Something of the marvelous

I created this scrapbook page using paper from the  Kaisercraft Fairy Dust Collection. It is such a pretty paper that I wanted to find a photo that was as magical as the illustration and this pretty pansy captured in my garden seemed perfect. I added some pressed violas, washi tape, a metal butterfly embellishment, an applique dragonfly, some hand stitching, and some rhinestone embellishments.

I agree with this quote by Aristotle one hundred percent. Everywhere you look in nature there is something marvelous to be found, something to fill your heart with joy.

I love that pansies continue to bloom throughout  the cold weather, adding colour to the winter garden. Each winter I grow them in pots and tubs outside my studio where it is lovely and sunny. They provide a cheerful welcome to visitors coming through the gate.

I am joining in the Add a Quote challenge over at Try it on Tuesday.

Finn

We recently celebrated Finn’s third birthday with a trip to one of his favourite river spots, where he loves to run, explore, swim and chase sticks. I made this scrapbook page for his album, which is filling up fast.

Here are some close-ups of the details.

I love to layer papers.

finn4

The burlap gives it a natural feel.

finn6

I used collage elements and did some chalking through stencils.

Washi tape and ribbon co-ordinate with the colour theme of water and nature.

This pretty sticker was from Graphic 45’s Botanical Tea collection.

finn5

 

My 2017 Planner

My 2017 Planner

I have always been a list maker. Each morning I write a list of things I want to achieve that day. Sometimes I write it out the night before so that I can go to sleep without going over in my mind what I need to do the next day. At the end of the day I take pleasure in crossing off the tasks I have completed and feel a sense of achievement if I have managed to accomplish them all.

This year I decided that, instead of having lists lying around the house, I would make a planner where I could keep everything organised in a fun, creative way. Although there are lots of lovely planners you can buy, I decided to use a recipe journal I have had for a few years, but never used. I think I bought it because it was purple, my favourite colour, but I have another lovely recipe folder that I have been using, so this one has been stashed away in a cupboard until now.

recipe-journal

I decorated the front with scrapbook papers and a small tag, and I also decorated the back and inside cover.

Planner

The journal has six dividers so I have 2 months for each divider and use word stickers for the months.

Planner

On the inside of the divider I glued small calendar pages so I can see the dates at a glance.

Planner

I use a page for each week and write down important dates, what I’m reading, art and craft projects I’m working on, and weekly menus. At the top I attach a stack of To Do notelets with a paper clip so that at the end of each day I can transfer any tasks I haven’t completed to a new list and throw the old one away.

Planner

The paper clips are also handy for keeping snippets I have clipped from magazines or junk mail, of things I want to remember or look up on the Internet. I attach the weekly menu to the page with washi tape so that I can easily take it off at the end of the week if I want to, and in its place I put pictures for art inspiration that I have cut out of catalogues or magazines.

Planner

Plastic sleeves provide a place for photos taken during the week.

Planner

I set the pages up a month at a time so I can easily write out my lists each day, and then when I have time I can add embellishments like stickers, decorative tape, and pressed flowers from my garden. I find it is a fun and creative place to keep things organised – everything together all in one place. It is like a planner, journal, and scrapbook all in one.

Treasure The Memories

This is one of my favourite photographs of my grandmother. It would have been taken in the 1930s when she was in her twenties, before she married. I love her dress; I wish I knew what colour it was. Although when I think of my grandmother, I always think of her as old, I can see her in the face of this young woman, gentle and reflective.

For this scrapbook page I used ribbon, lace, paper flowers and butterflies, and beads from a broken vintage necklace. To honour my grandmother’s love of gardening, I added pressed flowers from my garden – alyssum, feverfew and pansy.

 

Granddad

Originally posted on my Wattle Lane blog.

My granddad was a special person in my life. Although, while I was growing up, we lived quite a distance from my grandparents, we would have a family holiday with them once a year, and I have some very fond memories of those holidays. Eventually we moved closer to them and, for the last few years of my grandfather’s life, he lived just around the corner from us.

I remember him as a kind, gentle man with a great sense of humour and, what we thought at the time, some crazy ideas, always trying to come up with new inventions and ways of making his fortune.

