Toadstool Curio Blog
The home of an ecclectic range of paper, digital, fabric and yarn crafts, plus a few mixed media projects to spice things up a bit!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Jellypark Challenge ~ Gettin' Punchy

I have only just discovered that illustrator and artist Claire Keay has opened her own online store selling her beautiful hand drawn digi stamps, watercolours, cards and other beautiful goodies. Jellypark is full of inspirational images for all kinds of papercrafting. I have previously bought some of her digi images through CraftsUPrint, but only realised that she had opened her own store when I saw one of her adorable stamps being used by a Polkadoodles design team member.

Having seen her gorgeous store, I hopped on over to the Jellypark challenge blog to have a nosey around. This week's challenge is to use any stamped image combined with punched or die cut elements. I am entering my 'gumball hearts' card into the challenge. The card uses 5 punches and 4 stamps, but has quite a clean and simple look to it.

I started by making a white layer from plain old photocopier paper using Martha Stewart two-step punch around the page. I cut a rectangle from Bazzill Bling and rounded the corners with an EK Success corner punch before stamping the gumball machine with a three piece stamp from Stampin' Up! I cut an aperture with a Woodware scalloped circle punch and fitted a treat cup in the space. I made lots of little heart-shaped sweeties by stamping and punching them out before layering them together with sticky pads. The card was then layered up and finished with the addition of a metal heart tab on the top and a piece of knotted spotty teal cololured ribbon from Anita's crafts.

I am looking forward to getting my copy of Claire's Jellypark newsletter which I know will be packed full of inspirational ideas to make good use of her beautiful artwork.

Monday, 29 August 2011

To Smash or Not To Smash

OK, so I am late to join the trend. I haven't yet rushed out to buy a smash book or any of the lovely accompaniments. I am a confirmed stashaholic, but I have to say that I am still undecided. I am definitely tempted by some of the add-ons and I love the idea of the glue/journalling pen in order to truly make it 'on the go' scrapping, but some of what makes me love scrapbooking is what would put me off actually getting on with a smash book in the intended scrapping-on-the-go sense.

Really, I think to fully enjoy the sensation in its most liberating sense, I would need to carry the book around with me, journalling anything that took my attention. Snippets of my children's conversations, sticking in bits and bobs I had collected along the way, then updating with photos etc once back at the craft table. BUT I CAN'T. Not because there is anything wrong with the concept. It is ME! Paper should be respected. Protected. Uncreased and clean. Pristine. I couldn't possibly tote it around with me unless it were protected in a sealed, possibly padded, carry case so that there were no possibility of damage. So then, if left at home, it would lose spontaneity. Lose some of the essence of what it could be. I must need more therapy!

So, will I be creating smash books? Well, I think it is a great excuse to involve my young children in creating some form of memory books. I think it would be different to scrap a family holiday from their perspective. To capture some of their excitement and enthusiasm. I would, however, have to sit on my hands when they stick things in without measuring the layout first. Zip my mouth shut when they scribble things out. Possibly have to walk out of the room if they decided to pull something out that has already been glued in, and, if they make a mistake when cutting out, I might just cry. In crafting, I am precise. It has to be right.

The 'new' trend somehow gives me permission to have a go at reviving the scrapbooking of my youth without thinking that it is a lesser art form than 'real' scrapbooking. At about 8 or 9 years old, whilst off sick from school and staying in my Grandmother's spare room, I was allowed to look in a cupboard I had previously been told was off-limits. The little cubic cubby-hole built into the wall was a revelation. Along with my aunt's collections of semi-precious minerals and gemstones, a set of 'The Man From UNCLE' annuals and a few back copies of 'Jackie' magazine were some rudimentary scrapbooks that had been made by my aunt when she was a child in the 1960's. During holidays all over Europe with my mum and grandparents, she had collected a variety of ephemera and, together with a few photographs and hand-written notes, the almost A3 sized sugar-paper books were brought to life.

I had to start my own scrapbook straight away. I raided my money box and rushed to the corner shop to buy a similarly large sugar-paper book for myself, then set about a life-long obsession of collecting anything and everything that might help me capture the memory of each special moment. I used the type of glue which required a spatula (you know, the stuff before glue sticks that smelled of marzipan and dried out if you didn't put the lid back on) and, if I had to, I made do with flour and water glue and even, at times, wall paper paste. I remember getting in to trouble for sneaking my Nan's pinking shears from her sewing drawer and using them to cut a picture out of a leaflet from a recently-visited tourist attraction. I learned early on that you need the right scissors for the job! I already knew how to use a sewing machine, so I found it easy to whip up a new book from a few sheets of old green and white striped printer paper and a line of machine stitches whenever I filled up one book (the slight singing dust smell from my Nan's Jones sewing machine is etched on my memory). I delighted in my ingenuity when using some of my post-office rubber stamp set to print titles on my pages and my little hobby typewriter to add text. For a child from a low income family, it was a great low-cost hobby. Ahem! Not so now perhaps. It was also perfect for me, a child who didn't really like to mix and certainly wasn't the social butterfly of the family. I could observe and take note of the family goings-on - it didn't matter anymore that I wasn't actively joining in. I had a purpose! From everyday occurrences to special occasions, most things were recorded in my precious albums. My joy was intensified when I was given a camera for Christmas and told I could have one roll of film and money for processing it at Christmas, Easter and on my birthday in October.

