Friday, 29 April 2011

If I were another blog...

As part of Shimelle's BBFS class, she has encouraged us to look around at other blogs and find what we like and why we think it works etc.  One blog that I keep going back to is the wonderful Nancy Doren.  Nancy has, I think, just the right balance of craft and real life.  Her blog is laid out really well with a clean and simple design which is easy to navigate and it has a lovely photo of her in a prominent position.  I think this is a really bold but positive thing to do - it says this is me, welcome to my world.  Its a great introduction in this virtual world where we can know much about a person without ever knowing what they look like.  Its not important to know what a person looks like but is kinda nice, dontcha think?

The big thing that draws me back to her blog though, is the reason I read blogs in the first place - scrapbooking. I have yet to see one of Nancy's layouts that I didn't like, and I don't mean that I just like them all, I REALLY like them all.  Sometimes it's the colours she has used, sometimes it's the subject and sometimes it's the placement that cheers me, but they are all awesome.

At my most recent crop, I used a scraplift of one of her layouts.  I'm not going to link directly to her original because I want you to see her other layouts too, trust me you won't be sorry!   I took the photos last year as part of one of Shimelle's weekend cyber crop parties.  The challenge was "capturing movement" and I love the way the sun lights up L's blond hair!

I tried to step out of my comfort zone a bit and mix up lots of papers and colours.  Normally I would think, okay this photo has red and aqua and then ONLY use those colours.  Trust me, using the yellow on the stars did make me twitch a bit!

There were yellow stars in the original layout and I wanted to do something different so it wasn't such a copy-out but they just seemed so right and it gave me the courage to use another colour!  I'm not sure if I'm totally happy with the overrall look with all the different papers etc but I think it is growing on me!  I know I will definitely be going back to Nancy's blog for more inspiration.  Thank you Nancy!

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A day in photos

Breakfast of champions.

Time for some cleaning.

School run.

Shopping lists and post. (can you see the theme appearing now...)

Watering the new plants.


The park on the way home from school.

Painting my nails for the wedding party (you don't need to see this as a big photo...)
 See more days here.

Bye for now xx


Happy Wednesday everyone!  Time for another What's On Your Workspace Wednesday!

So let's see, what have we here?  General post-crop sediment that needs filing, an ahem.. pizza box with some delicious contents from Sarah's Cards, and a layout in the making using the scrumptious Salt Air collection from Cosmo Cricket.  And yes, that is STILL my JYC stuff on the left there.... one day.... one day...  Oh, and what is this I spy, strategically placed in the centre?  Is that?  Could it be?  YES IT IS!  My Scrap-A-Mia pack!!!  Its only a little envelope but it means that it is getting closer, 2 weeks Saturday to be exact.  Now I can start to plan which photos to take - hurrah!

I'll be back later today with a little journey through my day courtesy of Shimelle's Beyond Blogging for Scrapbookers class.  Till then, please check out lots of other crafty desks here at Julia's Blog.

Bye for now xx

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A layout with bigger pictures!

Do you know, its the little things that can really pick you up!  I took some advice on the forums for the Beyond Blogging For Scrapbookers class and actually managed to get it to work!  I have managed to make my blog a little wider so that I can put my photos in a bit bigger - hurrah!  And to celebrate that small step I thought I would share another layout that I completed at the crop.  And check out the new larger size eh?  Go me!  

My nieces were always lovely but they really have grown into three beautiful young ladies.  I thought using butterflies as a sort of theme here was quite fitting, especially with the amount of paint they put on their faces!  I took the inspiration from one of Shimelle's sketches but it didn't quite work out how I anticipated.  Managament bought me an American Crafts album for Christmas and somehow managed to get an 8.5x11 which I've never scrapped in.  I thought it would be good to try it but I totally forgot and merrily went for my normal square, only realising my mistake when I found the page protector in the page kit!

I made the large B for the title and then the scalloped circles for the rows either side of the photos - and then it didn't fit!  I played around with it for ages and the only way I could make it work was to lose one of the rows and replace it with the large title.  I like the negative B showing the beautiful Heidi Swapp paper through, and I used a shoe charm and a skeleton leaf on it.

