Thursday, 13 December 2012

Inspired by Winter

I'm really pleased to be joining Sarah at S J Crafts for another term on her design team.  She has been running a series on being Inspired by Winter and this included getting to know the Design Team a bit more.  Pop over to the blog and see how we all answered the questions.

Here's what I made using some goodies from My Minds Eye and Studio Calico.  

I was inspired by the wintery colours of icey turquoise and grey with a splash of sunny yellow.  That's certainly the kind of wintery days we've had here - its been fffrrreeezing! 

I used a doily as a mask and then another one actually on the layout because they always make me think of the delicate patterns of snow flakes.  I also love the intricate designs and the sparkles that come with the frosts and so I added some bling in the form of gems and some snowflake patterned vellum.

The photograph is of me and my Mum at my graduation which happened in the summer but represented years of studying during the Winter months.  I'm right back there now, highlighter and cup of tea in hand.  Its much harder with children and I have been forced to make a few changes, albeit temporarily I hope.  I have decided to take a bit of a blog break both in writing and reading / commenting although I hope to get around many of you and see how you are etc.  I need to get my head straight as I have really struggled recently and it has not been good for those around me.  I need to get some writing done and focus on the bigger things until I can catch my breath a bit but I really hope to be back soon.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful festive holiday period, however you celebrate!  Blessings of the Season to you all!

Bye for now

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Carta Bella Traditions - Layouts

I'm looking at these pumpkins  in the photos and thinking that Autumn feels like a long while ago now!  Some people in the UK have had a smattering of snow today I believe.  I am tucked up in my craft room doing my writing coursework and generally feeling a lot more positive about things after my relaxing weekend but more on that another time.  I have a couple of layouts to share using the Carta Bella Traditions collection featured in the previous post.  (This collection is currently reduced in the huge winter sale on at S J Crafts!)

I love the Autumn colours in this collection and the pops of blue.  I distressed all the edges and added punched leaves to fit with the story of a trip to Wisley Gardens with a friend.

I'm using pop dots for stickers more and more as it makes them easier to move around and gives a wonderful dimension.

This double layout is the first of millions many from our holiday on Aller Farm with Featherdown Farms.  This particular one is about Powderham Castle so I chose the more traditional colours and prints.  It was the Jubilee week too and so this collection gives a bit of a nod to red, white and blue without being in your face with Union Jacks and the like.

Some of the flowers are fussy cut from the papers and others are punched or die cut and some are slightly shaped to add dimension.

Ordinarily I would post several pictures of close ups and the double pages on an individual basis but I had to fiddle and faff around to even get these pictures to post.  I have taken off many many pictures from my blog and it still won't let me post a new one unless I shrink it down a lot but then of course I lose quality.  Hey ho, I will find a way around it eventually even if it means paying for the privilege! 

I have one more DT post to go live shortly which involves a beautiful collection from My Mind's Eye that I'm looking forward to sharing.  Don't forget to tell me what goodies you bought in the sale but do hurry as Sarah is selling fast!

Bye for now

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Carta Bella Traditions cards

When Echo Park Papers announced it was launching a sister company I was intrigued.  I love Echo Park and the new Carta Bella company promised premium branding with a sophisticated range so I was excited to be able to work with one of their debut collections.  

Sarah sent me the Traditions collection from the S J Crafts shop and true to their word, the papers are wonderful quality and slightly textured.  The colours in this particular kit are great for everyday, Autumn and Christmas if you prefer not to purchase overly themed ranges.   

I had a few cards to make and I think you'll agree that they are all very different even though they come from the same wonderful kit.  

This one was inspired by a home decor project on Pinterest and was inked with Rusty Hinge Distress Ink and embellished with orange gems for an Autumnal feel.

This one features one of the stunning stickers from the 12x12 sheet that comes as part of the collection.  I knew it wouldn't work on a scrapbook page so it was perfect as a focal point on a card raised up with some pop dots. 

And then this last one for my dear Dad which embraces the traditional feel of the collection with the addition of an embossed car (oh how I love to watch embossing powder melt!) and some script ribbon (apologies for the blurring, my camera didn't like being left in the cold car overnight!).

