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by Julie Brooks

Polite notice. All designs are copyright protected. I hope you will be inspired by my designs but please do not copy them. Thank you.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Fun with emulsion and Kaisercraft!

Hello all

Well, the weather's gearing up to give us a fabby, sunny weekend again - hurray! Can't wait to sit out in the garden again.

There has been a little progress in our kitchen, in that hubby set to and did most of the plastering these last couple of days - something he's never tackled before and I think he's done a very good job of it. So the walls which, in places, were dreadful (not to mention all the channels gouged out by the electrician last month) are now looking much better and I think apart from maybe a couple more bits to fill in and the inevitable sanding down, we're then at the stage where we can get the ceiling sorted out (it's textured and we're disposing of the texture!) and then get it all painted - yay! Slow progress it may be, but progress none-the-less.

Anyway, I've had a bit of crafting time this week and so I did a makeover on a nesting set of 3 boxes and a little plain wooden frame. I used white emulsion, some elements from a collection by Kaisercraft called Secret Admirer (you can buy their products from Merly Impressions - link at the bottom of this post), and a few beautiful little flowers from The Ribbon Girl - again, I've put a link at the bottom of this post. Here's a photo of the wooden frame and one of the boxes. I hope you like them.




OK, have a great weekend whatever you're doing and I'll see you all soon.

Julie xx

Links:
Merly Impressions
The Ribbon Girl

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

An exciting discovery

Hello everyone

Well, the English weather continues to confound and confuse us. On Saturday and Sunday we had lovely warm sunshine, and we even had our first ever barbecue in this garden, yesterday the morning was reasonably warm and sunny but it deteriorated rapidly as the afternoon wore on to the point where it felt rather bracing out there again by teatime (still got my washing dried though!), and today it's grey and raining. Sigh. The poor birds must be wondering what on Earth is going on!

Anyway, we made a little discovery in our garden yesterday!

Remember this ...

Those of you who have been regularly reading my posts will have seen this photo in a recent one where I was sharing our lovely garden blooms with you all. Well, that fine soil appeared to be a big ants nest and I resisted the temptation to mess with it! Anyway, yesterday we decided to do some digging. Just to fill in a bit more detail, this is a section of our garden which was full of soil and stones and rectangular in shape and surrounded by concrete paving slabs. So, we'd had a theory since moving in that it might once have been a pond and we expected the hole to be quite deep. We had a preformed pond liner from my dad that he no longer wanted (and they are quite expensive to buy and we knew we wanted a pond of some sort in the garden eventually ....) and we'd thought it would fit into said hole quite nicely once dug out. So, Alex (our son) being very eager to get started on this little project persuaded his Dad that they should do the digging out. Well, first off let me tell you there were no more than about six ants in that huge pile of powdery soil - I suspect they moved home once their cover was blown! So, with more than a little relief at not suddenly being inundated with little ants scurrying everywhere, the digging continued at a pace. Once they got about 12 inches down though, they hit something red - either tile or brick, it wasn't clear initially. They'd also discovered a square of concrete on each corner. They continued digging out and eventually this was revealed ....



It's a fully constructed garden pond! We were a bit gobsmacked for want of a better phrase as we'd expected just a big hole in the ground! The pond is about 4 to 5 feet long by about 3 to 4 feet wide and just over 12 inches deep, with a fully tiled bottom and concrete sides that also have a lining of some sort. Unfortunately some of the lining has broken off but much of it is still intact. Closer inspection revealed this ....


This is a properly installed hole which we think may have been where a water feature of some sort sat, at one end, and perhaps that hole was where the cables came through. But we're not entirely sure! It's clearly something along those lines, and it's the only one in the pond. Our son suggested it might just be like a plughole in a sink, so that the water could be easily drained out. Who knows, anything is possible!

