Review of 2015 … well half of it!

 

2015 was the year I took the plunge and decided to have a go at blogging. For several years I have followed blogs including Attic24, The Patchwork Heart, Bunny Mummy and  Just Pootling and I have admired the beautiful photography, their ways with words and their beautiful crafts. A couple of years ago I decided I had a long way to go before attempting my own blog but set myself the challenge of taking a photo each day and writing a bit about it. Obviously on some days (like holidays, trips out & special occasions) it’s incredibly easy to snap away and you’re spoiled for choice, on others you are forced to think hard and be a bit creative about what the daily photo might be. This turned out to be good practice for  my blog posts, especially Sunday Sevens.

  Convent Garden, Gibraltar June 2015

Since I gave up (paid) work on the arrival of my first child, I have struggled to find something to entertain my brain, I’ve dabbled in crafts & craft fairs, done a bit of voluntary work and tried and failed to get a job which can work around my main job as a Mum.   

July 2015 (Manchester, Cheshire, Berkshire)

Recently, I guess my friends have picked up on my need to stimulate my brain and a few have independently suggested I try blogging (I hadn’t told them that I had previously considered and discounted it). I guess the planets came into alignment as when the most recent suggestion was made, I thought ‘why not?’ and set off on my Postcard from Gibraltar journey. In order to protect my boys from future ridicule, I decided to keep my blog anonymous for now.

August 2015 (Algarve & Gibraltar)

And so my Postcard from Gibraltar adventure began in June, hence the review of only half a year! We are very fortunate to live in a vibrant and interesting place, so there is never a shortage of things for me to write about, I also now have an outlet to talk about my various crafty fascinations of crochet, watercolour and sewing (friends and family heave a huge sigh of relief).

  September 2015 (Gibraltar)

I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, I am thrilled when I look back at my old posts and see photos of things we have done and seen as a family, it’s almost like an online journal or photo album (both are things I have started many times but failed to complete).

  October 2015 (Gibraltar)

I have met some really supportive and kind people through the magic of the blogosphere and found inspiration for future projects and positive criticism for my own crafty endeavours. I used to think I was just a frustrated crafter who never had the time to create the things I want. While I admit I still get a bit frustrated at times as there are so many ideas in my head of what I want to do, but looking back at the makes I have documented I can see that I do churn out quite a bit as it is!

  November 2015 (crafts) 

Away from the world of the internet, blogging has also helped me build some networks in real life here in Gibraltar. There are some very talented people residing on this great Rock and I am pleased to have met some more of them during the past six months.

  November 2015 (Gibraltar & Marbella)

I won’t ramble on any more, but will leave you with my thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my blog, I’ve had a great time with it so far and very much look forward to what 2016 holds. Happy New Year!

  December 2015 (Gibraltar)

On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me…

  
I escaped this afternoon for nearly two hours away from the video games, toys and being beaten over the head with a cardboard tube light saber. I used my time wisely to burn off a few calories consumed over the past week or so and set off for a walk up the Rock. It was a bit blowy to attempt the Med Steps so I settled for the less treacherous western side along the roads used by the many taxi cabs and tour buses which ferry tourists to the summit daily.   As I strode purposefully up this great Rock a tune was turning over in my mind, a festive tune, known in our house as ‘A parsnip in a pear tree’ (The Twelve Days of Christmas).

A few new lyrics started popping into my head too, if you don’t mind a little festive corniness read on….

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: two cable cars and a most amazing view. 

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 3 taxi cabs, two cable cars and a most amazing view. 

  
On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 6 stalagmites (and the rest!), 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing  view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

 On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me 9 road signs, the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing  view.

  On a a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: postcards from Gibraltar (sorry I couldn’t resist!), Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me dozens of Barbary apes, postcards from Gibraltar, Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view!

Sunday Sevens #11 27.12.15

School Christmas Mass As Gibraltar is a predominantly Roman Catholic place, the schools are attached to churches and at the end of each term a Mass is held. At the start of the week my two youngest went to the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned on Main Street for their annual Christmas Mass. It was lovely with the Year 2s acting out the Nativity with skipping shepherds, dancing angels and a miraculous baby doll in a wooden orange crate. The church was filled with the entire school and many parents and grandparents watching the proceedings along with one or two slightly bemused tourists who just wanted to come and look inside the church and got more than they bargained for!

Once I pop I just can’t stop! A DVD and a bowl of popcorn was just the bribery I needed to buy me enough time to get some secret wrapping done whilst locked in the bathroom! I used the excuse that I was cleaning it – thankfully they fell for it. When I was finished I came out and hoovered up what was left of the popcorn – I’m terrible when I start, I can’t stop. It’s just so moreish – I have to have the popcorn box taken off me at the cinema or it’s all gone by the end of the adverts and trailers!

