Sunday, 27 December 2009

Taking Flight

Over the last couple of days I have been reading this book about discovering your creative self. My dearest friend Mel calls me her butterfly friend because I do so many different things, so I thought I would do the first creative project in the book and do a semi self portrait, the butterflies represent some of the different activities I do. My life coach Amy has worked very hard with me to help me accept myself just the way I am instead of feeling that I should be committed to one activity. I had a lot of fun doing this, as it was completely from imagination which frees up the obsession with getting it exactly right.

I have signed up to a exploring your creativity workshop in the New Year, so that is my plan over the next year.

By the way the colours in this painting are so much duller than the actual one, it seems a photograph can't do paintings justice!

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Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Here is the lovely Oscar sleeping off his Christmas Turkey!

This has been the most relaxed Christmas for years! We decided to have a family Christmas and have a break from socialising! I let out the chooks around 7am, so I thought it was a great time to wake everyone up! I don't know what time they went to bed, I left L wrapping pressies just after midnight and W was out partying as usual! However, they managed to rouse themselves to open stockings.

We had turkey for the first time ever, in my twenty years since I left home I have never eaten turkey! It was lovely!

W and L headed off after lunch and we enjoyed a very peaceful afternoon cuddling up together.

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Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas Cushion

I just love the retro colours in these fabrics!

Last October we stayed in a Warners Hotel, (the same one featured in to the Manor Born no less!) Well my favourite shop is very close by called Becca's Emporium and I found to my delight she was having a workshop on the Sunday.

So I went to the workshop which included a rummage in the shop to find fabric inspiration. This little combination really caught my eye and I created the templates myself! (not really all that difficult just a few triangles!) The background was some lovely stretchy velour fabric which really gave a lovely wintry feel. The only difficulty was the workshop was held in a very cold room with just a bar heater which needed to be unplugged if we wanted tea! So after cutting out the trees I decided to head home to complete the job!

The velvet material was just the right shade (I bought about 3 meters at a WI auction for a couple of pounds a few months before!) I stitched the stars above and finished the insert. I must say the colour combination is wonderful a nice change from the traditional reds. It was a wonderful project and I found Becca very inspirational, how anyone gets the time to sew with two little boys is amazing to me!

The weather today was amazing, we could not leave the house as there was a thick sheet of ice everywhere! The chooks just slid down their little slope, as if they were on a child's slide it was so funny! They are getting wiser and now spend wet days in their little dirt pen which has a nice roof! I have to admit I did work from home today as the forest roads were simply treacherous! I made up for the disappointment of not getting to work by creating a painting in the shed most of the afternoon with the heating up full blast! I just love winter!
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Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas Reading

A good Christmas read seems to put me in the festive mood so I thought I would give you a few recommendations:

Maeve is the Queen of warm Irish feel good novels, this collection of stories based around Christmas will gladden the heart. The good thing about story collections is you can fit the odd story in between all the hundreds of tasks to do this time of year. I particularly enjoyed the one where the little girl was given a digital camera, should be a warning to everyone!

If you are up to your neck in Christmas preparations, your list of jobs to do is getting longer and longer and everyone is putting pressure on you then this book will appeal to you. The protagonist and his wife decide to completely skip the Christmas Celebrations and go off on a cruise instead - a wonderful idea! However, plans don't always work out the way we expect them to. Lovely read.

A gem of a writer, I love the way she adds just a little hint of magic to the ordinary! This is about a guy who would like to be in two places at once what a great gift! This is a quirky novel, but a great read all the same. A little bit like Christmas Carol in that our protagonist has a change of heart.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Play dough!

I made this large lump for my three year old nephew. It brought back some lovely memories making this with my two, how the time flies! One minute you are making pounds of play dough the next they are boxing up their things and moving to their own flat! (yes, W is leaving home and moving into his little flat tomorrow!) I will miss him, but he isn't all that far away.

Well, this is part of my nephew's present, he has a little baking kit, a gorgeous apron I bought at the University craft fair together with these colourful lumps! I was quite surprised how expensive play dough is compared to how cheaply you can make it!

