Saturday, November 12

Magically Blocked

You may have wondered why I've not posted anything remotely "witchy" lately - to tell the truth I seem to have some sort of magical block. Or something. I'm the type of person who if something doesn't feel right, at least where religion, magic, witchcraft etc is concerned, I don't do it. The thing is nothing magical has felt right lately. It's like I've been cut off from my witchiness. Even Samhain didn't make me feel any better - I bought a pumpkin and it's sitting uncarved on my worktop looking quite sad. My Pagan books are collecting dust and I haven't opened my Book of Shadows, not even for a little peak, for months now.

Maybe I need to be more disciplined with my faith in regards to both studying and practicing. Forget the "if it doesn't feel right don't do it" thing and just get on with things. I really don't know. Maybe Yule will give me the boost I need - it's my favourite holiday and celebration.

Do you ever feel like this? How do you get past it? I need some help guys!

Friday, November 4

Trying my hand at Embroidery

Mum gave me a few copies of Mollie Makes - my favourite crafting magazine - and I instantly fell in love with the "Lovely Ladies" embroidery projects. I'd never done embroidery before, plenty of cross stitch but that was always on Aida and what have you. I gave one of the ladies a go and oh my, I'm so pleased with her! My other half loves her as well!

I started another one last night, from the same series, I'll be finishing her later. Including making her right eye bigger, looks like she's squinting at the moment -

I don't have any linen at the moment so I've stitched them calico (the only plain fabric I have it seems!) and plan to make the second one into key ring.

I've definitely fallen in love with embroidery and will be going through all my crafting books and magazines to find some more projects!

Friday, October 28

Mum went Scrumping

My mums staying at the moment, not only did she bring loads of fabric, magazines, a massive hamper, a beautiful bracelet, mugs, a spoon rest, cocktail glasses and loads more, she's given me a massive bag of apples! Someone she knows has four or five apple trees and is away for half of the year - if no one took the apples they would just rot. The lady is happy for people to take the apples so mum went round and collected six or so carrier bags full of apples. This is my bag -

The picture is quite deceiving I think - there's an absolute ton in there! I took the picture after taking some out for a crumble as well. The apples are huge!

Mum and I made a apple crumble last night, I'm going to find a few recipes for other things and probably freeze stewed apples this weekend.

First off, I peeled the apples and mum chopped them -

Then I stewed them with sugar, cinnamon and cloves with a little bit of water (excuse the state of the hob...)

 While I did that, mum made the crumble topping -

 Then, once the apples and topping were done I put everything in here -
Forty minutes later we had the most amazing apple crumble! It smelt fantastic too!

Here's the exceptionally simple recipe - 

Apple Crumble 


For the filling -
900g apples
25g brown soft sugar (I used dark but my recipe says light >.<)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

For the crumble -
110g almonds, chopped
75g salted butter
175g self raising flour
1 dessertspoon cinnamon
110g demerara sugar


Simmer the apples in a little water for 20 minutes or so, until they are all mushy. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves and sugar and simmer for another 5 minutes.

For the crumble, rub the flour and butter together until it resembles crumbs. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon and almonds.

Place the apple mixture into an oven proof dish, put the crumble mix over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes at 200ºc, until golden on top. Leave to stand for 10 minutes then serve with custard or cream or ice cream - whatever you want!


Saturday, October 15

More Apples

As the first apple I made was such a success I rooted around in my piles of fabric for some green, pink or red cottons. Found a few and made five more apples last night. I'll be making a load more in the red and green holly leaf fabric for yule, the rest will be displayed all year round (want to find some sort of wire basket to put them in).

I've started reading another book as well (haven't quite finished Kitty Raises Hell yet but I will, I know what happens but still). I had a look through all the books I have in a cupboard in our bedroom trying to decide what to read next. The thing is I've been completely hooked on Urban Fantasy novels for years now, before that I read a lot of crime/thriller stuff - mostly Andy McNab, Jack Higgins and Wilbur Smith. So I decided to get a McNab book out (one of his Nick Stone books, not the non-fiction stuff) and see if I could get into it. So far so good! I'm reading Firewall, the earliest Nick Stone book I have (really need to get the others so I can read it from the start...) and I'm enjoying it. Fingers crossed I enjoy it enough for me to get back into the crime books - I have 50+ of them to read!

Friday, October 14

Where have I been?!

I've been buried in books...
I got the Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs for my birthday and whizzed through those, both of which were amazing! The Hollows series (by Kim Harrison), Mercy Thompson series (by Patricia Briggs) and the Kitty series (by Carrie Vaughn) are my favourite Urban Fantasy books. I've read each series 5-6 times now.

