Saturday 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

I've been ignoring my blog for the last three weeks..... it has been calling me but I didn't listen.  As usual I left everything too late and didn't even put up my decorations until Christmas Eve.  But this is the last day I'm going to be disorganised - 2012 is going to see a new me that gets everything finished in plenty of time! You heard (read) it here first!
I feel really bad that I haven't posted or visited any of my favourite blogs. I really really don't want Christmas 2012 to be the same and intend to stick to my New Year resolution next week by making something - don't know what yet but I'll be visiting my Pinterest boards for inspriation.

So here are a few pictures of my disorganised crafty Christmas - I did get some things finished in time! 
Cherry stone hand warmers for my Mum and sisters in their little matching bits and bobs pockets.
 Delia Smith inspired Christmas cake that doubled as my sister's birthday cake on the 21st. Crochet slippers for my nieces - I sewed leather insoles underneath so they don't slide around on the kitchen floor!
 My tiny Christmas tree and some of the vintage decorations I've collected over the years.

Christmas cards I posted in the very last hour for first class delivery before the day - love this Boughs and Bells set from PTI. Such a classic traditional look with the sentiment from Compliments of the Season (Waltzing Mouse Stamps).
Some wrapped presents ready to give at the last possible moment before another sister left for a week's skiing on 23rd!
We had yummy scrambled eggs and mushrooms on toast at our favourite teeny Cafe Gate in Chester on the way back from taking my sister and nephew to the train at the end of their visit.  I liked their homely snowflake window decorations made from laminated doilies.
So that was my Christmas 2011.  I'd like to thank you, my faithfull readers, for all the encouragement I've had from you over the last year and the lovely comments you've left me. Here's to the New Year - and if you are celebrating tonight, have a very happy time.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Knit Me a Man Please!

I went through a phase of buying old knitting patterns a few years ago and looking through them last night I was reminded of Christmas 2005 when my sister jokingly said "knit me a man" when I asked her if there was anything she would like for her gift.  So I did!  And here he is photographed just after I finished him and when my sister unwrapped him.  She named him Jim, after my Mother's wartime GI boyfriend. He's an airman - I had wanted to knit the soldier but didn't have the right colour yarn for his uniform at the time.

In case you would like to knit yourself or a friend a man for Christmas, here is the pattern. As with the cut-out crib in my last post, you can download the images by right clicking and saving to your hard disk.

As you can tell, the pattern was published during WW2 and I find the lines below each doll pattern quite touching.  I can't bear to think how many Daddies didn't come home after the war.  But in jollier mood, here's another from the same era - Father Christmas and one of his Gnomes.

Friday 9 December 2011

A Retro Christmas Crib for the 100

I was astounded to see yesterday that I now have 100 followers!  Welcome to Loretta and Sherry who joined my little blog this week.  And to celebrate I thought you might like this papercraft nativity set from the Christmas 1964 issue of Woman and Home magazine.  You may have noticed I have rather a lot of old magazines and W&H is one of my favourites.


I love the simple style of these figures and really hope you will want to make one for your Christmas celebrations this year.  I've scanned these pages but as I only have an ancient A4 size scanner I've had to piece the pages together a bit - the magazine was wider than the scanner.  But you shouldn't have any problems as long as you make sure you don't tick the 'fit to page' box and just print as is. Here are the instructions.

To download these pages to your computer, right click the image, open in a new window and save to your hard drive somewhere you can find it easily. Its just the sort of thing I loved when I was a child and I would have been pleading with my Mum to hurry up and finish reading her magazine so that I could start cutting out!

Sunday 4 December 2011

I've found three more homemade gift ideas for today in my 1950s Woman and Home magazine collection. The first is this lovely crochet square in fine yarn. As the patterns says, what would please her more, and I think I'd be very pleased to receive such an elegant gift too.

Not so sure the two children's gifts would be so well received by today's kids though. You might get away with the muff for a very small girl but though I love the pipecleaner family myself I can't imagine many dolls house owners choosing them over a modern shop bought family. But perhaps they could be a project to try when the festivities are over.

If you would like to try the crochet pattern right click on the image, open in a new window and click to enlarge. If this doesn't work and you can't get a good image drop me a line and I'll send you a scan.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Dogwood Reindeers and Saltdough Stars

 I meant to add some gift making ideas to my blog each day but yesterday was a marathon - the Folksy website has had a makeover and to celebrate they had a free listing day. Great I thought..... but of course I wasn't the only one and the mass listing exercise was rather frustrating as everything was so SLOW!  But as the day went on things speeded up and the lovely Folksy people extended the free period so in the end I was able to add lots of items to my shop. Very pleased but I didn't have time to add anything here.

