Under starter’s orders

20151005_091456And ready for the off. It’s October, time for serious Christmas preparations to begin. I’ve got three foreign trips to fit in before Christmas and that takes up more time than you might think. Three weeks for the trips themselves, three days packing, three days unpacking, three days putting away… That’s more than another week gone and I haven’t left the room yet.

So the focus for the next few days is on Christmas cards. Ours is a longish list because I still keep sporadically in touch with people I used to work with and we have made new friends since I retired and our family keeps getting bigger too. The Christmas card list is divided into those who get a hand made card and those who get a bought one. We buy very nice ones from a gallery in Cornwall called Whistlefish, so even the people who get bought cards do get nice ones. (Their website, if you are interested – https://www.whistlefish.com/category/christmas )

I intend to use a bit of pearl white pen and some Stickles here and there.
I intend to use a bit of pearl white pen and some Stickles here and there.

I used to try and make everyone a card, right up until someone commented on cheap home made cards. That person doesn’t get one at all now, of course, but it made me think about it and the truth is, some people see home made and some people see hand crafted and there is a world of difference between them. To some people glossy and professional is important. (It is to me in some things, don’t want a home made aeroplane, thank you.) To others, the hours you have put in and fact that you were prepared to spend time on something just for them are as important as the skills demonstrated. THEY get the hand made cards.  Better get started.

Funnily enough, this home made thing came up in conversation with my daughters quite recently. When they were little, their grandmothers both knitted clothes for them and I did a lot of dressmaking. I would pop into the local market on a Friday morning, buy a yard or so of fabric and have two dresses made by the time they got home from school. Alex hated it, dressed alike and looking like odd twins. (She says she often liked the clothes themselves but not being the same as her sister.) Rachel says the opposite – it was cool being dressed like her older sister.

This one needs glitter and some metallic detail beforeit goes on the front of a card.
This one needs glitter and some metallic detail beforeit goes on the front of a card.

Being a stay at home mum meant that we only had the one income and inflation was terrible so money was very tight. As a result, we often went out for picnics, rather than taking the kids to MacDonalds or KFC; we would have a day at the beach or in the hills, rather than at a theme park.  (The prices, even then, for a family of five at a theme park were awful.) Our holidays were in caravans in France rather than hotels on the Costa Brava (Or Bridlington for that matter). And we were both very aware that our children didn’t get the same things as some of their friends. You can imagine my surprise (and delight) when they told me years later that their friends were often envious because we went to different places and they all loved being invited on our picnics because ours were posh, not just sandwiches. Just goes to show, doesn’t it?

Even today, I’m not very impressed by brand names – except Jaguar, oh how I would love a Jag! In fact, I’m slightly annoyed when I buy something and the brand name is on the outside – free advertising for them, so they ought to knock a bit off the price, you know, “As worn by…”  It all gets a bit pretentious. I’d like to think the fancy brand names meant better quality but it’s not necessarily the case. It amazed me to see a bouncer outside the door of Louis Vuitton in Paris; it’s a shop for God’s sake, are they going to refuse to let customers in? (A friend of mine tells me she was stopped by the bouncer on trying to go in, so she took off her shoes, handed them to him and said, “Look after these for me, will you, I wouldn’t want to dirty the floor.” In perfect French. And marched in past him. Did she buy anything? Nah, course not).

Again, waiting for glitter.
Again, waiting for glitter.

There is an exception. The Herschey shop in Time Square. When we were there, they had the biggest, blackest, beautifulest guy on the door, who opened it for you with a smile, bade you welcome in a suitably dark chocolate voice and wished you a nice day when you left. Now HE was classy.

But back to the starter’s orders. Our kids tend to have wish lists on Amazon and the like, which means you know you’re buying what they want but the element of surprise and choice has disappeared. Nowadays, I get more fun out of buying the little additional stocking fillers than the main presents. I still try to do something home made if I can, and something to make them smile, and something totally frivolous. So they will get personalised cards, perhaps a piece of artwork, and something a bit off the wall, though I don’t know what yet. I’ll know when I see it.

And today I bought a treat for us all – a game for us to play together on New Year’s Eve. So, hands up, who remembers playing Beetle? and going to Beetle Drives at the PTA?  Oh come on, it can’t be just me. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetle_(game) ) I am ridiculously excited because it was such fun as a family game when I was very young, we resurrected it for PTA evenings years later and now I can’t wait to play it with Ben and the rest of the family.

LATER- in fact,several days later,and we are on the island of Lanzarote, in glorious sunshine and temperatures around 30 degrees. Its awful, we keep having to go in the pool or the bar. I don’t Know how we cope. As you can see from all the typos, I’m using the soft keyboard and it’s already driving me scatty.

In my times of escaping Into the shade, I have been working on my Christmas cards, as you can see scattered about this post, as well as a couple of new ideas based on local artworks.

Ill be adding more patterns and more colour and ive no idea what it will look like.
Ill be adding more patterns and more colour and ive no idea what it will look like.


And today is Diva Day and she has asked us to use Beate Winkler’s new pattern Tri Bee, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. It’S one of those very adaptable patterns ans Im going to have a lot of fun with it. Heres my first attempt and im sure there will be many more.  Can I just aplogise for the lack of apostrophes and the random capital letters? Im just hopelesswith  This keyboarD. Aaaaaarrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!!!  I might have to save up for a laptop instead.

So Im giving up at this stage, before I allow free reign to my frustrations and experiment to see if tablets sink or swim.

Just three patterns, Fescu, TriBee and Dex.
Just three patterns, Fescu, TriBee and Dex.



13 thoughts on “Under starter’s orders

  1. What beautiful Christmas cards, I would be pleased to receive them. Apart from the love put into them I have a thing about the cost of bought cards. They are now so expensive even a small card would buy a small present instead.

    I love your delicate Tri-Bee, it is lovely with Fescu around it.

  2. Your whole post was so enjoyable. You made me smile many times. I wonder if it is really the keyboard or if it is those awful trips to the bar LOL! Enjoy the rest of your trip and I like each one of your pieces. Good luck on those Christmas cards.

  3. Oh, this is such a great post! I loved reading about your handmade vs. storebought, and how your kids and friends perceived all that! I want to go on one of YOUR picnics! I love what you did with Tri-Bee. The contrast with the oh-so-straight Dex is gorgeous! Hope your trip isn’t too horrendous – who would want to be you now???

  4. Lovely tile for the diva challenge. And your christmas cards are absolutely gorgeous, too. Your friends and family are lucky to receive such little artworks as seasons greetings.

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