I re-read two of the Nocturne City books after finding three more buried in a cupboard. The first two were great, the third confused me no end, the fourth had a coincidence that annoyed me and the fifth.. Well, I nearly threw the damned thing out of the window. Yet another massive coincidence that really, really bugged me. It was ridiculous. I did cry at the end though >.<

I've also been doing crafty things, a couple of which I will show you as they are my favourites...

Apples! Little fabric applies with little wooden stalks. I love them! The pattern is from Tidla's Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle.

And... SPARKLY PINE CONES! I love pine cones. I love glitter. Add some glue to the mix and you end up with these -

I've also been busy starting another sort of blog, don't worry, I wont be abandoning this one! I've just started a blog for hamsters where I can share all the knowledge I have and gain while doing research. So if you have a love for hamsters or have ever thought about getting one as a pet, pop on over to Hamsters Galore.

Well, I hope you're all well, I'm sure I'll be seeing you all before Samhain at the end of this month - looking forward to Samhain? I am! :D

Thursday, September 29

Arty Farty Stuff

My lovely mum bought me some watercolour stuff for my birthday, thought I'd share what she got me plus a few other bits and bobs.

This is my "old" watercolour set, its a 12 half pan which is great for painting on the move but I really wanted a larger selection of colours so I didn't spend half my time mixing to get the right colour. Excuse how messy it is (and one of my hairs that seems to have jumped into the paint).

This is my new set, which my mum bought be for my birthday, the little box at the bottom is my old one from the picture above.

Look at those colours! There are 40 different colours! Really pleased with it :D It wasn't very expensive as it was half price which is always good.

I did a swatch thingie, writing down the names in the order they are in the box so that when one runs out I know what colour to buy.

I have a few extra blocks (that came with it, didn't see the point in opening two of some of them), all are colours I will probably end up running out of first too.

I have some tubes of watercolour paint as well, these are years old but after playing around with them last night are still in perfect condition. I wouldn't mind building a collection of the tubes as well as the blocks as they are great for making large quantities of paint for things like washes.

Mum also got me a few other bits which I'll show you as well, first up my sponges -

The natural sponges are amazing - they smell like the sea! I gave one a sniff (yeah, I sniff new stuff lol) and oh my goodness! The SEA! In my nose! Was like I had dunked my head in the ocean.

This is my paint pot, something I wasn't completely sure I would like but knew even if I didn't I would use it - turns out I love it! It's great, I can store my brushes without bending the bristles at all and it has these ridges in one side that make it really easy to clean the brushes too. Excuse the colour of the water in the pics, I had just finished doing the swatch thingie.

Mum also got me some new brushes, a size 1 Round, size 2 Script Liner and a 1/2" Short Flat brush. I have a nice little collection of brushes now.

And last but not least, the very boring but ever so important gumstrip (for stretching paper).

Couple more arty farty things -

Paper, not all of it but my three "best" pads.

The board I use for stretching paper (plus a random bit of watercolour paper...), really need to get a few more of these!

All my stuff together, how it sits by my chair :D

Seeing as this is an arty post, here's a photograph of another mini painting I've done. Thank you all for the lovely comments about the little painting I showed you on my last post!

Thursday, September 22

A Little Painting

I havent done any painting for a long time, GCSE art put me right off but I've been getting the urge to paint so I went through all my arty farty stuff last night and had a play around with my watercolours. Wanted to share the little painting I did, its only simple but I reckon its quite cute! 

Just a quick post from me today, must do me and my other half some dinner, I'm starving!

Saturday, September 17

Autumn Decorations Galore! Part One

As we're well into September, the harvest and Samhain isn't far away I've been looking through Etsy at some of the wonderful handmade Autumn decorations and thought this would be a perfect time to share some of the things I've found, as I wanted to post so many I decided to post it in two parts, the next part will be posted soon so keep an eye out!

Pumpkins are a must at this time of year - autumn wouldn't be the same without those colourful squashes with scary faces! Here are some amazing felt and fabric pumpkins I found on Etsy -
Autumn Pumpkin 4x5 Waldorf Inspired
This 4x5inch needle felted pumpkin is a Nushkie Designs creation, capturing the wonderful orange colouring of the much loved Halloween decorations. Pumpkins aren't the only thing that Nushkie makes either - check out Nushkie's shop to see a enchanting collection of needle felted fairies that would make wonderful additions to any ones home all year round.

The second pumpkin I'd like to share is again a needle felted one, a different style to the first but just as beautiful - 

Orange Pumpkin - Needle Felted Halloween Decoration
This one is made by Felttess who currently has an amazing array of Halloween themed designs for sale in her shop. Felttess also does custom orders so don't hesitate to get in contact with her via Etsy.

