Friday, 20 December 2013

Just call me Peppermint Patty

Remember that bossy red haired girl with freckles from Charlie Brown?  I used to look like her!  My hair isn't so red any more but the freckles are still there though.  I kept thinking of her when I was making my soaps and scrubs for teacher's presents because I used peppermint oil!

I really enjoyed making these soaps and learned so much too.  I can see this being quite addictive! There are a couple of ways that you can make soap - one is quite technical and involves double boilers and thermometers and such like.  I went for the much easier melt and pour method.  You buy chunks of plain soap (I got mine from various places on E-Bay depending on quantity and price) and then shape, colour and scent it to your own design.  You can get various types of soap base and initially I went for glycerine for the red layer because it takes the colour well and an opaque base for the white layer.

Basically you melt a few chunks in the microwave and then stir and stir until it has all dissolved.  I used enough chunks for one layer which was a total estimate but as long as you keep the quantities the same each time then the layers will be the same thickness.  You need to keep stirring frequently to stop a skin forming because it does cool quickly and then I added a few drops of scented oil.  I used peppermint to keep to the theme of candy canes and to match the invigorating scrubs.  I also coloured at this stage too - one tiny drop of red soap colour (also from E-Bay) for the pink layers.  I used a silicon loaf mould and didn't line it or grease it or anything and it just popped out - easy peasy.

You need to work on one layer at a time so melt, add colour and scent and then pour into the mould.  Then spray with rubbing alcohol to disperse the bubbles.  About half an hour later you can do the next layer but before you pour the alternative coloured mix in, spray the hard layer with the alcohol again.  This makes the separate layers stick together and form one solid large soap.  If you don't want to use rubbing alcohol then you will need to pour the subsequent layers on before the previous one hardens but then they layers will merge together a bit more.

For the top layer of my first batch, I crushed up a few candy canes like I had seen in the original pin that I got the inspiration from.  Then I put on another layer and placed a mini candy cane at intervals so I could slice it with a candy cane in each portion.  These teeny candy canes are very minty (huzzah!) and are from the pound shop and are just perfect for embellishing gifts.

You can see the two batches I made here - the bright red and white striped one with the candy canes on top is the first batch.  The pale pink and white version is the second batch where I used all opaque base instead of the glycerin layer for the red.  On the chopping board you can also see the disaster that occurred as part of the learning experience.  On the second batch I left out the candy cane on the top because I needed to slice them more thinly and I didn't like the way they went a bit soggy.  I should have taken the hint from that. The exposed bits of crushed candy cane on the top went very soggy and literally melted off of the top when I laid the slices down.  They do just rinse off and all is well but it makes for a bit of a sticky gift really.  Also I must have neglected to spray one of the layers with enough alcohol because the top two layers have come loose.  Hey ho.  We will have festive soap in our bathroom for a while yet...

The jars of scrub there have turned out quite well too.  Just a mix of olive oil, caster sugar and peppermint oil.  You just mix the things together until they are the right consistency.  Enough oil so that the sugar doesn't fall off your skin but not too much that it runs off.  Once I had this part sorted I separated it into 2 bowls and coloured one with a spot of greeny blue and the other with a spot of red.  Then I used a teaspoon to plop it into the recycled jars and press it down a bit before adding another layer.  Great for tired and dry feet, and painty or muddy hands or any other place that needs a bit of a buff.

I needed to cover the lids of the jars so I used mini doilies, bakers twine and some of the lovely Bundled Up papers.  I finished off with a snowflake punch and a snowflake brad.  I really hope people like them and don't mind the initial sticky bit too much.  Hopefully they won't mind it being another bottle of wine or box of chocolate.

Only another 15 slices of soap to wrap....

Bye for now

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


The last Wednesday before Christmas!  Oh my!  I still have so much to do and things have gone a little awry in the studio here...  Can you see the blobs of pink on the left there?

Please ignore the empty mulled wine glass... it was from last night and not this morning...

I made another batch of soap but I used a different brand of candy cane (I didn't realise they were cherry flavoured! CHERRY?! What's that about?!) and left the crushed pieces exposed on the top as per the pictures on Pinterest.  The bits that hadn't sunk in nicely went very gooey and slid off the slices of soap that were laid on their sides.  The soaps are fine once you have rinsed off the sticky layer but it is rather a shame that I will have to put that instruction on the little labels!

