Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lady Luck returns for a second weekend

Last week I posted about our lovely, long lucky weekend and that Mr Random Number thingy came up with my  name on the Penny Black Saturday Card Challenge.

Well I could not quite believe my eyes yesterday when I checked my blog reader for this week and found I was the winner again!  Take a look here. I did a little dance up and down and I have a lovely stamp winging it's way to my card stash. This will join the prize from I-2-3 Stitch, an american craft site who are sending me $20 of crafting goodies from last week's entry.
This was my winning card

Well  this afternoon we lit the fire for the first time this year and settled down to have a lazy late afternoon. I started up my Hb's laptop to check my blog reader. As I read through the recently launched posts from the blogs I follow I had to look twice.... I saw one of my recent cards that I made using Kerry's lovely Ladybug Craft Ink stamps staring back at me! This was not a random number challenge winner but my card was being featured as none other than the "Daily Talent Spot"

Here is the link. Now that really does give me such a buzz as it is recognition of my little cards. I did a little jig and showed my Hb.

So this weekend has proved to be not just another visit from Lady Luck but a little feature of one of my cards......I have a big smile on my face and wanted to share it with you all. I have been talking about luck with a great blogging friend Linda over the last few days. She posted on Friday about luck/coincidence/fate and we were joking about buying Lotto perhaps I really should make sure I have one ;0)

I don't think I dare enter Penny Black's Saturday challenge this week, to come out 3 weeks in a row as the random number winner would surely start mutterings of ,"Fix" LOL!!

I will be back soon with my lastest card as I so love making them and there are so many birthday's coming up. I have also added a few more in my Etsy Shop here.

Enjoy your Sunday evening. Keep snug - a lot of my blogging friends aboad are having a lot of snow and really cold temperatures.....brrr. Time for crafting and chocolate, always the best combination!

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Some colour on a drab day.

After the lovely real winter weather we had recently it has become just....dull. All this week it has been that kind of week where it never really gets  light. The weather men are forecasting some brighter colder weather by late weekend so I hope the sun returns then.  We have had some much needed rain but that has not done much to cheer so I thought I would share some colour on a dull winter day.

Last week I found these snowdrops in flower in my parents' garden.

Unlike last year when there were carpets of them, this year there are only a few clumps. I think snowdrops need a really cold winter and as we have had such a mild one they are taking this year off!

We saw some beautiful Helebores at the garden centre and this one even had a bee buzzing around !

Here is another lovely clump.

My parents also had a lovely pot of tete a tete daffodils in flower in their garden.

Do you remember my little one outside still in bud a few weeks ago...?

Here she is today, fully opened in my raised bed. How I love my daffodils.

Also my hyacynth in water has bloomed and the scent is just divine. As I come into the house that spring- like scent greets me....

This was last week..............

and now..........................

Here she is today, looking out into my very bare garden.
The flowers have a lovely purple edge to them.

How beautiful they are. I have so enjoyed watching my bulb in water grow from first putting down some roots last autumn to her splendour now.

Even Billy is looking out for some colour in his garden
from the heights of my studio roof.

So what else can I offer for some colour on a drab about my latest card challenge offering?

I chose to make a really bright cheerful card using bright blues.

I inked up a sweet Penny Black stamp called "Betsy Bluebird"  and I coloured her flowers to look like snowdrops.

I used my trusty Promarkers to colour her and highlighted using my prismacolor pencils.

I cut a border with my Martha Stewart lace punch and added a bright blue ribbon and 2 bright blue polka dot buttons. I used twine to tie the button to continue with the "garden" theme. I stamped my circular sentiment using bright blue ink.

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

Passion for Promarker's recycle something I have recycled some of my garden twine to tie the buttons with.
Papertake weekly challenge Happy highlights I have highlighted my card using bold blue ribbon, buttons and bright blue ink to stamp the sentiment.
Simon Says Stamp anything goes
Penny Black Saturday Challenge crafty bargains My bargains are the polka dot buttons found on Ebay as a craft destash...!
Joanna Sheen celebrations
Creative Craft  the colour blue
Die Cuttin Divas buttons, bows and/or bling I used a lacy scallop square diecut.
Party Time Tuesday colour/photo inspiration I used the colours and the photo as inspiration  but gave my card a spring rather than a winter feel to cheer us up!

I hope my post has put a little splash of colour into your day?

It's nearly the weekend again, have a great one when we get there.

