Sunday, 13 October 2013

Don't all faint...but this is a CRAFTY Post!!!

It may have taken me three weeks to finish (most of that time it was lying on my table waiting for the title to be added) but I have finally done a LO!

Drum roll please.....

Ta da!!

Photos of my two tomato plants at different stages.
I bought them as seedlings  - one cherry tomato and one "normal" tomato...the gardeners amongst you will no doubt tell me that I need 6 - 8 plants for a constant supply but as I'm the only one left at home who likes tomatoes these two are enough....and very nice they are too. I like my tomatoes firm and slightly under ripe so I'm loving just being able to step onto the patio and pick my lunch.

I used October Afternoon "Farm Girl" papers (did some fussy cutting for the embellies); added a button, ribbon and a picture cut out of a booklet; title cut on the Cricut using "Cursive 101".
Sketch was from September Page Maps.

I also have a collaborative piece to show you.
Six of us from our FB group chose a theme each, divided a sheet of A4 into six sections and off we went....

I chose Steampunk as my theme and this is the result:

I love it! Six totally different interpretations of the theme.

Our posties must have wondered what was going on as the envelopes marked "please handle with care" became more and more ornate...wonderful mail art as well as the themed pieces.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and must get started on the next one... "Friends" bunting....we're all late starting on this one so I suggested we go with a Christmas theme.....but Jo who organised this threatened to unfriend me on FB!
Sorry Jo...I was only joking!

I'm hoping to start something this afternoon as it's wet and windy...I need to make some birthday cards...for males....always tricky..and I have the rest of my garden photos to scrap....and my bunting....and the two plays we saw at the Oxford Playhouse......and cards for the occasion that I'll get shouted at for mentioning....

Apologies for the lack of visits to your blogs...I'm hoping that normal service will be resumed in the near future......

Friday, 27 September 2013

Artistic Readers Club - September (or Two for the Price of One)

My book this month was....

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of the book for review.

Suz deMello was a new author to me but I've since read another of her books (same series) and I'm impatiently awaiting the next one!

The book is set in the second half of the 18th century...after Culloden and the Clearances.  

I was gripped from the start of the book by the description of Glasgow and its teeming crowds. It is here that we meet our hero and heroine, Dugald and Alice. They seem mismatched but as the story continues we realise that they are both hiding parts of themselves...he more than she as we discover.

Their journey from Glasgow to the Highlands is fraught with danger. deMello has cleverly interwoven Scottish myths and legends* into this part of the story and the plot moves along at  a fair pace.

Once in the Highlands, a bleak yet beautiful area where life is hard, more danger is faced and not just from the clan's enemies.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Did I mention that there are some very well written erotic scenes? Oh, and vampires...

*I found myself researching these myths on the Internet when I finished the book - fascinating!

For the art work I've done another collage.
I really must thank Bleubeard and Elizabeth for this...I was so impressed by her review and artwork last month that I treated myself to this book....

Old sheet music is something I have a lot of...along with old books...

 I chose "The Village Blacksmith" as a nod to Gretna Green...

Base is Kraft cardstock; sheet music; vellum;pages from old books;thistle hatpin (it was my mother's); a splash of tartan.

Tartan was banned in Scotland at this time.......and this just happened to be a question in the pub quiz on Tuesday night.....the Ninjas won!!

A final picture of yesterday's mail (haven't had time to photograph today's free sample of Belgian Chocolate Baileys... )

My prize from a recent FB giveaway....beautiful mug and a mouse them both!

Looking forward to reading this month's reviews.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Artistic Readers Club - August

My blog has re-appeared - it went missing for a few days but eventually came back ...and not only that , I can now comment on most blogs...yay! Perhaps it was in blog hospital having surgery.....

This month's book is: 

I'd had this book on my Amazon wishlist for quite a few months when I was lucky enough to receive a voucher for it came all the way from USA (if anyone knows of a way of converting gift vouchers between the Amazon sites please let me know).

I wanted this book as I've received some wonderful pieces of mail art from friends but hadn't got beyond stamping on envelopes in reply.

The subtitle says it's a primer ....

There are lists of suggested tools and some good ideas of where to look for ephemera (and what to look for)....both lists are useful.

The history of mail art is covered in depth and I found this fascinating as I'd thought it was a recent definitely isn't!

