Wednesday, 28 November 2012

More Sparkles! Or How To Force Yourself To Mop The Floor.

Two blogs in one night!  whooo hooo!!

This issue is on what to do when you have an ambitious plan to stick dozens of real cranberries to a foam cone and/or sphere.

Step 1:  Forget ambitious plan

Step 2:  Do something else which is easier and just as pretty.

I purchased a set of three thick paper cones for about £3.50 and thought I would hot glue some cranberries on them but once I got the cones, they seemed a little thin to actually get big berries on so hmmmm... *scratches chin*


Step 1:  Find a large-ish box
Step 2:  Lay large-ish box on side and put on the kitchen counter

Step 3:  Place 1 cone inside the box  (or all three!  What the hell... live dangerously!)
Step 4:  Spray cone with silver spray paint, let dry.
Step 5:  Spray with glue

Step 6:  Try to roll the cone into some epsom salts laid out on a paper plate
Step 7:  Swear  (the cone is too long for the plate)

Step 8:  Dump salt out on the counter because the glue is drying quickly!
Step 9:  Roll cone gently in the salt until it is completely covered, let dry.
Step 10:  Open the wine

Step 11:  Mop the kitchen floor because it's sticky as hell.  Aerosol glue does not stay in the box.

 They aren't grey.  It's my pitiful phone camera.

I've since repeated the gluing and rolling which has given the cones a more snowy finish.  Now just to find a suitable topper and we're done!   I'm thinking a big ole Malteaser on the top of each one...  what do you think?  

OH!  Top with a Ferrero Roche!!  OMG!  I'm a genius.  =) 


The garland down the stairs is finished.   I caved and bought a pre-lit garland only because I couldn't fathom trying to make one from real pine.  Who does that anyway?

There isn't much to say about this.  It takes no genius to wrap pine garland around a bannister.

Once that was finished, I dressed it in some of those orange slices I made earlier, some iced berries I bought on ebay and some of those pine cones on loan from the Mother In Law.

Look!  Pretty!


The red things hanging down are some snowflake decorations loaned to us by a friend.

Not too bad for £9.99 at Clas Ohlson.  (or however you spell it..)

I'm thinking the front needs a bigger display though.  What do you think? 

Friday, 23 November 2012

A Slice Of Orange Heaven!

YAY!  A success!  

I've tried drying oranges before and ended up with curly, dark brown lumps with no resemblance to those pretty round slices purchased from craft shops and florists.  

This time, I decided to actually research how to do these properly.   I even got compliments from a florist on the great results!  *patsback* 

So here's how....  and it won't cost a fortune and you don't need a dehydrator.

You will need:  Oranges, sharp knife and an oven.  (pretty self explanatory really)  

1)  Preheat the oven to 75-100C (150-200F), some sites say to have the oven at a higher temperature but I found this makes the orange slices turn brown rather than stay a nice orange.   They also say to turn the slices a few times but I didn't (because I never totally follow directions.... that wouldn't be me, now would it?)  The only ones I turned were the ones which were bending a little or in danger of falling through the rack.  

2)  Get yourself some nice, firm, barely ripe oranges.  You can do this with pretty much any citrus fruit or apples and pears.  I've found that the firmer fruit works best as it won't squish as much when you cut it and won't cover you in too much juice.  I don't suggest watermelon.  You might be waiting a while.

2)  Slice the fruit into nice slices approx. 1cm thick

3)  Lay the slice flat on the oven rack.  This is the secret to flat dried orange slices! 

4)  Let dry over 3 or 4 hours.  I didn't actually time it, I just kept checking every so often to see how it was progressing.    

Oh but if you are drying apples,  there is no hope in getting nice flat rounds.  Don't even waste your time.   

But if doing oranges, this is what you end up with. 

Then,  I ordered some bath salts on the internet and did this.... 

Haven't a clue how I am going to use these things but I will find something.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Gingerbread Massacre!

The first thing I thought I would tackle is something I know how to do.  Baking.  Gingerbread tree ornaments to be exact.

But oh no.  It didn't work quite how I had imagined.  No, it was more like a gingerbread massacre.   I'm surprised CNN wasn't providing round the clock coverage....

The plan was to make these lovely gingerbread cookies, thread a ribbon through them (even had a straw at the ready to make the holes!) then ice them and hang them on the tree.    No, I didn't bother to read the bit about making them a few days before Christmas so they are still edible.   Although I'm not entirely retarded, I know that cookies have a shelf life and basically I was giving it a try just to see if it worked out.  

Nonetheless,  I started the making the cookies.  I measured and weighed, rolled out the dough and put it in the fridge for 30mins like the recipe stated.  I got the cookie dough out and quickly cut out several shapes.  Little gingerbread men, snowmen, trees, reindeer and stars.   I placed them on the cookie sheet and popped them into the oven.  Great! I thought.   No problem.   I was feeling a bit Martha Stewart-y at that moment.

10 minutes later....  Cookies come out.    ......



