Sunday, 30 September 2012

Her faces tell such stories

I'm very lucky that my children still love having their pictures taken.  Sometimes though it can work against me because they are always on the look out for the camera and I prefer the more candid and less cheesy shots!  Miss Bella has such expressive little features and I wanted to capture that on a layout.

Each of these images are very much "her" and yet each one is so different.  They were all taken on a trip to the zoo last April when she had just turned 2.

Her teeth are being affected by her thumb sucking and we are desperately trying to tackle it but she looks so cute!

The photos are perfect IRL, please excuse the mottled light here!  I used the gorgeous Cosmo Cricket "Tea for Two" collection here (on sale at S J Crafts right now) and went for a grid formation so I could use photos of different orientations.

I went to town with punched shapes and gems and some garden twine from the pound shop.

I am really enjoying using the natural twine at the moment as it adds such great texture and interest but works well with the natural floral theme.

I took the photos outside as I often try to do but its getting a bit cold to be laying on my slate tiles path.  Can you believe it is October tomorrow?  This year has just marched right past me!

Bye for now

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday is a blog hop for anyone with a creative interest and is brought to you by the wonderful Julia.

My desk is incredibly creative this week, alas not in a paper-crafting way but so far I am thoroughly enjoying my course.  That kraft coloured box and all its contents (which actually you can't see very well but include a pen pot, letter rack, magazine file etc) are just ripe for altering but I'm not sure what I want to do with it just yet.  I managed to get the fountain pen working after a fashion and I am so pleased to be writing with it.  It is a year on Sunday that my Step-Mum died and I think she would be really pleased that someone else is using her beloved pen for its intended purpose and not just for scribbling a shopping list.

You can also a gorgeous notebook and a rose, both presents from Management to celebrate 14 years of marriage.  The rose was one of 40 tightly furled flowers and I rarely get a chance to use my bud vase so it is a pleasure to have it keeping me company on my desk while I ponder and scrawl.  I did make Management a card but it was not successful.  I was attempting a new technique, that of using Promarkers on a stamped design (easy peasy for so many of you but oh such a fail from me...)!

The only other thing of note on my desk is that fabulous nail polish.  Debs over at Paper Turtle inspired me to paint my toenails teal in this special post about Ovarian Cancer.  Please do check it out.  As it happens, my fingernails are teal but my toes are stuffed into thick socks and hidden away in my slippers - bbbrrrr, oh yes, Autumn is a'comin'!

Bye for now

Friday, 21 September 2012

S J Crafts Challenge - Learning

It's time for another challenge over at S J Crafts and this time it is about school / learning.  There is also an optional extra to use scallops.

This challenge was a good excuse for me to use these fun pictures of Louis learning to feed himself.  BLW stands for Baby Led Weaning which is where the baby feeds themselves solid food from 6 months with no purees.  Its messy as heck but loads of fun!  It is a lot more popular now but even just 5 years ago it was very "new age" and most people hadn't heard of it.  My Mum and Mother-in-Law thought I was torturing Louis and spent mealtimes with their hand on the phone ready to call an ambulance for when (not if) he choked but he never did.  They still didn't like it when Bella went through the same regime but they were not so anxious second time around!

I used a scallop border punch and a scalloped circle punch to fit the 2nd part of the challenge.  The buttons are from Handmade Treasures and the papers are Echo Park "A Boys Life" in yet another 6x6 design (you know I like them, right?)

So, have you made any projects recently with back to school photos or someone learning something new?  The closing date for this challenge is 17th October so upload your "learning" inspired project on the blog there to be in with the chance of winning a prize.  Have a look too at the great projects by Sarah and the other DT girls.

Bye for now

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Starting Point - Cherry Blossom

I was thrilled to see that Shimelle had shared another Starting Point on her blog.  I was just in the mood this week to make something out of the blue, not related to any projects or deadlines, and this gave me the nudge I needed.  I had some aqua and pink papers on the table so I grabbed a couple of photos that I thought might go and had a play.

This was my Starting Point using the My Mind's Eye "Pretty" collection.

And this is what I ended up with.  

I'm really happy with it which makes a change for me!  I used some of that wonderful ribbon trim that I've had in my stash for a while.  Its a tricky colour that doesn't mix well with so many other shades of pink but I love it here and it adds a lovely bit of texture.  I mounted the photos onto the reverse of the packaging in the collection pack - every little helps!

