Saturday, 30 April 2016

April Achievements

Life was rather busy this month, so the crafting has been more 'urgent requirements' than 'a relaxing time of creativity'. I enjoyed the last minute hat for Rosie, and the Disney dress for my friend Brooke. Then there was all the stuff with the new die-cut machine - the greetings cards, then all the conference tags. And all those stash-busting drawstring bags. But it is still a fair output, and I am happy with April's Achievements

Friday, 29 April 2016

I Love Lego

It is entirely Steph's fault. She went to a Team Meeting at work, and the amazing cocktails were served with little chocolate Lego Men perched on the top.
There is always room for a little Lego man somewhere. So I decided I should have a go at making my own. [I need to get plenty of practice before Rosie is old enough to enjoy them!]
The silicon tray can be used for chocolate or ice. I melted 16 small squares of chocolate in a Pyrex jug over a pan of water, and that was enough to fill 8 moulds. I used a BBQ skewer to encourage the chocolate into the corners and crevices.

Here is my first little man - turned out very neatly

So then I made a batch of dark chocolate ones as well

I refashioned a box which had held notelets, and put a selection of men inside. You cannot see clearly - but each Lego man is sitting in a neat little card area lined with tissue paper. Clingfilm holds them in place during transit.

Bob thinks they would make toppers for cup cakes too.

Thursday, 28 April 2016


This weekend I am off to Northampton for Y-Pray, our first ever WWDP Conference aimed at younger women. Yes, of course I am going as a committee member, not as a delegate!
Everyone who attends will get a 'welcome pack'  containing information, and a few treats. Rather than just print off a name label and sticking it on, I have been busy making personalised tags. I chose one of the "rounded-off squares" from my set of nesting dies. A great excuse for more practice withe my Big Shot machine.

Then I took some of the leftover booking forms. I From each I cut out the conference logo, and a matching piece of plain turquoise from the back of the form. I stuck these together, and pasted on a name slip. I laminated and trimmed each tag, then put an eyelet in one corner.
A brightly coloured elastic band threaded through the holes, and all the tags are ready for slipping round the handles of the goodie bags.

I am pleased we could recycle the spare forms to good effect. More stuff about the conference will be following later...

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Memory Of The Just Is Blessed

That's Proverbs 10:7 - a verse my Dad often quoted after the death of a good person. Another version puts it like this...

I have been very touched by the number of people who commented on my post about my friend Ann who died recently. Thank you for what you said. My blogfriend Lesley has posted her thoughts and they are a lovely continuation of my feelings. Do pop over to 'Nearly Martha' and see what she's said. It's good stuff!

I Read It In The Paper

I love stationery - pens, paper, cards, envelopes,crayons, fasteners, staplers, any and all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. I have been a filofax user for more than 30 years, and cannot see me changing my ways just yet. So I was pleased to see that today is special...
Who knew? 
This event is part of a whole week of celebrations . Yes writing does matter, proper letters through the post are a treat. It is much more satisfying to cross things off a paper to-do list than to just delete a line of text on a tablet. 

I have had rants about stationery before, so will endeavour to contain myself this morning. But two questions remain
  1. Why do the organisers of this event hold a wonderful exhibition at the London Business Centre - and then restrict it to trade only?
  2. Why is our local branch of Staples, that well known office supply chain, full of bins of pens/files/etc labelled "Stationary Sale" ? Surely they ought to be able to spell it correctly!
I finish with this very clever little advertisement which is entitled "Paper Has A Future"

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Cut Above

Recently I was offered a die-cut machine by a friend -it is a Sissix Big Shot . This was her original model, and she has now moved on to more complex machines. She gave me a few dies as well. How incredibly kind!
I purchased a few more dies- a bird, a set of nesting shapes, and a rather beautiful and intricate picture of a couple under a tree.

Then I had a lovely time playing and creating. My initial efforts involved using the various cards and papers I had to hand.
The script was fun, and I like the way you get two sheets with the bird - to make a lining and an overlay. The flower dies are similar. Plus you can emboss as well, to create some texture.

