Seasons Greetings! We hope you all had a wonderful relaxing Christmas and are now gearing up for New Year. We had a lovely first Christmas here in Candelo with perfect weather in the mid-twenties. My daughter was up early and not because she couldn’t wait! She has been babysitting our neighbour’s beautiful black Labradors and they were very impatient for the day to begin! Caro took the following photos:
We started the day in a very civilized fashion with delicious fruit, sourdough toast and lime marmalade and tea before sitting down to open our gifts.
My daughter has rediscovered water colour painting and has been busy this past week making beautiful cards for all her family and friends.
We organized Christmas lunch, then I popped down to the neighbour’s house for a Christmas photo shoot with the dogs! They are such characters!! It was quite a saga getting them to wear their antlers at the same time and long enough to be photographed!I love Dougal’s eyes! He is such a handsome fellow, but a bit of a rogue!Caro has a real soft spot for Jamie!Lunch was delicious! Roast turkey with fig, orange and cranberry stuffing, ham, roast potatoes, roast pumpkin with rosemary, little onions roasted in thyme and balsalmic vinegar, green beans and a delicious home-grown, red cabbage dish. We crashed for a much-needed sleep, forgetting that we had left the pudding on to boil! Luckily, Ross topped up the water and even though it boiled for an extra hour than it should have, it didn’t affect it and I think it was the best Christmas Pudding ever! Thank you Syd for the tip about Gladwrap – a perfect seal (see my late November post: Christmas Pudding Wishes : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/26/christmas-pudding-wishes/) . We were also very impressed with the Christmas Cake this year- lovely and moist and not burnt for once!!!The festive season has also definitely begun in the bird world! The Little Corellas (white) and Pink Galahs are loving the ripe Duranta berries.Some of their more rogueish elements have also started on the plums and apples!I am always amazed at the pink plumage of Galahs and Little Corellas are such endearing clowns with their blue eye patches and engaging antics!We are still treated nightly to their aerial manouevres and mass flock spectacles, occasionally livened up with a blur of pink from the galahs joining in!
It is lovely having the Eastern Spinebills back in the garden and the verandah is an ideal spot to watch them sucking the nectar from the agapanthus.The latter are now in full bloom and absolutely stunning!The hydrangeas are forming giant flower heads of soft mauve, blue and pink.We were thrilled to discover a Blue-banded Bee (Amegilla cingulata) in the Soho Bed. ‘Cingulata’ comes from the Latin ‘Cingulum’ (belt), referring to the bands. Apparently, the males have 5 stripes and the females 4 stripes on their abdomen. These beautiful Australian native bees are quite solitary, unlike their Honey Bee cousins. The males cling to the plant stems overnight, while the females live in burrows in the soil or soft stone and have a limited foraging range within 300 m of their nest, so they must be resident in the garden! Perhaps they nest in between the old bricks of the Soho Bed path. Apparently, they love blue flowers, so they should feel very at home in our garden with all the lavender, blue salvia, agapanthus and hydrangeas! Photo 1 shows a Blue-banded Bee on a Lavender stalk. The 2nd photo is a close-up, in case you could not find it! Here is a Honey Bee on a rose leaf.
The Soho Bed is the home of the Blue-banded Bee.Perhaps, the female has her nest in between the old bricks of the path, shown in Photo 5, with the Pink Verbena.The insect world and its ingenious defensive mechanisms and camouflage never ceases to amaze me! If I was a bird, I wouldn’t want to eat this spiky spider with its yellow dots. Nor this spider with the scary face on its bottom!!! This spiky furry caterpillar would be quite a mouthful! (Caro’s photo)
I love all their patterns and dots.We felt pretty special finding this Christmas Beetle down in the vegie garden on Christmas Day.Another very exciting discovery on the day after Boxing Day was the opening of the sunflower blooms, all ready for the New Year!The pumpkin flowers are prolific and their parent plants and the zucchini plants continue their relentless march across the garden, consuming everything in their path!
