Creativity – again!!

As I’m not working at the moment – and probably won’t be for the next few months – I’ve been finding ways to fill up my time…Mostly reading blogs, reading, reading my French novel (slowly), and doing art work.

I’m not like Angry Cat though – I’m relaxed and laid back. As I said, I’ve been finding the concentration necessary for creating Celtic knotwork very good. Here is the latest piece:

 (This is bizarre: I can see the picture on my dashboard, but when I view it as a blog post it’s not there. I’ll try again later. Very odd…)

ETA: A few days later I have added the picture wiuth no problems at all. Hmmm. The ways of computers are strange!!

Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar.

Circle me, Lord Keep hope within. Keep doubt without.

Circle me, Lord. Keep light near And darkness afar.

Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within. Keep evil out.

The prayer is by David Adams. I was quite pleased with the design – this is the Meigal Spiral Interlace – although I will admit that my “ribbon” went a bit wobbly, and isn’t the same width throughout. Still, it’s not a bad first attempt! I gave this to Rob and Caireen, my Rector & his wife, for a Burns Night gift; Caireen is Scottish, and Rob is Canadian of Scottish descent, so it seemed appropriate.

The other piece of art work is for a friend’s birthday. He’s a jazz musician, and plays the saxophone:

I never realised how complicated saxophones were!! Because I’d “zentangled” inside the sax, I decided to colour it, using pastels, to make it stand out a little:

I’m reasonably pleased with it. (Though not with my photography! As usual it’s all a bit blurred. I really will have to try to improve!) I’m just wondering whether the bass clef needs to be blackened in to make it stand out more.

It’s a similar design to a zentangle I did for Kezzie way back, and for someone at church too. It’s quite a pleasing design for a musician, with the instruments being changed depending on those  played by the recipient.

The other thing I’ve started doing is “Walk a Mile in 15 Minutes” videos on YouTube – I’m not convinced that I am actually walking the equivalent of a mile, but it’s reasonably engaging, and it gets me moving.

Yesterday I got a bit carried away by the over enthusiastic instructor lady, and thrust my arms skyward, in time to the music, forgetting I still have scars that aren’t healed…My breast was a bit painful last night – particularly where I have a haemotoma formed – so today I didn’t really “pump” my arms as instructed. However I did everything else and in 15 minutes I got a bit breathless, so I assume it’s doing me good.


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.

Bonne Année! Bonne Santé!

Yes, being in France, I can still wish you Bonne Année in the middle of January. It’s a good excuse as well when the Christmas cards are late!

I was going to share with you what’s been occupying me these past couple of days, but my camera battery has decided it needs recharging NOW so won’t take any photos. But as a “tease” this picture gives some clue as to what has been taking rather too much of my time

This isn’t mine – I’m notquite that talented yet – but I’ve been enjoying myself drawing some Celtic knotwork, using some YouTube tutorials to help. I’ll show you mine tomorrow.

But for now, I thought I’d share with you something one of my students sent me:

7 resolutions for 2018

1. Live more in the present moment

2. Smile a lot, and often

3. Say “stop” to your mind when it is racing (? Not sure of my translation here)

4. Be as positive as possible

5. Celebrate the victories, however small.

6. Abandon stress and anxiety (easier said than done, in some cases!)

7. Make your life nbetter than you have ever dreamed

Yes, okay, they are a bit trite – and, in many situations, easier said than done – but I appreciated the thought.

A lot of bloggers choose a word for the year. I discovered that (I’d forgotten this!!)in January 2017  I’d chosen a phrase for the year “a different way”… I’m not sure it made that much difference, unfortunately!

This year though, I have two words:


With what I’m going through at the moment, both of these words are apposite. Reminding me that I need to have strength, but equally I need to have trust in God.

I have been wondering about ordering myself a Mudlove bracelet with one or both these words on:

Mudlove  is an American company which makes these lovely pottery bracelets and supports the provisionof water in the Central african Republic. As the site says:

Every product you purchase provides 1 week of safe, clean water to someone in need. All of this is made possible through Water for Good and their continual work to transform one of the world’s most neglected countries, the Central African Republic.

Right now, about 663 million people lack access to clean water. That’s more than twice the entire population of the United States! Water is the first step out of extreme poverty. It is estimated that women and children spend 140 million hours each day collecting water. 