Anyway, since making this discovery and agreeing it would be a bit of a waste to just chuck all the soil back in again (and I'm not sure what we could grow in it other than bulbs and shallow rooted veggies anyway), we have decided to make any necessary repairs to reseal it and then we're going to have some goldfish in it. It's deep enough for them (I checked!) and we can probably have around half a dozen in there without it being too crowded as they grow. It will be nice to return this original feature of the garden (remember, this house was built in 1957) to something close to its former glory. We'll have a water feature of some sort in that same position where the "plughole" is, which will not only be lovely in terms of watching the water moving, and hearing it, but will help aerate the pond, and we'll get a few small plants which will also add oxygen and provide shaded areas for the fish. It needs a ramp so that beasties can get in and out (frogs, toads, etc.) and we'll have to put wire mesh over it because we regularly see a heron flying overhead and with it only being a shallow pond the fish would be gone in a flash otherwise! We're not sure what to do with those concrete squares on the corners - maybe put potted plants there which like their roots only just dipped in the water, such as Iris perhaps. I will be sure to post pics on here as it progresses. And one thing remains to be decided ... where to put all of that soil which is now sitting in a huge great pile at the side of our newly discovered pond!

Now, that takes care of our son's desire for some goldfish in the garden, but we still need to sort out where to incorporate the preformed pond liner, which will then become just a wildlife pond with no fish, so maybe that can go somewhere shady like near the log pile at the bottom of the garden. But that's another project - best get this one finished first I think!

Anyway, I'm off now, but just before I go, remember I told you about our lovely peony bushes in the garden, with their big red flower buds waiting to burst open? I promised a photo once they opened and I don't like breaking promises, so here you go ...


How gorgeous is that!

Bye for now,
love from me xx

Sunday, 26 May 2013

What is this plant?

Morning everyone

What a gloriously sunny Sunday morning it is too, and with another day of sunshine and light breezes in prospect I know where we'll be - in the garden! I began a mammoth pruning job yesterday evening ... I know, not necessarily the right time for pruning, but there is an ancient apple tree which is growing right on the boundary between our and next door's garden, and it is leaning over our garden and the mass of tangled branches have created a very dark damp corner and many of the branches are resting on the roof of our timber workshop, damaging the felt, which has already had to be replaced once. Also, although it has loads of beautiful apple blossom every spring, the apples are always diseased and no good to use at all. I think that's possibly because the tree never appears to have been properly pruned, so it's a tangled mess with no chance of air circulating and not enough of a gap between branches to slow down the spread of grubs, etc., from one developing fruit to the next. I think it's also possibly quite an old tree too. Soooo, yesterday evening I bit the bullet and decided to give it a bit of a haircut. I focused on the lower "layers" and tried to really open it up. Pruning is the job I tend to do in the garden because I have a better eye for shape and form than hubby, although I'm certainly no expert! Hubby went up on the steps and cut some of the branches which are resting on the workshop roof which I couldn't reach, being vertically challenged as our lovely electrician so kindly phrased it a few weeks ago, but there's still more to do, and that's a job we'll hopefully finish today. Whether it will make any difference to the quality of the fruit long term we don't know. Only time will tell.

But I deviate here! The reason for this post was to ask for your help!

Just in the last week, with being out in the garden a bit now we are getting some decent weather on the odd day, we've noticed this plant growing right against the edge of the lawn in an area which is semi-shady first thing in the morning but then pretty much in full sun for the rest of the day. We haven't a clue what it is and I wondered whether anyone out there might be able to help us to identify it. It looks like something which should be in the Med to me and reminds me of some plants in a garden in Spain which fascinated me when we spent some time there many years ago, but given that our weather is distinctly not Mediterranean for most of the year then I doubt it is the same plant!





As you can see, the plant has long pointed leaves and they are quite sharp on their edges. They are also quite thick, tough leaves. The leaves are currently about a foot long, perhaps a bit longer, and are probably getting on for two inches wide at the base. It's growing as three separate "clumps", and two of these clumps have a flower developing in the centre. The third clump is a little way behind in terms of growth and currently I can't see a flower in there but that doesn't mean there won't be when it gets a bit bigger!

I've looked online but haven't found anything concrete, so am asking for your help on this one. We need to know if it's going to get huge because if it is we need to move it!! Also, is it a plant or a weed?

It's never grown in the garden before this Spring and it's certainly not something we've planted, so we are absolutely baffled! We've been here almost 3 years now so it clearly isn't a perennial, or if it is, how did it get here?

I hope I might hear from you in the comments box with your suggestions of what it might be and appreciate any help you can give me.

Well, household chores are pressing for my attention, so I'd best be off.

Have a great Sunday whatever you're doing ... barbecue for us later - yum!

Bye for now.

Love Julie xx

Thursday, 23 May 2013

an embossed frame and a little ink

Hello again everyone

Time to share a couple of cards I made the other day. I managed to grab an hour to craft after I'd done being school teacher to my son for the day!


