Goodbye 2017

Well, that was 2017.   Apart from this post, it’s been completely blog free and I’m OK with that.   Instead of worrying about keeping up with other people and joining in with every craft-along or instagram photo-a-day, I’ve done my own thing.

I managed to read 20 books and exceeded my target of 18.   Admittedly it was mostly chick lit and Harry Potter short stories, but I made time for reading and enjoyed it, which is what reading is supposed to be.

I have been crafting.   I’ve caught up on some craft projects that were years old, and some craft kits that were only hours old.   I still need to get lots of things completed (or started having bought all the stuff in preparation!), and I’ll try and make time for those in 2018.   I also need to make huge inroads into my scrapbooking, and my Trefoil Guild Bronze award must be finished soon.   Just one clause to go.

One thing that has held back my creativity is the amount of stuff I have.   The clutter means that I don’t have room to create to use up the stuff that is taking up all the room!   I have made an effort to declutter and I’ll carry on.   I just need to figure out what I can do with everything I’m getting rid of.   I’m not going to attempt to Kon Mari my life.   My aim for 2018 is to gain sole control of the office as my craft room, and to be able to contain all the craft materials spread all over the house in there.

My volunteering has expanded this year.   As well as my Guide unit and WI committee responsibilities, I’ve also opened a Brownie Pack.   Towards the end of the year, I was just snowed under with paperwork, running workshops, organising meetings and everything else life threw at me.    I need to get that under control and stop over-committing.

Further changes in 2018 need to be to waste less and accumulate less.   Can I lose weight and get healthy too?

Wishing everyone a fabulous 2018!

National Volunteer’s Week 1-7 June 2015

Volunteer's Week 2015It’s the NCVO Volunteer’s Week which wants to celebrate the contribution of the 23 million community volunteers in the UK.

If you know a volunteer, say thank you to them.   Parent helpers at school, your son’s cub leader, the President of your WI, the person behind the counter of the local charity shop.   There are 23 million of them to thank!

And if you want to volunteer with GirlGuiding, just click here and tell them Craftyguider sent you!

#SBS One Year On

circle SBSOne year ago today, I sent a tweet to Theo Paphitis for his Small Business Sunday (#SBS) competition.   I wrote “When I was a Guide, I earned 2 Craft badges. Now I’m a leader, I design and make badges.”   I was hoping to be one of the 6 businesses to earn a retweet from him the next day, and my aim was to keep trying every week during 2014.   I couldn’t possibly imagine that he would choose me as the first winner of the new year.

I can’t say that it has changed my life. is strictly a fundraising venture for my Guide unit.   I don’t earn a penny from it (as all profits go into my Guide unit), and I don’t want to as long as I can recoup my costs.   I am interested in making it a success though, and I do get a buzz when people buy from me and give me positive feedback.   2014 was by far my best year and I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me.

One result of all this is my 8 year old is already planning her business empire.   She wants a career involving music, singing, polymer clay and chocolate.   She wants a business like mummy, and is keen to help out.   She was there on my stall the day Craftyguider started up in September 2011 when she was only 4.   She’s already asking for a twitter account so she can enter #SBS too.

On January 30th, I’ll be at the SBS Winners Event picking up my certificate and having my photo taken with Theo himself.   Perhaps Craftyguidelet can make it a family thing and be there in her own right the following year?   She’s already got 2 Brownie Craft badges so she’s got a head start on me already.

That was the year that was ~ 2014

photo (82)It was a great year for the shop.   Craftyguider had it’s best year yet, and I raised a nice sum of money to put into the Guide accounts.   I get to meet Theo Paphitis soon to collect my #SBS (Small Business Sunday) award, and I featured in Guiding magazine and the local press.   However, I didn’t manage to launch a presence on Etsy, or learn about taking better photos.

photo (74)I managed to make enough Christmas cards for friends and family, and sold handmade Christmas cards and tags in my shop for the first time.   However I didn’t start in July as planned, and had a few late nights before craft fairs frantically making stock.

yellow and grey bunting-001I handmade a few Christmas and birthday gifts this year, however I didn’t make as many as I’d planned to.