To me, he was an inspiration. He could play the piano by ear, never having learnt music, a skill I always envied. He took up painting later in life, creating many lovely works of art. I often wonder if I inherited my creative genes from his side of the family. His sister, my great-aunt, was also an accomplished pianist, as well as dabbling in many different crafts. My mother sewed all our clothes when we were young, taught me how to knit and to do tapestry and cross-stitch, wrote pieces for magazines, and has encouraged me in all my creative endeavours.

Creating this scrapbook page of my grandfather when he was young seemed like the perfect opportunity to use these tiny playing cards that I have had for a while.

I have always loved this photograph of Granddad taken during the years of the Second World War. The music-themed background paper seemed perfect for celebrating his love of piano music.The background paper with the poem and the bird was a free artist paper from the Somerset Studio magazine. I added the green ribbons and stitching to add a pop of colour to the layout.

I have many more photos of my grandfather taken over the years with his family, which I am looking forward to putting into scrapbook layouts to document his life and to remember the wonderful man who I was fortunate to have called my granddad.

Make A Wish

Make a Wish

When I saw this pretty scrapbook paper from Kaisercraft’s Fairydust collection, I knew I had the perfect photo to go with it. It was one that Nick took a few years ago that I have always loved. I added some honeycomb stencilling, ribbons and fibres, vintage lace, chipboard embellishments, and a few splashes of watercolour paint.
I hope this little garden fairy has added some whimsical delight to your day!

Dandelion, puffs away,
Make my wish come true someday.

 

Halloween Mixed-media Art Journal Page

A Visit From The Ancestors

Halloween mixed-media art journal page

This page in my art journal was made using scrapbook papers, fabrics, chalk, paper lace, and a metal embellishment.
A while ago I was given some quilt fabrics. There were several black pieces with designs of silver stars and swirls, and were perfect for including in this project.

The All Hallow’s Eve scrapbook paper is from Graphic 45’s Time to Flourish collection.

The ancestor pictures are from Kaisercraft’s Betsy’s Couture collection.

The picture of the haunted house is from The Graphics Fairy, which is a great resource for free vintage images, crafting ideas and tutorials.

I love that in my art journal I can tell a story in pictures rather than words.

Vintage Scrapbooking

Recently my dear Aunty Jo passed away, aged 80 years old. She was a very close member of our family and is dearly missed by us all.

Very skilled at handcrafts, she was seldom seen without her knitting at her side. When we were little, she would knit us beautiful cardigans and jerseys, and make lovely clothes for our dolls. She embroidered tablecloths, and stitched tapestries that adorned the walls of her home. In later years she learned to quilt and made each of us beautiful patchwork quilts for our beds. It was she who inspired me to take up quilting, a hobby I quickly became hooked on. Right up until the last few months of her life, Josephine was knitting clothes for the prem babies at our local hospital, and blankets for the orphans in Romania.

I wanted to honour Aunty Jo’s memory by creating pages that reflected her love of crafts. I used vintage doilies, lace, and buttons that once belonged to her. The photographs are layered with patchwork fabrics, and the page borders hand stitched with embroidery floss from her stash of cottons. The little purple rings holding the inchies to the photographs are stitch markers used in knitting.

Josephine

I love seeing her in the old, black and white photographs showing the styles of the times.

Josephine

Her warm personality and sense of humour clearly shine through.

My 2014 Art Journal

At the beginning of this year, I started a new art journal. I’m using a sketchbook that I bought last year—I just love the cover!

journal1

Inside, I created a title page. I painted the background and stamped on random shapes using bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard and a cardboard tube. Then I glued down pictures cut from scrapbook cardstock and cards.

journal2

I journaled my goals for the year—nothing too adventurous, just simple things like gardening, writing and crafts. Oh, and most importantly, adopt a dog! Then, throughout the year, I am going to journal about the things that make me happy, the things that make up my everyday life. It might be places that I visit, things I’ve seen, a book I’ve enjoyed, or flowers that are blooming in my garden.

journal7

journal5

journal6

By the end of the year my journal will be filled with thoughts and imaginings, photographs, drawings, clippings, stickers, and anything else I might want to put in there. It will be like a scrapbook, a way for me to creatively document my year, and at the end of the year I will have a colourful journal of memories.

Weekend in Wellington

This is a scrappy collage page I made of our recent visit to Wellington. Although we were only there a couple of days, we tried to fit in as much as we could. We went to the Andy Warhol exhibition at Te Papa, and to the Gregory Crewdson exhibition at the City Gallery, which included photographs from his Beneath the Roses series portraying the dark heart of contemporary Americana, as well as photos from his Sanctuary and Fireflies works. We visited our favourite bookshops and art & craft shops, went for a morning stroll along Queen’s Wharf, and had dinner at our favourite waterfront restaurant.

