Sunday, 30 January 2011

Project 365 & a FREE online photography course

Are you doing Project 365 or any variation?

I felt a sense of achievement that I finished the project last year.  Albiet I missed acouple of days, usually when I am working and so preoccupied, that the time slips away. This year has got off to a difficult start and my energy and creativity is low.  But I have finally got round to uploading some Project 365 photos on to Flickr so I thought I'd share some on my blog.

One thing I have noticed in my recent photos is frequency of food.  Chocolate has been ever present at work, bought in by colleagues in an effort to raise spirits. Unfortuantly the main thing being raised is my weight, as evidenced by the scales and my clothes.  This week I plan to leave the chocolates for everyone else!  And as I write the taste of two chocolate covered turkish delight linger....  I remember too late.  This is going to be more difficult than I thought!
Another thing that focus in my photos frequently are flowers.  I have a lovely man who treats me regularly.  When I come home late from work the surprise of big vases of flowers never fail to cheer me and make me glad to be home. 

Here's the chocolate again!!  I know Maltesers and wine hardly go.  But on this occasion they were what I needed to unwind.  
If you'd like to see more of my Project 365 photos they are here.

And finally ~  as a nan to 3 gorgous granddaughters I was excited to hear about this FREE 28 day online photography course running through Feburary. You can find our more about 'The Joy of LOVE' here.   There will be a Flickr gallery to share photos and daily downloads, so hopefully a chance to interact with others taking part. You need to register quickly as it starts on the 1st.

Have fun with what ever photography projects you are doing this year. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


I have mentioned already that life at work is stressed and not very good at the moment due to NHS cutbacks.  So I have looked forward to spending a day with my friend Ruth and a day at a Spa .
Have you ever used Microsoft Excell when working with photos or digital images?  I have Photoshop Elements that I plan to master, but meanwhile I sometimes want to add layers or text quickly and I often resort to Miscrosoft Word which does the job albiet slowly and clumsily.  It takes patience and practice to formatt each layer and position.  At least it does me! 

Ruth often talks about using Excell to do the same thing, and so we met yesterday in her riverside cottage.  We set up our laptops and spent the whole day experimenting.  Ruth  showed me how to use the software & I discovered it is much the same as Word, except that it was much easier to use for 
creating layers using papers & elements from digitkits.  We added photos and text, and I was so excited because I learned how to recolour, add bevels and do all sorts of amazing things a click of a button.  And all this time the software was on my computer not being used!  In February I am going on a 3 day residential run by Moira Neal and the focus is on photos.  I have downloaded Picasa onto my laptop, so I will have a choice of softwares to use for manipulating, enhancing and working with my photos.  I will add some photos of my Excell creations when I have more time.  A day with Ruth was just what I needed on my day off work.  She is one of those wonderful people who you can just unwind with and be yourself.  And the view from her window is so relaxing too.  Watching the tide slowly rise and the sun cast shadows was everything I needed to complete my day. 

And then today, just to complete my eclipse I spent a day at a Spa with my sister in law and niece.  We had an hour and a half journey in busy traffic but once through the door I was transported.  How do I describe ecstacy?  Beautiful surroundings, soft background music, white fluffy towels, a massage with aromatherapy oils, salt water pool, jacuzzi, pilates, and a 'bedroom' where you could relax with a book, a sellection of drinks and a bowl of fruit.   Imagine about 6 Queen size beds side by side, covered in cool white cotton sheet and piles of huge soft pillows.  Bliss hardly describes the feeling. 
After the Spa we went for a meal.  It was another perfect day.

I had booked to go to the Spa in December with another friend, but it was cancelled due to the heavy snow fall. Luckily we have rebooked so I still have another day of heaven planned.  I have a smile of my face just thinking about it. 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Counting my blessings

Recently I took part in my first blog hop and I had beginners luck!  Above is the wonderful gift I received this week from Shelly.  I don't know what to expect as Shelly had not given details on her blog, but I must say I was amazed when I unwrapped the jiffy bag.  What generosity!  I have met such wonderful people through blogging and feel so lucky to have received this gift.  I can't wait to start using the stamps and inks!  I know I have already said it Shelly, but a huge huge thank you.

