Saturday, 26 October 2013

Where do you call home?

I've lived in southern Hampshire all my life and I might be biased but I think it’s got something to suit pretty much everyone who might come to visit.  I was recently asked by Kendra Thornton from Chicago about what I love about where I live and we set about this joint post.

Hampshire, England

For me it is like a picture of England in a nutshell; Fields of watercress and strawberries, steam trains chugging through farmland and rolling countryside, tiny picturesque villages with chocolate box houses.  
Miss Bella strawberry picking in Titchfield
There is such diversity here too though; large towns and cities full of hustle and bustle, beaches for playing and scavenging and forests for adventure or relaxation.  There are snack shacks and Michelin starred restaurants, harbours small enough for fishing boats or large enough for the biggest cruise ships, theme parks and football stadiums and more historic buildings and ruins than you can shake a well thumbed guidebook at.
Falconry display in the ruined cloisters at Beaulieu
One of our favourite places to visit is of course the New Forest.  People sometimes assume that it is just a bunch of trees but the landscape actually varies from true forest to moors, rivers and villages.  It has its fair share of history too which you can find out about in the visitor centre in the pretty village of Lyndhurst.   It wouldn't be the New Forest without the ponies and it always thrills me to see the animals wandering about freely.  Our particular favourites are the skinny-legged foals with their cute fluffy tails but we often see cows and little donkeys in the village on our way to visit Beaulieu too.  
New Forest pony in the frost.
We’re very lucky that a certain prominent member of our household works in Beaulieu, which of course is most famous for its motor museum.  Yes I love the James Bond exhibition with its crazy showcase of vehicles used in the films; and of course the resident transport in the rest of the museum there spans over 150 years, but it is Palace House and the beautiful grounds around the ancient abbey that draw me back. ONE day I will go to one of the paranormal investigations there because there are many tales of strange sights, sounds and even smells haunting the ruins.  The Secret Army Exhibition is fascinating too, detailing how the house was taken over during the war to train spies in various espionage techniques.  And at the right time of year you can take a trip on the historic Beaulieu River from Bucklers Hard where the Bounty ship was built.
Bond boat on display at Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu river.
The Beaulieu River flows into the sea which divides the Isle of Wight from the mainland.  I grew up just a stone’s throw from the sea side and I am still at my most content on a windswept beach.  Most of The Solent is accessible from the Gosport side of Portsmouth harbour right along to parts of Southampton and then again further along near the New Forest.  They are predominantly shingle beaches until the tide is right out and it’s a great place for sailing and windsurfing.  The seafronts are dotted with play parks, splash parks, crazy golf, beach huts and ice-cream vans.  No walk along the promenade would be complete with a visit to one of the many restaurants and cafes. 
Louis and Harvey on the beach at Hill Head.

A bracing walk to blow away the cobwebs followed by a nice cup of tea?  That’s my home.  That’s where my heart is.

Chicago, USA

My name is Kendra Thornton, and though I love to travel, today I am here with Lisa-Jane at Inside My Head to discuss why we love our hometowns. I was formerly the Director of Communications for Orbitz, and today am advocating my own personal backyard, Chicago.

You can catch up with me on Twitter.

Fun In My City and Yours!

My home city is Chicago, and I have lived in the greater area for my entire life. A trip to Chicago satisfies many cravings. If you’re a foodie, know that mouthwatering aromas and tastes will inundate you as soon as you enter the city. If you love sports, Chicago’s hard-charging teams are sure to delight. And if you are looking for fun, entertaining family attractions, Chicago contains a lifetime’s worth of fun and unique diversions. The following attractions are just some of my favorites.    

1.) Root, Root, for Chicago
Kendra and her lovely family at a Cub's game.
Chicago is a must-see metropolis for any sports fan. The city’s professional hockey, football, basketball, and baseball teams have provided locals with countless moments of exhilaration over the decades. What’s more, the sports venues in this town are unsurpassed. The Blackhawks are particularly popular nowadays given their recent Stanley Cup wins, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love our Cubbies just because they’ve been stuck in a slump this year! Chicago fans are as loyal as they come, and we love going to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play during the summer. The 7th inning stretch is capped off with someone, usually famous, leading the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and my kids love singing along!

2.) Up on the Roof -- Way Up

For a startling view of Chicago, check out the Willis Tower’s Skydeck. It's located on the 103rd floor of one of the world’s tallest and most beloved buildings. The Skydeck is basically a clear, enclosed box extending off of the window. Three layers of half-inch-thick glass comprise each of the box’s sides. Standing inside the Skydeck provides the adrenaline-pumping illusion that you’re floating amidst the clouds. If you have children, this memory of looking out above the sky will stay with them for years to come!

3.) The Pleasure Paradise That Is the Peninsula

After coming down to earth, you might wish to pamper yourself with the ultimate in Chicago luxury. The upscale hotel called the Peninsula Chicago is just the place to do so. One of my personal favorite things to do in the city is enjoy the spa here. The Peninsula’s spa is first-rate, as are its European-style dining experiences. Plus, its views of gorgeous East Superior Street are, well, superior. The site gogobot can help you look at the amenities offered here, and at any other hotels in Chicago, as well as pricing.

