Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas Greetings

Hereabouts we are not dreaming of a white Christmas...we've got it already...we're actually dreaming about a thaw....please, pretty please....but seriously there is something particularly wonderful about our landcape at the moment and we are enjoying sparkling sunshine most days for a few hours. Generally our Christmas is very mild and we can get about with no problems...this has not been the case for a while now but we are learning to cope with these unexperienced conditions. Our homes are not geared up for sub-zero temperatures and lots of folks have no water and frozen pipes which will make for a miserable time over the holidays. Plumbers are working long, long hours to try and cope with the amount of call-outs. Given that the night time temperatures have reached -18.5 the roads are treacherous and we have only been driving when necessary..on our motorways we have only one lane open in each direction!!
Despite all this it almost Christmas and I wish you and yours the best time possible and everything you would wish yourself for the New Year. Particularly in our thoughts are those who live alone, and those who for various reasons Christmastime will not bring health or happiness. We commit them to Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - the Babe of Bethlehem who showed us what true love really is.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snow is falling, snow on snow......

Hello everyone! We are experiencing the title of this blog post well and truly...having had 2 weeks of snow and then a little window of thaw and opportunity to do the Christmas shopping and now we are back to more snow again. As I've said before this is not a large amount of snow in comparison to what some of you have in the U.S. and Canada but it is a lot for us....and it is good snow...lovely and powdery (before it freezes) and not wet and heavy. It also froze last night - about an hour away temperatures of -15 degrees were recorded...that is low for us folks. Over here life grinds to a halt when we get this amount of the white stuff. The retailers are feeling the pinch as people are not shopping as they would normally be at this time of the year. Accordingly there are sales everywhere and the shops are very quiet indeed. Here are a few photos of our area...the gritter does not come up our avenue at all and the children love it as they can sleigh to their hearts content. One of the photos show our porch in which I hang Ikea lanterns...I usually light them up (just a tea-light which lasts about 5 hours) around 7 p.m. - thinking I could do with some greenery somewhere around here too. It is truly a beautiful morning here...the sun is out and everything is sparkling....nature gives us some wonderful things to look at and enjoy!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well folks I'm sorry I'm so lax at posting but it's that time of year again.
At this point I am glad to say that my card orders are up to date. I'm sure this is because we have had a lot of snow in Northern Ireland (can't get out much) followed by freezing nights - we even had -15 degrees last night which is VERY cold for this part of the world. (I can hear you laughing in the U.S. and Canada.) Needless to say we are never prepared for the snow...transport wise anyhow.....traffic just grinds to a halt. We haven't been much further than our supermarket and that was only when it was absolutely necessary. There have been lots of accidents, lots of folks falling and breaking limbs and indeed we had at least 3 deaths of elderly folks falling in their gardens and dying of hypothermia....very sad. At the moment there is an ongoing dispute between governing bodies as to who should be responsible for gritting the pavements (sidewalk)....they cannot agree and while they are arguing people are falling. Even in town it is not now politically correct for businesses to clean their own footpath outside their premises...apparently they can be liable if anyone should claim....the world has gone mad, hasn't it!
Sorry I haven't any pictures for seems that when I completed cards recently they were collected before I could get bright enough daylight to photograph them. Glad to say I have all my own cards posted today...what a long visit to the Post Office squelching through the slush at the side of the road.
Hope you are all well on with your Christmas arrangements! Take care.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

I'm back in the melting pot again!!!

Needed a horsey card for a 17 year old and thought I'd have a go with this again. Mind you I did have to re-do the head only image 3 times before I got it correct....the great thing is that the UTEE can be thrown back in the pot again when you are not happy with the result. Apologies for the poor was too late in the day for good daylight...on a bad day here we can have the lights on at 3 00 p.m. The wallet was made out of a sample of high end wallpaper which I lined inside with good watercolour paper stamped with yet more horses!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

WMS Christmas Blog Waltz

Here is my offering for the Waltz.....
Base cardstock is from the Papermill and the green cardstock layer is also from the same source and it is the leather type of card. The cream layer is The Papermill linen and I've stamped the Merry Christmas stamp from that Secret Set. Attached a length of ribbon down the centre of the top layer and then stamped the star from the same set into gold UTEE...the impression came out well. As UTEE can be sort of dull I took the Krylon pen and put on 2 layers of gold to brighten it up. When still warm I cut around the outline and discovered the shape was close to the Spellbinders Hexagon! Made another red layer and edged it with a gold Krylon pen....a little bit of red bling in the centre...pop dotted the UTEE layer to the red layer....the edges needed to be streamlined a bit so a little bit of wired gold cord did the trick...just used double-sided tape around the edge and pressed the gold cord unto it. Then added the little knot of ribbon to cover the joining of the cord. Apart from the 'Stars' set this was the only WMS Christmas set I had to work with!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Waltzing Mouse Tag It Challenge