The scalloped circles were too big really but I like the way it turned out in the end as they fitted in the edges of the paper.  I had to work hard to overcome my anal tendencies to have them matching in some way!  I used another charm here too - a bag, very fitting for all of them!  Which young ladies don't love shoes and bags huh?

I'm fairly pleased with it but I wish the title was clearer and that the work I did on the flourish of gems is clearer as I think it gets lost on the black sections of the paper.  Well I'm always learning!  And with that in mind, I've just recieved my Scrap-A-Mia information so I'm off to have a look - yippee!

Bye for now xx

Monday, 25 April 2011

Red, white and blue, the boys love you!

Happy Easter / Eostre to those who celebrate!  I'm not Christian so my celebrations involve being thankful for the spring and the new life and luckily that fits in rather nicely with eggs :-)

We've just bought some bedding plants for the garden and I chose red, white and blue!  It's everywhere isn't it?! I bought B a dress in those colours and and found her a perfect hat to shield her eyes and cover her neck a bit.  With her little sunglasses she looked so cute that I had to scrap them instantly.  Sadly my printer malfunctioned and I wanted to use the pics at the crop on Saturday so I ended up going to an instant place and paying a fortune.  I've never experienced this before - that urge to scrap as soon as you see the image on the screen.

Aside from her dress, that hat, and the Royal Wedding, I was inspired by Becky Fleck's book "Scrapbook Page Maps".  I just fell in love with Marla Kress's ribbon wheel embellishment which I'd never seen done before.

I think it adds texture and colour as well as being a little nod to the lovely sun we've been lucky enough to be treated to this bank holiday.

Using the sketches and page kits for the crop worked well but I still only completed 4 layouts.  I'll share the rest in the next few days and as always I would welcome any feedback as I can't ever see if I really like them!  I did work on another layout that I had started at the previous crop but it involved paper piecing and my brain was so fuzzy that I couldn't put it back together on the page!  I finished it totally yesterday afternoon and it was my first time of using a mist.  My son promptly said it looked horrible!  Make sure you check back in the next few days to see if you agree!  I won't overload you with layouts in one post, just as we've been discussing in Blogging for Scrapbookers this week.

Till then, enjoy the sun if you have it and get that bunting ready!

Bye for now xx

Thursday, 21 April 2011

My blog story.

Like many of you, I have just started Beyond Blogging for Scrapbookers (BBFS)with Shimelle.  Although I didn't finish Blogging for Scrapbookers (BFS), I enjoyed the community feel of doing the live class and so I signed up for the follow on course even though I know I wont be able to participate as much as I would like.  I've learnt so much already, about how blogs and subscriptions work for a start, that it was well worth doing.  And of course like all of Shimelle's classes, you get lifelong access to the materials so I can keep going back for inspiration as long as I like.

One of the first subjects of BBFS is finding the theme of your blog.  When I started my blog it was purely as a way to post entries to challenges for on-line crops but I thought it might be a good place to sort my head out too.    Then I started Slimming World and I thought it would be a good place to share my fitness and weight loss journey too.  And then I completed my creative writing course with the OU and I thought it would be a good place to share my stories too.  Except that I haven't written anything since it finished!

So Shimelle's prompt made me think about where I fit in in the whole blogosphere and who I'm trying to reach etc.  I definitely do want to reach people with depression, particularly post natal depression, as I feel it is important to find other people who understand and who might be able to help.  I also want to share my layouts, not because I am trying to show great technique or ground breaking trends, but just because I have enjoyed what I've done and someone else might like to see too.  So do the two things go together?  In some ways yes.  I use my scrapbooking as therapy - it helps me to focus on positive things generally, but in particular to remember good things about my son's first year which seem very black on first recall.  It also helps to focus on something purely selfish, that I have chosen to do and that I can get totally absorbed in.  It helps me to unwind and keep the creative part of my brain working.  Of course these are not the only reasons that I love scrapbooking but the therapeutic side is very important for me.  So that is where my niche is.  Scrapbooking for therapy and learning my craft.  But maybe the idea doesn't translate well?  Maybe scrapbooking readers dont want to know anything about the blackness I sometimes feel.  Maybe people dont want to read anything that is not connected with pretty pictures of layouts.  So tell me, should I split the blog or would crafting for therapy work?

