101 weeks and 2 days | A present for my friend | Papercut Art

I mentioned in a recent post that we had just celebrated my best girlfriend’s birthday… it was her 40th and I wanted to give a really special present and had thought long and hard about what we should give to her. Eventually I … Continue reading

95 weeks and 1 day | Mixed Blessings {My Word of the Week}

On my Twitter feed today, one of the ladies I follow had posted about her Linky named ‘Word Of The Week‘. Our lovely English language is a real hobby for me — I LOVE words! I love grammar, the provenance and … Continue reading

77 weeks and 6 days | The Twinkles Naming Day Invites

So slightly later than anticipated — a whole 4 months later, in fact — I have finally finished writing one of the posts for the babies naming day! Better late than never, I suppose. I had had some great ideas for diary entries but … Continue reading

60 weeks and 3 days |#CraftBlogClub | Spring Clean Gift Swap

Back in March, the Craft Blog Club — that I’ve mentioned in previous posts — laid down a third challenge…

Create and send a gift to a fellow #CraftBlogClubber, using only what you have lying around at home. A bit like the ‘Secret Santa’ challenge without the secrecy!!

In some ways, this made it slightly easier, as we could chat to our allocated crafter and get a feel for the kind of things they like.

My buddy was the lovely Tracy who writes over at iheartmyfamilyhome.

She has created a stylish, vintage inspired, home and — as her blog name suggests — loves making her house look beautiful.

I decided that I’d make another papercut picture. Slightly different from the last one, that I designed on the mac; I thought I’d draw one freehand this time.

Here’s how I got on:

1. I drew a freehand illustration in pencil on a piece of paper.

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2. Using a light-box, I reversed the image by drawing over the back of my picture.

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3. I traced the image on to a piece of good quality cartridge paper and began to cut out the design with a scalpel.

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4. This process was very time consuming!

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5. …and the pieces that were left were really tiny and fiddly

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6. If you’re scared of sharp knives, this craft is definitely not one for you! :)

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7. Almost finished.

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8. Turn it over to reveal the picture!

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9. Mount it on to a piece of card, so that the design pops.

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10. Frame it. And voila!

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It was lovely doing something crafty again — especially as I had an idea of the kind of thing the recipient would like — the only thing that made life difficult was lack of time…! Things have been SO busy recently. Every waking minute is spent organising the baby’s naming ceremony — more about that later!

Anyway, back to the #craftblogclub ‘Spring Clean Gift Swap’!

I was delighted to receive my parcel, in last week’s post!!

A gorgeous card from Tracy and not one but TWO beautiful gifts!!! Not for me, as such, but for my beautiful Twinkles!!!!

Two beautifully crafted fabric stars.

Each with their initial on.

I’m so touched that she’d created something so lovely for my babies. We will treasure them. It’s a shame the pics don’t do them justice; the sewing is just fabulous… SO neat.

Have a look…

1. Each star was beautifully packed in it’s own cellophane bag.

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2. So lovely, as you are able to see what’s inside before you unwrap them!!.

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3. I’ve tried to take a close up of the stitching… it’s a bit blurred but LOOK how neat it is?! Amazing!

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4. The back of the stars are just as perfect as the fronts; soft white felt with baby blue stitching.

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5. The front of each star features a sweet polkadot fabric, scattered with bunnies and cars. Then each star has the boy’s initial carefully cut from navy felt then sewn on.

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6. The stars are now hanging over the babies cots; ‘C’ for Cosmo…

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7. … and ‘B’ for Bertie!

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8. Amazing too how they match in so well with the boy’s room! They are absolutely perfect :)

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I am delighted with my gift(s) and really grateful to Tracy for taking the time and trouble to make such thoughtful presents. Looking forward to the next #craftblogclub challenge already!

54 weeks and 2 days | the excitement of small (but perfectly formed) things

So over the last couple of months, my lovely boy and have been planning The Twinkles naming ceremony. Given that we are non-religious types, it would have felt hypocritical to have them Christened in a church but, equally, we didn’t … Continue reading

52 weeks and 5 days | #CraftBlogClub – I Re-Love You Project

Back in the winter, last year, I created a Secret Santa gift for another member of the #CraftBlogClub that I’m part of. This fantastic club is the brainchild of the lovely Emma, who writes over at Frugally Peachy. Since I first joined, there are now lots more members and we get together each Tuesday evening (or some in my case, as I’m often busy with the Twinkles!) to chat, on Twitter, about our crafty projects.

