Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Cardmaker's Collection bookazine

Just a quick one to show you what I've been up to recently. You'd be forgiven for thinking this might be a little odd - Autumn may well have been and gone this year, but things aren't always so straightforward in the craft magazine world. Take it from someone who was making Christmas cards in July! When I got this commission for a new bookazine called The Cardmaker's Collection from the lovely editor Amy, I was pretty pleased to put Christmas aside for a little while! The bookazine includes a selection of papers and elements for every season, and I was asked to create some Autumnal cards using these gorgeous geometric and floral designs. The cards were a pleasure to make, and I have a total of 8 designs featured in the bookazine - so if you would like to see more make sure you get your hands on a copy! Now, back to Christmas - I'm off for some mulled wine and to finally write out my cards ;)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Secret Santa blog hop

Wow - it's time for another Polka Doodles challenge, and this will be the last one before Christmas! Where has the time gone?! This fortnight, the Polka Doodles Design Team each received a secret message from Santa which required us to make a special card for another member of the team. Guess who Santa wanted me to make a project for? Here are some clues; 
1 They were a Digi Queen
2 They like all thing pretty and purple
3 They are on Team A
Please make your guesses of who you think my Secret Santa card is for in the comments section at the bottom of my post. One lucky winner will receive a digi image over and above the normal challenge prize. A random DT blog will be chosen and a commentator from that blog will then be picked as the winner of a fab Polka Doodles digi image. So don't forget to visit all the DT and see if you can guess which Secret Santa cards were made for which DT member to be in with a chance to win! All the details you need are on the main Polka Doodles challenge blog. You have up until Thursday 18th December (Midnight GMT) to enter and the winners will be announced on Friday 19th December (GMT).
I hope you like my Secret Santa card - the CD is once again Festive Hollybobs, and I've gone a bit dotty for beautiful big satin bows since using this gorgeous ribbon on a gift bag for a recent commission. I love the sumptuous effect it gives for this time of year! And of course you can't go wrong with a lovely stick pin and some sparkly silver skeleton leaves. Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas is coming

Only a few days until December and I'm feeling decidedly Christmassy! I'm not so organised as to have started my Christmas shopping yet, but I have been able to create this little clean and simple Christmas card set, which will be going up on my Etsy shop very soon. I shared a sneak peek of them in progress waaaaay back in October, but they've been sat on the shelf for a while, waiting to be photographed! The bad light and the dark evenings here have meant fewer opportunities for clearer shots... oh how I'm looking forward to the new camera that's on my Christmas list ;) I used Docrafts wood shapes, Centura Pearl Hint of Gold cardstock, red satin ribbon, a BoBunny Christmas paper stack and a Vintage Music A4 embossing folder for these, and I'm loving the effect of the embossed pearlescent card blanks - so simple yet stylish! Have a great weekend :)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Stanley's 2nd Birthday!

Stanley turned 2 over two weeks ago and I can't believe I haven't documented it on here yet! We had a party at a local soft play centre followed by a day at Legoland Discovery Centre. It was an absolutely fantastic weekend, despite me being stunningly less organised than last year... gone were the handmade party invitations and party bags and in came the Facebook events manager and flimsy readymade bags. Time just wasn't on my side, so it seemed wise to use what time I did have strategically and focus on birthday presents, decorations and cake making. The cake was a homemade Thomas the Tank Engine cake that I made with my mum, and it went catastrophically badly - first when we didn't have enough blue icing to cover the cake (hence the red ribbons!), then when I attempted to add Thomas's nose and mouth using a piping bag (what was I THINKING?!). It was horrific, so I scraped that off and tried it with some pieces of royal icing. Much better! You can't make it out on this picture though - nor will you at all, as I forgot to get any photographs of the cake. Gah! Cake decorating definitely isn't something I'll be taking up soon... ;)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Creative Cardmaking 74

