About Me

I'm a freelance artist, designer and demonstrator and have been involved in arts and craft my whole life in one way or another. I design stamps for top British company Personal Impressions, under the "Lindsay Mason Designs" brand, as well as papers, templates and other crafting products. I'm a certified Ranger Educator and my first book,"Stamping", was published in 2009. I also design regular projects for Crafts Beautiful magazine and have made guest appearances from time to time on QVC. I've recently joined You Tube under the name of LindsayMason1000 where I'm posting short technique videos and you can buy my paintings and hand crafted pieces from my Etsy shop. My work takes me all around the country demonstrating stamping, papercrafts and general inkiness! When I'm not working, I love gardening, church & community activities, nature watching, journalling, music and theatre and just relaxing at home. Email me at: ljm.design1@virginmedia.com

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


Just a quick post this morning while I have my cuppa. I've been clearing away my drawing and colouring pens after my Zentangling spree....I could hardly see the table for pens! I don't know about you, but I sometimes reach the point where my untidy mess just goes beyond the pale and I can't do anything until I've had a bit of a tidy up. My Doo Lally room is still very messy, but I have put away most of the things that I know I won't need to use today. There's definitely a big clear up on the cards though!
Anyway, thanks to Chris for a heads up in the comment she left after my last night's post. I did a couple of magazine projects recently and, although I knew that the Crafts Beautiful one was in the current issue, I didn't know that the September issue of Craft Stamper was out yet. That sounds rather scary doesn't it? The "September" issue.....crikey!
I created a set of a canvas, card and tag for CB using the Anthem Collection from Bo Bunny. Here's a sneaky peek.....
 .....needless to say the magazine have photographed everything beautifully and my picture does not really compare in any way! The Anthem collection was really lovely to work with, gorgeous shades of red, blue and a sort of weathered white which gives a shabby chic feel.
As I haven't seen the feature in Craft Stamper magazine yet, I won't post any pictures until I see exactly what has been included, but it does feature my Doo Lally Pip characters. Thanks for the info Chris!
Well, I'd better drain my mug and get cracking now. I have to sort out papers, brads etc for my WI evening on Thursday....I wrote the quiz questions last night so all I need to worry about now is what I'm actually going to talk about at the start of the evening - think I'll just do it off the cuff!
Once I've sorted Thursday's materials out I'll be back to making Christmas samples again - just what I need too as it looks like, after all the rain yesterday, it's going to get pretty warm again today...my thermometers are pushing 21 degrees already and it's only just past 8am!

Sunday, 28 July 2013


Well, one visitor really. My auntie came down from Scotland to stay with me for a few days, hence my absence from Blogland all this week. It was mum's birthday on Wednesday, so we spent most of the day with her and she had a lovely time eating cupcakes and sweeties....mum's favourite things!
I've been trying to fit work in around being a hostess, but I never find it easy to be creative unless I can properly concentrate on what I'm doing. I have two events coming up though, so have been planning those, as well as finishing some pieces for my Etsy shop.
This coming Thursday I am the guest speaker at the local WI meeting! I'm going to be giving a talk about the kinds of things that I do, a few stories from my travels around the country, followed by a simple card making session and then a short quiz to finish things off. I hope the ladies enjoy it!
The following Thursday I'll be at Crafty-Nook in Durham teaching an evening workshop for around twenty five ladies, so that will be a fun night I'm sure.
I've been making good use of my arty birthday gifts and have been inspired to do some Zentangling which I haven't done for a long time.....I used to love spending hours on detailed "doodles" when I was a teenager! Anyway, I decided to draw some owls - well, two actually! Once I'd drawn them I filled them in with lots of different Zentangle designs and then came the difficult decision....to keep the drawing black and white...or...to add colour? No going back once a decision to start colouring was made, so I just decided to go for it and was pleased that I did......
 .....I was really happy with the vibrant results using my ultra fine coloured ink pens. Once I'd coloured the owls I painted the moon with matte Glue n Seal and made a wavy frame mask so that I could blend some subtle blue ink over the background...I was then able to remove the ink from the moon to leave it white again. I added a wavy border with a fine black pen and coloured some areas of it to match the owls.
This piece was going to go onto my Etsy shop but it was snapped up before it made it onto there! I have since created another Zentangled owl picture which I have added to my shop though, as well as this painting that I've called "Meadow Poppies"......
 ......I used my new Inktense watercolours for this one. They are lovely to work with, with very strong pigments that allow for all sorts of techniques.
Last night I was out at a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for two friends from church. It was a lovely change to be at a party, although the fact that the music from the time of their wedding was 60's music gave pause for thought......surely the sixties can't be fifty years ago?! I had made a simple card for them using a Martha Stewart PATP heart punch, some My Mind's Eye paper, a Sizzix die for the numbers and a little hand written message. Very simple but they liked it!
 It had been another hot day but, thankfully, I'd heeded the weather forecast and taken my brolly with me as the heavens opened and I had to walk home (or should I say "squelch home") in torrential rain. Still, it was very refreshing after the muggy day!
After church and then coffee at the church hall, I just got home before the rains came again today and then I sat down to do some more Zentangling. This time I decided on mushrooms - or toadstools if you prefer...they are the same thing anyway! This was my drawing once I'd filled in with various patterns....
 ....I think mushrooms really lend themselves to this style. I've now started to colour the design and this is the point that I'm up to as of tonight.....
 ......I really do like the monochrome look, but I have always been drawn (ouch!) to colours. Even as a little girl I used to carefully colour in the illustrations in my Enid Blyton books....I did do them very carefully!
The mushroom drawing will go into my Etsy shop once it's finished and put into a mount.
Well, I think I had better sign off now as it very nearly tomorrow! Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and apologies to anyone that I owe an email to - I will be catching up with everything as soon as possible.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Thoughts of snow

