Monday, 31 August 2009

Featured Artist!

I'm this weeks featured artist on Snowbell Jewelry's blog. I was delighted when she contacted me and asked if I would like to be featured, so of course I said yes. Head on over to her blog to read the interview, and while you're there check out her other posts, they're definitely worth a read, she has some funny tales to tell.

You can also find Snowbell on Etsy. She's lucky enough to be away on holiday at the moment so be sure to visit her shop after 14th September to see her fantastic hand made jewellery.

Water Drop Pendant - Snowbell Jewelry

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Orange & Lemon Loaf Cake

After my recent posts about cakes I thought it was time I shared a recipe with you.

I had a hankering for ginger cake yesterday and thought I'd have a go at making some, I was certain I had all the ingredients but when I checked, I was missing the ground ginger, a rather important ingredient for making ginger cake! I checked to see what else I had and decided to make an orange and lemon cake instead.

I only wanted a small cake so I thought I'd make it in a loaf tin. So here's my recipe for an orange and lemon loaf cake.

4oz butter or margarine
4oz caster sugar
40z self raising flour
2 medium eggs
1 medium orange
2tsp lemon juice
2-3oz icing sugar


Turn on oven to 180°c/350°F/Gas Mark 4

1. Measure out the butter and sugar and mix together in a bowl, then add the flour.
2. Whisk the eggs and add to the bowl with the butter, sugar and flour.
3. Grate the orange and add the peel to the mixture, save a little for the icing.

4. Using the orange, squeeze some juice into the mixture (about a table spoon).
5. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth.
6. Grease and line a small loaf tin, I use butter and flour to line the tin.

7. Pour the mixture into the tin and place in the middle of a pre-heated oven.
8. Cook for 25-30mins or until cooked through and golden. You can test if it's cooked by stabbing it with a skewer or knife, if it comes out clean it's done, if it comes out gooey then it needs a bit more time.
9. Once it's cooked, take it out of the tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack.


1. Sieve 2oz of icing sugar into a bowl and add 2 tea spoons of lemon juice.
2. Mix together until smooth. You may need to add a tiny bit of water to make the mixture runnier. Aim for a thick consistency, if it's too runny it'll run off the cake, if it's too stiff it'll be hard to spread. If your icing is runny, add more icing sugar (a little at a time), if it's too stiff add a couple of drops of water or lemon juice.
3. Add the left over orange peel to the icing and mix together.

4. Spread the icing over the top of the sponge.

All that's left to do is put your feet up and enjoy a nice slice with a cup of tea, well, that and the cleaning up!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Another Birthday Cake

Here's the latest cake creation, and I'm pleased to say this one went a lot better than the last one. No disasters in the kitchen this time and I was getting on better with the icing.

We were asked to do a cake featuring a man playing on a PlayStation, I had a photo of the man in question so I could get a resemblance (hope he's not too offended!).

I was told he had a PlayStation 2 and that he liked playing war games and racing games, I opted for the war game to display on the TV screen.

So here he is enjoying a game on the PlayStation.

My husband had to make do without his mixer for this cake, he had to put some good old fashioned elbow grease into it. Despite his worries the cake turned out well.

The only bad thing is, we won't get to have a piece of this cake :(

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Strange week

It's been a strange week, very hot and boring. I don't seem to be able to get motivated at all this week. It's quite rare that I feel bored but I have been suffering with that feeling this week. I've got so many ideas running through my mind that I don't know where to begin. I think I need to start making a list of the ideas I've got, then maybe I can free up my brain!

I did manage to make a card last night and I thought I'd try something a bit different. I dug out my watercolour pencils and started playing about. I did this little drawing/painting of a bird.

And then I made it into a card

And I know just the person to give it to, she likes birds, just hope she likes my strange little bird!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Children's Cards

The latest card project is children's cards. I want to make a range of cards suitable for young children, preferably a printed card without having things stuck to the front which could be pulled off and swallowed!
So I want to have nice bright pictures that are fun, I've been working on a few sketches, here's what I have so far




Princess and Mermaid

And here's a completed one, I've done the pirate card first and I'm quite pleased with the finished design. I scan my sketches into my computer and work on the images in Photoshop, that way it gives me greater flexibility on moving everything around and customising.

Now for the rest of them........

Friday, 14 August 2009

Birthday Cake

It's my sister's birthday today and to celebrate we're having a get together with some friends at my house tonight. My husband likes to bake so he said he'd make her a cake (which means I help out with the decorations and cleaning!). As we both have to work today we were busy cake making last night.

We'd come up with a fairy garden theme, complete with a little cottage, pond, gnomes and toadstools, and of course a fairy. I did a sketch of what we had in mind. A bit ambitious perhaps but we thought we'd have a go.

My sketch of the cake

It took a long time to decorate and the kitchen looked like an icing sugar bomb had exploded with some butter cream and food colouring mixed in! As if that wasn't enough mess, Jay's hand mixer decided to burn out (literally), the motor started making a funny noise, then I noticed it glowing blue and orange through the vent! He turned it off just in time before the whole thing went up in flames, but there was plenty of smoke and a rather strong burning smell. Time to move the cake out of the kitchen while we tried to get rid of the smoke! Come to think of it, I've been involved in a few incidents in the kitchen where something's caught or nearly caught fire, maybe I should get a fire blanket or extinguisher!

