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by Julie Brooks

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Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas cards - part 2

Hello everyone

Well, this is my last post for 2012. What a year! It's certainly been eventful, some of it good, some of it not so good, and some of it sad, distressing, upsetting and hurtful. But, that's life - full of ups and downs and challenges.

So I'm now looking forward to waving goodbye to this year and welcoming in 2013 with the hope that it will be better, happier and see some of my and my family's personal hopes and dreams come true. My son hates the end of the year. He struggles to see it in a positive way and to him it represents death. He is 11 years old and this is only one aspect of his Asperger's, which constantly challenges us and tests us almost to breaking point frequently. But I love him more than words can say and would not change him or be without him. The flip side is that he has a wicked sense of humour and a unique perspective on everything which can be so spot on at times that he blows me away. I will re-commence home schooling with him in the New Year and boy does he have alot of work to do in the next few months, which did not impress him in the slightest when I broke it to him earlier today!!!

Anyway, onto the reason for tonight's post - the rest of those Christmas cards which I promised to share with you.

I am blessed to have five nieces and one nephew, with ages ranging from almost 9yrs through to almost 18yrs, and I love them all to bits. So, for the younger ones (ages almost 9yrs through to 12yrs) I chose a snowman theme and used some Frosty images which I purchased from Craftwork Cards more than a year ago. I coloured each picture myself using Promarkers and gave each one an embossed snowflake frame. Each picture is different, although they all feature a snowman, and each has a different background paper, which were also from the Frosty range. Glitter and clear gems and sentiments finished each card. I'm really sorry, but the colours have come out quite badly - my photo processing software has let me down so that's now at the top of my "must investigate" list for 2013!


The next three cards were all for my older nieces, ages ranging from 15yrs to almost 18yrs. Again, I used the same overall theme for all three (Christmas tree), but just varied them a little. You will see that two are in Kraft cardstock with the focus on reds and greens and one is in white cardstock with the focus on blues. This white one was for the youngest of the three girls who loves the colour blue, and when she attended one of my floral wreath making workshops earlier this year she chose this same colour scheme, so I thought I'd tie her Christmas card in with that. Needless to say she was thrilled! Again I must apologise for the poor picture quality in the first two photos.

After taking this photo I re-did this card with more personal wording
And finally, the cards I made for my brother and sister-in-law and for my sister-in-law. I used a new die in my ever-growing collection - the tatty poinsettia by Tim Holtz. I love this die. The colour and pattern possibilities are endless and it doesn't have to be a poinsettia, it could be any big blousy flower and I have big plans for it for 2013! I chose to cut mine from some paper which had sheet music printed on it in a very pale colour, thinking the music would show through the inking. Then I inked the layers using Shabby Shutters and Festive Berries and discovered that the music had disappeared! Well, I wasn't very impressed with that I can tell you, but I have a clear music score stamp in my stash, so I added this over the top using Frayed Burlap, and it worked beautifully. I gently scored down the centres to give more shape and assembled the layers. The last part of the make was to choose the background paper and the frame and a bit of sparkly ribbon, get these in position on the card blank (one square and one fanciful) and then fix the poinsettia in place. Finished with sentiments, glitter and clear gems (gems added after the photos were taken).


Well, that about covers it for this year.

Thank you again to everyone who follows my blog - please leave me a comment on my posts, even if only to say "hi". I love to hear from you all.

So, it only remains for me to wish you all a very happy new year for 2013 and I will see you all again very soon.

Take care.

Love from me xx

Sunday, 30 December 2012

more Christmas makes

Hello again

A quick post from me tonight to share a few bits and pieces I made in the run up to Christmas. I was intending to post photos of more of the cards I made, but I realised they are still on the memory stick on the camera, so I will share those with you as soon as I get them transferred and watermarked!