Thinking of snow has been a help over these past few very hot days. Thankfully it's been a little fresher here this afternoon, with a subtle breeze wafting through the open doors and cooling things down a little.
Anyway, back to the snow. I have a couple of snowmen cards to share today though they are two quite different characters. This first one is from my Doo Lally Pip Steampunk Snowmen set and I've used a decorative aperture card for a change.
 I distress inked the sky using a scrap of paper to mask off the snow line, then stamped a few simple trees from my Winter Silhouettes set. A couple more layers of scrap card edged with a touch of Tumbled Glass ink created a bit more depth to the scene.
I stamped, coloured and cut out the snowman before coating him with Rock Candy distress glitter - it's much less glitzy than everyday glitter, more of a vintage look.
I stuck him down quite loosely so that his stove pipe hat was slightly above the background.
The second card features a completely different style of snowman, one with a very friendly face! This one is from my Snowtime Snowmen set. I've teamed him with a great Sizzix die, one of Tim's Bigz dies called Holiday Lamp Post, which I cut from black Kraft Core card so I could sand it back for a slightly worn look.
 To give the lamp post a more rounded out appearance, I used a black pen to draw lines where the shadows would be. I also cut a piece of white card to fit behind the lamp which I inked to match the background sky before streaking some oranges and reds into the centre. I stuck a piece of acetate behind the lamp followed by the inked card to give a nice glowing light.
I've also added some white Gesso and I may well add some to the holly...not quite decided yet!
Due to those twiggy arms, I've stamped the snowman directly onto the card using Coffee Archival ink and then again onto white card ready for colouring. The hat and scarf were stamped onto decorative paper which I shaded a little before assembling everything. The robin and little nest were also coloured and cut out a second time before sticking down.
Well, hope you like my little touch of Winter on another very warm day! The eagle eyed among you may also spot some of my ubiquitous bleached out fir trees in the background too....well, it's got to be done!
Hope everyone's having a great weekend.

That was the day that was...

...and if the allusion to TWTWTW means nothing to you, then you're younger than me! Up here in the North West we have a level 3 heatwave alert and it's been truly unbearable today. I have little digital thermometers in various rooms in the house, and even in the shadiest rooms they were registering 27 degrees. As for the ones in the conservatory and kitchen, it was so hot that the displays had completely packed up! 
I woke really early today so I got up and opened all the doors to get some air flowing and let my two terrors out, although, being animals they are sensible about the heat and tend to spend most of their time asleep in shady spots. 
It being my birthday, once I'd brewed some fruit tea, I listened to Mario Lanza. David and I always began both our birthdays this way, starting with our song, "Because". David would always join in and serenade me with his beautiful tenor voice whilst I snuggled into his arms...hearing a tenor voice is one thing, but to feel it right next to you is something else.
Needless to say it was bitter sweet to listen to Mario on my own this morning and I did shed more than a few tears. "Serenade" was another favourite song, this one from the film The Student Prince, which featured Mario Lanza's voice although the part was acted on screen by Edmund Perdom. I found this You Tube video to share here - some of the pictures are an odd choice, but the song and the singing are out of this world....
.....despite the tears, this was a beautiful way to start the day.
It was always going to be a rather unusual birthday as I had to perform Verger duties at a funeral at lunchtime which rather split the day down the middle. Heather had been thinking we might take a trip to the zoo, but we've shelved that till the weather cools down a bit. She came round this morning instead and gave me some scrumptious gifts including some Inktense sets. I've been wanting to use their pencils or blocks for ages now, so I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into using them. I think the blocks will be great for making backgrounds especially...and there are two layers of gorgeous colours in the tin!
Heather had also created something special for me, although she was convinced it was "rubbish"! I think that my reaction convinced her otherwise...it's a beautiful canvas....
.....the words "Wherever there are birds there is hope" are written along the birds' bodies. Isn't it lovely?
So, along with some gift vouchers, I've had some very special gifts today, as well as lovely cards.
Heather dropped me off at church in time for me to set everything up for the funeral...I have to set out candles, service sheets etc and I'm in charge of the CD's if there is any special music to be played ....which can be a little nerve wracking! Poor Heather had to wait around for over two hours in the blazing sun whilst I did my duties and, by then, we both decided it was too late and way too hot to do anything really, so we just came back here to cool off again!
I've just had a quiet evening, finishing a small plaque, deadheading some flowers and making a very simple supper that was both delicious and healthy! I just sliced some freshly picked courgettes lengthways and laid them in a baking dish, threw some home grown cherry tomatoes, stalks intact, on top of them, drizzled with olive oil and a few grinds of course salt and popped the dish into the oven. Absolutely delicious! I don't know about you, but this weather makes me less hungry, so this was all I needed...no meat, no carbs!
The little plaque I finished uses the deer from my Winter Silhouettes set and the words are from our Tinchies range of stamps.
The trees are a Sizzix "on the edge" die that I'm very fond of. I've used Distress Paints over the corrugated backing, with Deco Art Silver Sparkle metal lustre stroked across. I used white Gesso for the snow. The deer was stamped onto acetate but I wanted it to be much blacker and stronger so I used black enamel accents to carefully pipe over the stamped image, then sprinkled a little Distress Rock Candy glitter over it. A few dabs of silicone glue lifted it from the background and I added more Gesso over the feet to secure it more fully.
I had been looking through my old blog posts and came across a plaque that I'd made a couple of years ago so I decided I'd make this one the same way but with a totally different look. It's good to look back at what you made and surprising how you can forget about techniques or ideas, so it's nice to use them again! Here's the one I posted a picture of back in 2009 - crikey!
It was a much larger piece and I think I cut all the trees by hand! The one I made today is a much simpler affair, but I'm sure I'll be making another more full on version again.
Well, I guess I really should sign off and get to bed. Hopefully it will feel a little cooler tonight as there's a bit of a breeze out there now. I have my spritzer bottle of chilled water on my bedside table just in case though!
Oh, just to leave you with an image that might make you laugh...I'm still without a lawnmower and the grass has been getting longer and longer again. Yesterday morning I was so fed up with it that I cut the entire lawn with....a pair of scissors! I was on my hands and knees for over an hour. It doesn't look great, but it does look shorter!   

