Sunday, 29 July 2012


I've had a bit of a tricky mojo recently.  Its been there, just not working as I would like it.  I'm completing projects but they are leaving me feeling a little disappointed.  This week also, I've had a nasty stomach bug and I'm still not over it, and I'm part way through a blog post about our horrific camping adventures this weekend.  In an effort to turn things a bit positive, I looked through my spreadsheet of layouts (oh yes, you did read that right) which I have to keep now to help me track deadlines, publishing deadlines and when I have blogged projects etc.  I found this layout that I hadn't shared yet and it reminded me that sometimes I can make things that I really love.  I used a sketch that I found on Pinterest and it came together really well with the Salt Air papers from Cosmo Cricket.  The colours were perfect with the photos of Louis and his Grandma (my MIL) who are inseperable when we get to see her, often to the exclusions of everyone else.

I don't often use printed journalling but in this case there wasn't much to say (the photos are from our Wales album) and so it worked well to have it in short phrases on the strips.  I also used a Cricut for the first time ever for my title.  I was at an Artful Angels crop and they have one there with various cartridges for you to use which is really handy if you don't have one of your own.

I liked being able to match the colour to my layout exactly so I would definitely use it again even though it is quite fiddly.

So there you are.  A sunny layout for a day that is not sure if it is sunny or raining stair rods!  Now, I must go and load the washing machine again.  Oh yes, it was THAT sort of camping trip.  More on that very soon.

Bye for now

Monday, 23 July 2012

Olympic Challenge

Its time for another challenge over at S J Crafts and this time we have a highly topical Olympic theme.  Of course the possibilities are endless for this really - anything sporty, maybe something about London or your country's flag, did you see the torch, how has the Olympics affected you?  

My layout is about my own little Bradley Wiggins when he finally sussed pedalling and riding properly on his bike with stabilisers.  Goodness he was so cute back then!

The first idea that came to me was to use the idea of rings to echo the Olympic symbol.  This lead the way for the layout and I also wanted to include flag shapes and my country's colours.  I was stuck for a title so as an extra nod to the Olympics, I used the idea of one of the qualities needed to be an Olympic athlete - Perseverance.

It was an ideal time to use some of my favourite October Afternoon Rocket Age along with various stickers, buttons, and Teeny Alphas.  

There are lots of other ideas for the challenge over at the S J Crafts blog so why not play along?  You could win your choice of 6x6 pad from the shop (and if you need ideas on how to use them, watch this blog space!)

The challenge closes on 15th August at 1pm.

Go Team GB!!!

Bye for now

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Teacher Presents

I worked for a while as a Teaching Assistant and I was amazed by the amount of gifts I received at the end of term and at Christmas.  I don't remember giving presents to my teachers when I was at school so it was quite a pleasant surprise.  I experienced a range of gifts and cards but I have noticed each year that there are more and more things available in the shops especially for such occasions.  I thought back to my gifts and the ones I remembered were not the bunches of flowers or the epic amounts of alcohol and chocolate (although they were VERY welcome), but the slightly obscure, the really odd, and the ones that were home-made.  I decided that I would avoid the really odd and try for something a little out of the ordinary and most definitely home-made.  I had an idea for spraying a gorgeous design onto the 99p Hobbycraft canvas totes and it started really well but the final butterfly messed up big time and I had to have a rather swift rethink.  I was making a Dundee cake for my Dad and I thought it might be a good option for the teachers as it keeps well and isn't chocolate :-)

Obviously I wanted to make the thank you cards as well.  I've been waiting for the right time to use this little owl and now seemed very appropriate.  All the papers are My Mind's Eye and both the owl and the bunting punches are by Stampin Up.  I punched out the scallop circle before I adhered the background card to the card blank and the little owl fits right in the negative space - perfect!

I needed to stick the baking paper down with something and I literally squealed when I remembered my newly purchased Smash tape.  It had just perfect wording on it for edible loveliness.

I wanted the finished gift to be wrapped in brown paper and twine and then prettied up with a tag that they could keep.  

Here's a close up of the tag using papers from Echo Park's Everyday Eclectic range in 6x6 (more on that very soon!)

I will go back to the canvas bags but I need to do a bit more experimenting with the spray inks to try and stop them bleeding but either way, one won't be going to Louis' next teacher as it is a man.  No pretty trinket boxes or notebooks, no floral bookmarks, I need to get my thinking cap on for this one!

Bye for now

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Life is pretty amazing

She's here again with another page!  Its one from our retreat as I didn't get anything actually finished at the crop on Saturday (despite.. ahem... plenty of planning!)

The page was inspired by a sketch from Shimelle using 2 photos top left.  Its not something I would have done without the sketch but I will definitely use it again.  The papers (This and That Graceful) make me want to lick the screen and I was really pleased to finally put that wonderful Jenni Bowlin butterfly to perfect use.

