Category Archives: Craft

Card die delight …or possibly addiction

rabbit dieI am very lucky.  Hattie gave me a die cutter and at the weekend we may have purchased one or two dies – in the sale I hasten to add, just in case Archie or HWIOO are reading this.  I had a lovely weekend creating paper penguins and a striking Olaf snowman.  I thought I had it all under control when I arrived home, little did I realise that rather like an infection the desire to create from card and paper was fermenting in my head.

It started mildly enough. I made gift bags for the Little Madams’ Easter presents and then I thought, “I know what.  I’ll make them each a card.” This necessitated making nine Easter bunnies from the die shown in the image in this post – six looking forwards and three with fluffy cotton tails.  So far so straight forward.

Could someone tell me why, when I needed nine bunnies I have cut and assembled twenty-four in various shades of brown, pink and cream?  It wasn’t as though I had nothing else to do.  There was paperwork for next term, paperwork for this term, six thousand words and a synopsis to write, research for the next two day schools.  There are one or two weeds in the garden, housework to be done and novels to be written.  My only consolation is that HWIOO slept through the whole thing.

I also have a very nice tin filled with various letters of the alphabet, a box labelled “Easter,” with the dies and some spare parts neatly bagged and stowed.  The utility room has a fine layer of multi-coloured confetti that I need to sweep up and I have a little list of useful things that I need to lay hands upon – like teeny-tiny googlie eyes.

Hattie, if you’re reading this, your work is done. I have been infected with die-cutting mania.  Next time you visit, HWIOO may be carried out of the house on a tsunami of hand crafted cards when he answers the front-door.


F is for Fantastic Beasts …

Fantastic-Beasts-And-Where-to-Find-Them.jpgIt’s been a while but there’s not been a great deal of domestic goddessdom going down of late.

However, today whilst I was at work and HWIOO was trying to track down Harry Potter Christmas baubles for The Pottermeister which are being advertised on Primark’s website but which seem to be about as common as unicorns he came up with the jolly good idea that we should go and see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them once I escaped from Henry VIII and his reformation.


So that’s I came to move from The Ten Articles and heresy to nifflers and dark wizards. What more could a girl want, especially as it was in three-D.  It was great and it covered the letter F twice over (flicks and fantastic).  We were a bit concerned that the film might have been hyped but it really was classic Rowling, though I won’t be taking the Right Little Madam any time soon.  It’s not like the first Harry Potter where the darkness was firmly controlled.  Here the dark is insidious.  Even the sets are industrial and dark.  In part that may be due to the desire to evoke a period feel but equally the wizarding world is a dangerous place from the first instant Newt Scamander appears on screen.  I shan’t write more as I don’t want to spoil it but let’s just say I’m hooked.

When The Number One Son and The Pottermeister were growing up it became a Christmas tradition to go and see that year’s new Potter film.  I think we’ve got a new tradition as apparently there will be five films.  It’s all very exciting.


Oh and by the way, I wants and I needs a niffler.  Nifflers look vaguely atipodean,  in an echidna sort of way, and they love shiny objects – something which gets Newt Scamander , the hero of Fantastic Beasts, into no end of trouble and lightens the atmosphere.  Echidnas are fairly rare so I think that’s out and besides HWIOO would take a dim view so I shall have to wait for a cuddly version of the niffler to be released.


F is not for felting, apparently.

DSCF2573.JPGIt was dark at five o’clock tonight.  The clocks have gone back, no more Bake Off and winter is on its way – bah humbug.  Its time for an open fire of an evening,  hot chocolate and marshmallows, and slow cooked stews – hooray!

We’ve had a lovely few days on the East Coast (yes, another e) with our friends Hattie and Archie.  We went hunting for sea glass on Maske Beach and found two different types of fossils as well as sea glass but the most surprising find belonged to HWIOO.  The tide washed up a bright yellow duck.  He (the duck not HWIOO) has been duly disinfected, we have speculated whether there might be a distraught merbaby or whether the duck had set out to see the world.  We suspect a duck race but the duck is anonymous so we can’t notify anybody of our find. The Littlest Madam has named him Redcar on account of the fact we’d been there that morning to collect two bin bags full of the finest merino felting wool.