So, the first one uses an embossed frame which has daisies all over it. It's a very cheery springtime frame in my opinion and makes me smile every time I use one. The background paper is pink on one corner (top left) and green on the other (bottom right), so I decided to ink the frame up using chalk inks to show up those lovely daisies, but I inked the side which would be against the green part of the paper in pink, and the side which would be against the pink part of the paper in green - using Versamagic Aloe Vera and Pixie Dust. These ink pads have been in use for probably a year and so are quite dried out, but that was perfect because I didn't want lots of ink, just a light "dusting". I love using chalk inks because you get such a soft finish.

I cut some flowers from another sheet of paper and fixed them in place, along with two little "buttons". I then threaded some pale pink organza ribbon through a little daisy tag and fixed that in place.

Finally, I used Star Dust Stickles to add little sparkly dots on the frame and the big flower and I used glossy accents in the centre of the big flower and on the two "buttons". Finished with some little sparkly gems.

I'm really pleased with this card because of the delicate colours, it's not too fussy with detail and embellishments and I deliberately didn't put a sentiment on there so that it can be used for a multitude of occasions. Do you like the two-tone chalk inking of the frame? I'm really pleased how that turned out.

The second card is quite different because it has the floral paper background, making it quite busy. So this needed a few bits to "tone it down" a little, and I chose again to use some of the die cuts from a Tag It pack which I bought from Craftwork Cards ages ago. I threaded two small ones onto a thin strip of the paper which I'd used as the background in the previous card and fixed these in place, then threaded two colours of organza ribbon through a larger tag and cut out a flower from the floral paper and fixed this in place as the focal point of the tag. I added little dots of Star Dust Stickles in various places to give some sparkly highlights and finally gave the three "tags" a light dusting of Pixie Dust chalk ink. Again I haven't added a sentiment anywhere so this could be used for various occasions.


Well, that's my two cards. I hope you like them? Please leave me a comment. I always read them and love to hear from you.

Incidentally, I don't frequently mention it, but I do visit all of your blogs as often as time allows. You come up with stunning designs time and again which I love to see. So much talent and so much inspiration. Thank you all for sharing your fabulous work with the crafting community.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Take care.

Love Julie xx

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Spring beauty

Hello my friends

So, as promised, here I will share with you some of the beautiful blooms which we are lucky enough to be enjoying in our back garden right now. So much colour, the promise of full freezers (and tummies) come summer and autumn and I'm loving it!

This post is a bit picture-heavy, but I make no apology for that - nature's beauty is worth it!

So the tour begins outside our back door and we find in the border these wonderful Aqualegias (don't know how to spell this one!) which we have in a variety of colours and which seem to pop up wherever they choose from year to year! When we moved in here almost 3 years ago we didn't have any by the back door at all! Aren't they gorgeous? I love the two layer flower which has the big star shaped bottom layer and then a completely different shaped top layer - well worth replicating on some future cards! And they stand so tall too!


Next comes Lily of the Valley. I have always, always, loved this plant, and so did my mum and my gran. And I had it in my wedding bouquet as we got married in the Spring. Hubby and I were never fortunate enough to have it growing naturally in any of our gardens, but it's always grown in my parents' back garden. So, when my mum died a few years ago I took one stem of the plant the following Spring to remember her by and put it in a pot, hoping and praying that it would survive - Lily of the Valley can be tricky and doesn't always appreciate being moved. It survived! And I am so thrilled to see how much it has expanded this season to the point that we now have a little pot full of it, and look at all of those fabulous little flowers just waiting to pop open! And wow, the tiny white flowers sheltered against those lovely big green leaves? Amazing! 


The next beauty is Quince (Japonica?). I love these big dark coral pink blooms even though I'm not a pink person. They're pretty much the first blossoms we see in our garden each Spring so once they appear we know Spring is just around the corner.


Continuing along this border we come to a small tree - Corkscrew Hazel. I love the twisty contorted branches and the purple leaves on this one - quite a contrast to everything else, and the little blossoms are just getting ready to open. 


Now next to the Corkscrew Hazel we have planted a tomato plant in a big pot and since it's against next door's garage well we're hoping when it's a sunny day the warmth from the sun which will be absorbed by the bricks will help keep the little plant warm at night and give us lots of lovely red juicy tomatoes later in the year. (This border, by the way, is South facing, pretty much, so gets sun for a big chunk of the day.) 


