Saturday 26 February 2011

'Candy Cupcake' Bracelet Winner

Apologies for my lateness with this.  I went to London to see my little sister yesterday and I got in at about ten o'clock last night, had some dinner and basically forgot to do the draw.

But I'm here now! I've just used to pick a commenter between 1 and 132 and the winner is .....

..... who, by my reckoning, is Alison AKA theotheralig.  Hurrah for Alison! Please email me your address and I'll get the 'Candy Cupcake' bracelet in the post to you.

Thank you to everybody who entered the draw.  I'll do another one soon so do stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday 24 February 2011

Apple & Cinnamon Flapjacks

Homemade apple and cinnamon flapjacks
This week my Graze box contained some gorgeous apple and cinnamon flapjacks.  In fact, they were so gorgeous that I felt compelled to tweet about them :

They really were absolutely lush so I decided that I'd have a go at making my own.  I just adapted a normal flapjack recipe and I thought I'd post it here in case you fancied trying them too.  They're nice and crumbly and not too sweet and in the words of Tesco they're 'Perfect With A Cuppa'.(Have you noticed that they print that on almost every product in their bakery section?)

Apple & Cinnamon Flapjacks (AKA Stablefordjacks)


250g Porridge oats
125g Unsalted butter
75g Demerara sugar
3 Tablespoons golden syrup
1-2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used two because I love cinnamon)
2 Dessert apples


Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens) and line a shallow tin (about 20cm x 20cm) with baking paper.

Gently heat the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan until the butter is melted and all the sugar has dissolved. 

Add the oats and cinnamon and stir in.

Peel and grate the apples and stir them in too.

Put the mixture into the lined tin, spread it out and press flat with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until they're a light golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for about twenty minutes.  Lift out of the tin and cut into bars or squares.


First Snowdrop

I  must have some of the laziest snowdrops ever but finally this morning my first one appeared.  These are the ones I planted last September.  Just waiting for my crocuses now .....

Wednesday 23 February 2011

I don't think I'll eat a Cadbury Mini Egg again!

After work last night I nipped to the local Tesco Express to get some carrots for dinner and also for the guinea pigs.  Incidentally, Tesco only had carrot batons and is it just me or do they taste different from normal whole carrot-shaped carrots?  Anyway, I grabbed a bag of carrot batons and some other bits and pieces and I joined the queue.

The man in front of me had his shopping basket on the floor and he was pushing it along with his foot as the queue moved.  When the shop assistant called, 'Next please!' the man in front of me bent down to pick up his basket and as he did so his trousers fell down.

Now, I know it's de rigueur for many man-youths to walk about the place with their trousers practically around their knees, displaying their undercrackers to all and sundry, but this was different.

This forty-something man's trousers, which were some kind of lightweight tracksuit bottoms, fell down to his ankles ...


It was like the world slowed down at that point.  The next few seconds seemed like minutes.

One second I was stood there minding my own business with my basket of shopping and the next thing I knew there was a pair of exposed man buttocks - there, right there - in front of my face!

My eyes saw the naked bottom and they kind of went, "Hey?  Oh!  OH NO! What in the name of ... ?!" and then my eyes darted to the Cadbury Mini Egg stand where they intently studied the bags, big bags of small bags and tubes of tiny sugary chocolate eggs.  Down the side of my eye I could see the man, still bent over, desperately pulling his trousers back up.  The female shop assistant was in stitches and it wasn't until later that I realised she was IN FRONT of him so goodness knows what she saw.
The bottom-barer hurried over to the till, paid for his goods and scuttled out of the door, probably very grateful for the hood of his jacket which was hiding his face.  After he left the shop a wave of snorts and giggles erupted from all the onlookers.  When the shop assistant had recovered from her laughter she said to me, "I wonder if he'll ever show his face in here again?" to which I replied, "Or his bum!" and we all laughed again.

Sadly, I think my mind will now forever associate Cadbury Mini Eggs with the image of that man's unclad bottom.

And it wasn't even a nice bottom.

