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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.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Black and Red

Hello everyone

I have another post for you - I'm on a roll!

I love black and red together, it's one of my most favourite colour combinations, and I've made a few things with this colour scheme, so I thought I'd share some with you today.

The first one is a boxed wedding card with a very bold black, white and red theme. It was a risk making this for the shop where I used to sell a few bits because of the bold colour scheme, but it sold, so someone loved it as much as I did! The paper was from a stack by Paper Cellar or DCWV (I think - had it a while!) and the flowers and red cotton lace I bought from Ribbon Girl. I coloured the stamped image with my trusty Promarkers and finished with a few red gems. The box was decorated simply, with a strip of the same paper down one edge and some of the same flowers and gems as on the card. Of all the wedding cards I've made I think this is still my favourite!

The next piece is a 12 x 12 canvas which I made just before Halloween last year. I used black acrylic paint and gave the canvas a really thick coat. I positioned my flowers and painted them black too, then painted the bottom half of each flower in red Starlights paint (Imagination Crafts). I did some faux paint runs down the canvas beneath the flowers and stuck little red button hearts on the ends of the runs - the idea being the life blood seeping out of the flowers (yes, very Halloween hehe!). I also did some paint splatters on the canvas as another nod towards Halloween (you know where I'm going with this - horror movies ....). Finally I added some red mica powder although when I look back at it, even though I love the finished piece, I'm not sure that last step was even necessary, it kind of makes it look like fireworks - live and learn! Anyway, to give the "blood" a wetter look I coated it with Glossy Accents. Needless to say, it did not get packed away after Halloween because we all love it too much!

The next piece is a little box from a nesting set of 3 which you can buy at The Range. I painted it (inside and out) with white acrylic paint, let that dry, and then stamped my lovely festive reindeer roughly in the centre of the lid. I love this reindeer because he's got all tangled up in the Christmas decorations lol. The "baubles" are black gems. I then stamped the four red corner flourishes, and that was that. I'm afraid I can't remember which make either of the stamps are, sorry. Nice and simple, and a lovely little gift box at Christmas.

My final piece in my black and red colour scheme is a 10 x 10 picture, which ended up in a black deep box frame. I was lucky enough to be given a huge pile of different offcuts of laces and material by my mother-in-law - and many of them are offcuts of Nottingham Lace - beautiful. I covered the whole of the back board with some black lace from that huge pile. I painted a kraft mannequin with pewter acrylic paint (PaperArtsy) and let it dry. Then I dressed my lady with an offcut of black and red material and tied a black lace belt around her waist. This was finished with a big clear multi-faceted gem - can't remember what they're called - Sparklies or something like that! I placed her in the middle of the board. Then I added some beautiful blooms in red and black, with just a hint of white, on either side, and beyond that, at the outer margins, some red cotton lace, on top of which I fixed some red velvet sequin ribbon. I finished the piece with a few sparkly gems. The thought behind this piece was, I don't know, catwalk, Oscars, movie premiere - something along those lines anyway!

So there you have it, my black and red pieces. There will certainly be more as time goes by. Black and red for me? Pure magic!

Take care everyone,
Julie x

Sunday, 28 February 2016

80th birthday card

Hellooo everyone, happy Sunday!

I can't believe it's nearly March already. I know they say time flies when you're having fun, but really? March next week? Well, I just hope Spring is following swiftly behind it because I'm fed up with all the cold days and hardly any colour in my garden. Don't get me wrong, we've had some brilliant blue sky sunshine days, but I hate the cold and need warm Mediterranean temperatures really. Guess I'm living in the wrong country for that lol!

Anyway, onto the card I'd like to share with you today - an 80th birthday card for my Dad. This is quite a lengthy post with quite a few photos, so you might want to make yourself a cuppa!

I've just realised I didn't take a photo of the front of the finished card - what a der brain, but one of the photos does show it done other than the sentiment!

So, this is another 8 x 8 white card and I layered it up with blue linen textured card and then black textured card. I used Imagination Crafts Sparkle Medium Light Copper and Lapis Blue and applied it to the card through one of their stencil templates called Diamond Background. I did the whole of the front, as you can see, and this was done in stages because the stencil is a 6 x 6 so not big enough to do the whole card in one go. So once I completed the first half I left it to dry and then did the rest. I love Sparkle Medium. It's the first time I've used it, and I barely scratched the surface of the contents of the pot because it spreads so well - a little goes a long way!