Next up one of my all time favourite shrubs and one which reminds me of my grandma - peonies. We have three of these in our garden and I wait each Spring to see the new growth coming up through the ground. It's so exciting to me. They disappear each winter and you wouldn't know they were there, until come the next Spring rusty red growth pops up through the soil, and then I wait with eager anticipation until that growth gets bigger and bigger and turns green and sprouts lots of gorgeous green leaves and then those wonderful huge, dark red flowers appear. They are so, so beautiful when they open and I will do my best to get some photos to share with you.


Ok, still with me? Good! Now, veering over to the other side of the garden briefly, we then find a newly dug plot (hubby has been very busy these last couple of weekends) which is now full of brassicas - cauliflower, broccoli (calibrase), red cabbage and kale. These are not only for us (assuming we get any off them and they're not ruined by the dreaded whitefly) but also for our two guinea pigs to enjoy. It's costing us a small fortune keeping them in veggies so we thought we'd better try to grow as many of their favs as possible to ease the strain on the purse strings! And in our greenhouse at the back there we have more tomato plants, peppers and Florence Fennel growing, with cucumbers to be planted this coming weekend. We still have Second Earlies seed potatoes in there which have finally just about chitted enough to plant out - better late than never! In this section of the garden - the business end we call it - we also have blackcurrant bushes, red gooseberry bush, blackberry bramble, Main Crop potatoes and redcurrant bushes, then way over to the left raspberry canes with give us fruit from about June to October!


Now, you may be wondering what on earth you're supposed to be looking at in this next photo! Yes, there's a lovely blue Aqualegia there, but what I wanted to show you was all of that fine, powdery soil. Now, this section was underneath one of those pre-formed garden pond liners which had been sitting there upside down for a year plus, waiting for us to dig a hole big enough to sink it into - we want a wildlife pond in the garden. We decided to lift said liner and move it to another section of the garden out of the way. We hoped we'd find all sorts of exciting creatures underneath, such as frogs, maybe newts, perhaps some nesting field mice? No! Not a one! Apart from the odd woodlouse, nada, zip, zilch! So disappointing. However, there was this big mound of powdery earth which can only mean one thing - ants! Yep, this is a HUGE black ants nest (we have black and red ants in this garden)! You can't see the depth of it from this shot as I took it from above but it's probably about six inches above ground at its highest! I was sorely tempted to get a stick and disturb it all to upset the ants and see them scurrying around but didn't have the heart - after all, they've obviously worked incredibly hard to create their home, what right do I have to muck it up! So it's been left as we found it. Maybe some savvy starlings will realise there's bounty there and have a go at some stage - who knows! Let's just say if not that will mean one mammoth flying ant exodus in July!


OK, back to the plants! This next photo is the last of our purple sprouting broccoli plants which went in around this time last year. The fox cubs which played in our garden every night last spring and summer broke some of them quite early on, pigeons got others, but we have managed to enjoy some ourselves, and so have the guinea pigs! I'll be harvesting what's left of it within the next couple of days though or the purple sprouts will go to flower and I wouldn't fancy them with my dinner!


Next up, yellow! Yay! Gorgeous yellow wallflowers which seem to self-set wherever they choose but only in the bottom half of the garden. I love wallflowers - we had them in our garden when I was a child, and I appear to have managed to have some everywhere I've lived since.


Now this next shot is one full of promise - tiny baby pears just beginning to grow on our pear tree. I wonder how many will actually be ok to eat this autumn and how many will fall off way before they're fully grown - the last two years they've been quite disappointing. Maybe this year will be better.


Heading down to the bottom of the garden now, and we have our white lilac tree. Again, one of my all time favourites and something I grew up with. I much prefer the white to the lilac, if you know what I mean, and the perfume is heavenly. I love to stand underneath this tree when the blossoms are open and take in the heady scent. And again, gorgeous white flowers and fabulous green foliage - lush! 


OK, so by now you're probably getting bored. If so I apologise, but I did warn you it was going to be picture-heavy! And you can probably tell just how much I love our garden! So the final pictures feature some of the plants growing in our alpine/rockery bed which is against our garage wall back up near the back of the house. This border is opposite the one with the quince in so more or less north facing. It doesn't get very much sun really, certainly not after about 11am, but still manages to give us a lovely display of little blooms every spring and summer. It is quite sheltered I suppose, which probably helps. We have lavender in this bed too and all kinds of succulents.