I love all the warm colours in the garden too : the Dahlias, the Red Hot Pokers, the Calla Lily seeds and all the ripening fruit and vegies.
For Christmas, we decided to buy the hardwood posts and cross-beams for the Main Pergola. The steel posts in Photo 1 show the position of the uprights. Adam (Photo 2) and the other climbing roses are growing so quickly, they urgently need support.Here are the other beautiful blooms this week: In order, Penelope; Blanc Double de Coubert; Troilus; Eglantyne; The Children’s Rose and LD Braithwaite.And my Christmas vases: Agapanthus; Orange Calendula and Blue Cornflowers; LD Braithwaite (red), Eglantyne (pale pink), Children’s Rose (globular pink), Feverfew and Catmint; A vase of Troilus with Buddleia, white and purple Stock, Feverfew, Catmint and Blue Salvia complements the beautiful Simplicity calendar, which our son gave us; Close-up of the same vase; Stunning red dahlias and finally, cheery orange dahlias for Christmas!Finally, some photos of our beautiful Full Moon over Christmas. If you look at the 4th photo carefully, it looks like there is a 2nd very faint moon above the real moon! I loved the cloud effects! The last photo was taken on the full zoom of the camera, but has not been further enlarged. It is an amazing little camera and really comes into its own with long-distance shots!!!
Christmas has always been a very special time in our house, especially the lead up in the month beforehand, with all the food preparation, gift making and present wrapping!
I have already written posts about :
Desserts for Pre-Christmas work parties : The Sweet Spot (October)
Christmas Cake and Pudding (November)
Christmas Drinks and Nibbles (December)
I much prefer to think about Christmas gifts well in advance, so there is no panic closer to the day, when the shops get so busy and crowded and choosing gifts becomes very stressful!!! If time allows, it is a wonderful opportunity to use all those craft skills and, at the same time, make so many people very happy! Home-made presents are THE BEST and are appreciated long after their store-bought equivalents. The recipient not only appreciates the originality and sometimes quirkiness of your gift, but also the talent and skill involved and the sheer amount of time devoted to their production, while thinking about their recipient during the whole process! My family adore my embroidered cushion covers and I get much joy out of planning and executing their design, as well as admiring the finished product, and then seeing the joy and love they bring to their recipient!
I made this cute Christmas bag for my daughter from a pattern in ‘Scandinavian Stitches‘ by Kajsa Wikman. See her blog on : http://syko.typepad.com/.
I embroidered this cushion cover with rainforest birds for my husband’s birthday this year.A Christmas tablemat for 2000!
I have loved all my children’s home-made gifts over the years and our house and lives have been enriched by all their wonderful creations! It is also a great way for children to develop their creative skills. Here are some great books with gift ideas :
‘The Good Gift Guide : Creative Gift Giving For All Occasions’ by Alison Pearl
‘The Good Gift Book : Ideal Presents For Every Occasion’ by Judy Hubbard
‘A Touch of Christmas : Easy To Make Stockings and Gifts’ by Pamela Allardice
‘Christmas Treats To Make and Give’ by Linda Collister
‘Homemade’ by Kay Fairfax
‘Creating Gourmet Gifts’ by Barbara Beckett
‘Aromatic Gifts : Scented Ideas From Kitchen and Garden’ by Stephanie Donaldson and
‘Beautiful Homemade Presents’ by Juliet Bawden.
Gifts can be more intangible too : a massage, a song, a performance, an IOU promise. My daughters made this hand-painted Monopoly board and these delightful wooden coasters for past Christmas gifts. A friend made this delicious Christmas cookie decoration one year.I really enjoy making Christmas cards and Advent Calendars in late November, the latter to be opened from the 1st December on. The last few years, I have used folded blank card, stamps and ink pads to create much more personal (and far cheaper) cards! Alas, this year, because I worked right up until the last week, I had to resort to using commercial Christmas cards!