And just so I don't leave you with a picture-less post, here is a layout I completed a few weeks ago.

I did ask Shimelle if she minded me posting it as it is all about her.  I was lucky enough to attend a retreat where she was teaching and I used the leftover bits from her kit to show the photos of her minibook class (here is the mini book, a few layouts down the page).  The layout is a reminder of a fab couple of days and in particular a reminder to make more of Shimelle's inspiration.  I look at her work and her sketches and her classes and revel in the wonderful ideas and then sit and scratch my head when I start a layout.  I need to actually use the ideas she kindly shares and not just think how pretty they look!

So there we go, crafting as therapy or two separate issues?  You tell me.... :-)

Bye for now xx

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

What's on your workdesk Wednesday 98

Good morning Wednesday!  I'm trying to be smiley but its just not happening at the moment.  The weather is glorious and we are just off to the zoo with a picnic and everything is rosy but I am feeling so down in the dumps!  Perhaps a stroll around a few desks will perk me up - pop over to Julia's blog to see what's going on elsewhere in the crafting world and to find out about the anniversary "pay it forward" that's coming up.

So what have I been up to.....
Hmmm, not sure why this pic isn't very clear here but you get the idea.  I have one of my crops on Saturday (yay!) but only 10-6 this time, so I am busy preparing for that.  I've made myself some page kits and included a sketch this time so I really know where I'm headed with them.  I've printed some of Shimelle's sketches and ideas and used those to choose my stash a bit more carefully.  Having a plan means that I can prepare anything that needs painting such as the Jenni Bowlin stars near the top of the picture, the black butterflies and large negative B, and the die cut frame.  I'm hoping that I will be able to really crack on on Saturday and that there will be no distractions like overflowing drains to dash home for or a nasty head cold to confuse me.  We shall see!

Right, off to visit a few desks (I will get around to everyone in the next few days!) and then its off to see the new cheetah home.

Bye for now xx

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

When the Saints go marching in.

Last weekend we went to my in-laws In Northamptonshire.  We went to a Micheline starred restaurant on Saturday night called The Nut Tree and then went to watch a rugby match on the Sunday.

We haven't been to a match since the children were born and we both really miss it, particularly DH who doesn't have any other hobbies.  I decided to surprise him with tickets for his birthday when his team reached the quarter finals of the European Cup.  They were playing not far from where his parents live and so I tapped them up to babysit for the day.  Everything seemed to be going well until I couldn't get tickets!  I ended up having to pay through the nose for hospitality tickets but it was a special ocassion and something quite different for us.

I was so annoyed when the visiting team, Ulster from Northern Ireland, sent back over 1500 normal tickets and we could have had a normal seat after all.  Some people find it really strange that opposing fans can sit together in total harmony but that's just how it is with rugby union.  Obviously there is some friendly banter but its all really good natured.

The meal was really nice and we had a good crowd on our table, some Ulster and some Saints so it was a good laugh.  The stadium was in Milton Keynes, home of the MK Dons football team and they'd never hosted a rugby match before.  They ran out of beer way before the match started and just couldn't get their heads around not having to segregate the fans which is unheard of during football matches.

It was a reasonably close match and I was hoarse within about half an hour of kick off.  It was so good to be at a live match again, I hadn't realised how much I had missed it.  Thankfully the Saints came home 10 points clear so it was a great day for DH's birthday treat.

Now we're desperately trying to get hold of tickets to the semi finals but its like getting tickets to Take That!  We sure have got the rugby bug again!  Of course I will be scrapping the event but I feel I may be rather limited in my colour scheme ;-)

Bye for now

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Layouts to make me happy :-)

I promised to share a couple of layouts today.  The first one is the one I was waiting for the coins for, that I started at the crop where I was poorly and couldn't concentrate.  I'm actually quite pleased with how it came out in the end aside from one small bit, but we'll ignore that :-)

The dragonflies are coloured with Faded Denim Distress ink and then painted with clear Crackle Glaze.

