Archive for the ‘Crafting’ Category

Grow Your Blog 2014 – plus a giveaway

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Well, hello, bonjour, bienvenue and welcome!

If you have come over to see me through the lovely Vicki’s Grow Your Blog event I am very happy to see you, and I hope that you find something here to catch your eye and make you smile. This site doesn’t have the wherewithal to become a Follower, but it would be lovely if you were interested enough to “bookmark” this page and come back to see me from time to time.

I’m often asked Why did you move to France? Well, the answer to that is in the section entitled “Throw Off the Bowlines” which comes from a quotation by Mark Twain

We managed to throw off the bowlines, we were persuaded to explore and dream and discover…So do please read that section if you want to know more about why we ended up here, in our small village in France.


I am an English teacher, and I am lucky to love my work – although getting up at 6.15 to face an hour’s drive to my lessons in Clermont Ferrand does sometimes dampen my enthusiasm! I teach a mixture of business people, adults learning for their holidays, children and young adults preparing for their Bac; I teach a mixture of one-to-one, small groups and over the phone. It is varied, interesting and fun. It’s not the greatest pay packet at the end of the month, but it’s enough and I’m happy – that’s worth quite a lot, in my book!

When not working I love blogging…I have two blogs, this one, and Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner. I hope you might trot over there as there will be a giveaway there too. On that blog I write about my efforts to get thinner, my menus for the week and I also post recipes that have been successfully received in the Dormousehold.

We don’t have children, there’s just me, Mr D and four Very Bad Cats (They used to be known as Very Bad Kittens, but, like us all, they’re getting older!)

This is where I would love to show you photos, but, for the millionth time, (or so it seems!) the site is refusing to upload photos from my collection. It is really frustrating! I will put some on my other site, so now you’ll have to go over there!! Anyway, Feline-wise, there is Pomme (the Senior Officer, at about 10 years old), George & Millie (Middle Management, born in 2010) and there is Bib (otherwise known as the Office Junior, born and rescued from the Michelin R&D site in 2012)


I also make cards. Again, no luck uploading photos, and when I try to link to previous posts with photos of my work, hey presto! Look! All the photos have disappeared. I am SO sorry about this. I hope it won’t make you lovely Grow-Your-Blog people turn away in disgust and despair! I feel I’ve let you down and I am really sorry!!

As I’m a Lolcats fan, this will have to do as a picture…

So… If you would like to win my Grow-Your-Blog Giveaway, which is 5 handmade cards, then please do leave a comment. I can provide cards for special occassions, or just five general ones. I will also throw in a handmade bookmark, which – dammit! – I can’t show you. Plusalso a card with a short quotation (chosen by you, bien sur!), calligraphed by me (Do you know, I don’t think that there is such a verb!) It will have to be short, as my hands are becoming artritic and I find it difficult calligraphing for too long!!

Once again, apologies that the Wibsite has not let me upload my photos. But please, do come back and see me another time. It will be more fun then, I promise!! Until then, don’t forget: you can visit Fat Dormouse and see photos! (Fingers crossed…!!)

Happy Birthday to Me!

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Yesterday I turned another page in the Book of Ages and became 54. Inside I’m not that old, although sometimes my body (mostly my knee!) feels about 10 years older!

My main gift was my wonderful weekend away – and we have our first get together on Sunday afternoon. I’ll be joining the others via Skype – and the money I’ve received from my Mum and MiL will go into the bank account to pay for this. Mr D and the cats also treated me to a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates. From my SiL & family I received an amazing box FULL of crafting goodies – peel offs, glittery bits, flowers, doilies, card stock, tags and paper galore!

My dear friend sent me a block of pretty papers to use in crafting,

and Danièle gave me a box of hand made paper note-cards, which I will probaby use in card making too. Cathy gave me a box of chocolates as well. So I was very lucky.


We are probably going out for a meal tomorrow as well with our friends Louis and Odette. Not sure where, but I hope it will be somewhere nice!!!


So, even though I was working I had a lovely birthday. Now, if I can get inspired, I’m going to try to make some use of these lovely crafting supplies!

