Gifts I made for my husband on our first anniversary

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

As you may well have already read on my earlier post, it was my first wedding anniversary on Sunday. I often make gifts for people on birthdays and at Christmas, and this special occasion seemed like a good excuse to get crafting too.

First of all I decided to make a little book for him, a sort of collecting book for anniversaries. I drew a little picture to represent the traditional gift given on all the key anniversaries, then bound them into a little map covered book (maps being a favourite of ours and a theme at our wedding). I was rather pleased with the result, and I look forward to Adam ‘collecting’ anniversaries for a long time to come!

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

We’ve been having a bit of a copper obsession lately (long before it became so trendy, I might add!) and I actually tried to find some copper julep cans for Adam’s Christmas gift. I couldn’t manage to find any that were quite right at the time though, but I persisted and found a great set of quite old ones that needed a spruce up. Several hours of boiling in sea salt and vinegar, and yet more hours scrubbing them with citrus fruits later, and they’re almost perfect! I’m looking forward to tasting cocktails in them soon!

DIY papercut, wedding anniversary book, Moomin card and copper julep cans

Last of all I decided to attempt a paper cut for Adam. Because the traditional first anniversary gift is paper (I opted to go mostly with the US list as it makes more sense than the UK one!) I thought this would be a nice thing to keep, and also to frame in our new home.

I first drew a design on grid paper in pencil (using a hot hair balloon and a Winnie the Pooh quote, both of which were inspirations for our wedding), then transferred it in reverse onto the back of my heavy paper using carbon paper. Then it was a case of carefully cutting out the negative space with a scalpel (I swear by the Swann Norton handle with AA blade)….I found it best to start in the middle and work outwards so that I wasn’t pulling on any of the supporting pieces excessively. I also (despite my preference!) decided it best to cut out the really tricky and small fiddly bits first, as the larger and simpler ones required less effort.

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Once I’d finished cutting, I created my backing paper by painting another sheet of heavy paper using gouache, starting with a blue at the top and fading into a green at the bottom. Then it was just a case of framing the paper cut and backing together…and I’m ever so pleased with how it turned out! In fact, Adam loved it so much we got quite emotional (perhaps also because he had an idea of how many hours I’d spent on it!).

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Perhaps best of all though was Adam’s gift to me….another project to work on together! Rather fittingly, he had found and had sent from the US for me a copy of  ‘Our Adventure Book’ from the Pixar film ‘Up!’. It was made by the people who first made the album for the production team on the movie, and has our little tagline ‘An Adventure Begins’ on the spine.

First wedding anniversary gift: paper 'Our Adventure Book' from Up!

It’s full of gorgeous paper pages for us to fill with photos, notes, sketches and other bits and bobs from our wedding…..I can’t wait to fill it up together and make a real project of it! This may have to wait until after we’ve moved though, as most of our wedding stuff is still boxed up in various places!

Ems x

 

Wednesday Wants: tools for my new garden

Well I think most of us enjoyed a rather nice show of sun last week. And whilst it’s not quite as exquisite as it was, the rumours of a coming heatwave and the recent memory of blue skies and warmth have me thinking of being outdoors.

There’s the added factor that with our impending house move, I’m starting to think about our lovely new garden. I got really into my gardening when we had a rather large outdoor space to tend to in Hitchin, but knowing we wouldn’t be in this house for long I’ve not really invested any time in the garden here. I can’t wait to get my hands on my very own, ‘forever’ garden though, and that’s got me thinking (as I do) about shopping for exciting things to help me make it beautiful…..

OK, so I already have a little Haws watering can (in a pretty powder blue), but I think this copper one is rather special. It is said that you can improve the quality of water by bringing it into contact with copper, so this can is sure to help my plants along. Plus it’s really shiny and pretty. Just because it’s for the garden, it doesn’t mean I have to be *completely* practical!