The things I loved collecting to enhance my memory pages were wrappers from sugar cubes, printed napkins, tickets, the labels that used to be stapled to the string of single-cup teabags, postcards and the leaflets that were on display in the ticket hall of the train station. Basically, things that were free to a child, but things that I still hoard even now, 30 years on. I could look at my little stash and summon up the memory of the day trip or rare holiday (I had two my whole childhood). I grew up in a single parent family, with the close support of my grandmother and aunt. We lived with them part of the time and between the three women, they made sure that my sister and I had plenty of special occasions to remember, even if holidays were scarce. There were always day trips by train to the seaside on the Kent coast each summer. We would set off early with packed lunches of cold toast and hard boiled eggs (yes, really). If enough had been saved, we might wait in the station buffet with a cup of Kia-ora squash and a pack of biscuits. If we had been especially good, there might even be a pre-packed slice of McVitie's fruit cake to eat on the train. The old slam-door carriages, with the small compartments were my favourite. I would hate the scratchy upholstery digging into my thighs beneath my hand-made summer dress, but loved the rocking motion of the train and the excitement that built with each passing station. There is something more suited to a smash book than a scrapbook about these memories. Perhaps that is because I don't have the photos any more, or that I don't have exact dates and places. Perhaps, in my mind, smash books are perfect for capturing feelings rather than anything tangible. See, even the thought of creating smash books has me reliving old memories and happy times!

Those early scrapbooks are long gone. Years ago consigned to the bin (in the days before recycling), but the memories of those special days are still with me. Many of the photos are long lost, but the ones that survive are very precious. I am yet to scrap any of them properly because I tend to use current pictures in my layouts. I would love to make a whole album of my childhood. More specifically, special times with my sister (who sadly died in 2005). Perhaps I should start with my own 'Smash books' of these memories? A way to ease myself in to tackling tricky, sensitive subjects.

Another use that I can think of for smash books in my own memory preservation is for those photos crying out to be scrapped, but I don't yet have the 'perfect' layout idea. I have a number of special pics that I keep putting off dealing with because I want to make sure that the layout is the best it can be. Maybe a smash book layout could be a sort of 'memory book-mark' until I actually get around to a full layout. Perhaps it will ease some of the 'scrappers guilt' that I feel when I create yet another album as a gift, without finishing those for my own children.

At least I will know that, as long as they are kept in that protective case (with or without padding) and if I don't resort to wallpaper paste or flour and water glue, that the 'smash books' I make now may be around to inspire my grandchildren in 30 years time....

Oh, if there is anyone who doesn't know what a smash book is and has made it to the end of this post without falling asleep, there is a great little video on You Tube from the companies behind the product range. What will you record in yours?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Nearly there!

Having changed my images from Picasa over to Photobucket, the majority of my new template seems to be working now, except for the background! I have tried editing the HTML, but don't know enough to get it to look right. If I take out a space in the code, I can get it to appear, but not with the posts or the header in the centre. Instead, they float randomly over the background.

I've given up for today as I am going cross-eyed from looking at code. For now, I have reverted to the designer's original code without my edits so that the background isn't visible, otherwise you, dear visitor, will be going cross-eyed too.

I think the Picasa issue was that the URL for my images was secure, which I couldn't seem to change. I changed the privileges and the security (who can viewe,link etc), but nothing seemed to work. Photobucket images are not via secure URL, so the problem was easier to overcome.

Now, I just need the blinkie images and the design credit images to work..... A gal's gotta have something to look forward to on a rainy day!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Sorry for anyone viewing a very bare looking blog. I am using a new template with graphics hosted by Picasa. There seems to be a temporary (hopefully!!) support issue with the compatability between Blogger and Picasa, and I am waiting for Blogger support to get back to me with an idea of what can be done. It seems to crop up periodically, from looking at the support logs, so hopefully they can help me resolve it soon as my new template is so pretty, I can't wait to show it off.

My frustration is compounded by very poor internet connection ever since I have had my lovely new laptop. Everytime someone else in the house, including our mobiles, picks up the wifi signal, my connection drops out. WHY ME??? I am fed up with rebooting the router to get things working again. Maybe I should throw a hissy fit and ban the rest of my family from accessing the internet, just so that I can finish setting up my new blog template and uploading photos.

Polkadoodles Challenge Week 33

As I am a confirmed Polkadoodles addict, I thought I would have a go at one of their weekly cardmaking challenges. This week's challenge has been set by team member Ruth and it's quite a tricky one! The theme of the challenge is 'Single Layer Cards', either printing or stamping directly on the card, and only using minimal embellishments to finish it off.

For someone like me who struggles with the 'less is more' concept, this was a challenge indeed. I really did have to restrain myself!