The latest issue of Creative Cardmaking landed on my doormat this morning and guess who's featured in it! I had a great time making these memory boxes - the first of which is a 12x12" frame using mementos from our wedding day in 2011. Luckily I'm a bit of a hoarder (I'm sure a lot of crafters are the same!) so I still had our place cards, the Mr & Mrs wooden letters that adorned the top table, some purple hearts from a decor wreath, a paper bag from the dessert table and a spare wedding invitation - all of which I managed to cram into this project! 
I struggled a little with the colours on this one - the brief called for browns, pale greens and baby pinks, but my wedding colour was purple. I agonised for ages over changing the pink Crate Paper heart-patterned paper to a cream variety, but eventually I decided it made the purple look too dominant. The pink worked well to fit in with the required colour scheme and softened the deep purple.
The second project is an 8x8" frame and features my cousin's little girl on her first birthday earlier this year. Being a smaller frame, and with less opportunity for mementos on this occasion, I used a pink paper napkin and the number candle from the cake. 
The paper napkin was peeled to a single layer and used as a backing for my photographs, but I also used it to create some rolled paper roses. This was done in the same way as the silk ribbon roses I've made before, although I had to work carefully to prevent tearing. The smaller rose uses just one napkin strip, while the larger rose uses two. I think they look really effective - I've become a little addicted to making ribbon roses lately, so maybe another tutorial is in order ;) That's all for now, have a great weekend!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Clean & simple

Ooh a week already since I last blogged! I don't know where the time is going! Last weekend was Stanley's birthday, so it has been a bit full-on making his cake and planning his party and birthday treats. It all went brilliantly and I feel like I did him proud - I promise I'll tell you more when I get a minute! In the meantime, it's time for a new Polka Doodles challenge, and this time the task is to create a clean and simple (CAS) card. I love CAS cards - I would definitely say it's my style! Don't feel you need to use a white card blank and leave loads of white space to get this look - the emphasis is on placement and embellishments (or lack of them!), making sure your finished product is unfussy and uncluttered. For this card I used the lovely black & white postcard from the Festive Hollybobs CD. I mounted it onto a kraft card blank at an angle, coloured the holly leaves with my pens and added a subtle pop of red with some gems for berries. I then simply tied the card with red & brown twine and added my sentiment. So simple, without being completely plain! Have a great weekend :)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Recycling challenge

It's that time again to share my make for the Polka Doodles Challenge blog, and this time it's recycling - something I love doing! For this project I decided to upcycle a glass candle jar for a first Christmas keepsake or gift. I used the wonderful Festive Hollybobs CD for this, which contains some lovely design sheets with papers, toppers and extra elements that were perfect for decorating this candle jar. I added some punched snowflakes, a chalkboard panel and red silk ribbon to finish.
The final touch was a red silk ribbon bow for the candle jar lid. This Mistletoe Kiss image is also available as a clear stamp in the Polka Doodles store - gorgeous! Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Halloween fun

It's all gone a little Halloween crazy in our house this week, so what better way to celebrate this than with some spooky cards? I've had these stickers for what seems like forever and never had the chance to use them - I don't even know what brand they are! But I loved the beautiful glitter foam and just HAD to use it against a midnight-black card blank. I'm not one for using stickers usually (apart from letter stickers for sentiments and titles), but I loved how quick and fun these cards were, so I might have to dig out some more.
Halloween has never been huge in this corner of the world - it's just not as popular in England as in the U.S. Yes there are little parties at playgroups and nurseries, the supermarkets sell an array of costumes, decorations and sweets, but I don't think the British public really thrown themselves into it in the same way as their American cousins. Since Stanley came along I've enjoyed it more, which is why I've wanted to introduce him to some new activities to mark the occasion. I'm away down in the midlands for my lovely cousin's hen do on the actual day itself, so rather than miss out on the fun we've had a 'Halloween week' - my days at home with Stanley have involved making Halloween cupcakes like these banana and chocolate chip varieties. I hope next year includes a lot more baking!
Of course, Halloween wouldn't be complete without a (not too scary) pumpkin or two. Have I mentioned that I love this time of year?! Have fun, whatever you're up to! :)

