Thursday, 30 April 2009

a little taster

I've been running around like a headless chicken this week pulling together the final details for my sister's hen weekend. I'm aiming for an early night as the fun kicks of tomorrow but I figured I should give you a taste of what's to come first.

I always like to try and make guests feel welcome and with that in mind everyone will find a package on the end of their bed containing a Cath Kidston soap and a pack of alka seltzer.

As for me, I'll be back after the weekend even more exhausted and hopefully with lots more photos.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

moo moo moo

Just time for a quick moo cow post!! We are holding a lovely family event in the village of Amberley (GLOS) on the weekend of 9th and 10th May. There will be a moo cow inspired trail through the village and along the common. Various houses around the village will have an artistic cow in their garden. Visitors can purchase a map and then go on a treasure hunt for cows around the village. There will be a prize for everyone who completes the trail. The route is pushchair/wheelchair friendly. I am doing the teas - so if you fancy a lovely big slice of sticky toffee and date cake come along and enjoy the fun!!! there will also be a Pimms tent and some local beer, and ice creams for the children. If you live in the area do come and say hello.
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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

bags and tags

My final task for the bags was to make some handmade luggage labels from linen to tie on to them. They are really easy if a little time consuming to make. just use a basic luggage label as a template and add a seam allowance. In fact I find it easier to draw round a luggage label on the reverse of my fabric leaving at least a 1cm rectangle all around, then put a piece of calico face to face with your patterned fabric and stitch around your luugage label outline leaving the bottom open to turn through. Trim the edges. Turn and press tuckind the bottom in. Topstitch over the bottom (or all the way round if you like. Put in an eyelet at the top and tie to whatever you like with cord or ribbon.

I was commissioned by Jo's husband to do a piece of embroidered textile art for Jo using luggage labels. it was quite a success, and I have been a bit obsessed with them ever since.

Monday, 27 April 2009

easy as ABC

One of the things that Sarah and I have a mutual appreciation of is rubber stamps! We lust over the selection available at Papersource and lament the fact there is no such shop in the UK. Rubber stamps are so versatile and can be used on paper or fabric to create all sorts of things.

Anyway, a while ago I came across these candy coloured sweeties that so reminded me of the end of typewriter keys that I had to buy them. They were loitering in my desk waiting for me to decide what to do with them when the children got invited to tea with some friends who have also just started school. My little girl and I made some cupcakes and packed them up in a box on which I stamped the alphabet. Perfect, they could learn their ABC whilst ruining their teeth!

Saturday, 25 April 2009


I saw these today on Martha Stewart Craft of the day. I always have a list on the go, and I think these are a nice way of stopping them drifting around the house - also a bit eco chic! I think you could use the sewing machine to do similar, but don't put too many pages in or you will break the needle. (I know this from experience as i make alot of notebooks for my 5 year old daughter - apparantly a girl can never have enough notebooks!!)

Talking of eco chic have a look at a lovely blog called orange and pear. We met Jennifer on a blog e-course we are doing and thought her blog was very stylish and had a lot of tips for being green and chic at the same time!!

Friday, 24 April 2009

lexi loves

About a year ago I discovered this fantastic shop in Cirencester called Lexi Loves. It's totally up my street, selling lovely girly gifts and wonderful ribbons, trimmings, buttons, fabric, sewing books etc, all temptingly displayed. As soon as I walk in the shop I get excited and last week I actually got the opportunity to go in without children in tow. I was like a kid in a sweetie shop and even got talking to Alexia, the lady who owns the shop. She makes handbags and we were discussing how difficult it can be to get hold of nice trimmings etc in haberdashers, which is why she decided to solve the problem by selling these things herself.

I was really pleased to see that she sells Amy Butler fabrics and managed to walk out of the shop with a few fats that I have in mind to make some quirky little purses from. Just look at the attention to detail, each fat (displayed in a huge glass biscuit jar) is rolled and tied with Originals by Alexia ribbon. Inspiring.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

the finished article (again!)

I don't know if you remember a few weeks ago I posted some WIP pictures about a hand made presssie I was doing for a good friends little girl. Well here is the finished article.
She was having a gardening themed birthday party so I made an embroidered apron (you can never have enough pinny's - in fact as I am typing I am sporting a very nice Cath Kidston one myself!!) with patch pockets designed to look like flower pots.
The gift was completed with a bright pink tin watering can, some big plant labels, and a shameless copy of Jo's lovely seed book.
The party was a great success and all the children had a little zinc bucket of violas and a balloon weighted down with a packet of seeds, to go home with - really lovely!

100 bags

Its been radio silence again from me this week! so sorry everyone. I have been making 100 bags - as above, for a very exciting magazine subscriber giveaway. The lovely people at the English Home Magazine are going to give away a vintage paisley bag to the first 100 subscribers in June/July issue. It is fantastic publicity for my new company - but it has been a little wearing making 100 of them!!
If you have never bought the English Home Magazine, it is very nice and well worth adding to the trolly!!
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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

lavenders blue

My hands smell amazing! I've spent the morning sorting out dried lavender that I plan to use for confetti at my sister's wedding. More on that to follow, but for the time being I've used a small handful to add to my homemade exfoliating oil! Now that the sun is shinning I'm feeling the pressure to expose the legs in order to bronze them for aforementioned wedding. Not great for the local residents to see my peely wolly legs as I stride to school, but at least with a bit of TLC they may improve by July!

