Saturday 31 March 2012

March remembered

The end of another month is approaching and I've created my March page to remember what's caught my eye over the last four weeks.  Today its seems the mini-summer we've been enjoying has come to an end and its time to get back to normal and put my coat on when leaving the house!

Reviewing my recent photos the other day I was reminded of those puzzles on TV quiz shows and in Christmas gift books when I was a girl whereby you had to identify a hugely magnified photograph of an object.

You won't find my puzzles very difficult if you've been out and about recently but these close-ups do remind me how fantastically beautiful the natural world really is.  And just in case you are curious, here are the answers:

Top to bottom and left to right - a Peacock butterfly wing; Muscari; a Mallard duck stretching his wing on the river; Fritillaria; Pasque Flower; hibernating Ladybird; the cheeky Squirrel eating my birds' food; Larch catkins by the river.

The warm weather has kept me away from blogland my crafty desk for a week or so but now its time to get  the Easter cards and gifts made.  I need to catch up with my favourite bloggers too.  So onwards and upwards!

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Happy Spring, spring, spring!

Oh, the barnyard is busy in a regular tizzy,
And the obvious reason is because of the season
Ma Nature's lyrical, with her yearly miracle
Spring, Spring, Spring.
(Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)
Today is officially the first day of spring - and it certainly has been spring-like here in the UK.  Another mild, sunny day filled with birdsong and daffodils - I hope its been the same where you are.

I finished my french knitting project today too (inspired by Eline's WinterHuis).  I wound the knitted tube round and round a beehive shaped plastic honey bottle (empty of course), sticking it to the plastic with double sided tape.  I'll be able to fill the bottle with water and real flowers but for the photo I added some rather dusty silk anemones - just to get the effect. 

And the theme for today has definitely been anemones.  The retro anemone patterned tablecloth I recently won on ebay arrived this morning and I also found this lovely embroidery pattern when thumbing through a March 1954 Woman and Home magazine. I won't be able to send away for the embroidery transfer but with all the resources we have for reproducing images today its not beyond any crafter to copy an old pattern.  I bought the tablecloth to cut up into pieces for old fashioned peg bags but as usual I'm feeling rather loathe to take my scissors to it at the moment!

Monday 19 March 2012

Edwardian treats

 (Recipe from Richard Hunt, Executive Chef, The Grand Hotel, Torquay)
I know the current period favourite is Downton Abbey, and although I wouldn't miss an episode of Downton, my choice for a desert island DVD collection would definitely be Edwardian Farm.  And I would want to add Ruth, Alex and Peter's other historical series Tales from a Green Valley, A Tudor Feast at Christmas, Victorian Farm, Victorian Farm Christmas and Victorian Pharmacy too.  I have the series on DVD but still watch when any are repeated on TV. You can watch on line too.

When watching an Edwardian Farm episode the other week I was reminded I had wanted to try the Devonshire Cut Rounds Ruth baked to offer to day trippers who arrived at the farm by paddle steamer on the river. Even in those days hard up farmers and their wives had to diversify to make ends meet. After a bit of searching I found the recipe Ruth used in the programme and set about trying it out.  A bit more bready than plain scones, the Cut Rounds were yummy filled with my blackcurrant jam and clotted cream.  Add a large pot of tea and some cucumber sandwiches and you have a perfect Edwardian afternoon tea. 

I wait impatiently for the screening of Wartime Farm, which is currently in production.  Ruth, Alex and Peter are certainly not afraid of hard work!

Sunday 18 March 2012

Mothering Sunday

Today is Mothers Day in the UK and Grandmothers Day in France.  Although I'm working I'm hoping I can finish a bit early and join the family for lunch at our local craft centre cafe.  Our town is a bit short of places to eat on Sundays and although Cafe-R is bright and airy and the food is delicious, my Mum isn't that keen as its too modern for her and she says the seats are too hard!  So we must remember to take a cushion with us for her chair.

Mum has started doing a bit of embroidery over the last 12 months or so, so I thought I'd use my cross stitch alphabet stamps to make her card.  Very simple but I like how it turned out.  I had a real headache with the bucket of "spring flowers" though as my ancient printer decided to give up the ghost half way through printing pictures of the grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Luckily I managed to retrieve a few reject prints from the recycling box that were good enough to use. 

