.

The layout title was to be "Blogging". But you can see how many Gs there are in the word "blogging", 3, not many sticky letter sheets have 3 Gs. So I borrowed Shimelle's idea and called it "blogged". That is, after all, what I have now done.

I will be back tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Cup cake day

I bought these delightful cupcake cases from Asda, 99p for 12 ages ago. I though it was about time I used them.

Vanilla flavour buttercream to top and coloured balls or chocolate sprinkles to decorate. They are going down well.

And then dinner tonight was a delicious layered Mexican salad. A recipe my Mum gave me. I dry fried the mince in Taco seasoning, and added Taco chips on top. Other layers were, lettuce, spring onion, tomato, peppers, creme fraiche, grated Leicester cheese.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


This morning the news included an item about Broadband speeds. "Broadband users are not getting the speeds they are paying for, according to the largest survey of its kind ever undertaken by telecoms regulator Ofcom."

Here is the article on the BBC website, BBC News.

I am frustrated by our Broadband speeds, especially when trying to work. So much work is done on-line, for instance, web design, blogging, Google everything, getting photos printed, BBC iplayer. I have spoken to BT, our broadband and phone provider and they have checked the line etc and apparently we are a long way from the exchange, which I believe is in Thornbury 3.5 miles away.

So today I had a look on the BT site, this is what I found.

So it appears that actually I am not able to receive a broadband service, no wonder I am frustrated at the speeds. And I am paying this, see below, for the service I am supposedly unable to receive.Add VAT and that comes to about £45. Do I look into Dial-up, costs and speeds, will that help? Well I would except I got my username and password wrong, 3 times, so now I can't access my account to find out. And BT are supposedly putting money in to a super broadband that will give 20MB or even 40MB. I would think all my Christmasses had come at once if we got 4MB!!

Rant over. :-)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Day 12: Storyboards

These photos were taken by Jeff. We had been to Kendrick's, a great restaurant in Dartmouth. The food there is lovely and there is something for everyone. You can see we were all prepared for the rain.

Jessica showed us how to put this storyboard together. I might try something similar for a mini book for the new Tarling baby.

Day 11: Selective/Spot Recolouring

This is such an effective Photoshop lesson, it has so many uses. I did one before with a red post box highlighted on a very snowy day. Here is today's take on the lesson.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Day 10: Project Start to Finish

This was a fun quickie, bringing in all we have done so far.
Clipping Mask

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Chicken Poem

I just spotted this in the Omlet newsletter. It is a poem written by Justine Teeling and is so true, they are fascinating.

So, You Want Chickens?

I’m cultivating cobwebs
Collecting lint and dust
Only doing housework
When I absolutely must

You see I have a reason
For this abundance of refuse
It’s not a very valid one
Just some fowl excuse

There are chickens in my garden
I got them just to lay
Now I find I’m captivated
Watching them all day!!!!

So, fair warning if you’re pondering

And trying to bribe the spouse
You may find yourself on telly
On ‘How Clean is Your House?”!

www.omlet.co.uk is where you can find all things chicken especially the Omlet Eglu, perfect for chickens in the garden. I love the Eglu but decided to go for a wooden hen house instead, it was more suitable for what I wanted.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Day 9: Edge Burn

This technique used a levels adjustment layer which was painted through to bring more light to the faces in this photo.

This was the same but in black and white.

I think it is quite subtle in these photos but when I compare it to the original there is a difference and obviously can be made different by experimenting.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Day 8: Text

I didn't miss a day, it was just that it wasn't a practical.

Adding text, a simple effective piece of info. I like the creased paper effect.

This is fun to do while I recuperate on the sofa. It is two weeks long so still more to do, but they don't take long so should manage to keep up.

Day 6: TTV & Mega-Challenge

I know, 2 in one day, there may even be another later. Just catching up.

TTV = Through the Viewfinder.