Here is the last, but not least, pumpkin I wanted to share with you -

Farmhouse Fall Decorations Halloween Thanksgiving Decor Harvest Pumpkin
Perfectly described as a "Farmhouse Pumpkin" this is made and sold by Miss Hettie who specialises in all things vintage, from furniture to children's clothing as well as one of hand made items, such as this paper mache pumpkin. I love the use of the raffia! Check out her Etsy shop for some amazing finds!

Wreaths aren't just for Yule ladies and gentlemen and this next Etsy listing I'm going to show you will prove it! 

Beautiful, Cornucopia, Thanksgiving, Fall, Door, Wreath, Harvest, with FREE US Shipping

Look at those colours! It really does capture the colours of autumn in such a fantastic way! This wreath is one of many made and sold by Sherry Buckner in her shop, Petal Pusher's Designs. Sherry also has a website and you can follow her on Twitter @werpetalpushers and don't forget to check out her Facebook Page!

And now for one of my favourite type of decorations - a garland.

Spooky Halloween Decoration Garland Vintage Inspired
This spooky garland is made by the lovely Christine and sold in her shop, Flappergirl
this is just one example of an amazing collection of retro paper garlands so make sure you check out her shop - there are also some cute little aprons that I've fallen in love with! Christine has a blog and a Facebook page where you can keep up to date with her latest retro designs.

What witch doesn't have a love for candles? These candlestick holders would be wonderful additions to any ones autumn decorations -

Thanksgiving Home Decor Fall Harvest Candle Stick Holders Rustic Chic Distressed Wood Set of 3
These Morgan Hill Design Candle Stick Holders are brought to you by a husband and wife team (the perfect kind in my opinion!) and sold in their Etsy shop, BraggingBags. I've never seen a better set of autumn candle stick holders and might have to buy them for myself!

I have to say, this last autumn decoration I'm going to show you is my favourite - this little evil mouse witch Gwendolyn has stolen my heart! Wort's 'n' all!

Halloween Witch Mouse Ornament felt rat hamster mice cute gift for animal lover or collector by TheHouseofMouse - Gwendolyn
You must, must, must read Gwendolyn's interview in the listing, its adorable! The creators of this wonderful little mouse, as well as more mice than you can count, are Naomi and Anna and to get your hands on one of these little mice pop along to their shop, TheHouseofMouse.

I hope you enjoyed the photographs and that you will be whipping out those PayPal accounts and clicking your way on over to Etsy. It truly is a treasure chest!

Monday, September 5

Not a Happy Bunny

Summery of the day: I nearly had to crap in a bin.

Background: Last year, god knows when, our boiler broke. Just stopped working one afternoon. We tried to get hold of the landlord but no luck - turns out that his house flooded and his mobile phone (the one we have the number for) was destroyed and he only rarely checks his emails so it wasn't until two weeks later that he got in contact. Someone came out, the boiler was fixed and all was well. A month or so later the boiler broke again but a couple of weeks later magically started working again. It was OK for a while but then broke again. Contacted the landlord (again) who got a plumber out and he fixed it - this was just before last Christmas. We then get the winter water bill - it had gone from about £60 a month to £250 a month. WTF? Turns out the "fix" that the plumber did was only meant to be temporary and the landlord was meant to get a new one installed ASAP. The temporary fix meant that the boiler was using massive amounts of electricity but not doing much with it until finally the boiler tripped all the electricity in the flat - this was in Feb.

From February until recently we have been attempting to get hold of the landlord with no luck - he wasn't replying to emails or anything. When he finally did get in contact again he said he thought that the boiler had been properly fixed the last time the plumber came out. Bearing in mind we had repeatedly emailed him telling him that it wasn't.

Anyway, back to present day. Landlord bought a new boiler - was going to be installed last Wednesday but the one delivered was damaged. Fair enough, things happen. So, a new one gets delivered today, I haven't been feeling well so I stayed in bed and let my other half deal with it. At about 1pm (the boiler arrived at 10:30am) I woke up and stumbled out of the bedroom and into the hallway (where the boiler is) to find the boiler cupboard doors propped up against the wall (fine, would had been hard to work around them) and a plumber drinking tea and looking over the instruction manual of some sort by the new boiler. The shiny new boiler. Oh how I have wanted a shiny new boiler for soooooo long.

Guess what the landlord didn't ask for or get (hadn't even occurred to me to be honest)? Measurements. Of the cupboard. The one where the shiny new boiler will go.

So, this is the result -

Doesn't look bad does it? From this angle, nope, looks fine!