This last shot I wish I'd taken a week ago because this plant was absolutely full of these gorgeous black and yellow flowers which again I love. It was a treat to behold but sadly many of them have gone over now. Still, you can get an idea of what it was like.


So that's it - tour complete. Thanks for joining me and I hope those of you with a love of plants and gardens have enjoyed it.

I'll see you again soon.

Take care,
love from me xx

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Gift tags

Hello everyone

Well, I don't know what it's like where you are, but here it's grey and overcast and damp! I went out in our garden earlier to take photos of some of the lovely spring blooms we're currently enjoying and came back in wet and muddy! But, the blooms are beautiful - will share those in a separate post - and the birds are singing. We have carrion crows nesting in a big tree very close to our garden - they nest there every year - and they're currently feeding one if not two babies. They had 3 last year which all fledged successfully and it was funny watching their juvenile antics as they found out about the World around them! So I'm hoping they will all make it again this year. Some people hate crows but I quite like them actually. They're extremely intelligent and I love their beautiful black plumage, AND, if they find a tasty bone or something lying around but it needs a wash before they'll consider eating it, they do no more than hop up onto one of our two bird baths and give whatever it is a good dunking - so clever!

Anyway, on to today's post, which features some gift tags I made a while back but checking back through my blog posts I can't spot that I featured them anywhere, so thought I'd give them a turn in the spotlight!

Now, these tags are not to be confused with the incredibly amazing, awesome and gorgeous Tim Holtz and other such tag creations I see on many peoples' blogs these days. I have not begun to make tags of that ilk ... yet! Mine were produced to sell as gift tags to put on gifts, rather than works of art, so they are simple designs, to keep them within a sensible price range. That said, I will be making some "extravagant" tags in the near future, but to sell as pieces of art rather than for on a gift - so they could end up being a gift in their own right I suppose. Watch this space!

So anyway, here goes.

This first one just uses various stamps to produce a pretty meadow themed image.


As you can see, I embellished the stamped images with some Platinum Stickles - works a treat. I love butterflies. We've had tiny Meadow Blues in our garden this past week.

This next photo is of two tags I put together using stamps, chalk inks, punches and die cuts. I love them both for different reasons.


Bear in mind that these two tags both started off as the brown coloured tag you see above, so you can tell I used a lot of ink to alter the background colour! I could have used chalk acrylic paints but I think they might have been a bit stiff then! The bottom tag has some script stamped on in pale lilac and I stamped some butterflies to match (colour-wise!).

This next one I gave the heat embossing treatment to! I used dark blue embossing powder and then finished by colouring in some sections using a white pencil and then added a few pearls. This remains one of my favourites.


Lastly, these two designs were produced using Versamark ink to produce a watermark over which I inked using various distress inks. The design was on white card and I mounted this onto some black card to provide a narrow border. I stamped the black butterfly image over the top, added some little black flowers and used beads for their centres. I love these as they were the product of my first chance to play with watermarks and they turned out great in my opinion.


So, there you have a selection of tags which are both pretty and practical!

I hope you like them - please leave me a comment as I love to read your messages.

Have a great day!

Bye for now.

Love from me xx

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sending hugs

Hello all

Hope your weekend is going well? I have another card to share with you using another one of those 12-inch papers I discovered the other day!

This paper has these lovely flowers on it which have the appearance of having been coloured by hand and I quite like that - a bit rustic/arts and crafts. I also like the yellow and cream check background, reminds me of picnics in the summer!


So, I used a section from the sheet to completely cover the card and from another piece I cut 3 flowers. Two of these I cut extra pieces out of - one of them to make a completely "free standing" second layer, which I turned 45 degrees and then mounted on foam pads for dimension, the other I just half cut the inner petals so that I could turn up the ends of them. I positioned my flowers and then added lots of Stickles for sparkle. I also used a small heart from a Craftwork Cards "Tag It" pack, covered it with paper (the other side of this double sided sheet), cut slots in the paper and threaded some spotty satin ribbon through. I gave the heart a dusting of Pumice Stone Distress Ink to define the edge of the shape and fixed it with foam pads. Once the Stickles had dried I drew some "sketchy" lines around most of the flowers and around the four sides of the card using a fine liner, shaped the petals on the two layer flower and dusted all around the sides of the card with the distress ink again. Oh, and then I stuck a few sparkly gems on for good measure!