There are so many different patterns for advent calendars from felt pockets with little treasures and sweets to this wonderful paper pocket Christmas Tree, which I made for our 2013 Christmas. Each pocket held a small gift or a rhyming clue to a treasure hunt for larger items, which could not fit in the pocket. The pattern came from ‘Folded Secrets : Paper Folding Projects: Book 4’ by Ruth Smith and is based on the old Chinese Needle Thread Pockets. You can order all 4 books from the author by emailing her at : email@example.com. For a quick view of them, see : http://purplemissus.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/happy-families.html
It is also fun making Christmas decorations throughout December, then finally decorating the Christmas tree in the last 2 weeks! Some people do it in early December, especially if they own an artificial tree, but I much prefer fresh trees, which do not last the whole month well.
I love the scent and colour of traditional fir trees, which are often sold on the side of the road in the weeks up until Christmas. After the 1967 Tasmanian bush fires, which devastated the native forests, my parents planted a large number of these quick-growing evergreens along the fence line of our property, only to spend every future Christmas chasing off would-be Christmas Tree thieves as the trees grew to maturity!!!
For the last few years in the city, we bought our trees from the same supplier, who harvested them from their country property then sold them in their suburban driveway. We’d select a small, well-balanced tree, then place it in a tub of water within an old rusty family cream can (from dairying days), decorated with Christmas wrapping paper and a large red bow. I love this old photo from the early 1900s of my husband’s grandparents’ Christmas tree with all the toy animals underneath.Back in the country, we would cut our own tree – maybe a feral cypress or a native she-oak (Casuarina) or even a gum tree (Eucalyptus). This year, we had hoped to purchase a Wollemi Pine in a pot, which we would keep outside during the year, then bring inside for Christmas until it grew too large. Wollemi pines are incredibly ancient and very special, as they were thought to be extinct until a small stand was discovered in 1994. See : http://www.wollemipine.com.
Alas, they were too exorbitant for us this year at $ 169 for a 150mm pot ( plus $14 for shipping and handling). I know we would probably recuperate the price after 3 to 5 years of buying ordinary cut Christmas trees, but you would have to be certain that the plant survived!!! Maybe when we’re rich and famous…!!! For those with disposable income, see : http://www.wollemipine.com/order.php
It is always such fun decorating the Christmas tree with friends and family with all the old Christmas favourites, as well as a new purchase/ creation each year. After the baubles and ornaments, we drape the tree with tinsel, then last of all, the Christmas lights – so magical!!! Here are some photos of hand-made Christmas decorations: a simple, bright felt star for my eldest daughter’s first Christmas tree of her own; Christmas angels being made by my daughters : I made the middle angel, Caro the blonde angel and Jen, the angel with the dreadlocks!; I also made a beaded/ sequined and embroidered Christmas angel and pear one year.We were a bit late putting up our ‘tree’ this year, but it was just as well as the weekend before Christmas we experienced 40 degree days! We now live on a corner block fringed with very old Cypress trees, so we cut 5 branches, which were extending into the lane way, then bound them together and put them in the old family cream can. I think it looks great and it’s hard to detect that it is not a complete tree! My daughter made a beautiful wreath with the trimmed branches as well (bottom photo).And finally, Christmas Eve has arrived! When we lived in the ‘Big Smoke’, we always use to enjoy making a special visit into the city to see the Christmas decorations.
