Monday, 31 December 2012

Pretty Freebie for you

I have made up this freebie, which I hope you will enjoy.

You should be able to right click with your own little 'mouse' and save to your computer.

original image Flickr Sofi01's photostream (no commercial use)


Saturday, 29 December 2012

An English Cream Tea

Will you join me for a traditional English 'Cream Tea' afternoon?

Cream Teas

A 'Cream Tea', rather confusingly, is not a cup of tea, taken with cream and sugar. (You will know from this blog that mostly, tea is taken with milk.) The Cream Tea, refers to a special treat we indulge in on sunny days at the seaside. As it is gloomy and wintry today, I thought you might like to take a summery seaside day-trip with me. What a pretty little cabin above!

Port Isaac Tea Shop
You never know where you will find a cosy teashop. This one is in Cornwall. They call them 'Cornish cream teas' here.

cream tea shop

But there are lots in Devon too - only they are called 'Devonshire Cream teas' : ) Actually you will find tea-shops selling their version of cream teas in seaside towns mainly in the West-country of England, and also in Wales.

Home-baked scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.
A cream tea includes - Home-baked scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream

Cream Tea
And a pot of tea for two. Sometimes eaten outside if the weather is hot.

Clotted Cream
This is a pot of well-known clotted cream. It tastes so good.

This link takes you to information about clotted cream.

Oh, oh, oh, it's too delicious! Sometimes holiday-makers have pots of clotted cream delivered to their family or friends back home

I have just discovered that there is a company who will ship to America!
(I have had another look at this link and the cream is in a jar, and has a long life, so I'm not sure if it will taste the same as fresh clotted cream.)


Now we might take a gentle stroll along the promenade to end our perfect afternoon.

Ladies, if you are thinking of visiting  England and experiencing a cream tea, please do a little research on the best teashops. One or two may not come up to expectations, but there are many tea-shops who will give you a lovely tea. try the smaller, independent tea-shops if you are in doubt.

Happy tea-time, ladies

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Creativity Anxiety and the Home-maker part 2. - Treasure Within

"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;" KJV

 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you," NIV (1 Thessalonians 4:11) 

by Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter Creations

I am in awe of the imagination and talents of Beatrix Potter. We can step into her sweet, imaginary world, and never want to return to our own.

Illustration by Beatrix Potter Who wouldn't like to enjoy a pot of tea with Mrs Tiggy-winkle?


Did we miss out on an invitation to the rabbit's Christmas party?

Even her little mice are better than we are?by Beatrix Potter

Now we have had a cheerful time looking at these lovely pictures, we must come back to our own world - because if we do, we will be able to discover the treasures within ourselves that we didn't believe existed!

This is the problem of creativity anxiety in the home-maker. It is a huge, huge problem because when we spend our time in awe of other's creativity, our standards have become so high that we have 'failed' before we have begun.

When we have collections of unused patterns and tutorials, to recreate the beautiful things that other ladies have made (and have generously shared), we may not reaching within to the creativity that God in His wisdom designed us for. We are all creative beings, just like He is, but we must unlock it to express it. That is scary isn't it?

Home-makers of the past didn't have this problem on the whole. They HAD to get creative. They HAD to be resourceful. They did not possess hundreds of patterns and tutorials and media images and factory-made goods, and myriad choices of 'crafting essentials' that the merchandisers tell us we cannot miss out on.

For those who may be saying 'Yes, but I am the exception to the rule, I do not have an ounce of creativity in my bones', I , respectfully do not agree with you!

Do you know, that fabric will tell you what it wants to be, if you listen quietly? : )

Here are just a few ways to begin to unlock and develop your hidden creativity, for yourself your home and family. Please let me know how you get on.

Do not try to be someone else. Trust that you do have hidden treasure within and try not to compare yourself to others.

