Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Recycled Christmas card card....

I never throw away the Christmas cards I receive. They are much too pretty and I often re-use them as labels for Christmas presents. This year, though, I did this:

I started by cutting quite a wide triangle out of a old Christmas card

recycling christmas cards

I then cut this into horizontal strips

I then removed a couple of the strips and arranged the remaining ones a little crookedly on my card. I added a "flowerpot" made of another part of the old card and a gold sticker star at the top

And that was all there was to it really. Here's the finished card again. Quick and easy - just the job!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Customer Service and Serviette Santa

I experienced a rare thing this week - excellent customer service in Switzerland. Don't get me wrong, Switzerland is a great place to live, but on the customer service front I often find that things are still somewhat lacking. However, I was to be pleasantly proved wrong. Last week I bought winter boots for my son, guaranteed to be waterproof and costing 170.-CHF to boot (sorry about the pun). On Monday, when we had all that horrible slush, said boy came home with wet socks, as in the feet bit of the socks were all wet, not the tops. I felt a bit peeved to say the least. So I trolled off to the shoe shop, young son in tow against his will (wanted to play in the slush, not go to a boring shoe shop, obviously) and prepared for a battle of wills and words with the shop assistant. Not so. The boots were still a little damp inside after 24 hours of drying out and so I was given a full refund. It probably helped that the woman in front of me was also returning non-waterproof children's shoes and had just received a refund in full view of myself. Anyway, we came home with new shoes and, if I ask my son one more time if his feet are dry, I think he will disown me...

And now, check this out

First take a serviette and fold it to look like this:


This is what the back will look like.

Then, from white card cut out the beard and head shape with wings and also cut out a wavy moustache as shown below. Then cut out an oval shape to put the eyes and nose on - ours is made from orangey coloured card, but a skin tone coloured card would look even better. Use a hole punch and black/red paper to make the eyes and the nose and stick them onto the oval shape. Glue the oval shape and the white moustache onto the main beard shape.

The side "wings" are folded at the back of the serviette - it's best to try for size on the serviette before glueing, marking the two "wings" with a pencil where they should overlap. Then remove the Santa face from the serviette, overlap and glue the two wings using your pencil marks to guide you, then leave to dry completely before sliding onto the serviette.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010


It was our village's Räbeliechtli procession last Friday, a traditional lantern procession signalling the end of the harvest, the lanterns being made out of hollowed out beets with candles inside. The procession takes place in the early evening and the village's streetlamps are all turned off for the occasion. I wasn't able to go to the procession last year, but I knew the score and, of course, had been well-informed about date, time and where to purchase said beets by the village newspaper. So I spent most of Friday afternoon, with intermittent help from my 7-year old son, hollowing out the insides of my beets and "carving" a few star shapes into the sides. No mean feat, given that the beets are pretty solid and your shapes have to be etched into the sides without completely cutting through to ensure that the wind doesn't whistle through and blow out your candle (more about that later). Anyway, despite feeling under the weather that afternoon, we gave it our all and were quite happy with our modest efforts. OK, one or two more shapes might have been nice, but this is how they turned out:

Imagine my embarassment then, when we showed up at the starting point to see that everyone else had probably spent a whole week carving and shaping and etching their lanterns, so decorative they were. There were fancy shapes, wavy lines, zig zags, swirls, even children's names. Feeling rather inadequate, I kept telling myself it was the taking part that mattered, but, to make matters worse, a storm was blowing up and the wind kept blowing our candles out. Cursing myself for using cheap IKEA tea light candles and having failed to bring along spare matches, I must have looked a bit dejected. And here's the thing; no-one else's candles were going out. Then someone let me in on the secret - they were all using BATTERY-POWERED candles in their lanterns....Duh! Fortunately someone had some spare (battery-powered) candles and one of my tea lights took pity on me and decided to stay alight for the whole of the procession. Despite everything, a good time was had and needless to say I will first in line for those battery-powered tea lights next year.....

