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May 2008
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July 2008

Take-away love, and tutorial


I'm packing my bags for a trip and made this little travel frame to take with me.

I'm going to sunny California to spend time with my family and go to another wedding. I'm only missing two classes so it was easy to get those covered, but these two little lovlies will still have nine days left of school, so they can't come this time.

Thanks hubby for altering your schedule to be both mummy and daddy.


The frame fits inside this little pouch and is only about 3.5 x 4 inches so I can keep it in my handbag. I'm normally one of those mothers who only has one photo in her wallet, the one that was in it when I bought the wallet.

Now I can actually say "yes" when my extended family ask if I have any current pictures of the children.


I had this old pop art image of Robert Indiana's on the brain when I stitched this little case for the travel frame. Those lucky residents of Scottsdale get to walk around Indiana's LOVE all the time.

For those of you out there with only the original photo in your wallet too, you may want to make one of these frames - here's a little tuorial. I think mine's going to stay with me all the time, even when I'm not away :)

Nonessential things


I was tagged by Cindy at Lucy's Tales From Home to tell six unimportant things about me (for some reason I like the word nonessential a little better) If you already know more than you want to about me, look away now.

1. I was born with two extra ears. Two little additional ear lobes that were removed at birth, unnoticeable today. A tiny little bump near my right ear is all that remains. Oddly, my hearing's not brilliant but that probably has a lot to do with item number three.

2. When I was little I thought that in the old days the whole world was only black and white. It was because every photograph I saw from very olden days was in black and white (pre-colour film of course.)

3. I'm a live music junkie, it's difficult to get my fix these days due to children and living in East Kent.

4. I love popcorn. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The real kind, cooked in a pot on the stove.

5. I tend to read books that have an historical or period setting. The Shadow of the Wind, Time and Again, The Pillars of the Earth, and Half of a Yellow Sun are a few examples. Must have had a previous life or lives. Must also be that I'm a habitual multitasker, I like to learn things at the same time as being entertained.

6. I have a cousin who is my twin. She and I look so much alike that my children have called her "mummy" more than once. My sister, who happens to be one year and one day younger than me, looks nothing like me at all. The only similarity we share is our eye colour - brown. Oh dear, this last one was full of nonessential info.

I am now meant to tag six other people. That's a tough one, so many other people do these all the time so I'll tag people who may not and some who it would be fun to hear six more things about (yes Amy, we want six more things about you!) And also these busy ladies, participation optional of course:  Ann Marie, Anne, Fi, Elissa, and Shannon.

Tardy no more


I really like and appreciate hand written notes. Trouble is I'm often quite late sending them for whatever the occasion happens to be - I tend to live by the "better late than never" mantra.

While I was waiting to get my hair trimmed on Saturday, I realized if I had some cards with me I could write one to a person I've been meaning to send a note to for a very long time. That led me to this little post pocketbook.


Inside there's a pocket for A6 note cards and envelopes, a mini pen and a pocket for postage stamps. It's 12cm x 16.5cm, large enough to hold decent size note cards and small enough to toss in my handbag.

I've used vintage materials, except the red spotty one, and the book is strengthened with two pieces of very sturdy card stock that was the base of a used up sketch pad. I'll keep it stocked up with blank note cards - the cards pictured inside the pocket I made with these pretty images.

The practicality of this piece makes me extra pleased with the way it's turned out - I've needed one of these for a long time - don't know why it took me so long to think it up.

I've already dreamt up loads of other designs using more of my vintage bits as well as my contemporary fabric stash. Hope I get around to stitching them.

Happy Father's Day

Dear Dad, Happy Father's Day!

This is a little paper cut for you dad. It's green simply because you've always grown things. I'm sure you'll understand the collection of images it contains, like the four tomatoes.

While making it I was thinking of our family vacations (probably because I'm eager for the start of our Summer holidays.) I always loved the ones that involved road trips, they would usually be in the biggest motor home you could find.

Along the way we'd play "what's that crop?" and admire those with very straight rows. A Giant's game would be on the radio until we got too far out of town and us kids would be stocked up with bubble gum and huge stacks of comics in the back.

I remember mom reading the map, searching out the next KOA camp and playing lots of license plate games and "Who am I?"

The funny thing is, I don't really remember ever knowing what our destination was going to be, I'm not sure you and mom did either. All I know is it always felt like a real adventure, and it would all be just great because it was Summer vacation and dad was driving.

Have a fantastic Father's Day, see you in nine days!

Love, Joanie XOXO

P.S. The image isn't wonky in real life, the surface I photographed it on wasn't very flat, you'll see.

One for the dads


Make a patchwork tie card for dad or grandpa.

We made these at school this week, a nice project for little or big kids, and they look surprisingly smart - like a tie should.

This doesn't really need a "how to" but here's one anyway:

  • Cut a tie shape out of card stock and glue used postage stamps onto it overlapping and going in different directions.
  • Let it dry the trim any stamps that overlap the edge of the tie shape.
  • Stick foam dots or squares to the back and glue it to a card. The stickers lift it off the page for a bit of 3D effect.
  • If you use a dark coloured card glue a piece of light coloured paper to the inside to write a message on or write on the dark paper with metallic pens.


  • Try making a stripy tie or a polka dot tie using stamps instead of a patchwork tie.
  • Also try using a different shape like a car instead of a tie.
  • If you don't have stamps, squares cut from colourful magazine pages would be just as effective.
  • A simple shape in collage like this would also look nice mounted in very simple box frame to make a small piece of art instead of a card.