I loved the illumination of the Geelong Town Hall last year.And on the night of Christmas Eve, it was always worth doing the rounds of the neighbourhood to view all those outrageous Christmas decorations and lights. Some streets specialize in it!!!There were even still a few here in country Candelo! While the 3rd photo took the prize for effect, I must admit that I much prefer the simpler more discrete ones like the hammock shot (4th photo). Someone had even draped a large fir tee in their front yard with lights, which changed from green-and-blue to red-and-gold (5th and 6th photo)! A local farmer tied a big red bow round each of his fence posts, which looked really effective, though perhaps not so good at night-time! (1st and 2nd photo)It is always fun seeing everyone get into the Christmas spirit, including our old postman last year! We had a hilarious Christmas Eve a few years ago, when we came across a long line of ‘Father Christmases’, university students on their way to the pub, who then very good-naturedly, carjacked us for a lift to said hotel!!! I think my daughter thought all her Christmases had come at once! We caught up to their companions and dropped them off, little realizing that one of them had lost his mobile phone in our car! Two suburbs later, we received a very sheepish phone call, asking us very politely if we would mind dropping their phone round to the hotel! So funny, though it did highlight how quickly a car can be hijacked!!!
This year here in Candelo, we were hijacked in a different fashion! I saw 3 Santas walking up the hill, only to have a large group of them materialize on our doorstep to sing us Christmas Carols, then we were bundled up and absorbed into the group, as we wended our way back up the hill to accost other suitable benefactors! My daughter grabbed her Santa hat and reindeer antlers, which she had bought for my neighbour’s handsome black labradors, whom she was to babysit over Christmas, but unfortunately not her camera, otherwise you would have had some classic shots of me in her antlers with multicoloured flashing lights. It took me a while to realize that the faint Christmas jingle I kept hearing was also actually coming from those same antlers!!! It probably would have been a bit dark for a decent photo anyway. We found it increasingly difficult to read the words by candlelight, so ‘Deck the Halls’ was very dodgy and thin in the verse singing, but voices swelled considerably in the ‘Fa-La-La, Fa-La-La, Fa-La-La’ chorus! We finished at the local bakery, where we were kindly given a fresh, warm sourdough loaf straight out of the oven and a lovely moist Christmas Cake, which we quickly wolfed down with French Champagne and tea back at my neighbour’s house. It was such a fun night and a great way to meet all the locals!
Father Christmas certainly gets around, as can be seen by these eye witness accounts on our drives to visit family interstate over the Christmas period!He is such a busy fellow and must get so exhausted with all his travels! We have a family tradition of writing Father Christmas notes to attach to our stockings. He would then have to reply in the wee wee hours of the morning in an increasingly illegible scrawl! Funny how he always knew what had transpired during the year! When the kids were little, we always used to visit him in the shopping mall, resulting in a wonderful family photographic record of the childhood years.
Every Christmas Eve, we would leave him a slice of Christmas, a beer and a carrot for his reindeer and in the morning, we would discover cake crumbs, the bottle drained and little bite-sized bits of carrot all over the garden.
The kids would be up so early on Christmas morning, excitedly opening their Christmas stockings or, in later years, sacks! After the stocking opening and a much-needed cup of tea, we took it in turns to open the gifts, which had accumulated under the tree in the previous 2 weeks and had suddenly swelled in number dramatically overnight. The youngest often had the job of finding each person’s gift, while Mum (usually) kept a note of ‘who gave what’ for later thank you correspondence.
After the last gift had been opened, the kids all gathered around the open window to yell at the top of their voices ‘Thank You Very Much, Father Christmas!’, a tradition carried through from my childhood!
Because everyone tends to nibble stocking fruit and sweets and are a bit exhausted by this stage, we often have a rest till mid-afternoon, then prepare for Christmas Dinner : a roast turkey with stuffing, a clove-studded ham, roast vegetables and the finale, the flaming Christmas Pudding! One year, when we had just moved over into a cottage built to lockup with no electricity, water or stove, the thought of preparing the traditional Christmas dinner overwhelmed me and it was so wonderful when my ‘kids’ (late teens by this stage) took over and bought 2 barbecued chickens and boiled up vegies over the camping gas stove – the most relaxing Christmas dinner we have ever had!
I love setting the Christmas table and organizing the flowers ! For a few years, we even made our own Christmas Crackers, complete with corny jokes!!! We will miss our dear Scampie this year!