I expect you all know how to make it yourself, but in case you don't here is the recipe for you.

1 measuring jug full of flour, (strong bread flour is best if you have it, or plain is fine)
1 measuring jug full of water (add drops of food colouring to the water)
1/2 measuring jug of salt
1table spoon of oil

Place in a saucepan and mix ingredients together to form a goo, don't worry too much about lumps.
cook the mixture slowly under a gentle heat
Keep the mixture moving, stirring all the time, this will get harder as the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat when it starts to thicken, even though there will still be some gloopy mixture left.
Knead on a board, the mixture will eventually even out and become a nice dough. If it is still too gloopy return to the heat. (you could do this in the microwave but I am a little old fashioned! My adivice is put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, then stir.)

Store in a plastic tub to keep it from drying out, it will last for a month or two and the salt will discourage eating!
The good news is that if you do get it on the carpet, just allow it to dry out and you will be able to hoover up the crumbs.

Can't wait to have grandchildren, I miss playing with this stuff!
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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Argentine Tango

Mel calls me a butterfly, in that I flit from one thing to another, this blog is testament to the many things I do but not a comprehensive list by any means. I have been dancing for over 18 years, regularly every week! It is simply one of the best ways to keep fit.

I started Argentine Tango over a year ago, Clive and I did an all day workshop and it is one of the most challenging dances to learn. After years of jive dancing, swing, Lindy hop, blues and salsa - tango is a completely different dance. It is a soulful dance, you are led by his energy alone responding to yours, the dancers have to connect on a deeper level than any other dance I know. I was only just really getting a feel for it before I hurt my leg, and there are people I know who have been dancing for years and still find it difficult.

Over the year I have watched lots of Tango lessons on you tube and seen some teachers and dancers at the Milonga's but Vincent and Flavia's Tango left me utterly speechless. It is the most wonderful dance I have ever seen, phenomenal and the epitome of why I go week after week, as it nearly breaks my heart every time I struggle. I would like to think that if I stick at it enough one day I will be good at it, but I don't think I will ever come close to this perfection. What I really mean is this is so difficult but they make it look easy!

So here it is for you to enjoy.

Monday, 14 December 2009

How Twilight should have ended,

I was reading fabulous since 1961's blog and saw this there, hope you don't mind but I loved it so much wanted to share it too.

hope this works!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Vintage Apron

I just love the wonderful aprons I see in the advertising of the fifties, so when I saw this gorgeous vintage inspired strawberry fabric, it was just crying out to be made into a gorgeous vintage apron.

I used my gathering foot but unfortunately after attaching the bottom the pocket was not centred! I am not sure about the pocket, so I might remove it. But the apron is wonderful to wear, it is so feminine. Just in time for me to do some Christmas presents!
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Sunday, 29 November 2009

Feeling Christmassy

What a Christmassy weekend we had! The wonderful Christmas market opened in Winchester: there is a lovely ice rink surrounded by little log cabins full of crafty people! It is adorable, sadly no snow, but the mulled wine and stollen was absolutely perfect. (Thank you Dawn)

After my long weeks of convalescence I daren't hire skates! But it must be fantastic to skate in the open air!

We went with my best friend Dawn and her lovely hubby Gavin, Clive wrapped up warm for the trip as it was so cold last year. It was a tremendous atmosphere, very busy, Christmas does really seem right round the corner.

I love going with Gavin and Dawn, it gives Clive someone to chat to while he, very patiently, waits for me to browse through the stalls. Dawn is the only person I know who can actually out shop me, and that is saying something!

I bought this adorable case for Lucy, it will hold all her stocking presents this year, she is a real box addict and will love it I am sure.

Sunday we went to another fabulous fair in Southampton University. (I cannot divulge the promises I made to Clive to go to yet another crafting event, needless to say I shall be busy over the next few days!)