This was my desk about 15 minutes later once I had cleared up the goo and started to decorate the jars of layered peppermint body scrub.  You can see the sort of production line of half finished gifts there and things needing normal wrapping etc.  The blue parcel at the back was a potential error present that I checked and then couldn't get back in the wrapping - darn!

I've also been working on something different this week - a box frame of butterflies as part of a 30th birthday present.  I've seen them around on Pinterest for ages, hearts too, and been meaning to try one.  Now that I have, I want one for myself!  The papers are from an old Laura Ashley line.

This is still my favourite die and I never tire of using it.  The butterfly in the middle signifies the young lady in question, my step-niece (if there is such a thing) who is strong and independent and has blossomed into a beautiful young lady.  I do like art to reflect the recipient where possible!

Taking up my time this week was also this little lot...

Its quite an old Playmobil princess castle and we didn't have any instructions because it was second hand. Cue much head scratching, bad words, huffing and puffing...

Thankfully between Management exercising more patience on the internet search, and me Tweeting Playmobil, we got the instructions and have also got a form for the couple of missing bits.  I absolutely adore it and I'm so excited to play with it  see Bella playing with it...

Right, onward and upward.  Lots of jars and soaps still to prettify and I'm running out of school days left!  I will make time for some desk hopping today though too :-)

Don't forget that there is a DT call open at S J Crafts so please do pop along and read mroe about it if you are a UK based scrapper.

This post is brought to you by What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday with Julia at

Bye for now

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The December Story so far

Actually its not so far because obviously quite a bit of December has already passed (eeek!!) but this is the second part of how I am planning on bringing together my memory keeping for this festive season.

I shared my manifesto previously but here it is again for those who might have missed it.

The next page in the album is the first of many divided page protectors.  I've echoed the colours and patterns for continuity using my Crate Paper Bundled up collection.  I'm using gold accents throughout the project and the little ribbon on the title block is actually from a cracker last year!  

The photos are rather garish because they are only temporary.  It helps me to see where things are going to fit and then I know how big I need to print them.  I keep a separate album on my computer once I have finalised my design so that I can do a quick print after Christmas with everything I need and everything at the right size.

You can just about read the journalling there but it basically explains the manifesto a bit more as well as a little bit about the excitement of the advent calendars.  The green paper is another current Christmas collection - Simple Stories December Documented.

The cream letter stickers are from Echo Park's Reflection Falls which go very nicely.

This is the back of that page in progress.  The mitten printed paper and the snowman journalling card are just the reverse of the first day.  I will try to use these if they fit with my plans because it obviously helps to stretch my stash.  If it turns out that I want to use something else there then that's fine too.  And if I find that the divided page in the formation I've used is really not going to work for a certain day then I can just fill up the pockets with pretty bits and carry on with the next page.  I can usually make it work though and it helps to have a bit more restriction because it makes the decision making process quicker!

Today's jobs include making a set of butterflies in a box frame, a birthday card and some more festive soap so its back on with the Christmas tunes and the Father Christmas hat.  How about you?

Bye for now

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Its not too late!

We may be well into December but its not too late to get organised for recording your festive season.  I'm loosely following Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas with a bit of a daily diary aspect too.  This is my desk at the start of the month (temporarily cleared off to accommodate wrapping...)

I keep everything to hand when I'm doing an ongoing project like this because it helps to narrow down the decision making and gives continuity by only using the supplies on the table.  I'm using divided page protectors this year so that I can do a lot or a little, depending on time, inclination and story.  Its also easier to think in smaller chunks and it is a lot less overwhelming than filling a full 12x12 page everyday.
This year I'm going with the gorgeous Bundled Up by Crate Paper because it matches the Winter Project Life kit that I had.  Its not a usual Christmas colourway for me because I'm usually quite traditional but I just fell in love with it.  Also I like that it is wintery and not just Christmassy so will be useful for any snow pictures too.
I also picked out a few of the papers from the new Crate Paper Maggie Holmes collection called Flea Market because the colours matched so well.  It pads out the variety nicely and is perfect for those days that are not full on festive.

