Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Christmas... in June???

As I type this we are in the middle of a heatwave – in fact the lady doing the weather forecast on the TV just now said we had the hottest day of the year on Monday.  Very soon Wimbledon will be starting, and we’ll be cheering on Andy Murray while watching the crowd in their straw hats tucking into their strawberries and cream, fanning themselves in a desperate attempt to keep cool.  So naturally at this time of year our thoughts turn to …


I know it sounds crazy at first, and I don’t want to alarm anyone, but now really is the time to start thinking about making Christmas cards.  If you don’t believe me, consider this:

As from today there are 186 ‘sleeps’ til Christmas.  186 days is approximately 26 weeks.  How many crafting sessions can a busy person fit in to their schedule?  Perhaps one a week?

Then think about how many Christmas cards do you intend to send out?  One hundred?  Two hundred?  Let’s say it’s a hundred, minimum.

That means you just have 26 crafting sessions in which to make one hundred Christmas cards!  And that’s not taking into account those other ‘must make’ cards, such as birthday cards for friends and family, that we have to fit in to those 26 sessions.

I know I’ve just typed, ‘I don’t want to alarm anyone’, but I’m beginning to frighten myself now!  It’s time to get cracking on my Christmas cards… when I can find the time of course…!  


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Peek Of The Week - It's All In the Detail!

First of all, apologies to my regular readers that there was no blog entry this Friday - I had a really busy week last week and I just couldn't find the time to sit down and write it.  So, sorry about that...

You may have seen that I did some Cutting Craftorium shows on Thursday. These are such exciting shows to do. When I first got my Scan N Cut machine I never in a million years anticipated where I would go on this journey and the fantastic projects I would be able to make. The ScanNCut is an absolute must if you like doing 3D projects. You will amaze yourself with what you can make - I promise.

But what I wanted to show today is that even with a Scan N Cut and the brilliant USBs that our super talented designer Amy Dodd creates you still have scope to be able to craft and add your own take on the projects. I thought I would show this point with the Poinsettia that is on the USB. I demonstrated this on air. Here is the brilliant finished sample that I believe Amy made:

This stunner was made by a very talented lady, Amy Dodd
Isn't it Fantastic? And it is all made from paper - honestly!

When you first start to cut out the pieces all of the hard work is done for you and all you need to do is select your card stock of choice (but I bet this project would look out of this world created in fabric treated with Terial Magic) and set the machine to do the cutting.  

As you can see if you use the rotate functionality you can maximise your card stock. These are the large petals and I got two on a 12 x12 Cutting mat without any problems. 

Once you cut the shapes out they look great:

They look great, but they also look a little flat. Put these together like this by all means but you won't get that Wow! factor. I used my gold pen to add vein details and gold gilding  around the edges, and then my embossing ball tool to add in the detail and I think the effect is stunning. I hope you agree... 
You could avoid the gold and add more natural looking embellishments - the choice is yours. But take your time, experiment, and generally have fun with it. And I am sure you'll agree that the Scan N Cut accompanied by the Cutting Craftorium USBs is a fantastic way to while away a few hours - and who doesn't want to be making Christmas decorations on the hottest day of the year!

But unlike a real Poinsettia you could give this to someone as a Christmas gift and it won't fade away quicker than the sound of Santa's sleigh bells!

Enjoy xxx

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Frou Frou Fun!

I’ve given this blog entry a great deal of thought… and decided to go ahead with it!

It happened, there’s no point pretending it didn’t, and let’s face it, it’s very funny indeed.

For those of you who saw the show the other day, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m talking about.  For any readers who still don’t have a clue, let me tell you about the time the lovely Jenny Cleary and I had our Frou Frou Moment!

We were on air, innocently going about our business, when we featured a new die, and a picture of it popped onto the screen. 

It’s a die that basically is a rather elegant young lady wearing a summery dress and high heels.  It’s a beautiful die that has the usual Tattered Lace snippability – for instance you can cut into the design and use the dress as an embellishment, or create a two-toned dress with lots of cut out pieces if that’s more to your taste.  Well worth having…

Here's the lady who caused all the trouble!
The unfortunate thing (well, unfortunate for Jenny and I) was the actual name of the die… it’s called Frou Frou.

At this point I’d better explain to those readers who don’t know… The phrase ‘frou frou’ (pronounced to rhyme with ‘shoe-shoe’) means many things, chiefly among all the definitions is “something which is very frilly”.  

However in certain parts of Britain, ‘frou frou’ is a pet name for… erm, that most private of all ladies’ areas.  If you see what I mean.

