Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas One And All!

I have been a bad blogger recently, mainly because I have been rushed off my feet finishing off the kitchen (yes - it is pretty much there and looking so lovely - pics in the new year), decorating our home for the festive season...

...and making gifts!

I wish you all splendid things for the year ahead and hope you have a fabulous Christmas one and all!

See you in 2010...

Monday, 30 November 2009

Meg Gets Crafty in Print

Many, many thanks to the very lovely Huma of Her Little Place for featuring this blog in her article on Do-it-Yourself Christmas Presents in Sunday's Observer. It was a great pleasure to have the chance to speak about two of my favourite things; Christmas and crafts and very exciting to see Meg Gets Crafty in print.

Her Little Place has had had a fabulous makeover recently (although it was pretty darn fabulous before) and is brimming with lovely ideas so, if you haven't already done so, I would definitely recommend a visit.

In other news our kitchen is so close to being finished I can almost taste it! Our beautiful yellow Cole & Son Cow Parsley wallpaper is now up on the chimney breast and the floor is nearly complete. I wondered if we were really going to be able to stick to our plan of finishing before Christmas but it really looks like we might well get there! So that should mean some photos for you all very soon. It's been at the expense of Mr Crafty's poor hands which are now covered in blood blisters, cuts and scrapes from working on the floor but it looks so pretty I hope he will agree that it is worth all our hard labour in the end!

Finally I haven't forgotten my blog award from Zoe at Conversation Pieces and the promised post on personality traits will be on its way shortly.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Almost there...

I am so excited I can barely contain myself! After what seems like eons of thinking about our kitchen facelift, planning colours, chosing worktops etc., the end is finally in sight.

Our gorgeous worktop handmade from reclaimed wood arrived just over a week ago. Lidster and Son did an absolutely stunning job on it. Even though it has been joined, sanded and oiled you can really see the age of the wood and all the various markings which chart its history. I love it!

The above photo is a sneak peek of it in situ along with our new tiles. We are mid way through wallpapering the chimney breast and Mr C has a few days off to lay the engineered oak floor we bought second hand from eBay. It won't be too long before I have some before and afters for you!

P.S The lovely Zoe at Conversation Pieces has awarded me the fantastically titled Shoulda Been a Stripper award!! A post on seven personality traits is to follow....

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Me Old China

Well things are moving on with our kitchen. Our reclaimed worktop is being delivered this weekend and then with any luck we have people coming in next week to fit it and do the tiling. Mr Crafty is going to fit the floor and wallpaper the chimney breast. So with any luck it should be finished by Christmas and my mind has naturally turned towards finishing touches.

There is one very empty bit of wall. A poster would be the most obvious thing to fill it but I have seen a lot of lovely displays made with china plates in magazines recently and am thinking of something similar. Given that both my grandfathers worked in the pottery industry it seems rather appropriate. Perhaps something along these lines:

Photo sourced from Glassford Hill Girl Blog

Photo sourced from E How

Photo sourced from

I better get down to a car boot sale to start collecting!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Cake Autumn: Two and Three

So my mad three weeks of baking have finally come to an end which means that you should hear a bit more from me from now on than you have done of late.

This was the cake I made for my new Goddaughter's christening:

And this was the grand finale for the gorgeous partnership ceremony of two friends at the weekend:

So now I can turn my attention back to our much neglected flat!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cake Autumn: Number One

I am part way through three weeks of consecutive cake making at the moment. I made the cake for the lovely wedding of one of my school friends in Wiltshire last weekend. It was a nice one to make as it involved lots of sugar flowers which are always fun.

I know some of you have asked about how I make the roses before. At some point I will do a tutorial but in the meantime there is a brilliant set of demo videos on YouTube which I have followed in the past. Here is part one to whet your appetite:

I am making a Christening cake this week and a wedding cake the week after so more cake posts to follow!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Sorry for my extended absence. It wasn't planned but rather a lot has been going on recently including a family member being taken into hospital and I have been running around like a blue arsed fly with every intention to post and not a second to spare to actually do so!

While I have been away the seasons have changed spectacularly. My last post was about my camping trip. We were using suncream and seeking out the shade that weekend. Now I am looking out of the window onto trees with yellow leaves and a bright chilly Autum day.

