Thursday, 13 December 2012

Shabby chic - practical and pretty

I've been making some new padded fabric memo boards this week in some gorgeous retro florals.

Fondant blue

Cream and jam

Strawberry jam

These memo boards make lovely gifts and they're so useful too. Pop one up on your kitchen wall for your shopping lists, or why not use one as an earring holder - you can pop your earrings over the ribbons or through the fabric.

Or if you have a little bit of fabric of your own going spare, why not post it to me and I'll make you your own special board. All you need is a piece of fabric 50cm x 60cm and I'll provide the rest!

Padded fabric memo boards £9.95 each. Click here for details 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Time to feed the Christmas Cake...

Greedy things Christmas Cakes; they do like a little drinky. So it's time to bring out the brandy:
use a skewer or cocktail stick to make some holes in the surface of the cake and drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of brandy. Wrap the cake up well again and pop it back into its cool dark storage place until next week. 

And next time, turn the cake over so that you feed it from the bottom too - that way you'll be sure to have a lovely moist well fed cake.

Three weeks to Christmas Day - hurrah!!!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Kitchen Capers with Gill!

Time for the latest fantastic issue of Creative Crafting magazine with my new feature, "Kitchen Capers with Gill".

So, grab and coffee and take a break with the mag. This issue I've broken down Christmas Lunch to make it less of a mountain to climb with some tips, a time plan and lots of delicious recipes. And there are loads of other articles and makes for you to get into the festive spirit.

Read and enjoy!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Handmade Christmas making progress

How are you all getting on with your handmade Christmas presents? Here is the framed antique housekeeper's key I've made for my sister for her bedroom.

I made this by covering the board with vintage style paper using spraymount for a bubble free finish. The key is attached using galvanised wire fed through tiny holes in the board, tied off at the back and covered with masking tape. Then the passe-partout and board were secured into the frame using the frame's integral clips. 

I have four of these framed keys on my bedroom wall in shades of duck egg - they complement my crochet and ticking cushions perfectly.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Make do and empty those cupboards...

It's amazing what you can make with the scraps left in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. I'm in the process of the big pre-Christmas clear out and things are reaching a critical point! But you know, I do love a culinary challenge and I find the using up of every scrap of food quite rewarding in a curiously self-righteous way.

According to my long suffering partner "There is absolutely nothing to eat in this house". I beg to differ. Since he made this declaration on Sunday morning, so far, with a little culinary license, I have made:
  • Lasagne (using marmite to flavour the sauce as I had no cheese - it works a treat)
  • Fresh bread
  • Sun dried tomato and parmesan scones (using up the parmesan rinds that I never throw away)
  • Iced finger buns
  • Tomato soup 

  • Butternut squash and walnut risotto (using pudding rice - which gives a similar but softer texture to Arborio rice)

  • Thai green curry with aubergine, broad beans and peas (the only vegetables left. I'm now extremely twitchy)
  • Fresh naan bread (much easier than you think)

However, now that the tea bags and milk have run out I have to admit defeat. There are some things that you just can't live without and tea is one of them. So, off to the shops I go...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It's Christmas Cake time!

Well it's been so long since I've posted a recipe, I may as well go with THE BIG ONE otherwise known as the Christmas cake of course.

I'm the only one in our house who loves a bit of Christmas cake, but I refuse to miss out on this spiced annual treat. So every year, I make myself a modest cake, safe in the knowledge that it will be far superior than any shop bought affair. Besides, nothing can replace that mellow, spiced fug coming from the oven as the cake slowly bakes...

This recipe will make one 18cm round cake which, if you must, is plenty big enough to share...

  • 500g pack luxury dried fruits (Aldi luxury fruits are lovely and such good value)
  • grated zest of an orange and a lemon
  • 100ml brandy
  • 100ml strong breakfast tea (black)
  • 75g chopped nuts - whatever you prefer
  • 150g soft unsalted butter
  • 90g soft dark brown or molasses sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp spice of your choice (I like a mixture of cinnamon and ginger, but you could add ground cloves or use mixed spice)

1. Grease a deep 18cm cake tin and double line with baking parchment, making sure the parchment comes up 10cm higher than the tin. You can also wrap brown paper around the tin if you are worried the cake may brown too quickly. 