Friday, 24 October 2014


It's been a whole week since I last blogged, and it's not just here I've been absent - for the first time in a long time I haven't made a single project all week. It's been a quiet few days, so I used the time to make plans for products that will be going in my shop. It couldn't come at a better time as I've been running on empty lately and needed to slow down a little. Even though he's nearly two years old, Stanley still isn't a great sleeper. In the last few weeks we've had to cope with an eczema flare-up (something that always affects his sleep) and now another cold. He's started getting into our bed at least once a night, and I can't quite remember the last time he slept through completely. All this means we're functioning on a fractured night's sleep every night, and by my own omission I'm not someone who copes well with tiredness. I know it's only temporary really, but it doesn't make it any easier. It's funny how you get used to walking around in a fog all day, which is manageable for everyday mundane tasks, but sometimes it impairs creativity spectacularly! I've found sitting at my desk and trying to come up with product ideas during a normal 'work' day just doesn't work. Instead, my poor confused brain filters out ideas in the middle of the night or at random points during the day when I'm occupied with housework. But at least those ideas are still coming!
Thankfully I've made some headway with products and I've even been able to design a set of Christmas cards using the remaining Docrafts wood shapes I purchased for a commission. Here they are freshly coloured and glittered - pretty, no? There will be five cards in the set, because who really wants to buy individual Christmas cards?! I'm looking forward to sharing them with you soon :)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Christmas fun

A new challenge has started over on the Polka Doodles blog and, now that Winter is well and truly on the way, our sights are setting firmly towards Christmas. I've been focusing on the new Winston CD this month, which isn't Christmas-themed! So I had to get a little creative for this one. I used the backing paper and image from the CD and mixed it with a little festive candy cane and sentiment from the Festive Hollybobs CD. Some extra merriment was added with the help of some gold jingle bells, Christmas ribbon and a die-cut and sanded postbox. I hope you like it! Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Birdie tags

Autumn has well and truly set in and Stanley's 2nd birthday is just around the corner. We're having a party at a local soft play centre and my thoughts are turning towards this year's cake. I'll be sure to share the results with you - unless it's truly terrible! Today is the first day in a while that I haven't had any freelance work or demo prep to be getting on with, so I've been catching up on party organisation, as well as housework and giving the craft room a much-needed tidy. I've also been working on developing some more ideas for my upcoming Etsy shop. I've got plans afoot for a new blog design, and a very talented ex-colleague of mine has created a gorgeous logo, but for now I'm concentrating on building up a nice selection of items. I got the idea for these gift tags when I saw the cute little bird die that comes as part of the Die'sire Postbox set. The teeny tiny My Mind's Eye Follow Your Heart Be Happy stamps were the perfect size for a sentiment, while still leaving room for your own message. These little tags will come in packs of 10, and I'll also be doing some white and coloured varieties. I'll be sharing some more with you soon! :)

Friday, 10 October 2014

Anything but square

It's time again for another Polka Doodles challenge and this time the theme is 'Anything but square'. I rarely do cards that aren't square so this was a new one for me! I used the new Winston CD for this one, which features some gorgeous material-effect labels, and I used one to form the basis of this card. The CD is a stunning combination of sepia tones and pastel colours, and I love how the sepia Winston bear stands out from the colourful background and flowers.
I used some of the beautiful flowers from the CD and mixed them with layered paper flowers and blue and lilac gems, then added a strip of pink ruffled organza ribbon. A bit on the busy side for me but I love the effect! I hope you like it too :)

Friday, 3 October 2014

Vintage Christmas

Wow this week has flown by! I'm all prepped and packed for tomorrow's Crafter's Companion demo at Brookside Garden Centre in Poynton, Cheshire, and just wanted to show you a peek of some of the cards I've created. Tomorrow's demo will be featuring the new Vintage Christmas embossing folders, which I've used in conjunction with the Classiques dies. For this card I embossed a music pattern onto a card blank made from Centura Pearl Hint of Gold for a clean and simple effect to make these three wise men pop. The wise men were cut from kraft cardstock sprayed with gold Spray & Sparkle, which gives a lovely shimmery finish.
 I got the Spray and Sparkle out again for this one to create my own iridescent glitter card for the snowy hills. I love this Classique reindeer, it's such an elegant design and looks amazing against the kraft background. I stuck to the sparkly theme with some glittery ribbon and blue gems - simple but I hope you'll agree it's effective!
I'll also be demonstrating the Christmas Create a Card dies tomorrow, so it only seemed right to show you a little peek. This Christmas Village die and the Santa's Sleigh Classique die were the perfect fit for this frosty night-time scene - I hope you like it! Have a great weekend :) 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Creative Cardmaking 72

