Tuesday, 28 May 2019

52CCT Technique Challenge

Hello! Oh my goodness, I mulled over whether to post this! All I can say in its defence is that it is much prettier and very sparkly in real life, but isn't a great photo at all. I saw this interesting technique over at 52 Christmas Card Throwdown called the Eraser Technique. It involves a piece of sand paper, a pencil and a rubber. There are a couple of links to show you how! I think Lucinda may have said that success depends on your eraser. I ended up raiding my daughter's exam pencil case because I couldn't really get it white. I'd reconciled myself to a silvery grey reindeer and he is much nicer in real life because he's covered in clear Wink of Stella. The background was made with a Tim Holtz burlap stencil.

There are some stunning examples of this technique. Sadly, this isn't one of them (ha ha!) It's difficult to resist a technique that uses sandpaper and is potentially messy though! Lots of fun!

Happy crafting, April xx

Thursday, 16 May 2019

First Christmas Card

Oh dear, I've been awol again! I have made my first Christmas card of the year though! I was inspired by this week's challenge over at 52 Christmas Card Throwdown where the colour combo is...

There are some lovely design team examples there. Well worth a look!
This cute moose wearing his Christmas hat is from SU's Jolly Friends and the dies are Tim Holtz's Garden Greenery. The card is super snippety and the vellum is rescued from a card that went wrong a while back! So that means (of course) a hug and a wave to Di, Parsnip and Dudley over at Pixie's Snippets Playground where there are also wonderful hedgehog photos!
Happy crafting! April x

Friday, 1 March 2019

Scavenger Photo Hunt - February

Hello! Time for another scavenger photo hunt over at I Live, I Love, I Craft, I am Me where the words for the month of February are - Sound/hear, Smell/scent, Feel/touch, Taste, Sight/see, my own choice. So here goes!


Not the greatest photo, but the sounds of KPop pervade our house everyday. I also have a special KPop playlist just for soap-making (bit odd, I know!) We were lucky enough to see BTS in concert in Amsterdam back in October. Holland were playing Germany next door and I had never been in such a massive crowd in my life! Today, after a fitful night of sleep I managed to get tickets for their Wembley concert in the summer. Very excited (and stressed) doesn't begin to cover it!


Scent from a lovely rose in our garden last summer!


Another rather 'niche' interest...after many years of supporting Everton I finally got round to touring Goodison Park. We were shown round by ex-captain Mark Higgins and in the changing room, you were allowed to touch all the shirts. You could take them down from their hooks and pose with them for photos. Again, perhaps a bit odd, but it made me very happy!


Yum! Churros and chocolate sauce consumed at the Chinese New Year celebrations in Liverpool. Highly appropriate for the Year of the Pig which also happens to be my birth year too!


I love this photo of Shabti figures taken at Liverpool Museum. This is just one end of many rows that are beautifully arranged in all their many shades of exquisite colours.

My own choice

I took this photo in the Cat Café in Liverpool. Look at that paw and those ears!! This is usually how I feel at the beginning of the month, but after a short spell of gorgeous sunny weather, I'm feeling much more energetic!

Hope you enjoy my small collection of photos. They were very inspirational words! I'm looking forward to seeing all the other photos that everyone has posted.

April x

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

A Special Anniversary

Hello! Today's card is in honour of a very special anniversary! Di and Parsnip have been running Pixie's Snippets Playground for seven years. I think it is the friendliest and most welcoming card bloggy challenge around. We are all thanking Di by posting our cards on a blog hop very kindly arranged by Darnell over at her blog here. Thanks Darnell!
From my own limited experience of being on a design team for a few years, card challenge blogs are a feat of organisation and commitment. Many a time here, a last minute card was literally dredged from the craft mountain kicking and screaming to meet the weekly deadline. I also had the benefit of a team, so you could slack off from time to time when you really couldn't face another stamp or foam pad. There is NO slacking from Miss Di and her able deputy is well, you know, a bear. Double-sided tape isn't easy when you have paws...
I also know as a blog comment writer and reader that after the eleventy millionth card, comments tend to stray into the generic wilderness of, "Such a lovely card. Thanks for joining us at blah!". Not with Miss Di! She knows her playground inmates and is a wonderful friend to them.
Thank you Di (and Parsnip) for keeping the snippety love alive and for all your warmth and generosity! I think that the sentiment on my card sums up the spirit of the Playground quite nicely! (it's a stamp from The Ink Road).
April x