Can you imagine going for one week without access to clean water? A week of safe, sanitary water changes things in a big way for entire communities. Women have time for jobs and family care. Children can attend school, avoid preventable diseases, and live longer, happier lives.

What do you think? D’you think I should go for it?

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.



More cards (plus a D’oh! moment – or two!)

Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming to see me!

Today I have some more cards to show you.

At church, we have a mainly anglophone congregation – the services are in English, after all, although we have bi-lingual service books, we announce page- and hymn-numbers in French & English, and we say the Lord’s Prayer in both English and French. So, the French speakers who come are usually good in English (often from an Anglo-French background) and often coming from a Protestant/Eglise Reformée tradition. A few years ago, a French family joined us, whose English wasn’t great, but who had been brought by their then-7/8 year old daughter who wanted to know more about Protestantism (!!) They quickly became part of the church family, and Lilou, the daughter, was baptised, and went through confirmation, and started to acolyte.

She has had heart problems since she was born – one time when the Bishop was presiding, and Lilou was acolyting, she suddenly went white as a sheet, and started to sway. François, her father, realised what was happening, leapt to his feet and caught her before she fell to the floor. She was carried outside for air.. But recently things have deteriorated, and last week François shared with one of the Church members how Lilou’s health problems have worsened.

So Sheryl asked me to make a card for Lilou, to help (we hope) boost her spirits. So I came home early from work on Thursday and made this:

You may recognise the basic design from this post, when I made a similar card for Friend Alison’s daughter. This one is a bit bigger – giving room for people at church to sign it – but uses lots of Noz-sourced items: the gorgeous fox-y backing paper, the washi tapes used, the rosette, the letters, most of the embellishments…As I’ve said before, I love Noz! Other things such as the ribbon, the pink paper and a couple of other embellishments came as a result of blog swaps.

Inside the pocket, there are three little cards:

Que la grace de Dieu soit avec toi; Que Dieu te benisse (May God’s grace be with you; May God bless you)

Rappelle-toi: tu es (bother, I’ve just realised I put “est” which is the conjugation of “etre” for the third person singular, not the second person. Meh.) plus brave que tu ne le crois, tu es plus forte que tu ne le parais, et tu es plus douée que tu ne le penses. (Remember: you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and more talented than you think)

Everything is better with love and laughter

It is obviously the day for spelling/grammar mistakes, because I also made a card for Lilou’s parents, François and Frédérique:

This spelling mistake I saw as soon as I had written it (only because I was copying from a text, not because my French is good!)

“Fortress” in French is forteresse but I missed out the “e” in the middle of the word. But as it was the last thing – I’d made the entire card and was just writing the text – I’m afraid I just thought “Meh” and carried on! I didn’t have another piece of butterfly paper and I was also running late for dinner, so I just decided I’d be forgiven!

Of course, being English, spelling mistakes in French don’t leap out at me in quite the same way, and I automatically write “est” as I am writing the form of etre be it for tu, il, or elle. I hope that maybe they won’t jump out and spoil the card for the family. I fear they might though. I once received this card from a friend:

and while I really appreciate the sentiment, and the thought that went into it, every time I look at it my brain screams “That’s not how you spell falter!!!”

So possibly Lilou’s brain will be screaming “Es not est!!!”

And François will be thinking “Forteresse, pas fortresse!!!!”

Ah well…nobody’s perfect!

A little bit of Christmas crafting

Over on ConfuzzledomBev wrote about making Christmas cards, and apologised for the fact that she mentioned Christmas in September. But as anyone who makes their own Christmas cards knows, the sooner you start, the better.

As I wrote in a comment: I too am producing Christmas cards – and Thanksgiving cards – at the moment because I try to sell them at the annual church Convention (end of October) to raise money for the charity Phone Credit for Refugees. I’ve made about 20 so far, but am going to work on lots more, as I’ve done a piece of ZIA that I’ve photocopied 40 times to put onto cards. What I must remember is that if the Bishop’s secretary asks me if I can handmake 200 cards for the Bishop to send out my answer this year must be “Sorry, no”. I said Yes last year and then spent every weekend, in November – and several evenings – churning out Christmas cards. It rather sucked the joy out of the creative process – although there were two good things that came out of it: 300€ for the charity, and a lot of rejects that I used for my own Christmas cards that year!!

