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Weekly Challenge: Scrapbook a Selfie

weekly challenge: scrapbook a selfie @ shimelle.com

Welcome to February, and welcome to what feels like a new year here! Along with the Starshine release at CHA, this past month has been filled with putting together all those pieces to bring you the reenergised dream I shared with you on the first of the year. Scrapping. Filming. Editing. Scheduling. Collaborating. Commissioning. So many things I’m excited for you to see here on a near-daily basis, and it all starts today.

Scrapbooking challenges are no new thing in terms of motivating crafters to stop staring at the pretty paper and start sticking it to other pretty paper. I think it must be nearly fifteen years ago when I was starting to put my small stash to work following challenges on DMarie, UKScrappers, and Two Peas. Talk about ‘back in the day’. But it’s been a while since we’ve had any sort of set challenges here, and it feels like the right time! Every Monday, you’ll find a new scrapbooking challenge right here along with two examples to inspire you: one from a contributing designer and one from a guest artist. Then you’ll often see my version on Tuesday – this week it’s complete with a new video too.

Speaking of contributing designers, I’m delighted to introduce eight talented artists who you will see here throughout the year. I’ve spent the last month having a creative pow-wow with these ladies and their individual passions for this hobby. I love that they love this craft. They love telling stories. They love beautiful design. And they love talking about it. I think you will love their work. You’ll see each of them about once a month here, but they post much more frequently on their own blogs, of course. Please welcome Meghann Andrew, May Flaum, Heather Leopard, Gina Lideros, Nicole Nowosad, Leigh Odynski, Sheena Rowlands, and Kirsty Smith.

And now, on to the challenge! We’re starting at the centre of it all – there would be no scrapbook without you making it! I challenge you this week to scrapbook a selfie. Make a new page with a photo of yourself. Everything else is completely up to you, so you can take your inspiration in any direction you like! A few years ago, I scrapped about our self portraits needing some work, and phew – they really did get better! If you don’t rate yours right now, have faith and take the time to experiment. I know it won’t take you as long to get to grips with selfies as it took me! To get you started on this week’s challenge, take a look at these examples from contributing designer Leigh Odynski and guest artist Leanne Edwards.

weekly challenge: scrapbook a selfie  @ shimelle.com // layout by Leigh Odynski

My selfie scrapping inspiration came entirely from my ‘one little word’ for 2016: aspire. Once I had that direction, I was ready to run with the idea!

weekly challenge: scrapbook a selfie  @ shimelle.com // layout by Leigh Odynski

I got the idea to create an envelope effect at the top of the page, sort of like you are opening a letter from a friend, and inside is a scrapbook page. I am sure I am not alone in thinking these are the hardest pages to create – the ones about ourselves. This photo was taken a year ago,and it’s amazing how time flies without the person behind the lens ever getting in front of the camera, so I’m glad of challenges like this that give me a much-needed reminder.

The vellum journaling strips from Shimelle’s True Stories Tags, made for quick and easy journaling. I ran this page through my printer to add more journaling, but you could just as well add it with a typewriter!
- Leigh

weekly challenge: scrapbook a selfie  @ shimelle.com // layout by Leanne Edwards

In the past I was all about scrapbooking and recording every little thing. Then I had two kids and became a working mum. Trying to balance my hobbies, I had to take a step back and work out how I could make this work for me. I think I am finally settling into a system which works for our family life: at the end of the year I do a stock take on all the photos I have printed and find the stories I want to tell. I can usually find themes among those photos, and one of the many themes in our daily life is selfies. My husband and I love them!

weekly challenge: scrapbook a selfie with Leanne Edwards @ shimelle.com

I have a nice stack of photos of the two of us from the past year, and pulled together four on the layout, taken at various points over the past year, seasons and various events. Making them into a grid with a mat gave me the focus for the page. All the layers behind that were from my bag of scraps – go me, remembering to use my stash! As the photos had no real colour theme I just went with what I liked. The red heart paper from Shimelle’s first AC collection is one of my all time favourites and I am now down to these last few bits and pieces of that paper. Mixing red with green can sometimes look a bit Christmassy but adding the navy and pinks from Elle’s Studio from the Thankful collection soften the colour palette.
- Leanne


You have a week to complete the challenge and share a link – but of course you’re welcome to set your own time schedule. Whatever keeps you happy and creative!

