Friday, 31 August 2012

South-Eastern Scavenging

Having scoured the local neighbourhood for some photos for Rinda's Scavenger Hunt I was hoping for big things from a weekend away in the south-east of England earlier this month.  I did manage a couple of extra items, but they certainly weren't quite what I was expecting.

The weather was kind and we did lots of walking ... along the river ... where I spied a structure leading out from the shore into the water; a platform supported on pillars or girders, used as a landing stage for boats ... in other words ...

Photo - Riverside Pier with Barge
#1 - A pier
 ... a pier (not at all what I had in mind when I first read Rinda's list of items).  After lunch I played ball in the garden, but my playmate didn't oblige by taking any photos of me.  In fact she mostly wouldn't let me have the ball either.  So I took a photo of her while she was not giving me the ball back.

Photo - Border Collie & Ball
#3 - A Border {Collie}
who doesn't realise that playing fetch only works if you hand the ball back when you've fetched it!
My step-mother's puppy needs lots of exercise so we also had plenty of treks through the nearby heathlands where we mostly kept to the paths and trails.

Photo - A heathland trail
#12 - A Maze, Labyrinth or Trail
We're planning another weekend away before the end of the hunting season (September 21st), somewhere I might be able to find a few of the remaining 13 items ... Eek not even half-way there yet :o(
If you too are hunting, how are you getting along with your finds?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The { Not-Quite-So-High-As-I-Thought } Height Of Summer

Oh dear.  The whole of August has slipped by and I haven't managed to join in with Julie's Height Of Summer Series as I had intended.  Today is the last day.  So although I had ideas for pages of scrapping and posts full of amusing height related anecdotes, I will have to settle for a photo of the inside of our pantry door.  We've lived in this house a long time, ever since the boys were tiny tots, and over the years we've marked out their growing up on the paintwork.  When I say "growing up" of course I'm talking in terms of length rather than maturity which is a) difficult to measure accurately and b) even harder to plot!

Photo - heights on door

Child No.3, who has lived here all her life, has been tracked since she could stand.  When I checked today, she hasn't grown in the last 8 months.  I wish we'd been sensible and measured the children on their birthdays or each Christmas or at some other regular interval.  The dates are completely random - just when it occurred to somebody that it would be good to do.  This means it's hard to compare their heights at say 14 because somebody might not have been measured during their 14th year!  What I do know is that both boys are now taller than me (and Hubby too, since I'm taller than he is), but then I didn't really need the door to tell me that now did I?!?!

Photo - close-up of heights on door The door has told me something though.  It's come as quite a shock to me too.  It appears that I have been living under a misapprehension with regard to my height.

If Julie had asked me how tall I was, which she has, I'd have said 5' 10" - possibly rounded up from 5' 9½" for ease (I round down my weight to balance things out, don't you?!).

I'm sure I was.


Just not any more!

I measured today (twice in case the first tape measure was faulty) and discovered that I am shrinking!  That mark against my name is 174cm from the floor - yup, a measly 5' 8½".

Wait though!  We had ceramic tiles laid in our kitchen a while back so the floor is higher than it was.  Hmm - that might work for the children's older marks which will be need to have a lower floor level factored in, but, unfortunately for me I was standing on those tiles today.  So yes, the weight of all my years has begun to tell.  I am not quite as tall as I used to be.  Unfortunately for Hubby he seems to be shrinking at a similar rate!!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Calendar Catch-Up

Layout detail - sun rosette & butterfliesDo you blog your days?
Do you scrap your months?
I'm not great with committing to year-long projects, but I had a whale of a time with Scrapbook & Cards Today's Project 12 in 2010, producing a whole album of double page layouts (some of which I've blogged about) documenting the family activities with photos and words.

2011 however, was an utter failure and I gave up half-way through March ending up with a double-page summary for the whole year instead.

This year I've been playing along with Julie's Month In Numbers and using the blog posts to get my months onto paper.  I'm still behind (I've only just published June's MiN post, and not all the numbers have made it onto paper) so I took advantage of the third challenge from the CKCB to take inspiration from a summer garden and get July's numbers scrapped and August's page ready to go.

Layout - July & August 2012 - Jimjams
I combined this with the weekly challenge on UKScrappers which called for
stitching, tearing, recent journalling and non-flat ribbon!

Layout detail - flower rosette & butterflies
My August Counterfeit Kit was perfect for a summer garden theme with lots of warm, sunny colours, some honeycomb and stem patterns and I adapted the die-cut rosettes to look like the sun (at least I think it does) and flowers by snipping the straight edges at an angle.

