crafts, crEAting

crEAting…nothing goes to waste

I am sure everyone is left with a huge pile of Christmas cards after Christmas is over and the decorations are down.  I have plans for all mine.
For any that I particularly like or think are useful I turn them into gift tags for next year.  If they are very large cards I will cut them into suitable sizes depending on the design.


Then I cut across the corners like a luggage label and punch a hole.

For smaller tags I might only use part of a card in this case the upper part…

and shape the corners and punch a hole the same.

You can experiment with any part of a card – it doesn’t have to be the whole of the picture.

This particular card would not be useful again because of the date 2017 – but I had other ideas.

I will use this part as a tag on my tray of homemade chocolates that I make at Christmas…

and the numbers will be useful for the future and can be stuck onto a 2nd or 7th birthday card.

Sometimes the design and proportions of a card do not make good tags as they are a little too large but I crop them down to a suitable place…

and paste it onto an envelope and use these as money envelopes when I am giving cash or a cheque instead of a gift.  In our family when we give cards for birthdays we never stick the envelope closed so that we can then re-use it so I always have a good  stock of colours and sizes and pasting the card onto the envelope covers up the previous name on the front.

This card had a beautiful laser cut pattern on the front so I carefully detached this for future use.

Then cropped down the rest of the card to make another money envelope.
One or two cards I will keep for inspiration when I am making my own cards from lino cuts.

And then there are always one or two that I hang on to – if someone has sent me a handmade card I like to keep them (not all of them but a few).  I also like to keep one or two that I absolutely love and often they are the very small but simple cards that I pick out for my mantel piece display which I tend to colour co-ordinate to be more effective.   This way some of my favourite cards are re-used – it may sound a bit of an odd habit – but it works for me.   I mark these with a red sticker on the back so I know they are older ones and keep them stored in a box for next year should I want to reuse them. 


So of the cards I received this year I have made some money cards,

  a selection of gift tags…
and I will find something to make with this for next year…

Of the remaining I will be selecting some to use for an advent calendar next year and the rest of them I will just cut the front part off and these will go to a local charity who will repurpose them as new cards for next Christmas and the insides will go to the recycle bin in Sainsbury’s. ( Or like Sue over at the Cottage at the End of the Lane she uses hers for her shopping lists).

This way none of the cards end up in my waste bin and most of the usable parts of a card are reused in some way.


crafts, crEAting

crEAting…growing and repotting and a bit of crafting

On my kitchen windowsill at the moment I am trying to root these succulents; they were originally part of a Mother’s day gift from my daughter two years ago but eventually outgrew the moss filled glass bowl they came in.  Although the arrangement was very attractive I am not actually a succulent fan and have no idea what the plants are called other than I thought one of them might be a Wandering Jew (if I am allowed to say that) or a Money plant (though I haven’t noticed it growing any yet) but I am not sure and stand to be corrected.

It seemed a shame to let them die so we rescued and repotted the two main plants in fresh compost and new pots, trimming them back to encourage more growth from the base, and the straggly parts we snipped off have been plunged into a jam jar of water in the hope that they will root.  Succulents I think are fairly easy to root from any part of the stem – again correct me here someone if I am wrong.

I was hoping they might root in time to give to the plant stall at the Christmas charity coffee morning at my local church but realise now this is a bit optimistic.

So during the week so far I have managed to do a few of my intentions from the list.  I have sent out the Not so Secret Santa wish lists and had the big draw of names out of the hat so we all know who is buying for who.  I have started the advent calendars and cut round the doors ready to decorate. I am on with arranging our family get together and present swap event and have started editing the photos for mum’s book.

Well when I say ‘I’ …OH has given me a helping hand.

In the photo there is a glimpse of my back garden through the kitchen window – it is in dire need of a tidy up and this is on my list but it has either been very cold or very wet here so that is another day and another post.

