creating >> the ‘Crisis’ crafts

It is that time of year in our village when all the different groups and churches begin to hold their annual Christmas coffee mornings to raise funds for various charities. I always support the one at my local church that raises money for the charity Crisis – they provide shelter and a warm meal for the homeless on Christmas day. A long time ago I was one of the people who organised the coffee morning – so it is quite dear to my heart.

I try and provide a few saleable items each year for the craft and gift stalls. This year it has been a bit of a scramble because I have not been well with the Covid and my energy levels were less than zero. I cheated a bit this year and found these lovely inexpensive treat bags in The Works (6 for £3) and filled them with sweets from a tub of Cadbury’s Heroes. I would normally make my own bags from wrapping paper but these are so cute.

I still have some of the ‘free’ plant pots left that came from the lady in the village where our cottage is in Scotland and this year I filled four of them with miniature narcissi bulbs. To make them look more attractive I hand stamped a little label and wrapped the whole thing in cellophane using those very handy roasting bags that you can buy in any supermarket.

The shoots are just starting to poke through now so they should bloom in a few weeks time.

I am happy to report that the coffee morning was busy and the items I made had nearly all sold in the first half hour. I spent a happy couple of hours browsing the gift stalls and chatting with old friends over a cup of tea and a lovely homemade ginger biscuit. I was also given an invite to a party next Saturday evening and luckily that is a free evening for us.

Yesterday we had my grandson Freddie to play whilst mum and dad went to an appointment. It was lovely to see him and of course he can chatter away so much more now. When mum and dad returned I made a meal for us all – it was a bit makeshift as it wasn’t planned but broccoli bake always makes a quick and easy supper dish.

I am trying to keep Christmas low key this year but things are already starting to feel a bit hectic. My fruit for the cake is marinating with the brandy in a bowl and tonight, if everyone can make it, we will be connecting on Zoom to do our family Secret Santa draw and arranging a pre-christmas get together party for the big present swap. We have very few dates in December when we have nothing on – I am not sure how that has happened but I shall have to get myself organised to cope.

dear diary >> looking forward

Thank you for all the kind comments and well wishes. I seem to be reporting a lot this year about illness, so I am hoping the start of next year will see a big improvement to my health. Illness of any kind can often drag you down and I do feel like each time I just get going again something else happens and like a game of snakes and ladders I find myself sliding back down a slippery slope once again.

This Covid virus has certainly taken its toll on both of us and the fatigue is only just beginning to go. Yesterday we managed another very short walk down the lane although it was quite miserable in the drizzle and eerily quiet – still it was good to be out in the fresh air and feel the weather on our faces. Each day I manage to do a little more than the day before so that is a good sign. I am lucky that I didn’t have a cough or breathlessness but I do feel very stuffed up and that peculiar taste and smell that developed still lingers.

Our homemade soup makes a satisfying meal for us as our appetites are slowly getting back to normal – today we will make a batch of mushroom soup between us – DH will do the chopping and I the cooking and then no doubt we will have a rest to get over the exertion! We have an apple crumble in the freezer but I am not sure I could do it justice yet so I will probably opt for a fruit yoghurt instead.

My life at the moment is as dull as the weather and I am looking forward to brighter and more productive days ahead now the worst of the virus is over and I am able to at least think about festive plans. This year our plans will be kept simple – often they are the best anyway. As some of my readers will know our family operates a Secret Santa – it is something we have done since 2013 and we have never looked back we are all thankful to spend less time shopping and it leaves more time to have family get togethers – eating, drinking, chatting and playing those all important party games.

It was quite encouraging to hear Martin Lewis give out a similar message last night on his program. Over the years it seems Christmas has become about the gifts and the shopping and very little else. When I was a little girl I always looked forward to going into Sheffield city centre at night to see the lights and the displays in the department store windows. Of course back then there were probably a dozen large department stores throughout the town and each put on a magical display. With all the council cutbacks our local town has a very poor display and somehow the new flickery LED lights don’t have quite the same impact as those old fashioned brightly coloured light bulbs that streamed across the road. We have no department stores left and hardly anyone has a window display. No doubt this is the reason that we now search out light displays to go to during the festive season at National Trust properties though they are a might more expensive than the free shows we used to have in all our towns and cities.