2. Place the dried fruit and zests in a small saucepan with the tea and bring to the boil. Simmer  until the tea evaporates, then turn off the heat and add the brandy. Cover and leave to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 150ÂșC (gas mark 2).  

4. Cream the butter and sugar and gradually beat in the eggs, treacle and almond extract.  

5. Sift the flour and spices together and mix with the ground almonds and nuts.  

6. Gently fold a spoonful of dried fruit into the creamed mixture, followed by a spoonful of the flour mix and repeat until all of the ingredients are combined.

7. Pour into the cake tin and level the top of the cake.

8. Bake for 2 hours (test with a skewer and bake a little longer if needed).

9. Allow to cool in the tin, then wrap tightly in the baking parchment and foil.  

10. Store in a cool dark place, and feed weekly with a tbsp brandy.

And as we get closer to Christmas, look out for my next installment on covering the cake with marzipan and icing...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Have Yourself a Handmade Little Christmas!

Well we all know money is becoming increasingly tight at the moment, so with this thought in mind I'm going all out for a handmade Christmas. Or at least, as far as is practical. 

For my niece, I'm making a Kindle cover with some gorgeous Victorian fabric. I'll also be giving her a toile de jouy cushion as I know she really likes the fabric.
Toile de Jouy and lace cushion cover - £14.95 each

For my sister, I've made this beautiful jewellery roll in the same fabric
Victorian Gothic Jewellery Roll - available made to order from £20.00 each
I'll  her a framed antique French housekeeper's key that will fit her bedroom decor perfectly. For our daughters, I'm making cosmetic bags and over-the-door organisers (having seen their bathrooms and bedroom floors this is a necessity rather than a luxury!)I haven't made these before, but luckily I do have a pattern to follow so at least I'm not starting from scratch.

For my granddaughter Ava, I have knitted a scarf in a lovely soft pastel green wool. I've double knitted it to make the texture extra soft and warm. If course, I'll have to make one for my grandson Cole too; in a nice charcoal grey I think. I'd love to make him a bearded beanie, but I'm not sure my daughter would ever forgive me for that!

And for my mum and in-laws, I'll be putting together food hampers. No, not a collection of random tins or luxury goods that no-one ever wants to eat. I mean a selection of home cooked supper dishes, baked goods and preserves making a practical and tasty gift that's always appreciated.

So with all this in mind, it's time I got myself organised and wrote some shopping lists. And you know how I love a list...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Gorgeous gifts galore!

Some more lovely CRAFTfest stalls for you, this time from the Gifts category

Cola Creations

Handmade in Keswick




Click here for Gifts  at CRAFTfest, the biggest and best online craft fair open 24 hours until Sunday 2nd December

Friday, 23 November 2012

CRAFTfest has arrived!

It's Black Friday everyone and there's 10% off purchases over £20 on my website today. Some of our other stall holders are offering discounts too so don't miss out.

So how about some stall previews? Let's start with the homewares category and a look at MinXtures, Perfect Patchwork and of course Personal Space Interiors (me!)


Perfect Patchwork

Personal Space Interiors 


Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Click here for Homewares  at CRAFTfest, the biggest and best online craft fair open 24 hours until Sunday 2nd December

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Christmas CRAFTfest is a record breaker...

Booking for this year's Christmas CRAFtfest online craft fair closed on Wednesday. And this year, it's definitely going to be the biggest and best yet. We've broken our previous record and reached a monumental 250 stalls. So that's 250 shops for you all to visit from the comfort of your sofa!

Shop in the warmth!...Shop in your PJs!...Shop naked!...
(ahem, think I'd best leave that thought there)

Remember, we're kicking off early this time to coincide with Black Friday. And as a little incentive for you all, I'm offering 10% discount* on all purchases over £20 made from my website or from my Wow Thank You shop.

