Butterfly birthdays!

I have been playing with these new Jane Shasky butterfly papers (Jane Shasky Vintage Butterfly paper pad) a lot in the last few weeks. I took them onto Create and Craft at the beginning of February and they sold like hot cakes, which was a great feeling – lovely to know the viewers agreed with me, they’re fabulous.

It’s very straightforward to create a beautiful card using these sheets – I love card making but often I want a beautiful delicate result without hours of grumbling and re-doing and frustrations.

This card used backing papers from the Age of Elegance CD – another ‘must have’ that I love to use on vintage cards.

The ingredients used here are:

  • 8″ white card blank (our Joanna Sheen range really are 8 x 8 – not slightly smaller)
  • Backing paper from The Age of Elegance CD
  • Jane Shasky Vintage Butterflies paper pad
  • Antique gold and pale lilac cardstock
  • Length of cotton lace and gold satin ribbon
  • A few flat backed pearls and peeloffs
  • Glues (I used double sided tape and some Pinflair)

Layer the main topper onto some lilac card and then wrap some ribbon around each corner as shown. It is easy to secure with a piece of Sellotape at the back.

Now layer the backing paper onto a piece of gold card that has been trimmed to approx. 7 1/2″ inches square. Cut the border from the Jane Shasky pad sheet – stick this to the bottom, lined up with the backing paper so a tiny bit of gold still shows.

Wrap some ribbon and lace around as per the picture and again secure with tape. Now attach to the card with Pinflair or foam pads (to accommodate the bump made by the ribbon/lace). Add the layered topper to the card again using foam pads or glue gel and then layer up the little sentiment and add that to the bottom as per the photo.

Finally decorate with some flat back pearls and dare I say it peeloffs. I know we don’t tend to use them as much these days, since the invention of dies but they do still have their place and this just adds some little gold highlights!

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Thank you!

 

‘Thank you’ truly is a magic phrase at times. It’s amazing how powerful just saying thank you – or forgetting to say thank you – can be. We all feel good when someone thanks us for a card or a present and it’s obvious that you have pleased them.

In the old days, we would perhaps dutifully write thank you letters and this has understandably changed a bit over the years, I am just as chuffed with a thank you email or text these days! But a particularly lovely way to say thank you is to make a beautiful card like this one.

The main butterfly image comes from the Jane Shasky Vintage Butterfly paper pad – I can’t rave on enough about how beautiful the images are and every sheet will make a fabulous card for loads of different occasions.

The backing paper, which blends perfectly is from our Age of Elegance CD. This is such a handy resource to have tucked away in a drawer. There are dozens of quite gorgeous papers on here apart from the main toppers/images etc. My favourite component of this CD has to be the William Morris paper collection.

There’s nothing complex about this 8” x 8” square card – but it proves absolutely how heavy techniques or tricky ideas are sometimes outshone by simplicity!

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Feed the birds …

birdseeddownThis is just the time of year when we ought to think about our feathered friends the most.

We may live in nice warm houses but poor birds are huddled outside somewhere and wondering where their next meal is coming from. Well… not so if you are a bird in a 100-yard radius of my house! We have a weight watchers class for pigeons (who can barely waddle in mid summer), there are polite queues of assorted birds waiting for the fat balls to be renewed and picky birds sifting through the birdseed for their favourite varieties.

We feed the birds all year round. Monday to Friday it’s the task of Dave the ‘goods in and out’ chap to replenish the bird food tree. Yes, a whole tree is devoted to hanging bird seed holders, half coconuts and fat balls and often we scatter more seeds around the base of this long-suffering tree. It’s a weeping pear and quite short so we get a lovely view of the birds indulging themselves!

birdseedhangingYou know I often mention making your cards into small gifts by adding a little something. Well, this House-Mouse card has bird seed added. It’s not difficult – you just design a landscape card and then staple(or glue) the clear bag of bird food in position. I think this would make a lovely little present for an avid bird feeder. It is enjoyable on a slow day to be able to just (in my case) lean on the kitchen worktop and gaze out of the window at the bird canteen!

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DIY bird feeding station

I’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. Now, 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. Finally, 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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The original version of ‘twitter’…

BirdSong

Top to bottom: Blackbird, skylark, robin, song thrush, chaffinch, stone chat, kingfisher.

It always makes me smile when people talk about ‘the peace and quiet’ of the countryside – as it can be really noisy! Farm animals, especially sheep, are actually  quite loud if you live close to them and then, of course, there’s the inescapable tractor and other clanking bits of farm machinery. But most deafening of all can be the dawn chorus! Of course, when I say deafening, I mean that in the most wonderful way, a magical wall of sound that, in spring and summer is the most glorious thing to wake up to, even if it is rather early!

While I really appreciate the background beauty of bird song, I am not all that good at identifying different birds, or what the different tweets and chirrups of our songbirds actually mean. But being able to recognise a species by its melody means you will see more when you are out walking, so I was interested to find some tips on how to become a better bird song expert!

Birds are the first to warn when there is a predator about. If I hear a noise out of place (blackbirds have a particularly strident alarm call), I stand stock still and wait to see what happens. Sure enough after a little while a cat, stoat or other mammal will usually emerge.

Although bird’s songs sound cheerful, they are actually expressions of aggression used to warn off competitors or noisy serenades to attract a mate. Generally, the prettier the tune, the more confrontational the bird that is singing it!

Here are some tips I found online to help recognise bird song:

1. Start with signature tunes
Among the UK’s native species there are definite ‘songsters’. These are birds with beautiful voices, like blackbirds, robins, skylarks, song thrushes and chaffinches, and each has its own, distinct signature tune. Once you’ve learned a bird’s song, you can always pick out, even if it only sings a few phrases of the melody.

2. Build on what you already know
You may not think you know anything about bird song, but most of us already have a basic knowledge – think of the hoot of a tawny owl or a cuckoo’s call. It’s not difficult to add to this the ‘Repeat, repeat’, repeat’ of a song thrush or the noisy chittering of a wren. For such a tiny bird, a wren’s song is very loud!

3. Fit the sound to your surroundings
If you are by a river or a stream and you hear a loud, piping call then look out for the electric-blue of a kingfisher as it flashes past. Grey wagtails make a sort of ‘chiswick’ call that is so loud you can hear it above the sound of running water. On the other hand, if you are walking across moorland, or a ploughed field, and you hear the most joyful stream of song – look up! It’s most likely a skylark and probably one of my favourite songsters.

4. There’s a clue in the name…
Cuckoos, curlews, kittiwakes and chiffchaffs are named after the calls they make.  Listen out for the ‘chiff’ ‘chaff’ next time you are walking through scrubland or woodland. Walking on the moorland down here in Devon, I often hear the stone chat who, unsurprisingly, says ‘chat’!

5. Add some lyrics!

It is said that some bird songs sound like nursery rhymes. A yellow hammer sings: “A little bit of butter and nooo cheeese”. And then there’s the wood pigeon’s eternal and, quite irritating, refrain of: ‘My toe hurts Betty; my toe hurts Betty; my toe hurts Betty. Oooh’. Once you’ve got lyrics in your head it’s easier to remember the tune.

Fascinatingly, birds actually have local dialects. A British chaffinch, for instance, sings a slightly different tune to a Siberian one. But the difference is something only a really committed ornithologist with experience of listening to a range of species across Europe needs to know… so I think we’ll need to pass on that one!

Happy listening!

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