OK, that's all from me for now. Please leave a comment, I love reading them.

Back soon!

Julie xx

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Citrus chipboards

Hello everyone

How are you doing? Hope you're geared up for a good weekend? Ours will be pretty busy, no doubt, running hither and thither getting things done which don't get done when hubby is away due to the fact that I don't drive - arthritis in 2nd and 3rd vertebrae (born with it I believe) means they're completely fused together affecting blood and oxygen supply to the brain and I can't turn my head around enough for all those tricky bits and pieces, and unfortunately I never mastered using mirrors instead. And public transport is rubbish around here (and expensive!). So, the weekend is the out and about time for us and therefore little else gets done!

Anyway, I have a card to share with you. Now, several years ago I bought some chipboards, when I bought my first ever card making materials. They're by DCWV and are called Citrus. There are papers to go with them, which I also have in my stash and dip into from time to time. The thing is, I had two or three goes using these chipboards way back when, but was never happy with what I made. It just didn't gel, if you know what I mean. So I abandoned them and they've been sitting in a drawer ever since. Here's a picture of them - no doubt you've come across them at some time in the past.


So, I thought I'd have one last attempt at using them. I used a square card blank and covered it with part of a sheet of double-sided 12-inch paper - another one with no name on it so no idea who produced it - leaving a narrow border all round. The design is really bright and zingy and busy. Next I used some of the same paper, but the other side, for a fairly wide border section in the bottom portion of the card, and fixed some bakers twine around and tied in a bow to one side. I took one of the chipboards with the word "sweet" on it and placed it on this section. The thing about these chipboards is they're quite thick, and all double layered, and each layer is fixed with a foam pad, so that gives them even more dimension. In other words, they're quite chunky! So, then I picked three of the flower chipboards and positioned them. You might be able to see that they're also quite glittery. Finally I used three of the chipboards which are actually little sentiment tabs and positioned them like bunting, and added a clear sparkling gem to each as they seemed a little bare. I toyed with the idea of stamping letters on to them, but couldn't think of a word that would fit with the theme that was three letters! If you can think of any please do leave a comment with your suggestions. Last, but by no means least, I used some Stickles to add some tiny sparkly highlights on the paper.




It's a very busy card, but it's very bright and I quite like it, especially as these last few days the sunshine has been somewhat lacking - even though we're well into May!

Well, that's all from me for today.

Take care and see you soon.

Love from me xx

Friday, 17 May 2013

A little something I made a while ago

Hello all

I'm back with another post, having found something to share with you all that I made a few months ago. In fact I think I probably made it with Valentine's Day in mind, but forgot to blog it, silly me!

So, this item started life as two separate things - a small heart-shaped box made from Papier Mache, which I bought from Hobbycraft, and a wooden heart-shaped tag - can't remember where I bought that from, but think it was somewhere online.

Firstly, I used Stazon ink to cover the whole of the little box, both inside and out. That, as you can imagine, turned into an incredibly inky messy job and it being Stazon, took a while to wash off! Then I fixed some lace around the edge of the lid. Then I thought, "Now what do I do with it, it's not much of a thing as it is"! I will just add here that the reason I didn't stamp any images onto the box is because the surface was in places quite uneven and I felt sure I wouldn't have got the finished effect I wanted so didn't risk it!

At the same time as doing this and mulling its future over, I had the wooden heart tag which I was also wondering what to do with! I tell you, there are days when inspiration just isn't there AT ALL, not even for simple things like this! I buy these bits and pieces thinking "Yeah, I can do something with that", with lots of ideas flashing through my mind, each for only a split second, but then when I sit down to actually create something I can't work out or remember what that "something" was supposed to be! Do you get days like that too?

So anyway, after much debating, toying with different ideas, mucking about with various bits and pieces trying to come up with something that would be nice but not fussy, I opted for using a heart-shaped rubber stamp which had a lovely flourish design on it. This is one of those stamps where the design is cut into the rubber so you get lots of flat surface which the ink covers and the design itself doesn't get inked, but because I'm a bit of a novice and not up on all the jargon, I can't remember what that's called - I'm sure you all know what I mean though! So, I used the same red Stazon ink on the stamp and stamped the image onto the wooden heart. The stamp wasn't the same size as the wooden heart, so I was left with space around the edges and although it looked quite nice, sort of like a heart within a heart, it didn't look quite right, so I set to with the sponge and the ink and filled in all the remaining space, along with the sides, until all that was left "empty" was the flourish itself. I quite like this, clean and simple. I toyed with the idea of adding sparkling gems, glitter and the like, but in the end decided against any of those.

