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!

Seagulls and Butterflies

Seagulls and butterflies  – these two cards are a lovely summery pair to inspire you to make a card, whether it’s someone’s birthday or to show you are thinking about them.

Both images come from the Marjolein Bastin Summer pad and I am constantly happy that we came up with the combination of “almost everything you need on one sheet” pads! It saves so much time and frustration if you all you need to do is dip into your stash for the blank cards and perhaps the odd embellishments or two.

The Seagull card is simple – some matting and layering on white and grey card with a trellis style backing paper. Then the border and decoupage pieces are all from the same sheet on the pad.

The pretty little butterfly card uses the addition of the Signature Dies Jessica lace border (SD514) and some rhinestones as well as all the interesting little embellishments included on the page of the Summer paper pad.

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Maple and pecan loaf

So many of you popped into my blog to read about the bread machine that I thought you might be interested in a follow-up story about a maple and pecan loaf… It now seems that both Richard and little Grace are fascinated by the machine and we are making bread multiple times a week. While the house is full of wonderful fresh bread smells, it is tough on me as I don’t really allow myself a lot of bread on my diet!

The latest recipe that has had huge acclaim throughout the family is Richard’s maple and pecan bread… it’s just wonderful, cuts beautifully and lasts several days. We progress from newly made and served fresh, to several days old and toasted. It’s delicious whichever way you try it.

These are the ingredients but I think it may need tweaking to suit your particular bread machine if you have one – if not I recommend trying a handmade loaf – it’s just yummy!

Ingrdients

  • ¾ teaspoon dried yeast
  • 200g (7oz) strong wholemeal
  • 200g (7oz) strong white bread flour
  • ½ oz or 15g cubed butter
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 oz chopped pecan nuts – I am sure could use others
  • 280ml of water

As you can see, it turns out beautifully!

 

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Viva Las Vegas!

Wonderful work on the Thomas Kinkade stand.

Dropping in our friends, the Giordano brothers, always a joy.

Well, here we are again in Las Vegas! We come here every year for the ‘Brand Licensing Show’ in the hopes of finding something new and exciting for you. It also means we can meet up with the companies we work with already and talk about future projects.

I had a few pictures taken to show you… The chat with our friends at Thomas Kinkade was excellent and there’s a fabulous kit in the making, due out in October, I think, from Practical Publishing, in our Joanna Sheen Cardmaking Collection series featuring amazing products from Thomas Kinkade. Exciting!

We also just had to visit the Giordano brothers, one of our favourite teams, we love working with them. If you haven’t looked at the Giordano paper pads on the website then please do. There are new plans in the pipeline with them too – watch this space!

We had a long chat with Alicia, Jane Shasky’s agent, and there’s some great new artwork there, plus several others that we like to catch up with while we are here.

Of course, some of the time is free time (yay!) and we love walking down the Vegas Strip (Umm, ok and maybe just a tiny bit of gambling!), and did you know, there are more Michelin-starred restaurants here than any other city in the world? Disaster for my diet but I am working hard at it and clocking up 20,000 steps most days. There are also a lot of fun things here, so I couldn’t resist getting close to Poldark(!) giving the eye to a dinosaur and saying ‘Hi’ to Peppa Pig!

So, hopefully, we have found and negotiated some stunning artwork and projects for the coming few months and had a happy few days as a bonus!

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Pansies in a teacup

 

Pansies in a teacup – it’s a gorgeous card, isn’t it? I love it – ok, it’s flowers, and as you know… I always like flowery cards. This, as always, is a relatively simple card to create – thank you dies and a few other techniques thrown in for good measure!

Ingredients:

Quick ‘how to’:

  1. Print out some lace backing paper, the tea cup and pansies from the decoupage section of the CD – print it out several times so that you can have as many layers as you wish.
  2. Edge the larger piece of backing paper slightly smaller than main blank with the gold pen by holding it at a right angle to the edge of the paper and just sliding it down, attach with double sided tape.
  3. Stick a smaller piece of backing paper (same height just chop an inch or so off each side) onto some card to strengthen it and then attach to card using glue gel or foam pads.
  4. Now die cut the borders and add those. Cut out the topper and mount that onto the same white/cream card and attach that with glue gel or foam pads. Now decide how many layers of teacup you would like and likewise pansies. Attach all of those with glue gel. Finally using the last teacup, cover it with glossy accents or diamond glaze or whatever shiny substance you like using to make it glossy. Leave to dry and then add that to the card.
  5. The pansies on this example have all been die cut in white and then coloured with alcohol ink pens – but if you hate colouring then you can die cut in yellow, purple and green and paper piece the flowers.
  6. Arrange them in a nice group on the bottom right, fix with glue gel and your card is finished!
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Memories of Chelsea Flower Show

I exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show for many years – it must have been at least ten – it gets harder to remember exact dates! All the years blend into one long, happy memory and, somehow, you forget the back breaking work of being on the stand, cleaning, serving and then tidying at the end of the day – from about 6am until 10pm at night.

There are some pictures here (very amateurish – sorry not that talented with a camera over the years!) – we were always next to Constance Spry which was hugely important to me as training there was the catalyst that woke up my inner creativity and changed my life from wannabee lawyer to crafter! Our display won awards many years running which was a real thrill – and in the picture you can see myself in the middle (I never said I was a natural blonde!) my sister to the right and Margaret a great friend and ‘right hand person’ in those days, to my left.

No matter how many TV shows tell you about Chelsea and demonstrate how much hard work goes into creating the show, it will accurately reflect the life’s blood, sweat, tears and back breaking effort everyone puts in. I could often only stand in awe of the growers with staff of all ages sweating, lifting and endlessly tweaking to get their display looking amazing.

If you have never been to Chelsea then I would encourage you to consider going, but it does get so VERY crowded. I would recommend being there at 8 in the morning when it opens or after 6 when many have gone home. We used to wander around happily at 5am and get see everything really well – as no public were ever there – but during the day I stayed firmly on the stand!

Nowadays, while I wonder whether watching every minute of the TV coverage is enough enjoyment, I remind myself that at least I don’t have to handle the crowds!

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