Tuesday, 28 February 2012

New beginnings

The weather at the weekend was glorious. The sun shone all day and for the first time this year there was a definite warmth to it. On Sunday I decided that it was the day to get out into the garden. These are my little pots of bulbs which I planted up last autumn, just look at them now.

They are all pushing their way up towards the sunshine.

Here they are last year when I tucked them away for the winter. For the eagle eyed readers the "missing" pot is in my studio where I am enjoying some daffodils also coming into bud.

One of the pots on my patio already has some of my dearest daffodils in flower.

Her head has almost unfurled into the glorious sunshine, what a beauty she is.

There were signs of new life on my clematis...

and even a Ladybird awake in the warmth of the sun.

We were able to eat out lunch outside on the patio. The birds were singing and it certainly was a time to be thankful that spring really is just around the corner now. There was also one other person who was also delighted to find us working outside again.
After watching me work Billy found himself a lovely snug corner to snooze in ;0)

It was wonderful to see so many new beginnings outside. This theme also continues into my life this week as there is another new beginning in this household. My darling son is moving out. After nearly 4 years with his wonderful girlfriend they are setting up home together . My Hb and I are so delighted for them. They make a wonderful couple and are very kind, compassionate, hard working  people. They are renting a little flat above my son's new business venture. At the moment they are busy painting and cleaning it. They plan to move in this Saturday.  They will not be too far away so we will be able to still see lots of them. We send them so many good wishes and good luck for their future. He had a wonderful birthday and a trip to Snowden, climbing so he is now raring to go. Way to go fella.........

This meant I was able to make them a "New Home" card. I wanted something really bright and happy for the occasion.  I think this really  fitted the bill!
It features another of my wonderful Penny Black Hedgehog characters

Here he is in close up. I coloured the stamped image with my trusty Promarkers and highlighted using my Prismacolor pencils. I added a green ribbon which I threaded through a very "Bling" white metal flower ribbon holder. I used 3 different backing papers and matted them all onto red card. I also chose some bold red and white mulberry paper roses to wish them lots of love in their new home.

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;

Simon Says Stamp Use 3 different papers
Divas by Design Bling it up
Party Time Tuesdays #57 anything goes
Cupcake Inspirations Bright fresh colour cupcakes Challenge 149
Mygrafico Flowers #122
Penny Black Saturday Challenge sketch #190

And so after nearly 26 years of  child rearing our nest has nearly been flown. I don't like to use the term "empty nest" as that is not true. Our nest is one which still  holds so many wonderful memories of bringing up our 2 children. Both are now heading out into the world as independent young people. We are so proud to have been a part of that and to have watched them grow. We never own our children, we are given them only on loan to nurture and love and to guide them towards their independence. I am a proud Mum and I feel very blessed to have been a part of that. No doubt of course my son will be popping in on a regular basis when the fridge is bare, or maybe even when the washing pile is too high... I can't see that changing! ;0)

Wishing everyone a sunny week, there are new beginnings all around us.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A ring project with a happier ending

I loved reading all your comments and reactions to my Phoenix ring post. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave them. If you have not read that post have a quick detour as today's post title will make more sense. I really wanted to thank everyone for being so kind...you all seemed to share the disappointment I felt when it went pear shaped. I also felt though it is important to share successes and failures and I still  feel that I gained a lot by what happened to my ring. I am planning a trip up to Hatton Garden in the Spring and I will definitely look for a new stone, but it may be really tricky as the original stone is quite an unusual size. Don't worry if I ever replace it I will show you all and the Phoenix Ring will rise!

I wanted to share with you some more of my recent silversmithing projects from my class. This one was to make a set of stacking rings with at least one containing a "tube" set stone.
There is no need for me to place an alert at the beginning of this post as I had a happy outcome and  made a very sweet set of stacking rings. To prove it here they are!
They were so hard to photograph to show the purple colour of the lovely amethyst stone that I ended up resorting to using a bulb of garlic to put them on. I actually think they look quite good there but there was no clever thinking behind my use of a prop, more a case of "What can I grab that's near!"

This again was a very interesting project. I first had to make the tube setting for the amethyst.