Right now things are very difficult at my place of work.  NHS cutbacks are hitting where it really hurts and lots of people are badly affected.  The next couple of months will be very unsettled and I don't know where this will lead other than the service will be closed on 31 March.  My team will be split and redeployed and I am trying to keep positive and hope that something good will come out of all this. 
This evening we had a chinese takeaway and I had to smile when I opened my fortune cookie.  Let's hope this is a good omen for me and others affected.

Because my work situation has taken up much time and energy I have not had much opportunity to do much creating.  However, I came across this tutorial and really enjoyed making these fabric flowers.  I love vintage and making my own embellishments.  The buttons came from a charity shop so I thought them perfect for these flowers.  They are made out of cotton sheeting, torn into strips and wound round.  I plan to experiment and make more adding fine net as I wind.  The ribbon was made by simply fraying one of the cotton strips and printing along its length.  I love this Vintage stamp and it was perfect for this. 

My son is staying with us this weekend so I am enjoying his company and tomorrow will be another day of catching up with my family and relaxing before another week begins.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


At my last crop I put together a 12" x 12" page using some  
absolutely gorgous papers from the MME Portabello Road Glittered paper range. The sort that I would normally put away and just admire, or stroke, saving for that 'perfect' page. I love going to the crop because I hijack such thoughts and follow the crowd... cutting carefully around the filigree edge on one sheet then removing the whole centre leaving just a very narrow border. My instincts were yelling at me not to spoil the page, but I carried on... carefully and trustingly.  Another page was also cut...  it reminded me of therapy....  there's no gain without pain.

Then I assembled. Without seeing the papers in advance it is sometimes difficult to choose the right photo or colour match. On this occasion I had taken another photo with these papers in mind. But luckily I usually take others with me. And this time I knew JUST the photo to use. Taken by a friend it has become one of my current favourites. I used it on some of my Christmas cards this year, and what was more, a corresponding photo was the perfect size for the 2" frame.



Yesterday I showed the page to my granddaughter. 
She studied it for a moment or two then said in an
amazed way "HOW did you do THAT?!"

I can't take any credit, other than for the assembly. But I loved the end result and my granddaughters response. I told her that one day the pages I make will be hers to keep. That one day she might be able to show them to her own children.

"And my boyfriend" she added.

I had to smile.

I have lots of things on the go and struggling to finish anything at the moment as things are quite stressed at work and my mind is all over the place.  A lot of things are stirring and it is a time to wait and see what happens.  Meanwhile I am experimenting with making flowers and trying to organise my space. 

I have booked on another Belstead Residential weekend in February and am very excited about that.  The focus will be on how to make the best of your photos for scrapbooking or albums. I will be taking some of my works in progress to see if I can complete any.  And I have promised myself not to start new ones until I catch up!!
Have a great week!

Monday, 10 January 2011


I can't believe the past 3 days.

First I received a 'Stylish Blog Award' from the very talented Jenny at Love and Peas. To say I was amazed is an under statement, I have only been blogging for 6 months and I still consider myself a beginner and on a steep learning curve. And so I felt REALLY touched that Jenny should consider me for this award. This means a huge amount and it has really given my confidence a boost. A HUGE THANK YOU to Jenny!

The Award requests that I share 7 pieces of information about myself then 'Pay It Forward' by nominating 7 'recently discovered' sylish blogs. Knowing how much this meant to me will give me great pleasure in passing it forward. So, the start the ball rolling here are 7 things about me you might not know:

1. I home educated both my children and they never went to school. I am very proud of how they turned out, and these years were some of my happiest and most fulfilling.

2. I love watching films on tv & dvd. There's something special about curling up at home, especially in front of the log burner on a dark winters night.

3. 'My name is Sandie.... and I am a hoarder'. Every time I throw something away, I need it. So I keep the crafting scraps, and paperback books that I've read, a collection of empty drink cans (great for making embellishments with on my Big Shot), fabric and egg boxes. I learned recently these are good to put in the liquidizer for making homemade paper. My 'space' grows like topsy turvy. Luckily my husband is forgiving, most of the time!
Oh.. and though I hoard I also regularly takes things to the charity shop, recycling centre etc. I just don't take enough!!

