Isn't it lovely to get a letter? I don't mean bills or the reminder from DVLC that your road tax is due soon. I mean a proper letter where someone you are fond of takes the time to write - or type, if their handwriting is as illegible as mine - and share all their news as to how how they are getting on with life. Texts and emails are very useful in their way but somehow a letter smacks of another person investing their precious time in preparing something personalised and then taking the trouble to go out and post it. Quite literally, it tells you that their thoughts are with you. I had just such a letter from my sister this week, telling me lots of positive stuff about her new life in Wales, and it really made my day. I waited to read it until I had finished all my busy jobs, first thing, so that I could take my time and savour it. The post arrived just as I was arranging a huge bunch of cow parsley in a vase - picked, for free, from the path above the allotment - so we could enjoy it's frothy texture. It was one of those defining moments when I realise just how much my life has changed for the better. To have time to pick flowers and arrange them - and the pleasure is multiplied when I have grown them myself - and to sit down and enjoy reading a letter, without dashing off to do the next thing, both bring me such unhurried pleasure and are such a contrast to my former workaholic existence.
Equally lovely, is to receive a handmade card and the two pictured above are my birthday ones from my niece, Lily, and my sister. They have truly embraced the concept of re-using here, by using only those materials to make them that were already destined for the recycling bins! Also, making your own cards give you the chance to personalise your designs to suit the recipient's interests. Hence, Lily has drawn me a dog (probably Hector, as he's grey) in a lovely garden, embellished with sparkly bits and my sister has made me a butterfly, amongst the flowers, from coloured foil. The foil adds a wonderful texture to the card and if you are lucky enough to be presented with fancy chocolates, or biscuits, now and again, it's well worth smoothing out the wrappers carefully, as you eat the contents, and saving them. If they are a bit sticky, a quick wipe with a warm, slightly soapy, cloth should remove it. It can become quite a challenge to see how many different colours you can collect. Given that cards like this are one-offs, they are usually kept and treasured afterwards, which makes them truly worth the effort of creating them in the first place!
Accompanying the cards was this parcel and it was so beautifully wrapped that I just had to take a photo of it before unwrapping it. I really enjoy wrapping presents beautifully myself and so I appreciate the effort that had gone into preparing this one. Can you see the tiny butterfly stickers on the right that perfectly complement the colour of the tissue paper? I didn't unwrap it until much later in the day so that I could enjoy it's sense of promise.
When curiosity eventually got the better of me, this is what I found inside. Again, my sister has thought carefully about what I particularly like when choosing what to include. I feel that so many presents are bought on impulse, in a rush, and that these can be a waste of both the buyer's time and money and the recipient's storage space! A little thought, in present-giving, goes a long way. Spots are a particular favourite of mine and the notebook will come in very handy for my thrifty shopping lists, which I usually make on bits of old envelope and then cannot tell one from another. The spotty tea towels are particularly welcome. You may recognise them as I have a couple that I use as a background for some of my photographs. They come from Sainsburys (in case you wanted to know) and I got my original pair from our nearest store, which is in Lincoln. That particular branch is an out-of-town one, and is difficult for me to get to unless we go in the car, so I have cursed myself ever since for not having had the forethought to buy two sets, so that we had some to use in our litle touring caravan. Thanks to my sister's thoughtfulness, I now have that magical second set! We are both keen gardeners and her choice of seeds reflects my love of bright colour and, as I have mentioned earlier, my delight in growing flowers for cutting. So I want to say a VERY BIG THANK YOU indeed for all the trouble they went to to make my birthday parcel really special and also to say how much I appreciate it. Next month, it's Lily's birthday, and I've been collecting bits to add to her Being Creative Box, that I made up for her for Christmas. What am I going to include? You'll have to wait and see!