Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Little Project

One of the things on my to do list this year was to clear off my desk and reorganize it so that it was a better fit. I use my desk to write and to craft and it isn't as big as I'd like so things have to be stored but also be handy. Not an easy task when you are a hoarder like me. I save everything and that causes a mountain to erupt on my desk. In an effort to make my desk more efficient, everything must have a place, and be put in its place so that order is maintained. This is my weak area and I tend to stack things, not only that I have a habit of jotting notes and clipping them to things on my desk. To try to combat notes getting lost or forgotten until it's too late, I thought it was about time I made a small bulletin board to pin my notes to so they stay in view and I can actually remember the things I make notes about.

I bought some gorgeous postal themed fabric a while ago for just this purpose but, it too, got lost in the shuffle. During my massive clear out, and I mean massive...I have taken bags to the charity shops and sent envelopes of things to unsuspecting people on desk is now emerging from the wreckage it had become and I have the perfect place to put my little notice board.

It wasn't difficult at all to make. Here is a short tutorial for you in case you'd like to make one too.  All you need are a few basic things which you probably have around the house: A bit of corrugated cardboard, a large piece of fabric, a few yards of ribbon, a stapler and a few fancy pins.  If you want you can do like I did and use some acrylic dots to add a little something extra.

First, I layered the cardboard.  You want to make it thick enough so that when you push a pin through it the pin won't poke out the other side. I ended up having three layers, just to give you a guide to work with.  I lined the pieces of cardboard up and glued them all together. Once the glue was dry I decided on the size I wanted and cut the cardboard but you might want to cut the cardboard first and then glue it together.  It wasn't too difficult to cut it with my x-acto knife but cutting first makes more sense.  

Next, I cut the fabric.  Make sure you have enough extra so you can wrap it around to the back of the cardboard and have enough space to staple it in place.  I added eight  inches to the length and width so that I had an extra four inches of fabric to work with on each side. I ironed the fabric before I started so that it would lay flat, then I smoothed it over the cardboard so there were no bulges  or folds and then stapled it onto the board. Next I criss-crossed ribbon on the board, pulling it taut and stapling it on the back.  

I finished it off with the pretty pins on the places where the fabric crossed to hold them in place.  You don't havfe to pin the ribbon or glue it anywhere else, this is so you can slide your notes under it. 

 I used upholstery pins to hold my ribbon in place, but you can use thumb tacks or even glue dots or glue to hold it down.  Once the pins were in position, I added a few acrylic dots just to give it a nice finishing touch. 

I think it turned out very nice and now I can just tuck my notes under the ribbons and don't even have to worry about pins. It's just the right size to sit on my desk and leans up against the mountain of containers which house things like brads, buttons, charms and other bits and bobs for embellishing my crafts.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

It's that Time Again!

February is here already and that means A Month of Letters, or as we veterans say: Lettermo.  It's a fun challenge to get your creative writing juices flowing with goals to aim for and a lot of eager participants to correspond with.  After the holidays, Lettermo helps me get back on course with my letter writing, urging me to write a little every day. I usually have quite a stack of letters right around now that need responses and this year is no different. It's nice to get back into a habit.  The holidays always serve to through me off course and Lettermo is just the tonic to help me get back into the swing of my letter writing.  Why not head over to the Month of Letters home page and sign up for a great month of writing interaction.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Stamp Release
Image from the Royal Mail web site.

One of the things I love most about Great Britain is its history.  The many historic sites scattered throughout this small island are humbling to see and some of the artifacts found are simply stunning, showing that those who came before us had talents to be revered.  

The Ancient Britain stamps, on sale, Tuesday, 17th January are like a visual timeline across the millennia of Great Britain's historic past.  Designed by True North they include: 

Battersea Shield, London, England, c350 - 50 BC 1st Class

Skara Brea Village, Orkney Islands, Scotland c3100-2055 BC  1st Class

Star Carr Headdress, Yorkshire, England c9000 BC £1.05

Maiden Castle Hill Fort, Dorset, England c400 BC £1.05

Avebury Stone Circles, Wiltshire, England c2500 BC  £1.33

Drumbest Horns, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, c800 BC  £1.33

Grimes Graves Flint Mines, Norfolk, England c2500 BC £1.52

Mold Cape, Flintshire, Wales c1900 - 1600 BC £1.52

I've been to the Avebury Stone Circles in Wiltshire a few times and each time is a different experience.  On one occasion a fog rolled in, modern life was obscured and sound muted.  All we could see were the stones looming and for a moment you could almost believe it was a long ago time.  It is truly a place of wonder.  

