Sunday, 31 July 2022

July Favourites

 Not too many.  Busy, hot (apparently we had a national record in the Phoenix Park on Monday 19th. It was 33°C, about 92°F). But I have a few cards I really liked.

The hummingbird was from a book of kirigami designs I bought in France. I didn't really have suitable paper, so I used watercolour paper and coloured it with Twinkling H2Os. It was slightly harder to contour, being thicker than ideal, but turned out well. I had planned to make it for C's birthday card, but by the time I added the flower it was too large for a card - I stuck it in a frame instead. With more time I'd have done a better job on the floor, but by then I was rushing to get it finished. The "thanks" card is a lot of offcuts from various backgrounds - gel prints, foiling and whatever else was in my box of saved strips; it's much prettier in real life. 

This month's blog header is a photo from the Botanic Gardens taken last August. 

Friday, 1 July 2022

June Favourites

 ...are extremely thin on the ground, due to holidays.

The wreath card was made slightly earlier - once again I forgot that I already had an anniversary card ready for C, and made this as it was our coral anniversary. We didn't really mark it about from eating out, as we were on the boat and driving down to the Loire. And he forgot his card for me, along with the tablet which he had left charging and unplugged just before we left the house. 

I was keen to try brushstroke foiling, using the Deco Art gel painted onto die-cut letters with a foam brush and loved how it looked.

The "three things" was to mark 900 Ways To Use It challenges. The theme was arrows, and I used a verse which my primary school teacher wrote in my autograph book when I was about 9 or 10. Thanks to our new printers I am no longer limited to regular printer paper, and was able to print even after smooshing and stencilling the background panel.

Edited post to add angled shot of the foiling. I had mis-filed it, it was still in June 22 instead of Cards.

The blog header for this month is one of my photos from our trip to Waterford last July - an oystercatcher on the beach. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Holiday bookends

We are just back from a three week camping holiday in France - finally. It will take time to initially cull and then refine my selection of photos, but the theme seemed to be rivers and gardens. We started with a stopover in the Loire valley to visit Villandry, which we first visited back in '95.

The knot garden in the left foreground is typical hedging, but the nine main squares are all laid out with assorted vegetables supplemented by some bedding.

No gardens as such in the Pyrenees - that was mountains, but rivers everywhere including just across the road from our tent.

Then we moved to the Cevennes - rivers everywhere, including bracketing the campsite. We chose a pitch about half way up the slope to the top of the hill, and felt as if we were camped in our own woodland glade. This was during the heatwave, with a couple of days around the 40C (over 100F) mark, so we were glad to have planned another return visit - this time to the Bambouseraie (bamboo garden). Ideal on a hot sunny day - the only really open space was Dragon Valley.

Here is one of the bamboo alleys. The following photo is, I think, the same alley taken a few days later from the steam train trip we took. The bamboos are tall when you are under them, but the giant redwoods tower over them. And I think that if you didn't know that they were bamboos, one would think that all the foliage in that photo was just regular trees.

We had a single night stopover in the Auvergne, alongside yet another river. This was the day of torrential storms, and the campsite manager let us stay in a permanent marquee-type tent which he had configured as accommodation for visiting musicians. But by the time we had unpacked what we needed from the car, it turned into a drier evening and we enjoyed walking along the river. Not having a tent to take down also allowed us to make an early departure the next morning; after looking at the weather forecast for both Friday and Saturday, we reckoned we should move our visit to Giverny to Friday afternoon. There was a torrential downpour about half an hour before the time on our admission ticket, which we very enjoyably spent in a museum of old industrial engines and such-like. A Miele predecessor to modern washing machines, and a totally fascinating one for making wooden clogs were the ones I most enjoyed. And after that, the garden looked beautiful and fresh in the sunshine with water drops on all the flowers.

We were staying not far away, just beside the Seine, so that was our last river. And we certainly had made the right decision about Giverny. Saturday was dull and grey and rained for much of the day. We did visit the ruins of a nearby castle, built by Richard Lionheart.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

May favourites

 Not a productive month on the card front (and I didn't realise till well into the month that my watermark still said 2021 even though I had switched out the Snoopy graphic). 

I think the boat and gull one is probably my favourite. It reminds me of, and was probably inspired by an Ellen Horan tile my sister gave me.

The first one was geometry inspired.

