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!

Family Christmas cards

One of the things I enjoy most about receiving cards in the run-up to Christmas is the addition (hopefully) of up to date photos of my nephews and nieces, cousins and friends’ children. It’s just great to see their little smiling faces and it reminds me that Christmas is so much about family and friends.

This is a sample from my new cardmaking collection from Practical Publishing. The boxed set features one of our favourite artists – Jane Shasky. Her pads and CDs have sold in their thousands for us and she is a special favourite of mine.

The full steps are in the magazine that comes in the collection as are all the ingredients – oh yes, apart from the picture of little Grace! Obviously, you must insert one of your own special people, whether they are young, old or just middling!

 

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The heat is on… the climate is changing, or is it?

My eye was caught by this video posted on Facebook yesterday – it seemed such a clear and graphic way of showing what’s happening to our climate. The increasing shades or orange and red as we race up to the present day clearly show the increasing temperatures across the world… and it doesn’t even include the scorching, record-breaking summer of 2018!

Temperature Anomalies by Country 1880-2017

Click on the link to run the video and see what happens…

But then I took time to read people’s responses to the post (for once, it was all fairly sensible, with not too many rants) and I started to wonder just how accurate this eye-catching graphic was?

There were comments such as:

“Throughout history, previous climate changes happened over hundreds of thousands of years, not decades.”

“It is cyclical. In medieval times, the Thames froze over in the winter, and we had hot summers. In around 1700s, the same…”

“…it was appreciably colder in the late 1700’s and at the turn of the 20th century, with a warmer period in between. The Romans enjoyed an unusually warm few centuries and the ‘Dark Ages’ were caused in part by a bitter cold century.”

I also noticed that Great Britain is not listed in the countries featured… I know our weather is a bit strange… but did we have to be completely overlooked!? I believe our Met Office is one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, meteorological institutions in the world so we must have more accurate data than most countries.

I find it hard to believe that we are not responsible for causing global warming but, if you look at the history of the Earth as a 24hr clock, humans don’t even appear until 23 hours 58 minutes and 43 seconds! So our impact, although possibly significant, is only a tiny, tiny moment in the lifetime of this amazing planet. So let’s hope this data is not as damning as it seems…

 

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First day at school – or off to Uni?

It’s that time of year – and a very personal one this year. My tiny granddaughter Grace (who it feels is still about one!) is actually coming up for five and starting school. I can’t wait for the first day of school in her uniform picture, definitely one for the mantelpiece! Also, a new start looming for my nephew who heads off to university to study marine biology and lastly but very importantly for me, my youngest daughter is moving to live in Singapore (aghhh!)

So it’s all change and will all have happy outcomes I am sure. If there’s someone in your family starting university – do support them with a card and bear in mind what needy creatures university students are and send them a fiver in the card. Just joking there – it seems to me all students are constantly broke! The card on the right uses our signature die Tree of Life SD410, while the one on the left uses the Townhouse Trio Multibuy signature dies.

Starting on the ladder by going to full-time school is a huge step and turns the life of little 5-year-olds upside down. I remember the comment a friend’s daughter made when going to school came around. She loved day one and came home full of beans saying it was really fun but she was tired – fair enough. The following morning she was inconsolable when she learned she had to go for a second day, she felt having been once was sufficient.

Here are a couple of cards to give you ideas for designs to send to new starters!

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Moorland and paws – a winning combination!

Rachel, one of the owners of Moorland Paws, with Moss and her friend Ziggy at the opening event.

At a time when so many high street shops are closing, it’s great to hear about a new business opening up. I like to visit Chagford for a mooch around the shops and perhaps a visit to a tea shop, it’s a pretty little town up on Dartmoor, and a great place for walking especially if you have a dog. My friend Julia’s dog, Moss the Dartmoor Dog Blogger, was invited to the opening of a new shop in the town called Moorland Paws that caters for both dogs and people!

The shop (a former bank – not many of those left on any high street, sadly) has been kitted out to sell just about everything a dog could need from bowls to beds and from leads to treats. It specialises in ‘natural’ pet care and all the products are made in the UK, contain no chemicals and are cruelty-free. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a dog grooming studio spa for all their health and beauty needs!

Nordic walking poles to keep you fit!

For humans, there’s a range of Nordic walking poles, which are a great way to help keep you fit and make walking on the moor (or anywhere else) easier.

Moss attended the event with her friend, Ziggy, and they had a lovely time, sampling treats and saying ‘hi’ to lots of their doggy friends. Moss is quite a rufty tufty outdoor girl and didn’t much fancy a trip to the spa, but she was very keen on a nice new bed (which she didn’t get as she tends to chew them!) and some tasty snacks!

These dog treats look good enough for humans to eat!

The shop has been set up by two enterprising local ladies, Denise and Rachel, and their respective dogs (of course) Winnie and Bailey. Judging by how busy the opening night was, the new shop should be a great success.

 

 

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Cards I have loved…

Do you ever have cards you have made that you just can’t bear to give away? I make so many dozens of cards, I often make one that I really like, but as they are destined for magazine articles or TV shows, I can’t just hide them away and not part with them!

I thought I would do a couple of blogs just showing cards I have particularly loved this year and both of these cards were an easy choice.

Beautiful Bruges – well worth a visit.

The pretty watery scene is from the pad featuring Evgeny (pronounced Eugeny) Lushpin’s artwork. I love his choices of subject and the way he paints. This particular scene is in Bruges I believe and is so beautiful (as is all of Bruges if you get a chance to go for a visit). The backing paper behind also comes from the pad as does the border and sentiment – so convenient!

The butterflies and leaves are from the Signature Die range – Butterfly Cloud and Trailing Leaves.

The gorgeous little bird card uses an image from the Jane Shasky Birds in the Garden pad alongside our Signature Dies Pumpkin Patch – ideal for autumn too!

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