14 Apr 2015

Photo collection

As mentioned previously I am currently (actually just finished) making a group scrapbook for a mummy friend who is moving away.

We have 10 "babies" of the first generation, plus 2 second gen (with 2 currently baking) Our biggies are all now past 3 years old and the group was started with its 8 founding members pre first baby. We had a year of maternity leave together and as many parties as we could cram in since. So that's a lot of events and a lot of photo opportunities.

And now to gather them all together in one place and in a short-ish amount of time. Well pre digital photos I would say it was impossible. No one would have had the opportunity to dig through boxes and boxes of pics to get copies done in time. And we probably wouldn't have had the variety.

Post digital, I had the first 3 girls pics within 24hours, which I received, checked and and saved to a central file, all from my phone. Group shots were plummed from Facebook and candids from our WhatsApp group chat. I have photos for the mummy that is going away without having to resort to sneaky spousal intervention.

But with all these images at our fingertips, it was still a bit of a struggle to find enough of the right pictures. Ten "babies" with equal coverage over 2 books (1 for Mummy and 1 for daughter) is actually a difficult ask, and we're a pretty tight knit group. We haven't got a single photo with all 10 mummies and babies in. We can't always manage to get 10 of us together anymore and spending time together is so precious that we have had to swap to the majority availability plan for selecting dates.

There is always too much happening when we do get everyone together to be thinking about pictures, though we constantly try to make the effort. And any parent will tell you that getting that many toddlers to look in the same direction, at the same time, is virtually impossible should you even get the opportunity. But it is such an important and magical thing to capture if it comes off and well worth the effort every time.

As I always tend to do when making things for someone else, I think about them, and our relationship and I'm so glad that we will be able to pass on this book of wonderful memories of such an important time. But it also reminds me that in this age when taking and sharing photos is so easy, it is almost a crime to not stop for a minute to capture the memories before they float away.

Love Elliefantasy xx

13 Apr 2015


Hi all.

Well the big room change is done. I am currently mid scrapbook (more in a minute but so good to be able to say that!)  so I can't share for a couple of weeks but the new arrangement Is Working and I Am Putting Things Back! I will do a full room tour later but it has been a considered effort to try and find a Space For Everything.

Now my room may have changed but my habits haven't, and in the midst of packing up my stash and moving it all round the room, I also volunteered to make a goodbye scrapbook for one of my mummy friends from our group. A joint effort but I am coordinating.

As I have unpacked and sorted, a pile of unwanted but still perfectly good papers and embellishments have formed ready for everyone's pages. Which was good as I felt a lot of them had been moved so many times but I just couldn't bear to part with them nor yet work out how they fitted with my new plans.

Photos and dates and information have also been gathered. More on this in tomorrow's post but let me just say that it is much easier in this time of universal device accessibility.

And now tomorrow night I have 4 friends coming to do their pages. I know that one may be a closet scrapper or card maker but the others are a mystery. I don't know if I am going to be explaining or just providing the space and the stash. And my general lack of confidence is now warring slightly with a level of pride as I do feel like I know what I'm talking about. I just don't want to be a bossy dictator.

I have the key elements ready in punched pockets and a selection of extra bits for added variety. I prepared in a way that is reminiscent of lesson/crop planning with my own page as an example. And the people coming are also good friends who won't judge me, I'm looking forward to it as a good evening in with the girls.

This week has already shown quite clearly that teaching is not something that I enjoy and that scrapping is something that I primarily do for myself, in my own time and in my own style. But it has reminded me of my love for memory keeping, pretty paper, sparkly things and cool gadgets. Which is just the boost I needed.

And if it does all go a bit wrong tomorrow, I can fall back on showing off my baking skills!!

9 Mar 2015

All Change!

Well, not all. For anyone paying attention, the background and header have had a slight re-vamp as has the colour. I loved the images but the pink was a bit to heavy. The look now is Victorian images on a 50's colour palette. I apologise as I have not put up the Pintrest and Instagram buttons/widgets. This was a conscious decision as I would still like to keep that side of things private.

The blog colour change is part and parcel of the craft room change. I have been continuing to potter about and get things finished. I managed to get rid of the curtains and finished my niece's quilt that has been 2 years in the making. Massive loads off my shoulders. I'm really pleased with the quilt, which I will do a proper post on with photo, but it sum's up Neices's style perfectly. And I can personally vouch for it's snugness!
The blanket is also the spur for the colour change and theme change of the room. It features several Cath Kidston style patterns, 2 rose, 2 spotty and 2 checked. All shades of Red, Blue, Pink and Green. Red and Pink together. Totally against the rules that I grew up with but actually they go well. And it just reeks 50's retro pattern. The more I worked on the quilt, the more I fantasised about a 50's retro kitchen, complete with proper unit's that have the curved, plain doors. Lots of blue and red and pink and white. Now it's not going to happen in our kitchen, but actually there is no reason that I can't evoke the same style elements in my half of the Craft Room.

