Wednesday, 18 April 2018

More Serendipity

As you remember, I had a lovely early surprise birthday present when Mary Lee Dew invited me to be a guest designer for the two blog hops on Serendipity Stamps this month (the first and third Wednesday). I love their stamps - you may remember the big " And the angel said..." sentiment which I used on my mass-production Christmas cards last year. So I was delighted to say yes please, and thank you.




Blog hop details: Mary offers a $20 gift certificate to spend at Serendipity stamps, awarded randomly to a comment left on any of the blogs. Start on the company blog and follow the hop, remembering to leave comments. I've often been inspired by the beautiful cards the DT have created when I see them on the website, I'm sure you will be too.

Serendipity Stamps blog

My Miscellany (yes, mine)

Beth Chiu

Julie Warner

Marybeth Lopez

Miriam Napier

Vickie Z

You have until April 22nd to leave comments; on the 23rd Mary will award the gift certificate so make sure to check the Serendipity blog again then in case you were the lucky winner.

Here's the card I made for this week - you can see I chose one of the large sentiment stamps this time round.



Details: This card too has a tangential French connection. A couple of years ago when we were camping down in the south we went to visit the ochre quarries near Roussillon, and I bought a beautiful set of pigment colours. I used two of these to create a cling-wrap background with spray starch, which helped hold the pigment but still gives a lovely chalky look, very reminiscent of the paint wash used on the houses in that region. You can see some of my photos from that visit HERE. I sadly admit I still haven't edited last years, when we went to visit a larger area in Rustrel, known as "the Colorado of Provence". One of only two grey, dull days in three weeks camping, but we still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Having created my background, I stamped To Everything and heat-embossed it for definition. Then I dry-embossed the frame with a Spellbinders die, and highlighted the frame and the edge of the panel with a gold pen. I knew I wanted to use these sweet Birds Looking Up, which I couldn't resist buying as they're so different to any bird dies I have. Mary also sent me the branch die, and when I saw the way it's designed for partial cutting (the end of the branch is open, it doesn't cut), I changed my original plan and decided to incorporate it for the birds to perch on. I cut an A2 size piece of textured brown card for my base layer, and then cut the die from it, so that the cling-wrap layer sits on top of the brown matting layer, and the branch just lies across the card. For the seasons, I added some leaves cut from assorted background scraps using the Reverse Leaf Die, and some punched flowers and snowflakes.

Thanks for stopping by! And thank you, Mary, for inviting me to be your guest this month.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Serendipitous...

I had a lovely unexpected surprise birthday present when Mary Lee Dew invited me to be a guest designer for the two blog hops on Serendipity Stamps this month (the first and third Wednesday). I love their stamps - you may remember the big " And the angel said..." sentiment which I used on my mass-production Christmas cards last year. So I was delighted to say yes please, and thank you.




Blog hop details: Mary offers a $20 gift certificate to spend at Serendipity stamps, awarded randomly to a comment left on any of the blogs. Start on the company blog and follow the hop, remembering to leave comments. I've often been inspired by the beautiful cards the DT have created when I see them on the website, I'm sure you will be too.

Serendipity Stamps blog

My Miscellany (yes, mine)

Beth Chiu

Julie Warner

Marybeth Lopez

Miriam Napier

Vickie Z

You have until April 8th to leave comments; on the 9th Mary will award the gift certificate so make sure to check the Serendipity blog again then in case you were the lucky winner.

Here's the card I made for this week. We don't have chipmunks here in Ireland, and it wasn't till I saw them in a pet-shop in Paris a few years ago that I realised how tiny and cute they are. In my imagination, from childhood books featuring them, they were bigger. The cage was actually labelled "squirrels", but as soon as I saw them I knew they were no squirrels but actually little chipmunks and totally adorable. This one has a late daffodil just for you.


Details: I stamped the chipmunk on white card, using Versafine black ink, and coloured him with Polychromos pencils, adding a little sparkle to the daffodil with Stickles.
I used the Marbled Cells background stamp to create a piece to cut my sentiment from: stamping it with mustard seed distress ink, heat embossing and then using Brushos to add the green. Then I die-cut the Hello sentiment a couple of times for depth, with a black layer for shadowing. I simply finished the card off with some green and yellow matting to match the daffodil, and some yellow sequins with Liquid Pearls.

Thanks for stopping by! And thank you, Mary, for inviting me to be your guest this month.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Happy Easter

There's no sense of scale, but these are actually the little miniature daffodils about 6" high, and the ground was too damp for me to kneel down to eye-level. I spotted them yesterday on my way to collect a package.



Slightly thankful for the cold weather this weekend, as it meant I was able to leave these Hot Cross Buns (sans crosses, too much trouble, and anyway we were eating them today) rising overnight in the back porch and they were just perfectly ready to go in the oven this morning. 


I've been making this recipe for many, many years - over 35 anyway. It comes from a National Trust book "Christmas and Festive Day Recipes" which my father brought back from one his school trips to London, and I distinctly remember cooking from it when my parents were still living in Greystones.