I am so in awe of the talented people who run stalls there, I always come home laden and full of inspiration. One stall that simply took my breath away was from Jolly Interiors, Nikki's eye for design is stunning, I could not resist this little birdie! The journal book is also beautifully hand made. While buying it I convinced myself it would make a lovely gift for someone, but I don't think I can let it go! We had a lovely tea and cake with Sally and Tony, it was great to catch up with them.

I love going to these events, it is a great way of finding all the talented people in the area, so that I know about any workshops or courses in the area. Will definitely be checking out the courses at Jolly Interiors they look fab!

Inspired by the fair I finished putting the berries on my Christmas Wreath. It is made from a coat hanger and my wonderful Rosemary bush that grows in abundance just outside the back door. (Someone told me that Rosemary only flourishes in a home where the woman rules the roost, which just can't be right in my case!) I wanted it to look a little natural, and I am quite pleased with the results.

Now where did I put that mulled wine recipe?
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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Book Review - Found Wanting

I have been a fan of Robert Goddard for about ten years. I read hand in glove and could not put it down, it was absolutely brilliant. I think my favourite is In Pale Battalions, which had me desperate to read right to the end as the plot weaves its mysteries until the tension builds to fever pitch!

This is his latest out in paperback, a bundle of letters that could identify the mystery surrounding Anastasia the Russian Royal Family mystery. The story weaves around the colder countries in Europe during a cold February, and the protagonist, Richard Eusden is trying to help his school friend by delivering the case of letters to a buyer.

What follows is a wander from Belgium, Germany and Copenhagen and Iceland, Eusden getting his hands on the case only to have it snatched away. There are a number of interested parties trying to get their hands on the case, a world wide corporation, an American, a seedy guy called Straub and a young student. They all are trying to get at the case and its contents with their own motives, the contents was supposed to solve the mystery of Anastasia. There is a love interest for our protagonist, which is usual in Goddard's books.

I wanted to enjoy this novel, but I have to admit, after the fifth time Eusden was hit on the head after getting his hands on the case I just got bored. Basically I did not care about the mystery, it was just the same incident over and over, just different characters getting their hands on the case.

I have noticed the last few novels just don't seem to have the pace or the twists and turns of his previous books, Goddard always writes about historical facts, the JFK, Winston Churchill, WW 1, the mysteries believable and interesting, but this one is just boring. He writes that he was asked to write about this mystery, but it isn't written with enough passion or conviction. While he does give a sense of these bleak countries, the descriptions of the cold are very good, there just isn't enough to keep me reading. I actually skipped to the last chapter. The ending was a little predictable, but I would not recommend this book, it isn't his best. However, I think I will pick up the next one and hope the magic is back.

If you enjoy mysteries, then I would recommend Nicci French, Beneath the Skin, secret smile or land of the living. They are real terrifying page turners.
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Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Well, I have my life back! The physiotherapist was delighted with my progress, and has given me the go ahead to go back to dancing! Yippee, I am thrilled!

I am making headway in the gym trying to get rid of the 10lb I had put on while sitting on the sofa for 9 weeks!

I have bought two new pairs of trousers for work as I am struggling to get into my uniform!

Tiffany, seems to be delighted to travel around with me, she is my beautiful red mx5. It is so delightful to have the music blaring travelling along. Only short journeys for now, but I am getting further and further away!

Once again still drooling over goreous Antonio tangoing!

New Moon was great, I am actually getting into the Jacob fan club! Pwaarh! He is a lovely young man!!!

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Thursday, 19 November 2009

OH Dear!

I thought I would post a little eye candy on this post because I have been rather lazy in terms of the crafting front lately!

Here is the lovely Edward Cullen, if you are already a fan of the Twilight books you will be in love, if not then I would advise you to try them, as I have mentioned before! Well the film is out this Friday, so I am hoping to go and see it on Sunday, can't wait!

Went totally mad yesterday, took my beautiful little red MX 5 out for a spin the first time in 9 weeks! It was great, playing I Kissed a girl at full volume! (It happened to be on the CD!) Sadly all this progress went straight to my head, I played dance music most of the afternoon and was gigling about! I thought I would have a little go on the Wii fit, but sadly I discovered i have put on 10lbs in weight in the last 9 weeks!