You may be beginning to realise that I like things that are simple to make and this oil is another example. In a jar pour some olive oil, add sea salt and a few drops of lavender oil. I added the dried lavender flowers to make it look more interesting. Use in the shower and hey presto....

Sunday, 19 April 2009

food for thought

We had a lovely morning pottering about on my mother-in-law's allotment, planting sweet peas and ranuncula and collecting produce. I walked away with armfuls of goodies; more rhubarb, wonderful tulips, anemones, welsh onions, sorrel and chard and inspired to get planting at home.

But for now I'm looking forward to sitting outside with a glass of wine, watching the hot air balloons that are floating over the valley and flicking through the pages of Sarah Raven's Kitchen Garden. We've friends coming for supper tomorrow and I'm hoping to get some inspiration and if not I'll enjoy looking at the fantastic photos and come up with some more over the top ideas for our garden.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

so excited..

hurrah hurrah, the programme for this years Stroud International Textiles Festival has just come out. As always there are some stunning exhibits and talks. Jo and I were particularly keen on the studio seven interactive exhibition last year and i am delighted to see they are back this year in a bigger venue and also doing a workshop. Also showing this year is Matthew Harris, who does embroidered pieces (i love his work, i find it particularly pleasing to see this type of textile work being seriously exhibited as 'art', having done a degree in embroidery at Manchester many moons ago!) I think the Giffords circus costume talk will be high on our list too (we are terribly sad they aren't touring this year)

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

an easter treat

I forgot to purchase any nice recepticle to use as little easter baskets, so I got creative with some long thin strips of brown paper, the sewing machine and some 'leaves' made out of old paper. Just in case you can 't guess I was thinking birds nest! My little girl stuffed them with tissue and filled them with eggs and chicks and bunnys for her best friends. ( we had to wrap them in cello to stop them being scoffed in the car!!)
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Saturday, 11 April 2009

pirate cushion finished

I thought you might like to see the finished article of the pirate cushion commission I was working on last week. I used a combination of my polka dot linen in denim and a linen/cotton canvas fabric, with embroidery and applique.
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happy easter

We're off for a few days over Easter and I've already shown you the sunflower seeds I planted as gifts for the in-laws, and I know I've gone on about how I like to give something other than chocolate at Easter. But I've got to be honest, Easter isn't Easter without chocolate.

And so the children and I made some Easter chocolates, an awful mess, had a lot of fun and probably ate this year's chocolate quota in half an hour.

Happy Easter

Friday, 10 April 2009

spring lunch

I was recently given a large bunch of beautiful rhubarb. I think rhubarb is the marmite of the fruit world (perhaps in competition with gooseberries) - you either love it or you hate it. The large shiny green leaves and the beautiful, bright pink stems are wonderful to look at and I really enjoy the sharp flavour. The leaves make really good compost too. I'm one of those who loves it and I'd been waiting for an opportunity to use the rhubarb when Sarah rang to invite us to lunch. With everything else going on this week it had to be another quick pudding. And so I made rhubarb fool the cheat's way (see recipe below).

When we arrived chez Hardaker the smell of slow roast lamb pervaded the house this was served up with roast potatoes, miniature carrots, french beans with toasted almonds, and a delicious Spring salad. The sun was shining (though the wind was cold) and the children enjoyed an egg hunt in the garden. A perfect Spring lunch and a great way to start the holidays

I must mention the Sticky Toffee Pudding cake that Sarah produced - to die for. I hope she will share the recipe with us all some time! It deserves a post of it's own.

Cheat's rhubarb fool:
In a saucepan with a lid stew approx 200g of rhubarb with 50g caster sugar and a teaspoon of ground ginger. Then leave to cool
Drain off any excess juices then mix with a tub of shop bought custard and chill in the fridge
Serve with shortbread, a ginger snap or langue de chat and if you want to add some colour drizzle some of the leftover juice over it.

a new favourite

I have come over all excited by a blog I discovered this morning, I can't believe it has slipped below my radar. Anyway it is called 100layer cake, and its (yes I know another) wedding blog, however as I already said with snippet and ink i find inspiration all over the place. This blog satisfies many things for me - beautiful pictures, lovely colour, lots of paper goodies, some armchair travel...........

bristol wholesale fruit and flower market

I am doing the decorating for a wedding next week, so i went for a trip to the fruit and flower market at Bristol to sort out what flowers to order for the event. It was a beautiful sunny day and I felt very inspired by the flowers and plants on offer. If you have an event or a big garden project on the go it is a great place to pick up things at wholesale prices. For example the tulips come in wraps of 50 stems for £12 + vat. If you don't live in the area most citys have a wholesale market it is just a case of finding it (the new covent garden market at Vauxhall in London is another good one!)