This is my favourite time of year full of magic and festivity. Halloween is just around the corner with bonfire night hot on its heels and (dare I say it this early) the promise of Christmas is beginning to get me all excited. It's a time for making preserves and hearty soups, for lighting candles at night, for wrapping up warm and kicking up leaves with fur lined boots.

It also means that we are on a race against time to get our kitchen finished before Christmas. We have finished painting the units and have ordered reclaimed oak worktops from Lidster and Son in Devon. We have a new sink and tap, oak flooring, new tiles and wallpaper all waiting in the wings. What we don't have is time so we have a local handyman coming round to quote for doing the rest of the work which means with any luck I should have some proper before and after pics to post. Very exciting!

Monday, 14 September 2009

A Spot of Camping

Well we finally dusted down my parents old tent from the 70s and took it on a trip to Sussex. It was just a one night taster to see how the old girl fared and I have to say for a tent of her age she stood up remarkably well. I slept extremely soundly after a night sitting with friends and drinking wine under the stars. I hope to take her on some more trips very soon.

Here are a few pics from the weekend (given the authentic poladroid treatment!)

Our tent in all her retro glory
Mr Crafty taking a break

Another fine retro tent belonging to friends

Our very cosy sleeping area

A couple of members of our merry band

Lighting of the lamps
And they all gazed happily into the sunset

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Wings of Desire

I have mentioned my love of anything featuring our feathered friends before, although I know I am not alone among bloggers. Right now I am seriously coveting these cushions by peekboutique on Etsy. They are homegrown in blighty (Brighton to be precise) and the cheery colours make my heart sing like a bird.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Lytham St Annes Wedding

Once again I realise I have been a bit quiet of late. I have been busy baking cupcakes for the wedding of two gorgeous friends that I attended this weekend gone in Lytham St Annes, near Blackpool. It was a wonderful day and the happy couple looked absolutely made up. Thankfully the cakes survived the seven hour drive from South East London!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Garage Booty

We recently cleared my parents garage out for them and whilst the majority of what was in there went to Freecycle or the recycling centre, there were a few gems that have now joined the queue of furniture to be revamped in our flat. My favourite two pieces are below, but I also kept an old child's school desk that used to be mine (the sort with an ink well and a flip up lid), a wooden sledge, a 1930s wooden toy theatre and a little wooden child's chair. These have gone in the attic in the hope that one day there will be a Crafty junior to make use of them!

I love the shape of this desk:

I think I am going to paint it cobalt blue and give it some new pretty handles. It will fit in just beautifully in our sitting room as a home for our laptop.

And this was my grandmother's trolley:

She used to keep her sewing machine on it and threads etc. and I may just do the same. I think this will probably end up yellow and I will probably use some wallpaper on it as well.

Goodness knows when I will find the time to finish them but I am really looking forward to seeing them revamped. I grew up with both of them so it will be lovely to have them in my own home.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Little fireplace update

A while back I posted about my discontent with my fireplace and the lovely Eden Rose suggested that perhaps a turquoise glass vase might be the ticket. I wholeheartedly agreed and have been keeping my eyes on eBay for one I liked to come along. I was delighted when I managed to bag this fella for a mere £6.

I really think he makes all the difference along with my new white candlestick - found in the bargain corner in Paperchase for £3.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Pretty Pictures All In A Row

Some of you may remember my post about the fantastic prints at Advice to Sink in Slowly. I bought a couple of my favourite prints a while back and have been waiting to get them up on the wall but wasn't sure where to display them.

I have seen a few picture ledges featured on design blogs recently and really liked the effect so when I saw Ikea did a white rail as part of their Ribba range I snapped it up.

I have also been coveting the butterfly prints at Rockett St George for a while so decided to snap one up as a centrepiece for the rail. This is the finished display - our blank walls are at last looking a little more interesting!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Back with cake pics

Well I am back from a glorious week in the French countryside where we celebrated our first anniversary. We spent a lot of time reading with glasses of red wine in hand - blissful!