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

All sorts!

I'm just having a little break from the Doo Lally room. Even though it's one the coolest side of the house, it's been so bakingly hot today that Ive been flagging a bit! So, it was time for a cold, really cold (!) shower, a long cool drink and a break from the inks and stamps. Tara's been hiding under the long leaves of the Crocosmia and Thomas even let me drape a soaked towel over him when he plonked down looking a bit frazzled!
Tara found a rather shady spot yesterday after the UPS delivery man had called with a very large box.....
 ...she's such a comic and every new box has to be investigated and claimed as her own! However, I was more interested by what was in the box, which was the second of two parcels that were delivered. The first was somewhat smaller, but here's what arrived.....
 .....the small package contained the three tubs of DecoArt Metallic Lustre which I'll be making good use of in my Christmas samples. Behind them is a new wheelie bag for my travels....my faithful, twice "re-wheeled" Tardis of a suitcase has been really struggling of late. Well, it's me who's been struggling really, with the worn out wheels, pull out handle that gets stuck and the holes that are getting bigger with every trip! I'm so attached to that case, and it holds so many memories for me that I can't bring myself to throw it out, so it will find a place in the garage where I can still look at it from time to time and remember happy times - I know that sounds weird, but inanimate objects do evoke feelings don't they.
Anyway, my new bag is very posh, a Marie Osmond one from Advantus, very lightweight and spacious. The only problem now is that I've got so used to packing my old case in a particular way that I'll have to learn from scratch again now!
Last night I picked some cherries...they are being snaffled quite quickly by the Blackbirds now, so I won't get too many more....
 ....I strategically placed them on the plate so you can't see all the dinks made by the ants which I have to nip out before eating them! (the cherries, not the ants!) They're delicious but between the birds and the bugs I don't get a lot. I'm happy for the birds to have a good feast though.
Yesterday was one of those days where I got very little done. The phone never stopped ringing and I couldn't get into a flow of work. Today I've got quite a bit done though, and I'm working my way through my new Christmas stamp sets. Here's one for a different occasion though.......
 .....mind you, the art journal fans amongst us will know that characters like this can be used at any time! This is Mr Pumpkinhead from my "Fright Night" Doo Lally Pip set. I know the photo is a little busy, but I couldn't resist positioning the card amongst some of my orange flowers! 
I used Graphic 45 "Magic of Oz" paper for the backing and the characters on the left which were cut from another sheet from the range, except for the bottles which are from the stamp set. I've used Glue n Seal to draw the webs on the stamped panel before Distress inking it. The "Fright Night" words were stamped onto white card and then cut into a suitably drippy edged panel before inking.
Here's a wintry card with no snow for once!
The colours look a little different than in "real life" unfortunately, and it's quite hard to see the orange glow in the windows. Anyway, this one's made using my "Winter Silhouettes" stamp set which I used over a background made with Dylusions ink sprays. No surprises in my colour choices I'm afraid! I cut hilly shapes from black Bazill card stock and overlayed them using silicone glue - hard to see the dimension here. I added a touch of white gel pen along each card layer just to define them more. It's a really simple card but I love using silhouette stamps for that very reason.
Well, I have made more than two cards today, but that's all my pictures for this post. I'm now getting too warm sitting at the computer, so I think I'll drain my glass and get back into the work room for a few more hours. Keep cool everyone!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Ooooh, look what just arrived!