Note the darkened edges and corners, similar to how old photos used to turn out. Just added a frame flourish to highlight the sepia/aged primulas.

Day5 - Textures

Textures are a fun way to add depth to your photo, using layers with soft light, multiple or hard light. Experimenting gives all sorts of interesting variations, I chose to use the given examples and here is what I came up with.

This is a plaster hand Jeff produced for an art class piece.

I do find it strange that most of the time photo manipulation is to reduce lines and blemishes to get a pure picture and then here we are adding them!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Day 4: Clipping Masks

"A clipping mask is basically a shape - any shape - that you can "clip" your photo onto, to cause your photo to conform itself to that shape. Want a heart-shaped photo? You can clip a rectangular photo onto a heart shape, and boom! Heart. I like to call clipping masks "cropping without cropping", because in addition to conforming itself to a particular shape, you don't actually CUT your photo at all - the edges that aren't inside the mask are simply hidden, or masked out. So you can still move your photo within the shape itself. Pretty mind-blowing, right? Yeah. :) "

Here is my version. Photo taken in June on holiday in Cumbria, this is Derwentwater.

Day 3 - Frame + Brush + Hand-tint

This was exploring what adjustment layers do, and sample the Soft Light blending mode as you add in a vintage tint and some hand-tinted effects with brushes.

So a subtle washed out sepia tone, a little pink to the cheeks and stars, in her hair and coming out of the drinks can. This actually was the day Abbie's 'A' level results came out and the moment in which she heard she had her place at University.

Photo Editing: Frame-Ups & Special Effects - Day 2 - Brushes

I love brushes, they are so versatile, not only can you paint or draw, but brushes can be swirls, special effects or words and there are so many uses for all the varieties of brushes. A quick search on the internet will produce loads and many free ones.

Here is my class pic.

Jeff flying a kite on cliffs by Dartmouth.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Photo Editing: Frame-ups and Special Effects

I am working on Jessica Spraque's free photo editing class on-line. It is about Frames and Special effects. Here is her website. http://www.jessicasprague.com/

I am working in Photoshop CS3 and was pleased to have learnt something from the first class. Which was how to resize a frame once it had been moved to the photo. I thought I needed to do it before moving it to the photo. Chuffed

And my version using frames and word art from House of 3:

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Summer Birthday

Rob's birthday today, hip, hip, hooray! This is how Rob's birthday should be, on one of the hottest days of the year, Pimms on the terrace, lots of strawberries, peace and quiet.

Just us two, so we had Scallops and Chorizo on a bed of salad, thanks to Nigella Lawson, followed by this yummy fresh cream and strawberry cake, with drizzled chocolate over the top. That was Abbie's request and that Daddy should have a birthday cake. :-)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Chook preparations have started

Well more than just started. I have read up, researched, been on the course (www.legbarsofbroadway.co.uk), ordered my chicken house and run and 4 young chooks.

Today we picked up the large van required to collect the chicken house.

And embark on a trip to Ardley in Oxfordshire. We plan to make it a lovely little trip out, taking our time, collecting the run/house and finding somewhere pleasant for lunch.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


I thought dinner looked rather tasty tonight, here is a pic.

Haddock on a bed of gently sauted red onion, tomato, pak choi, garlic and seasoning. Sprigs of rosemary dotted around and a grating of cheese on top made a delicious fish dish, served with new potatoes and green beans.

We took Max out for an evening walk before the sun went down, just gently as I had a stupid headache. It was lovely to be out in the fresh air and we discussed more walking and cycling ideas. Here's goodbye to winter.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Happiness is.......

..... my new purchase from the garden centre.

Thursday, 5 March 2009


Well the weather for a start. It has turned a little chilly again here, not that it was that warm the other day. I wrapped up well to take the dog for a run in the woods, it was lovely to be out.

Change, this is a slow one, the gradual forward movement in to earning my own money. I have put a date in the calendar for my first Beyond Chocolate Workshop, Saturday 10th June. Very exciting and a little bit scary.

