Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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Pieday Friday ~ Blackberry & apple recipes for the Inspiration Challenge

Inspiration Challenge for October 2013 theme - apples

This month’s Inspiration Challenge theme was ‘apples’ and luckily enough I’ve since been given loads of apples from my mother’s apple tree which had bumper-crop this year. So I had a think about what I really wanted to make (after crumbles, of course!) and the answer was blackberry and apple jam. So I headed out into the cold, forraging in the hedgerows to find juicy blackberries in order to make some yummy jam – here’s the recipe I used:

making preserves - blackberry and apple jam recipe

This recipe makes enough for 4 x 500ml Kilner jars: 1kg blackberries, 375g cooking apples after peeling and coring, 1.3kg granulated sugar, 360ml water. Cook the blackberries and apples seperately, adding half of the water to each pan and allow to bubble away and simmer until soft. Add the blackberries and the sugar to the pan of apples. Stir to make sure the sugar has completely dissolved, then allow to boil and bubble until it reaches a jam consistency (around 20 minutes) but don’t allow it to boil over. The best way to check this is to put a couple of saucers in the freezer and test the jam by putting a small blog onto the cold saucer. Leave it for a minute and then push your finger through the jam. If the jam wrinkles, it’s ready and will set once it’s in the jar. If it doesn’t crinkle, boil the mixture for another 5 minutes and test it again. Sterilise your jars and while still hot carefully add the jam into them and seal immediately.

making preserves - blackberry and apple jam recipe process

As I was researching how to make jam, I came across this recipe for apple and blackberry flavoured vodka. I’m not a big fan of vodka but I AM a big fan of jam, and I thought that this sounded delicious – and really, it can only make the vodka taste better! So I headed back out to pick some more blackberries (there were loads on the hedges around the fields!) and created a fruity apple and blackberry syrup (basically another jam) to add to the vodka:

This recipe makes enough syrup to go with a 700ml bottle of vodka: 400g blackberries, 250g apples after peeling and coring, 600g caster sugar, 300ml water, 700ml vodka. Boil the blackberries and apples in the water, then add the caster sugar and simmer on a low heat until the apples are soft and mushy and the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool and then add to a large steralised jar before stirring in a whole bottle of vodka. Seal the jar and leave to infuse in a dark place, shaking it occasionally to release more jammy goodness into the vodka. After a couple of weeks (or months) strain off the liquid and bottle it up ready for Christmas!

Blackberry and Apple Vodka Making Fruit Alcohol Recipe

Luckily enough, the theme for October’s Inspiration Challenge was ‘apples’ so making these apple-based recipes fitted in nicely! Some of the lovely Inspiration Challenge contributers have sent in their autumn makes based on the apple theme and here’s what they came up with:

Andy from AndyGTheArtist blog created this piece of artwork – a charcoal drawing of an apple on an old map. I think that the composition of the image is great, with the apple just peeking into the frame.

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If anyone else has made something apple-based for the inspiration challenge (a craft, food, sewing project, art etc) please get in touch and I’ll share it on the blog, along with your links – email me with your photos to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk. I thought that next month’s challenge would simply be “anything Christmassy” as I’m sure we’ll all be busy preparing for Christmas anyway, so on the 1st December I will share any festive projects that are sent in to me 🙂


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My little vintage caravan project ~ the first thing I’ve made in my new sewing room

This is a big moment for me – I’m sharing the first sewing project I’ve done in my little vintage caravan after starting the project to makeover the old retro van into my new sewing studio. I’m still quite far off finishing my ‘office’ but I’ve got a table and somewhere to sit now, so there’s no reason why I can’t start sewing out there as planned!

