Organising Cups

There is a game we have played at Guides.   The group is split into about seven different groups and are shown a pile of cups.   Each group is given a secret instruction to carry out such as put all the cups in a straight line, keep one cup in each hand, turn all the cups upside down, keep all the cups right side up, take all the cups outside etc.   Pandemonium then ensues as the Guides run around, the cups go flying and violence breaks out.


A halt is called and the Guides then share their instructions with each other and work out if they can work together to achieve harmony.   Lots of the challenges can be achieved by working together: the person holding the cups can hold them whilst they are placed in their straight line.   However, sometimes a compromise cannot be reached: you cannot have all the cups upside down and right side up at the same time.

Cardmaking with Craftyguidelets

I have lots of cups that I am trying to arrange: kids, blog, business, house, volunteering, crafting etc.   On Wednesday evening after a day making Christmas cards with the kids and making sure they had started their homework, they were having their bath with their dad and I was waiting for the first one to get out for hair drying.   I started thinking about what I was going to do once they’d gone to bed.   I am on the cable rib for a baby’s pullover which I need to get finished.   I want to get my blog going and have lots of themes I want to cover.   In doing Christmas cards I found some of the Christmas kits from magazines that I’d never made so I could make them.   Great British Bake Off is on.   I can actually participate in #handmadehour on twitter as I’m not at Guides tonight.   I need to tackle Magazine Mountain.   This carried on until my head exploded.

handmade Christmas cards

In the end, I wrote this blog post whilst watching a recorded Bake Off Masterclass after finalising my online shopping order.   I had to abandon the knitting and cross stitching; not easy to type, sew and manipulate yarn at the same time.   I got a couple of tweets onto #handmade hour to show my face, but after several nights of disturbed sleep, a full on half term day and a couple of hours on the laptop, I wasn’t fit for anything else.

Christmas card making

I see other bloggers who post every day or couple of days.   Some people run successful craft businesses whilst working full time.   Surely I can do all that too?   Am I just being disorganised or distracted too much by twitter or Minion Rush?

I have to remind myself that everyone is different.   Do these people have two bright little girls who deserve their mum’s attention?   Do they have a Guide unit to run weekly?   Do they also have other volunteer roles?

It is so important to work out how your life works for you.   You cannot know the full circumstances of someone else’s life.   They might have a cleaner to do the housework.   They may be 3 years into their chosen path whilst you are at the start of your journey.

In the meantime, I will carry on doing what I can and trying to follow my own advice!   Some of the cups will remain the wrong way up, but as long as I have the important ones in a row, that’ll do me.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I’ve been lucky to have been able to get a move on with quite a few crafty projects to tick off my WIP list.   Last month’s #WIPslinky post was a bit up and down with success in clearing my archive, so I set myself a realistic task list for this month.

Christmas card

I have started my Christmas cards.   I am about halfway through making them and really enjoying thinking up different designs.   I am also enjoying using up the different elements that I have collected over previous years.   Perhaps I will be able to store all my Christmas crafty bits in just one box this year!

I have also managed to get lots of fabulous new products made and listed on Craftyguider.

These frame purses were featured in a previous post and are now on the website.   This polka dot one is my favourite.

Red polka dot frame purseI’ve made five kilt pin charm brooches with themes of sewing, gardening, owls, party girl and this knitting one.

knitting kilt pin broochI’ve also added some more rings to the Rings and Things category, including these two fabric covered button ones:

Lady and dog fabric covered ring 2Green fabric covered ringAnd I’ve been sewing Christmas decorations too.

These stockings are made of soft fleece with a furry cuff.   I’ve made several different versions including these ones.

santa stockingbaby's 1st christmas stockings







I’ve also been making Christmas tree decorations for the website this year.   The pine cones are made with pins and folded fabric, and the cute Christmas trees use some funky Christmas fabric.

pine cone decs 1christmas tree decs

One of my biggest sellers last year was Christmas fabric bunting so I’ve got four colour combinations listed including this one.

Christmas Bunting

Quite a successful month!   Just as well as I have a craft fair to go to on 17th November in Puckeridge, and there are bills to be paid at Guides (where all the profit goes).

Next month I think I’ll focus on getting the Craftyguidelets’ WIP list started.   They use the dining room as their craft room and I need to reclaim it in time for Christmas.   They need to make Christmas cards for friends and teachers, there is a half finished hama bead ballerina that needs completing and ironing before it gets knocked on the floor (again!), and there are numerous projects and kits that they have started and never finished.

What do you need to get finished before Christmas?