I tied some red ribbon and some lace through the hole at the top and then thought, "So now what am I going to do with this?". My answer? To stick the wooden heart tag onto the lid of the heart box! Et voila! A pretty little heart-shaped box with a wooden tag topper, I suppose!

I deliberately didn't crop out the shadow on this photo - I love shadows and silhouettes!



Well, that's all from me for this post. I hope you like my little box and have a laugh at my clumsy way of getting things done ... eventually! Please do leave a comment. I appreciate them all and love to hear from you.

Take care and see you all again soon.

Love from me xx

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Thanks so much

Hi folks

I tried to post this a couple of days ago but Mr Blogger wasn't having any of it and I couldn't get any of the photos to load - so annoying when that happens!

So here goes attempt number two, having abandoned my original post altogether!

As those of you who follow my blog will know, I haven't been in the crafty realm for a good number of weeks now, simply because I had nowhere to work and the house was in a mess due to major cosmetic surgery taking place in some areas - namely the lounge and kitchen - so everything had to be hauled out of those rooms and placed elsewhere, meaning the crafty zone had to be sacrificed. However, just in the last two weeks we've managed to rejig things enough to free up at least a desk!! Yay!!

So, this card I made using crafty bits and pieces which were lying around plus some paper from a double-sided 12 inch sheet, the designer of which I have no idea, there's no name on the paper - it was sitting in one of my 12 inch paper storage boxes which I rediscovered and flicking through went WOW! several times because I had completely forgotten I had them - no doubt you're the same because we all have an addiction to papers don't we?! Needless to say they'll be getting more of an airing in the very near future!

So, I decorated the tag with some shaped paper flowers which I had left over from other projects, tied three ribbons through the top and added a couple of bits of lace for foliage, along with a die cut flourish which, again, was left over from another project.

I fixed the tag on an angle to the easel card (a Craftwork Cards Fanciful 6 inch card) and then decorated the base with more flowers and another flourish. I finished with pearls and a dusting of Pumice Stone Distress Ink all around the edges. The reason I fixed the tag on at such an angle was to show the word "Adore" on that paper. Given that this is a thank you card, the word "Adore" could refer to the recipient of a gift wanting to convey the fact they adore it to the sender of the gift, or it could just be that they want to convey to the sender that they adore them for being such a wonderful person. Who knows? For me, it's because I adore using paper flowers!

It doesn't show up well in the photos, but the two papers are from the same sheet, just the two sides are very different designs, and the greens are exactly the same shade but for some reason you can't tell that really in the photos - I do find greens quite difficult to photograph and get the colour levels right - do you?

I loved mixing the different ribbons together - satin, grosgrain and organza - gives it a different feel somehow, and the lace foliage was two little pieces I had left over from yet another previous project and I thought they'd work really well for leaves! Oh, and the flourish on the base is actually the same colour as the one on the tag - again, a trick of the light!

This card needs a box to go with it really because of the depth of those flowers, so maybe that will be my next crafty project!





Anyway, I'm pleased with it, and the wording "Thanks so much" is a message to all of you for sticking with me. Please leave a comment - I love to hear from you, and I'll hopefully be back soon with another crafty offering.

Take care everyone,
love from me xx

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Progress of the very best kind

Hello everyone

Sorry it's been so long since I posted - there's a lot going on but not of a crafty nature!

So, we still don't have our new kitchen in, in fact there's been little to no progress since my last post due to the fact that hubby (who is chief kitchen fitter) is currently working away more than he's at home! Good news on the earnings, yay we'll be able to pay the bills next month without eating into what little savings we have left, kind of front but not so good on the cooking a proper dinner front! Hey ho, such is life. Give us another six weeks and I'm hoping it will be a very different story - watch this space!