4. I've always dressed for comfort rather than style and I never used to understand people who loved shoes. I do now. In the past few years I have found some shoes that are fun, colourful, AND comfortable.
ps. I am getting rather a large collection of shoes.....

5. I love going out for days or away for short breaks. Just give me a map, car, and a few days free and I am away! England has some wonderful coast and places to visit. We already have a few trips planned for this year.

6. I like staying in unusual places. I can name a few: a one-time methodist chapel, a gypsy caravan, lighthouse ship, narrow boat, old miners cottage, converted stables... among others. As you can see, I like the simple things in life.
Just once in a while I like something a bit special too. Top of my list has to be the Hotel Bellagio in Los Vegas. With a room overlooking the fountain. That was magic!

7. I was at the birth of my first two grand daughters. How precious is that!! I have a new grand daughter born in November. Making 3. I love spending time with them.

So that's me. Now over to you....... the 7 blogs I am paying the "STYLISH BLOG AWARD" to (in no particular order!) are :

Little Imperfections
and handmade too....
double dog dare you
dandelion dreamer

On day 2 I went to my monthly crop. I will share what I made next time as I am still working on 3 of the projects. Karen & Karen put a lot of work in to make the day a success (thank you !) and here I won a £20 voucher to spend at A Trip Down Memory Lane. Again I was amazed, as I am usually the one whose raffle ticket number never gets called.

But it gets even better!

Today I received news that I was picked out of 108 people as winner of a blog hop!! I have never taken part in a blog hop before, but it was great fun and to hear that I had won one of the prizes was truely amazing!! Thank you so much to Shelly !! I think it was a case of beginners luck for both of us, as Shelly is a new member of the Scrapbook Challenge design team and this was also her first blog hop. What wonderful generous people I am meeting through my blog and creating.

I will be thoughtful about how else I pay pay these kindnesses forward. But for now, a big thank you to everyone who has added to my ever increasing surprise and gratitude.

I wonder if I should buy a lottery ticket this week???

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Jamie's 30 Minute Meal Challenge

When I bought Jamie Oliver's new cookbook last year, Jamie's 30 Minute Meals, B & I agreed that we would pick one menu at regular intervals and put it to the test.
And so today we did just that.
B does cook. But anything with too many pots and pans and he feels out his depth. Which is why we thought trying recipes in this book might be fun and something we could do together.
And so we chopped and fried, and crushed and stirred. And though there were two of us in the kitchen it is fair to say that I could easily have done the preparation and cooking on my own.
B too. Though he might have taken a little longer than the 30 minutes just because he is not as confident as me.

And the result?

A perfect meal in 30 minutes. I'd certainly cook the potatoes like this again. We simply cut them into pieces and put them into a large mircowave bowl with seasoning and half a lemon. Cover with cling film and cook on high for 17 minutes. Remove the lemon, and crush the potatoes adding a teaspoon of whole grain mustard before gently stirring in. Lovely!

In the same time we also made dessert. A tin of peach halves in natural juice, heated gently with a cinnamon stick so that the juice thickens. Remove cinnamon stick and pour over custard.

To serve Jamie broke a shortbread biscuit on top but we served the biscuit whole. Just preference.

Simple and good.

The book wasn't written as a 30 minute challenge, but seeing if this was achieveable made it fun! We certainly didn't dash around the kitchen, or feel under pressure. Okay, I like cooking and I am confident, which helps. But even though these were new recipes and new ideas we were trying, it was straight forward and fun to do. Incase you are wondering, we did not prepare the ingredients in advance, simply had everything laid out to hand.

B seemed to enjoy it too. The meal got a thumbs up from both of us and we will certainly use the book again. I think home cooked food is so much nicer than shop bought, and this proved that even when you are in a hurry it can be done in 30 mins.

Have you got this book, or used it?

Who is you favourite chef or writer of cook books?

