Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas is coming

Yes Christmas is coming so fast.. it doesn't seem that long ago we were enjoying a beautiful Summer but today we have had wind rain .... and then hail making a deafening noise on the conservatory roof followed by thunder and lightening which brought Jasper down from upstairs where he had been snoozing
Anyway I decided I better get on with decorating the Christmas cake which I made last month, I ended up covered with icing sugar, but here is a photo of the end result:

I just hope it tastes good because I totted up how much it cost for ingredients, electricity and (wo)man hours and I reckon it would have been cheaper to go to Harrods and buy one of their top of the range!! But I secretly enjoyed baking again.
well that's it for today, short and sweet ... a week to now we will be enjoying Boxing day tea  followed hopefully by some good tv and then Christmas will be as far away as it ever is 364 days to be exact... I'll leave you with that thought ...Bye for now xx Annie

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Last of my Christmas Cards made

Hi there
what a milestone today I finally finished this year's Christmas cards... fingers crossed. I have promised myself next year I will start much earlier....

Thank goodness for dies because they do almost always give you a result... these dies are Memory box dies very filigree but easy to cut ... but I am now ankle deep in tiny bits of card so I will have to have a deep clean !!! well I'll run the hoover over ... :)

Bye for now xxx Annie

Friday, 13 December 2013

Fussy & Fancy Challenge #104 .... CHOCOLATE

Here it is then... the last F&F challenge of 2013 and what better theme than Chocolate. I thought I would concentrate on packaging this time..I had already made a box and bag and then realised we needed to use  a sponsor's digistamp ... this time it was provided by Freshly Brewed Designs

Well you may be asking what has that brightly coloured box got to do with chocolate... well I tried to go along with the chocolate theme but it didn't work ... I wanted it to be bright for a child so the chocolate .. well it's inside:

a famous little chocolate reindeer (with his little bell) guarding some chocolate coins. The digistamp I used is called 'Snow much Fun' you can see I used the whole digistamp image on the lid and then blew it up slightly and cut it into 4 to use 1 image on each face of the box which I made from craft card and matted up with some pretty Christmas papers from my stash. Here are the four sides of the box:

Back to my original 2 DT pieces I made a gift bag out of chocolate coloured lightweight card and prettied it up with some mint coloured diecut snowflakes. The pink and chocolate box was made using heavyweight brown card again prettied up with some patterned paper and some Christmas Tim Holtz dies, which I really love. Here are a couple of closeups:

Nearer the time I am going to make some homemade chocolate truffles to fill this box as a pressie for one of my neighbours. The snowflakes are cut using spellbinders dies and are actually a very soft mint colour which doesn't show up very well in the photo:

So that's it for today it's been a good day as well as finishing these projects I managed to bake our Christmas cake so the whole house smells of mixed spices. I got a bit nostalgic whilst mixing it because I had found my grandmother's great big mixing bowl, I had forgotten what hard work it is mixing a fruit cake by hand .. so if this one is successful I might have to invest in a kenwood before next year !! Once the cake was in the oven I got to lick the spoon which the boys always used to fight over and then  .... I got to eat the last few remaining glace cherries ...........bliss

So why don't you give our challenge a go ... our sponsors this month  Fresh Brewed Designs are offering a Candy Prize to one lucky person who enters our Chocolate Challenge.
It will be 3 digi's of their choice  along with a fun candy prize...  A stamp case filled with goodies
to create with.
Remember our winner is chosen randomly... so everyone has an equal chance of winning ... Good Luck and most of all have fun with it
Bye for now xxx Annie

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Clarity Challenge 10 ... Scene Building

Well I have been bogged down with Christmas card making ... all my own fault for leaving it so late, but when my Clarity NDC stamp and tutorial dropped through the letter box I gave myself some ME time and played ....what did I make.... you guessed it another Christmas card.. here it is:

I had such a relaxing hour or so making it....and I was so pleased with it he is winging his way to someone as I speak...hope they like it.