So I have started to make proper plans for the re-vamp. It needs doing as half of the space is going to be given over to OH at some point in the future. I got my graph paper out and the tape measure and have a scaled image. We are managing to re-use a LOT of what we already have. And the best part?? I get a Kallax. Which is the new name for Expedit, which is a dream come true! Measurements won't allow for a 5x5 but I can have a 4x4 with a 4x1 on top. All in lovely clean and affordable White. I'm also keeping my white topped desk with the pink legs.

Part of the reason for finally purchasing the unit is that I had a dawning realisation. I can't fit my storage to my stuff because I have TOO MUCH. So I have to fit my stuff to my storage. Have to, no questions, no arguments. I have been using stuff and finishing projects which is helping. I had a massive purge of papercraft stash which I have donated to my MIL's card making circle so I know it won't be wasted. But there is still more stuff......

In order to help get the best in secondary storage I have drawn out the 5x4 grid with the desk and will be marking it and making lists for what is to go where and in what container. I can see already that there might need to be some custom built solutions to be designed to house the small things. But I want to know that it will work before I start laying out precious Birthday money.

I will be doing lots of posts on this subject, to show progress, ideas and things that I already do. I've had my own craft room for 5 years now and I have a few things that have worked. I'd love to hear any tips that you have too.

Love Elliefantasy xx

8 Mar 2015

Rainbow Pinata Cake

Yet another idea that blossomed into existance nearly exactly as imagined. Only nearly as it was just a "tad" bigger than I had expected and it needed supports to prevent an avalance. 

 I can't remember where the idea for Rainbow cake came from but the explanation of a pinata cake was given to me by the eventual recipient of the cake (only fair) If you are unfamiliar with this idea then it is beautiful in its simplicity. Basically you cut a section from the middle of your cake, fill it wilth sweets and seal the cavity. When you cut inside then sweets will tumble gloriously from the cake as an extra whammy of yummy extravagance. 

The Rainbow cake can be found here on BBC Good Food. It is a really good recipe and it has a lot of helpful advice about colouring and the frosting that they used. I have been reading and re-reading all the information for 3 weeks before actually making it, which I did find was helpful and calming. My own notes on the recipe/method are these

  • Make sure that you weigh the bowl that you are going to use first!
  • I made enough for 8 sponges, divided the mixture into 7 bowls and coloured each bowl with 1 whole tube of Dr Otker food colouring gel. I used all but 2 dessert-spoons of each mixture for each layer to get a small enough sponge. (The extra 2 spoons went into a seperate multicoloured cake that unfortunately I didn't cook for long enough, but it looked very cool!)
  • My cakes ended up fairly flat. I also did have 8 sandwich tins to cook with but that is because I raided my mum's tins as well as my own.
  • I made my cakes on a Tuesday and froze them. I got them out on Thursday night and they were fine for icing on Friday night. (I could have gotten them out Friday morning but I had a minor panic that they weren't cooked and would have needed to purchase new ingredients Friday lunchtime if this had been the case.)
  • I had heard many ideas for how to get uniform cuts from the middle but I personally used a pint glass. You cut one sponge at a time but leave a good indent on the next layer to use as a guide. Cut before you start construction, icing will just make more mess!
  • My layers were (top to bottom) Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Pink. I cut through the middle 5 layers. If I was going to do it again, I might have just gone through Yellow to Violet as once we had cut though half the cake, the red layer suffered structural integrity under the layer of icing and caved in.
  • I brought my icing. Shock horror but I was working on tight time pressures and had no car so couldn't dash out to get new ingredients if it had all gone wrong. 
  • I love the Betty Crocker icing tubs, I used 2 cream cheese round the outside and 1 of buttercream which I coloured with the Sky Blue and Ultra Violet to get a lovely blue that matched the blue in the baby blanket for the piped icing. It was more important on the day to get a colour match than have home-made icing, and it saved me a LOT of time. 
  • To construct the cake I did the following:
    • Pink layer on the cake board
    • Spread layer of cream cheese on bottom of Violet layer, place on top of Pink
    • Repeat for all layers until you have done the orange layer.
    • PUT IN YOUR SWEETS! I used 4 full tubes of Smarties. I could have used 4 more.
    • Spread a layer of cream cheese on top of Orange layer and put Red layer on top.
    • If you need to, cut round the edges to make sure that there are no jutting-out layers. I didn't do this and had to do a lot of build up to get over the blue layer.
    • Take into Living Room to show OH and be smug. You can, you are a genius.
  • It might seem like a long time to get the cream cheese frosting on the outside and I worried that I didn't have enough but I did after lots of patience and slathering with a palette knife. Just keep going and have a pint of water on hand for all the times you catch a drip on your finger and eat it!!
  • At this point mine started to lean. If yours does then straighten it up and put into some stakes. I used kebab sticks but then swapped them for some long cake pop sticks from Dunelm which were more subtle. Keep them in until you cut the cake, it will need all the help it can get.
  • I went a bit nuts with the piping because I was playing with a new bag and nozzles. I could have done less but I was excited that I managed to get it done.
  • Breathe.
  • Go and find a cake tin that fits. If you can't, we tented it with tin foil A bit of the extra piping came off but no one minded. 
  • We also put it in the fridge overnight which I think helped. Make sure your fridge isn't too full though as we had to remove a shelf!
And that is it. I am very proud of it, and my friend loved it. It tasted fine and actually cut down into a lot of pieces so everyone can get a good helping. A full slice will take a whole dinner plate though!