I’ve borrowed hubby’s loooong outdoor extension lead so now I’ve got electricity and I can at least plug in my sewing machine and have the radio on while I work. I will need to sort out a better and more weather-proof electrics for the caravan if I want to use it over the winter (which I’m sure will result in another dull-but-necessary blog post!) but for now, the roll-out extension cable does the job. So this is the first sewing project I worked on last week – an appliqué tulip design.

cassiefairys applique tulip project for amanda addison creative crafting

After setting so many inspiration challenges of my own, I wanted to join in with Amanda Addison’s craft challenge, which I learnt about during the Creative Crafting blog tour over the summer. She set the challenge to use her tulip design and appliqué it onto anything we like. I started with a piece of gingham and a tiny scrap of red fabric and soon decided that I wanted to create an appliquéd picture that I could frame and hang in the caravan in the future. I used zig-zag stitch over the edges and chose a contrasting pink thread to outline the petals.

I was happy with the finished image and sent a photo of it to Amanda. There were lots of other crafters joining in with the challenge with a variety of results – adding the tulip design to jeans, cushions and even a tray! She has shared some of the projects on her website, so please check out her blog post  and you can even get the tulip design pattern for yourself and add it to your own craft items in the future. And don’t forget that this month’s inspiration challenge theme for my own blog is ‘apples’ so check out the challenge blog post and join in by making something crafty!

Inspiration Challenge for October 2013 theme - apples

I’m pleased to make my first item in my caravan ‘studio’ and I can’t wait to carry on crafting after I build my work surface. Now that I’ve started working in the caravan, I’ve realised that I desperately need some storage solutions – somewhere to put my fabric, equipment and craft supplies, so I’m going to keep an eye out for a desk, some free-standing shelves and storage boxes. I’m sure there will be another caravan update soon, so come back when you get the chance!  🙂

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Inspiration Challenge ~ What we made in September & new challenge for October

The theme for September’s Inspiration Challenge was bears – based on this cute image of 3 antique bears. We were challenged to make anything inspired by this theme and Abakhan Fabrics were kind enough to sponsor the challenge with a prize of this cute floral sewing kit:

Inspiration challenge for september 2013 antique bears win sewing kit from abakhan

1. I made this teddy bear for my nephew’s Christening gift earlier in the month, so my part of the challenge was all finished by mid-September, which makes a change because I’m usually finishing something off at the last minute! I shared my progress in this blog post during the month, and here’s a photo of the finished teddy below. My nephew nearly didn’t get him as a gift because, by the time I’d finished stitching the bear together, I’d loved it so much that I didn’t want to give it away! But I thought of my one-year-old nephew and godchild and realised that he’s love it as much as I did as her grew older (it’s not for playing with right now, because of the small parts!) so I packed teddy up in a straw-lined box and handed him over. I was very careful not to name it, because then I’d get even more attached!

cassiefairys inspiration challenge teddy bear

2. Katy from Etsy store Ella Betsy Boo turned her hand to cross-stitching and created this cute little bear motif. She sent me a sneaky-peek preview of her project during September and here is a photo of the framed finished artwork. I am always so impressed with cross-stitch because it’s such a time-consuming craft, that takes a lot of patience and you only really see the result at the end. I’ve often wanted to have a go at cross-stitching, but I’ve not yet taken the time to learn how to do it, and even if I did I think I would lose heart half-way through! So a great crafty make from Katy this month – well done 🙂

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Use it up & be inspired ~ A couple of blog challenges to join in with…

Let’s start with the real reason why I’m setting myself this challenge: I need to save money between now and Christmas (yes, I’ve peeped into the piggy-bank and there’s not enough in there to buy Christmas cards, let alone anything else!) and the best way to do this is to stop spending. That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do, especially when you’re a closet beauty-fanatic who can’t help lusting over new make-up products and beauty-buys. I go into the high street pharmacy stores (and online too!) every week to see what’s new, and although I spend ages testing out the products and working out the best deals, I try very hard not to buy anything because inevitably I’m holding the new must-have liquid eyeliner in my hand and I know that I’ve already got at least 3 black liquid eyeliners at home that I don’t even use much. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting it and being so certain that this will be the product to change my life.

