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Monday 30 January 2012


Hello everyone

I hope your week has been good.  Mine started off well, then seemed to go a little down-hill towards the end.  

Early in the week we noticed that Jazz, our gorgeous tabby and white cat appeared to have something wrong with his left back leg.  It looked as though he had cut one of his toes and initially we were able to bathe it for him.  Towards the end of the week, he seemed to be in more pain and when I touched his paw he lashed out - very un-Jazz like, so we whipped him off to the vet.  We were amazed to find out that the problem was that Jazz has a flea-allergy - I know this is very common nowadays in cats - which has affected three of his toes!  Poor Jazz, no wonder he was in pain, but two injections, flea potions and a large bill later he is a much happier chap.  Daisy showed her support by being poorly today - however, she is also much better now.

As well as poorly cats, my computer has been misbehaving.  On Thursday I downloaded a programme from Serif that would enable me to design my own logo for my website and stationery.  Despite having numerous software programmes for firewall, anti-virus, the common cold, etc something called downloaded - this is a search engine and while it may be completely safe (although I didn't want it on my computer) it caused numerous problems on email and Internet access.  Everything either froze, slowed down to zero speed or just gave up the ghost.  I removed all related progs and tried to remove, also accessed and amended all system files, but still it is on my computer!  I have carried out all normal clean-ups and although the speed has increased, I still have the pesky search engine!  My post is courtesy of the laptop this evening, and back tomorrow trying to relieve my desktop computer of it irritating file.

Hopefully next week will see things back to the normal calm  life I lead (I wish).  As mentioned in my last two blog posts, from Friday, 3 February I am posting another blog post - not me this time, but you.  I already have one crafter posting on the first guest-blog date, so am now hoping to encourage other crafters to post on thefollowing Fridays.  Although I have a list of topics, it would be great to have suggested topics from fellow crafters - so if you are game to take part and want to talk about something, please do contact me on - can you but guest blog post in the subject line?  My suggested topics are:

What inspires you to create
Do you still make (and  sell) the item(s) that set you on the road to being a professional crafts-person
How do you motivate yourself
Is blogging a good communication platform
What does handmade mean to you

500 - 600 words would be great, but please don't worry if that seems too much.  I am really looking forward to everyone taking part in this project - good publicity for both of us, so come and join in.

Back to the present time, it's Handmade Monday is it really a whole week since we last joined up for this?  Where on earth does the time go?  My make this week is another one of the gorgeous Moonlight Bay decoupage sheets - a lovely galleon on the high seas.  This will make a great card for a man - always hard to find a suitable card-topper.  I have lots of other Moonlight Bay decoupage sheets and will be posting the finished project on my blog over the next 2 - 3 weeks.  

Feet-up time as today (Sunday) has been spent being a nursemaid to cats and computers.  Don't forget to visit the other bloggers taking part in Handmade Monday - great posts and really great makes. 

See you on Wednesday.


Wednesday 25 January 2012


Hello everyone

Sorry for the odd title, but hope it grabs your attention.

As mentioned in my last post, from 3 February I am planning an additional Blog post on Fridays - very little form me, but all from you.  I have already had one great post from a fellow crafter and she has been brave enough to be the first blogger on 3 February - so don't forget to check out the Christmas Pie Crafts Blog on that day.

The topics I am planning so far are:

What inspires you to create?

Do you still make (and sell) the item that set you on the road to being a professional crafts person?

How do you motivate yourself?

Is blogging a good communication platform?

What does handmade mean to you?

I know the last topic is possibly over-done and I was amazed how many posts, notes, etc I found on the web just for this one topic.  However, I feel it is a personal thing and it would be good to include it in the Friday Guest Blog Spot.  I do hope you will all join me in this new venture - it's a two way publicity exercise really.  We both should benefit form more traffic being driven to our blogs and ultimately to our websites.

If you have a topic you would like to blog about that isn't in the above list, go for it, let me know and it's yours to write about.

