29 Sep 2012

Holidays are coming...

As the chill creeps into the air and t.shirts are replaced by jumpers, flip flops by boots (who am I kidding? I only wore my flip flops in Spain!) my birthday is in a week, Halloween looms and then its Christmas. So I thought now might be a good time to share a couple of layouts I created using last years Christmas pics.
We spent Christmas eve and Christmas day in Belgium with his family and so it was a different kind of Christmas. My camera skills failed me greatly and a lot of the pictures were saturated as mostly I took them inside or in the evening and so I had to use photoshop and looking at it now the colour is a bit lurid - the other picture of his sister making her gingerbread house I changed to black and white so that there was a contrast.
I used my fiskars circle to create this border and then backed with a range of Christmas papers and even some wrapping paper - which I think looks like candy canes. Very yule tide! The glittery thickers finish off this festive page and I like the simplicity of it and love that when you get a border on the pictures you don't need to mat them. I rarely make a layout only using cardstock and not layering so this was a bit of a departure. Bunting was all the rage when I made this layout, quite some time ago now, but I believe its still going strong!

The above layout is just one explosion of colour and patterns and I really love it. I think I saw the idea of using cupcake cases as a title mat on pinterest and thought I'd give it a try and I love it and think it would work for all kinds of 'themed' layouts. I tried to capture some of the moments of my families delayed Christmas (when we all arrived at Lindisfarne)  like present opening and eating lots of sweet treats - like smurf marshmallows brought over especially for Gems!
The picture with the bows is a family tradition - well more like a Mel tradition- I always tie bows onto my head and see how many I can fit on, then I wear them for the whole day. My mom is really into wrapping pressies up beautifully and so there is always an abundance of pretty ribbons and sparkly bows for me to adorn my hair with. In fact I often wonder if our love of pretty paper and sparkle comes from her love for gift wrapping and stationary too.
Hope you don't feel like I am jumping the gun. A bit like when you see advent calendars in shops in October. Or Christmas tunes are playing in clothes shops from September onwards. I just wanted to share these layouts today. Just because...

25 Sep 2012

Cookies and cream brownies...

Do you ever feel like you're just playing at being an adult? I am almost *gulp* thirty and yet I still think of myself as a young student type. In fact I went to my first grown up Pampered Chef party and made two purchases and this made me feel like a real adult. I stroke my brownie pan and feel like I have arrived. It is a great brownie pan.

So I got to thinking what type of brownies shall I make? This is when I remembered about a recipe which had caught my eye in my Lorraine Pascale 'Baking Made Easy' recipe book.

They were deliciously fudgy and the cookie topping made them extra special.

Here is the recipe:
  • 165g (5 1⁄2oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g (7oz) dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 165g (5 1⁄2oz) soft light
  • brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 154g pack of oreo biscuits, broken into quarters
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • 20cm (8in) square baking tin


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 6 with the middle shelf ready. Grease the baking tin, then line with baking paper with the paper overlapping the sides a little.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated chocolate.
  3. Leave to stand for a few minutes until the chocolate goes soft then stir together. Alternatively, you can put the chocolate and butter in bowl and melt in the microwave in 25-second blasts, stirring well each time.
  4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a large bowl until they begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked in to it. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready pour the chocolate into it, again around the sides so as not to knock the air out.
  5. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the oreos and stir until fully combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter the remaining oreos over the top, pressing them in slightly. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes. The middle should be very so slightly gooey. Leave the brownies to cool in the tin. The top will sink and crack a little.
  6. Pull the brownies out using the overlapping paper and cut the brownies into squares. Dust with icing sugar.
Taken from Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale (Harper Collins, £18.99)

Let me know if you give them a try...

Linking up to BruCrew Life
Cupcake Crazy Gem who has also been baking with oreos recently

23 Sep 2012

Lily Bee Monday Sketch Challenge

This sketch really caught my eye for a few reasons:
1) I love starbursts at the moment and later next week I will show you an epic layout I made using a starburst.
2) I love stars and recently purchased a big Martha Stewart star punch which I got to use on this layout.

I used the Victoria Park  6 by 6 to create the star bursts and then also the stars and journalling strips. I love this range as the colours are great - bold pink and turquoise - and the patterns are really easy to use - polka dots and my personal fav the bird cages. 
I edged everything in black and then covered it all in a liberal dose of bling - stars and circles. I even hand stitched on a tag as I am playing along with Shimelle's LSNED and my new technique was hand sewing. I am quite pleased with it and think I will have to try a few other tags like this.

 The pictures are from my trip to Thailand in 2007. They are poor quality as they are just saved and printed from facebook and the pics tend to be a bit pixilated - but I've lost contact with some of the girls I went with and the others just don't seem to understand the importance of sharing all their pictures! These were the days before I even had a digital camera - let alone an SLR!

