Saturday, April 28, 2012

Design faux pas

Have you ever had any?  We all have some sort of a disaster when an idea in our head doesn't translate into a product...that's allowed, it's part of the design process.  As is improving a product and refreshing it.  But have you ever had an "oopsie" moment with something...I have, read on.

A few years ago my husband had some business meetings in France and I travelled with him.  He was to have a meeting in Toulouse and as we had discovered previously the other party would always suggest a pricey hotel to meet you in to gauge your reaction.  Anyway, the Sofitel at the airport was suggested and we agreed saying we had stayed there previously and had already booked in for this trip.  It is a lovely hotel, bright, airy and spacious but from my previous trip a little dated.  Apparently they felt the same because they had just recently hired a top designer to give the hotel a makeover so I was looking forward to seeing it.

A few things you need to know about me, I get very very hot, I don't travel well and I need comfortable clothes.  I was trying to think what to wear so that I would be cool enough in, that I could be in the car for the 3 hour drive and be comfortable in and that would be at least a little bit respectable for a business meeting.  White linen trousers and a white cotton string top and sandals came to mind but I felt I needed something more respectable to throw on over the top for the meeting.  Before the trip I had gone into Hickey's in Limerick and bought a sheer stripey fabric.  I made a sheer poncho type top out of it and this seemed ideal to go over the outfit, it offered a little bit of classiness without any heat, and it didn't crinkle.

Well, in we went having previously had a call to say the person we were meeting was already in the lobby area.  We got to the reception, explained we would be checking in but were just dropping our bags first to meet someone.  I had a quick look around and the hotel looked fantastic, the designer had done a great job.  In we went to the lobby...and I stopped and tried to turn but it was too late.  I couldn't believe it, I was wearing the curtains...yes the bloomin curtains. The complete wall was glass and had sheer fabric panels the whole way along in the exact same fabric as my top. And to make it worse my husband commented on the new design saying how well it looked and that the curtains looked familiar.....aaaarrrrrrrgh, men.

I can laugh at it now, my Sound of Music moment but it wasn't funny at the time.
Have you had any experiences of design faux pas?

The area were we had our meeting with the curtains at the window in the exact same fabric I was wearing

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend make-a-long: Birdie phone charm

I was making some little phone charms and bookmarks to have as little pocket money items at the market.  But I found I was putting so much work into them with hand sewing, beading and other embellishments that they weren't going to be cost effective at all.  I tried to source a "cheater" fabric that had small things ready printed to cut and sew.  I have found a few but still dear enough and not quite what I wanted...or always out of stock. I was in Penny's (Primark) on Wednesday buying new wellies (the old wellies will be the subject of next weeks make-a-long hopefully) and I saw these tea towels at the counter.

Well some people may just see a cute tea towel, but not me... my first thought was what wonderful bookmarks they would make...and even better the tea towels were only €1.50 each.  I got up this morning and still in my pyjamas started to see what I could make.  I always start the lazy and quick way and then see how to improve it.  So I cut out the little birdie and pinned it onto a scrap of felt.

Then using a blanket stitch on the machine I sewed the bird onto the felt.  Using a pinking shears I cut the felt around the birdie.

I added some ric rac for legs and a phone charm lanyard and there it is a little birdie phone or bag charm. 

As I said I take the lazy way with the first one and then see how to improve it. So for the next one I stiffened the fabric first with interfacing and decided to embellish it with some beads.  The stiffening worked but I don't think the embellishment showed up enough to make it worth my while.

I put one of these onto my phone to see if it works as a charm, it's a bit big but that's ideal for me as I can never find my phone in my bag.  The I decided to see how it worked as a bookmark and I have to say I am very happy with these.


Anyway, give it a go yourself but not until after next Monday when I plan on going to Penny's to buy more tea towels....and when I'm done you can start.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meet the ... blogger

This is the first in an occoasional series of interviews with others that do things in their own way or have achieved in areas that I aspire to.  Today it is Sarah, a blogger and forumer...but as you read is so much more.

