Tuesday, 31 August 2010


I came across this picture today that made me laugh as we have had so many little pussy pressies in the house in the last few weeks. Aside from the lovely gift of pee on the doormat we have also had rats, mice, caterpillars (huge ones) and spiders. It's amazing that they don't kill the spiders but the cats very carefully carry them in in their mouths and then play with them until they stop moving.

This morning's present was a mouse - lively little chap who was a real pain to catch. The cats had long since lost interest in him and wandered off - I was just walking up the hall and there he was, frozen to the spot.

This picture just reminded me!

(It's from a book called Mouser Cats' Story by Amy Prentice).

That must be me in the shawl!

Monday, 30 August 2010

George Sheringham

I've been terrible this weekend at keeping up with the blog, sorry. I have no excuses, just lots of reasons - bank holiday, doing MAC stuff, finishing my latest PH set etc. etc. Will try and be better ......

My son (who is starting secondary school on Thursday) tried on his new school uniform tonight. I still can't get over that he's that old already (or that I'm old enough to have a child that old!) It's a rocky road through teenage years to adulthood now. Where does the time go?

I found some lovely images this weekend by someone I hadn't come across before, George Sheringham (British artist, 1884-1937).

Aren't they beautiful! I love the colours he uses and his wonderful style.

And another:-

Will definitely be doing something with these, they're fabulous.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

MAC Stuff

I've been working on Mad about Cards stuff for the last day or two so I've had little time to get on with downloadables for Printable Heaven.

New Docrafts promo due in tomorrow and that's always loads of work, keeps me busy for a few days. There's some lush stuff in there, haven't seen it in the flesh yet but the pics look good.

It's only tonight I've got back onto the downloadable side of things but I've managed to make some progress on our next set. No sneak previews yet though as I've been known to change my mind at the last minute and go with something else completely! Woman's prerogative.

My cats having been driving me mad over the last few days. Following the rat incident, we've had a couple of very large caterpillars in as well, one of which had been chewed and had spilled its green blood all over the carpet and up the side of a beige fabric chair. That was nothing though compared to the peeing! One of them keeps doing it on the doormat even though there's a litter tray 3 feet away. Thought it was Fluffy's mummy Scarlet who was the culprit but I'm beginning to suspect it's our old moany cat Tabatha as she boldly walked into our garage (where we work) and promptly weed on the floor in full view! She's 17 and deaf as a post. Because she's deaf she meows incredibly loudly and at the most inappropriate times (3 in the morning).

Don't know what to do about the doormat thing. We've tried everything and nothing has worked, only shifted the problem further up the hall. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

New Christmas Darlings Downloadable set

Our first Christmas downloadable set of 2010 is now available at www.printableheaven.com. Lovely piccies, all vintage images.

Check it out now.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Jessie Willcox Smith

Way back in January when I began looking at out of copyright images I was determined to own just one old book with lovely pictures. Seems mad now as I already have hundreds of them but the first one I bought from my local-ish antiquarian bookshop was a book entitled the Everyday Fairy book by Anna Alice Chapin which has illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith.

Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935) was an American artist who was a prolific illustrator of adverts and children's book. Her work included many magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Ladies' Home Journal and absolutely loads of classic children's books such as The Water Babies, Secret Garden (one of my favourites), Heidi, Dickens' books, Little Women (another favourite) and loads more. She also illustrated countless American ads.

This picture is from Little Women:-

I love her colours and style. Fortunately (for me anyway) her work isn't as prized as I think it should be which means that books illustrated by her aren't a fortune.

This picture is from a book called The Closed Room:-

And this lovely little girl is from a book called The Chronicles of Rhoda

Look out for more Jessie Willcox Smith images in future Printable Heaven sets.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Christmas has got so much more .....Christmassy!

Looking back at postcards and Christmas cards from around 100 years ago, they were much less, well er.....Christmassy than they are today.