So, instead, I have a few pictures of items I made which were sold at Avado Boutique in Draycott. This is a lovely gift shop selling hand-crafted items created by local craftspeople like myself. I used a variety of tools and materials, including my Pazzles machine and various dies, stamps, papers, ribbons, chalk acrylic paint, inks (distress, pigment and chalk), glitter and frantage powders.

three pretty tree decorations
candle wreath
tag featuring crackle glazing and frantage
tag featuring frantage and lots of glitter
more tags with lots of inking, glitter & clear gems for sparkle
These are just a few of the items I made. Other items included matching tags and gift wrap, floral decorations for champagne flutes and pretty floral wreaths to hang either on the tree or by themselves.

My tags are not over fussy because they were designed with value and practicality in mind. They were hugely popular, as were all the other items I put into the shop.

I hope you like my little makes too.

Back soon!

Love from me xx

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas card for a 3-yr old girl

Hello again

Just another quick post from me to share with you the cards I made earlier this month for a commission order. The remit was "pink and girly" for a 3 year old granddaughter of a friend of my sister's. Well, I confess that children's cards isn't an area I've done much work in and so I didn't have much in the crafty stash to enable this commission to happen, but I managed to make four cards and the lady was highly delighted with all of them, said having four to choose from made it very difficult for her as they were all so lovely, and she did finally decide on one of the designs. So, here are some pictures and I hope you like ...


This little beauty is a Wild Rose Studio stamp but I don't know the name of it. I bought it a couple of years ago maybe and had never used it until now. I coloured her with Promarkers and added lots of sparkle to her wings, the star on her wand and the fluffy edging on her dress. I die cut some snowflakes and completely glittered them too. I framed the picture with some lovely pom-pom thread which is the edge of some pom-pom yarn which I bought in a ball, like you'd buy wool, the full extent of which you can see on the bottom of the card. I thought it was a great way of representing snowballs and the snow lying unevenly on the ground. I'm really not a knitter so have no idea how easy this would be to work with on knitting needles! (The base card I cut and scored from a 12 x 12 sheet of pale pink card and I layered the deep pink card onto it.) To finish I added the wording and some clear gems and also used a Sakura Glaze pen to add "moisture" to her eyes.

a close up to see the colouring and sparkly detail
This next one uses a pre-coloured image from Lili of the Valley. I love these two little girls dressed as angels, playing the tambourine and recorder - so sweet and reminds me of when I was little.


I added glitter to their headdresses as these would have been made from silver tinsel, so it was only right to cover them with glitter to make them sparkle in just the same way. I also added glitter to their wings and to the stars to make them twinkle, and I bet those two little angels are playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"! I also added a dot of "moisture" to their eyes using a Sakura Glaze pen to make them look more life-like. The frame is from Craftwork Cards and I simply glittered some of the stars to make them stand out a bit more. These little girls are wearing pale lilac/mauve nighties and so I chose a background paper in as close a colour match as possible to tie it all together. So, not as pink, but definitely girly!

a closer look at the two little angels

Next is another pre-coloured image, again by Lili of the Valley. This puppy is so adorable, gazing longingly at the bone-shaped gift in his stocking!


I made the card blank using a deep pink pearlescent card, and then added layers of papers and card and mounted the image onto all of that. I added glitter to the furry top of the puppy's stocking and to the baubles on the tree. I cut a length of ribbon - this is one I spotted in my local craft shop several weeks prior to Christmas and thought it was perfect for Christmas cards with those lovely silver glittery stars all over it - and added this to the bottom of the card and fixed the layered image over the top edge. Then I die cut some snowflakes and covered them in glitter too. Finally I added the wording and a few clear gems.

a closer look at that adorable puppy
Finally, another image which I stamped and coloured using Promarkers. This is again from Lili of the Valley.


Pale pink card base again, with the image stamped and coloured on white card, then layered onto deep pink card. Again, I added lots of glitter for the snow, the stars and the fur on the little girl's coat, plus some dots of glitter here and there on her hair and on the baby Christmas tree to represent the snow. I used some of the pom-pom edging again to represent snowballs, added some of the fabulous starry ribbon down the left, a few punched stars (again all glittery and sparkly) and some tiny star shaped gems.

a little closer to see the detail
Well, those are the four cards I made for the commission but can you guess which one my customer chose? And which is your favourite? I'd love to hear your thoughts and always enjoy reading your kind comments.

