Welcome to my Country Days Blog!

I’ve lived in Devon for over 30 years and while I spend most of my time working in my studio, or in front of a TV camera or on an exhibition stand, country living does give me some time and space… to think about my next project!

A crafter in the country is never bored – nature is a huge treasure trove! Beachcombing, walking on Dartmoor, or rummaging about in hedgerows (while Richard pretends not to notice) produces all sorts of goodies. Shells, feathers, wildflowers, leaves – natural things are so often the ‘light bulb moment’ that gives me an idea for something new!

I have hundreds – actually, make that thousands ­– of ideas and projects from crafts to cookery to flowers that I thought I could share with you through a weekly country-inspired blog.

I love hearing from fellow crafters and swapping ideas and useful hints and tips, so do please feedback your comments on my blog, I’m sure it will be a lot of fun!

Get Well – a card to cheer!

getwellgrenThe best thing about getting a card when you are under the weather or, worse still seriously ill, is that you know somebody is thinking about you. You could make a stash of get well cards at the beginning of the winter and then have one on hand when you hear that a friend or neighbour has a nasty bug/cold/flu …. take your pick!

This card is from the ‘simple but effective’ school and, although there’s no frothy flowers or pretty pictures, I think it’s a lovely card and has the benefit that you could send this to a man or a woman – and the sentiment will hopefully be very gratefully received!

Ingredients:

  • Signatures dies, Ivy Flourish SD011
  • Tonic Studios layering circle dies, plain and scalloped
  • A4 card in cream and two shades of green
  • 17.5cm card blank in cream
  • Satin ribbon
  • Photo corner punch
  • Polka dot embossing folder of your choice
  • Glues etc.

Method:

  1. Cut cream card to 16.5cm square and cut a scalloped aperture in the centre, approx 9.5 cm diameter. Emboss the panel with polka dots or whatever simple embossing folder you have.
  2. Print a sentiment from your computer (I use Word) and use the plain edged layering dies to cut out the words. You could also use a preprinted sentiment if you have some.
  3. Glue the embossed aperture panel to some dark green card measuring 17cm square and wrap a strip of ribbon around the panel below the aperture. Fix at the back.
  4. Fix onto the card blank with foam pads.
  5. Glue the sentiment circle into the centre of the aperture.
  6. Die cut the ivy flourish a number of times in both shades of green and build up a flourish on the right-hand side of the card as shown.
  7. Add a small cluster of leaves to the top of the sentiment panel
  8. Finally, tie a ribbon bow and fix onto the ribbon strip, then add photo corners to the top corners.

 

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A Christmas cracker!

crackers You can’t have Christmas dinner without Christmas crackers – well, that’s my view anyway! We groan at the awfulness of the mottos, we laugh at the pointlessness of the ‘gift’ and we feel silly wearing the paper hats… but it is a tradition and we stick to it every year.

In moments of great industriousness, I have made my own crackers and spent ages thinking of appropriate gifts and jokes to go inside. They always go down well, but they take a lot of planning.

This will be my first Christmas without my parents, Diana and John, so this year will be tinged with sadness for all the family. But Mummy’s enthusiasm for a traditional family Christmas is firmly xmassprinklesentrenched with all of us and I shall be filling stockings, dressing the table and fussing about the sprouts just as always.

I love decorating the table, I think it makes such an impact with pretty napkins, candles and, of course, a special Christmas table centrepiece. I have produced so many over the years and always find myself getting excited as I add the finishing touches. If you don’t have a large table, you can still make it look lovely with a table runner ­– cheap enough to buy even in supermarkets these days – or run up one of your own very simply. Table sprinkles are also great fun and really do add a touch of glitz and sparkle… but you’ll be hoovering them up for weeks afterwards!

Returning to the Christmas cracker… did you know they were invented in 1847 by a London sweet maker called Thomas Smith? Rather unromantically, he devised the Christmas cracker as a money-making idea when bonbon sales slumped. They originally contained love messages and a sweet. The xmashatenterprising Mr Smith then went on to the snapping strip to replicate the sound of a crackling log fire!

