Tuesday, 1 November 2011

New Job, New Blog.

Been a bit busy in my world lately and i have a new personal challenge, a new job!
It's a job that is going to take me on a journey of personal challenge and development so i have created a new blog where i intend to document everything i learn and achieve.
Come visit me at http://chefatskylarkfarmhousecafe.blogspot.com/

Until next time

Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

I have a new job!!
I will be revealing more on that front next week but for now one task at my new job was to make some food for halloween.
Now i have been in catering for 25 years but never really done any baking in my workplace so cakes for halloween were quite a challenge.
The internet is a fantastic place for research and boy have i done research!! I have searched for recipes, toppings,designs and everything else i could possibly think of.
Finally i had a bash at trying to create something and below is my first attempt. Because i wasnt sure how long buttercream would last on the shelves of my new shop i used fondant icing to decorate these first cakes. I piped the fondant but it was really hard work and took ages.

This was a batch my son took to school and the kids all loved them.

The thing with fondant is when i packaged the cakes up in the cellophane they went soft and wet looking. So i researched buttercream again and it seems if i put them in airtight packaging they will last on the shop shelves for Halloween weekend.

And so here is todays result and i'm soooo pleased with how they have turned out.

I iced the top of the cakes with buttercream and then moulded fondant icing into ghosts, spiders and pumpkins.

So what are you doing for Halloween?

Until next time


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Surviving A Self Catering Holiday In Yorkshire With Teenagers! PART 3 - FREE DAYS OUT

Again with a family of 6, days out can be really expensive so, to us, the Tesco Clubcard Deals are a godsend.We have used them for 5 years now.
It works on a points system. Points can be gained via several outlets. We save all our vouchers that we receive throughout the year then exchange them for participating organisations in the area that we are holidaying in.
This year we found 3 such places and had 2 fantastic FREE days out.

Our first day out was at LIGHTWATER VALLEY THEME PARK in Ripon.

A great day out for teenagers. The clubcard vouchers saved us £108! What a bargain!

And what was even better was that the sun also shone!! Take a look at their website for more park details.

Our other FREE day out thanks to TESCO was in the characteristic town of York.

From Maple Cottage it took us about 50 minutes to York. We parked in the Park And Ride. Great value. Free to park then only a bus charge for adults and the kids travelled free.

On arriving in the city center we immediately boarded the CITYSIGHTSEEING bus and handed over our TESCO vouchers. We took the full hour tour so we could establish what we wanted to see in the town. It's a great way to see everything and a ticket can be used for 48hrs and you can hop on and off as you wish.

Without the vouchers a family ticket for the 6 of us would have cost £24.

We "hopped" off of the CITYSIGHTSEEING bus to enter THE YORK DUNGEON .

Again we had ordered our tickets through Tesco before our holiday so the attraction cost nothing, and what a fab attraction it was.
During your visit you will see 11 scary shows with 7 of them led by actors, and sometimes you will be chosen to join in with the show! I was chosen to sit in a torture chair while the torturer demonstrated a device used to wrench out tongues! My tongue is still very much in place after the experience though so do not panic!!

These are just some of the attractions that tesco clubcard offers vouchers for and definately a brilliant idea for a budget holiday. Take a look at the website for more ideas.

Thanks for popping by.

Until next time


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Surviving Self Catering Holiday In Yorkshire with Teenagers! PART 2 - CATERING

So it's your holiday and who wants to be spending their time in the kitchen! As much as we try not to be controlled by food on our holiday it is hard when teenagers get so hungry all the time and you are on a basic budget.
For us, as a family of 6, to eat out at night you are looking at £70-£80 including desserts and drinks and even if we could afford it i would much prefer to have that extra money for days out.
So forward planning is the answer!

Choose 6 basic meals that all 6 like.
Ours were: Bolognaise
Boiled Ham
Roast Chicken
Think of what equipment you use at home that your holiday accommodation possibly wont have but will make life easier for you.
I took: 2Large Saucepans
Slow Cooker
Frying Pan
Write a list for all dry foods, breakfast cereals and lunchtime pack up items to buy before you leave so that you dont have to shop as soon as you get on holiday and also so you can shop without children, (my shopping trips are always so much more expensive when i take kids with me!)
I now go shopping the night before at my local tesco and pack my items very neatly in their bags and straight into the car. No hassle and totally organised!!