There are also lots of pictures of mail art, some of which I loved and some of which left me thinking..meh..(to borrow the boy's favourite word)

I was expecting more from the book to be honest. Perhaps I knew more about mail art than I thought ..certainly the pieces I've been privileged to receive would not look out of place in the book.

It's definitely for beginners but I'm pleased I read it as it gave me the kick start to experiment that I obviously needed.

I'd award 3.5 stars...the extra half mark is for the useful stickers and postcards at the back of the book.

What could I produce in the way of art this month...?
Mail art of course...

Here is my decorated padded envelope.....I have a recipient in mind...insert evil laugh here...

The main images are a colour illustration for an article on the decline in our bee population from the Saturday magazine of the Daily Telegraph a few weeks ago...I knew I had to cut it out and keep it as it was so striking.
"Spot the difference" is from the same source; the edging is Kaisercraft washi tape; the little arrows are the closure from a Maggi chicken bag;the mail art sticker is from the back of the book and the "recycle" piece is from a serviette included in my Graze box.

I used Decopatch glue/varnish to stick everything down and provide a layer of protection.

I'm now looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been reading..and to actually being able to leave a comment.
I do enjoy all the reviews but it's particularly satisfying when I know the book concerned and can "compare notes" with other readers.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Artistic Readers Club - July

I've gone "off piste" again this month I'm afraid.

I realised that most of the books I'd chosen were:

- written by foreign authors

- murder mysteries

- parts of a series

- quite lengthy

Add to this the heat and humidity, my lack of concentration and the fact that the bulk of my reading is done on my Kindle these days....I made an executive decision to abandon the pile of books by my bed.....

This month's book is "A French Affair" by Lucy Felthouse, one of the "Brit Babes".

Sydney Tyler is renting a barn conversion in Northern France, planning to spend the fortnight getting some words down on her novel. Unfortunately, construction work in the other half of the building puts an end to her peace and quiet. Genuinely upset that the builders are going to disturb her, the property’s handsome English owner, Harry Bay, offers to make it up to her. He’s a little flirtatious, and after spotting his wedding ring, Sydney keeps him at arm’s length. Sexy as he is, she has no intention of getting involved with a married man. But when Sydney learns the truth about Harry, will their mutual attraction spur them on to work through their emotional baggage and make this more than just a French affair?

The verdict:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
The characters and the plot were both believable and likable ...I was rooting for a HEA* almost from the start.

The setting for the story was perfect (for me anyway!). It was set in a country village between Paris and Reims....the descriptions of hot summer days and beautiful countryside really suited my mood and our current weather.

I'd class this as a light, gentle romance - a great read  for a lazy afternoon/evening in the garden with a glass of chilled wine. 

It's well written and the story flows ....I give it 5*....

The art work:
This was inspired by an article in the latest Scrap 365 and the fact that the nearest town to the barn in the story is Chateau Thierry.

It just so happens that I have photos taken in Chateau Thierry and many happy memories associated with the town.

La Collinette was (it may still be but I'm out of touch) an old country house owned by the town of Ivry-sur-Seine.
I first visited as a teenager but this photo was taken during my last visit in 1987.

The background is collaged from scrap and dictionary pages ,packaging, washi tape and gesso with some stamping (a freebie from a French scrap magazine).

I would have added authentic postage stamps....I know I have some....just can't find them after my last tidy up of my craft area.....I keep saying that housework is dangerous!! lol
I made do with a wooden Eiffel Tower and a stamp embellie from The Works.

*HEA = Happy Ever After

Blogger is still messing around so apologies again for the lack of comments from me..... :(
I do enjoy reading as many of the reviews as I can manage. 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Artful Readers Club - June

Before this month's review an apology...I'm sorry for the lack of comments from me on last month's books.

I visited lots of blogs and read some wonderful reviews (added books to my TBR list and took note of ones to avoid) but was only able to comment on a few...Blogger seems to have taken a dislike to me...not content with wiping out the entire list of blogs that I follow it has now reduced the "comment as...choose profile" box to almost nothing so it won't let me log in...sigh....

My book for June was "Beastly Things" by Donna Leon

I can see a distinct pattern to my reading habits as this is another book in a seems I only try new authors on Kindle....