This card is a typical example - there is a little holly at the top of the picture but the rest is pretty flowery and not what we would associate with Christmas today.

Christmas cards haven't been around that long, relatively. The first card was designed in 1843 and the practice of giving hand-printed greetings became increasingly popular. By the early 1860s they were being produced commercially but were initially just exchanged by the well-to-do.

By the late 1800s cards had spread to all classes of society, just as today.

This is another example:-

Perhaps the thinking was that Christmas was a cold time and having pretty, flowery cards reminded you of the warmer months?

Who knows - I think I prefer a little more Christmas in my cards but each to their own!

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Didn't post yesterday as we ended up going to the pub last night for a cider or two with the 2 'Chinese' Gobles that are over at the moment - my sister in law Debbie and nephew. Andy's brother is currently working in Shanghai for HSBC so he's out there with his wife and two grown up sons. Hello Debbie if you're reading (told her to take a look!)

I'm still a little traumatised today after find a dead rat in our spare bedroom. Andy had said there was a smell in there and I had vaguely noticed it the day before but it didn't seem like much - have 4 cats I'm pretty used to the occasional pussy present in a corner somewhere so the odd smell doesn't always bother me too much.

But Andy's sense of smell is bad so if he smells something, there must be something to smell! I went to the spare bedroom to investigate, looked under the bed and moved a couple of things but nothing.

Then I pulled out a foam flop-out chair bed that's in there. I'm not one to scream but what I saw freaked me out. 4-5 inch rat squashed in between the chair and the wall - it was actually stuck to the wall and started to flop down with the chair out of the way. Absolutely gross. The image is still with me today and I'm sure still will be for days yet.

I won't post a picture of that one!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

RIP Rebecca Goble 1960-2010

No work today - we went to the City of London Crematorium today to inter the ashes of Andy's sister Rebecca, who died in May at just 49.

Rebecca was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, it was successfully treated but unfortunately it returned last year.

She never married and still lived with their dad, which was a comfort to him I'm sure after his wife, their mum, died in 1997.

She never had children of her own but doted on ours and often had them to stay, always getting in the food they liked, magazines and little toys to amuse them.

Despite the certain knowledge that the cancer would take her this time, her death was still a shock. Although we live very close, we hadn't seen her in a couple of weeks as she said she didn't feel well and wasn't up to it - the doctor didn't think it was anything to do with the cancer but that it was a sinus problem.

Andy's brother (who lives in China) was over and went to see her. He wasn't with her long before he decided that she needed to go to hospital as she said she hadn't eaten for 3 days. After an MRI scan they said that the cancer had gone to her brain and they gave her up to a year to live.

The following week she died.

It's been particularly hard on their dad - your children aren't supposed to die before you, especially when you're 82 and not in the best of health yourself.

Rest in peace, Rebecca, life's not the same without you.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Vintage Cookery

Monday morning, almost sunny. Not a bad night's sleep last night, kitten only landed on me once and she didn't get much attention so quickly disappeared.

Now that it's more than half way through August, you'll not be surprised to learn that most of our new Printable Heaven sets from now on will be on one subject - Christmas!

Love it or hate it, you can't get away from it. Won't be too surprised to see the Crimbo stuff appearing in the shops soon (if it hasn't already) although I might be a little taken aback at this point if anyone starts playing the seasonal stuff over their tannoy!

I've been looking for Christmas food images to use in a Christmas recipe set. Not having too much luck at the moment but I have come across lots of cakes (will save these for next year). Here's one of them:-

This is another picture from Janet Mckenzie Hill's cookbooks, the same lady who wrote the chocolate recipes used in our Luxury Chocolate recipes set.

Here's another:-

Can't wait to get working with these but I feel I should do the Christmas thing first ......

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Another Louis Wain

Well it's Sunday evening and my daughter's watching 'Must be the Music' on TV - X-Factor type music show with Dizzee Rascal who makes me laugh.

