‘Shell-like’ refers to a person’s ear. It has been in use since the late 19th century when the shape of an ear was deemed to be like a sea shell.

When we are tired, under pressure or emotional, it is all too easy to make glaring mistakes in our writing. I’m as guilty as anyone and have appalled myself on occasion with errors that must have prompted my mother, an ardent member of the ‘grammar police’, to spin in her grave!

Having said that, there is little excuse on a computer when there are multifarious tools for proof-reading, whether it’s spelling or grammar. True, these tools are not infallible — I say this as WP  has just accepted ‘iff’ on another post I’m writing — but it is the least we owe our readers. Some bloggers, I’ve noticed, have added spelling and grammar disclaimers; this beggars belief.


While the mistakes listed in the above image are commonplace and infuriating, incorrect plurals seem to have taken over the globe! I’ve just seen a Twitter profile that reads ‘Manages only the best producer’s, artist’s, designer’s and model’s of today’s talent.’ Are they kidding me?

Of all the plural gaffes, there is one in particular that has become all-pervasive and makes me grit my teeth, I confess, with fury. I see it myriad times a day, every day. I’ve even seen it in a captioned prologue to a film. It’s an error that has me wondering if somebody changed the rules and forgot to tell me!

I’m talking about how to use an apostrophe when it comes to years and decades. Confused? Let me show you some examples, all of which I’ve taken from the web. The correct way to express each phrase is on the right.

1960’s Decade Overview • 1960s Decade Overview

Visiting dress, late 1860’s • Visiting dress, late 1860s

Explorers from the 1600’s • Explorers from the 1600s

She was a college student in the early 1990’s • She was a college student in the early 1990s

Where does the 1990’s rank as a decade? • Where do the 1990s rank as a decade? (also note the ‘does’ error in this question taken from the CNN website)

This applies equally when decades are shortened i.e. the ’20s (note the apostrophe before the number to show the elision). The only time you would apply an apostrophe before the ‘s’ is if you were writing about that particular turn-of-the-decade year i.e. 1960’s music charts, meaning the charts of 1960, not the whole decade. If you wanted to refer to the charts of the decade in this context, it would be ‘the 1960s’ music charts’ where the apostrophe after the ‘s’ is possessive in nature.

I do know that many are dismissive of grammatical rules and say it really doesn’t matter. But this, as Pippa of The Last Post said, is like declaring that an artist doesn’t need to be able to draw to be a painter, or that a mathematician doesn’t need to know how to add up to create ground-breaking formulae. The more the structure of language is debased, the more incomprehensible it becomes and the less we understand each other, a dangerous path to take, as history shows us all too often.

Here is Lynne Truss on the subject in Eats, Shoots and Leaves, an invaluable and highly entertaining guide to punctuation that has no right not being on every wordsmith’s shelf.

‘The reason it’s worth standing up for punctuation is not that it’s an arbitrary system of notation known only to an over-sensitive élite who have attacks of the vapours when they see it misapplied. The reason to stand up for punctuation is that without it there is no reliable way of communicating meaning.’

‘On the page, punctuation performs its grammatical function, but in the mind of the reader it does more than that. It tells the reader how to hum the tune.’

‘We have a language that is full of ambiguities; we have a way of expressing ourselves that is often complex and elusive, poetic and modulated; all our thoughts can be rendered with absolute clarity if we bother to put the right dots and squiggles between the words in the right places. Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking. If it goes, the degree of intellectual impoverishment we face is unimaginable.’

‘[...] I apologise if you all know this, but the point is many, many people do not. Why else would they open a large play area for children, hang up a sign saying “Giant Kid’s Playground”, and then wonder why everyone stays away from it? (Answer: everyone is scared of the Giant Kid.)’

All quotes taken from GoodReads.

I could quote from this book forever and a day. Short of that, I urge you to get a copy.

It is also worth looking out for punctuation posts from some of the lovely blogs I follow including but not limited to Nicholas C Rossis and Have We Had Help.

Take care and keep laughing!


A Bountiful Thanksgiving © Sarah Vernon

I’ve just sold A Bountiful Thanksgiving greeting card on Redbubble. So that’ll pay for the weekend in Paris, then. Irony? Heaven forfend I should be accused of that!

Here for your delectation is the matching tote bag.


Take care and keep laughing!


Vintage lady from evint.com and background from EKDuncan-My Fanciful Muse.

Vampire Dancing came to life at the speed of light two years ago when I felt I needed to add to my Halloween collection. A number of layer inversions in Photoshop gave it a ghostly appearance that I find rather pleasing!

Take care and keep laughing!




