Christmas wishes.

This Christmas my thoughts and prayers are with my family and friends, some are young, some very old, some are near, others are far away and one is very sick right now. Some are coming to terms with bereavement and separation and some have worries about job security, ill health and have safety concerns for loved ones in war torn areas. I know from reading your blogs that many of you have the same worries, so I would like to echo the words of William Shakespeare and say to everyone-

"Health, Peace, and sweet content be yours"


December activities.

The weather has now turned, today has been frosty and bright, a welcome change from the damp and dreary days of last week. I have been busy in much the same way as most people, trying to organize shopping and present wrapping, card writing, housekeeping, working and party going.

I bought some mistletoe at the supermarket and decided to do some studies of it before it dried up too much. I had forgotten how nice it is to draw a subject just for pleasure.

My poor garden has been sadly neglected but I did manage to trim the overgrown Virginia creeper and made a simple wreath out of the twisted stems. I saw a television show about bird feeding, which was rather alarming, until now I have been hanging up fat balls for the sparrows but it seems that they can injure their feet on the nylon mesh! I have now purchased a fat ball holder and the birds seem to like it.

Tony and I have now consumed three Christmas dinners, not all at the same time I hasten to add! The most recent one at Keele Hall, a rather grand old house which now belongs to the university in Staffordshire. There was a huge log fire, carol singers, a library decorated in Victorian splendor, all of which proved to be a good excuse to change out of my usual dog walking attire!


Can't deliver, won't deliver.

Will you be watching Panorama’s “Can’t deliver, won’t deliver” on BBC One this evening? I have it bookmarked and shall watch with interest.

I enjoy sending and receiving cards and letters and go to special lengths to select an appropriate card for each recipient. Recently though, I have been dismayed that some of these cards have not reached their destination despite being properly addressed and having the correct postage stamps. Is it a coincidence that the cards that failed to arrive had unusual envelopes and were slightly fatter than a standard card? Have you had similar experiences with missing mail? If you have ever tried to complete a complaint form you will probably have been put off by the fact that you cannot prove that you sent the letter in the first place, so I suspect the problem is under reported.

Over the years I have enjoyed working with many greeting card companies, in fact, there have been times when this has been the only kind of work available to me and as a freelance artist, an outlet on which I have become to rely. If we loose confidence in our postal service we will look for alternatives, e-cards are looking like a more attractive alternative which will be bad news for the many people like me who make their living in the greeting card industries.

Our own regular postman is lovely, he goes out of his way to provide a good service but I fear that his job is being made very difficult by the volume of junk mail he is expected to carry and by other staffing problems.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when the post arrived first thing in the morning, when stamps did not cost an arm and a leg and we had two deliveries a day. Letters hardly ever went missing and first class post arrived the next day. I would like those days back again please dear Santa. I am becoming a grumpy old woman, sorry for the rant.


Christmas Enchantment.

Judith Glover is an artist/designer and garden fanatic, whose work I have admired for many years now. I have purchased dozens of her calendars in the past and cannot bring myself to throw them away! Her work has been translated onto many products including greeting cards, fabric, ceramics, stationery, dated products and tinware. In October 2005 her first book 'In a Zen Garden' was published and in October 2009 her first range of animated, musical e-greetings was launched.

Now, I have a good reason to encourage you to visit her site, where you can preview and play her delightful and unique e-cards because our son James has composed the music for two of them! One is the “Little Snowman” and the other is “Little Angel”. Do go and have a play, they are enchanting.


December festivities.

All we need now is a light sprinkling of snow and we are all set!

Our nearest major city and favourite place to shop is Manchester, now at its busiest. Festooned with lights and crowded with shoppers, museum goers and theatre lovers, the streets are filled with Christmas markets and delicious smells. We managed to buy almost all of our presents over the weekend and had time to fit in a bookbinding exhibition and an evening dining with friends.

The illustration above is taken from my "Gardener's Scrapbook Calendar" 2010, which has reprinted this year and am told will also be available for 2011. I have a very limited supply now in my shop, they are also available in UK high street shops, I even spotted some in our local Post Office!

click the photograph to see more detail.

And the winners are ....

The waiting is over; the names have been put into my dog-walking hat. Ted has overseen the whole event to make sure that no cheating took place! Two lucky winners have been drawn, they are…. Eli and Jane Moxey. Congratulations to Eli from Italy and Jane from the USA. Your parcels will be on their way as soon as you email me your postal address and a big "Thank you" to all who took part.

Several of you have asked how to obtain the fabrics, you can of course visit your nearest quilt shop and ask for “Buttercup farm”, in the UK and Europe this will be distributed by Makower UK

For your nearest stockiest contact Makoweruk on+44(0)1491 579727+44(0)1491 579727 email or visit the Makower website.

In the USA the distributor is Andover, you can also try the on-line shop links in my sidebar.


Robin Redbreast.

I have just returned from the printers with a box of newly printed Christmas cards after much deliberation. The usual dilemma, do I print on demand just enough for my own needs, expensive but easy, or do I bring down the cost per card by printing in quantity?

I decided to bite the bullet this year and go for option number two. I will probably send or give most of these cards myself but I have saved some for the shop, so if anyone is interested please have a look here.

The design features our native robin, one of my favourite birds. One like this lives in my garden and appears every time I start to dig, which isn’t very often now the weather has turned chilly. When the weather turns really cold they fluff out their feathers and appear to be spherical though I haven’t noticed them doing that this year...yet.

All of which is a good excuse to include this traditional rhyme-

The north wind doth blow
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm
And hide his head under his wing
Poor thing.

(and who could blame him?)

By the way, thank you to all those who have entered my fabric giveaway. I will be back on Monday to draw two names out of the hat.