The postie just arrived with a package for me..........
 ......my new Christmas stamp sets! There are also a Halloween set and a hats set in there. The ones along the top are from the Crafty Impressions range in their new festive red packaging. The bottom row are from my Doo Lally Pip collection and, in the middle are my "Little Doo Lally Pip" stamps. There are loads of them....thirteen Doo Lally Pip sets, nine Crafty Impressions sets and ten Little Doo Lally Pips.....makes me realise just how much drawing I did a few months ago and it still gives me a thrill to see them turned into the finished product.
All the new Christmas stamps are available now from Personal Impressions stockists - if they don't have them in, just ask!
Along with my own stamps there were a few of the general Crafty Impressions Christmas word sets.....
......these will prove very useful additions in my sample making.
Speaking of which, it's all hands to the deck now (well, my two hands anyway!) to get lots of samples made with them all. The only question is.....where do I start!
I've just popped back here to add a couple of pictures of a canvas that I finished today - I didn't want to leave it part done when I started my Christmas samples. This one features my Piffy on a Rock Cake character and I've used calico across the bottom of the canvas again for grass. I really like the tactile quality that the fabric gives.
 Here's a closer look at the "grass"....
.....the tiny flowers are circles of painted card that I've wet and scrunched up before heat setting to stiffen them. I added little dots of dimensional pearl paint to the centres. You can see more close ups of the canvas on my Etsy site.
Well, it's been dull and misty here all day, with some showers too and the sun has only just put in an appearance. Yesterday was perfect weather for the garden party at the Vicarage where there was a barbecue as well as three tables weighed down with delicious salads of every description, cous cous, potatoes, trifles etc, all lovingly prepared by members of the parish. A lovely afternoon was had by all though I didn't win anything in the raffle (I never do!) and I didn't go on the bouncy castle either!
I did get some more good bat shots last night and will keep on trying until I manage to get a picture of one face on as it flies towards me....I'm determined!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Summer brings cricket bats

The British summer is certainly making up for lost time now and at a cracking pace too! Every morning brings fresh delights in the garden with glorious colours and tasty crops.
Today I was greeted by this cheery Sunflower amongst the Sweet Peas and Nasturtiums. I've grown quite a few of them but this one has beaten the rest to open first. I've got three vases full of Sweet Peas filling the house with their lovely perfume and still masses of them in the garden. And some of these little belters were on my plate tonight!
I was away from home for a couple of days this week, meeting up with my colleagues for a day at Sizzix HQ, looking at the forthcoming new releases and learning more about how some of the products work. It was a really interesting day and gave me lots of inspiration. 
Yesterday, I was performing duties at another funeral....I'm feeling much more confident about what I'm doing now. Heather met me in church afterwards and we drove up to see mum. There were some other people visiting a relative too and we all ended up having a sing song! Michael started us off with "It's a long way to Tipperary" and most of the residents joined in....it's wonderful just how strong our memory of songs can be. People who cannot remember who they are, who their family are, or who hardly speak at all, can suddenly recall all the words of a song. It was a lovely moment, though, sadly, mum wasn't able to sing along as she once would have done.
Last night I watched the first night of the Proms which had a sea theme. I was transported by the Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony which I've only heard snippets of before, but I'll be listening to it again, it was wonderful. It made me think how permanent music is. Of all the arts, it's the only one that's never effected by time. Paintings can fade or crack, statues can crumble and for sure, all our inky creations will be lost, but music is there forever. Mmmm....it gave me something to ponder.
When I got home I spotted something on the floor in the conservatory and I got some good photos of it.....
  .....isn't he amazing! I was only thinking that I hadn't heard the grasshoppers or crickets in the field this year, and then this chappie turned up. It's normally the duller, brown "versions" that I see, but this one was the most brilliant green. Just ignore the Tara hairs on the carpet by the way! I managed to pick him up without him leaping further into the house.....
.....and snapped this picture before I set him down in the garden. So, he was the cricket of my post title and the bats, well, sadly, I haven't been able to take a picture despite my best efforts, but I've been treated to them swooping really low over the garden for the last few nights. They have been coming really close to me but they do such fantastic aerobatics that I just cannot get one in frame! Fascinating creatures and I'd love to get a really good look at them. NB....see end of this post for update!
I finished another canvas today, and, at first glance it may look as if I used my Robot stamp which was released last year...or was it the year before now...eek! However, this one is an original robot which I drew onto the canvas.....
 .....he's a little more relaxed, with his bent knee, than the one on the stamp set! The canvas has a wire hanger that's hard to see in the picture, but it was more suitable than the ribbon hangers that I often add to my canvasses. He's now up in my Etsy shop and you can see some closer photos of the canvas there.
It's been too hot for T&T today! Thomas has been asleep on my bed for the majority of the day and Tara has been mostly lying amongst the long grasses at the edge of the field. She joined me on the bench late this afternoon though when it had cooled down ever so slightly....
 ....thought you might like this cute picture of her! I'm very lucky that I now live somewhere that I can happily leave every door and window open, so I've been working in my Doo Lally room but I've been able to get the breeze coming through from the back of the house. It's been so quiet here all day - I think everyone has taken the advice to keep out of the sun whilst it's so hot. I had a cold shower earlier...my technique is to get into a warm shower and then slowly trun the temperature down until the water is really cold - not so much of a shock that way! If it gets too hot in the night, my top tip is to soak a bath towel in cold water, wring it out and use it instead of a duvet - works a treat!
Oh, before I go, after a rather long and rather rambly post....I decided to make a bread and butter pudding last night. Don't ask me why! I replaced the sugar with a little Splenda and it looked great when I lifted it out of the oven....