The series features Inspector Brunetti and is set in Venice - a character in its own right and not just a picturesque setting.

The book starts with the recovery of a man's body from one of the canals. Who was he? Who killed him? Why?

Brunetti finds the answers to all these questions but the book is so much more than a police procedural.

While we follow Brunetti's investigation around the city, through tourist spots and more mundane streets, we learn how the singular nature of Venice has shaped the character of its inhabitants. The mainland is a place to visit only if absolutely necessary...

We are also given a feel for Italian politics and bureaucracy......lots of red tape and who you know is more important than what you know.
The EU is seen as interfering and its rules and regulations as annoyances. 

There are also discussions on morality - is it OK to  technically break the law in order to do good? If you know something bad about someone do you tell or keep quiet?

I enjoyed the book very much. Donna Leon has a fluid writing style and, although American, she really does impart the feel of Venice and its inhabitants.

One word of warning (without giving the plot away) there are some "gruesome" scenes and I was tempted to become a vegetarian.

Now on to my art work.

I've gone back to collage this month...inspired by a tutorial from "Cloth, Paper, Scissors" I aimed for a textured background and a transparent foreground:

The background is made up of images of Venice, clothes tags (The Original Macaroni is actually knitwear by Weird Fish, the weird fish is also a label), food and drink labels (it was a real hardship to drink the Prosecco for its textured label), ribbon and a black leather tag from a handbag. I brushed on some silver paint in places.

The foreground is a map of Venice printed on acetate.

I'm looking forward to reading this month's reviews...and hope I may even be able to comment!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Artful Readers Club - May

Another month has zipped by and it's time for my book review.

This month I'm reviewing another cosy by Laura Childs

"Scones and Bones" from her Tea Shop Mystery series.

Theodosia Brown runs the Indigo Tea Shop with Drayton, her tea expert, and Haley, her chef and baking expert.

This series is set in the more genteel surroundings of Charleston and the local Historical Society plays a large part in most of Theodosia's investigations....yes, she's another amateur sleuth.

The starting point for this mystery is a murder that takes place during the theft of a diamond embellished skull cup......a skull cup is exactly what it says...the skull in question is reputedly that of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, the notorious pirate.

The book was a lovely light read but I did learn quite a bit about the history of Charleston and the surrounding area.Vivid descriptions of the houses and gardens (and graveyards)in the Historic district brought the city to life.

I also learnt more about tea than I ever imagined I would.....Drayton's descriptions and blends could almost convert me...I'm a non-tea drinker....apart from the occasional cup of Earl Grey or Orange Blossom I loathe the stuff!

The characters are well drawn and include the usual suspects.... a brusque policeman who wishes amateurs wouldn't interfere, the unlikeable female etc. etc.

This story also introduces a new love interest for Theodosia....I'm hoping this one is "the one".

Having enjoyed the book I eagerly read the recipes (but not the tea tips) included at the back....I wanted to make the lemon scones and with the help of FB found out exactly how much a "stick of butter" weighs (4oz if you're interested) but sadly had no buttermilk to hand.

And so to my art work......I couldn't decide whether to run with pirates or the whole tea thing.

In the end I made the only thing possible.........

fruit scones!!

Next month I'm off to Venice, courtesy of "Beastly Things" by Donna Leon.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Artful Reader Club - April

In a change to the advertised programme  book, this month I'm reviewing "Tangled in Divine" by Heather Rainier.

I originally intended to read and review another "cosy" by Laura Childs, then it was going to be # 11 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood but I haven't quite finished it and pictures of hunky vampires (who don't sparkle) are hard to come by.

As most of my reading these days is done on my Kindle and Heather had a new book out I thought why not?

When I first got my Kindle I became aware of genres that I'd never even seen let alone considered. There is a whole world of erotica out there with sub-genres such as paranormal, western, sci-fi, steampunk and my personal favourite...menages...a trois, a quatre....and so on.

The second menage I ever read was "Divine Grace" by Heather...I fell in love with Grace and her men to such an extent that I was loath to read the other books in the could I read about Divine and not have Grace and her men in the story? I eventually bit the bullet and I'm so pleased I did!