So don't forget - get along to Creative Connections on Friday and get ahead with your Christmas shopping.
*discount from my website via Paypal refund, discount from Wow Thank you at point of sale

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Kitchen capers and my new persona...

I got a little bit overexcited writing my latest article for Creative Crafting magazine. Well it being the Christmas issue, what coukld I do but write all about the biggest, best and possible most stressful food event of any home cooks calendar; The Christma Lunch. As my editor put it "more of an essay than an article!".

I love how Anna (the editor) brings my articles to life, and when I saw my article preview this afternoon I thought it looked fantastic. Especially as I now have a new persona as the magazine's chief cookery writer.

So a drum if you please as I introduce "Kitchen capers with Gill"

Look out for the Christmas issue of Creative Crafting magazine, coming soon to a laptop near you...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

I do like a happy customer...

A lovely pic today from my customer Kate. I made a super soft duck feather boxed cushion and two lovely covers for Kate's gorgeous solid wood settle. She very kindly sent me a photo today of her striped cover in situ.

There was a little strip of this fabric left over when I made this cover. And someone appears to have found a very comfortable resting place on it...
Naughty Lawrence!
Made to measure bespoke cushion pads, cushion covers and lavender frogs made and dispatched within three working days. Email for details.
Click here if you would like to take Lawrence home. I think he's feeling lonely, and he would make a lovely Christmas gift...


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Countdown to CRAFTfest - booking is closing soon...

Just a little reminder for anyone who hasn't yet booked their stall. What have you been doing? Stop dithering and spend that last fiver on becoming part of the biggest and best online craftfair.

Booking closes at 9.00am Wednesday 14th November 2012. We've already got over 200 stallholders taking part so this CRAFTfest promises to be a truly MEGA 'fest!

Visit the CRAFTfest website to book your stall today.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

It's official - I am a Creative Cow!

Drum roll please....I am now the extremely proud winner of a most coveted Cow Award.
Every month, the Cow Awards take place for all crafters to recognise the Creative, Outstanding and Weird and Wacky in the world of handcrafted goods - C.O.W. get it? Well this month I was thrilled to find out I'd won the Creative Cow Award for my Nordic felt hearts.
Thank you ladies - Bessie, Daisy and Cow Pat - for this honour. I'm off to display my badge with pride.

The Cow Awards take place on the first Thursday of every month on twitter. For your chance to win a Cow Award, simply tweet a link to your crafty item to @CowAwards using the hashtag #Cow.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

I've gone all Gothic...

Another day, another make. This time a little something for my niece for Christmas. She loves all things Victorian and Gothic which reminded me I had a piece of Victorian fabric from a skirt panel I'd picked up months ago. Beautiful fabric but I didn't have a clue what to do with it. Then it came to me - what do you make for someone who loves Victorian, Gothic and jewellery? A Victorian Gothic jewellery roll of course!

The fabric is difficult to photograph; it doesn't do it justice. It is a rich black satin brocade with an intricate floral design. The inside of the roll is black satin and features two patch pockets, a zipped pocket and a ring holder. The roll is finished with a satin piped edge, black velvet ribbon and diamante hearts. The closed roll measures 21cm x 11cm, so it's the just the right size for carrying in your handbag or light luggage.

I have a limited amount of this antique fabric available. If you'd like a jewellery roll made as a Christmas gift or simply to treat yourself, please email

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Retro kitchen envy...

Have I ever told you what I would rescue if the house was on fire? My Kitchen Aid of course - it's true love, always.

Well look what I saw today

Now don't you think they make a lovely couple? Trouble is I don't think Nostalgia Electrics are available here in the UK. If someone knows differently, please put me out of my misery.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Christmas is closer than you think...

I'm sure the years are getting shorter. Remember when you were little and you seemed to wait forever for birthdays and Christmas to arrive? The older I get, the quicker they seem to return.

So it's about time we had a countdown I think


Now, is it just me or is that a terrifying thought?!!!!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Collingwood Sofas pops up at Manor Walks...

A new venture for my partner and me this week: a pop up shop.