While it was drying I die-cut some cogs using my Memory Box die Steampunk Corner. My Dad spent his whole working life around machinery of one kind or another and started out as a mechanic in his Uncle's garage, so cogs and gears was the nearest I could get to engine parts and I thought sort of tied in with his later jobs working with big machinery in various industries.

The cogs were cut from more of the black cardstock I used on the card base and I fixed two, one at the bottom left and one top right on the front. I was going to leave them black because close-up that worked quite well, but you'll see a little later that I changed my mind! You can also see the odd "imperfection" in the application of the Sparkle Medium, but as Mr Holtz would say "embrace imperfection", or in my case, a little more practice would probably solve that issue - it was my first time using it after all, and anyway I decided it didn't matter because once the whole card came together it really wasn't noticeable.

Next I cut my numbers, using two chipboard numbers as my templates. I decided I wanted to colour them up to tie in with the sparkly background, so using Creative Expressions Metallic Gilding Wax in Ultramarine and Imagination Crafts Alchemy Wax in Copper, I set to work.

You can see how messy my work mat is from the Alchemy Wax, but it cleaned off beautifully with a baby wipe! I just want to add here that the Alchemy Wax is very different from the Metallic Gilding Wax. Whereas the gilding wax is quite solid in the pot, the Alchemy Wax has a more fluid consistency, and is very creamy, so you hardly need any on your cloth at all and it goes a really long way and does a great job. I actually only used what was on the plastic cap inside the pot and didn't touch the contents of the actual pot at all!

So now my numbers look like ageing copper but the Ultramarine gilding wax has come out more green than blue on the black cardstock, so it's not quite matching the base. No worries, that will get sorted a bit later on!

I fixed the numbers to the base using foam pads and here was where I decided that leaving those cogs black was not right, so I set to work with the waxes and hey presto! it looks so much better now, and the bonus was that the wax not only lifted the cogs away from the base a little, but also highlighted some lovely fine embossed detailing on some of the cogs which otherwise would have been very difficult to see. At this stage I also decided to die cut some extra cogs for along the bottom and on the numbers. These are from an XCut set I've had for ages. You might also see a hint of something else there .... mica powder!

Yes, the solution, for me anyway, to the green not blue problem on the numbers and cogs, was to use some mica powder, and this one is from the Moonlight set and is a brilliant shade of blue, and did the job perfectly! I spritzed it all with water to set the powder and dried it quickly with my heat tool.

The last thing on the front, which as I said earlier, I forgot to take a photo of once finished - I was running out of time to get the card finished and over to my Dad's lol - was to add the words "Happy Birthday" at the top left. These words were made up of the letters which popped out of the banner die cut I used on my niece's birthday card - see earlier post! I just glued them in place at the top and coloured them with Cyan pigment ink to tie in with the colour scheme.

Inside I covered both sides with the same blue and black card and added more steampunk corners, but this time fixed them differently than on the front which seemed to look better somehow. I again gave them the waxing treatment and a sprinkling of mica powder which again I spritzed to set it and dried quickly with my heat tool. I finished with a die cut sentiment "With Love" which was from the First Editions Modern Sentiments set I used for my niece's card. Again I coloured it with Cyan pigment ink.

This picture shows the cogs waxed on the left but not yet on the right. If you just wantedit to look embossed, you could leave it unwaxed - it still looks great in my opinion

And here's a look at the front again!

Well, I hope you like this card and would love it if you would leave me a kind comment.

Thanks for visiting!

See you soon,
Julie x

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Just chillin' out

Hello everyone, happy Saturday, I hope you're all having a lovely weekend.

So, I have another card to share with you, which I made for my brother-in-law's birthday earlier this month - he loved it!

I'd recently had a few days' stay in a very peaceful environment where I was surrounded by lots of tall trees and I think the inspiration for the backdrop came from there.

The papers I used are from a 12 x 12 paper pack by Papermania called "Birdsong", which I bought several years ago. I fell in love with the beautiful designs in this pack but have actually only used one other sheet until I made this card. Sometimes it's really hard to use the papers because I love them so much and don't want to cut them up!

