Life is one big journal entry…

Life is one big journal entry…

I have spent the last few days helping my Mum move into her new house.  So exhausting!  It’s not just the physical side of things – shifting boxes, driving back and forth between houses to pick up yet more boxes, unpacking, cleaning the old house ready for the new people to move in – it’s the emotional stress too that is tiring.  My Mum has lived in that house for 33 years.  I myself lived in it for about 29 years.  There are so many memories there – good memories and bad, happy ones and sad ones.  But leaving it was not the emotional wrench I expected.  We were too busy to get caught up in any soppy goodbyes or sentimental last-minute looks at the garden or neighbourhood.  And anyway, the house is just a house – without my Mum in it, it’s no longer a home to us.  She, and the cats have a brand new house – much smaller and with far less garden to look after – and it already feels like it is theirs.  We may well be unpacking boxes for the next three weeks or more though (now I know where my hoarding tendencies come from!)…

I found a couple of things I forgot I had.  This embroidery my Mum made for my room:

This bunny box I painted years ago (and one of the few things I was quite pleased with, considering I made up the design myself – I was into penny rugs at the time and although I never got round to sewing one, I decided to copy the idea and paint a stylised version of one on this little wooden trinket box):

I also found this lovely mosaic an old work colleague of mine made for me:

In packing and moving, we have had to clear out a lot of stuff, much of it mine (hey, it’s traditional to leave half of your belongings at a parent’s house, isn’t it?).  I was a good girl and threw out or donated loads of stuff.  Some of it was very hard to get rid of but I knew I had to do it.  Mum no longer has the room for it all and I should be a grown up and cull a few things.  I don’t need four hundred magazines.  I don’t need to keep every card I have ever been given (seriously) and I probably don’t need to hang on to my old diaries that go way back to when I was 8 years old.  Or, hang on, maybe I do…they are, after all, a record of my life (dull as it may have been) and reading them brings back memories, some happy and some quite tear-inducing but memories worth keeping nevertheless.

Some choice entries include:

“October 27, 1983 – Dear Diary, Everyone fights.  It’s stupid because they have boyfriends.  We’re not old enough for boyfriends…” (Aged 8, before hormones kicked in)

“January 29, 1986 – Dear Diary, I think I will move down the back with the geese.  Everyone fights. I wish I was a good witch so I could magic anything!” (Aged 12 and obviously still believing in the power of a little magic and it’s ability to put an end to conflict.)

“August 27, 1985 – I have a big crush on John B*.  I wish I was prettier, not so fat and not so boyish so he would like me.  I hope he doesn’t have aids etc (Aged 11.  Already developing awesome self-esteem and not quite grasping the whole AIDS thing and how one contracts it).

“August 13, 1984 – Today was ok.  At school, Matt C* did a bog.” (Aged 10.  A bog, I should point out is a charming way of saying someone passed wind.  Obviously a highly interesting occurrence to a ten-year-old!)

“October 16th, 1986 – Yesterday the circles wore bras, even Christy*! Hah hah! Mum said I don’t need one yet which is dead good!” (Aged 12.  “Circles” were the opposite of squares.  I, luckily, did not fit into either category so was accepted by both sides.  Poor Christy* was terminally flat-chested.  She got a boob job a couple of years ago and leads a full, happy life, unaware of my earlier poo-poohing of her unnecessary underwear choices..)

I’d like to say that my journal entries got better as I got older but, sadly, they did not.  I was still prattling on about boys well into my thirties and bemoaning the fact I was ugly/dumb/fat/etc.  These days I struggle to write anything at all, which is probably a good thing, but I really should try and jot down a few important facts and dates so I can remember them in my dotage.

I would die a thousand deaths if anyone read my diaries but I can’t bring myself to throw them away.  But if anyone does find them, hidden carefully under my bed or in my drawer or on top of a cupboard, I will deny all knowledge of them and refuse to admit they are mine.  Or at least say I was under the influence of some mind-altering drug when I wrote them.  And if John B* is still out there, I didn’t really like you, I was just pretending.  It’s what all the cool circles were doing at the time…

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent!

