Friday, 28 September 2012

Biscuits for Macmillan!

Morning!  It's an early blog this morning as I and my work colleagues pack up our cakes, biscuits, flapjacks and bakes for the fund raising Coffee Morning for Macmillan's Cancer Support.  In addition to the mouse I've made some empire biscuits stuffed with delicious strawberry jam, iced and half a glace cherry blobbed on top.  I don't think we'll be needing breakfast today!  There's also the promise of a Celebrity Baker from The Great British Bake Off, a hugely popular programme here in the UK so all us amateur bakers are pretty excited about that too.  And it's Friday!  Does it get any better?!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A Mouse for Macmillan

The company I work for is a big supporter of Macmillan Cancer Support and we all look forward to the annual Coffee Morning which gives us an excuse to eat more cake than is good for us!  This year however, we were talking about different things we could do apart from bake and eat.  As a result, some of my (male?) colleagues will be getting waxed in exchange for hard cash.  It's in a good cause.  That's what we've told them.
My contribution is a mouse.  I'm not entirely sure why and I'll bake something too but we're going to raffle the mouse and hopefully it will raise a smile too :)
The pattern for the mouse came from this rather wonderful book by Tone Finnanger.  I've made several things from it and they've all turned out well.  Now I'm almost at the stage of needing to hold my book together with sellotape it's so well used.

I wanted to let the recipient know this was handmade, therefore I needed a label and found an idea somewhere on the internet to use fray check for hemlines and decided to adapt it.  Print what you want onto photo fabric.  Allow it to dry then cut out.   
Gloop fray check around the edges and leave to dry.  
 Fold your label in half and sew into a discreet area of your handmade item.  (In this case under the dress of the mouse.)  Ta dahhhh....

In Search of Richard III

Richard III

As well as crafting, I like history and I've always felt the Tudors were too keen to turn Richard III into a monster so since my late teens I've rejected the Shakespeare villain and read as much about all sides of the argument as I could.  (If you like an academic approach visit the pages of the Richard III Society or if you prefer a well researched novel read Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time.)  
And now there have been exciting developments in a car park in Leicester!  If you watch the recent press conference the archaeologists look pretty excited about what they've found and despite the cautious words and warnings about scientific testing those guys are grinning like crazy and BUZZING!!
Now I am a bit biased but I've been wondering what would have happened if Richard hadn't died in 1485 but had defeated the real usurper, Henry Tudor, and won the Battle at Bosworth....

We wouldn't have had the unlovely Tudors who ruthlessly and efficiently removed all opposition  including Margaret the Duchess of Salisbury and niece of Richard who at the age of 72 was sent to a messy execution at the hands of an inexperienced and clumsy axe man.  Perhaps England would have remained a Catholic country and preserved both it's religious houses and the treasures stored within them,  treasures denied to us now having been destroyed by the greed of Henry VIII.  Without a crown on his head he wouldn't have  been in a position to make 6 women miserable and 2 of them headless. Shakespeare would not have written his history plays in quite the same way and we would have been spared hearing "Now is the winter of our discontent etc" delivered in bizarre tones by actors who should know better, dragging themselves across a stage like smacked spiders. Nor would there be a state in America named Virginia.

Mary Queen of Scots may have managed to live out her inevitable exile without ending with her neck on a block, her son would not have inherited the crowns of Scotland and England and her grandson would not have had his head chopped off by Cromwell who would have been remembered for being a conscientious Huntingdon MP with no need to create a new model army to fight a king.  With no restoration we may have lost some exuberant and bawdy plays but I like to think Nell Gwyn's charms would have worked on whichever King occupied the throne at that time!

If the Stuarts had stayed north of the border, there may never had been an act of union between England and Scotland and our flag would look quite different. Perhaps the slaughter of Culloden and the systematic destruction of the Gaelic culture would never have happened.

We would have avoided the Georgians although the first elector of Hanover would have still imprisoned his first wife for 30 years in Castle Ahlden, the third George would still have been known as a mad man instead of an ill man and his son would still have grown fat on food and poor on gambling. But he would have had no Parliament to pay his debts!  Parliament may not have developed in the way it did had it not seen the chance to take greater control into it's hands under a new and reluctant German king. We would have been spared Victoria and her endless monuments but would have lost out on the enterprise and energy of Albert. Without Victoria's grandchildren in charge of Europe, would there have been a 1st World War?  And if Alexei Nikolaevich had not inherited haemophilia from his gloomy granny could Rasputin have held such influence and would Russia have kept it's Tsar? Communism could have been a footnote in history and the nations would have had to find other reasons to argue with each other. Is it conceivable that a 2nd World War could have happened without the first?

How exciting if the bones in a Leicestershire car park are finally proved to be those of the last Plantagenet king of England!  And what a pointless but curious way to while away time playing the "what if" game of history.   And...if it is Richard...can we have an extra bank holiday in 2013 for his state funeral please?!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Hidden Message Christmas Card Tutorial

The lovely ladies at Paperarts do a card making class on the first Thursday of every month so no prizes for guessing how I spent my Thursday evening last week.  We were shown how to make a gorgeous card with a secret sliding section and since the night's are drawing in here in the UK and my thoughts are turning to seasonal baking and making, I thought I'd exploit this post to help me get ahead of my Christmas card making!  We're going to make a card with an insert which slides up to reveal a hidden message....

Assemble your papers and cardstock.  Choose your inks and stamps and have some sticky dots, glue and a hole punch standing by.
You're cutting out everything in inches:
A card 
Paper to cover half of the card 
3 sizes of white card which you'll stamp onto
3 mats to mount them on each 1/4 inch bigger than the white card  
You'll also need a circle.  The size doesn't matter too much.  
Cut your paper and card to the sizes shown below....
Now stamp as shown below.  Position your stamping on both white card sizes 3 x 5 and 2.5 x 2 towards the top because only the top will be visible once the card is complete.
Now you've assembled everything.  Glue the stamped pieces of card on their mats and take the long white 11 x 4 1/4 card and fold in half.

Now glue the 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 piece on the front half of your folded card.

Open the card out and mark out the sizes below on the inside face of the card with the piece you've just glued on underneath.  (You'll be cutting through two pieces of card.)

Cut out the two narrow pieces as shown in the picture above so that you end up with two slots shown below.  Then position your 5 1/4 x 3 1/4 stamped and matted card inside so  it's top is level with the open top of your folded card.  Cut or punch a semi circle in the top as shown.
Use double sided narrow tape to glue the extreme outside edges together.  Only glue the sides!
With your card glued and your stamped card inserted, place two sticky dots at the bottom of the two slots.

 Now cut your circle in half and place on top of the sticky dots... 
When you pull the inserted card up, it should take the semi circles up and get stopped at the top of the slot.  
 Now you can position your smallest stamped and matted card as below and glue to the semi circles. 
When you push the inserted card down, it will take the smallest card you've just stuck onto the semi circles with it.  Neat huh?  Next take your remaining stamped and matted card and put raised dots/foam shapes down the sides only.  Place this over the top of the smallest card on the front  and secure in place.  (See below if I haven't explained that very well!)
 It should look like this....
 Add a little frou frou ribbon to the top (punch a hole or skewer with a pointy stick) and when you pull the ribbon the card reveals the hidden message.  Ta dah!!!