18 Feb 2015

Ripply Ripplesome Awesomely Awesomeness

Have you ever made something for someone and really wished you could have kept it? Because it turned out exactly as awesome as you imagined it would, and sometimes you just need proof that it can happen like that?

This is the case with my latest crochet project. It is a baby blanket that I have made for a close friend at work. I have long been in love with the marvellous work done by Lucy over at Attic24 and one of my favourite patterns has been her Neat Ripple.

It is the loveliest pattern to sit and work up when you need you hands to be busy but your head to not have to deal with anything more strenuous than counting to 4. Perfect to pick up and put down. I lost count of the number of times that I picked it up as something to do to keep my hands busy whilst I needed to take 10 minutes to stop and think about what the best thing to do was, rather than just rushing off and getting muddled. Or the times that I just sat and worked up row upon row and let my mind wander and think up new projects and ideas.

I particularly love her interlocking ripple and the inspiration for this project was the completion of a cushion cover, made with 4 shades of purple and one silver. I really enjoyed that pattern,although the frequent colour change did make it a cumbersome project to have out.

I decided to have a look at proper "baby wool" for this project so picked some shades of Stylecraft Wondersoft. It is the loveliest wool for babies, not too expensive and machine washable which is essential. I chose Denim and Vanilla, and quite quickly decided to work on large sections of each colour with thin interlocking bands. I really love the denim shade and have already planned its use in the seaside picture blanket I am longing to get started on.

I used Lucy's neat edging tutorial for the first time and it did give the best finishing touch. I still have a lot of the wool left and have a pattern for a lovely newsboy hat that I want to make, hopefully along with some scratch mits.

This has turned out so well, and if we do have another child of our own, I will be repeating this blanket for keeps!

5 Feb 2015

You may need to cut my phone off my hand...

...but I do seem firmly wedded to it currently. And to the social whirl of the internet. I am Instagram-ing, pintrest-ing, reddit-ified and blog-loving! With a little bit of WhatsApp thrown in here and there.

I don't know what has sparked this new year of "social media" obsession (a phrase that I as actually hate) but it might have something to do with having a new, clear year in front of me. Aside from a week of curtain hell (another story for another day) I have been pretty good at giving myself time off which has allowed me to spend time with these new things.

I had always anticipated that they would take up a lot of my time, which they have, but they have lead me to new fun projects that only take a little of my time and allow me to connect with worlds and groups and people who I have things in common with.

Of course it has also given me unrealistic expectations of how I want my house and food to look but hey, I can normally manage those all by myself!

Love Elliefantasy


PS Instagram and pintrest links will appear soon. Also planning a slight xjsnfe again and some updated photos of what I have been up to lately.

27 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 27th Dec - Thank You!

Wherever possible we will always try to be with the person who is giving the present when we open the present. This means that our present time is spread over nearly 3 weeks to fit everyone in.

I think at such a young age it helps Pickle to understand how to receive a gift and say thank you to that person if the person is actually there, and in our family we encourage kisses and cuddles to accompany our thanks. It might take a while for them to understand, but even my 4yr old nephew knows to give Auntie Pooh a kiss and cuddle for his awesome present, although now it might only last 2/seconds.

But it is not always possible to open presents when people are there and so we will send out a few thank you cards to those who we missed seeing. It is easy to stop at just those who expect them but everyone appreciates them, even more so when they are unexpected. So when we get home we will be cracking out the art supplies and getting messy and thankful.