HWIOO and Archie are wondering what we are going to do with it – the wool not the duck.  The obvious answer is felting and I did suggest that it could be F on our alphabet of nice things but HWIOO was adamant that felting wasn’t going to feature since apparently we both have to enjoy the experience.  Hattie and I have had a very nice time sorting it, bagging it and arranging it. We have plans – which are always dangerous. This post features my first effort at felting earlier in the year and I’d have to say I was very pleased with it.  I have plans for robins and red squirrels very shortly…I’ve added them to my list of things to do.  Sadly I didn’t feel I could note felting under urgent and important.

So exactly what might we do – perhaps a trip to the flicks to see a film; Flamborough and Framlingham seem a little far away at the moment or perhaps, and this is a definite possibility, we shall go to a fireworks display.  There’s one in Bitt’s Park this weekend themed around Carlisle’s industrial heritage – there’s going to be a 35ft steam train as well as several thousand people which might rather ruin the photographic opportunities.

Come to think of it my mother-in-law has already covered the fire angle.  She microwaved her ready meal for thirty minutes rather than three minutes last week.  Shall we just say that she won’t use the microwave again on account of the fact that she’s decided that it’s dangerous. And trust me when I say that the list is already pretty lengthy.


Its not the winning that counts…repeat slowly after me…

DSCF2575.JPGIt’s been a bit quiet on the domestic goddess front on account of the fact that I’ve been stitching like a woman possessed since the schedule for the local wakes and sport show arrived through the letterbox. Tatiana very kindly gave me this wonderful ‘blackwork’ tulip kit and it proved an inspired decision to stitch it as I discovered today that the judges are looking for a range of stitches. I finished it rather late last night having completed my flower corsage in any medium. I’m not sure why I thought a wired and wet felted lily would be straight-forward but apparently there was a time in August when I thought it was a good idea. As it turned out it was because it won first prize whilst the tulips came in second place to four identical white work napkins. Not only were the napkins identical but the backs were as neat as the fronts.


Needless to say the right little madams also got involved when they realised that there was a children’s class. They potato printed, painted plates and constructed up-cycled tractors.


It was all over by lunchtime today.  I dropped off the entries, watched  some ducks go down a slide, mistook a bullock for a cow, nearly got run down by a pony and trap, narrowly avoided adopting a blood hound and spotted an opening in the market tent for Hattie and me next year to sell our various craft related produce. Then, by one o’clock, I’d been trounced by the Right Little Madam. She won all three of her categories as well as best in class. She has certificates, a rosette and cash to prove it. She thinks she might enter more categories next year. It may be needful to have a chat with her about winning friends and influencing people. As my friend Stan pointed out there are worse things than not winning.


Meanwhile I’m wondering what the categories will be next year as it’s pretty evident that cross stitch won’t get me very far and, besides, I might want to enter more categories myself; patchwork and knitting– perhaps I ought to have a chat with myself at the same time as discussing being a little too competitive with the Right Little Madam. But like her the lure of a certificate and the possibility of a rosette is not to be sneezed at.





Harry Potter party

Well that’s it. Hosting a Harry Potter party is not necessarily straightforward but its jolly good fun and you will learn a whole host of new skills whilst working in the sweat shops just off Diagon Alley unless you have a posse of house elves in which case it should be very straight forward.

So here’s how.  First, having booked the venue The Pottermeister decided that whilst there were plenty of Harry Potter games available that a magician would take some of the strain out of proceedings.  However, for early arrivals and milliseconds where entertainment or food weren’t happening we had a game of pin the glasses on Harry Potter.  There are plenty of pictures of Daniel Radcliffe available on the net but none of Harry Potter without his glasses.  For those parents/hosts/house elves with an artistic turn of mind and who have forward planned by at least six months there is a free tutorial on drawing Harry. we did wonder about hunt the snitch but decided that the entertainer was going to be entertaining so that was that.