Sunday 20 February 2011

New Guinea Piglets

Meet Lisa and Ruth, my two new guinea piglets.

These little ruby-red-eyed furry squeakers are sisters and they are about ten or eleven weeks old. They're unbelievably cute but very timid at the moment.  It might look like they're on the grass in these photographs that Chris took but they're actually on our living room rug.  Lisa (on the left) is a beautiful mink colour and she has one white back leg and a splodge of ginger on her back.  She is named in honour of the wonderful and inspirational Lisa Lynch. Ruth (on the right) is a mix of brown and ginger, is a little smaller than her sister and is named after Ruth Goodman from Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm.  (You know how much I admire Ruth Goodman!) 

Guinea Piglets

Lisa and Ruth haven't met Brenda, Edith, Jemima and Martha yet.  The two piglets are currently in the indoor cage and when it's a nice sunny day I shall let them out on the grass for a little while and I'll gradually introduce them to the older guineas.  By the time the warmer weather comes they'll all be out mowing the grass in guinea pig unison.  Utter cuteness!

Saturday 19 February 2011

New weekend, new beads

Etched Lampwork Glass Beads
Wow - you lot seem to be loving the 'Candy Cupcake' bracelet!  Thanks for all your lovely comments and an extra big thank you to everybody who has blogged, tweeted and Facebooked about my giveaway.  You're all gems.

I've just added three more sets of etched beads to the ordering section of my site.  There are those pretty 'Spring Blossom' ones up there, these matching 'Spring Blossom Luminobeads' :

Etched Lampwork Glass Beads

And some 'Kumquat Blush Luminobeads' :

Etched Lampwork Glass Beads

Now, I'd really like to sit on the sofa in my dressing gown for another hour watching Gok Wan make James Martin feel awkward on Saturday Kitchen but I really need to go and get dressed and get on with my Saturday.  

Happy weekend!

Friday 18 February 2011

'Candy Cupcake' Bracelet Giveaway

'CandyCupcake' Bracelet
Do you remember those edible elasticated bracelets that were made of pastel-coloured sweets?  Well, this bracelet reminds me of one of those but it's probably best not to eat this one as doing so could cause some dental damage.

Anyway, I'm giving this 'Candy Cupcake' bracelet away in my prize draw. It's made with my own lampwork glass beads - pale candy pink and white spacers and a matching cupcake bead.  The bracelet measures approximately seven and a half inches long (that's about 190mm) and all the silver you see is sterling.

'CandyCupcake' Bracelet
Close-up of the cupcake bead

If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this bracelet all you need to do is enter my prize draw. The rules of the giveaway are are as follows :

♦ The draw is open to anyone anywhere in the world.

♦ It's one entry per person.

♦ To enter the draw you need to leave a comment on this blog post.  No email entries this time, I'm afraid, but please bear in mind that you do not need a Blogger account to comment on this here blog.

♦ When you comment please leave a name of some kind, be it your actual one, a nickname or your blog user name - just something rather than an anonymous comment. If you have a popular name please leave some kind of initials. Last time I had lots of Sues and Sarahs enter and that got a bit confusing! Something like 'Laura S' would be great.

♦ Entries need to be in by 7.00pm (UK time) on Friday 25th February when I will pick the winner using a random number generator.

♦ I'd really appreciate it if you could mention and link to this prize draw on Twitter, Facebook or your blog.  You don't have to and you don't get an extra entry BUT you will receive a virtual handshake or hug from me (or both if you like) if you're kind enough to do so.  (Tell you what, I'll even throw in a cyber-kiss-on-the-cheek if you want one!)

I hope that all makes sense.

'CandyCupcake' Bracelet
Oooh look - it's all old school here!

If you're new to my blog, hello and welcome! I do bead giveaways both large and small quite regularly so please add yourself as a follower or subscribe to my blog using the links over on the right hand side - that way you won't miss out on any future free bead opportunities!  You can also keep track of any future giveaways by following me on Twitter or Facebook.

I think that's about all.  Let the draw commence!