Sneaking in a Crafty Craft

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Before I go, I wanted to make a few cards for family and friends…

This is for friends I’m going to see when I’m over in Downe House.IMG_1538

Alison & Chris (or Kit, as he is now known ) have been friends since we were at Teacher Training College more than 30 years ago.  Alison and I became firm friends in our fourth year, thanks to a rather manipulative b*tch of a “friend” who decided that we no longer fitted her definition of how she wanted her friends to behave (i.e. we dared to have other circles of friends in which we moved, we didn’t always have her as our “best” friend, and we didn’t always do what she thought we should do) and who dropped us from her circle. So we fell together and became close friends. I’m Godmother to one of Alison & Kit’s sons, and we try to see each other once a year, if at all possible. It’s as though we saw each other the day before when we get together. So the Queen Bee did us a very big favour!

Alison & Kit have a lovely home with lots of quirkily artistic touches. They appear to have a “thing” for elephants, so this should fit the decor nicely! They’re having me to stay for a weekend, so it will be nice to take a card. I made it with an elephant cut out of a sheet of such beasts, which (amazingly!) I don’t think was on any kind of discount!! However the yellow banana paper behind was from Noz, and the card was rescued from a recycling bin! I embellished him with some teeny-tiny gold stars that were free with a craft magazine years ago.


The next card is this one:IMG_1539

This one is for my M-i-L to say Thank You for having me to stay as I pass through on my way to Downe House. I want to tell her that she is a lovely person: I can’t imagine having a better M-i-L to be honest! She has always, always made me feel welcome and part of the family, and I love her very much.

Again this uses scraps and discount stuff (when don’t I use such things?!) I was particularly pleased by the ribbon – 4 reels of toning ribbon for 1€ the four! I got the red/yellow combo and the turquoise/brown. I wish I’d got more now, but I have so many scraps and bits’n’bobs that even at 1€ I felt I couldn’t justify it.


And one for my mum:


When we were en route to the Alps with the Cycle Club for the Voyage a couple of weeks ago, we passed close to Geneva, and Mont Salève, and I had so many happy memories of holidays spent there with my family. I realised I don’t tell my mum how much I love her and appreciate what she has done for me. I only told my dad the same thing when he was dying – I don’t want to leave it that late with mum. But, of course, we don’t generally “do” this sort of thing, so, like with dad, I will write her a letter rather than say it. But here’s the card it will go in.

Mont Salève, looking down to Geneva

And finally, one more card:

IMG_1543“Friendship is the most precious of all life’s gifts”

I drew and coloured the image myself, using watercolour pencils. I think I messed up the little girl’s smile a bit – she looks slightly deranged and evil! Never mind!

Less is More Challenge: My Front Door

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

This week the challenge from Less Is More is colour: my front door. I suspect there may be quite a lot of brown based cards!

I have taken a photo of my front door:

IMG_1501and here it is! (and if you knew the trouble I’ve had trying to work out how to turn the photo the right way round, I promise you’d give me a round of applause!)

As you can see the door is brown – although there are lots of windows too. I may try another card using squares as well, but for now this is my offering:IMG_1505I didn’t have any brown card to use as a background, but the stamp is done with a Tim Holtz Distress Ink “Tea Dye”, and the brown paper I used as a backing is suitably shabby – rather like our front door! The two jewels were (of course!) picked up on discount as Noz!! The handwritten sentiment reads “Friendship”

While thinking about what I could do for the challenge, I created a couple of other cards:IMG_1503This one (“In Friendship”) uses some paper I bought to create a Wedding card for a friend – which I forgot to take a photo of. Rats! It was really nice! – plus other bits and bobs bought in various places. And the following one uses a technique, which I’m sure is familiar to most crafters but which was new to me –  a stepper card. It’s quite simple, but creates quite an interesting effect.

IMG_1504I used a topper from June’s “Cardmaking & Papercraft” which was brought as a gift by a friend who came to visit, together with various embellishments – again, mostly bought on discount! It’s a little pale and wishy-washy for my personal tastes, but I think it works as a card. It’s not too over- embellished either. If there’s one thing I have learned from trying the LiM challenges it’s that I prefer  the simpler designs for cards.





