Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Miss Gertrude the Gatekeeper

Gertrude the Gatekeeper
Miss Gertrude the Gatekeeper

Miss Gertrude Grey is the Gatekeeper of Greymere Cemetery. Her father the venerable Professor Gideon Grey died leaving poor Gertrude with only the crumbling house filled with books and the skeleton key to the cemetery gates.

Each night she listens to the gears of her father’s collection of clocks waiting for them to toll the hours of the night. After midnight when the fog is thick in the empty streets she ventures out to the Greymere. She stalks the night voluminous skirts whispering against gravestones. From her pocket she withdraws a map of the cemetery each mausoleum and crypt carefully drawn. She follows a winding path, skirts brushing against headstones and crypts until she stood before the stature of a long forgotten lady.

Gertrude removed the skeleton key from around her neck and slipped the key into the intricately carved base of the stature. The key turned and Gertrude listened to gears grinding and turning before a small door slid back. She stepped through into the darkness and down a creaking spiralling stairs deep below the cemetery grounds. At the bottom of the stairs gas lamps flicker to life and Gertrude enters what was once her father’s laboratory. It is filled with rusting hulks of machinery, broken gears and levers, books, and dusty glass bottles filled with strange items and coloured liquids.

Everywhere are scattered notes and drawings in her father’s precise handwriting, piled high on the work bench, pinned up on the wall. Gertrude reaches out to brush her fingers against her father’s notes and the tools gathering dust upon his desk. A ghostly smile crosses her face as she picks up a small heart shaped machine from his desk turning it over and over in her hands looking at it through a golden filigree magnifying glass. She picks up a pair of delicate tweezers and sets to work adjusting the tiny cogs and springs within the apparatus.

Miss Gertrude locks the gates at night of ancient Greymere Cemetery, but when the hours dwindle she spends her nights in her father's secret lab building the machines he never finished and creating new clockwork curiosities.

Miss Gertrude the Gatekeeper

Gertrude will be listed in my little etsy shop in a few moments.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

by the power of..

Monday morning I wandered up into town to grab a few essentials from the grocery shop and I just happened to wander into a few charity shops and the one decent coffee shop in town. I found to my delight some vintage Ladybird children's books. Two learning books and three awesomely 80's Masters of the Universe books. I have used a very broken up copy of a He-Man book to make some pin badges awhile ago and these three are in much better condition. I'm not sure what I shall do with them but they are all fantastic. I had a quick thought about trying to resell them but I really haven't got a clue about such things as that, I will probably just keep them for swaps (80's cartoon swap anyone?) or make cards and badges out of them.

After nursing a latte for as long as possible I walked to the little antiques shop in town and found the small fruit knife in the first photo. It was only £2 and needs to be tidied up a bit but as it was only small and had a little loop for hanging it on a keychain I took it home and made it into a little necklace with a small vintage key and a small red button.
I think it looks rather smart.
Probably not very safe to wear on a plane next month.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

glass beads, rusty keys and why I love twitter

Beaded key pendant from Laura
glass beaded key pendant

This beautiful handmade pendant arrived in the post from the ever so talented Laura who gets to play with fire for a living. Seriously how cool is bead making? I assure you I don't want to have a go, fire and I have an unspoken agreement not to toy with each other ever. She is also a Browncoat, which makes her shiny in my book. Laura is one of the tiny twitter people that live in my laptop and phone. I don't know if I have told you this before but I think twitter is awesome. I have met some fantastic people via twitter, real life coffee drinking people. And tea drinkers too, but we don't talk about them.

You either get twitter or you don't. It's as simple as that. When I try to explain it as sort of a way to text friends via the internet I get an odd look from non-twitter people.

The majority of the people I follow on twitter are crafters, the rest are geeks, and most of the crafters are geeks as well so we all get along in out little 140 character bubble. The crafting community online is a really fantastic and supportive place, with everyone willing to share, swap, and help each other out. I, like many bloggers (I presume), am a bit of an introvert and quite shy, I don't have many friends in the town I live it, I could name them all on one hand, but the crafters,bakers, geeks, miscreants and vague sociopaths I know from twitter, blogs, and facebook are ten fold the amount of friends I have. And I do mean friends, I have met quite a few and they are some of the nicest most generous people I have ever known.