And because I’m aiming for some pretty impressive boarders as well as smaller pots, I’m going to need something a little heftier to help me water in bulk. This nine litre galvanised can with copper trim has a top and a back handle, to help feeble little me pick it up and dispense the water more easily.

And keeping with the copper theme….The PKS bronze (aka copper and tin) tools are made to last a lifetime. The Castor trowel has a smooth beech handle and pointed, heart-shaped blade. The sharp edge and scoop shape make it a most practical trowel for general weeding and planting. And yes, again, isn’t it pretty?!

I’ve never really gone in for more specialised tools before, but I have to say that something to help me with those tricky bits of stray grass and weeds would be a God-send. The PKS Tabit weeding tool is specifically designed for lifting perennial weeds such as creeping buttercup and small clumps of grass without disturbing the surrounding plants. The pronged point gets underneath the roots, then using the rounded underside you can lever the interloper out!

Er, yeah, so I’m really into copper right now. Anyway, I love to label pretty much anything that stands still long enough. I’m the proud owner of not one, but four label makers, and so it only seems fitting that I get to label the garden too. These copper ‘Tee’ labels by Burgon and Ball are easy to engrave using a ball point pen, plus the copper helps to repel pests such as slugs. Bonus!

I’ve always bought cheap secateurs in the past, which is a total false economy as they don’t last long at all. There’s also the issue of my feeble little hands, which really struggle with pruning, but I’ve found that a pair of ratchet pruners could help me immensely. These ones by Darlac have a slim profile, perfect for my small hands, and the squeeze/release action reduces effort by up to a third. And they’re gold. Gold.

Not all pruning requires such hard-core toolage though, and for the more delicate plants, dead-heading and flower arranging, these mini snips look great. They work like embroidery snips and come in a handy pocket size, perfect for well, keeping in your pocket!

I bought a kneeler to use in our last garden, and used it precisely once.  The problem is that you have to move it around with you, and I’m so forgetful I just ended up leaving it behind each time I moved. Plus I usually have my hands full whilst gardening, so something that’s actually attached to me sounds like a much better idea! These leather knee pads are made in Shropshire from carefully selected British leather, and feature a soft lining to cushion your knees as you work. They are attached to an elasticated velcro band to make them easy to get on and off, as well as fit anyone (even me with my chubby knees), and are built to last a lifetime.

And on the subject of forgetfulness, if I got a penny for every time I lost my tools in the garden, I’d be able to afford to pay Monty Don to come and work for me full time. Enter this tool pouch, which you wear as a belt around the waist so you always have your most-used tools with you. I’d keep my nice bronze trowel in the main back pocket and my secatuers in that handy pointed pocket at the front.

 

Whilst shopping I also came across lots of wonderful non-tool things for the garden too….so perhaps I’ll share those next week!

 

Do you have a garden? Do you have any tips or recommendations?

 

Ems x

 

 

Tuesday Tutorial: Glitter Name Bunting

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

Yes, you’re right, my last tutorial was about glitter too. But then glitter is worthy of repetition.

A trend has been emerging with my recent crafting projects….glitter. And why the heck not? After all, glitter is the quintessential crafting supply, and everything is better with a good sprinkle of the stuff.

I bought a stash of glitter card ages ago, and did the usual thing of ‘saving it for something special’. And what could be more special than my niece’s first birthday?! Having decided I wanted to make something glittery for her, I thought about what a one year old could best make use of…..she’s mostly pointing at me and laughing right now though, and doesn’t seem to be in need of anything other than whatever food is out of her reach, so I opted for for something to decorate her bedroom. And because (I think it’s fair to say) I’m pretty bunting obsessed, that’s what my first thought ran to!

You don’t need any crazy equipment or mad skills for this DIY, but it does take some precision and patience. The result is pretty rewarding though I think!