IMG_7313.jpgThe Pottermeister also found a web page that suggested a wanted poster photograph of each party goer.  It is possible to buy a pre-printed poster frame but it’s much more entertaining to make it yourself.  You will need a rectangular piece of card board preferably with enough left over to create a stand.  We then blue-tacked it to the table so it didn’t fall over.  The Azkaban prison card can be downloaded and printed either onto card stock or printed on paper and then laminated.  We also printed out a couple of wanted posters to help decorate the hall and demonstrate what was required.  It proved a very popular attraction.  The Pottermeister is helping the birthday girl create a thank you letter which will incorporate each child’s wanted poster.  You will note that although my intention was to lovingly hand craft the words on the poster that in the end I opted for a swift cut and paste as it turns out that I was cutting it rather fine in terms of its production  and suffered from acute oak of writing skill (note to self – find calligraphy class before next party).

Entertainment sorted.

DSCF2291.jpgNext…Harry Potteresque arrival.. You will need a sheet , a rectangular sponge and red poster paint to create the entrance way of platform 9 3/4.  The Pottermeister had hoped to create her red brick wall on a hot summer’s day, i.e. outside.  Sadly she was foiled by the great British summer so had to paint the sheet in sections and as time began to run out turn to her hair dryer for assistance.  It looks really good on both sides as the poster paint seeps through.  No doubt there’ll be another Potter party in our lives so it’s not a wasted prop.  Don’t forget the drawing pins to attach it to the doorframe and the Platform 9 3/4 sign.

DSCF2289.jpgAnd then there’s the small matter of the party bags.  We found some brown paper bags with handles.  We downloaded the Honeyduke’s logo and printed them out.  Each bag contained a Harry Potter badge; a bookmark freely downloaded from the net and then laminated; a bar of chocolate with dement or wrapping; a box of jelly beans and a chocolate frog.  The Pottermeister souced all the cartons and cards from the Internet and then it was just a question of printing, laminating the frog cards and constructing the cartons.  You’ll find that you get quite good at carton construction after a little while. Prit stick is a must. Guests were also allowed to choose three other types of sweet.  Again the labels are all freely available and the little sealable bags came from The Works.  Yes, the Honeyduke’s box is another prop involving a cardboard box and three different tester pots of paint and yes I know the lines aren’t straight.


On the day it became clear that liquorice alsorts aren’t a great favourite of the average eight-year-old…such a shame, the adults shall have to eat them.DSCF2288

The display worked well as we found a stripy tablecloth that matched the colour scheme.  Next time, assuming there is a next time, a shop sign and a warning about turning small witches and wizards into toads might be rather a nice touch.  The original plan was that the children were going to be issued with cardboard coins on arrival to ‘spend’ at Honeyduke’s but unfortunately  The Pottermeister, who didn’t get to bed much before 2 am the night before the party, decided that enough was enough.  Again, plan in advance and Gringots could await the Potter party goer.


IMG_7420 The kitchen smelled like a sweet shop for two days and now the car has the same aroma.  You will of course also need to make your chocolate frogs.  The moulds are readily available online but tempering the chocolate is not as easy as U-Tube makes it seem.  You will need a thermometer and patience.  I did not, in the end, have time to make the chocolate mice and owls although HWIOO did point out that the aim was not to send all of the Right Little Madam’s guests on their way with their own body weight in chocolate (note to self – book on chocolate making course before next party.)

We set the hall out so that it looked vaguely like the Hogwarts great hall with the top table covered in a gold tablecloth and decorated with the house banners which I laminated and which will shortly be decorating the Right Little Madam’s side of the bedroom. The Pottermeister found black plastic goblets, gold  paper plates and gold and silver star decorations.  We couldn’t find a table cloth in each of the house colours so went for celebratory purple instead with serviettes in the house colours.



There is plenty of food in the Harry Potter books including remarkably successful corn beef sandwiches.  We had ham sandwiches and chicken sandwiches as well as cheese sandwiches but couldn’t decide what Hagrid’s stoat sandwiches could be made from working on the basis that there’s authentic and then there’s the edible.  We had herbology snacks, bread wands, bludgers in the form of mini scotch eggs, quidditch rings in the form of hula hoops and muggle snacks for all those other snacks that no children’s party would be without.