I couldn't seem to get a clear enough shot of the detail of the coins but they are all different and all very pretty, some with oriental writing and some with dragons on.

The next one is another one I started at the crop (its less than a week to the next one so I will have to get a wriggle on with creating my page kits!)  It's in celebration of our night away at a local but posh hotel.  It was our first night with someone else looking after both children and it was less than 24 hours away from them but so magical.  I'm happy with some of the elements and some of the placement and the colours but I'm not happy with the whole thing overall and I dont know why.  I'd be really grateful for any feedback on where I might have gone wrong as I really want to improve and learn.  I wonder if it is just too crowded or has too many elements on the page?

 I wanted to include lots of photos so I made a teeny mini book to go on the page which folds out to reveal several shots of the room.

I also wanted to include the brochure to hold all the details so that in years to come we can see how much it was and read all the information they sent us.

I used papers and brads from the Papermania Hanoverian collection to match the era of the hotel and I used vellum punched with a lacy border to link the pages.

I did patchwork squares on both pages to aid the flow too and this was my first time of stitching on a layout!  It's far from perfect but I don't mind that too much.  I did find that stitching onto the backing cardstock is slightly tricky and I should have planned ahead so I didn't have to do that.  Partly it is difficult to feed through the machine as it doesn't gather up like material so I had to roll it slightly.  The other problem is that the needle effectively makes perforations and so the card becomes liable to detach itself when you insert a brad or something... (yes I did do this and it is now taped onto the back to keep it secure!)
The heart button there has several points on the back so they are not easy to use but I thought it was just right for this layout.

Now I need to make breakfast for my wonderful husband for his birthday but I hope to start planning my kits for next week sometime today.  Hopefully that means I will have lots to share next week.

Bye for now xx

Saturday, 16 April 2011

It's the little things...

If I had written this post when I got up this morning, you probably would have handed me a virtual tissue.  I was fed up with my aches and pains (aside from my shoulder issues, my old "friend" from pregnancy, SPD, has returned), both children had been up multiple times in the night and I was exhausted, I hadn't done much about Management's birthday and had no time to do much more, and then the demons started.  Once I get into a cycle of negative thinking, it spirals quickly out of control.

But during the course of the day a few things have happened to pick me up again.  Let's start with a baby shower :-)

We had afternoon tea in lovely, deliberately mismatched cups and saucers, with scones and cupcakes.

And then we made individual potions of bubble bath with essential oils matched for our own circumstances.  And we drank more tea.

My friend J, whose shower it was, is suffering badly with SPD and so both of us needed mixes suited to soothing our aches and pains but depended on smells we liked too obviously.  She went a little OTT with the blue dye... it was supposed to be almost clear!  And we drank more tea.

After a sustaining cup of tea, J opened her presents and cut the pregnant lady cake.  And did I mention we had more tea?

It was so nice for us to sit undisturbed, in daylight, with hot tea (but not too hot), and just gas bag for a couple of hours.  It was just what I needed to pep me up and give me a short break from the children.  Don't get me wrong, I love them entirely, obviously, but they are all consuming and as a SAHM I get virtually no break from one or either of them, and it feels ten times worse when that means during the night too!

When I got home, the coins I had ordered had arrived and I quickly stuck them on the layout and grabbed a photo while the light was still okay-ish.  My connection is S-L-O-W tonight though so I'll save the pics for tomorrow but I was pleased to be able to put another couple of layouts in the now bulging albums.

And then just while I was typing this, I was half watching a TV program.  There was someone there talking about happiness and he suggested that everyone should think of 3 things that have made them happy before they go to sleep at night.  Management and I had a laugh about some of the things in the program (it was a comedy) and I realised that I felt a whole heap better than I had done this morning.  Tea and scones, a couple of layouts complete, hugs from the kids after being away, a laugh with my soul mate.

Yep, it's the little things :-)

Bye for now xx

Friday, 15 April 2011

My spare ribs....