Christmas Eve sunshine  On Christmas Eve we were treated to the most glorious weather. I resisted all temptations to put a few loads of washing in (I still have the English mentality of making the most of the sun even after 6+ years!) and did the necessary Christmas Eve jobs instead. We met Mr Postcard for a lovely lunch out and sat in the sunshine for a few moments before having an unexpected nap – must be my age ๐Ÿ˜‰ or maybe the pint of San Miguel at lunchtime…

Christmas Day sunset 

At the end of a rather cloudy but really mild Christmas Day we were treated to a sliver of a sunset. What a calm serene view after all the chaos and build up to Christmas!

Goodbye Downton … sniff!  I shall not give away any spoilers for anyone yet to see the climax of the Downton Abbey story and therefore this photo doesn’t feature the latest episode  (mainly because I was too engrossed wanting to absorb every last bit of the final installment). It does however feature a very important part of my Downton experience, my  Attic 24 cosy stripe blanket . As I sat down on Christmas Day evening with a glass of wine to watch the show I realised there was something missing – crochet! For the past three years that I have watched the show (I came to it late), I have always had a crochet hook in my hand at the same time. First there was my Attic 24 granny stripe blanket (see a tiny bit of it in the photo below) and then my current cosy stripe. I only managed one stripe this time as my concentration was taken by the tv but it was fittingly the shade of Claret which was drunk by the cast in one of their dinner scenes! Oh how I’ll miss the show, it was truly fantastic.

It wasn’t me! I left the wool and scissors for 10 minutes to hang some washing out on Boxing Day (I couldn’t ignore the laundry basket any longer)… All three were within a metre of it. Apparently it could have been a ghost or a vampire who did it. No one saw anything hmmmm….

Boxing Day crochet  I may have failed to complete this WIP blanket in time for Christmas but I’m turning that negative into a positive – I’m now well ahead of schedule on this birthday gift!

I do hope that your Christmas has been happy, thank you for stopping by and for all the likes and comments – they are very much appreciated! 

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series linking up with Natalie from Threads & Bobbins.

Happy Christmas!

  
Hello and happy Christmas to you, I hope you are in a healthy and happy place as you read this. I have read so many profound and touching posts online recently pertaining to Christmas and I do not have the words to do this great season justice. I am also acutely aware that for many people this Christmas will not be the happy one which many of us will share because of illness, loss and difficult circumstances, please know that you are thought of and not forgotten amongst all the tinsel and frivolity. Instead of waffling on, I will just leave you with some images of Christmas for us here in Gibraltar. 
 Advent candles at St Andrew’s Church of Scotland. This vivid tree in a courtyard off the beaten track caught my eye.Every year we visit the ‘Crib’ (or Nativity as we call it at home) which is displayed under the Parliament building at the Piazza. It has twinkly stars, running water and moving figures and tells the story of Christmas.  

  I am so grateful for the fact I still get handmade Christmas cards home from school – they are so precious.
 Wishing peace, health and happiness to you this Christmas x  

Sunday sevens #10 20.12.15

Sunday sevens is a weekly blog series in association with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins.

‘Special’ Christmas card production line  
 Well if the technological option has let me down (or at least my operation of the technology) I’ll go back to what I can do!  Scrap the home produced printed versions and bring out the watercolours! I have to say it was so nice to be able to sit calmly one morning in amongst the chaos of end of term plays, parties and concerts and just play with my paints guilt free (because they were necessary!).

Christmas cards … Tick!  And for the other 50+ recipients on my Christmas card list, sadly it was shop bought ones this year. But they are all in the post now and sigh, it feels like a weight has been lifted! Aaahhhh!

A parcel for me!  I love it when crafty things arrive here and these little beauties took a rather circuitous route south to Gibraltar. I’d been hunting for some fabric to complete a WIP patchwork quilt for a young man in my life as well as fabric for other projects and on reading a Sunday sevens post from fellow blogger Nana Cathy some weeks ago about her trip to a wonderful looking fabric shop in Harrogate I browsed their website and found just what I was after. An inconvenient consequence of living so far away means that shipping costs can often be very expensive, so I arranged to have the parcel shipped to an office Mr Postcard often visits in London. Unfortunately his pre-Christmas trip to London got cancelled so the parcel sat on a desk in London going nowhere until a kind colleague visiting Gibraltar this week brought it for me in her hand luggage. Thank you Mariana from The Copper Kettle blog for bringing it over for me! Once Christmas has passed, I shall set to work on the quilt :-).