This year, for me, was so much more relaxed planning my catering in this fashion.
Until next time

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Surviving A Self Catering Holiday in Yorkshire with Teenage Children! Part 1 - ACCOMMODATION

For most of us we spend all year working hard just to be able to spend one or two weeks of the summer on holiday. It's a large expense each year for such a short amount of time so it has to be just right.

My partner and i have 4 children between us and have never been able to afford a holiday abroad for the 6 of us so each year we spend our free time on a different type of English holiday.

We have done Butlins and Haven, Camping and Caravaning, Chalets and Apartments.

This year, as our 4 children reach different stages of teen years, and for me a possibility of it being a final holiday with my almost 17 year old son, we spent our time in a beautiful cottage in Yorkshire.

As our children get older it has become a worry each year about how the holiday will go and what we can do to keep them entertained on a low budget.

This year i think we got it just right so i decided to write 4 or 5 blog posts on what we did and how we survived our week in the hope that it may give tips or inspiration to others in the same situation in the future.


So after deciding on our destination we searched for accommodation in Yorkshire and our search led us to Maple Cottage (below).

This gorgeous 3 bedroomed 4* cottage situated on the A170 between Pickering and Scarborough awaited our arrival last Saturday after a long drive and rather torrential rain! Immediately on entering there was a real warmth to the cottage and a satisfaction that we had made the correct choice.

Maple Cottage has been converted from stables and groom's cottage, it's beautiful and , in my opinion, the owners have set it up just right with the inclusion of a dishwasher and washing machine for mum; barbeque in the courtyard for Dad to cook on a hot evening; and free wifi
for the teenagers so that they can still keep in touch with their friends on Facebook!!

Also included were a selection of family games, a variety of books,dvd and cd player and storage facility for bikes.

If you would like to see more of Maple Cottage you can find their website HERE .

During our stay we found no faults whatsoever and would highly recommend it for any family holiday.

And so this ticked the first box on our survival holiday plan for this year!

My next blog post will be about the catering!Many thanks for popping by and please feel free to leave a comment below if you found this interesting of have any suggestions to make.

Until next time


Monday, 1 August 2011


How to express Summer for Handmade Monday.
Summer is a time for pretty flowers. For butterflies.

For holidays in Campervans.

And Beach Huts by the sea.

Pop by 1stuniquegifts blog to see how other crafters are spending their time this summer.

Thanks for popping by

Until next time


Monday, 25 July 2011

Funky Photo Frames

I have been getting some car boot bargains again.
These red pyjama bottoms cost me 25p on Sunday. Brilliant fabric with tiny white and pink hearts on.
Read on and i'll show you a little project i used them for.
I cut out a couple of squares of pelmet vilene with a square hole cut out of one piece.

I cut out slightly larger pieces of fabric and glued them to the vilene and glued a square of white lining fabric to cover all untidy edges.

Cut a small length of red ribbon.

Then glued both pieces together with the ribbon in between leaving the top unglued so that i can slide a photo in.

Of course i had to accessorise with fabric flowers!

And VOILA a funky little photo frame for your favourite print!

I enjoyed making it so much i made another with some scrap fabric i had and accessorised with some fimo flowers .

Thanks for popping by and don't forget to pop along to 1stuniquegifts blog and see what other crafters have been up to this week for handmade Monday.

As for me i will be selling at the Coventry City Football Club Family Day on Thursday which is being held at The Ricoh Arena from 10am til 5pm. Be sure to say hello if you are there!

Until next time


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gift Tags By Design

I have to confess i dont always add tags to presents that i give but after seeing how lovely my first effort of a handmade tag looked on my last gift i think i will be making more in the future.
It's a very simple design. A cut out tag. 2 cut out hearts with the receipient's name printed on one and a small kanzashi flower stuck at the top.

So that's my own personal design, what about what other crafters make?
I came across a fab tutorial this week to make these lovely tags (below). You can find the tutorial on Carolee Crafts Blog if you fancy having a go.

And if you dont fancy making them yourself then you could always visit the Folksy website where you will find many fab handmade tags.
Below is just a small selection of what you can expect to find in store.

