Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Centrepieces for Christmas on a Budget

Ever wanted a stunning centrepiece for the Christmas table but baulked at the prices? Follow my simple tutes and create your own - there by saving money and having the feeling of achievement at making your own table look beautiful.

You can use all or some of these ideas, I think they look magnificent together but it's entirely personal choice.

Basic materials list:
Glitter and/or glitter paint
Pine cones
Newpaper/dictionary pages/wrapping paper or other thin paper
Double sided tape
NB Please note you do not have to have all this, choose what suits you

Pine cones -

With the pine cones, I chose to do a couple of different methods, but these are open for further ideas. If the pine cones you've found have damage like this: don't despair. You can always turn the damage towards the back or, if the damage is quite bad, use a ribbon or similar embellishment to disguise the damage.

In method one shown on the left,  I chose to go with the non-traditional colour of blue mixed with a little green to make a lovely blue-turquoise colour. I then painted the Black Opal glitter paint over the top in places as a highlighter rather than covering all the blue paint.

In method two in the middle, I painted a plain pinecone in Black Opal glitter paint - this is kind of a clear paint so it kept the natural colour of the pine cone while adding a bit of glitz.

In method three on the right, I used a red paint and red glitter for a traditional look on the pine cone. If you like traditional colours, you could choose to do one in silver and one in green.

Other methods you might like to try out are using thin tinsel, pom poms (home made or bought), miniature Christmas decorations, small pieces of holly.

For the candles, I also did a couple of other methods:

For the first method on the left, I wrapped some old Christmas-themed wrapping paper and trimmed to size, before double sided sticky taping it onto the candle. I did not attach the paper to the candle, but overlapped the paper so the paper can be slid off the candle easily - this means you can move the paper and trim accordingly as the candle burns down, or remove it completely to use the candle for another purpose.

For the second method on the right, I recommend using a thin paper such as wrapping paper, dictionary or old book pages, newspaper etc. Wrap the candle and adhere together with sticky tape. You can leave it as is, as I have done, or you can then use a hair dryer to gently melt the candle onto the paper for an almost transparent effect.

For the third method in the second left photo, I used the double sided sticky tape to create lines around the candles - I eyed the spaces in between each line. I then gently patted glitter onto the tape, being careful to brush away stray bits with a paint brush.
For this method, I recommend using a thicker style of glitter than I used, as the extra fine glittery can get very staticky and stick to everything and can be difficult to remove. Also check to see how sticky the wax on the candle is, as it is quite humid where I am today the candle was a bit stickier   than usual.

When I was satisfied with my pine cones and candles, I played around with them until I found a setting I liked.As you can see in the below pictures, the candles and pine cones look effective separately, but I think look that little bit more festive when done together.

I used some old boxes to put the candles on, placed the pine trees in front balanced on a box and each other to ensure they sat up straight. I then placed the tinsel around them to hide the boxes and to add that bit of Christmas cheer.

I hope you like my Centrepieces of Christmas on a Budget - stay tuned for my next article coming soon. Also feel free to leave a comment if there's any ideas you'd like to see posted here.

Happy crafting,

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Favourite Places-The Needlecraft Emporium and Fabric Cave at Crowle Home

If you are like me, you love to pop into your favourite (or local) opshop and see what fabric or crafty things they have on that bookshelf down towards the back of the store. Sometimes you strike it lucky finding some gorgeous buttons, a vintage bed sheet, a few balls of yarn, maybe a magazine you've never seen or a retro clothing pattern that you have just the right fabrics to make that up in at home. (Once I found a complete unused Gocco Printing Set for $15! SCORE) After happily forking over your money for said lucky crafty finds, you may find yourself skipping happily down the street daydreaming of the loveliness you now possess and all the possibilities of what you can make.............Or maybe that's just me.
BUT sometimes you leave empty handed. Not having found anything remotely interesting,

Today I will share with you my first trip to the AMAZING crafty opshop that is The Needlecraft Emporium and Fabric Cave, located at Crowle Home in North Ryde.
The Opshop is run by Achieve Australia and is called Vintage and Value Enterprises. The money raised by the opshop goes towards helping the people who live at Crowle Home and enriching their lives. Many of the volunteers are relatives of people who live or learn at Crowle House.
It is only open Mondays and Fridays from 9am till 2pm. They are also open one Sunday a month, but check the website for which one.
I went on a Monday, and only the needlecraft emporium and fabric cave were open but if you get to go on a Friday, they also have the second hand bookshop, plant shop and preloved clothing shop open as well.
The first room I visited was the Needlecraft Emporium. All I can say is WOW. The room is filled with everything a crafty person could ever want (and more).
 Drawers full of buttons.
 Shelves Filled with lace and braids..... Are we drooling yet?
 Boxes of patterns. All sorted into different categories.
A cool vest pattern. Love. But not my size :(
 Fat quarters and smaller sized pieces of quilting fabric.
 Liberty needlework kits.

