Thursday, 29 July 2010

Another Challenge and a garden update

I've been making these crochet clips for my charity shop and thought I'd use this one to enter the latest Waltzing Mouse sketch challenge before I put it into its cello bag. I like to package every item I make differently to make a more appealing display on the shop counter and I was really pleased to sell 5 of my creations whilst I was there on Wednesday.

And I really want to post a few photos of the garden today too. At this time of year I always find the garden a bit disheartening as everything is rather overgrown and untidy. Don't get me wrong - I don't really like 'tidy' in the garden too much (how could I in my jungle!) but lots of plants really need to be cut back to keep fresh new growth coming. But I never have the nerve to chop back plants that are still flowering their hearts out - so I leave them and accept the rather wild and woolly look. So here are a few plants I think are looking good and I want to record them now so I can remember them later in the year when autumn is really here.

This raspberry was sold to me as an autumn fruiting variety but it seems to have got its seasons mixed up. However the old canes growing in the hedge since my Dad's time have completely finished whilst there are still raspberries to come on this plant.
This is one of my favourite Astrantias but I can't remember the variety. Its common name is granny's pincushion and its a gorgeous pink creation.

I planted a whole packet of borage seeds under the young blackcurrant bushes to keep the weeds at bay but they have rather taken over the patch themselves despite being so slow to start growing that I had almost given them up.

Having dealt with all the blackcurrants last week, the cherries/plums are starting to ripen - we've always thought they were cherries but they are very large cherries and someone last year said they were small plums - I'm not sure what they are now! Anyway, there are two trees covered in fruit, though much of it is far too high to pick and will be left for the birds.

The marjoram is in full flower too at the moment and is another plant loved by bees, hoverflies and butterflies. When I took these pictures on Tuesday there were 8 Meadow Brown butterflies flitting around me.
There were also Holly Blues but I didn't manage to get any of them in snapping range!

Another favourite is this tall yellow daisy - can't remember its name unfortunately but I think its related to the sunflowers. It has spread a lot this year and will need cutting back in the spring - if I remember!

I was really pleased to find the sunflowers I grew last year had seeded themselves in lots of places and I managed to successfully transplant a lot of them to more suitable spots in the garden. I do hope they do the same next year.
The white scabious is lovely - those knobbly centres are fab. The pale mauve one is smaller but has many more flowers and its another plant beloved by the bees and hoverflies.

Have I included too many creepy crawlies here and made you all run away screaming! The trouble is they fascinate me. I really enjoy watching them in the garden and I'm always taking photos of them.
And last but not least is one of my froggy friends - they are friends you know as they live near my vegetables and eat lots of slugs and snails! I've only seen two of them this year though. There were four last year.
Well I think that will do for now. If you're still with me can I thank you for your patience. And if you only came to see my challenge entry - please accept my apologies for all this! Can I say I was so chuffed to reach 60 (yes 60!) followers this week and I'm thinking of having a give-away soon to encourage you to stay with me! ;o) Watch this space next week!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Papertrey July Blog Hop Challenge

Its the Papertrey blog hop tonight. I don't usually participate as its in the middle of the night here in the UK! But the challenge this month is to incorporate office supplies into a project and by chance I have been making some post-it note holders to sell in the charity shop where I volunteer - so I thought I would join in..... trouble is its dark and I don't have a good light source at night so the photos are pretty dire. But never mind - I tried! And I might even win something! ;o) Wish I was better with Photoshop.

The stamps are from Take Three Summer (I just love those little birds) and I've bound the card covers together with my Bind-it-All. The Post-it pads can be replaced when used up so I think these are great little gifts for co-workers.

Edited to show the holders packaged and ready for sale this morning!

Papertrey to die for!

Blimey! I'm actually early for a change - the A Passion for Papertrey current challenge doesn't finish until tomorrow morning and I've made my card already! Its for my sister who will be having yet more surgery on her leg next week!

The Delightful Dahlia set is a favourite of mine and I have the dies to match too. So as the challenge is to make a card using die cuts this was a good chance to get them out. I've cut and stamped the images on orange and kraft card and used my copics to colour them in. I really love using copics on coloured card - a technique I picked up on the fabulous Nichole Heady's blog a while ago.