Wellington

The Art of Pressed Flowers

A while ago when my mother was having a clear-out, she gave me an old flower press and some pressed flowers that she had pressed many years ago, some of which still lay between the pages of old telephone books. She knew that I could find a use for them in my craft projects. They are great for making cards and bookmarks, for embellishing scrapbook pages, and for using in mixed media art.

flower press

I decided to paint the top of the flower press to add a bit of colour.

decorated flower press

I have been experimenting with flowers from my garden, learning which ones press well and which ones keep their colour. I’ve found that oranges and yellows seem to hold their colour well, as do mauves and violets, but pinks will often fade to nothing, and reds will sometimes change to a brown colour. When I go for walks, I collect interesting ferns, grasses and leaves that I think will press well. Below is a variety of flowers and foliage picked from my garden.

flowers and leaves for pressing

I placed the flowers and leaves between sheets of blotting paper, building up layers. It’s a good idea to label them as you go, as it is easy to forget what they are when you go back to them several weeks later. They should be left for at least two weeks, although thicker plants may take up to six weeks. Of course, you don’t have to use a flower press. Placing the flowers between sheets of blotting paper, then putting them between the pages of a book with something heavy on top, such as a pile of books, will work just as well.

herbs for pressing

leaves & flowers for pressing

lobelia & sage leaves

The calendula and lobelia held their colour well as you can see from this bookmark. The cute little feverfew flowers added some nice texture.

Pressed flower bookmark

My grandmother always loved flowers and gardening, and all the homes she lived in had beautiful gardens. She did the flowers for her church for many years, providing flowers from her own garden, and also ran the flower stall at the church fairs. The pressed flowers that I used on this scrapbook page are ones that my mother pressed more than twenty years ago. Amazingly they have held their colour for all those years, and made a wonderful embellishment for my grandmother’s page.

Grandma-001

Recycling Christmas Cards

My passion for papercrafts began when I was a young girl, when I would save every birthday card I was given, many of which I still have today. I hang onto them for sentimental reasons—for memories of my childhood and of the people who gave them to me, but also for the beautiful images on the cards. I used to save all my Christmas cards as well, but unfortunately you can only accumulate so many before you officially become a hoarder! So a few years ago, out of necessity, I began to be selective in which ones I would keep. I still keep every card that Nick gives me, birthday cards from my family, as well as the beautiful handmade cards that our niece in England makes for us each birthday and Christmas. And of course, there are always a few that have such pretty pictures that I can’t bear to part with them.

However, all is not lost. Instead of discarding our Christmas cards at the end of the holiday season, I found a way to recycle them down to a couple of pages in an album. A few years ago I began a Christmas scrapbook album. Each year I make two collaged pages with pictures cut from the Christmas cards surrounding photos taken on Christmas Day, and some brief journalling on how we spent Christmas that year. The pictures from the Christmas cards make wonderful free embellishments on the pages, and it is lovely to look back through the different years and remember how we spent each Christmas.

What do you do with your Christmas cards once the festive season is over?

Christmas scrapbook page

Christmas Recipe Scrapbook

This year I decided to put my favourite Christmas recipes together into a little scrapbook album to save looking through my cookbooks every year searching for recipes. Most of the recipes are ones I have adapted from others over the years.

I made the album by cutting squares of cardboard and covering them with scrapbook papers. Then I punched holes in them, tied them all together with festive green and red ribbons and embellished the front cover with letters, ribbon and charms.

These are some of the pages and recipes from the album.

Christmas Recipe Scrapbook

Recipes

Vanilla and Cranberry Cupcakes

150 g butter or dairy-free spread
150 g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cranberries
150 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line muffin pan with paper cupcake cases. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla and cranberries. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt alternately with milk. Divide mixture between cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool, then ice with vanilla frosting and decorate with red and green glace cherries.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

 Vanilla Frosting

100 g softened butter or dairy-free spread
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups icing sugar
1 Tblsp milk
Red and green glace cherries to decorate

Mix butter, vanilla, icing sugar and milk to a spreadable consistency. Spread or pipe onto cakes.

