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.

Meal Planning Monday 7.10.13

Last week was a week of in and out and dashing about which meant meal preparation was tricky.   A lot of the meals were either pre-prepared or quick to cook so I could just pop them into the oven or bung a few ingredients in the slow cooker.

Sunday was the exception.   For the second week in a row we had a roast dinner.   I always make sure we have lots of veggies as I don’t eat meat, and this week we even had a home cooked pudding.

apple crumbleThe Craftyguidelets made a gluten free apple crumble.   It tasted delicious with a big dollop of custard.

This is what we have planned for this week:

Monday    Macaroni cheese

Tuesday    Ham egg and chips

Wednesday    Freezer dive

Thursday    Cider braised pork chops

Friday    Fish pie

Saturday    Take away or freezer dive

Sunday    I’m out all day.   Do I get Mr CG to cook a roast on his own whilst looking after the Craftyguidelets?

Linking with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday link party.   What have you got cooking this week?

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.

Meal Planning Monday 30.9.13

Mr Craftyguider escaped to the supermarket with the Craftyguidelets on Sunday.   He’s normally allowed out midweek with a list for the top-up shop and to stock up on his gluten free supplies.   However, Sunday’s trip was unscripted and he came back with two boxes of premix cupcake kits.

I don’t like buying these kits for three main reasons:   a) they probably contain all sorts of unnatural bits and pieces, b) I want my girls to be able to add butter, flour and eggs and produce tasty cakeage, and c) they contain gluten so Mr CG can’t help us eat them which means my diet goes for a burton for another week.   However, Mr CG and the Craftyguidelets did have fun making them, and they do know that cake normally comes from ingredients and not a packet.

Barbie and Dora kit cakesTo go with the beautifully decorated cakes, we will be eating:

Monday   Beef stroganoff with rice

Tuesday   Ham, egg and chips

Wednesday   Cottage pie

Thursday   Creamy pesto chicken with pasta

Friday   Oven baked salmon

Saturday   Freezer dive

Sunday   Roast

Linking with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   I’m off to drool at other people’s menus.   Join me?

Meal Planning Monday

Meal Planning Monday 23.9.13

Last week’s menu had it’s successes and failures.   Last minute changes to my afternoon schedules meant that the ratatouille had to be made in the slow cooker and turned out a bit soggy.   However the chicken cordon bleu went down very well with the family and I’ve been asked to add it to the list of regular meals.

I love making vegetable goulash.   The smell of smoked paprika is divine, and look at all these lovely colours together.

vegetable goulashI’ve also been busy on the baking front.   Rather than make a loaf of bread, I chose to make some rolls from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake book.   I’m so pleased how they came out, although I’m yet to try one and they went straight into the freezer.

Paul Hollywood crusty dinner rollsI’ve also been baking with the kids.   Eldest Craftyguidelet saw a truffle recipe in her Moshi Monsters magazine which contained biscuits.   As Mr Craftyguider is gluten intolerant, I chose a truffle recipe from the Eat Yourself Thin book instead, and we coated them with the hundreds and thousands that were in the magazine, with some gluten free sugar strands for Mr CG.   I don’t think chocolate and honey mixed with coffee is ever going to make me thin though, so I might leave the family to munch through these.

Moshi trufflesWe also made the Millionaires Shortbread recipe from my favourite gluten free baking book, Cake Angels.   The Craftyguidelets rechristened it Minionaires shortbread due to their obsession with all things Despicable Me.

minionaires gluten free shortbread


This week is a bit on the busy side so the menu will be fairly simple.

Monday: Ham, egg and chips

Tuesday: Bolognaise

Wednesday: Fish pie

Thursday: Something in the slow cooker

Friday: Vegetable pasta

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday: Roast something!

Linking with Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday.   Have a look to see what everyone else is cooking up this week.

Meal Planning Monday

Teacher Thank You Cards

Today’s Handmade Monday post is brought to you by the creative Craftyguidelets.

My daughters aged 4 and 6 have 9 teachers, teaching assistants, a nursery nurse and a trainee between them.   We always make cards and needed a new idea.   After an exploration of Pinterest, it seemed apples were the main theme (although try and explain ‘apple for the teacher’ to a six year old!).   With my new lino printing kit in it’s box, I felt a creation coming on.