Bye for now.

Love from me xx

Christmas cards share

Hello all

It's been a few weeks, but my goodness they have been busy ones!

So, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and no doubt you're looking forward to seeing out the dismal year which has been 2012 and welcoming in 2013 in the hope that we may at least have a "proper" summer and better success with all our vegetable growing efforts! I know I am.

To finish off for 2012 I thought I'd just share some of the Christmas cards I made in the run up to the big day. If any have already been featured I can only apologise. I will share some tonight and save the rest for tomorrow!

So, first up is a pretty easel card.


I made this one for my mother-in-law and she loved it. Since this photo was taken I added in some sparkly die-cut snowflakes on the base and a sparkly silver mesh ribbon bow top right. The papers are Dovecraft and the card blank, embossed frame, bird and sentiment are Craftwork Cards.

Next is this little beauty which we gave to my Dad.


This one has some lovely frantage detail on it. The gorgeous reindeer was originally mounted on wood so I just carefully separated the two - some tricky work with the craft knife was required but it paid off! I love the colour combination on this card and it was perfect for my Dad. The frame is a chipboard ring which we cut on our Pazzles machine and then I covered it with patterned paper, which I also used to die-cut some trees and snowflakes from. I think these papers are by Kaisercraft. The card blank is Craftwork Cards. Again, I added a personalised sentiment to this for my Dad. I'm seeing him tomorrow so will find out then whether he liked it!

The next card I really wasn't sure about when I first made it, but it grew on me, and my sister and brother-in-law, who were the lucky recipients, loved it, and my brother-in-law especially liked the fact that he could "hear Christmas" thanks to the little jingle bells on it! I know normally it's only two bells, or even one, but they are quite small so I decided to put three on there, for extra jingle!


The background paper is from a pad by Kaisercraft, and I love the pictures on it - Santa, the Three Wise Men and you can just see the reindeer pulling the sleigh to the left of the tag. I added a couple of pieces of coloured, patterned paper and then used various colours of ink around the edges of the card to help pull it all together. I stamped the various images onto the tag and again inked it around the edges in a mix of colours, then added the chevron edges on the left and right, which helped lift it away from the background. Some glitter dots, clear gems, sparkly ribbon (which I received in a bundle of lovely things from one of my blogging acquaintances as a prize for following her blog - how fab is that?) and jingly bells complete this design, which again I personalised.

Well, I think that will do for today!

I have a few more to share with you tomorrow, so until then take care.

Thanks for popping in.

Love from me xx

Sunday, 9 December 2012

No let up for me!

Hello everyone

I don't have any crafty items for you to look at today - sorry! I've been incredibly busy these last few weeks keeping stocks replenished in the lovely gift shop where I sell my makes. Seems as soon as something goes in, it's sold, and I have to start all over again! Not that I'm complaining of course. And I'm still in the middle of making my own Christmas cards for close family - can't believe it's almost the middle of December and I still don't have them all made, let alone any written! AND I now have a commission order to fulfil for a special Christmas card for a beautiful 3 year old girl, and we still have Christmas shopping to finish AND we also have a date with two nieces and a nephew to take them to do their "secret" shopping for their auntie (who they live with) and their grandma. So, mega-busy doesn't even begin to cover it. Oh, and not forgetting still teaching my autistic son!

But all of this hasn't stopped me getting a bit hands on in the house this weekend! We moved into our place just over two years ago and it needs EVERYTHING doing to it, including but not limited to: needing extending front and back, new kitchen, new bathroom, new cloakroom, totally redecorating throughout, which includes a new ceiling in the sitting room! But with one thing and another very little progress has been made. One of the things which definitely needed some drastic work was a stone clad chimney breast in the sitting room. It was typical sandstone cladding with wide cement joins between stones, and this being quite a narrow room, it was definitely "in your face" and it made the room feel very dark too. And none of the other walls had been painted since we moved in either and were a horrible aged magnolia - very dark and depressing, with bits missing here and there too! So, we did no more than get out the white emulsion, and my husband got a quick coat on two walls while I slapped a coat on the cladding - nothing to lose as far as I could see, it would either look great or look terrible and was one of those things that we were seriously considering removing altogether, which would probably leave exposed brickwork which would also need something doing to make it look nice! So with a "let's go for it" attitude I set to work. It had to be a "quick coat" because we had promised our son that we would put up and decorate the Christmas tree on that particular day too and if that hadn't happened he would have been heartbroken, especially as so many people around us already had all their decs up! Anyway, here's a few photos of said chimney breast.

