Wonderful gifts of time, care and creativity…

Today’s post is a lovely picture of a birthday gift to me – our bookkeeping genius, cake maker and all round wonderful member of staff Jo Bridgeman made me this most stunning cake.

I love the concept that it’s a giant cupcake and the hours of work that went into making the chocolate shell as the case for the cupcake and the wonderful layers of chocolate cake inside just made my day! I have added the link to the recipe she used, below. Knowing how many hours of work it was, it may not be something most of us will want to try, but if you are interested – then help yourself!

The main thing I wanted to say is that all through this week that has included my birthday I have had wonderful ‘gifts’ of time, care and creativity. Home made cards are so special, home made cakes are always lovely and all of my favourite things have been from friends (and family) who have sat and thought about me and given me something that I really love – just a phone call or a message means so much when someone has thought about you and wished you well.

The link for details of how to make the cake is here

Have a lovely weekend!

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Fruity mice!

I am limbering up and planning a few extra fun things for my granddaughter’s second birthday party… they have to be appealing to small people but healthy enough to get past very scary 20 and 30 something mums!

I thought these little strawberry mice would be fun, so very simple to make – just slice a tiny bit off the bottom to allow them to sit flat. Then use flaked almonds for ears and whatever you may have handy for eyes. You could pipe chocolate drops… you could carefully cut a pumpkin seed in half… or you could use a flake of oat or cereal, all these things could be used.

The other idea I am planning is to copy some little pear mice (mouse theme obviously it seems!) that we saw in Frankfurt when we went to a Christmas fair there quite a few years ago. Basically all you need is some melted chocolate, almonds for ears and some pairs of tiny sunglasses. I kept the three pairs from the pears we bought at the time (Richard, Emily and one for me!) but I will search for a few more, hooray for Ebay! In the photo you can see quite a bit of the yummy looking window display!

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A fun card that’s simple and effective!

I thought this card might make a change – it’s not feminine, glamorous or tricky to make. It’s possibly the simplest card I have made in a long time. But Emily, my 23 year old daughter, absolutely loved it and said she would treasure it.

The scuba diver came from our Signature die range and the exotic seabed came from Googling ‘underwater scene’. I made sure that it contained a turtle (her favourite) and then printed it out to about 7” x 5”. It was then matted and layered onto pink and yellow card to reflect the colours in the seascape.

All onto an 8” x 8” card I had handy and then cut down to size as it was a rectangular picture rather than square. The diver was attached with double sided tape as I was in a hurry to post and Pinflair needs to dry. I used a tape dispenser and just covered as much of the diver as I could – remarkably easy I have to say.

And there it was done! I posted it in a hard backed manila envelope for a bit of extra protection having added a black silhouette diver inside and some nice words. Just the kind of card I knew she would love and a simple but effective design!

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All part of life’s rich tapestry…

My mother Diana’s tapestry.Slowly but surely, my Mother and I are working through the deep cupboards and large boxes of her possessions. Some things are priceless and irreplaceable while others well, not so much, to be polite. The photographs are all being carefully kept but the ornaments and trinkets have to be thought about carefully as nobody has enough room for their own bits and pieces as well as my mother’s!

One morning we decided to go through the framed paintings and needlework. My mother has completed a few pieces of tapestry in her life and framed some and not others. Out came a pretty Jacobean design  and, as you can see from the picture, it was beautifully made and framed. I hadn’t seen it before as it had been tucked away my whole lifetime. As I turned it over and saw the date she had worked it, I gave a squeak. My mother looked at me and asked what was the matter. She had made it in the summer of 1953… while she was pregnant with me.

My tapestry.Thinking I should strike while the iron was hot, I nipped home (we only live a short distance over the hill) and collected the tapestry that I worked on in the summer that I was expecting my first daughter. Here you can see the larger design that I did. I showed my mother and like me she was amazed, what are the chances that we would both independently choose an almost identical piece of needlework to create during the last months of our first pregnancy? She had never seen my work and I didn’t know about her picture quietly stored away.

So I have them both hung in the house at the moment – one day I am guessing I will have to downsize and I wonder if my daughters will want them. But for now I am enjoying the co-incidence!

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Curiouser and curiouser – ‘Alice’ appeal lives on 150 years after publication

John Tenniel’s original AliceThe Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit and a little girl called Alice – three of the many fantastical characters created by Lewis Carroll in his 1865 masterpiece ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, characters loved by generation after generation of children the world over. 2015 is the 150th anniversary of its publication and there are Alice in Wonderland events happening all over the place and a whole new generation is being introduced to the little girl who fell down a rabbit hole and tumbled into another world.

I adored reading Alice in Wonderland as a child. I spent quite a lot time looking for a rabbit hole large enough to fall down because I was convinced I’d have the same adventures if I did and I longed to meet the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat. The book manages that magical mix of humour, fantasy and a little bit of fear – would the Queen of Hearts cut off your head? Would you be trapped forever always too big, or too small, to escape from the endless passage and through one of the enticing doors?

Little Alice Liddell was the real-life Alice who inspired Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll was his pen name), to write the novel when she asked him to tell her a story on a boating trip down the Thames in Oxford. Even when I have re-read it as an adult, I have found it entrancing and dream-like. There are so many character and phrases that crop up in modern culture and many plays and films and other books have been made about it or been inspired by it.

The real ‘Alice’, Alice Liddell.Charles Dodgson was an English writer, mathematician, Anglican deacon and photographer. After Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, he wrote Through the Looking-Glass, which includes the poems Jabberwocky and The Hunting of the Snark both wonderful examples of fantastic nonsense!

But is it really a children’s book? The story plays with logic making it as popular with adults as with children. It is one of the best examples of the literary ‘nonsense’ genre popular in the Victorian era, with one of the other most famous ‘nonsense’ writers being Edward Lear, he of ‘Owl and the Pussycat’ fame! Goodness, can you imagine being at a literary lunch with those two authors!

I often find myself thinking of particular ‘Alice’ phrases – I think one of two have even slipped into my own books! Here are a few of my favourites:

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”

“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

One of Arthur Rackham’s Art Nouveau illustrationsOne of the things I loved most about Alice in Wonderland was the illustrations. The version I had featured the beautiful Art Nouveau images created by Arthur Rackham, but the original book featured the work of John Tenniel. Both of their illustrations are stunning and so very ‘of the era’.

And what of the book when it was first published 150 years ago? The entire print run sold out quickly – Alice was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. Among its first avid readers were Queen Victoria and the young Oscar Wilde. The book has never been out of print and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into at least 174 languages.

Couriouser and curiouser,” as Alice would have said!

Did you read it as a child, or an adult? Did you like it? Which was your favourite character? I think I’ve got to choose the White Rabbit!

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