Hot Cross Buns:
1/2 pt (250ml) milk and water mixed, blood temperature with a teaspoon of sugar mixed in
3/4 oz (22g) fresh yeast, under 1/2 oz, 11 gr active dried, probably one sachet of instant
1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, mixed spice, grated nutmeg and salt
1 lb (450g) strong white flour
2 oz (50g) castor sugar
2 oz (50g) soft butter
2 eggs beaten together
6 oz (175g) currants or raisins
1 0z (25g) candied peel finely chopped. Optional - and I often use cherries instead.

For the glaze - 2 oz (50g) sugar, 2 tblsp water.
If you want crosses - 2 oz (125g) shortcrust pastry.

Depending on your type of yeast, activate it in the milk and water or add the instant to the flour and spices mixed together.
Beat the butter and sugar together till really creamy, then carefully add the egg. I find this easier than the way the recipe adds them. Add this to the flour in a large bowl, along with the yeast. Knead till smooth and elastic, adding more flour if required. Allow to rise till doubled. Knock it back and allow to rise again for another half hour.

Cut into 12 pieces and shape into balls. If you're adding crosses, leave the buns for about 20 minutes, then roll out the pastry, cut thin strips and add crosses to your buns, sticking them on with water.

In another half hour or so they should have risen again and be ready to bake in a hot oven for approx 20 minutes, till golden brown. 

Put sugar and water in a ban, bring to the boil slowly and then when the sugar has dissolved, boil rapidly to the syrup stage and glaze the buns. 


Happy birthday yesterday, Lorraine, I hope you had a lovely day.  I had such fun making this snowbird - except maybe the miniature pompoms. I have enough trouble with big ones! It always seems that whatever I use to tie the wool together always seems to break when I try to pull it that little bit tighter. I ended up using fine nylon for these. 



Taken from the top of the bus, hence the many odd reflections - but we have a beautiful sea of daffodils on the road to the park gate just now. The tulips should be showing up next.


This month's header is a photo from St. Catherine's Park last April. Interestingly I see that the header I used last April was also from St. Catherine's Park (the Highland cattle), so it appears to be a popular time for us to visit.


Saturday, 31 March 2018

March Favourites...

Lots of cards I liked this month!

The first one was with a stamp I received as a gift, and the tulip has three layers adding lovely dimension.










Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Owl Through The Year

Somewhat late, this was always intended to go with the Christmas gift of a snowman sampler as something more suitable for year-round display. Finally taking down my own Winter sampler and replacing it with the Spring one over the weekend (more snow) was the motivation I needed to finally finish it off - and make a card to send with it.









Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Progression

Guiness are building a micro-distillery in the old power plant...I should have taken a few photos late last year when they temporarily had the new name up over the front door, and a lovely vintage van outside for some publicity shots.  Then the hoardings went up over the railings, and for the last couple of months, they depicted  the architect's impression of what it will look like when finished. Then last week those hoardings were all covered up with plain white painted wood. And I noticed that someone had been painting on the end of the wall. For as long as I can remember it's had a slight trompe l'oeil effect of a shadowed arch, which you can just about still see in the first photo. If I had ever found the time to add meta-tags to all my photos I would be able to find one, but in current circumstances that's not likely. I think I need about two months off work to really organise all my photos...

Anyway, the two days I passed it last week, it was being worked on. Yesterday I passed again, and it must have been completed in time for the St. Patrick's Day festivities.






As you can see, there was a marked improvement in the weather after the holiday weekend was over and done with!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day

And a couple of rural snaps from last weekend, when we attended a funeral in a town along the Shannon.

Our snow days meant that this year instead of my usual one or two cards, I actually made and mailed four, all variation on this theme. This is one of the ones done with watercolour pencils.





I had a few more pictures of a painted hoarding in town, but they'll have to wait till I have time to edit them.



Saturday, 10 March 2018

The last of the snow...

The thrush photos were taken last Sunday. We don't often see them in the garden, and with no sense of scale, and so puffed up against the cold, this one is remarkable robin-like.




The following picture was taken on Wednesday as I walked past the local school after returning some books to the library - not much left, but the boys were having fun pulling off chunks and having a snow-fight.



And then the last photo was on my way to work on Thursday morning, as I walked out to the bus stop. This was the first frosty morning for a while... The snow was still drifted quite deeply along the side of our house and in the back yard. C dug enough to open the back gate on Wednesday evening, and on Thursday cleared a path along the side of the house so he could get the motorbike it. Warmer temperatures and rain means that most of it is now gone, and I think most people are grateful to be getting back to normal. 


Friday, 2 March 2018

Snow Day

I was glad I made the trek to collect the bird food yesterday, it's been in great demand today. There was enough of a drift outside the back door that I had to climb out a window to give the birds their first feed, and to shovel the snow away from the door enough to open it. Not great photos because in the end the snow was just starting to cling to the window. We've had a lot of blackbirds and chaffinches, plus the usual blue, great and coal tits and goldfinches.












This month's blog header is a photo from Farmleigh last March.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

February Favourites

Anecdotally, because it's St. Brigid's Day, the 1st of February is the start of Spring in Ireland. I've never bought into that - but even allowing that this is the 1st of March it's far from a spring-like day.



I'll be back later with a few bird photos, but C is working from home today and using my desk, so I won't get time to upload them till this evening. Not that they're great anyway, taken through the window.  We have a small flock of blackbirds in the back garden right now - I should have bought a bag of apples for them but they're pecking away at what I have, along with some breadcrumbs and sunflower seeds sprinkled on the snow.