So off I went swimming, which was not a great idea, as I ended up in a lot of pain this morning.

I have signed up to gym membership for the next five weeks and I am hoping that supervised exercise will soon have me slimming down into my clothes and getting me fit enough to dance! How I miss it! Still I can at least drive to the shops and back now, so I am grateful for small mercies!

if you want to see why I am so keen to get back to dancing take a look at this

Work is going great, it is sooooo good to have something to do at last.
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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Afternoon Tea

I simply adore the idea of tea at four, I am so pleased to hear it is making a come back. We had a great games evening last night, T, who works for a famous flour maker gave me a huge box of flour so it is a great excuse to do some baking. My cherries were a little bashful and sunk to the bottom, but I heard that if you replace a spoonful of ordinary flour for strong bread flour it supports the fruit much better (shame I did not hear that before I made my cake!). The chooks are laying some lovely golden eggs which gives the sponge a beautiful colour. The tea cups were a delightful find in the Broadwindsor Craft Centre a couple of years ago, they are Edwardian so almost qualify for antique status!

We spent a lovely hour tidying up the garden putting right all the mess the chooks made! It was such a lovely autumnal day, the sun shining while raking the leaves. Clive made the chooks a lovely dirt bath from an old pallet, he gave it a roof so they can stay dry and they love having all the leaves to rake over, it kept them quiet for an hour or two! After all the hard work I can eat cake!

At the bottom of the cake stand I have made some Ginger Snaps. I love the aroma of ginger, it seems to make me feel all Christmassy, as a biscuit they are so easy to make.

4 oz SR Flour
1 to 2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
2 oz butter (it should be butter for the flavour)
1 1/2 oz sugar
1 level teaspoon of black treacle (now that is christmassy!)
Milk to mix

Sift flour ginger and spices into a bowl, rub in the butter to resemble fine breadcrumbs, enjoying the delightful smell of the ginger.
Add sugar and mix to a stiff paste with the treacle and just enough milk to make a dough you can roll out
Roll out thinly and cut into 20 rounds using a 2in cutter and place on greased baking trays
Bake in a moderate oven 180C 350F GM4 for around 10 minutes
Leave in trays for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
Store in airtight tin, or enjoy them while they are warm! ahh.

The boiler man came thursday and Friday spreading himself all over the house meaning I had to retreat to the shed! He is coming back tomorrow to finish off, but I shall be at work away from the chaos thank goodness! However, I won't complain we were so hot last evening we had to open all the windows!

I am counting down the days until my favourite Christmas Craft Fair on the 29th November, as well as the opening of the ice rink and craft village in Winchester Cathedral. Oh don't you just love this time of year?
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Friday, 13 November 2009

My gorgeous vintage girl - vintage make over

Dear L is off on a golfing pub tour tonight! Apparently it is an eighteen pub tour dressed in vintage golfing gear! So I tried to give her a little bit of a vintage look. Doesn't she look fab, she liked it so much she is thinking of becoming a vintage girl!

There is a great tutorial on you tube if you fancy having a go yourself. I have already started using the vintage look, as I am an hour glass it really suits my body shape.

Good news, I spoke to my boss and she has organised me to return to work without having to drive. The doc is happy but I can only do part time for a couple of weeks, but I am so thrilled, it is good to get back to normal. Yippee. Maybe I will feel differently at 7am on Monday, but it feels like a step towards the dance floor! I will be tangoing soon!
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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Cover Job

It is the time of the year when a new diary raises its head. I was given a rather dull maroon page a day diary and while I love having the space to write the cover was just crying out for some beauty!

Here it is, the cover is padded and the button has an elastic closure to keep the book shut. I also added some elastic edges to keep the diary pages.

This is a little tricky to keep the edges straight with the glue gun, but I found edging it with a little lace covers a multitude of bumps and creases!

I am happy with the result and I am sure it will bring a smile on my face throughout the year.