These pages cheer me up - they are so sunny - unlike our current weather - torrential rain, strong winds and no sign of the sun at all!
Hopefully your garden inspired crafting will also bring you joy - link up here and I'll come and look

Saturday, 25 August 2012

String Art on Paper

Hmmm - when Clair contacted guest designers for her Stitching On Paper series she shared a list of the class techniques and let us choose what to join in with.  Today's topic brought back memories from my youth when String Art was all the rage.  I can remember hammering hundreds of pin tacks into chipboard, winding miles of embroidery thread back and forth around them and making several pieces of wall art for my teenage bedroom.  I have no idea where they are now and there are certainly no photos around so I jumped at the chance of incorporating a blast from the past into a layout.

Layout detail - String Art

Rather than pin tacks to my cardstock I pricked holes in it and stitched through them with metallic threads.

I used a Crafters Workshop circle template to mark out even divisions around a quarter circle on the back of my cardstock using a white gel pen.  A ruler helped me to add extra points radiating out from the centre of and I set to work with my needle to make the holes.

Layout detail - markings on back

Once they were done I had a happy hour sitting in front of the TV sewing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth ... before matting and layering my photos and journalling.

Layout - New York New York - Jimjams

Clair has lots more ideas for incorporating string art into your crafting - check them out here - there's even a chance of a prize for joining in before September 8th!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

June In Numbers

Yes, I know it's August and July's numbers are already out there, but I've just discovered that this post was still half-written in draft!  I've been working on the scrapbook page for it so I thought I'd better hit publish!

Welcome to my June in Numbers - check out Julie's blog here if you have no idea what I'm talking about or if you do and you want to join in with your Month in Numbers then other Junes can be found here.

June has been a bit of a wash-out - both literally and in terms of activities.  There have been sunny days in between, but torrential rain, flash floods and lightening strikes are a bit extreme even for a British summer.

1 = Birthday celebrated very quietly by Hubby as it was a working day, Child No.3 was out gallivanting, I was recuperating from my surgery and the boys were still away at university.  We'll have to have a proper family meal out together once we are reunited next month.

25 = pounds spent on his birthday present - a Raspberry Pi credit-card-sized computer, developed to encourage school children to learn about computer programming proper (as opposed to using Microsoft packages or writing html).  Of course, Hubby isn't a school child but he is an old-school programmer.

60 = years on the throne for Queen Elizabeth, resulting in a 4 day weekend for much of the UK.  Rain didn't stop play (we Brits will party on through anything).  It was not much better 10 years ago - I wonder if there will be a Platinum Jubilee and whether our weather will be better?

Books read = 14 (5 reviewed here and 5 more here) and 4 more:

"The Elephant Whisperer" by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence is not the kind of book I normally read.  It's non fiction and it's about animals!  However after some very positive reviews I thought I'd give it a go. I'm so glad I did - it was full of accessible, humorous and touching stories about life in and around a nature reserve in South Africa.  Anthony's struggles with local politics, regulations, poachers, wild animals, domestic animals and the weather were all there along with his triumphs containing a troubled herd of elephants, rescuing rhinos and connecting with the beautiful flora and fauna on the reserve.

C J Sansom's "Winter in Madrid" was my Reading Group choice - a fascinating account of a part of
aspects of the Spanish Civil War about which I knew very little.  There were glimpses of British boarding school life, diplomatic machinations and covert operations. Beautifully written, it left me wanting to know more about the period.

"The Pilot's Wife" by Anita Shreve was one of the books I took to and from Las Vegas without opening.  Possibly just as well as it described the aftermath of a mid-air explosion that killed the pilot!  The grief and confusion of his wife was beautifully described as doubts arose about just how the bomb had got aboard.

Jo Nesbø's thrilling "Headhunters" was full of as many twists and turns as it had unlikeable characters.  Was anybody what they seemed to be? Would anyone get away with their ill deeds?  Would you want them to?

20 = CVs handed out by Child No.3 in her search for a holiday/weekend job.  Despite several positive responses during the day, not one has followed up (yet).  1 on-line application with a local supermarket has resulted in a telephone interview and the group interview is set for next month.  Fingers crossed!

10 = types of vegetables growing in our veg patch - they are all rather behind in their growing due to the lack of sun.

4 = years of study for No.1 Son resulting in a Masters of Chemistry qualification - we are so proud - the graduation ceremony is in a fortnight - watch this space to see how well a mortar board fits on top of his dreadlocks!

