For the love of silver…for the love of life!!

Archive for the ‘The Sheer Joy of Living’ Category

Zentangle Sampler

Wooohoooo!!  I have finally made it to the end of Thing-a-Day 2011 without missing a day!

It has been really hard though and I am sure that if I had not chosen to do a zentangle theme for the month that I would have fallen by the wayside.  As I mentioned on Day 1, my family has had a really bad year and my creativity has taken a real knocking but in doing a daily zentangle I have had the opportunity to focus on something that quickly and easily develops into a thing of beauty with little conscious thought and without the fear of ‘getting it wrong’ or staring at a blank page.  And it has helped me by giving me a few minutes each day where I can just get lost in the process of zentangling and enjoying my classical music without giving thought to the things that trouble me on a daily basis.  And yes, I think it has helped me to get a little bit excited about starting something new and more challenging, creatively speaking, over the next few weeks.

So, anyway, today I did my final letters of X,Y and Z.  And then worked on trying to arrange my 36 tiles onto a piece of black mount board – which was not quite as easy as I expected as the board would only accommodate 5 tiles across and 8 tiles down – so I could not carry out my original plan of 6 tiles by 6, or even 4 by 9!

So this is my final arrangement…

… although I think I will create two narrow border pieces to run alongside the bottom 4 rows, perhaps with my name and the date worked into it somehow, and this will create a neater rectangular shape before sticking everything down and framing it.

Putting this together made me think of the samplers that ‘young ladies’ created in centuaries gone by where they displayed their prowess with their repetoire of embroidery stitches creating a needleworked alphabet…and how like embroidery it is, creating patterns one stroke or stitch at a time.

And so I have met the Thing-a-Day challenge, one day at a time, and hope that everyone who participated enjoyed their month of creativity too, and hopefully we will all be doing it again next year!!

Such Devoted Sisters.

The most creative thing I have been able to do today is take photographs of my new granddaughter, who was born early this morning.

One of my favourite ones is this one of my granddaughter with her brand new and much wanted little sister.

My Heart is Full of Love…(and Chocolates!)

I have had enormous fun today…making chocolates using my new toy (see the photograph below).  It is a really neat little kit containing a little thermostatically controlled heating unit with its own little saucepan, forks and spatulas for dipping the chocolates, a wire rack to allow the excess chocolate to drip off and a number of moulds.

For these chocolates I have used the ‘cake balls’ I mentioned in yesterday’s post but I have hidden in the centre of each one a lovely rich gooey blob of dark chocolate ganache to make them super chocolatey and moist.  I then pushed them into some oval and some heart shaped silicone chocolate moulds to get a neat shape, then used my new toy to melt and temper some milk chocolate to coat them.  After they had set I started to decorate them…again using my new toy to melt the white chocolate as shown below….

…and some tiny sugarpaste flowers to coordinate with the floral decoration of the cake ‘box’.

I have never done anything in the chocolate/candy making line before and I am really rather pleased with the result…although they are a little ‘rustic’ in places so my technique definitely needs refining a bit!!  But I think this little Valentine gift will hit the spot and gain my son a few ‘Brownie points’!!

And it has really made me smile making it

…(plus, I have eaten all the rejects!!!…..I won’t tell anybody if you don’t!!)

Oh!! Horror!!!….

I have been asked to make a 2nd birthday cake for later on this month, featuring Mr Tumble from the children’s programmes on the BBC.

Hmmmmm….Clowns…..always risky!!!!

The trouble with Mr Tumble is that he always has a huge toothy grin, which as anyone who has ever tried to paint or sculpt a face with a toothy grin knows is not a task to be taken lightly!!!!  So I thought I had better start early and have a go at creating the head of the model of Mr Tumble, who will grace the top of my cake.

Oh!  Horror!!!  Doesn’t this look more like The Joker than Mr Tumble??!!!

Hopefully, by the time I have added hair and eyes and a little red nose, dressed him and sat him on a cake covered with stars and bright circles he will not actually cause the poor little kiddies at the birthday party to run screaming from the room!!!

That’s the trouble with art – or so I have found – no matter what medium and discipline – there is always a point at which you feel like screaming and hurtling the ‘artwork’ out of the nearest window, but with a little persistence, more often than not, the whole thing comes together to make a half decent piece of work.

Let’s hope that is the case this time!

Well, I need to leave this to dry and harden a little for a couple of days and then I will try to create miracles!!!


For more on hideously funny clowns at birthday parties please watch this link!!!

Do You C a Rabbit??

My granddaughter has been excited all week at the prospect of the special lunch her school is serving up today to celebrate Chinese New Year…and the start of the Year of the Rabbit.  How could I let today go by without joining in with her celebration??