Firstly I found a cartoon apple shape to trace round as my drawing skills aren’t great.



Then I traced the shape onto my lino.   I cut round the shape with scissors and warmed the piece with body heat to make it easier to cut.   Using the appropriate tools, I cut round the image and then added a small ‘shine’ detail.



I then trimmed close to the image with scissors.



Then it was over to the Craftyguidelets.   We applied the ink to the lino with a sponge to get an even coverage.   Unfortunately the printing ink I bought was very tacky and didn’t cover very well, even though it was specifically recommended for lino printing.   It printed unevenly which is OK for the work of a 4 year old, but not for me as I wanted to use it for printing cards for sale.   Also, it still hadn’t dried properly after 36 hours.



The lino was rollered down by myself and the Craftyguidelets to try and get an even print but to no avail.



The girls cut out the apples (getting covered in tacky ink as they went!).



They then stuck the apples to some kraft cards, added a hand drawn stalk and a green paper leaf, and a ‘thank you’ message.



Just a matter of writing to all the teachers (the 4 year old wrote in 7 cards for all her helpers) in their bestest handwriting.   This is the 4 year old’s bestest writing.



And ta-dah!



Just 9 lots of teacher gifts to do now.   Best get baking!

What are your best ideas for teacher cards and gifts?

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.

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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.


School Craft Club – Plate Weaving

I have a board on Pinterest for kids craft ideas for craft club.    One of the ideas that I put on there was paper plate weaving which originated from the aesthetic outburst blog.   I modified it a bit for our 5-9 year old crafters and came up with the following.

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I cut 19 notches around the edge of the plate and wrapped some wool around it evenly.   I chose an odd number so the weaving would alternate the unders and overs.   I knotted it off so there was a small end in the middle to start the weaving with.   Doing this 30 times got a bit repetitive, but because our crafters are young, it was necessary to make it slightly easier for them.

The parent leaders of the club had lots of wool to play with, thanks to the donation of a huge stash by the lovely @meanyjar.   We cut lengths of various colours for the kids to choose from, and tied in one strand at a time for lots of over and under work.   This activity lasted three 30 minute sessions, and even then, most children took home some wool to carry on with.

These are a couple of works in progress.   There were some which were ‘less neat’, but the children all worked really hard on them and were really proud when they took them home.

photo (98)photo (99)-001


And this one is my 4 year old’s effort (with some help from mummy).   She is at nursery and finishes school midway through the lunch break, and the lovely teaching assistants deliver her to craft club on their way to lunch.   She doesn’t always get the chance to do a full project so we did this at home.   I gave her a large needle threaded with wool to make it easier to do the weaving.

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Time to trawl Pinterest for more ideas for after half term!

Pin Badges

One of my many sidelines on the craftyguider website is making pin badges on my badge machine.   I have three dies – 25mm, 38mm and 58mm – and I love upcycling pictures, maps and making my own designs.

These badges were made for my Rainbow unit as the leader had come up with the idea of having little groups for activities based on the Rainbow Magic fairies.   Rather than just have the colours, I copied some pictures from my daughter’s book and came up with these.

Recently I’ve been asked to produce some hen night badges for two different hens.

Hen party one was themed on the Miranda TV series.   The hen is a regular customer of mine from twitter for various badges and sewn items, so it was wonderful to play a part in her celebrations.

Each person on the hen do would be given 4 badges as a gift.   An evening in front of the TV pinging designs back and forth on twitter produced these designs.   One dodgy shoulder and 84 badges later, our hen had a bag of badges to dish out.

Hen party two found me on a craft stall at a local fete.   She had been a Guide at the unit I now run, and her friend was getting married.   As all the profits from my sales go to the Guide unit, she was happy to place an order with me.   She had even dreamed up the artwork which was fabulous.   It was a Guiding theme with all the participants in the hen’s patrol, and the hen had some interest badges to earn for her badge sash.

All I had to do was convert the artwork and produce the badges.   I wish I’d had this idea when I got married!

My badge machine gets a lot of use with name badges for my WI, a badge making activity at school craft club, business logo badges for people to use at craft fairs and trade shows, and badges for all 300 participants at school sports day, as well as making badges and fabric covered mirrors for sale at craft fairs.

What would you have on your personalised badge?