Friday, 30 October 2015

Festive food at Faversham

Somebody once said (actually it was Erma Bombeck), “there is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child" and she was right. But sometimes I get that childlike excitement of Christmas just going to Macknade Fine Foods in Faversham.

Have you been? It's one of those places where Christmas begins and, although it's only October, I get an instant jolt of Christmas sparkle. This family-run business has been going since 1847, and in 1979 Renato Cuomo took over a field and created 20 acres of pick your own magic. Originally from Italy, he brought with him a passion for food culture, and today award-winning Macknade Fine Food is the South East's leading food hall, with its own butchery and a shop just opened in Bluewater.

We come here every year to get the essentials of Christmas - chocolates in beautiful boxes, biscuits in amazing tins, and treats for little girly's Christmas stocking. We have lunch in the cafe with its delicious platters of charcuterie and cheeses, and a cup of their Italian coffee. It is fabulous.

Plus, when we visited last week they had the best pumpkins all ready for Halloween. I haven't got the best track record with pumpkins so I didn't get another one. I didn't fancy yet another mouldy orange thing in the garden! But their displays are wonderful. Squashes of all shapes, sizes and colours.

If you fancy an injection of Christmas spirit, then go and visit this lovely shop. If you like Turkish Delight you'll be in heaven because there are so many beautifully decorated boxes. You can find this fabulous shop on Selling Road, Faversham, ME13 8XF. They have a great blog too, just click here.

Monday, 26 October 2015

A burnt bauble box and Curious George

My obsession with vintage glass baubles was the inspiration behind this box, which turned out to be a joy to paint. This one is also for sale, see below for details.

I'm very lucky to have a great collection of glass baubles, some of them are my Grandma's original 50s baubles, which are like the Crown Jewels in our house. I love everything about them, especially the colours, which is why I wanted to make this box. 

When we think of Christmas colours usually green and red come to mind, but with vintage baubles it's all about pastel pinks, blues, silver, gold and white - ice-cream colours gone mad. My Grandma's baubles are still in their original paper boxes (I'll have to post pictures of them nearer Christmas, you'll love them) and I really like the way they are packaged in little compartments.

So I finally finished this box, and the kitchen table has taken the brunt of the damage! I'm so messy when I'm painting. I managed not to get told off this time by my girly, as she has been poorly with a high temperature. So she has been laid on the sofa watching me paint and watching endless 'Curious George' (the official sound track of this box).

Hope you like it, and it's for sale if you want it. You can personalize all my boxes however you prefer. Just click on the Etsy logo on the top left or message me on twitter @mudlarksmagpies! Xxxxxx

Friday, 23 October 2015

A burnt birdy pencil box

I've just finished this birdy pencil-crayon box and it's turned out very colourful. I had planned to do muted blues and greys, believe it or not, so I have no idea how it turned so 'rainbow'. But hey ho, it is a pencil-crayon box.

Planning this one took quite a long time. I knew I wanted birds and it had to be an art box, but that was it. So instead of sketching it all out, I just got going on the box and worked it out along the way. As you can see from my sketch book, it's a bit chaotic.

I managed to get paint on the curtains too, which was pointed out by a very amused little girly. "Oh Mummy, you've got paint on the curtains! You're so messy, so naughty". She's right.

Anyway, I'm going to try and sell this box, so if you want it just click on the Etsy logo to visit my shop, or leave a comment on twitter @mudlarksmagpies. Thanks for reading xxxxx.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A burnt match book

"Keep a little fire burning, however small, however hidden" - my latest burnt box is a match book inspired by Cormac McCarthy's excellent quote.

I've been burning wood so much recently that I smell of bonfires. It's bloody wonderful! I LOVE that smell. Anyway, here's the box I've just finished all ready to go in my little Etsy shop. It didn't turn out quite how I'd sketched it, but I like the final result. There were a few incidents along the way.

My little girly and me like to paint together at the kitchen table, so I gave her a box of her own to paint. Unfortunately, she likes to get very very active when painting (it's more like performance art!!!) and some pink paint got flicked on my box. Fortunately, it doesn't really matter because I could have sanded it off, but it gave me an idea on how I would paint it.

Can you see the pink performance art paint?

I don't know why I ended up veering off my sketched version. It just seem to evolve on its own. Either that, or I'm not good at sticking to plans. It was the same when I did the sardine tin.

This type of box is designed as a book, and it has a pull-out spine. I can't find any more of these boxes, so this really is going to be a one-off. I've got some book boxes with a hinged lid, but I really like these 'secret compartment' books.

 I think my little girlie's box is better, but she says it's not for sale!

If you would like to have MY box, please visit my Etsy shop by clicking on the logo on the top left of this blog. Thanks for reading! And thank you so much to all those who have left lovely comments, I really do appreciate your fabulous support. (Plus, a special wink to the lovely TeaLady100 xxxx).

Monday, 19 October 2015

My new Etsy shop is now OPEN!

I'm very pleased to announce that I've finally taken the plunge and opened an Etsy shop! I'm going to be selling my hand-painted, hand-burnt wooden boxes, so please take a look... gulp!

Phew!... It took me long enough, but I finally mustered up the confidence to do it. If you want to visit my shop, just click on the Etsy logo on the left. I hope you like the boxes, it's a bit terrifying putting them out to sell. But I am quite happy how they've turned out. 