Another beautiful sunset 

 I rarely pass the Europa Point lighthouse in the evening but on Tuesday, our trip between football training and a piano lesson took us that way. Dusk was approaching and the lighthouse looked very atmospheric with a backdrop of misty clouds shrouding the hills of Morocco across the Straits. The photo I took unfortunately didn’t quite do it justice. The sunset which happened literally minutes later was a real beauty, I just wish I’d had the time to sit down and  fully appreciate the colours before dashing off to our next engagement.

Panic!  There has been a bit of baking going on in the Postcard kitchen this week. In amongst the chaos of end of term and the Christmas countdown I had a moment of sheer panic when I ran out of icing sugar at 9:45pm… Morrisons shuts at 10… The cakes needed to be at school for the cake stall at 9am the following day… Would I get there in time?!! Yes, yes I did- phew! A lie down in a darkened room was required!

Gibraltar gets ready for a winter party  

 Saturday (yesterday) saw the Winter Party come to Casemates Square in Gibraltar culminating in a Queen tribute act on stage. There was music and dancing, craft stalls and other entertainment on offer.  It showcases something Gibraltar is really good at – putting on events. Despite being such a small place, we have Calentita!, Summer Nights, National Week and the Gibraltar Music Festival in summer and the Gibraltar Literary Festival and Christmas Light switch on in autumn. There really is rarely a dull moment around here!

Wonky weather … nasturtiums in December!  

 
I’ve been reading and hearing about how mild the weather is at the moment in Britain. Well it’s been unseasonably mild here too. I think 22 degrees C was mentioned one day this week as a high. It does mean that it doesn’t feel very Christmassy, well we never get frost and snow, but it’s normally a good deal cooler than it is right now. One happy accident of the warmer temperatures we’re experiencing is that my pot of nasturtiums has bloomed for a third time, these blooms are coming from the seeds dropped by the second flush of flowers in late summer/ early autumn. They are haphazardly climbing up the back of the bench on our balcony. 

Christmas makes

  

 I always like to make things in the run up to Christmas, this is a selection of things I’ve produced in past years. This year has been no different – I’ve had loads of great ideas but unfortunately not enough time to see them through!  

I have been inspired by so many beautiful Christmas crafts over the years, but none more so than home made wreaths. So last summer, when I was on holiday back in England a made a few crafty purchases with this very thing in mind… polystyrene wreaths. 

First of all I had to start crocheting a stripy cover for my bland base. I settled on a Frozen kind of colour scheme of blues, turquoise and silver. It was great to be making something small again after so long on my blanket WIP lately. A big advantage is that you can take it anywhere, like on the school run!


Once it was long enough to go all the way round the base, I sewed it together using all the scrappy ends.

Nearly there…

Such a satisfying little pile of endy bits!

Here’s the covered wreath in daylight.
 

Now time to adorn it. I used a pattern for some snowflakes from Simply Crochet issue 37.
  

Now to arrange them. Time for a celebration cup of coffee I think!  

 

But it looks a bit plain, I reckon it could do with a bit of bling.

  
And here’s the finished product! 

Apologies to my fellow crafty bloggers who may read this as though I’m trying to teach my Gran to suck eggs (though I don’t believe she ever did that ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but I find the process of making things and the broken down stages of crafting very interesting. I like to read posts like this, file the info away for future reference and add it to my ever growing list of ‘what I’d like to make nexts’.  

In adition to the wreath, I’ve had a little stocking production line going. Using this cute Christmas sock pattern by Le Monde de Sucrette. 

   

And I’ve completed my first ever crochet hot water bottle cover!

 
I just wish we had another couple of weeks before Christmas so I could finish all the other things I’d like to make! How are you getting on with your Christmas makes?

Sunday Sevens #9 13.12.15

 Knitted nativity

  

This gorgeous knitted nativity scene greeted us when we arrived at church on Sunday morning. The entire church (St Andrews Church of Scotland) had been decked out in it’s Christmas finery ahead of the annual Carols by Candlelight service on Sunday night. Sadly we couldn’t attend the atmospheric evening service this year due to several in the family becoming under the weather with coughs and sniffles. It’s a real highlight in the church’s year and brings a bumper congregation with many standing at the back when the pews fill up. The service was recorded by GBC to be broadcast in the Christmas schedules on Radio Gibraltar and our local TV channel GBC.  The knitted nativity appears each year and just looks so lovely – so much work must have gone into creating it.

