There’s a website!

The new website… Permission.Cards

I didn’t expect to be back to you so soon with this news – Denis made the website! For the Permission Cards. Click here to visit! If you have any ideas about what I should do to make it better let me know. For instance, I changed postage because there were so many options and was struggling to make it clear. Now postage is included in the price. And then there’s customs – can anyone explain that in one sentence? And Brexit, does that add another dimension?

I’ve decided to journal my journey here on the blog because I’m learning a lot and I’d really like to share that with you and get your input. Also, I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned or to forget that it takes a long time and what confuses or frustrates me today will be forgotten next month. Generally I’m not excited to learn new things and that’s not good for a human who wants to live to be 105 (at least!) I get very frustrated when I don’t understanding something. Not helpful. But that’s changing and the cards are helping. I have two sitting in front of me now.

They are, Permission to make mistakes and Permission to take baby steps. Babies don’t get frustrated when they’re learning to walk. They don’t get upset about mistakes. They just get on with it, no self judgement. This baby-step-accept-mistakes-as-normal process is slow but you still get the learning done, it lasts and you’re not in danger of being overwhelmed.

Being overwhelmed is not helpful. Taking baby steps is, Mairead.

Permission Cards

Edited 5th December 2021… If you landed here looking for Permission Cards, this is a blog post from the time I was making the prototypes for the actual cards you can find at Have a grand day♥️

Well… it looks like we won’t be travelling anywhere soon. I thought that would upset me more than it does. But it doesn’t, I am very happy pottering away inside my home with the odd excursion to collect groceries. (An experience exciting for all the senses and not as insignificant as I used to think. But I’m getting sidetracked.) Instead of travelling to other countries or even counties, we walk around the neighbourhood – separately, he walks too fast, I talk too much… We also work separately, he has a very organized workspace, I’m a bit messy. Other than that we are together every single moment, eating, watching stories on the big (enough) screen, sleeping and arguing. Yes we do argue. But as we only have each other we can’t be bothered keeping an argument going, it turns out life’s too short. Denis taught me that, I used to love keeping an argument going. I’m right, how can I stop before he understands that? Turns out everyone thinks they’re right – understanding is overrated.

Little box of Permission Cards

I’m working on a new creative project. It all started pre-2020 when Denis was putting a board game in the recycling bin. (Remind me to tell you the name of the board game.) To be clear that doesn’t happen, ever, but this was a unique board game. It was designed to be used for one long game over the period of a year and then not reused… Seeing the cards in the recycle bin made me sad. I love paper and card and these were still fully functioning pieces of card, how could anyone throw them out? Maybe I could save them. I did. I already have lots of saved paper and card and at that time I had no organisation, just one big box. In the cards went, never to be seen again… until 2020.

My 2020 started with a lot of excitement (our son got engaged!) followed by a lot of fear (no explanations necessary) followed by a lot of gardening (thank you, Eilish!) followed by a lot of card making. I made cards to remind myself I could say, NO. I made thank you cards, to remind me that the small things are actually big things. Small things like getting groceries and garden supplies were very, very big things. Small things like getting post in the post box, were very, very big things. Small things like receiving offers of help were enormously big things. And then there’s the overwhelmingly big things like front line staff and especially for my family, the nursing home staff who have been going above and beyond to take care of the most vulnerable, including my mother. I had a lot to be thankful for so I made a lot of thank you cards.

It felt like I was reorganising my inner space and so naturally I started to reorganise my outer space too. And that turned out to be very freeing. I dumped loads and gained empty space and found the cards and paper I had been saving. What had I been saving it for? I didn’t know at the time but it turns out I was saving it for now. In amongst all the paper was Denis’ board game cards, looking just as lovely as they had when I first met them. I gave them their own place on a shelf. In November we (the cards and I) started working together. I worked on them and they worked on me.

The Permission Cards began when I was chatting with a friend and she said something mean to herself and it just popped out of my mouth, how about if you give yourself permission to be kind to yourself for the rest of the day? Then I promised to make her a permission card to remind her and we went on to talk about something else. I’ve been hard on myself my entire adult life, it’s a habit that I don’t hear but as soon as I hear someone else being hard on themselves, I notice. I needed this Permission to be kind to myself, too.

Later that day I took one of the recycled cards off the shelf and made a permission card for my friend… and it was for me too. As I made it I read it. Over and over again. I was reading that I had permission to be kind. To myself. My first thought was, “…that’s a bit selfish isn’t it?!” My second thought was, “who said that?” Something I’d heard long ago made sense: We are not our thoughts. Some thoughts are part of a flawed belief system and it’s not always possible to spot them before obeying them. So in this case, I thought that being kind to myself was a bad thing. What if it wasn’t a bad thing? What if it was okay to be kind to myself. Maybe even for the whole day? It’s a big ask so I’m taking baby steps.

