And another card!

Yesterday and today’s posts are two scheduled posts – I had my chemo yesterday, so won’t be up to much blogging in the next week. I may get round to a couple more scheduled posts too… We’ll see.

Anyway, this is another card that I made (click on the image to biggify):

I made this for Charlotte, who is someone I have met, and become a-bit-more-than-acquaintances-with , at the chemo sessions. Her cancer is Stage 4, and she is having chemo every three weeks “until I die”  – as she said to me cheerfully when we first met! She is indubitably cheery, obviously well-liked by all the nurses at the hospital, and she immediately put me at ease during my first session, when I was confused and a tad upset about what was happening.

We have talked a little about our faith, but more about our travels, our families, our jobs – she is a tutor, in maths, French and English – and usually, midway between sessions we text each other once or twice. This is the last time I’ll see her however, as she has been given permission to postpone her next chemo for a week, so that she can go to the South of France with her family. She is clearly excited, as she was telling everybody about it last time!

Charlotte is not your “typical” chic French lady. She wears the most colourful clothes, with patterns and shades all clashing and vying for attention, but somehow this suits her beautiful, bright personality. So I thought this style of card would be right for her. I used the same technique as I used for Zavia & Isaac’s wedding card:

tearing up, and PVA glueing down, scraps of colourful paper. With Zav and Isa’s card I used all greens, which seemed appropriate for a Spring wedding. For Charlotte, I went all out with the colours of the rainbow, trying to grade them from orange, and pink, through to green, then blue and purple. All of these came from the Gudrun Sjoden catalogue (as they did for Zav & Isa’s card) which has the most gorgeous colours and patterns!

The verse is “my” verse – the one that has kept me going through this time (I was going to say “ordeal”, but, if I’m honest, it has not been that serious. It’s been a pain, it’s been unpleasant, but “ordeal”, or “trial” really is too strong a word for it!) – but in French:

En effet, c’est moi, l’Eternel, ton Dieu, qui empoigne ta main droite et qui te dis : “N’aie pas peur ! Je viens moi-même à ton secours.”

I hope Charlotte finds this verse as inspirational as I have done. And that she likes the card too!!!

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A couple of cards…

It was my mum’s 89th birthday last Saturday – go, mum! She is still active and occupied, going to church, stewarding at church, going to book club meetings, driving, gardening, going out with her “Keep Fat Club” friends, walking…Recently she drove to the Lake District (a journey of about 130 km) with her friend, to stay at the Timeshare appartment that she has there. I hope I’ll be as active as she is at her age (but with my arthritic knees I somehow doubt it!!)

My birthday present to her was a champagne afternoon tea, for her and her friend, at the Hotel/Appartment complex where the Timeshare is.

 

It was while they were there that my sister took Mum horse riding, and rock climbing, so I thought I should celebrate this activity on her card:

(as always, click on the images to biggify them, if required)

Sadly, it didn’t arrive in time for her birthday – I’d forgotten that the week before there were two bank holidays in France, which would have slowed down the postal system. Never mind; when I called her, she saidthat cards had started arriving on the Wednesday before, and she was celebrating with the Keep Fat Club on the following Tuesday, so it was good to spread out the birthday celebrations!

Maybe I should explain the “Keep Fat Club” – this started some 30 years ago, with a group of teachers who worked at the same school, including mum. They decided that they should try to Keep fit, so started to meet up one evening a week to do some exercise together and to eat some healthy snacks. Husbands mocked, and called it “Keep Fat”. Gradually, the exercising became less important, and the snacks became more elaborate and less healthy, and finally it turned into more of a supper club! Now, they are all retired, several are widowed, and it is a support group/ group of friends who go out regularly, or go to each other’s houses….and it is known communally as “Keep Fat Club”!

