unbirthdays (and birthdays) for January

I’ve decided to pick up my “unbirthday” idea again this year (after forgetting about it for a while) because it is so much fun to send a little surprise every now and then to someone not expecting it.  It was a birthday, in January, that made me decide to begin unbirthday celebrations this year, with Karine, of mes 101 Luby who had a b’day last month. I decided to send a little gift, which arrived late (since I only posted it on the actual day),


but it’s the thought that counts, or so they say.   8 skeins of DMC color variations and a little fabric & felt bookmark.  While prepping the little parcel to post to Karine, I decided to send an unbirthday gift to surprise Sandrine.  In such a rush to post that I forgot to take a photo. Thank you Sandrine for sending me photos on arrival.

A tablecloth with aida panels to embroider, and a little notebook, with a wintery cupcake.

Imagine my surprise, when a few days later, the postman came knocking with a parcel for me!

Sandrine had decided to spoil me lol, and sent a huge amount of pubilicity bookmarks, as well as a lovely hand-stitched bookmark and a reindeer oven glove!

What Claire received for Christmas #1

Happy New Year everyone!  I’m playing catch-up with my xmas-themed posts, and can’t quite believe we’ve just begun another year already!  Were you good in 2018?  I think I must have been, because I was thoroughly spoiled this Christmas!  Some gifts hand-made, some gifts for me to enjoy crafting throughout the coming year, and some gifts  “just because”.

In order not to make this post too photo-heavy, I’ll show you what I received from friends today, and save gifts from family for another day.


First photos with surprise gifts from blogging friends . . . above, surprises from Stéphanie and Ghislaine:  lots of bookmarks, a little “oh la vache!” key chain from Stéphanie and 2 owl potholders from Ghislaine.


Handmade decorations from Storm, Annie and Jeanna plus some hand-knitted baby hats & mittens from Mr Lindashee’s Mum.  She didn’t knit them herself, but bought them in a charity shop . . . doesn’t matter!  They were hand-made by some talented knitter in the past and have now found a new home here, where they will much appreciated by my baby dolls.


Some lovely fabrics, a little chicken, bookmark and stainless steel reindeer, from Andrea, my German friend.  Andrea and I were penpals, then school exchange partners way back (almost 40 years ago now!).  We still keep in touch at Christmas and birthdays.


Crafting supplies from Avis, also.  A packet of felt, some felt bird embellishments, the most gorgeous printed fabric with a hand-cranked sewing machine . . . and a “Chicken Sampler” cross stitch kit, which is going to be lots of fun to stitch.  Not sure yet whether I’ll stitch chickens all together, like the model, to make a sampler (and maybe turn it into a cushion cover) or to stitch each chicken separately and make some cards. 

practical sewing and a thank you

I’ve been quite busy these past few weeks with some very colourful patchworking – which I can’t reveal just yet.  However, I also did some less colourful, and more practical sewing, which I can share.

I’d been meaning to do something about the cushions on our kitchen chairs for ages.  I bought a set of seat cushions a few years ago because it was cheaper to buy ready-made, than to buy inserts and make my own.  They were to protect the chair seats, which are made of straw, from cat claws.  The main problem with these cushions (apart from getting grubby very quickly . . .  was that Ducky


found a new distraction.

practical 01

He ate his way through the ties that were there to tie cushions onto chairs.  In this photo, you can see one of the ties which was chewed to the knot.  On others, he went so far as to chew where it was sewn to the cushion!  And not just on one chair!  Over time he gradually worked his way through all 8 chairs, chewing sometimes one, sometimes both ties!  This meant, every time we pulled out a chair to sit down, not only were the cushions getting grubby, but 9 times out of 10 the cushion fell on the floor. 

I was suddenly spurred into action to do something about this when our daughter, aka Lindashee, said she would be travelling to France for work, and coming to stay 2 nights with us.  Literally on the day she was due to arrive, I pulled out a large piece of fabric I’d been hoarding for years.  3 metres x 150cm bought about 8 years ago which had cost 10€.

practical 04

The diagonal lines are a pale green which, you will see in other photos, does sort of blend in with the kitchen. 

practical 03

The ties aren’t colour-coordinated  – I used navy blue – but I decided to sew on all four corners.  I didn’t even bother making the covers with an opening (for washing) either.  Just machine sewed the final seam shut. 

practical 05

And managed to tie UNDER the seat part, in the hopes that Ducky won’t be tempted to start chewing.


They’ll do the job of protecting the seat part from claws, which is their main purpose.  And for only 10€ worth of fabric, I had enough to make new covers for all 8 chairs.

A last photo, totally unrelated:

from Sabine

to say thank you to Sabine, a French friend who lives in Germany.  She went to a patchwork/crafts show not long ago and sent me a lovely FQ plus more bookmarks for my collection.

getting better, and . . . how’s Crafter Granny coming along?