Linking to Tales From Mount Pleasant’s #WIPsLinky party. Come and join us!

Getting my craft on

I have a lot of craft stuff as I have many different crafting interests.   I am an expert at packing it away, but this causes problems as I never know what I have, or it is so difficult to get at I never use it.   This week I have a had a sort out and tidy up as in 2 months, 18 days, 6 hours and 19 minutes (at time of writing!), a certain bearded, rotund, elderly gentleman will be doing his rounds.

ribbon organisers

My ribbons are more organised, although I still have 2 disorganised boxes of scraps, lace, ric rac and “miscellaneous”.   I have also sorted my embellishments for card making so it is easier to select a box of flowers or some crystals to use on projects.

Birthday cards

I’ve had a few family and friend cards to make including supervising these 3 for my dad.   From left to right, created by eldest Craftyguidelet, youngest Craftyguidelet and me.   Having access to all my stamps again meant a stamping frenzy.

The sewing machine has also had an airing.

school drinking bottle holstersI’ve been meaning to make these holsters for the Craftyguidelets’ water bottles for some time.   When they travel to and from school they have all sorts of luggage including book bags, PE kits, music folders and cardigans, and it’s come up as a problem at the school parent forum.   Perhaps I can sell these at my next craft fair.

Rainbow magic badgesHaving posted a picture of my Rainbow unit’s latest batch of ‘patrol’ badges, a Rainbow leader on twitter requested some for her unit too.   She loves them and hopefully the Rainbows will too.

And now, those with delicate sensibilities should look away.   I am about to use the C word.


Christmas card production has started.

Christmas cardI have made 23 cards and glued together 14 decoupaged toppers.   Fortunately I have lots of pre-prepped bits and pieces so at the moment it is full steam ahead.   Needless to say it will slow down when I start on the stamping and colouring.

I have also started a bit of Christmas crafting.

Wire and bead angel decorationsThese angels came in a kit I bought and didn’t get round to making last year.   The instructions were poor but I managed to adjust them to make three decorations for my Christmas tree this year.   I also tried to finish making the leftover fabric pine cones that the Guides had last year for their Christmas craft.   The aim is to put them up for sale to put the funds back into the unit, like everything in my Craftyguider shop, however I ran out of pins so it’s back to the shop I go for more.

I am really enjoying this flurry of crafting.   In a tough week health-wise, it’s kept me going and I’m ticking off the WIPs.

Have you started your Christmas crafting yet?

Linking with Handmade Harbour’s Handmade Monday linky party.

Who gets your cards?

As someone who makes cards to sell, I should use this post to try and persuade you to buy everyone you have ever known a card for each wedding, birthday, anniversary, thank you, RSVP, new school, exam good luck, exam congratulations etc. etc. etc.   It would generate a good income for my Guide unit and I could happily craft away all day and all night.


However, I am having a dilemma.   As I make cards, people expect handmade cards from me.   I can just imagine family members thinking “This is a shop bought card.   Why don’t I deserve one of her handmade cards?   Couldn’t she be bothered to make me one?”   However, I know so many people through school, university, work, family, friends, their kids, their grandchildren…   I was there when they got married.   Each date gets religiously entered on my fruit phone and set up to remind me every year of the date.   Can I really keep coming up with original cards for every occasion (and also remember which ones I sent them last year)?



Where do I stop?   How many anniversaries do I send cards for?   Do I keep sending cards to a friend I haven’t spoken to in years, who never sends me cards and whose kids I’ve never met?   “Mummy, who is Louise on this card?”



I’ve made a decision over the last few months to stop sending cards to most friends’ kids once they’ve had a couple of birthdays.   My friends don’t send them to my kids so I’m sure they won’t notice.   Equally, I think I’ll cut back on the anniversary cards.   We just got cards from our parents, one relative and a friend this year.   We’ve been married 8 years now so it’s not a big anniversary.



I’m sorry dear friends and family.   I do still think of you on your birthdays.  Hopefully you’ll all get a handmade Christmas card this year (or at least one of those school fundraising cards drawn by the Craftyguidelets and printed), but perhaps I won’t be sending a card for your second cousin twice removed’s decree nisi.



Having said all of that, please do support crafters who hand make cards.   They can usually create personalised cards to a specified theme in a few days for around the same cost as the celestial hog lot, and to a higher standard.   And you know that there will not be another card like it on their mantelpiece for their special day.

And obviously I would like to put in a special word for my Craftyguider online shop.   100% of the profit goes to my local Guide unit to contribute to running costs, and the postage cost is a flat fee so no matter what you order, you only pay £1.50.