I finished a Layout today, forgot to take a pic though.

Tomorrow I get a day at Paper Arts, as long as we don't get snow here, which is what happened last month and it was cancelled. Will have to upload some of what I do tomorrow.

My baby steps for March from "A Life Well Crafted" online class at Big Picture Scrapbooking, is to make lots of little general cards to send randomly to family to bring a smile to their home. :-)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

St David's Day

We have had such a Spring like day today, for 1st March, St David's day, gorgeous. I have dried (almost) 3 loads of washing on the line. I took a photo of the daffodils I bought from Tesco as ours aren't up yet. But the crocus and snowdrops are like jewels at the bottom of the garden. As we sat in the conservatory I thought I could burst open with Spring joy, just like daffodils do! We took Max out for a lovely walk too.

Here's to the coming of Spring.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Card Making workshop

Today was a lovely, fun day. I was giving part of the workshop today, making cards using fabric in different ways. Hils started the day of with 5 stunning cards all required compulsory inky fingers. Then Giselle did hers which were supposed to be ink free, but there was one optional use of ink to edge some flowers, I think my favourite was the card using black and pink on it. We had 25 wonderful ladies who each took home 15 beautiful cards to send to friends and family.

Ellie bought the Modscraps shop, but unfortunately I had left my handbag at home so I could only stroke the pretty papers. Ellie also provided raffle prizes, lovely too, thanks Ellie. And Jayne who couldn't come because her daughter went into labour had donated 2 fiskars prizes.

There was a pre-class challenge to make a card for a male. And there were loads of stunning cards, fishing tent, garden shed, decorated fish, car cards, all were very ingenious and I wondered why I was giving the class!

And it looks like we may well be doing another for Christmas, October, November time, so a few months to think about designs for that.

Photos will come later, as I didn't have my camera because it was in my handbag at home, I borrowed Hils's and she will pass photos on to me later.

I have taken some liquid floor polish from Hils, to have a go at one of her cards, that was gorgeous. Off to bed with my achey legs now.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Get Things Done

'Get Things Done' by David Allen, was the first book I picked to study. I am now over halfway through. I am very good and looking into ways I can work more efficiently, organize things, declutter, improve life etc. I think by doing that I won't actually have to do these things because I am still trying to find the best way. Am I being cynical about my own motives? Don't answer.

This time I haven't only just read the book, I have cleared the in-tray, the filling tray, the files and have a 2ft pile of paper to burn and have collected all projects (anything that has more than two actions to do to complete them) actions, dates, etc that I can possibly think of.

I liked the bit to enable me to be "maximally efficient and relaxed".
This suits my new way of life away from the corporate world and setting up new businesses.

Now to identify the next actions required on my projects. I have actually done quite alot of actions, many of the 'less than 2 mins' actions too. So time to get a coffee and get going.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Books galore

I went on a book heist from Amazon this week.

A real mix of books that I had been gathering in my wish list.

Maybe I will give a review as I read through them.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Happy Weekend

We had a lovely weekend revisiting a favourite Hotel in the Cotwolds, The Dormy House Hotel.

On the way we visited Nature in Art at Wallsworth Hall, where the photos from Wildlife Photographer of the Year were on display. An amazing array of nature.

Lunch was at The Abbey Refectory in Tewkesbury.

Then on to the hotel where we shared a delicious cream tea in front of a very warming fire. The day was brilliant filled with blue skies and the first hints of warmth that will be spring. Dinner at the Hotel was so tasty and I love coconut sorbet, must investigate recipes. Breakfast for me was boiled egg and fresh coffee. I love the way their meals aren't too huge or overwhelming.

On the Sunday we visited Evesham Country Park and the miniature steam railway, it was a little cooler but a cup of tea and a toasted teacake warmed us up. I found some cheerful things, a pair of Moshulu colourful house slippers and big bright colourful buttons.

Now what can I do with these buttons?