I wanted to say two big thank yous, to two French crafting friends who sent me some post to wish me a speedy toe recovery.

pc monique

Thank you, to Monique for this lovely card and bookmark . . .


and thank you to Stéphanie who sent a lovely cross stitched card, with a haul of bookmarks.  Neither lady has a blog, but they follow me over on my French blog, and often surprise me with some thoughtful snail mail.

I’ve been making some more crochet progress. Crochet being an easy craft to do, while lounging with both feet up on the sofa.  However it did also require some sitting in the kitchen earlier on, to prepare a small freezer bag with weighting materials, and cut out a cardboard base, to slip inside the bottom. 

crafting granny 02

My “Crafter Granny” can now stand up, as long as Ducky doesn’t mistake her for a skittle, and try knocking her over!  He’s more interested in the long tail of yarn, waiting for the hair to be attached. 

Anyway, here she is, not looking like much at the moment, since she also needs arms an a pretty apron, but I’m very pleased with her so far.  This pattern, in case you fancy making your own Crafter Granny is a free pattern, generously created and made available on-line in pdf, by Zhaya Designs

Just so you know what she’ll look like . . . here is the photo I posted last time.

crafting granny WIP

I am actually toying with the idea of making 2 little aprons.  One in crochet, and one in a pretty cotton floral fabric.  I think it might be fun to combine crochet and sewing in the one project.  What do you think?

ooooh more gifts!

I’ve been very spoiled in recent days, with friends wishing me well, and spoiling me with gifts to keep me busy while I convalesce.

get well 01

Avis knows I’m trying to build up a stash of the entire colour-range of Stylecraft DK Special, so she sent me 5 new colours for my collection (Walnut, Jaffa, Matador, Royal & Plum) and 2 packets of Trimits safetly eyes for future amigurumi.  And Pascale, a neighbour, popped round with a box of “Mon Chéri” chocolates.  I do love a “mon chéri” – naughty, but nice.

Then yesterday the postie had to ring the bell, because mail was too bulky to push through the letter box slit.

get well 02

And what did I find?  A parcel from Sandrine, containing all I need to keep me happy with some colouring in.  A “Christmas Sweater” colouring book, and 5 different bookmarks, plus a brand new packet of felt tip pens.  Well I certainly have lots to stop me from getting bored!

Oh and another parcel . . . but something I treated myself to.

star fabric

Pelenna Patchworks were having a little bit of a fabric sale on last week and I fell in love with this print.  It’s from the “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” collection.  It was only £6 a metre, so I grabbed 2 metres.  As I’ve already mentioned, I’m going to become a grandma in August.  I will definitely be making a small quilt and these stars will be the main fabric to work with for that.  We won’t know if Baby Viking is a boy or girl until the big day.  I reckon this fabric is suitable for either.

In the meantime, I am continuing to lounge around indoors, putting my feet up as often as possible.  On 3rd May I go back to see the surgeon to have bandage and stitches removed, plus an xray to make sure bones are healing well.  Fingers crossed!

more surprise mail

Postie has been a regular visitor to our letter box, with some surprise packages.  Not sure if they’re belated xmas gifts or un-birthday gifts, all I know is they are gifts and they’re for me!

In fact, the first photo is a “best wishes” card from Nathalie F.  In France, people don’t tend to send out cards for Christmas, but prefer to wait until the New Year before sending their seasonal greetings.  The card from Nathalie is ever so chic!

from Nathalie F

Beautifully embossed and with white beads and shiney stars. 

from la pie kikou

From Jocelyne, aka la pie kikou, I received a selection of goodies.  A piece of shimmery aida along with 3 skeins of the DMC new collection.  Gorgeous colours, especially the 4505.  And a beautiful hand-made bookmark with my initials embroidered to look like a coat of arms.  Makes me feel like royalty, that does!

And that’s not all . . .

from Sandrine

From Sandrine a massive haul of bookmarks . . . and a clothes making pattern – yay!  It’s one to make a shirt: the Chloé shirt.  Packaging says it’s intermediate level (thanks for the vote of confidence, Sandrine) . . . I reckon this should be within my capabilities if I read all instructions properly.

So a big thank you ladies . . . so much fun to have all these surprises.

a little late with my thank yous

Dear oh dear . . . 13th January already and I have neglected my blog for almost a fortnight and (above all) I have neglected to show you some of the gifts I received in the Christmas post this year!

xmas blogging 01

First of all, lots and lots of bookmarks!  So a big thank you to Cathy, Flo and Emma.  Bookmarks from York, from Greece, from Ireland, from Spain and Australia.  Emma sent along a little cat cross stitch kit too, and a lovely card with a Japanese doll that can be removed from the card and be used as a bookmark too!

xmas blogging 02

Here’s a close up of the stitched one – a lovely long-tailed Lorikeet.  Emma adapted the colours of the original design so it would blend in with my F2F quilt, which is based on orange, blue & green, the predominant colours of Rainbow Lorikeets.