So when Jenny saw the name of the die she couldn’t believe it, and dissolved into helpless fits of laughter. I’ve never seen or heard her laugh as much as this.  And this was happening live on air!!!

“Who made that name up?” Jenny asks, and you can hear in the background laughter coming from the crew. Jenny was laughing so hard she couldn’t speak, so I tried to say a little about the qualities of the die but didn’t get very far as I found Jenny’s laugh far too infectious and I couldn’t keep it together either, especially when Jenny collapsed into hysterics, started thumping the table, and grabbed my arm, snorting loudly!  I was giggling so much I could hardly breathe and both of us had tears of laughter.  Neither of us could string a sentence together! Someone in the gallery thought it would be a good idea to move away from the die that was causing so much merriment and show instead a picture of some glue and applicators, but we were laughing so hard, as were the crew, that no one could say anything about the glue – or anything at all really.

In case you missed it, below is the link to the video.  I apologise for the low quality of the video – it was taken on a mobile phone from the TV – but although it’s low quality, I think it will still make you smile!

One minute and forty eight seconds of sheer unprofessionalism… and Frou Frou Fun !!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Peek Of The Week - A Clean And Simple Ruffle...

For Peek Of The Week this time round, I’d like to show you a very simple card I made using the Tattered Lace Velvet Lace dies.

I’ve written previously on this blog about the Velvet Lace dies and how much I love them.  With these dies, it’s all about the ruffle. It’s the ruffle that adds texture and gives that three-dimensional look. We’ve seen them on the catwalk and in the high street fashionable clothes shops, and now ruffles are coming into papercraft, which is the inspiration behind the design of these dies.

When I demonstrated these dies on TV, a lot of my demos were either very ‘frilly’ or shabby chic and ‘busy’, if you see what I mean.  As a contrast to all that, I challenged myself to come up with a design that is modern looking and clean and simple… and this is the result.

I used the large ruffle die to cut the largest green and purple circles, before turning to the mini ruffle dies to create all the rest. 

The background was produced using an embossing folder to create the honeycomb detail.

At that stage I felt I wanted to use something that would add interest to the card but at the same time I didn’t want the card to become overly fussy.  In the end I opted to use butcher’s twine around the mat layers, and I think the twine works well here.

Finally, I added the green ‘dots’ – they are called ‘Candy’ and they are from Craftwork Cards.  I placed them there to break up the blank space a little and to tie the colour themes together.

This card is quite different from the sort of cards I usually put together, but I hope you like it all the same. 

Friday, 9 June 2017

Photo Friday - Six Tons of Daisy's Finest!

Regular readers might remember that last Friday’s ‘Photo Friday’ was all about Killer Cows.  Well, I don’t want to give you the idea that I’m somehow obsessed with these animals but this Photo Friday is given up to… well, let’s call it something that cows produce. 

Six tons of it to be precise, and no, it's not milk!

It was almost three years ago now, when hubby used to have an allotment.  His plot had been neglected for many years and he decided it needed some manure spreading on it – and as the plot was 200 square yards it needed quite a lot of the stuff!

His friend Dave, a fellow plot holder, decided he would come in on the deal. Apparently horse manure is the best stuff for a garden but they somehow heard of this farmer who was selling cow manure cheaply, so they decided that would be as good.  At this point hubby told me three things that made my heart sink…

Firstly, somehow, (and looking back I’ll never know how he managed this) he persuaded me to pitch in and help spread the manure.

Secondly he told me the committee men at the allotment had given permission for the farmer to dump the manure in the car park on the strict condition that every last bit of it had to be moved on to the two plots AND the car park thoroughly cleaned up BY THE END OF THE DAY!

Thirdly, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, hubby broke the news that he and Dave had ordered six tons of the stuff!

I had no idea how heavy six tons is, so I made the mistake of going online and finding out.  Six tons is the equivalent of three fully grown rhinoceroses! I couldn’t believe what I’d let myself in for!

All of which explains why I was standing ready at the car park with Dave and hubby with fork, shovel and wheelbarrow to hand, on a dull November morning at 8am when I should have been snug and cosy in my bed. It was cold. It was raining. I was about to help shovel six tons of cow poo and I’d just had my nails done.

I was not happy.

Farmer Jack turned up with a trailer full of the stuff.  What a character he is.  Even though it was breakfast time he was puffing on a big fat cigar (“it probably helps to hide the stench”, Dave helpfully suggested). He had a light blue jumper on that was covered in holes and I fancied I could see the remains of numerous breakfasts all down the front of it… I would guess he likes to eat eggs. Lots of eggs… 

As he emptied the trailer Farmer Jack gave us a lecture on the evils of the EU then told us he believed the price of a pint of milk should be the same as the price of a pint of beer. As the first of two loads spilled out over the car park he looked almost lovingly at the steaming pile, smiled broadly and said, “There y’go, three tons of Daisy’s finest!” 