 .....unfortunately, it was a real disappointment and tasted nothing like it looked! I think it needed more liquid, but never mind. So, no recipe for this one until I do a better job! It will still get eaten of course!
Tomorrow I'll be helping between services at church and then it is the Hog Roast in the vicarage garden which I'm really looking forward to. I'll take my camera!
Hope everyone is having a brilliant weekend and not getting overheated....any top tips for keeping cool?

Bats update! Well, after saying I'd like to get a better look at the bats, I had a couple of lucky shots tonight! I go outside at around 10.15pm and tonight decided I would sit on the bench as the bats like to swoop quite low over my lawn (for lawn, read more like a meadow at the moment!). The joy of digital photography....I was able to keep snapping away and, instead of trying to follow a completely unfollowable bat, I just pointed in the general direction and carried on clicking. I didn't think I'd caught anything till I loaded the pictures......
 .....and this one is a corker......
.....though you'll need to click the image for a better look. I don't think I'll be getting a job as a wildlife cameraman any time soon, but these pictures gave me a thrill anyway. The bats came so close tonight that I could feel the movement of their wings as they flittered past, though, of course, they didn't touch me. Doorstep wildlife....fabulous!

Monday, 8 July 2013

A Sunday to remember

What a wonderful Sunday yesterday was. After church, my sister Heather met up with me in the church hall where we have teas and coffees after the service, and then we picked up a few extra nibbles before coming back to my place. We laid out our indoor picnic and then got settled down to watch the Wimbledon men's singles final.
We had to have the ubiquitous Robinson's Barley Water of course, but we also splashed out on some Lambrini and some strawberry flavoured Kopparberg cider - not that either of us are drinkers, but we thought we'd go mad! I was getting into excitement mode even when they were warming up!
 Lol! As the cameras were scanning around the crowd we noted that Sean Connery didn't seem to be there, which was a little surprising as he has usually been at Andy Murray's big matches. I remarked that I'd prefer to look at another Scottish actor, Gerard Butler anyway. Talk about your wish is our command....later on in the match the cameras honed in on.....
....the aforementioned Mr Butler! 
Needless to say we had a brilliant afternoon with much "yyyeeeessssss"ing, "oh noooooooo"ing, heads in hands and arms raised to the rafters! How they ran around like they did for hours in that heat can only be marvelled at - tennis players are definitely the fittest sportsmen on the planet! We were a bit hoarse by the time Andy finally triumphed, and I caught the moment....
......well done Andy, you did everyone proud....even if you did almost forget to hug your mum! 
After we'd come down from the ceiling we went for a bit of a wander round the garden and a walk down the lane to cool off and get some fresh air. We didn't see the deer I'm afraid, even though I kept going to the back of the house all evening just to check! Hopefully I'll spot them again when I have my camera in hand.
We had a nice relaxing evening and went to bed pretty late.
This morning Heather dropped me off in the village on her way home as I had another funeral to "verge" at. Today I also had to process, that is, lead the procession into and out of church. All went okay I'm pleased to say.
The heatwave continues and I am typing this now while I'm cooling down after walking home from church. I stopped off to sit on a shady bench in the park at one point - everyone was walking around at the speed of zombies! Too hot for me I have to confess, but I wouldn't dare to complain!
On another topic entirely, I'm happy to say that my new Christmas stamp sets are available now! Also, the Crafty Impressions festive sets which are our general range. You can link straight to my new Doo Lally Pip sets here, and you can look at the full range by clicking page 2, 3 etc. To see the new Crafty Impressions sets, including some of mine, click here and scroll through the pages...there are seven of them. They will be available from any craft shop that stocks Personal Impressions products. If you make a note of the code of any stamp that you'd like, your local store can order them if they don't have them in stock. There is also a "nearest stockist" search bar on the website that you can punch your postcode into. Any problems, just drop me an email!