How many cards do you send out each year?

Craftyguidelet Dresses #WIPslinky

Last month I joined the Tales from Mount Pleasant #WIPslinky party.   The idea is to confess to your work in progress projects and then actually get round to making them.   The link opens near the end of the month, and you have a month to finally get round to finishing those projects that you have been getting round to ‘one day’.

buttonholeI shared just part of my WIP collection and chose to finish my daughters’ summer dresses.   After a packed summer, they are finally finished.

dress 1 and 2It is probably the last warm day of the year but they have worn them.   I also made them in the next size up so they get to wear them next year.

dress 2My 4 year old loves pink, so I chose these gorgeous fabrics from Sew La La with rose shaped buttons.

dress 1My 6 year old really suits this red colour.   It looks like Kath at Sew La La has just got some more of this Gypsy Rose Red fabric so I might stop by for some more.

Being more aware of my WIPs has led me to finish more this month.

I’ve wanted to make a case for my tablet for some time, and I used some of these gorgeous fabrics to make a patchwork padded case.

tablet caseI’d promised my friend that I’d make her a draught excluder.   I managed to finish it in time for a visit and even managed to blog about it.

doorstop3I have also cut out fabric for a collection of frame purses that have been sitting in my cupboard for months.   They will either be given as presents or put on sale in my shop.

pursesAnd for next month’s entry?   I’ll be revisiting my quest to make all the bags in Lisa Lam’s Bag for all Reasons book and aiming to complete the ‘too cool for school satchel’.

satchelI’m using a gorgeous Cath Kidston upholstery fabric and all the bits are cut out and stashed in a bag ready.

Along the way I really should finish making the new uniform for our Rainbow Guide mascot, Olivia, a banner for the Rainbows to use at Remembrance Sunday parade, and also transforming that pile of fabric pieces above into frame purses.

Come on everyone.   Join the WIP busting crusade and post your WIPs on the linky tool and let’s cut fabric, use papers, grab that pattern or kit you’ve saved for a rainy day and do what we all love to do – CRAFT!

Digi Stamps for Beginners – tutorial

I like making cards.   It’s one of the reasons that Craftyguider came into being.   I had so many things I wanted to try, and not enough friends and relatives to send cards to!   I can now make what I want, when I want, and any cards that aren’t intended for a specific recipient, go into my shop stock.   I sometimes raid my stock for cards too as everything I make is the same quality as I would use for my best friend’s card.

IMG_8180personalisable car card from

One of the techniques I’ve never used is digital stamps.   Some of the paper crafters on twitter rave about them, but I’ve only ever used the stamps you ink up and print yourself.   Digi stamps provide the same outline image as an inked stamp, but they differ in that you can manipulate the image, for example by changing the size or flipping the image.   There is no physical stamp to store either as, once purchased, the image is emailed to you to download and store on your computer.

Handmade Harbour has come into the world of digi stamps in the last few months.   Wendy Massey has many gorgeous designs for almost every occasion to purchase and use to make cards.   She recently offered bloggers the opportunity to use digi stamps in a tutorial, and I was lucky to be chosen to receive a selection.   This will be the first time I’ve ever used digi stamps so this is a true beginners guide.

1. Obtain your digi stamp.   I chose this cute baby in bed with patchwork quilt as there are a number of babies due to friends and family in the next few months.


2. Save the image that is attached to the email you receive to your computer.   I am no techie, but I managed this without help.   Going well so far!


3. For simplicity, I copied and pasted the downloaded image to a new Word document.   I only needed to change the size and didn’t need any accurate dimensions.   It was my first attempt and ‘ish’ was good enough.   I based my design on a sketch from a Craftwork Cards Recipe Card from QVC.   Even though my card will look nothing like this, the elements I use will fit the sketch in the top right hand corner.


4. Print the design onto good quality paper or light card.   Whatever you can get through your printer.   Trim the image leaving a border.


5. And now the fun part – colour it in!   I love promarkers, but you can use whatever colouring method you prefer.   tip – I made a border around the edge using a ruler and a promarker so the image matched


6. I printed another image slightly larger and used three squares as my accents.   I raised these and the ‘congratulations’ message using sticky foam pads.   tip – if you are posting your card, it’s cheaper to send if the image is flat rather than using foam pads


7. Ta dah!   Now I’m going to hurry down the road to my neighbour’s house as she’s just given birth to a lovely baby girl.   Hope she likes it!