The intricate one took quite a while to master - but it will be useful for weddings, engagements and anniversaries. Have you done any crafting with die-cut machines? and do you have any useful tips, please? Thank you to my friend for a lovely gift.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Stash Busting...

...with a vengeance! Last week, I went into the loft and fetched down around a huge armful of scrap fabric.
And then I made dozens of bags - some large, some small - and all with elasticated tops. I used my overlocker to do the side seams, and finish the top edge. Then I folded over a casing and stitched on my regular machine. Then I spent a couple of evenings threading the elastic through.

In the end I only used up about 12 metres - but I am glad that I have found a useful purpose for it. You will have to wait till after the weekend to find out what that is. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Remembering A Kind Friend

There have been quite a few deaths of famous people in 2016, who did not quite reach their 'threescore-years-and-ten'  - like Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Garry Shandling, Victoria Wood, Prince... but the death of my friend Ann, aged just 61, did not make the headlines, or become the first item on the radio news bulletins.

Her funeral was last week, and sadly I could not get to Norfolk to pay my respects. On Wednesday afternoon, I spent time outside looking at the flowers and trees, listening to the birds and enjoying the sunshine, and remembering her, and our friendship, which goes back over 50 years, from the first month my family moved to Dereham.
Ann, an only child, lived with her Mum and Dad and they all came to our church. She and I were among the girls who were there the first night our Girls' Brigade Company started, with Miss Johnston as our Captain. We did club swinging, and figure marching, and made [hideous] raffia lampshades. And we helped with the younger girls. And we complained about the uniform.
Ann's Dad John, died suddenly, whilst she was a teenager, and after that, she and her Mum, Vera, became very close. Vera was especially kind to my Mum, and used to come round to do home perms for her. Does anyone else remember the evil smell of Twink? 
We were still in GB, and both did our Officer Training. We were both baptised and became church members.
I went to Uni, but Ann remained in Dereham and went to work at the Mackintosh's Chocolate factory in Norwich. Ann and Vera were good at floristry - when Bob and I married, they arranged all the flowers in the church - that was their wedding gift to us. And Ann still lived at home with Vera, whilst taking on more and more responsibility for the Brigade Company.
My Mum died in 1991, and Ann and Vera were so kind to my Dad, often baking him sponge cakes and home-made pies. In 1996, Mackintosh's closed their factory, and Ann went to work for Wilkos. She was always a cheery face behind the cash register. 
Then Vera became ill and died - that was hard for Ann. But she continued her service in GB, and always made time to help others. Whenever we went back to Dereham, I'd pop into Wilkos to say Hi, and we'd catch up on the news. She always asked after my girls, and our church life, and we'd reminisce about our teenage years. 
Then Ann herself became ill with cancer, and had quite a few years of treatment - but last year moved into Eckling Grange,  a residential care home/sheltered accommodation scheme - she knew she could no longer look after herself. Although she had no relations nearby, there was a constant stream of friends from church visiting her, and sitting with her in her final days. 
She had planned her own funeral, and requested that people wore blue [her favourite colour] so I wore a pretty blue dress on Wednesday for her. I think she would have been amazed by how many people attended the thanksgiving service. 
Ann was in many ways, just an ordinary woman - she never hit the headlines, never earned a fortune, never expected special treatment - but she was gracious, and thoughtful, and cheerful, and loving. Her faith in God was strong - and she worked hard at her job, at Girls Brigade and in every aspect of her life. In her quiet way, she touched many lives, and she will be missed. I am reminded of a stanza from Gray's Elegy about the country folk whose simple lives were lived out faithfully but without fuss.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,Their sober wishes never learned to stray;Along the cool sequestered vale of lifeThey kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Ann was not clever, or rich, or famous - but she was a good friend. I am glad to have known her, and glad that her pain and suffering is over, and glad she is with her Saviour, and reunited with her beloved parents. And I am sure that even though her passing did not create much of a stir down here, when she passed over, as John Bunyan said
"all the trumpets sounded for her on the other side"  RIP Ann, my friend.