Less is More Challenge – and ATCs

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

It’s the weekend again – and today’s weather is unbelievably horrid – it has snowed constantly all morning and is now beginning to settle (I feel sorry for the fruit/vine growers. It’s not very cold, but  I can’t believe that the blossoms are going to enjoy this weather one bit!) . I feel we need a bit of Spring today, so my entry for this week’s Less is More challenge has a Spring feeling.

This week we were given a sketch to inspire us:


I decided to use a little image I’d copied from t’internet a few weeks back, and produced this card


“A faithful friend is a true treasure”

Sorry my photography leaves so much to be desired! I hand drew the image and coloured it using water colour pencils. The flowers and leaves were punched out, using two punches I have from tonic studios and Artemio and accentuated with little gemstones. The banner uses paper from my stash, cut with my brand-new border punch. I’m so excited! I’ve never had one of these before, but I went a bit wild and bought it (full price!) last week.

I wanted to get a fresh, Spring-like feel to the card: I think I’ve succeeded. I’ll try to get a better photo of the card a bit later, but my camera battery has run out;once it’s recharged I’ll take another photo..

(LATER: Is this any better? I’m not sure…


Meanwhile, I finally finished April’s ATC (just in time!) As I have said before, I decided to try to create at least one ATC a month, using some luggage labels I bought in the UK over Christmas. I did March’s in the appropriate month, but didn’t get round to photographing it. Well, with April’s finally completed I photographed them together. I decorate both sides of the labels:


April is on the left, March on the right. I chose the green for March and used green papers too. The sentiment “Never stop dreaming…Never stop hoping” is written on mushroom paper which has frayed edges. April is yellow, for the daffodils, and includes part of the lyrics of the Paul Simon song “April, Come she Will” I glued papers from my stash in various shades of yellow, and then added the picture. The picture is of a cuckoo, as this is the month when they start to be heard. In fact, I had heard one that very day.


“March is the month of expectation” – well, I’m not sure it is, but I was hoping for some better weather then! The green and white is meant to represent the budding of the trees (but, TBH, in March there wasn’t much budding going on!) And for April we have daffodils, my favourite flower.

Both of these took me a little further out of my comfort zone – the 2nd March side includes buttons and lace, which I’ve not used before, and the first April side (my favourite, I think!) used a layering technique that is new to me. I hope you like them!

Less is More: Showcase

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

I apologise to those of my dear Readers who aren’t exactly fans of crafting, as that seems to be the main focus of my blogging at the moment. I’ll try to find time for a non-craft post sometime this week. I’ve got fewer lessons, as it’s school holidays, so I’ll have a tad more time to do other things!

I’ve entered the Less is More challenge again this week. The idea this week is to take one of two cards and to use something about them to inspire a new card. Here are the two from the site:

P1040551_wmPool Party meets Crumb Cake Apr-13

The first uses techniques for which I don’t have the equipment, so I decided to use the second as inspiration. I went with the “sketch” mostly, but used a similar colour palette (turquoise & brown) Here is my effort:


To create this, I used banana paper which I bought in Noz (mais bien sur!), with the sentiment (“For you, with friendship”) handwritten. I hand drew the border and the “ribbon” is yet more paper bought at a discount in Noz. The little jewel is also a discount buy!

As I was creating this card, I also made three others – they’re not for the challenge, but I thought I’d show them off anyway. You can take it as read that anything used was either bought at discount in Noz, recycled from old cards, or bought cheaply elsewhere..with all sentiments hand-written. Card-making on the cheap!!!


The secret of life is to savour each moment


With my thoughts and sympathy


Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain

I hope you like the cards – I’d love to hear how you experienced crafters think they could be improved (My photography is fairly rubbish, I know!)


And here is a photo of Bib-the-Kitten coming to “help” me with my creating!


(Or maybe she’s just looking at the mess thinking “How can she do anything with her desk in this state?!)

Two kinds of Lion – and a bit of romance!

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The first lion is actually Lyon – I had a great afternoon at Alison’s over in Lyon, crafting and using equipment I’d never used before to create some lovely cards. I used the BigShot for embossing and for cutting out – and I fell in love with this clever little beast! We also used some lovely pens and ink pads, some fab stamps and some brilliant cutting out punches. I am now drooling over the Stampin’ Up catalogue and wondering how much I can justify spending! Mr D looked at the cards I’d made and conceded that they looked much more professional than my usual cards…he isn’t worried if I spend the money; I just need to persuade myself it’s okay!