The teasel is the technique where you build up two or three layers of clear embossing powder, then stamp on it with Versamark and emboss the image with another colour, so it sinks into the clear layers. I'm frugal with my clear EP, but had fun with this. The next two were for a mason jar theme - the penguin jar is actually 3D and will hold a small gift. I have at least two stamps, but pulled out some Bigz dies for both projects. 

The last one was for Mother's Day (in the US). Thank you, Lorraine, for the kingfisher. We did actually have a lovely little kingfisher jug when I was growing up, but I don't remember seeing it when we cleared the house out, so maybe it broke along the way. The real mother-based inspirations were using a page from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary which her father gave her for Christmas when she was 23 (frequently referred to as we were growing up. I kept one volume when we cleared the house), a French theme in the background and some music. 

I considered three different photos for a header this month - also-rans were a view of Lough Tay from our drive up in the Wicklow Mountains last June, and a sparrow feeding a young one, but the heron came out the winner.

Sunday, 22 May 2022


 I paid a visit to Farmleigh on Thursday morning, which turned out to be a good choice as Friday and Saturday were both very showery. As I was stowing the saddlebags in my backpack and switching sunglasses for regular, I had a curious visitor who first perched on the pedal and then flew up to the handlebar of my bicycle.

I don't recall ever noticing so many wisteria before - a whole row of them growing up frames  - and yet I must have been there around this time of year. With peonies also out and some oriental poppies, it slightly made me regret that I hadn't had the energy to go as far as the Botanic Gardens.

I did cycle the longer (and flatter - usually I go for the shorter and more hilly = exercise) route so that I could take a picture of the deer sculpture now that the alliums are starting to come out.  I did grab one at the tulip stage, but missed the stage after that when there is some tall stem with either blue or white flowers, and which I haven't yet taken the time to identify. 


Sunday, 1 May 2022

Canal Ride

 I had my annual medical checkup last week, and since driving aggravates my shoulder, I decided that it was withing cycling range given a good weather forecast. It was a nice combination of into town along the canal, and then a short part through the city before I was back out on the coast road with a cycle lane all the way. Now I know that I can plan around tide times and take a trip to the North Bull Island nature reserve with my camera some time. Last week, though, I just had my phone and I was a bit pressed for time on the way out because C was wrong when he told me I couldn't miss a particular turn. I had spotted this utility box on the way out, and was glad to have time to stop and take a couple of pictures on the way back. The two striped chimneys are a classic Dublin sight - Poolbeg Power Station, and there is a strong Viking heritage in Dublin. In fact the Battle of Clontarf (this area) in 1014 resulted in the victory of Brian Boru and his Irish army over an Irish-Viking alliance, and came to be seen as a battle that marked the end of the Viking domination of the country. 

Many people enjoy sitting along the canal side - but only the famous get sculptures to commemorate the fact. Here on the Royal Canal we have the poet  Brendan Behan sitting just above the 2nd lock. The Grand Canal plays host to another poet, Patrick Kavanagh. 

And at the 10th lock is a sculpture of a lock keeper. While most of the locks along the River Shannon are now automated, we did pass through one old one on our holiday last summer, when we detoured down the Camlin River, which had to be opened manually by the lock keeper just as represented here. 

I had plenty of choices for this month's header. Originally I had a swan, but in the end I decided to go with this chick - I think it's a coot. And I'm also adding a just for fun card. The rat had been floating around my desk since last November when C took his trip to Maine. Being on mineral paper he wasn't as substantial as all the other bits and pieces that float around indefinitely, so I was keen to use him up. 

Saturday, 30 April 2022

April Favourites

 It must be the longer evenings, it's certainly not that work has eased up any. Maybe the break over Easter helped too - whatever the reason, I have more favourite cards to share this month than the previous couple. 

The one with the owl was an Earth Day challenge, so for something recycled I used the kitchen towel from the box I use for spraying in. It had a good colour mix for the owl, I just lightened the centres of the eyes a little with a Posca pen. 

The "wishing and dreaming" with butterflies was to use our choice of techniques. The sanded pencil background is one I really enjoy - and this time I also used the stencil with the pencil remaining it to do some stencil embossing/monoprint, giving me another background for my stash.

The diorama was for a song-inspired challenge - I went for a mash-up of Yellow Submarine (obviously) and Octopus's Garden.

The 30th of April already -where has the year gone! I'll be back tomorrow with a few photos from a bike ride the other day and a new blog header.