With every card I make I am being kinder to myself. Even when I make mistakes! And I’m creating even when it’s ugly. I’m ignoring what does not serve me. I’m making the right decisions for me… on and on these little cards are working on me.

And now I’m selling them! Denis has promised to set up a sales website when he’s less busy (I recognise potential for a future argument here but life’s too short, right?) In the meantime it’s just via email ( and instagram (@creativecalm_cards). Get in contact if you want to see the full list of Permissions and I’ll send you an order form and prices. They are handmade so they take a long time to make but fortunately the cards give me permission to take my time – so all good.

Tiny Handmade Permission Cards made from recycled playing cards

Oh and the name of board game? Pandemic. Yup, that’s what it was called. Twilight Zone stuff. Mairead.

Ps He set up the website, it’s called Permission.Cards Tap or maybe Click to have a look!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

(This is clematis and it is going to look beautiful soon… possibly)

New experiences continue here and we’re like children (nice children, not cranky children…) as we discover different ways to be in the world together. Denis has returned to the fold and we welcomed him with open mouths as he is cooking again. I can hear him chopping while I type – there isn’t a nicer sound.

(You think you’re missing your hairdresser? Sadie is so concerned she needs Denis to reassure her that Eilish isn’t going to stab her)

Our latest endeavor has kind of snuck up on us. Like everyone else I’ve been doing a bit of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for years but now I realise I was only playing at it! HaHa, Ha, I laugh in the face of my previous efforts. Here’s what’s happening…

(You can’t eat yarn…)

Yesterday Eilish came in to measure my head. Oh yes, I’ve forgotten to tell you why but first… she arrives over with her knitting, her needles and yarn in a bag. I thought I recognised the bag… And then I thought I’d wet myself with the laughing. You’ll never guess what the bag was? No don’t try, you won’t guess. It was a Tesco Finest Oatmeal and Linseed Loaf bag… (our favourite bread, that we can’t get any more by the way…) Inside you could see the yarn peeping through. Now this is more like it, now we can honestly say we are, REUSING our plastic. Also, every time I look at the bag I remember with affection the bread, oh how we loved you, Tesco Finest Oatmeal and Linseed Loaf, sniff.

(Here are our potatoes, can you see anything? No, me neither but soon…)

So back to the knitting and my head measurements… We are getting all our groceries from click and collect so someone else does our shopping (thank you ❤) and I collect it in the car park of the supermarket. It works well for groceries. Not so well for hairbands. My hair is growing and it’s getting in my face and I find myself swearing and flailing my arms all around the place when I realise I’m about to touch my face to get the stray hairs back. So I thought, wouldn’t a hairband be very useful? And there was a hairband on the supermarket website shop, perfect, right? Alas, no. When the delivery came the hairband was in the Not Available list. 😟 Eilish could see more swearing and flailing in her future so she offered to rip some of my crochet squares ( I have sensed for a long time that she didn’t like my crochet…?) and use the yarn to make a hairband. RECYCLING!

(Hairband doing its job, send Eilish your head measurements if you want one we have 6 stamps left and loads of crochet squares… we’ll happily send you one (free, we’re just having fun here) and then you’ll be recycling too…😁)

We were talking about opening up a website shop because she’s already on the second hairband and I only have one head. But then we realised if the shop was successful we’d never have time to go out in the garden… I can probably wear more than one hairband at a time.

(My favourite gardening tool at the moment, fantastic for management of strong emotions… I hear)

I wish I had a story about how we are REDUCE -ing but with all the baking we’ve been doing nothing’s getting reduced except the contents of the bag of flour. That reminds me… Eilish was telling me that during the war years people used to sew flour bags together to make bed sheets. Yes, I did wonder how comfortable paper sheets could be… turns out the flour bags were made of cotton… oh right.

May you be well, Mairead.

Newspaper and Coffee


(Newspaper cutting.. just noticed – she’s a Hennessy!)

I’ve been buying the weekend Irish Times for the past two weeks because we’re working on an exercise called Newspaper and Coffee. It requires lots of newspaper, a scissors, some glue and strong coffee. But as the newspaper doesn’t survive the exercise in a readable form I’ve been scanning any articles I want to read or pass on and cutting them out.Today I wondered Isn’t this something ladies of a certain age do?


(The aftermath)

I had found a great article about someone who will be setting up a vintage market in Smithfield, Dublin for one day only on the 8th of December, she sells the clothes by weight… interesting. Know at least three people who might be interested in that. Then there was the ice water swimmer (it’s a thing) who had a lovely quote about needing the opinions of others. I’ll keep that for myself…


(Ice swimmer’s quote)

I love newspapers, especially ones with dense print. I love holding them, cutting them, glueing them and of course reading little bits out of them. I love when they go yellow. I love when I find an old piece stuck inside a photo frame or lining a drawer. A whisper from the past. When I was a child my parents used to buy the Irish Independent newspaper every day, maybe my love of newspaper is related to that.