Here in the UK we associate Dahlia's with late summer and the beginning of Autumn - but I refuse to believe we're there yet! So here are some photos I took a week or so ago of the old rose in the garden. It only blooms once a season in mid-summer so I can't resist trying to capture its ephemeral beauty. It was already an old rose bush when we moved into the house 35 years ago and I'd love to know its name. The blooms are huge, about 5" across and the palest creamy yellow. So if anyone recognises it ........!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Swifts and Sunsets

I watched another sunset from the attic window tonight. I also wanted to watch the swifts - I've a thing about swifts (you may have noticed them on my blog banner). They just fascinate me. I love to hear them screaming together as they joyously streak across the sky and when they arrive from Africa around April time I know summer is almost here. Of course its impossible to photograph them successfully as they don't perch and only come to earth to nest and raise their young - they even sleep on the wing. So I was quite pleased to catch them on camera tonight - even though the photos are rather blurry. You can click to see them enlarged.I did see a swift close up once though - a few years ago my cat brought one into the house. It was alive and didn't seem injured but of course was shocked. I knew there must be something wrong anyway for it to be grounded and it was late in the summer when our local swifts had already left on their migration. I emailed the RSPB as I didn't know what I should do to help it and received a reply almost immediately. The Wildlife Advisor thought the bird was probably already on it's migration from further north and had become exhausted. I followed his advice but sadly the poor thing died in the night.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Another very late sketch challenge!

I've spent most of today dealing with my harvest of blackcurrants - freezing, jam-making, and baking puddings. I completely forgot the 6th WMS sketch challenge was finishing tonight. I've been thinking about my card for the challenge for a few days but only got round to making it tonight. And here she is - Earthangel dancing to some old music I found in our charity shop this week.

Oh, and has anybody got some good recipes for a glut of blackcurrants?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Waltzing Mouse July Blog Hop

I think I'm late with this again! However here is my post for the July hop. The task this month was a project using the summery colours of green and blue.

I've got a new neighbour - she moved in last week, and after having the house let out to various people (some very unsavoury) for the past few years, its lovely to have an owner who will care for the house and garden at last. And she's so quiet! My wish has been granted!

So I've made this new home gift for her - a bottle of my delicious (if I say so myself) Elderflower Cordial and card to match. What can be more summery, when the sun is shining, than sitting in the garden with a glass of iced cordial - but its not shining. So my photos are rather flat again.

I've just been reading a thread on the Papertrey forum about stamp sets you really, really wanted and then don't use. Well, I'm ashamed to say I haven't used this Very Vintage Labels set very often so I wanted to use it here. The sentiments are from Rescue Remedies Additions again and fit perfectly. I used a Martha Stewart punch and vellum for the butterflies, dragging them through Distress Ink to colour them a bit. Oh, and honestly, that is green ink on the label - Shabby Shutters - but I'm afraid it looks brown here. As Claire says, hope it tickles!

My Whimsy Jar Swap

Got up early this morning to finally post my Whimsy Jar swap - apologies to my lovely swap partner Valerie for taking SO long to do it. The swap was organised by Jessica at Kids napping? I'm scrapping. I've been a follower for some time and always drooled over the pretty things on her blog so when she invited international readers to join a swap I jumped at the chance and crossed my fingers for a swapper from the UK.

And look what Valerie sent me! Don't you wish you'd joined in too! I just love that little pin cushion, and that gorgeous felt flower that acts as the lid. I don't know what Valerie has done but it all has a wonderful floral scent. I was really touched to find Valerie had obviously read my blog and put things in my jar to fit in with my love of sewing and gardening and I just look at the lovely glass painting she has created on the glass vase. Its beautiful! Of course I've already thanked her profusely but want to do it again here - thanks so much Valerie for such a beautiful gift.

And here's the jar I sent to Valerie. We had to give Jessica a list of our likes and dislikes and I had a lovely list to work from: pastel colours, lace, buttons, flowers, so it was easy to fill. What was difficult was squashing everything in but the Bon Maman jar I used was a good size (don't you just love those jars - I never throw them away).

I found this lovely vintage hand crocheted doily in a local charity shop and being a papercrafter I couldn't resist including some tags and die cuts to my "filling". I bought some little wooden bobbins to wind my lace and ribbon on to and crocheted some flowers in pastel colours. I do hope Valerie will find some use for these bits and bobs.

I wish I'd taken some better photos of my jar - but as usual I was last minute and it was a very cloudy day again! I hope I can join in another swap soon - thanks to Jessica for hosting this one.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Another Mouse Challenge

Here's my entry for the latest Waltzingmouse sketch challenge. A card for someone who has been kind on a sad occasion. I used one of the labels from the new Rescue Remedies set, masking the text and adding one of the sentiments from Rescue Remedies Additions, and turning the label upside down.

I bought the black rhine- stones ages ago and this is the first time I've thought them suitable for a card. I intended to use them on Halloween projects but we don't really make much of Halloween here so I've done nothing with them before.

