Friday, 30 January 2015

Goodbye Stampin' Up!

Hello readers!

It's with a heavy heart that I am telling you that I will no longer be a Stampin'Up! Demonstrator from the 1st February.

It's sad to be dropping after nearly 6 years of sharing what I love, but a combination of things mostly in my private life means that SU and I have come to the end of the road.

I'm keeping the blog open, as I have realised that my Scrapbooking Mojo is returning and I have been creating some (IMHO anyway) lovely pages, but the more scrapping I do, I realise that I can't create the pages I want without using other companies products, and SU really isn't geared up to real scrapbookers with the way they sell papers and embellishments.

Watch this space, and my scrapbook pages will be appearing here soon!

If any of my former customers are looking for a new demo, please get in touch and I will point you to  one of my friends who will be delighted to help you with any orders.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Retired Stampin' Up! goodies for sale - grab a bargain!

I have been having a sort out of my craft room, and have unearthed the following retired card and paper packs, and am offering them for sale - packs are complete unless otherwise stated (may have been opened - but all there!)

Postage will be added at cost plus a token amount towards packaging and travel to PO in next village - sorry, but envelopes, 12x12 mailers and pizza boxes do not come free.

If you are interested in any of these, please contact me on

A4 cardstock - full packs
Bashful Blue £4
Baja Breeze £4
Certainly Celery £4
Bravo Burgundy £4
More Mustard £4
Not Quite Navy £4
A4 card - partial packs
Bashful Blue (17 sheets) £3
Really Rust (14 sheets) £3
Tangerine Tango (14 sheets) £3
Regal Rose (23 sheets) £4
Pretty in Pink (21 sheets) £4
Mellow Moss (14 sheets) £3
Certainly Celery (17 sheets) £3
River Rock (16 sheets) £3

12x12 Cardstock (postage may be quite steep on these!)

River Rock £4 each (2 Packs available)
Not Quite Navy £4 each (3 packs available)
More Mustard £4 each (2 packs available)
Regal Rose £4
Riding Hood Red £4
Baja Breeze £4each (2 packs available)
Pretty in Pink £4
Bravo Burgundy £4
Part packs
Certainly Celery (11 sheets) £4
Marina Mist (9 sheets) £3.50

Flower Fair Simply Scrapping kit (A4) £4
Boutique Boxes kit £5
Simply Created Springtime Hello Garland £5
For the Record Simply Scrapping layout £5 (3 available) £5 each
Snowflake Season Simply Scrapping layout £5
Merry Moments Simply Scrapping kit £8
Merry Moments Simply Scrapping kit (half) £4
Country Club Simply Scrapping kit £8

Designer Series Paper
Photos of all of these can be found in Google Images
Play Date £5 (and Quick Accents pack to match £2)
Comfort Cafe £5
Sycamore Street £5 each (2 packs available)
Tea for Two £5
DSP - Pumpkin Pie £5
Sweet Stitches £5
Berry Bouquet Speciality £6
Paisley Petals £5
Everyday enchantment £5 each - 3 available
Berry Blossoms £5
Well Worn (2 packs available) £5 each
Christmas Cocoa Speciality £6
Twitterpated £5
Sweet Shop speciality £6
Candlelight Christmas Speciality £6
Gingham Garden £6 (with free washi tape)
Quatrefancy £5
Beyond the Garden £5
Retro Fresh £5

Part Packs
Howlstooth and Scaringbone (7 sheets) £2
Frightful Sight (10 sheets) £4
Be of Good Cheer (8 complete an 3 part sheets) £2.50
Junior Varsity (1 damaged sheet) £4
Haiku (10 sheets) £3
Flirtatious speciality (11 3/4 sheets) £5.50
Spice Cake (6 sheets) £2
Bridesmaid speciality (2 full sheets 2 part) £1(plus off cuts of bride and groom)
Cheerful Treat (hostess set) 10 sheets - £4
Berry Bouquet Speciality (11 sheets plus 1 sheet 10.5"x12")£5.50
Paisley Petals (6 sheets) £2
Mocha Morning Speciaity (6 sheets) £3
Patio Party (11 sheets) £4
International Bazaar (8 1/2 sheets) £3

Thanks for looking - and watch this space for stamp sets and other bits coming soon!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Welcome to the new Stampin' Up! catalogue for 2014-15!

Well here I am - late to the party (again) to tell you about the lush new Stampin' Up! Catalogue for 2014-15 which went live here in the UK on the 1st July!

There are some great new products in there to tempt you as well - lots of new stamp sets, new punches, 5 new In Colours, ribbons dies, blendabilities pens and real clear (photopolymer) stamps.