Vintage keys

A few weeks ago Laura tweeted me and asked if I would like some vintage keys after seeing some of my crafty creations using vintage keys that I have horded. I said yes and she sent me a lovely little bunch of vintage keys that weren't the right size for her bead making. Which had me asking what beads did she make with vintage keys. She sent me a link to her flickr and I drooled over the Monochrome Key pendant there and told he she *has* to make a red bead key pendant because that would be ace. Two days ago a red polk-a-dot key pendant appeared in my post. I wasn't expecting it and I may have cried a tiny bit at the kindness and generosity of one of my lovely 'pretend friends'.

I love twitter.

Thank you Laura. You are so gorram shiny.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Iris the dryad doll for Japan

Iris the dryad

Iris dreams big dreams as she tends the flowers in her poison garden. Hellebore, columbine, foxglove, black henbane, bluebells , mistletoe, monkshood, poppies, oleander, stinging nettles and thorny apples, nightshade, wormwood, willow and yew.

Flowers, so delicate and earthly fair. Beauty that hides bitter poison filled secrets. Iris was human once, long ago forsaken by her love in grief and anger she became a dryad and her heart became a green and wild thing. She grows flowers in her poison garden flowers to heal and flowers to kill. Each afternoon she sets a tea party in her beautiful poison garden, delicate porcelain cups and saucers and a tea pot brewing tears, curls of steam dancing on the breeze.

Will you take tea with Iris? She made it herself.

Iris is listed in my etsy shop all profit for her sale will go to the red cross Japan fund. Her listing expired awhile ago and I thought about giving her away but I think this is better. Harrison has been very interested in what has happened and is happening in Japan. So listing a few dolls and donating is something helpful we can do together. I also have some things to take up to the Red Cross Charity shop in town that will hopefully help too.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

popovers recipe


1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
butter to grease the muffin tin


1. In a medium sized bowl or jug mix together flour, milk, eggs, salt. Mix well, the batter may be slightly lumpy. Let the batter rest for about 30 minutes before you continue.

2. grease 6 cups of a muffin tin (or popover tin if you are lucky enough to own one.)

3. pour the batter into the muffin tins filling them three-quarters full.

4. place the tin into a cold oven.

5. Set the oven temperature to 200C (450F) bake for 20-30 minutes until browned and crusty. Do not open the oven until cooking time is finished.

6. Remove the popovers from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Pierce each popover with a knife to vent steam and serve immediately with butter, jam, syrup and fresh fruit.

cook's notes: I had been wanting to make these for awhile but never got around to it until this morning. Muffins are my usual go to freshly baked breakfast but the popovers were easy to make and everyone enjoyed them. Matt and I had butter and raspberry jam on ours and Harrison covered his popovers with maple syrup. I would have liked to have served them with some fresh berries and bananas but the shopping wont be done until tomorrow. I read through many different recipes on and Martha Stewart's Perfect Popovers, then as per my usual style I winged it and went with the simplest easiest way.

I best go get some housework, writing and typing done. But first I must share with you a picture I took on the way into Derby this morning. A very creepy skip lorry... I'm convinced it's Reavers. (sorry couldn't not have this little Firefly reference)

there are gorram Reavers in Derbyshire.

I am such a geek.

Monday, 14 March 2011

silver cup, buttons and books

Silver cup and vintage buttons

silver egg cup and vintage buttons
I have been in a bit better mood the last week. The sun has returned on an off and we have had some lovely walks. I even managed a few thrifty trips to various charity shops. And I won't get in trouble for what i bought as Matt was with me both times, and he bought a few cds and some hamma beads with Harrison. *quitely swears*

On a trip into Nottingham to grab lunch we went into the Oxfam books shop and I bought a vintage Doctor Who annual from 1978, and a vintage ladybird telephone book. I bought them for card and pin badge making if I can bare to cut into them. Yesterday I bought the little silver cup, I think it must be silver plate. I love the patina of age on it and I plan to turn it into a little pincushion when I sit down to do some sewing a little bit later. I also found a dozen or so white buttons and a vintage pressed glass button that will used for doll making.