I wish all you Mothers and Grandmothers out there a very happy day and hope you are all being spoilt rotten!

Supplies: Stamps - PTI Lace Bouquet, Beautiful Blooms 2, Leaf Prints plus matching dies; Eline Pellinkhof Cross Stitch.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Pretty maids all in a row.....

 Everything has been conspiring against me with my Mothers Day gifts this week but I finished these flowerpots today at least.  These are for my sisters and niece and now there's just my Mum's gift to make.  This post of Mandy's gave me the idea.... luckily my Mum doesn't have quite that many grandchildren!

As well as stamps and dies I used wooden kebab skewers and Playdough to construct my flowers in their little clay flowerpots.

After yesterday's gardening post, I found more sleeping ladybirds whilst clearing today.  This one had found a very cosy spot and I was careful not to disturb her/him too much.  Unfortunately I can't say the same for the wasp that had been hibernating in my gardening glove.  Luckily it was too sleepy to sting me properly but I think it got rather squashed by my hand! 

Supplies: Papertrey Ink stamps Rosie Posie, Flower Fusion and Tag-its (sentiments) plus the matching dies

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Oh no - not another sunset

I can hear you groaning from here.... I really did hesitate to post yet another sunset but when I looked up from my unending task of clearing dead stuff from the garden, this sunset caused an intake of breath.  A thin layer of cloud had turned the sun into a golden ball my camera lens was able to capture and the crows flying home to roost added some detail and scale to the scene. 

I've only just started spring cleaning my untidy patch but lots of emerging shoots are buried under the remains of last year's beauties.  However I did feel a bit guilty disturbing hibernating creatures like this ladybird and I quickly covered this one up again in case there is frost tonight.

I was pleased to see a few catkins on the hazel bushes I have grown from cob nuts.  They are about 5 years old now and this is the first time they have flowered - I'm sure you remember from school nature table lessons that the tiny red tassel above the male catkin is the female flower.  Fingers crossed there might just be a few nuts in the autumn.

The daffodils are in their prime right now but I have a real liking for the little pulmonarias dotted about here and there.  Their flowers are quite small but I love how they start out pink and turn to blue when fully open - but almost better than the flowers are those wonderful spotty leaves.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Fastest hook in the west?

Well I'm in east Wales but then Wales is on the west side of GB so I think it counts!  Because I work on Sundays my weekend is Friday and Saturday and so I tend to have a very slow start Saturday mornings..... but this morning my latest Mollie Makes dropped through the letterbox and I couldn't resist getting down to the free gift project right away.  Its a lovely crochet bloom designed by Anna Rakoniewska.  I've had a peep at her Etsy shop and oh there are some gorgeous hooky items on sale there.  I added a die cut felt leaf to my bloom and will pin it to my coat today ..... though I might not need a coat as the sun is out and the sky is blue.

As usual my little flock of sparrows is enjoying the seed I put out first thing.  I snapped this little chap - don't you think his feathers are beautiful!

Friday 9 March 2012

Mollie's Mice

My Mollie mice have all reached their new homes safely so I'm posting the family portrait I took before they 'left home'.  Meet Flo, Miss Daisy and Florence.  Mollie Mouse has stayed at home to help me in my craft space.  They were quite fiddly to make but I enjoyed myself, especially knitting the little cardigans and sewing the dresses.  I think if I make any more I'll have to rethink the pattern and make some alterations. I really need to make putting the heads and bodies together a bit easier.

 I wanted to send cards with my mice and had been meaning to try out this design I found on Little Birdie Secrets a while ago.  I die cut my butterflies in sugar paper.  Did you use it in school art lessons?  I bought a thick pad of the paper many years ago and I'm still using it!  I love the soft muted shades and as long as you don't want to use anything very detailed, clear stamps work well on it.  I used a reverse polka dot stamp and matching Distress Inks here.

Supplies: PTI butterfly die, Tim Holtz Distress Inks, Stamps: PTI Friendship Jar (I used the polka dot jar filler), Think Big Favorites #2

Thursday 8 March 2012

Brown Paper Packages.......