 Amazing craft books. Quilting, Dressmaking, Embroidery, Beading, applique..... the list goes on.
 More buttons
 Embroidered Linens

As well as beads, wool, leather, larger quilting fabric pieces, felt and sooo much more. I found the prices to be  reasonable and I bought quite a few Ondori Quilting Books for $2 and $3 each.

The fabric cave is next door and is wall to wall, floor to ceiling fabric. Most of it is colour coded as you can see below with part of the green wall. 
 Fancy fabrics and fabric on the roll. (Metallic and Beaded are in the Bins)
All the fabric is more than a metre in length, and priced between $3-$5 a metre. I bought some cottons for making skirts.
The range of fabric is amazing, There are cottons, satins, stretch and other fabrics as well.I don't think it is possible to walk out of there empty handed.
The staff are so friendly and generous and genuinely interested in what you have chosen and what you are going to make. I hope to take a few things back with me to show them what I made.

I honestly can't tell you how much I enjoyed visiting and the pictures do not do the place justice. I could have spent much longer there (and much more money too).

So I did my happy skip back to the car, and tried to concentrate on driving home, and not on all the lovely things I just bought.

76 Belmore Street, Ryde NSW
Entry via Porter Street off Junction Street, Ryde. Street parking is available.     
Opening hours:
Monday: 9am-2pm
Friday: 9am-2pm
1st Sunday of the month: 9am-Midday

Please note there are no eftpos facilities.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Foody Friday - Pancakes

For this week's Foody Friday I'm going to link you to some yummy pancakes.

You'll find the yummy recipe here

We made these tonight for dessert & are delicious with hot chocolate sauce


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Ornaments on a Budget Part One

Ever wanted to buy the beautiful sparkly baubles sold at exorbitant prices in shops but can’t justify the cost? I have a solution for you – create your own stunning decorations for mere dollars following my simple tutorial.

Material list:
Foam shapes including balls, Christmas trees, wreathes etc – these can be found at most crafting stores
Sequins, beads, thin tinsel, glitter or acrylic paint, tissue paper, foil, drawing pins – let your imagination run wild here and use whatever inspires you

Beading pins – these are also found in crafting stores
Glue if required

Decide what sort of design you want – this can be done either mentally or by doing a quick paper sketch. If you choose to do the sequins and beads, as shown in the photo, find the “seam” on your foam item and use this as a starting guide line to follow – this will help you to keep your sequins going in a straight line.
You can choose to place the pins directly through the sequins (as shown in the purple and gold bauble) or use a small bead and then a sequin (as shown on the two left baubles) – both result in a gorgeous unique look. If any of the pins feel loose, use glue as you see fit to secure the sequins in place.

If you would like to use paint, you can create a design or just paint randomly – you can also use sequins over the top, placing them in such a way that bits of 
the paint shows through, or roll the item in glitter. If available, using glitter paint would also be another beautiful option.
To use the foil, you can either cover the foam items in one or two pieces of foil (I would recommend the wreath or tree shapes for this) or rip the foil up into small pieces and glue it on.  Any shape could be used for decoupage and is also an excellent activity for the kids.

Depending on the foil type chosen, you could do it in a decoupage style provided the glue leaves a shiny finish, some glues may dry in such a way that it results in a matte effect. Decoupage, traditionally used with tissue paper, entails using one part water and one part PVA glue mixed, painting a little of the foam pieces at a time and sticking on small ripped pieces of foil or paper. The ripped edges allow the pieces to blend seamlessly together. If you choose to use paper, I recommend painting the glue over the top of the paper as well as underneath, this strengthens the paper layers and will give a shiny sheen to the item as well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post and I’m interested to see anything anyone makes that has been inspired by this post. Stay tuned for my post on Wednesday 30/11 where I will be exploring the various uses of pine cones, candles and paper crafts as Christmas ornaments and centerpieces.
Happy crafting,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cute Reindeer Monogram Ornaments!!