Please allow me a little grumble…

 
Not the most inspiring photo I know (apologies for that) but it highlights a grumble I have about food shopping in Gibraltar. Mr Postcard went supermarket shopping on Sunday (5th December) and came home with this packet of Corn on the Cob. Can you spot what I’m about to grumble about? The date has partially been cut out of the packaging so that it could still be sold at full price. It’s a common occurrence in the fruit and veg section as swedes often have their labels ripped off and new ones attached when they have passed their sell by dates. Other veg get the same treatment too. 

Yes I know it’s our own fault for buying it in the first place, but if you really want an ingredient for your dinner and the only one available is out of date you have to take it, there isn’t a huge amount of choice when it comes to food shopping here. I agree with selling food which is out of date, but still edible, rather than dumping it in landfill but I think it’s extremely cheeky to try and hoodwink the customer with such tactics and charge full price for items when you wouldn’t be allowed to do this in the UK. Rant over, thank you!

Race against time  

So many gifts to make, such little time! Will this one be finished in time for Christmas or will it just get put to the end of the list for a birthday present instead?! Why do I set myself such unrealistic goals? I guess it’s the lot of so many crafters. At what stage do you give up on your Christmas gift to – make list and hit the shops instead? Perhaps if I spent less time online, that would help ;-D.

Buttons… Buttons… Buttons… 

Well another milestone was reached at my dressing class this week: button holes! It may have taken 18, yes 18 attempts at practicing them before I was allowed to go near cutting them or sewing actual buttons on a sample, but my persistence paid off and I did it! Next challenge: a centred zip (rather than one under a flap, which I’ve already done), then work properly begins on skirt no 2 ๐Ÿ™‚
Christmas cards 
On this issue, I wasn’t so successful. I’m sorry to say that I quit. I must have printed over 20 in various states of disarray with upside down wording and white borders in the wrong place, so I’ve decided to paint a few small cards for the ‘special’ people and have bought the usual ones for everyone else. I shall, however, get some cards printed PROPERLY in time for Christmas next year. On a positive note, I’m really pleased with how my holly turned out, and at least I still have that, so it’s not been a complete waste of time. 

Cooking with small people

  

My 7 year old came home from school recently saying he wanted us to cook a recipe he’d tried at school – this week we managed to gather all the (out of season) fruit for the ‘stew’ he took great delight in washing and stirring the fruit and it was delicious!

Parties galore  

It’s been parties galore for us lately, umpteen Christmas parties with various groups and clubs as well as a superhero birthday party for a friend’s 5 year old. The party bag yielded an old favourite I remember playing with with my brother many moons ago. Sadly this Spitfire didn’t last long in the hands of a 4 year old but it was fun while it lasted!
Sunday sevens in a weekly blog series linking up with Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.

Sunday Sevens #9 6.12.15

Sunday Sevens is a blog series devised by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.

 Monday morning walk/jog

If I’m going to fit into any of my dresses in time for the soon to arrive Christmas party season without industrial strength under garments I really need to lose a few pounds (weight, not money sadly). With my intention to start the week healthily I headed off for a Monday morning jog. It started and ended with a walk and I stopped to take one or two photos so I can’t claim too much exercise was had, but it was good to get out of the house and get the blood pumping and enjoy the views on my scenic outing. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Gibraltar, the above photo was taken at Camp Bay (or El Quarry as it’s known locally, because it used to be one once upon a time) looking north towards Parsons Lodge, a military building from long ago. Just the other side of Parsons Lodge is a small bay where Nelson’s ship,  HMS Victory, was brought after the Battle of Trafalgar. Anyway, I digress, there was a really moody levante cloud forming over the Rock on Monday morning, that’s the huge dark grey cloud taking up most of the photo. There was blue sky and white fluffy clouds over my shoulder!

I took a detour onto the tiny pebble beach at Camp Bay for a moment before steeling myself for the upward climb through the tunnel towards the Europa Point lighthouse. Although I can see the sea from my home (I know, I’m very privileged to have such a view) it’s so nice to get up close to it every now and again and hear the waves crashing on the rocks.

  

The start of a new month…
 

Good heavens, how did we end up in December so soon? My watercolour class was cancelled this week but I  had a small window of opportunity to crack out my paints at home for a change and spent the last few moments mucking about with the actual paints on the kitchen table rather than actually painting! Will I ever get my Christmas presents/cards done?!

Dressmaking
 
In this week’s class I made a waistband for my little sample gathered skirt. It’s just about big enough to fit round my wrist so would suit a doll I reckon. It really is so gratifying to learn how to do this and find out how garments are put together.

