cards

Christmas; A Week in Pictures

Happy New Year!  Did you have a lovely break?  I hope so.  We’re slowly emerging out of our cocoon and back into the real world again, after a wonderful – if chilly – Christmas.  A few highlights to share; firstly, of course, that the Big Man himself came…..

Santa has been

We had carefully counted out nine carrots and measured a mug of milk and some mince pies, so anticipation had been high, not least after Harry found Santa’s telegram in the hearth on Christmas Eve morning;

discovering the north pole telegram

There was much debate about where to hang stockings, before Harry decided that the end of the bed was the surest approach.  On Christmas morning, he discovered a letter from Santa in the top of his stocking, talking about how busy life has been at the North Pole; describing the winter colds which have been affecting the elves and which Mrs Claus has been treating with her special medicine, and the sprint-start training which Rudolph has been leading the reindeer in to ensure the whole world is reached over the course of a single night.  Harry was transfixed – momentarily – before being thoroughly distracted by the tissue-wrapped packages in the stocking itself.

Santas letter

Our boiler resolutely failed to start, despite the efforts of several engineers, so we spent Christmas wrapped in scarves, hats, jumpers, thick socks and blankets, huddled around the open fires in the kitchen and snug.  Bathing was limited to kettles of water, which Harry saw as another Christmas present in itself (no hair washing!), and which the rest of us shivered through.  Fortunately our visiting relatives are a hardy lot, so we pretended we were camping in the wild and consigned all planned festive outfits to the back of the wardrobe in favour of warm layers; there was no glamour here this year.  Harry, incidentally, seems to have a unique thermostat that never registers the cold; he spent Christmas day mostly in his vest, accessorised with a new Batman cape and mask;

batman outfit

When it came to feasting, I focused on creating a feeling of warmth with minimal effort, so used the antlers which usually adorn the log basket to form a centrepiece, sprinkled with glitter and with neutral baubles tucked at intervals.  Glitter-dipped pinecones acted as place-name holders, and a length of black paper underneath complete with chalk sticks made for much fun between courses.  The most popular game with our rotating collection of family and friends over the break was to see who could scribble down the names of all of the reindeer first.  Have a go, it’s harder than you think;  though it’s perhaps a sign of the potency of my homemade Christmas Martinis that someone had noted ‘Nixon’ in their list.

Christmas Eve Table

 

origami log basket

Our main Christmas present to each other was a New Year escape to a beautiful little hotel in the Cotswolds, for a couple of nights of warmth, fun and relaxation; it looked so welcoming even as we pulled into the drive;

calcot manor hotel

…and Harry was immediately won over on discovering his bed (as were Digby and Marvin, who accompany him everywhere)..

hotel cookies

Back home we’ve been busy packing up Christmas decorations (how is it that the number of them seems to grow every year?)

bristle tree forest

…And making thank-you cards for the many wonderful gifts we all received.  For Harry’s, I designed a simple note and then added a picture of him in cowboy costume on the front.  I recently picked up some old and rather battered childrens’ books in a church sale and have been cutting out pictures to use as envelope liners, so this Christmas thank-you notes will come with gorgeous images from Elmer;

Harry thank you 2013 Harrys thank you cards  saying thank you after christmas

And now the festivities are truly over, and we’re left with a house that looks deliciously calm and uncluttered – and warm at last, with a happily chuffing boiler once again firing away. Spring seems a long way off still, so my thoughts are turning to all things green and to how I can ward off the January gloom with a bit of colour and new life dotted around the place; that’s the challenge for this weekend, before work beckons once again.

narcissi

Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!

Kate

Weekend Notes

Hello Typewriter card

Did you have a lovely weekend?  We had a divine long weekend of sunshine, friends and downtime, with very few places to be and nothing which required more sartorial effort than t-shirts and deck shoes.  Perfect.  it gave me a chance to plant up the windowboxes which line our sills and always make me think of those beautiful hidden squares in the heart of French villages..

Geraniums

We managed to eat al fresco every single day, with picnics in the park and long, lazy lunches in the garden at home.  The magnolia trees continue to explode in bloom so I snipped a handful of buds to float in a bowl in the centre of the table;

magnolia

magnolia 2

magnolia 3

We feasted on some tried-and-tested family favourites like this tomato salad with grilled halloumi cheese, torn basil and balsamic glaze;

summer salas

…and experimented with some new decadent dessert recipes which I’ll share with you properly in due course.  The cocktail glasses were all scraped clean with happy sighs so I’m considering that a resounding success!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cocktails

There was one small shadow cast over the weekend, and a grave reminder that pride surely comes before a fall.  My sunflower, which shot off the proverbial starting blocks just a week ago, has now developed a worrying lean.  Like a teenager in the midst of an ungainly growth spurt, it has somehow overshot itself.  We’ve called in the fire brigade to assist but I’m not confident.  The other two are standing strong, but I may make an early and untimely exit from the family race..

wobbly sunflower

And finally… one of the loveliest things about the gradual arrival of summer is the long balmy nights.  I spent one evening this weekend with the garden door propped open, glass of chilled white wine to hand, making these cards (top and below) using a photograph I took of my Valentines typewriter.  I’ve included a printable version at the bottom if you want to use this yourself; just trim around the main image, then carefully slice around the top three sides of the typewriter-paper which is inserted into it.  Roll the flap lightly around a pencil to create a curve (see below), then glue the main image to card stock, being careful to avoid glueing your flap down.  Ta-da; a 3d typewriter correspondence card.  I added simple white shirt buttons to the keys as further embellishment..

typewriter correspondence card

Before I sign off, a huge thank you for the lovely comments recently, and welcome to those who are new here; it’s wonderful to hear from you and  to have you along for the ride.