I will leave you with a few photos of our iconic native flora and fauna. Happy Christmas and All our Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2016!!!
I love the start of Summer! The warmer temperatures before it becomes too hot; the longer daylight hours, so you can still garden at the end of the day after work; the excitement of watching the fruit develop and ripen; and the amazing colours in the garden!Roses love Summer too! Here are photos of the roses blooming this week :
In the Soho Bed :
In the Moon Bed :
By the shed :
On the Main Pergola (desperately waiting for its construction and madly growing in the mean time!) :
And in the rose hedge behind the vegetable garden :
I love creating new bouquets from them all!
The dahlias have blasted on to the scene with their eye-catching gold and red.Their magnificent bold display is only matched in intensity by the scarlet pomegranate flower and the bright orange Calendulas. They are paving the way for the orange Monbretia later in the season.Lily time is almost upon us. I expect these Madonna Lily buds will open next week. The blue and white Agapanthus (also known as ‘Lily of the Nile’) are forming great regiments to supersede the Acanthus, once it finally finishes. It is amazing how their giant heads can be contained within the cases of their tight buds.Blue and white is also provided in the stocks and cornflowers of the Cutting Garden.The growth in the Hydrangea corner is mind-blowing, especially when you consider how heavily we pruned them last Winter!Nandina is in full bloom along the back path.The Buddleias also responded very vigorously to their pruning with many beautiful purple, mauve and pink nectar-laden blooms for bees and butterflies to feast on. The scent in the air is beautiful!The soft pastel blooms complement their grey-green foliage and wave gently against the bright blue sunny skies. However, these same pastel colours can also look very dramatic against a background of navy blue felt, as seen in this cushion cover I recently made for a friend’s birthday.I based it on a fuchsia design, which I had made in a past lino-cutting class. The following photos show the whole process.I also made her a matching card from the images, which I had googled and printed out to help me choose the felt colours, then laminated it. Yes, you can laminate an A4 card, so long as you crease it immediately after it has emerged from the laminating machine, while it is still warm and malleable!In the vegie garden, Ross has removed all the old radish and lettuces. The Dutch Cream potatoes are in flower and the tomatoes are setting lots of fruit. Here is some of our fresh produce, which Ross harvested for one of his stir-fry dishes: our own onion, broccoli and silver beet! Not to mention Ross’s fresh home-made bread!The mulberries have finally finished, so Ross also pruned underneath them and cut back branches, which were shading the rose hedge and inhibiting its growth. He also got rid of all the invasive poplar suckers.We are very excited about the amount of fruit in the garden. We tasted our first raspberry the other day. As a good Tassie ex-pat, they really are my favourite fruit and it is so good to be able to grow them again and know that they are permanent. No more moves for us!We also have 2 different types of plum in the garden and a bumper apple crop.We also admire both our neighbours’ fruit trees : pears and apples galore!The sulphur-crested cockatoos are already massing in the gum tree on our laneway, waiting patiently for the apples to ripen, while outdoing each other in their acrobatic wheeling and aerial manouevres. When we were in Geelong, I remember returning home one New Years Eve to discover the local cockatoo gang had stripped the apple trees bare during a drunken raid that same night!!! I wish they would stick to these attractive Duranta berries like the King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.The galahs also love feasting on the Duranta berries.
The photogenic visitor below also enjoys our garden- hopefully for the beauty of the blooms, rather than the small birds! We think it is the same cat we saw on our neighbour’s roof, no doubt getting his own birds-eye view of potential feasting sites and a true example of a ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’!!!Please little blackbird, stay safe! Get Mum to come and feed you in the tree!!A final farewell from our flamboyant Peony Poppies, which have entranced us for the last few weeks. Their blooms just about over and their foliage and stems brown and withered, we sadly pulled them out to freshen up the Soho Bed, saving as many of their drying seedheads as I could, despite Ross’s protestations that I only needed an ‘nth’ of what I collected!!! Here are a few final photos for the year! I marvel at the circuitous routes their seed head stems take and wonder why they make so many twists and turns! Life can be a bit like that sometimes!!!