Here are 2 amethysts I had sitting in my stash. I chose the one which had the most uniform oval shape. Next to it is the silver tubing. Yes it is round and you may think how can you make a setting that is oval with a round tubing?
Well, you need one of these....

A metal former.
I measured and sawed a small piece of tubing and placed it in the former. You can see the cut piece of tubing sitting in the number 10 oval. Using the large forming tool (seen on the right) you hammer  your way through the holes until the size is reached. I worked from size 10 down to size 6. Each time the metal was struck you needed to re anneal it to keep it from hardening. This process took some time to complete.

I then had to cut and form 3 ring blanks. Each one is made from round silver wire. Here they are rough cut before I had filed and soldered the joints shut. For the other 2 rings I decided that I would  use my silver metal clay flowers which I had spare from the course I attended last year.
I thought having one each side of the amethyst would balance the set of rings  well.

Next it was a case of carefully soldering the stone setting and the flowers to the centre of the ring blanks. The white you can see here is tippex which we use to stop the soldered joint melting whilst we solder other areas. Water based tippex works really well. You can see it was quite a balancing act and tricky to line everything up.

Next I put the setting for the amethyst  into a ring clamp. I then placed the stone inside and carefully pushed over the edges and then burnished to smooth everything. I soldered the 2 silver flowers to the other 2 ring blanks and there we have.....a stacking set of rings and a happy ever after project....................................

So how about continuing this "happy ever after" theme with my card challenge news. Unbelievable I found out on recently  that I am a winner again. Have a look here. There was more happy dancing going on in this house!
I also promised I would show you my prize winnings when they arrived...

A lovely Big Penny Black stamp

A second big wood mounted Penny Black Stamp

and this lovely stash from America. What a lucky girl I am.

You may have noticed recently that I have also taken off my Comment Verification, as requested by many of the card challege blogs. It makes it easier and quicker for them to visit the many blogs they need to.
The other point is that Blogger has changed comment verification to 2 (yes 2!) words which are actually really difficult to work out. I am struggling myself with people's blog who have this turned on. If you have any concerns you can have "moderation" on your settings and you can read any comments before they are posted. I seriously suggest you consider taking off comment verification as this really is a pest now with 2 unreadable words!
If any comments that are put on you do not like you can easily delete them.

Now finally for a very special card I made. This is actually a "fun" card for my darling son who is 23 on Friday. He has always loved giraffes so I had to use the fun Penny Black stamp I own.
It's actually an easel card, this is the card standing up.

Here is the cute image which I coloured with my trusty Promarkers and highlighted with my Prismacolor pencils.
I added some die cut glitter card balloons and tied ribbons to them.

This shows the inside where I shall write our birthday greeetings on these tags.

and this side view shows how the card stands up. These take a long time to make but are really fun for those extra special cards.
I would like to enter my card into the following card challenges.
Paper Sundaes #108 Happy Birthday
Papercrafting Journey #3 cute
Ladybirds craft Ink Spring is in the air
Penny Black Allsorts Bingo my line is Turquoise, cream, brown
Stamping for the weekend colour theme

Although he never reads my blog I am sending my dear son special birthday wishes for Friday. Despite his age and size (he stands 6'2" tall) he will always be my "baby"...now that would make him blush ;0) Happy birthday fella!
Thanks as always for your lovely visits to my little part of blogland. I so enjoy reading all your comments and I thank you for taking the time to leave them. Happy Wednesday everyone. We are promised the dizzy heights of 14c over the next few days......fingers crossed as it's wet and dull today.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Friday, 17 February 2012

Finding chocolate down Memory Lane

Over 18 months ago I wrote this post about meeting up with an old school friend and going back to where I grew up, after a gap of over 30 years. This week I again met up with my same friend and she told me of a Chocolate Shop which had opened round the corner from where I used to live in Peckham, South East London.
She suggested this could be the venue of our next get together which was on Thursday.  Now I never need an excuse to eat chocolate and when I arrived this display greeted me.

The Shop is called The Melange and is owned by a French Artisan chocolatier who makes all her chocolate products on site. She runs classes and sells on line. It is a tiny shop with just a few table and it's speciality is home made hot chocolate to drink.