So I hate to say it ...I am going to kill two birds with one stone,, ( Sorry Bobbin' Robin) and enter him into the Clarity Challenge which is scene building. As always there is a £50 voucher waiting for the winner so off I go

Bye for now Annie xxx

Saturday, 30 November 2013

In the Classroom with Barbara Gray

Saturday mornings are usually slow starters weekend starts here, but once a month Barbara Gray has a classroom program and I do like to get a few chores done and then sit down with a coffee and a chocolate biscuit and just watch ( I even record them in case there are any glitches like Jasper & OH coming in from a walk in the middle of it all)

Today's was the last program for this year, I had had a little clear out and found my folder of my efforts done after the shows, as Barbara uses any viewers cards to sell 'Charity with Clarity' I thought I would send some of my better ones, rather than them gather dust in the Crafty Attic. To my amazement some of them got shown:

I really was thrilled that Barbara took time to say how she had 'known' me a long time ( well I have been watching the classroom programs since the beginning and sometimes sent my work in) and that she has seen my work improve !! Even OH was impressed because he thinks I just mess about up in the crafty attic !! So thanks Barbara for putting him right.
Right now I'm off to carry on making Christmas cards xxx Bye Annie

Thursday, 21 November 2013

F&F Challenge #103 .. HEARTS

I really went down to the wire with this challenge ...did I want to make a card, a box, altered art ...? Then suddenly I remembered an MDF frame I had bought in the January Sale, I found it in the Bargain basket ...looking a bit sorry for itself, more shabby than chic.

I saw Ali Reeve do the pva/paint technique to make a surface look weathered, it's good to be reminded of these tried and tested techniques, so I set to .. a layer of acrylic allowed to dry, a layer of cheap pva  and then another coat of acrylic then gentle heat applied with a heat gun until the top surface starts to split, unfortunately it doesn't show up very well in this photo, I just couldn't get the right light. I then brushed the surface with Antique Linen distress ink, to take away the modern bright white look because I knew what I was going to put in the finished frame.

I used Martha Stewart paper clay and silicone moulds to create the lettering, bird, flowers and heart embellishment, again I brushed them with Antique Linen distress ink to age them. The cage is a Marianne die and the poppies were cut with a Memory box die.

The photo was taken on my Great Aunt Maud's wedding day in 1916 when she married William Bowland, months later on 26th March 1917 he was killed in Palestine and buried in Gaza Cemetery. Great Aunt Maud was never the same again, she died in 1953.

As a young child I was always told by my paternal grandmother that I should never go into the parlour ... but seeing the door ajar one day whilst I was there I crept in, the room was dimly lit with heavy drapes on the windows. I could make out a tiny wizened old woman in a bed this point I was discovered and ushered out and given a real telling off. Many years later my Mum told me the sad story about Great Aunty Maud who had been so tragically widowed during the First world War, I asked if the woman in my grandmother's bed was Great Aunt Maud and of course she said it was, it seems she never recovered from the shock of losing her young husband and then she was struck down with Alzheimers Disease and had been cared for by her sister, my grandmother. I often wondered about William Bowland's grave being in such a volatile part of the world but over the recent Remembrance weekend  I saw an item on the Itv news showing Gaza Cemetery ... a very tranquil place that was being cared for by an elderly Arab man and his team of men. Every November 11th my mind goes back to that old lady ..(in fact she was not that old actually) and her sad story.

Well that's enough nostalgia for one evening, I'm off to upload to the Fussy & Fancy Challenge website where the new challenge is 'Hearts' plenty of scope there then, why don't you give it a go, it's easy to enter here:  and Good Luck

Bye for now
xxx Annie

Monday, 18 November 2013

Weather Forecast... SNOW!!

