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Happy Retirement!

Well, what I wonder is retirement these days? I suspect for me it will be something that may happen when I am too weak and feeble to lift an ink pad or fold a piece of card! However, some slightly more sensible people take time in their later years to relax, retire and either stay at home, move home, travel or take up new interests.

Having just had my 65thbirthday this weekend I am thinking back to when my mother and father were 65 and they moved down here to Devon to live a few houses away from us. For the next few years, they helped with parts of the business that they enjoyed (my mother made wondrous apple pies and homemade cakes), and they took nice breaks away and enjoyed their respective cooking and gardening pursuits.

If you have friends that are planning to retire or are newly retired, they too may opt for different retirement choices and choosing what to put on a card can range from Yay! No more work – to congratulating them on a move to a new house or perhaps celebrating the fact they are starting a brand new venture. Anything is possible at any age these days and just as we have entrepreneurs that are 14, so we can have successful new businesses started by 65-85 years olds!

These cards use the Bungalow and the Tudor Cottage from our recent range that combines all year round houses with Christmas as an extra. So you can utilise the dies with or without the snowy decorations!

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Christmas abroad

I am very keen on my traditional British Christmas – from stockings and trees to families and board games.
So how, I wonder, will any of our friends and family members who are living abroad be celebrating, probably in sweltering heat and beautiful sunshine.

My younger daughter will (I desperately hope) be given leave to come home for a few days, so I won’t have to ponder how Christmas Day is spent in Singapore. However one of the ladies that work here, now has two daughters living in Australia. I understand there will be much barbecuing, swimming and happy celebrating and they reckon Christmas is just as fun as in the UK.

I do contemplate the idea of a Christmas holiday somewhere hot like the Caribbean – may be a luxury cruise so I don’t have to cook – but I always end up shaking my head and muttering, “Nope, home is best!”

For anyone that has family or friends living far, far away, here are a couple of ideas for cards and remember it’s really early for the last posting date!

Smiles Joanna

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First day at school – or off to Uni?

It’s that time of year – and a very personal one this year. My tiny granddaughter Grace (who it feels is still about one!) is actually coming up for five and starting school. I can’t wait for the first day of school in her uniform picture, definitely one for the mantelpiece! Also, a new start looming for my nephew who heads off to university to study marine biology and lastly but very importantly for me, my youngest daughter is moving to live in Singapore (aghhh!)

So it’s all change and will all have happy outcomes I am sure. If there’s someone in your family starting university – do support them with a card and bear in mind what needy creatures university students are and send them a fiver in the card. Just joking there – it seems to me all students are constantly broke! The card on the right uses our signature die Tree of Life SD410, while the one on the left uses the Townhouse Trio Multibuy signature dies.

Starting on the ladder by going to full-time school is a huge step and turns the life of little 5-year-olds upside down. I remember the comment a friend’s daughter made when going to school came around. She loved day one and came home full of beans saying it was really fun but she was tired – fair enough. The following morning she was inconsolable when she learned she had to go for a second day, she felt having been once was sufficient.

Here are a couple of cards to give you ideas for designs to send to new starters!

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Congratulations – well done you!

Friends, children, grandchildren, siblings – they can all be involved in exams, tests or other achievements that we want to acknowledge and cheer for and offer our congratulations.

This is prime exam and end of term time that often involves passing things (or not) and I think it’s really important to appreciate everyone’s effort. I recently heard that a friend had received a congratulations card when her son had finished all his A-level exams. Not saying well done to the son but saying well done to her for living through the undoubted stressful times!

We all like being acknowledging and it’s lovely when someone says “well done”, or “you did a good job” or a mass of other things – so why not make a congratulations card? These two are very focused on exams but you could just as easily congratulate someone with flowers or a pretty landscape!

The card with the cap and gown on uses a Signature Die – Graduation Gown SD323and the owl die is Beautiful Owl SD101. The words are all part of the collection one inevitably accumulates. I think it’s great to have several different fonts for words like Congratulations – but my favourite is our sentiments die that has You Did It (SD507)… just something a little bit different.

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Helping children to grow – get them gardening!

Grace, dressed for a little watering!!

With the school summer holidays upon us, I’m sure parents and grandparents alike are racking our collective brains on how to keep youngsters occupied and, preferably, not just glued to their tablets and phones! Getting children outside can be a bit of a challenge, but if you can get them interested in gardening that has to be a bonus – on so many levels.

Granddaughter Grace is still too young for gadgets and, thanks to Grandpa Richard’s veg growing skills, she has already shown a lot of interest in the garden. There are ways to encourage youngsters outside and, if you can drag them away from their screens, it’s a fun family activity and is good for mind and body. The rise of technology has given us many great things, but nothing beats getting outside and working with your hands, growing your own fruit and vegetables, and learning a bit about life!

A child’s eye view

To spark their interest you need to think about what appeals to a child, which might mean coming at it from a different angle. If they are interested in butterflies or beetles of other bugs (what little one doesn’t find worms and caterpillars fascinating?), that can be a good starting point.

A bit of a plot

If you have space, it is always a good idea to offer a child its own patch to work in. A sunny spot with good soil is good, then things should grow quickly. A small raised bed would be ideal but failing that, or if space is an issue, a large tub or planter can work perfectly well. I can remember growing mustard and cress in a saucer on the windowsill as a child and being fascinated!

Ideal for little hands

Small children will love having their own gardening tools. Not only are they designed specifically for small hands, but children love feeling they are joining in with an adult and doing something ‘properly’. You can find sets of children’s gardening tools online at reasonable prices. These would make a good birthday or Christmas present ready for next year if they are still a bit young. Here are a few I found on Amazon, but there are loads to choose from! 

Patience, patience…

One of the many things gardening can teach is patience! However, it’s still a good idea to start them off on seeds that will give quick results like salad leaves or rocket, or something like nasturtiums. When sowing the seeds, try shapes – a circle, or a star – rather than boring old straight rows. Or what about sowing the shape of a child’s initial? If you want even quicker results, then why not buy a few plants that are just about to flower or fruit?

You can find seed growing kits especially for children online, but I’m sure buying a few seed packets yourself will work just as well. Click on the photos to go to the link.

What about the water?

This summer has been so hot, I know water is at a premium and it seems hosepipe bans are imminent. But all is not lost! Wastewater from the kitchen, baths, basins and showers is suitable to water plants and containers. It’s also a good way of encouraging children to think about resources and not wasting precious water.

Happy gardening!

 

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