I’ll see you tomorrow for a brand new video to share how I took on this challenge!

Today’s Guest Artist: Leanne Edwards loves being a mum, caffeinated drinks, and collecting hobbies. You can find more from Leanne on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and her blog.

Introducing Starshine, my new collection with American Crafts

Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com
It’s just a few hours now until I pack my last few things into my bag and head to the airport, bound for CHA – the annual Craft and Hobby Association trade show in California. CHA is a convention floor filled with the newest releases across a variety of crafts, ready for store owners to order for the year ahead. I’m very excited to be there to debut my fourth scrapbooking collection with American Crafts, Starshine.

scrapbook page made with the Starshine collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

Inspired by starry nights and big dreams, Starshine brings together many shades of blue with pink, green, yellow, and red – something for any fanciful adventure you might encounter. My hope is that you’ll find things here for scrapping boys and girls, recent and retro, and that there might also be one or two things that suit your aspirations for the year ahead while we’re in this mindset of new beginnings – because Starshine will be on its way to stores straight away.

birthday card made with the Starshine collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

clear stamps - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

For Starshine, we’ve filled globes with a variety of different images, and with the clear stamp set, you can fill a globe with just what you fancy. Plenty of word stamps that you can use on journaling cards, on your calendar, or to add a little detail to embellishment clusters, plus a big sentiment and the empty globe to fill with stars, cameras, flowers, or hot air balloons.

mini flair badges - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

These flair badges are tiny in size, and balance beautifully with a label or two.

epoxy paperclips - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

In the last two collections, we topped wooden buttons with epoxy designs. This time we’ve moved over to paperclips, and they are flat enough to use in the embellishment of a layout but also strong enough to actually hold some paper and keep your desk beautiful.

marquee thickers - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

turquoise glitter thickers - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

There are two sets of Thickers: a multicoloured Marquee style, and my favourite Fitzgerald font now in turquoise glitter.

small sticker sheet - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

The small sticker sheet includes phrases, a teensy tiny alphabet, and a few strips of stars for your pages’ finishing touch.

larger sticker sheet - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

The large sticker sheet has larger sentiments, icons, and border strips.

chipboard stickers - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

And the chipboard sticker set has so many stickers in this not-too-thick chipboard that makes it a perfect balance for adding some dimension without creating some towering stack that will never fit in a page protector. Includes a floral boot for all your adventures, of course.

ephemera - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

The ephemera set is a mix of designs on white cardstock and printed on clear acetate, for lovely layering options.

shaped washi tape - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

Oh this. This might be my favourite. It’s washi tape, but it’s die cut into shapes more like a border sticker. These two designs come in one box so you don’t have to pick.

acrylic shapes - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

These are something new for us too – acrylic shapes with lofty motifs for all your dream documenting.

roller stamp with notepad - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

You can never have too many roller stamps, right? This one has a variety of phrases and comes with a notepad for journaling or notes.

rub-on pens - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

These little gadgets are rub-on pens. I used so many of these when we travelled to Japan years ago, and I’m happy to see them hit the scrapbooking world. Just roll on the design like an adhesive roller, but it’s a picture instead of glue.

12x12 papers - Starshine Scrapbooking Collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

And of course, there is paper! This is just a sample of the full paper range, and the papers are available by the double-sided sheet or single sided in 12×12 and 6×6 paper pads.

graduation card made with the Starshine collection from Shimelle & American Crafts @ shimelle.com

I’ll be sharing more projects and videos with Starshine soon, including coverage from the show floor at CHA. The best place to catch what I’m seeing at CHA is on Instagram, but I’ll post the most important bits here too whenever I have time.