Vanilla & Cranberry Cupcakes

Christmas Fruit Mince

2 cups sultanas
2 cups cranberries
1 cup raisins
Grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 apple, peeled and grated
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons brandy

Process sultanas, cranberries and raisins until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Spoon mixture into a screwtop jar and refrigerate. Will keep up to 3 months.

Christmas Fruit Mince

Christmas Fruit Mince Tarts

Pastry

3 ½ cups flour
½ cup custard powder
4 tablespoons sugar
250 g butter or dairy-free spread
1 egg yolk and water to mix

To make the pastry: Sift flour and custard powder. Stir in sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add beaten egg yolk and water. Mix to a stiff dough. Chill for 30 minutes.

To make mince tarts: Roll out pastry to 3mm thickness. Cut out rounds and line 24 greased patty tins. Place 1 tablespoon of fruit mince in each shell. Roll out remaining pastry and cut out star shapes. Place a star in the middle of each tart. Brush stars with beaten egg. Bake at 180ºC for 20 minutes. Dust with icing sugar when cold.

Christmas Fruit Mince Tarts

This chocolate fudge cake recipe is one that my mother used to make when we were children and she still makes it today. Delicious!

Chocolate Fudge Cake

450 g plain digestive biscuits, crushed
200 g butter or dairy-free spread
200 g white sugar
50 g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
Nuts or dried fruit (optional)

Mix cocoa with a small amount of cold water to a thin paste. Place butter, sugars, eggs and cocoa in a saucepan. Stir continuously over a medium heat until butter has melted and sugar has fully dissolved. Add vanilla essence. Add heated mixture to crushed biscuits and mix well. Press down firmly into cake tin and refrigerate until set. Cut into pieces.

If desired, nuts or dried fruit can be added before adding the biscuits. Ice with chocolate icing or sprinkle with icing sugar.

Note: If using dairy-free spread, you may need to add a few more crushed biscuits to the mixture so that it will set properly.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

These stuffing balls are good for vegetarians as they can be cooked separate from the meat. The recipe makes 6 balls. They are nice cold the next day too!

Sage and Apple Stuffing Balls

25 g butter or 3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 egg, beaten
4 slices bread, crumbed
¼ cup chopped fresh sage leaves or 2 tablespoons dried sage
Salt and pepper to season

Gently fry butter, onion and apple for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in breadcrumbs, sage and beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. Form into balls. Brush with oil. Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking.

Sage and Apple Stuffing Balls

I added a pocket to the back page for slipping in extra recipes and notes.

Christmas Album Pocket

Pinwheels & Whirligigs

Pinwheels and whirligigs provide a fun combination of colour and motion. They make a great accent for scrapbook pages, a design element for quilts, and add whimsy to the garden.

I wanted to do a bright, colourful page for the beginning of spring, and remembered a tip I had seen in a scrapbooking magazine a while ago on how to make pinwheels. They are easy to make. All you need to do to make one pinwheel is cut out two each of three different size circles. Then cut each circle in half. Layer them together with the spinners all facing the same way. Then add a colourful button or brad to the centre. You can make small pinwheels from leftover paper scraps.

Products used: K & Company green vine embossed vellum, cardstock, Bella Felt Frame, Tim Coffey Die-cut stickers, buttons, paper scraps

A couple of years ago, I made a quilt with a whirligig design, in my favourite colours of purple and green. The design is called End of the Day and came from the book, More Quilts from The Quiltmaker’s Gift.

Whirligigs make a fun addition to the garden, adding a splash of colour on a still day, or spinning cheerfully in the breeze. Whirligigs likely originated from weather vanes, used by farmers and sailors to indicate wind speed and direction. They soon became popular as wind toys, and early whirligigs often depicted figures that moved as the propeller twirled. I love walking through graveyards and seeing colourful whirligigs brightening the graves.

In Scrappy Cupcake Angels, a row of whirligigs twirl in the breeze from the narrow strip of garden along the front of Mr. Thomas’s cottage.

Chasing A Dream

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of making a living as a novelist, of working from home and creating stories that people might want to read. As I dreamed, I worked as a supermarket deli assistant, a fiber tester, a data entry operator, an apple picker, a cider bottler, a home help, and a despatch worker. Eventually I sold a novella to a magazine in Scotland. Then I sold a few more. But I realised that this would never provide me with the means to give up my day job and write full-time. So I started writing novels. But several novels and a pile of rejection letters later, I decided that if I was ever going to achieve my dream, I would have to take control of my career and be proactive.