Well they are forecasting snow for us here in Wales this week. Just hope it's not as bad as December 2010 when we had 9" of snow here's the proof, it looked so pretty in the garden but it made it  quite tough to get around

My ruler sank in the snow

It looked so pretty in the garden but it made it tough to get around
This is a scrapbook page I made using a photo of Jasper sitting in the snow .. I later adapted it to make a Christmas card for my neighbours who all know Jasper:
Sadly one of these neighbours went into a care home  a few months later suffering from dementia, she doesn't remember us but she has this Christmas card in her room with her and she knows just who it is... it's Jasper she says, he's my best friend ... Jasper adored her and still stops at her garden gate when we pass on our way out for a walk, he remembers her too and all the cuddles and licks he gave her.
That's all for now ..if the snow does come your way 'Keep safe and warm .... ooh and spare a thought for the birds and leave them some food out' xxx Bye Annie

Saturday, 16 November 2013


A Happy Accident: whilst I was cleaning up after playing this afternoon I pulled off this background just to clean my gelliplate, I was about to throw it away and looked again because it reminded me of a fuschia plant. It just so happens that Clarity have a really pretty fuchsia flower & bud stamp.

I stamped the flower in position directly onto the background in black Archival then embossed it with clear powder so that I wouldn't have to cut around the stamens and stem. Then I stamped the flower 3 times again onto white card so that I could decoupage it, I also stamped the little bud and cut it out.

Wow is that the time it's nearly midnight, I better get off before I turn into a pumpkin ... :)
 Nite nite all xxx Annie

Stained Glass Madeleine

I saw Barbara Gray's tutorial on a new technique this morning and couldn't wait to have a play. I tried the technique with various stencils I had but decided the beautiful Madeleine one gave me the best result. Here she is:

I can't tell you much about how I did it, but I know I started as Barbara does with Titanium Buff Acrylic paint then when I took off the first print  I had an idea where I wanted to put my pink, gold and white paint in relation to her skin, hair etc. But still she looked a bit washed out so I tinted her with adirondak ink to highlight, the flower, her hair and the background in front of her face.
This photo doesn't show the shimmer and texture that you can see 'in the flesh' so to speak.
Must dash to watch Strictly Come Dancing.. enjoyed my play today xxx Annie

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Friday 13th November 1992

Friday 13th November was such a lucky day for my family ... after a long wait I was finally told that my first grandchild had been born a baby girl named Bethan Rhiannon, I had to wait a couple of weeks before seeing her as my son and his wife were living in Cardiff area at the time.
So yesterday she was 21yrs old I can't believe where the time has gone:




Now I know she received them safely I can blog what I made for her, she is a very talented artist so making things for her is very daunting but I know she loves little boxes and books so that is what I made for her. At the last minute I also decided to make her a card to send her money in , I tried various other ideas which failed so I had to use an idea which was originally my sister Sue's ... so thanks Sue for saving my bacon yet again: The owl stamp is one of Sam Poole's, oak frame and cogs are Ali Reeve's masks:
Then this is the box and book I made, the box was embossed with Sheena's birds embossing folder which I highlighted with gilding wax

 Inside the box I used Andy Skinner's Skullduggery stencil one of Rhiannon's favourite things


Finally here is the tag book I made for her, as she is a fan of a certain young wizard and anything fantasy / magical I used G45 Steampunk Spells papers and bits and pieces from my stash

There were several other pages with pictures and personal messages  to her.
So there it is it took a while to make and I did wonder at times about sending it but once it was finished I was quite pleased with it. Rhiannon seemed to like it which is a result in my book !!
That's all for today xxx Annie

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Clarity Challenge #9 CHRISTMAS

Well I had the most wonderful surprise this morning when the postman arrived with an unexpected letter!! It was from a very lovely Crafty Fairy and when I opened it there was a Clarity Rooftop mask, a stamp some very pretty flowers and a card she had made I have admired this fairy's work in Blogland so I will really treasure that card.

