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

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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 ;)

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60 weeks and 4 days | A papercut picture tutorial #CraftBlogClub

Back in March, the Craft Blog Club — that I mentioned in the post where I up-cycled an old desk— laid down a third challenge…

Create and send a gift to a fellow #CraftBlogClubber, using only what you have lying around at home. A bit like the ‘Secret Santa’ challenge without the secrecy!!

In some ways, this made it slightly easier, as we could chat to our allocated crafter and get a feel for the kind of things they like.

My buddy was the lovely Tracy who writes over at iheartmyfamilyhome.

She has created a stylish, vintage inspired, home and — as her blog name suggests — loves making her house look beautiful.

I decided that I’d make another papercut picture. Slightly different from the last one, that I designed on the mac; I thought I’d draw one freehand this time.

Here’s my papercut picture tutorial!

papercut picture tutorial — I drew a freehand illustration in pencil on a piece of paper.
1. I drew a freehand illustration in pencil on a piece of paper.
papercut picture tutorial — Using a light-box, I reversed the image by drawing over the back of my picture.
2. Using a light-box, I reversed the image by drawing over the back of my picture.
papercut picture tutorial — I traced the image on to a piece of good quality cartridge paper and began to cut out the design with a scalpel.
3. I traced the image on to a piece of good quality cartridge paper and began to cut out the design with a scalpel.
papercut picture tutorial — This process was very time consuming!
4. This process was very time consuming!
papercut picture tutorial — and the pieces that were left were really tiny and fiddly
5. …and the pieces that were left were really tiny and fiddly
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6. If you’re scared of sharp knives, this craft is definitely not one for you! :)
papercut picture tutorial — almost finished
7. Almost finished.
papercut picture tutorial — turn it over to reveal the papercut pticture
8. Turn it over to reveal the picture!
papercut picture tutorial — mount it on coloured card so the design pops
9. Mount it on to a piece of card, so that the design pops.
papercut picture tutorial — frame it
10. Frame it. And voila!

It was lovely doing something crafty again — especially as I had an idea of the kind of thing the recipient would like — the only thing that made life difficult was lack of time…! Things have been SO busy recently. Every waking minute is spent organising the baby’s naming ceremony — more about that later!

Anyway, back to the #craftblogclub ‘Spring Clean Gift Swap’!

I was delighted to receive my parcel, in last week’s post!!

A gorgeous card from Tracy and not one but TWO beautiful gifts!!! Not for me, as such, but for my beautiful Twinkles!!!!

Two beautifully crafted fabric stars.

Each with their initial on.

I’m so touched that she’d created something so lovely for my babies. We will treasure them. It’s a shame the pics don’t do them justice; the sewing is just fabulous… SO neat.

Have a look…

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1. Each star was beautifully packed in it’s own cellophane bag.
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2. So lovely, as you are able to see what’s inside before you unwrap them!!.
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3. I’ve tried to take a close up of the stitching… it’s a bit blurred but LOOK how neat it is?! Amazing!
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4. The back of the stars are just as perfect as the fronts; soft white felt with baby blue stitching.
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5. The front of each star features a sweet polkadot fabric, scattered with bunnies and cars. Then each star has the boy’s initial carefully cut from navy felt then sewn on.
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6. The stars are now hanging over the babies cots; ‘C’ for Cosmo…
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7. … and ‘B’ for Bertie!
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8. Amazing too how they match in so well with the boy’s room! They are absolutely perfect :)

I am delighted with my gift(s) and really grateful to Tracy for taking the time and trouble to make such thoughtful presents. Looking forward to the next #craftblogclub challenge already!