Friday, 31 August 2012

Ready for September

Well that was August.  Over in a flurry of showers and the occasional sunny moment.  September will bring a few changes here at Castle Johnson with Bella at preschool for 3 days and me going back to studying with the Open University.  I will also be going back to the gym to test the progress on my shoulder (or not) and I'm hopeful that by the end of the month, I will be the lightest that I have been for many years and dipping under the next stone mark at Slimming World.

Of course I will be recording this journey with Shimelle's Learn Something New Everyday.  You don't have to be a scrapbooker or a crafter of any sort to join in with this particular class because this is about the lessons we learn everyday and recording them in whichever way suits us individually.

I've mentioned before about my album, saved from last year, so here it is.  This is a bare chipboard album covered with Pink Paisley "Old School" papers and random bits from my stash.

This is the inside cover and I've cut all my pages to size and hole punched them ready to go.  I plan to do a lot of journalling this year.

This morning I finally finished my owls.  These will be the date markers with a little white number on their smart tummies, and I think I will add them to a label shape for the journalling.

Louis would like to show you his book that he made too.  We used the papers that come with Scrapbook Magazine (which I dislike intensely but are perfect for the children) and glued them back to back.  Then we cut them to size (6x4 so we can easily add photos where needed) and he rounded all the corners.  Then he cut the title element and wrote it out (several times as he wasn't happy with it) and made his own owl and a little flag.  He got very excited about we put it all together and almost combusted when I showed him how to insert the pin into the foam tape of the title!

He's got lots of different papers in his book and the spare bits are in a bag.  He has punched some shapes ready to decorate his pages and made a little pocket for these and his gems that he wants to use.  I tell you this kid is a chip off the old block!

September also sees a return of the Artful Angels crops and I am so excited because I get to take my new bag.  Look at this beauty!!!

The fabulous Lunch Lady Jan made it for me especially to fit my trimmer which won't fit in my rolling tote.  It is exactly what I wanted - pockets on the outside for my keys and purse and long straps to make it easier on my shoulder.

She chose the fabrics herself and I think she knows me well enough that she got it spot on, literally!  Pink polka dots and a pink and aqua tea cup fabric!  (She knows I love tea!)  She also made it extra sturdy by using a special backing.  I love it!

Louis took some photos of me "wearing" it but I looked awful so I ended up just holding it out so you can see all its gorgeousness.  I am very lucky to have such a talented and wonderful friend and I am planning a little something to say thank you in return.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a cup of tea to drink.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Happy Wednesday to you all.  This is the last Wednesday of the school holidays here which means that this is my last precious day just with my son, while my girl has her last day at nursery.  It's such a rarity to spend time with just him and me and I have no idea how we will ever manage it again, aside from him being off school poorly (very rare) while she is at preschool.

Today we will be doing some sewing as he has just discovered those pre-hole-punched sewing kits.  We will also be making a little Smash book type thing for him to record his lessons for September as he is going to be joining in with me for Learn Something New Everyday.  I thought it would be a good way to encourage him to write outside of school as he really needs the practise.  He reads beautifully, is okay at mental maths, has a great vocabulary and a wonderful imagination but anything involving using a pen / pencil and everything goes wrong - it's a bit like his brain and his hand are not connected!

I did have a clear up last week after we had both done some crafting and I sorted out my supplies for LSNED and put them in the box on the left there.  The pockets contain pieces of punched owl (we would like to confirm that no owls were harmed in the making of this blog post).

The owls will be used as date markers / journalling tags and I'm sure Louis will want to make some of these too for his own book.  Aren't they cute?!

If you stopped by last week then you will know about the mystery of the hospital tags.  Well I solved that by asking a lovely friend who was also a stand-by independent midwife for me at the time and she said NHS midwives issues them in case the baby needs to be admitted at all.  I did wonder if that was the case as they hadn't been worn, just filled in.  Still no idea why they were in the car 3 years later though!

Well that's my desk revealed for the week, how about you?  Care to share your crafting space?  Link up with the Queen of the Desks Miss Julia and let other creative types have a nosy too.

Bye for now

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

6x6 Celebration Part 3

Welcome back for the third and final instalment of my celebration of love for 6x6 paper pads.  The previous 2 posts in full are here and here followed by the final set of projects, all over at S J Crafts blog.  I do hope you will pop by there and have a look at the fun I had creating a range of projects from the versatile Echo Park Eclectic Collection.

My final project involves some memories of my Scrap-a-Mia retreat using some small photos.

Small photos work really well with small patterns.

Small embellishments to match the size of everything else.

I had great fun using my much neglected small punches.

I really hope you have enjoyed this collection of projects.  We'd love to see what you've been inspired to create as a result of this series so why not upload your project in the comments on the S J Crafts blog.  Sarah has kindly offered a prize for one chosen participant.  This closing date for this challenge is September 16th so you have time to complete something once the children are back in school.  Good grief, how fast has this "summer" gone!