Well, we never did get to see him in a mortar board as he wouldn't (let us) pay the extra for an official photograph.  You can see how smart he looked in his suit and gown on my layout here though!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Two For One

Back in March I was lucky enough to visit Las Vegas with some scrapping friends.  I'm making slow but steady progress with the layouts about the trip and I've just used one of the first photos in a page prompted by the second challenge this month at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog: to scrap a layout and then use the same design to make a card from the scraps. 

I often start with sketches and I thought that if a card was on the menu perhaps I'd start with a layout from a card sketch!  I grabbed one from Sketch Support (#18) and cut strips from the papers from my August counterfeit kit.

Layout - First stop on Las Vegas tour bus - Jimjams

To echo the "Welcome" from the sign I backed the title letters with punched circles and mounted them on foam pads.
Layout detail - title letters and strips

Our first excursion in Las Vegas was a hop-on-hop-off tour in an open-topped bus - always a great way to get a feel for a new destination.  The first stop after joining the circular tour was, appropriately, the Welcome sign and it was possible to get out to take photos and join the next tour bus afterwards.  However, we chose to stay put as our tour guide Renée was so funny {she thought we were funny (peculiar) as we were in Vegas for stash shopping in Michaels!}.   I was also scouting for geocaches in Vegas and luckily the virtual cache here just required a photo with GPS receiver in the frame - so that was my first foreign geocache sorted too!

Layout & "matching" card for CKCB August challenge - Jimjams

Having cut up strips for my page it was a piece of cake to cut some of them smaller to make a card - substituting a sticker for the photo and some ric-rac instead of ribbon.  No dimensional buttons though as the UK post system charges extra if your mail is too thick!  Do you make cards from scraps?  It's a great way to use them up!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Happy Hour

Layout detail - heart & scraps cluster
August's first challenge over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog was, interestingly, to take part in some other on-line challenge!

Is that a sort of reverse advertising?  Will the fact that we'll be using our August Counterfeit Kits in all sorts of new places make people wonder "What on earth is a counterfeit kit?" and pop over to the CKCB to find out?  I hope so - I can't think of a better way to help people USE up their stash - which of course means that we can BUY more :o)

For me, this challenge was perfect as I often take inspiration from several challenges at once - a sketch here, a colour combination there, and other elements from elsewhere - and this page is no different!  It is based on the monthly sketch challenge at the blog for Sarah's Cards (my "local" on-line shop) and combined with the Weekly Challenge at UKScrappers which required you to scrap something from your wild side, include stars or flourishes and a life-affirming word or phrase.

Layout - Happy Hour - Jimjams

Layout detail - Rosette cluster
My photo was taken around midday at the Slush Bar in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.  Now I don't drink a lot of alcohol (a glass of wine with a weekend meal is a treat), so enjoying an slushy cocktail instead of lunch was certainly wild for me!

The full story behind the page was my Sunday Story in April - and by strange coincidence the CKCB kit-to-copy this month is available from Scraporchard who were sponsoring the Digiscrapapalooza convention that our new friend Balinda was attending in the hotel!

The page is made from my August counterfeit kit wth the addition of some Doodlebug Sugar Coated Hopscotch alphas and shapes.  Arghhhh!  Now I remember why these were stored away in a little plastic box ... the glitter gets everywhere!  Do you have any tips for making glitter stay put?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Hunting For Photos

My Summer Photo Scavenging hasn't been going too well.  I'd only managed two photos and already blogged about them by the time Rinda had her Photo Scavenger Hunt Link Up Party!  In the interests of not leaving the other 19 items on the list until the last week of the Summer Equinox while I wait for spectacular-days-out-type photo opportunities, I thought I'd better accept some home-grown subjects instead!

Luckily the Great British Summer is making a yet another reappearance so I managed to snap some smalls (and not so smalls) on my clothesline ...

Photo - smalls & not so smalls on the clothesline
#2 - Clothesline
 ... and we had a few minutes to relax in our own hammock ... I'm ignoring the hanging from a tree bit!

Photo - not quite overloaded hammock
#20 - A swing hanging from a tree (or a hammock)
We love our hammock - a double one, just about coping with Hubby & me at the same time - that started life as a trampoline and was built indoors thanks to an equally rainy summer!

I also remembered to take my camera to the supermarket which is built in front of Crewe Heritage Centre where they have ill-fated prototype Advanced Passenger Train - the UK's first and fastest tilting passenger train that initially made some travellers nauseous because it worked too well: they could see the curves but couldn't feel them!