American Crafts are blogging about Starshine today as well, and they have a Starshine prize pack to send to one of you! Leave a comment on this post to enter, and let us know which piece of Starshine you’d most like on your desk! Entries close this Sunday, the 10th of January, at 11:59pm GMT (UK time). One entry per person and you can live absolutely anywhere. (Now if only someone on the ISS would enter!)

Thanks so much for taking a look at Starshine!

Scrapbooking in 2016

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

Happy New Year! We’ve been out for our traditional New Year walk and yet somehow have become so practical that it included a stop for groceries. That’s thrilling trivia, I realise, but I tell you this because the important part is the cupboards were not entirely empty. This was not buying groceries in a panic to get something two hours after a regular time for lunch, but a stop to get what we needed for tomorrow and the day that follows. And that, dear friends, is a huge difference to life on the first day of this new year compared to 365 days ago.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

I know twelve weeks of baking posts here was a bit off topic, but it started to get my mind set in a good place again: making, sharing, keeping a schedule. I don’t care that I didn’t win – I baked something for every one of the twelve challenges. I didn’t just start and get overwhelmed by the rest of life partway through.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

More on topic, however, has been Journal your Christmas. All the years of this class, and this year was the first that I have filmed and shared the making of my entire book. It’s not quite finished yet (class finishes on the sixth) but there is a video for every day, and my album is more complete at this point than it has been in years. Again, it’s a turning point for making, sharing, keeping a schedule. Only this time it hasn’t been weekly efforts, but daily posts. And while there may have been a few nights when I really wasn’t sure if I could keep on top of everything, it has worked! It’s been an actual joy. I cannot begin to explain how happy this makes me feel.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

I’ve never lost my love of pretty paper, but having a messy-from-working (as opposed to messy-from-stacking) desk this December has made me swoon. Cutting and pasting and stitching and stapling and stamping and layering and writing and painting… YES. YES TO ALL.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

But I’m learning from this slow path back to productivity. I’m not announcing anything. No big packed schedule. No massive intentions with no wriggle room that lead me to tears and disappointment on a day that I can’t make things happen as I imagine. Instead: I am here. I am making stuff. I want to share.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

That’s enough for a New Year declaration, right?

Oh. Wait. Okay.
I’ll announce one thing.

I hope 2016 is feeling positive for you too.

Join in with Journal your Christmas 2015!

It’s just hours from my favourite time of year – Journal your Christmas time! The 2015 forums are open and discussions have started, and there are even two new videos posted for members that show my process for getting ready (it doesn’t take long) and staying organised with this project amongst the busy days of the Christmas season. But let me slow down just a minute.

Journal your Christmas is a project that has been near and dear to my heart for twelve years now. It was first a journal I created just for myself as I worked to ‘take back Christmas’ and rekindle the feeling I remembered in the season but wasn’t finding in everyday life at that particular time. That journal turned everything around for me and my love of Christmas has stayed with me ever since. The following year, I used that journal to develop a set of writing prompts for scrapbookers and journalers with the idea that you could write every day or just some days, choosing the topics that spoke to you most. There is no pressure to create an entry for every day or every topic in any one year, and you’re encouraged to go back to that book that you started with good intentions but didn’t get anywhere near Christmas day in your documentation. With that in mind, I set out from day one that this would be an annual project and if you joined in once, you could participate as many years as you wanted at no extra cost… which means there are a few people who have gone through the class more than ten times all from that initial purchase! I’m so honoured that JYC is part of Christmas for many of you.