Speaking of Halloween, I had a rather eerie experience the other night. It was about 2.00am and I heard this terrible unearthly screeching outside in the back garden. I thought it sounded like a crow or rook in distress, or one of the jackdaws that live in a nearby chimney. When we went outside to investigate we saw a badger running away but the screeching continued. So I fetched a torch and eventually found it was a hedgehog! I couldn't believe the noise it was making - the badger must have tried to attack it. Anyway we took it inside and it became quiet. Although it stayed tightly curled up it didn't seem injured and after about 10 minutes we let it go. I did a bit of google-ing later and apparently badgers will eat hedgehogs if they are hungry - so I'm glad we managed to rescue this one.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

In Hên Taid's Footsteps

My Mother's Grandfather Hugh (Taid Criccieth) was the eldest of 12 children born here on this remote farmstead in Cwm Nantcol. I came here alone in August 2002 looking for the farm - Hendrewaelod. I remembered a beautiful summer day with the sun shining and the sea glittering in the distance in a gap between the mountains.

But sadly, the day my sister, my cousin and I picked to visit again, Friday last week, just happened to be the day the clouds came down and it drizzled and drizzled. We could see nothing of the mountains around us. So disappointing, especially as we have been enjoying such good weather over the past few weeks.

But we still enjoyed ourselves, walking in the footsteps of our ancestors.

Some of those ancestors are pictured here in this photograph taken circa 1920 - and here we are, standing on the same spot (outside the tiny chapel hall) in 2010!

And of course there was the delicious Welsh Rarebit we had for lunch in Harlech and the fish supper in Barmouth on the way home! :o)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Redcurrant Jelly

I had planned that this tag would be photographed with a beautiful jar of redcurrant jelly for my Passion for Papertrey challenge entry this week - but I haven't had time to make it yet! I have picked the fruit though and as far as I am concerned redcurrants are definitely the most beautiful fruit in the garden. On the bush they have a luminosity that is unrivalled and I'm always rather sorry to see the bush stripped of its beauty when I'm finished picking.

Anyway - the current challenge is to create a summertime project and preserving the soft fruit my garden produces is something I enjoy doing every summer. I've used my new PTI Friendship Jar set, Darkroom Door's plaid background stamp and some red and white bakers twine. I hope to be in the kitchen preserving a lot this week as the blackcurrants are also ready for picking and I've managed to freeze as many raspberries as we have eaten already! Definitely a good year for soft fruit!

Apology!! I've been really bad at keeping up with my blogging friends over the past week or so. I'm really sorry not to have been able to comment as much as I like to do - but I'm setting aside this evening to catch up (fingers crossed)!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Sunset from the Attic

There was another beautiful sunset last night and as usual I couldn't resist taking photos from the attic window. Even though the attic is full of rubbish I love sitting by the open window when its a still evening, looking above the ugly clinic building next door and down the valley towards the sea 20 miles away. I've been there on New Year's Eve watching the fireworks too - tiny coloured explosions far away.

We've been out and about a lot this week as my sister is over from France - so I haven't done much crafting. But there is a project I'm working on that has to be finished and in the post tomorrow - so I think I'll be up late tonight! I'm looking forward to sharing it next week. I did put together a little something for my sister however. She's a great coffee drinker so this fabulous free template project by Wilna Furstenburg at 2Peas in a Bucket was perfect for her. All I had to do was add some photos, cut it out, put it all together and add a few embellishments. Wilna used an actual Starbucks cup on her project; I didn't have one but she has helpfully included a scan of a cup with her template. There's a garden variation on the template - also by Wilna - I want to do that one sometime too. Anyway, my sister was pleased so I was pleased.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Very Challenging!

The latest Waltzing Mouse sketch challenge has certainly been just that - a challenge! But finally I've made a card, after pulling to bits several attempts. In the end its become quite a simple design - I really tried not to put my favourite teacups in here but they insisted on being included so here they are again with the teapot from PTI's Tea for Two set. I think they go together rather well. I've used a tiny stamp from Afternoon Tea Sentiments and a gold gel pen (unfortunately it looks brown in my photo) to decorate teapot and cups. The background stamp is from PicNic Patterns - and that's it. I didn't have time or inclination to stitch so pierced and drew in fake stitches and added pearls coloured to match with copics. I'm disappointed with the photo - its a really dull day and even outside I couldn't get a good image.

I've blogged about my wild birds before here and while I was photographing my card this morning I was visited by a female blackbird who has become very bold lately. I hear her calling when I get up in the morning as she knows I will be putting seed in the flowerpot while the kettle is boiling. She wasn't afraid to take seed while I was fiddling with my card so I took this little video of her for you to see. Its at the bottom of this post as I hate the way blogger shows just a black square instead of the first frame - it never used to do that but I've given up trying to work out the vagaries of Blogger!

Finally Jessica at Kids Napping? I'm Scrapping! wants to see our workspaces today so here's mine Jessica! I'm really ashamed of the mess and now I'm going to clear it all up. It so small it always gets like this when I'm rushing trying to get a challenge together and, of course, as usual I'm last minute. I admit I have doctored it a bit by moving a few things out of the way - but otherwise it would have just been a huge jumble of STUFF!


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