Good luck everybody!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

In the wonderful world of glass beads there are two main types of beadmaking glass.  There is 'soft' glass like I use and there is 'hard' borosilicate glass.  I have never worked with borosilicate glass.  Well, I have used clear boro rods as punties* but I've never made a bead with borosilicate glass.  However, I do own a few boro beads and pendants because I love the way borosilicate glass looks.  It has a beautiful ethereal quality and the colours are always so pretty.

If you're a UK beadmaker and you work with or fancy working with borosilicate glass then I've got some good news for you.  Kevin, one of my Twitterpals, has just got up and running and he is selling Momka's and Simax.  Some of the Momka's colours are just amazing.  The 'Purple Thunder' not only sounds groovy but it looks gorgeous too.

One day I will try borosilicate glass.  It's on my glass to-do list but until that day I will just keep on looking at boro beads and marvelling over their loveliness.

* A 'punty' is a metal, normally iron, rod used in big glassmaking and glassblowing.  It is attached to the glass object and used as a sort of handle while working.  In tiny beadmaking we tend to use clear borosilicate glass rods as punties because boro glass is harder and melts slower than our usual 'soft' beadmaking glass.  You attach the punty, normally when making cane or sculptural, off-mandrel pieces, so that you can hold the piece in the flame without having to have it on a mandrel and when you're all done you remove the punty by melting it off.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Musical Gardening

Morning Glory
Have you ever tried singing 'La Bamba' to a chilli plant?  If you haven't you really should.  Not only will it provide amusement while you try to mumble the Spanish words and then replace them with English ones but it will make your chillies grow.  I kid you not.  After two weeks of staring at small pots of just compost I asked Twitter why my chilli seeds weren't doing anything.  I got lots of sensible replies telling me that chillies take a while to germinate and the like but then Pauline suggested I try singing a samba or something more suited to a chilli.  You see, I'd stupidly been serenading all of my seedlings with  'Reach for the sun, grow into lovely flowers' to the tune of S Club 7's 'Reach' (as you do) and Pauline said that maybe the chillies would like something different.  So that night I sang 'La Bamba' to the chillies (with some lyrics that included the words 'hissy feet' and 'piece of care' because I don't know the actual words) and sure enough the next morning I had two tiny chilli shoots peeping through the soil.  Result!

I then went on to sing to my other pots and trays of compost :

  • To the lobelia : 'Lobelia, you're growing some leaves, you're going to be pretty flowers' to the tune of Paul Simon's 'Cecilia'

  • To the marigolds : 'Mari-GOLDS, golds, always believe in your soil, you've got the power to grow' to the tune of Spandau Ballet's 'Gold'

  • To the basil and chives : 'Basil and chives, basil and chives, chives chives' to the theme tune of Blankety Blank

So anyway, yes, I now have lots of seedlings and I can't help but thinking that my singing has helped.

But seriously, if you are having trouble getting your chillies to sprout can I suggest that you put them somewhere warm?  I read on t'internet that ideal places are an airing cupboard or on top of a boiler.  I put my second batch, covered in cling film, up on top of the boiler on Sunday night and now this morning I have four little seedlings.  Top chilli tip, there!

I just went around with my iPhone and took some quick pictures to show you what's growing.  Up at the top of the post are some morning glory that one of my lovely bead customers, Mandee, kindly sent me from her garden.  They are growing like mad things (I don't need to sing to these at all - maybe they're growing fast so that they won't have to endure my face shoved in their leaves crooning at them) and they're going to be a gorgeous purple colour.  I've already identified the perfect place for them in the garden when it's time to move them outside.

Then we have some marigolds and yes, those are indeed Tesco mushroom trays.  I have started looking at food packaging in a whole new light since I started this seed growing malarkey :


Here's a little chilli :


And here are 'Basil & Chives' :

Basil & Chives

Chris pointed out that 'Basil & Chives' sound like they could have been the herby detective rivals of the ITV crime-fighting powerhouse that were Rosemary & Thyme.

I'm expecting a delivery of seeds  this week - some parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (and yes, I will be singing Simon & Garfunkel's 'Scarborough Fair' to them) along with a blueberry bush.  Exciting!