The video above has a little explanation of the basics and what you’ll receive this year – and that’s a daily PDF and a new daily video. There is already a library of daily 3×4 cards from last December, and these are new videos with a different format. Still on the shorter side to make them fit in your holiday schedule, but rather than just a card each day, each video has a balance of crafting – sometimes an embellishment, sometimes a stamping technique or a journaling technique or working with a photo – and the theme explored in that day’s PDF. It feels quite cohesive for me this year, looking at the PDF and the videos together, and I’m excited to work in my journal alongside you. (I am working ahead a little so my journal can still be very much the real events and photos and thoughts of Christmas in our home, but in a way I can share with you without a delay.)

When you sign up, you receive access to all future years but also all the archived material from the past years of Journal your Christmas, so if you want to sign up now and look through the daily videos from last year or read all the prompts in one big binge session tomorrow, you definitely can. There are also printable and digital files in the archives and you can see the gallery from each year where participants share their work.

What’s included in Journal your Christmas?
Thirty-seven days of inspiration delivered right to your inbox. We start on the first of December and run to the sixth of January, which is the twelfth day of Christmas.
Each daily email includes a full-colour, printable PDF that covers a particular topic in depth with ideas for journaling, photographing, and crafting. This year, it also includes an accompanying video.
There is also a private forum to chat and share your work with other JYC participants.

What makes your classes different to others?
All of my classes include permanent access, something I have always taken very seriously. That means when you join the project, you can participate for as many years as you would like at no extra cost.

I donate £1 for every class purchase to The Girls’ Fund at Plan, a charity that helps millions of girls who otherwise wouldn’t have access to education or basic survival needs.

The PDF prompts come right to your inbox – you don’t have to sign into the website daily to view them – though they are archived for you online so if you need to go back or want to download several to work on while you’re offline for a while, that is always an option. (You may or may not be able to see the videos straight from your inbox – it depends on the device you’re using and your mail software settings, but likewise, the streaming videos are embedded in both the emails and the class forum so you can view them at the time that works best for you.)

We really embrace variety and doing what works best for you. You can just take pictures or just write words or you can create a beautiful canvas every day – it’s completely up to you and I love every way the project may be approached. That includes how many entries you will make. You can certainly add something to your album every day if you would like, but it’s not a requirement. When I started this project, I designed it with the idea that you would cover a few of the topics in the first year, then in your second year pick a few more, and so on until you had a very full album you loved that documented many years of Christmas celebration. So whether you want to create every day, just now and then, or just take notes in December then put it all together at a quieter time of year, you are welcome to take the avenue that makes you happiest!

How do I join Journal your Christmas?
Easy! Just choose your currency and click the button below for your choice of UK pounds or US dollars. If neither of those is your currency, you can still join us! Choose either and the payment will convert automatically when you make your payment.

You can pay by credit/debit card or Paypal account. If you would like your prompts to come to a different email address than the one on your Paypal account, please be sure to leave a note in the message to seller section with the email address you would like to use. (If you miss that, send me an email to let me know, with both email addresses. Orders can take up to 24 hours to process. If you haven’t received your class registration after 24 hours, just email me and I’ll make sure your registration is completed and ready for you to get started!

Can I give Journal your Christmas as a gift?
Yes! Just click to pay above as normal, then leave the email address for the gift recipient in the notes section. If you miss the notes, email me. If you’d like me to send an email explaining that the class is a gift, I’m happy to do so – just let me know your preference of being named or anonymous!

Is there a deadline for signing up?
No. You can sign up any day of the year. The class starts on the first of December, so if you want to be in on day one, that can be part of the fun, but if you sign up later, you’ll still have access to all the materials, and you can do them in order or skip around – there is thought to the order but it’s not so regimented that you can’t change it up!

As a previous participant, what do I need to do?
If you participated last year and your email address has not changed, you don’t need to do anything to join us again. (The first message sent also has instructions on how to unsubscribe if you don’t want to receive the emails this year.) If your email address has changed since last year, you’ll want to update your account on the forum. If you need any help getting your email updated, please send a message to this special address and include both the old and new email address so your account can be corrected.