Have a pretty basket or tin of basic sewing supplies beside your favourite armchair. Needles, a few pins, a reel each of black and white thread, some small, sharp scissors and a thimble. Don't worry if you don't know how to use a thimble. Just experiment until you find what works best for you. If you have a sewing machine, have it on hand all the time somewhere in the room so you can set it up quickly. It does not matter if you don't own a machine. Hand-sewing, as you practice it, is relaxing, pretty and easy to pick up. In fact, many ladies prefer to hand-sew a lot of the time. You can make dresses, aprons, and so on by hand. It is easy to make a button hole by hand. It just takes longer, so enjoy the process and do not worry about a machine. When people see you like sewing, you will most likely receive offers of machines that they no longer need or use anyway.

Take your time Do not make yourself deadlines. Go back and look at the paintings of the ladies and girls sewing in the first part of this series. Enjoy the process. Do not be too ambitious. Running a happy home, means sewing on buttons, taking up hems that have fallen down, getting a few scraps together and sewing a simple doll. Hemming around a square of fabric to make a handkerchief or cutting old tea towels (dish towels) into squares and hemming round to make cloths to wipe the kitchen sink dry after use.

Ask people for unwanted scraps or pieces of material You don't need piles of fabric. Pick out a little that you like and put the rest aside. Keep that little piece beside you for a while, maybe even a few days. Pick it up and look at it. What does it feel like? Is it the sort of thing that you'd like for a handkerchief or a dish cloth? Would it be nice cut out (2 identical teddy bear shapes, or heart shapes) sewn together and stuffed with polyester filling? If you need to look up basic stitches you can find an old book or Home Living has some excellent advice and ideas for beginner sewing. When you have come up with an idea for your fabric, then begin to make it. If you sew something the wrong way, use your sharp scissors to carefully unpick and redo the stitches. This is part of the learning process and is necessary.

Even a tiny scrap can be folded roughly around a little doll, cut and sewn on each side to completely delight a little girl.

Try and pick up a bit of small sewing every day. In my own experience, I found that I didn't enjoy it at first because I certainly suffered from creativity anxiety. But persevere, and you will find you begin to truly enjoy your sewing.

I have concentrated on sewing, but you may wish to knit, crochet, make cards or paint. You can adapt these ideas for any creativity that you like.

Happy, creative New years to you all, ladies.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Creativity Anxiety and the Home-maker - Part 1.Time

"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;" KJV

 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you," NIV 
 (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

This verse has been life-changing for me. I keep it with me through the day

Today I would like to pose some questions. They should be simple enough to answer, with at least a reasonable 'guess'timate. And yet, I think that most of us find it difficult to even think about these seemingly innocent questions. Please stay with me here, because I hope that you will be encouraged as we go on.

1. How many sewing patterns do you own? How many of those have you actually made up at least once?
2. How many knitting or crochet patterns are in your cupboards? What proportion of them have you used?
3. How much fabric do you have, how many card-making supplies?
4. Are you thinking about buying more of the above, even though you haven't used what you do have?

Dear Home-makers, my final question is..

What sort of emotions are you feeling as you consider those questions?

Many of us are probably feeling some measure of guilt, stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction, inferiority, or even fear!

We are aware of the desire within us, to make pretty and useful things for our homes and family.To 'work with our hands'. These creative ideas whirl around in our heads like a tangled muddle, but they rarely translate themselves into finished items (or even begun items). We may even buy the new fabrics, yarns and pattern books, fully intending to make them up 'next week' or 'by Christmas'. We feel bad about wasting money on them.

I believe that it doesn't have to be this way. It is possible for the home-maker to turn those negative and unproductive emotions around. From feeling guilty, stressed and fearful - and unfulfilled, to productive, meaningful, relaxing, contenting and peaceful. Her home  can soon be full of lovingly crafted pretty touches, and clothes for herself and her family.

One obstacle that gets in the way is - no time! This is the first thing we need to address when dealing with 'creativity anxiety' in the Home-maker

Here are some beautiful images from the past which can give us some insight into their attitudes towards creativity.