I also made 2 very different scrapbook layouts with this wonderful collection so please check back again soon.

I must just say a quick thank you for all the comments and e-mails etc on my previous post.  It is wonderful to have people thinking of you across the world and sending their love.  The last couple of weeks have been some of the darkest I have known for a good while, the stress of the house is just adding to it!  This weekend I am off to a scrapping retreat to play with paper for hours on end.  This is by far my best therapy.

Much love to you all

Bye for now xx

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Crazy busy

I'm trying not to panic and trying to laugh about these things but, well, you know me, anxiety is my middle name.

I'm about 5 weeks behind on my Open University writing course.  The room where I do my writing is about to have a bit of wall taken out so everything has had to come out.  My craft room, where I like to write too, is awash with Sylvanian Families, Lego and beads that need to be made into Christmas presents.  I can't get to my table and I have several craft deadlines to complete and a retreat to prepare for.

After the leak a few weeks ago, we have had to move most of the stuff out of the utility room / children's art room so the floor can dry out and the cupboards can be replaced at some point.  The downstairs bathroom is being ripped out and replaced, hence the bit of wall being taken out in the spare room (for some reason the bath was recessed into that room!)

I wanted to show you lots of photos of the work going on but now I am having blogger issues because I am over the upload space and I have no idea how to fix it.  Any ideas?

I've been using a new recipe for my Christmas cakes but I burned one of the many I need to make so Management (who has been VERY poorly indeed) cut off all the edges.  I think I shall make a cup of tea and do a taste test on said cake.  Anyone else want a cup?

Bye for now

Friday, 16 November 2012

Frosty Festivities Blog Hop

I absolutely love Christmas!  I love all the preparations and the excitement building and all the rushing around, shopping, baking and wrapping.  I love the sights, the sounds, the smells and yes the tastes too, so when Jennifer asked if I would like to join in with her Frosty Festivities blog hop of course I said yes!  Like Jennifer's previous blog hop, there is a wonderful prize to enter for (details at the end) and there are lots of challenges and giveaways and fun frosty posts throughout the whole weekend.

So how are your Christmas preparations coming along?  Are you one of those who plans all year or are you a leave it all to the last minute kinda person? I'm a planner... I've almost completed all of my Christmas shopping, I've got the wrapping paper and tags, I've got LOTS of beads that need to be made into presents, the house smells amazing with the first of many Christmas cakes in the oven and Management is being sent up into the loft this weekend to retrieve the Advent envelopes which we fill with festive activities as part of our Christmas countdown.  

The other preparations that I normally make (but won't be this year because of my writing course) is for Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas project.  I've done it a couple of times in the past and preparation definitely helps.  I'm still working on last year's album in bits and pieces but I thought I would share some ideas from some of the finished pages from 2011 and a few of the things I did to help me along the way.  

I've used a variety of sizes and shapes in my Christmas albums in the past but this 8.5x11 was my favourite to work with.  I used standard A4 plastic pockets and cardstock which helped to reduce the costs considerably.  I also cut some patterned papers to A4 and varied between a cardstock or a paper background.

In the run up to December I pre-made all my date / number tags in a sort of production line affair.  I used a selection of different papers from a My Mind's Eye Collection and layered up a star shaped nesting die, then an E K Success label punch, a flower nesting die which was embossed with swiss dots, a Martha Stewart pinked circle punch and then smaller punches in a Christmas tree, snow flake and heart shape.  I ended up not putting the number on many of them because I found I wanted to move them around to fit my own story better.  Each tag was slightly different with the different papers used and then a button or a gem added to finish them off.

The date tags help the album to flow and give a sense of cohesion, as does using only a select few products for the whole project.  I kept to the same collection for the papers and chose one border punch to use throughout.  I pre-made some pockets and tags and I embellished them using that border punch, even using the punch waste for minimal effort and  to really stretch my stash.

I also prepared a few pages that I knew would be coming up such as using vellum on this page to make a pocket for a couple of important cards.  Its nice to see vellum becoming "on trend" again (although I have always loved it and used it!)