It has been a strange day, I was not focused enough to finish the dress I started or the bag I cut out. Instead I made yet another wheat bag, this time for me. It is a little longer this time, which helps it to go round my neck and shoulders after being hunched over a machine. It also is very good for my leg!
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Monday, 9 November 2009

A tour of the Shed

Yesterday I posted that my rag doll was going to live in the shed, and I realise that the shed sounds a rather dark dingy place, so I thought I would give you a tour.

this is the corner of my desk, the drawers contain zips and threads. The piece of driftwood was collected on New Years Day in the local beach. There are three boxes of pens, and the basket towards the edge of the picture contains little flowers. The little blue pot holds all my drawing pins, with a couple of pincushions. The pink hat box is a beautiful sewing box, and the blue flowery hat box contains ribbon and the white basket in one of my favourites that is filled to the brim with tapestry wool. I am a bit of a basket fanatic. The book is a diary.

Following round is one of the noticeboards in order to encourage me, I pin up my certificates, letters and cards. As well as beautiful postcards of Dorset. The chairs were £2 from the local dump and they are so comfortable. The Over locker is stored there until I use it and the little boxes contain all the fabric, patterns and papers.

Another noticeboard sits above the desk, at the centre is a saying,

"If you want it you have to make it possible"

moving further round is the little dresser where little dolly sits, there is lots of paraphernalia, including ribbons and bows, once again you can see my desire for glass jars!

The last corner is my book case with some of my craft books. I love having inspirational material close by. Of course Dolly the mannequin, is an excellent model.

So now you have it, my shed. My favourite place in the world.
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Sunday, 8 November 2009

What I am reading

I have just finished this book, I came across this book in Tesco's and as I enjoyed the film P.S I love you I thought I would give it a go. I am so pleased I did.

Cecelia writes wonderful tales with just a hint of magic! This is the story of a rather disillusioned teenager who has just lost her father. Her Father's death coincides with huge monumental debts and Tamara finds herself homeless without a penny to her name and has to go and live in the Countryside with her Aunt and Uncle.

The magic comes in the shape of a book that foretells what is going to happen the next day. The house in the country seems to be full of secrets and Tamara goes on quite a journey. Tamara is not a likable character at the beginning, but Cecelia writes so well you grow to like Tamara as each page turns and she actually realises what is important. I felt very sorry for the Rosaleen character, she seemed to be working very hard to look after everyone. The little country cottage seems to be a lovely abode, but Tamara doesn't seem to appreciate it.
Be warned, this isn't a light fluffy read, there is a dark side.

I would thoroughly recommend this book as she seems to write lovely stories with some great characters. I did not realise until I read the blurb, Cecelia wrote the series Samantha Who, which is one of my favourite programmes!

So in my usual fashion, I am now reading another of her books, the Gift, which is a lovely Christmassy story. Just the right time, pass the tea, I am snuggling under the quilt beside the fire. Bliss.
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Saturday, 7 November 2009

Saturday Sewing

I simply adore the crochet doilies you can get for pennies in charity shops, so I thought I might use them in my latest project for the sales table at the WI. They give a lovely vintage feel especially if you combine it with linens.

I love making wheat bags, they are so easy to make yet make great presents and are so comforting.

They are just simple rectangles you can make them to any size depending on what you would like to use them for. Long and thin for round your neck, or more square for your tummy.

I fill mine with pearl barley which costs 39p from tesco and I add my own lavender from the garden.

You simply put them in the microwave for one or two minutes depending on the size, the lavender really gives up a lovely relaxing scent as you let the warmth relax tired muscles or they are simply wonderful for period pains.

It is always a good idea to do a double seam, as it stops the wheat from escaping.

When I was a child I always wanted a rag doll, a proper home made doll but I never got one. So I started this rag doll for a competition and run out of time to finish it. She ended up naked in the shed until I found her while I was having a sort out. I decided to give her some clothes. I still have to make her shoes but I like the way she has turned out. I will keep her on a shelf in the shed. At last, after nearly thirty five years, I have my own rag doll!