So to put an end to this loitering-around-Superdrug, I’m going to set myself a challenge to use up the products that I already have and stop buying the next miracle cream etc. I’ll save money AND I’ll make room in my make up drawers. And when it gets to Christmas, maybe my friends and family will treat me to some beauty gifts. So from now on the products that I desperately want will be added to my “Things I NEED!” Pinterest wish list so that I can swoon over them from time to time, and maybe splurge a little when it gets to January. Plus, I might have gone off the idea of the latest wonder-product by the time I’m in 2014, and I’m sure something better will have been launched to take its place.

So these are some of the bits I’m aiming to finish up during my “use up” challenge and we’ll see what else I can polish off over the coming months too:

cassiefairy use up challenge beauty products

And the second challenge is a reminder about my Inspiration Challenge for September – please make something -ANYTHING – on the theme of “bears” and you will be entered into the prize draw to win this lovely sewing kit from Abakhan Fabrics. I’m not judging your makes, it’s just for fun to get inspired to do something creative this month – check out the blog posts here and join in by sending photos of your projects to Cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk!

Inspiration challenge for september 2013 antique bears win sewing kit from abakhan

Will you join me in either of my challenges? What products do you have lurking at the back of your cupboards that you would like to use up? What can you make around the theme of bears?? Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy. Speak to you soon x

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Inspiration Challenge ~ a fabulous prize for September!

How are you getting on with this month’s inspiration challenge? The theme was antique bears and I’m so excited to see what everyone will come up with – maybe a cross-stitch, a greetings card, scrapbooking page, drawing or anything else crafty or stitchy!

I’m delighted to say that my favourite haberdashery shop Abakhan.co.uk are sponsoring the inspiration challenge again this month and the prize up for grabs is this handy vintage-inspired sewing kit in a gorgeous floral case below. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize from Abakhan, please send me photos of your teddy bear projects before 30th September to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk and the winner will be picked at random (using Random.org)! I’m not judging the projects, so it doesn’t have to be the best item you’ve ever created – it’s just for fun and to see what you can create from the ‘antique bears’ starting point.

Inspiration challenge for september 2013 antique bears win sewing kit from abakhan

I’ve been cracking on with my make already this month (I’m usually a bit last-minute with my projects!) and I’m making a bear for my nephew. It’s his christening next week, so I will need to have completed it by then in order to give it to him as a gift! I got a bear-making book out of the local library and photocopied the patterns in the book, but when I started making the bear, I realised it would be a bit too small so I scaled-up the pattern (in a very haphazard way by drawing a line around the outside!) and I’ve started making the limbs! I’ve used a striped cotton that I bought from the Preston Abakhan store when my nephew was first born last year and I’ve added little blue gingham paws and feet pads! It’s still a work in progress so I’ll show you more during the monthly Inspiration Challenge roundup when the little bear is finished. 🙂

cassiefairys inspiration challenge on the blog - sewing a teddy bear for my nephews christening gift

Don’t forget to email me with your projects – good, bad or indifferent! – whenever you have finished them and in the meantime check out Abakhan online for all kinds of fabrics, hobby and craft goodies!


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Inspiration Challenge ~ What we made in August & new theme for September

inspiration challenge for august 2013 vintage wedding dress from lucylovesya blog

I was delighted when Lucy from LucyLovesYa.com set such a lovely theme for August by sending in her vintage wedding dress photo as a starting point for our August makes. It was a very apprioriate theme seeing as we were at the height of wedding season in August and my favourite online haberdashery Abakhan Fabrics offered us a fabulous prize of a Simplicity Sewing Pattern for special occasion dresses in 6 different styles – great for bridesmaids, wedding guest outfits, prom dresses or just for wearing on a night out – and it is very appropriate considering our wedding dress theme!

simplicty sewing pattern from abakhan prize for aug inspiration challenge

1. Early in the month I made a little tutu for my brand-new niece using pieces of wedding dress fabric. I had some pieces of tulle that were cut from my wedding dress when the alterations were made to my dress waaaay back when I got married 10 years ago. My sister-in-law also had a layer of chiffon removed from her wedding dress too and I combined this with my dress fabric and some very soft tulle in pale pink (from Abakhan) and baby blue to create a tiny baby tutu. I stitched lengths of the fabric to a ribbon and then attached this length of tutu to a fresh white babygrow and gave it to my new niece for her christening gift.