Paper Flag Wreath

Paper Flag Wreath

With not much time to do any crafting at all this last fortnight and, also, having little motivation to do anything other than sleep and be still and sad by myself, I was struggling to get anything else finished for a design team project.  I was coming up blank as far as ideas go and I didn’t want to just hand in another batch of cards.  So, one day at work, during an extremely dull desk shift, I explored the various craft blogs available on the ‘net for inspiration.  I struck gold with One Pretty Thing.  If you haven’t checked it out before, do yourself a favour and have a look.  It lists hundreds of DIY craft tutorials from lots of different craft sites and blogs.  Very easy to navigate through and I found sooooo many things I wanna make when I have some free time.

I came across a beautiful Christmas wreath decorated with paper “flags” at The Hybrid Chick.  I decided that was just the inspiration I needed to use up the papers I had left from my latest design team pack and to make something pretty and easy to make.  I won’t give the steps in detail here as I would encourage you to go to the blogs mentioned but, basically, it’s just a case of cutting out lots of little flags with a “v” shaped end and gluing them to a wreath.  I also distressed the edges with a bit of ink and also rubbed some glitter glue over the completed piece.  I don’t know why I am using glitter a lot all of a sudden – normally I can’t stand it…but I’m only applying little amounts and it is coming up to Christmas after all…  I was quite pleased with the finished project – at least I have something else to hand in now.


And where did I find my little wreath to start with?  Aha!  Well, yet another lovely blog gave me the directions for making my own paper wreath!  Yes, indeedy, I made my own little paper wreath with simple instructions from Michele Made Me.  I had a strip of brown paper, wetted it, folded in the raw edges and then twisted the paper carefully, wrapping it around a cup as I went and then folding the ends under.  Then I microwaved it for two minutes on high and voila! a lovely little wreath that is surprisingly strong and sturdy for this kind of craft.  I’m always so happy when something works out, first go.  Please go to Michele’s site for full instructions.

So I think I’m done for this month’s design team requirements.  I’ve been so busy with helping Mum sort out the house ready for moving and I’ve had a stay in hospital myself (nothing terrible but still took up valuable time!) and of course there’s pesky work.  So I haven’t done a lot of crafting but at least I’ve done something.  My craft room once again looks like something exploded in there but I’ll try and get that tidied up for the weekend.

Hope your weekend is happy and relaxing (or exciting and fast-paced if you prefer it that way!)  Please do visit the blogs/sites mentioned – they’re pretty cool 🙂


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…in November

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…in November

I am still terribly sad about my little Roderick but I have been reading a book called “The Loss of a Pet” by Wallace Sife and it has helped a lot.  I think just knowing that the things I’m feeling are normal and that other people have experienced the same kind of grief made it easier for me to process my emotions and not “get over it” exactly, but begin to heal a little bit and stop moping about.  I would recommend the book if you’re going through a similar situation and need a little help in dealing with it.

The week of his passing was horrible to say the least.  Not only did I lose him, but my Mother-in-law lost a dear friend, my brother-in-law’s dogs were bitten by a snake and had to have emergency treatment, and a close friend of mine was left by her husband.  I figure the stars were really out of whack that week.

I have been trying to keep busy and not “think” about things.  I’ve done a lot of crying.  But I’ve also had to keep up with my usual responsibilities and go to work, make things for the design team and help my Mum with packing and sorting out the house (we finally found her a new house – yay!).  While my creative brain was not working to full capacity, I struggled to make anything awe-inspiring for the shop as part of my design team responsibilities.  The pack I was given included the Melissa Frances Christmas range and I thought I would be able to make a few things easily.  But with deceased guinea pigs on the brain and a painful neck brought on by stress, I only managed a few cards.  I’m hoping inspiration will strike me before I have to hand in my finished items but it’s not looking good …. Here’s what I have made so far:

Nothing amazing but at least it’s something.  I really struggled with that red and white striped chevron paper – it made me go cross-eyed just looking at it.