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Friday, 6 November 2009

Make over

I wanted this blog to be a cheery place to come, so up to now I have tried to edit any moaning! However, I also want it to properly reflect who I am and my life isn't all sugar and spice!
I hinted on my gastroncnemis hints and tips that since being home all the time barely able to walk I got a little bit in a rut, but on Tuesday I could not remember the last time I put on make up and my hair was going orange!!! I think I hit an all time low this week as everyone was out for the evening and we had a power cut! So there I was, the boiler broken now for three weeks, no electricity, no radio even, no way to leave the house I just huddled over a few tea lights!

It has really surprised me, in my workplace I was nick named "Miss Stylish" as I really enjoyed dressing up for work, now, after a few weeks at home I struggle to wear anything other than jogging bottoms and jumpers. Add to that the fact I clean out the chickens every day and you can imagine what I looked like!

Fortunately my wonderful friend D, conspired with my son, W (a hairdresser) to get hold of me and sort me out! She brought over her whole make-up stash, and did a great make over, and he did a wonderful cut and colour on my hair, here are the results! (I am too ashamed to show you what I looked like before.) On D's advice I am going to Town next week and plonk myself in front of the Bobbi brown counter and try and find some foundation maybe even get some nice tips on my nails!

I had my physio therapy today, despite my wishes that I would be back at work next week, the therapist made an appointment for a week on Tuesday and told me I might just be able to sit in my car and push the pedals by then but not drive! So I won't be back to work as I drive all over the New Forest for my job. However I am very hopeful I have some exercises to do now so I am wishing it will progress soon! We are having a new boiler fitted, (the electricity is being cut off again next week to fix the fault) so lets hope it will all be well in a couple of weeks.

This is actually the third attempt to photograph myself as all the other pics turned out to only feature my eyebrows and the top of my head! Perhaps I need longer arms.

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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Easy Christmas Card Template for you

While C was potting his pots, I went to get coffee and was distracted by a fabulous craft store. While browsing the many aisles of Christmas related card making toppers and embellishments I was struck by the feeling I often do when I have made cards like this, somehow they don't feel like my work, in addition they can end up very expensive!

These blank embossed cards caught my eye as well as a card full of 'Christmas wishes' etc, looking at the Christmas Trees I was struck by an idea. So all you need for this little project is some blank cards, a template (see below) some Christmas Greetings, some gold stars, gold and red glitter pens! They work out around 23p each, (including the cost of the pens!) but they include enough of an element of creativity to feel you have made them yourself.

  1. As you can see the trees are simply made of swirly curly shapes, all you do is cut out the tree and it's little tub, (it helps to fold the card) leaving the tree shape behind.
  2. Lay your template over the card roughly in the middle. Use your finger to find the edge. (make sure the card is the right way up! I managed to do one upside down!)
  3. Draw your swirly shapes in gold staying in the cut out shape. You can use dots at the edge to refine the corners.
  4. Do the same for the bucket. (I used red but you can use any colour you want.)
  5. When you remove the template you will have a delightful tree shape with a delightful bucket!
  6. Just join the tree to its bucket with a few little dots.
  7. Glue the star to the top
  8. Add your little Christmas Greeting at the bottom
  9. Run your pen around the square.

there you have it!

The great thing about this, is that it is as relaxing as colouring in, but each card will be slightly different.

I know this is rare for me, as I never know when to stop when it comes to embellishing things, just take a look at my jumper bag for an example! However, it is the pure simplicity of this card that makes it wonderful.

If your fingers really itch to add more then you could add a little bow to the bucket but then STOP!

hope you make some of your own, or it is that easy your kids could have a go!

If you want to alter the pattern just use the little square handles around the template to adjust it larger, thinner or fatter!

Happy crafting!

By the way, while I was half way through this I had yet another power cut!!! As if living without heating, being alone because C was on a course on top of all that we had a power cut! What made it harder was it only affected a couple of houses in the street, I could gaze longingly at the houses lit up like Christmas trees! Fortunately we have power once more I now have lanterns, torches, a gas kettle and batteries, now I am prepared I am sure we won't have a power cut again!!!
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