Following the success of the Secret Santa challenge, Emma laid down the gauntlet and the first challenge for 2014 was to up-cycle something. A piece of furniture, jewellery, clothing… there were no set guidelines. Just take an item and give it a new lease of life.

Given the fact that I’ve been working off a shelving unit for the last 9 months, I figured that my Mac — and the rest of my paraphernalia — needed a decent home. A proper desk.

Before I had the babies, I ran my business from a bedroom on our first floor landing. This lovely room was chock-full of all of my work stuff; samples, paper-stock, cutting board, printer — and a HUGE desk. But when we found out I was pregnant we decided that this particular room would make the perfect nursery; so bit by bit my workroom was disassembled and shipped out — in boxes — to my husband’s office.

As a result, my Mac lost it’s permanent home and was given ‘temporary’ residence on an uninspiring IKEA shelving unit in the dining room. Now don’t get me wrong, I love IKEA. Not a whole houseful of it, granted, as you’d end up feeling as though you were living in one of their stores, but used sparingly it is fabulous (plus I’m obsessed with their meatballs. Horse or not, they are the most delicious thing to come out of Sweden. Apart from Dime Bars).

That said, the white melamine unit — that was originally bought to dress our stand when we exhibited at the NEC — was never meant to furnish our home and certainly not a piece that I wanted on permanent display.

And not only that, trying to design — using a mouse — when you don’t have a proper, decent sized, desk-top is a nightmare.

So that was my mission for the ‘I Re-Love You’ project.

Find — and up-cycle — a desk, that I would feel happy to have sitting in the corner of my dining room. Because until I sort out my garden office, I will be working from that small corner of the house. Possibly for some time. And the IKEA shelving unit had long outstayed it’s welcome.

So here’s what I did…

1. Bought a lovely, solid oak, desk off Ebay; a little bit tired…

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2. …and in need of some love and attention…

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3. …but with BAGS of potential.

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4. I bought some paint and some furniture wax.

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5. Took the old handles off.

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6. Sanded the entire desk with fine grade wire wool. Then waxed it.

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7. Got my glamorous assistant to drill new holes for the new handles.

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8. Painted and waxed the drawer fronts.

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9. Added the new handles.

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10. The insides of the drawers were a little bit dusty and rough…

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11. …so I lined them with some gorgeous, vintage airmail stamp paper.

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12. Et voila. My beautiful new old desk!

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41 weeks and 2 days | The Great ‘Craft Blog Club’ Secret Santa Escapade

I have mentioned in a previous post that, when I first joined Twitter, I didn’t really understand what it was all about, if I’m honest. Following the exploits of various, vacuous celebs isn’t really of much interest to me; which is what I thought it was for. Initially, I didn’t realise what a fabulous resource — or what an amazing community — Twitter is.

Since joining I have met lots of lovely, like-minded people. Lots of other mamas whose tweets and blogs are a huge inspiration, plus various other bods who all have lots of interesting or amusing things to say.

There are fantastic industry people tweeting about ‘women in business’ — useful as I have been running my own company for the last 5 years — and some amazingly kind folk who have been so generous with their time, and really helped me to better understand — and cope with — a child with a serious allergy; which was a godsend when we found out about Bertie’s intolerance to eggs.

All of these things, plus a handful of celebs thrown in (Kirstie Allsopp, Caitlin Moran, Bill Bailey to name a few…) for good measure, makes Twitter a very fun place to be.

But one of my absolute favourite things — and something that I still find amazing that it even exists — is an Twitter Craft Blog Club. I never ‘officially’ joined — I just sort of fell into it — but I am most definitely a virtual card carrying member and I absolutely LOVE it.

It’s pretty hard sometimes often for me to join in with the weekly chats, as it always falls on the babies bedtime or our suppertime, but it’s lovely to feel part of a community and fabulous that you are sharing thoughts and ideas with like-minded people.

When the founding member asked us if we’d like to do a craft-stylee ‘Secret Santa’, I jumped at the chance.