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

What you will need:

  • Glitter card
  • Wooden pennants with pre-drilled holes (enough for each letter of the name)
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Ribbon (enough to go across the width of each pennant, plus about 30cm extra)
  • A plastic spatula
  • Craft knife or scalpel
  • Metal rule
  • A pencil
  • Small scissors

How to make it:

  • Place your first pennant on the back of a piece of glitter card and trace around it with a pencil as close as you can get
  • Cut the glitter card with scalpel and ruler or scissors if you prefer, and check it up against the pennant to see that it fits
  • Now give the pennant a good generous coat of glue….it’s better to have too much on there than too little
  • Carefully place the glitter card onto the pennant, squaring it up quickly before the glue dries to ensure all the edges are aligned
  • Press firmly down on the card so that any excess glue comes out at the sides
  • Use the spatula to remove this excess by sliding the flat edge along the side of the pennant….this will also help to nicely seal the edges
  • Repeat this for all your pennants and then set them aside to dry for a couple of hours
  • Whilst you wait, cut out your letters from the glitter card…..I used the pencil to draw onto the back of the card then cut around that, but remember to draw in reverse
  • Once the newly glittered pennants are dry, arrange them in the order you’d like them and offer up each letter to check that the colours contrast well enough to see them
  • Apply glue to the back of your first letter, again using plenty as you’ll need a good coat to get in between the bumpy glittery surface
  • Carefully place the letter on the pennant, check you’re happy with the positioning, and press down firmly
  • Again, use the spatula to remove any excess, although don’t worry too much as the glue will dry clear
  • Repeat for each pennant and allow to dry well, preferably over night
  • Now you just need to thread the pennants together by cutting through the glitter card to reveal the hole in the wood with the scalpel, and posting the ribbon through each hole of each pennant, then moving on to the next
  • Finally, tie a knot in each end to stop the pennants moving about, and you’re done!

If you find it tricky to get hold of some wooden pennants (I got mine from an online craft shop who sell lots of laser cut MDF shapes) you could always cut them yourself from foamex.

I also made a single pennant with a star shape on it for a friend’s birthday, and of course you could apply any pattern to your bunting, or even just leave it plain in all its glittery glory!

Happy glittering!

Ems x

 

Tuesday Tutorial: Purple Glitter Jewellery for Willow Foundation

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a friend’s “Purple Party” to help raise funds for Willow Foundation*. Clare is running the London Marathon for the charity this year, and so put together the brilliant themed party to add to her fundraising target. There were purple cocktails, purple food, a purple photo booth and the whole place was decked out in purple, including the guests!

Being a bit low on purple things to wear myself, I decided to make some purple glittery treasures, with extra for Clare to sell on the night. And because I know everyone loves glitter (not to mention with Half Term in full swing!) I thought I’d share a little tutorial for how to make them. The batch I made took a while because there were so many, but one or two would be very quick to make, and super easy too! You can buy everything you need easily and inexpensively at a craft shop or online.

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

You Will Need:

  • Fine purple glitter (or another colour, if you must)
  • Original Mod Podge
  • A flat ended brush (about 10mm to 15mm wide)
  • A mixing pot (a yogurt pot or take out tub is perfect, especially if it has a lid)
  • An old teaspoon
  • Wooden laser cut shapes (I used 20mm and 30mm hearts, and 40mm stars)
  • Brooch backs and / or stick on pendant bails
  • E6000 glue

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

How To:

1. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of glitter into your mixing pot (if you’re making a big batch just double this, and keep making fresh batches as you go, so none is wasted)

2. Add about the same amount of Mod Podge and mix them well with the spoon (then wash the spoon!)

3. Choose which side of your wooden shape you want to paint (there are often marks from the laser cutting on one side, so paint onto that as you won’t see it when you’re finished)

4. Paint a thin layer of the glittery glue onto your shape….best not to use too much at a time so that you don’t spill over the edges and it stays neat