Last week I saw a tutorial on Barbara Gray's new blog using this rooftop mask, and I put it on my Clarity wishlist  to buy at a later date, I kept thinking about it and what I could do with it .... so now that the fairy has made my wish come true here is the card

I have always found using masks a bit tricky but with my new Clarity stencil brushes it was a doddle, I used a mixture of Denim, Eggplant & Pitch Black Adirondack inks for the sky using a moon mask which I then swirled with a bit of Squeezed Lemon distress ink. I edged my rooftops and chimneys with a quicky glue pen and added some glitter as if they were catching the moonlight, added Santa and the star from the Christmas miniatures and I was done....

I enjoyed my playtime and so now I am off  to enter my card into the Clarity Challenge, who knows there is a £50 Clarity voucher for the winner ... imagine £50 worth of Clarity goodies .... where's that wishlist of mine !! lol xxxx Annie

Friday, 1 November 2013

Little bit of Knit 1 purl1

I hate sitting in front of the tv doing nothing so a little bit of knitting keeps my fidgety hands occupied. This was my latest little effort, now I'm not an expert knitter and this pattern was written to be made on a circular needle!! first stumbling block I hadn't got the right size. Decided to make it with 2 side seams but then had to adapt the cable because on circular needles the stitches work differently :(.

Once I had got him started and could see him growing I just had to keep going it is so clever the way his face develops, there really isn't an awful lot of twisty cables to it!
And here is the finished hat complete with tassles
I was quite pleased with it, certainly kept my fidgety hands busy for a couple of evenings..... What to do next I wonder

That's it for today just a quicky update really because I have already posted My Fussy & Fancy Challenge project earlier so Bye for now xxx Annie

Fussy & Fancy Friday Challenge #101 Black & Blue


This is a special challenge for me as it is the first one I have hosted for Fussy & Fancy Challenge ... so I am really looking forward to seeing everyone else's take on the Black and Blue theme.

I wasn't even planning on making a challenge card today but I decided to play with the new Stamps Away Peacock mask. My sister sent me the most beautiful birthday card using this technique .. I coated the mask with perfect medium then carefully put it through my Grand Calibur using the sandwich usually used for cutting (no tan mat) I just wanted the pressure to transfer the sticky Perfect Medium onto the black Clarity glossy card. I then sprinkled the card with Stampendous Kaleidoscope embossing powder ..this is the most beautiful powder because when you heat it the colour changes through the rainbow colours the longer you heat it, I stopped just as the colours were changing from blue to green. I was quite pleased with the end result.. but then what to do with it.

That's when I remembered the Black & Blue Challenge ... I stamped Sam Poole's lovely deco Peacock onto blue card and gold embossed it and coloured it with Cosmic Shimmer drawing inks which are full of shimmery mica. When it came to the sentiment I knew exactly what was needed Clarity Wings of Time stamp... I then had to concoct a card shape to put all my bits and pieces on, I used a sheet of A3 royal blue and cut it down and folded it so that the back was longer than the front so that the sentiment is glued onto the back of the card but still shows from the front.

So that's my version hope you'll get your crafty stash out and have a play and see what you come up with. Entering the challenge is easy just go over to the F&F Challenge page here:   and the links are there.

Bye for now & Happy crafting

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

My 'Just In Case' cards

Every so often I have a little playtime and anything that is worth keeping at the end of the day goes into my 'Just in Case' box of cards because every so often like it or not we need a card for an occasion we haven't anticipated. Faced with having to make sympathy cards in a hurry is not easy so it's very handy to have this little stash of cards.
Often these cards are inspired by articles I have seen in magazines that I just want to try out the technique... this was one of those:

it appeared in Craft Stamper in an article about Splatter effects ... this particular one just required a little masking of the main images and then flicking a paintbrush of diluted distress ink over it. I was quite pleased with the effect and turned it into a Thank you card ... another type of card you might need in a hurry.

