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Sunday, 29 July 2012


Hi everyone

Did you watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony?  What did you think of it?  Wasn't the lighting of the fire pit spectacular?  I had wondered what all of those brass bed pans (sorry copper kettles) were going to be used for.  I think it was a very good choice to have Sir Steve Redgrave deliver the Olympic Torch to the Stadium and how about the Queen and James Bond?  Both very game jumping out of the helicopter - thank goodness the fire pit hadn't been lit - all in a day's work for Mr Bond.  David Beckham looked good - as always - and very proud too.  Like all sporting events, there will be shock wins and losses, great races run, silly comments by the commentators, but I hope everyone enjoys it.

Have you had a chance to read my latest guest blogger's post?  Thank you Zofia for a great post.  What do you think - are women better blogger's than men?  Zofia's post may be my last guest post for a while - unless any of my followers or fellow Handmade Mondayers (or new visitors?) would like to contribute?  I have been really pleased how successful the Guest Blog spot has been and hope everyone has enjoyed it as much as I have.  Hard to believe it has been running for six months and every post has been brilliant.  Contrary to a recent comment, I feel the guest blog spot did 'take-off' and I am looking forward to posting and reading many more guest blog posts in the future.  So, if anyone would like to join in, please do get in touch on  Remember your post doesn't have to be craft-related, it could be about marketing, blogging, event organisation, a hobby you have, travel, or how about a book you have read - or even better one that you have written.

Last week was pretty hectic.  Had a meal in Ripley with friends on Wednesday evening.  The weather was great and we dined outside - sadly the staff seemed to forget the outside diners and service was a bit hit-and-miss at times.  Not too much of a problem really as it was a mostly non-stop talking get-together.  One of the friends I met up with is looking into starting a business making chutneys, relishes and jams - something she is very good at and feels she is ready for the next stage.  Our next group get-together is going to be a tasting of her range - yum, yum.

A couple of weeks ago I volunteered to assist the Woking Cats Protection Group with catching and helping abandoned, unwell and feral cats.  Although we live in the Guildford CP area, I chose Woking because we adopted Daisy from them.  My 'job' will be to set up cages/pens to catch cats and kittens.  I did my first trip on Thursday afternoon with a fellow CP volunteer and we did a return visit on Saturday morning.  My biggest problem will be resisting taking them all home with me!  I know Daisy wouldn't mind as she will be a mum to the kittens, not too sure Jazz will welcome another cat or kitten with open paws though.

After my Thursday cat visit, I met with my bride and groom to discuss their wedding invitations and they signed off on their order.  Although they had a design already (having gone through the process of designing an invitation with another wedding stationer who sadly let them down) they were very pleased with my interpretation of this.  All systems go now and some intensive invitation-making days and nights ahead of me.  Once they have been completed I will ask the couple if I can post pictures on my blog as I would love you to see them.  A little taster: the card and paper are pearlised pale ivory with orange and purple trims, ribbons, etc.  Here are a couple of sample invitations I made recently, but the couple's design is completely different to both of these.

Still on Thursday, a friend and I went to RHS Wisley for the evening.  Wisley rarely opens after 5.30 pm - sometimes they have musical or special events, but it is rare that the gardens are open.  During July, the gardens were open until 8.00 pm on four Thursdays and we had arranged to go to the last one.  It was a gorgeous evening, hot, still very sunny and everywhere looked good.  Surprisingly, it wasn't very busy and on arrival we discovered that a member's only Wine Tasting Event was taking place - not too sure how we missed out on that.  Despite tickets still being available, we were both driving so unable to take part - but we did.  We decided some sit-down and people-watching time was the way to take part.  Surprising how many people think wine-tasting is to get as many glasses of wine drunk in as short a space of time as possible.  Oh, well, they looked happy.  Up to a few years ago, Richard was a professional wine taster, so I took home a set of the tasting notes for him.

The next couple of weeks will be very busy as in addition to the wedding invitations, I have jewellery to make, birthday cards, wedding anniversary cards and a thank you card to do as well.  I am trying to set aside time to make Christmas stock because I am getting concerned that I may not have enough for the events I have booked.  Although the main ones are not until November, my stock boxes are telling me that I need to get a move on.

We have had heavy rain, thunder-storms and a little hail so far today - just like summer really.  I hope it doesn't last too long as I am sure there are many sports that will not benefit from wet weather.  However, there are some very dry parts in my garden that are crying our for rain - tap water doesn't really do anything other than keep plants alive.

It's Handmade Monday time again, so don't forget to visit the other blogs and see what everyone has been working on during the past week.  Don't forget to contact me if you want to give guest blogging a go.  Enjoy the Olympics - I will be back on Wednesday.


Friday, 27 July 2012


Mars Needs Moms (Or....Are Women Naturally BETTER at Social Media?)

by Zofia Coulton of the

It’s a common dilemma for many mothers these days.  When you’ve had your kids, do you go back to work?  In many cases it’s not a choice but a financial necessity. So let’s assume you do choose to work.  How easy is it to juggle motherhood with a career?  Can you be a Supermum and a Career Woman?  What’s the easiest way to do it?