Previous participants can access the class forum any time. If you do not remember your login details at the forum, click at the top right of the forum screen to log in. When that page loads, there is a forgotten password link below the boxes. Follow the instructions from there and your username and a new password will be sent automatically. (If you don’t see it straight away, check your spam folder.)

Any other questions, please let me know. I’m looking forward to creating a Christmas journal full of happiness this year, and I’d love for you to join me and so many dedicated Christmas journalers for JYC2015.

Order your 2015 Christmas in a Box or JYC Stamps

Christmas scrapbooking kit @ shimelle.com
It’s midday here so the remaining kits and stamps are now available, and you can take a look inside at all the details with a video.

Stamps and kits are now available for purchase here. Stamps ship worldwide, and kits are most economical for delivery to the UK or at the most Europe, as otherwise you’re likely to find the shipping costs prohibitive when getting the heavy box to another continent. In the US, you can find similar offerings at Blue Moon Scrapbooking*, Scrapbook.com*, A Cherry on Top, Scrapbook Generation, and Paper Issues. This kit from Studio Calico includes a few of the same items in a smaller kit. In Australia, take a look at this kit from Scrappy Canary. In Canada, a few JYC participants have given a big recommendation of Clipper Street Scrapbooking, who are a bricks and mortar store in Langley, BC, but might be able to help if you give them a call.

A note on numbers: there are a few days left for pre-ordered customers to pay their remaining balance, which means I have a certain number of kits available now but I may have a few more. If the kits and stamps available now sell out, I will open a waiting list and fill those orders in the order received.

I think that’s everything, but feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. Thanks so much!

Click here to purchase a kit or stamps!

*denotes affiliate link.

Christmas in a Box 2015 and limited edition Christmas stamps available now

Christmas in a Box 2015 scrapbooking kit @ shimelle.com

It’s a flurry of Christmas preparation around here and I’m surrounded by these kits at the moment! I’d love to share with you the scrapbooking supplies I’m using for Journal your Christmas in 2015. I’m just finishing up pre-ordered kits at the moment, so will be ready to put the remaining kits for sale at midday tomorrow (that’s Sunday, and GMT/UK time). The kits are available for UK and European shipping, or the stamps only can ship worldwide.

Christmas in a Box 2015 scrapbooking kit @ shimelle.com

Christmas in a Box 2015 scrapbooking kit @ shimelle.com

Christmas in a Box 2015 scrapbooking kit @ shimelle.com

JYC2015 clear stamps @ shimelle.com

There’s a quick look, and payment buttons and the video with full commentary of the kit will be live here at noon tomorrow! See you then!

Rhubarb and Custard layer cakes: my 2015 bake off finale

gluten free rhubarb and custard layer cake - inspired by the great british bake off #gbbo @ shimelle.com

Alas, the latest series of the Great British Bake Off has come to a close, and without spoiling the results for those of you watching at a big delay abroad (some of you have reported you’re watching the 2013 season at the moment!), this year my three favourites from the start were the three favourites in the final so it was a real joy to watch because I really just wanted to see them make amazing things and I didn’t mind who won! There was some amazing baking in that final episode, even though the descriptions of the challenges seemed too simple for the final at first – things like iced buns and classic British cakes just seemed like day one of pastry school when earlier weeks had challenged the bakers to such complicated tasks! But seeing how it all came together, it was indeed inspiring to see personal twists on things that home bakers could make rather than just fancy patisserie, and I’m sure that’s really what’s at the heart of a bake off.

I desperately wanted to do all three challenges for this final edition, but there was no such luxury in my schedule. Instead I have barely made the deadline with my one completed bake: the classic British cake challenge, but taken to the rules as much as possible, with plenty of layers and three separate cakes. I’ll save my plans for pumpkin iced buns and making the raspberry millefeuille technical gluten free for another day!