Charity shop books
Dr Who annual and ladybird telephone book

please check out Apron Thrift Girl for Thrift Share Monday. Where some proper thrifting has been done by some lovely bloggers. Also please have a look at the little doll Harrison and I have made and listed in my etsy shop, the profits for the doll will all go to the Red Cross Earthquake Tsunami Japan fund.

the A to Z of me

Key and button necklace

button and key pendant I'm wearing

a little meme unabashedly thieved from from Emma who stole it from someone else so its totally ok. Any Excuse to better my attempts at procrastination.. but first I must put the coffee machine one...

*slurps coffee* alrighty then lets begin at the beginning

A. Age: 33. Until the very end of next month.

B. Bed size: Double though it came from ikea so it is probably so odd measurement instead of an actual size.

C. Chore you dislike: hoovering and painting walls

D. Dogs: I wish. My parents have a pack of little pugs and I'm campaigning to get one here. I just need to find someone to take care of it when we go to visit my parents and thier dogs in the wilds of Idaho

E. Essential start to your day: Coffee....its the only way to start the day.

F. Favorite colour: Red.. which makes me laugh as I used to hate the colour back in the days of working at Target in Santa Rosa when I had to wear a red shirt every day. Strangely I never got phaser-ed or left behind on a mission to an alien world. Purple is my other favourite colour from when i was a little kid as I hated pink..and I still do.

G. Gold or silver: silver. my mother has always worn silver and so do I. Gold just seems a bit tacky.

H. Height: 5ft 5. I am average in height.

I. Instruments you play(ed): er none. I had a keyboard as a kid and taught myself to play jingle bells and a few other things. We also had to play recorders in school which was just painful. I have no musical aptitude whatsoever.

J. Job title: I'm technically secretary of the studio (Field Photographic) though I mostly just do busy work that Matt brings home for me.. occasionally if I'm very good or bad I get to help lug cameras about. Mostly I am at home, shoddily doing the housework, crafting, and lots of cooking to keep everyone happy.

K. Kids: just the Boy. but believe me he is enough trouble for anyone.

L. Live: Derbyshire England, the town isn't so great but we are very near to so beautiful places and now that spring is here everything will be lovely and happy. I am always in a much better mood when the sun returns to the sky.

M. Mom’s name: Marie

N. Nicknames: Meri. Its been that for awhile from mumsnet and a shortening of my blog Meridian Ariel, which used to be a chat room handle from ye olden days of the internet. I also always wanted a more exotic, less month based name when I was a kid and would pretend to be an assortment of Alexandrias, Meridians, Catherines, etc. I like Meri best though.

O. Overnight hospital stays: twice. the first time was when I was pregnant with H and had hyperemisis and was put on a drip for a week in hospital because I got so dehydrated from all the up-chucking all day every day. It was hell on earth. the other time was when I had H. they wanted to keep me in over night which was a good thing because I came down with the flu over night and was somewhat delirious.

P. Pet peeves: I have many. Top of the list is chewing with your mouth open. Talking with food in your mouth and generally being rude and obnoxious.

Q. Quote from a movie: ‘Shiny. Let's be bad Guys' Jayne in Serenity. I wear the quote in pin badge form on my jacket. It makes me happy.

R. Righty or lefty: lefty

S. Siblings: none. Just me.. unless you could all the animals I was raised with. ;o)

T. Time you wake up: 6.30 ish... well its aroudn then that H gets up and starts talking. I don't actually get out of bed till about 7am.