It is almost exclusively a female problem.   Although there are Dads willing to be stay at home dads while their wives are the main breadwinners, it’s still relatively rare.  It shouldn’t really be the case, but as we know, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus – Martians have their caves, don’t share emotions and need to be hunter-gatherers, Venusians are the home-makers, who talk to their friends and raise children.   But in this world it’s not as simple as that. ‘Mars needs Moms’ now, especially in the Social Media business, which, let’s face it, involves a lot of sharing and talking to people and is a lifeline for many women with families for whom Social Networks are a great way to chat and keep in touch.

In fact this got me thinking.  As women are more natural users than men, does this mean that women better at social media jobs than men? I think I know more females than males in this business.   It’s more natural to us.  Also by its very nature, Social Media and Social Networking can be done from anywhere – no need to go out to work, so it means that many Venusians can actually be the homemaker and the breadwinner.

And of course this brings me on to the thousands of ‘mumpreneurs’ there are. Mums who work from home in the craft/cake-making/beauty/consulting or whatever business and use Facebook/Twitter for most of their marketing.   Some of my favourite Facebook pages are:

I really think social media was made for us! We’re just good at it! I’m sure there will be some who disagree!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Hi everyone

Are we ever satisfied?  Too much rain, too much heat, too cold, oh dear.  We seem to have extremes in this country, but nowhere near as bad as in the USA where in some areas the temperatures have been almost unbearable.  However, I do hope this good weather lasts throughout the Olympics as it will make it much more enjoyable for visitors - imagine how grim it would have been if the games had been held last month!

This week is possibly my last Friday Guest Blogger's post.  Understandably it is holiday time and lots of people are either on holiday, getting ready for a holiday or enjoying the sunshine.  My guest blogger spot has been running for six months and I have enjoyed every single post.  I have learnt so much from them and have enjoyed reading the feedback comments that visitors have left.  Thank you visitors and most of all thank you guest bloggers - you have been brilliant.  But, I am not giving up just yet - in case anyone wants to be a guest blogger, please do get in touch as it would be great to continue this enjoyable activity.  Have a look at the guest posts that have gone before and you will see the variety of topics that have been covered.

Off to enjoy the sunshine now.  I have a meeting this afternoon with the manager of the Normandy Therapy Garden - I am going to have a look at the hall they rent out to see if it is suitable for craft classes.  I hope so because it is in a lovely setting.  Out for a meal with friends this evening - fingers crossed they have plenty of seating outside of air-conditioning inside.

Don't forget to come back on Friday for my guest blog - fingers crossed it isn't the last one.  I will be back on Sunday with my main post.


Sunday, 22 July 2012


Hi everyone

No rain for 2 days - put the hosepipe away, take a shower not a bath, drought conditions soon to be declared.  Sorry for the sarcasm, but having spent every single day since some time last year (OK, OK, slight exaggeration there) with a brolly in hand, a coat at the ready and a boat parked in the drive, I can't cope with dry weather!  Everything in the garden is rosy - actually this rain has given us the most beautiful display of our climbing and rambling roses ever, so it has its good points.  Keeping up with mowing the grass has been hard work (Richard's not mine) and almost needless to say the weeds have been holding parties and appear to have invited all of their friends!  I hope the weather forecaster who says we are in for good weather is right - otherwise I wouldn't want to be in his wellies if he is wrong!

The whole world seems to be experiencing extraordinary weather.  I saw the news this morning about the floods in China and landslides in Austria.  Some very odd things are happening weather-wise everywhere and it makes me wonder what the next few months will bring.  Snow in August and a heatwave in December?

Friday saw the Olympic Torch Relay wend its way through Godalming and Guildford and for pics of the Godalming stretch, have a look at Dawn's Facebook page.  The weather was good and it's lovely to see so much enthusiasm for this event.  This brings me to the reason for my title.  I don't know about you, but I am fed up with the critics of the Olympics, the people who claim they need to be paid extra for coping with it, those who plan to go on strike before or during the games, and anyone else who moans about it!  Yes, I know it will cause traffic problems, yes I know it will upset the working patterns of lots of people, and yes I know you can please some of the people some of the time and not all of the people all of the time.  Let's look on it as something positive for the UK, a chance to show we are a very tolerant nation (well, most of the time), that we are pleased to host the games and that we want to welcome everyone who is attending, whether they are in the audience or taking part in a particular sport.  This event is for a few weeks, not months or years so let's wish everyone a really good time.

Have you had a chance to read my guest blog post of last week?  Linda Kirkbride wrote about Challenging your inspiration.  Have a look at the photographs she has included - it does make you think about the unusual things you see when out and about and how annoyed you are when you realise you haven;t got your camera with you.  Thank you, Linda, it is another great guest blog post.