Here is my entry for the Tag It challenge.....the base is Spellbinders Mega Curved Rectangles (three layers). The bottom layer is cut from a sample book of wallpapers and this one is like gold sprayed hessian....wish I had it on my walls....the second layer is glossy bright red and the last layer is a sort of stardream type of card.
The little red 'trumpet' thingies are made from satin ribbon - a sort of boat shape glued and rolled to form the shape - more lace ruffled down the side and a little fan of lace to cover the mechanics of the 'trumpets'....a couple of red glossy hearts to sort of balance the tag and then some more on the lace fan...just to make the sentiment more meaningful...and then some bling....apologies for the photo - as you know I'm not so good at that.

A couple of cards and a challenge

First is a Retirement card for a first thought was red and black...also used the Waltzingmouse chevron for a dramatic effect and to joint the two hexagons together as it were. The second card also uses a Waltzingmouse stamp - Victorian Frippery - and yet again I've CASED this from Claire for the second time.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

I'm back!

Well we had a scout around Italy at the beginning of the month...the weather was very good, we only experienced rain once when walking around Pisa - it was wet underfoot but we didn't get wet. We are maxed out on frescoes (frescos? sp) churches, basilica favourite was Florence where the Cathedral is absolutely breathtaking and having travelled the world it takes a lot to make me stand in absolute awe of a place. The food was so the first hotel it was not so good and the portions were so small I felt sorry for the menfolk. In the second hotel it was beautiful as was the third and last hotel. I was looking forward to the ice-cream but I can honestly say that apart from Lemon and Black Cherry (not together folks) I was not terribly keen. We have a shop here in Cookstown, run by the Sheehy family and they sell Movenpick ice cream (Swiss) which is far better than anything I tasted in Italy. I now understand that we would have got more authentic Italian ice cream in non-tourist areas..hmmmm...bit late now and even then we were with a group and had to stay with the group etc. But the cappucinnos - oh my - I really miss get them in a small tea cup - no big 'bowly' cup over there - the taste is divine.....prices vary of course...the cheapest we found was 1.80 Euro for 2 standing up at the bar....the most expensive was 2.50 each standing at the bar.....2 coffees and 2 danish sitting down was 13 Euros you see sitting down is much more expensive. Ice creams vary too...a little tub is fairly economical - say 2.50 Euro each but one day in Rome we were hungry and en route with a guide we dashed into an ice cream shop....pointed to two waffle cones and shouted out our flavours....went to pay....DH handed me 10 Euros....she asked for another 10!!!! We had to pay up and run....we were taken for a big ride....oh my....we were careful after that....we laughed about it so much!
I did buy some wool in Seinna - half the price of the same sort of quality hereabouts. I did find a paper shop in a little village and bought quite a lot but that was the only paper shop I came across...that was a disappointment to me.

We came home with horrible colds....several of our group had had the cold - I'm blaming it on the extremely cold a/c at the last hotel.....we turned it off in our room but during dinner we were frozen...I wore an extra layer the next have been coughing so much since our return and still bouts of coughing.....

We lost a phone a few days ago....looked everywhere for it...rang it but couldn't get any idea where it was....and today was 'bin day' (the day the trash goes out) so last night quite late we thought maybe it might have gone accidentally into the out with the cell phone and stood beside the bin out at the road ringing the number but there was no ringing in the bin....DH got up early and brought the bin down to the back garden and dumped everything out of it and still no phone (he thought perhaps if the batteries had gone there would be no ringing in it) - I decided to have one last look this morning......and there it was under a cushion (pillow) on the was not 'heard' ringing as it was in the same room as another phone...and you can only hear one ring even from two phones. Augh, the time we've spent wondering where this phone was....if you are like me you spend more time looking for stuff than anything else. Just one of those amusing things which happen frequently in this is usual to lose the favourite little black knife which I use to do a lot of work with in the kitchen....have I thrown it out with the potato peelings? Sometimes....have I left it in the cake tin after I've cut a peice of cake...most it's either back to the bin or search the cake tins....
Well I have chatted long enough and hereabouts it's time for bed so until the next time take care everyone!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Just when you think you are finished......

Well, I did think I had finished my orders but you know there is always one which cannot be refused, isn't there...and this is one of them....I've spent so long on this card - all afternoon and still not finished...still to write the sentiment on the front and write the inside too.
A local Choral Society is giving this to it's after dinner speaker in the next few had to be these and royal blue and this blue was the only thing I had near good enough....rather shimmery it is and looks good cuttlebugged. Was really pleased that I had recently taken delivery of the Waltzing Mouse ( stamp set of musical backgrounds....although I've just used four of the stamps on this project I was so grateful to have a long music stamps - stamped the music notes and the piano keys on two separate strips and stuck them together to make the curved piece on the front of the card...liked this as it gave the impression of movement etc....added a treble cleft (can't remember what company it is) which I clear embossed on silver card and then cut out laborously with a scalpel....hate cutting out with it as I'm not too good at it but thought the left hand edge needed it. I stamped the edges of the box as well to take the plain look off of it (using American grammar here!). The lining paper in the box is also stamped with the treble cleft and the single note also in the set but sorry, the sun went and I didn't get it snapped in time.
Now, off to finish the writing!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Chocoholics look the other way.....