What you will need – felt, ribbon, sewing machine
I'm using an appliqué design that I found at planet applique but this technique will work for pretty much any shape you can think of!
I figured out I would need to do this shape in two parts, so that I could place the ribbon hanger easily without accidently sewing it to the antlers!!

Let's get started… Stitch out your appliqué on the felt. Cut out the pieces roughly – by sewing first, then trimming, it gives a nice clean edge to your ornaments . I wanted the year on mine, so I embroidered that on to the backing felt.
 The antlers are done first, so place the smaller backing felt piece directly behind the antlers . Don't worry about pinning, the felt stays where it is. If you have one of these 'open toe' feet, pop it on, makes it easier to see where your stitches are going…
 I'm using white thread for this part, if you think you might go over the edges a little bit, maybe try the clear monofilament stuff on top with a bobbin thread to match the underside. Stitch all around the antlers only.
 Trim around the antlers, make the edge as wide or narrow as you like – I like 3-4mm on mine. Cut a length of ribbon for your hanger - 20cm should do it – and place directly behind the antlers. Pop your back panel over the ribbon (centre the date detail) and put a pin in from the front to make sure your ribbon doesn't move.
Now sew around the letter.
Trim up your edges (be careful not to cut your ribbon!) and you are done!!
Pop one on a card or use as a gift tag for a pressie!!
Kate x

Paper Filigree Christmas Baubles

You Will Need:
·         Scissors      ·         Quilling paper (This will usually contain a set of basic quilling instructions)
·         PVA glue
·         Quilling tools (two pronged one for beginners, needle for advanced, there are kits available at most craft stores that contain everything you need + basic instructions.)
·         Christmas bauble
·         Ribbon

1.       Cut five equal strips of coloured paper, 9cm long, this will make one flower, if you wish to make more than one flower cut an additional five strips for each flower.

2.       Wrap one piece of paper at a time around your quilling tool, wrapping each one with the same amount of tightness so that the petals are a similar size. Slip each slip off the tool and allow it to gently unravel itself.

3.       Glue the loose ends so that each piece of paper forms a circle.
4.       Gently pinch one end of each circle, forming a tear drop shape.

5.       Glue the pinched ends of each tear drop together, forming a five petal flower. Repeat these steps to make as many flowers as required. Allow to dry

6.       Using a 6cm strip of green paper repeat steps 2 to 3.
7.       Pinch opposite ends of the circle, forming a leaf shape.

8.       Place a thin strip of PVA glue on each flower petal and leaf.

9.       Gently press onto bauble and allow to dry.

10.   Attach a ribbon to hang the bauble.
A search for “quilling patterns” will bring up hundreds of amazing, free, quilling patterns that you can use to decorate your baubles!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Paper Crafts on a Budget PART TWO

Have you read Paper Crafts on a Budget PART ONE from 15/11/2011? If not, I recommend having a read by clicking here. Otherwise, welcome to Paper Crafts on a Budget PART TWO – I hope you enjoy!

Always wanted a cheap shimmer or glimmer mist?
These are so easy and cheap to make and can be done in a range of colours. Firstly, purchase one or more mini mister bottles, these can be purchased from scrapbooking stores for around $3 but I have also used old hand sanitiser spray bottles that have been cleaned. You can either choose to use a few drops from an ink refill bottle but a couple of cheaper ways are:
Using metallic paint, (or food colouring and silver or gold metallic paint) craft glue and water, fill your mini mister ¾ full with water, a small amount of glue and paint and shake, then perform a test spray. Add paint until desired colour is achieved.
The other method is excellent for recycling metallic pens that may no longer work because the nib is blocked – this only works if the ink is still usable though. Take one or two metallic pens and place the ink into your mini mister, add water if needed and test spray.

I want to make my own paper designs…. But how?
There are multiple ways to make your own paper designs and various methods are listed below:
·        Tea dye – make a pot of tea (black is best for hues of brown and orange) and brew until it’s a colour that you like (keep in mind the hotter the tea, the more orange it may be), then paint, soak or dab the paper with the tea.
·        Burn the edges of your paper for an old fashioned effect - used in conjunction with tea dying this is excellent for pirate or antique themed layouts.
·        Using the previously mentioned mists, spray it lightly over the paper to create a metallic effect.
·        Use samples from wall paper or paint stores for various effects.
·        Use a nail file, scourer or scissors to rip and distress edges.
·        Use mesh tape to create cool designs by painting over the top of it onto card stock. Remove tape when dry for a more manly effect.