Q and A a DayI kept up to date with my Q&A a day diary (if you count the odd catch up sessions when I missed a couple/few/several days), however the Craftyguidelets didn’t do theirs.

book bag tutorial title pageI blogged more than usual, however I didn’t get into a rhythm and get all my ideas off the ground, especially more tutorials.

IMG_8261I worked hard to keep my local Rainbow and Brownie units open and helped to recruit new leaders, however I didn’t manage to get new units to open so that all the girls who want to join, can.

robin snowflake kitsI have completed quite a few magazine kits this year, but not the one a week I wanted to.   I have also tackled the magazine mountain and now say to myself that buying more magazines doesn’t make me happy, and the clutter makes me sad when I’m standing at the magazine display in the supermarket.   However, the magazine hill is still there.

I haven’t learned how to procrastinate less, I’m still carrying some extra pounds, and the office is a bomb site.

I have learned an important thing this year though.   I can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything.   I don’t have to fill every available minute in the service of others or dusting the bannisters or attending meetings or making things for the shop.   I need to prioritise my girls, my husband, my family and me.   All the ‘howevers’ above have occurred because something else came up.   A craft session with the Craftyguidelets, making Elsa dresses, going on family holidays, extra time at the park after school, a day out on my own to a craft fair as a customer, not a vendor.

Have a wonderful new year everyone, and I hope 2015 is everything you want it to be.

Louise x

Poppies and Buses

poppies tower of londonAfter doing the Books About Town trail around London in the summer, the Craftyguidelets and I decided to sample the Transport for London Bus Sculpture Trail to celebrate the Year of the Bus.   As one of the trails started and finished near the Tower of London, we took the chance to take Mr Craftyguider and mother in law with us to see the poppies now that the installation was almost complete.poppy cascade tower of londonWe had seen the poppies in August, but so many more had been added since then.   It is such a stunning sight.   It really brings home the 888,246 lives lost in WWI and has taught the Craftyguidelets a lot about the scale of casualties of the war.tower of london poppiesWe got there as early as our travelcards allowed us from the sticks but it was so busy, we were advised to get off the train at Aldgate rather than Tower Hill.   However, after lunch when we were the other side of the river, we looked back at the Tower and it was swarming with people.   Even crossing Tower Bridge was hard due to the volume of people coming the other way.poppies at tower of londonIf you can get to see the poppies before it finishes, it is worth the trip.   Just try going early!dazzle bus sculptureAfter lunch, we crossed the river to start the bus sculpture trail.   The bus models have been painted by well-known and aspiring artists and spread over 3 trails along the river and in the City, around Westminster, and in the Olympic Park.   Another trail will also open up before Christmas.spectrum bus sculptureHaving looked for book benches in the summer, I didn’t find this as exciting.   The book benches could be sat on and represented books that were mainly familiar to me and the Craftyguidelets.   The buses were each labelled with a big sign saying DO NOT CLIMB.orla kiely busThis Orla Kiely design was at least familiar to me.tower bridge bus sculptureThis placement was really great with Tower Bridge directly behind the bus.   I wish the weather was as good as that painted on the bus though!punk'ed bus sculptureThis punk bus was outside St Pauls.   Not sure of the connection there!childhood on a bus sculpturechildhood on a bus sculpture (2)This is the Kids Company bus with images of children sleeping on the bus to escape homelessness, and was painted by an ambassador of the charity.brolly bus sculptureall aboard the number 8 bus sculptureAnd this bus was the last on the trail representing the 24 hour nature of the city and the buses.24 seven bus sculpturetwenty four seven bus sculptureI don’t think we’ll be back to look for the other buses.   However, it was a nice day out and took us round several of the London sights, so it would be a nice guided tour along the river for a visitor in combination with a trip to the Tower.

