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May 2009
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July 2009

Quick look at what the sunshine brings


Faded and battered from a long flight, probably from North Africa, a sprightly Painted Lady is still fluttering happily around the garden enjoying the blackberry blossoms. Painted Ladies are all over the place this year, apparently due to heavy winter Moroccan rains.


Amazing she is still so fit to fly.


And these skippers are everywhere, hedgerow blossoms are their favourite haunts.


The sun is helping these seedlings push off their shells. Gracie re-purposed these egg cartons to plant some sunflowers, thanks for the inspiration Debbie.

Now we must think of where they might go in our chalk pit of a garden. Think I'll need a pick axe to hack away a hole in the chalk and dump in some compost. Then put up a fence to keep away the bunnies and something to discourage these guys. Oh my, sunflowers might be hard work, will we even see them bloom before we move house in August?

A quick Tuesday morning glimpse of June in our garden :)

For My Dad


Dear Dad,

This is our first ripe strawberry of the year and when we pick it we'll think of you and how you can grow anything, of course California sunshine helps. I know this isn't what you would consider a crop, but lately I'm lucky I've managed to keep anything alive let alone see it fruit. 

As I keep having to buy Gracie new shoes to accommodate her ever lengthening feet and Tristan's head now blocks my view I suppose success can be better measured in the fact that they are flourishing in place of a garden.

Have a lovely day and as usual, I wish I could be there with you.

Love Joanie x

Ship Ahoy! Father's Day Card


These are the sea-faring cards my class made for Father's Day this year. Like the tie cards, this project is one that can be enjoyed by all age ranges - and although they're all based on the same template the childrens' choice of fabrics and assorted supplies make each card very individual.

As we have a limited time frame to work on projects in the class room we kept the decorating of the ships simple. If we'd had more time we might have added little people standing on deck and strings to mimic ropes for the rigging. 

To make them you'll need these supplies:
Scraps of fabric, old lace or ribbons • cereal boxes or other card stock • white glue • scissors • brown paper (we used pieces cut from old magazines) • a twig or a stick • card stock for the folded card • corrugated cardboard or foam mounting stickers
  1. Begin by tracing this template on to the back of a cereal box then cut out the three shapes. The shapes are simplified to make them easy for little hands to cut but if you have limited time like I did, pre-cut the shapes for the children.
  2. Glue scraps of fabric to the sails, leave to dry then trim off any excess fabric from around the edges.
  3. Glue scraps of brown paper or fabric to the boat leave to dry then trim off any excess brown paper from around the edges.
  4. Cut out 6 small squares (about a cm square) of the corrugated cardboard. Glue two squares to the back of each piece of the ship. Spread them apart for balance and don't place them too near the edges.
  5. Put glue on the small squares, turn the pieces of the ship over and put them into position on the card. The ship parts will now be set off of the page and allow you to glue the stick for the mast behind them. (Alternatively use foam stickers instead of cardboard squares)
  6. Glue the mast on then cut out a small triangle of fabric and glue it to the top of the mast for a flag. 
  7. Draw some waves for the sea and write a message inside the card.
I hope you try it out, my class really enjoyed putting these together and we'll definitely be making a few up at home for daddy and the grandpas.

Stitch a postcard


I like to stitch cards and postcards to make greetings that are a little bit different. It's another way to use up scraps of fabric, lace and buttons. The one above has gone off to my husband's uncle and aunt, our hosts during our recent trip to Holland.

As this is a postcard, I wanted the design to have a postcard feel about it. I also added ribbon when I mounted it so that it could be hung. Then I wrote a message on the reverse like a regular postcard, but this one will go in an envelope to protect it.


Here's a very easy way to mount a small, stitched piece of art and turn it into a postcard or mini wall hanging.

You'll need: a piece of art or wording stitched on to lightweight fabric • heavy card stock or mount board • normal card stock • a craft knife and cutting mat • a length of ribbon • craft glue • double sided tape (not the narrow type in the roll on dispenser) • regular clear tape

  1. Stitch an image or a message on to lightweight fabric.
  2. Cut out a piece of heavy card stock with a craft knife or utility knife to mount it on (I use the backing from used sketch pads.) The heavy card should be about an inch (3 cm) smaller than the image area of your fabric art.
  3. Place the artwork image side down on a table then place the heavy card on top of it making sure it's positioned in the center. Place a piece of double sided tape along two opposite edges of the heavy card stock.
  4. Starting in the middle of one edge, pull the artwork over the card so it sticks to the tape, then stick the rest of that edge and repeat on the opposite side.
  5. Follow by sticking the remaining two edges in the same way.
  6. Neaten up the corners and tape them down flat with normal tape.
  7. Add a ribbon by gluing the two ends down at the top. (The ribbon will be sandwiched between the mounted art and the backing.) NOTE: If I've made steps 2 - 7 sound harder than they are, click here for a quickly drawn diagram.
  8. Cut a normal piece of card stock out slightly smaller than the mounted artwork. Put craft glue around each edge and place it over the back of the mounted art.
  9. Place a book on top to help it dry flat or put clothes pegs around the edges.