If you are ready, willing and able to give it a go, please email me on with Friday Guest Blog in the subject area.  Your article should be approximately 500 - 600 words, but please don't panic if that seems too long,  Let me know the date you would like to take part and also your blog and website address will add at the end of your article.  Many thanks for your help and I am looking forward to reading lots of fantastic articles and sharing them with the rest of the crafting world..

Enjoy the rest of the week, I will be back with my post and make for Handmade Monday and some additional topics for the Friday post.


Sunday 22 January 2012


Hello everyone

What a gorgeous day and as it is so sunny and spring-like it should be easy to think of a Blog post title - but it hasn't been.  Never mind, I still (as always) have plenty to say so will stick with the 'working title'.

Firstly, a quick update on my New Year's Resolutions: trying very hard to lose weight (had a few hiccups when a chocolate biscuit just wouldn't leave me alone - so persistent), still working regularly on my website, not yet joined a gym (painful arm preventing that for the time being) and have spent time today commenting on over half of my Blog follower's blogs.  Not all of my followers seem to have blogs, but if you do now have a blog and we haven't 'met' for a while, please do let me have the link to your blog as I would love to drop in for a visit.  On the whole I feel I have made a reasonable start to the New Year.

I have spent a lot of my time this week working on my new products, some of which have involved paper flowers, the small bunches you can buy from craft shops.  I have also spent a lot of time battling with Daisy who thinks they are really toys for her to capture/throw around and chase.  Daisy was a mum when she was less than 1 year old and clearly missed out on all the young kitten games that normally take place at that age - it's great to see her making up for lost time, but I do wish it was without my flowers!

The February issue of the magazine Popular Crafts came out on Friday and if you have had a chance to buy it/read it, I hope you enjoyed my review of the Derwent Card Kit.  They also have a butterfly one in the range and I am going to buy that - butterflies seem to feature in just about every type of craft at the moment.  

As it is the Chinese Year of the Dragon, my make for Handmade Monday is a decoupage dragon mounted on sparkling black glitter card.  The dragon is the mightiest of the Chinese Zodiac signs and symbolises such character traits as dominance and ambition.  They live by their own rules and if left to get on with things in their own way, are usually very successful.  They are driven, unafraid of challenges and willing to take risks.  They are passionate in all they do and do things in a grand fashion.  This description rather reminded me of the occupants of a certain den we are all familiar with.

My dragon will not be placed in a den, but fixed to the front of a greetings card.  I recently found a new range of lovely decoupage made by Moonlight Bay which includes my gorgeous dragon.  They also have a lovely owl decoupage and several other really good prints.

Apart from new ranges, I am also going to begin a new blog posting on Fridays from February.  A slight difference in that I will not have much to say (yes, I know, that is a rare and wonderful thing often not heard or read about) as my Friday blog post will be for a guest blogger.  We all spend a lot of time reading other bloggers' posts, compiling our own, working on our business and trying to find new ways, or reviewing tried and tested ways, of getting ourselves and our business known.  I feel that opening up my blog to other bloggers is a two-way bit of publishing - we should both benefit from the experience.  Slightly different to the usual guest blogger post, mine will be on a different topic each week - all related to handmade.  My first Friday blog will be on 3 February; in my next two posts (Wednesday, 25 and Sunday, 29 January) I will give list of topics.  I won't at this stage allocate them to specific dates, coz if you are anything like me you will pick the latest date - that way I could end up with some pretty empty Friday posts.  I do hope you will join me in this venture - it will be great fun I am sure - if you have a topic you would like to write about without waiting for my list, please do get in touch.

I am off now to battle with Daisy and retrieve my flowers - that is of course if they are worth retrieving and not in a million pieces of paper all over the floor.  Have a great week, I will be back on Wednesday and don't forget to call into the other Handmade Monday blogs - really enjoyable posts and great makes to see too.


Wednesday 18 January 2012


Hi everyone

No, not farewell Frosty the Snowman, but farewell frosty weather - hopefully gone for a very long time.  The beginning of this week was very cold and very frosty, but nowhere near as cold as this time last year.  Like snow, frost makes the garden look very pretty and when the sun shines on frost-covered leaves, everything seems to sparkle.  That is probably the one good thing about frost is that we are normally guaranteed gorgeous sunny days after a heavy night frost.  Soggy days for most of the remainder of this week, but reasonably mild too.