What a blast! Not just the garden explosion with Spring, but it has been almost a month since I started this blog and I’ve loved every minute of it ! So stimulating writing it and so exciting getting out into the garden every day to report on its progress !!!
It has been a cold week – both outside and in our heads (!) – with a mixture of sun and beautiful soft rain, so perfect for the garden ! We even had a short storm earlier in the week, which smelt of Summer and promised exciting times ahead.The crab apple is in full glorious bloom and has been joined by a wild flowering plum, which is trying ( in vain ) to give the former a run for its money ! (The plum is shown in the first photo- against the fence in front of the house, left foreground). The giant poplar is showing tinges of green and the maples all have fine leaf cover.
The Winter Honeysuckle is looking incredibly healthy with its fresh new growth and the Banksia rose is shooting madly, as are the buddleias. All the other bare-rooted roses are well-clothed in leaf and look like they have been in for ages. Some even have little buds forming. The race is on between newcomer Cornelia and our old Soho roses Lolita and Heaven Scent. I think the latter will probably bloom first, but what they don’t realize is that the old early Hybrid Tea rose, Chateau de Clos Vougeot, which is climbing on the side of the house and was one of the few originals here, has actually beaten them to the post!!! See later !
‘The Bride’ has arrived (top photo) and even though she is young, her future holds great promise and her bridesmaids, the tiny Virginalis philadelphus and Viburnum burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’, are developing well. In the Soho Bed, the lavenders, catmint and flowering salvias are all in bud and beside the house, Acanthus mollis spires (bottom photo above) are forming. They open white and a dusky purple-pink, which complements the house colour perfectly!The cutting garden has been fantastic, with lots of new anemones forming daily. All the daffodils and my magnificent tulips are out in full force and I think the ranunculas might finally be on their way!!! Even the dahlias are coming to the party! This lovely ,blowsy parrot tulip (above right) has opened out flat, but is remarkably tenacious, retaining all of its petals throughout wind and storm. The cornflowers are growing madly and the poppies are in head, albeit a little bent and shy ! I look forward to them opening up, once the weather gets a little warmer! Photos below include a new salmon Bokassa Tulip, shy Iceland Poppies, my happy mix of bulbs and the snowball tree gradually coming into leaf.In the vegie patch, the raspberry canes are starting to get their leaves, the tiny blueberries are covered in flowers and everything is growing well. We had our first home-grown salad of lettuce, rocket and radishes the other day !!! I love it when the sun shines through the colourful stems of these chards.We haven’t done a lot in the garden this week due to this cold/flu freshening up, but the pergola uprights are up! Ross still has to fix the horizontal beams on top, but he did plant the citrus this last weekend. They will look good behind the moon bed and should grow well there in the full Northern sun The 2nd photo shows the order of planting from the cutting garden to the Main Pergola: a Washington Navel; a Lemonade Tree; an Imperial Mandarin; and a Tahitian Lime. We also planted another Lemonade, which was looking a little less robust than the other, opposite the cumquats, to form a colourful arch in front of the entrance to the Main Pergola. It will also form an arch (over the downhill path from the fernery and house ) with the quince tree, hidden behind Ross in the bottom photo. We finally planted out the stocks, now that the frosts are in abeyance, to replace the tulips and erlicheers as they make their departure for the year.
We transplanted the strawberries to the berry section of the vegie garden (just in front of my neighbour’s washing line in bottom photo!) and sweet peas to climb up a feature tripod beside the chard (top photo on left side).And we had visitors…
: a local horse, who slipped his paddock – I’m so glad my neighbour caught him before he munched into my roses and tulips!