So, that certain age must be childhood then, Mairead.

Paper Sizes….. The Real Story…

17 10a

(A5 notebook on top of A4 sketch pad on top of A3 hardback sketchbook)

Turns out I didn’t completely understand paper sizes (Personal Notebook)….. but thanks to some smart people I think I’ve got it now. My sister Moira told me there’s a size A0. Then Damien (you might remember Damien from the Dublin Flamenco Festival last  year?) sent me the following….

….I’m going to be a bit geeky and correct you on the paper sizes. This is only on my mind because Nathalie and I have spent a lot of time designing posters for this year’s flamenco festival. Hard to believe it’s starting on Friday!!!! Where did the year go?
Anyway, I digress 🙂
In the A series of paper sizes, A0 is the largest. Each increment divides the paper size in half. So, A1 is half the size of A0, A2 is half the size of A1, A3 is half the size of A2,  A4 is half the size of A3, and so on.
All this halving gives us a nice little binary system. The number of the paper size ends up being the power of 2 of the number of sheets that fit into an A0, e.g.
A0 = 2 ^ 0 = 1 (1 sheet)
A1 = 2 ^ 1 = 2 (2 sheets of A1 in A0)
A2 = 2 ^ 2 = 4 (4 sheets of A2 in A0)
etc etc etc
Ok, geeking over :)…….”

(This is Damien)

Thank you Damien! Thank you also to Susanna who took the time to explain it like this…

“...or you could express it mathematically

A5 X 2 = A4
A4 X 2 = A3
A3 X 2 = A2
A2 x 2 = A1″


Now that I understand the paper sizes… I was wondering if anyone could help me with my drawing homework? Anyone? Mairead.


The Personal Notebook

15 10e

(Ira Glass quote stuck on inside front cover of personal notebook)

It’s very early and the temperature has been dropping in the last few days so I’m cold and tired. The perfect scenario for returning to a nice warm bed… but that’s not going to happen. I’m going to type for an hour, get breakfast, a shower and go to my classes. But there’s something on my mind…. my personal notebook. I’d explain here what a personal notebook is but I’m not exactly sure yet myself and I wouldn’t like to steer you wrong.

15 10b

(Printing practice)

The personal notebook has been mentioned at various times since my course began. Initially I thought it was about the things I loved and I started to stick pictures of Monet paintings and patchwork quilts into an A5 notebook. Soon I realised I needed to add my daily drawing practice… and my notes and photographic examples of my notes and the mixed paint cards done in class. Then there was the dark day I realised the personal notebook would be part of my coursework…… It would be marked…. it’s been difficult to add anything to it since then. To be honest it’s always been difficult to mess up a new notebook, especially a nice one. I think that was because I usually judge my efforts and find them lacking. Is it possible someone else judging my efforts will be easier? Unlikely.

15 10c

(Perspective practice)

This weekend I made another stab at messing up my personal notebook (It’s now an A4 hardback notebook) and with the aid of this Ira Glass quote I’m learning to stop judging my efforts and keep up my practice.

15 10f

(Writing and spelling practice)

On a completely different topic, I have learned that the page size numbering system – A2, A3, A4, A5, etc. is all about how many times a sheet that size fits into an A1 (huge) sheet. For example, four A4 sheets fit into an A1 or five A5 sheets fit. That’s why an A5 sheet is smaller than an A4!

Practice, practice, practice, Mairead.

Kilruddery Food Market has crafts?


(Fiona from Treasurepalace)

Yesterday for our Saturday date we went to Killruddery Food Market. I think it just started this weekend, but I could be wrong. Anyway, this is the first we’ve heard of it and it will be running once a month. Killruddery House is just outside Bray, Co. Wicklow and the market is in the stables and that stables were in The Tudors (the television series, not necessarily the time in history… although I don’t know that for sure either.) There are vegetables and olives and crepes and Irish buffalo mozzarella cheese and lots more. I queued up for the crepes while Denis got the coffees. While we were sitting in one of the stables eating and drinking, I noticed a huge barn with more stalls.


(Old stuff made beautiful)

It was the secret craft barn (well not really a secret… and there were other things beside crafts…. but I like the idea of a secret craft barn so that’s what it is…) Inside we found vintage tin toys and jewellery and Fiona and Lynn. I took lots of pictures until I got to Fiona and then there was lots of talking instead. Fiona and her friend Sarah (Sarah was celebrating elsewhere with street parties and bunting… I think) started Treasurepalace Designs ( because they love making old stuff look beautiful. They sell the beautiful looking stuff. It’s another one of those “follow your dream” stories, you can read more about them on their website. Right next to Fiona was Lynn ( and she makes linocut prints. I love linocut printing, yum.