My craft has been slow going this week as my arm is very painful - so the progress is a short burst of crafting and a long burst of rest.  Very frustrating - despite being right-handed it is surprising how much I need strength in my left hand/arm for crafting.  I need it to hold things down while I work on them, hold bits and pieces together while trying to open or close a tube of glue.  Unfortunately, it is one of those things that will last a long while and I know that aggravating it is not going to speed up the healing process.  One of the Handmade Monday bloggers  recommended Rhus Tox, and I am going to give it a go - thank you Mich.

A big thank you to everyone who posted comments on my Handmade Monday post and your good wishes for my dodgy elbow were very much appreciated.  This week's posts produced some amazing pieces of craft work and as always some really great posts - I look forward to reading them every week.

One of our cats, Jazz, was also poorly earlier this week.  Fully recovered now and think he probably caught something that didn't agree with him.  He was very quiet and as he is a noisy, bouncy tabby cat, you can imagine how strange it was.  He slept for most of the day and didn't eat anything until later evening - he is a piglet normally, so this was very un-Jazz like.

A mini mid-week post, am sure I will have loads more to write about on Sunday when I will be back blogging again.  In the meantime enjoy the rest of the week.


Sunday 15 January 2012


Hello everyone

Well, not on the table rather they are in a magazine, but 'the cards are in the magazine' didn't have the same ring to it as my chosen post title and there is a reason for the title.  In October 2011 the Popular Crafts magazine featured my Blog in one of the regular blog reviews.  As I am sure you read in the post when I mentioned this, I was very pleased and excited to see my Blog 'in print'.  Shortly after the magazine was published, Katherine Jewitt (the Editor) contacted me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing a card-making kit.  Even better was that the version recommended for me to 'test drive' was about cats!  A double whammy and as you can imagine I said yes very quickly.

The pack arrived not long before we were due to go on holiday in November and I knew that I would have problems completing it before then, so I took it with me.  Along with holiday gear went laptop, camera, cables, paper, crafting kit and the kitchen sink.  Once or twice while Richard was out climbing the million and one steps in and around Valletta, I was back at the apartment drawing and colouring while sitting on the balcony sipping something nice and fizzy.  Who had the better deal?  Me - those steps were many and steep.

Despite creating greetings cards, I haven't actually drawn anything for many, many years and this review required me to do that.  Initially I had some pretty strange shapes to the cats I drew and did think I would have been better taking photographs of Jazz and Daisy that I could have drawn from.  After some trial runs, I managed to get two cat-shape outlines onto card and off I went with the fun bit of drawing the patterns in and colouring - oh boy colouring-in is such fun and made me feel about 5 again.  OK, I know that is a looong time ago, but I can just about remember it and know it was great fun.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was very, very pleased when I had completed the project - particularly as we had a few hiccups with the Wifi in the apartment and I had visions of whizzing around Malta try to find an Internet cafe from which to send my final pictures.  The magazine is due out at the end of this week and apart from my review it is packed with lots of other great projects and articles, and I am really honoured to be in such great crafting company.  I really recommend you buy a copy of the magazine and once it has been published, I will put a couple of pics in my next blog - have you ever seen red, orange, green, yellow and blue cats?  Well, you are in for a treat.

I have been working on my new ranges this week, as well as building my website - takes a long while as have to photograph everything I make, change the size, make other alternations and ensure it looks good on the site, add information, and also think about the various pages that require setting up.  The hardest part so far has been the About Me page - I am sure this is the same for all website designers.  Too much detail about the things I do might not be interesting, but then again too little may make the site uninteresting.  Progress is slow but sure - although it has taken me absolute ages to get to this stage, I am still working slowly as I want to ensure the website is good when it first goes live.  No 'going live' date decided up on yet.

