Saturday, 15 October 2016

Have a Green Christmas Eve

I read on Facebook this time last year about a dangerous new addition to a Christmas tradition.  People have been putting something out for Santa to eat and drink on Christmas Eve for a long time, but recently feeding the reindeer has become part of it.  After all, why not?  You could say that they are doing all the hard work racing through the sky, dealing with the parking problems while Santa just does the deliveries and consumes vast amounts of mince pies and sherry.  You could leave a carrot for Rudolf, but what about the other eight?  So stores have been selling wee bags of "reindeer food" which are actually sweets.  Children sprinkle these outside but instead of the team eating them the local wildlife has been snacking, and apparently dying because of it.

You could opt not to feed the reindeer but a better idea is to put something else out instead that will actually help the environment.  I am a little late perhaps but maybe not, as a lot of plants are still flowering or have gone over leaving seeds.  Collect these up (or buy seeds) and have a little fun with them.

This is the actual size and will print out on one A4 sheet of good quality stiff white card.  It is a good size to hold a fair few seeds but if you want a smaller version you could resize it.  Cut it out (a knife and ruler for best results) and score lightly along the dotted lines.  Fold and glue the side tab and base; to hold the top down you could use a small round sticker or you can glue this as well for extra security particularly if this is going to be mailed.  Please be aware that there are laws preventing the sending of some seeds into some countries; you will need to look this up if you want to mail this out of the country.  Gluing down the top also makes it look more professional.

Inside go the seeds and these can be sprinkled on the ground wherever you want.  The bed will first need to be raked and weeded and these do need to be the type of seeds that you can sow directly into the ground at this time of year, not the type you have to sow into seed trays first.  This is what it says on the back:
A bit small here but you get the gist.  All the fun of feeding the reindeer plus knowing no animal will be harmed and then the joy of the flowers next year.  Of course they will need to be the type that pollinators like; a list of these can be viewed here for butterflies and here for more general pollinators including bees.  You can also buy seed mixes and seeds especially aimed at pollinators from many seed merchants. 

Do reindeer eat seeds?  Well, they certainly don't eat sweets! 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Seal of Approval

I hope this cross stitch design gets your "seal of approval".  I based it on a painting I did of a seal pup looking through a hole in the ice and thus it is ideal for an aperture card with a round aperture. 
This is what it looks like made up with a trifold card featuring a suitable background.  The card blank will also soon be available to buy, but for the meantime you can obtain the chart and get stitching.  Buy it here

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Trick Or Treat?!

Trick or Treat?!  As a lifetime lover of all things spooky I do like this time of year.  I am also a lifetime lover of all things colorful so enjoy the colors associated with October too and this latest kit brings all these things together.  For best results print on sturdy card, and score along the dotted lines before folding.  Some people use a bone folder but I find the best results are obtained by scoring very lightly with a craft knife.  You will also need some glue to stick it all together, and a hole punch for the tag.
This is what it looks like from the front when made up.  On the back it says HAPPY HALLOWEEN in large spooky-looking letters and there is a "made by......." space for your name.  Line it with a doily and you can also use it to hold snacks at a party.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Apple Blossom Time

No, I know it is not apple blossom time but people do not always want greetings cards appropriate to the time of year.  Having a birthday in April that is often around Easter time I have always tended to get Easter-y cards but if your birthday is in the depths of January would you want lots of cards with dead trees, snow, lowering skies etc?  Probably not.  So if you have had your fill of woodland scenes showing autumn leaves, squirrels with nuts, toadstools etc this card might be welcome.

It comes with full instructions that show another card but everything is the same.  It just saves me having to take a different set of photos each time and might even tempt you to buy the card it depicts, who knows?

Coming soon the "seedy" ideas I mentioned last time plus my latest range of Christmas cards.

This card is available at

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Off With Their Heads!

It is the time of year to do a spot of beheading - removing dead heads and collecting seeds.  Here is a part of my sun lounge complete with drying seeds of allium, love-in-a-mist, marigold and poppies:
So that is a whole lot of bowls, saucers and plastic boxes out of commission - these seeds need to be removed and put into paper bags.  But where do I get a lot of paper bags and even if I label them, having to sort through a lot of anonymous-looking wee bags to find the right seeds next year will not be easy.  So why not make some seed packets like the ones you buy?  These will have all the information on the reverse, a cheerful colored image on the front and...well, let's make a couple first.

Open a graphics program, it doesn't matter much for a simple project like this which one you use but I tend to like PSP.  Here is a seed packet blank:
It is yours for your own use.  This makes a nice big packet and fits onto A4 so for a smaller packet just resize.  If you have taken a photo of your flower now is the time to use it, or have a look for public domain photos or images of the flower online.  Here it is after being cropped and having a posterizing treatment added to it on PSP, then cut and pasted onto the packet blank:
Note the caption which tells you what it is!  I have had these pink poppies for ages now and collect the seed every year but they have also become naturalized.  These double flowers are pretty but not much good for bees as they cannot get inside so not the sort of thing to go wild with and sow all over the place.  I just add a few for their looks.  Now let's open a table, fill it with useful information and you have done all the work you need
This tells you what you need to know. Print out, cut out, apply some paper glue on the tabs and stick together.  Put the seeds in and you have a pretty and practical packet!