But before I left I promised a photo of the cake I made for a friend's 30th last weekend so here it is:

I designed it to look like a Birkin Bag and a pair of Manolos. I was a bit nervous that it wouldn't end up anything like the image I had in my head as I haven't really done that much in the way of 3D cakes before but I was really pleased with how it turned out. Hope you like it!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Happy Anniversary

Sorry I haven't been posting much recently. I have been up to my elbows in icing sugar and sugarpaste the fruits of which I will post in a little while once it has been viewed by the soon-to-be birthday girl it is destined for.

In the meantime I just wanted to interrupt my normal musings in order to wish my wonderful husband a very Happy Anniversary in advance for Sunday:

I honestly do not know what I would do without this amazingly kind and caring man. Fate has chosen to throw a lot at us during our first year of married life and it's largely a testimony to his seemingly limitless understanding and support that we are finishing the year closer and happier than ever. Here's to many more years of love and laughter!

We are taking a little break to celebrate so I will resume normal posting in a wee while...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Town Mouse, Country Mouse

Last weekend I spent a glorious day in Rowland's Castle, an incredibly pretty Hampshire village complete with a perfect green that plays host to a traditional style village fair:

I went with a friend and we had a lovely time supping Pimms, wandering round the various stalls, watching the tug of war, eating local sausages and casting an eye over the competition entries in the marquee such as these pretty roses and Victoria sponges:

It made me very wistful about village life. There was such an incredibly strong sense of community and I began to think in a romantic fashion that I could happily spend my days baking cakes and making jam in a place like Rowland's Castle. The thought of being surrounded by fields instead of tower blocks becomes more and more appealing the older I get.

And then on the other hand I have been rekindling my love of London of late. Last week I went to see a the Royal Opera's production of La Traviata screened live in Trafalgar square. We took a picnic and sat on the ground with hundreds of other Londoners and watched opera as London buses circled around the square and the sun set over us.

I have also been enjoying London's foodie scene a lot recently what with all the credit crunch offers that are around at the moment. Last night Mr Crafty took me to Galvin at Windows for my birthday. The food was just incredible and the views over London are amazing (the restaurant is on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton). All in all a lovely evening:

Whilst Rowland's Castle is extremely pretty, London can sometimes present you with a view that just takes your breath away. I just wish my camera could do this sunset that I saw over the Thames the other evening proper justice:

I am so very torn as to where I want to end up. As I sit in South East London village life appears to me like an idyll and the thought of a pretty house with a big garden that we could gradually do up and make our own is very appealing but whilst London can sometimes be a frustrating place to live am I really ready to give up all it has to offer?

Decisions for another day but at some point Mr Crafty and I are going to have to decide where to put down our roots. I wonder whether we will end up Town or Country mice.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Horsing Around

I discovered Skinny Laminx's fabulous fabrics on Design Sponge a while back now. I am particularly in love with her "Colts" print:
I love it most of all in the Goldenrod colourway:

I have two very battered old Parker Knoll wing backs that I bought off eBay for a tenner. How gorgeous would they look reupholstered in this fabric? The only slight drawback is that I have never upholstered anything more complicated than a seat pad before.

I have found this step by step guide which makes it look relatively within the realms of achievability and I also have a beginners upholstery book which makes it look a bit more complicated! I would love to know if anyone has given an upholstery project like this a go and how they found it. I am inclined to attempt it but it would be a shame to ruin such beautiful fabric if it turns out to be a whole lot harder than I think it's going to be.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Birthday Cookies

It was my cousin's 60th birthday this weekend so I spent Saturday making him cookies. I took a series of snaps of the process.

I made a simple vanilla cookie dough and cut the shapes out. I chose birthday presents, birthday cakes and comets (the latter because he is an astrophysicist!) The key is to stick the dough back in the fridge after you cut the shapes out to reduce the chance they will spread in the oven:

I baked the cookies for 10-12 min:

When the cookies were cool I piped an outline in Royal icing:

I then filled the cookie in with more royal icing let down with some egg whites. Once this was dry I piped details onto the cookies. The comets were dusted with edible glitter:

If I did them again I would make the design less fussy on the presents as the ribbon doesn't quite work for me but I was really happy with the rest and they went down a treat at the party!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


We have been doing a bit more work on our kitchen cabinets and I am really excited about the progress. About a third of our cabinets are now painted and resplendent with new handles. It makes such a difference already. I can't wait to get on and finish them (and do the tiling, wallpaper the chimney breast, install the new worktop and flooring, ho hum...)