From this angle? Can you notice what the problem is?

Those runner thingies above it are where the doors are meant to fit into - the damned boiler sticks out so much you cant put the doors back in. I measured it - its 5inches too long. Wide. Whatever.

I now have a monstrosity of a boiler for everyone to see as soon as they walk in my front door (the door you see is my front door, I live in a flat). Lovely.

Just for added decoration here are the doors (ignore the metal panels, they will be fitted onto the front of the boiler once its finished).

So, it's just gone 1pm and I realise I need to go to the loo. In both senses of the word. The water is still off, I cant go round to the neighbours (I don't know them) and obviously I cant use the toilet. I thought, bugger this, I'm off back to bed.

I wake up again at about 4pm, the water is still off and I'm busting to go to the loo. I kept looking at our bedroom bin wondering if the plumber, or my other half, would hear me if I did my business in there. Thankfully, my wondering lasted just long enough - the plumber put the water back on before I took desperate measures. Wonderful! I don't have to crap in a bin.

I go into the bathroom, at a leisurely pace of course and sit down. My eyes wander to the bath which had a hose pipe in it. Ok... God knows what the plumber was doing with that. Then this little pile of dust/dirt catches my eye.

I'm puzzled and look up to find two holes in the tiles. I think my eyes bugged out of my head for a second.

A close up of the big one of the left -
I finish up in the bathroom and go straight into the living room where my other half is and glare at him. I did one of those shouting whispers, you know the ones I mean, saying that there are holes in the bathroom tiles. He says, "I know" with this look on his face that either meant "I don't care" or "Nothing I can do about it". Poor man had only had one hours sleep so I didn't get grumpy.

Apparently, when the plumber had been drilling in the cupboard, my other half went into the bathroom and saw the holes, he shows them to the plumber who pulls his glasses down his nose, looks at the holes then pushes his glasses back up and says, "Those walls are thin" and went back to work.

Yes, the walls are thin. Now I would have thought he would have realised he had drilled right through the wall the first time but nope, he did it twice. I can't say anything more on the matter otherwise I will end up smacking my head against the table I think.

After all this do we have hot water? Don't be silly! Course we don't, we have to wait until someone else can drill holes through our walls first! 

Well, what a wonderful day.

Please excuse the rant and the amount of pictures. I'll have a happy, harvest themed post for you soon.

Thursday, August 25

Oh the Stupidity

We all have those "Doh" moments when we realise we've done something really stupid. I was thinking about the little stupid things I've done in bed the other night, I don't know what my other half thought - I was giggling away in bed while he was in the living room... lol! Anyway, I thought I'd share those silly things I've done with you while I have my morning coffee.

A few weeks ago I walked into the spare bedroom, right up to the bed so that I could put something down onto the bed. Guess what I had left on the floor, by the bed? A candle holder. Doesn't sound too bad does it? Thing was, it wasn't just a bog standard tea light holder - it was a pillar candle holder with a SPIKE in the middle. The spike went straight into my heel, I squealed, pulled it out and called for my other half who said there was only a tiny bit of blood but he would call 999 if I wanted him to while smirking at me. Sod. I'm not quite sure which part was more stupid - leaving the holder on the floor or paying so little attention I stood on it. The candle holder, a long with others like it, went straight in the bin that night.

I cant remember if this was just before the candle holder incident or just after but I was in the kitchen, coring an apple with a gigantic knife. Did I cut a finger? No, I cut my belly. I stabbed myself in my belly coring an apple. 'nuff said.

Here's a non self harm one - the other night I was sat with my other half while doing a crossword (my current obsession), the clue was something a long the lines of "a joint in the arm", I promptly said, "Well, it cant be elbow unless elbow is spelt with a w at the end, unless "Swimmer" is wrong". My other half turned to me with a strange look on his face and said, "But it does end in a w....". Oh. Oops. I knew that elbow was spelt with a w but for some reason that bit of information had slipped out of my brain when I was doing the crossword. >.<

Many years ago, when I was still living with my mum I made some rice (it was for the dog who had an upset tummy, bland food settled her tum). Or at least I attempted to make some rice - I put the rice in the saucepan and put that onto the hob. Forgetting the water completely. After a while I realise what I had done, picked up the pan and put it straight onto the worktop. The hot pan on the cheap worktop. Result? Melted hole in the worktop.

Did I learn from that mistake? Na...

Couple of years ago I was cooking potatoes to mash - I remembered the water this time but forgot to keep an eye on them. They ran dry, I panicked, grabbed a chopping board and put the hot pan on that. The chopping board was plastic. We now have a lovely while chopping board with a large melted ring shape in the middle. At least I didn't melt the worktop!