The large version

I only opened my shop last night, at 10pm just before I went to bed! Sensible... erm no! So far there are just two listings, but I've got sketches of five new designs I'll be making in the next few week. So please keep visiting. All my boxes are made to order, and can be personalised.

I've blogged about the large burnt tin of sardines, and here is the smaller version...

Planning the smaller version

The smaller version all finished
So wish me luck, and open up your own shop. If I can do it, you can too.  

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sunday Sevens #8

I've had a really good week this week... kitchen finished... sold a burnt box... tidied the garden... organised my wardrobe... avoided getting another pumpkin... and found some magic mushrooms!

1. On Monday morning I looked out at our garden and it looked like we'd had a massive storm - plants falling down, leaves everywhere, branches on the grass, toys strewn about and my potato-pea bush lying on the gravel looking dead. We hadn't had a storm, in fact it was far worse. We'd got something called 'neglect'. It's quite common in people who spend too much time crafting. So me and my little girly got to work and after approximately ten wheelbarrow's full of debris, we made the garden beautiful again. We even had to use a saw - this was a professional job!

2. While we were busy tidying the garden we found yet another blue mushroom! I looked it up and it's a Ringed Blue Stropharia Aeruginosa mushroom. Inedible, and in the US it is classified as containing toxic hallucinogens psilobin and psilocybin! Wow! We found a magic mushroom! We then found a cluster of them under our tree. What's a group of magic blue mushrooms called? A bong of mushrooms, a joint of mushrooms, a doobee of mushrooms, a reefer, a stoner.....?

3. I did start some sewing this week, a Simplicity kimono. It looks easy, but of course I've chosen the wrong material. A really silky jersey that hates pins and I can't find a way of doing the markings on it. Even chalk won't show up. It needs properly thinking out, so it's sitting on the kitchen table under a pile of other stuff, just waiting... and waiting... and waiting. 

4. I've been procrastinating about the kimono, which meant I found boring tasks suddenly ultra important and needing immediate attention. So I sorted out and organised all my clothes. I gave four bin-liners of clothes to charity and had to make some hard choices about what to throw out. This pair of pumps, which I've loved to death, just had to go to shoe heaven. They're split at the sole and a bit grubby. I took a photo to remember them, which is a bit sad isn't it. I loved those pumps. 

5. This week I was spurred on by the sale of one of my burnt boxes. This is the first time I've tried to sell one, and a lovely lovely lady I met on twitter snapped it up. Most of this week has been spent making and painting this, and it was so nice to sell it. So thank you so much TeaLady100 XXXX. 

6. On Wednesday my little girly asked me where her pumpkin was! (erm, in the bin). So I distracted her with some scary crafting. We made this 'orrible lot in one afternoon... that's how much 'distracting' was needed. Dracula is my favourite, he looks like he'd just nibble you. 

7. Hold on to your wigs people! The kitchen is finally finished! Eight weeks and one day, and it's done. So, anyone fancy a coffee? Yeh? OK, well... I'll come round YOUR house because my kitchen might get ruined with your bloody crumbs. 

Have a great week everyone! 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Alan Bennett and a burnt tin of sardines

It was Alan Bennett who said, "Life is rather like a tin of sardines, we're all of us looking for the key", and this gave me the idea for my latest project - a burnt tin of sardines. Plus, I will be selling this box, which you can personalise with any message, so scroll down for details. 

I am a big big fan of Alan Bennett. I think I've read everything he's published. It's the word 'rather' in this quote which makes me laugh. Without the word 'rather' it wouldn't be an Alan Bennett quote would it? I can only read this quote in his voice, and I like to linger over the word 'rather' in his round Yorkshire accent. 

Anyway, enough of my idiosyncrasies! I loved making this box - planning it out, problem solving, deciding on colours, making mistakes, having to buy an eraser to rub out the mistakes, redrawing it, burning it, painting it while the kitchen was finally finished! All good fun. 

I pencilled everything onto the box, and then realised that the box was upside down! How I managed to make this mistake, I do not know. I really surprise myself sometimes at just how stupid I can be. I had to go to Hobbycraft to get an eraser, but by the time I got back home, I was ready to get going again. 

My little girly took a shine to this box and claimed it as her own before I'd even burnt it. She kept interrupting me to put her toys in the box while I re-pencilled the design on the front. I had to hide it from her the next day! 

Painting it was the best bit, and it also took away the stress of having the kitchen finished. Plus, it meant kitchen-fitter-chat was down to the bare minimum. No offence to kitchen-fitters, they do an amazing job, but I've spent soooo much time with them recently that I'm small-talked out. I've got no small-talk left in me - I've used up my life-time supply of it. So for the last few hours, the fitters just got grunts from me. 

I did manage to finish the box though, and I'm going to try selling this one. If you would like this one, the details are below. I can burn any message you want on the inside of the box - anything at all (a quote, a name, a poem, a short story!). Why not give this one as a Christmas present? If you would like this one I will be setting up an Etsy shop, so leave a comment of your interest and I'll post shop details soon. Plus, on the Etsy shop I'll have better pictures for you. 

Box details: Hand-painted, hand-burnt, original one-off design. This is a good sturdy box, which can be personalised however you prefer. 
Dimensions: 34.2cm x 25.2cm x 5.2cm (basically in-between A4 and A3 size)
Price: £35 plus postage and packaging