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!!


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!


Some ZIA and a card.

Hello dear readers. I hope you are well. The weather here has been hot, hot, hot – I’m not very good in the heat, but I have managed a couple of walks between lessons. Neither were very long – both about 3 km each – but they were pleasant. I took a spare T-shirt to change into, as I had lessons to go to after the walks, plus some scented body spray, to cover unwanted odours (TMI!) so I wasn’t so worried about looking dishevelled. However, one student did remark on my flushed face!

We’ve had rain today though, which has refreshed the plants on the balcony, and me! I have no complaint about rain today!

I made a card a few days ago for one of my students who is getting married today. Here it is:

It was simple to make, but quite effective. I used my little flower punch, with lots of bits of orange/yellow/brown off cuts, plus some embossed card, some recycled ribbon (possibly from those pesky hanging loops inside pullovers) and a few twinkles.

I made another card today, but I’ll show you that, and tell you the associated story another day.

The Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) is something I did for my sister’s birthday. I have to say that I really enjoyed creating it, and I’m really pleased with the finished picture.

Click on the image to see it in more detail

I wasn’t sure whether to add a bit of colour – maybe try to paint a sky – but I didn’t have the confidence to do it, as I thought I might ruin several hours’ work with some misplaced watercolour paint! So in the end I left it in black-and-white. It is the iconic Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, with the world famous Liver bird on top.

Pretty envelopes…and 45 down, 155 to go!

If you’re a calligrapher, or enjoy papercreft and drawing, you really ought to know about this blog: The Postman’s Knock

I love it for the inspiration, and the easy to follow tutorials. Today I wrote a couple of Thank You notes to people who had sent me birthday presents. They were really appreciated, as my birthday was rather low-key this year. Mr FD “gave” me a couple of boxes of tiles for the bathroom (every spare euro is being spent on this renovation. I do hope it’s worth it!!) and the cats gave me some chocolates….but that was it, apart from these two lovely presents, & some money. Also going towards tiles!!

Anyway I wrote the letters, and then decided to decorate the envelopes, so I knew where to turn for a tutorial on envelope art. Lindsay has many different ideas, but I went with the lace pattern…I was reasonably happy with how these turned out (click on the photo for more detail):


to my sister, who sent some beautiful tiger-eye earrings


and my friend who sent two lovely pairs of cosy bedsocks.

I think I prefer the first, which is my “riff” on Lindsay’s tutorial, but I think they have both worked quite well.

I told you about my commission to make the Bishop’s Christmas cards this year…all 200 of them! I’m getting on quite well, having completed 45 of them. Only another 155 left to do:


I hope he approves – I couldn’t find any backing paper of the type his assistant approved, so went instead for quite a lot of the red starry paper, which isn’t quite so “elegant”. I also have noted that I really need to be more careful when cutting the backing paper – a lot of them were just a bit wobbley, which meant I had to use more “bling strips” to hide the wobbley edges!

I have used up all the cream ready-folded cards that I bought, but managed to find some more cream card which I had in my stash; I’ve folded this over and so can get on with making another 25 cards today. I personally preferred the red card that I used to make these cards:

img_0036as I felt it was more Christmas-sy, but the Bishop veto-ed it, as being too dark to write on. The other paler colours available weren’t (in my opinion) at all Christmas-sy, so I went for cream. Which meant the parchment paper with “Joy…” on didn’t stand out so much.

Anyway, time to find a Kermode &Mayo film review podcast that I haven’t heard, and get paper-cutting and glueing!!


Conferences and cats

I think I mentioned that last weekend I was at the Convention of the Convocation of the Epoiscopal Church in Europe – we went to Munich and stayed in a very impressive Schloss that is now a Catholic Retreat & Conference centre.

The Convention was very good. Nick & I missed the first afternoon’s session because our travel time was so long – to keep costs down we travelled the cheapest way. However because the person organising flights from our end hadn’t got their act together (despite the fact we’ve known for a year we were going!!) the cheapest flights involved going Lyon – Paris CdG, hanging around for 2 hours and then flying to Munich. We left here at 7.30 and arrived at the Schloss at 5.15. It was a long day!

There was, of course, business to be done, which can be a bit tedious, but it was interspersed with hearing presentations from other churches in the Convocation (including Rome, Florence, Munich, and others) about their work to support the work with refugees. Also we had small group discussions about how the convocation can support each individual congegation in what they are doing in their local area.

I was asked to go onto the Resolutions Committee. I agreed, having no idea what this meant. In the end, it just meant that I was tasked with reading the “Resolution of Gratitude” at the end of the convention, thanking various people for the part they played – it included some fairly scary German and Roumanian names, but I simply worked on the method I use when reading the OT reading in church: if you come across a name you don’t know how to pronounce, just say it anyway, with confidence and firmness, and people will generally just think “Oh, so that”s how it’s pronounced….” They may not have thought that (especially if it was their name!) but at least I didn’t sound all stumbly and apologetic!!