work in progress

apologies first for the silence on my part. Somebody bored through a cable at Olympic Village at the weekend and apparently that has meant no broadband for me in rural gloucestershire!!!! something to do with the service provider, anyway very frustrating. I have got a weeks worth of things to post so there will be plenty for you over the Easter weekend!
This is something i have been working on as part of a birthday present for the daughter of a good friend. She is having a gardening themed birthday party, so this is going to be a little gardening apron, with pretty plant pots as pockets and applique flowers and leaves. I am posting it as a WIP (work in progress) so you can see how I make things. Because I do this kind of thing for a living it didn't really occur to me that people don't always know 'how to do it' till the other day when Jo said 'aahh that's how you do that' (i was putting an inserted ric rac trim in a cushion!!). Anyway here are a few tricks of the trade from me to you.
1. the joy of bondaweb - it is basically like iron on hemming tape in a sheet with paper on 1 side, you can iron it to the reverse of a piece of fabric (or fairly much anything else) draw a shape on the paper side, cut it out and iron it on another bit of fabric. I then usually stitch it on too for a bit of decoration and some extra strength.
2. spring loaded embroidery hoops. these are great for impatient people like me! they hold the fabric tight and still while you do a bit of creative free stitch. stitch - on most sewing machines you can drop the feed (they are those little teeth that stick up under the needle plate.) if you drop them you can effectively draw with the sewing machine - i does take practice and you need a hoop.

i will post the finished gift for you to see later
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Thursday, 9 April 2009

excuses, excuses

I just wanted to explain my lack of input this week. Despite the fact the kids are now all on holiday it's not as if the creative juices aren't flowing. In fact I've been really busy creating but I can't show off my handy work at the moment. I'm responsible for my sister's hen do in the beginning of May and the over the next few weeks I'm going to be ensconced in the small details that will hopefully make it a weekend to remember. I promise to share everything with you after the event.

And then there is the wedding in Spain.....

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Easter Tree

I love family traditions and one of the nice things about having your own children is not only continuing the traditions you grew up with but also the opportunity to start new ones. I love the idea of Easter Trees and so for the last 5 years we have duly been out for a walk, picked some budding branches and then adorned them with decorations. At first we only had a few items from hubby's childhood, but we've added to the collection and made some of our own. Now we have a tree that is so full of life that it looks something from Enid Blyton.

The great thing about an Easter Tree is that it is small enough for young children to decorate on their own. What you can't see in this picture is that most of the pink decorations are on one side, mixed colours on the other. That is brother and sister working as a team! They are so proud of their decorating skills they are showing it to everyone (including the postman).

Monday, 6 April 2009

a lovely idea

I found this the other day while reading one of my favourite blogs sams notebook. I think the project is from the flirty guide and all the instructions are right here.
what you can't see in this photo is that all the blossoms are made from little origami flowers. Although this is probably quite a time consuming project which will require some patience, i think it will probably have the same soothing satitsfaction as crochet or knitting. (Although hopefully if Jo and I have a go at this our results will be more aesthetically pleasing than the results of our teach yourself crochet experiment!)

Sunday, 5 April 2009

weekend baking

I came across the recipe for these rather delicious gooey and chewy chocolate cookies on the martha stewart website. The recipe is in a collection of their favourite cookie recipes, there are some more which i will definately try. The only change i made was that I didn't happen to have 1/2lb of milk chocolate, I had about 4oz of dark chocolate so i melted about 1/3 of it with the butter and chopped the rest - they were still absolutely delicious. - I think they would also be good for sandwiching icecream. Here is the recipe.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

little lunch for little ladies

And after blowing those quails eggs I couldn't just throw away the yolk and whites and so I decided that the girls could have minature scrambled eggs on toast for lunch today. We had great fun laying the table with the toy tea sets and cutting the toast up with cookie cutters. Then the girls sat in the sun and ate their gourmet lunch.

Easter Wreath

It's been a busy week helping Boy prepare for all the Easter fun at school but I have found some time to make my Easter wreath. Using the feathers we picked up at the weekend and after blowing the quails eggs (the ones I just had to have!) I created this to welcome any visitors we have over the Easter period.

how to blow an egg

Somebody recently asked my mother how to blow an egg and I decided that a short post on this gave me the excuse I needed to use this photo. Ever since I saw the front cover of the March edition of Waitrose Food Illustrated I've wanted some quail's eggs! Just beware, if you choose to blow a quail's egg - they are very delicate.

To blow an egg: Using a needle carefully pierce a hole in the top and bottom of the egg. Blow quite hard through the top hole and the yolk and white should come out the other hole.

pirate commission

I am working on a special order to day for a friend of mine. she wants a cushion or a wall canvas with a pirate theme for a little boy. I am thinking nice nautical blues and reds with a creamy linen and his name either on the flag or the pirate ship. i think i might do something similar for either not on the high street or our planned (but as yet not set up!!) hardaker and pope etsy shop!!
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flower and produce show

we are having a flower and produce show in the village as part of our village fete in june. i did this flyer today to put in school book bags in the hope that it will get the children planting seeds over the easter hols. if you live in the stroud valleys and want to join in we would love to have you. (we'd still love you to join in even if you live further afield!!) does anyone have any suggestions for other interesting show classes?!
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