My punches are all here at the ready too.  Aside from continuity and limiting my options, I find that they inspire me when they are out like this so I get a good start for deciding on the design of each pocket.
A cake stand is a perfect organisational station for projects like this.  I have adhesives in the top, trims and ribbons and enamel dots in the middle and cut to size cards and Project Life cards etc in the bottom.  Then I have various bowls of washi tapes, buttons and twines, stickers and the Bundled Up ephemera.  My little heart shaped bowl has my very small embellishments like the Studio Calico veneer stars and snowflake brads.
 I keep a flower pot of my most used tools out and some off cuts of coordinating plain card and then in theory I don't have to move from my desk for anything other than another cup of tea.
I also grabbed some older supplies including some music paper, stickers and vellums etc.  In theory it should all fit into a smallish tote when I want to scrap elsewhere although I might have to leave the album behind.  Its the American Crafts D Ring Modern album on the left there but I have yet to design the front.
My JYC time each day helps me to rekindle the magic and make sure that what's important stays important.  Its a breather and a time to reflect and remember what its all about.  That is different things to different people but the sentiment is the same.  Take time this year to have a moment to embrace the magic of this special time.  Its not too late to jot down some thoughts, take a picture or two, or make something pretty.

I'm going to be posting regular updates and some of my journalling so I hope you'll come back and share your thoughts with me too.

Merry Christmas!

Bye for now

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Two weeks today people!  Two weeks!  I have no idea if Julia will be hosting a What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday on Christmas Day but I think it would be very interesting...  How many of us have to make room for guests to sleep or eat I wonder and how many desks will be laden with new stash or covered with the remains of a late night wrapping frenzy?

Anyway, here's mine as of Tuesday late morning.
The bottom layer and all the bowls are for Journal Your Christmas which is well underway.  Then the first 2 presents of the year appeared on the pile from my lovely sister-in-law and you can see one of the jars of scrub that I've been making for teacher's gifts.

About 5 minutes after I took that photo I cleared the lot off ready to start the great wrapping fest of 2013.
I have lots of sellotape, lots of paper and tags and I have my Christmas scented candles going.  I also sing along to my Christmas CDs (badly) and wear a Santa hat.  Today I have also finally steamed my individual puddings and made one of four cakes.  It was Bella's nativity yesterday and Louis's this evening so they are all done and dusted.  I am on a roll!

Here's a little sneak of the festive soap I've been making too.  This was before the final layer went on.  I'll be making some more at the weekend and will share a more detailed post on it then.
Some exciting news just in is that S J Crafts has a Design Team call out so if you have an active blog and would like to be part of a fantastically friendly team then hop over there and find out more!

Bye for now

Monday, 9 December 2013

My Christmas Manifesto 2013

How are you getting on with recording your Christmas memories this year?  I am really enjoying documenting my December with Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas and as always we started out with our manifesto.
So many people are having a hard time this year and with our recent fundraising for the Philippines and accidents and illnesses in the family, it didn't seem the year for poetic phrases about sugar plum fairies and sparkles of joy.  That's not to say I'm not hoping for magic because I am, very much so.  This could well be the last year that my son especially believes and so recording it and trying to make it as magical and special as possible is still right up there, but with an understanding about others less fortunate, more so than ever before.
As well as setting out my intentions for this season, this page also sets out my intentions for my colour scheme and embellishments.  You can see the splashes of gold from the Studio Calico stars and polka dot vellum from Shimelle's Christmas kit and the Studio Calico veneer stars and Bundled Up papers from S J Crafts.

This page is the reverse of the double page that I shared in the previous post because I loved the pink snowflake paper so much that I couldn't bear to hide it!  Ahhh... pretty paper... it's definitely my kryptonite!

Bye for now

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Season's Greetings!

Its the most wonderful time of the year!  Oh I do love Christmas.  This could well be the last year that both children believe in the guy in the big red suit because Louis is already asking more and more questions about the logistics of our involvement.  Its so complicated!  