One of the areas I want to move into are card-making workshops and I prepared some handouts which I distributed at events prior to Christmas.  I have two people who want to sign up but really will need more to make it worth while and enjoyable for everyone involved.  If you know of anyone who wants to spend a fun couple of hours creating cards in or around the Guildford area, please ask them to get in touch with me.  With Valentine's Day and Mother's Day fast approaching, now is a good time to start making cards. I hope to have a Stampin Up demonstrator taking part as well.

It's Handmade Monday and for the second week running I don't have anything to actually 'show' as my makes this week have been for my website, and not yet ready for posting on my Blog.  Plus, having had a painful left arm for a couple of weeks, I went to the doc's and discovered it was the return of the tennis elbow that I had suffered from not so long ago!  It hadn't occurred to me that it had come back again, but it's very painful and the only consolation is that it is in my left arm and I am right-handed.  Rest, medication and some pain-relieving gel prescribed - the first one is very hard to manage though.  However, I am taking part in Handmade Monday this week as it is a great way to find out what other crafters are doing, so why not join me in checking out the other contributors' blogs and read what they have been up to during last week.  Believe me, you will see some pretty amazing work and read some great posts.

Have a great week - I will be back on Wednesday.


Wednesday 11 January 2012


Hi everyone

Driving through Seale (a small village near to Christmas Pie) I saw the first daffodils of the year in flower.  How wonderful and I hope that the change in weather that has been forecasted for the end of this week does not bring weather that will damage these early spring flowers.  I love the colour of spring, bright yellows of daffodils, pure white of narcissus, bright reds of tulips and that gorgeous purple of crocus.  I am a big fan of bright colours - in fact the very first bathroom that we 'owned' had yellow walls courtesy of me.  As you can imagine, I had to issue everyone with sunglasses when they came to see us.  Since then I have painted walls purple, paintwork bright red, and numerous other vibrant colours - although to assure you, these colours were not all in the same room.

I have had a busy week so far making items for my new ranges.  I have also managed to buy a set of pans for my candle-making - initially this will not be a major addition to the Christmas Pie Crafts range, but as I am a BIG candle fan, it seemed a good idea to give making them a go.  My first ones may just be all for me - they will be a test run.  I have all of the gear: wax, colours, perfumes, moulds, etc and now my pans and I really do need to get a move on and get making some.  Very exciting really and I will let you know how things go.  If I am feeling brave enough I will post pics of my first makes - disasters and catastrophes!

I have always thought I had a good memory and for most things I think that is true.  However, when I think of things that I could make, the ideas often seem to whizz through my mind without stopping.  No matter how much I tell myself I will remember them, I don't and I rack my brains trying to recall the brilliant idea I thought I had had.   I have taken to writing things down as soon as I think of them - that way I should be able to put into reality the ideas I have without spending hours trying to remember what they were.

Off to put my feet up and catch some news.  Jazz and Daisy are desperate for a comfortable sit down in a nice warm lounge, so I have to give in to them.  Enjoy the rest of the week - I will be back on Sunday/Monday with the Handmade Monday gang.


Sunday 8 January 2012


Hi everyone

One week into the New Year and I have more or less stuck to my New Year's Resolutions - these are:

Extend the range of crafts that Christmas Pie Crafts will make and sell - stuck to that one
Work on my website - stuck to that one too
Lose weight/diet - er, not quite stuck to this (see below).

I hit the shops in Oxford Street with my sister on Friday (I bought some gorgeous 'things' for one of my new ranges - all will be revealed at a later date). and we had a great lunch again in Carluccio's (hence the note above about not sticking to the diet!) and so amazing that the weather was mild enough to dine alfresco.  I know that in town the tall, close together buildings do reduce the likelihood of chilly winds and cold temperatures, but it was hard to realise that this time last year we were all knee-deep in snow!  This is the second time this 'winter' that we have been able to do this and it was great.  However, as a gardener I appreciate the benefits of some severe frosts to get rid of bugs and some soil-borne diseases and I also know some vegetables need a good frosting - sprouts are just not the same without a touch of frost.