inspiration challenge cassiefairy tulle tutu for child babygrow

2. Seamstress Lucy sent in this very cute sewing project that she tells me she has been meaning to do for ages! It’s a handy little zipped bag that she created using lace fabric left-over from her wedding dress. The bag would be used to hold all her little wedding bits that she doesn’t want to lose – a great idea for any bride and I should make one too for all my bits that are currently packed away in a shoebox and give them the storage they deserve!

Inspiration Challenge wedding dress theme handmade bag by LucyLovesya blog

3. Glass artist Alison made these amazing crocheted flowers below to add to all the floral displays at her own wedding this August. She used metallic wool and sparkly buttons to jazz up her table centrepieces and bridesmaids’ bouquets. I don’t know how she found the time to make 100s of these gorgeous flowers while organising the whole wedding and looking after her cute baby son too  – what an achievement! I think these would look excellent made into as brooches or hair accessories after the wedding too.

cassiefairy inspiration challenge wedding theme august 2013 crocheted flowers and photography

4. Photographer Andy took beautiful panoramic photographs (above) of a friend’s wedding that he attended in August. He used a splicing technique to create a very wide-angle sweep around the wedding venue and he captured the guests milling around the courtyard following the ceremony, both of which he has sent to the bride and groom so that they can remember the details of the medieval building that was the venue for their ceremony.

inspiration challenge for august 2013 vintage wedding dress winning simplicity sewing pattern prize winner

All the lovely craft, art and sewing projects that were received this month have been put into a prize draw using Random.org and the winner of this lovely Simplicity sewing pattern has been chosen – its number 2 Lucy – Congratulations! The prize is provided by Abakhan.co.uk but don’t worry if you didn’t win this time – all of the Simplicity sewing patterns are 50% off at Abakhan Fabrics online until 14th September so you can get your hands on any of their easy-to-sew patterns right now!

And here is the new theme for your September Inspiration Challenge projects – bears.

Inspiration challenge for september 2013 antique bears

This photo of a vintage set of the bear family from Goldilocks and the Three Bears is from the Antique Teddy Bear Crossing blog, where old bears get new homes, and I think it is the ideal starting point for September when the weather starts getting colder and all I want to do is snuggle up with a duvet and a teddy bear! So take inspiration from the bears themselves, from children’s stories or even just be inspired by the fluffy fabric – the choice is yours! Whatever you make, send me your photos before the end of September 2013 and tweet me with your progress throughout the month @CassiefairyTutu. It’s just for fun so have a go at making anything that you’ve been inspired to create – and if you’ve not yet joined in with the Inspiration Challenge, take the plunge and have a go at making something this month, I’d love to see your creations, whatever they are!

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Inspiration challenge – here’s what we made in July & the new theme for August

We’ve had another fantastic month of sunshine in July but the hot weather didn’t lure our regular inspiration challengers away from their projects. Here’s a catch up on what we made this month on the theme of Maneki Neko – Lucky Cats.

inspiration challenges for July maneki neko

1. Andy Greenacre from art blog AndyGtheArtist tells me that he spotted this Kokeshi doll painting kit in a charity shop at the start of the month and immediately thought of the Inspiration Challenge. He snapped it up and set to work transforming the blank wooden doll into a lovely oriental friendship doll using the paints provided in the kit. He tells me it was a quick and easy project (thanks to quick drying paint and hot weather!) and he is pleased with the results, having never really painted 3D objects in the past.

inspiration challenge for july andy greenacre kokeshi friendship doll maneki neko lucky cats

2. Lucy from LucyLovesYa blog went the whole hog and got a tattoo! She was planning a new tattoo of this oriental Kokeshi Doll prior to the challenge being announced and realised that it would be the ideal contribution to the Inspiration Challenge this month. So while I don’t expect you all to rush out and get tattoos, this is a pretty funky creative project and one that I probably won’t ever be able to top (ouch!). I just hope it doesn’t hurt too much Lucy!