I am pleased with this layout and feel that the star burst, bling and other little details mean that the poor quality of the photos doesn't matter so much and it was still an event that I wanted to scrap as I'm not sure I'll ever get to go to Thailand now I'm all married and broke! Haha!
Linking up with Lily Bee Design

21 Sep 2012

Autumn Raspberry and Coconut crumble

As the days get colder and the evenings begin to draw in...it's the perfect time for a bowl full of crumble and custard.

This crumble is so simple.
Take one punnet of fresh raspberries.
Mix in a few tablespoons of sugar and three tablespoons of desicated coconut.
Top with a packet of crumble topping.
Bake for around 30 minutes at 180 degrees.

A quick, easy and delicious pud for an autumn evening.
What do you put in your crumble?

17 Sep 2012

Messy Mondays: Fun with misting and masking

I mentioned on my blog recently how Wilkinsons had got a very cool new range of stationary and I loved these cute little arrow post-its.  I misted in turquoise and then splattered some purple ink. I was planning to use the negative, but it wasn't crisp enough and so I kept the arrows there and doodled around the edges. I used washi tape and cardstock to create a background of spots and stripes.
The subject of the layout? My dearly beloved at the Southbank food market trying extra hot salsas - the guys on the stall were really funny and when he was gloating about how mild it was they told him to wait and then the spice would really kick in. And it did...

I layered the photo with stamped images and washi tape.

In other news:
  • My little sister has landed in Vancouver and is gloating on facebook every day. Hopefully once the cold front arrives she won't be as smug!
  • We saw Lawless at the weekend for date night and despite critics panning it. I thought it was stylish, with interesting characters and that it captured a gory and fascinating time in American history
  • Review of Cobbles and Clay on my other blog - Yummy in Yorkshire.
  • I am taking part in Shimelle's LSNED for the first time. I joined late and have completed three days already - which I will blog about soon. I am enjoying the chance to think about different prompts and to 'scrap' different topics than I would normally chose. I am also loving all the extra videos and articles linked to each PDF. It's not too late to join in...

15 Sep 2012

Polka dots on the Big Sur

Layers and layers of polka dot cardstock and button tape are the main design features on this page. We enjoyed having a photo shoot hanging on the edge of a sheer drop. We call it extreme photgraphy - anything for a good shot.
I think if you use the same type of pattern of print then it will all work together. Despite the catwalk this autumn being all about clashing prints - I am still one for being matchy matchy.

 I continued the polka dot theme with the thickers and switched it up with green glittery thickers. I used my trusty dymno machine for the journalling.

Have you ever taken a risk to get the perfect pic?

11 Sep 2012

Top ten things to do in Barcelona...

So due to the popularity of my previous post 'Top Ten things to do in Budapest' and because when I googled it prior to my trip I found very little, so I will share with you the top ten things we found to do in Barcelona and you never know one day they may come in handy.

1)Batllo House - architecture by Gaudi. It was truly amazing and every single room was just stunning. I love his use of light and windows - I have always dreamed of a house with huge windows and loads of natural light.
2) We loved these rocks covered in super cool graffiti on the main beach - I think that it is art but I know that it is a subject open to debate!
3) This cute little band serenading us at Guell Park. The arches provided welcome relief from the sun and we just soaked it all in.
4) Guell Park - full of beautiful sculptures and fascinating architecture and singers (see above!)I tried to get a picture with no tourists, but it wasn't possible.
5) The most popular stall on the market. It is on Saturdays at the bottom of Las Ramblas. He will personalise any wooden item with a message and little symbol. He made a 'Club Bruges' keyring with a little football on for you know who...
6) Maitea (aka The toothpick Cafe) - £1.75 per toothpick. Apparently this is the original tapas, called Basque, and the best part was that there was plenty of veggie options for me! Lots of cute little tartlets and gooey cheese. Read more about it and find out its location here.

7) We hired bikes for a few hours on our last day and whizzed along to see the Parc de La Ciutadella and it was well worth the hassle and made for a stunning photo.
8) Olympic Museum - it was reasonably prices and there were lots of interesting exhibits including lots of television screens where you could watch some of the greatest Olympic moments of all time. There were some fun interactive games too and we enjoyed trying to beat Olympic runners in the 100 metres. Trying being the operative word.
9) The market just off of Las Ramblas was great and had an interesting variety of colourful wares. We got some delicious empendadas from the Mexican stall and the fresh juices were so welcome in the sweltering Spanish sun. Top tip: go along at around 5ish when they are packing up and you could get four juices for just a euro!
10) Las Segradas Familia - an awe inspiring Cathedral also inspired and built by the incredibly talented Gaudi. The viewing tower is an optional extra I would advise for great views of the city.

So there you go - excuse my poor spelling of the Spanish words. I am feeling lazy tonight and full of back to school brain fog! Plus I never did Spanish at school.
Linking up to Shimelle's ten on the tenth

10 Sep 2012

Messy Mondays: White paint to brighten a background!