I really MUST remember to say “No” if Sophie asks me – however flattered I am!

But I have made quite a lot of cards using a new piece of ZIA

Having reduced it a little, I then took 40 colour photocopies, and have started to make cards like these:

As you can see they are all fairly simple, and I can put together about 8 of these in an hour. If I can sell them at 2,50€ each, or 10 for 11€ then hopefully I should make a fair few bob for the charity.

I have made some others too – these were using a fold that I saw in one of the many card making magazines that I have bought over the years when I’m in the UK.


Sorry if the photo isn’t very clear – I’m not very good at photographing my cards anyway, and these are in plastic wrapping too, which doesn’t help.

For these I used various papers, embellishments & tags, all purchased at Noz over the years. Cheapskate. I also had to experiment quite a lot to get the square in the right place  – and having finally succeeded I forgot where I wrote the measurements. But I used the ones that weren’t quite right anyway, as you can see:

…and the gold card used on this one came from a chocolate box!

Some others were fairly quick makes, using a Make-Your-Own-Christmas-Cards set (again from Noz – I love that shop!!!) but with a few extra embellishments:

The “vintage” look tag that I used on this one was from a pack of 10 for 50cents! Yes, Noz again!

And for others I just used recycled Christmas cards that we had received:

Those I don’t sell at Convention I can try to sell at Church, and those I don’t sell at Church I can use for my own Christmas cards. Or keep for next year – I still have some of the rejects from the Bishop’s cards to sell (slightly wobbly cutting, or paper which I decided wasn’t appropriate after all!) this year. Why not?

Crafting and Umbrellas

Not “crafting umbrellas” – I wasn’t making umbrellas, you understand!

While the English on this Lolcats annoys me – the cat left his umbrella at home, he didn’t forget his umbrella at home – it is such a perfect illustration that I felt I had to use it.

On Thursday morning the sky was an ominous grey when I left the house, so I grabbed my waterproof. Which doesn’t have a hood. By the time I left the company where I had been working all morning, ready to drive to ILS (the language school where I work), it was pouring down. Torrential. The car park for ILS is about a 3 minute walk from the offices, so I knew I was going to get soaked, even with my waterproof.

And I didn’t have my umbrella with me.

I had forgotten it.

I had left it at home.

So I decided to nip into Gifi and buy a cheap one. Which I did.

When I arrived at ILS, the rain had reduced itself to a drizzle. By the time I parked the car (it was a tight fit, and the car is big!) and taken a phone call, the rain was spitting and spotting. By the time I reached ILS, the sun had come out and it was blue skies for the rest of the day. AND I found that I had my umbrella at the bottom of my capacious handbag after all.

I hadn’t forgotten it.

I hadn’t left it at home.

But finally, no umbrella was necessary anyway. Sigh.

On a cheerier note, it was the birthday of Friend Alison’s daughter. She is reaching pre teenager-hood. So I gave her a voucher for H&M, two sparkly nail varnishes, and a pair of delightful cat socks, which someonehad given me, but which (sadly) were too small. Like these:

And, of course, I made her a card. I took inspiration from one of the many card making magazines that I buy in the UK. I usually buy them for the free gifts, as a lot of the cards that they demonstrate use cutting dies, or heat guns, or embossing glitter, or this…or that…which I don’t have.This time, I decided to find a card I liked, then try to replicate it with the materials I had.

The instructions that were given were for using fabrics, and sewing machines, and other stuff. I “translated” it into using paper and glue…and I made this:

this picture taken without a flash

this taken with a flash

I used papers from my stash, most of which I’ve been given, plus lots of ephemera/ commercial embellishments that I have bought in Noz. The little bronze embellishment was given to me by Monique across the road – she gave me a bundle of little brass charms from her antique shop, which I have been slowly using on cards. This one shows the Eiffel Tower.

There is a pocket on the card, into which I popped some motivational messages:

  • You are braver than you believe, stronger than you appear and more talented than you ever dreamed possible
  • You are a strong girl – never forget that.
  • Nothing is impossible
  • You are pear-fect

I think she liked it all. I was certainly rather pleased with the card – even though it was a tyad too front-heavy so you had to prop it open quite carefully!