It would be lovely to have some more of my followers as guest bloggers - it's a bit of extra promotion for your business, although your post does not have to be business-related.  Fancy giving it a go?  Email me on

I know some fellow Handmade Monday bloggers received an email from Blink Collective and I am interested to know how many of you decided to jump into this new way of marketing and promoting a different side of our business.  I have listed three workshops and have arranged to meet with the Centre Manager of the Normandy Therapy Garden next week to view their hall which can be rented out on Fridays.  The garden is on the same site as the Village Hall, so plenty of parking is available and if one day I venture into the full-day course, a lovely place to have a picnic lunch.  Over the next week or so I  plan to list more courses.  I am realistic that they may not all take off, but as a glass half-full person, it seems a great way of promoting them and less time-consuming than trying to promote them myself and I am looking forward to this new venture.

It hasn't been a busy 'making' week as I have been busy sourcing wedding stationery materials.  I met with the bride and groom this week and they have also requested I make their Order of Service and Table Plan. Very exciting and once all the materials arrive, I will be working very hard to complete their order quickly for them.  They were let down by a previous wedding stationer, and I want to ensure they have everything in place for this part of their wedding arrangements.

I took the plunge and began listing things on Etsy this week too.  It struck me that while I may be dragging my heels with my website (no excuses, but lots of guilty feelings) I should take advantage of other websites to list my work on.  I don't really have experience of Etsy, so it is a bit 'wait and see' really - it would be lovely to sell from there, but again I am realistic as I know the competition is rather fierce.  However, you never know, and you have to be in it to win it.

A while ago I had an order for a congratulations on your Divorce card; this wasn't needed until August, but as I am meeting the customer tomorrow for coffee I finalised it this week.  Her brief was pink, champagne bottle and glass and a specific salutation which I have left off for the following photograph.  Card giving has changed so much over recent years - a card 'celebrating' this occasion would have been the last thing on anyone's mind.  It is good news for my business, but also rather sad how things change.

I am off now as the weather is so gorgeous and I want to enjoy some time just lazing in the sunshine.  This coming week is a very hectic one for me; quite a bit of evening socialising, but working hard during the day to make up for it.

Don't forget to visit the other blogs posting on this week's Handmade Monday blog.  You will see some great work, excellent tutorials and lovely tales of what has happened during the past week.

Last week I 'shared' with you some of the funny/interesting search terms that had appeared in my blog stats, and I am going to make this a regular thing as two more wonderful strings popped up in this week's list (again exactly as they are, no corrections for grammar or capitalisation):

pictures of decorated netting on the wall
weed for crafting

Aren't they fantastic - and hilarious?  Can't wait for next week's stats.

Enjoy the sun - I will be back on Wednesday.


Friday, 20 July 2012


Challenging your inspiration  by Linda Kirkbride

When I agreed to write another guest piece I was about to go on a week’s holiday. During the break I decided to write a continuation of my previous piece. And due to the many wet days I had plenty of time to think about it and took one or two pictures to add into it. But all that went by the board.

It was while we were driving home I started to think about how my parents used to try keeping my brother and I amused on long trips. As children we lived abroad and my parents made the most of this to travel all around Europe. Great for the adults but for 6 & 8 yr olds ? It could be boring ! No technological games or screens in the headrests of cars. So it was a case of counting bird nests and logging them! Yup, honest.

Anyway you’re probably thinking what’s this got to do with inspiration? Well it reminded me of a project I set myself a few years ago. The project itself may sound odd so let me explain first the advantages.

Most of us who are engaged in the creative field, in whatever medium, tend to get stuck sometimes or we think maybe we are bogged down in the same type of means for inspiration. We work with what we enjoy, become proficient at it and get good results. So why change? This isn’t about change its about stirring us up a little, having fun and allowing ourselves to enjoy our creativity to see where it goes.

This is about moving from the ‘could do list’ (previous piece) to the ‘I am going to’ one.

Now back to that project. Some years ago when we were on a long journey and I was a passenger, I was staring out of the window wondering how I could liven up the journey a little more. Didn’t particularly want to count bird’s nests! For some random reason which escapes me now, I decided every time we stopped at a corner or traffic jam etc. I would take a photograph of exactly what was outside the side window, the view in the frame of the passenger window. I set myself rules for example, that I mustn’t discriminate as to whether I liked the view or not. I had to complete the journey and not to think too much about the quality, just click.

I have to admit there were some pretty rubbish shots (including one of a policeman in a panda car next to us looking at me rather quizzically!) and some very boring road scenes but some were useful had I wanted some new inspiration. I’ve included some photos of door surrounds which could have been a starting point. Plus if you look very carefully down the drain in one shot there is a ping pong ball. Why, I’ve no idea, in the middle of nowhere but I’d never have noticed that.

Now with these fun projects you set your own rules but keep to them. The time you take can be as short as once a week on a certain day/time or when you’re waiting for a buswalking the dog or as some do, for 365 days of the year. Many do the one drawing a day for a year challenge.