So, I covered the front of the 8 x 8 card with one of the papers and then used parts of two other sheets to make the trees and grass using dies from two of Karen Burniston's die sets - "All Seasons Tree" and "Garden Bench" (for the tufty grass). I also used one of Tim Holtz's Alterations Texture Fades embossing folders from a set called "Springtime Background & Borders" for added texture in the grass. I used some Pumice Stone Distress Ink to kind of raise the texture away from the background a little and also inked around the edges of the foliage in the trees.

The hammock image is a Little Claire stamp which again I bought several years ago - I think the set might be called "Just for Men" but I can't be 100% sure. My brother-in-law has a hammock so it was perfect! So I coloured the image with Distress Markers and hung it between the two trees.

The last couple of bits on the front are the die cut bird on a branch (Intricutz Die by Couture Creations - Secret Garden Collection "Sparrow on a Branch") and the sentiment - no idea of make, I have so many and am very bad at putting them back in their packaging!

Then inside I used another sheet of paper for the background and used my "negative" from my die cut tree as a stencil to ink a "naked" tree onto the paper using Distress Inks. I also used the tree foliage/cloud dies from the Karen Burniston set as stencils and inked through them with Distress Inks to create the foliage.

Another bird on a branch, two sentiments - oops, one of them isn't quite straight, but hey, nothing in life is perfect and as Mr Holtz would say "embrace imperfection" - and the card was finished!

I was really pleased with how this turned out and, as I already mentioned, my brother-in-law loved it - and that's what it's all about!

Well, short and sweet today (just like me haha!).

Have a great weekend everyone, take care.

Julie x

Friday, 26 February 2016

A pretty birthday card

Hi folks

Hope you're all keeping well?

Here in Nottingham, UK, it's been a cold day today but at least there was some nice blue sky and sunshine to admire from the cosy warmth of my home.

Today I'd like to share with you a card I made for one of my beautiful nieces for her birthday, which was yesterday, so it's safe to post this now!

Ingredients: 8-inch card blank
                     papers from the Docrafts Papermania Geometric Neon Capsule Collection
                     Papermania Linen Textured card
                     Tim Holtz Sizzix Alterations Frameworks Trellis Die
                     First Edition Modern Sentiment Dies set
                     Memory Box Cascadia Butterfly Trio Die
                     Tim Holtz Collection Layering Stencil Blossom THS031
                      Docrafts A5 Clear Background Stamp - Musicality
                      VersaColor: 33 Pink, 60 Celadon
                      Memento: MD-200 Tangelo
                      Tim Holtz Ranger Distress Ink: Pumice Stone
                      Lace, flowers, clear gems and sequins from stash

I took the card and cut a section off on the front right.

I added paper to both the front and inside of the card. The sheet I chose had a geometric squares design on it but was a fairly "quiet" paper - not too busy with pattern - the squares being made up of lines and dots, in both blue-green and white. I over-stamped this (on the front and inside of the card) with the Musicality stamp using celadon ink (this colour matched the colour on the paper perfectly, so it looks like it was printed on actually!).

I took the layering stencil and using the pink, tangelo and celadon inks and little bits of foam (the kind of foam pieces you find in packs of ten in the make-up section of any chemist or supermarket) I pounced the ink onto the stencil to get my multi-coloured blossoms on both the front and inside of the card.

Next I die cut my trellis from white textured card and inked up around the edges using my go-to distress ink - pumice stone. I fixed it to the card front and then added the flowers and bits of die-cut foliage, which I had left over from another card I'd made recently.

I die-cut six butterflies from another sheet of paper from the pack using the Cascadia Butterfly Trio die, gently inked around their edges, shaped their wings a little and then placed three on the front and the other three on the inside right on the blossoms.

I fixed some white lace down the left side on the front and inside and then added the sequins here and there and the clear gems to the bodies of the butterflies.

I die cut the Happy Birthday banner from the First Edition set, inked around the edges with pumice stone and fixed it in place using foam pads.

Lastly I added sentiments on the front and inside.

Here are some close-ups:

Oops! This photo went a bit green for some reason!

Well, I hope you like this card.

Thanks for stopping by and I'll be back soon.