I was just flicking through one of my lovely old books, my favourite one actually, which is a book called the Sunny Day Picture Book from the 1930s. Came across a couple of half-tone Louis Wain pictures in there so I thought I'd pop one on here.

I think that I admire his work because it's different - he was inspired by his own antics when caring for his wife and out of that came his whole career. I love Eureka moments, wish they happened more often to me - I have nothing but respect for those people who make a career or a business out of something that just came out of their heads. Just brilliant.

I'm a cat person myself, dogs are fine but I've never had one. We always had a house full of cats when I grew up and it's no different now. We have 4 of them - had just 2 for 14 years, sisters from the same litter - Phoebe & Tabatha.

Phoebe was my favourite, very sweet and lovely (and really vicious through the stair-rails!) Unfortunately she had a couple of strokes 3 years ago and we had to have her put down - I was heartbroken. We still have Tabatha who is now 17 and deaf as a doorpost. She is totally annoying as she meows really, really loudly as she can't hear herself. She sits in front of my keyboard so I can't see the keys and I will often try and type and something funny will happen on the screen and somehow I'm always puzzled for a few seconds until I realise she's resting her tail on one of the keys.

We got Lily after Phoebe died, lovely cat, very similar to Phoebe in personality although she's a tabby, Phoebe was black and white. Then we got Scarlet, another tabby, who we got because my hairdresser was looking for a home for kittens and I couldn't say no. She then had kittens herself as I thought it would be a good thing for the children to experience. She had 3 kittens on our bed, starting about 4 in the morning! It was a lovely experience if a little weird!

We of course had to keep one of the kittens which makes 4. Our youngest is very much like Louis Wain's Peter in the picture - black and white and fluffy - and that's her name, Fluffy! This was the label that we gave her to distinguish between kittens, wasn't meant to stick as we didn't think we were keeping her but when it came to it, she was the one we chose. Her name is officially Scout at the vets (from 'To Kill a Mockingbird') but we can't get used to it and we all still call her Fluffy anyway. She's a darling, very affectionate in the middle of the night and I can't help stroking her when she demands. Between children and cats, I don't think I've had a full night's sleep in 11 years!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Louis Wain

No post yesterday as my head and neck didn't stop aching all day. It usually lasts a day or two when this happens and no amount of drugs will shake it off. Fingers crossed I'm almost headache-free today.

Despite the headache I still managed to get out for a walk with the children (as it wasn't raining yesterday, bit touch and go at the moment!) We went to our local common and picked some apples (bit small) and they climbed trees which they seemed to enjoy.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been working on some new stuff for Printable Heaven - Cecil Aldin's dogs and Oliver Herford's cats, both of which contain great images (if you like dogs and cats that is!) We wanted to slot in a little bonus set to get if you buy both sets so I looked a bit further into Louis Wain, whose work I hadn't looked at too much before.

We must have had a Louis Wain book or something when I was young as the name was in my head and I remembered what his work was - comic, wide-eyed cats. I managed to get a lovely old book with a couple of colour Louis Wain pictures in a while ago from my local-ish old book shop (nearly left it behind but I went back for it!)

But anyway, Louis Wain (1860–1939) was an English artist best known for his anthropomorphised large-eyed cats and kittens. In his later years he suffered from schizophrenia, which, according to some psychologists, can be seen in his works.

At 23, Wain married his sisters' governess, Emily Richardson, who was ten years his senior (which was considered quite scandalous at the time) and moved with her to Hampstead in north London. Emily soon began to suffer from cancer, and died only three years after their marriage. It was then that Wain discovered the subject that would define his career. During her illness, Emily was comforted by their pet cat Peter, and Wain taught him tricks such as wearing spectacles and pretending to read in order to amuse his wife. He began to draw extensive sketches of the large black and white cat (I'm pretty sure that the picture here must be Peter).

Louis Wain's career continued after his wife's death but he ended up supporting both his mother and 5 sisters after his father's death. Not an easy thing on artist's pay and it was made all the worse by him not being a very good businessman - Louis would sell paintings outright to publishers which meant he had no continuing income from his work.