(Lynn and some of her linocut printing)

Now the funny thing is that at noon the previous day I got a call from my friend Julie, she’d got last-minute free tickets to go to Bloom, the garden show at the Phoenix Park in Dublin. So off we headed in Friday afternoon bank holiday traffic. Julie is a bit of a storyteller so within just three stories we had arrived and were looking at the most beautiful display gardens.

Birds and Bees

(The Birds and The Bees garden at Bloom. Ben Landers, a young gardener, had a dream and this is what he made)

After the gardens and on our way to look at the rest of the site I noticed there was a craft area. Hat makers, basket makers, Fán Regan ( a linocut printer, Karolina ( making wonderful ceramic art, Tunde Toth ( and her helper making a huge flowers from raw silk, paper and some rain proof wax.


(Tunde Toth

The funny thing? Well… recently I realised it was time to put my attention on my love of crafts and making craft things and within weeks I was meeting people who were already doing it, I was applying to go on an arts and crafts course and I was surrounded by reminders that setting your intention allows paths to what you want to pop up where you least expect them. Crafts at a garden show? Impossible! Crafters at a food market? Crazy….. or is it?

Vintage Toys

(The vintage tin toys

So I’ll be writing and crafting from now on, how great is that? Might have taken a few years to get here but it feels so good it could even be worth the wait. Wait if you want or start now, it’s up to you.


(Fán’s lino and cutting tools, sigh)

What do you want? Mairead.

Lovely space


(Watercolour paper with acrylic paint)

A couple of weeks ago I emptied and moved the bookcases from the kitchen. This was a big job but thrilling! Moving furniture around has always felt like going on holidays to me.That’s because when I was little, Maureen, who took care of my brother and me while our mother worked used to regularly rearrange the furniture in our bedrooms as a treat. When I came back to my newly arranged bedroom it was like I was in a new place and I could pretend to be whoever I wanted to be.


(Huge tube of white paint)

Now the kitchen has a very spacious feel, there’s even an echo. I had forgotten how much I love space. And there’s more room for my arts and crafts stuff. Having it to hand means I’m getting more hands-on crafting time. Nothing too complicated. But I’m noticing some things, things I love. Like drawing a brush and some paint across paper. There’s a different feel depending on the brush, the amount of paint, the thickness of the paper, even the colour of the paint.


(Pretty colours)

Makes me think it’s the little things that make life lovely. A purring cat, a new tube of white paint, smiling baby photos, buttons (I love buttons), blue in the sky and the sea, green moss. Might be a nice idea to list all the little things that make your life lovely.

No harm to remind yourself how lovely your life really is, Mairead.

Making an Impression

(Melting blue ice cream paint)

The rain is bucket-ing down outside but I’m a happy bunny. I’ve been spending time making material. Well… not exactly making material, printing onto material is a more accurate description. It involves plain white cotton and fabric paint and a little paint roller and wooden blocks. The blocks have a pattern etched onto them. First I pour the paint onto a plastic receptacle, (a Chinese takeaway lid!) then roll the roller in the paint. Next I apply the roller to the wooden block and then press the block onto the cotton material.

(Rolling the roller in the paint)

So… sounds harmless enough doesn’t it? Not really that engrossing? But to me it is completely engrossing. Let me explain it…. more slowly this time.

(Rolling the paint onto the wooden block)

I have a lot of crafting books. Books about patchwork, card-making, knitting, crochet, book-binding (yes, really!), sewing projects and hand printing…. are all sitting on my book shelves. So, from time to time I pick one up and start to turn the pages. Very soon something shifts in me and a kind of glow begins to flow. I become inspired. It could be anything, a colour, a shape, a pattern… sigh, patterns. A few months ago when I was looking through a book called Hand Printing by Lena Corwin, the glow began to flow and I wanted to print on fabric. In this case it was the patterns, repeating across the page that got me.

(Making an impression)

This week I began the doing part. The cotton material was washed and ironed. I’m ready. I pour the blue paint onto the plastic lid. I love this bit, it looks like melted ice cream. I lift an edge so that the paint flows slowly down the plastic. Then I slowly roll the roller in the paint, until it is completely blue. Then I pick up the wooden block and slowly (important bit) slowly roll the paint covered roller over the block. I see the paint sticking to the wood and when I’ve rolled over and back and sideways, slowly, I put the roller down. Then slowly, I move over to the fabric and holding the wooden block, now blue, I use both hands and press it firmly onto the material. Then slowly, I lift the block away from the material, this feels a bit like lifting your wellington booted foot out of the mud, squelch! And then I look at what I’ve done, and I sigh. I am engrossed.


My friend Ashleigh sent me a quote today, “A wise woman is someone who can find time for herself every day.” I think this probably applies to men too…

Become engrossed, slowly, today, Mairead.