U. Underwear: Sainsbury's. I'm classy me.

V. Vegetables you don’t like: brussel sprouts. but broccoli hates me.

W. What makes you run late: I try not to be but usually its one of two reasons. 1) getting the Boy motivated and ready to go out is a nearly impossible task. And then when he is out you notice things like his trousers are on backwards or he has chocolate all over his face. or 2) I have at the last minute decided to do some chore or other. say laundry which means shuffling it all along the line. seperating stuff out. then making sure the cats aren't in the garage. The having to take the stupid cat Starbuck back to the house as he has tried to follow me down the road twice this past week and he has no brain.

X. X-rays you’ve had: dental x-rays only. I am thick boned and have never broken anything. touch wood.

Y. Yummy food you make: I'm pretty good in the kitchen. I bake all sorts of goodies cakes, muffins, brownies. And a pretty good cook for everything else. I do love to cook though I don't think I will ever be as good a chef as my dad. I rarely ever do full roast dinners except for holidays. I wait till we go visit my parents as my dad makes the best roast chicken and gravy, roast beef .. well anything. I miss my dad's cooking.

Z. Zoo animal favourites: I always loved seeing the tigers, but we used to go to Marine World Africa USA (which is now Six Flags Marine World) and there was a big tiger enclosure and the keepers would give them cream from a carton. I also loved to see the owls and any of the baby animals.

that's me a to z ... what about you?

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Doll for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief

Matroyska fabric doll


We have been watching the news coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It is devastating and Harrison and I have decided to sell this little nameless doll and give 100% of the profits from her sale to the Red Cross Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Japan fund.

Harrison helped me to to make the doll by helping to fill her with toy filler. She has no name so is waiting for you to name her and give us a few ideas to craft a little story card for her.

if you like she can be 'aged/grunged up with a special mixture of coffee, tea, vanilla and cinnamon, the same mix I use to add colour to the story cards I make for the rest of my dolls.

the doll is listed here on etsy please have a look at her and all the other lovely crafts on etsy for Japan.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Upcycled storybook badge

A little pin badge I made awhile ago and listed in my etsy shop the other day. Yes its a wee bit naughty but how many times have you thought that? Exactly. The badge is made with paper from a salvaged ladybird fairy tale book, vintage book paper,and old typewriter and ink. Made using a professional badge machine. The pin badge is presented on a coffee stained note card. The badge measures 1 ½ in (38mm).

Friday, 11 March 2011

basic muffin recipe

Cherry muffins

basic muffins (these have cherries* in them)

• 2 cups plain flour
• ½ cup melted butter (unsalted/sweetcream)
• 1 cup milk (any)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup fruit or chocolate
• 1-2 teaspoons vanilla

add flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder to a mid sized bowl and mix well. It's as easy as that.

add your choice of fruit/chocolate/butterscotch chips and fold in gently.

spoon into muffin pans between 1/2 - 3/4 full .

Bake in preheated 375F (180C) oven 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

* the cherries were from a jar of cocktail cherries that I chopped up. I seem to be short on fruit other than the green bananas in the bowl and the apples that Harrison has claimed as his and his alone.

cook's notes: This is the basic recipe I use for nearly all my sweet muffins... to make savoury you leave out the vanilla and all but 2 tablespoons sugar. I've written up this recipe for a twitter baking challenge. So if you are looking for it on twitter look for the hash tag #michelebakes . Any questions please leave a comment here or on twitter and I will get back to you.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

the Ghost Boy

The ghost boy
Merle the Ghost Boy

The ghost boy lives in a boarded up shop at the end of a dark twisting ally. Behind a rusty chain, a lock with no key and a door that might once have been green but now is black with age. The shop is filled with books, paper, ink, typewriters, wooden letterpress blocks and archaic machinery. He thinks his name might once have been Merle, or Mervin or maybe Fox. It’s been so long since anyone has ever asked.

The night is filled with the moans, shrieks, and groans of the printing press as the Ghost Boy plays with ink and letterpress blocks. He reads his books, prints stories and posters of fantastical imaginary things. He pins up posters on telephone poles and plasters them on walls. He makes up typography jokes that nobody ever hears. Nobody ever laughs but him.