I am fascinated with history so I will be buying a ton of these stamps when I go into town tomorrow.  I'm sure I'll be using these stamps often.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


January. The first month of the year and much maligned. I was reading an article the other day but before I got to the actual topic the author was discussing, a tirade about the awfulness of January ensued. Even berating T. S. Eliot for claiming April is the cruellest month, when he felt January was the most heinous. He said it like it was a dirty word...January.

I don't feel that way about the first month. To me, January is quiet, reflective and a time for me to re-centre myself after the tumult of the holidays. It's like the stillness following a snow storm, when you pause just to listen to the silence. It's a time when I get back to my writing and reading; my craft supplies are surveyed and updated and I begin the peaceful process of regaining my flow. January is not hectic, its meandering and allows you to go at your own pace. I can sit down and write in a leisurely way and not feel like I have to fit it in.

Those who know me, are aware I have a lot of difficulty with my hands and writing has become a slow process especially when the weather is cold and damp. So I embrace January's calm which enables me to go at my own speed and enjoy my paper conversations. Letters have always been a big part of my life and as a result of my hand problems I have had to cut down, something that still gives me great sadness. It's like telling a friend you never want to speak to them again, the guilt that goes hand and hand with the process of writing a last letter to someone is boundless.

Today I'm revelling in my January state of mind and writing thank you notes, sending a postcard or two and getting my desk in order. Slow and sure wins the race.

Happy January!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Cold...and flu

It's another cold day here; one of those days when it is cold and frosty and the sun is at war with the fog to see who will rule the day. We are spending most of these cold days just huddled around the fire but on the occasions when we have to go out it feels like Antarctica out there. When you first step out the door you are struck with how still everything is, sound is muted, and those cries of the sheep in the adjacent paddock sound like disembodied wails rather than new lambs looking for their mothers. The smoke from the fireplace hangs in the air like a spectre, swirling around you in defiance rather than drifting away while giving you the impression you are walking through a dream. The ground is crunchy underfoot and the cold penetrates the soles of your feet which makes you move faster to complete your task rather than admire the scene which looks as if it has been dusted with sugar. Pretty as it is, warmth is more inviting making our quest for firewood more urgent.

It sounds a bit dire, and perhaps it is. We are all ill with the flu, though, thankfully we're over the rough patch that kept us all down under the covers. Any task was a group effort taking much longer than average. Christmas came and went and we were more interested in finding wood than opening gifts. The fridge is still overstocked with all the food we bought to make the holidays festive, food that made us blanch to even think about just a few days ago. Soup and tea were on the menu every day and how grateful we were to have it.

At the moment we are up and about, albeit slowly. Every little job done needs a short rest afterwards. I've never felt so wrung out in my life as I have felt these past two weeks. Now my mind drifts to letters and I want to write, but still I go slowly. My pen can't keep up with my thoughts and I tire easily just trying to get words on my paper. Typing this has taken more time that I'll admit to though it feels good to be writing. It's cold in this room but it is enjoyable to be quiet with myself and my thoughts for a short time rather than in cramped comfort in front of the fire watching old movies. It's a nice respite even though my fingers and toes are stiff with the cold. Our drafty old building site of a house is pretty but not very inviting on these frosty days. My ancient old desk top computer means I have to brave the cold of the study to type but I'll enjoy the warmth of the hearth even more when I return to the sitting room.

For now I will leave you will all good wishes for the New Year. I'm writing letters slowly, but hope to answer all in good time.   

Friday, 16 December 2016

Happy Birthday Jane!

For all you Janeites out there, today is Jane Austen Day. On this day 241 years ago, Jane Austen, was born. Jane's unique voice as an author has given both pleasure and inspiration to so many. The number of books, movie adaptations, biographies and etc that have been produced because of the influence of this one person is astounding. She has a fan base to rival any pop/movie star, clubs and societies worldwide, even a day in September when people go to the City of Bath and dress in Georgian style to emulate Jane and her life.