While I had this lovely Kaisercraft stamp out I used it to stamp onto acetate, I then turned it over and dropped tiny amounts of alcohol ink over the images I wanted to highlight i.e the butterflies I also used Tim Holtz splatter stencil to put a faux coffee mug mark on it. Then I turned it back over and decided to stamp another Kaisercraft stamp of one of my favourite quotes on it:

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Typography is the buzz word at the moment and I first saw these words on a faux weathered piece of wood ... it just struck me that it was a lovely way of saying pick yourself up and brush yourself off and start again ... which is what my dear Mam always taught us ... her other favourite phrase which she used so often when I whined " Ah but Mam I can't do it" usually in reference to school work she'd say " Anne, there is no such word as can't" ... when I feel like that about life now I can hear her say those words in my head and every time I have to smile and feel I owe it to her to at least TRY and more often as not it works.
So having attached my acetate onto some white cardstock with eyelets it now hangs on my wall .. a modern twist on Dear Mam's mantra ...

The third experiment was an attempt to recreate a lovely card my sister sent me as a Thankyou card was striking in it's simplicity. When I asked Sue about it during one of our many lengthy phonecalls she said she had used her Stampsaway blending mat as a mask to give the straight edge.

I have attempted it several times in the past , carefully using my inkylicious brushes and Ali's mat as a mask to create a subtle two colour band, but sod's law always saw me end up getting a smudge or thumb print onto that lovely white card .. so in the bin they went. However this one survived and having used this lovely Sundial stamp as the image I though it would make a Sympathy card, so that was a second card for the 'Just In Case ' box. Having said all this I must now remember where I put the 'Said Box ' as I am sure there is a hidden Black Hole in my crafty den where things disappear so I can't find them when I need them in a hurry. :)

Enough rambling from me for today Bye for now
Happy Crafting  xxAnnie

Monday, 21 October 2013

Gelli Plate ... Secret Garden

This was inspired by another post on Barbara Gray's new blog .. I'm loving all the tips re playing with the gelliplate because I haven't used mine much because I wasn't confident but now I just want to play and experiment.

I loved this as soon as I saw it because I saw the potential to make a card for a neighbour who is a cat owner ... can't believe I am already talking about cards for 2014. I still have all my Christmas cards and one very special birthday before 2013 is out.

This was really lovely to do in fact I made 2 backgrounds while I had all my stuff out and on the plus side nothing went in the bin apart from some spare copier paper I had used.

Well it's nearly teatime, Jasper & OH are out for a walk so I better get on they'll be starving as usual when they get back
Till next time

Sunday, 20 October 2013

If you go Down the Woods Today..

It's a horrible dark wet Sunday so there is nothing for it but to head for the crafty attic and have a play and get lost in my thoughts so here goes:

I got my gelli plate out and followed Barbara Gray's tutorial on her new blog, this was the best after a number of attempts , I have a bin full of crumpled copier paper and failed attempts.

I must have a lot more practice with my gelli plate before I become more confident with it, but Barbara's tutorial did open my eyes to the possibilities, my previous attempts have been very basic. Biggest learning curve was realising that what you setup on your gelli plate is a mirror image of what your print off will look like... I had to think carefully about where I positioned my toadstools and the owl.

Better have a bit of a clean up because I have been playing with these bits and pieces since yesterday afternoon.

Bye xxx Annie

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Happy Birthday, Meggles

Today 17th October is my niece Meg's birthday ... so Many Happy Returns, cariad and hope you liked your card...

This card is very much inspired by Eileen Godwin,  she is a very generous and inspirational person her blog  is well worth a visit ( even Eileen's dog Daisy has a blog!!) The template Eileen had used was discontinued so I had to set to and create my own.

This card was made for my niece, Meg who is a very talented artist and crafter so I always try to make something s bit different for her, I usually run my ideas past her mum, my sister Sue. In fact I am always online, on the phone or emailing Sue and bouncing crafty ideas about, I find it helps when my mojo goes walkabout as it often does. Anyway here is the card and hoping that you have a brilliant day ,Meg xx

Our grandparents house always had a hedge of hydrangea plants, as they got older the plants got woody and hollow underneath ideal for children to make dens in. To an outsider it just looked like an ordinary semi detached house but to 5 generations of my family Bryn Meini was Home and full of memories, letting go of it when my mum died was very hard, but whenever I see hydrangeas I have to smile and I remember so many happy memories of time spent there.... after I had written this post in draft I found this old photo of the hydrangeas in Bryn Meini's garden ... this is me aged 3  just look at the Simon Cowell waistband on my skirt , things had to last in those days as I grew the shoulder straps would have been let down lol!!