Monday, 20 September 2010

Children's Craft Idea

I'm always amazed by the things we make at our Children's Craft Group which meets 5 times a year. Take a look at these covered notebooks:

children's craft tip

And here's the inside:

The outside is made from corrugated cardboard, with lengths of wool glued into the grooves. A great way to use up scraps of wool and the children got on with the colour schemes all by themselves. I think they've turned out well and they would make good presents too:)

Thursday, 2 September 2010


My parents visited recently and, whilst they were here, they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. 2 weeks (!) before the event, I decided to make them a celebratory scrapbook / photo album, featuring photos of them over the years, from their wedding to the present day. That was the first problem. We have many photos of them, but not necessarily of them together, and that was what I really wanted for the album. Not to be deterred, I organized wedding photos to be scanned and sent to me (thanks Brian) and trawled through all my photo files on the computer looking for suitable candidates. Having absolutely no experience of making a scrapbook, I then paid a visit to Scrapandstamp (, an online scrapbooking business, with a "real" shop/workshop which happens to be only 5km from us. The owner of the shop was very helpful and set me up with what I needed without trying to sell me the whole contents of her shop. So far so good, but we then went on holiday for a week, leaving me 7 days to complete my project. On our return, and with my parents already here, but staying at a hotel in Zurich, I spent many (and I mean MANY) hours cutting, sticking, trimming, thinking, fiddling, printing until the masterpiece was finally completed, on the day of the Golden Wedding, 15 mins before we were due to meet them. Talk about cutting things fine. In the end I was pleased with the finished result, although, had I left myself more time I would have liked to add more detail with, for example, 3d stickers and other scrapbookers "stuff". Here are a couple of the (20!!) pages:

Note to self - perhaps more forward-planning???

Back soon.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Children's craft tip

Together with the rainy weather and a certain little boy being grounded, it's been a wearing time recently. In times like these, it's amazing what you can do with an empty toilet roll:

kids crafts

I found the idea for it here

Anyway, the weather is improving by the day, so I'm off to tackle the garden....

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Making a cushion from an old T-shirt....

Yes, I know. Those of you who know me will be pretty surprised at the title. That's because, when it comes to sewing, I am seriously challenged. That's challenged with a capital C. In fact, even thinking about getting the sewing machine out makes me break out in a cold sweat. By the time I have got it out, my hands are trembling...and not with anticipation or excitement. No, unfortunately I'm not the kind of woman who can rustle up a ball gown from an old scarf and a length of elastic. Alas. So, why on earth would I want to embark on a sewing project, I hear you ask? Well, maybe it was the lure of re-cycling something I had enjoyed wearing, or maybe I know deep down that I must, one day, get to grips with my sewing phobia.
Here's the T-shirt before...

recycled T-shirt

And here it is after my efforts...

Phew - it's actually turned out ok. I drew around a dinner plate to make a paper circle pattern, then pinned the circle over the silver writing on the front of the T-shirt, leaving the T-shirt double and then cut through both layers of material to get a back and a front to my cushion. I then used the sleeves for the strip around the middle. After sewing it up (only broke the thread once :))I hand-stitched the silver cord around the front seam (takes forever if you are me) and finally added the buttons at the bottom to hide the join of the silver cord, as I couldn't think of another way to hide it!

If you have recycled / re-purposed old clothes or fabric and written about it on your blog, why not leave me a comment with the link to that post. Or, if you have come across a good idea for recycling fabrics, please add a comment and the link.

Off to rummage in my sewing box now...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Children's craft tip

I help out at a children's craft group, which meets 4 times a year and this is what we made this time:

children's craft tip

This is a really quick project, with no specialized materials, great for a rainy afternoon. We did it with 6 to 9 year olds.