Here is another tag that I made prior to December by layering a snowflake punch over the negative.  The cardstock in this layout is actually the reverse side of some photographic paper from the pound shop!  It makes a great base and saves those all important pennies again.

As well as the papers and the preprepared tags and embellishments, I picked out a handful of alphabets in coordinating colours in several different sizes so that I didn't have to go through my entire stash every time.  I have this particular alphabet in the red and the green and it is very pretty but there are no "W"s!

Working with A4 can mean that it is tricky to use more than one 6x4 photo so I made a flap for this layout.  I always keep  the tear off bits from the calendars to use on my layouts and I love the effect it gives for important dates.

The 2 slightly hidden photos are not great but they are still part of the story so they need to be in the album.  This is an ideal placement for including a concertina book for 3 or more photos.

So are you doing any kind of December project this year?  How about some yummy new stash to help you on your way?  If you comment on all the blogs in the hop, finishing at Jennifer to let her know that you've been all the way around, then you'll be in with a chance to win a spectacular seasonal prize of Basic Grey Aspen Frost and Carta Bella Winter Fun items, worth over £25! All entries must be received by Monday the 19th of November at 10.59pm GMT. Your next stop along the hop is Lizzie.

Here's a list of all the blogs in the hop, in the correct order in case you get lost.  

Lisa-Jane <====== That's me!

I hope you have fun with all your preparations and taking part in the blog hop.  I can smell burning so I think I'd better go and check my cake!

Bye for now

S J Crafts Challenge - Christmas

There is just so much Christmas activity around here at the moment and I love it!  

There is new challenge on over at S J Crafts and the current theme is Christmas.  What with that and Jennifer's Frosty Festivities starting later today it has been a very merry week here.  I have had Christmas music on and festive smelling candles burning to really get into the spirit and I can tell you that my craft room is literally bursting with presents to wrap and things to make.  

This layout was influenced by Shimelle's Scrapbook Remix class with the layering effects.  Its all about Louis as a baby and trying to get a decent shot of him in his cloth nappy and Santa hat before we had a digital camera. 

I used lots of sparkle and shine to spruce up (geddit?) the black and white photo and I added fuzzy heart shaped brads, festive ribbon and lots of old bauble due cuts on pop dots.  I also inked the edges with one of the new seasonal Distress Inks.

The optional extra for this project is to mix up the alphas so I sprayed a chipboard "Joy" with Mister Huey and added some glitter glue and then finished off with some tiny alpha stickers.

Closing date for entries is: 19 December at 1pm

One random winner will win a Mystery Christmas themed prize! Don't forget to check back to see if you are our lucky winner or you are chosen for our favourite 3 entries!!!

Now go, make something festive!  

Bye for now

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Howdy Boy!

I had fun last week with another card, this time something very different for me.  This one was for a very special little boy who recently joined his new family and celebrated his first birthday last weekend.

I found a little pack of cowboy toppers in a sale and thought they would be great for 2 little boy birthdays coming up.  I used a precious but unused Jenni Bowlin star and edged it with self adhesive gems.  All the edges were inked with Faded Jeans Distress ink.

Although the blog has been very quiet recently, there are a few posts ready to go over the weekend including a challenge and a blog hop with prizes so please do check back in the next few days.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Another card!

I've been making a few cards lately, some for my DT work, but I've been inspired by Jaki who hasn't bought a card in years.  I have all this stash here, much of which would look better on a card than a scrapbook page, and I realised I had no excuse not to embrace card making in the full.  Of course I chose the wrong time for this epiphany because it is a time of many birthdays and a lot of thanks to be given that should have been given ages ago.  But I shall start with this one as I know the recipient has opened it.  

My youngest niece was 21 last week so I wanted to make something really special for her.

I used some much adored papers from Henbury Lane by Papermania and lots of purple bling.  I'm enjoying making quadrant cards and I have learned a lot in the last couple of weeks or having a go at them.  The most important thing is that you have to measure the precise bit of the card that you are working on... ahem...  Don't think that a 6 inch square card is what it says it is.  The top and the bottom are different sizes (ever so slightly) and they are not square.  They also fold in different directions.  I may have said a rude word or three making this card!