The chipboard title was perfect to sum up how we felt on the day these photos were taken over 6 years ago.  I was VERY VERY pregnant with Louis and we went on a Babymoon (pre-baby final holiday as a couple) to Bradford-Upon-Avon.  We were excited and nervous and had absolutely no idea just how much our lives were going to be turned upside down.  

And yes, if you can manage to read the journalling, it does say that I had a fight in a car park.  I blame the hormones.... I went into Mummy Tiger mode.... Management was NOT impressed.

This was the first time I used washi tape on a layout!

Despite a cracking headache on Saturday, it was lovely to see Sarah again from S J Crafts and actually stroke, touch and sniff her shop.  We hatched a plan for a series of projects involving the new Everyday Eclectic collection which I'm very excited about.

Talking of hatching and life being amazing, we finally got to release our painted lady butterflies.  I admit, I was quite emotional.  They had lived with us since they were caterpillars and had become part of our family.. sniff.  This was an amazing experience and in Louis' own words "the best birthday present EVER!"

How beautiful is Bob?  Bob was the largest of the caterpillars and the first of the four to hatch.  He was quite happy to sit on Louis' finger while they had a chat about going off into the big wide world.  Bob was less impressed when Bella started shrieking loudly when she tried to cuddle him and he fluttered his wings.

Good luck Bob and friends!

Bye for now

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Just Me

I've had this layout planned for ages.  The photo is the first one I ever tried to take of myself nearly 2 years ago now.  I thought it was about time I featured in my own albums now and then!  

I wanted to use lots of the things I love so I included some of my favourite hoarded papers and ribbons, lots of pink and aqua, pieces of craft packaging, music paper, book style paper and cupcake transparency.  

This little chipboard house is a nod to my love of being at home.  There is bunting, hearts and roses, oh my! Everything on the page is special to me and relevant.  Its about what I liked at that time (which is much the same as now really!)

Of course what I really like is scrapping with my friends and eating delicious things like cakes and chocolate and chips.  However I am being very very good with my eating at the moment (more on that in another post)  so on Saturday I will be scrapping with my friends and eating fruit and a jacket potato!  Still, as long as I am playing with paper I am happy.  To be honest it will make a lovely change from the other playing with paper that I have been doing which is ripping it from our hallway walls.  I am literally twitching.  I despise the disruption that decorating causes but I hope to goodness it will be over quickly and worth it in the end.  Sing with me now "This too shall pass"... :-)

Bye for now

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Is it finished?

Do you ever those layouts that you finish what you intended to do but you are just not sure it looks .. well... finished?  I had this layout in my head, inspired by Kelly, and I wanted to keep the clean lines but I fighting the urge to add more "stuff".  Is it because it is less clustered than my usual style and it is just something different or is it actually that yes it does need something more?

This photo is coming up for 2 years old now and Bella still loves Fruit Flakes just as much.  I often wonder if they have some addictive quality.  They are very useful when you are trying to keep her in one place for a few minutes as we were here while Louis went on a ride at Oakwood theme park.

So, what do you think?  Would you add something or do I just need to adjust my eyes a bit ;-)

Bye for now

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Scrap scraps?

I just mentioned to Management that I had made 3 cards this week, "all from scraps!" I said proudly.  He looked confused.  "Don't you always work with scraps?  Isn't that what scrapbooking is?  How do you get scraps from scrapbooking?"  I rolled my eyes, huffed and turned away.

Here they are, new from old.

One for Louis' teacher who has been in hospital.  Old chipboard, old papers, old gems.  It got me thinking about some of the other stash I have that never seems to make it to a layout.

One for a little girl's 4th birthday.  Shocking photo, just couldn't seem to get the light right.  I blame the weather, not my poor photography skills.  I promise you that the gems are straight, I learned something here - never use small round embellishments with polka dot papers.

Lastly one for Bella's ballet teacher.  I am so pleased to have been able to use this fab ballet shoe ribbon.  I used a tutorial by Kirsty Wiseman over at Fantastic Ribbons for the bow so big mmwwaaah to you Kirsty!  The black card is actually embossed with swiss dot but its a bit hard to see here.

You may have noticed in these pictures that things have moved a little in my craft room.  With all the organising that went on in the last 10 days, things got a bit shifted in my room too but I'll save that for another post.

Bye for now

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Tidy Up Time!

A number of things all happening around the same time gave me the push I needed to have a bit of a sort out.    In the last week we have done some gardening, cleaned the whole house, sorted and chucked a load of garden toys, gutted both children's rooms and the playroom and thrown a load of toys and taken another load to the preschool.  We took 2 very large TVs to the tip, filled up both recycling and normal bins and boarded the newly discovered loft space!  There is still a lot of work to be done but we feel ready to tackle it.  We are making plans to have our downstairs bathroom done which is stopping us from decorating the spare room and hallway.

However, progress is only progress if we keep moving forward and that means keeping on top of the mess.  In our old, very small house, we had to keep tidying toys away because there was no option to leave things out.  We've been in this house 3 years and the habits we instilled in Louis back then have long since gone.  We need to get back to the habits of clearing up after ourselves and with that in mind, the children and I made some labels for their stuff.