Now post it off and make the recipient smile :)

A big thank you for all the kind comments regarding Tristan's trip away, I appreciate all of your sweet sentiments. I'm happy to report that I'm coping, which hasn't even involved red wine consumption, but maybe a little lot of chocolate. Really, I'm completely void of self control at the moment, but I'm considering it medicinal!

P.S.  Back soon with a Father's Day card project I recently made with my class. If you need a card project sooner, take a look at this one from previous years.


But he's only ten...

Alright, almost eleven, but still our little boy. 

What do you do when it's his first school trip? 

You help him pack his bag and you check the list to make sure everything is in there. And then you check the list again and maybe just one more time.


Then you make a last minute luggage tag because all the cases have mum and dad's name on them, not his own. He's never needed his own because we've always been there.


And you make sure his iPod is charged because music always makes him happy.


Then you watch him get in the coach and see that he is braver than you are because he's calm and content. And you make sure they've driven down the road before he sees the tears in your eyes.

Then you wonder how to get through the week missing this piece of you.


And you do the thing that makes you calm and content too: sit and sew, enjoying the sunlight flooding the room when the forecast called for showers.

I hope your room is sunny too :)

Walk with me Friday (photo heavy)

In England there are thousands of miles of footpaths. Footpaths are walking paths open to everyone even though many cross right through private land. Treading these paths is the best way to see the English countryside. We are lucky to have many footpaths with amazing scenery right on our doorstep. 

I know many of you enjoy a little stroll through nature so I thought I'd take you with me on one of my favourite routes. The wind is strong in stormy weather and blows a gale on these hilltops therefore this is a fair weather walking trail for me. 

We will be moving to a new county in August, I wanted a photo record for me to remember it by. On a Friday this walk ends with a visit to our local cafe and a visit with my good friend


We start by walking down the farm track we live on and turning right up and into a little wood. It feels like our own private section of paths because there never seems to be signs of anyone else here and the cow parsley, wild garlic and nettles are rampant.


Then the path opens and runs along the edge of open fields.


The fields end at the Wye National Nature Reserve and begins a new path on a hilltop above The Wye Crown, built in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward IIV, Queen Victoria's successor.


Around the bend newly shorn sheep admire the view. These hills are part of Southern England's North Downs.


At the end of the hilltop path we come to another wood.


We descend down a very steep hillside path through these woods.


And out of the woods to a field of new barley. This path continues for about three quarters of a mile until it flattens out in the village of Wye.


We walk along the small green in Wye where the post office is and where the market is held every other Saturday.


These are some of the little houses along The Green.


Finally, a little over an hour later (if we're walking at a good pace) we arrive at Crown Coffee where we'll rest


...and drink coffee and a tall glass of water. I never remember to take nice "before" pictures of food and drink, too gluttonous I guess ;)

Hope you enjoyed this Friday break, have a lovely weekend!

Holiday snaps and a winnner


We had a wonderful time. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Tulips from the Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam.


Many canals.


Splashy glass sculptures by Giampaolo Amoruso.


Nemo science museum.


Knopenwinkel button shop a highlight for mummy. I bought a handful of special carved, wooden  buttons. Sadly my photos from inside the shop didn't work but the outside is special too.


Cycling everywhere we went.

More photos on Flickr if if you like.

And now for the blog birthday contest winner.
Thank you to everyone for entering, I really enjoyed reading your thoughtful comments and hearing how you all get your best ideas. It seems most of us are inspired when our brains are focused on the mundane or at rest.

As today is a busy back to school day for me I used the to choose a winner. The lucky number was 46 which makes Elissa from Birch Swinging the winner. Elissa, email me your postal address and I'll ship off all of your prizes.

These were the items I picked up in Holland to add to the prize package. A bracelet from Knopenwinkel, the button shop, toadstool trim from a pretty outdoor market in a seaside town and a notebook from a museum shop in Amsterdam.


I hope you all had a great week too!