When the 2014 bake off started, I joined in this same blogging challenge and managed one measly post: a very messy rhubarb cake. Rhubarb is such a classic British flavour to me, rhubarb and custard even more so, and having rhubarb cake for the very first time is a delightful memory of my earliest days living in England, so it seemed perfectly framed for my take on the ‘classic British cake’ to be a rhubarb and custard layer cake.

gluten free rhubarb and custard layer cake - inspired by the great british bake off #gbbo @ shimelle.com

I set myself two more challenges just for good measure: use at least one new skill I have learnt while baking along with the 2015 bake off and add at least one new skill for this specific project I’m happy to report I met both of those, and they both came in the frosting process. All three cakes are covered in French buttercream, something I had never made before the mokatine challenge, but now I am in love with it. It takes more time, more ingredients, and more washing up than plain old butter, icing sugar, and vanilla, but it also tastes like a dream and has the most beautiful texture. I am sold on French buttercream in a very big way. As for new skills: I tried two things I’ve never done before in icing this cake and they’ve both been on my ‘meaning to do’ list for literally years, so I am giddy to have given them a crack. First was the ombre colour styling with the bottom of each cake attempting to capture that rich red stripe you get in a beautiful stalk of rhubarb, fading up to a pale peachy pink at the top, more like the shade you get after you’ve stewed all the rhubarb in a saucepan until it falls apart. Second was something that came from another happy memory: buttercream roses. My grandmother could make beautiful buttercream roses in her sleep and I think I may have made them with her tutelage when I was a little girl but I’ve never tried them in my own kitchen. A little trial and error and substituting a coffee tamper because I have two of those but I don’t own a rose nail, and eventually I ended up with six passable roses to grace the trio of cakes and a little excitement that I could indeed make a flowery cake should the need ever arise.

Is it too much that one set of layer cakes could be some sort of emotional tribute to childhood afternoons in Grandma’s kitchen and a very British summer tea on the Brighton seaside? Forget emotional eating: this entire process was emotional baking for me, in the very best way.

(Also, I’m really happy that I stuck to blogging something for the whole of the challenge! I managed every week of the bake off this year, even if we were all allowed a little more time for the final and I’m still right down to the wire.)

gluten free rhubarb and custard layer cake - inspired by the great british bake off #gbbo @ shimelle.com

The two larger cakes (one eight-inch and one six-inch) were both four layers of rhubarb cake, with as close as I could get to that original rhubarb cake of my memory within the confines of gluten free flours. But between each layer of cake there was also a rhubarb and vanilla jam and a custard-flavoured fresh cream. (Even this made sent me back to that childhood memory, where I was always a little in awe of how ‘torte-ing’ a cake was a verb, slicing cakes into layers and adding the beautiful contrast of filling. Rhubarb cake and rhubarb jam doesn’t have quite the same colour contrast, so I clearly didn’t think that memory through entirely!) The smallest cake was the size of a jumbo muffin but with straight sides, and had just two layers.

gluten free rhubarb and custard layer cake - inspired by the great british bake off #gbbo @ shimelle.com

For the rhubarb cake, I made two batches to get all three cakes (plus a little left over for less formal sharing and snacking), so these amounts would make one reasonable but still big cake of about three eight-inch layers rather than enough cake to feed the entire neighbourhood. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and paper three eight-inch cake tins or the equivalent in another size or shape. Stew two stalks of rhubarb with 50g sugar and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, simmering until the rhubarb is soft but not entirely falling to pieces. Set aside. Start the actual cake with 225g unsalted butter and 350g sugar and beat in the mixer until really light and fluffy. Stir in four eggs, one at a time, then add the flours: 150g oat flour, 100g sorghum flour, 50g rice flour, 25g tapioca flour, plus two teaspoons of baking powder, 200ml milk, 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt, 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Mix all that until it’s nice and even then fold in the cooked rhubarb. Distribute the batter into the pans and bake at 180C until golden (with a hint of pink!) and a toothpick comes out clean – this was just shy of thirty minutes in my oven.