I first “met” Sarah on the River Cottage forum where she was always willing to engage in conversation with us newbies.  She was then and still is a fountain of knowledge relating to all aspects of what I proudly call homecrafts, the art of living, providing what you can yourself and sharing with and caring for those around you.  She lives in Dorset with a large garden full of delights, animal and vegetable…both decorative and for eating.  I would say she is addicted to knitting…and she would agree… but I know she is very competent in all needle crafts.  And as I said is an excellent “homecrafter” meaning she will make soap and washing products, make cheese, brew, can and tin, make preserves and jams and I’ve known her to make a sausage or two. She has a number of blogs and runs the Creative Living Forum.  This is her perspective on what she does and why?

When did you start blogging?
I think I started blogging in 2007 or thereabouts; I've never been one to write a diary as such, but this presented me with a way to record my life and share knowledge gained over many years, keep up with technology and have somewhere to share my photos with others.
What is the main focus of your blog?

The main focus of the blog is day to day home life, with a smattering of quotes of wisdom, links of interest and to share information freely with others.
Who do you believe your typical blog reader is?

I'm not sure I have a typical blog reader as such, but would like to think they share a lot of my interests and concerns. I imagine them to be mainly women, but I know I have a few blokey followers lol
How often do you blog and how does this fit in with and reflect your daily life?
 I try and make a post most days, and this fits in with sitting down for cups of tea mostly. Just day to day stuff more or less as it happens. Sometimes there a few posts in one day if I have a lot to share. Rarely I miss more than say two days, I just seem to have a lot to say lol
What type of blogs do you follow?

I don't follow any blogs as such, but there are a few I read regularly - craft ones of various sorts, self-reliance/home-steading ones, gardening ones, and ones where the writer gives a little of themselves to you so you feel you can begin to know them a bit.
What do you believe makes a good blog?

A good blog is an honest, unpretentious blog- not overly smart or clever, just interesting and thought provoking. It makes you want to return and read more about the person and their life. Photos help a lot, and a bit of humour from time to time, not too much personal detail either.
Blogging do's and dont's?

Do's - keep it honest, posts not too long, acknowledge writers etc if you have taken from elsewhere, include photos, keep it up to date, including the items down the sidebars etc

Don'ts - don't keep changing the layout or background, not too much negativity or ranting and raving, no pretentious writing, no Americanisms unless you are American, don't make things up or gild the lily, don't patronise or talk down to your readers, don't get mushy or overly sentimental, and don't pretend you can write well if you can't, consistency is the key, no humble bragging, no bragging, no name dropping, no snobbishness.
Do you blog for you or your readers?

blog both for myself and my readers.
I often feel a little narcissistic when blogging and slightly voyeuristic when reading others, do you ever feel this way?

I don't see my blog as narcissistic, but I do see some others that are! I think the whole internet can be seen as voyeuristic to
an extent, everybody wants to know things about people and then talk about them! We all do it............. lol
Do you have any blogging mishaps that you would like to share with us?

No blogging mishaps - so far, but there's plenty of time yet!

You also have a forum with a large following, tell us about that.  Why did you set it up and what is the focus of it?
I set up Creative Living forum after becoming disillusioned with a few that I was on or had been on. They weren't quite what I wanted, so in true MrsL style, I went off and made my own.
Do you have a typical forum member?

No forum member is typical I think; I love the diversity of people on there, there are a lot of very interesting and talented people who belong. If there was one typical trait in my forum members, I would plump for compassion I think, they're a lovely bunch in the main.
From a user perspective what do you believe are the advantages and disadvantages of a forum?
Well it's great to be part of a community, albeit online (I find it little different to life itself though), mutual support when you need it, spending time when you choose to with people you choose. It's a great place to have wide ranging discussions that can be mind-changing or re-inforce your own beliefs/ideas, great for inspiration.
Disadvantages - some folk can come over as a bit pushy and competitive, but if you can give them the benefit of the doubt, it's not too bad. Can be a bit addicitive, and you can easily get caught up in others' problems sometimes.
How do you believe the internet and in particular social networking has changed the way we live, and is this change a positive or negative one?
I think in the main the whole online and social networking thing has changed lives for the better; communications are ever changing, and people like and feel the need to keep up. Computers are more and more available now, to all generations, and any form of communication is better than none. Personally, I love Facebook, and have made some good friends via there, and play Scrabble, share photos etc. As with everything, parts of the net can be misused, but in the main, I think it's a good thing to be involved with. I can't imagine my life without it now.
If you are not at a computer what are you doing?

