Friday, 29 November 2013

Gratitude is Great

Gratitude is catching. We were brought up celebrating the American Thanksgiving Holiday as it was something our mother really believed in. Her love of the gift of Thanksgiving won her thousands of  friends and admirers and enabled Belfast to have a beautiful piece of art by Andy Scott celebrating gratefulness, and reminding us to be thankful. I am not one for God, but I try to show gratitude to people in my daily life.

Anyone who has read this blog at all will know I am addicted to Pinterest. This week I wanted to combine a desire to show thankfulness and my desire to create. I wanted to give the girls who work in my daughter's daycare a little treat. I have noticed over the last few weeks some of  them looking tired and drawn, it's that time of year, cold weather, short days and concerns over paying for Christmas. All of these things take their toll on energy levels, so I can up with an idea for a little treat for them to enjoy during their day so they would know how much they are appreciated.

In TK Maxx I bough a tin of peppermint hot chocolate and a tin of spiced pumpkin tea. I bought some gorgeous Anna's ginger thin biscuits  from Ikea. I made peppermint bark ( melt milk chocolate, spread over a small tray, melt white chocolate, spread over milk chocolate, sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top, put into fridge to set. then break into pieces and eat, yum!)

And in a gift bag I made from cheerful magazine pages and scrapbook paper I added a bag of marshmallows.

You can probably make out  the home made paper bunting around the bag too here.

I also made a very simple card and wrote a little verse inside,

For all of the fun that we have every day
For helping us grow in so may ways
We thought you deserved a nice little treat
A tasty hot drink and something to eat
We thought about it
And we want you to know
We think you're amazing
Love from Nancy and Flo.

I am really pleased with the end result, I had such fun making all the bits and the whole thing cost me less than £10. The manager told me this morning they were all delighted. Job done :-)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Channeling my inner American

I love Pinterest, it has become a bit of a thing to be honest. Mostly I adore other people's talents from afar and gain inspiration for projects I will likely never complete. The ability of people to come up with fun and creative activities for children, reinventing things others would throw into a skip into something beautiful, or useful, or both is true creativity.

I have become very interested in the cult of make your own ..... soap powder, fabric softener, stain remover, floor cleaner to moisturiser, lip balm or sugar scrub. In the current economic climate, and with a family of 4 growing girls it makes total sense to me to economise on things that aren't so important. I wouldn't think of buying cheap loo roll or chocolate, they are important, but floor cleaner? Who cares if it does the job? Why pay top dollar for a premium loo cleaner if a few pence worth of white vinegar does the same thing?

I looked at several excellent blogs such as and A Bowl full of lemons with fantastic ideas, but there are tons if you search, pinterest has thousands of great ideas. I made my own washing powder (laundry soap) following one of these great ideas. The American sites have two main recipes, one for liquid soap ( too fiddly and too much storage required) and powder. This was usually a combination of washing crystals, Borax and grated household soap.

I don't see the point in grating soap as we have soap flakes available in most supermarkets so I used these.I couldn't get Borax but online I discovered that Biotex is the same thing.

After a little experimentation I discovered that equal parts of each of these was the best combination. I use one scoop per load and have to say I am very happy with the results so far. The washing smells clean without smelling fragranced and I have now added a home made laundry softener to finish it all off too.

I use one cup of warm water, half a cup of white vinegar and one third of a cup of cheap hair conditioner. mix well and decant into an old bottle or clean milk container for storage.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Creative Bursts

I've come over all crafty. I'm hooked. I blame  Pinterest and my sister Linda. They both present beautifully home made goods with what looks like minimal effort. I have made  fiddly but fun goodies for the nursery Halloween party , some home made Kombucha Tea, and my own laundry soap ( I will be posting about these over the next few days ), and now I am into cross stitch.

Well I have always loved cross stitch, it is highly addictive and I am significantly better at it  than I am at knitting. It's easy to tell if you have stitched in the wrong place, and in most cases one stitch won't ruin the whole project. My main problem is my flakiness. Starting projects,and  buying supplies is my forte. I started this cute Country Companions cross stitch when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter.

it is very fiddly and complicated with multiple colours and textures in the tree and the hedgehog, but I am making progress, as you can see.

 The only down side is the daughter who's nursery I was making it for is 16!! maybe it can be for my first grandchild.

I love a craft shop or stationers and could easily max out  the credit card on pretty coloured thread, wool and papers. Paper is a long standing passion.

My sister and I visited Belfast's Craft World yesterday ( dear god they have a website, I'm DOOMED) and I got quite giddy with the delights on offer. I managed to restrain myself to some essentials; some new cross stitch fabric, in sexy Christmassy red, (what to make?) some lovely scrapbook papers ( I don't scrapbook but it was lovely and printed on both sides) and some poly stuffing for a Christmas gift I am making currently. I was impressed with my restraint, aren't you?

This is a Christmas Gift I am working on

I have some  more stars to complete, then a border and I hope to turn it in to a small cushion. The girls are to represent my youngest two. Do you like it?
Now, I must stop writing about all the things a I need to make, and get on with making them, enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


This is the poem I wrote at school when I was around 11 or 12. My English teacher Mr Barton told me it was fairly rubbish. Myrtle was incensed by this and sent  it off to The Christian Science Monitor where it was published in the US edition. From there it was picked up by The New Book of Knowledge Annual and they sent me a whole $10 to publish it in the 1984 issue. It's utterly pretentious but I'm still proud of it.

Rainbow by Tracey Smyth (aged 11 and a half)

She floats above us in sunny wet
Her colours iridescent
With stars, on her never ending tour
Of circles all florescent.
Of miracles, and laughter too,
Of birds' eternal song,
She never stops her joyous spree,
But laughs and carries on.

She is an infinite circular flower
With petals all aglow,
She never does any wrong
She would not stoop so low.
She flickers in a momentary spin
And after circling the sky
She whispers her sweet, "Adieu,"
And gracefully says , "Goodbye."