The Paddington Bear trail starts on 4th November.   I’m already excited by this one as there are bears designed by celebrities.   I’m a bit disappointed that Bear Grylls has a Scouting bear and Girlguiding doesn’t have one.   If we do visit it, I’m dressing the family up in Guiding uniforms and travelling to Heathrow to be photographed with it.

And then there are 300 owls to find in Birmingham next year.   Surely Guiding gets first call on that!

Dear September


Where did our time go September?   30 days and it was all over!

You gave me glorious weather (mostly!) and lots of time in the garden appreciating the wonderful flowers still blooming their socks off.   Considering that from February to April it looked like a muddy mess, now it’s landscaped and lovely.autumn garden 3

My little Leprechaun turned Imp now has her Brownie Gardener badge for the hard work she put in sowing seeds, thinning out, weeding, watering and finally clearing away.   Hopefully she’ll help again next Spring, and her grandparents want to hire her for her skills with a seed packet.

simplicity 2828 finished dressI achieved things, September.   This pretty dress for Rainbow Craftyguidelet, some cards, some bunting, and even a tutorial for the book bags I made for the Craftyguidelets’ music lessons.   Sales have been picking up with Craftyguider following a bit of promo work, and the big push to Christmas starts now.   The Christmas shop is now open.   I just need to fill it up a bit more!christmas tree decsMy Guiding life has started again.   Guides and Rainbows are back, and once again I am juggling admin, trying to get as many girls as possible off the waiting lists and into units where they can join the fun, and trying to encourage more volunteers to come forward and help this to happen.IMG_8261I have also started Trefoil Guild which is like the WI for Guiding types.   It was so lovely just going to a meeting for grown ups, not being asked to do anything, not being responsible for anything, not feeling guilty for not doing more.   I just enjoyed the talk on the fabulous work of Guide Dogs and the puppy walkers.   Finally something just for me to enjoy!Harry Guide Dog 1WI planning has started again for our Handmade Christmas Craft Fair on 16th November.   I need to get a shifty on for my stall!photo (59)

But then just like that it was over September.   30 days of full on busyness and then phwoomp!   October happened.

Autumn is here and I’ll be joining in with Miss Beatrix’s #BashSAD challenge to banish the blues of the shorter days.   I’m also attempting to complete a whole month of the Fat Mum Slim #fmsphotoaday challenge on Instagram.   My house is finally gaining some order after a summer of neglect, the kids are settled at school.   Let’s do this October!

What was that?   Half term at the end of the month?   *sticks fingers in ears and pretends not to hear*

What are you up to this month?

My Autumn Garden

Autumn Garden TitleLast Spring, eldest Craftyguidelet planted lots of annual seeds for her Brownie Gardener badge.   She cared for them, watered them, thinned them out, transplanted them, weeded and produced a fabulous display throughout the summer.   This weekend, to finish her badge, it was time to pull all the spent flowers up to prepare the beds for winter.

She attacked the task with enthusiasm (once I’d dragged her away from a game involving every single toy she owns by the look of the playroom).   After clearing a section of her allocated bed, she found this beauty hidden away.autumn garden 3It made me think about all the other plants in my garden that were still flowering their socks off.autumn garden autumn garden 4 autumn garden 2This Fuschia is called Baby Blue Eyes.   I bought some for eldest Craftyguidelet’s grandparents when she was born as she had the biggest blue eyes.autumn garden - fuschia baby blue eyesThe Craftyguidelets grew sunflowers from school as well as some 8ft tall monsters.autumn garden - sunflowerautumn garden - sedumautumn garden - sedum and lilyautumn garden - scabiousautumn garden - rudbeckiaThis is my favourite plant in the garden at the moment.   I first came across Stipa tenuissima when I studied at gardening college (an RHS evening course equivalent to a gardening A level).   It is so touchy feely.   I’ve got 2 clumps in my garden near the paths so I can run my fingers through it when I walk past.autumn garden - stipa tenuissimaautumn garden - sedum and lilyautumn garden - dahliaautumn garden - pink diasicaThis Brunnera shows that you don’t need flowers to create an impact.autumn garden - brunneraAnd this Heuchera combines flowers and beautiful leaves.autumn garden - heucheraSo go out and appreciate all that Autumn has to offer.