:a flock of acrobatic silvereyes foraging for insects in the new foliage of the maple…: a return visit from the Kings ! This super-quiet pair are obviously very familiar with Candelo verandahs ! I think I might call them ‘Oliver’ and ‘Twist’ !!! We are a bit tough on succumbing to their cadging – when they realize no food is forthcoming, they retreat to feed on the Prunus blossom, which is where they should be !!!: The next-door neighbours now have two very cute sheep to mow their lawn!: And a very noisy ultralight did a flyover the morning after our late midnight French sojourn! Assuming it was red and navy blue, the colours were appropriate, so we forgave him!!!
Yes !!! We went to France at the weekend! My neighbour Anne had always planned to celebrate her 60th birthday in Paris, but plans had changed and so Paris, like Methuselah, came to her instead !!! It was a great night and wonderful for us to meet all the locals. Everyone dressed appropriately from very glam and sophisticated (not me!) to arty and flamboyant. If you click on our photo, then click on his neck, you will see Ross’s concession to dressing up !!! Anne had done a wonderful job with the decor from black cardboard cutout lampposts on the walls to an Eiffel Tower of fairy lights, surrounded by photos of her younger self.We had a magnificent feast, with everyone taking a plate of food. I made a quintessentially Australian dessert, pavlova, but shaped in a French flag with the tri-couleurs represented by blueberries, cream and strawberries (see ‘The Sweet Spot’ on Thursday ! ) . I couldn’t resist adding our first rose bud (Chateau de Clos Vougeot), even though it is not part of the French Flag ! We very carefully carried the pavlova, down the hill to Anne’s place, on an old, but firm, blue plastic tub lid, then decorated the outside of the tin pavlova tray with flowers (white plum blossom, forget-me-knots and periwinkle) to hide the ugly cooking marks!!!
We also took along a bottle of Rosé ( albeit Australia’s Jacob’s Creek!) ; a bouquet of red, blue and white anemones in a recycled jar of our favourite delicious imported French jam, St. Dalfour, (blueberry jam of course!), and a gift of one of my hand-embroidered felt cushions, based on French themes, in red, blue and white, with a backing fabric of a Paris street map and wrapped in tricouleur tissue paper, complete with a handmade Eiffel Tower card !!!Here is how I made the card :
Google, select and cut-and-paste an image of the Eiffel Tower to a Word Document, resize if necessary and print out.
Fold an A4 black card in half and place on the cutting mat with the card join at the top. Using a tracing wheel , transfer the pattern onto the black card and cut out.
Open up the card and cut out the negative space on the front of the card only.
Using a silver pen, mark in the girders, as well as the inside window, write your message and put your logo on the back. Voilà !
I have always had a love affair with France, so much so that I think, in the interests of getting this post published, as well as not overstepping the mark with the length of my posts (though I am well aware that I already have!!!), I will reserve sharing my passion with you for a Random Thoughts post later this coming month !!! But it is great to know that I have some fellow Francophiles right here in Candelo !!! Especially my front neighbour in her beautiful blue house ! Au revoir !P.S. Would you believe it? Our amazingly generous camellia is still blooming. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! She deserves a few more photos in recognition of her wonderful service and generosity !!!
September : the month when your spirits start to lift, the days lengthen, the frosts are fewer and the garden starts to slowly wake up ! Every day, it is so exciting to go down to the garden and inspect each plant for new growth. The blackbirds love it too!All the bare-rooted roses are developing new leaf, the crabapple has opened its first flowers, the Prunus has exploded into full blossom and the Exochorda shows great promise of a fine Spring show.