Even though her books are considered classics, people still read them, unlike most other works of literature which people claim to read but really don't! I've read most of Jane's books...two to go, I love that I still have something of Jane to discover so I have been savouring her work. Today I may just begin one of the remaining two to mark the day. Or, I may set aside time to write some crossed letters to friends and fellow Janeites.

Happy Birthday dear Jane!

Thursday, 22 September 2016


It's another sunny but breezy day here and I'm thinking about my letters. I've been doing an on line course in genealogy over the past six weeks and it's taken up a lot of my free time. I just finished my last test and earned my certificate, now my mind is on letter writing.

During the course we learned a lot of things about researching and maintaining your family history. There were some very interesting things discussed that I thought, as a letter writer were important for conserving the letters we receive. I think all letters are valuable whether they are for preserving you family's history or for the sake of saving a cherished correspondence, so I was particularly interested in this part of the course.

Backing your data up in several different ways was the first order of business along with some of the more obvious suggestions for keeping your research safe, but a lot of family historians have sheaves of paper documents and source material that needs to be safeguarded too. No one likes to think of things like fire and floods but believe it or not, both of these things have robbed me of letters I was saving so I think passing on some of the hints we discussed in the course is not a bad thing.

A few things to remember when you want to keep your precious paperwork safe is making sure they are not stored in a damp place. Think about keeping things in air-tight containers, and storing them up off the floor. Check them from time to time to make sure the way in which you are storing them is working. It all sounds so simple, but like I said earlier, I lost most of my letters, once when the neighbour upstairs decided to install a washing machine in her flat and flooded my apartment, and again when lightning stuck my house and burnt it out. You never know what to expect so it's better to be prepared for anything!

That being said, letters, either as history or from friendships through the post, along with being stored safely, should be written in a way that will keep those paper conversations alive for the future. One of the crucial components of letter writing is the instrument that records your thoughts. Many of my pen pals are pen aficionados and prefer writing with pen and ink or fountain pens. Like most of you, I love the look of a fountain pen. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something that will most likely shock you...I prefer writing with a ballpoint pen. Fountain pens, roller balls, gel pens are not really user friendly for me and my handwriting morphs into a scrawl that I'm not happy with.. I can almost hear the collective gasp amongst you and I sense you have all taken a step back from me in horror. I know, the fountain pen is the Holy Grail of letter writing, but I like my medium point Bic Crystal. For the way I write, it gives me flow and balance and I can write easily with it, so you can imagine how shocked I was when I learned that ball point pen fades in time. I didn't believe it but then I looked at one of my old journals and it was sadly disappearing, not only that but the writing on the backs of all my photos was slowly fading away too. This was bad news for me. I now have the monumental task of re-writing all the information on my photos before it's completely obliterated and I must find a new pen of choice.

I'm sure, if R, a guy I worked with ages ago at the book store could read this, he'd be saying something like "I tried to help you..." R and I had a constant dialogue on calligraphy and ink pens which always seemed to end in stalemate. He, a graphic designer, wanted to perfect my writing, me the amateur, countered by telling him my handwriting was uniquely individual and that anyone could do calligraphy. He'd switch tactics and try to tell me the best pen to write with was a fountain pen and on and on the debate went. In the end, he laughingly gave me a book from his own library which highlighted a steadfast ballpoint pen fan who whose handwriting was lovely. Uncannily, it was very similar to my own handwriting. R and I agreed to disagree in the end, and I still quietly used my ballpoint pen.

Now, here I am, admitting defeat and looking for another writing instrument.

 At least my search starts with an old friend. I found this Bic fountain pen that I thought I would try. I also indulged in a Parker pen. So far, the Parker is easier for me to write with as the Bic fountain pen is a pudgy and shorter than its cousin the crystal. I'm sure I will try others too, this is just a start. My son has a Lamy fountain pen that I quite like as well. I think this is just the beginning of my search. There are so many pens to choose from, but it will be a fun search, if nothing else.