Have a good week, and may the sunshine be with you!

Vintage Typewriter Printable

SuperDad!

The first challenge with Fathers Day is actually remembering it.  Not because dads are any less important than mums, but because they are far less likely to leave helpful reminders such as a heavily ringed date on the calendar, a sighing exclamation of how lovely homemade gifts are to receive or a general sense of giddy anticipation as the day approaches. Women may be predictable in this regard, but at least it can’t be said that we don’t give our menfolk enough hints.

Fortunately this year Harry and I are on the ball and making preparations.  A little trail of glitter weaves its way throughout the house as Harry gradually sheds the evidence of our endeavours, in a scene reminiscent of The Great Escape. Any attempts of secrecy and concealment have already been compromised by my accomplice however, who cheerily woke his father this morning with the triumphant cry of ‘Daddy! We are making a SECRET for you and it is a CARD!!’  And indeed it is…

Harry and I made this together by drawing round each of his hands, liberally applying glitter and cutting, pasting and printing.  This hug-in-a-card is thus something he’s had a very active role in making despite the limitations of being so young.  As my husband is an avid reader, we also made this photo bookmark (below) with some of the cheekiest pictures of H to make him smile at bedtime. So now we just need to wait until Sunday so we can tell him what a truly awesome father (and husband) he is.  Now, any volunteers to help with this glitter clear-up?  Harry??

How we made the ‘Hug’ concertina card….

Draw around your child’s hands and cut out (1); spray lightly with adhesive and then cover liberally with glitter (2).  Make a concertina insert by folding a long piece of paper (3) and glue to each hand, then decorate the inside, using words, photos or drawings. I printed some text in powerpoint and used a mixture of this and gift wrap. Lightly spray the hands with hairspray to fix the glitter, then fold up and slip in a pretty envelope (4).  As an afterthought, I glued cocktail stick ‘flags’ to the inside fold with hearts on, then forced myself to stop accessorising and put the gluestick down..

How we made the bookmark…

Very simple this one; I chose the best pics of Harry I could find then arranged them together and overlaid a simple clip art frame of reel-to-reel – I found this free using google. Print, cut out and mount on giftwrap-covered card.  I added an eyelet and threaded through some ribbon, then glued a wooden star to the bottom, but the possibilities for decorating these are endless.

The Lost Art of Letters

As a child I was completely obsessed by beautiful stationery. The dark, furry space under my bed reserved for Special Things To Be Kept Safe From My Brothers was stuffed with papery treasures given to me at birthdays and Christmases, but which I deemed far too precious to use; gift sets of paper and envelopes, 5-year diaries in which my most important thoughts would be captured for posterity, and so forth.  I would regularly take these out and admire them but rarely actually used them, lest they run out.  Or, in the case of the diaries, in case my thoughts turned out to be not quite important enough after all.  A hopeless case, as you’ll agree…

Now, as a mostly-grown-up, I love making stationery to use myself and to give as gifts, and with a printer and a cupboard full of paper to hand, I’m less inclined to stockpile.  As a parent, I also want Harry to be able to say a proper ‘thank you’ for presents and the kind of general loveliness that frequently arrives from relatives and Godparents. So when the Easter Bunny delivered big time, bringing not only chocolate but also, awe-inspiringly, a fire engine, I made him these cards to send out as thank-yous.  Big enough for a crayon scribble on the front from H, and small enough for a brief but heartfelt thank you from me, they do the trick nicely, and also make him keen to join in the fun…

Even for younger children and babies, it’s nice to have something personal; I made cards like these for a friend’s daughter on her first birthday, both to make her mother’s life easier and to give something a little different to the norm.  Tips and notes for both projects below, for those interested in giving this a whirl….

Here’s what I used for the two projects above:

1. craft edging punch for the ‘Amelie’ paper; this one from Martha Stewart 2. A selection of A5 coloured, textured card – Papermania does great packs in different sizes. 3. soft bristled brush for removing loose glitter 4. coloured triangle cut freehand from scraps of card 5. Glitter – any type will do, though Martha again has a great range 6. Glue pen (for precision) and craft knife, and finally 7. Paper tape – not shown in these projects but great for accessorising home-made notecards and paper.

Making the Monogram Cards:

1. Choose your letters and colour combinations.  I used a die-cutting machine for these but you can buy pre-cuts shapes in craft shops and on Ebay, or simply draw and cut out freehand. 2. draw a half-circle for your bunting; I used a glass cloche so I could see both sides of the line. 3. Add your bunting triangles alternating colour; use a glue pen for neatness. 4. Find a toddler and scribble away!

For the faux-letterpress Nursery Notelets:

1. Print out your chosen wording onto an A5 sheet, centring on the page. 2. Measure and cut your card to fit the size of your chosen envelope 3. Use an edging punch to carefully decorate the top edge (this is MS’s Birds on a Wire, from Amazon) 4. Carefully glue one of the birds and sprinkle liberally with glitter before brushing off. 5. Admire. Decide these are too pretty to use. Store carefully under the bed and accidentally forget about them.

After all this careful snipping and sticking and sighing at how zen and restful such crafting can be, especially when one’s son and husband are exhausting themselves with much shrieking on the new trampoline, I decided I wanted to make some of these for myself (below).  The final version of course has my address, but I thought that might just be over-sharing, so here’s the website instead..