A special project, now finished


A year ago I gave details about this special book project I’ve been working on for children who are bereaved, it’s finally here.

It’s part book, part scrapbook and was created to help keep a child’s memories alive after the loss of a loved one and to give them a place to return to whenever they wish. Award-winning children's author/illustrator, Daniel Postgate hit just the right tone with his images that are light-hearted yet thoughtful. See more images and read more about the project here.


Because they felt it was such a necessary book, The Child Bereavement Charity published the book.


We're now seeking international publishers, so if anyone has contacts with publishers outside the UK feel free to email the author, Dianne here <dianne(dot)leutner(at)btinternet(dot)com> or leave us a comment on this post. Look, there's Dianne just waiting for your email.


And if you know a child who could use this book or an organization that would like to stock it, Remembering can be purchased through The Child Bereavement Charity for only £5.00

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.

Some favourite things


Glass vessels.

Jam jars, empty terrariums, biscuit jars, spice jars, I love anything see through that holds things. Buttons, vintage buckles, old beads, embroidery floss, ribbons - they all get chucked in.

I love to read about the creative process designers and crafters go through on sites like Design for Mankind and Design Sponge, many people say the same thing - something along the lines of: Everything must have it's place and be tidy or I get into a muddle.

I love a clear workspace too but I'm never far into making something when I find myself in a sea stuff. I really spread out - I need to see things physically to put them together mentally. Problem is, I have a lot of stuff, my collecting habit has a lot to do with this.

Collecting is not to be confused with hoarding. I might be a hoarder when I'm very old if I lose the energy or the ability to make things but not the desire to collect bits and pieces everywhere I go.

Glass vessels are my salvation, they contain yet I can see.


Simple spotty fabric.

Spotty fabric mixes so easily with things I tend to make. It pops up most often on bags, little soft toys and in applique pieces. This red and white is part of my last bit bought several years ago on a trip to Ikea with my mom. It's my favourite, I use it all the time and I want more!

Graphic, colourful illustrations and graphics from the 1940's, 50's and 60's.

I love the simple little picador illustration on this cigar tin. I also love mid-20th century designers and illustrators, among my favourites are Swedish graphic designer Olle Eskell whose artwork seems to be showing up all over the place at the moment. Lefor Openo (real names Marie-Claire Lefort and Marie-Francine Oppeneau the illustration and design team who worked in Paris during the 1960's.) And Jim Flora is another favourite, famous for his jazz album covers for Columbia and RCA. Just look at these incredible woodcuts and engravings that were discovered by his son a couple of years ago.


If you enjoy the work of these artists then you probably already have seen Tim Biskup. Though contemporary, his style is definitely mid-20th century - even down to the colour palette. Little birds like his are the subject of many of my own doodles, I draw and stitch them everywhere, but his colours and compositions are brilliant. This tiny little book of 100 paintings is packed with fun - every time I crack it open it makes me smile.

I came across these items while clearing my space once again. Had to start with the drawers in my sewing table, turned-upside down when we moved.


Now they're usable once more.

Land of wonders


What a week we had.


And now home. We've returned to lots of new little neighbours.


And snow... for crying out loud - IT'S APRIL!!!


And yet more snow.


Watch out!


A bit of a shock after this.

Italy was magic, just being away was magic. Not even a 24 hr tummy bug dampened our spirits. We did the things that every average Joe Traveller does in Tuscany. Climbed the Leaning Tower, visited David and ate way too much gelato.

Though I've been before, it was way better this time. This time I could listen to the very audible "ooohs and aaahs" of our children seeing these things for the first time, and what's even better - they appreciated every drop of unadulterated beauty that surrounded them. Well, OK not every drop, Renaissance paintings in their hundreds were a bit too much ("... yea mum, it's another angel - and I really don't care who painted it") but the sculpture, architecture and atmosphere were happily absorbed, especially if there was climbing involved.

Dscn0302_3Sorry for the tourist holiday snaps - this one I had to remember. Don't actually remember taking it because my eyes were closed, hence the angle.

We were at the top of the Leaning Tower, most people don't go up the last top bit - unless they have an eight year old, who is really only six but six year olds aren't aloud to go up the tower, so that day she was eight. My legs turned to jelly, but not hers.


Been wondering how the childrens' sketch books will be received during show-and-tell, anatomically correct drawings of David included.

Also wondering, does anyone dedicate years to the creation of just one piece of art any more? The David took Michelangelo three years to complete. Seen by millions, it's over 500 years old and still standing, and still very, very beautiful.

Must get back to mountains of laundry or we'll all be sporting birthday suits round here - and it won't be as pretty, trust me ;)

A project close to my heart


I'm so thrilled to finally be able to share this very special project with you. I've been working on the design of this book for several months now. It's called Remembering, a type of book/journal to help children work through bereavement.

It's author, Dianne Leutner, the illustrator, Daniel Postgate and myself have all experienced the loss of someone close to us and through research we've found that a child in the UK loses a parent every 30 minutes. This doesn't even take into account the loss of a sibling, friend, grandparent or other people close to them.