If I'm not at the computer, I'm doing some of the things I blog about - gardening, knitting, making, housework, animals etc. If not that, then just sitting with a cup of tea and lost in my thoughts - quite often that one!
Describe your ideal holiday, who would you be with, where would you go and what would you do?
Ideal holiday - atumn/winter, isolated cottage by the sea (close enough to hear it); paints, knitting, couple of books, good wine, simple food and the man I love. Nothing fancy :)
You have a choice, the internet or your knitting needles…which is it?
That's simple..knitting needles every time!
Any other words of wisdom you would like to share with us?
Words of wisdom, can't be a beacon if your light don't shine and bloom where you are planted :)

When I was interviewing Sarah I said that the working title was "Meet the ...Blogger" but asked had she any sugggestions to better showcase who she was, in typical Sarah fashion she humbly ignored this question.  Sarah works very hard to have a "simple" life. To provide as much as she can herself and reduce her impact on the earth.
You can find Sarah at her blog Unbought Delicacies

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday recipe: Honeyed sesame chicken wings

This is a recipe that happened by accident....a wonderful accident they way the best meals originate.  When I want to make really good soup  I often buy chicken wings to make a tasty stock.  I have a two part pasta pot, into the base goes onions, leeks, celery, carrots and any herbs I have.  The second part of the pot goes in, the strainer part and I put the wings into this. Cover with water, bring to boil and simmer.  I leave this to bubble for about 20 minutes.  The smell is wonderful and this gives me a wonderful stock to make soup.  I normally let whoever was in the house take the wings as they were or pick off the chicken for soup.  Inspiration hit one day and I came up with this.

Pack of chicken wings, about 12, poached as above
2 tblsp Sesame oil
2 tblsp Soy sauce
2 tblsp Honey
1 tblsp Sesame seeds

Line an oven tray with baking parchment or greaseproof paper and spread out wings on it.
Sprinkle with sesame oil and soy sauce and toss.
Drizzle some honey over and stir a little.
Sprinkle over sesame seeds.
Roast in oven at 180 degrees celsious for  about 10 mins or until beginning to brown.
Let cool just a little and eat with fingers.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Visit Nenagh Cycle Classic and Market

I am exhausted.
Every muscles in my body aches.

But it's the good kind of tired...the tired you get from working and achieving something.
Yesterday 22nd April was the first Visit Nenagh Cycle Classic and along with it we had a Street Market and Family Fun Day.  The market was held in Quentin's Way and Friary Court.  It had food and craft.  I arrived early and got my stand set up.

I then had plenty of time to wander around and see what and who else was there.  The Tipperary Kitchen from Holycross was so I made sure I got plenty of tastings of their award winning chocolate biscuit cake.

This stand had olives and oils and all sorts of wonderful things including Buffalo Mozzarella from Irelands only Buffalo herd in Cork...who'd have thought it?  Florrie was there from The Scullery with her wonderful preserves and new to me was her Cucumber Relish.

As usual the queue for face painting was really long and we met a very tall man!!!

I had a great day, the weather was kind to us, we had one major downpour at 2pm and other than that it was sunny all day.  Well done to all invloved in organising it, I didn't get to see the races but heard the atmosphere every time they speed through town.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekend make-a-long: Rose buds

This was an idea I saw originally in Making magazine where they made loads with newspaper and mounted them in the shape of a heart.  I immediately thought of making some in felt, it's really easy and very quick.

So what you need is a needle and thread, a small piece of felt, a scissors and a skewer.

Draw a spiral freehand on some felt about 2-3 inches in diameter.

Cut it out

Starting with the pointy end wind the felt around a skewer with the narrow part of the spiral at the bottom and wider on outside.  As you go secure with a few small stitches.

Finish of the end with a few more small stitches, slide off the skewer and you have a rose bud.

You can use use them in all sorts of ways, a few as a corsage or brooch.   Shoe, hat or bag decorations.  I have painted a skewer green and added leaves to make a "bunch" or rosebuds.  And I have also used them on wreaths.  What will you do with them?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Recipe: Healthy oat bars

I have been trying to eat a little more healthy now that the summer is coming in.  I have also been going for long walks and try to bring a bottle of water with me and a snack.  I love porridgey things and find I like cereal and oat type bars.  Nak'd bars are good...but pricey.  And other cereal bars can still have a lot of sugar.  I want no wheat and little sugar.  I found a similar recipe on a forum and thought I would try it out and see how it went.