His mental health continued to deteriorate but as it did it's arguable that his paintings actually got better - it's a matter of taste I guess but I LOVE his later work.

When I've gathered enough material I'll do a whole set of Louis Wain but for now, I hope you will like the 6 sheets we've done.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

We've made life so complicated!

It was a beautiful sunny day in Essex yesterday so Andy and I took the children to Maldon, a place we frequently go to. Not only are there great places for them to play but they've got one of the best Chinese buffets around (and pretty cheap at lunchtime too!)

I've being using lots of out-of-copyright images for my recent sets on Printable Heaven and this has meant that I'm spending lots of time in old bookshops and at boot sales, looking for old book with great usable picture. Our garage (which has been converted into our workspace) is slowly piling up with beautiful old books that I love to flick through. I just love the smell of them, musty and old and reminiscent of a time gone by.

Researching the artists and illustrators of the wonderful pictures I've found has re-awakened a dormant interest in social history that has lay buried in my head for a number of years. How did they live 100 years ago, what did they think about, what was important to them?

As we walked along Maldon High Street yesterday (digging round the charity shops of course) I looked up at the architecture of the lovely old buildings. Just beautiful. Mostly around 100 years old, some from 1895, 1912 and some undated but undoubtedly very old nonetheless. It struck me about how complicated we've made life - too fast, too pressured, too competitive.

Back then cakes would be homemade, meals freshly prepared - no Mr. Kiplings, no convenience meals. Time had to be taken. Vegetables would be freshly picked, or bought from locals who would have freshly picked them. Few cars, no phones, lots more walking, cycling, communicating face to face.

The 20th century revolutionised transport and communication more than ever before but has it really done us good?

There are far fewer 'housewives' today, much less cooking, much more rushing around and juggling our lives to fit in around work, children, social lives and more.

The capitalist government of the 80s wanted everyone to own their own house and car but has this led to better lives or worse? Everyone feels the need to keep up with what society seems to dictate we need.

Children don't seem able to just 'play', it all has to be video games, the TV and phones - they don't have imagination any more. The children of 100 years ago didn't have these things but they would have had great imagination for games and mischief!

It's been raining today and the children are in the house with the TV and play-station. I guess you can't change progress but I will try and take the time to do some good old-fashioned things with them - more walks, blackberry picking, ball games and the like. They both moan when these things are suggested but they always seem to enjoy it when we're out on these pursuits. Just waiting for the rain to leave off....

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Scout Camp

My son came back from Scout camp yesterday, absolutely full of it and filthy from head to foot! He said he ran out of t-shirts so he'd just started wearing the same ones again, dirt and all. No doubt he 'recycled' his pants as well!

I'm so glad he enjoyed it, could have gone either way as he was there with another troop. Only 3 of them from his troop went so they teamed up with another. I think he had such a good time with them that he'll be joining them in September.

Wish I'd done stuff like that when I was young but rather than the outdoor stuff I tended to be indoors making stuff. Nothing's changed then!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Scrumptious Luxury Chocolate set now ready!

Well, the Luxury Chocolate Recipes set is finished and now available - hope you love it as much as I do!

I had great fun with this one, creating the French patisserie look and feel.
As I've said on the set, when I was photographing the cards I got talking to Sally and Carol in the office. They came up with lots of ideas for using the recipe book and cards such as putting ingredients into a bowl together with a wooden spoon and recipe book and doing it up with cellophane and a big bow.

What a lovely gift that would be and it can be completely adapted to suit your budget - ceramic or pastel coloured bowl and a nice whisk or spoon or if it's for school fund-raising or a smaller budget, why not re-use a plastic Christmas pudding basin or buy cheap bowls from your local pound shop. Wooden spoons can usually be bought for under £1.00 - you might even get a multi-pack in a pound shop!

Have fun with the Luxury Chocolate Recipes set and let us know what you do with it.