Bye for now,

Jane x

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A lovely lucky long weekend

We really enjoyed taking the day off work on Friday to celebrate my Hb's birthday. We had booked a table at Brown's in Mayfair for lunch

I decided to take my trusty camera with me so that you could join us. As you know my Hb works in London and we were both born and raised there and even now we only live about a 30 minute  train journey from central London. It is my favourite city in the world and even after all these years there are still parts of it that I have not noticed/visited before.
Friday was a pretty murky day but we wrapped up warmly and took the train to Victoria Station and the tube to Green Park.

Green Park was looking very forlorn and bare. Parts  had been roped off to allow areas of  grass to be re seeded, ready for everyone to enjoy in the warmer months.

There are some rather lovely buildings in the area including the world famous Ritz Hotel. This is a really grand building even from the outside.

There are also some beautiful cafes and very expensive shops around....including....

There is also the very beautiful old Burlington Arcade which has just been fully restored to it's former grandeur. This included re laying the marble

After window shopping in all these wonderful shops we arrived at Brown's for lunch. It was delicious. We shared a box of warmed Camembert for starters.

For main course my Hb had fish cakes and I chose Thai prawns and then for pudding he had sticky toffee pudding and I had Brown's Eton Mess. Mmmmm just the memory still makes my mouth water!
This was all washed down with a Bellini and a few cocktails.
After lunch we had a last look in the shops before we headed home. So do you think we came home empty handed.........

Well of course not. After all my Hb only has a birthday once a year and inside this bag is a wonderful new shirt I treated him to. Happy Birthday M.

Well it is Sunday evening already and I have one other exciting piece of news I was desperate to share with you all. After all these months of entering card challenges....lady luck was on my side and guess what.......yes I won....... take a look here  It is pure luck as all the names are put into the random number lucky is that for me.
I could not believe it when I checked the Penny Black Saturday Challenge blog yesterday and there was my recent hedgehog card blinking back at me. I have won a  voucher to spend at the generous sponsor's on line store, so more lovely card making stash for lucky me.

Now as I seem to be on a roll (things are supposed to run in threes aren't they?) I am going to enter another card for some challenges today.

Now this is a really different colourway for me. As you know I am not normally a pink girl but I do think it works really well with the blue. I used another coloured image from the stamps I won from Kerry's giveaway.

Here she is in close up. I coloured her using my trusty promarkers and I added some glamour dust to the cake to give some real sparkle.

I have machined around the backing paper in blue thread and added a lovely pink die cut frame together with some blue ribbon and paper prima flowers. I have popped in a polka dot brad to the flower centres.
I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;

Ribbon Girl blue and pink challenge
Papertake Weekly buttons, bows, bling and blooms
Joanna Sheen Celebrations
Party Time Tuesdays Happy Birthday
I love Promarkers Anything goes
Secret crafter Food and drink

I am also submitting this as an entry to the Quick Cards Made Easy "Make a card for a celeb". I chose to made it for Alex Jones the One Show Host as I felt she did so well on Strictly this year and is such a self effacing lady. I also think she suits the pink/ blue combo being not too "girlie" a celeb!

Now if I think I am on a winning roll and things really do go in 3s.....where is that lottery ticket ;0)

Have a great week everyone,

Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Ladybug (or is it a ladybird?) friend

Us bloggers and craft makers know there is a really friendly bunch of people out in cyber space or the www as it is more commonly known. I have made some really close friends I have met over the nearly 2 years I have been blogging. I met my dear friend Mia out in Finland via Etsy nearly 3 years ago and through reading her blog for about a year encouraged me to jump into the blogging world. I have not looked back.

We often wonder how we meet new blogging friends, they are often via a 3rd party blogger or sometimes we can't even remember...we just meet them! Late last year I was admiring a card on a challenge blog and I clicked on it and was taken to the blog of a lady called Kerry who owns Ladybug Crafts Ink, a small UK company who make lovely stamps. I was intrigued by the name ladybug as here in the UK we call them ladybirds and indeed one of my early blog posts was all about ladybirds. You can read about it here. It turns out that Kerry is from Canada originally which is a clue to her using the name Ladybug not Ladybird.

I decided to follow her blog and she was having a birthday giveaway which I entered. That was just before Christmas. I got behind with my blog reading as I was so busy only to find that I had won it but  I read that as I had not come forward Kerry needed to draw a new winner. I was so disappointed as I rarely win anything. I emailed Kerry mainly to apologise for not catching up with my blog reading.  She kindly told me that if the new winner failed to come forward then the parcel would be mine. She even said that if they new winner did come forward she would still send me a little something. How kind was that?