Last year I set myself some goals. I would write a novel, publish it, and promote it myself. Then any success or failure would be down to me. So I wrote a novel about a subject I love—a scrapbook novel, I bought a self-publishing package, I set up a website and blog, and I chased my dream.

I chose Abbott Press to publish my book. As a division of Writer’s Digest, whom I have found to be a valuable source of information and resources over the years, I knew that they were all about helping authors realise their dreams. Abbott Press have been wonderful, helping me to produce a book I can be proud of. With their guidance, I felt in complete control every step of the way. I learned a lot about my writing and about the whole publishing process, from formatting to editing and design.

These are exciting times for writers, with so many opportunities to take control of your own career, and not have to wait around forever to be noticed by an agent or publisher. With self-publishing and e-publishing, and the great opportunities available for self-promotion through social media and blogging etc., it has become easier than ever for a writer to turn their dream into reality. With a little imagination and a lot of hard work, the possibilities are limitless.

Last week was an exciting time for me when I got to hold my book for the very first time. Although it was incredibly exciting to have my first story published in My Weekly all those years ago, there is nothing quite as special as seeing your name on an actual book.

What the future holds, nobody knows. Although I am not yet making a living from writing, at least for now I have been given the chance to live my dream, to stay at home and write stories—and hope that they bring people enjoyment. I have many more stories to tell about Wattle Lane Keepsakes and the people who gather there to explore their creativity and embellish life’s magic moments. I look forward to sharing more of their stories with you, my readers.

Scrappy Cupcake Angels

Nothing can quell Angeline Dunwich’s excitement as she stands before Wattle Lane Keepsakes. As she opens the door to her scrapbooking shop for the first time, Angeline hopes to encourage the residents of her small New Zealand town to explore their creativity and capture memories. Little does she know that Wattle Lane Keepsakes will very soon become the weekly destination for four women drawn to scrapbooking for widely different reasons.

Every Thursday Angeline teaches the Scrappy Cupcake Angels how to find joy through scrapbooking, and each of the four learns to confront her fears and to understand what is important in life. As Grace works on a scrapbook for her mother who has dementia, she wonders if it will help her mother cling to her last memories. Tegan scraps her travel photos with an insatiable wanderlust while contemplating where her heart really belongs. As Jodi creates beautiful layouts of her daughter, she questions whether any of her efforts will help mend her broken family. Kayla finds it easiest to express herself through her art, but secretly speculates whether she will ever gain the confidence to realise her dreams.

As Angeline opens her home and her heart to her new friends, only time will tell if the Scrappy Cupcake Angels can help her overcome her own greatest fear and fulfil a lifelong dream.

Scrappy Cupcake Angels is available as a paperback, hardback and eBook from:

Abbott Press

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon UK

Fishpond (New Zealand)

Handmade owl album

A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he heard, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird? – English nursery rhyme

I recently went to a class to make an owl album, which we did over two mornings. The first morning we made the owl from tissue paper and glue. I hadn’t done papier mache since my early school years, and it was a lot of fun building up little bits of tissue paper on top of an owl pattern, getting sticky fingers, and watching him take shape. Next we constructed his surrounds. The bricks surrounding the window he is perched on were cut into polystyrene and painted. A photograph provides curtains for the background, and the decorative frame is made from chipboard. We took our owls home and put them in the hot water cupboard to dry for two weeks, then at the second lesson we painted our little owls, added the eyes, then learned how to construct the album from scratch and put it all together.

I was so pleased with the end result! I used to collect owls and I am still enthralled by them. I am going to fill my album with all things owl-related.

Handmade Decorative Books

I am constantly adding to my collection of craft books. There are so many great ones out there. Not only are they lovely to look at, but each one provides new inspiration for things to make and create. If only there was more time to try everything! I recently bought Handmade Decorative Books by Sue Roddis. It is a wonderful book with guides and techniques for making your own albums and embellishing them with collage, stamping, and stitching.

I decided to have a go at making the heart album, shown on the cover. Although there is a template at the back of the book, I chose to make my own as I wanted to make the pages larger. I had great fun embellishing the pages with some of my favourite photos, and beautiful papers from my stash. A book of nature and garden quotes from Sarabooks Hot Off The Press Inc. provided some lovely additions to the pages.

This photograph provided me with an opportunity to use one of my favourite quotes. Without change, there would be no butterflies – anon.