This is what all our cabinets used to look like (beech effect melamine):

This is what they look like painted with melamine primer and two coats of Farrow and Ball's Blackened Estate Eggshell and fitted with new shaker style handles bought v cheaply on eBay:

The photo's not great (still working out how to get the most out of my Blackberry camera) but I hope you can get a sense of the difference. Can't wait until it's finally time to post before and afters of the whole room.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Game of Tag

The lovely Zoë from Conversation Pieces tagged me a week ago and I have been very slow to respond with my answers but here they are - finally! The rules are:

1. respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, add more one question of your own.
2. tag eight other people

And my answers are as follows:

What is your current obsession? Vintage camping gear - Mr Crafty and I are planning to jump on the staycation bandwagon and go camping in the UK for our Summer hols but, not being one to do things by halves, I want to go the whole kitsch 70s hog with a canvas frame tent (preferably orange), floral deckchairs and all the paraphernalia. I have plans to take everything but the kitchen sink and deck the tent out in solar powered fairy lights and bunting. Although if it wasn't slightly out of our budget I would be very tempted by JollyDays Luxury Camping where they provide all the above for you:

Photos from Jolly Days

Coffee or tea? I could say coffee, which to me is resonant of continental sophistication, but it's definitely tea all the way. My all time favourite thing is afternoon tea at a posh hotel and which just wouldn't be the same without a pretty china pot of the amber liquid.

What’s for dinner? I am a total foodie, read cook books like they were novels and love creating new dishes but I am sorry to say I am currently on a health kick so dinner will most probably be steamed salmon fillets with brown rice and swiss chard. Boring but true.

What would you eat for your last meal?
I hope that I will never that know that I am eating my last meal! But if the question is what is my all time favourite meal then I would be very stuck for an answer. I have to say that whilst I love complicated restaurant cuisine and all sorts of exotic dishes you can't go wrong with a rare steak, bernaise sauce, skinny fries, grilled portabella mushrooms and dressed salad washed down with a decent red. In fact I definitely wish that was my answer to the previous question!

What was the last thing you bought? This embroidered tunic dress from Dorothy Perkins:

I have a soft spot for DP. A lot of the stuff in there is not really my style at all but every now and then they will design something really lovely and everything in there is reasonably priced which, given the fact that any tiny bit of spare cash we have is being sucked into the flat, is very handy. I have already got a lot of wear out of this dress, teaming it with black leggings, flats and gold jewellery. Let's hope the sun stays with us this summer so I get even more wear out of it!

What are you listening to right now? Spotify i.e. anything and everything! For anyone who hasn't discovered it, Spotify lets you listen to pretty much any track ever for free. What's the catch? You have to listen to a 30 second advert every 5 songs or so but in return for that you can listen to anything from new releases to forgotten classics. I have mostly been listening to the new Bat for Lashes album (brilliant in my opinion), Animal Collective (also brilliant) and a selection of rediscovered 80s tracks for old time's sake.

What's the best gift you have ever been given? Mr Crafty gave me the most amazing gold butterfly necklace for our wedding day. He gave it to one of my bridesmaids to give to me:

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Really good quality Pistachio or rum and raisin or preferably both in a nice old fashioned sugar cone whilst walking along the beachfront in Brighton.

What do you think of the person(s) who tagged you? Zoë writes a really fabulous blog (which she is much better at regularly updating than I am mine) and is a kindred spirit on pretty much everything - we even own the same pillow cases!

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? Ikies Traditional Houses in Santorini. We stayed there on our honeymoon an it is as close to perfection as you can get. Oh to be back on that balcony:

Which language do you want to learn? French. I learnt Latin and German at school so managed to miss out on the obligatory French lessons. My brother now lives in Paris and I have a five year old Anglo-French bilingual niece who at some point soon is going to question my inability to speak her mother tongue. I need to catch up with her!