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

A Lard Soap Recipe

Hello! Today I thought I would share one of my cold process soap recipes. I am not including details of the soap-making method as there are many books and websites out there that go through all the steps, and obviously the all-important safety requirements when working with sodium hydroxide/lye. This is just the recipe and assumes competency in cold process soap making!
Lard makes a beautiful, firm, white soap and by adding castor oil you can boost the bubbly lather level. My recipe has 4% castor oil added (it's generally used at 8% or below to avoid tackiness). This isn't a soap that you would want to leave completely unscented, so adding your choice of essential oils is a good idea. For the soap above, I added a combination of Cedarwood, Basil and Bergamot essential oils.
I have found that this is a useful recipe for working with detailed moulds or making embeds. The picture above is a 'Double Happiness' mould - a Chinese symbol of marriage with kissing mandarin ducks!
Here is the soap after the cut, with another mould and some Christmas tree embeds!
The recipe makes 750g of soap, but I have also included percentages if you wish to resize your batch. If you do, please do ensure that you re-check your quantities using a lye calculator! Please note that this soap is superfatted at 5%.
Lard (pig tallow) 250g (33.33%)
Rice Bran oil 200g (26.67%)
Coconut oil 160g (21.33%)
Olive oil 110g (14.67%)
Castor oil 30g (4%)
285g water (distilled or spring)
104g sodium hydroxide
5g each of Cedarwood, Basil and Bergamot essential oils, added at trace (2%).
I hope that you enjoy this recipe! It is intended for personal use and gift-giving only, as it is not safety-assessed for sale. If you do make this soap, I would be delighted to hear your comments on it!

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Scavenger Photo Hunt - January

Hello! I thought I would do something very different for me (blog-wise) and take part in a photo scavenger hunt. I found a lovely one at here at I live, I love, I craft, I am me... and I felt inspired by the prompt words, so here goes!


This rather lovely and serene metallic lady hangs around on the back wall of our house. I particularly like her worn nose!
I took this photo at the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore. We visited last summer on a blazingly hot day. It's quite a no-nonsense kind of plate isn't it?
I made these soaps in January and they are happily curing away now. I was really pleased with how the tiger-stripe technique turned out and I love the contrast between the soda ash top and the inside of the soap. Some people steam off their soda ash, but I love it!
Another photo from the archives of last year's summer. This is Ruthven Barracks, built in 1719 after the 1715 Jacobite rising. An amazing place that is well worth visiting!
I love this photo! I took it outside a hotel in Abcoude, Amsterdam. I really like the juxtaposition of the old and the modern! It was a lucky snap, as the hoover was being used to clean rooms so it probably didn't hang around for long!
my own choice

Finally, my furry girl Tiger Lily roasting herself on the radiator and cuddling a fox cushion. The red hot temperatures that she can tolerate are amazing. She literally puts her face directly on the radiator. Such a heat leech!
I've really enjoyed thinking about this month's words in relation to my photos. I hope very much that you like them too!
April x


Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Egg Soap

A new direction for my blog! I will be writing about my cold process soap-making here. Mainly as a way of recording soapy stuff for myself, but hopefully people will find it interesting too! For the last six years my blog has been filled with card-making and papercraft, specifically as a demonstrator for Stampin' Up, but lots of design team stuff too. However, last year I started my own soap business and have made the decision to leave SU at the end of this month, as I feel it's time to move on to new things. I'll still be blogging about papercrafting too, but that will just be the random stuff that I make for fun. I did think about starting a new blog, but I actually quite like this one!
I have a range of safety-assessed soaps that I sell, but this soap was made for a Facebook group challenge where we were asked to make egg soaps. You could use the egg yolk, the white or the whole egg. If you didn't want to use an egg, you could make an egg-shaped soap! :-)
There is a long tradition of egg soaps. Generations of Swedish women used egg whites as facial masks for their astringent effect on the skin. The Swedish soap maker Victoria made their egg white soap, 'Lanolin-Agg-Tval' (sorry I can't put the correct accents there!) from the early 1900s. Their soap combined egg white with lanolin and rosewater. The Belgian version 'Eiwit Zeep' from Kala does not contain lanolin, but has chamomile flower oil added. There are currently a number of Korean soaps available that also contain egg white.
I was very keen to devise my own egg white soap! I decided to combine lard with olive pomace, castor, argan and coconut oils with shea butter. At a light trace, I added a mixture of rose water, red French clay and an egg white. You have to be careful with two things. First, I made sure that the lye water and oils had cooled sufficiently because you can scramble the egg (not nice!). Secondly, I carefully weighed the egg white so I could decrease the amount of water accordingly. An average large egg white is apparently 40g, but mine was weighing in at 35g!
I added Rose Geranium fragrance oil which caused quite a bit of acceleration, so it turned out as more of a 'plop & drop' than I would have liked. However, there was just enough time to create a cocoa powder pencil line and I was really delighted with the final result. Only a small 500g batch using my small loaf mould, as it's for personal use. It will be really interesting to see how it feels after curing!
Happy soaping! April x