Saturday, 6 July 2013


It sure is hot here! Guess it's the same all over the UK today so I hope everyone's been able to enjoy the sunshine in some way. 
My lavender, clean sheets, scented oil and fresh PJ's did the trick last night and I slept much better than I had for days. So, I was up nice and early and finished off the piece I was working on yesterday....
.....another that I really enjoyed making. I was trying out various positions for the extra towers on the castle when my neighbour snuck up on me and I sent the lot flying into the air I jumped so hard! I've had all the doors open today, and she came up the path without a sound before suddenly announcing her presence in the doorway - towers and turrets all over the place! 
Still, I soon got them back into an arrangement that I liked and was able to get everything firmly adhered in case of any more surprises! You may not be able to tell from the photo, but I added an extra mount using TH Kraft Core card stock in a plummy colour which I sanded back lightly. It really set the colours off nicely. The castle had been stamped onto dictionary paper adhered to cardstock...I made sure that there were no rude words and that what was showing was in some way relevent to homes and houses! The colour on the buildings was applied using fine pens in various shades, just lightly stroking each one quickly down the images and layering up the colours till I liked the effects.
My neighbour had called to say that her husband had seen the deer again this morning...a mother and three fawns. Sounds like a lot of babies, so I will be keeping my eyes peeled. Of course, I work at the front of the house and all the wildlife appears at the back - typical!
Well, this was just a very quick post whilst I'm having a fruit tea to cool down a bit. Heather is meeting up with me after church tomorrow and we're coming back here to watch the Wimbledon men's final in the afternoon....much more fun watching with someone else! I think we will be doing quite a bit of cheering as well as some nail biting too I expect! 
Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Juggling balls

It's been a really mixed up kind of a day one way and another. Lots of interruptions of various kinds, as well as Wimbledon to keep distracting me!
For the second day running I didn't wake until 8am which is really late for me. I tend to wake at around six or six thirty so I never set the alarm unless I have a train to catch of course! If I do sleep any longer, a certain pair of moggies generally let me know that breakfast is overdue but not today. So, I felt I was playing catch up all day really.
At about 9am my neighbour called round at the back of the house for a quick chat and, whilst we were standing by the conservatory door I noticed something appear by my gates that had obviously come from the field or the lane. It was a deer! I bolted inside for my camera, which, typically was on charge, but I was too late to get a picture. So, I shall keep an eye open, camera nearby, and will try to photograph it next time. It was quite small and a darkish brown, so I'm not sure if it was a youngster or just one of the smaller breeds of UK deer. Exciting to see though, and my neighbour and I were both saying how lucky we are to have so much wildlife on our doorstep.
The juggling part of my post refers to a canvas that I made today and which I have added to my Etsy shop. It's called "Life is a Juggling Act" and it features Gwendoline, one of my Doo Lally characters. I used some calico on this one, dying it with inks and fraying the edges to create a sort of grass effect.
 I really had fun creating this canvas and I'll be using the calico idea again too. I'm part way through some other items and this was the state of my table when I finally caved in and sat down to watch the rest of the tennis instead!
As I missed just about the whole of the first week of the championship I don't feel too guilty about spending a lot of today goggle boxing....hence the balls part of tonight's blog post title! I'll be completing the above project tomorrow with a bit of luck, so I'll share that with you once it's ready. As you can see, I remain as untidy a worker as ever!
Because of the men's semi finals being back to back and the first one lasting five and a half hours (which I only watched intermittently) I found myself trying to get things done between points, games and sets this evening! As I've been having one of those weeks where I just can't seem to get to sleep at night, I decided to change the bedding and then I picked some lavender and put some in a vase on the bedside table as well as sprinkling some of the flower heads into my pillow case. I've also had an oil burner giving off soothing aromas in the bedroom all evening, so I'm hoping that, along with my shower and fresh PJ's I might have a chance of some sleep tonight. Hopefully too, that will mean I'll be awake nice and early instead of missing half of the morning!
Dinner tonight was also made in a rush between tennis matches. No slipping of standards though, it was still freshly cooked! David would find it hilarious that I'm actually posting my "recipes" here as he was the chef and I very rarely cooked anything. So, tonight's delicacy was unplanned and not thought through as I didn't have much in the fridge really. I made a sort of (!) Biryani and it only took about seven or eight minutes in total! I chopped and fried an onion in a touch of olive oil with a pinch of salt, then added the remaining half of a yellow pepper, also chopped. I stirred in a couple of spoonfuls of Madras curry paste (I prefer it to powdered spices as it's more unctuous and there's no worry about having to fry off any bitterness) and added some vegetable stock. I put a pack of  Basmati rice in the microwave for two minutes.....I don't boil rice anymore as the microwave ones are foolproof as well as being quick and mess free. Then it was into the garden to cut some Rainbow Chard leaves and some French beans, both of which got chopped and added to the pan. I then stirred the rice through the mix, added some halved cherry tomatoes and a dash of soy sauce and dinner was served! It was really tasty and no meat required!
I thought you might like to see a couple more photos taken in the garden today as well. These are the blooms on David's rose which is called "Moment in Time"....
....he'd have loved these flowers which are a much deeper red than they look here. The climbing rose that I planted a couple of months ago is flowering now too. These little blooms are only about an inch across and so delicate.....
 .....aren't they lovely. The rose is called "Little Rambler" and there are oodles of buds on it, so it's going to be covered with little flowers all Summer I think.
Well, it's pretty late, and that lovely fresh bed is calling me, so I'm going to try and get some sleep now. Oh, before I go though, this was the sight that met me this morning when I walked into the lounge....
 ....one little pest, and I suspect it was Tara, had found the bag of catnip leaves, dragged it onto the floor, chewed through the bag and scattered them everywhere. What a mess! I didn't have the heart to hoover it up as they have both been rolling around in it off and on all day...with rather dreamy looks in their eyes! So, with the hope of dreamy looks in my eyes, I shall away to my bed!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Pheasant and courgette...

