Anyone for tennis and strawberries?

StrawberryWimbledonThink of Wimbledon… and think strawberries! The two things are always linked in my mind from my earliest childhood memories. Amazingly, around 27,000 kilos of strawberries are consumed during Wimbledon plus, I am sure, an equally huge amount of cream and champagne!

The red heart-shaped strawberry crops up in images all over the place, it is just so very pretty! But it’s not just a pretty face – they are also good for us… that’s minus the cream of course!

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. They have been used throughout history in medicinally to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations. It’s thought that their fibre and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fibre is thought to have a satiating effect. And did you know their leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea?

3StrawberriesThe vibrant red colour of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease. Add to that the fact that a 100g serving of strawberries contains only 32 calories and they really are a bit of a wonder fruit!

Strawberries have a long history and have been enjoyed since the Roman times. Native to many parts of the world, hundreds of varieties of strawberries exist due to crossbreeding techniques Like many other fruits, strawberries make their claim in history as a luxury item enjoyed only by royalty. It has been alleged that newly weds were entitled to strawberries with soured cream as a wedding breakfast, believing them to be an aphrodisiac… I never cease to be amazed by just how many things are supposed to have this effect!

StrawberryTeaWhile British strawberries grown under glass are available from about March to November, the outdoor growing season is short and runs from the end of May through July. To achieve maximum yields during this short season, farmers protect emerging berries from the muddy soil by spreading a layer of straw around each new plant – hence the name strawberry.

Well, It’s been a great Wimbledon this year and I’ve managed to catch the odd glimpse – fingers crossed that Andy Murray can win again. I may be caught nibbling the odd strawberry as I watch the finals over the weekend… enjoy!


Lace and roses

FrenchFlowersI always feel smiley when I can include some lace on a card and of course I love using flowers. This die is the Signature Dies Wild Rose and it’s fun to use.

The basic card is an 8 x 8” white card blank, then I have matted some pretty grey lace backing paper from my Volume 1 backing paper pad (good value I reckon) onto dark pink cardstock. I used the same dark pink for roses plus a lighter shade too. The matted lace paper is then attached to the card blank.

The image was cut out from the Stefania Ferri 8 x 8”pad (she is SO talente!) and attached in the centre of the card. My choice is to use double sided tape, but some people have other favourites like photo glue or glue sticks.

Now, diecut roses in a couple of shades of pink and find a nice subtle green for the leaves. The thing I love about using dies is that you can use scraps and just keep on cutting to get as many flowers as you like as opposed to having a packet that runs out on you!

The centre of the wild roses just shows on the card as a glimpse of yellow – I have achieved this by cutting a square of scrap bright yellow card and attaching to the back of the flower – hey presto yellow centre! Before you glue the flowers onto the card, mould them a little to make the petals come up and away from the edges – this gives a lovely texture.

Have fun!

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Pearls and roses – just perfect!

Pearls and roses – another combination of ingredients that I love – whether I am playing with paper roses, dried roses, fresh roses, you name it! This card is extremely simple but, in my opinion, more beautiful for that simplicity – sometimes less really is more!

The basic card blank was an 8 x 8” white square that I trimmed a little to create 8” height by 6.5” width. The image is from Marjolein Bastin’s Summer pad and I took my inspiration for the colour scheme of the card from the edge printed around the image, light pink and a citrusy green.

Start with some citrus green card and cut slightly smaller than the main card blank. Now layer some pale pink card on top – my choice was to use double sided tape.

Now taking the main image, layer that onto some of the green card – this frames it beautifully. Attach that to the card as shown – with an equal margin above and each side of the image but a little more underneath.

The die I have used is from the Signature Dies range (surprise!) and is called Sarah Lace Border. I zipped this through the machine a couple of times using white card. Cut a piece to stretch across the width of the green card and then snip a single piece from the design for the top.

There are several ways to attach delicate die cuts – you can use a quickie glue pen or, as I did this time, use Glossy Accents and a cocktail stick. I love my cocktail sticks, they are cheap and disposable and I squirted a blob of glossy accents out onto a scrap of paper and then using the cocktail stick added little dots to the back of the diecuts.