"Tangled in Divine" is # 14 in the Divine Creek Ranch series and tells the story of Gwen Henderson, a champion rider, whose dream of retiring from the rodeo circuit is shattered. Gwen ends up in Divine and meets up with Julian Alvarez and Chris Potter. The story chronicles their growing relationship and the problems Gwen faces through no fault of her own.

The book is suitable for over 18's only as there are, understandably, sex scenes.

These scenes are pretty hot and are an important element of the book. However the focus of all the books in the series (and not all are menages) is relationships. Good ones need working at and trust and honesty are important between partners, regardless of how many there are. The wider community and a sense of belonging (and being supportive) are also stressed.
Divine Creek really is so much more than just a place on a map.
What I love about the series is that you do meet up with the characters from previous books and you see them change and develop.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - joyous is the word I'd use to describe it.
I laughed and I cried and I'm still giggling several days later when I recall one particular scene in the Dancing Pony.....if you read the book you'll know the one I mean!

And so, on to the art work.....

I did a gel image transfer of some "cowboy country" paper on to a 5 x 7 canvas. I coated this with mod podge and then embellished the life out of it...the stamps are by Unity; the metal tokens are Tim Holtz (capture life's moments was the nearest I could get to "carpe diem", a motif in all the books);buttons are TH and October Afternoon;flowers by Petaloo and the horse is a patch for sewing on to s'thing.

This is my tribute to Gwen and all the other feisty ladies of Divine.

And finally to my friend Gill Parker...I'm so pleased you found "Still Life" (the first book in the series that I reviewed last month) and that you enjoyed it! It really is beautifully written. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series too.

I'm not predicting what I'll be reviewing next month....

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday to Max my fur baby.....11 today.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Artful Readers Club - March

This month finds us in Canada, in the provinces near Montreal.

"A Trick of the Light" is book 7 in the series featuring Inspector Gamache and his team from the Surete du Quebec.

The story is centred around the village of Trois Pins (Three Pines) and the art world in Montreal.

It starts at an art show in the Musee d'Art Contemporain in Montreal, the first show for Clara Morrow, a middle aged artist who lives with her husband, Peter, in Trois Pins.
This the first shock in the novel as it was Peter who was considered the more talented and more famous of the two.
The second shock is the discovery of a body in Clara's garden the next morning.
The body turns out to be an ex-friend of Clara, a woman who made enemies by the dozen in her role as an art critic.
Part of the puzzle is how she found Clara's house as the village does not appear on any maps....people find it either by chance or by having detailed instructions.

So there you have it....a murder mystery with lots of motives and suspects.

What makes this book stand out in a crowded genre is the quality of the writing. Louise Penny writes with elegance and depth.
Her characters are rounded, and all too human, with the petty vices common to us all.
She explores relationships and the little secrets that remain hidden, even between husband and wife after over 20 years of marriage. Secrets that have the power to destroy as they take on more significance over the years.

What really makes the series for me though are Penny's descriptive powers. I've been hooked since book 1 "Still Life" (come across by chance). I found myself smiling and feeling warm inside as I read. It took me a while to figure out why.
I had a perfectly formed picture of the village in my mind, I could imagine it existing, I wanted to live there.

Penny's descriptions are, quite simply, lyrical.

I've done another collage this month, inspired by the village:

Thanks to Cloth-Paper Scissors for the tutorial by Kristen Robinson on layering.
The paper is Canson mixed media prepared with gesso and acrylic paints. The picture, the flag and the printed papers are from old books, the token from Tim Holtz says "Listen", the Art with everything stamp is by Chocolate Baroque.  
The final touches were bubble wrap circles and a butterfly stamp by La Blanche.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Days 23 - 26

Day 23 - Past injuries....

Day 24 - Pets: Past and Present....

Day 25 - When faced with a tough decision I ....

Day 26 - This time last year I was....

I've been playing with my Gelli plate again but can't show the results as I'm using the prints to make tags for our FB group meeting at Ally Pally next month.....I'm sooooooo looking forward to meeting my cyber friends in person...yay!!

Over the weekend I'm going to be blog hopping to catch up on all your latest posts....

Saturday, 23 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Days 21 and 22 plus a LO.

Day 21 - Today's weather reminds me of....

....certainly not Spring, that's for sure!

Day 22 - Road trip playlist....

....a mixture but all very loud and easy to sing along to!