Next . . .

xmas blogging 03

Lots of pretty stitched goodies.  A “Let it snow” mug rug from Fred, tree decorations from AnnieG, Storm (green ribbon)  and Debbierose (red ribbon) and two more blackwork stitchings from Jeannine.

xmas blogging 05

More surprises from near and far . . . a Lizzie Kate kit and a beautiful wooden thread sorter from Wisher, and some lovely wooden buttons from Lynn (two dogs and four with a little black cat head – but it’s impossible to see in the photo).

xmas blogging 04

And then a lovely haul of hand-made cards.   A rather fun Christmas tree from Hannelore, a Poinsettia from salpal, a mischievious puppy dog from Virginie, some golden stitched candles from Yvonne and a fabulous 3D effect card from Helen, with deer & rabbits.

Thank you ever so much! 

a bit of this & that

I’ve been busy of late cross stitching on something I can’t show you just yet . . . and also putting up with lots of crashing & banging in the house, accompanied by loads of dirt & dust: the result of which I hope to reveal very soon.

What I can share with you today are the following photos . . .

knitting front and back

Progress on my sweater – yay!  This got stuffed in the bag way back in July because weather was too hot for knitting.  However, over the last few days I’ve finished the front, and begun work on sleeve n°1. 

A little crocheting happened too, but only this

flashy floater

Another floating toy for Gibbs in a very flashy neon pink (left over from a MyBoshi beanie) because . . .

flashy floater 2

. . . the first toys are still functional and floating BUT they’re looking rather sorry & grubby. Not to mention that they’re very difficult to see on dry land, when they fall in a pile of autumn leaves.  I didn’t have enough pink to cover the entire bottle, which explains why it’s a mish-mash of colours & yarns, but it’s bright pink enough to spot from quite a distance and Gibbs believes a dog can never have too many toys.

And last photo, with a big thank you to Ghislaine, one of my ex students

from Ghislaine

Ghislaine sent me a whole pile of bookmarks, including a couple to colour in, and


an oil pen !  This is a rather nifty device which contains sewing machine oil – how very clever! 

cat ‘n mouse

Abby mouse

Can you see the mouse?  Nope, neither can I and neither can Abby.  She did have one in her mouth, when she came into the veranda from the garden.  A live one.  Which she then dropped, and has since been searching inside shoes.  I’ve lost count of the number of live mice Abby and Ducky bring home.  I do wish they’d just stay outside with them!

Meanwhile, indoors . . . my current small cross stitch project has evolved, very slowly from this

yarn cats

to this

yarn cats 31 07

I could have worked on it a bit more, but I chose to keep busy last month with patchworking, mainly.

Postie brought me some surprise mail from Lilubelle

bookmarks from Lilu

a lovely selection of bookmarks with a nature theme.

And postie also delivered another fabric order.  I know, I know, I have drawers full of the stuff, I don’t need more but . . .



It was so pretty, I couldn’t resist, especially the second one.  My first thoughts, when I ordered, were that it would be lovely as backing fabric for a quilt (it’s 160cm wide off the bolt) but now it’s here, I’m wondering whether I’d dare wear a summer tunic in one or the other.  What do you think?  Would it be a too much?  A bit too “Dances with Wolves”?

And back to cats . . . slightly worried here, because Ducky has been missing since Sunday.  We’ve been calling him, and I’ve already put an “alert” on a dedicated site for lost & found pets.  Fingers crossed that he comes sauntering home soon.

bookmarks and books

A thank you to Flo who remembered me on her travels, including to San Francisco,  and picked up some bookmarks to send my way.


And a couple of book titles to share with you today too.  I always like to read a couple of chapters just before bedtime, with my mug of hot chocolate . . . in recent months I had simply been re-reading old classics from my book shelves.  Then I got somewhat bored, so bought a couple of paperbacks, and renewed my subs at our local library.

One of the paperbacks I bought:


“Catch Me” by Lisa Gardner.  A nice thriller/suspense, which is my favourite kind of bedtime read.  Here’s a quick résumé:  What would you do if you knew the exact date and time of your death?  For Charlie Grant, this will be on 21st January at 8pm . . . in 4 days time.  Exactly like her two best friends.  And Charlie wants Inspector DD Warren of the Boston Police to be in charge of the investigation.  Already tied up with a pedophile murder case, DD accepts, but as soon as she starts looking into the young woman’s past, her gut instinct tells her that Charlie is hiding something.  

And from the library


“You’re Mine Now” – Hans Koppel.  Original title : “Kom ska vi tycka om varandra”

This was on the “thriller/crime” shelf, and was a good read but a different style of writing.   The main character is Anna, and the story-line . . . Anna should never have slept with Erik.  Anna is happily married to Magnus, they have a daughter, and Anna soon begins to regret her brief fling.  Erik is a dangerous psychopath and, before she knows it, not only is she being stalked, but her family is in danger.