Finally, my favourite, the pearls – these were self-adhesive type pearls but if you have flat backed pearls that are not, then again you can dot them with the glossy accents.

Voila! Elegant and simple card!

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Happy news, I’m back on TV!

Hmm… thinking about my demo…Just to let you all know officially that I will be back working with Create and Craft from the later part of July onwards… with probably two shows on the 25th. It will take me a little while to settle back in with the huge numbers and constant new products as, having been ‘away’ from it all for two years, it takes some adjusting!

I am very grateful to Create and Craft for being so understanding about my life decision to put caring for my parents above work and I have to say I don’t regret a moment of it, much as I missed everyone in TV land! Once my mother’s dementia gathered speed it was heartbreaking helping them live through it, but I am probably talking to a mass of other carers and many of you know how it feels. Now they are both at peace…. they died within 72 hours of each other, that really is ’till death do us part’ after 55 years or more together.

We had to film loads of the garden, it’s looking lovely just now!To launch my re-appearance on the channel, a film crew came down here last week, lovely guys and so, so very patient! You will probably be seeing the fruits of their labour as a little promo films and pieces on the website. They even filmed and interviewed all the staff which was either ‘terrifying’ or ‘good fun’ depending on who you speak to, so you can have a sneak preview of Pat’s desk or Maggie’s packing area! 

Here are some shots we took of them shooting us, so to speak … See you all soon! Smiles, Joanna.




Hay fever time…

Ah, how we love the summertime – the sun, the long evenings, beautiful blooms, blossom and wisteria, the chance to eat outside and, of course, weekends full of gardening. But, for 18 million people across the UK, the warmer months also bring the misery of hay fever.

The top offenders on the list of hay fever inducing plants changes every year and so do the symptoms and severity of suffering. So, it’s important to know what to look out for and what to avoid each year to ease discomfort as much as possible.

The pollen calendar

  • Tree pollen – late March to mid May
  • Grass pollen – mid May to late July (accounts for 95% of hay fever cases)
  • Weed pollen – end of June to mid September
  • Pollen levels are at their highest on warm, dry days. You can view a five day pollen forecast as

1. Think about your diet

Altering your diet during hay fever season can reduce your symptoms. For example, reducing how much coffee you drink naturally reduces the body’s production of histamine, which can accentuate a runny nose. Green, white or nettle tea is much more beneficial.

There’s lots and lots of information online about trying to minimise the impact of hay fever. According to Netdoctor, the following diet changes could help hay fever sufferers:

  • Ginger – eating ginger acts as a natural decongestant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Sugar – eating refined sugar causes blood sugar levels to spike and prompts your body to produce more histamine. Opt for fruit instead.
  • Fruit and vegetables – hitting and exceeding your five a day will make sure your vitamin C levels are constantly high and that the immune system is at its strongest.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods – berries, currants, grapes, avocados, oily fish and healthy oils (pumpkinseed and flaxseed) will all help to naturally reduce inflammation of the nose and eyes.
  • Honey – local honey naturally contains grains of local pollen which, when consumed, will help the body develop an immunity to them. Although there’s no scientific evidence to back this up, it’s a well-used, natural method for many.

2. Prepare your home

There are lots of things you can do to try and keep the pollen out. These include opening your windows at the right time, cleaning properly (your house and your pets!) and looking after your bedding.

If you don’t know exactly what type of pollen you are allergic to, it can be difficult to know at what time your allergens are at their highest. However, most flowers pollinate in the morning, between 5am and 9am. So, it is advisable to keep your windows closed at these times. Try to open your windows towards the end of the day, as there will be less pollen circulating the air.

Avoid using feather dusters, as those just lift the dust particles into the air, for them to settle again. Instead, use a damp cloth so that dust and pollen get collected and removed.

3. And finally… relax!

Higher than normal levels of stress and anxiety increases the levels of cortisol in the body that, in turn, can negatively affect the immune system. Stress can also reduce sleep which can have the same adverse affect on our immune system… 

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