Everyone likes the postman to call and a few days ago I opened the door to my postie and accepted a very exciting package tied up with string.  And in it was........ a few bits of wood!  BUT these were no ordinary bits of wood - this was beautifully presented wooden doll kit from Sophie Tilley Designs.  I'd been coveting a vintage wooden doll (pictured on the right) on ebay but she sold for much more than I could afford so I was really glad I'd ordered my doll kit. 

I saw Sophie's doll kit on Pinterest (I spend far too much time there) and when I followed the link to her Etsy shop I was  surprised to find it was not based in the US but in North Wales.... in fact only 30 or so miles away from me in the village of Trefriw!  Trefriw is well known to me as my Great Great Grandparents are lying in the churchyard there.  How's that for an enabler!  I've a few projects to get out of the way before I make my doll but I'm enjoying planning her in my head.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Double Dutch???

We all have our favourite crafty designers - mine are quite obvious if you are a regular reader of this blog.... and their inspirational blogs are regularly at the top of my reading list.  Of course we all have different tastes and styles - I like clean and simple but also vintage so when I came across Eline Pellinkhof she shot right into my top 10! Eline is a Dutch designer but her products are easily found in the UK (Cuddly Buddly has lots) AND she has written two beautiful books that are absolutely crammed with gorgeous projects...... there's just one problem - they are only available in Dutch! However I couldn't resist and quickly purchased Eline's Winter Huis.  Would you believe there are 86 gorgeous projects in it and I honestly haven't found the language a problem as there are clear photographs and templates.  The only real difficulty will be when I try the crochet projects - but I'm sure translation won't be that difficult with the help of google.

Anyway, enough waffle.  Here is my version of Eline's owl.  He's featured throughout the book in paper and ink, fabric, cross stitch, applique, and I've turned my owl into one of my favourite projects, a scented sachet, by adding a hanger and dried lavender to the stuffing.  I'm busy creating my own parliament of owls (did you know that's their collective name) and I also have another of Eline's projects on the go - can you guess what it is yet!

Finally, GUESS WHAT! I read in Mollie Makes  that Eline's first book, Eline's Huis, will be published in English in August!  Oooooo, can I wait till then!

Friday 2 March 2012

Late winter sunshine

The blossom on the plum tree is the first to appear
We've just enjoyed two glorious days here in North Wales!  The garden is starting to come to life, the birds are singing, the sky is clear blue, and the nights are star lit. 

The daffodils came out for St David's Day
Blackbirds and Robins are singing - even in the dark!

I'm not an astronomer but I do like to star gaze and the night sky has been pretty impressive this week with Venus and Jupiter shining brilliantly as I walk home at dusk. And although I've lived here for many many years its the first time I've been in the right place at the right time to see the sun setting through the church spire.  Luckily I had my camera with me to record it.

St Peter's Church spire at dusk
Unfortunately the forecast for the weekend is not good..... but they could be wrong!  Wherever you are have a good one.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus a Llongyfarchiadau! (to my Mouse Winners)

Bore da a Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus i chi. 
(Good morning and Happy St David's Day to you) I was hoping to have a jug full of our national flower on my table today but would you believe there wasn't a single bunch to be found anywhere yesterday afternoon when I got to the shops - I was too late, they were all sold out!  So its just as well I like to bring out my collection of Macmillan daffodils every year - they are much too pretty to throw away and I always wear the newest one to celebrate our patron saint's day.

And llongyfarchiadau (congratulations) to my three mouse winners who have been drawn by that reliable but rather boring chap, Random Generator as Number 1 - Lissy Lou, Number 2 - Emma, and Number 8 - Sarah-Jane.  Sorry I didn't get this done yesterday - I really don't know where the day went!  I'll email my winners this evening for their addresses....... and as I feel rather bad for you other 7 commenters (there were only 10 of you who entered my little giveaway) I'm thinking of having some runner-up prizes - I'll get back to you all when I've thought of something.

The first day of another month already!  Here is the March page from Children Month by Month, my vintage picture book.


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