So Oaty Fruit Bars

100g porridge oats
50g dried fruit, this can be mised dried fruit, sultanas, cranberries, apricots, dates, figs, whatever
50g seeds and/or nuts, again you choose, I used milled flaxseed with nuts and dried raspberries
1 tablespoon honey
flavourings, this can be spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg...I used crystalized ginger

So, its simple mix them all up togther adding just enough water to bind the mixture togther.  Press into a greased flat oven tray. This mix is just right for a round 8" sponge tin.  And bake for 20mins at 180 degrees centigrade.  I baked until it was beginning to look crisp on the top.  Take out onto a cooling rack and cut into bars or slices before it cools.   Keep in a tin and great for nibbles.

If you have a swiss roll type tin then I would double this mixture.

So flavour ideas

I used mixed fruit and peel, flaxseed and crystalized ginger because that is what I had.
Will try apricot and almond.
What about date and ginger.
Cranberry and mixed spice.
Dried apple and cinnamon.
Dried banana and nutmeg.

If you want them to be particulary healthy than just read the labels of the fruit to see if it has any added sugar.

Here is how mine turned out, let me know if you give them a try.

The bars are "modelling" my new table mats

Mixed fruit and ginger oaty bars made by me and sampled a lot

Monday, April 16, 2012

To sew or to sow?

Morning all, well it is a cold day here, cold but bright and dry.  Being Irish it's obligitory to comment on the weather regardless of what it that's done.  The Easter holidays are over for me and it's back to my real job later today.  As I am going to a craft fair next weekend ( the visit Nenagh cycle event) I thought I should get some more products made.  I had some fun fabric with coffee cups and went to The Limerick Quilt Centre to get some matching fabrics.  I was SOOOOOOOOOO restrained and brough a list with me a stuck to it...almost.  I am trying to be cost effective with fabrics, I had a half yard of the coffee cups and so bought a half yard of two matching spotty fabrics and then another for pink binding fabric.  I cut and sewed the tops on Saturday and got the backing and wadding cut.

Tops ready to be quilted

Typical, I have these bits leftover, and need to buy even more fabric to finish them off.

I left them all out ready to quilt then on Sunday morning.  Up early and was at the machine by 8am ready to get started...and blast, the machine wouldn't work.  It keeps catching the thread underneath.  I think it's the happened before and I have noticed it happens after I have been using the walking foot.  Last time I gave it a good clean out and discovered it would work with slightly thicker thread and had been using that for a number of weeks.  Then for some reason it was fine with any it won't work at all no matter what thread I use.  I know the sensible thing would be to take it for a service...but then what will I do all week.

Anyway, so that meant I had a Sunday free and the weather was dry so I decided to finally get out into the garden. We have four large raised vegetable beds which have had nothing done to them this year and were left to waste last year aswell. So I dug and I dug and I dug...and now my back is killing me but we have three beds all ready to plant.  I cleaned up the asparagus bed and can see the little shoots already peeking through.  Last year was the first year we could pick it and I'm already looking forward to asparagus with a soft boiled egg chopped over it in June out in the garden under the sun I need us to get.  That bed had loads of strawberry plants so I dug them up and divided them and gave them a bed of their own, about 60 plants in it...mmm strawberry jam.  We moved the hen house, it was at the back of the garden but is now at the front in the orchard (pretentious word for 5 skinny apple trees).   We need to fence them in now, they have had free reign of the garden but I don't want them pecking newly planted veggies. 

I have loads of seeds growing indoors in post, tomatoes, peppers, courgette, cucumber, pumpkins and squashes and sweetcorn.  The sweetcorn hasn't taken off and the runner beans just rotted.  Outdoors in pots we have sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli, peas and beans. Today I need to sow in the ground all the salads aswell as turnips, kol rabi, scallions and leeks.  I still have loads more seeds to get going in the house but have run out of containers and windowsills.  And I still haven't got my promised hoo.

We got loads of weeding done including a huge amount of dandelions.  Darling husband was sending me in to the kitchen to make him a salad with them but they were a little bitter.  They seemed so succulent and it was a pity to waste them so we popped them into a bucket and brought them up to our newly aquired and cute as a button pigs.  They loved them and ate them all...good to know for future reference, I wonder what other weeds they would like?

The pink boy and black girl together on the left are ours. The girl is called Pixie.