I fussy cut the butterflies from the rose printed paper to use as the stopper and added some felt die cut butterflies from the same range.

21... seems such a long time ago...

Bye for now

Sunday, 4 November 2012

It was a dark and stormy night...

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

This month, Sian gave us the prompt of "It was a dark and stormy night" which got me thinking about how much I love a good storm.  We're lucky that we live in a part of the world where they are not that frequent, dramatic or devastating but it does mean a lack of available material!

I wondered, should I tell you about my first big storm, the Great Storm of October 1987 that everyone remembers because of poor old Michael Fish, but actually not much happened to us.  Or the January storm 2 years later where my old moped couldn't cope and I had to push it home against the wind, but that all happened in the daytime.  How about that fabulous night 20 years ago on the balcony in Gibraltar with Management, with lightning illuminating the entire sea in front of us?  Er.. no, its not THAT sort of blog.

In the end I asked Management "Can you think of a dark and stormy night?"  His eyes glazed over and a smile twitched at his lips "Gibraltar."  "No, not that one, its for my blog."  "Ah, I see, no not that one then. Erm... the Outback?"  "YES!"

As part of our Round The World Trip, we had to coincide several parts of the world in the 'wrong' season.  One of those parts was Australia, particularly the outback and Northern Territory.  They have a wet season there which runs from December to May but it is also incredibly hot so the climate when we were travelling there was humid, so humid in fact that it melted my nail varnish off!  We travelled around Alice Springs on a tour bus visiting Uluru and Kata Juta and most of the time we slept under the stars in swag bags.  At least some people did, I don't think I slept at all.

Desperately trying to sleep on the first night of our trip to Uluru.
We headed north from Alice Springs to Darwin making stops in various sparsely populated, widely spaced places heading for Katherine Gorge so we could do some kayaking.  We saw many amazing things along the way including this termite mound.  This is the last photo we took with our old 35mm camera which finally died after a rather fun bus journey but that's another story.

That night was the first night that retreated inside the tents which were really just canvas huts with 4 racks for sleeping on.  There is such a lack of civilisation in that part of Australia that at night it really is pitch black because there is no haze of light from local towns and obviously no street lights etc.  It really is rather surreal.  There was a terrific lightning storm that night but it was far enough away that we could just sit and watch like fireworks.  One guy played guitar and another played the didgeridoo and we sat on little stools with a stubby beer watching the storm circling around us and literally feeling like it was lighting up the world.  It was one of those nights that you don't want to end yet it wasn't full of expense or crazy partying.  I often wonder if the other people on the trip think back to that night and how beautiful it was in its natural wildness.  We didn't escape the rain that night and it came down so hard that it flooded the ground within seconds and came in through the sides of the tent which was not so beautiful.

Obviously this is not my picture, see the credits below, and we were not anywhere near Uluru when we saw our storm but this fantastic shot gives you an idea of the sort of stunning show we were treated to.
I don't expect to ever again experience a storm like I did that night.  Now its back to my usual storms which normally involve heavy rain on the school run!

If you've got a scary or stormy story, or any story really, please do link up and share it with others, we love to read.

Bye for now

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Shopping with me

Last week I submitted my first assignment for my Creative Writing course.  I got a good score and some great feedback which has given me some wonderful encouragement, especially after a rather difficult week.  We had to do a prompted free-write (basically a steam of consciousness), a passage of prose based on something from the free-write and then a commentary.   Now that it has been marked I can share the passage with you.  

It’s always the same.  I park as close to the shop as possible, go and find a trolley, realise I have only bought my credit cards with me and that I don’t have the required pound coin, go back to the car, hunt around in the ashtray for change, scrabble about on the floor, accidentally beep the horn as I hoike my chubby frame out of the passenger foot well, swear, bang my head getting out of the car, swear again, look around at the other customers going in in case I see a friend I can ask, give up and go and get a basket knowing full well that by the time I get to the deli counter I will have to push it along with my foot because it is too heavy.
I sigh.  It’s not as if it’s the first time I have been shopping.  I’ve been an adult for a long time now and I pretty much go to the supermarket every week.    We tried the on-line shopping thing of course but we got rather bored of the bizarre substitutions.  No orange juice?  No problem, we can just send you 16 tangerines instead.  I sigh again.
I feel around in my pocket for the tiny page I ripped from one of the children’s notebooks.  Nothing.  I try the other pocket.  Then the back two pockets.  I open up my phone; maybe it is tucked into the credit card flap?  But no.  I sigh again.  I’m starting to sound like an old woman with all this sighing.  How long will it be before I start wearing cardigans that smell of wee?  I sigh loudly this time, just because.