Embossing machines such as the Cuttlebug are out of my price range, can I use something else to emboss? (This is different to heat embossing mentioned in PART ONE)
Yes, a rolling pin used several times with embossing folders (unfortunately there’s no real cheap alternative to these) can have the same effect as the machines – except they will require more physical strength than the machines. Use a soft foam mouse pad to emboss gently or a piece of thick plastic to make the folders cut through the card.
Machines are possibly preferable for those with hand issues or arthritis, however I do recommend keeping a good grip on the handle when winding the folders through, even if the machine makes cracking noises.  A sudden release of the handle will result in the machine flinging it into your hand, which could cause a nasty injury.

I don’t want to spend heaps of money on expensive stationary – what do I do?
Keep an eye out for school sales at supermarkets and newsagents, or at $2 shops, as all of these will put stationary items on sale, and this is a perfect time to build a collection of glitter/metallic pens, textas, adhesives such as double-sided tape, sticky tape, removable tape that doesn’t permanently stick, glue, white out, erasers etc. Ask at these stores if they have an email club where you can be emailed the latest specials they have – this could result in sales on stationary including paper and card stock, allowing you to purchase all the basic elements you require to complete a paper craft. Where possible, if you are matting a page with another page, cut an 11 inch by 11 inch square to create a 1 inch frame out of 12 x 12 inch card stock – keep the square for use in future projects. You can also create your own paper patterns using stamps and various inking techniques.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. As I come across new techniques and tips for paper crafting cheaply, I will continue my series Paper Craft on a Budget. Please feel free to comment if there are any tutorials or ideas mentioned that you would like to have expanded on.

Happy Crafting,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Foody Friday recipe: Lemon self-saucing pudding

I adore this recipe. It's quick, easy, delicious and you double or triple it for a BBQ or party. 

Lemon self-saucing pudding (serves 6)

100g butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 lemons - juice and zest
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cornflour

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together.
  3. Sift in flour, baking powder, lemon zest and half the lemon juice. Mix well
  4. Spoon into a greased 6-8 cup capacity baking dish (I baked a double quantity in a disposable foil oven tray for a party and it turned out great) and spread mixture evenly. Batter will be quite thick.
  5. Mix together brown sugar, cornflour and remaining lemon juice and sprinkle over batter.
  6. Carefully pour over boiling water. Pour it gently from a low height or pour it over the back of a large spoon to avoid leaving big craters in the mix.
  7. Bake at 180 for approx 35 minutes or until pudding springs back when lightly touched.
  • When making a larger quantity, double or triple the ingredients exactly, no need for alterations. Be sure your container is large and reasonably shallow, a deep pan will not allow the pudding to bake all the way through and may make too much or too little sauce.
  • Check your pudding after 20 minutes and adjust baking time depending on your oven.
  • This pudding is just as good the next day. The sauce thickens and moistens the pudding and the lemon flavours develop.
  • You could easily make this in the morning for a nighttime gathering. Follow steps 1-4, cover baking tray tightly and refrigerate. Follow the remaining steps just before baking.

Nikki :D

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sewn Business Cards

A while ago I was in a rush for some business cards, and didn't have time to order any.
So what does a crafty person do? She makes them.

You will need:
Scissors or equivalent
Sewing thread
Sewing machine (or a needle)
Computer & Printer

To begin you need to make some cards the size of business cards. I used MS Publisher's blank business card template so I could put my website, email & facebook page at the bottom.
I used recycled cardstock for the base of my cards.

Next I cut the cards to 2 inches x 3.5 inches 

Then I printed my logo in greyscale, small enough to fit on the cards 

Then you need to cut these out 

Next I glued the logo to the card.
(You can skip this step if you want to but, it stops your logo moving around while you try to sew it) 

Let this dry for a few minutes

Now to sew. I like to use a bright coloured thread so it stands out on the neutral colours of the business card.

Starting on one side using a straight stitch (you can use any stitch you like) sew all the way along the side.
Remember to lock your stitches at the beginning & end of the line. 

Turn it around and sew the other side 

Now you'll have a big pile of cards that look like this
(Hopefully with your logo & contact details) 

Trim off all the threads, and you should be left with some cards that look like this.