Here's a couple of things I made years ago but I'm thinking of trying again this year.  Do you remember when salt dough was all the rage?  I was into it in a big way and still have a few things I made then - this star being one of them. It adds just the right finishing touch to my wine bottle tag. The star was cut with a biscuit cutter and I glued a short length of ordinary string and a green lentil to the centre before baking in the oven ( remember to pierce a hanging hole with a skewer).  I then painted it first with red and then gold acrylic paint.
The dogwood reindeer is also a long survivor I'm planning on reviving.  I first made them for my work colleagues at least 10 years ago and I kept this one for myself. Our workplace had a bed of red dogwood outside and instead of leaving the lovely red stems on though the winter the "slash and burn" groundsmen cut them off every year. So I gathered a few before they were taken away and made about 30 reindeer.  I remember they were very well received - and of course cost practically nothing to make. The twigs were put together with a hot glue gun and string was added to hide the glue a bit as its not very pretty.

Sadly I don't have access to the dogwood now but I have lots of willow in the garden that really needs cutting back so I'll be using that.

Just noticed Claire at Waltzing Mouse has a Christmas Tag Challenge on at the moment so I'll enter my bottle tag and cross my fingers that it "tickles"!

Supplies for tag: Papertrey Ink Bottle Tag Die, Waltzing Mouse Nordic Winter stamp set

Thursday 1 December 2011

Yikes! 24 days to go!

And I haven't got a single gift ready yet! So I've been going through my collection of old magazines looking for ideas.  I thought I'd like to post some of the things I find here on the blog over the next couple of weeks.  My first find is three very practical but pretty gifts from the Christmas edition of Woman and Home magazine in 1958. I really like the apron - I'm sure it would be just as well received in 2011 as it would have been in 1958.  And I'd love to find a piece of that wonderful teapot fabric! 


The last couple of weeks have been all about craft fairs and I wouldn't like to tell you how many very late nights I've had getting my stall ready.  But even though there is still one fair to go I have just about enough stuff to keep me going and from now on I'm going to concentrate on my Christmas list - luckily its not huge as we are a small family.

I made some more peg dolls for last weekend's Christmas fair - snowmen, angels and fairies. I'd been looking for the peg stands for my dolls for ages.  I couldn't find them for sale without their pegs - and I already had lots of pegs.  But at last I've found a really excellent supplier.  If you're in the UK and looking for crafty supplies at reasonable prices, you'll probably find what you are after and more at  There's loads and loads of ideas for kids' crafty activities too. My happiest childhood Christmas memories are of sitting at the kitchen table making decorations and pegs are easy for even the most uncrafty child (or adult) to attempt .  Or what about a peg doll competition at a Christmas party.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Swapping success!

The Modern Christmas Fabric Charm Swap squares I received a few weeks ago have been such a gift this week as they turned out to be the perfect size for turning into Christmas Spiced hearts and sachets for my next craft fair. Emily at Strawberry Patch organised the swap and we swappers got 2 squares each of 26 different fabrics! And some really gorgeous patterns there were too.

 My spices are a mixture of cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and star anise crushed a bit with a pair of pliers to release their wonderful fragrance - so Christmassy, I wish you could smell it.  Some old buttons, bells and felt beads add the finishing touches along with die cut felt shapes.  It all came together really well so thanks so much Emily for organising the perfect swap for me. Hope we can do it again next year.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Remembering GI Jim

Another day of remembering and today its my Mum's wartime story I've been thinking about. I've recalled here before her romance with an American GI Jim Campbell, but I don't think I've pictured him. When I inherited my Grandmother's photograph collection I found she had kept a number of photographs of Jim and now I keep them safe.

Mum was only 15 years old in 1939, living with her parents and going to secretarial school in Chester. When war broke out her Dad, my Grandfather, was working at De Havillands Aircraft Factory but was soon moved to the Burtonwood RAF base near Warrington. Then in January 1942 Burtonwood was transferred to the United States Army Airforces and the GIs came to town! By this time Mum was 17 and she and her girlfriends were in great demand by off duty servicemen who virtually took over Warrington town centre. Mum was soon "going steady" with Jim and they became engaged.  They were together for 4 years but eventually Jim left the UK for a base in Germany and Mum realised she was not destined to become a GI bride and didn't want to leave her home and family - in her own words "it was just a wartime romance".