I half think about what it was I came in for but my brain has already been hijacked by the Special Offer stand just inside the cavernous doors.  Today we have plastic cartons of chocolate rice crispy cakes and I can feel another sigh brewing before you can say ‘why not just paint the lard on my thighs’.  I struggle past them, abstinence intact, telling myself that keeping chocolate covered items just inside the door where those over dramatic heaters blow everyone’s hair about, is probably a breeding ground for germs anyway.  I have a little ‘chat’ to myself.  Or rather the id and the ego on opposite shoulders start their bickering about why ‘she should be able to eat what she wants’ or why ‘she shouldn’t even be thinking about it’, as if I’m not even there at all.
My id shouts ‘CONFECTIONERY AISLE’ in a tempting sing song voice but my ego sternly reminds me ‘YOU CAME IN FOR SALAD, STICK TO THE PLAN’.  ‘But she WANTS chocolate!’ then ‘But she WANTS to be a size 10 and NOT have an apron of baby fat hanging over her knickers!’  I sigh, take a deep breath and head listlessly for the prepared salads.  I am suddenly struck by the true meaning of the word listless.  I am without list, I am devoid of list, I am list-less.  I spy tomatoes.  We always need tomatoes.  The children eat them like sweets.  I stare at the lettuce, do we need lettuce?  Every person on a healthy eating plan (can’t call it a diet, too negative) eats lettuce don’t they?  I make a grab for a something that looks at least partly exciting. 
‘NO!’ ego takes me by surprise. 
‘Oh but yes!’ id grins solicitously ‘it has croutons and parmesan and creamy sauce, oh my!’ 
Darn it.  I put it back.  I double check the next bag I pick up.  Nothing but leaves in this one, pretty colours I admit, but just leaves.  

I pick up some random fruit from the next aisle: Apples and pears because they are cheap, blueberries for my muesli, strawberries because they are as much of a treat as I am allowed.  Round the end of the aisle I head towards the brassicas where it smells of farts.  I do love cauliflower cheese but of course cheese, flour, and butter are all evil so it’s just cauliflower for me, no cheese.  Especially no cheese.  Cheese is especially evil. 
It is, of course, most dangerous when it has been grated.  More so when it has been grated for someone else’s consumption.  I struggle not to think about grated cheese and try to find a cauliflower that actually has a decent amount of the edible part, not just a nugget of white surrounded by a trillion leaves disguising itself as a considerably sized vegetable. 
And then I start to feel it.  The heavy basket cutting into my hands.  Three.  Aisles.  In.  I scooch it to the checkout with my foot and tuck a small bar of chocolate in a gap at the side.  Id snorts and raises his eyes in delight.  Ego pulls his hat down over his eyes and pretends to be asleep.

Bye for now 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Goals? What goals?

Back in September I wrote this post about my short term goals.  To date, far from any progress with my goals, I have actually gone backwards in a few of them!  Here they are again, just for fun.

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.

Several things have gotten in the way of this, just normal life things like birthdays and parties (which seem more frequent when we are already busy... or is that just me?), illness (colds ALWAYS come when you really could do without them) and (still battling with side effects of anti-depression medication and trying to get the balance right), random events at Management's work causing him to be busier than normal (this week it is the new Bond film preview) and general family crisis type stuff (tests and results that don't go as planned, the inquest into my Step-Mum's death which, as we expected, gave no more answers than we had a year ago when she died).  