Here's the front cover - and if you click on the small image over to the right - you will be taken to the online catalogue where you can browse all 249 pages of gorgeousness. if you would like to order anything please get in touch via email ( or phone (07528492765), and I will be happy to assist you.

If you would like a real paper catalogue to pore over - please let me know and I will drop one in the post for you!

Anyone who places an order for £50 or more before the end of July will get free postage (worth £4.95) on me as a small thank you. Don't forget - if you spend over £150 you can claim £25 worth of free products of your choice as a thank you - just as though you were hosting a workshop.

Happy stampin'

Tipping - the scourge of holidays in the USA

I'm back for another rant - this time on a favourite topic on one of the travel forums I visit regularly - tipping when in the USA!

This one of a pair of pet peeves I have about visiting the Good ol' USA - and between them they raise my blood pressure every time I go over. Tipping is the main one - but the other one is the sneaky sales tax they hit you with at the check out in every shop or restaurant you go in to. Its not like its optional - you have to pay it whether you like it or not - SO WHY THE HELL CAN'T THEY JUST SHOW THE PRICE I AM ACTUALLY GOING TO HAVE TO PAY???????? But thats the subject of another rant - today's is about tipping.

So I happened to ask what I thought was a simple question.... "Why do restaurants and bars expect a tip which is a percentage of my bill?" To date no one has managed to give me a decent answer to that one.

I get told several reasons and here are a few...

  •  its because the employers of the waiting staff in most states don't pay them the minimum wage so the waiting staff rely on the tips for a living wage - well sorry - but why is the fact your employer pays you peanuts my problem?? If no one took the jobs - the employers would soon have to buck their ideas up and pay the going rate.
  • If a server doesn't make as much in tips - the employer will have to make up the shortfall in tax.... well duh! If they paid a living wage in the first place this wouldn't even be an issue.
  • Its because the IRS know that servers get tips and tax them on what they estimate they have earned - maybe so - but how do the IRS know exactly how much a server picks up in tips- especially given the different percentages tipped even in the same restaurant - don't tell me that every cent of a tip gets declared to Uncle Sam - because I bet you they don't!
  • the server doesn't get to keep it all themselves - they have to share their tips with the back of house staff and the bussing staff - again - the employer should be paying these guys a living wage.
  • if the staff were paid a high enough wage to warrant no need for a tip - the prices would have to go up. Well - that's fine by me - I don't mind paying a fair price for my food and drink. Again - why is it up to the customer to subsidise low wages and greed?
So far - as far as I can see - it boils down to the fact that without tips, waiting staff wouldn't be able to live on the couple of dollars per hour they get paid without their customers putting their hands in their pocket!

Next gripe - the percentage the staff and their management seem to think the customer should pay..... I don't really have a problem in giving 10% of my bill where someone has gone the extra mile to ensure that I enjoy my meal - but over the years the expected percentage has sneakily risen to 15% or even 20% of my bill - and to add insult to injury - I'm  usually asked to calculate my tip on the bill after the state tax has been added so I'm essentially paying a tax on tax! In a lot of restaurants - the bill when presented even has a helpful little extra section telling me what I need to add for 12'5%, 15% and 20% in tips. I actually find that a bit off putting - to me a tip should only be required when someone has done more than just their job - not added as a matter of course. Its a gift from me as the customer to the person who made my experience enjoyable and surely it should be up to the customer to decide what that is worth! I have read of places where the server has chased a customer down the road demanding their tip when not enough has been left.

So let's take a little example of just how stupid this expected percentage of the bill tipping can get!

On our last visit to the states - family Exwood stayed in a nice hotel in a ski resort for one night in the height of summer. The hotel wasn't particularly busy but there were enough guests staying to keep the small dining room busy, and whilst we were eating, the other tables round us turned over at least once, and there was someone waiting to slip into our seats as we left - so it was fairly brisk considering it was essentially "off season"!

The three of us had two courses, starter and main, and a bottle of wine and our bill came to just over $500 including tax. We left the waiter $100 as his tip - and he actually looked disappointed with it.! But lets do some maths here just to see why this chap should have been so "insulted" with getting $100 for bringing and taking away our menus and plates - total interaction with us probably no more than 10-20 minutes of 1:1 dealings over the course of the meal. Most of the parties in the restaurant were 4 or more, and all seemed to be enjoying food and drink.......  I would estimate that our waiter was looking after approximately 6 tables and they were all turning over at least twice on an off peak weekday evening......