Things weren't going too bad, although mixing coloured fondant icing was a bit time consuming, so I reverted to painting some of the objects with the food colouring. Sculpting with fondant icing is quite tricky, it's too soft, I managed to make the fairy (just) but had to give up on the idea of gnomes and toadstools as they were too small and fiddly to sculpt out of fondant icing. I'm sure there're plenty of people that could manage it but I was losing patience and time was getting on.

Edible fairy wings!

The fairy wings are made out of edible wafer paper with coloured sugar sprinkles glued on (yes glue - but an edible version). I made the sugar sprinkles by putting some granulated sugar into a food bag, added a few drops of red food colouring and mixed it all together, and there you have it, some pink sugar sprinkles! We've used these coloured sugar sprinkles on top of cupcakes before, which adds a nice bit of sparkle and crunch.

Yummy cupcake with home made sugar sprinkles!

With everything pretty much finished, the cottage was done (which is basically a mini cake, sponge, jam, butter cream and covered in icing), the fairy was done, as were the pond and flowerbeds, all that was left to do was the piped icing shells around the bottom of the cake. For this we needed royal icing as it sets nice and firm, providing you get the mixture right. I don't think we'll have any problems with the royal icing setting firmly, the mixture was so stiff it was a job to pipe! I think it's safe to say that things weren't going too well with this cake, and we've done a few novelty type cakes in the past, none quite as eventful as this one.

So here's the finished cake

It's hardly in the same league as Ace of Cakes (a tv programme about Charm City Cakes, a bakery in America that do amazing novelty cakes) but I'm sure it'll taste great....I love birthday cake and can't wait to try a piece of it.

We've got another cake to do in a couple of weeks time, I hope that one goes smoother than this one did!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Brain Itch

I woke up this morning with a song in my head, as I woke I found myself repeating the chorus of Lady Gaga's Paparazzi over and over, rather annoying! I don't even recall hearing that song yesterday but somehow my internal jukebox decided to select that song. This seems to happen to me a lot, waking up with a song in my head.

I got to thinking about how songs get stuck in your head and decided to look in to it. I found this article on the BBC website which explains all about it. Apparently it's called a brain itch (or earworms which sounds gross!) it seems once you get a brain itch the only way to scratch it is to repeat the song over and over! And women are more susceptible to them than men.

So, does anyone have a song playing in their head today?

Monday, 10 August 2009

New Cards

Another weekend over! I had a rather productive weekend though, I managed to work on some new card designs, clean the house, do some gardening, socialise with friends and went to the cinema to see The Proposal. The film was your typical chick flick but enjoyable with a few laughs.

I've got some new cards made up, I will be adding them to my Etsy shop this week. The first one is a checked shirt male birthday card which has been added this morning.

Here's a sneek peek of the new cards.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Pencils and Portraits

I've always enjoyed drawing since an early age, it's the first taste of art you get, from the time you get your first set of crayons. I quickly became a fan of pencils, I have lots of sets, graphic, metallic, watercolour, sketching, pastel, colouring, charcoal and a furry pencil case full of my original Crayola and random colouring pencils (of varying lengths, they've had a lot of use!).

Did you know that there is a museum dedicated to pencils? The Derwent Cumberland Pencil Museum, located in Keswick in the heart of the Lake District, where you can find out about the history of pencil making, and it's home to the world's longest pencil at 7.91 metres (25ft 11.5inches) long, it weighs 446.36kg (984.05 pounds). Now that's a big pencil!

If I'm ever up that way I may have to pay it a visit, I bet I could spend a fair amount of time (and money) in the gift shop!

Pencils have always been my favourite medium when it came to creating a picture, pastels are OK but I never found them very good for doing detailed pictures, same goes for paint, I feel I can't do small intricate details (even with the tiniest brush), not like I can with pencils. I have better control with pencils, you can create thick or thin lines, faint or dark lines, smudge it, blend it, and with watercolour pencils even turn it into a painting! I like that you don't need to wait for anything to dry and it's portable, as long as you have a trusty pencil sharpener with you........and an eraser comes in handy too.

I used to draw on a very regular basis but it's been a long time since I've done some proper drawing. I sketch almost daily but that's usually when coming up with ideas for cards and other projects. The last drawing I did was a portrait of Wesley Snipes as Blade and that was nearly two years ago. I think I need to start making time for drawing, I really enjoy it and I find it relaxing (when things go right) and it'll make a change from constantly thinking of card design ideas, I need to learn how to 'switch off'.

This is my drawing of Blade (Wesley Snipes)

I love drawing portraits, but I tend to worry about not getting a likeness, even if I manage to pull off some sort of resemblance I can always find faults with my work (and that's true of anything I create - it can be the tiniest detail that I can look at and think 'that could be thinner, thicker, straighter, smaller' etc, the list could be endless). I'm probably the harshest critic of my own work, always looking of ways to improve, but I guess that's why 'practice makes perfect'.

So I thought I would dig out some of the portraits I've done over the years, and we're talking over the past 20 years, since the age of 10! Some are good, some aren't so good and some may make you laugh.


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