3. The lovely Will from Abakhan fabrics made his second-ever sewing project for the inspiration challenge – making an envelope clutch bag from oriental fabric. The bag isn’t quite finished yet, so I’m keeping  my fingers crossed that Will finishes off his new project and I hope to be able to share a photo of it soon!

july inspiration challenge maneki neko embroidery by katy ella betsy boo

4. Katy from EllaBetsyBoo (check out her shop on Etsy) embroidered this Maneki Neko design one of her two-year-old’s t-shirts, based on a template she found on Pinterest; “I really enjoyed trawling Pinterest and Etsy for ideas, and it’s the first time I’ve stitched freehand without following a pattern. It was fun choosing threads and styling it a bit!”. I think this is a fantastic way to update a t-shirt and I have just got some new embroidery hoops from wholeport, so I think I’d like to give this technique a go soon!

5. Seeing as this month’s theme was a total self-indulgence of my favourite things, I had no trouble in deciding to make Maneki Neko t-shirt that I have not been able to stop wearing since! I found this cute cartoon drawing of a lucky cat holding a fish online (by Articubone) and printed it onto t-shirt transfer paper. This sounds like a much easier process than it actually was, due to my printer breaking half way through and the paper continually getting jammed in the machine. But once I’d used my in-laws’ printer to get it printed, it was a pretty simple process. I followed the instructions to cut the image down leaving a 5mm border and ironed it onto a plain t-shirt. After only a few minutes of ironing and cooling, I had a brand-new t-shirt with my favourite maneki neko (with a similar colouring to my cat Muffin) on it!

Step 4 Oxfam Fashion DIY Printed T-shirt

And I hope you haven’t forgotten that this month there was a prize to be won from JoaniesGifts.co.uk online gift shop. Joanie has very kindly donated a prize of one of these small ceramic lucky cats below (I have actually bought one of these from Joanie in the past and they are just lovely!) and a super-cute maneki-neko purse. The winner has been drawn by Random.org from all the projects received in July and the winner is number 4 – Katy 🙂 Congratulations!

july inspiration challenge prize from joanies gifts

And now it’s the summer break and what better excuse to join in with the Inspiration Challenge?! How about getting the children involved too while they are on their school holidays? Why not take your projects outside this month and enjoy the warm weather while it’s here – grab a picnic blanket, your crafting weapons of choice, and some SPF cream and get to work on this month’s new challenge theme: vintage wedding dress. Lucy has kindly sent in this photo (below) of her vintage wedding dress and bolero as the starting inspiration for August’s challenge – very appropriate seeing as we are at the height of wedding season and I’m celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary this month so I’m already feeling all wedding-y! So get thinking about what you might make around the theme of vintage wedding dresses and let me know how you’re getting on with your projects – tweet me all month at @CassiefairyTutu and send me your finished items at the end of August. This month we have been offered a lovely little prize from Abakhan – the amazing online haberdashery and fabric shop – check out their website now and I’ll share the prize details with you a littler later in the month!

inspiration challenge for august 2013 vintage wedding dress from lucylovesya blog

I hope you have a lovely summer and happy creating! 🙂


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My beach hut cushion + the Inspiration Challenge

I’m delighted to say that I’ve had a few messages asking for a quick tutorial on how I made my beach hut cushion for the beach hut Inspiration Challenge in June. So I’m pleased to share the step-by-step photos of my cushion with you all today and I also want to remind you that there is still plenty of time to get involved and make something  for July’s Inspiration Challenge too!

First, I chose a selection of fabrics from my stash of fat quarters (mainly from wholeport and some thrifted from old clothing) to cut out the beach hut shapes and I snipped around a lighthouse design on the piece of Porto fabric I already had from Abakhan. I positioned these on the sky-blue “background” piece of fabric and pinned them down before machine-sewing around the edges.

inspiration challenge for June beach hut cushion by cassiefairy using abakhan porto

I then stuck on some sticky fabric-tape (like washi-tape but made of fabric, I found mine on Ebay) for the beach hut roofs and went over this with a line of stitching too. When it came to attaching the sun and the seagull, I added a little adhesive webbing to the back of the pieces and ironed them in place before sewing over the top.