My partner Peter's company Collingwood Sofas is running a pop up shop for three weeks in a busy North East shopping centre. And as I'm helping out for a few days here and there, they've very kindly allowed me some floor space for my goodies too.

All of the sofas, chairs, storage boxes and headboards made by Collingwood Sofas are designed and handcrafted in our home city of Newcastle upon Tyne. They are excellent hand built quality and offer superb value with all items offered at trade prices. And as all of the products are made and delivered in around four weeks, you could have a fantastic new look just in time for Christmas.

Here's a taster of what's available...

So please do drop by if you're in the area. You'll find us at Manor Walks Shopping Centre, near Cramlington, Northumberland. We'll be there until Sunday, 11th November 2012.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9.00am - 5.00pm
                          Sunday 10.00am - 4.00pm

Vintage joy...

Browsing my favourite blogs has taken the place of reading the Sunday supplement. I always used to look forward to something colourful and glossy amidst the inky newsprint. Now, in this digital age I don't even have to brave the cold to collect the paper. I simply pop the kettle on, make myself comfy (in PJ's and fleecy robe of course), fire up the laptop and away we go!

So what did I find this morning? A fabulous post from one of my favourite blogs: Vintage Living. A gorgeous guide to vintage delights available from Etsy. Here are my favourites.

I'm not normally one for girly and frothy but...

 And these stylish beauties couldn't help but catch my eye

Now, if I could just fit into that dress I could be sat at one of those chairs sipping a violet martini. Bliss!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Christmas CRAFTfest opens early for Black Friday...

Black Friday, what's that all about I hear you say...

A post Thanksgiving sales day originating in the US akin to our Boxing Day. The trend to have a pre-Christmas sale day is catching on here in the UK too so, not wanting to be left behind, we've decided at Creative Connections to get on board and have a CRAFTfest preview day on Black Friday. So we'll be opening our virtual doors for a whole nine days for CRAFTfest! Just think of all the lovely goodies just in time for Christmas...

So here's a little post it for you to remind yourself to come online and check out CRAFTfest on Black Friday - 23rd November 2012.

You never know, you might just pick up some special offers...shhh, you didn't hear it from me... I'm saying nothing...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The secret of CSS is revealed...

I wonder how many hours I've spent tearing my hair out trying to make the header image on this blog central. Far too many I suspect. Well tonight I finally admitted defeat and searched for the answer and discovered the magic that is CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Why didn't I just ask the question in the first place instead of  a) making myself massively frustrated, and b) resenting myself completely for all the hours I've wasted faffing about? Answer - because I'm tremendously stubborn and determined to make things work, that's why. But never mind I got there in the end!

So for anyone else out there being stubborn and determined but ultimately frustrated, here's how I did it.

Go to "template designer", then "advanced" and select "Add CSS" and add the following code:

#header-inner img {  margin-left: auto;  margin-right: auto;}

Like this:

And hey presto - one lovely centralised header image. Hurrah!

I'm always looking for ways to improve my blog, so any comments or suggestions would be welcome. And any other little snippets I discover, I'll share with you all.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Christmas CRAFTfest is just around the corner...

Walking through town the other day, I noticed that the Christmas trees and decorations are now out on display. Funny the affect this has on me - I somehow now feel justified in playing with felt and knitting little red and white stockings.

And with Christmas looming ever larger, it's time to get into gear again for the mega CRAFTfest event:

Yes CRAFTfest is here again, bigger and better than ever! There's still time to book a stall so why not dive in and have a go. For £5.00 per stall per category you can be part of our virtual market place, join in our fantastic crafting community, meet new friends online and learn loads of really useful stuff about promoting and selling online.

I'll be around as a team leader again this time, so if you sign up for a stall you might just be part of my purple group. We all help and support each other throughout the event and work together to promote all of our fabulous stalls. It really is a brilliant event and we all have such fun, and the odd sale too if we're lucky!

So what are you waiting for? Get on board and grab a stall!

Friday, 19 October 2012

A new foodie haven discovered...