Today I had to go into the city and buy hubby some birthday presents.  He’s into all the dungeons and dragons/board game/role playing stuff.  He doesn’t dress up like a wizard or anything but he does have regular “games days” with some friends.  So I had to venture into unfamiliar terrain today – ie comic book stores and a fantasy/sci fi gaming store.  Luckily he had given me a list so I knew what to look for.  Otherwise I may have bought him, well, God knows what, really

Whilst in town I window shopped in all the stores, looking at all the lovely Christmas  decorations and supplies.  I hate that they do it so early (this stuff has been up since October – ugh!) but still, I like to look.  And dream that one day I will have a proper house with a proper Christmas tree and lots of lovely things to put on it.  I do balk at some of the prices of things though.  I tend to walk around thinking “Pfft!  I could make that for less!”  which is probably true but the end result would most likely look pretty crappy and would cost me more in time and hair-pulling as I tried to figure out how to actually make things myself.  Myers always has a beautiful display of decorations and trims.  I took photos of a few things:

Love these dress forms.  Actually, I love anything related to dress forms.  I have a papier mache one at home waiting to be decorated.  Might have to try…

This table centrepiece was gorgeous (with a price tag to match) but you could make it with a bit of patience and a stack of little mirrors!

Really liked these wooden pears and apples.  So rustic and shabby!

This little guy made me smile.  He looks so cosy in his wooly scarf.

A cute and simple idea for a different kind of Advent calendar. Even I could probably manage this one.

These button picks were really nice.  They also had button garlands which would look great strung around a festive room.  I think I just like anything with buttons…

These wooden and felt layered decorations would be easy enough to replicate at home.  Might have to rummage around in my fabric drawer for some felt scraps…

I liked these simple cone Christmas trees but didn’t like their price.  I like the folksy details and simplicity.  Another one I might have to try.

So lots to look at and distract me from sadness today.  I can’t believe Christmas is already almost upon us and I am not even remotely organised this year.  Better stop window shopping and do some actual shopping soon…gee, what a shame!  Are you ready for the festive season (if you celebrate it)?  Do you have an favourite traditions or decorations that you have to have every year?  Let  me know!



I am still grieving over the loss of Roderick.  I feel sick with guilt and sorrow.  A million “what ifs” are going through my head.  Why didn’t I notice the lump sooner?  I pick him up most days and spend a lot of time with him – why didn’t I notice something wasn’t right?  I feel like I have let him down and every time someone says “No, you loved him so much and looked after him so well…” I feel like screaming.  There is a huge hole in my universe now and I don’t see how it will ever be mended.  It hurts every time I open the front door and I don’t hear him squeaking excitedly for his grass.  I have all his stuff everywhere – his hay bale wheel, his blankets and cuddle cups, his hutch and bags of shredded paper and hay.

I’ve lost pets before – I’ve always had a menagerie – and it never gets any easier.  But this time seems so much worse because he was just so young and I could have prevented what happened to him.  I should never have had him desexed.  I thought it was the right thing to do – I wanted to get a little friend for him so he wouldn’t be lonely.  But now he’s gone and I am the one who is lonely.  My heart hurts and I don’t know how to make it stop hurting.  There are suddenly large groups of crows surrounding our house, just standing around and cawing, like feathered undertakers or mourners.

I’m going to bury him at my cousin’s.  She has a large property and Roderick’s sisters live there.  We’ll bury him in the garden and I will plant a rosemary or lavender bush over him and I can visit him whenever I need to.

I’m sorry for this self-indulgence.  You didn’t come here to read about my despair.  I’ll be back soon with happier thoughts.  But for now, please understand how I am feeling.  Roderick was a precious little soul and the world is a darker place without him.