I scored three large bags of these stamps at a boot fair a few years ago for a pound a bag. It was probably the best three pounds I've ever spent for enjoyment value. I've used them for various projects at school over the last three years. The children love sifting through them, studying the tiny artwork and arranging them in their own artwork.

Enjoy :)

And we have a winner


I decide not to use my hat, it was too floppy to fit all the names in it. Instead I used my favourite aqua vase (10p from a charity shop.) Why is it I always have to tell people when something was a bargain, it sounds like gloating, but it's really more - I can't believe I was that lucky.

My happy little helper chose the name Laura Lee out of the 10p vase. So congratulations Laura Lee, you're the winner! I'm now passing the luck onto you. Check out Laura Lee's sewing blog Capital Sew and Sew, it's full of great stuff!


Thanks to all the contest entrants, the response was fantastic, and it's so much fun to see my little "Out on a Limb" bird already being stitched. Anne the winner of my first contest, embroidered this and Elissa appliqued this (Elissa also has a great "cheat" idea for a quickie applique.)

Email me a link if anyone else is working on the birdie and I'll link you too :)

I'm once again having a hard time finding my desk and sewing table, time for a clear out. I'm considering creating some giveaway bundles, so if you want to have another go at a contest, watch this space.

Bright and beautiful


I happily bring you a small glimpse of my friend Fi's house.

I was with her for lunch on Wenesday when we had a few hours of bright sun and I snapped some photos, having to leave for the school run left me little time so I'll take more next visit.

1. Her new little art studio house in the garden 2. View out a kitchen window 3. Painting by her nine year old son (yes only nine!) 4. Some posies on the kitchen table 5. Kitty doorstop in the kitchen 6. One of Fi's lovely paintings 7. Small glimpse of her lounge 8. Lunch outside, apple tart for dessert 9. Side of her studio

She and her family have created the sweetest house and garden. Everywhere you look is beauty, inside and out. They only collect things they love and keep only things that are special. It's like walking into the pages of Country Living magazine only better because not a single thing is staged.

There's so much I didn't get to show you, my camera and I will visit again soon :)

PS - Sorry for the disappearance of Nini Makes this morning. Typepad is not playing nicely today. Hopefully all is well now.


Click here for details on free PDFs and entering the blogiversary contest.

One man's junk, my treasure


My latest treasure which will hold lots of my other "found" treasure.

These weren't inexpensive, they were free. They're very well made drawers that held metal letterpress type. These two cabinets are a fantastic size too, 51cm long. More spacious than my watchmaker's cabinet that holds part of my button collection (and was not a bargain.)

I went to the local tip (known as the "dump" in America.) Our tips are also recycling centres. We don't have recycling collection where we live because we're out in the sticks a bit, so I make this journey to the tip every week or so. This week I grudgingly made the trip because we've had relentless rain and drizzle for weeks, but when I arrived I noticed a man emptying the contents of these drawers into the metal recycling. I made a beeline for him, inquired and found he had an old Adana Letterpress and was dumping it and everything that went with it.


I told him it was all valuable, even though new technology has taken over, there are loads of artists who use and value these old things. Sell it all on Ebay I said, "I can't be bothered" was his response. A small part of me understands, he was older, most English homes are very tight on storage space, and he said " wife will kill me if I bring it back home again." But the waste of it made my heart sink.

I was able to salvage all 5 sets of drawers, but after putting them in my car, I had no room for the press and my children who I was about to pick up from school - I had to choose my children.

I wish I didn't have to make an instant decision, but I'd already kept the man standing in the rain for a long time and he was eager to go. If he'd brought the press home I'd have gladly picked it up from him later. I only hope the tip attendants who were hearing our conversation jumped in the bin and saved the press - I nearly cried to see it go and keep thinking about it like you would a lost puppy.


There are some amazing book artists who are making beautiful, small run books on old letterpresses. Look at the work of Ellen Knudson, and hear about her process in an interview with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood recorded for Craftsanity.

These new finds will give me the incentive I need to organize my stock and stash - again!

Click here for free PDFs and details on entering the blogiversary contest.

Swinging & more pretty pieces


Gracie swings. The swing is a log, with a rope tied around the middle - simple and so fun. We didn't make it, it was here when we moved in. She insisted I have a go, and of course I did, but then we had to fight over it.


Gracie loves to take pictures and this camera is huge for her. These are taken with my Canon EOS 20D. I've had it for about four years and been really happy with it, but the lens is only working on automatic so most of our action shots are blurry. It's ridiculously expensive to have repaired so I'm saving for an upgrade (by the time I've saved enough, I'm sure there will be many more upgrades available.)
I recently made this mosaic mirror in preparation for another session of Crafts at Mistletoe Cottage. This course has been planned for a while now, before our school mosaic project came about. Working on that monster got me warmed up.

Before that I hadn't made one for a couple of years, I'd forgotten how therapeutic it can be. Crushing plates with hammers and breaking up damaged china, then piecing it all together like a jigsaw is very satisfying and not in the least brain-draining.

If your favourite china has a run-in with a tile floor, re-purpose it and love it all over again :)

Readers often comment on liking boy-related craft posts. Mosaics are great crafts for boys. During our school project the children couldn't get enough of smashing the tiles with hammers - especially the boys. I suggested to a friend that she make a camouflage mosaic with her boys who are army mad. Or instead of a specific design, an abstract piece wih a mix of colours is fun to do.

Many boys I know enjoy puzzles and would love having a license to break things - a perfect combination.

Click here for details on entering the blogiversary contest.