Julie x

Monday, 15 February 2016

Fun with distress inks, alcohol inks and acetate

Hello again
Firstly, to those of you who have visited my blog recently, thank you for looking. To those who have left lovely comments, an even bigger thank you! And to my new followers - welcome and I hope you will find something here to inspire/entertain you.

The last couple of days I've had a bit of playtime. I don't get much time for crafting because of looking after my autistic son, but when I do get time, usually it's with the intention of making something which is floating around in my head driving me batty! However, I decided to just play this time.

Here's a list of the ingredients I played with:

clear acetate sheet
Tim Holtz Movers & Shapers die Mini Butterflies
Tim Holtz Adirondack Alcohol Inks - Poppyfield and Sail Boat Blue
Tim Holtz Alterations Texture Fades Embossing Folder - Burlap & Swirls set
Watercolour postcard
Tim Holtz Distress Inks - Spun Sugar, Broken China, Twisted Citron, Worn Lipstick, Pumice Stone
Stampendous Fran-tage shabby green embossing enamel
assorted flowers
sequins and buttons

All of these ingredients were in my stash, some of which I purchased back in 2010! It's a good feeling to use what I already have.

I haven't used acetate much before and had a whole pack of it, quite thick good quality sheets, so decided to see what I could do!

I die cut four butterflies from one of the acetate sheets and then embossed them using the Swirls embossing folder from the Texture Fades set. This gave them a lovely embossed swirly pattern on the wings. I then set about colouring them, and I didn't get the mix right the first time so had to wipe them down and start again. Thankfully second time around I was happy!

Once I was sure they were dry I used my heat tool to soften the acetate so that I could add shape to the wings. You may or may not know this, but if you've embossed the acetate, when you heat it up, you lose the embossing because the acetate softens and becomes pliable. Now, this could be quite disappointing, BUT, what I was left with was a lovely swirly pattern on the wings where the ink had settled into and around the embossed areas, so I still ended up with a great effect and something which is actually way more realistic in many respects than a butterfly with a raised pattern on its wings - well, that's my opinion anyway! Needless to say, I love my swirly patterned butterflies. Here are some photos:

Now, I suppose I could have inked them first and then embossed them, which would have given a completely different effect, but again as soon as I heated them to shape the wings I'd have lost that embossing, so I'm not sure it would have given the same pretty result doing it that way round actually. I might try it one day just to find out if my theory is right!

OK, so I'd made four lovely butterflies and the question was what to do with them! All sorts of ideas came into my head and I may well follow through on several of them, but for now I have just used one on a little piece of artwork, which leads me onto the next part of my make quite smoothly!

I chose some distress ink colours which I particularly like, being some of the brighter shades in the range, and just randomly applied them to a piece of watercolour card. Then I used Tim Holtz's spritz and flick method to apply random water droplets to the coloured surface and let the reaction do its magic! I loved the result. I made sure all the water droplets were dry using my heat tool and dabbed with a piece of kitchen towelling where it was a bit wet still, like using blotting paper I suppose.

Next I chose a random selection of small flowers. Their colours weren't right, so I spritzed them with water and gave them the distress ink treatment so that they tied in! The end result was that they are now two-tone flowers, which again I really love!

I arranged them diagonally across the centre of the card and added some wire swirls. A few sequins here and there, a couple of buttons, two small lengths of ribbon, the word "Hello" and my butterfly in place and I was pretty much done. I sprinkled some of the embossing enamel here and there and heated that from underneath. This enamel mix has tiny gold flecks in it, so it adds an extra sparkly element to the project. And the last things I did were to add a pearl to the butterfly's body, two more underneath the ribbon, and go all around the edges of the card with my trusty Pumice Stone Distress Ink - this is my go to colour which I use for edging all of my makes. I love how it's not too brown, not too grey, just somewhere in between and for me works really well. And here is the finished piece:

I haven't decided yet whether to mount this onto board, or put it in a frame, but I'm sure I will decide in time!

I hope you like this little make. I had a lot of fun doing it and I'd love to hear from you.

And finally, before I go, a lovely lady asked what glue I'd used on my last project - the floral heart canvas. I am not very tech savvy so don't know how to do replies, so hope it's OK to reply here instead. The glue I used was Cosmic Shimmer Specialist Acrylic Glue.