He walks though the town when the lights are dim and laughs at signs in papyrus, comic sans and arial black. He painstakingly prints graffiti letter by letter onto white painted walls to share the beauty of typography and words. He painstakingly types letters and notes, and slips them into newspapers and books in the library and the bookshops in town. He waits and waits for the books to be opened and his secret notes to be found.


the Ghost Boy was made with love using scraps of fabric, vintage thread and buttons, he is filled with toy filler. Merle comes with his very own story card. I have listed Merle on etsy, click here or click on the link on the sidebar.

Wordless Wednesday: side table with Grandma's tatted doily

Side table

Monday, 7 March 2011

junk shop treasure

Junk warehouse

I am not a big shopper, I never have been I probably will never be. With the exception of book shops and a bit of thrifting. I never bring back very much but I have a small hoard of vintage buttons (in black, red, and white) and doilies that I use for crafting dolls.. and books for reading and tattered ones for more crafting. The last few weeks I have had some good luck with finding buttons and bits to craft with.

Junk drawer

On a recent trip to York we went to the Banana Junk Warehouse. We dug through towering shelves filled with all manner of things. Books, suitcases, furniture, knitting needles, a fabulous old typewriter, a very old sewing machine that I coveted madly but weighed as much as two elephants. I bought a wooden box, buttons, red plastic knitting needles, and a very rusty gate key.

Cath Kidston York

After that while everyone went to watch and sample fudge I scuttled to the Oxfam Books shop and scored a Neil Gaiman book I hadn't read, and five Star Wars cine-manga books 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 for Harrison (who had the 4th book at Christmas. In amongst tea at Betty's Tearooms, buying bread from the tiny bakery down the Shambles, and walking along the city walls I also went into Cath Kidston with my lovely Mother-in-Law. I don't buy much from there, most of it is a little too flowery for me and a lot expensive. In the end I walked away with two little samples of fabric which may turn into dolls like this one.

Vintage buttons and dress patterns

The last two weekends we happened to go into Matlock twice to visit the Antiques Centre, and a little thrift shop down the road from it. You wouldn't think an antique shop would have anything remotely thrifty but there are always doilies and buttons to be found that are quite cheaply priced. I'm look forward to visiting Tansley car boot ('car boot' roughly translates into 'flea market with lots of plastic toys and knock off DVDs') some Sunday soon when the weather is nice.

Thrifty finds

I'm linking this blog post to Selena's lovely Apron Thrift Girl : Thrift Share Monday blog post. Please go check out what inspiring treasures she has found, and the links to other great thrifting blogs.

I can't crochet a stone....

I can't crochet a stone....

...but I can paint one. The sun is out today and I have been pottering around the garden, soaking up the sunshine and painting a little rock. I have felt so much happier with just a smidge of sunshine. I have happily done dishes, laundry, and hoovering up. In a few minutes I need to sort out some badges that sold and get then wrapped up nicely. Then I shall walk up to the post office with my ipod blaring something loud and happy...I'm thinking Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog as I always smile when I listen to that....or Eye of the Tiger on a Supernatural mixtape/playlist. I am such a geek. :oP

What are you up to today? I hope you have a little bit of sunshine where ever you are. :o)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

button bookmarks

vintage buttons
craft glue
wooden coffee stirrers (I saved mine from Starbucks but plenty of other coffee shops have them)


1. clean and dry your coffee stirrers so they aren't covered in coffee, sugar, and syrup.

2. choose buttons.

3. glue buttons to coffee stirrers. let dry and bookmark your place in a book.
crafter's notes: a tiny simple craft to keep kids occupied. If you can bare to part with a few buttons... and suffer through drinking a coffee while out and about in the shops. The burdens we have as parents sometimes. :o) a fun quick craft project that can travel well, so that you need only bring a few buttons and a smidge of glue or double-sided tape with you when sitting in a coffee shop. Any excuse for more coffee. :o)