Aaaaaand they are unrecognizable lumps of cookie like things.   @##&%$?(*(

Now what?  I decided to put the second lot in that I had already cut.  Again they came out unrecognizable... BUT!   I had a plan.

 While the cookies were still warm, I got the cutters out and recut all the shapes, including the hole for the ribbon.


Once the cookies cooled and hardened a bit, I simply popped the cookies out of their lumps and wore a smug look for a while.

Unfortunately, a great number of them didn't "pop" out so well.

If you are squeamish about mangled baked goods.... turn away....

 The failures. 

The (short-lived) successes....

After all this work, I tried threading a ribbon through the holes and found out the cookies were entirely too soft to bear their own weight while dangling from a ribbon.   Most of them broke as soon as I tried to hold them up.   It's probably for the best though, I don't know how people would react to Frosty The Snowman with a .44 caliber hole right between the eyes. 

So I ate him.  

Now I'm working on a non-edible version of these for the tree.  Fuck Martha Stewart.  

Saturday, 17 November 2012

DIY Christmas!

 No I am not Kirstie Alsopp.  I wouldn't mind being her though... she's beautiful, has a great job, can mix fabric patterns and not have them look weird, can laugh at herself without being deprecating and has the fantastic ability to make everyone like her.   Oh aaaand can blow glass Christmas tree baubles with her bare hands.  (ta, Jackie).

I'm not Kirstie Alsopp.

I am, however, mental enough to envision a homemade, DIY, Christmas at my house and then, mad enough to attempt it.

It all began with a trip to the local garden centre and their ridiculously early display of Christmas stuff.   I was wandering around looking at gorgeous Christmas trees, miles of sparkly garland, lighted twig reindeer, pretty ornaments both in natural material and shiny, sparkly stuff.

As most people do, I got all excited and started thinking about how we were going to decorate this year.  This also happens to be the first year I will be hosting a few people's Christmas at my house, not just Paul, Audrey and the MIL.   So, I'm a little over-eager maybe.

Long story short, I spotted a few ornaments I liked.  Little cloth hearts, stuffed and had various things on them.   Turned one over....  £4.99!!!   WHAT!?!   Are you mental?    At £4.99 for one ornament, It would take 10 years before I would have the lovely coordinated, ornament covered tree I imagined.   I'm doing ok financially but I'm not that mental!  I just can't justify spending that kind of money on Xmas tree ornaments.   I'd rather spend it on nice food, drinks or gifts to make my peeps happy.

My mini-rant ended with... "holy crap, I could make that myself for less."    Fatal.

Take a look at what's on sale at the local garden centre.....

 Little twigs nailed together in a snowflake pattern then covered in glitter.  I have sticks in my backyard.... no problem.

 I love this one... £9 for a pile of sticks arranged in a tree shape and painted white... really?  I can do that.
 This is the bad boy who started it all.  $4.99 for this?!  Come on. 

Fabric snowflakes hot glued to clothes pegs.  Definitely worth £6.99.... sure.  

Gingerbread cookies on strings.....  erm.  Do I really need to spend money on these?

  Bark.  And I saw those little wooden reindeer bits at Hobbycraft for £1.49 for a bag of 12.   This ornament?  £7.00

As of now,  I have scored two big bags of pine cones from my Mother-in-law, spent an afternoon on ebay buying christmas fabric, red and white felt, wreath frames, plain silver baubles for decorating, quilt stuffing, glue gun, silver spray paint, glitter, spray snow, epsom salts, spray adhesive, 144 wired artifical cranberries and a few things I forgot...  and nothing I bought was over £5.   I have plans for a walk in the woods with Audrey to collect tree branches, more pine cones, leaves, seed pods and whatever else I can get my hands on.   I have yarn, ingredients for gingerbread ornaments, some evergreen trees in the backyard, loads of that vine people use to make wreaths all over the side of our house, two holly trees (bushes) in my front yard and loads of sticks from last years garden cleanup.... and on and on and on....

What have I done!?

Does anyone have Kirstie's phone number?  I may need help.
Remember way back, when I started this blog... I did a profile write up that said something like I was either going to end up with fabulous projects or half-finished ones.   So far?  It's half-finished projects.

When I left off,  I was getting the floor installed.  The installation went well, I hate the trim but nonetheless, I moved in the hall stand and a plant.  It's actually pretty close to how I had imagined it before I started, which for me, is a miracle.  I usually change my mind so much along the way, I'm  miles away from the original vision by the end.  

I've also finished ripping the carpet off the stairs as well.  Nothing else... just got the carpet off.   

So that is where I left off.   There hasn't been more than a small picture put up.  

That is until yesterday.   Yes people... we have LIGHT!  YAY!!   The wall light that Paul bought for me LAST Christmas was finally installed and it's beeee-yoooo-tiful! 

Here you go.....      

Now.  Don't get all excited.  I'm not doing any more decorating until after Christmas.  

Until then,  I am busy making Christmas decorations!   More later....