There's not a lot happening bulb-wise.  My snowdrops and crocuses are there but they haven't flowered and I'm a tad miffed because I keep seeing them in bloom all over the place.  Obviously mine are a bit lazy.  I have got lots of green leaves in the daffodil department, though, so hopefully they'll be on track.

That just about concludes my little gardening update.  I'm off out to the shed now to make beads.  I wonder if I could plant myself a bead tree .....

Monday 14 February 2011


I've always said I'd never join Facebook.

Well, I have now.

I have no idea how Facebook works yet and I only want to use it to give my beads a larger audience.  I won't be writing on walls or poking people and I won't be seeking out old school friends and relatives.  I just figured that it's 2011 and Beads By Laura should have some kind of Facebook presence.

So Beads By Laura now has its own 'Fan Page' and if you feel inclined you can 'like' it.  If you like.

I'm off to tweak some more Facebook buttons now .....

EDIT : I've just friended an old school friend and I have written on her wall.

Friday 11 February 2011

'Kumquat Blush'

Etched Lampwork Glass Beads
I was a little worried that I would never be able to make a set of these again because last year I finished the last of the orange glass that I used to use for these.  It was an Effetre coral oddlot that I bought a big stash of about five years ago.  But hurrah! I have found a replacement colour that does the job beautifully.

These velvety 'Kumquat Blush' beads are now available to order over on the Beads To Order section of my website.  The strand would normally be £22.00 but don't forget it's 25% off until midnight tonight so these can be yours for the bargain price of £16.50.  Please click here for all the ordering details.

Have a fun Friday!

Tuesday 8 February 2011

I'm having a little sale

Pink Lampwork Glass Beads
I've just got around to adding some new sets to the Beads To Order section of my website and to celebrate this fact I am offering a 25% discount on all bead orders placed by midnight on Friday 11th February.

Please click here for all the details.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Another question for you

Lampwork Glass 'Luminobeads'
Above is a shot of some Luminobeads taken before I packed them up and sent them off to their new homes.

Big thanks to all of you who have been so wonderfully encouraging about my book idea and thank you very much for all the suggestions you've made about what you'd like to see in the book.

A couple of you have mentioned videos in your comments and emails and you'd like some more bead movies.  That's great and I'm happy to oblige but I'm stuck for ideas so once more I turn to you, lovely readers, and ask you - what you would like to see me demonstrate in my next lampworking video?  Answers on a postcard, please ..... or in the comments section.

Have a good afternoon,

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Beads, She Wrote

Earlier today I threw an idea into the Twitterverse to see if it was a good one.  It turns out that lots of people thought it was (either that or they were just being polite) so I'm now going to share my idea with you.

I'm going to write a book.

Yes, a book.

A book that contains everything I know about beadmaking.

I'm think I'm going to write it with the intention of self-publishing it as an eBook.  Once I've got a couple of chapters done I might approach a publisher but I'm fully aware of how hard it is to get someone to publish a book (especially when you've never written one before) and particularly one that is on a niche subject like beadmaking.  There are wonderful American books aplenty about lampwork but not many British ones.

I'm thinking that if I don't get it published (very likely) I will sell the book as a PDF or eBook.  It will contain all the things I know about lampwork along with my advice and some useful tips.  It will also be full of colourful photographs and step-by-step tutorials.

So, lovely readers, do you have any suggestions for things that you'd like to see in the book?  Are there any particular techniques or topics you'd like me to cover?  If you could give me any suggestions in the comments section or by email I'd be most grateful.  All ideas are welcome.

As I say, I will research and work out the publishing side of things as I write the book.  This is all new to me so I'll be learning as I go.

Me writing a book.  I'm a little bit excited ..... 


On Saturday I bought myself these beautiful tulips from the market.  Tulips are my favourite flower and I absolutely love these ones - they're a kind of off-white colour.  Like buttercream.

I'm posting a picture because I'm just about to write a wordy blog post so I thought I'd pretty up the place with a post that isn't solid text.

Back soon .....