I used the 'Mummy' black and white digi stampi from the fabulous 'Sundae of Seasons' CD-Rom (available from Polkadoodles of course!). I coloured the Mummy using the new Flex Markers from Letraset, then hand stitched around the image with a thick cotton floss to give the impression of a red layer under the image. To add another 'fake' layer, I coloured in a rectangle around the Mummy and red stitching, again using Flex Markers. To enhance the effect, I added faux running stitches using a white Sakura pen around the rectangle, which makes it pop out from the card a little bit more. I edited one of Nikky's sentiments from the same CD and printed it directly on to the card. As I couldn't help myself, I finished the project off with a short piece of Cosmo Cricket ribbon woven through the card, tied in a knot.

It is my birthday in October, so I think nearer the time, I will leave this card laying about in the hope that one of my three little ones writes it out and gives it to me, along with birthday breakfast in bed and a whole load of crafty goodies for a present (I'm compiling a Polkadoodles wish list kids, just in case you were wondering what Mummy wants for her birthday - the last one in my 30's, so don't forget 39 'kisses' in the card lovely children!!).


Glad you could join me!

Having crafted all of my life pretty much (yep, pretty sure I was making things in my cot as a tiny babe), I don't have one particular craft I prefer, but I am hardly ever to be found without at least one fabric, yarn, paper or mixed media project underway!

This means that Toadstool Curio is an ecclectic mix of handmade, vintage, embellished and upcycled items from baby gifts, new mum essentials, one-off clothing designs, fashion accessories, home decoratives, gifts, cards, scrapbooks and much more.

I also design sewing patterns, digital stamps for cardmaking / scrapbooking and occasionally sell crafting supplies for those who like to make their own goodies.

I have a shop front at Folksy. If you fancy a visit sometime, hop on over to Look forward to seeing you there! I also welcome commissions for a huge variety of handmade items. Looking for a special gift? Just email me with details and I'll let you know what I can offer.


This time of year, I usually like to pick lovely fresh cherries. As I can't walk at the moment, I am pretty much housebound, so no cherry picking for me! Instead, I think I'll set myself the challenge of crafting some cherry themed items over the next week or so. Or perhaps I'll just send someone out to buy me some...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Card for Oliver

I always keep the cards that I make for our children. I intend to scrap them someday. This means added pressure to make something they'll like (and that I will still be happy with in years to come!) and not just give in and buy something from Tesco's! For Oliver's 7th birthday card this summer, I decided that he might like one of my manga-inspired robots. I added a piece of chain from a keyring, a press stud, a cog and part of an old McDonalds toy to add to the futuristic effect! I've been known to use can ring-pulls, old earrings, clothing tag barcodes and electronics components before now on this type of card. I'm nothing if not resourceful...

Cards to Welcome a Baby Boy

A friend recently asked me to make a personalized card to celebrate the arrival of her new nephew. I couldn't stop at just one, so made her a few cards to choose from, include one which folded out to spell 'Baby' on the outside with vintage images inside. I then went on to make a few more in similar designs, but for girls as I have several friends all with babies due over the summer. What better excuse to play around with some gorgeous vintage baby images and soft new-born colours.

Simple Sun Dress

Whenever I am organised enough, I like to make handmade gifts. Of course, not everyone appreciates them, but hey, I enjoy making them! My daughter Purdey has been a really popular little girl since starting at infants school this year. She gets invited to so many parties, which means sooo many presents! For her friend Maya's 5th birthday, Purdey told me that she wanted me to make Maya a pretty sun dress. I made a simple smock-topped dress in 100% cotton, which had co-ordinating wide ruched straps which can be worn on the shoulder, off the shoulder or with the straps tucked in to make it, well, obviously, strapless! Luckily, my wonderful Brother ES2410 sewing machine is a whizz at smocking, so it was a joy to whip up this little number.

As usual, the dress is modelled reluctantly by Purdles in our, rather overgrown, backgarden. Having given this dress a road-test, Purdey then demanded I make her atleast two, frogmarching me to my fabric stash so that she could pick out exactly what they should be made from. She most certainly is her mother's daughter!

Victorian Costumes

Each year, we take our three children to Rochester's Dickens' Festival. Not that they are really old enough to appreciate the works of Dickens, but they love the costumes, theparades, the Punch and Judy shows, the charity lucky dip stalls and, of course, the fun fair. This year, I decided to make them some simple costumes so that they could join in. They were filthy by the end of the day (far too many pale colours for three children under the age of 7), but they had a great time. The only low point of the day was when Purdey lost her hand-made sateen bonnet in a gust of wind! Never mind, it would be too small for her by the time next year's festival comes round anyway.

Carte Postale

Thought I would share a digital scrapbook layout I have finished this weekend, featuring my beautiful 5 year old daughter, Purdey. It is mostly using the gorgeous 'Carte Postale' kit from plus a few bits and pieces I whipped up in Photoshop. I love the vintage feel to the finished layout. When I create traditional 'paper' layouts, I tend to use hidden journalling so that I can keep what I have written fairly private unless I choose to share it. In my digital layouts, I rarely add any journalling, as I generally print the finished layout anyway (I am a paper-lover at heart) and then use the opportunity to slip a journalling tag between pages to write my thoughts/feelings/comments. Sneaky, I know, but I think it gives the page breathing space.