The gorgeous tree in the photos is actually at the front of Louis' school and it makes a wonderful backdrop to the Easter Parade photos.  I know that when the blossom is out on the tree, Summer isn't too far away.

It was really pale this year and so I used some paler pink paper and some of my tiniest punches to make some blossoms to scatter across the page.  This pale pink was a perfect match for my favourite canvas Thickers for the title too.  I couldn't resist adding a bit of bling to some of the blossoms for added texture and interest.

I wonder how many of you are now singing Kayleigh by Marillion....? ;-)

Bye for now

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


For those of you who remember the spillage from last week, yes I have picked it all up!  Some people said it might seem like I had more than I had to begin with, you know how these things spread, but no, I kept trying to increase my stash by spilling more but it didn't work.  Neither did I find anything too exciting, so I'm afraid it was a lose lose situation, especially when you consider the pure filth that spilled from my normally chaste lips when I stood on an upturned eyelet.

So this is today.

There are pink letters and an orange and pink layout to be finished off and then on top of that is a poly bag of  "bits" which I'm getting ready to take to my niece's tomorrow.  I'm going to do some stamping and colouring and some fussing cutting of flowers ready for another layout and hopefully let her get some much needed rest.

Just for fun I thought I would give you another view of my desk so that you can see the couple of things that I added a little while ago now - my bunting and my belly cast.  I haven't decorated my cast at all yet and I may not.  I'm just happy for now that it is up on the wall and out of the way and it still makes me smile thinking of my crazy girl being tiny and all tucked up inside it 3 years ago.

Don't forget to share your workspace.  We all love a good snoop.  Show us what you are working on this week and then link up with Julia to see other desks from all over the world.  It will be good to see you.

Bye for now

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Some summing up

Its been a pretty crazy couple of months around here.  The children went on school holidays and a couple of weeks later we had a new little boy in the family.  Baby T is my Great Nephew and he is now 5 weeks old.  He and his Mum and Dad moved the week he was born and they are now sadly nearly 3 hours away so the poor little sausage gets the life squeezed out of him when he visits as we take turns to hold him.

He has been down visiting this week and so we helped out by having Harvey, their lovely Staffordshire Bull Terrier for a doggy sleepover.

Between baby-watching and doggy sitting, we've not achieved much this week I can tell you!  We just about managed to fit in a quick snuggle with my other Great Nephew, Baby E who arrived in the world last week (you might remember from this post.)  He is now a whopping 4lbs and 10oz!  Even Management managed to get a snuggle of this one!

Two babies in a week is almost more than Miss Bella can handle.  Throw Harvey the dog into the mix and we have been a little... erm... overexcited to say the least.

She has found the slightly longer days at preschool really hard to adjust to with all this extra excitement going on.  At the end of the week it was all too much for her... bless!

I was really glad to get back to a routine again and part of that routine is the monthly Artful Angels crop.  This month we were visited by Handmade Treasures with her lovely displays of ribbons and buttons that looked like a lovely sweetshop.  I admit, I broke my stash diet here but only a little bit.  I used some of the stuff on Thursday when my friend came over for a scrappy play date and I managed to catch up on a few projects.

So we are now 2 weeks into the school term and I have no plans to visit or be visited by any babies or dogs this week, or to go to or host any crops.  I've also decided that as I didn't get off to a very good start with all this going on, I am not going to try to catch up or continue with LSNED this year.  I have too much to keep me occupied to be going backwards.  I can start exercising again this week and my new course starts in about 10 days time so I need to get as much done as I can before then.  Look at all these lovely books!

My routine will be a little different from now on that it was before the summer holidays but I really hope it will take me forward as I have really stalled in the last year or so with all the goings on and I can really feel the difference in my mood.  I thought if I shared my resolutions here then I might be more accountable to actually continuing with them.  So:

I want to get back to my running and hopefully start to attend the regular Park Runs held locally.
I want to make real progress with my weight loss and head towards losing another 2 stone.
I want to engage more with the children in the precious times that we have together now.
I want to get back to enjoying cooking by planning ahead and researching my Slimming World recipe books.
I want to stay in control of the house in terms of the housework, the de-cluttering and the decorating.
I want to make positive progress with my shoulder injury.
I want to keep on track with my coursework and start to look for outlets for my work.
I want to make progress on my unfinished projects and keep adding to my haul of finished layouts.
I want to make progress with my photo workflow.
I want to be calm and happy and feeling like I am moving forward.