Bye for now

Monday, 27 August 2012

6x6 Celebration - Part 2

Are you ready for another instalment of my 6x6 Celebration projects?  Well hop on over to the S J Crafts blog to see the full details of these 3 layouts.

If that's not enough inspiration for you then check back towards the end of the weekend for part 3.  If you are inspired to create something, why not link it up to the S J Crafts blog?  The lovely Sarah is offering a prize for one lucky winner from the projects entered.

Hope you are having a wonderful bank holiday so far.

Bye for now

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Learn Something New Everyday

Can you believe it is almost September?  I found a leaf this morning that was scarlet, so beautiful, and I knew  Autumn was suddenly saying hello.  September always brings Shimelle's Learn Something New Everyday class and last year I got very organised with making my own album, cutting all the pages to size etc.  For some reason, I never even completed day 1.  I made mental notes about what I was learning and most of it related to the exercise programmes that I was trying to achieve.  In the end, I took the photos that related to my lessons and this weekend I made a double page layout with those instead of the album.

I printed my journalling in a list and then cut it into strips.

I'm happy that they overlap the photos which is something I wouldn't normally do, because the journalling is the most important thing here.  

Of course, the end of September was when my Step-Mum died suddenly but this wasn't  about that at all and I didn't want to make a big thing of it here.  I made a note in relation to 29th which might sound a bit harsh on its own but I intend to do another page that preceeds this one with the story of that evening - I was on my way to the gym when I got the phone call.

I used Echo Park Paper's This and That Graceful collection because the pinks and reds were a great match for my red vest and pink iPod cover.

I can tell you that I have lost NO weight since then due to hovering around the same half stone mark but I have carried on with Slimming World because I knew if I stopped I would start gaining!  My shoulders are still causing me great problems so I have had to suspend my gym membership.  The next step is another MRI looking at a different area but I am going back to the gym in September regardless to work on the bits I can.  Although I am sad that the summer holidays are almost over, I am quietly looking forward to the changes that it will bring and I will have much to record for LSNED this year!

I haven't wasted the album from last year though.  I have changed the date to 2012 and got my basket of supplies ready and I am busy making owls to use for my journalling.  I'll share my preparations in another post very soon.  What are you looking forward to about September?  Anyone else joining us for LSNED this year?

Bye for now

Friday, 24 August 2012

6x6 Celebration Part 1

I've been hinting for a while now that I have been working on a project about my love for 6x6 pads.  Did I mention that I like them, maybe just a little? ;-)

Well Part 1 is up on the S J Crafts Blog and talks about quadrants, cards and tags.  Here's a little sneak of the first couple of projects.

Can you see what it is yet? (said in best Rolf Harris voice).  These papers from Echo Park's Eclectic Collection are so versatile and gorgeous.

Please do stop by and have a look at the projects in full.  I've also included some comparison shots so you can see the difference in scale.

It looks like being a very wet bank holiday (no change there then!) so I will spending some time sorting photos with the children and getting lots more scrapping done.  I MAY be tempted to use a 6x6 pad or 2.  How about you?  If you make anything inspired by any of the 6x6 Celebration posts, please do link up in the comments as we would love to see what you made.  Don't forget to check back to see Part 2 & 3 during the weekend too.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

WOYWW (I have no idea!) (168 apparently!)

Forgive me Julia, for I have sinned.  Its been many many weeks since I last joined What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday and revealed the horrors of my desk.  I am glad that I can share my mess here because I am actually ashamed of it right now, head-hangingly embarrassed.  A combination of holidays, children off school, paperwork panics, elsewhere declutterings and a mammoth DT project (more on that soon I promise) have mean't that my desk is not as it is usually and certainly not as I would like.  I thought that joining in with old friends would shame me into sorting it.  I will honestly.  Just one more cup of tea and catching up on a few more blogs (I'm getting there!)

The scale of the problem is so bad that I had to take a few steps back to get all the chaos in.  Post holiday magazines on the chair, a box of stuff taken from the walls while decorating in that green box, the black box file is my scraps.