The cutting garden is dotted with colour and blue periwinkle romps through the fernery. The Winter stalwarts like this Winter honeysuckle continue to delight. We planted a new rhododendron under the Duranta canopy, on the left, behind the love seat, to mark the first day of Spring. ‘Bric-a-Brac’ (top photo)is a very pretty variety and should grow to 90 cm tall and 120cm wide. Later in the week, it was joined by a ‘White Lace’ azalea in the middle and a Viburnum plicatum tomentosum on the bottom.I made one of my floral decoupage cards this week. In the past, I have used them for thank you cards, but this one was a condolence card. I was originally inspired to create them after reading Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s book ‘The Language of Flowers’. You can read a review by the New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/books/the-language-of-flowers-by-vanessa-diffenbaugh-review.html?_r=0.Its a delightful read and in the back, she has compiled a compendium of the meanings of all the flowers. I was so entranced with this notion that I decided to choose my card flowers according to their meaning and the message I wanted to convey to their recipient. I loved the way Kate Middleton did a similar thing with her bouquet when she married Prince William. I was also inspired by the exquisite paper mosaic collages made by Mrs Mary Delaney back in the 1700s. See http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/m/mary_delany_1700-88.aspx and http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/botanicals-on-black-paper-and-mary.html.
This is a lovely activity to do when Spring is just around the corner or when Winter makes one last ditch attempt to reassert itself ! Because of the time involved, they are very special cards for special people. And its fun ! So lovely choosing the blooms, then making up the bouquet- it appeals to my love of colour, flowers, beauty and home-made gift giving ! Here is the process involved :
Decide what flowers you want to use in your bouquet for the card. You may choose, like me, to base your decision on the language of flowers or prefer to choose your or your recipient’s favourite flowers/ color scheme etc
Find and cut-and-paste flower images from Google and paste to a Word Document. Resize the blooms in proportion to each other and print out. Alternatively, you could use magazine pictures or coloured papers like Mary Delaney. I usually make two bouquets, so I can decorate both sides of the card exterior, but really its because I can never make up my mind which flowers to use !!!
Using a fine pair of scissors, carefully cut round each flower. It is often easier to use images on a black background if you intend pasting them to a black card. I use an A4 card folded in half and find black card provides dramatic contrast and shows off the flower images well.
Play with the positioning of the flower cutouts in your bouquet on a practice card. This step is all really a matter of feel. I tend to have the dominant flower in the middle or slightly higher and work outwards. It is good to lighten the bouquet with smaller flowers at the top and edges. When you are happy with the result, take a photo. This is really important, as it provides you with a reference when you have to remove pieces to stick them down or if you foolishly turn on the reverse cycle air conditioner like I did !!!
Rule a thin border 3mm in from each edge of the card exterior with a silver pen and repeat on the inside of the card.
When the ink is dry, glue the flower pieces to the card. Work in layers from from back to front and keep a rag handy to firm down the glued papers and keep your hands clean. Its sticky work and you don’t want to smudge the paper pieces with black fingers !!
Almost there ! Draw in the stems with silver pen, tie a ribbon bow and attach the latter half way down the stems with a hot glue gun. Don’t forget to sign it!
Print out a list of the flowers used and their meanings and write your message.Your friend will be delighted to receive such a special card !
It is worth printing out a few copies of your card, both in colour and black- and-white ( for tonal contrasts), as you could glue these copies to another black card if you need a quick card another time.
This technique could be extended to make pictures, paper fans etc. Remember nothing is ever a mistake ! I pasted my second bouquet to the back of the practice card by mistake, so had to cut out the bouquet and stuck it to the back of the correct gift card. The wonderful advantages of glue !!! It is also great if you are not totally satisfied with the appearance of your bouquet !While we are on the topic of card making, I also recently made a never-ending card for my daughter’s birthday today. Using some lovely Kaiser Craft papers, available from Kaiser Craft : http://www.kaisercraft.com.au/ or Spotlight : http://www.spotlightstores.com , I assembled the card using Veronica Chamber’s technique shown on her clip on : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOSIHIQhjjQ.
It should have been so easy ! I watched the clip a number of times and even made the card twice, but every time I went to open it, I ended up producing an empty paper frame and yet I knew I’d made it correctly !
I felt so stupid, but after fiddling with it the next morning, I finally worked it out ! SUCCESS !!! So its well worth trying, even though I’m still not totally confident with my technique !