Coloured card
Old catalogue
Small piece of holographic paper or tin foil
Glue stick
2 x wobbly eyes (if you don't have these, you can draw the eyes on)
Piece of string

First, use a template to cut 2 fish out of coloured cardboard. These will be stuck together, so decide which 2 sides are "outside" and mark the tail of each fish with a small cross.
Next, take an old catalogue and cut out small circles for "scales". You will also need a small amount of holographic paper, as we used, or silver foil, to add the silver scales. Next, starting at the tail end of the fish, using a glue stick, stick the paper scales row by row on to the fish, overlapping them a little and moving towards the head with each "row". Don't forget to randomly intersperse the catalogue scales with shiny silver scales. Add a wobbly eye. Complete a second fish in the same way, making sure you check which side to stick the scales to. Finally, glue the 2 fish together with the scales on the outside, sandwiching a thread between the fish so that you can hang it up.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Although I've been pretty busy recently, I've still made time for reading and here are the last 3 books I've read:

Sophie Kinsella

I've read a couple of these Shopaholic books and they are always fun and light-hearted. Next came something a bit more spine-chilling:

Scott Mariani

This is the third book in a series with the hero Ben Hope, the first two being "The Alchemist's Secret" and "The Mozart Conspiracy". It's an action-packed thriller and hard to put down, but alot of blood is spilled - not sure if I could stomach this as a film.

Finally, I've just finished this book:

Marian Keyes

I always enjoy her books. The story is basically how one girl meets a new man and another breaks up with her man and their friend's struggle to come to terms with his cancer. However, the character portrayals are astonishingly detailed, very credible and at times, rather poignant.

Right, off to find a new book now....

Friday, 4 June 2010

Normal service to be resumed shortly...

I've been a bad blogger recently and deserve to have my wrists slapped accordingly. But I can explain! Shortly after finishing my CELTA course, I was lucky enough to be offered a couple of hours a week teaching. That has come to an end now, but I have enjoyed it immensely. In addition to this, since moving here last August, I have made such an effort to make friends and join in things, that suddenly, everyone wants to be MY friend. I've found myself inundated with things to do - coffees out, people coming over for coffee, Nordic walking, children's craft group and preparation, meetings for end of term presents for teachers etc, etc. Not that I'm complaining, of course, but it has meant that the blog and anything vaguely crafty have had to go on the back burner for a bit. Anyway, now I'm back with a vengeance and, to coincide with my very first pay cheque in Swiss Francs, I'm going to be ordering some supplies with which to re-commence my creative dabblings. Oh, that is, after I've deducted my speeding fine from my pay cheque...Note to self - continue to drive like a grandma - it's easier on the purse.

Bookworm post coming tomorrow....

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Progress report..

We spent a very sunny Saturday at Spieleland, near Ravensburg, Germany. Paradise for kids and pretty enjoyable for the parents too! At the moment it is open from 10 a.m. til 5 p.m., with the "Grüne Oase" section near the entrance/exit open until 6 p.m and you really do need all day to get round everything. On the way home we stopped off for dinner at Immenstaad on Lake Constance and spotted this fabulous ship.

On the crafty front, I have managed to make this bag charm

green bag charm

If using wire to make these charms, sooner or later it becomes brittle from all the swinging back and forth and snaps. If you don't notice, you lose all of your beads, so this time, instead of using wire, I have threaded the beads onto cord. Hope it lasts a bit longer. Any bag charm experts out there - please feel free to leave your tips/comments.

Finally, on the job front, I have been offered my first student by a small local language school. I applied to them in January, pre-CELTA course and they contacted me last week to say they had a potential client for me. I am meeting with him tomorrow, so fingers crossed all goes well....

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Other people's stuff!

I've been a bit lacking in the creative department lately - not that teaching isn't creative, of course, but you know what I mean. For that reason, I'm going to show you some things that my nearest and dearest have made recently.
My daughter made this cute pen holder from a tin can at school.

decorate tin cans

I searched around a bit and found that you can do all sorts of things with tin cans. Look at this and this.