5. Wait for that to dry and then paint on another thin coat

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

6. Keep adding thin coats once the last is dry to build up the coverage….as with most painting projects, it’s better to do lots of thin coats than one or two thick ones (if your mixing pot has a lid you can cover your mixture whilst you wait for drying, so that it stays fresh)

7. I applied four or five coats to mine, and if you decide to make a big batch you can of course apply each coat to all of them, and by the time you’ve done the last, the first one will be dry and ready for the next

8. Once you’re happy with the coverage, leave until completely dry before flipping over ready for the backing

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

9. If you’re using a brooch back, check it works ok before using it, then blob some E6000 onto the flat side of the brooch back and press it firmly onto the back of your wooden shape

10. If you’re making a pendant, blob the E6000 onto the flat pad of the bail and carefully press it onto the back of your shape….before it dries turn it over to make sure it’s on straight

11. Leave for 24 hours to dry well before adding a chain if you’ve made a pendant, or before proudly pinning your brooch onto your clothes!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

These would make great party favours for a Bridal Shower or Hen Party I think, or for children’s parties (although take care with brooch pins!)….or of course you could make some to raise funds for charity too!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Ems x

Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days. These Special Days enable them and their families to reconnect and refocus on each other while enjoying an activity of their choosing. A day for them, a day about them and a day that will create memories they will all treasure forever.

Me and Him over on Rock n Roll Bride

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When our super awesome wedding photographer Sharon Cooper told us she’d secretly submitted our wedding pics to Rock n Roll Bride I was pretty exited to hear that the wonderful Kat wanted to feature us. And now you can see her post all about our big day(s), I’m feeling incredibly honoured and excited!

I’ll still be writing more about our wedding….I wanted to keep a sort of diary of each day and will be sure to post it here soon. In the mean time though, if you’d like to see some more photos of our ceremony and reception you can see a whole bunch here!

Ems x

Tuesday Tutorial: Jewellery Picture Frames

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I actually first made these to display my jewellery in at a pop-up shop I was exhibiting in, but once I’d brought them home I thought they’d just be perfect for keeping my own collection all tidy! I have a beautiful big jewellery box, and a big hat box that’s crammed with jewellery too, but despite all that my things invariably end up strewn across the fireplace in the bedroom!

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I have my flavours of the month, then they get buried underneath the next favoured few, and before too long I’ve forgotten what I have! This way though I get to show off several pieces at once, keep them all de-tangled and then just swap them back into the jewellery box when I want a change!

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These are super easy to make, and only took me moments. They’re cheap to put together too (I made them using bits and bobs I already had at home!) and don’t take any special skills!

What you will need:

  • Picture frames (broken, or with the glass and backing removed)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Small cup hooks
  • Drawing pins
  • String
  • Mini pegs
  • A bradawl tool, if you have one, or something sharp and pointy if not! (Please be careful!!)
  • White tack or picture nails

How to make:

1. Along the top edge of your tallest frame, measure the inside edge and mark out where you’d like each hook to go using the pencil

2. Using the bradawl, start off a hole at each mark

3. Screw your hooks into the holes, ensuring they all end up facing the same way

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4. Along each side edge of another frame, measure out and mark with a pencil where you’d like a string to cross, leaving a good 5cm in between each

5. Push a drawing pin into each mark

6. Tie string across and between each set of drawing pins

7. Attach pegs to the strings

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8. Now they’re ready to go on the wall, either suspended on nails or just attached with white tack (like mine!)

9. Hang long necklaces from the hooks, and rings, brooches etc. from the pegs

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10. Stand back and admire your work!

Ems x

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Muddling Through: The Manhattan

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Good evening and welcome to my first proper post in ‘Muddling Through’, a beginners guide to cocktails, written by a beginner.

As my introduction said, I’m going to be focussing on classic cocktails (at least for now) and few are more widely known than the Manhattan. This also seemed a rather apt choice as it’s one of Ems’ all time favourite cocktails.