Well luck was on my side as the 2nd drawn winner did not make contact so  look what arrived in the post last week......

Isn't her wrapping paper wonderful. Brilliant bold ladybirds.

And inside was.................

Not just one but four of her lovely Ladybug Crafts Ink stamps.

These are really good stamps, they cling brilliantly to my acrylic blocks and stamp beautifully.

I have been having a play .....

 I used most of the Promarkers I own for colouring these!

I even made my first few cards and this one is off to a friend's daughter for her 19th Birthday next week.

I used some new ribbons I bought. I love this lush black and the ribbon tape measure I thought was great fun. I fixed the tape at 19 where the sentiment is so that it shows her age.

I would like to enter this into a few challenges.

Ladybug Craft Ink; Bows
Passion for Promarkers 132- humour
Joanna Sheen Celebrations
Paper Sundaes, Choose a favourite previous theme I have chosen a challenge from last year called "How Charming" They are having a fun 2nd birthday blog hop..take a peep.
Party Time Tuesdays Happy Birthday
I love Promarkers Anything goes #100
Creative craft crew Seeing red #2

Now Kerry and I also have something else in common, we both have daughters getting married this year. I have a rare "free" non work day today so I am heading out to the studio to play with the glass lampwork beads I have had made for my jewellery for the Big Day. I hope some sample colours will also be arriving in the post today from another great glass lampwork buddy of mine. We are going to choose the bridesmaids beads from these. All very exciting.  It is also my dear Hbs birthday tomorrow and we are treating ourselves to lunch up in London at a Mayfair Brasserie...that should be lovely and beats work! We have both taken the day off. Must dash then, presents to wrap, jewellery to create.....

Have a great day and a great weekend (and thanks again Kerry, my new Ladybird (Bug) friend ;0)

Bye for now,

Jane x

Monday, 16 January 2012

Real winter weather

Finally we seem to have some real winter weather, you know the sort when there is an icy frost when you wake up and gorgeous low milky sunshine. If you wrap up warm it's a joy to get out in the sharp crisp air. I love it. On Saturday we went down to Southampton to visit my daughter and her fiance for the day. There was a really deep frost when we woke up.

All my plants had a dusting of frost over their leaves.

We arrived by 11am and spent until 2pm just chatting, catching up and being treated to Tom's wonderful cooking....sea food fried rice with extra prawn and squid and a dipping soy sauce...mmmm! Later in the afternoon the sky had clouded over and the temperature had risen and we thought that it would be a perfect time to try a walk down by the coast.

There was little wind and we were well wrapped up so it was really delightful to stroll along the cliff path. The sea looked so cold beneath us. There was no one around.

As time wore on the skies really clouded up and it looked as though a storm would break.....

It was spectacular the way the sunshine was shining through the thick clouds in huge shafts of light. It was almost like a scene from the film "Independence Day".
The coast line we looked out to is none other than  the Isle of Wight, one of my favourite places to visit in the UK and home of many happy holidays we took our children on when they were tiny. Through binoculars we could even see Osborne House and it's gardens.

No storm broke and we were able to continue our walk down to the shore line.

We took the countryside route for our return  and saw the sky changing all the time.

We even walked past a super thatched cottage.

Until by the time we got back for a welcome cup of tea the icy blue winter sky was back again! I do love it when we get this crisp cold winter weather. There has been more of the same again today and I even dug out my hat to wear for the first time this weekend.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and if it's been cold that you have been able to wrap up warm and get out for a bracing walk?

Here is my card challenge for today. I was able to make some new cards on Sunday as cold weather is also a good excuse for some extra crafting!

I have used a super cute Penny Black hedgehog stamp which I have had in my stash for years and decided to ink him up again to see the light of day!

Here he is in close up. I coloured him with my trusty ProMarkers. I highlighted the coloured image with my Prismacolor pencils. I added glossy accents and glitter to the parcel to make it stand out.

I used the same heart papers and red embossed heart card that I used for my recent cat card. We card makers never waste a scrap of anything! I finished everything off with a polka dot red button and a prima flower.
The little sentiment is a shrink plastic one I made. Shrink plastic is something else I have not played with until recently and is really great fun.
I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
 Penny Black Saturday challenge 184 anything goes
Winter wonderland Birthday wishes
Stamping for the weekend Use old stash my old stash is my PB hedgehog stamp and my shrink plastic.
I love Promarkers Cute and cuddly 2nd entry
Joanna Sheen Celebrations
Squirrel and the Fox Critters challenge 9
Whimsy Stamps challenge blog  Happy Birthday #21
Dream Valley Anything goes 3rd entry

I have popped him up for sale in my Etsy Shop here

So here we are on a cold Monday evening. It's Tango again for us tonight. It was great fun last week, a really low dance with no rise and fall...our teacher told us all to keep low enough to get splinters in our legs!  We will need to wrap up warm and I hope any real hedgehogs out there are fast asleep in their winter hibernation nests. We may even light our fire in the front room tomorrow evening...we have not had a real fire yet this winter. Now that is another winter favourite of mine......