Of course maybe you don't need yet more seeds of a particular variety or you have enough to fill a football pitch with them.  So why not give the packets to people as gifts?  You could put their names on the front and who they are from.  Lovely stocking fillers, Secret Santa or any other occasion.

Some more seedy ideas next time.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Scrap Your Garden

When your garden is looking its best under summer skies it is time to take plenty of photos.  For a simple page with a fun floral look here is an idea that won't take long to do but which showcases those floral closeups.

You will need:

Natural looking background paper in earth tones (this one is Basic Grey)
Dark green card
Scallop edged scissors

I)  Choose your central image - here family members in my aunt and uncle's garden.  Draw a circle 4 1/2" and cut out with the scallop scissors.  If you don't want to cut the photo make a copy and cut out a circle with the important parts in it 4" in diameter and mount.  Put aside.

II) Now select your favorite floral closeups.  As these vary in size and I didn't want to chop up large flower images there are two sizes of petals here.  Here is the wide one:
This is 4 1/2" high and 4 inches wide.  Here is the thinner one:

Choose any even numbered combination of these shapes that suit your photos and get snipping.  You will need eight and all require being cut out with the scallop scissors.  Mount the photos on top.  Here are the photo patterns, half an inch smaller all around:

III) To arrange on the page line up four petals top, bottom and sides with the edge of the page and stick down.  Now attach the other four in between.  Finally put the circle on top and your flower is done!  There ought to be some journalling but I tend towards double page spreads and this was on the other page leaving this for photos alone.  There is room top and bottom for captions.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Photo Fun

I know, I know I am not the world's best blogger but rest assured, I have been out and about communing with nature.  Today my pack arrived (hooray) to spur me on and give me some much needed ideas.  I see I have already done some of them and have been doing so for years and one of my favorites has to be taking photographs and making my memory album!  Another favorite is using the photos for something else - something even better than the memory album which is wearable art.  Also arriving in the mail was the latest issue of Bead Magazine:
Inside is an article all about how I got into working with beads and also one of my projects.  This uses photographs to make pendants.  The pictures are shrunk in a graphics program and embedded in resin.  Here is the necklace:
And here are the photos I used to make the wee pictures:
I took all of these in my own garden using the plants I grow.   I will have to find out what is loved by ferns but I know how much bees rely on those early crocuses when the queens are starting new colonies.  I am clearing more space right now to plant more of them so those are my acts of wildness for the moment.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Cuckoo Spit

Every May white blobs of foam start to appear on shrubs such as lavender and rosemary; this year because it was so cold in late winter/most of spring they are later.  A few days ago I started to notice that they had begun to appear and here is one on my rosemary:
Looking a bit out of focus as I am rather in between cameras at the moment, looking for one that takes a good closeup.  I expect this looks familiar if you live in the UK but what is it and what does it have to do with cuckoos?

This is the larval form of a wee insect called the froghopper.  It causes no harm to plants whatsoever and please don't try and get rid of it as it will soon vanish when the nymph is old enough to leave the foam.  The adults are sap suckers and will appear in late summer; again they don't do any harm.  They lay their eggs at this time of the year which will lie dormant over winter and emerge in the spring in their protective blobs.  These keep the nymph moist and taste nasty to predators, as well as keeping them warm.  There is more than one type of froghopper that does this and other common names for the foam include snake spit and frog spit; the cuckoo part presumably refers to the time of year it appears as it has nothing to do with cuckoos!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Getting To Know You...

I took a wander around my garden yesterday to see how many different bees I could spot, and what plants they like the best.  I try to make sure that there are at least a couple out between February and November when the bumble bee season runs and currently there are several, including foxgloves:
These are wonderful plants, easy to grow and hapy with a range of conditions.  You can buy seeds from Crocus here for a number of varieties, but this is the basic one (digitalis purpurea) that will naturalize and provide multi-storey feeding for pollinators.  However, these were not fully out and the bees were instead buzzing around a plant that was firing on all cyclinders.  This is the phlomis:
Looking vigorous and taking up too much path room!  It was so busy (or buzzy) with bees I had to be careful squeezing past it to avoid getting stung.  Phlomis russeliana does not mind drought, and has a long May-September flowering season.  This is another plant that is easy to grow being properly hardy, salt tolerant and generally tough.  Unlike the foxgloves which are happy in sun or shade this one likes full sun.  You can also buy this here from Crocus, this time as a 2 litre pot plant which will arrive very well packed.