A shocker of a layout that I am performing a scrapectomy on, my sweetie jar of gems, the remains of a few half finished projects that are still... ahem.. half finished, the battery charger for the camera which still hasn't been charged, my beloved bunting punch, a pile of invoices from the nursery (having to go through them with a fine toothed comb and a little something medicinal), and other random stuff.  We cleared out the car yesterday (hoovered a tonne of Pembrokeshire sand) and found 2 hospital wrist bands for Female Infant Johnson.  Now this is a puzzle indeed because Female Infant Johnson is 3 years old and was born at home!! Well at least they will make it to a scrapbook page, even if it is a random story about clearing out your car more often ;-)

This is said Female Infant's penultimate day at nursery meaning I have a precious whole glorious day with my boy and he wants to do some scrapping!  Best clear the decks then... or just sweep it all onto the floor for now, who am I to interfere with his plans? ;-)

Bye for now

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Summer Time Challenge

What luck that this post should come on a day of glorious sunshine!  I am rather pink myself after our little holiday to Wales and I think, despite going there regularly for the past 20 years, it is the first time I have ever been sunburned!  We had a wonderful time as usual and it was over too quickly as usual so we are pleased to have some sunshine to come home to.  I mean't to schedule this post before we went away but a very special little person finally arrived and I was frantic getting the house ready for them to use while we were away for a few days.  So my apologies for it being a little late and for going so long between posts - this will not do!

My Summer Time layout is about Louis and his friend and how close they are.  They are so similar, both fighting to control their emotions and yet living life to the full every day.  It was a rare sunny day in September last year and it was wonderful to be at Beaulieu in such glorious weather.  I MAY have gone a little mad with my camera that day!  I've used one of my most favourite Summer colour schemes - yellow, aqua and red.

I also made some of my favourite embellishments - windmills, which I think are perfect for summer sun projects.

I'm sure that this weather is inspiring you to make something Summery so why not upload it to the S J Crafts challenge and be in with a chance of winning some embellishments.It can be about Summer, sunshine, beaches, Summer colours or style, anything that makes you think of a little bit of Summer fun.  The challenge is open until 19th September so plenty of time to get busy with making something and enjoying some of this lovely weather too.

I'm using the lovely weather to dry my holiday washing and I think we might just light the barbecue this evening.  Now though I have 2 small people who NEED the paddling pool to be filled up RIGHT NOW.

Bye for now

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Meeting the Neighbours - Story Telling Sunday

We're having a very floppy day here - Management's back is playing up (probably due to humping the large tent around), Louis is having an asthma flare which is very unusual, and I am still not firing as I would like to after my bug.  We are chilling out and watching the Olympics and loving it all and it gives me a wonderful excuse to join in with Sian's Story Telling Sunday.  

We have so many stories from our Round The World trip but this particular tale is one that I think about every week day when I watch my Aussie soaps.  I popped back to our old Travelpod blog to see what we had written but actually it was unusual that Management wrote this one.  Over to him...


Now, when I was told I was going to a Neighbours trivia evening I thought this would be a sedate affair with a quick pickie with some semi-celebrity. Not a chance! 

We got picked up from the hostel in the most disgusting coach ever with the coach driver doing a very good impression of Les Patterson. After picking up numerous amounts of scantily dressed girlies on the way, we arrived at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow pub in St. Kilder. There was already a large queue. After about 15 minutes we eventually got in and you were seated at specific tables so that they could sqeeze in as many people as possible. Then the drinking began. After quite a lot of the drinking the mc eventually said the stars were on their way and one by one in walked Toadie, Connor and Harold. The noise was deafening as 300 plus drunk Brits screamed and chanted the star's names. The celebs were then asked questions that the crowd had put forward. Many of these were directed towards Toadie asking about rumours that he had been caught in the toilets with various female backpackers on previous evenings and had been banned. The best question though was put to Harold - "Why do you have such a jelly belly?" His answer - "Because every time I slept with your mother she gave me a biscuit!" What a star.

The quiz then started and the stars went round the tables to meet everyone and get photos with them. Harold had a bad leg so he remained on stage and you went up to see him. Most of the questions were about anything but neighbours and our team managed a creditable 7th out of 35. The quiz rounds were interspersed with a number of dodgy 18-30 type games to win trips etc. The most amazing thing about the whole evening was seeing all these young girls wearing a couple of hankerchiefs tied together throwing themselves at the stars in particular Harold! I have to say he wasn't complaining.

At this point I have to say a small word about my wife. Seeing her little face after having her picture taken with Toady was like a small child on christmas morning. She even said "this is the best day of the trip so far" - how sad is that?

Anyway after quite a bit more drinking we splashed out on a taxi back to the hostel (a whole 5 pounds).

After the excesses of the night before we decided on a quiet inexpensive day. We had to be out of the hostel for 4 hours as it was being fumigated! I tried to explain that LJ's socks always smelt but they must have suspected something even worse. In the morning we went swimming at the public swimming pool which was free via the hostel. Now, at home I consider myself not a bad swimmer but here I was put to shame with all the locals bombing up and down the lanes. There was even a man with one leg who was twice as fast as me. The pool was 30 metres and LJ managed 20 lengths!

After swimming we had lunch in chinatown - 3 dishes with rice for $6 (about 2 squid) and then went to the market and bought our tea. We splashed out and got a huge piece of rump steak for just over a quid.