I heard a radio programme this week recalling the experiences of over 70,000 women who sailed across the Atlantic in the 1940s to begin a new life with the American and Canadian husbands they had met and married during the war.  Today there are over a million descendants in America and Canada of the women who followed their hearts and took a leap of faith all those years ago. Funny to think I could have been one of those decendants - but I wouldn't have been me!

Jim did survive the war and returned home to Staten Island, New York.  And he did marry and have a family, so if any one 'over the pond' recognises his face I'd love to hear from you - and so would Mum!

Supplies: Centerpieces Vol 1 digital elements by Joanne Briseboise at Oscraps

Saturday 12 November 2011

A Host of Recycled Angels

I've been busy making more and more angels this week. Although they are a bit fiddly I really enjoy creating them and like the fact that apart from a bit of white and cream cardstock, ink and vellum, they are made from the contents of my recycling box. I've used lots of cereal-type boxes, the silvery package my loose tea comes in, and the copper coloured inside of tomato paste tubes - all of which cut really easily in my Cuttlebug.  And they will hang on crochet yarn I found in a charity shop.  As this angel stamp is symmetrical it was easy to "back-to-back" the card bases and images, with the wings and halos sandwiched in the middle.
Some of these angels will be crossing the English Channel soon as my very good blog friend Baukje, a knitter and stitcher extraordinaire living in France, will be giving them to her family this Christmas. So that she can add her own greetings and messages we came up with the idea of packaging and attaching them to a tag. I've put the angels in little cello bags and stapled them to the tag top, while leaving the bag open - that way the angel will slip out easily.  I like how I was able to make up each one differently so all will get their very own angel.

Supplies: Lots of recycled packaging; Papertrey Ink Love Lives Here Holiday stamp set; various Distress Inks; Papertrey Ink Tag Sale #3 die

Friday 11 November 2011


I've a passion for our family history and have become the keeper of the family album, albeit in digital form. My Mother's cousin Ieuan recently lent me his mother's old Victorian family album which contained many photographs I hadn't seen before and faces I didn't recognise.  But with a bit of detective work I was able to put names to the faces in this family portrait and turned it from just another anonymous Edwardian family photograph into a vital record of real people who I can now claim as members of "my" family.  I already knew that this little girl was a cousin of my Grandmother's and recognised also the face of her mother.  Then a search of the census records on line produced details of the whole family, which in turn enabled me to identify them all.

Today is Armistice Day - a day when we remember all those who have suffered and died in war, and of course I think of my Father and Grandfather who did not die but certainly suffered.  Their wartime experiences affected the rest of their lives.  But this year I want to remember also Thomas Glyn Owen, the young man in these photographs. He was killed on the Somme on 21st March 1918 aged 38. He left behind his grieving wife, parents, sister and brothers. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Poizeres Memorial in France, just one of over 14,300 soldiers who simply disappeared there between March and August 1918. I can't imagine the anguish of the families who had to sit at home waiting for news that never came.

Supplies: Haute Couture Embellishment digital kit from Design by Anita at Two Peas in a Bucket

Friday 4 November 2011

Make it Monday stamped background challenge

I think I've said before that I just love stamping backgrounds so this week's MIM challenge was right up my street.  I stamped this get well card for my Mum to send to a friend.  Just a short post tonight to enter the challenge.... ever the optimist!

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Supplies: Papertrey Ink Tea for Two stamp set and die, Beautiful Blooms stamp set; Distress Ink Worn Lipstick, Bundled Sage, Scattered Straw

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Gloomy November?

Another month and another charming image from Children Month by Month.  We don't often have foggy weather here - except when the clouds are low on the hills and we have to travel through them.  However it really doesn't seem like November - I can still walk out without a coat and the garden really doesn't know what season it is......
The hollies think its already the festive season and are covered in bright red berries.........

but underneath there are fragrant pink sweet peas still flowering!
The leaves on the young maple are coloured ready to drop.............
but there are still alpine strawberries everywhere if you look carefully - and still some flowers!

But there's no escaping the long shadows mid afternoon and dusk by teatime when lights need switching on and the curtains have to be drawn.  Oh well, I'll just enjoy the last signs of summer and get on with my Christmas crafting!


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