For years I‘ve been taking pictures of shoes I find in odd places, and there have been many. Another was all the rubbish on a beach walk I took regularly with my dogs. I’ve added one picture of something I found on a post which to this day I have no idea what it was.

There are other ideas for projects. An example I know of, by someone who decided, separately from her work, to paint 30 birds in 30 small paintings. Her rules were only use supplies she already had, only use acrylic paint and not to buy more, use drawings that she had already done, work loosely and to practice a colour theory. This is quite a big challenge over time which may be too much like work. So if you’re a stitcher who tends to use a particular stitch, you could set yourself a task to make a small sample of your work but with a different stitch for the next few weeks.

The idea is to challenge yourself, have fun and to try something completely different to what you would normally do. You never know something might come of it. 

Linda Kirkbride MA

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Hi everyone

Is it me or is it getting a little warmer and a little less soggy every day?  Could it be that the long-awaited summer is on the way?  In between crafting (which is perhaps the only reason why I don't mind the rain in the summer) and rain, we keep nipping out to get some more gardening done.  I find that as soon as I turn my back on a particular patch, up pops a Mare's Tail or a nettle shoot.  Yes, I know nettles are great for all sorts of things, but there are certain parts of my garden that I don't want them to take up residence in.  They seem to sprout around our pond and digging them up is hard work as the roots tend to travel - although they don't pierce the liner, they do occasionally dislodge the edging.  We are expecting a delivery any time soon of Heucheras that I ordered from Plantagogo; their bed is already for them (weeds permitting) and I am looking forward to getting them settled in before Autumn.  The colours are gorgeous and I will post a pic on my blog as soon as they feel happy to pose for me.
I received an email from Blink Collective yesterday regarding their Experiences venture, which sounds really exciting: Blink allows skilled and passionate people to list 'Experiences' for others to buy.  Experiences are things people can: Make, Learn, Do or See.  We're a bit like Etsy, but rather than selling goods we allow people to sell their skill and knowledge.  We're UK focused and with over 600 listings we already have some traction.  As with any email that arrives out of the blue, I was a little concerned.  I checked on the Crafts Forum  I belong to and discovered that several members had also been contacted, carried out research and had signed up with Blink Collective.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I have signed up too and as I have been thinking of and planning card-making classes for some time, this looks a great way to promote them.

I want to highlight three of my favourite blogs (and bloggers) today:

Lesley who is the Mad Dog Woman of Shackleford 
Dawn of the Dawn Hart Blogspot
Badger Boo and his daft adventures

I love all of their blogs, but my main reason for mentioning them today is to thank them for always replying to comments left on their blogs - not just mine, but everyone's.  Commenting on blogs isn't always carried out and I know it can be time-consuming but taking the time to reply to comments left is great and means your comment has been read and appreciated.  Thank you both - oops sorry, Badger Boo - thank you too.

Still not raining, so perhaps a little more weed-pulling fun is on the cards.  Don't forget to come back on Friday for my guest blogger's post.  I will be back with my normal Sunday/Handmade Monday post


Sunday, 15 July 2012


Hi everyone

Can I ask you to pop your head out of the window and tell me what that 'thing' in the sky is?  To me it looks like the sun but I have very few memories of that particular object to be able to state 'yes, it is the sun' with any confidence.  I am therefore asking for your advice.

Last week disappeared rather quickly and although I was working throughout the week (well most of it), I have very little in the finished items department to post on here.  I haven't even finished some of the things I was working on the previous week.  This butterfly behaviour has to stop!  I blame it on the weather or perhaps the saying time flies when you are having fun is true.

Thank you Sarah of Top Toy Box for your guest post on Friday - lovely ideas for the long summer break from school that is looming and as the weather is likely to be pretty unreliable, these may help lots of people who want some fun crafty things to do with their children.  Would you like to be a guest blogger here?  I would love you to join in, so get in touch if you would like some more information (

However, it has been a good news week for me really.  Two friends I had lunch with on Monday placed orders with me for earrings; then another friend ordered earrings and matching necklace.  I keep saying I am not intending going into the jewellery making business, but I am pleased to have orders.  In addition to that I had orders for a Ruby Wedding card and a card for someone who is running in the Olympic Torch Relay.  Even better was the call I received early in the week from someone who had seen my work and wanted me to make their wedding invitations!  There is a bit of a tale behind this, but it is exciting and a nice type of feedback about my work, and means the butterfly behaviour has got to stop.