Well, I didn't think I'd be back today but there you are. Our first born has a birthday tomorrow and the family are coming here for a birthday meal. This is dessert/birthday cake....he's not 5 though....add 4 decades unto it and you'd be right! This is a basic sponge cake with rather scrumptious filling inside including 4 Ferero Roche chocolates crumbled in the middle. Then I poured ganache (a mixture of chocolate and cream over it...great shine with all the cream...hmmm....think of the fat! Then piped some fresh cream around and on top. But you with chocolate is a messy business! Wish I could give you all a little piece of cake...wouldn't that be a great gathering!! We'll just have to imagine the chat (or the craic as they call it hereabouts) we'd have if we all could get together.

Magazine Inspiration....

Hello everyone, sorry I've been lax in my posting - it's holiday time for me and I've been enjoying a somewhat relaxing time and it has been great to have time to rest and think straight for a change. Card making for others has been completed and have been card making for myself for birthdays and occasions which are later in the year.
Over here we have a plethora of stamping magazines and over the years I've become disenchanted with them. They are not cheap and for my style I usually find very little to inspire and my standard phrase after flicking through one is 'why did I spend the money on that - I'm not buying any more' but months down the line I buy one again....well, as I was away this month I bought yet another one to flick through while travelling...and there was only one item that inspired me. Joanne Wardle in The Craft Stamper has written and illustrated an article on Silhouette Stamping and I decided to have a go.
Basically you mask off an area in the middle of the card with post it notes. Well I did the first one like this but I then cut an aperture out of old commercial cards with a glossy surface on them (ink rubs off easily) with Spellbinders may not get such a crisp edge to the image but it's not so important anyhow. Then you colour this space with Distress Inks...she advises to use a sponge but I use Dreamweaver brushes which I love. The first card used Dried Marigod, Wild Honey and Fired Brick....then I used PTI's Turn of the Leaf to decorate...the second card has more yellow in it.....then I began to think in another direction....could I not make a little 'landscape coloured' space and add scene stamps? So tried green for the grass, yellow (Actually wasn't Distress Ink just a yellow inkpad)for a sunshiney bit in between it and the Broken China 'Sky'
Then I had bought a little Winter Scene stamp set at the November Exhibition in Belfast last year and it was perfect for completing the little landscape. Think it's either Papermania or Inkadinkadoo, not sure. There were just a few stamps which were the right proportions for this small scene but that's ok, I like how they worked. I really enjoyed my playing around with this technique...think I'll have to invest in a few more inkpads to compliment what I already have.
Please bear with me for a couple more weeks....we are off to Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento for our real holiday...and I trust I am going to see beautiful paper aplenty...I'm even taking two large sheets of mattboard/mountboard to safely store it in my suitcase for travelling. Until my return, all of you take care.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Please excuse my absence....

I'm pleased to say I am off for a long weekend in St Andrew's.......yes, the home of golf but I don't play...I'll just listen out for the American accents which you cannot fail to hear on the streets there.

Whilst we have had days away we haven't had a complete break from home so now is our opportunity to have some time out.

Back next week! Take care everyone!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Cup Cakes a la Spellbinders & WMS Victorian Font

Tomorrow we have the wedding of our nephew Ryan and his bride Diane in a Church in Fivemiletown and then our Reception is in Corrick House - a beautiful old house adapted as a hotel and venue for weddings.
Some hotels around here still permit the hosts to provide their own home made goodies for the evening refreshments....I got to know that this was the case and made these cup cakes to add to the spread. They are simple 'butter sandwich' mixture made in muffin cases and then iced and decorated.....but being for a wedding I covered card with this wrapping paper and cut out the hearts and added half a cocktail stick to the back - the mechanics are covered with yet another tiny heart just to keep them neat and tidy. Then I made two larger hearts and stamped their intials in this great font on plain card and pop dotted these to the large hearts and attached them to the box. Fun things. Normally I would put these all in a treasured basket with a handle which makes for easier handling but not wanting to lose sight of this basket I decided to cover a box with the same wrapping paper and then I don't have to worry about losing my basket which I use so much for taking goodies to church.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Flutterby Butterfly.......