The first thing that strikes me about these images, is that none of them seem to be in a hurry. The little girl in the first picture looks as if she is engrossed in the pleasure of the 'making' rather than focusing on 'the end result'

In the second image, the lady sewing seems to be very relaxed and quiet. This is her 'evening' activity. There doesn't appear to be a deadline, rather, regular sewing, mending or small gifts to sew while the little ones are sleeping

In the next, our little girl and friend are content to sit and sew, or watch. And in the last picture, the woman knitting socks for her family is dreaming as she clicks away with her needles.

Today's home-maker does not have the time to approach her sewing and creativity in the same way. It isn't very easy - and it certainly isn't much fun trying to cram your sewing into jam-packed days. But there ARE things we can do which will give us the time we need. Just by making small changes, we can reap big benefits. Here are some ideas to think about

Facebook.Twitter. Internet. TV, Cell/Mobile phone. Books and magazines. Can all be useful, but can also be a way of frittering away huge chunks of our day , nosing into the lives of others, judging their actions or righteousness, unwholesome, unedifying and time-sapping. How many hours a day are we using one or other of these media?

Activities outside the home. Is it vital to your family or yourself to spend much of your time outside of the home?

Perfectionism. Spending hours in the kitchen perfecting new recipes, over-detailed cleaning (worrying about what others may think of your housekeeping). Are you a total perfectionist when it comes to your sewing or crafts? The beauty of home-made is in the imperfection. It doesn't look mass-produced.

Choosing the RIGHT time Sometimes, there is the time to be found in the day, but it is not convenient to sew or craft at that time because of the space required for that activity. The home-maker needs to think about the way her home and family run. It's no good getting out the pins or card-making when it's nearly tea-time for example. It is a good idea to sew in the evenings when children are asleep or everyone has eaten and settled down. As you can see from many old pictures, ladies often sewed by lamp or candle-light. In our house, our electric lights are those energy-saving bulbs that don't give off good light. But, as in the old days, it is still possible to do things without daylight. Save the cross-stitch projects for the daytime however and sew while sitting near a window as you can

My house cross-stitch is a daylight project

The home-maker can adjust her day and her priorities so as to make time for quiet creativity. It takes a little thought and effort. But most of all, I find, it simply takes a decision to make small changes.

This world is a hard task-master. It insists that life is all about performance, results, productivity. But that is not where contentment lies. The joy and contentment comes from taking your time, the feel of the fabric, the rhythm of the stitches, the love that is woven into them. This has been my experience as someone of older years. I wish I had learned it when I was young.

Remember that making the changes we would like in our life, can seem impossible however hard we try, but when we are weak, God is strong. We can take our weaknesses to our Heavenly Father in prayer, and He can transform us through the power of His Holy Spirit

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

 Happy creating, ladies

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Home-maker's Christmas Contentment


Can the home-maker experience a uniquely special Christmas contentment, amid the busy-ness of the season? Will life be passing her by, while others enjoy an exciting, full life over the Christmas holiday?

Maybe there is very little cash around. But the shops are screaming 'This is the season to Buy! Buy! Buy!' Busy wives and mothers are running round and round gathering up the goodies. They buy with their plastic and... all they end up with is a plastic kind of Christmas. They are simply surviving.

The home-maker has made delicious mince pies and some chocolate treats with the help of her children, in her cosy kitchen. Admittedly, these baked goods look kind of funny, but are full of sought-after ingredients such as 'simple love' 'happy memories' 'time to care'. She has never found those ingredients in the stores and she does not have to run round and round, but stays quietly and peacefully in her little home. She has had time to think, plan and pray about her Christmas and does not have to panic buy at the last minute.The home-maker is not simply surviving. She is living an abundant life.