I've just come back from a weekend away in my favourite city - York. I love everything about York; the architecture, the rich tapestry of history, the shops, the pubs, the atmosphere and of course the food. I've eaten some fabulous food over the years and this time I discovered a gorgeous new deli cafe that I must recommend to anyone who, like me, is a bit of a foodie - Mannion & Co.


We only popped in for a coffee but having seen the deli counter with its array of enticing olives, meats, cheeses and artisan breads we just couldn't resist. We ordered the tapas sharing platter for two and were stunned by the bounty of quality produce we were presented with. And what excellent value at £10.50 for both of us!

There is a lovely selection of nibbley foods, sandwiches and main meals on offer with a daily changing board reflecting the fresh produce available. The drinks menu is well thought out too, with quality leaf teas and barista coffees which were also delicious.

So next time you're in York, pop in to Mannion & Co, 1 Blake Street. I guarantee you'll leave feeling very contented!

Friday, 12 October 2012

The felt is strong in this one...

I promised pics and here they are:

Gorgeous mini hearts just crying out to adorn your Christmas tree. Or how about these for all you lovers of a bit of pink and sparkle...

Listings haven't been uploaded for these lovelies just yet, so please email if you'd like to buy.

Set of six mini cream hearts - £9.00 (plus P&P)
Set of three pink hearts - £5.00 (plus P&P)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

May the felt be with you...

As autumn sets in properly, early morning frost appears and the living room temperature takes a decidedly sharp dip from ambient to nippy, it suddenly now seems appropriate to start making Christmas decorations again.

I know all of us makers and sellers are supposed to plan ahead to make sure we are ready to market all of our products and get ahead of the game as the seasons change, but there's something fundamentally wrong with wishing your life away and doing things that feel so much out of season.

Only when the chill is in the air and the cardigans resurface does it feel right to start thinking about the festive season. And so, out comes the ever growing bag of felt and ribbons and all things Christmassy.

I've been making some lovely little hearts for tree or garland style decorations in a rich cream with ribbon detail featuring little reindeer and snowflakes. I just love the Nordic vibe.

Look out for the pics coming soon...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

It's those little Folksy things...

...that make me happy. Like when you've just listed a load of items on Folksy and they all appear in the recently listed row on the home page like this:

I have these lovely Nordic hand knitted decorations on my Christmas tree and along the mantlepiece like in the images shown.

Click here to visit my Folksy shop for details.

£3.50 each or £35.00 for a set of 12. Why not have some made up to match your colour scheme? Made to order - please allow one week for delivery.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Time for a new make do you think?...

I love to try my hand at a new project. And this one was certainly something I'd never made before. I had a commission from Joan who was about to go on holiday. Her trusty favourite travelling companion was looking more than a little worse for wear, and she'd scoured the shops looking for a similar replacement with no luck. What is this faithful companion I'm talking about? A sturdy yet flexible rucksack style bag; soft enough to roll up and squeeze into the corner of a suitcase and strong enough to cope with the rigours of the beach and poolside.

Joan had kept her bag and passed it on to me for inspection to see if I was up to the challenge of deconstructing, creating a working pattern and making a new and improved version. Always looking for ways to upcycle, I managed to remove all of the metal fixings and rings from the bag to reuse but I knew that eyelets for the drawstring closure would be a new skill I would have to master.

I chose a medium weight denim in black with an off-white thread in the weave. This would give a stylish and practical finish to the bag. I used strong black polycotton for the carry handle and for the D-ring fixings as I wanted to provide a contrast fabric for the look but also add strength to the finished product. It certainly proved to be strong - managing to bend and break my machine needle twice in the process!

I'm really pleased with the results, and more importantly Joan was thrilled. I haven't heard back from her since her holiday, but I'm hoping her new bag lived up to it's high expectations.

If you would like a similar bag made, prices start from £20.00 plus fabric and fixings. Email

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The joy of cooking brings another string to my bow

I feel I have neglected you my lovely blogger blog. Well cry no more for I have returned. This time with a lovely little read for you all if you have five minutes to just put the kettle on and have a virtual browse.