Following on from my osteo appointment last week and the discovery of the extra ribs, things have been getting steadily worse.  Having researched the cervical rib situation, I'm feeling pretty despondent.  It is one of the main causes of something called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome where the blood can't flow properly resulting in tingling and pain in the affected arm.  If left untreated, it can eventually cause a stroke.  Having the rib(s) removed however, can cause paralysis with no guarantee of relieving the situation.

It appears that some things can make it worse and some people are more prone to it than others (in those who don't have extra ribs).  People who do work whereby they're arms are raised a lot are at risk, so people like swimmers, window cleaners, weighlifters etc.  It's basically like a form of RSI and poor posture is also a major cause.  I first noticed something was amiss when I started going backwards on my arm weights.  Pretty much every session since I started at the gym in September, I had either increased my weights or my reps and suddenly I was finding it harder to even match what I had done several weeks before.  I wasn't doing heavy weights or lifting everyday but I guess it all adds up.  I was also showering more than bathing as a result of the gym and I have long thick hair - again arms above head for long periods.  I was getting great at keeping on top of the ironing too - more repetition with arm out to the side.  So all this great work that I was doing has actually caused me a few problems!  I'm hoping that the regular osteo work and vastly improving my posture will help though as I don't want to stop the good work.  This week, despite a very indulgent weekend, I lost 2 pounds at Slimming World!  I expected to put on that amount at least as we went out to a Michelin starred restaurant and had a meal at the rugby match (hopefully more info on that in the next post).  I think the marathon aerobics night helped though.

A few people have mentioned Zumba and asked more about it.  It was actually the second time I had tried it. It's moves I love, music I love, in an aerobic format, which I love - it couldn't fail.  But it did.  I do badly wanted to love it but the teacher at the first class was shocking, I thought.  Poor queuing, changing sequences at inappropriate times, not keeping time with the music, etc.  This time the teacher was great but it still didn't work for me and I really can't put my finger on why.  Enjoyable yes, but not something I'm desperate to squeeze into my tight schedule.  I didn't find it energetic enough which is a funny thing to say for a couch potato like me!  I was very sweaty and puffing but I think I need something more hardcore (ooh get me!)  Its great for weight loss though as it is easy on the joints being fairly low impact but constantly moving.  I much preferred Body Combat with all it's kicking and punching, but there we go again with making problems for my shoulders *sigh*.

And of course, sitting hunched over layouts is no good for me either.  I don't know what to do about this as you can't help but look down at your work.  If anyone has any ideas on this, I could sure use them!  I've been really good with my diet this week so I'm sure to put weight on!  I'm going to go and buy myself a bar of chocolate now to make myself feel better ;-)

Bye for now xx

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


It's Wednesday again!  How did that happen?

Well not much has been going on on my workspace as we've been away over the weekend having fun at a rugby match.  I don't think it has changed that much since just after I took the photos for last week!

The light has been bad here all day but I think you get the drift.  JYC stuff still off to the left, new class timetables for the gym to the front right, new purchases from Hobbycraft at the back (including the rapidly deteriorating Scrapbook Magazine) and my current layout at the front.  This is another one of those that I couldnt cope with at the all day crop as I was trying to do something different.  I like it a lot better now but I can't quite finish it as I'm waiting for a coin.  The photos were taken at a pan-Asian restaurant where my baby girl stuffed her face from the bento box.  I wanted some of those coins with the holes in to use as an embellishment and managed to get one from E-Bay for 30p with free P&P all the way from Singapore.  It is a Chinese coin rather than Japanese but I like it anyway.  However, when it arrived, it was a lot bigger than I had imagined..

This will give you some idea of the size and although I still love it, I've ordered a selection of fortune coins which have 3 smaller sizes in so I create a bit of a cluster on the layout.  I'll still have some spare for a good luck card or two and for my own fortune, to be kept in my purse and under my doormat (apparently!)

So, what is everyone else up to?  Hop on over to Julia's blog to have a sneak.

Bye for now.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Some crafts and some miracles to share.

Quick, nobody move, I have an internet connection!  For anyone visiting from BFS, I WILL get around to everyone's blogs eventually I promise.  I'm thinking of making up the spare room for the tech monkeys as we have them so stumped right now.  Since the great snow fall of 2011, but remarkably nothing to do with that same snow fall, we have had problems with our connection or our wiring or our whatever whatever and things have been annoyingly intermittent and / or slow.  But anyway, enough of this, how about some crafts to share?