In this photo you can see the original colour in the top half, yet to be attacked by me with the paint brush! But don't get me started on that ceiling! That needs major cosmetic surgery to put it right!

How much better is this? The little built-in shelves have been left in their original state as they are done with grey stone and we felt it made quite a nice contrast and served to break up the white a bit too.

And here's a close-up showing our lovely little woodburner flanked by a waving Santa with his sleigh full of gifts and a Nut Cracker soldier keeping guard!
I hope you will agree that the white is much better than the original sandstone colour! The whole style of it may not be to everyone's taste, and is certainly not something we would ever have chosen ourselves, but I think it can be lived with for a bit longer now that it is white! Who knows, we may even decide to keep it! And our lovely woodburner stands out really well now. We've got a fire going this evening and we're now using our own wood too! Last year and the year before it was fuelled with wood we had to buy, but now, almost two years on from having three rather large conifers, several old and manky Poplars (rotting from the inside out) and an old and well-past-it plum tree cut down, we are reaping the benefits of keeping all of the wood in a big pile at the bottom of the garden in a fairly sheltered spot. It is well seasoned and ready to use! So my husband invested in a chainsaw and set to work on the first few logs today, and it feels quite satisfying knowing that the wood we are now using is ours, from our own garden. Although we had the conifers cut right down to ground level, and the stumps ground so they would not try to regrow, the Poplars were cut down leaving a good four feet of trunk in the ground. The reason for this decision was because there were lots of little cracks and crevices, great for insects to hide and hibernate in, and so great for birds (especially Great Tits we have discovered) to hunt around to find little juicy morsels to eat, so although we cut the trees down, we didn't entirely wipe out the insect habitats. And we have also planted a lovely native White Beam which in time will be a beautiful big tree full of pretty white blossoms in the spring and juicy red berries in the winter which birds love. We do try to be quite nature-friendly where possible.

We've been lucky to have a few drier and more sunshiney days so that we could have windows open to help disperse the paint fumes from the decorating (even low odour paint has an odour which lingers for several days), but isn't the weather topsy turvy at the moment? We've had really cold with heavy frosts, then mild and sunny with glorious blue sky, damp and grey and just plain non-descript, not to mention all that heavy rain which left so many areas flooded again. What a mess they have to sort out, and totally at the wrong time of the year too (not that there's a right time to be flooded, but I'm sure you know what I mean). The park near us was under several inches of water and more or less impassable in places, as my husband and son found out when they went over for a walk/bike ride last week. I've included a couple of photos below so you can see what it was like about a week after all the heavy rainfall.
Look at that glorious blue sky! Makes the scene quite beautiful, even though under all of that water there is a field!

Probably not a good idea to try riding the bike through this!
So folks, that about wraps it up for this year. In this next week I have more makes to complete for the shop, my own cards to finish, my son needs help making all of his cards (he's made a few but has quite a long list!), and he has several other items to decorate for Christmas too, I have my commission order to work on and Christmas shopping to finish - wish me luck! And after that I will be doing nothing more than the "Santa run" where we deliver all the presents around to our respective families (and eat lots of mince pies in the process!), the last food shopping before "the big day" and meticulously planning how to cook yet another Christmas lunch using only a combination microwave oven and a two plate electric hob! Fun!

Whatever you're doing, take care, and I'll see you all in the New Year. Thank you for sticking with me this year, and I hope you'll stick around next year too, to found out what exciting adventures I go on, whether crafting or DIY!

Have a great Christmas!

Love from me xx