Anyway, I'm off to garden.  Any suggestions about my sewing machine please comment.  I suppose I'm off to sow or sew.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My favourite words: Creativity

I love the word Creativity and see it as referring to a wide range of things that we do every day often without intending to or realising it.  Sounding the word out it is multi-syllabic but simple to say...a little like the meaning itself...simple to be but can have many layers. We all need a little creativity in our day.  This doesn't have to mean creating prestige works of art, it can be as simple as tossing a colourful salad that is pleaseing to the eye and taste buds.

Wikipedia says: Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, solution, artwork, literary work, joke, etc.) that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs. What counts as "valuable" is similarly defined in a variety of ways.
The English word creativity comes from the Latin term creƍ "to create, make" and its derivational suffixes also come from Latin. The word "create" appears in English as early as the 14th century, notably in Chaucer, in The Parson's Tale..
In a summary of scientific research into creativity Michael Mumford suggested:"Over the course of the last decade, however, we seem to have reached a general agreement that creativity involves the production of novel, useful products"

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekend make-a-long: Easter chick

I'll be honest, this is a reblog from Pom Pom Emporium.  But the story behind it has a few coincidences and I thought worth telling...and fun making even though Easter has passed.

So the lovely people at Creative Living forum have regular swaps to keep us on our creative toes.  This spring the swap was an interesting one.  Make something spring like for yourself, using any medium at all.  Then gather up the exact materials you used and send them to another forum instructions at all, just the materials.  So I receieved a packet in the post with some DK cotton look yellow yarn, a small piece of orange yarn, two mini buttons, some thick cotton thread and toy stuffing.  My first thought was this is to make a yellow chick.  I had seen many of these crocheted but I can't crochet and hoped I coould manage to knit one.  The same morning I headed off to work and remembered we had no milk for the tea-break so stopped at a shop I haven't been in for a few years.  At the counter was a basket with little yellow knitted chicks stuffed with cream eggs...just what I wanted. They were being sold for Cancer Charity.  I was in a hurry and then forgot to stop on he way googled Easter Chick. I was amazed that the exact chick I wanted came up first.  Then I laughed when I read her story...very similar to mine...seeing it in a shop being sold for charity. 
I downloaded her pattern, knit my chick and posted photo on Creative Living forum.  My swappee then posted hers and yep, she had knit a chick, hers looks much nicer but mine is just cute enough.  I have it in the kitchen "minding" the eggs.   And I'm off to make some in other colours aswell.  We have our own hens and my nephews love collecting the eggs...could you just imagine their faces finding a little chick in the hen box.

My hens eggs were a tight fit for the chick

Here is the pattern word for word from Pom Pom Emporioum.
To make a chick you will need...
  1. Small amount of yellow DK yarn
  2. A pair of needles UK size 3.75mm / 9 / US 5
  3. Small amount of stuffing for the head
  4. Small piece of felt for the beak
  5. Chocolate egg, plastic or hard boiled!
Cast on 26 stitches.
  1. Row 1: K1, increase 1, K to the end.
  2. Repeat first row until you have 36 stitches on the needle (10 rows)
  3. Knit four rows. (14 rows)
Shape the tail:* (abbreviations expanded to make it clearer)
  1. Row 1: K3, bring yfwd, slip next stitch, ybk, move slip stitch back to left needle. Turn
  2. Row 2: K3 to end
  3. Row 3: K2, bring yfwd, slip next stitch, ybk, move slip stitch back to left needle. Turn
  4. Row 4: K2 to end
  5. Row 5: Cast off 10 stitches, K to end
  6. Repeat last five row for the other side to shape tail.
  7. You will have 16 stitches left in the centre of your knitting.
  1. Rows 1-4: Knit
  2. Row 5: K1, K2tog, K to last three stitches, K2tog, K1.
  3. Rows 6-8: Same as row 5
  4. Rows 9-10: Knit
This will leave you with 8 stitches. Cut the yarn leaving a length 30cm (12") long.Thread a needle with the 30cm length and run it through the 8 remaining stitches, pull them tight. Continue with the yarn to sew up the head, back and side leaving a hole big enough to insert an egg. Stuff the head lightly. Insert the egg, this will give you the body shape making it easy to see where the neck should be. With a needle threaded with the yarn, do a running stitch to cinch the neck (not too tight) fasten off securely. The eyes are french knots made from black yarn. Sew on a beak made from red felt. 
For her photos and other wonders see here
I made the beak with some orange wool as this is what was in my swap pack.  Incidently this is the other chick my swapper sent.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday recipe: Buckwheat flatbreads

This is a very simple recipe I found on the back of the buckwheat flour packet.  I am trying to stop eating wheat and it's not easy.  I am having porridge for breakfast but find at lunch nothing beats a sandwich and soup.  I replaced the bread with wraps but was still having too much wheat.  I have found these flatbreads to be a great replacement...but need to be made and eaten fresh.