Maybe there is very little time around. But the TV is shouting that we must cram every perfect preparation into our Christmas experience. It MUST be perfect, and perfect means rush, rush, rush. The wives and mothers rush and drop things and get headaches, and shout at the children because there is so much to do, so little time... These over-stressed, perfection-striving mothers are simply surviving.

The Home-maker is at home to ensure that the TV is not the main influence in her, or her family's life. They do not soak up those stress-producing messages and subtle brain-washing. She may select some wholesome family films or programmes for them to watch together, or they may participate in other activities that she guides them into. But in her household there is always enough time because the world's 'perfection' is not sought. Over the months, she has been quietly sewing or knitting or putting away little 'imperfect' gifts which her family will love. They cost much less than the gifts on TV advertising and yet, this family are living an abundant life


Maybe there is very little Truth around. All children know that Santa Claus is coming to town, and that's what Christmas is about isn't it? Santa, Santa, Santa and all his glorious presents piled high on the sleigh and he'll come on Christmas Eve and it's overwhelmingly exciting... and the children are overwhelmingly excited (totally stressed) and they cry and get upset tummies and throw up because of it - and they all HAVE TOO MUCH and - they are simply surviving

The home-maker wisely decides whether or not to include Santa in her family Christmas. But she makes sure that they all know that Jesus is the vital character in their Christmas story. The stable is quiet, the night is still and a miracle is happening that will affect every person in the world for ever and ever -. This is the magical Christmas Truth that brings hope and peace and love to mankind whether they've been naughty or nice! The home-maker ensures that The Truth of God's love for the world will be told in her household. She is living an abundant life

Maybe there is very little love around.  In towns and cities and in the countryside, people are living loveless lives. There is no time for kindness or to listen to what someone is saying. The world says that we should only care about ourself, we should put ourself first. After all, if we don't who else will? We value the rich, the ruthless, the thoughtless, the clever, the strong. First is first, second is nowhere! And the more and more 'me time' we schedule in to our days,to love ourselves, it just isn't enough to satisfy. They are all simply surviving

The home-maker knows the value of every member of her family, and she tells them so. For their part, they know that she loves them because she chooses to spend time at home and with them. They have the same precious value to her whether they are clever, strong, rich, slow-witted, weak or sensitive. She gently guides and teaches them to love and value others in the same way. As she is the queen of her home, the home-maker can work at a more gentle pace and prioritise her activities. She can take breaks when she pleases, and maybe pick up some knitting, peruse some recipes, take some hot food to an elderly neighbour, write a letter that will delight the recipient. She can spread love all around She is living an abundant life
The home-maker doesn't have to look far for her Christmas contentment. It is to be found within her own four walls. The members of her family, young and old. The sharing of their lives and the time to listen and to love them. The contentment of creating a comfortable home, be it fine or humble, and all around her the pretty things she has crafted with loving care. The knowledge of the utter joy and contentment of serving others, and the time to share a kind word or gesture.

I wish you all a very merry and contented Christmas, ladies x

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Learning to be Lady-like. 'Mann'erisms

Years ago, little girls were taught that certain mannerisms and expressions were unlady-like. Whistling was included in this category, as was eating in the street, shouting, chewing gum, saying 'okay', sitting with your legs crossed... There were so many that I can't list them all here. Many of these may seem rather petty to the modern mindset, and yet, if you look at them a certain way, they are connected to lady-likeness, (lack of)

They generally fit into two categories:

1. They are inconsiderate towards others

2. They come across as 'manly'

James Clark, "A bowl of cherries"
Flickr Sofi01
Consideration for others, is to me, the mark of a true 'Lady'.

But we are often unaware of those mannerisms and behaviours that belong in the second category. That is why many women appear 'manly' and have no idea of it.

Have you ever looked through your holiday snaps and been confronted by a picture of yourself that is embarrassingly unlady-like? I have. There is one in particular that I thought would look funny. I pretended to be pulling out a sword from a stone. The grimace in the photo was not funny at all, but ugly and masculine-looking. How I hated that picture! When we try to look cool, or witty, we very often come across as unlady-like.