Invented in The Manhattan Club, New York as early as the 1870’s (though it seems no one can say for sure) the drink has changed very little since then. As with the Martini the only real change seems to be a gradual decline in the amount of Vermouth added! That said, with these kinds of drinks there are a great many variations and the Manhattan in particular is popular with bartenders who enjoy injecting a little of their own style into their drinks. For simplicity though I’m going to stick with the most basic. Don’t however let my use of the word ‘basic’ fool you in any way! The Manhattan is a very sophisticated cocktail and when done well is a truly great drink!

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The Manhattan

Ingredients

  • 2 Measures Rye/Bourbon Whisky
  • 1 Measure Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 Dash Bitters

Depending on how sweet you like your drinks you can simply increase or decrease the amount of Vermouth added (I’d suggest increments of 1/4 measures).

Method

  1. Combine the Whisky, Vermouth and Bitters in a mixing glass/cocktail mixer half filled with ice.
  2. Stir together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Yep, that’s it! So if you read my introductory post you should see why I told you to treat yourself to the good stuff! With drinks like this you’ve not got much to cover the taste of poor quality alcohol, so best not to risk it!

Rye is the more traditional Whisky for use in the Manhattan, but as I’ve found American Whisky sparsely stocked in UK supermarkets to say the least (there is so much more to life than Jack Daniels and Jim Beam!) you’re unlikely to find a Rye outside of the Internet, or if you’re lucky a very well stocked off-licence! In which case you will be more than fine with a good Bourbon.

As for Vermouth, if you can find yourself a bottle of Vermouth Rosso you can add an extra level of depth to your Manhattan by adding up to half a measure. Again depending on how much Vermouth you want to add in total and how sweet you want it, you’ll either add it or replace some of your sweet Vermouth with it.

Finally feel free to experiment with different Bitters if you can get hold of any. Orange is good, and I’d also recommend Cherry….lots of Manahattan recipes include burnt peel or a cocktail cherry.

For anyone interested, here’s how I’m currently making my Manhattan at home:

  • 1 Measure Pikesville Straight Rye Whisky
  • 1 Measure Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Whisky
  • 1 Measure Cinzano Vermouth
  • 1/4 Measure Vermouth Rosso
  • 5 Drops Cherry Bitters

In all honesty I’m making it this way as I’m not in love with the Pikesville (it’s also my first Rye), so once that’s gone I plan to try another Rye and if I like it may end up making my Manhattans with just that. You never know, which is why it’s good to experiment to find what you like as the flavours and sweetness in a drink like this differ from person to person!

However you end up making your Manhattan, I hope you enjoy it and let me know about your experiences!

Until next time!

Adam

Muddling Through: Tools of the Trade

Hello again!

Now, before we begin with the recipes I thought it might be pertinent to make a few suggestions as to the little bits of equipment you might need in order to make yourself some tasty cocktails! I’d hate to see anyone get halfway through a recipe before realising they were missing something!

So, on to the fundamentals…..

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A Cocktail Shaker

Unless you were planning on stirring all of your cocktails together in a glass, you won’t get very far without one of these!

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A Jigger

For measuring your liquids. Remember what I said about recipes and chucking in more of this or less of that? It won’t always work, so you’re going to need one of these. They come in various shapes and sizes but in the UK at least you’ll most likely have a 25/50ml one.

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A Bar Spoon

For stirring… Its long, slender design helps maintain a smooth stirring motion rather than a whisking one you might get from a regular spoon. Also used for layering drinks.

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A Strainer

For pouring your drinks into your nicely chilled glasses! The strainer is a bit more versatile than the built in one in the lid of your shaker and offers a bit more control.

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A Muddler

For mashing ingredients such as sugar, lime and mint.

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A Zester

For zesting fruit and cutting twists.

That’s about it for now! That’s almost certainly everything I’ve used so far, with the exception of a knife, but I’m betting you have one of those already!