I'm very proud to say I am now a feature writer of the fantastic Creative Crafting magazine. This is a bi-monthly online magazine written, edited and published by like minded crafters covering all things creative from baking and cooking, to jewellery and glass work. This time around, there's loads of fun projects for you try out for Hallowe'en.

And look -I've even made the front cover with one of my recipes! This time my article is all about the wonders of pumpkin with two lovely recipes for you to try; roasted pumpkin soup and risotto with sage and gorgonzola. Autumn really is my favourite foodie time of year, so I'll be sharing some of my favourite recipes with you as the leaves begin to turn and the chill air begins to creep in.



Sunday, 9 September 2012

Goodbye September CRAFTfest...hello November!

Well that's another CRAFTfest over and out. And what a fantastic week we all had. We've been tweeting, facebooking, pinning, waneloing (is that a word?), pinspiring, blogging, stumbling, digging, deliciousing (another iffy verb there) and everything else we could possible think of to get as many people to visit as possible. And the result...

56,234 visitors!
What a fantastic achievement for everyone involved. I really enjoyed taking part in the June event - so much so that I became a group leader for September. It allowed me to iundulge my love of spreadsheets (yes, really) and do something that required planning and organising which I hadn't really done since leaving my previous job 12 months ago. I just can't help it, I do love lists and data. So being an organiser for CRAFTfest gives me the best of both worlds: I get to be a techy geek and a creative crafter too. It'll be time for the November event before we know it...
So what happens next? Fingers crossed we keep up the brilliant networking momentum, not to the crazy intense level of the last week, but just to make sure we keep ourselves visible. And now of course we can kick back and relax a little and maybe even do some crafting. If only I could find a way to detach myself from this laptop for long enough!
PS - booking forms are open for November CRAFTfest. Click here to book a stall

Friday, 7 September 2012

CRAFTfest is here!

Get on over to the Creative Connections network for CRAFTfest: the original and best online craft fair open 24/7 until Staurday 8th September

 Click here for CRAFTfest

and just as a little taster, here's some more lovely stall previews...



Handmade Jewellery and Gifts Plus Jewellery Making Supplies

Beautiful, Beautiful Beads

Be welcome to my vision of contemporary beadwork jewellery - Beautiful, Beautiful Beads. The pieces I design are often made using a technique called bead-crochet, which I absolutely love. I use other techniques as well, to either make complete pieces or to add a focal point to a bead-crochet rope. You'll find a variety of jewellery in my shop that ranges from casual to statement pieces and each one has been created with love and thought. I hope you enjoy having a look around in my Etsy-Shop or visiting my facebook-page and please, don't be shy - contact me, if you have queries regarding my jewellery. Custom orders are welcome, let me know what you have in mind and I'll see what I can do.

Nicole de Bruin

Hi, I sell charms, charms and more metal charms, because as you can see from my shop , I LOVE charms and I am sure you do too. FREE combined shipping, SOME items have this which means you pay the first shipping fee but no extra shipping , so look out for these items .Your parcel will be mailed via airmail on the day after payment is received, it takes between 5 and 21 working days to get to The USA and Canada. Orders over $80.00 will get a free upgrade to registered mail (quicker and has a tracking number). Thank you and enjoy shopping. Nicole: Your one stop charm spot.


Berry Nice Crafts - Supplies

11mm Mixed Jewel Colours Clear Jelly Buttons Pack of 50

Bringing you some great deals in unusual and needful buttons, ribbons and organza. I also stock Grip Tight, Jiffy Grip and Slipper Gripper non slip slipper bottom craft fabric.


Owl home decoration

Welcome to GemzGems! I am a married mother of 2 children aged 4 and 2 and also a full time law student. I took up crafting after developing a 'make do and mend' attitude during the recession. This has bought back my creative side from when I was a child,plus my obsession of the 50's to a new level. GemzGems was launched just a few months back bringing back the things that I loved as a kid and opening my eyes to new ideas. Thank you for looking around and if you would like something made to your requirements, please feel free to contact me. All items include P&P in the price and I aim to dispatch all items within 2 working days.