My second lion is for the Less Is More challenge, where the theme is “Film”. The challenge is to use just one layer, with minimal embellishments.  I created this card



He’s not a stamp – I don’t have useful stamps like that! – he’s hand-drawn, inspired by a picture I found on t’internet, with the sentiment (Roar! – “Happy Birthday” in Lion) handwritten too. I borrowed the idea of the sentiment from the Stampin’ Up catalogue. I coloured the lion with watercolour pencils and the writing is just with ordinary felt tip pens.

As I’m supposed to link it to a favourite film, I can say that he’s from “The Lion King” – which isn’t, to be honest, a favourite film, but one I have enjoyed. I loved the musical, which I saw in London about 10 years ago – maybe more! – and was surprised to find (courtesy of QI) that the story is based on that of Hamlet. Which I suppose could be true – except happily, they don’t all die at the end, and Simba’s love doesn’t go mad and drown herself…

The romance part is inspired by one of my favourite films.

How could it not be a favourite, with Alan Rickman (sigh.)

(oh, look at that nose in profile! How wonderful is that!!!)

It also has the most moving and real portrayal of grief that I have seen in film, by Juliet Stevenson – she is superb! I am very jealous of her being wooed by Alan Rickman (even with the moustache, which I’m not totally sure about!)!!

Anyway – back to the crafting. Inspired by the romance, I crafted this little card:


The stamp used is a little heart that I bought in a set from Artemia ages ago…I don’t really use them very much, as I don’t quite feel inspired by them!

The sentiment – again hand-written – is one of those French expressions I don’t really “get”. It means “I love you a little…a lot..madly” and I think it’s like the English “He loves me…he loves me not…” but I’m not sure.  I couldn’t decide whether to add a piece of red ribbon down the left hand side, but in the end I opted for the clean, simple look. After all, less is more!


First Time Challenge

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

I’ve been making more cards, on and off, for the past few weeks – usually two or three at a time. Quite often, I trawl the internet for inspiration, trying to find something I can make without all the fancy-shmancy embossing machines and cutters. The site which is often the best for inspiration is “Less is More” – this is a weekly challenge site, with the guiding principal that the designs are simple without some of the OTT embellishments that some crafters use. I think this is more my style of design; while I like a lot of the very “fancy” artefacts that I come across, they’re not to my taste when it comes to creating – and nor do I have the resources necessary to create them.

For the first time, I have decided to actually “enter” the challenge. Every week there is a different theme for the challenge – a colour combination, a sketch, a title, etc. This week the theme is the colour combination lime green and black. It’s not a combination I have ever used, but I searched through my papers and stash of stuff and found quite a lot I could use. And once I’d made one card, I realised that it was a combination I really, really liked…so I spent yesterday afternoon creating several cards in the lime-and-black spectrum.

This morning I tried to make a “light box” for photographing my cards. I can never take good photos of my cards & a light box was suggested as a way of taking better photos. I’m not sure how successful they were – but I think they’re slightly better than usual.

So here are my efforts for the Less is More Lime / Black challenge.

The first one I made is this:IMG_1417

(OK, so I may be able to take better photos, but I’ve not worked out how to rotate them yet! You’ll have to lie on your side!)

This uses a stamp that I got free on a craft magazine, with paper from my stash. I made the flowers using my Artemio flower punch (for which – unusually for me! – I think I paid full price!) A bit of bling and there you have it! Inspired by the lovely fresh feel of the colours I went on to make:

IMG_1411This also uses paper from my stash, together with a flower taken from a Papermania set (bought discount at my favourite shop Noz). The ribbon I bought in Casa (reduced!) and again there are flowers made with the paper punch, a bit of bling, and a handwritten sentiment: Happiness is Now

I was on a roll now! Inspired by one of the other “entries” for the challenge, I created this:


The paper was one I printed off many moons ago – I can’t remember where from, I’m afraid. Cut with wavy scissors, I like it as a  background to the ribbon. The ribbon, brad and flower are all from the same Papermania set, which I’ve also had for a long time – never quite finding the right colour combo to use it in. Well, today I found it! The sentiment is again hand written: Simply for You