I have been concentrating on the decorating and we are almost finished so very soon I will have the big ‘guest room’ reveal.  The wardrobes have been fitted but guess what – the doors are still to be delivered because there was a scratch on the mirror.  The bed is being delivered on Monday and hopefully the doors next Tuesday – mum will follow shortly after (not delivered though!).

I am pleased with the way it looks though it has been a struggle at times finding exactly what I wanted but I have managed to throw it all together using merchandise from many different sources.  We are trying to decide on a bedside table (one we can afford and at budget price) – so at the moment we are resorting to an Ikea stool.  We also bought curtains for this room – I can’t remember ever buying curtains before – I would normally make them myself but just do not have the time.

I did buy the quilted throw I had my eye on for ages in Sainsbury’s in the double up rewards scheme they run at this time of year –  I had to hide the last one at the back of a stack of cushions on the shelf until double up day began and then go in to work earlier via Sainsbury’s that morning to make sure I got it!


I packaged the fun sized chocolate bars, a mix of Mars, Maltesers, Milky Way etc left over from Trick or Treat night (with a few extra added) into these brown craft bags, then stuck a stamped Christmas label to the front and this will be my donation to our local church Christmas coffee morning the proceeds going to Crisis for the homeless at Christmas.

Last time I did these I made the bags myself from a roll of brown paper but being short of time I bought these from the Range a pack of 5 was £2 so not a big outlay.  I found they sold quite well as they make a nice little gift for children – they are a bit like the old selection boxes but in a bag.

I am looking forward to ticking off a few more tasks by the end of the week – how are your plans going?










celebrations, crafts, crEAting, drEAming, fEAsting, general chit chat, sEAsons

starting with a fresh page…

I have hesitated and pondered about writing this blog post – it is not easy to begin again after my long ‘gap year’ last year, to say nothing of finding some time to sit and think of what to write.  I worry in case this is the only post I produce again this year and another unforseen crisis will suddenly strike and prevent me from having any time for blogging.   As you may well have guessed last year was not an easy one as we continued to try to sort out our flood damaged cottage with the insurers, keep up with the extra demands of work since the death of my colleague and progress the probate to a conclusion.

But…it was not all doom and gloom and the highlight of the year was my eldest daughters decision to get married in the July.  The wedding on 30th July was followed on the 31st with our Ruby Wedding anniversary and my granddaughters 2nd birthday on the 1st August – what a weekend of celebrations and cake spent with friends and family.


I spent every spare minute between January and July planning and organising the wedding, sewing miles and miles of bunting, making confetti, favours, invitations and doing alterations.  Believe me, 6 months is not very long to do everything you have to do to for a wedding especially as it took place in Scotland 250 miles away in my husband’s home town.  Having our cottage out of action did not help but my daughter felt she could not hang on any longer for it to be fixed so we went ahead and hired a farmhouse nearby for the week.

Wedding Flowers

We had the most wonderful day – glorious weather which was just as well as the reception was very much an outdoor wedding held at Castle Kennedy Gardens on the Castle Kennedy estate owned by Lord Stair.  It was here that my daughter’s Great granddad lived and worked as head gardener from the twenties to about 1960.  The wedding ceremony took place in the nearby Inch Church where her dad was baptised and her grandparents worshipped.  So a very special place for our family and what better place for a wedding.

The style of the wedding was a mix of formal and informal but very much home made with lots of summery flowers, peonies and roses in peaches and creams.  The bridesmaids wore floaty long coral dresses and the little one ivory.  The formal ceremony took place in church and a white Morris Minor took them on to the reception.  We had an old fahsioned Afternoon Tea on picnic tables before the sit down buffet of salads and cold meats for the evening meal in the marquee, then lots of dancing.