Meg also loved the house and garden and when she was looking for her first house of her own, and having being disappointed along the way ... when she found the house of her dreams and discovered the number plaque by the front door had hydrangeas on it... she knew it was the right was just meant to be

When I discovered this Impression Obsession die of a hydrangea I knew it was a must have... it is magical the way the flower comes to life as you build it up... and then when I saw the background Eileen Godwin had used with another flower die .. this card was born. Thanks Eileen x

That's it for today's blog so bye for now
xx Annie

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Welsh Bara Brith (Speckled Bread)

Thought I better take a photo quickly before it disappears and there are only a few crumbs left on the plate

Whilst we are talking about all things Welsh ( see previous post re Welsh Rugby Card) I had a sudden urge to bake some Bara Brith (Welsh Speckled Bread) after seeing it being done on the British Bake Off program. The version the young lady baked there was a proper yeast based recipe where you have to knead and prove as with any other loaf ... this recipe is an easier version some would say a cheat ... but it still tastes like the Bara Brith that my mum used to give us :) .

300ml/ 1/2pt cold tea                                             450g / 1lb mixed dried fruit     
450g / 1lb self raising flour                                      1tsp mixed spice
175g / 6ozs dark Muscavado sugar                          1 medium free range egg
1tbsp orange zest                                                      2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. honey                                                             extra honey for glazing

Pour the cold tea over the mixed dried fruit in a large mixing bowl and cover and leave to soak overnight.
Following day : mix the egg, honey orange zest & juice and the sugar and add to the soaked fruit.
Sift in the flour and the mixed spice and mix really well
Butter a 2pt loaf tin and pour in the mixture
Bake in preheated oven  160c/ 325f / 3 gas for approx. 1&3/4 hrs
Check that it is firm to the touch and golden brown
Brush with honey whilst still warm
Allow to cool then store in a tin

Lovely .... spread with butter and enjoy
Bye for now Annie xxxx

Friday, 4 October 2013

Welsh Clarity Card for my Son

Todays card is one I made for my younger son who is a keen follower of Welsh rugby. I must firstly give credit to Lynne Hammond & Barbara Gray for this one and thank Barbara from the bottom of my heart for creating this set of stamps. I hadn't got a clue what sort of card to make and then I saw these and knew I had to have them, Barbara demoed a similar card and Lynne use the letterbox  letters on her thanks ladies. The wording on mine reads Happy Birthday Son, the tiles have been triple embossed. I gave him the card yesterday ... his birthday, he loved it but the best was yet to come .. because here is a sneaky peek at what's inside...

These pics were taken at the Wales v Scotland match earlier in the year, David borrowed the daffy hat because it was so cold ... well that's what he's telling me... I think he rather liked it :). The sentiment inside is in Welsh again and  reads 'Happy Birthday to the best son in the world ' applies to both my sons of course and every other mother's son. :)
Bye for now ... Annie xxx

F&F Challenge 99 ..One for the boyz

This is a card made for my nephew's birthday, he loves travelling and is a brilliant photographer so when I saw this Marianne camera die I just knew I had to have it... there are several other photographers amongst my family & friends so it will be very useful.

The background was made using Stampendous stamp, travel stickers, map and bakers twine are from Docraft 'All Aboard collection.

Here is a closeup of the detail on the Marianne camera die, cut in Kraftcard and given the gilding wax treatment and a couple of screw head brads added. 

This closeup is of the tag, the text is another Stampendous stamp, Eiffel tower & Statue of Liberty are Clarity stamps.

I know many of us dread having to make cards for the Men in our lives but I hope you will get out your crafty stash and give this Challenge a go.

Bye for now