Because you said yes…

Because you said yes…

A young girl will feel the pride of being someone special as she carefully puts on her uniform for the very first time.

A girl can move to a new town and have “instant friendships” with girls she might never have met.

Parents will experience that special pride when they listen to their daughter say the Guide Promise for the first time.

Bright eyes will become a little brighter with excitement as the kindling finally catches on the first camp fire.

Nervous giggles will emit from tents as girls try to fall asleep their first night of camp.

The community, and yes, the world will be richer because a girl has learned the importance of caring for her environment and the warm feeling that comes from giving service to someone less fortunate than herself.

A parent will find a Promise Badge carefully tucked away in a drawer as their daughter packs to leave home for her first adventures as a young adult.

A young woman will contact the Guides one day and say, “I had so much fun when I was a Guide, I’d like to try being a Leader.”

…and the circle will continue – because you said yes!

source and author unknown


When I was about 8 or 9, I moved from Highgate to Enfield, changed school and just started to make friends.   I used to play outside with my siblings, and my sister and I were spotted by one of the neighbours.  Mrs Cockaday lived a few doors down and was just about to open a new Brownie and Guide unit.   My mum was happy for us to make new friends and try something new so we were amongst the first batch of girls to join.   Because of my age, I was only a Brownie for about a year and gained my Agility and Road badges.   I then flew up to Guides and my Guidey swottiness began.


I loved being a Guide.   I went to all the camps, got all the collective badge emblems, over 50 interest badges, my service flash, patrol pennants, patrol purpose patches, Queens Guide award, Baden Powell Trefoil award – and then I was old enough to be a Ranger Guide.   Captain retired and I moved on.

I joined Rangers with a friend.   We went to a Youth Hostel, painted the hut, did our swimming trial for kayaking, and I made plans to do the new Queens Guide award.   But then it all went wrong.   The Venture Scouts were going to close, probably due to lack of leaders or members, so the Rangers were going to convert to Venture Scouts to combine the two units.   This would have been OK if the boys in the Venture Unit hadn’t have been my little brother’s mates.   No way was I giving up my evening to spend time with boys, especially them.   Unfortunately I hadn’t been told about becoming a Young Leader so I left Guiding.

A few years later, after I’d been to University (oblivious to SSAGO too as I commuted in 2 hours each way every day so couldn’t be in any of the clubs), I spotted an article in the local paper.   “Guide unit to close unless they find a new leader” sort of thing.   Much to the surprise of the District Commissioner, I answered the ad saying I’d help.   I ended up becoming leader, much to my surprise as I imagined Guide leaders all being older women.


I’ve done most of the volunteer jobs in Guiding – leader of Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Rangers, Young Leaders, District and Division Commissioner, I hold my camp, holiday, first aid and music licences, I can still tie my knots and I can light a fire using just one Cub Scout and some kindling.   Almost 19 years later and I am still here.   I tell people I had two daughters so they can take over my unit when I’m too doddery to carry on.   My blood is Guiding blue.

But the most important thing is that I’ve been part of the lives of hundreds of girls and young women because Mrs Cockaday, my Guide Captain, said yes.

If you want to say yes, just click here to find out more.   You don’t have to have been a Guidey swot, women who were “kicked out of the Brownies” as a child can still apply, men can help out in various ways.   Even if you have never been in Guiding at all, you can be trained up.   It looks great on a CV and a UCAS form, and as I sit here blurry eyed thinking of all those circles I’ve been part of, there are girls all over the UK who won’t get the chance to join in due to lack of leaders.

Unless you say yes.