The other card was for a less happy occasion. We heard that our friend had recently lost his mother, so I made this condolence card:

Both of these cards used papers from my stash – all bought at Noz, I suspect, at various times. The second card uses images from a pack of sentiments & pictures for condolence cards, called “Cardbook” (also bought at Noz), which gives instructions and resources to create 6 cards. I tend not to follow the instructions, but use them to inspire my own designs. The little metal leaf was from a bagfull of charms that Monique across the road gave me last year. The embellishments are also all bought from Noz at various times.

Two wedding cards

I think I mentioned a while back that we’d been invited to two weddings on the same day – my niece and her long-time partner, and the son of very good friends. We’d already accepted the wedding to Isaac & Zav’s wedding before my cancer was diagnosed, and then Ruth announced that she & David were getting married, on the same day! Having accepted the first invitation, we had to decline Ruth’s invitation, even though she is family – we couldn’t have managed to get from Abergavenny to Newcastle on the same day!!

However, cancer got in the way, and I have chemo scheduled for two days before the weddings, so we won’t be going to either! I am disappointed, but there you go. Life can sometimes bugger up our  plans.

So, I’ve made two cards, and each couple will receive a cheque, and a Lend With Care voucher too. Isaac and Zav are also getting a zentangle –

I wrote about it in this post

On Friday,  I made the cards (click on the photos to see them in a bit more detail):

Because the card that I had was fairly thin, I used a double layer, so the sparkly washi tape around the outside covered the two edges of the card. The flower, the “corners”, the trim & the ribbon were all from Noz, at various times. The paper came from my stash. Here’s a slightly-closer-up:

The card for Zav and Isaac is very different, but I think I like it better.

This one uses torn up paper which I PVA-ed to card. These gorgeous patterns come from the little pamphlets sent with the top I ordered from Gudrun Sjoden, and I felt they were just beautiful Spring-like colours, just right for an April wedding. There are some small bits of gold pâper scattered in the mix, plus some appropriate words: “love”, “joy”, “laughter”,”companionship”. Again, as this was made using triple layered card (to support the weight of the front) I put washi tape around the edges. The little gold dots around the heart were made using a gold pen – I felt that something was needed to make the heart stand out a little, and this fits the bill!

This is a very easy, frugal way to make a card, especially if you’re using papers that you already have, beit wrapping paper, decorative paper from magazines or pamphlets, or anything else that has taken your fancy.

Which card do you prefer? The more classic one, for Ruth & David, or Zav & Isaac’s slightly off-the-wall one?

 

Bits and bobs and 40 Acts (21 & 22)

Hello dear ones – thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last post. They really helped me, and I appreciate the fact that you all took time to post a commernt. If you haven’t seen the comments from other people, I encourage you to go back & read them: they might help you too.

 

Yesterday I went for a short walk – a walk I’d probably do in 10 minutes took me about twice that time, and I felt quite breathless by the end of it. I will do the same today, straight after I’ve finished this post. I’m still sleeping more than normal – usually 10 – 11 hours a night, especially if I’ve taken an iboprofene. The “front door” is causing me some discomfort/pain when I lie on my side, I think because it’s getting squished up and pressed into the flesh, but that’s the side I feel most comfortable to sleep on. If I sleep on my back I get backache; if I sleep on my right side, my arthritic hip hurts! The iboprofene makes everything more comfortable, so I sleep better, but I don’t feel happy taking one every night!

Tonight we’re going to a birthday party – a 120th birthday party. But not for a very old person, but two 60 year olds! Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!

Even though birthday cards aren’t really a French tradition, I have, of course, made one:

  

I hope they like it.

I don’t want to be too late to bed either, as I hope to make it to church tomorrow as well. A friend from church came over on Thursday, bringing me three hats she’d knitted for me – so, together with a lovely one that Michelle knitted, I am all set. Except my hair is showing no sign of falling out yet! I’ve got an appointment at a coiffeuse/wig shop on Tuesday too, but at the moment everything seems to be anchored to my scalp! Which might be a good thing aesthetically, but it makes me worry that the chemotherapy isn’t doing its job, as it should be killing off all the fast-growing cells, which include hair follicles and cancer cells. Oh well, I can always check up with the doctor on Thursday before my next session.