I tried to get this photo blown up onto a canvas for my Dad's birthday last week but I didn't check the size.  When I went to collect it there was no way it would fit in the car.  It was 1.5m tall and 1m wide.  My step-mum ended up bigger than Miss Bella when she stood next to it!  The quality wasn't brilliant but it was passable, however it was just too ridiculously big.  The hassle involved in getting it sent back was yet more time I didn't have and it left my Dad with no present for his birthday.  Thankfully we have another one on the way from another company at more realistic size and quality.

One event that took up a lot of time this week but was awesome, was a night out with friends from school, some of whom I haven't seen for 22 years!  I had a new outfit, I had my nails done, I even had a spray tan!  A friend did my face (she's a make-up artist for celebs dahling) and we went clubbing and then crashed out in the hotel room.  I felt absolutely fantastic on the night, better than I have for ages, it was such a boost to my lagging self esteem.  Unfortunately the come down has been less awesome but it reminded me just how much I used to love going out and looking after myself etc.  A lot happened over the weekend in terms of things being talked about or noticed or admitted (amongst all of us) and we all came back with a determination to make some changes in our lives.

I don't know where I am going to get the energy from as I am still carrying this cold about like Quasi Modo's hump but I need to make some changes and fast.  Life is always going to be hectic, that's our crazy life now and I have to find a way to work around it rather than trying to wait until is passes.  With that in mind, I am going to have an early night and hope I wake up refreshed and ready to attack!

Bye for now

Thursday, 18 October 2012

S J Crafts Challenge - Birthdays

The monthly challenge over at S J Crafts this month is all about birthdays (thanks to it having been Sarah's birthday last week).  There is an added challenge to use circles or ovals too.

I'd been chatting to Sarah about divided page protectors and as I had some in my stash, I decided to use one for this project.  They are great as they give you plenty of room to tell the story, add your photos and still have space for twiddly bits.

I used both sides to share pictures of Louis on his 6th birthday this year when he got a guitar for the Wii and Lego Rock Band.  The journalling records how loud the house was that day with Bella on the new microphone too.

Having the multiple small spaces means that you treat each pocket as an individual layout and it is not so overwhelming as a blank 12x12 sheet.  You can also try out lots of different embellishment styles on the same page.

I used My Mind's Eye papers, Thickers, buttons, twine and stickers etc, from my stash.

I used Glossy Accents to pick out the detailing on the picture in the journalling block and this matched the really old epoxy stickers that I used to high light some of the circles on the designs.

I used Black Soot Distress Crackle paint on some chipboard pieces too.  It gives a great texture and it's a great way to cover up a design you don't like when you want to use the shape.

This month one random winner will win a £5 voucher to spend in the S J Crafts Shop so don't forget to upload your entry here.   Closing date for entries is: 14 November at 1pm.

Bye for now

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Happy Birthday to him and her

In the last couple of weeks, my head has been about 3 days behind real life I guess.  I've been caught on the hop twice this week with cards that I should have made and left till the last minute.  One of those cards was for a rather special birthday girl who you might have heard of, young Sarah at S J Crafts.  In celebration of her birthday week there have been / are various offers on at the shop and if you are quick you might just catch one.  Don't forget to have a look at the challenge which closes soon too.

I used the Papermania Linen capsule collection and went for feminine but simple and elegant.  

This next one was for my Step-Dad.  The monkey stamp was one of the many 99p ones that I've picked up from Hobbycraft recently.  I got this one for little boy cards and a simple outline of a princess castle for little girl cards.  I thought I would try it out on this rather hurried affair for my Dad - I stamped it, coloured it with Promarkers, then thought, now what?  I rifled through my scraps box and found this ancient piece of handmade paper from the days when I bought any pack of paper under £5.  The aqua circles matched the aqua in the monkey's hat and so it all turned out okay in the end.

I quite like him.  I think he'll be visiting again.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


How cute is my little man here?  I can't believe this was over 5 years ago and yet he is still as smiley and cheeky as he was back then.  

The journalling, for those without magnifying glasses, reads: I definitely think that I was more excited than anyone about your birthday.  To be honest, I didn't think we'd get there, plus I was bored of the same toys!"

