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Wet and windy Wales!

Just back from a very wet and windy week in Wales, near Carmarthen. We stayed in a cottage on the edge of Aberglasney Gardens (www.aberglasney.org ). The gardens are absolutely beautiful, and its’ fabulous to have access to them every day. We’ve been going there with friends for four years now. The men go fishing and Jane and I paint, craft, explore the gardens and go off for a bit of retail therapy. It’s a very relaxing week, but the men got a bit of a bum deal this year – the weather and the fishing was not good, and my poor Jim’s back went on the last but one day.  Hope they’re not put off as it works very well for Jane and I! I made a start on my Christmas cards – a couple of pix will follow when I unpack all my crafting stuff – it was almost  like moving house all over again! We had one day with good weather, and I took lots of  photos of the gardens – they’re very inspiring and well worth a visit. They had become derelict and have been restored over the past twenty years. There is a wonderful peaceful atmosphere there, even when there are lots of visitors there, and we love our visits.

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My brother and his wife have been married twenty-five years this week, so have been celebrating their Silver Wedding. An occassion for cards and cake, of course! This is the card I made for them, inspired by some cute birds I have made before  using a leaf shaped paper punch. These are much bigger, based on a circle with a smaller circle  drawn in it, touching one edge.  The smaller circle gives the top line of the bird, with a little curve back up to the bigger circle making the tail, and a beak added.  I thought a couple of punched hearts made very appropriate wings. 

As well as the card I made them a special anniversary cake. I’d always wanted to try out those fabulous photos you can get printed onto icing to put straight on to a cake – available from www.icingpictures.co.uk  – so this was the perfect opportunity. We had a job to find a photo of their wedding – since we moved house  the photo albums are all over the place and that particular one must still be in a box somewhere. But in the end we found one lovely photo in our son’s album of pix he’d taken with his own camera,  I sent a scanned version off and just a few days later a sheet of 12 small circular pictures arrived.  I used one on a rich fruit cake, marzipanned and covered in ready-to-roll icing. I usually decorate this sort of cake with flowers and frills, but felt like doing something differnt, and as Alan is a musician , andIi wanted the photo to stand out well, anyway, I just piped pale blue music notes around the greeting and down the sides. It was fun. The photo was very easy to place on the cake. on damp icing so that they combine. It looked really effective. I used up the other 11 photos on some cupcakes, intended for anyone who didn’t like fruit cake, but I think we all had both in the end! They had a fairly low key celebration in Cornwall, where they’ve just bought a caravan, and we ende up having tea and cake on the beach at Widemouth Bay, in glorious sunshine, then back to the van for Pimms and a buffet in the evening.  A lovely, and memorable, day.

handbag crazy

My neice is a great one for handbags, so I thought this beautiful patterned paper would make a super handbag for her birthday card, especially as there was another lovely backing paper in the same set to complement it .   I couldn’t resist  adding some adhesive gems on the flowers for a bit of glitz, and I gave the handbag a backing of purple card that gave a slight border to make the handbag stand out. I should have done that with the flap too, but I’d already stuck it down. I don’t think it looks too bad though.

I love working with patterned papers, and thought this super floral paper was great for a teapot. My original idea was just to have a teapot pouring flowers, but the teapot looked so great I went on to do the cup and saucer as well, which changed the whole card  The flowers had to be tiny but luckily I found some tiny Doodlebug paper flowers in a pot on my desk, and they did the trick. There was a lovely matching paper in the set that  had spots and tiny flowers on, and I used that for the background, and for the tiny punched hearts. All the papers are edged with ink to emphasise the shapes. I wanted the teapot and the cup to stand out, but I need to send this card through the post so instead of foam pads  I used a couple of layers of card on the backs of the shapes to lift them up.

This was a very self-indulgent card, using papers patterns and shapes that I love, and I hope my sister-in-law will like it too when she receives it on her birthday.

olympic pennants

Just finished my first olympic pennant. An organisation called Quilts4london is planning to give a pennant to each of the athletes attending the Olympic Games in London next year – that’s quite a lot of pennants to be made. They give standard measurements and instructions on their website , and as long as they don’t use any of the official logos etc people can decorate the pennants with whatever they like. I chose the flowers of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  They were used for the Townswomen’s Guilds’ 60th anniversary celebrattions in 1989, and I still have my badge from then to use as inspiration!

I used lining fabric to make my pennant, then cut out felt flower shapes to position on a white felt circle. I fixed them in place with Bondaweb and added some stitched details with embroidery threads . Then I edged the circle with satin binding and fixed it in place with Bondaweb and a few stitches.

Full details for anyone wanting to make a pennant can be found on www.quilts4london.org.uk

Scotland

We’ve just got back from 10 days touring Scotland and really enjoyed it. The weather was kinder to us than we expected and we visited some lovely fairy-tale scottish castles and gardens like this one  at Crathes. I did a little bit of sketching but not nearly as much as I’d planned. Somehow I relaxed so much I just wanted to wander round and look,  but I certainly came back eager to use some floral inspiration for some cards and drawings in the next few weeks. Our own garden has gone mad while we were away so at least there will be plenty  of things to work from!

 Inspired by the giant teacups full of plants at Kingston Lacey I made this card for my daughter-in-law’s birthday. I wanted to get the slightly surreal effect of paintings where the angles are all wrong and everything is  very flat. It didn’t quite work out like that but it’s a bit of fun. I was going to use bright colours then I found this old set of papers in pretty pastels that gave a rather gentle, soft effect. I had to edge the papers with ink to firm up the edges because of the soft colours, and I found it was easiest to us a brush pen to edge the flowers as the ink pads were too clumsy, but it was quite a quick and easy card to do and I might do it again using different papers, as it would be suitable for so many occassions.