IMG_7355Thank goodness for the old BeRo recipe book and Mary Berry’s Victoria sponge.  Hagrid’s rock cakes came from the BeRo recipe book.  They didn’t disappear as rapidly as the sweeter cakes but again the adults really aren’t too bothered and they freeze rather well – the rock cakes not the adults. House cakes are simply fairy cakes in suitably coloured paper cases  and iced with sugar sprinkles (how much sugar!!!).  Cauldron cakes are little chocolate cakes.  We couldn’t find any black paper cases so opted for gold instead.  There’s assorted decorating suggestions from marshmallow via coconut to icing.  In the end I opted for purple icing.  We had planned for a chocolate handle but again didn’t leave enough time for that as I was still struggling with tempering chocolate a week before lift off.

DSCF2285 Blast-ended skrewts are three marshmallows on a pop stick dipped in milk chocolate, given chocolate eyes and decorated with stars.  Leave them to set in the fridge then watch them disappear.  IMG_7357Golden snitch pop cakes – why on earth do you want to put cake on a stick?  I don’t understand but that probably means I’m getting old and grumpy. You can either make spherical fairy cakes with a silicone mould or you can make two eight inch sponges, cool them down and then break them up in a bowl into crumbs add enough butter icing so that it binds.  Mine was vanilla flavoured.  You then create 30 equally sized balls and stick them in the fridge to harden off.  Once they’re ready all you do is add the pop stick and coat them in chocolate candy melt which is much easier than melting chocolate because you do it in the microwave and it doesn’t seem temperamental so long as you follow the instructions.  Once the shell has hardened add a pair of rice paper wings and spray with edible gold so that the wings curl and the snitch becomes golden.  Don’t forget the stand!  Some of the cardboard ones are about as much use as a chocolate teapot.  In the end we used a dry oasis wrapped in foil and when we ran out of space an empty egg box filled with bubble wrap and  with strategic holes.  You’ll need a box and bubble wrap as well as a careful driver to transport them…good luck…you’ll need it.  We printed off a picture of a quid ditch pitch and mounted it on card to add to the sense of Potterness. We did discover a freely available downloadable 3D quid ditch pitch but finding these things at 9pm the night before the party isn’t terribly helpful.

The red jelly is called slug jelly after Ronald Weasley’s unfortunate episode with his own wand and is partly made with lemonade and has a generous helping of sweets inside it.  The green jelly we called polyjuice potion and served in plastic shot glasses.

You really don’t want to know how long The Pottermeister spent making the birthday cake tower.  The decorations are all edible rice paper and absolutely brilliant – though you do have to cut them out. The cake was a four tone cake and I shall say this only once – buy good quality food colouring or you’ll be disappointed.

Now, I’m off to find a darkened room for several hours before we start planning the next party.  The Little Madam wants a tea party. Her mother’s thinking Mad Hatter.  She’ll have to decide pretty soon though because quite frankly her mother and I will need to spend much more time on the cartons, party bags, food and props as well as tracking down the right colour schemes for all things Alice.  And if I want to post about these things properly I’m going to have to take many more photographs.

…I don’t think the Harry Potter’s going to stop though.  I think we might be well and truly infected.


Badges galore

DSCF2281.JPGWho would have thought that button badges could be so popular or that I could find a new hobby in the space of twenty-four hours? During our search on the Internet The Pottermeister and I came across a number of Harry Potter button badges. The problem was that with thirty possible party goers it all looked a bit expensive and then I discovered the Bandai Badge-It machine.

I ordered the Badge-It from Amazon.  It was their basic machine.  It came as part of a free delivery and arrived within forty-eight hours, what more could a woman ask?   All I can say about the badge machine is that it’s brilliant.  Although its supposed to be a toy it does an excellent job in a small scale production line sort of way. And no, the Little Madams aren’t going to get their paws on it…it’s mine, all mine!!! There’s a fair chance that everyone of my family, friends and acquaintances will soon be sporting a button badge of some description.  I now have a notebook set to one side for appropriate quotes and ideas.