This morning we did the other neighbours tour which was a bit disappointing. The tour takes you to the road that is Ramsey Street (real name Pin Oak). This is an actual street where poor people actually live. Well not so poor as it happens cos they get paid $50,000 a year to let the TV company film there. It seemed very small in real life and not at all how we remembered it from the telly. We then passed the studios and the driver pointed out the actors cars and told us what the ex stars are doing. Rik Alessi is now a tour guide for the outback so we may see him later in our travels.

Neighbours trivia - Erinsborough is made from an anagram of Neighbours. Erinsborough High is a school in real life. When Harold "disappeared" a few years back he was actually sacked and only came back when the producers changed.

Future plots - Kylie returns as a stripper and gets it on with pom newcomer (Management apparently!).

So that was our Neighbours experience as told at the time by Management.  Its really funny looking back at what we wrote about things back then and what we remember now, or the style we wrote in and how we might write it now.  It was 10 years ago now and so much has changed for us since then.  I'm looking forward to scrapping all about our strange experiences!

Bye for now

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Carry On Camping

If I said that we were still suffering the after effects of our weekend camping, you might have some idea of the disasters we encountered.

Management had taken Friday off so that we had a good start to our first trip in our new tent, and our first proper camping adventure with the children (recent glamping trip to Devon notwithstanding).    We had plenty of time to pack, we were only going for 2 nights, how hard could it be?  Well, factor in 2 overexcited children, a Mummy getting over a nasty tummy bug, a super large and heavy tent that takes up most of the car, and the answer is that it takes all morning.  But we learned a lot.

This was out first chance to get away this season and by some miracle, the weather was warm but not as super hot as it had been in the preceding days.  (For my non-British dwelling readers, super hot means anything over 25 degrees.)    The previous weeks and weeks of rain mean't that the ground was really boggy in places but not on our campsite, oh no.  We had forgotten over the years, just how rocky some of the New Forest Forestry Commission sites are and so Management had a fun old time bashing in rock pegs and generally taking three times as long about everything as a result.  Factor in also, 2 overexcited children, a Mummy getting over a nasty tummy bug and a heavy tent and the general mood can turn to hot and bothered and down right irritated in a jiffy.  But we learned a lot.

You can just see our tent laid out through the trees there.  I was still feeling positive when I took this photo.

I keep meaning to blog an update about my depression / PMT and let me tell you, the PMT was severe on Friday.  I was not really best placed to deal with a child who couldn't seem to avoid the guide-ropes and repeatedly fell over screaming loudly, or a child who repeatedly asked us to play football despite us wielding a mallet and spikey tent pegs, or the female one of those children believing that she could pee in the bushes like her brother by dropping her shorts and pants and holding her girly bits while weeing in her socks.

With time cracking on and our nerves in tatters, we decided to head for the pub garden instead of trying to fathom the cooker.  I very rarely drink but this was much needed.

I'm not sure what it is with children but on the way back to the tent we took them both to the loo for the last time.  Nonetheless, they still both needed to go again by the time they had put on their pyjamas.  We were regretting our out of the way pitch by this point, 5 minutes walk from the toilet block.

By the time they settled in their sleeping bags, it was 9.30pm and it was a good while after that they eventually fell quiet.  My own sleeping bag was a LOT more snug fitting than I remember and I didn't sleep at all well.  My unsettled belly gurgled all night despite me only having a salad for dinner and I was very aware of the children being okay in their sleeping bags.  I checked on them during the night and found that they had both slipped off their airbeds and were sleeping almost on top of each other.

Despite their late night, they were both awake very loudly at 6am.  I was feeling very unwell by that point so Management dealt with breakfast but it was lovely to be sitting in the cool bright sunshine watching the ponies wander around the tents.

Apart from my gurgly tummy, this is the moment that I thought about maybe going camping again.  This is it for us, sitting outside and being together and eating yummy food (well they did, I just watched).

Shortly after I took this photo, my bug came back with a vengeance and I decided I had to go home.  Management drove me back and then they all carried on without me - thank goodness we are only 25 mins from the campsite!

I would like to say that things improved but it turned VERY cold that evening and nobody could get warm, Louis managed to wet his sleeping bag twice inside and out meaning that Bella ended up in it too (the sleeping bags have both been washed and dried now) and then, just as the last upright was about to be removed from the tent, the heavens opened and the rain was so torrential that the tent filled up with buckets of water and the open boot of the car meant that the rain soaked the pillows and sleeping bags before they could close it up.

We haven't had a decent day's weather since then so the tent is being dried in our utility room / kids art room using a dehumidifier and we are having to keep moving it around to try and drain it because it is too big and heavy to hang up in one piece.

But we learned a lot :-)

Bye for now