Photo - APT-P at Crewe Heritage Centre
#5 - Train
Five photos down, 16 to go ...

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ten on the Tenth: Reasons Why I ♥ 2 Scrapbook

Layout detail - ♥ 2
Welcome to August's Ten.  Ten is a big number.  I quite often start off with a great idea for a theme for a Ten and then realise that I have just an Eight, or a Seven or even a Three.  That's what happened when I was thinking about "Why I Scrapbook", prompted by a challenge at Merly Impressions:
  1. It's my hobby - everyone needs a hobby, right?  This is my indoor one.
  2. To relive the moment.  Scrapping the photos brings back the sights, smells and sounds of holiday adventures, first day of school nerves, choked back tears of pride at concerts and prize-givings, heartstring tugs at long-ago milestones ...
  3. It's creative and lets my inner artist see the light of day.
  4. My memory needs help.  I'm in my 50s and already the dates and details are jumbling up.  When did we visit that theme park?  Who was it that dressed up as a devil for Halloween?  Where was our first beach holiday?  I see my albums as insurance against old age!
  5. Stories are important.  My story.  My children's stories.  Our traditions.  Our family histories.
  6. Scrapbooking is for keeps - the pages are for my albums, my legacy of memories, preserving my photos
  7. Scrapbooking is for sharing - the pages are for looking at together, hand-made with love, passing on the moments to friends and family and anyone else who is willing to be pinned down to the sofa under a stack of 12x12 albums!
So that got me to a Seven.  But I needed a Ten.  Then I remembered a particular photo taken last summer: My children and No.1 Son's girlfriend ex, relaxing in the garden, looking through some scrapbooks, chatting about the photos, remembering the holidays, teasing each other over the hairstyles or the clothes or the forgotten stories revealed.  And thus I had my remaining Three.

Layout - Why I ♥ 2 Scrapbook - Jimjams
No full sheets of patterned paper were harmed during the making of this layout - scraps only!
Why do you scrapbook?  Do you have Ten reasons?  Or different Ten to share?  Why not link up with Shimelle and her readers here (providing she has managed to escape the Olympics)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Still Stitching

Layout detail - machine stitching on cardstockI'm still stitching!  Are you?

One of my pages featured in Clair's 2nd day of Stitching on Paper - here's a peek:

If sewing on your pages with a machine has proved problematical, then Clair has plenty of help and advice to get you started.

I have three tips to share with you regarding machine sewing on layouts:
    Photo - practice stitching on cardstock
    What a mess!
    Better on a scrap than my page though!
  • Use "invisible" thread on the bobbin so that you only have to change the top thread when swapping colours
  • Sewing through paper blunts the needle.  Keep a scrapping needle separate from the rest or they'll all be blunt when you next sew with material
  • Test your tension, stitch size/style and cornering out on a piece of scrap cardstock (layered with extra scraps of paper if necessary).  I find this especially useful with zig-zag stitches as the combination of zig-zag width and stitch length gives lots of variety. 

Layout detail - imperfect circular machine stitching
The page I shared with Clair's class just used straight lines of machine stitching.  My latest page needed some circular stitching to fit in with a sketch over at Scrapology.  I drew the concentric circles in light pencil directly onto my cardstock to act as guides and erased them afterwards.  I'm not brilliant at sewing straight lines, let alone perfect concentric circles, so I concealed any wobbles by going over the lines with more stitching that was purposely either side of the line with added zig-zags.

If you popped by on Sunday you will know that No.1 Son recently graduated with a Masters in Chemistry and I scrapped him with a group of his friends here.  Today's page puts him centre stage but uses the same papers, cardstock and trim so that they will sit nicely side-by-side in his album.

Layout detail - machine stitching on ribbon, paper, stickers & cardstock

More machine stitchery to come from me soon ... and Clair will be back next weekend with parts 3 & 4 of her Stitching on Paper class ... I can't wait!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Going Digi with the CKCB

Kit detail - ribbons & ric-rac
Welcome to the August's Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog Hop around the Master Forgers!  Have you already been to visit this month's Guest Designer Lynette?

This month we have a bit of a departure in terms of counterfeiting ... copying a digital kit!  It was hard to choose just one to counterfeit, but in the end we chose Summer Lovin' from Scrap Orchard - a lovely mix of bright colours and fun embellishments:

Summer Lovin' by Scrap Orchard
Summer Lovin'
Now digi isn't really my thing - I have enough trouble deciding what paper or stickers to use without having the almost infinite choices of shade or font size that digi opens up!  So I've stuck to paper this month - starting as I always do by seeing what similar patterns/colours I have in my existing stash.  First off I found a sunny hexagon pattern, a multi-colour floral and a woodgrain paper in amongst some recent acquisitions.  I loved the yellow, orange, teal combination that was forming so I pulled the rest of my papers to tone with these.
My Sizzlit rosette die will be put to use soon and I'm planning to make some hexagonal pinwheels shortly.