We were supposed to be attending an open air event at Farnham Castle yesterday, but had to cancel our plans.  The friend whose birthday we were celebrating sprained her ankle and this meant walking through the mud would be rather difficult.  Not that we wish her anything other than a speedy recovery, but we were not too disappointed.  As you may know, the UK has had quite a bit of rain recently (British understatement) and the prospect of sitting in mud while being rained on was not something we were mad keen to do.  However, we had a meal with our friend yesterday evening - in the dry.  I tried to sell the tickets on Twitter and Facebook without any success - now who would not want to sit in a  muddy field??  But, never to be put off, a friend of mine organised a French Flea Market yesterday to raise funds for her church (yesterday was Bastille Day).  She asked me if I would like a table for my cards and as it was only a few miles away and a very reasonable stall price, I agreed.  The organisers were disappointed with the turnout, but given the weather I think they did very well - and so did I!  It is amazing how you can do well in the least likely of places.  I donated the tickets to the raffle and they were won by a really nice couple on the table next to me who have just started an up-cycling/re-cycling furniture business, so I was pleased the tickets went to a good home.

In addition to selling well on the day, I had a commission for 2 cards to be made there and then.  I always carry a stock of materials to make cards during the 'in-between times', so this was good and I also made some for stock, so will add these here for my Handmade Monday makes.  Plus, I was given a great idea for somewhere to sell my wreaths and once I have made some enquiries, I will tell all.

Don't forget to visit the other Handmade Monday blogs to see what goodies my fellow crafts-people have been making this week.

I know we all look at our Blog stats regularly, but do you ever carefully review the search strings people use that eventually lead them to your blog?  Some of mine this week made me wonder, scratch my head and smile (copied exactly, so apologies for the grammar and lack of capitalisation):

ear piercing invitation card
mr pie craft story english
one day when i caught in rain
2012 limb holiday craft faire

I will leave you to ponder these and wish you a great day in the sunshine.  I am off to make an ear-piercing invitation card as it must be needed. I will be back with my Wednesday witterings and look forward to chatting with you then


Friday, 13 July 2012


Crafts I Enjoy With My Children

Hello everyone, and thank you Jill for allowing me the honour of being a guest blogger! A little about me - my name is Sarah and I used to be a childrens’ librarian but am now a busy mum of two little girls, aged 5 and 3, as well as owner of an online toyshop selling educational toys and games ( I was talking to Jill about some of the crafts I enjoy doing with my children (nothing too complicated!) and she thought they might be good to share. So here goes: my top 5 crafts for children that won’t cost a penny (well, pretty much…!)

1) As this picture shows, my little girls love to be princesses! Making princess hats or crowns is very easy and lots of fun. For the medieval hat, we simply made a cone from a large sheet of card, fitted it for head size, then taped together. The children then added their own decorations. Glitter glue is great here and don’t forget to add some streaming ribbons once the glue/paint is dry for the complete medieval look. Puncture two small holes either side of the hat rim and thread some elastic though to keep it in place. (And of course this is easily adapted into a wizard’s hat with lots of shiny stars!)

2) This is one for the summer (if it ever arrives!). Sea shell crafts are great for children. Add wiggly eyes to make little sea creatures, or create a picture frame to put a holiday snap in. Buy a cheap, plain wooden frame (the sort that haven’t been waxed or varnished are best) and then using PVA glue, stick the shells onto the frame, making sure that all of the shell edges meet for best effect.

3) How about making your own paper-weights? There are two ways to do this - either buy some air-drying clay and shape it into a ball, or simply head into the garden and find some nice smooth stones. Then let your children paint the stones with either pretty patterns or bug /animal designs. Ladybirds and bumble bees are popular and easy, and a pair of stick on googly eyes finishes them off perfectly.

4) In this house we hardly ever buy greetings cards. They might not be at professional standard, but everyone seems to appreciate a homemade card. One idea for you which always works well: take some buttons of different colours and sizes (we always take buttons off worn-out clothes before recycling them) and stick them onto some sturdy folded card to make a bear design, pretty flower head, caterpillar, or whatever else you can think of! Younger children can also make a very pretty card simply be sticking bright buttons in a random design.

5)  And finally. I am amazed when children come to visit both that they have never made one of these and at how much they absolutely love doing so, and I thought that maybe lots of mums haven’t thought of this one yet so hopefully this will be a great share!

Simply draw a big, bright red double-decker bus outline onto some paper, not forgetting the windows. Then take an old catalogue, magazine, or even junk mail, and cut out lots of different faces to stick onto the bus windows. And there you have it  - a real life bus! This craft can be adapted for seasonal occasions too - at Christmas we cut out toys we like and stick them onto a large paper stocking, and at Easter we glue eggs and chocolates onto a big paper egg, before adding a ribbon around the middle to finish. Very easy and very satisfying!

Happy crafting, everyone!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Hi everyone

What a gorgeous day.  So far, so good.  I keep checking the BBC weather website to see how things are going for the rest of the week as I am very concerned about the weather on Saturday.  The event (Marriage of Figaro at Farnham Castle) will go ahead no matter what the weather, but I am hoping it will at least stop raining during the performance.