Being conservative here - for the purpose of my calculation I'm going to assume he got $100 from each of his tables and each table was occupied by two groups in the evening.....(and I'm not counting in anything he may have taken at lunchtime!)

in one evening session that would give him $1200 per night in tips.
multiply that by 5 for the working week - and that is $6000 a week
I'm allowing him 4 weeks holiday - so times that by 48 and this waiter would conservatively get $288,000 dollars a year before adding on the pittance that his employer pays him too!

As I'd assume that in the ski season, the place would be buzzing and the restaurant busier than it was in summer - this guy would be taking over $300,000 each year - thats not bad money for a server! How does that compare with what a teacher, nurse or soldier gets each year (and they have had to train for years and in some cases put their own lives on the line) and you can see just how ridiculous the percentage system can be!

On the same holiday, we stopped at a roadside Applebees restaurant where we again had a starter and main, and a couple of drinks each and the bill was around $80. We left our excellent waitress a tip of $20 and she was ecstatic at our "generosity". She had done as much, if not more, for us in direct service as the chap in the posh hotel - who looked disappointed with getting $100 for doing pretty much the same same thing. She managed to give great service despite dealing with around 15-20 tables and had a smile for everyone and regularly checked on how we were doing. What did the chap do to warrant getting 4 times as much in a tip as she did? Absolutely nothing -  apart from having the luck to work in a high priced establishment - in fact the Applebees lady deserved the $100 far more than he did.

This is one reason why I think twice about going to the US on holiday and eating or drinking out. As a tight fisted Brit, I find it very difficult to gauge what is (or isn't) an appropriate amount to tip  in a restaurant or bar, and probably tend to err on the side of stinginess. To be honest, I just wish that the staff just got paid an proper rate of pay for the job they do - and the employers stop expecting customers to pay their staff (sometimes to the tune of ridiculous amounts ).

Mind you - that's not counting the place Gordon Ramsay visited somewhere on his Kitchen nightmares show in the US where the owner hung onto the tips given to the staff.....

Friday, 6 December 2013

Harassment- pure and simple!

I don't often take to ether on non- crafty subjects, but my recent experience at the hands of MBNA bank has made me so angry that I'm going to break the habit of a lifetime and have a little rant about their (lack of) customer service.

First off, I should say that I'm in a bit of a dispute with them about some charges to my account, and a couple of months ago, had a long chat with them about life the universe and everything, and amongst other things we discussed - I asked them to not deal with my business by phone.

So life continues on peacefully, until about three weeks ago when I picked up the phone to someone wanting me to tell them the answers to various security questions and alleging to be from MBNA.....

Well needless to say, I refused to engage with them...... (Well would YOU give out that sort of information to a cold caller just because they say they are from a bank???) not least because I thought I had made it abundantly clear back on the last occasion that I did not wish to have dealings over the phone, so was not expecting to be called by them.......

Well what a silly move that was..... Because every day for more than 3 weeks, I have been bombarded by phone calls from MBNA.... Not just once a day, but several times a day, at all hours of the day and night to both my mobile and landline numbers, and totally ignoring the request made a few months ago not to ring me! Even when I answer the phone, and they identify themselves, the fact that they get an "Email me!" Just before I put the phone down doesn't seem to have got through to the call centre staff..... And you would think that having been told quite clearly, umpteen times, that I wasn't going to talk on the phone, that the message would have sunk in by now!

Don't get me wrong, I know that I do need to engage with the stupid sods, but I have asked that communication be via email (sensible and widespread in the 21st Century - no?? ) or by post, I just prefer not to do so by phone! I have (reluctantly) phoned them several times this week, and contacted them via the secure email on their website telling them to email me or live chat online with me - but no - it seems that they have been brought up that the phone is the only way to communicate with customers!

I don't know about the rest of you gentle readers - but I HATE dealing with anything serious over the phone, especially when it's a cold call that I'm not prepared for. The normally cool, calm and confident in person me turns into a jabbering weeping wreck at the end of an awkward phone call...... And it's not helped by the fact that the person on the other end of the phone usually hails from a call centre in India, and has (for me anyway) an impenetratable accent!

Most people don't realise that I do have a slight hearing problem..... I've never been able to hear properly when there is a lot of ambient noise, and have problems when people mumble or talk too fast, or have a heavy accent. Face to face I can manage easily as I obviously lip read and read body language, but on the phone, I can't see the caller, and end up saying things like "Pardon?", "Can you say that again a bit more slowly?", and "I'm sorry, but I really cannot understand what you are saying" more times than I care to think about. It's frustrating for me, and surely it must be equally so for the caller?

Add in the other side of the problem for those of us who have hearing problems - the fact that we tend to speak more loudly than usual because we can't hear properly..... And while I might talk to the occasional staff member when I initiate the call, there is no way I am going to discuss my private business with anyone in public where it would be all to easily overheard!