I stayed overnight with my sister and after watching a horror story - not sure if you have seen it: The Horror of the Bank Account Balance (a frightening tale that scares everyone who sees it) - we drowned our sorrows in some fizz.  Lovely.  The following day we visited the cemetery where our mum and her family 'reside' - our mum died ten years ago on 7 January and it is just as hard to cope with now as it was in 2002.  She had a great sense of humour, which I think we have inherited, so not a complete gloom and doom visit.

I had a good beginning to the New year as I won a prize on the Popular Crafts website - a book called Stitchopedia by Helen Winthorpe Kendrick.  Thank you Popular Crafts, it is a lovely book and I am really pleased to have won it.  It contains some gorgeous projects and made me recall the times in my dim and distant past when I spent a lot of spare time with fabrics: embroidery, dressmaking, tapestry, all things that fell by the wayside when I took up teaching.  I had planned to take up tapestry work again this year, and feel I need to spend some more time on the other 'fabric loves' of my life too.  With clothes being so expensive, and no longer needing smart work suits, the time is clearly ripe to get back into dress-making again.

So, to finish, I am adding two new resolutions:

Join a gym - I have found one that is very local to me but due to various other things taking place, I cannot join until mid- January.  My second new resolution is to visit my Blog followers and post on their Blogs more frequently.  My feeling is that as they have been kind enough to sign up to my Blog and it is only fair I post on theirs regularly - it may not be very week but I will try to comment every 2 or 3 weeks.

Although I haven't got any 'makes' to add to this week's Handmade Monday, I am going to join in as it is the first of the year and I am really looking forward to reading all the great posts from those participating.  So, come on, nip over to Handmade Monday and read this week's posts.

Now, what are your New Year's Resolutions are?

Have a great week - I will be back on Wednesday.


Wednesday 4 January 2012


Hi everyone

First of all, I would like to wish my Blog followers and readers, my Twitter and Facebook friends a very Happy New Year - I hope 2012 is very successful for all of us.

Well, here we are: 2012.  Remember how at the beginning of the century we were all panicked into thinking weird and wonderful things would happen the second the clocks ticked over to 1 January 2000?  Hard to believe we are now 12 years into the 'new' century - and wondering where the time has gone.  I feel I have achieved a lot during that time and especially during 2011 - I gave up my permanent job to devote my time, full-time, to Christmas Pie Crafts.  I also gave it up because my 'day job' had become overwhelming and very stressful and my life seemed to belong to it 24 hours a day from September to July of each year.  The work/life balance almost didn't exist.

Mentally I still seem to be working in 'terms' and after 20 years in education I am sure it will take a while to get out of the frame of mind.  I think the first term was spent doing lots of things that I hadn't planned to do and very little of what I had planned to do.  However, I have enjoyed it and most of all spending time with Richard (normally we were ships that passed in the night) and with friends as well - I have had the time to go on Pamper Days, theatre visits and lunches and it has been great.  Best of all has been going out on evenings when for 20 years I have been teaching - I felt really guilty!  I think I only realised how much my life had changed when Tuesday of this week arrived - the beginning of the Spring term - and I didn't have to get up before the crack of dawn and rush into work to teach, with no time to prepare my lessons.  Yipeeeeee.

I haven't been completely idle over the last week or so though, as I have started my website (as mentioned in my recent post) and I am pleased with my progress so far.  I have decided what my new ranges will be and have begun working on them and also photographing them ready for my website.  Once I have everything in place, I will announce the publication date on here and will also be giving a Blog gift and a Website gift away in the first week of 'going live', so stick with me as you could get something from one of my new ranges.

I have decided to add new ranges to Christmas Pie Crafts as I feel that cards alone are perhaps rather limited.  I love card-making and will continue to make and sell them - in fact one of my new ranges will be card-making workshops, so if you live in the Guildford area and would like to join one of my groups, please contact me as I am hoping to run the first one at the end of January.  I have several other new items that I am adding to the Christmas Pie Craft business and I am really excited about them.  I have based my decisions on looking at what sells at events I have attended over the last year, plus what family and friends have said they buy and like about handmade.  So as well as wishing everyone an amazing 2012, I am hopeful that mine will be absolutely fandabydoozee.

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone - I will be back with my usual Sunday evening blog post.