Just before Easter the Mummies were invited to Kindergarten for the afternoon. Any visit to a Kindergarten in Switzerland will involve doing some crafting (Basteln) at some point. And this visit was no exception. Look at what we made:

Easter decoration

This started life as a plastic envelope. Draw the basic shape of the chicken with black marker pen on the plastic envelope. Then, before cutting the shape out, put about 3 staples around the black line. This stops the plastic from slipping away from you and disappearing underneath the table when you cut out. Next cut comb, wings, feet and beak from felt. Add all these but the beak by "trapping" them between the 2 layers of plastic with more staples. Glue the beak on the front. Draw the eyes with black marker pen. Finally put a few white feathers in the "body" of the chicken and staple up any gaps in the plastic. We added a thread to the top and our chick is happily hanging in my son's bedroom window.

And last but by no means least, a lovely project from my very talented friend Monique. I know Easter is over for another year, but I am definitely doing this next year.

Monique has kindly provided the instructions for this project:

*Fill one corner of a classical sandwich plastic bag with Plaster of Paris (liquid Gipsmasse/Giessmasse)

* Hang it to dry so that exactly that shape stays

* When dry, paint the chicken in any colours you like

* Cut the beek out of red paper and stick it on the chicken with glue

* Paint eyes or glue on shop-bought funny moving eyes

* Glue feathers to the back

Back soon!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

It's not Paris....

....but it's pretty good! We had planned to go to Paris this weekend. A treat for finishing (and passing) my CELTA course and the children's first city break. However, the cloud of volcanic ash meant that our flight was cancelled, trains were full and we didn't fancy driving, so we stayed at home.

On Saturday we visited the thermal baths at Schinznach , nice, if pricey for a family and definitely more for adults than children. On the way there we bought 6 dining chairs here, something which we've been meaning to do for about 8 months! On Sunday we bought 9 O`clock passes on the Zurich Transport System (11.50.-CHF each with Halbtax, kids free if they have a Junior pass). What great value this was! First we took the train from our village to Zurich main station. Then we rushed over to platform 2 and onto the S10 which took us up the Uetliberg.


Spectacular views from the top despite the murky weather - or was it the volcanic cloud? Then back down into Zurich again, a walk along the Bahnhofstrasse catching the children's parade for Sechseläuten, Zürich's Spring festival. At Bürkliplatz we were drawn to the boats on Lake Zurich and, discovering that our passes entitled us to get on them, on we hopped. An hour later we got off the boat at the lakeside town of Küsnacht and took the train back along the lake to Zurich and then back to our village. Phew! What a lovely day!

Yesterday we had a relaxing day visiting the little town of Stein am Rhein, then continuing along the shores of Lake Constance. We stopped off for ice cream and a paddle and more or less had the lake to ourselves


Then finally dinner on the island of Reichenau before the short drive home. A word of warning, the sun is stronger than you think and my husband and son both got a little sunburnt yesterday. Time to get that suncream out, I think...

All over this weekend, we kept listening to the reports of suspended air traffic and thought of all the unfortunate people stranded at airports. We were grateful that we'd been able to stay at home and still enjoy all these things on our doorstep. I'm sure we will go to Paris sometime, but for now, we'll be checking out our local attractions....

It's nice to get back to blogging - will be showing you some crafty things later this week!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately - a whole month without a post. Tut, tut! In fact, one of my old school friends (old as in former, not elderly, obviously!) asked me if she had accidentally been de-registered from my blog updates. No, after 2 weeks in Austria over Christmas and the New Year, I'm now busy Celtering - as in doing the CELTA course in Baden. It's both fascinating and very challenging, as we have to teach real, live language students. Every Friday sees me catching the 6.37 a.m. train from my village clutching my TP (Teaching Practice) materials for dear life. The first time I did my TP I was so nervous, I was literally quaking in my boots! A couple of weeks on and it is still extremely nerve-racking, but somehow good to force myself out of my comfort zone after 9 years of Domestic Engineering. Thank goodness for our fabulous tutors, who are knowledgeable and experienced, motivational and just, well, really nice! The course lasts until April, so normal blog-service should return around then. TTFN!


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