Love these sweet Teddy Bear Gift tags by Aunty Joan Crafts

Gorgeous primitive Wooden Tags by Spotty Dotty

Gorgeous and so original Felt Heart Tags by ARTFELT

And finally,
I Love these funky hand stamped flower tags by Plowmen's Clocks

So what's your favourite?
Until next time

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Car Boot Bargains

Car boot sales have become an increasing popular way to de clutter your house and make some pocket money. As the saying goes "One mans junk is another mans treasure"
As a crafter i love to have a rummage round for things to display goods in at fairs or objects to upcycle and, in general, any bargains.
Today was a successful day for me as a buyer. I found these great storage baskets for home to house all my ribbons,cottons,buttons etc

Bargain for only £1

I've often seen crafts displayed on easels so was really pleased to buy these 2 for £1

And finally i bought this tie for only 20p. "It's a lovely tie" the man said and looked absolutely astounded when i told him i intended to cut it up!

So i washed, dried, cut it open and starched it.

Cut some circles.

And look how it turned out!! A bargain for 20p!!

If you want to see what other crafters have been up to this week pop over to 1stUniqueGifts blog where handmade Monday is organised by Wendy and proves to be a great blog read each week.

Thank you for popping by.

Until next time


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Garlands and Home Decorations

OOo it's good to be back!
Since my last craft fair on Bank holiday Monday i have taken some time out from the blogging scene just to take a break from things before they became mundane and not so enjoyable.
Today felt like a good time to return with my new project.
I had an invite to a Christening today and because money is a little tight at the moment and because it's a special occasion i decide to make the young lady in question something rather personal.
I knew i wanted her name on it and it HAD to include fabric flowers!
So i drew some letter templates, transfered them to fabric, stitched and then filled them with polyester toy stuffing.
When each letter was complete i made 6 fabric flowers. I then cut, baked and attached fimo clay flowers to the center instead of my usual buttons. I think they work really well.
Letters and flowers were then strung together to make this rather fab hanging garland.

Looks great hanging on a bedroom door!

I was so pleased with how my present turned out that i have listed it on Folksy as a "made to order" item and then decided to make more home decorations.

Really pleased with how they have turned out.

And if you would like to purchase these or any other personalised garland please pop along to my Folksy shop CottonsAndDreams.

Thank you so much for popping by, i wont leave it so long next time.

And if you would like to see how other crafters have spent their week pop along to the 21st Handmade Monday blog hop organised by Wendy of 1stUniqueGifts

Until next time


Monday, 23 May 2011

Handmade Monday Week 17 - A Nervous Commission

It has been a busy week for me this week and a rather nervous one.
I had a lovely surprise in my Folksy inbox last weekend when a lady messaged me saying that she had purchased a bag a couple of weeks ago and loves it so much that would now like one exactly the same but double the size and could i do that?

Yes of course i said, quoted a price and got to work on a pattern. I doubled the length and width of the bottom and straight away went into panic mode, it looked enormous!

But i continued and doubled the pelmet size too.

I cut and stitched the base.

Prepared the pelmet.

Sewed and attached longer ,wider straps.

Then panic set in more! It seemed enormous, what was i to do? So much easier when the customer sees and buys.

So i decided to take photos before doing the final sew and email the customer.

I felt that you still couldnt see just how big it was so i took another putting one of my bags beside to show the difference in size.

I nervously awaited a reply and PHEW she replied that it was perfect!!!!!

So i stitched it all together, added my famous trait of a flower.

Then listed and she bought straight away!

With that out the way i turned my attention to trying a new bag. A basic design but very pretty.

Little girls will love this one.

And now to turn my attention to preparing stock for this weekends fair. Held in the gardens of Castle Ashby in Northampton and organised by "The Anns" of Pennine fairs i am really looking forward to this one and hoping to do well.

Mobile phone cases are a good seller.

So i've cut out loads ready to sew.

These pen cases are also a good seller, ideal for your handbag.

So i've made loads of them and now need to attach the flowers to finish them off.

And finally my new bag charms are also proving to be really popular.

So i have flowers everywhere!!!! And also some butterflies too! I think there will be a real summery feel to my stall this time.

Thanks for taking time to pop by and if you want to see what other crafters have been up to this week pop along to 1stUniquegifts blog and follow the links.

Until next time