Have you ever made a layout, photographed it and then edited the picture and realised that it was missing something?
Check out the layout below I thought that I would clash floral prints on a Kraft background but when I stepped back I realised that it all blurred into one and it lacked impact overall.
I was inspired to create this layout about my 'kick ass' back to school outfit. The end of last academic year I had two weeks off work compassionate leave after a loss in my life and I was kind of dreading returning to work as I didn't want everyone fussing over me. I didn't want their sympathetic looks or even worse an arm around my shoulder as I was on the edge and needed to stay strong. So I planned my outfit carefully a pencil skirt with a bold patterned silk shirt tucked into the waist and high heels. I wanted to scrap this and so got the Belgian to take an instax pic for me to create this layout.

A close-up of the details - I cut roses out of the paper to embellish the picture.
So that was the before and here is the after. I decided to gesso up the middle panel so that it popped more. You can still see the pattern faintly through the paint. It was tricky to do it this way as I had to try not to get paint of the picture or the stickers. I added some Amy Tan journalling spots and was going to journal on them, but then decided that I preferred them blank instead.

Overall I am really pleased with this layout and feel that it tells the story well and captures the mood that I was feeling at the time of creating it.
Do you ever go back to a layout and make changes to it?

8 Sep 2012

When Fiskars meets October Afternoon...

What car games do you play when you go on a road trip? My sister and I decided on our Californian road trip last summer that we wanted to get pictures of each state's number plate and so it kept us entertained on the long Californian freeways.
Some were incredibly easy - namely Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona...basically all the state's bordering California. The more elusive states were Maine. Deleware and some of the southern states - but we sort of cheated and found them all in the Miners Diner in Julian and so that is the picture that I used in the layout.
We had to get quick at whipping the camera out to get the shot before the car overtook us! We annoyed the Belgian a lot by asking him to speed up or slow down or change lanes all in the name of a photo - and he claims that we caused an accident, but he does like to exaggerate things.
So I decided this part of our trip needed to be remembered in a layout. What could be more appropriate than Studio Calico's Boarding Pass range?
I used my trusty Fiskars (purchased from none other than Shimelle via that good old auctioning site) to create a page border at the top and bottom, then I could mix up the different designs (that's when double sided cardstock is really versatille - I love the B sides on this range too!) I also layered up a variety of washi tape.

Journalling about the number plate challenge:

Quite a simple design and one that I have used before here and here.
Has anyone else used Boarding pass for holiday snaps?

3 Sep 2012

Messy Mondays: Photo mat with paint

So it was back to school today and so time to get back on track with my Messy Monday's series.
This layout uses paint as a mat for my photo and to layer on embellishments.
I created a mat on the left with my fiskars.

2 Sep 2012

The One Where I Jumped off a Cliff...(Metaphorically like!)

My friends and I at St.George's secondary school
 Don't you love telling stories and reminiscing?
This summer I got to hang out with my family and an aunt who I hadn't seen for decades nor ever really spoken to and so we loved telling stories and learning about each other.
So this month Sian's theme is too cool for school and it made me think of this random story...
Are we sitting comfortably? I will begin...

Throughout Primary and Secondary school I was friends with two sets of twins, I think it is true to say that you can tell which twin is oldest and youngest by their personalities and one is always the 'crazy' one. Naturally, being me, I was drawn to the crazier one in both sets of twins.
Which brings me to my story...
Kim (one of the twins) was quite mischievous and it seems that whenever we are together we end up causing some kind of trouble. We were in the same class together in Year 4, which makes us about 8 at the time of this little episode. We were lined up waiting for lunch.

Those who know me now will know two things about me:
1) I am criminally impatient
2) I love my food

As this story will attest neither of the above have changed much since I was little.
We were getting antsy as it was chips day and we wanted some. We had a rule at our school that you had to queue up outside of your classroom and the dinner lady would come and collect you for your sitting of lunch.
So Kim dared me to shout - "come on Aldren!"
Now MRS Aldren was the fiercest of all of the dinner ladies. She was HEAD dinner lady. She was a scarier version of Mrs Bucket from the popular UK comedy Keeping up Appearances.  She valued good old fashioned manners - like please and thank-you and waiting your turn.
This was a very risky dare.
This dare came with terrible consequences.
Therefore it was too tempting and I went ahead and hollered - "COME ON ALDREN!" Just as she rounded the classroom corner and I was caught red faced, in the very act of addressing the HEAD dinner lady rather rudely. I hadn't even said *PLEASE*!
Now my memory at this point goes hazy and it ends up with me sat in tears at the deputy head's table with my plate of fish and chips in front of me and a lot of explaining to do.
He asked the silly question of why I had done it.
Through snot and tears I stammered,
"Because K-k-k-kim told me to."
"Now Melanie if Kim asked you to put your chips in that bin over there would you?"
"N-n-n-oooo!" I was horrified at the suggestion.
"Why not?" Cue smug teacher face.
"Because I like chips!"
Such simple childlike logic.

I do remember that Kim was getting a similar grilling and had to write a letter apologising, which went like this:

Dear Mrs Aldren,

I'm really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really sorry.


Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Here is a picture of us taken earlier this year - I have clearly now forgiven here for leading me astray!

Linking up to Sian's storytelling Sunday
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...