Next post we’ll aim to include some liquids shall we!

Adam

Catching up: July

I can’t believe it’s August already….it seems the summer is going by in a flash! July was just as much fun as June though, and it finally felt as though the real summer weather had arrived….

It all started with a most amazing wedding weekend up in Yorkshire. Two of our friends were getting hitched and rather than settle for just one day of frivolities, had planned an epic Wild West Weekend! We drove up on the Friday and dressed up Western style for the pre-wedding party, ate fish and chips for dinner and then went to bed in our very own Tipi!!!

Breakfast next morning was a lush barbecue, then we set about some sun bathing and a few jobs to set things up before we donned wedding attire and the lovely humanist ceremony took place. The whole thing was outside, which was made even more splendid by the astonishingly good weather. It was another barbecue for supper, as well as a bouncy castle, sumo wrestling, gladiator jousting and a live band to dance to. It has to have been one of the most thoughtful, personal and unique weddings I’ve ever been to (which is A LOT) and I just loved every minute of it.

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July was the month for DIY and gardening…..I wanted everywhere to be as pretty as I could manage in time for our Engagement Party, and built two picnic tables (which also got painted white and had chintzy covers and cushions made specially for them) as well as getting the garden as colourful as possible! The party went wonderfully and it was gorgeous to have so many friends visit us to celebrate….even if it was a whole six months on from the actual engagement!

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With the warmer weather came lots of lovely long dog walks, with lots of lovely wildlife to be found along the way too…..

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The Hitchin Duck race took place in town and we went down to see them off…..it was a slow race though so we listened to the ending from the garden some twenty minutes later!

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Above all else, July was for spending time outdoors and enjoying the lush weather……

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the summer so far too!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Life’s A Lesson

“What is the single most important lesson you have ever had?”

This is not so much a lesson, as a sort of a massive learning experience! After wracking my brains trying to think of some kind of a lesson that I can both remember and think fondly of, this seemed like the most appropriate thing to share!

We (my younger brother and I) were very lucky as children as Mum worked part time so that she could pick us up from school each day. In the summer holidays though, apart from when we were actually on holiday, we’d be dropped off at my Nanna Doris’ house to spend the day there. We loved spending the summer holidays with her, especially as she’d take us on her errands around town, and because there was lots to explore where she lived!

When the weather was fine we’d be outside on adventures….making rancid perfume from berries and plants we’d found, or playing games with other local kids. But when the weather meant we had to stay indoors, it was time for the big cupboard of stuff to be opened!

Basically, Nanna D would keep a cupboard stocked up with all sorts of fun stuff for us to make things with….she’d collect empty cotton reels, bits of cardboard, left over bits of yarn and tin cans etc. so that we could make whatever we wanted. Firstly it meant that we didn’t have to cart a whole load of toys there with us every day, but it also meant that we could never get bored, as we’d spend time making something, get fed up of it, then make something else!

I remember wanting a skateboard as I’d seen some other kids with one, so I made one myself from cardboard, garden canes and cotton reels! Given, it wasn’t sturdy enough for me to stand on, but it was perfect for my doll Sarah to be strapped onto and send gliding down the nearest hill! I also remember well building our own little post office…a cardboard kiosk with signage (obvs) and all that goes in a Post Office! We made our own stamps, envelopes, paying in books and all sorts…Nanna D even played along as a very obliging customer!

Apart from teaching us to entertain ourselves, and that we didn’t need lots of expensive toys to keep us happy, this was all a great lesson in being resourceful. As a result, I’m a natural hoarder, but can turn my hand to most things, and can work out how to fix a problem in a jiffy.  I pride myself on being exceptionally resourceful, and I am sure I owe it to that wonderful summer holiday cupboard of stuff at Nanna D’s!

I wish I could share a photo of some of my creations, but alas digital photography wasn’t even heard of then! Still, I have wonderful memories of those times and the things I made.

Ems x