Saturday, December 17, 2011

Possibly The Best Fruitcake Ever

Today was my day for getting into the festive mood. I wrapped the gifts, put up the decorations that Chloe wouldn't be able to reach and planned my Christmas lunch menu! Why oh why do they use tins of a size and shape that are so hard to find. I must have over twenty cake tins but do you think I have the correct size? So, I'll just have to improvise. I did however make a spectacular Christmas cake the other day which is called, (wait for it) "Possibly The Best Fruitcake Ever"from the Sunbeam Foods website. We've already eaten a quarter of it so I thought I'd share the recipe. It's seriously good!



500g Sunbeam Raisins
250g Sunbeam Pitted Prunes, chopped
250g Sunbeam Pitted Dates, chopped
125g Sunbeam Sultanas
125g Sunbeam Currants 
200g glace cherries
1 cup rum or brandy (If you don't use alcohol in your cooking an alternative is apple juice or cold tea)
250g butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
4 x 60g eggs
200g dark chocolate
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup apricot nectar
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup SR flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Icing sugar for dusting


Mix the dried fruit in a large bowl and add the rum (or brandy) and leave for a day or two.

Line a large tin (mine was a 25cm square tin which is 8cm deep. The recipe calls for a 23cm round cake tin) with a double layer of baking paper on sides and base. Wrap outside of tin with a double thickness of brown paper and tie with string. (I didn't wrap the outside)

Heat oven to 160°C.

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy, then beat in the eggs well, one by one. Add to fruit and mix well.

Melt the chocolate in a small pan over simmering water, or in the microwave for two minutes, then stir in the jam and nectar and pour over the fruit. Stir well.

Fold in the flour and cinnamon, and tip the cake mixture into the prepared tin. Smooth the top and tap the pan against the worktop to settle the contents and remove air holes.

The length of time for baking will depend on your oven. I have a fan forced oven and in the large square tin it took 2 1/4 hours but the recipe says 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from the oven, leave in the tin, wrap in kitchen towels and leave overnight.

Dust with icing sugar before serving. As I said, it's seriously good and it's not too late to make it for Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Stitch In Time Video Tutorial

Here's my second video for December! Creating your own stitching is so much fun and it doesn't take that long! With my directional brushes and special layer style textures you can stitch on a path, create messy stitching, do zigzag, create loose threads and so on. It's a smorgasbord! So click on the blinkie at the top of this blog,  join Premier at Digital Scrapper and you'll be able to download four videos, the beautiful Christmas Lights kit from Julie Billingsley and a 20-page template album - ALL at a HUGE discount to the normal store price. They are exclusive to Premier Members until the end of December after which you'll find them in our Digital Scrapper store.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cool Clusters Video Tutorial

Julie Billingsley is our guest designer for December. She has created a gorgeous Christmas kit which I couldn't wait to get started on. I recorded two videos this month and this one called, Cool Clusters will help you figure out how to use all those cute accents for a floral art inspired page. So click on the blinkie at the top of this blog to join Premier our monthly subscription service. You'll be able to download the kit, a 20-page template album and four how-to videos. If you would like to see the album just click HERE to see it as a page-turner on Shutterfly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tearing It Up Video Tutorial

It's a man's world here at Digital Scrapper this month! This beautiful kit by Manuela Zimmermann was very inspiring for all of us who produced how-to videos and the album. You can view the album, beautifully designed by Jen White, with photos from Sharon Maughan, here on Shutterfly. My video is called, Tearing It Up. I show you how to create a fabulous torn edge and apply it to paper and photos. In fact, torn edges are so useful you can apply them to papers or frames from any kit. If you would like to download this kit, the 20-page Quick Album and the 4 videos, just click on the blinkie at the top of this blog, sign up for Premier  and join in the fun.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Center Stage - Video Tutorial

This month's Premier kit and album is designed especially for the person behind the camera. We make pages and albums about our friends and family but rarely do we showcase ourselves. So here's an opportunity to tell everyone about you. The team at Scrapper's Guide all joined forces to create one or two pages for each of our categories - enough to fill a 20-page album which you can view HERE on Shutterfly. It's beautifully designed by Carol Gilmour with a kit by Taylor Made called, 'Me Personally'.

Apart from the kit and album we've created four video tutorials. Mine is a designer page video called, Center Stage! I give you some great tips on how to give your photo star billing!
To download all these goodies before they disappear at the end of October, you must click on the blinkie at the top of this blog to go to our website and join Premier, our monthly subscription service.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ten Tips For Photographing A Baby

I never realized just how difficult it would be to photograph a baby until I began taking photos of our new granddaughter! They are either crying, dribbling, have a runny nose, a rash or a toy right in front of their face. Then just when you think you have a good pose, there's not enough light (and you're forced to use a flash), the background is too busy or their their outfit has stains all over it. Lets face it, most of us don't have a photo studio with the perfect backdrop or a showpiece home. So here are a few tips that I've learned along the way.