Goodbye My Little Friend

Goodbye My Little Friend

I lost my little Roderick today.  To say I am distraught, inconsolable, sad and defeated would be a total understatement.  His abscess had spread and was going through his abdominal cavity, rapidly, and he had little chance of survival if we put him through surgery.  I didn’t want to lose him but I didn’t want him suffering any more than he already had.  I don’t want to write a big post about this – that would be tacky and disrespectful to my little man.  I loved him more than anything and if I could trade places with him, I would do it in a heartbeat.  He was funny, cheeky, brave and special.  I was lucky to have him in my life for the 8 months I did and to be without him now makes my heart ache.

To all of you who have pets in your life, please cherish and love them and give them a hug from me.  Be grateful for every moment you get to share with them.  They are precious and beautiful and we are so lucky to have them with us for the short time they are allowed on this Earth.   I’m not talking to God right now – he wouldn’t want to hear what I have to say to him at this minute – but I hope that if he’s really up there, he’s taking my little man in his arms and letting him know he was loved and that there’ll be no more suffering for him.

RIP Roderick – you were everything to me and I’m sorry I let you down.




Simple Cards & Flower Rosette Tutorial

Simple Cards & Flower Rosette Tutorial

Hello there!  I’m back at work today after a nice two week break.  Wish I could stretch the leave into four weeks but I can’t so it is back to work I go (hi ho, hi ho etc…).  Last night I was trying to do some last minute crafting, knowing I wouldn’t get the chance to do any for a while.  I decided to make a couple of really quick Christmas cards because the jolly season is fast approaching and I haven’t got anything made for it yet.  I like to give handmade cards when I can – sometimes near the middle of December I run out of time and end up buying some ready made cards, but they’re just not the same.  So, hopefully if I start now and just make a few each week, I’ll have a stack to give to my nearest and dearest at Christmas time.

I made this super easy card first, using a tree decoration, some old dictionary text (from a Portuguese book I think!) and a Christmas rubber stamp.  Oh, and a bit of baker’s twine:

I actually made about four of those as they were so quick and quite effective I think.

Next up, I started making similar-styled cards but with a flower rosette and button in the middle.  These are more fiddly but still pretty quick to do once you get the hang of the flower.  I saw these in a craft magazine years ago and kept the article because I knew I would use the flowers one day.  I guess they’re more like the fabric “yo-yos” you make for quilts or other sewing projects.  Except that they’re not stitched… Anyway, apologies to the original creator of these rosettes and to the magazine she featured in…I’m certainly not taking any credit for this idea but here is a quick tutorial in making them.  Please excuse my horrible fingers – I do NOT have manicured hands.  I really need to hire a hand model for these shots… Also, my camera is misbehaving at the moment so I’m relying on my phone for picture-taking.

Step 1.

You need a strip of paper 30cm long and as wide as you’d like the radius of the flower rosette to be.  I found anything smaller than 1.5cm too tricky and fiddly to use.  2-3cm seems to work best.

Step 2.

Begin gathering the paper and turning slightly as you go, almost like you’re making a tiny fan shape.

Step 3.

Continue gathering and turning the paper – hold tight at the bottom so it doesn’t escape!  Keep going until you have formed a circle.

Step 4.

Now it’s gets really fiddly!  Shape the circle into as neat a shape as you can.  Join up the cut edge as neatly as possible – try and fit one edge under another and overlap paper so there are no gaps.  Staple the centre – a “cross” stapling seems to work best to hold it all together.

Step 5.

You can neaten the edges as necessary by trimming with scissors but remember, these are handmade so they’re not meant to be perfect.  It you want perfection (and a lighter wallet!) – go buy the flowers!

Step 6.

Glue a button to the centre in a co-ordinating colour.  Voila!  You’re done!