One thing I do find difficult is stamping – I don’t think I use it to the best advantage; I suspect I haven’t really got suitable stamps (as I only buy them when they’re reduced at Noz or free with a magazine!) and I haven’t got the skill/know-how to use them well. Still, I was quite pleased with how this worked out (even though I smudged the writing by trying to rub out the lines before the ink had tried- clutzy as always!):


I hummed and arred about the thin black lines, but I think they worked. The stamp I used was another freebie, stamped with VersaCraft ink in “Pine” (reduced at Artemis, in Clermont!). I coloured the image using water colour pencils (again free – they were being thrown out at the school where I used to work) and the sentiment, hand written, is “Thinking of You

Finally, I was left with a scrap of green card slightly blotched with ink – my desk becomes a complete mess when I’m creating. Stuff goes everywhere, I’m not very careful where I put things, and in this case I put the card on top of an open ink pad. It doesn’t help that I take off my glasses when doing close up work, but as soon as I need to see any distance at all, I need my specs…but I can’t find them amidst the chaos! So, I covered the ink with paper and added a little button (from the Papermania set) sewn on with black thread (rescued from a load of hopelessly tangled threads again being chucked out at school. I’ve had these for over 13 years and I’m still using them for various craft projects!)


So, there are my cards for the Less Is More Challenge. I’m really rather pleased with all of them, and can’t decide on a favourite!

They’ll be going up to the Chateau this afternoon (if I can be arsed walking up there!) – this is the ruined chateau in the village where the Artisans (craftspeople) of the region have a little shop where we can sell our wares. I’m not very good at changing my stock (there are still a lot of Christmas cards up there!) but I should try and be better. I’ve got quite a few cards that I’ve made recently which I can display.

I’m also going to improve my skills (I hope!) next week at Alison’s card workshop over near Lyon. I’ll get to see a BigShot in action too – I’m still being tempted by the idea of one, but because this is just a hobby for me, I don’t know if I can justify the cost. If I create some beauties, I’ll put the photos on here.

Untitled 3

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

I think this is the third in the unimaginatively titled “Untitled…” series, indicating that I can’t think of a title for this blog post. Supply your own, if this upsets you too much!

Unfortunately the interview came to naught – or at least, so far, it’s come to naught. The email that I got said “We would be very happy if we had the opportunity to work with you in the future.We do not have anything definite to propose you at this time. However, I won’t hesitate to get in touch with you if something définite comes up.”… which seems a bit strange, as I thought I was being interviewed for specific work. Still, it’s possible that the company in Clermont wanted a particular time that I couldn’t offer, due to contracts already in place. Never mind. Hopefully they may have something to offer me in the not too distant future.

On other domestic news front, I have completed my February ATC. As I said in this post I want to try to do a bit more crafting this year. To whit, I’m creating one ATC a month. Here is February’s:


On one side, I used the quotation “If your heart is a caged bird, I have the key”


The rather splodgey flowers were made using a stencil, and embellished with sparkly flowers; the cage is cut out from some wrapping paper and the tag made from some discounted stickers bought at Noz.

On the other side, I used a picture taken from a book I bought (discounted at Noz) called “Almanach 2010” – it is very odd, but has quite a lot of old fashioned type pictures that can be cut out and used. This dancing couple seemed suitable for the month of Lurve…


I painted the woman’s dress, and added a bower of flowers (from a discounted set, from – yes, you’ve guessed it! – Noz) and some tiny shell hearts (discounted, but bought at The Works over Christmas) I added the quotation from “My Fair Lady” because, well, it seemed to fit.

I apologise for my photography. I really must learn how to take better pictures! These aren’t very embellished ATCs. Many that are shown on blogs are much more elaborate than mine. It’s partly because I don’t have the materials, but also because I prefer the more “minimalist” look…Maybe one month I’ll try to step outside of my comfort zone, and go way over the top. But not this month.

I’ve finished the cards to send off for my Grow Your Blog giveaway, as I had an unexpected afternoon off on Thursday. There was too much snow for me to drive to Roanne for my one English lesson, so I cancelled it, and spent the afternoon crafting instead. This morning’s lesson was cancelled by the student so I caught up blogging (over at Fat Dormouse, you can read that we’ve decided to try the 5:2 diet) and now I am thinking I may do some more craft stuff.