What’s your favorite quote (for now)? "Dwell in possibility" Emily Dickinson

What is your favorite colour? This changes periodically. At the moment I love grey. I think it's an underrated colour that has so many different tones and shades. We have a lovely charcoal grey on our bedroom walls and it is a really warm yet soothing colour to live with.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe? My wedding shoes which I bought from Emmy as a huge treat to myself. I sold my wedding dress so these are my reminder of my wonderful wedding day:

What is your dream job? I used to be an actress but got fed up with the instability of the profession. I still think it's what I am best at though and I do miss the acting itself very much indeed. If I could work as an actress but have weekends off, annual leave and get to see my husband in the evening then that would be my dream job but unfortunately I didn't have the single-minded ambition to cut-it in the real acting industry. Otherwise I quite fancy cake designer.

What is your worst habit? I am a neat freak trapped inside a very messy person's body! I would love everything to be extraordinarily ordered and neat and yet I seem to be fundamentally incapable of keeping my space tidy. This means I am constantly at war with myself as I can't stand the little piles of paper that litter the carpet of our sitting room whilst they wait to be dealt with and yet generally I am the one who puts them there.

If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on? It would go towards a new kitchen worktop. We are in the process of giving our kitchen a face lift on a very tight budget but the one thing I do want to splash out on is a reclaimed oak worktop to replace the pink-ish marble effect laminate left to us by the flat's previous owners.

Do you admire any one’s style? Helena Bonham-Carter. I wouldn't copy her style but I love her English Eccentricity and total disregard for what other people might think of her outfits. It's also nice to see a celeb who isn't fussed about looking perfect in public.

Describe your personal style? I pay attention to current trends to a degree but not us much as I did when I was younger. As I get older I am more aware of what suits me and that may not be the latest fashion (it definitely isn't peg trousers or harem pants for example) My heart is with vintage, boho, girly clothes. I think I was probably born out of my time as I love clothes from the 20s - 50s and if I had the figure would wear pretty much nothing but vintage. Unfortunately the clothes that have survived always seem to be in wee sizes and I am too curvy for most of them.

What are you going to do after this? I am off to my parents to dig out their old 70s tent and see if it might do for our camping trip or if it has rotten away due to years of sitting in the garage not being used.

What are your favourite movies? Don't Look Now and Orlando are probably my favourite movies of all time. The Slipper and the Rose is my guilty pleasure. I spent my childhood watching it on repeat but could still happily watch it again and again.
What is your favorite fruit? English strawberries in season that taste like essence of pure strawberry.

What inspires you? London. I have a love-hate relationship with the city I was born in and there are times I want to run away and live in a little cottage surrounded by green fields. But there is so much that I love about London. I love the way that living here gives you the opportunity to experience so many different cultures. I love that even though Londoners aren't the friendliest bunch ostensibly we actually do a pretty good job of rubbing along together given the number of people per square mile. I love that London is artistically so alive with exhibitions, street art and happenings all over. I love the view from Waterloo Bridge and the South Bank at night. And even though I may end up in that cottage some day it will always be London that made me who I am.

Your favorite book? So difficult to narrow it down to just one! Probably 'Wuthering Heights' if I absolutely had to pick one but I am also a huge Haruki Murakami fan and 'Kafka on the Shore' is up there.

Do you collect something? Clutter! Not intentionally but I find it very hard to throw things away so I have loads of old rubbish squirreled away in the attic which we are trying to slowly get rid of at car boot sales and via eBay.

What is your favorite smell? English garden roses - just the most beautiful scent ever! It's such a shame that most roses that are grown commercially aren't scented.

What are you most proud of? My family. They are a very lovely, intelligent and talented bunch of people and I count myself extremely lucky to have them around me.

How many times do you press the snooze button before you get up? Before I met Mr Crafty it was three snoozes per morning for me if not more but he's been weaning me off the addiction and I am down to one a day.

Cats or dogs? Cats all the way! I have nothing against dogs per se but I love that you have to work a bit harder to work your way into a cat's affections.

What’s your biggest fashion mistake? There have been so many! I did have a particularly appalling fluorescent yellow swimsuit with a black satin bow on the back when I was 14. It was very trendy at the time, honest!

Complete the following: Love is… When you honestly and truly value your partner's happiness ahead of your own.

And I am going to tag the following Eden Rose, Seeds and Stitches, Slices of Beauty, From the Right Bank to the Left Coast, Her Little Place, Moments of Pleasure, Poppy's Pretty Place, My Crooked House