I didn’t think it through properly, before sticking my virtual hand up though. These days 99% of my time is spent looking after my two tiny boys, so agreeing to ‘make’ a gift for someone I’ve never met wasn’t one of my cleverest ideas — from a time management perspective — but hey!

It is one of the most fulfilling things that I’ve done this year, that doesn’t involve my babies or husband. An hour out of every day, for a week or so, where I could switch off and enjoy being a little bit ‘crafty’! Absolute heaven. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

As my career is a creative one, I’m never short of inspiration, but I rarely create anything by hand these days; pretty much everything I produce is designed on my mac and then printed. It’s rare for me to use my hands anymore – although I’ve always loved to make stuff, given half the chance.

One of the most exciting things was attempting a new craft. I decided I wanted to try something totally different and, having been inspired by something a friend had bought from Not On The High Street, I decided that I was going to make a paper-cut picture.

So after a little bit of head-scratching — and a few hours of graft (not to mention quite a sore index finger!) — this is what I made…

1. I created a design on the computer, flipped it, then printed it out…

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2. Taped the image onto another piece of paper and, with a very sharp scalpel, started cutting out the design.

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3. And I cut…

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4. …and cut…

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5. …and cut.

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6. Until, eventually, the picture started to emerge.

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7. This definitely gave me the boost I needed to carry on!

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8. I got a pretty sore index finger from pressing down on my scalpel, but it was soon forgotten as I saw that little pile of paper cut-outs beginning to stack up!

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9. And I had to change the blade a fair few times, to get the cleanest cut. I definitely would not recommend this craft if you don’t have a steady hand!

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10. Seeing the image emerge was fantastic!

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11. Not too much more to do…

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12. …until it was time to cut away my original printout.

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13. And I was left with my final design, face down on the cutting mat.

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14. I loved the way that the shadows gave a cheeky glimpse of the finished design!

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15. Ta-daaaa!

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16. Next, I laid my finished paper-cut onto a piece of dry, adhesive covered paper.

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17. And put a piece of paper over the top to protect my work.

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18. Then very gently rubbed over the design, to make sure the adhesive covered the back of the paper-cut.

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19. Then carefully stuck it onto a piece of midnight blue card.

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20. Et Voila.

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My very first attempt at making a paper-cut picture! Perhaps I should have designed a less complicated one for my first go, but all in all I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!

It’s inspired me to design some more and perhaps even begin selling them on my website.

So, from a hurried acceptance to join a virtual Craft Blog Club on Twitter, making this Secret Santa present has been a gift in itself! It has given me the impetus to learn a new craft and — it’s one I’ve enjoyed so much — I am inspired to continue (and will look into doing it commercially). Designing stuff is in my blood — I’ve made a career out of it — so a new medium to discover is really exciting!

Finally, I mounted my paper-cut again onto an off-white piece of card, ready for framing, and sent it off to my Secret Santa recipient :) Was so excited to receive a tweet to say that it had arrived safely; and really happy that Jess liked her picture! I look forward to seeing a pic of it framed and hanging on her wall, across the pond in the US of A.

But this blogpost doesn’t end there.

Whilst I had been busy creating my Secret Santa gift, someone else had also been very busy… making one for me!!!

Someone — who remains anonymous as they cleverly didn’t give their name (unlike me who forgot that it’s SECRET Santa (the clue is in the name) and enclosed a card, from me, along with my gift. DOH. Am putting it down to baby brain.) — has made me the most beautiful gift. This clever, thoughtful crafter took the time to have a look at my Twitter profile, to see what I like — no prizes for guessing that one of my favourite things are of the feline variety! — and has made me my very own Christmas Cat!

LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL HE IS!!!

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I LOVE HIM!!!!!

My thoughtful benefactor won’t know this, but my boy and I have been collecting Christmas decorations since we bought our first home, 15 years ago.

Every year, without fail, we buy another couple of decorations for our tree or and  the house and, consequently,  we have a gorgeous, eclectic assortment of beautiful things that come out, year after year. My Christmas Cat will join that collection and every year, from here-on-in, he will sit — pride of place — above our fireplace.

So if my Secret Santa is reading this, I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you!! Thanks for taking the time to make such a beautiful gift — I love my cat — he will be treasured for many years to come!