1. Position the baby (if she/he will sit) facing the window so they have natural light on their face.
    This is easier to achieve before they start crawling.
2. Give them something to hold that will distract them so they don't go looking for something else.
3. Lie down on the floor in a position where they have to turn their head slightly to look at you.
4. Play peek-a-boo with the camera! (I took 60 shots while playing this game)
5. Experiment to get the camera settings just right and then concentrate on taking the photos.
    (You'll miss the perfect shot if you're constantly fiddling with the dials)
6. If you have clutter in the background, as most of us do, use a wide aperture (lower f/stop). This will not only blur the background but because it lets in more light, it will allow you to have a faster shutter speed.
7. It's easier to fix a photo that is slightly underexposed rather than overexposed. If you're having trouble getting a perfect exposure, go for minus number rather than plus number For example in Manual Mode it will either say -3 or +3 or a higher number in either direction.
8. Set your camera to sequential shooting. This means that while the shutter button is depressed it'll take multiple photos.
9. Always take a moment to focus on the eyes.
10. Babies will not cooperate if they are hungry, thirsty, have a wet nappy, are tired, or missing Mum and Dad! Happy snapping!

The settings I used for these photos are:
Manual Mode
Shutter speed 1/80
ISO 400
Center weighted Metering
Lens: 50mm f/2

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fast Lane Travel Album Video Tutorial

Back in 2006, Carl and I had a magnificent holiday in Tasmania. It was expensive and wonderful! When I arrived home I transferred all the photos to my hard drive and then basically forgot all about them. Does this sound like you? In this Designer Page video tutorial I take you step by step through the process of organizing your travel photos and getting them into a Shutterfly album super fast! That's why it's called, The Fast Lane. I had this photo book printed and the result is fabulous. Back in 2006 I was using a very basic digital camera. It's hard to see how I could have improved on the quality of the photos if I had owned my Olympus Digital SLR then. If you would like to view this video you need to sign up for Digital Scrapper Premier by clicking on the blinkie at the top of this blog to go to the Scrapper's Guide website.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adaptable Acrylics Video Tutorial

If you like using acrylic accents on your scrapbooking pages then you're going to love this video called, Adaptable Acrylics. The Acrylic Layer Style is provided with the video and I teach you lots of beautiful ways that you can apply it to create marvelous effects. Don't worry if you don't know how to install it in your version of Photoshop Elements. I give you a link to the instructions BUT I also provide you with a psd document containing the layer style that you can just copy and paste to your page. It's that easy. This month's theme is travel and our Premier members receive a gorgeous kit by Susan Bartolini and 16-page album designed by Carol Gilmour. Adaptable Acrylics is just one of four how-to videos that come with this month's goodies! Click on the blinkie at the top of this blog to sign up and join in the fun!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crazy Patchwork Heart Video Tutorial

Here's a really fun video tutorial for this month's anniversary theme. I used to do traditional crazy-patchwork and it translates beautifully into digital scrapbooking. It certainly helps when you have such a lovely kit work with as this one called, A Legacy of Love by Kristin Cronin-Barrow. Head off to Scrapper's Guide by clicking on the blinkie at the top of this blog to join Premier so you can download this and three other beautiful tutorials. You will also receive the kit as well as a 16 page Quick Album with front and back covers. Linda and Charlie Sattgast, recently celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary so we had some gorgeous photos to work with.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Going Graphic Video Tutorial

Peppermint Granberg, known as One Little Bird, creates beautiful kits! When I asked her to design a Birthday kit for our June issue of Premier I just knew it was going to be spectacular. It's always exciting to open a new kit and start playing around with papers and accents. Graphic design is one of my favourite styles of scrapbooking. So I've created a video to teach you how to make a page just like mine. If you click on the blinkie at the top of this blog and sign up for Premier, you can download this kit, 4 videos and a stunning 16-page album that is Shutterfly all ready to drag and drop your birthday photos into. See you there!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Memory Book Video Tutorial

Oh, how I love heritage pages. I've been looking forward to May Premier because it's all about recording family history. Our Quick Album this month features my grandmother's story of her life and was beautifully designed by Carol Gilmour using our featured kit this month called, 'Recollection' by Joanne Brisebois. This page is from the video tutorial I have created called, Memory Book. You'll learn how to extract a book from the background, remove the writing and turn it into a journaling mat. There are some great tips on photographing and scanning your own book but I also provide this one for you to practice with. You can see the whole quick album here on Shutterfly and if you like what you see, then join Premier this month by clicking on the blinkie at the top of this blog. It's as simple and as easy as that. Happy Mothers' Day, Grandmothers' Day and Great Grandmothers' Day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Filed Memories Video Tutorial

I love the look of file tabs on photo masks because it gives you a space to add a caption. In this video tutorial you learn how to create this folder style page including the folded pocket. The file tab is included with the lesson in the Extras Folder. If you sign up for Premier this month you'll also learn how to create this cute designer paper clip to match the kit. It's the extra tidbit in the Premier Newsletter. Click on the blinkie at the top of this blog to join Premier and download this lesson before it disappears at the end of April.
Photos – Linda Sattgast
Papers and Accents - Family Together kit by Lauren Grier - April 2011 Premier
Fonts: FFF Tusj and FG Jayne Print.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Textured Overlays Video Tutorial

This beautiful, whimsical kit by Lauren Grier of Sweet Shoppe Designs is our featured kit for April Premier Members. In this new video I teach you how to create several different types of overlays from the papers and elements in that kit that you can use as brushes or png files to decorate your page. Overlays are so useful because they help to add layers of complexity to your pages. Join Premier now by clicking on the Blinkie at the top of this blog to download the kit, a 20 page template album and four tutorial videos.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Potted Plant Frame Video Tutorial

This beautiful kit by Leora Sanford is just perfect for creating an album about your home. For celebrating your garden, I have a video tutorial on making these cute little frames that look like potted plant labels. If you click on the blinkie at the top of this blog and join Premier, you'll find the kit, album templates and 3 other tutorial videos. Have fun!