Have a great week,

Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Phoenix ring

There is a moral to this post which will be revealed later ..the clue is in the title! I have not updated you on my recent silversmithing work so I thought you may be interested to see what I have been up to last term at my day class. Our first project was to make a ring claw setting for a stone. This is no mean feat as this means literally from scratch from round silver wire. This post looks fairly short but it is actually many weeks of classes.

I have missed out photos of all the endless filing, annealing, bending, more filing, more get the idea and have given you a snap shot of the process.

Voila! Yes I know that this does not look much like a claw setting but you start with measuring the stone and making 2 accurate rings from wire, soldering them shut and marking them in quarters. The other piece of wire makes up one of the side struts.

Next I filed small grooves were filed in the outside quarters of the rings and I soldered the strut in place. It was such a balancing act to keep everything in place. It actually took me an hour to set it up to solder.

I made up the other side struts with straight pieces of wire and again after much patience soldered them in place.

Next I made a ring blank by measuring my finger and making this out of square wire.

Like this.

and then carefully soldered the whole lot together. Can you see now that  it is looking much more like a claw setting for a ring?

Next I placed the stone in and then  had to then cut down the claws tips down to size. You can see I have marked them with red pen where I needed to saw.

And with the claws the right side I had to push over the edges very carefully to set the stone in place.

Now here is the moral of the story.....never fiddle with jewellery! This is what happened next....

After I took this photo I noticed that the ring was very slightly out of shape and as I am a bit of a perfectionist I decided just to make the sank perfectly round again. BIG MISTAKE. I put the ring on a ring mandrel, gave it a tap with a hide mallet to straighten it up but  I dislodged a small soldered joint. In trying to re solder the joint the heat cracked the stone!! Yup, I do mean it destroyed the stone despite using heat protector etc etc. It was one of those rather heart sink moments as a silversmith!

 I have taken out the stone but I have not yet had the heart to try to find something similar as this was a one off stone. When I am next up in Hatton Garden in London I will have a look. Also the claws will need altering with a new stone so it is not just a simple case of "popping in " a stone. So this piece is now sitting in my tool box waiting for the day that I feel I can resurrect the "Phoenix ring". It may yet rise from the ashes. There is a great song in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a film I remember as a kid, where they sing "From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success". I do find myself humming that when I think of my Phoenix ring.

The really positive thing about this project though is that I learnt SO many skills and perfected ones I already had. Nothing is ever lost when things like this happen, it's all a learning curve. I agree with my Mum who has always said that we learn more through our mistakes than through our successes.

So that I end this post on a cheerful note I have a happy card to enter for some challenges today!

This sweet image is my favourite Lili of the Valley cutie called Rosie Posy

I coloured her with my trusty Promarker pens
and highlighted her with my Prismacolor pencils. I added a little bling to the centres of the flowers in her posy.

I also added some lovely paper mulberry roses around the hand stamped sentiment and added a lovely bright piece of red stripy ribbon.

She is a real sweetie isn't she.
I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;

Lil's Little Fairies Challenge 2, favourite stamp
I love Promarkers Challenge 99 Cute and cuddly
Passion for Promarkers's Inspired by a song and in keeping with my post my inspiration has to be "The Roses of Success" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
Cupcake crafts  something new My "new" are the wonderful pink mulberry flowers.
Whimsey cards challenge 21 Happy Birthday
Penny black Allsorts Love and hearts
Joanna Sheen January challenge, Celebrations
Top Tip Tuesdays Anything goes
Dream Valley Anything goes  
Simon Says Spots and/or stripes

So this card has to be dedicated to all my wonderful blog reader's and I know there are a LOT of you out there; my recent stats show that. Hello to those who silently read and thanks to everyone who takes the time to comment on my posts. I love to read them, it makes my Journal writing very pleasurable.

It's nearly the weekend again, we are off to visit our daughter and her fiancĂ© and we hope to get in a coastal walk. The weather looks as though it may turn chilly so we will wrap up warm.

Have a wonderful weekend whatever you do and remember this card is Just for You x 

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x