So, why the rant today?

Well yesterday, I bit the bullet, and picked up the phone to them myself, seeing as the four emails sent via their website seem to have fallen on deaf ears. After nearly an hour on the phone, I thought we had finally got things sorted, only to be dragged out of the bath at 8:15 this morning by two calls to my mobile (one from a number I had blocked) and one to my landline, both of which I ignored? Then, the final lighting of the touch paper..... They did the same thing again an hour later.......

To me, this is harassment pure and simple! It's bad enough to have to deal with calls you don't want to , but when the caller refuses to listen to reasonable repeated requests to deal with the matter by other means it's starting to get serious! I have been called at least 3 times each day to both phones for the last 3-4 weeks, so a minimum of 6 calls a day for 25 days is a lot of wasted time and effort on their part, and the cost to them must way exceed the £30 odd that they were chasing.

The end of the tale? Well an angry call to the UK office seems to have finally sorted it out, and I have told them that I want my phone numbers deleted from their records, something that I will follow up in writing. But I'm thinking of starting a campaign to stop this bombardment of calls in these situations. Luckily, I can deal with it, but what about those more vulnerable? I can now understand why some people in financial difficulties can be pushed into taking drastic action, the constant ringing phone and calls from people who refuse to go away or listen......

This sort of thing should be stopped straight away..... It clearly is not time and cost effective for the institutions, it's annoying for those on the receiving end, and it could push a vulnerable person over the edge.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Online Ordering is now available to everyone!

Whoop! Whoop!
All the glitches have been sorted out and my online shop is now up and running at long last!
If you decide in the middle of the night that you just have to order some of the latest goodies - just head on over there and follow the simple instructions and your box of goodies will arrive with you in around a week (but usually less!) - and you don't run the risk of getting your head bitten off by the grumpy person who would have been woken up to take your call! All payments are secure - and you can call me any time for any after sales service you may require - just as if you had contacted me directly!
Talking of new goodies..........
The brand new Winter catalogue launched last weekend and it has some lovely stuff in it - all designed to help you have a creative holiday season, be it Halloween, Thanksgiving (for all you US expats!) and Christmas - we even have a Hanukah stamp set in there as well!
Normally at this point I would say get in touch with me by email or phone to place an order - but now all I have to say is - go to my online shop and place your order - although if you would like to ask any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch in the usual manner....

Phone: 07528492765

Saturday, 6 July 2013

New Goodies!

Well a couple of weeks ago, I had a hard decision to make - go on a long awaited retreat - or go to a SU training session where we'd be making some samples from the new catalogue.... As I had waited for one for almost a year it was a bit of a no-brainer for me, but the lovely Natalie allowed me to buy a kit of the goodies she used at the training session so I could make the samples at home. Well I sat and made them last week, and as the new catalogue is now well and truly launched - I thought I would share them with you!

There is a mixture of new stamps, papers and accessoriesto show you .. and I can only direct you to Natalie for any credits which aren't her own...... So let's get on with the goodies shall we?

Here's the first card. The base is the new Baked Brown Sugar card stock, topped with a piece of Strawberry Slush (also new!)which has been stamped with the Really Good Greetings stamp set before being whiz zed through the Big Shot using the Modern Mosaic embossing folder. It's topped with 3 stamped labels (another new stamp - which I think will be VERY useful!) and cut out with the matching framelit..... They are finished with some images from the Mosaic Madness stamp set, popped on dimensionals and embellished with a pearl! It shows that you don't have to keep a label as a complete label LOL!

And here's a second card, using the lovely new Crisp Canteloupe, Baked Brown Sugar and Pistachio Pudding cardstock. It's also got the scrumptious Quatrefancy Speciality paper, and features Really Good Greetings again, and finished off with the same stamp sets used above!

Here's another lovely general purpose card - again using Strawberry Slush card, but this time using the matching new In Colour inkpads along with the transparency sheet from the Quatrefancy paper pack and Mosaic Madness Stamps - I think I forgot to mention that there is a scrummy new matching punch for this set - and its used to great effect here!....

Now - I bet you never saw Mosaic madness being used to make a Christmas card - but here you are - showing that the punched shapes make fantastic baubles. This is a "stepped up" version of the card above - same design but stamping the front with versamark  and adding some Itty Bitty punched shapes and rhinestones to bring on the Christmas bling!

Finally for today - here's a card set using the gorgeous new main colour Smoky Slate (pale grey) and Naturals white card - this time using the Epic Day This and That Papers and stickers and a few scraps of ribbon! I will be running a class making these cards soon so watch this space!

As ever - if I can help you with ordering any of the products I have used - please don't hesitate to get in touch! 01728492765