“There y’go, three tons of Daisy’s finest!” 

And off he went to fill his trailer again, leaving us to it.

I’d like to be able to report that it was fun.  The first five minutes was a good laugh – it was the rest of the day that was totally miserable!

It was hard work for all of us but what made it worse was that, after about three hours, Dave was struggling. I couldn’t believe it when he told us, somewhat unconvincingly, that he had to go because there was a family get together at the pub that lunchtime that he couldn’t possibly miss and that he’d totally forgotten about until now. He put his gear away, locked up his shed in double quick time, and promised that he would probably be able to come back and help us after the pub meal, but it would probably last about four hours at least…!

I think that was probably the first time in my life I’d come close to murdering someone!

I could, and did, put up with the blisters, the aching back, arms and legs, and even being barely able to move for two or three days afterwards.  But there were two things that were just too awful about the whole thing…

First, as I dug the pile to fill my wheelbarrow, each forkful would uncover a fresh cloud of steam, and as I bent over the stuff the steam would condense onto my face into tiny droplets of water which would run down towards my lips.  Hubby tried to make me feel better by suggesting the steam would be good for my complexion but I wasn’t going to fall for that one. 

Second, once the poo had been spread, the car park cleaned up and I was back at home longing for a soak in a hot bath, I looked in the mirror and discovered to my horror that my face was covered with tiny flecks of Daisy’s finest!!!

So ladies, if your husband ever suggests you “help out for a couple of hours in the fresh air” and it involves manure, my advice is to just run.  Run as fast as you can, and don’t look back!

Oh and just in case you’re curious, the answer is no – Dave didn’t come back after the pub.  I wish I’d gone with him!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Barbie, Me and the CM900...

When I was a little girl my favourite toy was Barbie.  The reason I loved her so much was because as time went on she just got bigger.  I don’t mean Ken was forever feeding her chips and ice cream while she did no exercise at all… I mean there was always something new about her, new accessories, new things to do, so I never got bored.

Now I’ve become ever so slightly older (!), my favourite toy has become the ScanNcut CM900.  I was on air recently with the lovely Rachel Pierman demonstrating the CM900 with the Tattered Lace Scene Building USB and Project Books 2 & 3. 

After the show had ended, the thought struck me that the reason I love the CM900 so much is the same reason why I loved my Barbie… because with the CM900, well, with all the ScanNcut machines, there’s always something new.  It scans, it cuts (the clue’s in the name, I know!), it draws, it colours, it embosses, and the latest feature is the foiling. The updates just arrive without me having to do a thing and off I go, presented with a whole range of different things to play with.

The CM900 is the top of the range ScanNcut.  It’s all-singing and all-dancing.  It has a larger screen and a wi-fi connection.  Combined with something like the Scene Building USB, things really do start to get interesting.  This USB gives me 175 cutting files, and they are all from previous collections – from the viewers’ favourite collections.  This is a great way of getting all those favourites together onto one USB and allows us to really go to town and play with those scenes.

Rachel made a great point on the show, and that is, if you take those 175 cutting files and resize them, say, 30 times, you’re suddenly talking about each cutting file being the equivalent of 30 dies… and 175 multiplied by 30 means that on that USB stick you have the equivalent of 5,250 dies! (she types, hurriedly using the calculator on her phone)…!

Rachel also reminded me that she was on air with me when I did my first ever demo of the ScanNcut.  I can’t recall a single thing about that show, it seems such a long time ago now, but Rachel remembered that I was very nervous… and she said that’s what a lot of viewers are like when they first buy their own ScanNcut!  Apparently some people are so nervous about it that they never take the machine out of its box!

If you are one of those people, be like me… yes I was very nervous about the machine at first but now I’m totally confident about using it. (I know I shouldn’t tempt Fate by typing things like that because now it means I’m almost certain to mess things up live on air the next time I use it in front of the cameras!) But seriously, I am now confident about using it, and that change was brought about by just using the ScanNcut many many times.  So please, get it out of the box and play with it…get familiar with it. 

If you go wrong, so what? It’s only a piece of card that’s at stake – so just start again.

It’s a brilliant, totally intuitive machine so give it a chance and I promise you will absolutely love it! Even more than Barbie!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Peek Of The Week - Red Admiral Butterfly

For today’s Peek Of The Week I want to share with you a multi-purpose card with a butterfly theme.