For the sea I layered up pieces of folded fabric with sparkly ribbon, running lines of stitching back and forth using the sewing machine. This was my favourite part of the cushion and I’d like to do this effect all over a cushion front next time, perhaps with a rainbow of colours or use co-ordinating fabrics to create a striped/patchwork effect.

IMG_6603

I then stitched the front ‘picture’ piece of fabric to two pieces of pink fleece which overlapped to form the back of the cushion cover – leaving a flap to put my cushion pad inside. When I had finished, I realised how well the cushion matched my vintage Paddington Bear pillow case – it even has a red lighthouse too!

Please join in with this month’s Inspiration Challenge. The theme is Maneki Neko/Lucky Animals and you can make anything you like with this inspiration as a starting point. Even if you’ve never made anything before, maybe this month it is the perfect time to start crafting, sewing, painting or writing and I’d love to see what you come up with! Send me your projects to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk and I’ll share your photos and links at the start of next month – and don’t forget that there is a special prize draw to win a ceramic lucky cat and a purse from JoaniesGifts.co.uk – all the projects will be entered into a prize draw and the winner will be picked at random on the 1st August!

inspiration challenges for July maneki neko

Other Inspiration Challenge articles


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A special prize from Joanie’s Gifts for July’s Inspiration Challenge

If you’re a long-term follower of my blog, you’ll know how much I love lucky cats and oriental design, so it’ll come as no surprise that I’ve chosen my collection of lucky animals as the starting point for July’s Inspiration Challenge. And I’m delighted to say that the lovely Joanie from Joanie’s Gifts shop has offered a prize for this month’s challenge!

inspiration challenges for July maneki neko

Joanie owns a fabulous online gift shop which retails very reasonably priced handmade treats, fashion accessories and interior design items. Whether you’re looking for a wedding present, birthday gift or something unique for yourself, you’ll be sure to find something amazing in her shop – I’ve personally never failed to find what I’m looking for on her site – from greetings cards to jewellery!

And most appropriately Joanie specialises in oriental gifts and, in fact,  my tiny little lucky cat above came from Joanie’s Gifts! She has very kindly offered to give a prize of a small lucky cat and a lucky cat purse to one lucky contributor to this month’s Inspiration Challenge! All contributions will be put into a draw and the winner will be chosen at random on the 1st August 2013. So check out what we made last month, and have a think about what YOU could make this month!

Anyone can join in – just tweet me with your progress and send me your projects by email to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk or on Twitter to @CassiefairyTutu by the end of July 2013. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly crafted item – it’s just for fun, a chance to try something new and a good excuse to get creative over the summer holidays – plus you might win Joanie’s lovely prize!

It would be great to hear your suggestions for August’s Inspiration Challenge theme so please email with your ideas or photos for next month. Happy making!

Other Inspiration Challenge articles


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A beach hut inspired story by author Amanda Addison

One of the wonderful contributions to June’s Inspiration Challenge was the start of a story by writer Amanda Addison. You may remember that I shared an excerpt of the text in the Inspiration Challenge blog post which focused on projects inspired by beach huts and now I want to share the rest of the prose that Amanda submitted so that you can enjoy her writing for yourself.

Samantha hangs up her wetsuit. The wind’s getting up and whistles in through the gaps in the wooden walls. Impatient and still breathing heavily from her swim, she turns her head and drips water from her sandy coloured hair onto the patchwork, forcing her to grab the beach towel and rub her hair dry before she can begin. She moves the fabric around on the little white plastic table and tacks another section of the pale blue cotton – whose former life was a bed sheet – onto the patchwork.