....though that's not what I had for dinner! I sometimes draw a blank thinking of snappy post titles and that was the best I could come up with tonight. The pheasant in question was actually a whole family that emerged this morning from the overgrown field at the back of the house. They make such a distinctive noise so their presence is always heralded by shrieks and fluttering wings.
However, today there was not just the male and female but two (or it may even be three) youngsters...rather drab like their mum and equally poor flyers. Now I know that they're there I'll try and get a photo of them and I'll have to keep an eye on Thomas who will chance his arm, or his paw, with anything he thinks he has even the slightest chance of catching.
No, dinner was a juicy Sirloin steak that my sister brought for me yesterday...a rare treat indeed, though I don't like my steak rare! My idea of relaxed cooking went awry though, as I was watching the Andy Murray v Vergasco tennis match and decided to get dinner between sets in case it went on for hours. So, onions fried in the pan before adding red wine and vegetable stock followed by mushrooms and a dot of butter. I moved everything over to make room for the steak and cooked it fast with just some black pepper on top. Then it was into the garden with my knife to cut the courgette....
 ....look at that whopper! (no rude comments at the back please!) I sliced it and fried it in a separate pan with just a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. While that was softening I took the steak out to rest and thickened the pan juices with a dash of cream and a knob of butter. A few spoonfuls of mash - yes, I cheated and used instant (I know, but it's not bad and quite low carb comparitively) and that was dinner made very quickly. It was delicious too, though I nearly gave myself indigestion through eating it whilst watching the tennis....I won't give the result in case I spoil it for anyone, but I felt quite wrung out by the end of it! 
That was my recipe for today anyway - lol! I've been listing a few more items onto my Etsy shop today which you can see in the thumbnail photos on the left or by clicking my Etsy banner. However, here's a quick look at them anyway! This is a canvas called "Mischief".....
...and I checked for naughty words in the background this time as I previously managed to cover a canvas with a dictionary page with the word "excrement" all over it! Charming! After all this time I still forget to read the words sometimes!
I've also listed one of the pendants that I made a few weeks ago using Ice Resin....
....but this might be a better photo of it.
Finally, another of the paintings that I did a few years ago when I specialised in detailed flora and fauna pictures. This one is simply called "Porcelain Mushrooms" and they are the white ones on the fallen tree stump.....
 ....you wouldn't believe how long it would take me to complete a painting like that. This one is quite a large picture so I'd have spent weeks working on it off and on. I think my eyes were a bit better then too!
Personal Impressions new Christmas stamps (including mine of course!) look to be on track to be coming into stock very soon, and I have earmarked the next few weeks for working on lots of festive samples which I'll share with you as and when of course. So, not much travelling out and about whilst I concentrate on the new projects, one of which will be a Doo Lally Christmas sweatshirt of course!
Tara has been a much happier little girl today. She can be a grumpy little minx at the best of times, but she's been very out of sorts indeed as she somehow managed to get a big clump of her fur into a real matted mess on her back. Being the snarly, spitty, scratchy little monster that she is (think Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil) it was proving very tricky to get it sorted. However, they both went out early this morning and got rather damp and because her fur was wet I was able to see the problem more easily. I had to keep her bowl topped up with munchies whilst I quickly snipped away at the offending fur. I think she finally realised that I was actually trying to help her because she didn't attack me or run off!
So, I managed to cut the matted patch off and, although she has a rather bald looking area now, she's much happier and spent much of today rubbing her face against me and purring very loudly. The fur will grow back very quickly and she'll be back to her pretty Princess Tippy Toes self! I think I may have more success with her diet now too as a conversation with my neighbour has revealed that, when I'm away, she has been feeding them twice the amount of food that they're supposed to have due to a somewhat dramatic misunderstanding in communication somewhere along the line! 
I picked up two absolute bargains yesterday whilst I was out with Heather. As with most bargains, I wasn't actually looking for them.....when you are looking you never see anything do you? Anyway, one was a Laura Ashley black velvet skirt...almost full length with an assymetrical hemline....that cost the grand sum of £3.00! I spent a little more on the next item - a very smart three quarter length black jacket from Debenhams for all of £5.95! It's perfect for when I'm on church duties. The sleeves, as usual, are a little long for me, so the only downside is that I will have to alter those and have yet to decide the best way to do it as it's a very well made jacket with a lining (pink!) and I don't want to mess it up....sewing is not my fortĂ©!
I bought both items from two charity shops in the village - oh I do love a bargain! Whenever David and I went anywhere new I could always guarantee that he would make a bee line for all the charity shops before anything else - so I guess it's stuck with me.
Last night I decided to sew the canvas that Heather gave to me onto the rotating frame so I've started stitching the design now. It isn't a tapestry as I first thought, but is a cross stitch with wool on printed canvas...basically doing a tapestry twice really! I'm sure it will take me forever to complete, but I'd forgotten just how relaxing it can be and I'll enjoy the process. When it's finished I'll turn it into a cushion and T and T will be barred from sitting on it!
Well, a rather random mix of things in this post! I'll sign off now and it's time for a relax on the sofa.