Here is my zentangled rabbit with a floppy ear!  I hope he makes you smile…


And to continue with my quest to get a zentangle for every letter of the alphabet I present to you a letter C.



Today I suddenly remembered how I used to do my zentangles last year… I used to sit down with classical music playing in the background and simply lose myself in the swirling of my pen.  So I tried it again today and have really benefited from the calm and relaxation.


Happy me…


Hopefully, happy you!!

Joyeux Noel….



Well – this is my ‘tour de force’ in the cake decorating field for this year.

A friend of the family has just recently become the owner of a lovely little cottage and has spent the last few months renovating and decorating it… and it now lays claim to the title ‘Petit Bijou’.  I have never actually seen the place but have been given photographs of various bits of the outside of it, from various angles, and, along with a stroke of genius on my part(!), obtained photos of the street view side of the house from Google Maps.  And so, with this motley collection of photos to hand, I have set about trying to recreate her cottage in icing!!!

I began by trying to draw out the architectural features on paper, working out the relative proportions and positions of things from the photos.  I then used the computer to draw out a fairly accurate template of the elevations of the cottage so that I could create a 3 dimensional paper version of the place to see if it would work and make alterations accordingly.

The next stage was to print out a new sheet of template pieces and then place a piece of acetate sheet over the top of it.  I was then able to pipe royal icing onto the acetate sheet knowing that I would be able to flex the sheet and get the dried and hardened icing to peel away from it without breaking.  First the outline of each template piece was piped using a very fine ‘writing’ icing tube/nozzle, then when this was dry I was able to fill in each piece with a flood of royal icing, which fills in up to the dried piped line and then settles and dries to a flat solid piece.

Of course, these little icing walls are rather thicker than the paper template pieces I used to make my original paper model so the construction of the 3D icing cottage worked up to be a little chunkier than I had foreseen…and areas like the little gable window were a bit of a headache but the fact that she wanted it to be a snow scene meant that I could hide a lot of little inaccuracies under the blanket of snow!!!

As it happens, I did have a bit of a problem keeping the ‘snow’ on the roof and so have a rather authentic ‘avalanche waiting to happen’ overhang effect!!!!

There is also a magnificent holly tree in the back garden which I was asked to try to include in the scene on the cake.  I have to admit that this took me a good long time to work out, and, in this case is not entirely made of icing.  The trunk is based around a plastic drinking straw which I was able to cut and flare out to make a substantial starburst style ‘foot’ that could be embedded into the icing ‘paving’ to make a solid foundation.  Into this trunk I inserted pieces of floristry wire which were taped down with floristry tape.  I then wound pieces of cotton around and between the ‘branches’ of wire to create a web of cotton which would be able to support the icing twigs and leaves.  I then set about icing over these structures to create my tree!  It is not an accurate holly shape of tree but I am satisfied with the effect…and should I ever have to create a holly tree in icing again I would strive to make it a better holly tree shape!!

I finished off the scene for the top of the cake with a representation of the raised flower bed, which is adjacent to the tree in the cottage garden, and a tiny snowman, complete with hat and scarf.

The sides of the cake bear the affectionate name of their little residential jewel and, in keeping with the French words already written, a suggestion of Christmas.


Sometimes, in the darkness, little things happen to make you smile.  After I had uploaded these photographs I noticed that the main photo and photo 3 of the montage have a suggestion that the little cottage is occupied as the lights are ‘on’!!!

I hope you are all having a lovely time in there!!!!

Let Your Light Shine

Although this year has been, and continues to be, a terrible one for our family I have tried very hard to fulfil the commitments I have made to people.  One of these has been to deliver a series of craft workshops to the local MENCAP group (a group of adults who have various physical and mental difficulties).

One of last year’s ‘creations’ proved to be very popular and so I decided to do a variation on the same theme for one of the sessions this year.  Using the same sort of LED flickering tea light candles as last year I stuck disposable plastic shot glasses over the top of the ‘flame’ to make the candle look more like a lantern and to change the lighting effect from last years flickering candle table decoration.

…and so from these humble beginnings – old CDs and DVDs, the bases from disposable wine glasses (which were used last year to make the ‘Tatty Tinsel Fairy‘), disposable plastic shot glasses, various tinsel and Christmas decorations, the candles, some silver card and some sprayed pine cones collected from the local woods – I made up kits for the 15 people in the group so that they could all successfully create their own table decoration by wiring and attaching with double sided tape, all the various components.

Everything went extremely smoothly as I think they are all getting used to the techniques I employ, and by the end of the session everyone had a lovely finished work of art….and I had been showered with hugs and broad smiles and “Thank you”s….