For the rhubarb vanilla jam, I stewed two stalks of rhubarb, chopped into small pieces, in a saucepan with 200g sugar, the seeds of one vanilla pod, and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Just heat it until it simmers then leave it for what seems like ages, bubbling away on a low heat. The longer it simmers, the thicker it gets, so if they had to make it on the actual Bake Off, it would probably be a twenty minute job, but I let it go for about an hour and it was gloriously thick like a proper jam rather than a sauce. The other thing I’m not sure how they do on the show: cool it enough in time! The next time I make this, I will double the jam recipe so we can have it on mundane things like crumpets because there just needs to be more rhubarb jam in my life and basically anything that involves scraping a vanilla pod into the recipe is going to get a double thumbs up from me.

For the custard-flavoured whipped cream, I could have made actual custard. In fact, I want to try this another time in a tea cake and bake in a layer of classic custard made with a million egg yolks. But I couldn’t make it work with the weight of a layer cake, so instead I looked to that other classic way of making custard in Britain: Bird’s custard powder! Using the kind that comes in the bigger jar that you have to add sugar to (not the instant one in the sachet), I started with two tablespoons of custard powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and two tablespoons of whipping cream and mixed those three into a paste, then added the remainder of the whipping cream – a 250ml pot in total – and blitzed it with the electric whisk until it was thick and gorgeously fluffy. I might also double this recipe next time, because all three residents of this house declared we could eat this from a spoon. On second thought, maybe double this one isn’t really a safe move.

For the French buttercream, I followed this recipe, then divided the results into three bowls to get the gradient of pink to rhubarb red with gel food colouring. I actually did a crumb coat with just ‘normal’ buttercream because it suited the contents of my refrigerator, but I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be possible to crumb coat with the French buttercream, as long as you made plenty. I must admit I often skip the crumb coat step if I’m doing something with a texture like ruffles or stars on cake, but I think I will put my hand on my heart now and say I will always crumb coat a cake I want to have smooth sides. It made a huge difference. As this was my very first attempt at ombre, my cake looks nothing like the expert example, but this post was my starting point for tips. Maybe one day mine will look that pretty!

With the Quidditch cake and the Mokatines both convincing me it’s not possible to actual complete a bake off challenge in the time given to the bakers in the tent, I’m convinced this one was more effort (if possibly slightly less washing up) but it was an effort of the loveliest kind. Baking to a memory is something I’m really starting to enjoy, tweaking a recipe until it’s as close as possible to what I remember – which may or may not be accurate, of course. I found all sorts of things came back to me while making this cake, and I could sit here and discuss the weather on the day I ate that rhubarb cake and indeed the dress the waitress was wearing in the cafe (it was amazing and featured a flamingo, of all things). It brought back the magic of my gran making buttercream roses on the tip of my fingers for me to eat, a bit like Amelie eats raspberries. Scraping vanilla pods with the back of a spoon seems to flood my mind with more sensory memory than measuring out teaspoons from a bottle of extract, so perhaps this is the way forward with connecting a love of baking with all the memory keeping I ordinarily share in this space. However it all came together, this epic amount of rhubarb-infused everything is just the right place for this year’s bake off to come to an end in my kitchen. Until next year, then!






Great Bloggers Bake Off is organised by Jenny at Mummy Mishaps. See more bloggers’ final bakes at participating blog, The Boy who Cooked.
Please no spoilers from the actual show in the comments, for those who watch later than the original broadcast! Thanks.

A Design Team Call, of sorts.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

I started scrapbooking by accident, making a gift that was a group present in stolen moments hidden away so the recipient wouldn’t see. By the end of that first album, I was already in love with the idea of this craft. The idea that you could put photos and notes and memorabilia and just cute stuff together with some paste and ink and have a truly unique handmade time capsule of memories filled my heart with excitement and my head with ideas. That was a very long time ago, in 1998. Very much has changed since then. But not that excitement and not those ideas.