The Badge-It is made of lovely durable purple plastic and the actual badge making parts are safely hidden from fingers – which in my case might be a very good thing.  There’s a slightly worrying cracking sound at each step of the two stage process but this is the badge being squashed into the right shape and its virtually impossible to go wrong unless you put the badge parts in the machine upside down – but even that’s intuitive, not least because I found a demonstration on U Tube before ordering.  I might, if I get particularly carried away, invest in something a little more substantial in due course should the urge to make button badges continue. I feel that the cost of spares is slightly more than I want to pay but having said that I’ve not yet sourced a job lot of button badge parts so I might be very pleasantly surprised.

So whilst the football was on last night I created a circle template and my badge motto and spent a happy hour and a half making my quota of thirty Harry Potter badges. I even successfully downloaded the Harry Potter font from   I need to produce the “Harry Birthday” banner next and I found a wonderful free Hogwarts bookplate  at which is shortly to be printed and added to the Right Little Madam’s new edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Pieces By Polly also has Harry Potter inspired quilts – and yes, you are quite correct it is entirely possible that I may be starting to stitch quite soon.

The Honeydukes display stand manufactured from a cardboard box has been constructed and is now drying out.  I will need to paint it next week in pale green and pink as well as doing a spot of sign writing – thank goodness for the printer  and carbon paper.  I’m also on the lookout for an old wooden tray as I’ve seen some rather wonderful Harry Potter trays which have been chalk painted and then had logos added – though this is not for the Little Madam’s birthday party its because I rather like them.  I’m not sure but I think that there might be a Potteritis virus and I may well have it.


Potter’s taking over my life…

DSCF2266.JPGHWIOO has taken to calling the Number One Daughter The Pottermeister and I think I may be trapped somewhere in the sweatshops of Diagon Alley.

It’s all perfectly simple.  Having created the invites we checked out the Potter Party paraphernalia and the Number One Daughter or The Pottermeister made a little list.  It all sounded so straight forward sitting in the garden on a hot summer’s day. The one thing that was clear was that the official merchandise is outside the pockets of most people which is a shame as Harry’s got a lot of children reading and imagining over the years.  No wonder that there’re rather a lot of inventive fans out there who have used their own imaginations to re-create Harry Potter’s world.

So far I have rehearsed the slug jelly, constructed twenty foam owl bookmarks to go into the party bags.  I’ve run out of foam and owl shapes so I’m hoping that not all the invitees can make it and the Little Madams have definitely lucked out on this occasion.  I have resized and printed Dementor Chocolate bar wrappings provided elsewhere on the Internet by a very talented and kind blogger which now need to be attached to chocolate bars. And yes there will be another post with pictures and links sooner rather than later. No one can say I’m not learning useful new skills. I have made 14 chocolate frogs – only another 16 to go and have made a start on the chocolate owls and mice.  I must have rushed the mice as three of them were earless so its back into the melting pot for them.

I have also done something very foolish.  I printed out the chocolate frog boxes without checking that the aforementioned chocolate frogs fit into them.  This morning as I ate breakfast HWIOO looked at my lovingly created sample box (I hope I get faster with the folding and gluing) and said, “Have you checked the frogs fit?”

Now I think they do.  Or put more truthfully, I hope they do as I have twenty-eight more frog boxes ready to cut out now hiding out of HWIOO’s sight.

I’ve got more card so that I can print out sweet cartons, and yes I’m sure my carton construction skills are going to come along swimmingly.  I have also found ribbon to tie the boxes. A badge making machine should land on my doorstep this afternoon so that I can run up thirty Harry Potter badges once I’ve downloaded the Harry Potter font.

I just hope the Pottermeister hasn’t seen the Harry Potter decorative house banners looking like the Hogwarts house crests and the larger than life cardboard owl constructed by some talented parent who clearly had no thought for the rest of us!

All I can say is that once the props are manufactured- and HWIOO is about to find himself press-ganged into cardboard wizardry -the Right Little Madam will be having a Harry Potter party every year until she’s at least twenty-one… and so might everyone else! The Pottermeister and I currently appear to be optimising all our waking hours around a two hour event.

Now, I’m away because I need to construct a Honeyduke’s Sweet Shop display case  and finish my presentation on Lady Anne Clifford (Let’s hope I don’t become confused!)

P.S. I wish I knew where J.K. got her names from because I’d have to say Honeydukes is a brilliant name for a sweetshop.