She sells all sorts of flavours of chocolate including Mulled Wine Spices, Ginger and Lime and Lavender and Lemon to name just a few. She produces milk, dark and white varieties.  Needless to say I bought a few taster bars home to try...it is divine!

We will have to go back in the summer as she also makes ice cream and milk shakes ;0)

So inspired by a morning hot chocolate I headed home to make a "chocolate" card for my next card challenge. I had the idea to use pink with brown as I really like that colour combination. I also decided to have a play with my latest tool called a paper distresser.

It contains several blades which cut into the sides without tearing. It fluffs up the edge as it goes this.
It is great fun to use and gives the edges of card a "distressed," rather vintage look. I had a practice with some pink and brown card before putting my card together.

Here is my card which I have called chocolate cupcake. I used chocolate and pink backing papers.You can see how I distressed all the focal card edges.

I used my sweet Lili of the valley stamp, Never too old for cupcake". She was coloured with my trusty Promarkers and highlighted with some Prismacolour pencil. 
I added some lovely mulberry flowers to complement the chocolate theme.
I also added some ribbon, Divine Twine bow and a round sentiment. I glitzed everything up with some glitter and finally added some pearls to the corners. I think they look like milk and white chocolate buttons ;0)
I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;

Joanna Sheen Love is in the air
Sunday's with Crissy Happy birthday
Cupcake Inspirations  ~147
Robyn's Fetish Challenge blog Square cards
Really reasonable ribbon Pink and brown
Passion for Promarkers Distressing
Lil's Little Fairies (Not able to upload yet!)
Papercrafting Journey #3 Make it cute
Flutter by Wednesdays Anything with wings

So it's Friday again and another weekend to look forward to. The weather has warmed up nicely and I may even get a chance for a tidy in the garden. We shall also be enjoying some of the chocolate tasters I bought...
mmmmmmm! Enjoy your weekend, whatever your plans and just remember to have chocolate featuring in there at some point!.
Bye for now,

Jane x

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Boxing Day

No I have not gone mad in this freezing cold weather. I do know it's not yet Christmas despite having the right weather.  I shall reveal all later in my post.  The big chill continues here and we have had a little more snow. What falls has trouble melting as it is sooooo cold. Last night as we drove home the car registered -4c and it did get down to -7c....oowwch!

This was the view late this afternoon at the ponds. The ponds and river very rarely freeze but they certainly have at the moment.

Even the heron did not want to dip his toes into the icy water.

Just the graceful swan decided to brave the waters!

Other than a quick walk this afternoon we have spent the day in the warm. So now I will reveal why I have called today Boxing Day.....(just in case some of my blogging friends don't get the pun, Boxing Day here in the UK is December 26th). Well recently I bought a new piece of craft kit shown here on the right.

Swooooon, now if you are not a card maker this will not mean much to you so I shall explain. This is none other than a Martha Stewart Scoring Board. It was very difficult to get in this county as apparently it infringes one of the UK scoring boards patents. In the end I had to buy it and pay quite a lot of postage as obviously the supplier shipped it in from the States.
Now the first thing that a decent scoring board does is to make really good neat folds in cards. You just place the paper on the boards, run the tool down the groove and hey presto neat folds.

One of the main reasons I bought this (it was part of my treat to myself with my Christmas bonus from work)
was to try making boxes. As you know a lot of my cards have gorgeous mulberry paper flowers on and you cannot put them in an envelope. I looked at buying card boxes and they cost a fortune. So I decided I would make my own.

What do you think? I had loads of practises and decided what looked really cool was to have a plain white bottom of the box and make a lid out of patterned paper/thin card.
This was the card I showed you last week and it looks really cute in its box.

***EDIT ADDED SUN 12.2.12*** There is a lot of happy dancing going on here as I just found I have won my very first "Top 5" award for this card. This is not a win as in coming out of Mr Random Number but actually for the design and making of my card. I am THRILLED take a look here. I have a new blinkie in my side bar which I am proudly displaying :0)

Here is the lid in detail.

I played with lots of other designs including some for Christmas (well it is the weather isn't it?)
I also made a card for my challenges and decided I needed something very cheerful for this cold weather.
I inked up my first Tilda stamp I have ever used and loved the strawberry theme (yes I know I have a thing about strawberries).