If you’re like me, you will feel that certain art looks a great deal better on products like tote bags if the image covers the whole area. Certain types of graphic design, — line drawings, quotes, and so forth — look great on any type, but if the area is limited, as it is at Zazzle, you will feel constantly dissatisfied with the effect. In this respect, Redbubble wins hands down, for my money!

Take care and keep laughing!


Bird from Wikimedia.
Background texture from Kerstin Frank

Sell Art OnlineArt Prints

Take care and keep laughing!


First Night Design:

One from the archives.

Originally posted on First Night Design:


My latest abstract is the result of a happy accident.  I began with the idea of creating a faux vintage picture with an animal, in other words, something along the lines of the image below (genuine vintage).


But as soon as I blended a background from Textures of Italy and a photograph of a goat that I took a couple of years ago, I was so delighted by the shapes, textures and colours, that I wanted go no further.

I have no doubt I’ll be doing my faux vintage animal in the near future, though.

Take care and keep laughing!

About Sarah & First Night Design

View original

School stories have always been popular and continue so to be. When I was a child, my contemporaries and I were suckers for Elinor M Brent-Dyer‘s Chalet School series. Some of us went for Enid Blyton; although I read the likes of Malory Towers, I was not enamoured. It was Summer Term at the Chalet School or Mary-Lou of the Chalet School that consumed me.

‘You’re a brick, Angela!’ became a well-known expression symbolising such stories, which were published by Angela (pronounced ‘brazzle’) Brazil and many others. Brazil was one of the first to breach the overwhelming prominence in the marketplace of ‘improving’ books for children. While now we consider her tales quaint, out-dated and clichéd, their influence on other writers was profound. They were devoured at the time although there were some who felt the books were immoral and a bad influence!

The Court-Harmon Girls by L T Meade, a pseudonym for Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith (1844–1914), was published in 1910. The above greeting card is taken from my original copy of the book in which I have incorporated the front cover and the spine, as well as a little decorative flourish!

Take care and keep laughing!


First Night Design:

One from the archives.

Originally posted on First Night Design:

Photography Prints

Today I’m sharing one of my artworks that has become popular on Pinterest.  The word is spreading!  I suspect that Pinterest might ultimately become the marketing choice above all else.

Unicorn Fresco is an early effort with Photoshop. Starting with a stencilled drawing, I used several of my own textures and handwriting, as well as various Photoshop brushes, to give the impression of a fresco that has not stood the test of time and has been used as an outlet for graffiti, albeit of a decorative nature! I was inspired by a Staffordshire Pottery unicorn which belonged to my mother.

Take care and keep laughing!


View original

This is a special shout-out for Marilyn Griffiths of MKG-Memories-Keepsakes-Gifts — we follow each other on WordPress — who has just become my inaugural customer at Crated having bought a print of Copper Pear. Thank you very much, Marilyn!

Take care and keep laughing!


Originally posted on The Last Post:

Thomas-Lawrence croftSir Thomas Lawrence, (Isabella) Mrs. Jens Wolff, painted 1803 – 1815.  © The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Kimball Collection.

She sits in profile, rapturously contemplating an art book, brightly illuminated by a hanging lamp, the dark mysterious recesses of an arch behind her. An artist wants a picture to tell its own story; but we, the viewers, the readers, the audience, we lap up gossipy biographical details that add to our emotional titillation. Lawrence and the willowy, poised divorcee, with her distinguished aquiline features and slim modern figure, her intelligent expression and taste in contemporary and Renaissance art (her rapture is ostensibly aroused by studying Michelangelo, not by her consciousness of being studied herself) were bound in a relationship that lasted till his death.


View original 780 more words

The Adorable Dodo Greeting Card Greeting Cards
The Adorable Dodo Greeting Cards

This is a gently humorous card that I had completely forgotten about! I must do some more with my mythological dodo, if you’ll pardon the expression. Boy, does he know he’s adorable!

Take care and keep laughing!


Vintage pear from The Graphics Fairy.

“I warrant they would whip me with their fine wits till I were as crest-fallen as a dried pear.” The Merry Wives of Windsor

‘Eating pears cleans the teeth.’ Korean proverb

Take care and keep laughing!


Visit my portfolio at Crated and get a 10% discount on any of my artworks by using the promo code CRATEDFRIENDS. Expires October 31st.

Take care and keep laughing!


I know. We’re all bored with designs based on the old WWII slogan but this tee expresses how I’m reacting to certain events in my life this month. Happy Sunday!

Take care and keep laughing!


Regular visitors will be familiar with my penchant for seeing my art on cushions. I’ve been at it again with some of the recent additions to my portfolio. Enjoy!

‘I do needlepoint from kits. I give them as gifts to people in the form of cushion covers and they are often speechless with horror.’
Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

Take care and keep laughing!


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Sarah Vernon

Sarah Vernon

Artist, Actress, Writer

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