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!!


More crafting…

I mentioned in the last-post-but-one about Clare asking me for some Sorry-You’re-Dead cards.

Here they are:


The square at the top is a hole cut into the front of the card, with a strip of the same paper inside. The papers are from a swap or giveaway some time ago, but being sombre colours, with a bright splash, they are perfect for this type of card.

img_0024Another using the same batch of papers, and a black ribbon.

img_0026This one uses up some scraps in diagonal/ triangular formation.

I have been making LOTS of Thanksgiving and Christmas cards that I hope to sell at the Munich Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe – I’m there this weekend. I want to raise money for Phone Credits for Refugees so if I sell them all at 2,50€ (at least!) I should make about 100€.

This charity is a lifeline, especially for the unaccompanied minors living in the refugee camps:

For unaccompanied minors, the group (Phone Credit For Refugees…) is often the only safety net they have. During the demolition of half of Calais refugee camp in March, volunteers tried to make sure every child on their own had a topped-up phone, with numbers of people they could call. During the chaos, 129 children went missing and volunteers reported that people traffickers were hanging around the edges of the camp for a week afterwards, explains James. ‘It’s really frightening and phone credit is a massively inadequate response, but it is something’.

Ahmed, a 7-year-old boy from Afghanistan, is now famous for texting for help when the lorry he was in with 15 other people ran out of oxygen after it reached the UK. Lesser known is that this Facebook group bought credit for him the week before, enabling him to send his urgent message. ‘For him it was life or death’, says James. ‘I think it is for many actually’. “

Here are some of the cards:


These two use a copied piece of ZIA that I did, and then copied many times. I have used these to make cards, all of which are different, with different “bling” on them, but all featuring “Joy to the World”


These two (and others like them) use a decoupage set I bought in NOZ for about 1,50€. I blinged them up with some sticky gold borders.


Finally, I did a couple of quick bits of calligraphy using these words, to make some other simple cards. I’m pleased with them all. I hope people will buy them. It’s certainly hard to get hold of Thanksgiving cards here in France – and many of the people at Convocation will be American – and also Christmas cards, although becoming more popular, are still not very common,as it is more “Fetes de la Fin d’Année” than Christmas.