This pic was supposed to be my entry for WOYWW but as it is now Friday and my desk doesn't look like that, I guess I won't be entering!

You can just about see the Easter / Eostre bonnet I made for L's Bonnet Parade.  There were some amazing creations, many involving the use of a Hobbycraft straw hat.  Ours was made from a hat kit from Poundland, egg boxes, old cardstock and last years mini eggs!

This week also, I finally got around to finishing a couple of the layouts that I almost completed at the crop - (the one good thing about no internet is that I get more ACTUAL scrapping done!)

This one "Isabella-Grace @1" used the 4x6 photo love sketch from Shimelle for March and has worked so well that I'll definitely use it again.  The spotty paper was a perfect match for her hat and aside from the almost invisible title, I'm actually really pleased with it, which makes a nice change!

This one "1st School Photo" used a couple of the yummy papers from my Two Peas order as well as some baker's twine (gotta love that stuff!) and some older brads.  I'm a big fan of aqua or whatever colour you want to call it, so I'm glad its his school colour!  Plus I think it makes such a nice change for a school uniform.

 So the first of the miracles was that I finally felt well enough to do some crafting!  After weeks of nasty headaches, I had forgotten what it felt like to be normal!  I visited an osteopath this week who basically pummelled me about and told me off about my posture but we're hoping this helps to relieve the headaches a bit.  She identified that in all likeliness I have 2 extra ribs at the top which means there is little room for the nerves and it is easier for them to get trapped and irritate etc.  Something I might have to think about in the future as I can have them removed if they continue to aggravate.

The recent lack of exercise won't be helping my posture either but this week I did a marathon session of new aerobics classes at a trial event.  I worked out for over 3 hours in total (another miracle!) doing Zumba, Bollywood, Pilates and Body Combat.  It was great fun apart from the blisters from all the jumping!

But the first miracle of the week was that even after all that cake, I still managed to lose 1.5lb at Slimming World!  I cant say I'm confident about this week though as despite that huge workout, I've been gorging on white bread and chocolate buttons and we're doing some wonderful things this weekend.

Hopefully if we can keep connected to the outside world, I can tell you all about it next week.  Enjoy the lovely sunshine if you are lucky enough to have it!

Bye for now xx

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sugar overload!

Whoosh!  That was the weekend whizzing past.

Do you ever feel like that?  You blink and suddenly its Monday again?  This weekend has been crazy with B's birthday tea party and making cakes etc.  We found time for a walk around Southampton Common though as she is a big fan of ducks and sticks etc.  Its a great place to go for L to ride his bike too as he is still getting used to riding without stabilisers.  I'm looking forward to scrapping his first ride - any ideas?

With birthdays, its a chance for me to get my baking head on.  I miss making cakes so much, especially with the children so I really indulged this weekend.  I made some chocolate cup cakes with a meringue style frosted icing, courtesy of this blog which I made into bears.  And of course, I made a birthday cake.  I started making novelty cakes for my son's first birthday and now it has become a tradition.  I use a book by Debbie Brown mostly but last year I bravely invented my own.  With my baby girl's love of ducks, there could only be one candidate for her tea party.

He's sort of a chick / duck as nobody could agree on what the picture looked more like!  I'm way short of competent and its certainly not a cheap way to make a cake but it tasted okay (I'm told) and it made people smile (or snigger?)

B had a lovely time and ate so much cake that I was surprised she slept that night.  It was like a comedy sketch with her walking back and forth past the gap in the trees with a different piece of cake each time and everyone else paying no attention.  She really got the hang of opening presents and ignoring the cards and shouted "Mine!" at anyone who tried to help her.  The day after the party she woke up and said "Cake?" with a very sweet smile.  Oh my goodness she is going to give us trouble with a face like that.

I had to quality control most of the cakes and I've still been suffering with this darned headache so its now been 2 whole weeks without exercise.  I don't think I'll be betting on a loss for my weigh in tonight!

Bye for now xx