How lovely and rewarding!!


The second workshop was to make another table top decoration.

It was inspired by a lovely little reindeer ornament I had found in the Christmas section of the local Pound Store and some polystyrene packaging I had acquired over the year.

Along with various bits and pieces to add a bit of Christmas sparkle I put together kits for everybody to make this reindeer running through the snow pulling a sleigh full of Christmas goodies…

Unfortunately, due to illness in the family, I was unable to deliver the third workshop but was able to manufacture the kits and give instructions for someone else to be able to help the group to make a selection of little Christmas tree hangings which enclosed a chocolate treat in each one.

I have been informed that they turned out really well and everyone was really happy!

And so the Christmas craft workshops are over for another year.  Everybody had a good time making their Christmas decorations and we all enjoyed making our personal (creative) lights shine!!

Life’s a Beach….

I have just returned from the most relaxing holiday I have ever had…and have found my own little piece of paradise on earth!  The best bit is that it is only 90 minutes drive from my front door which makes it possible to visit for day trips….

I’m already making plans!!

There were miles of sandy beaches to take my early morning walks upon, and rockpools and shallow waters to enjoy peering into and paddling in – not to mention shells and seaglass to collect…who could ask for more!!  There was hardly ever a soul around in the early morning and even by 10 o’clock there was only the odd dog walker ambling across the sands or an intrepid lone fisherman  rowing his little boat into the rippling waves.

Just what my weary soul needed…..

And I have often dreamed of being somewhere where the sky is so big and the sea so wide – where the sun can dip behind the horizon and paint a glorious blaze of colour all around me…

I never thought that I could be treated to night after night of such amazing beauty…

Is it any wonder that I have fallen in love with this place??


Well – here he is…my Mario, feeling on top of his own little world and in full control of the situation!

It has provided me with hours of entertainment and I hope everyone enjoys having a good look at all the little bits and pieces that I have put on there.

The whole of the big green pipe, complete with Mario, lifts off and can be kept as a memento and since it is made of really strong, reinforced sugarpaste it has set like concrete anyway and so would be a tough piece to eat!  All the rest of the decoration is made from standard sugarpaste and so will be eaten as part of the cake.  I hope it all goes down well!

Since I have made the cake with a running frieze of Mario’s world around the edge I thought it would be a good idea to try to video it so I could have a permanent reminder of what it was like…and since we have all this technology at our fingertips it seemed silly not to have a go – so , hopefully, I have a video of the cake doing a little pirouette at the end of this post.

I hope it makes you smile!!

Memoirs of a Geisha’s Mother

No rest for the wicked so they say…  I just can’t seem to remember what I have done wrong!!

No sooner had the stress of getting the cakes finished and delivered on time died down than my daughter’s request for help in sorting out movie inspired fancy dress costumes for herself and her partner was repeated!!  This was Tuesday and the fancy dress party is today – Saturday!

I had been given an inkling that I would be involved in this a few days before but there was nothing I could do until the cakes were out of the way.  I had had time to think though…and persuade my husband that the ‘tatty old’ pin stripe suit in his wardrobe was past its best and begging for a make over!  So at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning I was hard at work applying masking tape to this suit!  It does worry me a bit though, that when my son passed through on his way to work he didn’t so much as raise an eyebrow at the vision of his mother applying masking tape to his father’s suit and burnishing it with a spoon!

Although I had to go out on Wednesday, my daughter did her bit and tackled the painting job.

…and it has taken us hours and hours to get this suit made over but I think between us we have done a marvellous job of creating a Beetlejuice costume!  ( ..not sure my son as the press-ganged male mannequin was too impressed though!!)

Stressing over the stripes has taken so long though that I have only been left with a day to create the costume for my daughter – who has decided to dress as a Geisha.

The internet is a great resource for all manner of things and I have managed to find out all about the costumes and way of life of a Geisha, and found a pattern for a kimono and detailed instructions on how to put up long hair with chopsticks and make beautiful fabric tsumami kanzashi flowers for the hair decoration.

Pieces of fabric from my ‘deep and extensive’ materials stock have been put together to make up the kimono and omi and I have ‘remastered’ a couple of shop bought hair bands in order to get the little flowers for the hair decoration.  Cut down Chinese take-away chopsticks with corks added for safety reasons (!) finish off the ensemble – along with a fan that I have had for ages.

My daughter hasn’t seen any of her finished costume  yet so I hope she is happy with it…  I might get to see both her and her partner ‘in full costume’ later on today!  Whether I will be able to get a photo of them both is a different matter!

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