So, which bees did I see then and how did I identify them?  There is a useful identification section on the Bumblebee Conservtion Trust site here which lists every bumble bee you are likely to see in the British Isles.  Click here to visit.  Firstly I saw several honey bees, these were the most numerous species.  There is only one species of these in this country and none are wild; they all belong to people these days.  There are also 24 species of bumble bee, and I saw several different types.  There were some buff colored Common Carder Bbees, a Red Tailed bee and several White Tailed bees.  Others were harder to identify, and there is a difference between males, workers and queens but I saw at least three kinds.  Now I intend to take a closer look at my bees and hopefully get some closeups with my camera; these less detailed photos were take with my cell phone.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Mini Bio Blitz

Sitting by my pond for a few minutes this afternoon, what could I see?  I thought I would just sit there quietly and see what came along.  Here is what I saw:

Azure Damselflies (3)
Small White Butterflies (2)
White Tailed Bumblebee (I will find out which one this is)
Holly Blue Butterfly
Honey Bees (2)
Unidentified tiny tan moth (again, I will have to check this out)
More tomorrow!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Going WILD!

It is THAT time of year again - time for 30 Days Wild!  If you don't know what this is all about you can find out here and maybe take part in it yourself.  After two gloriously hot and sunny days over the weekend the first day of the challenge dawned dark, dull and damp.  But nature still goes on out there, and so I have gone forth in a bid to make my garden a greener place.  Here is my latest acquisition, a bug hotel:

You can pay silly prices for these but this was well under a tenner from Lidl.  Home Bargains has them too if you live near one of their larger stores (my local one did not have them).  They do stock a fair range of very cheap bird food and other things for feeding and generally pleasing wildlife.  Find out where your nearest store is here and check out their mail order range which includes bird food etc filed under Pets.

Two of my other new purchases from Home Bargains can be seen hanging in my garden:

Feeders for peanuts and fat balls, already marked by beaks!  These are good quality metal feeders; the plastic ones don't weather well and if you have squirrels they will tear them to pieces.  In the distance you can see a third feeder, this time filled with nesting materials:

I don't own any furry pets but do own a tumble dryer.  This is the fluff from my mostly cotton garments and household items made available to birds for nesting material.

It will be interesting to watch and record over the month who visits and what happens!  As Green Thoughts is a craft related site as well as about green issues I will also be posting up some crafty ideas.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Put Up A Bun

No, not that sort of bun although I certainly ate quite a few hot cross ones over Easter, consoling myself indoors while outside the storm raged.  That is my excuse anyhow!  This is the other sort, the type you wear on your head and as I have an article coming out any day now in The Bead Magazine featuring decorative hair grips, bun pins and a tiara then here are some instructions on how to put up a bun.

If you look back a few posts you can find one called Fun With A Bun which links to an article about making your own bun ring.  This post shows you how to use it, or a store bought one.

First you need these items:

·        Bun ring
·        Bun pins or hairgrips
·        Covered rubber band
·        Bun net (optional)

Put your hair into a ponytail using the covered rubber band, and position it until it is on top of your head in the centre.

Thread on the bun ring like a bead, and arrange the hair evenly all around it.

Start to tuck the hair in underneath the ring; the end of a tail comb is often helpful with this.  Push in the pins as you go along until all the hair is underneath.  Finish with a net if desired.
Ta-da!  One bun, complete with tiara although not the one in this issue.  Terrible photos I know, but I didn't take them.  

Bun rings, nets, pins and all the other items you need can be obtained here from Claires.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Pop-Up Cards - Easter Violets

I have been adding some new pop-up card kits to Craftuprint, all of which can be seen (and bought) along with my other kits, sheets and cross stitch patterns here   These all come with instructions and in most cases are simple enough to make up, but my latest fan card is a wee bit more complicated (just a wee bit).  The kit has a sheet of instructions and staged photos but the latter are not enormous so here are some larger versions along with the instructions and a few tips.

Instructions For Pop-Up Fan Cards
 I)         Print onto card and cut everything out.  Score along all the fold lines with a knife or bone folder and bend backwards.  (Fig i)

 I)         Bend the tab back behind the fan and glue the base to it so the plain side of the base is facing upwards.  Bend back the tab on the bottom of the slider and stick it centrally on the base so the tab is flush with the fan. (Fig ii)  Also make up the three supports into box shapes as shown.

 I)      Stick the relevant supports to the reverse of the shapes.  The shortest one to the smallest, the middle one to the medium sized one and the wide one to the top of the largest one.  (Fig iii)

 I)              Apply glue (or double sided tape) to the two areas shown in red on the largest shape’s support.  Attach to the fan sticking over the slider tab and resting the bottom of the large shape on the base.  Apply glue all over the middle shape’s support tab back and bottom and glue to the base and the large shape.  Do the same with the small tab.  Your finished card look like this when standing up (Fig iv)

 I)           It should fold flat for mailing and look like this with the base image on top (Fig v)

 This fifth photo is missing from the instructions as there wasn't room for it.  Watch this space for more pop-up card kits of different types.

Here too are some photos of my other new kits.