Well, I think that's enough of my silliness for one day, I've finished my coffee and should get some housework done! I hope you're all having a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 9

Life's a Stitch

I started a new cross stitch project yesterday, it's almost done, I just need to do one more row of stitches across the bottom and finish of the row at the top where I ran out of thread (typical!). I used a scrap bit of aida that I found - it was the perfect size! I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, maybe sew it onto some felt and make a lightly padded hanging thingiemabob, maybe attach it to the front of one of those blank Kraft notebooks or photo albums from Paperchase... My other half thinks my grandma would love it but I'm not so sure I want to give it away!

It's a Lizzie Kate design, she has these wonderful little "Snippet" samplers, I bought mine from a craft show in Manchester a while a go.

The thread in the picture is what I need to finish it off - I didn't use the thread colours stated in the chart as I wasn't too keen on them. I rarely use the colours charts say to use anyway.

I made felt notebook cover the other night that I thought I would share too. I have a thing for lists and have a number of slimline notebooks but they aren't very pretty so I thought I would use up some scrap felt to make a cover. The stitching is a bit scruffy as I was tired when I made it but I still love it!

Monday, August 8

Household Organiser - Weekly Shop

Another addition to the Household Organiser - the "Weekly Shop" sheets, glad you liked the Monthly Planner sheets! Whenever I write a shopping list I always have one bit of paper for what we need for the meals I've planned and another bit of paper with everything else we need, usually referred to as the "Essentials" by me and my other half, hence the third column on the shopping list titled "Essentials".

These sheets will enable me (and you!) to quickly jot down something we run out of when we actually run out of it, rather than attempting to remember it when I go to write the shopping list. For example, if I run out of bay leaves (something I buy every so often rather than for specific meals), I'll write it straight down on in the Essentials column ready for when I do the shopping. Also, if I decide to make a certain meal for the coming week, before writing the actual shopping list, I can easily jot down the ingredients I need and not loose the bit of paper with the list on - it will all be safe in the Household Organiser!

This will work well for me as I shop online, sometimes my other half goes to the shop and when he does I still do the normal type of shopping list and then create another shopping list ordering the items in regards to where they are in the shop so it's easy for him to find everything. I've got these long slimline notebooks that are perfect for shopping lists that I use for those lists.

Weekly Shop

Saturday, August 6

Household Organiser - Monthly Planner

I'm in the process of getting properly organised and my first step is a household organiser consisting of five different sections - Planners, Shopping, Finances, Contacts and Information. Well, those are the sections I plan on using - no idea if I will stick to those or change things along the way!

The planning section is where I'm starting. It will consist of three different types of sheets - a yearly calender, a monthly calender with a note section and a daily planner. There will be a page for each day with to do lists, meal planning etc and at the beginning of each month will be the monthly planner, sort of an overview of the coming month which can be referred to throughout.

I've made the monthly planner, starting from August 2011 up until December 2011, no need to print of next years yet. I uploaded it to Scribd so that you guys can download it if you want to :) The pages are A4 and have a 2cm margin on the left and right sides allowing room for it to be hole punched. It's a .PDF file, if anyone wants the Word file or a small change made let me know and I'll do it for you :) I haven't included any holidays on it as we all celebrate different times, dates etc, I thought it would be better to leave it blank rather than having holidays on there you don't celebrate!

2011 Monthly Planner

Tuesday, August 2

Sausages Braised in Cider

Made this the other night, was wonderful!

Sausages Braised in Cider

6-8 pork sausages
200mls chicken stock
500mls dry cider 
3-5 celery sticks
3-5 carrots
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
Freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
Fresh or dried thyme
Tbsp plain flour

Heat a little oil in an oven proof casserole dish with a tight fitting lid and add your sausages. This is when disaster struck for me - the sausages completely fell apart... Ack! Fry them until they are browned all over
Remove the sausages once cooked, leaving all the juices behind. Chop up your onion, garlic and celery and place in the casserole dish and cook for a few minutes, until the onion starts to soften. 

Now stir in a heaped tablespoon of plain flour and coat all the veg with it. Slowly add the cider, ensuring to keep things stirred. Once the cider is all in, add the stock, again slowing while stirring. Then add your carrots, thyme and put the sausages back in.

Doesn't too good at this stage, I have to admit. I do promise that it will be a lot darker once its finished! Bring to the boil then place into the oven for 20-30 minutes. Serve with mash and green veggies such as peas. You can also fry up some apples in butter and garnish it with those.

No more pictures I'm afraid - as soon as it was out of the oven and onto the plates I was munching away! The smell is wonderful and too good to resist!