I was reminded while writing this post of my dear Auntie Rene. She wasn't particularly pretty, or delicate. She wasn't witty or clever as far as I can remember. But she was gentle and kind and very content in her role, as home-maker in her little flat (apartment). When she was very old, her face was kind and soft and very feminine. Have you ever heard the phrase 'if the wind changes, you'll stay like that'? We were told that, as children, if we pulled silly faces. In a way I think it is true. If we spend our daily lives grimacing (inside and outside!), one day we will look in the mirror and our faces will reflect those mannerisms, expressions and thoughts.

So here are some challenges you might like to try

1. Think carefully about your mannerisms this week. Look through photographs or pictures on the internet of women and pay attention to their expressions. Are they feminine?

2. Choose one or two expressions or mannerisms that you would like to focus on, and work on them during the week. Although it can take two weeks to make a new habit - so maybe work on them for a fortnight.

3. Find a picture of a gentle and feminine Victorian lady and make it into a screen-saver, or place it somewhere prominent. Every time you see the picture, imagine that you are her. How would she behave in public, towards her family, towards others?

4. Surround yourself with the sort of beauty that you would like to see reflected in your face, like Auntie Rene. Fill your home with flowers, or  china bunnies, or home-baked goodies and things that you know will make the people around you feel loved and special and cheerful.

5. Look forward to seeing the sweet, feminine, gentle, Lady-like lady reflected back at you in the mirror.

Happy reflections, ladies

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Thrifty make. 'Be of Good Cheer' Book

Yes, the angle makes it look lopsided but it IS straight!

Sample page - unfinshed

Sample page

This is an idea for making something useful and also using fabric and paper craft scraps we have lying around. Mine is entitled 'Be of Good Cheer', but of course, you can call yours whatever your choose.

If you are like me, you come across beautifully uplifting poetry, cheering pictures and images, and inspirational bible verses or quotes. Wouldn't it be nice to have a little book to collect them all together? With a decorated cover, you could keep it on view, easy to hand. When days are dark and wintry - or you are feeling a little despondent, you can take a dose of instant cheerfulness simply by perusing its pages.

You can use any notebook you like, but hardback is best. Mine is  feint-lined A5 size.

So I hope that you will excuse the poor quality of some of the images, (The light - and my photographic skills, are poor today) and have fun 'making over' your plain book

First cut your fabric scrap to size. You'll want it to cover the spine and a bit of the front and back of the book.

Before you stick the fabric over the spine, glue a sheet of paper onto the front and back cover. I had some shiny red paper in my stash, so I used that.

Then stick some borders around the edges. Tuck them under the fabric and stick the fabric down with glue. In fact, a generous amount of paper glue stick will do the job well for both fabric and borders.

Glue another sheet of coloured or patterned paper on the inside covers of the book. Make a little crease with your finger and make sure it sticks down well.

Do you have any ribbon lying around? You can glue it down over the edge of the fabric on the front cover. Now you can play around with your pretty embellishments until you are happy. Stick them down well. PLEASE do not worry if your book looks somewhat amateur. You are using up all sorts of leftovers and it probably will look amateur. As long as it makes you smile - then it is perfect

Finish off with a name label and your book is almost ready

Use any embellishments, images, card toppers, you may have left over from projects, to pretty up some of the inside pages. If you are feeling very energetic, you can colour borders on the pages too.

REMEMBER, ladies. You cannot use images that do not make you smile, just for the sake of using them up.

Now, all that is left to do, is to begin filling your book with all sorts of cheerfulnesses. If you make a mistake when writing out a verse or something, don't worry. You can carefully remove the page, or just stick an embellishment, or image over it and no one will be any the wiser.

Have a cheerful day, ladies

Do any of you have something like this passed down from your mothers or grandmothers? I would love to know