These photos were taken last year at Warwick Castle - doesn't it look festive!?  I wasn't there because I was at a scrapping retreat (which was awful!) and when I scrapped these pictures last week I couldn't for the life of me remember why I hadn't been there.  It reminded me to scrap things or at least record the memories as soon as I can because things so easily get forgotten.
 This double layout will be the second and third pages in my Journal Your Christmas album because they really capture the magic and the spirit of all that is Christmas.  Its all about making it special for my family, in particular my children.
 I'm using Crate Paper's Bundled Up collection throughout my JYC and I'll be sharing my method and plans for this in a couple of days.
 I was inspired by this Pin for using large photos so it was ideal for the types of pictures that you get on a day out.  I deliberately kept the background quite muted with the polka dot woodgrain because the pictures were quite busy and orangey.  I did want to introduce my full colour scheme for the album though so I picked out some of the pink and red bits from the ephemera pack.
The little tickets from the pack are perfect for the subject matter here and give enough space for a note or two.  I've added some gold stars here too because I want to run both gold and stars throughout the album.
So how are you getting on with your festive crafting?  Cards all made?  Presents all bought / made and wrapped? No?  Me neither... I'll get around to it... but maybe have another frangipan mince pie first ;-)

Bye for now

Friday, 6 December 2013

Six on the 6th

I won't tell you how many days it is until Christmas... I'm trying not to think about it!  The only thing that I know for sure is definitely done though - the cards!  Thanks to the Six on 6th series at S J Crafts, I have a nice little stock of home made cards ready and waiting... Okay so they are not actually written or in the post as yet but they'll get there!

I was using the marvellous Elf Magic collection by Bo Bunny which at first sight is a very bright and child friendly range.  However there are some more muted and sophisticated designs in it to which makes it a great all rounder.

Here are my six for this month.


The three on the left are simply one of the papers layered onto white card to create a great base on the card blank.  A stripe of coordinating paper and festive trim are then topped with a stamped image coloured with Promarkers.

The right hand side uses pre-made toppers and punched shapes on a design where the background papers are in thirds / two thirds and trimmed with silver or gold.

With great papers like this you don't need much on top so they came together really quickly.  Also the range of designs means you can get quite a different look each time.

I made a few more while I was at it because quite frankly I got carried away!

 How are you getting on with your cards?  If you've made any inspired by this series then don't forget to link up over at S J Crafts because you could be in with a change of winning a heap of stash.

I'm off shopping with my Dad today (wish me luck) and then I'll be cracking on with Journalling My Christmas.  Please leave a comment if you are documenting your December in any way and I'll be back next week with how I'm getting on with mine.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Please do not adjust your sets, normal service will resume shortly.

My desk is unusually neat today and there is a reason for it, not it is not staged, you just happened to catch it at the right time!  I had to have a reshuffle for some festive projects (more on that next week) but give it a few minutes and it will look lived in once more.

Its a toofa - as in a two-for-one.  This is the angle to the left with the beginnings of Journal Your Christmas and then top left is my black printer which is now in the bin.  It was my second Kodak and I will never ever use them again - nothing but trouble and poor quality prints from a supposedly top quality photo printer.  It finally gave up the ghost when I needed to print a very large document for a governors meeting - Murphy's Law that is.  So photo taken Tuesday lunchtime, Tuesday evening new printer installed and working correctly and large document being digested over a whiskey and coke in the wee small hours...

You're probably wondering why I have a giant bumble bee on my desk?  That is Buzzy, Bella's class mascot who came home yesterday for the second time within the month. I would really like to write in his diary this time "Buzzy got very bored waiting in the queue in the shop while the very old lady chatted to Mummy.  Eventually Mummy said a rude word to the lady and left.  Mummy muttered all the way home about Daddy not thinking about Christmas until Christmas Eve and then said a rude word again when she realised that she had missed the post man for the third time in as many days.  Later, Buzzy watched Mummy sobbing over the large pile of ironing and narrowly missed being splashed by bleach when Mummy cleaned the loo."  Honestly, Bella is 4 and can barely stay away once she gets in from school.  What do they expect us to write about for 4 weekdays, 3 weeks after the last visit?!

Angle to the right - Pretty things arranged lovingly for ease of access for festive crafting and of course the required cup of tea although that does now change to a mulled wine of an evening...

Here's a sneak of my first pages for my JYC album.  Its a DT project using Crate Paper's Bundled Up so I can't show it just yet but it is up in full on the S J Crafts blog.

Have you got festive crafting on your work space this week?  Are you feeling Christmassy yet or are you sick of everyone going on about it already?  Link up with Julia's Stamping Ground for WOYWW and share because you care.

Bye for now