And a good time was had by all

I must apologise to those of you who have been awaiting my tea party report with bated breath (that would be all two of you then!). I meant to do this last Monday, but work and life and things got in the way and I just couldn’t find the time. But better late than never as they say!

So, a quick recap for those of you who’ve forgotten (or just don’t know) what I’m going on about.
My wonderful blogging friend Katy (whose blog you can find here) is raising money for The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, in memory of her friend Michelle’s baby boy Keelan. Katy is raising money by hosting tea parties… and having other people host tea parties for her. Could there be a better way to raise money than by eating cake?! Clearly there could not! Which is why I had to get in on the action and host my very own tea party.

I went for an afternoon tea type event. The entire German-speaking world seems convinced that we Brits drop everything at 5pm every day and sit down for a cup of tea and a scone. I have no idea where they get this from! I’m sure most of us would love this to be the case, but do any of you know anybody who actually does this? No? Thought not. Netherless, I decided to keep the cliche going and have people round for tea (and scones and cake and little traingualr sandwiches) at 5pm on 9th July.

I got up nice and early and started cutting teapot shapes out of colourful paper.

You can’t actually see from the picture, but the non-patterned shapes have tea quotes on them.
Having decorated the living room to my satisfaction I headed to the kitchen, where the carrot cake I had made the night before was waiting to be iced.

The Yorkshire Parkin I had baked the week before was still waiting in its tin. Amazingly we had both managed to avoid eating any of it – despite the fact the Parkin is my absolute all-time favourite cake. I love it even more than the richest and most deliciously gooey of brownies – and that’s saying something!

Yorkshire Parkin

I was secretly hoping people wouldn’t be too keen on it so there would be lots left for me, but (alas) it went down rather well. In fact, I saw one guy take three pieces. Success!
The donations tin was placed prominently next to a plate of melon (a contribution from a guest) and, to my surprise, instead of taking the opportunity to get rid of a few coins almost every guest put in a note! We ended up with 76 euros in the tin. Add to that a donation each from Jan and myself, plus the fiver someone who couldn’t make it gave me a few days later and I was able to transfer 95 pounds to Katy’s just giving page! Much more than I was expecting! And I received more compliments on my baking skills on that one day than I have in the entire rest of my life. Conclusion: The tea party was a resounding success!

I love it when a plan comes together…

I am stupidly tired this evening, having only got about 4 hours sleep last night and about 5 the night before. I kept having to go to the loo and splash water on my face at work to keep myself awake. But instead of collapsing into my bed as soon as I got home (which is what I would have liked to have done!) I went ahead with my original plan and made shortbread dough. The first batch is in the ovrn right now – another ten minutes and I can take it out, then it’s bed time for me! The remaining dough is in the fridge, awaiting it’s turn to be baked. That will happen tomorrow. At 40 minutes a time there’s no way I’m doing any more tonight. My bed is calling!

Parkin was mae on Sunday. It’s sitting in a lovely tin, and both of us have managed to resist munching on it. This is very impressive, considering it’s my favourite cake and Jan usually can’t be left within a mile of sweet stuff without gobbling it all up. The amount of times I’ve bought biscuits only to find none left when I come to get one is a testament to this! The things we’re willing to do for a good cause 😉 After work tomorrow I’ll be heading in to town to stock up on ingredients for the rest of my baked goods, then more baking shall be done on Friday. It’s all coming together nicely. Now I just have to hope everyone who’s confirmed actually turns up, otherwise we’re going to be living on cake for the next month!

Right, I’m off to get the shortbread out of the oven. Then it’s time to sleeeeeep. Jan can put the biscuits in their tin when he gets back from choir – they should be cool by then.

Here’s one I made earlier…

I was asked to upload some of my handmade cards to this blog (only by one person, as I recall, but I was still asked!) and now that Jan has sorted it out so the compter will recognise my camera again when I plug it in – which it had randomly decided to stop doing – I can actually deliver on my promise and show me what’s been keeping me away from the blogosphere for most of the past two months. Hope you like them!

Teddy bear greeting card with hand-stitched balloon
Wedding card

Make a Wish card

I also branched out and decided to make some keyrings, which  actually worked out better than I expected.

Some of this stuff is already for sale in my friend’s online shop, other’s will be coming soon. And there’s some amazing stuff in there made by other people. You really should check it out! It’s all for a good cause (Tiny Lives) and in memory of a very special little girl. And it would make me ridiculously happy if someone other than my mother were to actually buy something I’d made! Check out http://www.artfire.com/users/MyStarEllie today!

Finally Friday

It’s been a log, long week, despite the fact that I had Monday off work (we went to visit Jan’s dad) and I’m unbelievably glad it’s over. For some reason I just couldn’t concentrate. Everything seemed to take three times as long as it should have, then we had a customer complain and spent 2 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday sorting that out. Yep, that’s one week I’m pleased to see the back off.