I obtained the digi stamp for free from Handmade Harbour, but the words, images and opinions are my own.

Busy doing nothing

Fridays are my day off.   I don’t have a paid job, but as my stay-at-home mum/housewife/volunteering ‘job’ continues 24/7, I like to have a day when I don’t feel guilty sitting on the sofa watching Biggest Loser or doing some crafting for me rather than the website.

I think it is really important to just take a break: to take some time off, rest, slow down, reflect on life and sort your head out.   Lots of mums get mum-guilt if they aren’t filling up every spare moment with an activity.   I need to try and educate my brain into just switching off the guilt and be happy doing nothing.   I am not a failure, I just need this time to myself so when life switches back on, I’m more energised and ready to face dressing Polly Pocket in her 28th outfit of the day.

Meanwhile my day off today has included being woken up at 4am from a deep sleep by a 4yr old Craftyguidelet because her duvet was ‘being silly’, filling in on the school walking bus, doing some more preparation for Guide camp, changing the girls’ beds and doing 5 loads of washing, collating ideas I’ve collected for new Craftyguider products, doing 3 school runs, attending a parents meeting, vacuuming up downstairs in preparation for a delivery, tidying, doing some admin for my dad’s bakery, and cooking 3 versions of dinner.

Day off?

Motivated Mum

motivated  past participle, past tense of mo·ti·vate (Verb)

  1. Provide (someone) with a motive for doing something.
  2. Stimulate (someone’s) interest in or enthusiasm for doing something.

In the past, for various reasons, getting motivated wasn’t easy.   There is always the eternal competition between what I want to do, what I should be doing and what I have to do.   If I don’t want to do what I have to do, I get resentful because it’s stopping me doing what I want to do, and if I do what I want to do, I get a guilt trip because what I should be doing isn’t getting done.   All in all, I end up in a mass of doing nothing at all.   Still following?

It also makes me a bit lastminute dot com.   Guides is on a Wednesday, so I end up taking ages to get down to planning things because Wednesday is so far away isn’t it?   Surely I can squeeze in a few more wants and shoulds before this have to?   Then I’m racing around on Wednesday itself to get something ready (as well as doing Craft Club, looking after the Craftyguidelets, cooking dinner and all the other things that come up).   Thursday is Mother-in-law day and Rainbows so I always dash around trying to get the house tidy before she gets here.   She probably wouldn’t mind that I hadn’t dusted, but it’s what Daughter-in-laws panic about, isn’t it?

Enter Motivated Mum.   The new, improved me who gets things done in plenty of time, who balances family, volunteering, housework and me-time.

1. Don’t get overwhelmed

I use my Google calendar for appointments etc., but I also have a pretty slimline paper diary for my to do list.


When I get a blank sheet of A4, it fills up with everything I want and need to do.   It gets so big, I look at it and get put off from doing it.   I accumulate several scraps of paper with things to do on them which I can never find it when I need them.   Things that are important get mixed up with things that don’t really matter.   With this diary I physically can’t add too much to a page.   Also, things are dated so I know my deadlines.   World Book Day coming up?   Need a costume?   That needs to be entered in plenty of time so I can get it done rather than a last minute scrabble through the washing pile on the day.

2. Tap the app

I bought an app for my phone called Motivated Mom (yes, it’s from the US).   It suggests housework tasks to do every day so that over the course of a week, in theory my house is clean and tidy.   It doesn’t factor in Craftyguidelet chaos though.   It also suggests things like washing the garage door and other large tasks to do once a year.   I’ve programmed in things like sorting out my ‘take upstairs’ bag every couple of days.

I’ve also started a new section in Google calendars for my blog posts and twitter hashtag hours so I remember what happens when.   If I’m free, I can join in with the chats, and my blog posts are vaguely themed for each day.

3. Inspiration

I am reading ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin.   There are so many things in this book that seem such simple and effective ideas.   Obviously her life doesn’t match mine, so I’m going to try a mini happiness project.   I’m starting with health and I’ll be developing that soon.


4. Perspiration

One of the things that has been holding me back is my health.   I’m tired all the time, I suffered from PND and I have a dodgy back.   I’ve eliminated so many things from my diet, went on and then gave up antidepressants and I’ve tried seeing a chiropractor.   I’m now going to try and focus on exercise a bit more.   Today I walked the girls to school and then walked to the local farm shop, bought some veg and then walked home which was almost a 3 mile round trip.