Right, that's all from me for now.

Take care, keep warm and I'll see you all soon.

Julie x

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Floral Heart Mixed Media Canvas

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well and managing to keep warm. It's a bit chilly here at the moment but we've had some lovely sunny days.

So, in my last post I provided a sneaky peek of a project I was working on, and now it's finished, so I'd like to share it with you all.

Ingredients used were:

12-inch box canvas
Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Mediums Black Gesso Primer
Imagination Crafts Starlights Metallic Paints in Menthol, Dried Rose, Red and Blue
Mica powders - Moonlight collection
Ranger Texture Paste
Tim Holtz Collection Layering Stencil - Blossom
Stampendous Fran-tage Crushed Glass Glitter - steel blue and champagne
Creative Expressions Metallic Gilding Wax - Ultramarine
Treasure Gold and Treasure Pewter Wax Gilt
Assorted beads and flowers
Laser cut wooden shapes
Random felt and rubber pieces
Cork Washers
Large silver coloured metallic Butterfly charm

Many of these items were purchased a number of years ago and I had not got round to creating a project where I could use them. The most recent purchase was the Tim Holtz Stencil. The Starlight paints and mica powders were new additions to my stash last summer. So it was quite nice to be able to create this project and use up some of my burgeoning stash of random bits and pieces in the process!

So, this was a white canvas and the first thing I did was arrange my flowers in the shape of a heart. Then I began filling in with various beads. I wanted some height on one side of the heart and this is where my random pieces of rubber and felt came in, along with the cork washers, which originally I wasn't going to fix anything on top of, but it looked a bit odd so I did end up covering them with beads! I have no idea where the rubber and felt pieces came from or what their original intended use was, although I think the round felt pieces were intended to go on furniture or ornaments to prevent scratches on wooden surfaces - perhaps! Anyway, they were ideal for building up height.

I reached a point where there was an empty space in the top half of the heart. Originally I'd thought I might put a photo in there, but I couldn't think of the right kind of photo to use, so I changed my mind on that and decided to fill it in with more shapes and textures instead, but keeping it at a lower level just because it felt right to do that rather than have it all the same level.

Once I'd arranged and stuck everything in place I realised I now had to paint it all with the black gesso and guess what? I very quickly wished I'd painted the surface of the canvas prior to sticking anything onto it! It was so difficult getting in all the little spaces between things to ensure everything was painted black - a valuable lesson learnt! I blame the fact that the idea was bursting out of my head and so I had to start laying it out and sticking it all down asap before I lost it LOL. Does this happen to any of you?

Anyway, once all of that was painted with the gesso I then had a lovely matte black surface. It was quite pretty as it was, but I think I would soon have got bored looking at it!

I spent a few days thinking about applying colour and feeling very nervous about it! But in the end I just went for it, telling myself if it all went horribly wrong I could always paint over it all with the black gesso again! I used the Starlights Metallic paints all over it. The great thing about these paints, that really excited me, was that if you apply one colour, and then before that's fully dry go in with another colour, you can blend the "edges" where the two colours meet - they blend beautifully - and you end up with subtle changes in shading and a really smooth transition between the colours. I am totally in love with them! Plus, they are so super creamy and fluid that a tiny amount goes a really long way! The metallic particles in the paint add real glitz and shimmer and this is something I haven't done much of before - glitzy, blingy, shimmery - so this was quite a departure for me from my usual style, but I am totally in love with it!

Anyway, once I'd painted the heart and was happy with it all, I decided to add some texture around the border of the canvas because it looked a bit too flat and plain! So I used the Ranger Texture Paste on the Tim Holtz Blossom Stencil on all four corners and a little bit on the straight sections. Once the Texture Paste was dry I painted this with the black gesso. I quite liked it at that so left it at that point and went back to my heart. I decided to sprinkle some of the mica powders here and there and spritz with water, so that added yet another layer of colour here and there. I added more beads called "Rainbow", the colours of which tied in perfectly with my finished colour scheme, so no need to paint them! I also added glass glitter here and there, and gilding wax in gold and pewter to add another layer of colour. Finally I added in the lovely butterfly and glued some more of the "Rainbow" beads to her wings.