Raincloud_3Dianne's text has just the right touch sensitivity, and Daniel's illustrations are outstanding. There is space for photos and drawings as well as spaces to write about the loved one. This book is like a special little place for a child to return to, helping them remember their loved one, whenever they wish.

The response to the preliminary copies of the book has been overwhelming; local teachers, vicars and doctors all wanting copies to distribute as needed.

Lady Mountbatten, the Honorary President of The Child Bereavement Charity has said Remembering is "A very helpful little book of comfort for bereaved children."

It's not even published yet and a copy made its way into the hands of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, they are writing about Remembering in their national newspaper column this Saturday. For those of you in America, Richard and Judy are the Oprah equivalent in the UK with their own book club and talk show.

Backcovercomplete_2Now we are searching for the right publisher to take it on. While it's in the hands of several publishers at the moment, if anyone has any publishing contacts for this specific type of book that might help speed up the process, please let us know through this site.

There's such a huge need for a book like this, people are offering to buy copies printed from our inkjet printers not wanting to wait for a real printed version.

If anyone is in need of a book like this, email us at dianne.leutner@btinternet.com or leave us a comment and we'll add you to the waiting list. As the book is ready to print, it should be ready for distribution soon - with or without a publisher, we'll get it out.

Vintage make do and mend


We STILL are without a web connection! Promised it by today - but no connection, "...another 10-12 days" a nice, sympathetic yet anonymous person tells me on the phone. But as this has dragged on for over a month and I've spent hours on the phone trying to sort the mess out I've now turned into a witch shouting in exasperation and throwing expletives at anyone that tells me they can't find my order - again!

This witch puppet is one of a dozen or so made by my lovely mother-in-law, Mechtild when her children were young. She is the ultimate make-do and mender. All of the heads are of papier mache and the clothes were made of scraps of clothing that was beyond repair. They were kept in a plastic carrier bag and are a bit rumpled but my children love them and love the fact that their daddy and his sisters once played with them too.

I will add more images of the puppets soon and give a tutorial for her design - she's so generous I'm sure she'd love to share it. 

Holiday Traditions Swap


As I'm way across the pond from my Holiday Traditions swap partner, this little bundle went out earlier this week. I sent it ahead of time in case Royal Mail decides to strike - again!

I wrapped my swap items in an antique French linen tea towel. I love using fabric for wrapping gifts, it looks nice and it's reusable.

The clay robin is one of the ornaments I began making a few years back with Tristan and Gracie. Each year we get a large pack of air-drying clay and and we make ornaments and garlands.

Clayrobin We use the DAS variety of air-drying clay because it has a lovely texture and isn't sticky to work with. But if you have time to make your own, try Meg's brilliant recipe and instructions here, or try this spicy ornament recipe posted at HowToMe.

To make this little robin get the following supplies:

Air-drying clay, small sharp knife, acrylic paint, antiquing gold paint, small twigs, tooth pick, small drinking straw, raffia or ribbon

1. Print out this template and cut out the robin.

2. Roll out some clay and lay cut-out robin on the clay. Cut around the robin with the point of the knife.

3. Gently pick up your robing, dip your finger in a bit of water and smooth the edges of the robin.

4. Position small twigs (I like birch because of their colour) behind the bird and gently press into the clay.

5. Cut a small circle of damp clay on top of the twigs from behind and press it down to help secure the twigs.

6. Put a small hole in the robin at the top of its back behind the head. Use the tooth pick or cut the hole out with the end of a drinking straw. Then make a small impression with the toothpick to create an eye.

7. Leave to dry, then paint in brown and red.

8. Smooth a bit of antiquing gold using your finger.

9. Thread the hole with raffia or narrow ribbon, make a slip knot and hang or top a pressie with it.

A simple craft for those of us who are time and brain cell deficient, and those who aren't - right now I feel I'm definitely the former : )

Decorating the garden

Applewreath_4 Windfall apples and lengths of ivy all wrapped up into a quick wreath. Took only five minutes to make using garden trimmings headed for the compost heap.

To make: Trim any long trailing plant (ivy, jasmine, Virginia creeper, etc.) and wind it into a circle. Use fine wire or florists wire (even string) to secure the circle and to attach colourful bits. Use anything autumnal from the garden to add colour - apples, crab apples, hydrangeas, rose hips or berries.

It will probably only last a week but for now it nicely smartens up the old garden shed. Maybe I should pin one on myself, I'm a year older today - I could use a simple fix to smarten me up.

Oops, today is now yesterday because I'm up too late and today is now my sister's birthday. Happy birthday Patty - yes I know you're still younger than me, but only a year. And Dad, happy birthday tomorrow : )

Happy, little feet

Happyfeet1_3Yesterday, we hardly got through the door after buying Gracie new ballet slippers when she grabbed some markers and started decorating her old pair. After confirming they were the old pair, I gave her some Sharpies to use, made dinner and later returned to find these little gems!

I think this might have to be a new tradition - glam up the old ballet slippers each time she outgrows them. Might even switch her new slippers with these just to see her teacher's face turn several shades of red when she hits the floor with her new, self-styled, happy feet ; )