This doesn’t happen often, but on this occasion as soon as I saw this beautiful Butterfly die from Tattered Lace I instantly pictured the card I wanted to make with it.

After selecting a backing paper with a butterfly theme, I found a co-ordinating mat layer and put these both onto a seven inch square card base.  I managed to create the faux border with a really fine black liner pen.

I cut the main die four times; black, white, pink and green, and paper pieced it together as you can see in the picture. 

I added an additional butterfly on top of the card, both for added dimension and also to create a focal point… hopefully when you look at the card your eye will be drawn first to this butterfly before taking in the finer detail around it.

In case you were wondering, the ‘Beautiful’ sentiment comes from the ‘Style Sentiments’ die set.  

All that was needed then to finish off the card was a few pink flowers… after all, if you don’t have flowers you won’t attract butterflies!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Photo Friday - Beware Of The Killer Cows!

This Photo Friday is a bit of a light-hearted one; it never fails to make me smile and feel a little uncomfortable at the same time! Let me explain…

Over the years my family and I have done many walks in the countryside in many parts of England and Wales as we had lots of camping holidays. We’d buy a book of circular walks, get the kids into the car, and off we would go.  It introduced the kids to the countryside, and we all got some fresh air and some exercise.  Plus, if I’m being brutally honest, it’s a cheap day out too!

When the kids were very little they would often either complain that they didn’t want to go, on the grounds that computer games are far more exciting, or they would just sulk the whole time we were out.  But now, years later and the kids are all grown up, they have chosen to go on walking and camping holidays of their own free will with their friends and partners and they all love the great outdoors, so perhaps there’s a moral in there somewhere!

Anyway, even though I love going for a walk in the countryside, there is one thing about the rural life that I am totally terrified about. 

It’s cows. 

I can’t help it; I know they don’t bite, or sting, and I know they don’t carry weapons.  Despite all attempts at rational thought, I freeze whenever I see the route of the walk take us through a field that has cows in it.  I used to start off by trying to persuade hubby that we should walk around the field so we avoid the cows altogether… but sometimes that’s just not possible. So then I find myself clamping on to hubby’s hand, and positioning myself behind him, so he is between me and the cows. My breath comes in short bursts and I feel the urge to walk really quickly to get away from them.  I’ve even been known to walk quickly through a cow field, head down so as not to make eye contact with them, all the time muttering under my breath, “Oh God oh God oh God oh God…” while squeezing hubby’s hand so tight that he was in pain!

Naturally my family all found this hilarious and they teased me about it.  In our house every cow was called a ‘Killer Cow’, an assassin trained in martial arts, sworn to hunt me down.  I was the only one in our family that didn’t find that remotely funny!

This photograph was taken about three years ago while we were on a walk somewhere in Cornwall – we’d gone on a short camping trip there.  It was a glorious day, lovely weather, great scenery, and I was really happy… until we rounded a corner and saw these girls!  They completely changed my mood and we had to lengthen the walk by at least a mile because there was absolutely no way I could bring myself to walk up to these animals, who, as soon as they saw us, began to crowd around the stile that was the only entrance to the field. 

So I put up with the family teasing me about what they called my irrational fear of Killer Cows until a couple of years later when hubby had taken himself off fishing.  At the end of the day he was faced with a choice – he had a walk of about an hour to get home, carrying a lot of fishing gear, or he could take a shorter route that involved a walk across a cow field, and I would pick him up in the car at the far end of the field… so that’s what he did.  I drove down to the field and leaned on the gate waiting for him.

Eventually he appeared in the distance, walking slowly under the weight of all that fishing gear.  Without warning, one of the bigger cows stopped tugging at the grass and looked at him.  Then another cow did the same.  Then another…

Suddenly all three of them started to run at him – I mean, really galloping! They were all behind him but they were gaining on him rapidly.  I shouted at the top of my voice, “Run! Run!” He heard the panic in my voice and the thundering of the hooves on the ground, and he didn’t need to be told twice.  He ran towards me and the gate, knowing that was his only escape.  I’d never seen him run so fast before, even though he was weighed down with his gear.  The cows kept up the pace, and I could see the fear in his eyes…

After surprising me with a turn of speed that would do Usain Bolt proud, he then amazed me by throwing his gear over the locked gate and doing a vault over it in double quick speed that would have got a nine out of ten from the judges in an Olympic gymnastic event!  He landed in a heap at my feet.  His face was white.  I won’t type out what he actually said but roughly translated he meant, “Goodness gracious me!”

And guess what?  He’s not teased me about my fear of Killer Cows once since that day… because he now knows I was right all along!