We made plenty of these signs to get people from their hotels to the church and reception…


and we made all the notices from free pieces of wood from the recycle bin outside the Ikea store in Leeds and painted them with blackboard paint…


We also made some of the flower arrangements ourselves…these hanging cones on the stone pillars at the entrance to the Church were made of chicken wire lined with Sphagnum moss

with a hidden jam jar of water inside to hold the flowers…


The bride and groom left the church to the sound of Scottish pipes…


We held a drinks reception in the beautiful walled garden by the old ruin castle.

castle kennedy

With plenty of bubbles being blown

Wedding Bubbles

We also made large cut out photo frames and dotted these around the grounds for guests to take selfies…


Then it was afternoon tea on the lawns by the old painted tea room…a casual affair on the picnic tables

Afternoon Tea



then the afternoon interlude when our guests could wander the grounds or sit and take in the view or play games…putting up the little princess castle proved more difficult than putting up the marquee…


but it proved to be a big hit with the kids…


and everyone amused themselves in the sunshine whilst the bridal party had all their pictures taken…


Then all too soon it was time for the sit down buffet in the marquee – we decorated this ourselves with bunting and paper lampshades and large vases of hydrangeas from our cottage garden…


We designed and made the table plans that complemented the invitations and mounted these on long sticks stuck into herb pots…


the favours we made were tiny biodegradable seed pots (10p for 30) with a packet of wild flower seeds in printed envelopes placed inside

and a packet of Scottish shortbread made by a friends mum…

on each table was a different poem or verse about love and marriage and flowers…




after the meal we had a lot of fun with the speeches…


and finally the ceilidh with music provided by the brilliant band the Veritable Ceilidh Club…


then everyone joined in the dancing and on such a warm evening we were able to spill outside  – it all looked very magical by night lit up with fairy lights and candles around the castle and large lanterns in the trees –  and not a midge in sight…how lucky were we?


Once the wedding day and celebrations were over it was straight back to dealing with the insurers over the flood damage and the probate project. In October we bought a caravan to put on site at the cottage – it is wonderful to have a base at last.  No more B&B’s and hotels… a place to call  home at last until we get our cottage sorted.l1040676

Just to leave you with a recent picture of my granddaughter – she has grown quite a bit over the past year and she is just a joy to us all.


So a very apprehensive blogger is looking forward to the coming year and hoping it will be a year where we actually see some results for all our hard work during the last few difficult years.

A belated Happy New Year to you all – I have a lot of catching up to do and I hope some of my old blogging friends are still out there.





crafts, crEAting

50th Birthday Card in the making…

It was my colleague’s 50th birthday recently and I have a special card that I make for major birthdays as a keepsake which is made up of some of my watercolour sketches of my favourite flowers and this poem…

‘Your Birthday is a day of Promise’ by Emily Matthews

This is a day of promise
Of the beauty and warmth life can hold,
And of new dreams to dream
and more love to share
Through a year that’s about to unfold.


 Firstly I print each individual watercolour that has one line of the poem running aross it on some off white A6 (postcard sized) card from Paperchase.


Fifty Birthday Card5

  I then lightly score them and neatly fold them almost in half leaving a little tab at the end to join one card with another with narrow double sided tape…

 Fifty Birthday Card 4

  like this…

Fifty Birthday Card 3

  I then print the outside cover which is another piece of A6 card that I score twice near the middle and fold to form a book spine.  I stick the body of the card to the outer leaf enclosing a length of ribbon between them…

 Fifty Birthday Card 2

after writing a greeting on the back leaf I then fold the concertina neatly into the outer leaves and wrap the ribbon round to hold.  The finished size is 10.5cm x 7cm or half A6 size.

 Fifty Birthday Card

She had a great time…

50th Birthday


Have a good weekend x

crafts, crEAting

Craft it Forward – anyone want to play?…

One morning a few weeks ago I picked up a surprise package from our local sorting office.  It was from Alys over at Gardening Nirvana – she took part in Crafting it Forward read here  and I was one of the lucky people to receive a handmade gift from her and as you will see she is one talented gardener and crafter.  Apologies to Alys that it has taken me this long to write this post, but you will agree it has been well worth the wait.