4.) You’re Always Welcome at Lou’s

While the Peninsula is great, there is nothing like a family trip to Lou Mitchell’s. Lou Mitchell’s is among the best of Chicago’s diners, and it has been for 85 years. It’s a Windy City icon, a historic eatery that serves heaps of irresistible and affordable food. As a special bonus, the diner gives free Milk Duds to the women and children who eat here. Why Milk Duds? The person who created this type of candy was not only a Chicago native, but also a Lou Mitchell’s regular.

One of the reasons many people love to travel is to feel alive -- to experience a world different from their everyday lives. And Chicago supplies one experience after another: thrilling sports games, dizzying skyscraper climbs, and delicious eateries around every corner. There’s pleasure around every bend in my hometown, and we Chicagoans wouldn't want it any other way.

So there we go.  That's home for me and home for Kendra, how about you?  What do you love about where you live?

Bye for now

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


This might well be my last WOYWW appearance for a while as we are in Wales next week (sans internet / mobile reception / TV etc - huzzah) and then we are into November.  For me this means NaNoWriMo which some of you asked about last week when I mentioned it.  It means National Novel Writing Month and the idea is that you write a 50,000 word novel (or the start of a novel if you want to write a long one) in a month.  Crazy huh?!  The basic premise is that we can procrastinate over the first sentence or a chapter or whatever for years and years and never get that novel finished.  This way you bash out that first draft using the word count / forums / collective cheer squad of other Nano writers etc to actually get it done.  Once that first draft is out of the way you can start tweaking it but knowing that it is finished, or a long way towards it, keeps you motivated.  Its going to be tough but I think it will really help to drive me forward and not keep knocking my writing down the "To Do" list.  But that is November...

This week in Crazy Towers we have been making um... crazy towers.  I was lucky enough to be told of someone getting rid of a load of 12x12 paper trays from an old scrapbooking shop so I bought some.  I've spent a happy few hours since then having a sort out and rearranging my papers and then shuffling them some more and moving them again.  This is the start of proceedings...

About halfway through when I was beginning to lose the will to live...

And then this is how it looks now.  Still a work in progress with a few piles of things to sort and put elsewhere but I am loving my crazy tower of paper trays.  The black box on the top is a box of scraps that I have to sort but my accordion file where I used to keep them (that black case to the right) exploded so I needed to find an alternative.  I've decided to file them upright in poly bags on one of the bottom shelves that is now empty, or will be after another little shuffle.

The A4 paper lid and the flowery briefcase are both Christmas stash that needs sorting more appropriately and the pile of plastic bags in the corner there are Christmas presents waiting to be wrapped.  I would have done them already but there is not much paper about yet because the shops are still full of Halloween stuff.  Don't they know time is cracking on?!

And my desk, seeing as that is the theme of the day.

Still haven't cut my denim letters but I have experimented this week with using normal PVA instead of Mod Podge to stiffen the fabric.  I shall let you know how it goes.  Stiffening it makes it a lot easier to stick the cut letters on to cut around and gives it a better finish.  The page I am doing this for will go opposite this one in my album so you can see how the denim ties in

Time to have a look around some other crafty spaces with Mistress Julia for What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Pretty... Frosty

No, its not frosty at all yet, just very very wet, but please indulge me while I think ahead a little.  My blog and DT pal Jennifer is having another wonderful weekend of Frosty Festivities in November and I will be revealing something a little festive myself on the blog hop.  Jennifer's events are always great fun with lots of wonderful projects and give-a-ways so make sure you put it in your diaries.

Frosty Festivities Event at Jennifer Grace Creates

If you visit her blog now you can enter the first giveaway which is a wonderful Christmas collection from Glitz design.  I've been having a good sort out of my Christmas stash myself and I found no less than 4 completely unopened Christmas collections!  Perhaps I might have to do a giveaway myself in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I don't have a festive layout to share but this one was the most chilly that I could find from my archives of un-blogged pages.  

It was originally designed for an 8x8 page but it was just lacking a certain something so I added it to a 12x12 piece of cardstock with a few other bits and I loved it!

We were having a family day out on the Watercress Line one Autumn and had stopped off for lunch but there was no-where left inside.  We ate our chips out in the cold on the station platform with Miss Bella looking super cute in her hat.  I can hardly believe that this sweet little thing started school a few weeks ago!

I still love this layout but there are of course things I would do differently if I did it again now.  I'm enjoying looking back at older layouts and reacquainting myself with techniques I haven't used for a while.  I think you might be seeing rolled edges and flowers on a layout again soon.

Bye for now

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


This is what happens to your desk when you don't put things away after a crop because you just can't wait to get on with something!

