Saturday, 28 December 2013

Look What Santa Gave Me For Christmas!!

The Sizzix Big Shot Machine with a introductory set of dies no less. I seriously didn't think I would get this because my husband  Santa just didn't understand why I would want it. Obviously, the answer is to cut fabric for quilting along with the myriad of other things this baby can do. I have a big problem in deciding which quilting dies to purchase first! 

I think Sizzix themselves must have been under the influence of some illegal substance when they designed the new look for the Big Shot - it looks something a nine year old girl would want, rather than appealing to the crafting community. However, it's what's inside that counts. 

When I used it for the first time, I was really worried that  I had damaged the cutting plates as the one at the top has marks all over it. I have been reassured that this is what happens and it doesn't impair its performance at all. 

And so I have been playing with the dies that come with the machine:

...which together makes:

And I have made a start on my Thank You cards...

I can see a lot of cards being handmade this year and hopefully some fairly painless patchwork quilting. Do you have a particular die that you use all the time, or one that you wish to have? I would love to know more.

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

It is a very exciting end of 2013 for me. Not only have I just had my birthday (20th), but I have also just passed my 20th year of working in Local Government, and I am also planning a big career change for 2014. 

For my birthday, I had some lovely presents - the Collete Sewing Handbook for one (I am eyeing up the licorice dress already!). I was also treated to a wonderful dinner cooked by my Dad and Stepmum. I spent the morning relaxing and watching one of my favourite films, When Harry Met Sally. 

To celebrate 20 years of work I was presented with a gift of my choice (iPad mini) which I am trying to get to grips with after years of Android devices! Currently loving messing about with Garage Band! Would love your suggestions for other apps you would recommend.

Finally, I am applying for a place on a PGCE course to start September 2014. It is a big step for me as I will be taking voluntary redundancy in order to do this - I don't qualify for any government funding so my redundancy will need to support me through the year of training. I have been spending some time in a primary school to ensure that I have some relevant experience before I start. A year ago I would never have dreamed of taking such a big leap but now that both my children are at secondary school I have had time to reassess what I want to do with my career. I just need to cross my fingers that I will be accepted onto the course! 

Merry Christmas to you all x
Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Le Challenge - Precious Christmas Table Protector

For this month's Le Challenge, the theme was Precious. I wanted to make something Christmassy and had an Aspen Frost charm pack put aside for this challenge. I love Christmas, and apart from making some stockings, I haven't really done much Christmas sewing. 

At Christmas, I like to keep my lovely oak table bare, as I really like the warm wood, but inevitably it gets cluttered up with lots of mismatched mats for putting serving dishes on, so I have created a square protector to sit in the centre. I have just used a 4 x 4 pattern, using all the colourways from the charm pack.

I added in the thickest wadding that I have in my stash and quilted it as best I could!

I am in love with this Katie & Birdie fabric on the back! This is going to look so much better than crazy placements on Christmas day.

Come and check out the other Le Challenge entries:

Le Challenge

Love Mrs Jones x

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Day Eight: Christmas Baking

Not the traditional Christmas cake or pudding, but a selection of cakes that would be great for Christmas. This includes a little recap of cakes already posted and some new ones too!

For an alternative Christmas Cake, you may fancy making the Mincemeat and Marzipan loaf cake which I made earlier in the year. It is nice and light and uses up ingredients that you might have around at this time of year.

Signe Johansen's Mor Monsen recipe would also go down well at this time of year - just a tiny amount of dried fruit and a nice moist cake too.

I couldn't do Christmas without a Yule log, and I always make one for my son's birthday in December. It takes a long time to make it and my kitchen looks a mess when I have finished but it is a wonderful cake. Here is this year's log:

The icing was a mess - I seemed to take up cake crumbs as I was spreading it, but it really didn't matter - a sprinkling of "snow" and all is well. I always follow Nigella's recipe for this flourless yule log. See previous logs here and here. With the leftover icing (it is so good, you cannot throw it away), you can top some chocolate cupcakes, and add some dark chocolate flakes.

On the theme of cupcakes, I have also had a go at making some Bakewell Cupcakes, adding almond essence to a standard cupcake recipe. Once they are cooked, cut a hole in the top of the cupcake and add some raspberry jam, replace lid and add some flaked almonds and icing sugar.

And finally, how about making some chocolate truffles for you or as an edible present for someone else - 

Love Mrs Jones x

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Day Three: The Humble Mince Pie

Whether you like yours made in filo, shortcrust or puff pastry, the mince pie is an essential Christmas element. I vary how I make mine, and the mincemeat is sometimes homemade, more likely shop bought. 

You can add extra booze, a grating of marzipan or a little orange zest as you please,  and decorate how you wish.

This year I have made my traditional mince pies with star toppings and something new:

...a barquette mince pie with holly leaves. 

So, are you making some this year?

Love Mrs Jones x

Monday, 2 December 2013

Day Two: Snowflake

On a search for beautiful handmade snowflakes, I stumbled across a Swiss blog with the most amazing handmade creations, one of which was a Solino Star. The star or snowflake is made from just one strip of paper!

Follow the tutorial over on the linked blog at your peril - once you start, you just can't stop! If you can't cope with the tiniest of folds and cuts, this is not for you.

Notice my mistake?
You start off by drawing parallel lines horizontally and this is your guide for where you are going to cut. Then you fold the paper in half, again and again, and finally cut your pattern out. At this point, you can  join both ends together to make a crown. You could pop this around a candle or bottle of wine as a gift, or continue to make the snowflake by sewing around the bottom and gathering up.

These would look great hung at the window or as Christmas table decorations.

Mrs Jones x

PS: do pop over to the creator's blog as it is packed with other crafty tutorials!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Day One: Frosty Mornings and Advent Calendars

Skimmia with frost

It's the first day of December and I have ordered my turkey, bought all my presents and made my Christmas cards, and I was thinking to myself that I am not as organised as usual! I am loving the fact that we have started to get some frosty mornings - everything looks so nice with a sprinkling of frost, and it is so much nicer than a wet winter.

Every year, I decide that I will make an Advent Calendar, but I never seem to get past the thinking about it stage! Pinterest is full of images of amazing advent calendars from matchboxes to envelope trees and toilet roll tubes. This year, I am going to have a go at making a Barn Quilt Advent Calendar from Lily's Quilts. She will be posting up the barns each day to print, colour and add a treat. I will let you know how I get on! 

Love Mrs Jones x