I have several Jamie Oliver books. But one of my favourites is by Nigel Slater. I love his calm way of talking and cooking, and as for his writing.... just brilliant. He has a magic way of using words and I especially like his book 'Tender'. You will no doubt hear more about this book once my allotment starts producing again, and it is this book I turn to for ways of using my glut of beetroot or tomatoes. Just thinking about it makes me think of summer and chopping in the kitchen. Happy days!

Hope you had a good Sunday. What have you been up to?

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Good Intentions

This morning I came across 'A little garland for my word 2011' which I thought was a lovely idea.
And so my worktop this Wednesday has been covered with my Big Shot, papers, and garland making. My word for 2011 is INTUITION. And here is the garland I made.

It sits behind my computer and will act as a reminder to slow down and think about less being more. And as today was a non-work day I could do this. Which was good, as my energy is low.

Another word I liked today was INTENTION. Louise spoke about this in Big Dreams, Small Wonders.

I have several intentions this year. One is to improve my fitness, and so on this lovely sunny crisp day, I set off for a walk along the river.


With my camera

and my shadow.

It was wonderful! And I was amazed at the length of my shadow.

Another intention is to use Photoshop Elements more, and to become more confident using this software. And so I took a couple of photos with this in mind. One photo of a hedgerow will be converted to black & white and I plan to pick out the red berries in colour. When I have time to learn how! Luckily I have some good books and hopefully there will be instructions.....

I finally managed to download the last of my PROJECT 365 photos into the album before the year was out. It is here if you would like to view. It was very satisfying and I am reflective about what I might do differently this year. One thing will be to have more focus and to challenge myself so that I am outside my comfort zone. That's when I can learn most. And so I might include some photos with effects. Using Photoshop Elements. A final intention is to make a short video of some of my favourite Project 365 photos taken during 2010.

What are your intentions for this year?

Did you choose a word for 2011? There is more about the word I chose here .

Please leave a link for your own photography projects.

And have fun what ever you do!!

Saturday, 1 January 2011


How did you celebrate the New Year?
My celebrations were quiet but that was okay. It was what I needed at this time. We lit a lantern to mark the transition and I loved watching it inflate and float away into the distance. A tranquil start to the New Year which felt good.

MY WORD FOR 2011 ~

I have been blogging for 6 months now. Still learning as I go and today I discovered some people choose a colour and a word for the New Year. I like this. It gives focus and intent. And my immediate thought went to the word 'intuition'. Sometimes when I get busy I stop listening and trusting myself. But I know my intuition is reliable when I am open. Take last night. I was trying to think of someone's surname. I had been told it, once upon a long ago, but I never have need to use it. I went to bed, trusting that the name would come to me if I stopped trying to think of it. And guess what? I woke in the middle of the night with the name shouting at me. It almost felt impatient, as though I needed reminding that I can relax and rely on my intuition. And so there can not be any other word for me this year. I know it will be a year of change, especially in my professional work, but I will be calm around this even if, at this time, it is not of my doing or what I want. Of course, intuition is just what I need in my creative work too. To be open to new experiences and playful.


In her blog today Susannah Conway asked what colour I have picked for the coming year.
My immediate thought was 'green'. She then invited me to follow a link, where Bridget Pilloud asks questions which lead you to a colour. Guess what? The random questions picked green - but not just any green. The exact shade that I would pick from a paint chart! I was then asked to choose a name for my colour. I could choose one of the given names or one of my own. I picked Willow. I love lots of things about willow trees. It is also the middle name of my granddaughter. And the colour my summer house is painted. And the colour of my craft room. Bridget asked me to describe my colour to someone who can't see it.
This is what I said:
This colour embodies warmth and connectedness. It is a colour of growth and harmony, a natural balance. Not hot, not cold. It is the colour I need in order to go off at tangents, to step outside of and come back to. It is nurturing and fulfilling. Willow is a stable colour and comfortable to live with. If I could have chosen from a paint chart, this is exactly the colour I would have picked. Or did it pick me?
I'm not sure how I will use the colour and the word during the year. But I will be thoughtful. I have joined: Sketchbook Challenge, so perhaps I will create something to remind myself and to keep the focus. But rather than think too hard, I will go and sleep on it.

Have you chosen a word and colour for 2011? Do tell!
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