In Celebration of Having a Pen Pal and Snail Mail

When I was about eleven, I had a pen-pal.

Remember those?

These days, the term ‘pen-pal’ is probably obsolete. In this digital age, people tend not to use pens to write letters any more. Emails are the preferred method of communication.

But anyway, I digress.

My penpal was Italian. She had long dark hair, tied back in a sleek ponytail and in the photo she’d sent me, she wore a sea-green sweatshirt . I can’t even remember her name — it was such a long time ago — but I used to love receiving her letters in the post.

They used to contain news of her life,  little Italian treats — stickers, scented rubbers or tiny sweets — and basically, in an age where there was no internet, email or social media of any kind, they gave the most enticing glimpse into the life of someone I barely knew.

Digital communication is good — amazing in fact — but these days everything is so immediate.

You can post how you feel — for thousands of people to see — and even have a face-to-face conversation, in real time, with someone who’s thousands of miles away. It’s the kind of technology they used to talk about on Tomorrow’s World.

Only now, it’s not ‘the future’, it’s the here and now.

Nowadays, there’s something utterly charming about an old fashioned letter.

So imagine my excitement when, last month, I received an intriguing box filed with the loveliest treats from my blogging friend Fionnuala, who lives in Germany.

Received in The Post










In Celebration of Snail Mail

She’d sent me a bag filled with fresh walnuts from the tree in her garden, a little parcel of chocolate covered marzipan (something we had a lengthy Twitter discussion about last Christmas) and a can — yes, a can — of Prosecco. A running joke and something that doesn’t seem to be widely (if at all) available in the UK.

I thought it was an urban myth until I opened the packaging!! But I can now confirm that it does exist — and also tastes very good!

I’d no idea that my friend was sending this little package of loveliness and it was such a treat to receive it.

Funnily enough, I used to take part in an organised gift swap which was very similar. The difference being that you had a good idea that someone was sending you something — albeit not what they were going to send.

Weirdly enough, opening this little box of treasures transported me back to being eleven again. Coming home from school to find a letter from my penpal. In this immediate, digital age, it’s not often we receive lovely and exciting surprises.

So thank you Fionnu. Thanks for being so thoughtful and taking the time to send such a lovely selection of little treats through the post.

It made my entire week.

Although the marzipan didn’t last that long ;)


92 weeks and 3 days | A present for my friend | Papercut Art

I mentioned in a recent post that we had just celebrated my best girlfriend’s birthday. It was her 40th and I wanted to give a really special present, so I thought long and hard about what we should give to her. Eventually I decided to make something, rather than buy a gift.

I have spoken in the past about a growing love for the art of papercutting and have had a couple of attempts, by hand, to create some papercut art. Both were for the Craft Blog Club, which was a Twitter based club for crafty folk.  The first was for a Secret Santa Project and the second for a Spring Clean Gift Swap. I loved creating them and it gave me lots of ideas for my business too.

Roll on a year, since I made the first one and I have created a fair few since then for various weddings. In the new year, I’m going to start offering machine cut versions on my ‘Not On The High Street‘ pages and the Mooks website. I’m so used to designing for print that seeing a 3D version of my artwork is incredibly exciting!

Papercut art for my best friend

The one I created for my bestie was based around friendship. She’s been my best friend for nearly 20 years — I am godmother to her beautiful, eldest daughter — and she is now one of Bertie’s godmummys.

We used to live together and saw each other constantly, even after Dickie and I bought a house of our own. Then we moved further away — and life got in the way — but we have still remained firm friends. We see each other as often as we can and are lucky that we have an amazing, extended, group of close mutual friends who we are able to combine visits with. She’s always been there through good times and bad and I know that if I needed her she’d be by my side like a shot. Dickie and I both love her dearly.

Our present to her is a reflection of that. It’s a quote I’d seen and is very relevant for us.

True friends are like stars

You don’t have to see them

To know they are there

Homemade gifts

I was so pleased with it; it feels lovely to be putting my illustrative skills to good use again. Combining mac skills with freehand drawing is something I love and I’ve so many ideas for the coming year. As the cut paper is very delicate, I wanted something to really show it off to it’s best advantage. I have a brilliant framer, who I work with on my Not On The High Street prints. He created a fabulous frame for it, so the paper is sandwiched between two sheets of glass. It looks pretty cool when it’s hung on the wall or stood on a shelf.

I am pretty happy with it but, more to the point, so was she! It’s so lovely to be able to give something that you’ve made.

What phrase or wording would you like to see on a papercut picture? I’m always looking for new inspiration and creating things that people really want is the best kind of gift!