The first evening the clergy and partners went for a meal, while the other delegates could choose where to go, being led by members of the host church. However, as Nick and I were tired, we decided to go to the pizzaria called “Tutto Bene” at the end of the road, just the two of us, so we didn’t need to socialise, and could go to bed early. Rob, our Rector, came with us for a glass of wine, as he was meeting his wife at the bus stop. We chatted, and ate a good pizza; the waiter and his family (who owned the pizzaria) were lovely, speaking a mixture of Italian, English and German. They even gave us a complementary glass of limoncello at the end of the evening

The following evening was the Bishop’s Dinner – this is always a posh do, and this was no exception. We had to wear our glad rags – but I’m very glad that my glad rags don’t include high heels. To get to the venue we had to do a 5 – 10 minute walk in the dark through the grounds of another Schloss. I was very glad I was in flats withv a warm wrap!

The venue was spectacular though! The Palm House (now cafeteria) of a grand chateau/Schloss:


Here is the Bishop inspecting the high table


Here’s everyone enjoying their dinner.


Here’s Nick & me in our glad rags. My photo of Lee and Nick won’t load. Nick & I are church delegates, while Lee, also from our church, is Chairman of COMB (Committee for the Ministry of the Baptised)

The following evening was a buffet meal in the Schloss where we were staying with a “dance” – slightly surreal…It was held in a room that was almost entirely white, with a photograph of a stern looking cardinal/Pontiff glaring down over us,as vicars, bishops and various lay people boogied to eighties disco classics, such as YMCA and I WIll Survive…


You can just about see the glaring Pontiff in the background!

I do have to say, some of those Vicars are lovely movers. One of them, an American, reminded me very much of the Dominic West character in “Pride” (although Steve didn’t leap onto the table, or thrust his crotch in quite the same way, he was a very  *cough* flamboyant dancer)

I joined in with gusto, and afterwards he said “I didn’t know Brits could be such fun!!”

It was a very good conference, and I made 65€ selling cards (see my last post) to raise money for Phone Credit for Refugees. This translated into 3 x £20 phone top up vouchers that were given to three young lads in the Jungle, to give them contact with workers, friends and family as the camp was being dismantled. That was a good amount to raise…

…but it led to the Bishop of the Convocation asking me to make his Christmas cards for this year to raise money for the same cause. That is, 200 hand made cards by the beginning of December. Gulp.

Luckily, the design he wants is quite simple, similar to this one:


The words are copied – I’ve already copied and cut 100 of these – and the background is a simple rectangle stuck on. I’ve bought some non-shiny, but cheerful paper for that, which needs to be cut to size. The final “bling” is a stuck-on gold band, rather than the jewels shown here. I’m hoping to try to make 50 of them on Tuesday – a bank holiday here in France – which should help me guage how much I need to panic!

  • Just to say, it took me all of one Kermode & Mayo film review podcast to stick on 100 strips of bling. And all of another to cut out and stick down 45 pieces of backing paper with the “Joy to the World” bit on it. I’ve completed 45 cards then. So, I should finish them all in another 4 podcasts. (That’s about 8 hours) However I’ve left myself with nothing to do on Tuesday now, as I’ve used up the 50 pre-made cards that I bought on Friday! I can’t buy any more til next Thursday!

On to the “Cats” part of the title.

Since we lost George – and sadly, Sandra, there has been no sign of him. We are pretty sure he has gone forever. We are imagining it is to another home where he is loved and kept well-fed, rather than (as one helpful lady suggested to me) taken by someone to make “little bags from his fur”. Thank you for that picture (not). – anyway, since we lost him, I’ve been feeding the “poor cats” who live near the HLM housing in the village. There is someone else who looks after them too, as this person had set up a kennel with straw and a kind of rabbit hutch for the cats to sleep in. I always thought this looked rather unplreasant and draughty so I set out to make some cat beds I’d seen on t’internet:


It’s a cardboard box, insulated inside on every side with a double layer of polystyrene tile plus another layer of cardboard. It is then wrapped in a plastric bag, and put on top of 4 cat food pouch boxes (to raise it off the ground). There’s a heavy rock in the boxes, to weigh it down, and then it’s all wrapped in another bin bag, with a hole cut out. Straw is put inside, and it’s ready for cats to creep into a curl up, sheltered from the weather.



I placed three of these out about two weeks ago, behind the kennel, and was pleased to see that they’d been used, although I was a bit sad that the rain had obviously penetrated the binbag (despite them being heavy duty ones) as the boxes felt a bit soggy. I was happy though, when I went back yesterday – the other person had been there and done a lot of housekeeping. The kennel had been moved so the entrance was sheltered, and they had also rejigged the hutch type thing, so that my box-beds were now under a roof, and the biscuit tray (seen above in a makeshift shelter) was also in a covered area. It looked so much cleaner and nicer for the cats.

I’m also pleased that the cats are starting to recognise me: they are still very, very wary, but know that I’m bringing food, so they don’t run away when they see me. I save the leftovers from our fussy cats, plus fat and bits from our meals. So far the pickings and skin from chicken legs has been very popular, and the biscuits soaked in duck grease then covered in thick gravy were extremely popular too!  The other person who feeds them is obviously not rolling in money, as quite often they seem to put down a lot of stuff like mashed potato with a bit of meat in it, so the biscuits in duck grease were mixed in with the potato to make it more palatable for cats. But, TBH, these lovely Poor Cats are grateful (in their Kitty way) for anything.