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Viva Las Vegas!

Wonderful work on the Thomas Kinkade stand.

Dropping in our friends, the Giordano brothers, always a joy.

Well, here we are again in Las Vegas! We come here every year for the ‘Brand Licensing Show’ in the hopes of finding something new and exciting for you. It also means we can meet up with the companies we work with already and talk about future projects.

I had a few pictures taken to show you… The chat with our friends at Thomas Kinkade was excellent and there’s a fabulous kit in the making, due out in October, I think, from Practical Publishing, in our Joanna Sheen Cardmaking Collection series featuring amazing products from Thomas Kinkade. Exciting!

We also just had to visit the Giordano brothers, one of our favourite teams, we love working with them. If you haven’t looked at the Giordano paper pads on the website then please do. There are new plans in the pipeline with them too – watch this space!

We had a long chat with Alicia, Jane Shasky’s agent, and there’s some great new artwork there, plus several others that we like to catch up with while we are here.

Of course, some of the time is free time (yay!) and we love walking down the Vegas Strip (Umm, ok and maybe just a tiny bit of gambling!), and did you know, there are more Michelin-starred restaurants here than any other city in the world? Disaster for my diet but I am working hard at it and clocking up 20,000 steps most days. There are also a lot of fun things here, so I couldn’t resist getting close to Poldark(!) giving the eye to a dinosaur and saying ‘Hi’ to Peppa Pig!

So, hopefully, we have found and negotiated some stunning artwork and projects for the coming few months and had a happy few days as a bonus!

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Pansies in a teacup

 

Pansies in a teacup – it’s a gorgeous card, isn’t it? I love it – ok, it’s flowers, and as you know… I always like flowery cards. This, as always, is a relatively simple card to create – thank you dies and a few other techniques thrown in for good measure!

Ingredients:

Quick ‘how to’:

  1. Print out some lace backing paper, the tea cup and pansies from the decoupage section of the CD – print it out several times so that you can have as many layers as you wish.
  2. Edge the larger piece of backing paper slightly smaller than main blank with the gold pen by holding it at a right angle to the edge of the paper and just sliding it down, attach with double sided tape.
  3. Stick a smaller piece of backing paper (same height just chop an inch or so off each side) onto some card to strengthen it and then attach to card using glue gel or foam pads.
  4. Now die cut the borders and add those. Cut out the topper and mount that onto the same white/cream card and attach that with glue gel or foam pads. Now decide how many layers of teacup you would like and likewise pansies. Attach all of those with glue gel. Finally using the last teacup, cover it with glossy accents or diamond glaze or whatever shiny substance you like using to make it glossy. Leave to dry and then add that to the card.
  5. The pansies on this example have all been die cut in white and then coloured with alcohol ink pens – but if you hate colouring then you can die cut in yellow, purple and green and paper piece the flowers.
  6. Arrange them in a nice group on the bottom right, fix with glue gel and your card is finished!
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Memories of Chelsea Flower Show

I exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show for many years – it must have been at least ten – it gets harder to remember exact dates! All the years blend into one long, happy memory and, somehow, you forget the back breaking work of being on the stand, cleaning, serving and then tidying at the end of the day – from about 6am until 10pm at night.

There are some pictures here (very amateurish – sorry not that talented with a camera over the years!) – we were always next to Constance Spry which was hugely important to me as training there was the catalyst that woke up my inner creativity and changed my life from wannabee lawyer to crafter! Our display won awards many years running which was a real thrill – and in the picture you can see myself in the middle (I never said I was a natural blonde!) my sister to the right and Margaret a great friend and ‘right hand person’ in those days, to my left.

No matter how many TV shows tell you about Chelsea and demonstrate how much hard work goes into creating the show, it will accurately reflect the life’s blood, sweat, tears and back breaking effort everyone puts in. I could often only stand in awe of the growers with staff of all ages sweating, lifting and endlessly tweaking to get their display looking amazing.

If you have never been to Chelsea then I would encourage you to consider going, but it does get so VERY crowded. I would recommend being there at 8 in the morning when it opens or after 6 when many have gone home. We used to wander around happily at 5am and get see everything really well – as no public were ever there – but during the day I stayed firmly on the stand!

Nowadays, while I wonder whether watching every minute of the TV coverage is enough enjoyment, I remind myself that at least I don’t have to handle the crowds!

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Crunchy Chocolate and Peanut cupcakes

Here’s a delicious recipe for crunchy chocolate and peanut cupcakes. Our wonderful baking bookkeeper, Jo B, produced these cracking cupcakes for our member of staff Maggie, who was celebrating her birthday!

Makes 12

For the cakes:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 125g of self-raising flour, sifted
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 75g milk chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 160g smooth peanut butter (nice with almond butter too)
  • 60g icing sugar, sifted
  • 21/2 tbsp milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C/150˚C fan /gas mark 3 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. For the cakes, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs then beat well until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and milk and mix until smooth and fully incorporated.
  2. Fold the chocolate chips into the cake mixture then divide equally between the paper cases. Bake for 18-20 mins or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool.
  3. For the frosting, beat the butter and peanut butter together until smooth and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and milk and beat together slowly until combined then beat a little faster until soft
  4. Now make the honeycomb which, by the way, could be used in ice cream or just gobbled by grandchildren!
  5. 200g caster sugar, 4 tablespoons golden syrup, 3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda and chocolate to melt (optional)
  6. Put sugar and syrup into a pan and bring to the boil. Then gently simmer for 6 minutes. Add the bicarb and mix around quickly because it will immediately begin to fizz.
  7. Pour into a greased tray (the butter wrapper works well if you have one) and leave for 5 minutes, then gently begin prising from the tin. Leave for another 5 minutes and completely remove from tin. Break into pieces and keep in an airtight container.
  8. To clean the pan, add water and bring to the boil and just use the spoon to scrape.
  9. You can then half dip pieces of the honeycomb in chocolate if you wish – indeed I suspect serving just the honeycomb dipped in chocolate could get great granny points for me!

 

 

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Birthday in Paris

 

I absolutely love this birthday in Paris card – it’s a simple process but doesn’t it look amazing. The spots/dots on the base card are made using a Japanese screw punch – just press it around wherever you want a hole – fabulous gadgets!

Ingredients:

  • Plain cream 8” square card blank
  • Pink cardstock and cream card
  • Circular dies (or draw around a plate/saucer?)
  • Selection of alcohol inks
  • Signature dies Paris SD537 and Classica Word set (Multibuy is best bargain)
  • Ribbon and glues etc

How to:

  1. Start by punching a load of holes in the cover of the card blank – don’t worry too much about the middle as obviously this will be covered by the image. Now wrap some ribbon around the left-hand side of the card, and secure inside. Then add a 7½” piece of pink card onto the back of the front cover, hiding where the ribbon was secured and making the pink dots appear!
  2. Cut out some circles – the pink one measure 6½” and then a cream one a little smaller. If you have a circular die that size – that’s perfect …. if not then you can draw around something circular like a saucer that’s conveniently the right size!
  3. Die cut the Paris die twice. Use one die upside and pat some alcohol inks around and across it. Allow it to dry and then attach the nice clean die cut with some glue gel or foam pads.
  4. Finally, tie a bow and attach that to the left-hand side of the card.
  5. The little handbag is made from a template found on the internet, decorated with some paper scrabble style letters and a die cut coloured brown.
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