The Barbra Streisand is "our album"...I bought it for DH and we used to play it every Sunday as he drove me to King's Cross for the train home (we lived apart because of jobs for the first 9 months of our marriage)...I could close my eyes and know exactly where we were on the A40 by the song that was playing.

And now for my latest LO....untitled as yet....another nature photo...

This is for a stitching challenge on Flying Unicorn.
The papers are by Grace Taylor (for Grant Archival)

I'm now off to do some proof reading...hoping to start my Ally Pally tags this evening.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Days 19 and 20

Day 19 - in the next year I will....

Day 20 - I do not regret....

Last night I made a start on a new LO....just need to embellish it....

It was so relaxing to sit and sew on it with one of the music channels playing...mindless pleasure!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

30 Days of Lists- Days 17 & 18

Day 17 - my biography would include tales of....

Day 18 - so far this year I....

Sunday, 17 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Days 15 & 16 plus an altered frame

Day 15 - ways I save money....

Day 16 - this month's soundtrack....

Both of these lists were "problematic".... day 15 because I really am hopeless with money.
Day 16 will have the boy in despair....he reckons my musical tastes are going downhill....and will probably get me drummed out of the Headbangers'!" is the charity shop frame ....

Day 14 is still not's about my "role models".....

Thursday, 14 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Days 11 - 13 (and today's project)

Day 11- things I do every morning....

Day 12 - things I do every night....

Day 13 - My Causes....

Theoretically Day 14 should be here as well but I'm still pondering the question..

Below is a frame that I picked up for £1 in The Shaw Trust shop......hopefully by tonight it will look completely different....actually, it already does, but it's not finished yet....

Sunday, 10 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Day 10 & Two Challenges in One

Day 10 - I am craving....

The extra challenge at Scrap Club was to use the same design but with a totally different theme.

I recently bought some 1960's black and white photos on ebay   - beautiful shots of birds and butterflies (and some horrible ones of ants....shiver)....I hadn't realised the size of them and was expecting 6 x 4...they're 10 x 8 so need cutting down for most LOs.

I used the first photo last night with Graphic 45 "Bird Song" papers - well, it did seem appropriate!

I used lots of flowers etc for the "Embellish It!" challenge on Flying Unicorn.

I then encountered a major problem.....I have absolutely no idea what the bird is...and have no real way of checking as the photos are b & w.

D. thinks it's hilarious that I'm using unknown birds....I'm running out of family photos and wanted to try s'thing different.
Asked what he thought of the finished article, the reply was.."Too many flowers for my taste. You can tell a woman made it".

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Days 8 & 9 plus Secret ATC Swap

Day 8 - Comfort Food....

Day 9 - On my "oughta do" list....

I'm taking part in a secret ATC swap on Flying Unicorn....mine are currently mid-journey but here are the ones I received yesterday from Donna in USA.....

Donna had even made a beautiful box to hold can see it at the top of the photo.

And finally....for those who missed it on is the result of me watching an Andy Skinner tutorial, then playing with my Gelli plate, acrylic paints and stencils...

Apparently I don't have to cook tonight.....don't know where I'm being taken but I'm sure the food will be lovely....

Thursday, 7 March 2013

30 Days of Lists - Days 5, 6 and 7 plus Scrap Club

Day 5 - Things I would like to do/accomplish by the end of the month....

Day 6 - My Talents....

Day 7 - In My Bag....

Yesterday I managed to get to Scrap Club - the theme this month was "Childhood Memories".

I went armed with the photo album that my Mum kept for me..and this is the result....

We used sequin waste and distress inks to decorate the background. I got a bit carried away with my paper tearing so the middle layer of cardstock is somewhat smaller than it should be.
We made a window in double sided paper to frame the photos and then embellished with buttons, ephemera, flowers, stamped images and buttons.

I still have my journalling to finish - that will be on card hidden behind the middle layer.

I'll be back over the weekend with more lists....

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

30 Days of Lists Days 3 & 4 plus PIF mail

March seems to be passing by as quickly as February did....ah well, "Castle" will soon be back so that's a positive....Nathan Fillion...sigh..

Day 3 - This week I am going to....

Day 4 - On an average day I....

And this is the awesome canvas I received yesterday from Rachel in Canada as part of  Pay it Forward 2013....

It survived the trip in one piece and quite cheered me up!