The funny thing is that looking at the toys in the photos here, I remember how little he had back then and how crazy the amount they now have between them.  We had an Adam's style fireplace (a brick opening, as wide as the actual fireplace with nothing inside it) and inside there we had a set of small shelves for his toys.  In front of this was one of those folding plastic baskets where we used to keep his books.  That was it, one bucket of books that we read over and over.  Now we have shelves and shelves and shelves of books for both of them and I still find myself buying more.  When I think of the amount of "schtuff" we have now, I wonder how we would have managed if we hadn't moved into the suburbs.  I certainly wouldn't have my own craft room with approaching 15 albums of layouts that's for sure ;-)

Bye for now

Sunday, 7 October 2012

First Halloween

This post is brought to you as part of Story Telling Sunday with Sian at High in The Sky.

Being a slightly quirky sort, I love Halloween, or Samhain as it's also known.  The veil between the two worlds is at its thinnest so you feel closer to those you have lost at this time of year.  Of course, with the veil being thin, our lost loved ones can pass through but so can those whom we would really rather didn't, hence why we dress up and make lanterns and try to be scary.  I love that it is becoming more popular here in the UK to have fun with the Halloween theme - any excuse to dress up the children is fine by me!

We used to live in a very rural area, a couple of doors away from the retained fire station.  Every Halloween they would have a sort of open house and the local children could come along and get a few sweets, have a sit in the fire engine and have a go at squirting the hoses etc.  Really it was about bonfire and firework safety as much as anything.  We were really excited to take Louis on his first Halloween (second really, but he was only 5 months old the first time).  It was one of those little milestones that seemed really important while we were dreaming of what being a parent would be like.  He thought it was great fun to go out in the dark when he should have been in bed and obviously didn't have a clue what we were doing there or why but it was new and therefore exciting.

For some reason I was thinking just now about how great that little ghost costume was that he wore that first visit and then realising that he was actually wearing the monster costume in these photos which he wore the year after.  This means that although the layout says "1st Halloween", it is actually not.  Now I have a dilemma which will take a lot of tea and cake to solve.

As a slight aside from the costume conundrum, I've just spotted the gorgeous polished wood floor in the photos.  Our old house was a 3 storey Victorian terrace that used to serve as a staff house for the big Union work house at the end of the road.  We loved our little house but it was just too little once we had 2 children.  We miss the village so much and never more so than this week when a chance conversation has led us to believe that Louis's asthma may actually be because of the pollution here, even though it doesn't seem polluted (we are close to the M3, M27 and Southampton Airport).  We now face another conundrum of what to do about this potential new information as nothing is concrete yet.  Of course, I will need a fair bit of tea and cake while we process this.

Switch the kettle on would you?

Bye for now

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


This post is brought to you by the regular "What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday?" blog hop courtesy of Julia.

I've got to be honest, I just can't get around to many desks at all at the moment with my writing. I always reciprocate but it doesn't seem in the spirit of the thing to get around to only a handful of people.  I'll still join in as and when I can but it might be quite a while between visits sadly.  I haven't even got a pic of my desk today as it is completely bare so I am using last weeks as a reference point!  I found that I couldn't write at the same desk that I craft at as I got too distracted by pretty papers and shiny embellishments.

I've moved the kraft desk set out and into our spare room which has a rather old desktop computer in so I can keep the lap top for my lap and spread my papers out and dance between the 2 areas of creativity rather than have to put things away before I can change my focus. Huzzah!

I did a talk at my son's school last week about my "job" and all the children (and the teachers!) were jealous of me playing with paper and glue every day but since then I haven't touched my craft stuff!  In fact the last thing I made was Lunch Lady Jan's book!  I've made LLJ a notebook before and I wanted to give her something to say thank you for the amazing friend she has become and an extra thank you for the fabulous bag that she made me.  I wanted to make her something useful to keep her project ideas in so I made a book with lots of pockets and places to keep photos and measurements etc.  There is space for notes and a pencil case in the back full of tags for more notes and details etc.  I decorated all the pages in stitching themed papers and embellishments, stamped the tags with sewing machines and then added some flowers and bees because they make her smile.

 I hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoy my bag.

Bye for now

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