August Counterfeit Kit
Cardstock in teal, yellow & kraft
Be Adored from My Mind's Eye's Follow Your Heart "Be Amazing" collection (teal ogees on the reverse)
On The Bright Side Small Floral (orange chevrons reverse) also by MME
MME's Societé (white ledger with added hexagons on the reverse) from their Follow Your Heart "Be Amazing" collection
Echo Park's Paradise Beach Sunshine (orange flowers, swirls & surfer on the "B" side)
Storyteller Yesterday (cream floral pattern reverse) by Crate Paper
MME Branches (teal and white dots reverse) from On The Bright Side
MME's On The Bright Side Stitched (denim reverse) - left over from July's Counterfeit Kit
Plain orange paper (manufacturer unknown)

Crate Paper Storyteller alpha and label stickers
Various ribbons, ric-rac, cord & string
MME Happy Days twine
Basic Grey fabric decorated brads
A selection of yellow, orange & brown buttons
Crocheted flowers
A selection of journalling blocks/tags from K&Co and Crate Paper
Kaisercraft December 25th (!) pearls
Sizzlit Mini Paper Rosette die
Tickets and a Sizzlit ticket die (not shown)
Various brads and bookplates (not shown)

I'm looking forward to using up some ribbons this month - it's been a while since I used a lot on my pages as I've been going through a machine stitching & button phase recently.  Do you get stuck on a particular technique/type of embellishment?

Next on the kit tour is the lovely Jen who makes awesome kits full to bursting with gorgeousness!  If you get lost along the way pop back to the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog for a full list of the hops!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Mastering Chemistry

Welcome to my latest Sunday Story.  This one had a beginning back in October 2008, a middle in between and its finale just a few weeks ago - on Friday 13th.  Unlucky for some.  Not, however for No.1 Son (though he will deny that there was any luck involved and insist that it was all down to his hard work)

It all started somewhat inauspiciously when his A-level grades meant that he did not get into his first choice of university.  Thankfully he was accepted by his second choice and he started partying studying hard, learning his way around the bars of Newcastle Chemistry labs and making loads of new friends.
In order to maximise his future job prospects, No.1 Son had chosen a course with an extra year in industry and had to start applying for a work placement at the beginning of his 2nd year.  Trouble was, Britain's industries were struggling ... our economic downturn meant that companies were offering fewer placements and only the very top students managed to get fixed up.  So, along with all but six of his cohort, No.1 Son had to convert his course back to a standard degree.
He loved student life studying in Newcastle and didn't relish leaving yet, so he missed a few parties upped his grades to allow him to add a research year to his degree.  That final year was oh so hard ... No.1 Son even postponed his 21st birthday celebrations because it fell during the run up to some exams.  His missed parties hard work paid off though and on Friday 13th we watched our clever, clever boy receive his Masters in Chemistry

Photo - Proud family at graduation

The rain held off long enough for us to take lots of photos before and after the ceremony.  It was wonderful to see No.1 Son with such a lovely bunch of friends from his course, some of whom were house-mates, lab partners, study buddies and one, who is, currently, significantly more :o)

Layout - Mastering Chemistry - Jimjams

This page was made with my July Counterfeit Kit and utilises a lot of machine stitching ... I love stitching on my pages ... and I'm playing along with Clair's stitchery class here.  It's FREE!  Why not join me?

You can also join in with Sunday Storytelling, either by reading more stories here or telling one yourself and linking it over at High In The Sky.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Blogiversary #2

I nearly missed it - my second Blogiversary!  Last year I was very organised and had an anniversary blog hop; this year I only remembered because I spotted an up-coming Blogiversary over at Beverly's place.  Ooops!!!

Tagxedo #2

To celebrate, here is a Taxedo made from the recurring words on my blog ... lots of counterfeiting, numbers, stories, books, children and a fair bit of scrapping!

Thank YOU

to all of you who have left me interesting comments (2973 comments - not sure how many different commenters), those of you who have become followers (76), my many silent visitors who add their flags at the bottom of the page (8495 visitors from 74 countries) and all of you lovely fellow bloggers that have kept me company, encouraged me and inspired me during the last two years :o)