We live not very far from Farnborough and often get to see the air displays for the Air Show as they fly over our garden.  As the private jets fly to and fro, we get the chance to choose the one we will buy!  A bit pie in the sky, but we can dream.  During the public days we are in the flight path of some of the displays and as you can imagine it is very exciting.  I did investigate having a stall at this year's show as they are having a Craft Tent.  I decided against it as I felt that although people may buy items on impulse at craft events, they are not necessarily going to this sort of event to buy anything that is not plane-related.

I had lunch with two friends on Monday - our lunches are long chatty sessions that very often end near to tea-time.  We went to the Harrow in Compton and I was amazed (and pleased for the owners) how busy it was for a Monday.  So many reserved tables (and they all turned up), I think we should have booked.  The food is good and the pub has a nice atmosphere.  I wore my recently made earrings and I was really pleased when both friends placed orders for a pair each.  One friend wants a pair for herself (she gave me a specific design) and the other friend wants a pair for her daughter, in a similar style to the ones I was wearing.  I don't intend making jewellery as part of my business as I feel there is too much competition, but the occasional order will be welcome.

I have 2 card orders and 1 bag order that I must finish today, but also want to try to get a little gardening done as the weather is good at the moment.  Fingers crossed I might just get some plants planted that have been waiting patiently for a few days.

Do you fancy being a guest blogger on my blog?  If yes, please get in touch on  Have a look at some of the recent guest posts - they are all great and I am sure you will really enjoy reading them.

I will be back with my main post on Sunday; don't forget to check back on Friday for this week's guest blogger's post.


Sunday, 8 July 2012


Hi everyone

This is getting just a little too much to smile about, isn't it?  I do feel so sorry for those people who live in areas of the UK that have suffered because of extraordinary rainfall.  We live at the bottom of a hill so do tend to get debris washed down off of the top of the Hog's Back - not into our home but at the end of our road that is nearest to the Hog's Back.  We live in a bungalow, so you can imagine our concern that there is no first floor to move to if we are flooded.  However, we could grab the cats and head up to the loft if it comes to needing somewhere to escape to - would prefer not to though.

We had lots planned for this week as Richard has been on hols, but the best laid plans, etc, etc.  The bad weather played a large part in spoiling some plans, but it wasn't helped by the fact that Richard somehow managed to get bitten.  Not by anything with four legs, more like something with four wings.  The odd thing is that I had been sympathising with Lesley about her bee-sting which caused cellulitis, and it turned out that Richard has the same condition (unfortunately for him, this is the third time he has had this problem).  Wonder if it was the same bee that flew over from Shackleford to Christmas Pie?  Could this be the original busy bee?  Like Lesley, he has been in considerable pain this week but unlike Lesley, he wouldn't go to see our GP.  But he had to give in eventually when the pain became too much for him!

A week of  'oh dear, my arm has fallen off' has meant very little gardening was done, going out and about was limited too.  It was our wedding anniversary this week, and we had planned to have a day of shopping, lunch and the theatre - first on Wednesday in London, then moved to Friday in Gunwharf Quays, and sadly moved again.  Never mind we will arrange some time away when Richard is next on leave.  I won't mention when because we have discovered that recently when he takes time off of work it rains - almost non-stop!

We had a meal with a friend on Thursday evening and hard to believe looking at the weather now, we sat outside until gone 10.00pm.  It was dry, warm and the sun shone for longer than five minutes.  I know summer is out there somewhere, but I think it has got a little lost.  If you see it, please send it back home because we are going to an open-air production of the Marriage of Figaro next Saturday to celebrate the 'Thursday evening' friend's birthday and don't really fancy the idea of trudging through mud to sit on (and in) more mud.

Have you managed to read last week's guest post from Madeleine of the Craftsite?  It's a great post and clearly demonstrates Madeleine's enthusiasm for her business and in particular for her customers.  I have really enjoyed the guest blogger posts I have had to date and I am sure you will agree each post has been interesting, and many of them have included some really great photographs.  As always, I am keen to add some more names to the long list of great bloggers, so if you would like to join them please do get in touch:

I started work this week on another fabric wreath which I had hoped to finish to display on this week's blog post, but it is a case of almost there, but not quite - so plan to add it to next week's Handmade Monday blog post.  However, as it was the last week of my course (until September), here in true Blue Peter style are some things I made earlier:

The first photograph is of the much talked-about serviette rings.  As you can see they are not the run-of-the-mill style as these ones stand up.  There were made with a triangle of clay, embossed on both sides and rolled around a tube.  Originally I made four, lost one and made a further three.  The ones at the back have been biscuit-fired, the ones at the front are drying off ready for biscuit-firing, which will be done during the summer break ready for me to glaze all of them next term.

While making the serviette rings, I had a triangle of clay left over and initially wasn't too sure what to make with it.  Then an struck, why not make jewellery?  So I cut a triangle for the pendant - at the narrow end I carefully rolled the point over to create a loop to be able to thread ribbon or wire through.  The earrings are small squares and I pierced them in one corner.  Once fired, glazed, etc I will be able to add wires that I learned to make on the Wire-work course I attended recently.  I have the wire-work bug now and am moving into making Polymer Clay Jewellery - I have bought lots of lovely colours so over the next few blog posts I hope to be able to show off my jools!  The butterfly-mind behaviour has struck again!

