The truth about St Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m sure all of us at some time in our lives have sent Valentine cards, or longed to receive one… As a teenager, I can remember it being terribly, terribly important! It is really more of a young person’s event but some people are very good at keeping the romantic flame alive as they get older and go out for a nice meal, or buy flowers, Richard is a real sweetie and often presents me with a huge bouquet – but it depends how busy we are at work!

As ever, when one of these special days comes round on the calendar, I like to do a bit of sleuthing and find out the truth and more often, the myths behind it all…

Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries A Valentine card from 1862.around the world. It began as a celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus and there are all sorts of martyrdom stories and myths about this era. But the day was first associated with romance by Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion for lovers to express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards known as ‘valentines’. Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called ‘mechanical valentines,’ and a reduction in postal rates in the next century ushered in the less personal, but much easier, practice of posting Valentines.

Paper Valentines became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. Fancy cards were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid-19th century. In 1835, an amazing 60,000 Valentine cards were sent by post in Britain, despite postage being expensive. 

I think it’s lovely that we crafters still make our own and put real time, effort and love into producing our Valentine cards, rather than just buying a mass-produced effort which today are so often rather cheap and a bit vulgar – I know, I know, I’m showing my age!!

Have a lovely day, whether you are celebrating or not!

 

2 Comments

Looking forward in 2014…

I always love the first few days of any New Year as there’s so much promise in what could happen in the next twelve months. If I look back over the past year many things have happened that I didn’t have a clue about this time last year, so there is always the excitement of what could be round the corner.

I know we have to take the bad times  as well as the good but I am going to try harder this year to make more good things happen. So often it’s the little things that make me feel good rather than the big things – I tidied my craft room over the Christmas holiday and that’s making me feel really good.

I’m going to give myself some ‘me’ time regularly this year, and I invested in some more scented candles and I’m going to enjoy nice perfume and maybe a book, a game or just some time cuddled up on the sofa with Wellington, whose days I know are numbered but while he is here, he is lovely to cuddle!

I’m also looking forward to finishing my second novel with my ‘partner in crime writing’, Julia. It should be finished in April or May, we are about a third of the way through at the moment. Although there’s a lot of head-scratching and plotting, it’s also exciting as the plots starts to unfold as you are never 100% sure how it is going to turn out!

Sometimes the things that make you feel good can take you by surprise, doing something that benefits someone else can be really uplifting.

On a more down to earth note I am aiming to declutter a room in my house each month this year, I don’t have twelve rooms that need decluttering but I am building in a ‘fail’ for some of the months when work gets too busy or other things grab my time and attention.

I would love to tell you that I intend to succeed spectacularly with my diet this year, but all I can do is try and be kind to myself if I falter and then fail as I have so many times before – but the trying is always the thing that counts. So my resolution for this year and the thing uppermost in my mind is going to be just that saying – the trying is always the thing that counts and who knows what will have happened by January 2015!

7 Comments

Christmas stockings

My major task this week is to find lovely little stocking fillers for my daughter’s stocking. I realise I have very few Emily-free days before she is home from university and will be as nosy as a five-year old about where presents might be hiding even though she is now 21!

Christmas stockings have been hung for ages but there’s no definitive history, it’s all folklore or tradition. Some people just have presents in the stocking – all supplied by Father Christmas. Some have a stocking, and then Father Christmas comes along and leaves larger presents under the tree. In our family’s case, we have stockings, and then all the presents are from real people rather than Father Christmas.

We always leave gifts for the reindeer and Santa – I don’t mean for a moment that Emily still believes – but I think we all just enjoy the little ritual of carrots for the reindeer, orange juice for Father Christmas as he is driving (Father Christmas was a little disappointed about that!) and a mince pie or chocolate brownie depending on what’s in the cake tin, to sustain him through his busiest night of the year.

When the girls were little, it was easy to have a limit of £4-5 for anything in the stocking, now it’s so much harder. Not only have prices gone up – I saw a £45 cashmere scarf advertised as a stocking filler today – but also adults are much harder to find things for than little girls! As tradition dictates, there’ll be a satsuma, some gold chocolate pennies and then a few other sweet treats, the obligatory amusing bubble bath and sadly this year I have stooped to a parrot key ring that swears – not a very good example but it is highly amusing.

So it’s full speed ahead for me – a personalised cupcake making apron (she loves to cook), some underwear, funny socks … thank goodness for the internet!

So, what are your stocking traditions?

2 Comments

Patchwork baby bib

I have found myself semi-obsessed with new baby cards recently (can’t think why!) and this patchwork baby’s bib was made for me by Sylvie Ashton.

The main point of the card was to use the patchwork dies from our Signature range and very pretty it looks too. I persuaded Sylvie to make a quick template for you to use if you want to copy the idea. You will find that on our website just here

Cut out some card using the template as your guide. This will be the card blank. Cut another bib piece and decorate with diecut patchwork pieces from our Signature dies here.  

Glue some narrow lace around the edge of the main card blank and then add the patchwork bib layer. Finally decorate with a bow and a stamped or diecut sentiment.

Hope you enjoy playing!

3 Comments

Photographs: to print, file or…?

With the arrival of my little granddaughter Grace – actually not so little now as she is gaining weight well and is nearly 10lbs – good for you Gracie! Anyway I digress, with a new addition to the family it made me look back and get out some photo albums from thirty years ago when my daughter Pippa was born.

There was a collective gasp when we compared newborn and first month photos and the similarity was incredible, no hiding whose daughter Grace is! I love family similarities (well the better ones) it feels comforting somehow to know the genes are working! But flicking through all the family history and remembering days out and birthdays etc, made me worry about my photographs taken today.

I love my computer, the internet and all things digital – to an extent. I know full well that Richard and I have lost some photographs from about seven or eight years ago, simply because a computer decided to die on us and we hadn’t been thorough enough to back things up. Our fault yes, but no way at all of ever recovering those lost moments.

Which is better I wonder, endless packets of negatives and print costs as you go somewhere to have them developed or to be at the mercy of your technical inefficiencies. We now have a sacred harddrive that we load with pictures and then put away somewhere safe till the next batch.

So what I am saying is – should we print out any really precious photos (possibly a real need for scrapbooking here!) as well as keeping them safe on a memory stick? What about the future in a hundred years time, will they laugh at our current technology and not be able to read it? I have photos from 1850 onwards all framed and hanging in my downstairs cloakroom, no problem with future generations being able to look at those.

What do you think?

7 Comments