When hanging out the washing (yes folks in the U.S. we hang out our washing year round) I spied this beauty looking for sustenance from the flowers on my blouse. Wish I could have lifted it and placed it on some blossom. Ran for the camera, turned it on to find I needed to change the batteries....what a time to run out of energy...doesn't that always happen when time is limited! Anyhow after an hour the rain came - took the washing in - then the sun came out and fooled me into thinking it was going to be good for the rest of the came the rain and so the washing had to come in it is in permanently of those changeable days hereabouts.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Yet another day out....

Our weather has been glorious for the past two days and we've taken advantage of it today and packed a picnic and headed off. We drove through the Glenelly Valley and it was looking great today..the photo of the little tumbledown cottage was on the roadside.....into Strabane and over to Stranolar and Ballybofey (I digress here to say that I did visit McElhinney's - this is a high fashion shop where I just looked and didn't buy) and then on to Donegal Town. There I visited Magee's shop - it is a long established business and they have been involved in manufacturing Irish woollen tweed for a long number of years. They also sell garments made from this exclusive fabric.....they are high class and beautifully constructed. It is such a popular place for visitors from abroad. On the picture of the town you will see this shop on the right hand side. I did buy two items their outlet department - a pair of woollen charcoal grey trousers. Also a cotton blouse in a similar fabric to Liberty. Both items were greatly reduced. I'm also showing you a photo of Donegal Bay and you can take a pleasant boat trip around the bay (sorry the photo is a bit dark). Then we went to Rossnowlagh which has a very long are allowed to park on parts of it and families were enjoying the great weather. This is somewhere we used to take our children years ago and families are still swimming, surfing and making's great to see so many children having fun in the fresh air.

Imagine....a card!!

Just posting a picture of a card which had to be Irish through and through and had to have all the elements you see here. The shamrock was made with Spellbinders hearts in green felt and I added a strip for the stem. It had to have a fiddle and this one was cut out of a book and had a layer of glossy accents...the little Irish cottage at the bottom was from - I think - an Inkadinkadoo set called 'Winter'. The 'church window' was embossed with a stencil from A Touch of Grace. I was out of my comfort zone doing this card...I found it very hard to put all of this on the front - it's not exactly CAS, is it? LOL !!. Sorry the photo is not so good. The first picture is the box lid....the shamrocks in the hankie are a freebie from Waltzingmouse Stamps and I had printed them out on vellum and coloured with Copics.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Hello everyone! I do apologise for my lack of posting because of an overwhelming amount of orders for cards. This is due to the fact that some folks know I am about to take a break from card orders so I'm working on cards for occasions up to the 31st October! In the last 3 weeks I have had 41 orders - one of the orders was for 10 cards and alongside this I have other calligraphy items to work on for other customers....and try to keep food on the table and the house sort of clean! My other half likes to get away for a day every week usually and this week we went to see our re-furbished City Hall in Belfast. I include a few photos. Sorry I can't as yet post any photos of cards as the recipients haven't received them!
Pictures - top down....
The front of the City Hall.
The coat of arms of Belfast as depicted on the sumptious carpet.
A replica of the Titanic which was built, as you know, in Belfast.
The massive Banqueting Hall here with the carpet down but it can be magically rolled away under the stage.
This is a little glimpse of the plasterwork around the dome. In all the rooms there is the most wonderful plasterwork and the choice of colours surrounding it are stunningly beautiful and so right for this kind of building. There is Greek and Italian marble aplenty. I had visited before and this time I also really enjoyed speaking to so many foreign visitors to our Province. I spoke to Australians, Italians, Dutch, Germans and of course Americans. Some of these folk were just visiting as part of a cruise but it was so good to hear all the different languages. Ten years ago you wouldn't have seen a 'tourist' in these parts and it is great to welcome visitors and make them feel they are appreciated.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

And finally today....

We had some business in Larne today, this town is on the County Antrim coast and you can take a ferry to Scotland from Cairnryan...quite a short journey really but an expensive one!
We then went further along the coast to Carnfunnog Country Park where there are acres of grounds to walk in and a wonderful activity centre for children with a miniature railway. A great place to let off steam.
The weather wasn't too bad - we had two light showers of short duration and you could see them coming in from the sea. This photo shows a ferry off to Scotland and it's very rainy in the distance.
Now, it is suppertime (mean that little nightcap one has before bed, not our 'dinner') and it's time to make a nice cup of tea.

More Mount Stewart photos....

Here are some more images of this wonderful property....The first photo was taken around the lake, second is the view from the Temple of the Winds...a separate 'little' building situated on a rise above the main property and the stiff walk uphill is so worth the view when you reach the top. Third the building itself. Then some special blue hydrangeas....and to finish water lillies....what usually catches my eye is different textures together...the tall spiky reeds...the feathery greenery...the round leaves of the water lilies - so many shapes...when I taught calligraphy I had an album of photos and I tried to get the students to 'see' all these wonderful things as an aid to observation.