So, the heart was finished. I decided the rest of the canvas needed colour, there was too much matte black! So I then started playing with the mica powders again, sprinkling and spritzing with water until I was happy with how it looked. And guess what? I'd been using a pale pink mica powder which had a gold pearlescent shimmer to it when you look at it in the pot, and do you know what? On the black surface, it actually came out gold rather than pink - magic! Another thing to get excited about! Can you tell I haven't used mica powders before LOL! Finally I highlighted all the textured areas with gilding waxes to lift them away from the background a little. At last I was completely happy with the whole piece!

And here is the finished piece again for you to feast your eyes on!

Well, I hope you like my floral heart canvas. I've just got to find somewhere to hand it now!

Bye for now,
Julie x

Sunday, 7 February 2016

"Flat" wedding card

Good evening

Well, I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but here it's terrible - strong gusting winds and heavy rain, and not feeling very warm either. I'm fed up with having the heating on!

I can't believe the weekend is almost over - the days go by so quickly.

Today I made a wedding card. I've made quite a lot of wedding cards over the past few years, and I tend to do more dimensional ones which are boxed and have very dimensional flowers on them, so they're much more of a keepsake/gift, but I needed to make some "flat" ones, not boxed, and so this was my design.

I used one of my favourite stamps (although I've had it so long now I can't remember the brand!) and coloured the image with Promarkers, fussy cut it out, inked around the edges with my favourite Distress Ink, Pumice Stone, and then layered it onto some linen texture card in the same red as the flowers, and also fussy cut that. The background paper is from a paper pack I bought at least two years ago, if not more, and I fussy cut some of the lovely roses from another sheet to overlay on one side of the card. I also used some white and red lace and good old Stickles glitter glue in Star Dust - this is my "go to" sparkly product and I have lost count of the number of bottles of this I've used over the years! I finished with the simple Congratulations sentiment.

That's it from me today, short and sweet, but just before I go, here's a sneaky peek at something else I'm currently working on! Exciting!

Bye for now,
Julie x

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Doodle Art Canvas

Hello everyone

I hope you are all well and managing to keep warm and dry. The weather has been terrible in some parts of the UK in recent weeks, as well as some areas further afield. Still, Spring is just around the corner now and the sunshine, when it makes an appearance, is lovely and warm, which gives me optimism for better days ahead.

The sun was shining beautifully into my kitchen this morning and I sat on one of my bar stools with a very large black coffee basking like a lizard for a good half hour. I need to live in the Med really!

Anyway, onto the piece which is a bit given away by the title of this post really. It's a 12 inch square canvas and I decided the other week to just have a little play and see what happened. I didn't have a particular theme in mind, or any kind of end result, and I have to say I found the whole process very cathartic.

I used various stencils, inks, paints, stamps and crackle paint, along with just a very few seed beads and small metal rings and a couple of metal bee charms, and just played. And here is my finished piece.

I turned some of the stencilled diamond shapes into little fishies and others into kites. There's a story behind the fishies. When I first stencilled them onto the canvas I used a paint from Imagination Crafts which has very fine gilding flakes in it, in quite a strong pink. But I decided it didn't fit in with the rest of my colour scheme, so I got out my crackle paint and went over them all again. Once that was dry there was a wonderful effect of fish scales where the paint had cracked and the metallic paint was showing through, and I was actually quite pleased with it. I just added a bit of ink on top to make them a bit more fish coloured, drew on the fins and eyes and added some bubbles! So that was a happy accident, which kind of led to the rest of the "doodles" really. Hexagons always remind me of honeycomb so I decided to add the bee charms there, and the chevrons are guiding me up into the air with the butterflies and that's when I decided to turn some of the blue-green diamond shapes into little kites flying in the breeze. I added more of the hexagons underneath the fish to represent the ocean floor, along with the beads, and used the side of a dew drop ink pad to make the wavy seaweed fronds. I decided to do outlines using an ordinary pen and I added various words here and there. All the creatures are free spirits, going where they please, doing what they want to do - if only our lives were that simple.

I actually quite love this piece because it was just my mind wandering, as it does. It's now hanging above the aquarium in our living room - quite appropriate I think!

Here are some close-ups.

I hope you can make out the glint of the gilding flakes in the base paint on the fishies

OK, that's all from me for now.

Back soon!

Take care,
Julie x