Part the playroom.

Part of the children's art area.

A close up of the labels.  The children helped to choose stickers, laminate and cut them up.  They are stuck on with sticky dots.

And yes, I did have to go around after they had helped to stick them on and try and straighten them a bit...  When I went through their box of colouring and activity books, I found 8 that had not been touched.  I have removed them, they will never know, and I will give them back as treats at a later point.  Win win!

I am currently finishing a couple of projects in my craft room and then I will be having a good sort out in there too.  This time last week I was almost paralysed with hideous PMT.  This week I am feeling rather awesome.  So thank you to all those things colliding to give me the inspiration and energy to get things done. Thanks especially to Jennifer for her organisation celebration over the weekend that started the cogs turning on my messed up head.

Onward dear friends, some greetings cards need a little glue.

Bye for now

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Story Telling Sunday - The One About The Tigers.

I've had this story scrapped since the retreat and when I popped in to see Sian at High in The Sky, I was reminded that I had intended to share it by joining in with Story Telling Sunday.  This event happens on the first Sunday of every month and hence, I share it with you now.

I've mentioned before about Management and I taking a round the world trip about 10 years ago.  In all we spent about 7 months travelling around South East Asia and in that time we saw a LOT of temples of various  denominations.  Whilst in Thailand, we wanted to visit Kanchanaburi to see the Death Railway and the Bridge Over the River Kwai.  Unfortunately as we were pushed for time by this point it mean't we had to take an organised trip and this included, oh no, another temple.  And it wasn't even in the Lonely Planet.

During the journey though we found out a little more about Tiger Temple and discovered that it was newly opened to the visiting public and wasn't much of a temple at all.  The big draw here was the fact that the monks had taken in some orphaned tiger cubs and raised them to be calm enough to interact with humans.  They were very clear that these were not trained tigers, just calm, well fed, happy animals.

On arrival, we had to walk through the forest for a bit and we could hear the odd roar now and then.  Our pulses were racing slightly already by this time and we hadn't even come face to face with these big cats!  We were introduced to some 4 month old tigers which was an incredible experience.  The boy tiger had to stay in his cage as the males are already bigger and more boisterous but the little female cub ran around us and we could stroke and play with her. There were other random animals around too like a strange goat called Bin Laden and a gibbon who came up for a cuddle.  Gibbons are incredibly strong and the keepers in our local zoo don't even get in the cage to feed them because they can turn so easily and yet here we were with one wrapped around us.

If that felt unreal, we were going to be blown away by what happened next.

We were led to the small cages that the tigers are kept in for the vast majority of the day.  The monks calmly got 3 tigers out on leads and started walking them down the lane.  Then they handed us the leads.  These are fully grown tigers weighing up to 300kg on the end of a thin bit of leather with only a wrinkled monk for protection.  I don't know if I was more scared or excited.  After a short walk, the tigers were let off their leads to play in the quarry area.  They were about 20 metres away and so when they had a bit of a roar and a tussle over a tyre, the sound went right through your chest.  It was incredible.

These monks are not trained tiger tamers and yet they were all that stood between a handful of tourists and 3 stripy killer cats.  The phrase "Health and Safety" just had not been invented here.  Strangely we always felt safe though.  We were assured that tigers are naturally lazy animals and they will only attack if hungry or threatened, neither of which they were in danger of here.  These awesome animals really felt like giant house cats that day.

I wish I could say that that was the end of the story, well it was until I came to do this layout.

This was the layout that won me a runner up prize at the crop but I had to wait to do the journalling until I got home.

I couldn't remember the name of the area so I had to look it up on our Travelpod blog.  When I tried to search Google I saw that there were hundreds of links about Tiger Temple and so I had a little read around.

I had noticed that a few friends had recently had their photos taken sat with a lazy looking tiger while on holiday in plush resorts in Thailand.  It appears that this temple started a trend and when they appeared on Animal Planet things really took off.  Visitor numbers increased to up to 300 a day and over time the tourists had to be kept further and further away from the tigers at the temple although the resorts had caught on to this idea by then.  The temple itself and the head Buddhist there (seen in the photo) were investigated by a wildlife organisation and found to be in breach of several laws.  The tigers were sometimes abused, kept in inappropriate cages, they were illegally traded and bred.  Although no proof has ever been found, many people believed that the "tourist tigers" are drugged.  Although Buddhists are not supposed to have any money for themselves, there are "irregularities" surrounding the funding and finances for the temple.  The suspicions are that what started as an innocent way of helping a few orphaned tigers, quickly developed into a incredible cash machine. I'm glad we were there in the early days but I'm really sad that it has evolved into such a controversial tourist attraction which has led to the probability of resorts drugging tigers too.

In a way I'd like to go back and see how it has changed but for now I am happy to remember the amazing experience we had back in the times when there wasn't such controversy and when we were able to get up close and personal with one of my favourite animals.