It was a beautiful day today so it was lovely being outside (apart from the weight of the veg I had to carry and my shoes which rubbed just a bit too much).   Having a bad back has prevented me from using the gym for a while, but I need to allocate some time now so I can get more active more often.

I am going to try harder to get more enthusiastic and interested about things, and hopefully I have the tools to do this now.   WI bag is ready, Craft Club bag is ready, Guide email sent, now to sort out cleaning the toilets.   Hmmm, can anyone tell me how to get motivated to do that?

Celebrate Volunteer Champions

Millions of people volunteer in some way in the UK, and CSV is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary by applauding volunteers and encouraging the next generation of volunteers to come through.


The volunteer champions campaign is encouraging people to tell everyone about their volunteering, and as someone who rarely says no when someone needs help, I’ve got a lot to say!

My main volunteering commitment is GirlguidingUK.   I enjoyed being a Guide so much, however when I joined Rangers afterwards, they eventually decided to merge with the Scouts and become a Venture Scouts unit.   I didn’t really want to spend my Fridays hanging out with my little brother’s mates so I left.   I had no idea that there were opportunities to become a Young Leader (14-18 year old volunteer) with a unit and then train to be an adult leader.

Click to view high-res image

As I lived a 2 hour commute away from University, I didn’t get involved with student life much (I only went to the union bar twice in 4 years!) and missed out on the Student Scout and Guide Organisation (SSAGO).   However, after Uni, I saw a small article in the local paper asking for helpers for a unit that would close without them.   I phoned the number and volunteered to help.   I was then put in charge of a unit with 6 girls in it and built it up until it was full (which would be repeated 16 years later in my current unit).   I have now been a leader for over 18 years, helped in all sections from Rainbows to Brownies to Guides to Senior Section (Rangers and Young Leaders), as well as being a District and Division Commissioner (area leader), Adviser, Mentor, and gained so much experience, and most importantly gained many dear friends.

Currently I have 6 girls on my waiting list who are already 10 who can’t have a place, plus more who will be old enough later this year.   The Rainbow unit I help with is in the same situation.   We need new units to open to take the extra potential Rainbows, Brownies and Guides.   Full training is given, and you will be supported by existing unit leaders.

photo (82)

My website is solely to raise money for my Guide unit.   I make cards, badges and gifts and all the profit goes to Guiding.   It is enjoyable to craft and try new things before selling them on for a good cause.

Now I’m a mum, I volunteer at my daughters’ school.   I help run the school craft club with other volunteer mums, I’m a standby on the walking bus (I got soaked this morning in my high vis!), I was a parent helper in the school until my back gave up, and I recently baked cakes for their fundraising stall at May Day.

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I then decided that after looking after 40 craft club members, 30 Guides, 20 Rainbows (plus my own two Craftyguidelets and husband!), I wanted to do something for me, so I contacted the Hertfordshire Federation Women’s Institute to see if there were any local “next generation” WI’s near me that I could join.   They suggested I start up one myself, so with some friends from Twitter, we started Puckeridge WI.

I turned down the chance to put my name forward for President (see, I can say no!), but I still volunteered to be on the committee and became Vice President and Assistant Treasurer.

Volunteering is a huge part of my life, and at times it drives me to despair with admin, teenage hormones, lack of support and temperamental websites, but it is also fulfilling, rewarding and enjoyable.

There are so many opportunities to volunteer to suit you.   Whether you can give an hour, five minutes or the equivalent of a full time job to pets, children, adults, the arts or even the preservation of a rare newt, it’s all worthwhile.


Glue Guns and Buttons

photo (84)


I love buttons.   Aren’t they just so pretty?   I keep mine carefully sorted by colour in a clear box and have far more than I will probably ever use.   I’ve hacked them off of old clothes, bought in bulk at craft fairs, inherited them, and just bought them because they are gorgeous.

photo (87)


I have also accumulated lots of findings too.   And I now have the missing link to unite the two; a hot melt glue gun from Hobbycraft which was one of those “put it in the basket and you can have it for your birthday” presents.

With the stall at May Fair needing stock, and my craft stash needing using, I set about crafting.

I made two brooches from large buttons I’d collected, but ran out of time to make the covered button brooches I’d planned.

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I also made some rings, which involved using some of the scrabble tiles I’d bought.

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These are all I have left after May Fair.   The brooches and rings will be listed on the website soon.

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What are now listed on the website are my hair clips (at least those that I didn’t sell already!).   My girls keep wanting to claim them though so I’ve had to pack them away.   These are a few of my favourites.

IMG_7777 IMG_7770 IMG_7788IMG_7790