Try experimenting with different patterned papers and buttons.  I like the effect text or music sheets give but it’s up to you!  They’re a great little embellishment for paper crafts and something you can sit and do in front of the telly with minimum mess. Here’s some I made earlier:

Give them a try – they are very fiddly but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be churning them out in your sleep.  I made a nice little card with one and I think I’m gonna make some more!

Have fun crafting – let me know how you get on!

A Trip to the Vet (and a near case of hysteria)

A Trip to the Vet (and a near case of hysteria)

Roderick the Wonder Guinea pig has a lump.  A big, swollen, nasty lump.  On his, um, private bits.  Where his testicles used to be.  Yesterday afternoon, as I picked him up for his cuddle and to get him out of the way while I cleaned out his hutch, I noticed he was swollen at his back end.  Which he shouldn’t be, having had his castration operation six weeks ago.  Immediate panic and meltdown from me, imagining all the worst things.  It’s cancer, it’s an abscess, he’s got a hernia, he’s got faecal impaction etc etc etc ad nauseam.  Because panicking is what I do in any situation that is out of my control.  Or even in my control.  I am a world-class stress-head.  I phoned Roderick’s vet and tried to get an appointment.  I couldn’t get in for two days.  I couldn’t leave him that long so I phoned another vet and made the earliest appointment that I could, which was for this morning.

I phoned my husband and said I had to cancel our scheduled coffee’n’cake meetup for our wedding anniversary.  He said he’d be home right away.  As he walked in the door I was sitting on the floor, wailing and sobbing.  He gave me a cuddle and went and had a look at Roderick, who, of course, was exhibiting no signs of anything more dramatic than being impatient for his dinner.  Well, he still had a big lump but it wasn’t bothering him.  In my panic, I had failed to notice all the good signs in the patient ie he was eating, pooping, peeing, jumping about like normal.  So I put my panic on hold for a while.  Nothing more I could do for the night anyway and he would be seeing a vet in the morning.

This morning, nice and early we trekked off to the vet,  Luckily it is only a couple of minutes drive away so Roderick didn’t have to be in the car for too long.  Since his neutering he is suspicious of any car journey.  We didn’t have long to wait at the vets and soon Roderick was being examined while his “Mummy” looked on nervously, expecting the worst.  The vet was very young, but very nice and actually seemed to know what he was doing and was familiar with guinea pig care and treatment.  He checked Roderick over thoroughly and said the lump was most likely an abscess.  No uncommon in guinea pigs but treatable.  He gave me a course of antibiotics which my little man will need to take for 10 days.  Hopefully the abscess will resolve in that time but if not, if there’s even a slight bit of infection and lumpiness left, we will need to have him back in for a quick anaesthetic and to lance the abscess.  Panic decreasing but not over yet.  I just feel terrible that I didn’t notice the lump.  I’m sure it wasn’t there a couple of days ago but what if it was and I missed?  He healed up so nicely from his surgery that I was sure everything was ok.  I feel like such a bad Mummy!

To make things worse (and more mortifying), he needs to go on a diet!  I knew he was a fatty and had put on a lot of weight recently but I think I needed someone to officially tell me he’s getting a bit porky.  So I’ll work on reducing his diet (which is already 95% veggies so I’m not sure what is making him fat…) and maybe encourage him to do some exercise.  Wonder f they make StairMasters for guinea pigs?

Anyway, we are home again now and Roderick is giving me the evil eye but otherwise seems fine in himself.  I love him so much and want him to be ok.  Today was the day he was supposed to be meeting his sisters to see how he would react to another guinea pig (before I buy him a little friend) but we’ll have to put that on the back burner for now until he’s better.  So much worry over such a little creature.  God help us all if I ever get a dog again!  I’ll need to be on sedatives…

Happy Anniversary for yesterday to my long-suffering husband and Happy Halloween to you all.  Make all your ghosts and ghoulies be friendly and lump-free!