Buckwheat despite it's name is not actually wheat.  You can buy buckwheat cornels and cook just like cous cous or tabouleh.  Not to be confused with Bulgar Wheat which is actually wheat.

The flatbreads are vey simple
100 grams Buckwheat flour
12 tablespoons water
Pinch salt
Mix together in a bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
Heat up a pan or griddle very hot.
Spoon the mixture on, about pancake size, and spread out.  It should be the consistency of thick panacke batter, I left mine to stand for a long time and it had thickened, if so just add more water.
Cook on one side, flip and cook again.  It only takes about two minutes.

Then eat.

Iv'e just had some now wrap style with hard boiled egg, raw carrot, tomatoe, lettuce and cold ratatouille.  Great with a bowl of vegetable soup.
I have some mix aside for later (will check consistency again) and will fill them with some vegetarian Quorn chilli  have made in the fridge.
I have found these to be so simple and very versatile.  I will be making them in place of Naan or other falt breads on my next Curry night.
I'm also going to see how they work for grilled cheese sandwiches...mmmm...with some chutney.

Have a go and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birr Craft Fair

Wow, is it over a week since I blogged, shame on me. I am off work this week but that has meant I am even more busy than usual.  We had no cookery class last week or this, hence the lack of Wednesday's recipe and I was at a craft fair on Saturday so no make-a-long on Friday. I was invited to the craft fair at Birr Castle on Saturday.  They had a craft fair and food market in the courtyard and an Easter Egg hunt in the grounds for children.  We were very lucky with the weather as it was stormy on Friday but the wind and rain stayed away on Saturday...though it was very dull.  I brought my new product, picnic sets, with me and they got a very favourable response.  I was also lucky enough to use the setting to get some new pictures of them.  I met some wonderful people and got invited to some more craft fairs over the summer....ooooo it feels good to be back at fairs and selling to people.  It means more sewing for me and I already have three new products in mind all directly inspired by some weird and wonderful fabrics I sourced.  Off  to sew, here are some photos of the day.
Our view of the courtyard
Some of the other stands
The Easter Bunny
New product Apples picnic set
New Product Spring Picnic Set
New Product Watermelon Picnic set

Quirky Apple stand

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mood Board: Beach, looking for summer inspiration

I spent the weekend trying to get loads of small makes using up my stash and scrap basket.  I realised I have been using very strong and hot colours and want to change direction for the summer.  My sister called and said she got to spend most of last week at the beach with her two little 3 years olds and I thought yes, beach, I will use that as a starting point.  It means summer but the colours are cool and calm.

I trawled through my photo files to see what I had and found this little treasure, a wonderful quirky photo just caught at the right time but what is appealing to me is the array of blues and greens and natural sea colours.

Next I wanted to play with the image to break it down into the various colours.  There are many photo editing programs and to be honest I have tried a few and found I haven't got the patience or inclination to become proficient at any of them.  One I like is IrfanView (free) and with this I use the effects browser to pixelise, swirl and watercolour the photo and crop the components I am drawn to.  Another program I use is Gimp (also free). With this I can choose the size of the finished image and layer the pictures.  Using a combination of these I came up with the following mood board.  This is saved as an A4 jpeg and I can easily print it  and bring with me when I shop.

One of the products I make is quilts and table mats. has a wonderful feature called a design board where I can look through all fabrics and place them on the design board, move them around and add them all to my basket together.
Here are a selection of fabrics that meet this colour selection, I tried to be very restrained but could play with this all day and end up with hundreds of fabrics.

Finally for those of you using other photo editing software and looking for names and codes of colours bighugelabs has a colour palette application that can be imported into your own software.

I find all of these very helpful to me when planning new projects, sorting through my stash and planning my shopping.   But like all new things it becomes slighly addictive and takes away from valuable making have been warned.