My last 'show' piece is a pot I made some time ago and couldn't think of how to decorate it.  I had carved a flower on one side of the pot and this week I sponged the outside in green-powder glaze (powder mixed with clear glaze and water).  I then coloured the flower petals in orange - I painted them several times to build up the colour and depth - and then painted the leaves.

Sadly, I ran out of time so I will have quite a few things to finish off next term.  I have really enjoyed the course and as I mentioned before, it has been so nice to do a course that doesn't have homework, assignments or exams associated with it.  Roll on next term.

Well, well, it has stopped raining!  Must check that the fish are OK and have not floated off into someone else's pond.  As well as that I am working on a friend's database and email marketing newsletter and as often happens, these things never go smoothly.  Don't forget to visit the other blogs taking part in Handmade Monday - as always lots of gorgeous makes and interesting posts.  I hope you have a good week - I will be back on Wednesday with my mid-week post and if you would like to be a Friday Guest Blogger, please do let me know.


Friday, 6 July 2012


Hi Everyone

I’m Madeleine and I’m this week’s guest blogger. Together with my husband Tom I run Craftsite which, as the name suggests, is an online retailer of craft supplies although we mainly deal in card making and paper crafting as that is what I know best and if some-one asks me a question I like to have the knowledge to answer it. You’ll find us at

Before we had the website I used to make wedding stationery. I still make the odd wedding invitation but nowadays I do it to show brides how simple it is to make their own wedding stationery and how much they can save by doing it themselves.

We also supply many small businesses with the same high quality card I used to use in my own wedding stationery business. We try to keep the prices low and give quantity discounts so that those who do it as a business can keep their costs down.

I’m proud of the number of different cardstock available on the website. We have a vast range at  At any one time we have between 40,000 and 50,000 sheets of card and paper in stock in our paper store. Our flagship card is Stardream which we stock in both card and paper in 23 colours. Stardream card and paper is a double sided pearlescent and is ideal for wedding stationery or when you want to make a truly special card.

We don’t just sell card and paper but just about anything and everything that anyone needs for card making: embellishments, decorative stickers, rubber stamps, a vast range of inks (92 at the last count) plus loads of card toppers and die cut decoupage sheets, card making kits, pens, shimmer paints, embossing powders, masks and stencils, peel offs, and beads and gems. We have thousands of different lines. Whatever you need for card making we’ve probably got it.

My favourite tool is my Big Shot which stands permanently on the counter in the shop. We stock the Grand Calibur, the Cuttlebug, and the Big Shot and, although I’ve got all three, it’s my Big Shot that I use the most. Having 3 die cutting machines may seem excessive but about 50% of the queries that we get from customers relate to die cutting so if I can replicate what the customer is trying to do on the machine that she is using then the better able I am to answer the query.

I mentioned before the shop. When we were looking for premises 7 years ago we were mainly looking for a warehouse that we could use for the Internet business. The one we found came with a very small shop attached. A year later the shop next door became available and we knocked through to treble the size of our existing shop. The shop is a boon because I get instant feedback on products from customers.

We actively encourage feedback from Internet customers too. There is a contact form on the home page of our website where people can ask questions about products, ask about their orders, or just praise our service (the staff really love the ones that fall into the last category).

I wanted the website to be more than just an online retail store and very early on we set up the gallery. Ours isn’t just a “here is a picture of my card” type of gallery but a step by step card making projects gallery where instructions are given as to how each card was made. The instructions are printer friendly so anyone can print them off to have to hand when making their card and it is an extremely popular feature of the website. We have 98 different projects at the moment. You’ll find it at  Here are some of our projects.

I’ve always believed in giving something back to our customers. So 3 years ago I started the blog to inform card makers not only of  new products but also how to start card making, how to get the best from a die cutting machine, making cards on a tight budget, making quick and easy cards and loads more. And if what you want to know isn’t on the blog, contact us and I will personally answer your query.

If you’d like to know more you can follow us on Twitter @craftsite or like our Facebook page

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Hi everyone

Happy 4 July to all of my American followers - hope you all have a great day.

Wimbledon is still continuing to surprise us - not so sure if surprised by the fact that they seem to be on time despite the weather, or that the men's semi-finals seems to be a mix of top and not so top seeds.  Makes it more interesting really as when you get top seeds, the play isn't as exciting to watch.

Do any of you have (or have had) problems with Twitter?  Up to last week, my time with them was plain sailing.  Since Wednesday my account has been hacked/compromised twice.  Yet another password change!  So hard to remember them all.  Hopefully this one will last a little longer than the last one.  I think Twitter is great on two levels: one for keeping in touch with people and two for promoting a business.  I find it much easier to use than Facebook.