Feel free to nag me, if you got this far you deserve it! ;-)

Bye for now

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Best laid plans an' all that...  I rushed into my craft room to take a picture in daylight (those precious hours are dwindling fast aren't they?!) and managed to do this instead.  Obviously many round pieces and a hard floor mean't that things were scattered far and wide.  It was a dumping ground for embellishments after being at crops so that will teach me to put things away when I get back.

Its been one of those days so I took a deep breath, walked away and closed the door.  I do need to clear it up though as I am having a play date tomorrow - huzzah!  Lots of tea, chat and scrapping and I can't wait.

I've been finishing off a few things week and working on the little something for a friend but I did also manage to squeeze in this easel card for my niece.

I've never made an easel card of any sort before so this diagonal one was quite a logistical challenge for my small brain!

That fabby large button and the printed twill ribbon were part of my haul from Handmade Treasures at the weekend.  I love these feature buttons which do come in a size bigger too for a real statement.

This cot stamp was another thing rescued from my "give it away" box which I never got around to "giving away" - oops!  I love the subtle embossed effect on the printed background.

You'll be pleased to hear that Mum and baby came home on Saturday and are doing really well.  We are dog-sitting at the moment for my other niece who visiting with her new baby (5 weeks) so I have had lots of lovely newborn snuggles this week and I will miss them all when they go home today.  I will get a lot more done at my desk though!

Talking of desks, what's on yours?  Go on share if you dare.  Its what we do on a Wednesday around here. This post is brought to you by Julia's What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday.

Bye for now

Sunday, 9 September 2012

You Are Lovely

Firstly I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been in touch recently both in the comments, and by private e-mail.  My Story Telling Sunday post which featured the loss of our first baby, and my WOYWW post about being at my Great Nephew's birth that morning prompted some amazing messages of support and love from people across the world, most of whom I have never met.  I feel very privileged to be part of such a wonderful on-line community that takes the time to show complete strangers that they care.  You are all lovely!  

And with that in mind, I realised that I had one more layout to share from the Scrapbook Getaways retreat in the spring!

Oh ho!  What's this?  Another 6x6 inspired layout?  (Don't forget that the 6x6 Celebration challenge is still open at S J Crafts for a few more days if you fancy being in with a chance of a prize!)

How cute is Miss Bella standing by the... erm... pink flowers at Beaulieu?  I seem to be doing more and more double layouts at the moment and the 6x6 pads are cracking for this.

I used My Mind's Eye Lime Twist here which isn't available now but they have just released their new 6x6 collections called The Sweetest Thing.

Once again I used my bunting punch by Stampin Up and changed the look a bit by stitching through it.  I also borrowed someone else's teeny Stampin Up punch for the little flowers on it.  If you are interested in any Stampin Up stuff then I do know a lovely person (Fiona) who can give you further information.

I used up some random bits from my stash (I am REALLY trying to use up odds and ends) including this cute but very cheap umbrella charm and some but expensive shiny brads.

I'm particularly fond of that folding ribbon embellishment there.  Layouts often don't feel finished to me without ribbon.  I went to the Artful Angels crop yesterday and a wonderful little shop called Handmade Treasures visited us with the most delicious collection of ribbons and buttons.  I...ahem.. may have purchased an item or two so expect to see some glorious and more unusual pretty ribbons coming up here soon.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


I. Am. So. Tired.  Despite the mess on my desk, it is not this that has kept me awake for the last 48 hours but the slightly early arrival of my 2nd Great Nephew within 4 weeks.  I was fortunate enough to be with my niece for the birth in the early hours of this morning and I'm really not sure who was supporting who when push came to shove!  It got a little urgent rather suddenly and my sister in law and I stood in the corner holding hands and shaking and willing the little guy to be okay, and he is, he is just very very little, 4lbs 9oz of pixielicious preciousness.  

Today I am supposed to be preparing for a crop at the weekend but I have been trying, and failing, to sleep, so I will try to prepare tomorrow when I can actually properly identify colours and shapes!  I will of course be using my wonderful new bag at the weekend too.