Christmas card frustration

  

I have finally finished my holly watercolour painting to a point where I’m happy with it and decided to turn it into printed Christmas cards. My parcel arrived through the post with my printable cards this week – how hard can it be to get them printed? Well for a complete techno dimwit like myself it’s extremely hard. I have no idea how many hours I’ve spent creating and then losing my virtual cards before attempting to print them. At last! I thought, let’s plug the printer in, I’m on the home straight. Alas, no. I cannot seem to get the image right on the card AND the words inside the correct way up…. I think I may have to resort to buying cards again like always ๐Ÿ™

Tranquil sunset

Aah, that feels better. We have had a very overcast and cloudy week this week so I’m sorry to say there are no ‘blue sky’ photos this week but one evening the clouds did clear in time for sunset. It was beautiful. 

And finally … A surprise party

  

Last night we were invited to a surprise 50th birthday party. This photo was taken in the few tense moments before the birthday girl arrived. It was a lovely evening and very emotional at times. 

I do hope you had a good week. Thanks for stopping by!

Meeting a kitchen table entrepreneur : How a Facebook post led to a new business opportunity

Having my own little business is something I have long fancied doing. At this point in my life, unless I were to be blessed with an extremely flexible employer, I would struggle to hold down a job while juggling three children and maintaining at least a small degree of sanity. When I first qualified in my profession, I began working as a freelancer, so I have experience of ‘working for myself’ although inevitably it was as tying, if not more so, than a permanent full-time position as I was scared of turning down work in case they didn’t call me again the next time they needed someone.

A good friend of mine, Rachael, recently become one of the kitchen table entrepreneurs we have been hearing a lot about in recent years. A Mum who set herself up in business from home, and so far, has got off to a flying start. I had a chat with her about how it all came about and what exactly it is she does:

First of all, what’s your background before starting DigiDoodleDesigns?

I was in IT and Maketing. I’ve 2 degrees in European Business, one from Manchester and the other I did in Bochum, Germany. Before moving to Gibraltar in 2004 I worked for a large oil company in the IT department as a Situation Manger, which I loved. Now, in Gibraltar I work a few hours a weekย for a company on Main Street, which leaves me ample time to follow my own interests, taking me initially down the photography path, but more recently down the Word Art path.

Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?

DigiDoodleDesigns was established after designing a selection of prints for myself, putting them on Facebook and friends and family asking if I could do them one too. It’s as simple as that! It also fits in with family, school and like most mums with everything else that needs to be sorted on a daily basis.

green butterfly 1

How long has DigiDoodleDesigns been running now?

I’ve always played with design applications, but I’ve been producing Word Art prints since the Spring of 2015.

What sort of things do you make?

I produce prints which include words – many words. On average, there’s 100 words per print which when they are all joined together, they can take the shape of houses, hearts, the Rock of Gibraltar etc. I have made hens for Brides-to-be, a sun, rainbows, Christmas trees, baubles, presents, a cup of tea. I’ve even made prints using company logos. The list is endless!

I also take quotations, poems, wedding vows or personal prose and turn them into works of art specific to each individual client’s requests. My favourite at the moment are the birth prints! They look beautiful framed in the nursery with either just the baby’s name, or their birthday, weight, hospital etc. They are so cute.

What are your most popular lines?

I must say hearts and houses are the most popular lines, I’ve produced a large number for both corporate and private clients. A great number are A3 framed prints, which Face Frames in Town Range make for me, but I also have an increasing number of clients requesting canvasses, especially for Christmas.

Have you launched any new lines for Christmas?

I have expanded into mugs, keyrings, mobile phone covers and bags for Christmas, but I will try and accommodate whatever a client prefers.

christmas tree tinsel

Have you still got room in your Christmas order book?

I do have a few slots available for Christmas, but I will also try and fit a client in even if it means me working until 2 in the morning, which I’ve done on a few occasions quite happily.

What are your plans for the business as you look ahead to the New Year?

Oh I have many plans for 2016! I am looking to sell my products on the internet for one. I have a good number of customers in the UK and Canada so I am trying to optimise printing and logistics to enable me to offer a uniform high end product where ever the client is in the world.

I am always creating new designs, many of which are waiting to be launched. Spring 2016 is Communion time and I will be making a range of Communion favours and invitations to bring them up to date and colour coordinated with invitations and table decorations etc. This along with the Word Art crosses can make a truly personalised day for any beautiful girl or smart young man.

So Rachael, how can someone contact you if they are interested in using your service?

To contact me, please ring me on +35058009402, email me on DigiDoodleDesigns@gmail.com or contact me through Facebook at DigiDoodleDesigns.

Thank you Rachael for taking the time to tell us all about your cottageย industry, we wish you every success for the future!