Craft it Forward Parcel


The package was beautifully wrapped in tissue and ribbon – almost too nice to unwrap and this is what I found inside.

 Craft it Forward Cards

Ten beautiful handmade cards with pretty matching envelopes


Craft it Forward Butterfly


My photos do not do them justice

Craft it Forward Fairy Card

They are absolutely stunning I feel very honoured to have them

Craft it Forward envelopes


So now it is my turn to make something for 5 people and send it to them by snail mail during 2014.  When those 5 people receive my crafted item they must then agree to do the same deal for 5 more on their blog, Facebook or Google+.  I have never taken part in anything like this before and at the moment I can’t say what I will be making but it will probably be a handmade Artists Book. 

So if you are interested in taking part get ready steady go…I will make something handcrafted for the first five people to leave a comment on this post.

celebrations, crafts, crEAting, fEAsting, sEAsons

Happy Valentines Day…

Hubby has been away for a few days but he hadn’t forgotten it was Valentines Day – I had a call at 9am this morning telling me to look under the settee and there it was… a card together with a large box of Milk Tray…ahhhhh. 
It was lucky for me that he was a few hours away as it gave me chance to first organise a card for him (homemade)…

Valentines Card

and then a cardboard tray…

Chocolate Tray


Chocolate Tray 2

whilst making a slab of chocolate on a lined baking tray.
Before it sets throw in nuts, fruit and crystallised ginger at one end and toffee pieces, honeycomb and chocolate chips at the other.  Melt some white chocolate and with a spoon flick across the tray haphazardly…

Chocolate Slab

Just before the chocolate sets hard cut out heart shapes with a metal cutter and lay them on baking parchment, then use up the left over white chocolate by pouring into the heart cutter.  Cool in the fridge for a while.  When set remove from the mould and warm the back of a spoon to run over the heart then coat with sprinkles…

Chocolate Hearts

Lay the chocolates on the decorated tray and cover with cellophane…

Chocolate Hearts

Then just time to hide them away and rush to put a bit of lippy on before he turns into the driveway…

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day

crafts, crEAting

Christmas Robin…comes bob bob bobbing…

I made it at last.  Everytime I have had the intention of sitting down to write I had an interruption from one person or another and I include myself here.

What have I been doing you might well ask.  I have been quite a busy little bee – or multi tasking as some would say.  After making those birthday cards a couple of weeks ago I made up my mind to do more crafting and on Saturday morning I settled down in my craft room and began to think about creating some Christmas cards for my daughters shop (as I had promised).

It is a long time since I attempted any lino prints and I felt eager to have another go as I like the quality of the prints and the fact that once you have carved the original design you can print an unlimited amount of cards.  It is also appealing because unlike rubber stamps the design belongs to you and it is exclusive.

I had no particular idea in mind for the card design other than it should be slightly vintage in feel and perhaps a Christmas Robin would be appropriate for a shop called Birdhouse Interiors.  So I flicked through my sketch book and settled on a drawing I had done some time ago of a Robin.  Not the best drawing in the world but the shape isn’t too bad and it seemed quite promising.

Robin Sketch

I converted this into a more simplistic black and white shape transferred it onto the lino then set about carving out a picture remembering that the bits I remove would come out as white.

Robin Lino Cut

I did a few test sheets before printing on the actual cards.

Robin Tests

Then the production line began…first with the black ink…

Robin in production

then I applied the red ink for the breast and berries by hand.  Finally the Christmas greeting was done with a rubber stamp.

And voila here is my line of Christmas Robins.

Robin Xmas Card

I can’t say it turned out just as I had in mind I think that will take much more practise but at least I have made a start and my daughter is delighted.

All packaged up and ready to go.  I can’t believe that only this morning these cards were just an idea in my mind and didn’t exist.

Now I just need some inspiration for my next one.

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Christmas Card 2011
Christmas Card 2011