I had an order for a Ruby Wedding card yesterday - plenty of time to plan it as not needed until September, but will be working on it over the next week or so.

Richard is on hols this week, so we are trying to get out and about - so far not very successfully because of the rain!  Unfortunately, the last time he took leave it rained - he is clearly putting the mockers on the weather.  What's the betting that when he returns to work next week, it will be sunny and warm?

A mini mid-week post as the forecast is that the weather is cheering up mid-day and I want to be ready with sun cream, sun-hat, deck chair, cold drinks - the whole works.

Don't forget to come back on Friday and read my guest blogger's post and I will be back on Sunday afternoon with my weekly Handmade Monday post.


Sunday, 1 July 2012


Hi everyone

Is it true what everyone says, that once you hit 21 the years rush by just a bit too fast?  21 was quite a few years ago for me, and I can truly say that the weeks/months/years do whizz by.  Is it because life is so busy or that I (like lots of people) set myself targets which I don't achieve and therefore feel time is rushing by?  A friend of mine completes a Tasks Done list each day - the main reason is to see what she has done with her day, but how nice it must be to be able to tick everything off as finished.

Still on days whizzing by, I left my count-down to Christmas clock on my blog and it caught my eye today and I was very surprised to see it is only 177 days to Christmas!  Best get a move on making Christmas cards and get the decorations down from the loft!

An interesting week at Wimbledon.  The first big surprise was seeing Venus Williams lose inthe first round, and an even bigger shock followed not too long after with the exit of Rafael Nadal.  We almost saw the last of Roger Federer as well - he teetered on the brink of going out in the first week.  This tournament never fails to keep you on the edge of your seat, does it?  So, who do you think will win the Men's and Women's Championships this year?  We have been lucky to go to Wimbledon Tennis Championships on a few occasions and even managed to get on to the Centre Court once.  One year we watched Bjorn Borg play on Court No 1, but I can't remember who he was playing (this getting older and memories disappearing thing is a nuisance!) but I do recall it was a great match.  It's a great game and I just wish we had more facilities and finance in this country to support and encourage it.

Have you read my Guest Post from Friday?  Alix Beech of Big Blue Bed wrote about becoming the person she is happy to be.  It proved a very popular post and I recommend you read it if you haven't had the chance to do so yet.  Thank you Alix - love the picture of you in the Snowy the Dog hat.

I know discussions about commenting on bloggs crop up in various places (and other blogs) quite frequently and it is interesting that a post can get many visitors but few comments.  I wonder why?  My guest posts receive an average of 90 visits for each post, but not all 90 visitors comment.  I am sure lots of people visit the post because they know the guest blogger, it may be because they are a regular follower of my blog, or they may have discovered the post by chance on the internet, Twitter, etc.  One interesting thing I discovered recently is that I have seen visitors have commented elsewhere (in forums mainly) about a guest blogger's post, but not on the actual post.  If you have enjoyed the guest post, it would be so great if you could leave a comment for the blogger - many of my guest bloggers do respond to the comments left for them so it's not just a case of blog and run.

I completed a quirky card order this week and yet again forgot to photograph it.  So much for my proposed check-list!  The card was for a cat-loving, blonde-haired, poolside lounger who liked to drink Rioja.  Trying to incorporate all of these was the usual challenge - I hope she likes her card.  A first for me, but I received an order for a Congratulations on your Divorce card - I know there are some cards out their bearing this salutation and perhaps I should make a few for stock when I make up this order.  It did make me think that I should carry a stock of perhaps blank cards (no greetings that is) and decorate them accordingly either for an order or at events.

I saw an advertisement recently that Moonpig are now offering video cards for Smart phones; it may be something they have been doing for a while.  How does a 'paper' card-maker compete?  This article from the Greetings Card Association makes interesting reading about the UK and their greetings cards 'habit' - hopefully the 'real' greetings card still  has plenty of life left in it.  I hope so as it is a major part of my business.

I thought I hadn't any makes to post for Handmade Monday this week - work-in-progress, etc - then I realised that this week I have spent a couple of evenings non-stop making my mini-cards.  I now have 2 ranges: 3" x 3" and 4" x 4".  Some time ago I purchased quite a few packets of paper flowers with the intention of doing flower-pot displays.  I did some but decided against adding it as a permanent range to my business.  I have lots left over and think they are ideal for decorating cards.  These are photographs of 3 of the larger style:

I had expected it to be a dry, occasionally sunny day today - sadly, it has been raining for about 2 hours.  1 July?  Perhaps I have looked at the wrong month on the calendar.  I can see Wimbledon tipping over into a third week.

Have a great week everyone, enjoy the other blogs taking part in Handmade Monday and while there do read Wendy's piece about Increasing Customer Confidence in your Small Craft Business - a great piece of work and lots of reminders about things that we tend to forget.  Do get in touch if you would like to join in my Friday Guest Blog spot (