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House-Mouse sewing card

housemousesewingmontageThis card was made as a special tribute to Suzanne’s late mother. They shared so many sewing interests and as you turn the pages in this card, you see all the aspects of sewing that they enjoyed together. I think it’s a lovely tribute and shows that House-Mouse has multiple uses, not just to make us laugh!

The main ingredients apart from obviously the white pearlised card come from the following CDs:

House-Mouse Triple CD

House-Mouse Decoupage CD

House-Mouse Volume 1 Project Book
The pretty edges are all created with the set of 5 Signature Edger Dies – add a bit of ribbon and thread and you are away!

Thank you Suzanne for making this for us – I took it up to Create and Craft for one of my TV shows, but as is sometimes the case I just wasn’t able to show it as time whizzes past and before you know it the show is over and I often think – ‘Oh but I didn’t show..’ and ‘Oh what about…?’ so it’s lovely to give the card a blog all to itself!

 

 

 

 

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DIY bird feeding station

pineconefeeder1I’ve just been watching a dear little robin through the window, head cocked, eyes bright – that’s the robin, not me! I always start to fret about the garden birds at this time of year as it gets colder.

I don’t know if it is significant, but I have never seen so many rowan berries as there have been this year, and also lots of holly berries… does that foretell of a bad winter or a mild one? Anyway, forearmed is forewarned and I recently saw this lovely idea for winter bird feeding, so I thought I’d share it with you…

The pine cone, beloved of crafters and flower arrangers everywhere, makes an excellent natural base for a bird feeder. Its open structure is just asking to be stuffed full of titbits for our feathered friends.

  1. Begin by collecting some medium to large pine cones. Don’t worry if they are tightly closed as, once you bring them indoors, they will open. If they are bit reluctant, give them a short warm in the oven.
  1. Attach string to the top of the cone ready to hang it up.
  1. pineconeNow, the world is your oyster, or indeed your pine cone! You may want to put rubber gloves on at this point as it gets messy… Spread suet, fat or even peanut butter over the cone, making sure you get it into the gaps between the scales and cover the whole thing.
  1. Place a mix of birdseed on a tray and roll your sticky pine cone until well coated. If you go for a general bird mix, you’ll attract a variety of birds. You could make several pine cone feeding stations and roll others in specific seeds, such as niger for example and you should attract that beautiful, colourful little bird, the goldfinch.
  1. Put your bird feeders in the fridge for an hour or so to make everything set.
  1. goldfinchFinally, hang your masterpiece in a secluded area of your garden close enough to a hedge or shrub to give a safe haven for the birds if need be, but not somewhere that is likely to help any passing cats get at the birds!
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Anyone for skiing?

skiingThis is a really different card! It’s not perhaps suited to everyone you know but, if you have a skiing enthusiast among your friends and family, it would really hit the spot.

It really fascinates me how card making seems to fall into different groups. You have my favourite cards to make – flowery, lacy, pretty landscapes and gorgeous animals. These cards suit so many different people and they are excellent standbys to have in a drawer in case you need to quickly send or deliver a card you have forgotten, or only just been asked for.

The other group, however, is much more targeted. There’s no point in sending someone who is frightened of fish (me!) and hates being underwater (also me!) a card with a scuba diver on – but send one to my younger daughter Emily and she will be thrilled to little bits as scuba is a massive hobby for her.

This skiing card is going to thrill those that love their time on the slopes and a targeted card can give so much pleasure compared to a ‘safe’ choice, so it’s really worth making them and thinking about what that person might really like. The cocktail sticks make great poles to support the banner and the figure is cut using the Signature dies skier. Note the use of mirri card for the skis and poles!

Let’s hope you have lots of friends with similar tastes to mine as regards greeting cards – easy and beautiful please!

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