I’ve joined a French crafting site (Scrap à la Carte) which sets out various challenges through the months. Perhaps I’ll have a go at a couple of these… I’m also thinking about getting a Cuttlebug / Big Shot thingy, but I’m not sure…Firstly I don’t exactly know what they do and secondly, I don’t know how much I’d use it…

but so many card makers out there on t’interweb seem to swear by them.

There’s lots of snow here – it’s been snowing more or less non stop for two days – fairly fine snow, but it mounts up. Mr D is itching to get down to Roanne to pick up his new bike, so I think he might brave the weather this afternoon, as it is just about stopped now. As long as the gritters/snow ploughs have done their job, and as long as he’s prudent, then there shouldn’t be a problem.  I should go out for a walk, I know: after a couple of weeks inactivity (I didn’t swim this week) my sciatica is starting to trouble me again. I am stretching most mornings, but I need to do more than this. But it’s cold. And snowy. And my snowboots aren’t tha good for long walks…or quite short ones, really… And I want to stay inside in the warm with the cats and my hot water bottle!


More crafting. And a Knight.

Friday, January 11th, 2013

There I was, sitting in my car in a queue at the traffic lights, when a Chevalier in tabard, boots and pointy-hooded cloak strode past me, sword at his side, smoking a pipe.  He looked totally unembarrassed and as though he belonged in a modern day street in Roanne. I wish I’d had my camera with me!

A bit like this gentleman – but browner! It was a slightly surreal experience!


Other than that, what have I been doing? Well, I’ve applied to go back to work at the Summer School again this year. Yes, I know it was very hard work last year, but, in hindsight (it’s a wonderful thing!) I think I enjoyed it enough to return – if they’ll have me!

I’ve also applied for one or two other teaching jobs – these are online/ telephone teaching – I don’t know what will happen there. I’ll keep you posted.

And I’ve been creating some cards. I’m quite pleased with these (though my photos aren’t great)

This uses some tissue paper that I bought ages ago, a gold stick-on daffodil (bought discount at Noz!) coloured by hand using felt tips, ric-rac ribbon and two flower eyelets from a Mini Embellishment set by Papermania- again bought discount, at Noz. The sentiment (“Just for the pleasure”) I printed out on parchment paper (Noz!) and the card I used was being thrown out from Michelin last year, so I rescued it from the bin.

This card (“Take time to dream”) uses a rice paper clock, cut out and stuck down, with some paper I bought (reduced!) at a local craft store at the left hand edge. The ribbon was bought at Noz, the bird cut out from the same paper,and a couple of jewels stuck on to sparkle. They were also bought reduced from £2.99 the pot to 99p.

These flowers I bought in Canterbury at Christmas in The Works. 99p a bag – I wish I’d bought two bags as I’ve used them quite a lot! Discount ribbon and recycled pearlescent card complete this one, with a hand written sentiment.

I like this one – it’s very similar in design to the Christmas card I sent my Ship of Fools Secret Santa recipient. Discount ribbon, recycled card, free paper (in a craft magazine), printed sentiment (“Dream”) and discount jewels and stars. I’m not a cheapskate, really!

This one, and the one shown below, are my interpretations of a design I found on someone’s blog. Theirs was a Christmas card: I’ve made mine into every day cards. The one above uses thread from a tag on a jumper I bought in M&S in the sales, and the one below uses recycled thread from gift tags! The flowers you’ve seen before, and the paper used was again discount/reduced/on special offer! The sentiments were printed on parchment paper, the one below meaning ” Smile…Share…Love”

I have always found it difficult to find sentiments to use in France, but I’ve finally found a couple of websites and blogs that have given me ideas, and I have a book where I write them all down.

I have also discovered a French site similar to Etsy or Folksy, which I am tempted to join. Some of the prices being charged for what I think are frankly horrid cards (but then, I’m not coming from a French view point) are a bit astounding. Or maybe I’m just undercharging! I’m certainly considering having a “shop” on here – but I need to look carefully at the terms & conditions. What do people think?