Here she is coloured using my trusty Promarkers and highlighted with my Prismacolor pencils.

I added little gems to the strawberry centres to make them sparkle.

The backing paper features sweet hearts (yes it's nearly that time of year) and I added a strawberry button and some sparkly gems to the corners of the card.

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
Ladybird Craft Inks Loves me loves me not
Papertake Weekly Anything Goes
Divas by Design Love
Whimsey Stamps challenge blog Love themed
Joanna Sheen Love is in the air
Sundays's with Crissy  Birthdays
Scrapbook Sisters #70 Anything Goes
I love Promarkers Love is in the air
Stamp, scrap and doodle Saturdays red white and pink
Simon Says Stamp Love is in the air

So a Happy Boxing day it has been. My new scoring board opens up all sorts of new card possibilities. I hope you are all keeping snug wherever you are in the world? It's nearly time for dinner here...with a G+T with ice and a slice me thinks. Cheers everyone, thanks for visiting me here and for all the lovely comments you take the trouble to leave. At the request of most of the card challenge blogs I have turned off my comment moderation to make it quicker and easier for everyone to leave a comment. I will try it for a month and see.....?

 Meanwhile Billy as usual has the right idea in this weather,
Enjoy  your Boxing Day evening ;0)

Bye for now,

Jane x

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The best kind of snow

For once the weather forecasters were absolutely spot on with their predictions. We were promised that snow would arrive on Saturday evening between 6 and 9pm, that it would snow all night and stop by early Sunday morning. Well it did just that. At 6.45pm the first flakes arrived and soon it was snowing quite heavily. By the time we went to bed this was the scene outside our window.

The snow was the type where the flakes are very small and sparkly, not like the large flakes we had last year.
The snow formed like a crust and sparkled in the night.

When we woke up on Sunday morning  we found a decent layer of snow greeted Billy at the back door.

Now our Billy is such a fair weather cat and dislikes even rain. He was quite confused by the snow.

What was so funny was that he tried to tread in the footprints of another cat (or fox) which had already walked on the path.

Needless to say he did not stay out long at all and was soon back inside in the warm.

I think he was just a little more comfy here, back on the sofa!

We went out for a short walk on Sunday in the snow. It was fun to see everyone out enjoying themselves but even by the afternoon the snow was beginning to melt. When we woke up for work yesterday morning we were really relieved to see that the roads were fairly clear and the trains running on time. Bliss, that is my sort of snow. The kind which falls over the weekend, when we had nothing planned, and was gone by the rush  hour on Monday morning. All fun and no aggravation.

Although there is no more snow forecast for the moment it has turned bitterly cold and we are not due to get much above freezing all this week. So I decided that my card for today would be one with some lovely spring colours to cheer us all up. I went for really bright Spring colours, this card has quite a zing to it!
I have used a new stamp that I have not inked up before from my favourite stamp makers, Lili of the Valley. She is called "Never too old for cupcake".How I agree!

Isn't she a real cutie? I coloured her using my trusty Promakers and highlighted her with my Prismacolor pencils. I had fun adding some Diamond Dust to her wings, which is make of real glass. I also added some Stickles glitter to the icing of the cake.

I used some Mulberry paper flowers which I glitzed up with some glitter but I also make some of my own flowers....

I added little gems to their centres and also made some leaves for them.
I also added a bright yellow ribbon and a hand stamped sentiment.

I would like to enter my card into the following card challenges.

Lili of the Valley week 5 spring colours
Joanna Sheen Feb challenge Love is in the air
Sundays with Chrissy Happy Birthday
Divas by design #20 Anything Goes
The Crafty Pad Fresh Spring colours
Paper Crafting Journey #2 Fairies or angels
Creative card crew #3 Fantasy creatures
I love Promarkers Photo inspiration; bright buttons
Cupcake inspiration Photo inspiration, bright colours
Pan Pastel challenge Happy birthday

It's been my silversmithing day today but I am now home with Billy. Any guesses where he is?
It's tough being a cat isn't it. Today has been gloriously sunny, clear blue skies but freeeezing cold. Enjoy your evening and I think Billy has got the right idea ;0)

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x