Monday, 1 July 2013

What a lovely weekend

My trip down to Colemans Craft Warehouse in Rushden on Saturday was really enjoyable and was among several things this weekend that gave me a much needed boost. There were several demonstrations besides mine, including beading, Fimo sculpture and needle felting, though I really didn't get a chance to have a proper look as I was kept busy all day - just how I like it!
Thank you to everyone that spent time at my table and for all your lovely comments. Most artists and designers have moments of self doubt, the negative thoughts that creep up unawares from time to time, so a day spent with people who give such positive and appreciative feedback is just the right tonic.
For some silly reason I forgot to pack my camera, so I don't have any photos from the day, but I doubt I'd have had time to take any really so not to worry! I hope that we will be able to arrange another date for me to return to Colemans, so I will keep you posted.
We were all well looked after on Saturday too, with a constant supply of hot drinks and lunch laid on upstairs - just as well too, as my long journey home didn't contain any opportunities to buy anything to eat on the train. I had a few grapes with me so I made do with those and getting back at well past 10pm was far too late to be thinking about a meal! 
Sunday morning saw me on Sidesperson duties at church...welcoming people at the door with service leaflets, taking the collection and helping people up and down the steps during Communion...not just by myself, there are four people on duty at the Sunday service. I was trying to stop my tummy from rumbling, though it seemed to be timing itself to the quietest parts of the service!
After church I met up with Heather in Blackpool as there was a vintage and craft fair on at the historic Winter Gardens that we wanted to go to. We didn't buy anything, but we enjoyed having a wander and browsing through all the bric a brac, various crafts and collectables. We both found the vintage dolls exceedingly creepy! 
I was, by this time, feeling quite faint, having eaten nothing except grapes and a tiny breakfast cereal bar since midday on Saturday, so we made our way to a noodle bar and had a rather late lunch there. It's almost worth going without food for so long just to relish the feeling when you actually get to eat something again!
My treat last night was to watch Michael BublĂ© whose voice makes me turn to jelly inside! He can be a very naughty boy, with a really mischievous glint in his eyes but he somehow gets away with his sauciness. He sang "Sway"  - Dean Martin's song of course...a man with an equally sexy voice! I enjoyed the whole programme, though when he sang "Home" at the end I admit that it was back to the tears again as it's all about being away from the one you love and I used to sing it to myself when I was missing David while away on my trips. 
All in all I had a happy weekend though and today has been thoroughly wasted on doing just about nothing! I was so busy last week that I just wanted one day where I didn't feel guilty if I slouched about. So, apart from dead heading some pansies, Violas and Nasturtiums I've really done very little. I was able to watch the tennis at last - hooray! And Thomas and Tara have loved having their mum around all day.
The sunshine has been beaming here, and still is as I type, so I took a few pictures of the garden this morning. David's rose is blooming again now which really gave me cause to smile and I know that he'd have loved seeing all the vibrant colours that are really coming into their own now. The garden is somewhat haphazard, scruffy in places and the lawn certainly needs mowing (or scything!) but it is colourful.
 To think these were all tiny seeds a few months ago.......
 ....and Princess Tippy Toes checking out the pots.Unfortunately my Nasturtiums are being chomped by caterpillars but I haven't got the heart to "deal" with them and I reckon that even the Large White butterflies need a hand these days!
Love these Anemones. I've also had plenty more fresh veg, with more courgettes plumping up nicely and, so far, fingers crossed, very little sign of the nasty, slimy slugs that plagued the garden last Summer!
I've added some more items to my Etsy shop today too, including the little shadow box that I posted pictures of last week. You can see thumbnail pictures of the new items in my left sidebar, or click on them for a closer look. Here's a peek of the gold fish semi abstract painting though....
....this has gold highlights and I wanted to create a stained glass sort of effect.
Well, I've just got time to prepare something simple for dinner before one of my favourite programmes strats - Only Connect on BBC 4....it's a very tough quiz based on connections between things. A real brain trainer!
So, I'll say cheerio for now and head for the kitchen.