The funny thing for me is I could start about ten sentences with ‘The most amazing thing about scrapbooking is…’. At least ten. Which is terrible, because clearly I should know how to use a superlative and if it truly is ‘the most’ then it can only be one. I just don’t know how I would choose. I’m amazed that I have all these albums that track all those changes in life since 1998. I’m amazed that this format of memory keeping makes it easy for me to go back and document things that happened before I was a scrapbooker (not so easy with Facebook or Instagram or whatever other online capture of everyday life). I’m amazed that teaching in this craft became my actual job. I’m amazed that I’ve met such wonderful people with amazing stories. I’m amazed that some of them became my closest friends in life. I’m often amazed that my husband doesn’t stress about me taking up an entire room of our home with albums and craft supplies! And over this last year and a half, I’ve been more and more amazed at how much it fills me with happiness to see people creating their own projects with products I’ve helped to make. I can have the most rotten of days when everything just seems to be going wrong and I’ll take a peek at a project on Instagram and the entire bad day is gone. I really didn’t predict when I had that first discussion with American Crafts that I would ever be that emotional about product! But I truly am.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

It’s that emotion that has made me put something off for a bit. I love seeing everything that is shared and I hope those who don’t post their projects online are enjoying the products as well. But one other thing that hasn’t changed is that I’m just a one scrapbooker show over here. After a year and a half of products with American Crafts, it’s time I branched out a little bit and put together a team of crafters to help me share the ways these products can be used in styles that are not my own. I need someone who is confident with cards, someone who has a passion for pocket pages, maybe even someone who plans with panache or dazzling with decor. I’d also appreciate some help from a few fellow 12×12 fans too, since there is such a wide range of styles in the scrapping world.

From this, yes, it’s time for a design team call. Rather than just say there are x number of spots and each person will have to make x number of projects per month or similar, there are a range of opportunities available. Some will be perfect for someone who works well in a tight time frame, like making projects for display at the CHA trade show. Some will be perfect for someone who has wanted to try out the idea of being on a design team but didn’t love the idea of the commitment, with just a one or two project remit. My hope is this will be a great way to share the love: of paper craft in all forms, of sharing ideas, of meeting new faces in this industry, and yes, of my products too.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

To apply, please send an email to shimelle+dt@gmail.com and include the following in your message:

…Your name and location

…Links to pages where you share your work with others. This might include: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, your own blog, the blog of a brand you currently design with, the gallery of an online store or community. Please don’t feel you have to include any platform you use just to share non-crafty things. I totally respect that many people use Facebook to connect with real life friends rather than scrapbookers, and so forth.

…A summary of what kind of crafting you do, how you got started with it, and why you love it.

…Images of three to five projects you have made and love. I hope you’re applying because you love the products in the American Crafts Shimelle collections, so it would be awesome to see at least one of those projects including Shimelle products. However, if that just isn’t possible, then that’s fine. You do not need to purchase anything new or make anything from scratch just for this call.

…For at least one of those projects, please include a short write-up to go with the project. Think along the lines of if you were posting this on your blog, Instagram, or elsewhere, what would you want to communicate to your readers?

…Answers to these questions:
1. What are your favourite colours for crafting?
2. How long do you like to take on your projects from start to finish?
3. If I asked you to make something new next week, no rules at all, what’s your first impulse for what you would make?
4. I’m ordering for us at my favourite coffee shop. What would you like?
5. What are your favourite tools for crafting? (Think die-cutter, stamps, punches, etc, rather than individual elements like paper and stickers for this question please.)

That’s everything. And it’s due by the 21st of October, 2015.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com

Like I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a case of everyone on the team having the same exact remit. Instead, I’ll be contacting applicants by email with the specifics, and I won’t be announcing anything in a public format until all those conversations have been had and all the details are agreed. But like all the guest posts on this blog and the guest contributors to my online classes, all the work will be compensated with pay. Paypal usually works easiest, but if that doesn’t work for you, there are other options we can discuss.

I’d love to hear from you. In fact, I would find it amazing.
Thanks for considering it!

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