Hello again everyone :) Well we're back from our fantastic holiday, landing at Liverpool airport on Monday afternoon. When we got home I had a magazine commission to complete and a demonstration to prep for (which is this Saturday - more on that tomorrow!), so there was lots of catching up to do. And what else was waiting for me on my return but the latest issue of Creative Cardmaking. I just had to share these cards as I love them! For issue 72 I was asked to create some Christmas cards with a clean and simple style, so it was all about careful placement and a balance of the right products. I chose some Docrafts wood shapes to achieve this - large focal points, especially ones that can be altered to suit, look great on CAS cards as you don't need much more than a smattering of patterned paper to finish it off. On this occasion I used the Polka Doodles Festive Hollybobs CD for this, as it's a brand-new CD and just so happened to feature the colour palette I was after. Some beautiful Crafter's Companion Centura Pearl cardstock, tiny jingle bells and this cute Dovecraft Christmas Creative ribbon were the perfect finishing touches. As always I've only shared some of the cards I created, so if you would like to see more this issue is on sale now :)
Now our holiday is over I feel so ready for Christmas - I'm so sad it's over but couldn't have asked for a lovelier week in the sun (and rain) with my boys. Tarragona was simply stunning and I couldn't believe the amphitheatre - amazing!

 We walked around the little maze of the old town, with its quaint little houses and cobbled streets, then diverted to the newer section of Tarragona. We were out and about mid-afternoon during the siesta, and it was pretty quiet. But we stopped for dinner at a little gem of a restaurant on the Ramblas, where I had a paella that tasted SO much of the sea, and then once the sun went down all the little cafes and shops opened and the town sprung to life. So many sights and sounds for Stanley to take in! He was just the happiest little boy, even when Sunday, our last day, was a complete wash-out. We chose to wander the tiny town of Cubelles and I think he was just a little bit shocked by this tree... 
 ...Spanish yarn bombing! I love his curious little face peeping through the rain cover on this one. And now I'm already starting to think about our travels for next year :) 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Greetings from Barcelona

We are spending the MOST amazing week touring Barcelona and some of its neighbouring towns. I must admit I was quite scared of how Stanley would react to his first time in the air, but the flight was fine. We've rented a car and we're actually staying in a lovely little town called Vilanova I La Geltru, on a campsite that's perfect for young families. Barcelona was beautiful and a feast for the eyes. We found it terrifying to navigate in our little car and it's also really quite expensive, but a great experience nonetheless. Yesterday we visited the charming seaside town of Sitges (pronounced See-chez), which I absolutely loved, and tomorrow we're off to Taragonna - a world heritage site that's got its own Roman amphitheatre. I'll be sharing a few more images with you next week before I get back to work with some more projects! Have a great weekend :)  

Friday, 19 September 2014

Sketch challenge

Hello again! It's time for a new challenge over on the Polka Doodles blog, with a rather nifty little sketch being this fortnight's challenge. I love using sketches - I should use them more often in fact! It's great how you're freed up to think about colours, images and embellishments without worrying about placement - the results are always fabulous!
I used the Work & Play 6 CD again for this one - the cleaning lady is such a fab image and I love that vacuum-patterned paper! I've been playing with coiled flowers lately, which I made by tightly coiling a strip of patterned paper using a quilling tool. It didn't give quite enough colour, however, so some bright felt flowers remedied this, while lilac gems and buttons finished the look. I hope you like it! Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Classique dies & Sheena embossing folders

Hello lovelies! I'm going to be demonstrating at the Weavervale Garden Centre in Winnington on Saturday so I've been beavering away this week, prepping some samples and materials ready for the day. Here's a peek at some of the projects I've been working on - they're using the new Die'sire Classique Christmas dies and festive Sheena Douglas embossing folders. I absolutely love these products, particularly the Classique dies - the intricate embossed detail is beautiful, making it easy to create some gorgeous cards.

I'm not going to lie, the thick Centura Pearl cardstock used for this large snowflake took a bit of patience to remove from the die, but I think it was worth it! I also tried some negative die-cutting on vellum for the smaller snowflake, while the medium snowflake was also cut from vellum to give it a slightly transparent look. I hope you like these cards - I'll be back to show you more soon. In the meantime, wish me luck for Saturday! :)
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