Baby Ellie’s funeral was yesterday. I wish so much that I could have been there to support her parents – well, her mum mostly, I’ve only met her dad once – but for obvious reasons that wasn’t possible. One of the disdvantages of living in Germany. I know they had lots of friends and family there for them though, and I hear she had a good send off.  Quite a bit of money was put in the donation tin as well, and Ellie’s memorial page on Just Giving has already raised more than 1,500 pounds for the Tiny Lives charity! Not bad considering it was only created a little over a week ago. You can see the page here: http://www.justgiving.com/Naomi-Warburton Please pass the link on, even if you don’t feel you can donate to total strangers. They are trying to get the message out to as many people as possible and every little helps.

I must go and finish cooking tea now – we’re having fish and chips the healthy way (home-made and oven-cooked) and I really don’t think the potatoes are going to peel themselves!

For Ellie, with love (an appeal)

On 5th February 2011 my friend Naomi gave birth to a baby girl at 35 weeks gestation.

Baby Ellie was suffering from a reare genetic disease, ARPKD – the recessive form of Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD = autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease). Despite the staff at the RVI (Royal Victoria Infirmary) doing everything they could, Ellie fell asleep in her mum’s arms on 7th February 2011.

Now Ellie’s mum and dad, and their friends and family, are determined to give something back to the hospital that gave so much to Ellie during her short time on Earth, while at the same time raising awareness of ARPKD. Naomi has set up a fund for Ellie on JustGiving, and people are spreading awareness through Twitter. They’ve even managed to get a few celebrities involved in tweeting (I believe that’s the technical term…). And a local newspaper has also got wind of Ellie’s cause and now want to write an article about her and the various charity events. What a little star! And now, along with everyone else who would have liked to get to know Ellie, I want to do my bit to get people involved. That’s where you come in!

Please could those of you who have Twitter “tweet” the following link: http://www.justgiving.com/Naomi-Warburton
Obviously none of you know the family, and if we all gave money to every cause out there we’d be broke within minutes, but even so if you think you could perhaps donate a little something that would be amazing! Even if it’s just a pound or two, every penny that the RVI tiny lives charity gets could make a huge difference to a premature or sick baby’s life. (If you do decide to donate, maybe mention that you came from my blog, just so Ellie’s family can keep some kind of overview of where the donations are coming from). The point of this post is really to raise awareness though, not to ask you for money. Which is why all I really want is for the tweeters (twitterers?) among you to at least pass on the link. I know Ellie’s mum will be beyond grateful! I’m not on twitter myself so I thought my blog was the best chance I had to pass on the message. Thank you all!

For a good cause…

I wanted to show you some of the results of the project I was telling you about in my last post, but the computer is refusing to upload photos from my camera so I shall just have to tell you instead…

After getting a few cross stitch designs onto paper, I decided it was about time to start getting a few of them onto fabric to find out whether what I’d been imagining could even work. There’s a world of difference between a few symbols on squared paper and an actual cross-stitched product! So I got some of the leftover Aida from a previous project, dug out some of the threads I no longer needed and gave it a whirl. And… success! I managed to produce a toadstool that actually looked like a toadstool! A few days before that an online friend had mentioned that she was running an auction in aid of the Shaken Baby Syndrome SUpport Network and was looking for people who made things and would be wiling to donate something for the auction. I decided this was an excellent first step on the road to my long-term goal (more on that later) and started stitching like crazy, managing to produce a bookmark, a birthday card and three gift tags, all in just over a week. Not bad for someone who works full time! The auction is on next Tuesday, so I guess then I’ll find out whether anyone is actually willing to buy my creations and whether it’s worth persuing my other idea. Which brings me back to long-term goals…

Back when I started toying with the idea of maybe designing my own cross stitch patterns, the vague idea of possibly selling them at some point also crossed my mind. At the time I dismissed it, but once I had actually started putting the designs on paper, the idea returned. What if, I thought, I created a shop on DaWanda (the German version of Etsy, for those who are wondering), sold some self-designed and hand-made cross stitched products and gave all the money to charity? Finally a hobby that might actually lead to something meaningful! Sounds good, no? Currently, though, I’m not actually sure whether I will ever be able to put my idea into practice. German law says that if I make things with the intention of selling them I am running a business, and have to register myself as such. What nobody seems to know is whether this is still the case if I don’t even want the money I’ll be earning from selling my stuff. My plan is to give every single penny to charity. No earning back the costs of material then giving the rest to charity. 100% of the selling price would go to whichever organisation I wanted to help at the time (the plan also involves switching charities once in a while to help as many people as possible). So for now I’m still researching and reading and asking questions and, of course, waiting to find out whether anyone even wants the items I’ve donated for the aforementioned auction. And in the meantime I shall continue to draw (badly) and design and stitch, so that if my shop ever does come into being I will actually have something to sell in it. Stay tuned…

Oh, and the auction that I have possible donated my creations to (if they actually manage to arrive on time) has a Facebook page here which you all need to go and look at and bid on stuff. It’s for a good cause you know…