Onto 40 Acts:

ACT 21:: ACTION: Three weeks in – we’re halfway there! By now, generosity is probably sinking a little deeper into our lives. It’s a great time to put action behind our words. Think of moments when you’ve read or heard about something generous and thought, ‘That’s a nice idea,’ but never get around to doing it. Now’s the time. Only one act for today: What act have you put off over the last few weeks? What sounded like a good idea at the time, but you never got around to doing? Put it at the top of today’s to-do list.

Well, for me, the main act really is donating to Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced Persons

This is a fantastic but tiny charity, started by one man, James. The website says: James came up with the idea while volunteering at the refugee camp in Calais known as The Jungle.  After talking regularly to people within the camp he realised that phone credit was a lifeline for many – and something he could help with from his home in Norfolk!

In the beginning, the process was very simple. James created a Facebook group, and added all his friends and some of the refugees he had met while volunteering. His goal was to have his close contacts provide phone credit to the handful of refugees he had come to know so well.

The group grew and grew, with his FB friends adding more friends, and they added more. Now over 64,000 members chip in when they can, donating £5, or more, to give credit to those who are desperate to contact their families left behind, or to contact aid agencies. This phone credit has saved the lives of vulnerable people, especially minors and women, so often targeted in camps.

Every Friday there is the Friday Conga, where everyone who can comments and donates (if possible), doing something important with FB algorithms that helps the group. I can’t always donate, I often forget to comment. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to start doing so. My Act 21 is to start saving 2€ coins, and when I have 10€ to make a donation. Can you afford to give a one-off donation to PC4R? This tells you how:

 

ACT 22: VALUED:: Today, a guaranteed way of making a difference. Talk up a service staff member. It’s such an easy chance to make a difference in someone’s day – but ask any service staff member, and you’ll hear how rarely it happens. Don’t let fear of insincerity put you off. A simple ‘You’re amazing, thank you for that!’ goes a long way when it’s well meant.  

I actually completed the Green task a couple of days ago, contacting the restaurant where we’d eaten on Saturday to compliment the waiter who had been very attentive to us. I certainly used to do this in the UK:  if I had received good service from a shop assistant I’d go to Customer Services, and say “I will complain if I receive bad service…” The face would fall “So equally I want to compliment good service…” The face would smile, and I would explain who had been helpful etc.

Sadly, France is not exactly the epitome of good customer service, with requests for help being met more often than not with a surly shrug. But I can still smile, and be polite and say Thank You to everyone who helps me, whether they do it with a smile or a shrug.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Thank you for reading!!

Surprise Christmas present!

Well, not quite a surprise, as Mr FD kept telling me it was on its way, but a surprise because I had no idea what it was.

It arrived today (not a Pusheen cat!) and I am delighted!

As the blurb says “365 Days of Art is an inspiring daily journal designed to help you nurture your creativity and develop a love of art” It gives 365 prompts to various art projects to complete:

Day 282: What is in the jars? Pickles?Fruit? Insects? What would you store in these jars?

Day 330: Add flowers to the stalks

It is something else to add to the things to do during my days at home: I do my 15 minute mile, using a Leslie Sansome YouTube video, and then I enter competitions…Really, by the law of averages, I have to win something! My poor friend Cathy is the “Scape Tagger” when it’s a FB competition, when I have to tag someone. She’s been tagged several times today! (Mind you, this pays her back for all of those “Like-and-share” pictures I get from her!!) I try to blog too – you might have noticed an upsurge in blog posts recently! Then I might do some zentangling too, although competition entry took over an hour today: there were lots to enter! It’s practically lunch time (scrambled egg today)

In the afternoon I will maybe continue zentangling, but I will add my 365 Days… to this now. I listen to Pray As You Go, and read another poem from “The Splash of Words”

