Making a Christmas Wreath

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What a lovely day out! From the tutor, to the lunch to the finished article!

Alright, I admit it was a bit of a busman’s holiday, but my goodness I did enjoy myself on Wednesday! I went to a lunchtime course on making a Christmas wreath, held by Karen of 2020 Flowers who lives in Stokeinteignhead, near me. The course itself was held in a dear little café in Shaldon on the seafront, which was fun to go to in itself, and the food they served for lunch was amazing! Honey pumpkin soup and home made bread… it was just perfect.

Anyway, back to the wreath making! I know it all through and through, but it’s sometimes lovely to have a few hours to yourself where the phone won’t ring and the emails can’t get you! Karen is a serene, calm teacher and had all her ingredients so beautifully organised it was such fun to just play.

Using an Oasis ring, which you can get at some garden centres and obviously florist wholesalers, it is so, so simple to make a wreath yourself. A great tip from Karen was to not only soak the oasis in water (knew that) but to add flower food to the water (didn’t know that!) and I can see what a great idea it is.

I’d brought a whole selection of greenery from home as I felt the wreath would mean more to me if it was created using my own greenery and in the end, as I was a touch speedy, (sorry Karen!) I ended up making two wreaths – so my daughter Pippa is thrilled to bits to have a wreath Mummy made!

Another useful tip is that you can use unwanted pieces of Christmas tree – sometimes you trim some away from the base – or maybe you have a Leylandii hedge in the garden that could be carefully snipped at. I used ivy, Leylandii, rosemary and anything else that looked quite tough and long lasting.

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…and this was the second wreath I managed to squeeze in!

To decorate your wreath once the greenery is all pushed in (small lengths only, all the way round) you can use Christmas tree baubles, shells, berries, artificial or real flowers and, obviously, ribbons. As the Oasis is easy to push things in it’s fairly plain sailing until you get to baubles and shells, those are best hot glued onto pieces of bamboo skewer or just hot glued straight on the wreath.

It does make you feel good to have a decoration that you made yourself – I hope my family enjoy mine as much as I enjoyed the course!

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A Christmas cracker!

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 entrenched 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 enterprising Mr Smith then went on to the snapping strip to replicate the sound of a crackling log fire!

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Beautiful Pansies

pansiesEveryone loves pansies (don’t they?) and I am sure this card will go down a storm with so many people. I am just pondering planting a batch of winter pansies in a hollow cavity wall that surrounds my patio. It has geraniums in it all summer – I just hesitate about how much 40ft worth of pansy plants might cost from the garden centre! My precious geraniums have been upgraded to pots in a nice warm summerhouse to help them last through the winter and smile again come the spring – and save a small fortune in buying new plants. Hmmm, maybe I should invest in a greenhouse…

This image is from one of my favourite CDs “One Summer’s Day” – a real must have for your collection, it’s one of a very small bundle that I keep out on my desk at all times as I use it so often. The pansy die is from the Signature Garden Flowers set and the border is the Signature Diana Lace Ribbon. All easy to use and in the case of the pansies, fun to colour.

The most effective thing on the card is the quick layer of crystal lacquer (or glossy accents or whatever you have) on the ceramic pot that holds the pansies. It really catches the eye and adds some important texture.

Right, I shall go back to my thinking … should I buy loads of pansy plants – go without and wait for spring – or buy a few and have a meagre filling in the wall?

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Take note!

thankyounotebookfrontI know we usually make cards with our paper crafting stash, but it’s fun to make something different for a change. I am also a great believer in trying to come up with projects that use your scraps.

This little notebook was made by Angela for my October TV show and I thought what a brilliant little stocking filler or gift it would make.

All you need is a notebook with a good sturdy cover and I would suggest spiral bound is easier to work on, but it’s up to you. The scene here is made by using a blue sky backing paper … You will find some on our Joanna Sheen backing papers pad volume 2 or just use some pale blue card and add a cloud or two! The grass can be made with thick paper or card and tear it to make the rough curves of the hills and valleys. Then play with any flower dies that you have.
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The back of the pad looks nice if you decorate it too and perhaps add a little gift tag, this says who it is from but also creates a space on the back of the pad for little notes the recipient may want to carry.

Have fun!

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Lovely garden flower dies …

lovelyflowerdiesOn Thursday this week I’m launching a new set of garden flower dies as well as some nifty edging dies too! I confess I have totally fallen in love with the cards we have all made for the two shows, so if you have time on Thursday 27th, there’s a show on Create and Craft TV at noon and another at 3pm.

This card uses the lily of the valley option from the set of garden dies. The main image is from the Jane Shasky double CD – one I keep beside my computer as it is my real ‘go to’ answer for card making!

This sample was made by Suzanne and it’s really pretty isn’t it? It’s not too difficult (many of the nicest cards are straightforward) and needs few instructions apart from noting that the case, the lenses in the pair of glasses and the tea in the cup have all had a quick coat of crystal lacquer. This adds some lovely highlights and just finishes the card perfectly.

The other thing worthy of a mention is the green tinged edging that’s made by swiping a distress ink pad gently around the edge. This ageing, or distressing, looks so effective and is a very simple technique to apply.

So whether you set your recorder, or watch live, do tune in to see all the samples. The set of edger dies is in the afternoon and I have some really fun ideas for you to copy!

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