I always enjoy making a few little things for Christmas but this year I know I will be short on time. I am currently looking for inspiration for a Christmas card design – I quite often do a linocut – there is something quite simple and satisfying about this technique….ah well maybe I can magic up a little enthusiasm to make a start, after all Christmas waits for no-one.

creating >> ScrapHappy November

Until my recent affliction with the Covid I was on a mission to save old cards from ending up in the recycle bin and spent many a morning cutting and sticking for half an hour before breakfast to make new cards from old. They are so easy to do I would encourage anyone to have a go as they save on both money and waste. All you need is a roll of the white double sided tape that you can purchase from Hobbycraft, The Range, Rymans and I think even Sainsbury’s stock it. I use the one that is approximately 1cm wide.

You can buy large packs of white card blanks quite cheaply but I prefer these that are in many different colours and sizes. They are more expensive (about £1.25 for 4 or 6 in a pack depending on the size) but they do provide a strong border to really set off a card.

So below is a selection of a few of the ones I have done so far. I apologise for the terrible lighting – November must be the worst month for indoor photography and the lack of light.

Once the main part of the old card has been mounted onto a new card you can add your own embellishments and wording which you can buy from all good craft shops quite cheaply. These are some that I am waiting to do.

The two little cards below were made using bits of decorations peeled off some old cards.

And this one was actually the little printed part on the back of a birthday card remounted in an aperture card blank – so as you can see nothing here is wasted.

On the reverse of the card I stick a little homemade label that tells the recipient that this is a ‘recycled card’

I also found a few photocopy prints of my own sketches and mounted these onto some cardstock.

If you are feeling more creative you can use parts of cards to make your own designs – a cut out heart can make a great anniversary card when embellished a little. Earlier in the year I made a few of these special concertina anniversary cards using scraps of pink paper, my lovely heart shaped stamp and some embossing powder.

For my friends 80th I used a few scraps of fabric to stitch together this cute little 80 card.

So before you put that pile of old birthday cards in the recycle bin look to see if anything is salvageable or sparks an idea and might give an old card a new lease of life.

Happy Scrapping!

You will find more ScrapHappy ideas from these blogs:-

Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti, Edith, Debbierose, Noilin.

dear diary >> keeping warm

Not surprisingly, each day for a long while I have intended to write a blog post but somehow life just got in the way and now dear DH and I have been struck down by the virus after avoiding it like the plague for so long. The virus itself came after a visit to the hospital about my shoulder – co-incidence maybe… or maybe not.

The symptoms resembled a good dose of flu, with fever, aching and a lot of prostration and sleep. There was no cold, runny rose, sneezing or cough for me just a sore throat and I am left with a rather strange smell and taste that won’t leave me that I can only liken to castor oil, but hopefully in time it will go. As we go into week 2 of the virus the tiredness is the overiding factor now that is rather hard to shake off but we have nothing scheduled in the diary this week so I am just going to ease myself back into life again and collapse on the sofa when I need to. We are aiming today for a short walk mainly to see daylight which seems in short supply at the moment and to get some movement into our muscles. Like flu it has left us lethargic and weak and we are putting all our energies into keeping warm, eating as well as we can and reading my favourite books.

Before I succomed to the virus I had spent a great deal of time making new cards for birthdays and occasions out of old ones so I thought I would share them tomorrow for the monthly Scrap Happy challenge day. Even if you are not creative they are so easy to make and not only do they re-use some of those lovely cards we are given these days but in these hard financial times making your own saves money.

I hope everyone else out there is keeping well, I keep reading my favourite blogs as I find the energy and concentration but commenting will be sparse until I feel back to normal. Being ‘laid up’ does allow me a lot of thinking time and I have been making plans in my head for adjusting certain areas of my life I am not happy with, change is never easy is it as we often fall unintentionally into bad habits. More sleep and exercise will be at the top of my agenda.

With Christmas looming on the horizon and the fact I have now lost a bit of time I don’t want to feel rushed or panicked when I start to get back to normal as it takes all the enjoyment away. I noticed how busy the roads have become recently and just going to Sainsbury’s in town for our weekly shop has become a whole morning or afternoon task and we are having to find quieter non-direct routes to avoid the lengthy queues – it appears there is no longer a quiet time to go.

Luckily we had a pantry full of food before we fell ill and I did manage to make some fresh tomato and red pepper soup one morning though I had to do it in 3 stages with a sit down rest between. I am so thankful I don’t have children to look after and can just go at my own pace for a while until recovery is complete.

Thankfully, I cannot pass on my germs over the blog and you are spared from seeing me in my post covid state kitted out in an old snuggly jumper and looking like I have passed through a hedge backwards!