Mark Oakley spoke to us at the  Vocation Discernment weekend in Budapest during November. He is an inspirational speaker and the book is really interesting. The blurb on Amazon reads: For those who know they enjoy poetry, and those for whom it is just a memory from schooldays, here is a rich feast that enables us to rediscover poetrys power to startle, challenge and reframe our vision. Like throwing a pebble into water, a poem causes a splash of words whose ripples can transform the way we see the world, ourselves and God. The Splash of Words argues that belief in poetry is vital for understanding that God is in the world as poetry is in a poem. It includes 40 poems from contemporary poets, as well as poems from earlier generations. Each is accompanied by a reflection, based on a deep understanding of poets and their art, which explores why poetry is vital to faith and how scripture, liturgy and theology are all poetry in motion.

I would argue that if you think you don’t like poetry this is an excellent book to help you, not understand poetry, but to experience it, to feel it, to grasp the very edges of what the poet is saying.

And usually too, I will read some of my French novel, although I have rather neglected this recently.

As the weather gets better I will try to get outside too for some sunshine (should the sun ever return!!)

So…lunch time now!

PS – We finished watching Line of Duty Series 1 last night! We decided we couldn’t wait. We now have to try not to watch Series 2 till next week. Otherwise, we’ll binge watch and it will all be finished!

Celtic Knotwork

A couple of days back, I promised you a “reveal” of what I’ve been spending possibly too much time doing. I’ve been enjoying the creative side of this, but also the mental processes required – measuring, calculating etc.

And so…

the first I tried was this:

That one took me about two hours to do.

Then I went for this design:

I like this, but the circles are too thin. Despite following the instructions on the YouTube video, the design shown on the video was more compact, and the “ribbon” is definitely much thicker on the demonstration piece. I might try this again but with different dimensions. I filled each circle with a different zentangle pattern. Here’s a close-up:

(but of course, with my dodgy photographic skills, it doesn’t show much detail. Try clicking on it; I think it would make it clearer. But then and again, maybe not!)

Finally, yesterday, I worked on this Triskalé pattern:

They’ve all got mistakes in them, but unless you know where to look, I don’t think they are too obvious. All of them are on A4 paper.

Now I’ve created them, I don’t know what to do with them – for me, the pleasure is in the creating, not the keeping. If anyone who is reading this would like one of them I’d be happy to send them to you. Just say in the comments which one you’d like, and if there’s 2 (or more) who would like the same one I’ll either do a draw, or draw another one. I’ll give you a week or two to comment.

A bit of creativity

Hello Dear Ones. I hope everyone is in good health.

I’m still improving, and will be going for tea with friends in a little while. Which is good. It will be a slow walk to their house, but it will do me good to get out.

I thought I would share with you something I made before Christmas – a friend asked me to calligraph something for her 4 grandchildren. I was quite pleased with the results:

I really do need to improve my photography skills! Still, I hope you can see them well enough. I was quite pleased with them.

***

Another bit of creativity was some soup that I made today – I was up to chopping the veg with my right hand, but the pan-lifting had to be done with my left (scar on the right breast) It was very nice

  • 1kg leeks, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1kg sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped in a food processor
  • 50g butter
  • 1tbsp Light and mild olive oil
  • 2tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp each of ground clove, coriander, cumin, mild chilli and cardamom
  • Generous sprinkling of ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 11/2 pints Vegetable stock
  • 300ml single cream
  • 50g fresh coriander leaf, finely chopped, leaving a few whole leaves for garnish

 

  • Gently sweat the shredded leek in the butter and olive oil for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the spices and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sweet potato, seasoning and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Whiz in batches in a food processor with the single cream and coriander until smooth. Top with the coriander leaf

I chopped the vegetables rather than using a food processor – less washing up and I couldn’t have lifted the food processor anyway! I used less butter and oil, and less cream. I actually used 3 tbsp of 15% creme fraiche, which was plenty. I also missed out the fresh coriander.

I’m pleased with how I’m feeling now I’m doing stuff rather than just moping.