She shivers, throws a fleece on over her jeans and tunic and gets up and lights the Primus stove. Whoever composed the motto a watched kettle never boils must have been making a brew whilst camping, or in a beach hut. She returns to the quilt and is a couple of stitches away from completing another panel when the kettle whistles and she starts.

IMG_6603

‘Matty!’ gasps Sam. With one hand she pours water into the mug and with the other she rummages for her phone and keys in a text. He’d be proud of his mother’s skills, both holding the phone and texting with one hand. She clicks send, knowing full well she shouldn’t fuss her son, he’s almost an adult. He is an adult. She wonders what she’s doing sending him reminders to get to work on time. Is she being a hypocrite? She’s usually one of the first to join in the conversation about incapable teenagers, how young they all seemed these days. But like many parents she’s tried to make up for things. To make up for her own youth, her own incapable mother.

Sam sips her tea and can’t resist raiding her secret biscuit tin for a Tunnock’s marshmallow – her favourite. After all she’s earned it. Swimming in the North Sea in November should have burned up a few calories. Sam unwraps the silver and red packaging and lays it out flat wondering if she could stitch it into her patchwork. Unfortunately the metallic colours don’t complement the blues and pastels of the beach hut design. She tucks it into the side of her plastic ‘bags for life’. For another project.

She rummages around in the lucky dip and pulls out a square of blue and white twill and immediately remembers starting sixth form at the posh girls’ school. You had to buy the blue and white twill fabric and make your own skirt. The day before school started she still didn’t have a uniform. That night Dad came home with an old sewing machine he’d borrowed from someone at work and three yards of the herringbone weave from Palmers department store. They’d sat up to the early hours, Dad cutting out the fabric and Sam machining it together. It was always Dad who looked after me, she thinks. The twill is discarded, too heavy and frays too much.

inspiration challenge beach hut picture by katy ella betsy boo blog

She dips into the bag again. What she really needs is a section of yellow. She pulls out some old yellow leggings. She holds them against her. The egg yolk yellow clashes perfectly with her purple fleece. The leggings, like a piece of music or a long forgotten smell take her back to the early 1990s. Did she really wear yellow leggings with a black leotard? She’s back on a step board wearing yellow and black, flailing around to Madonna like a demented wasp? Times have changed. Nowadays everyone does Zumba.

Her hand runs across the yellow Lycra and begins to tremble. Why is her body letting her down, revealing feelings from the past that are best left in the past? Is the past always best bagged up and put away? She hadn’t worn those leggings since she went to Amsterdam – when she was Matty’s age.

All that is left of her Amsterdam days was in the diary, or so she’d thought. She gazes up at the wooden shelf and pulls some books forward to reveal her teenage diary. She can’t resist taking down the diary down from the shelf and slumping into the deck chair. She flicks through the faded pages, looking for his name, the street, the café they used to visit – all written in the strange language of from just across the North Sea.

It’s getting late, the nights are drawing in. In the twilight she copies the words, words which are heavy and full of her past, down on the back of a supermarket receipt. She’s about to put the diary back on the shelf, back in its usual hiding place behind an out of date Rough Guide to Amsterdam and last month’s book club novel, when she has a change of plan. Moreover, a change of heart. She pops the diary and the travel guide on top of her scrap bag, throws the quilt on top, shuts up the hut and sets off across the beach for home.

Copyright Amanda Addison

inspiration challenge beach hut watercolour painting by Andy Greenacre

Ooh I just want to read more! I hope this will turn into a book, because I’m already hooked and want to learn more about Samantha’s life! I’ll certainly be first in the queue to buy it if it grows into a new novel. Amanda is the author of one of my favorite books Laura’s Handmade Life and if you’ve not already read it, get yourself a copy – it’s the perfect summer read and I’ll certainly be re-reading my copy during the holidays! And make sure you check out Amanda’s website www.amandaaddison.com for information on her articles, craft projects and reviews.

Get involved in this month’s Inspiration Challenge and get crafty with the theme for July: Maneki Neko Lucky Cats

inspiration challenges for July maneki neko
Other Inspiration Challenge articles

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