In other news, we took our gorgeous son Alex to Legoland, Windsor last Bank Holiday weekend. We have annual passes and in our case it really would be a crime if we didn't, because Alex absolutely LOVES Legoland. They had a Star Wars themed weekend and Alex, just getting into Star Wars and having watched the first three films (films 4, 5 and 6!) was quite keen to go along and check it out. Well, we had such a brilliant day, but that shouldn't surprise me as we always do at Legoland. Alex got to have his photo take with all kinds of characters, including Darth Vader and the most feared character of them all in my opinion, Darth Maul - man is he ever scary! Now, Alex would not have wanted to go near people dressed up as film characters not so long ago - I'm talking only a few months ago - so for him to be so keen to get as many photos with the characters as possible was massive progress for him. (Just going back to my comment about Darth Maul briefly, we watched Phantom Menace yesterday afternoon and I was petrified every time Darth Maul appeared and in my opinion he is far more intimidating than Darth Vader!) Anyway, back to Legoland, and Alex helped to build a 6-ft high Lego model of Yoda and a giant Lego mosaic of R2D2, and even though that meant he was sharing a table with lots of other children, he didn't even flinch and there was no hesitation or hanging back whatsoever - a far cry from even six months ago, I can tell you. (Asperger's, for those of you who don't know anything about it, is a condition on the autistic spectrum and it creates a whole set of challenges for people with the condition in situations that anyone without the condition wouldn't even think twice about going into.) He's doing so well and he's come a long way in the last year - well done Alex! Anyway, a good day was had by all but man did our feet ache by the end of the day, having spent nigh on 7 hours queuing, standing still looking at things or walking around! Oh, and what really topped it off for me was spying two Red Kites flying around over the car park and surrounding fields - they are gorgeous birds and I could have happily sat there watching them for hours.


We're here!
Finally from me for today, we had our annual home schooling consultation on Friday and it went brilliantly. The chap who comes to see us is an ex-head teacher of a school for children with special needs, so he fully understands Asperger's and everything that goes with it, and I can tell you that makes a HUGE difference when discussing progress, difficulties, etc. Talk to anyone who hasn't specialised in that area and spent a considerable amount of time with children with special needs of this kind - no offence intended here - but they really don't understand how Asperger's affects a child, not only in terms of socially but also in terms of their self esteem, self confidence, how they learn, and how "normal" day-to-day activities can be massively challenging to them. For example, in Maths, Alex has been working on graphs, charts and co-ordinates which are several years above his age for some time now, but he has struggled massively with the concept of times tables and division, and learns better when using more visual formats than lots of wordy stuff or long strings of numbers. It's just how he is, it's just one of the ways that Asperger's affects his ability to learn. And so he wasn't at the level he should be for his age if you choose to compare with other kids his age, but because of his experience with children with Asperger's, our home ed consultant wasn't concerned, fully understood why that was the case, and knew himself, as did I, that eventually Alex would "get it". It's so good to have someone who isn't purely focused on the age of the child and where they "should be" academically compared with everyone else their age. AND, as I knew would happen eventually, we have turned a great big corner in the last couple of months, to the point where he is now flying - he is doing more complicated divisions, not just the simple stuff, and is almost there on his times tables, right up to the 12 times table - even though in schools they only teach up to the 10 times table these days, I don't think learning the 11s and 12s should be excluded because they're slightly bigger numbers and can massively speed up your mental maths if you know them. And socially, as mentioned in my previous paragraph, only 3 months ago he would have hesitated and hung back on the big Lego construction projects, even though he loves Lego, simply because being with other children crowded into a small area was hugely challenging for him to cope with, and there's no way that he would have stood and posed for photographs with people dressed up as characters from a film!

What a difference a day makes - or in Alex's case, a few months! So, so proud of him every day.

Anyway, I could go on endlessly on the subject of my wonderful son and his brilliant achievements, the battles he wins every day and the small steps he takes towards massive positive progress over time, but I won't. Needless to say I'm probably his biggest fan, Dad coming close behind, and the home ed consultant made a point of congratulating Alex on all the progress he's made in the last 12 months, not just academically, but emotionally too, and had a thoroughly lovely time talking to Alex who was very keen to show him his artwork, etc. - again, a year ago he would not do that when the home ed chap was here and he hasn't seen him since the last visit 12 months ago - see what I mean about progress? Mind blowing or what?!

Here's to the next 12 months of our journey and here's to a wonderful 11 year old boy for whom the sky's the limit - not his Asperger's.

Thanks for sticking with me during these barren crafty months, and I'll be back soon.

Take care everyone.

Love from me xxxx