The thing that I wanted to get on with is the lettering cut out of denim.  It is for a scrapbook page that I started at the Artful Angels crop on Saturday that will go in that gorgeous woodgrain chevron album.  I've Mod-Podged the denim to stiffen it so its just waiting to dry.  

What else do we have dumped there?  Well the orange bag is a wheatie, much needed today after a session of acupuncture on my neck.  On the left of the mat is a little pile of Christmas presents waiting to be added to the list in my festive planner (coming soon to a blog near you ;-)).  I'm excited about doing the French knitting with the children after Christmas.  If you think I am early, well actually I feel a bit late because I really wanted to get this all done before November because of NaNoWriMo but I have made a jolly decent start.

Also this week I've had a few birthday cards to do including this one for my Step-Dad.  It was a free stamp, coloured with Promarkers and I am quite pleased with it even though I don't normally like my cards.

So what's on your desk today?  Caring is sharing so link up with the rest of the snoopers at Stamping-Ground and see what inspiration strikes.

Bye for now

Monday, 7 October 2013

Story Telling Sunday - The One About The Cow(s)

My precious for this month's Story Telling Sunday is not an object, unless you count the photograph, but a memory.  Sian suggested something with a bit of mystery, so here you are... what's going on here?

Did you spot the calf making its first appearance there?  I can tell you that the head and hooves were out for about half an hour before the cow finally managed to birth him and we were all a little bit worried that he had got stuck!  Out of the 7 of us watching, 3 of us were mummies and we winced every time she had a strong contraction.  The cow kept sitting down but never sat on the calf at all and ended up actually birthed him to the side of her while laying down.  He didn't move at all for a while and she didn't seem interested but eventually started the licking process and before too long we heard his first little moo!  We kept checking on them both while the light was okay but we didn't seem him up and about until the next morning.  It was wonderful to see him make his way up the hill on his wobbly little legs, looking all white and dark brown like a proper Fresian calf.  

Obviously this wasn't in our back garden... We spent a rather lovely weekend at a Featherdown Farm in Dorset called Knaveswell for a stew pot weekend.  It was cheaper than a normal weekend price and included two wonderful stews with local ingredients and I can tell you that they were absolutely delicious.  It was rather strange to be in one of the tents that we know so well now but at a different time of year.  At the beginning of June, the days were so long and light that the children thought it was time to get up at 5.30!  This weekend though, the shorter days and the canopy of trees at Knaveswell meant that it still felt pitch black at 8am and that us adults were in bed, asleep at 9.30pm!  Considering it is October, we were actually quite warm in our beds too which was a relief.  The children always have such a wonderful time on these trips and never want to go home and I hope that when they look back in years to come, they will realise what a fantastic experience they had and what amazing things they saw.

Bye for now

Sunday, 6 October 2013

6 on the 6th

Its my turn to share my cards for the 6 on the 6th series over at S J Crafts.  Sarah sent me part of the Simple Stories December Documented collection and there were some transparencies in there.  This gave me the idea to make some shaker cards.  I've never made one before and I made some huge mistakes but it was great fun using lots of glitter!

For some of the cards like this one, I used half of the unprinted transparency over the top of one of the cut-apart sheet cards.

In others, like this one, I layered a printed transparency over the top of a printed card.

I used some snowflake brads in silver and gold and in this one I used some smaller snowflake brads inside the aperture for added sparkle and interest.

I layered up the wonderful papers with some plain cardstock in some of the cards.  I also added some very old trim from my stash.  It felt wonderful to use sparkly bits as I don't normally do anything with sparkles or glitter!

It doesn't have to be a big shaker element to have an impact.  Here I used 2 different sized punches of the same shape to create a wreath effect over a circle sticker and layered up some more of the stickers on top of the printed card.

I think this one is my favourite with that gorgeous bow on the front.  I backed the aperture with a piece of white cardstock embossed with a swiss dot folder so that the statement remains clear.

Do you know that it is only 81 days till Christmas!  Time to get crafting people!  If you make 6 cards and link up to the 6 on the 6th series then you are in with a chance to win a prize.  You can enter as many times as you like to boost your chances and of course you have a wonderful head start on your card stash anyway so everyone's a winner!

What are you waiting for?  Go get that glitter!

Bye for now

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


It's all go here at Crazy Towers despite everyone thinking that I would have a lot more time in the day by now.  

I've been working on some Christmas cards for 6 on the 6th over at S J Crafts so you can see lots of Christmassy bits strewn across my table.  I'm not usually one for glitter but I was making shaker cards  and using gold and silver trims that I have been collecting over the years.  Most of them have come from Christmas crackers!  Am I the only one who collects "rubbish" to use in crafting?

You can see my new set of Promarkers there too.  Out of that Autumn and Winter 2013 set, only 2 had a problem so if you would to swap any existing colours from the normal range for any of these limited edition ones then please drop me a line.

Now I have to clear my desk and sort out a huge pile of family filing.  Bleurgh!

If you've got anything more interesting than filing on your desk then why not link up with this worldwide blog hop over at Julia's.

Bye for now