Howard Robinson’s beautiful boathouse

Howard Robinson is a British artist with a very distinctive style and, if you look through his decoupage pack on the website, you’ll find a beautiful array of houses and cottages, he has been in the licensed art business for over 35 years.

It’s fun to make up the decoupage (I use Pinflair glue gel) but more importantly there are so many different occasions to use the cards. An obvious one is a new home card, but it could be a ‘happy holiday’ card, if someone is staying in a cottage in the country, birthday, thinking of you (as this card is) and many more.

If you are looking through the images and thinking, ‘I’m sure I’ve seen something like this before’ … perhaps you are a jigsaw puzzle fan? Howard licenses a massive amount of artwork to jigsaw companies and, having made up a few with my late Mum and Dad, good fun they are too. I love all the intricate detailing and of course the main house image – I love houses!

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Think of summer… and think of sunflowers!

Think of summer… and think of sunflowers! Surely the sunniest flower there is, their huge golden faces cannot help but bring cheer.

I think most of us will have grown a sunflower at some time in our lives. Well, this year, we have had the pleasure of watching our granddaughter Grace plant and nurture her own sunflower. She planted the seed herself and waters it every time she comes to visit – and it has now grown to about 7 feet high! Pretty good for a first effort Grace!

The sunflower is actually an important plant in many areas. Grown as a crop for its edible oil and edible fruits – those delicious sunflower seeds – sunflower seeds were brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient.

The tallest sunflower on record achieved an extraordinary 30ft, or over 9 metres! Goodness knows how they kept the thing upright, perhaps it was draped over something?

Sunflower seeds are sold as a snack food, raw or after roasting in ovens, with or without salt and seasonings added. Sunflower seeds can also be processed into a peanut butter alternative, sunflower butter, which sounds pretty yummy to me.

Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel, as it is cheaper than olive oil. Sunflowers also produce latex and are the subject of experiments to see if they can be used as an alternative crop for producing non-allergenic rubber.

A common misconception (and one that I thought was true) is that the glorious golden sunflower heads track the sun across the sky. Actually, it’s only the immature flower buds that do this, the mature flowering heads point in a fixed, usually easterly, direction. Ah well, that’s another lovely image shattered!

But these gorgeous plants are useful across so many areas of life – have a look at the list of facts below, I think you’ll be surprised…

Here are a few sunflower facts for you:

  • There are two basic types of sunflower seeds: black and stripe.
  • Young sunflower plants orient their heads toward the sun – a phenomenon known as heliotropism.
  • The sunflower is the national flower of Russia and the state flower of Kansas.
  • Sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamins of the B group and vitamin E, and minerals such as copper, phosphorus, selenium and magnesium.
  • Black sunflower seeds are a rich source of oil that is used for cooking.
  • Striped seeds are popular as snacks.
  • Seeds of sunflower are an important food source for birds, squirrels and insects.
  • Sunflower seeds are used for the production of biodiesel, an eco-friendly type of diesel, designed to reduce pollution of the atmosphere.
  • The sunflower is able to absorb heavy metals and toxins from the ground and it is often planted in the heavily polluted areas. These plants were used to reduce nuclear pollution after Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. How amazing is that?
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Bikes and Balloons!

I initially thought these bikes and balloons were more male orientated cards than female ones, but come on Joanna – loads of women ride motorbikes, so I shouldn’t be so biased! Just because I am frightened silly of them, I am sure there are many people out there much braver than me!

The Hot Air Balloon card has a lovely gentle colour scheme and apart from using our very popular Hot Air Balloon die, it also uses the very handy Picket Fence die. Add to that some papers – in this case from the Thomas Kinkade triple CD – and you are away!

The motorbike card also uses the map backing paper from the Thomas Kinkade CD – a couple of nesting oval dies, any make you have, and then the Signature Motorbike die, which has been paper pieces to give the different colours and a bit of height/texture. Obviously, you could just die cut in white and colour if you prefer. The borders have been produced using the SD448 Decorative Dividers – a very handy pack as you get two designs that are endlessly useful for £5.99

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Birthday wishes with a safari theme!

Our Safari themed dies are so much fun to play with – how lucky am I playing for a job! The easiest way is using them in monochrome, so there’s no colouring and they do look so effective.

The zebra card makes me think of the Madagascar film (a big family favourite) where they wonder whether Marty the zebra is black with white stripes or white with black stripes. This card illustrates it perfectly – this example has a black underneath with the white stripes over the top – oh or are the black bits the stripes – hey it doesn’t matter you can use them whichever way round you like!

The landscape border looks wonderful just diecut in black (or brown if you are doing a different colour theme). Simple cards are fun to make and very impressive.

The lion panel again looks good in a single colour – in this case, black but we have used it in shades of brown too. So quick and so effective. The little lion embellishment comes from a snippet of backing paper on the Jayne Netley Mayhew CD – and apologies, it is out of stock now but I’m sure some of you will have it. Alternatively, you can use any animal related snippet that you have.

 

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Dad’s garden!

Many fathers love gardening so this dad’s garden design is great for Father’s Day or as a dad’s birthday card. But, as plenty of Mums enjoy gardening too, it’s a really versatile and unisex card that you can change to suit!

The main image comes – as many of my favourite cards do – from the Jane Shasky ‘From the heart of the Garden’ CD.

Ingredients:

Quick ‘how to’:

  1. Trim some kraft card to slightly less than the main card and attach to the card blank. Cut some green spotty paper or card (or any other backing paper you have) to about 7½” square and diecut some trellis corners into it.
  2. Attach that to the main card and then cut out a large flower shaped piece of beige spotty card – or draw round a circle to get a piece that will fit without covering the corners.
  3. Layer the main image from the Jane Shasky CD (in the decoupage section) onto green card and add to card. Cut out and build the decoupaged layers.
  4. Finally embellish with a couple of ivy corners diecut in green and the ladybirds and letters – the great thing about this design is that you can tweak it to suit whoever you like using whatever you have and that’s always an easy solution!

 

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