There are 2 projects going on on my desk, Learn Something New Everyday and a little gift for a talented friend.  I wouldn't say either of them were going well but obviously today is not the day to analyse that too closely.

I am going to get back to normal very soon as both children are back at school and pre-school.  This is the pair of them yesterday morning, raring to get back to their friends.

Cheeky or what?!  

Here's hoping I manage to get around a few desks before I fall asleep, with the best blog hop in town over at the Queen of Snoop, Julia.

Bye for now

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Story Telling Sunday - The Constant Learner

"Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire." ~William Yeats

I left school at 16 without a full bucket or even a fire lit.  And yet.  And yet.  There simply must have been a spark there somewhere.  I had intentions of university but I left college only 3 weeks into my A levels.  Boy trouble.  I come from a very working class family so any qualifications were not really expected of me anyway.

Several years later, a chance comment by a fellow chalet-mate on a ski-ing trip, turned my life around entirely. I don't know how it came up but we got chatting about dropping oranges on Brighton sea front and researching who would help her to pick them up.  I remembered her fondly when I found myself doing similar research on Brighton sea front a couple of years later.  She'd been at a summer school as part of her psychology degree with the Open University and I was eager to know more about it.  Within hours of arriving home from the holiday, I was signed up for my first course.  Over the next 8 years, Management and I got married, moved house, we took a year out to go backpacking and then both changed jobs when we returned.  During that time I studied for approximately 14 hours a week, in my lounge, on the beach, in our spare room, in Wales, in Northamptonshire, in Hampshire and in France, on trains, on planes, on buses, in the garden, even in the loo.  At times it made me tear my hair out.  At times I was bored beyond belief.  Sometimes I was inspired and excited.  I lost sleep through stress and I lost sleep through thinking about things I had learned.  At the end of every module I felt relief.  Within a week I was itching to get a new set of course materials through the post.  I discovered a thirst for knowledge and a desire to write again that looks like it's never going to go away.  I met so many inspirational people and I am lucky enough to have found some great friends through my studies too.  Without meeting the people I did, I would never have made it past 24 hours of breastfeeding, let alone over 5 years in total.  I would never have had a home birth.  I wouldn't have had the support through my first miscarriage and the many years of depression.  Of course I met some very unpleasant people too or just plain weird but mostly they are my kind of weird.  

Getting the books out and setting myself up for an evening of study after a full day at work was mighty hard at times.  I hated spending hours at the word processor while other people were sunbathing in the garden or shopping for new shoes.  Some people were clubbing all night while I was revising into the early hours.  So many times I wanted to give up.  But I didn't.  After 8 long years, I passed my final module and gained a Bsc Hons in Psychology.  At last I was going to wear that gown and actually graduate.  But there was still one more hurdle to overcome.

We had decided to really make a celebration of my graduation, no bubbly though, I was 4 months pregnant by then.  Unlike with a bricks and mortar uni, you can choose your venue for your ceremony.  We chose The Barbican and we were all really looking forward to it - my Mum and Dad, my step-dad and step-mum, my Mother and Father in law.  My Father in law being there was important to me, he had never thought me worthy of his son and I had wanted to show him I was.  Of course it was nothing to do with my education, or lack of, but it brought us closer together and I have a lot to thank him for.  

8 days before the graduation, Management and I went for a routine scan and our whole world collapsed.  Our precious baby girl's heart had stopped.  I gave "birth", had several operations for retained placenta and I was, of course, a mess.  I didn't know if I was physically up to the graduation, let alone mentally.  With special dispensation though, I was able to sit near an exit, near the front, so I could escape if I needed to.  I managed that walk across the stage, wobbly legged and feeling sick, with my family cheering, my scan pictures tucked up my sleeve, one step at a time.  In the whole 8 years, those final few steps were by far the hardest.  But I did it.  I was a graduate.

Since then, I have continued to study with the OU just for fun.  I love to learn new things and get new books through the post.  I want to inspire my children to want to learn too.  I've taken classes in scrapbooking, writing, photography, nutrition, child care, anything and everything, I want to learn about it all.  My next OU course starts this month so expect more creative writing here very soon.  I can't wait.  

That chance conversation about oranges lit my educational fire.  And I'm so glad it did.

This post is brought to you by Sian's Story Telling Sunday over at High In the Sky.

Bye for now