Friday, 31 December 2010

GOODBYE 2010 - HELLO 2011

This photo was taken exactly one year ago. We had invited neighbours round to celebrate the New Year in. And what a year it has been. Much unpredicted and unexpected, and undoubtedly a good one. Incidentally, the yellow post-its were part of a game!

I started by taking part in Project 365. Taking a photo a day was an interesting idea and at times my enthusiasm waned when photo opportunities were lacking or the light was poor. But I enjoyed the challenge and look back with a sense of achievement. My album is here if you would like to see it.

Year two on the allotment was successful and besides pickling and storing, I needed to buy a second freezer for the rest of the produce that I grew. I enjoyed pouring through Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver & other favourite cook books & cooking new recipes. One major success was the Green Tomato cake. Well, I needed to use the glut somehow!

In May I discovered ecourses and signed up for Kelly Rae Roberts 'Taking Flight'. This led me on to starting a blog. If you told me this would happen a year ago I would have laughed! Nothing had been further from my mind. But it has introduced me to some wonderful new friends, new ideas, and an unhealthy addiction to the computer! I went on to take a number of other e-courses, and my creativity has really taken off this year. It has been a productive and positive experience, best of all, because I have been able to share my experience with others and this has made it all the more exciting and worthwhile.

I have had some wonderful trips away with family and with friends. The Gypsy Camp was a weekend to remember, and I made lots of new friends at the Belstead Residential. Further weekends are mentally planned for the coming year!

One of my most exciting events was the birth of my third granddaughter, Wren Blossom. I am so lucky to have my family live nearby and to see them regularly.

My circle of local friends continue to meet regularly, to write, create, or just talk. But my social network has really grown this year. As well as meeting new people on-line I joined a local group that meets monthly. This has also taken my creative journey on to new unexpected paths and little did I know a year ago how much my world would open up. I have picked up my knitting needles again, and taught myself to crochet (still very novice & learning!). Oh... and I also learned how to make felt and how to use my overlocker. So much in so little time. I can't wait to see what 2011 has in store!

One thing on my list for 2011 is to teach myself how to use Photoshop Elements. I have the software, good inspirational books, and enthusiasm. I just need the perseverance and commitment. So as I say goodbye to one year, I look forward to another. I hope your own journey has been as exciting and rewarding. And I hope you have a wonderful new year with
everything that you wish for.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Slowly... slowly....

... my Journal Your Christmas Album is coming together. Today my workdesk is covered with papers and photos as I try and catch up, I have now done page 4 so only 25 to go!! Though I have not had time to work on the album my mind has been busy with ideas, photos are printed or planned, and it is quite exciting snatching today and tomorrow to bring things together. As always I am going into detail instead of a quick page... no wonder why it takes me so long! Do you do this too I wonder?
It has been nice thinking about each page. What kind of Christmas cards I send, who to, and whether I hand make or buy. It made me think about how pressured I often end up, trying to make so many cards and to include letters to people I don't have contact with during the year.
This year I bought most my cards, and wrote a short hand written note instead of a round robin letter. On my page I printed a photo I used on the cards that I did make, and behind it I journalled on a card I had bought.

I have always wanted to use this next photo in a page, so thinking about what makes Christmas perfect was the ideal excuse! The is photo was taken last year at my granddaughters pre-school nativity. It was called a 'Christmas Happening' because a group of 3 year olds are unpredictable and all kinds of unexpected things might happen. It went quite smoothly, a part from Mary leaving the stage to go to the toilet, and a couple of boys poking each other playfully. The highlight for me though was the expressions on my granddaughters face. This angelic picture melts my heart and I used it on my last year Christmas cards:

I also treasure the other photos I took during that performance and I could not leave them out. So I printed them wallet size onto a large tag and slipped it into a wallet, made by glueing two pages together. I laminated the tag to make it stronger. You can see this on the table top and some of the photos here.

In a recent post I spoke about experimenting with my new Big Shot. Since then I found a YouTube video where someone was cutting out snowflakes from a drinks can. Today I tried it out. First time it embossed the metal rather than cut through - an interesting technique in its own right. However, I wanted to cut the shapes so I added one of the tabs and put it through again. Then I embossed the shapes them, using the Big Shot, and I am quite pleased with the result.

I am looking forward to collecting more dies and embossing pads. I did wonder at first if my new toy was one of those impulsive buys that might end up on the shelf, but so far I can say I am quite excited about how versitile it is proving to be.

Must get back to my album now and finish acouple more pages!!

I hope you had a good Christmas. Mine was lovely, spent with my family, and I have lots more photos added to my collection.

A very Happy New Year to you. I hope it brings you lots of good things and that it is a healthy, happy & creative one!

Friday, 24 December 2010

The night before Christmas.....

The waiting is nearly over..........


Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Since my last blog I have been busy creating Christmas and coping with the snow. I love the contrast of seasons so in a way I relish the current weather and it really does feel like Christmas. At home we have had to contend with frozen water pipes which have now been lagged so hopefully no more problems. We have also been unable to get to work some days as the road conditions have been just too bad. This has given me time to do other things and for the first time in many years we actually put the Christmas tree up on 1st December and decorated the house. Usually I make most my cards but this year decided not to put myself under pressure and bought most instead. I tried not to feel guilty but decided I wanted to put my energy into something different this year. So I have taken part in Shimelle's Journal your Christmas. Being snowed in gave me the perfect opportunity to make my album and put my first pages together.

Unfortuantely life happened, as it always does, so the rest of my pages remain as ideas and prompts ready to put together. I'm really enjoying the daily downloads from Shimelle and thinking about Christmas past & present.

This photo was taken last week for 'What's on Your Workdesk. Wednesday?' But I did not have time to post..... the table looks much the same, and much remains work in progress though my cards are now finished. One of the other albums on the table is 'Inspiration Everywhere', another e-course I have been doing. This was a free offering from the talented Jessica Sprague. It involved making an album to use for art journalling, and there were some lovely papers and ideas, including making a CD of inspirational music and doing hand prints which was a lot of fun.
If you share my interest in creative e-courses you may also be interested in Big Picture. They offer free classes as well as a range of others which are reasonably priced. One I am signed up for starts in Feburary and is called 'Embrace Imperfection'. A good way to start the new year!

One exciting event has been the recent arrival of a new granddaughter, Wren.

I will write about this another time but I mention it because a friend of my daughter did a wonderful photoshoot of the baby and her sisters. It was the perfect gift and I have used some of these photos for my Christmas cards this year.
The photos are very special and I can see these being used in lots of future projects.

TodayI received more dies through the post for my new Big Shot. Oh the excitement and anticipation!! I'm starting to experiment and getting to know what this machine is capable of. Today I have been making my own rubber stamps using a Tim Holzt alphabet die. I started by cutting the shapes from a sheet of funky foam and backed them onto EZ Mount so I can print using an acrylic block . So good so far....

Spot the not-deliberate mistake? I thought I had considered mirror image when placing the foam on the die, but forgot that this will be reversed again when it is printed! I always find it best to learn by mistakes and I can remedy this by taking the letters off the foam mount and reversing it. It just means cutting the backing all over again, tedious but at least I can watch a Christmas film on tv while doing it! I got the idea from a YouTube video. I love the way people are so generous in their sharing and I wanted to pass this on as it is so useful.
I will
show you the stamps when I have finished them. I would not have thought to use my Big Shot in this way so am getting quite excited as all the possibilities. I have also been busy sewing and will share these next week as they are Christmas presents and I want no peeking! Tonight I have presents to wrap. Top of the Pops Christmas Special is playing in the background so it is feeling quite festive, specially with snow lying outside and the prospect of more to come.

Have a very Happy Christmas. Some people will have plans disrupted because of the weather & impact on travel. What ever you do, be safe, and have a happy and peaceful holiday.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Wonderful Weekend!

Things have conspired against me during November, and yet I have also had some amazing and exciting things happen. It has all been a bit of a roller coaster....
I won't dwell on the downs. A friend saw this on a teeshirt: 'Get Mad and Give Up' and suggested this was an alternative to my 'Keep Calm and Breath Slow' approach. But I'm not one to give up, so I got mad and moved on. Atleast, I tried to!
Friday should have started on a real high. I was off work for 5 days with the prospect of visiting an old friend for lunch, then going on to Belstead House for a 3 day creative residential. Bliss!! However it got off to a bad start with me not knowing what to take. Some of you will know what I mean. Not only WHAT to take but HOW MUCH? In the end I decided to take as much as I thought I'd need.

Trouble is, it took so long to pack and organise myself I was much later arriving at my friend's home than planned, so I was very frustrated with myself. I'd so looked forward to this time with Helen. We'd not seen each other for 6 years, since she moved to Suffolk. Both busy working it is sometimes difficult to make time, but it was like we'd seen each other yesterday! That's the great thing about special friends. We had so much to catch up on, but on this occasion so little time to do it. However, we have agreed not to leave it so long in future and we are already planning things for next year. I left Helen's with a warm glow.

I do wish this lasted! Belstead House is only a short drive from Helen's, but an hour later I was STILL driving in the dark trying to find my way. I was looking forward to unpacking my car and getting settled for the weekend! Instead I was feeling more and more frustrated and just when my patience was running out I came across a garage and asked for directions. Luckily I was just 5 minutes away, and what a wonderful feeling when I finally found this sign!

I was given a warm welcome by Moira Neal, the tutor for this residential. I found a free table and lost no time unpacking. The other students were very friendly and it wasn't long before the bell rang for dinner. The food was excellent. SO welcome after the frustrations of the day. We all decided we wanted the recipe for the pea and mint sauce, and it was lovely to relax over the meals and get to know each other more.

Over the weekend Moira taught us new techniques and how to make embellishments and fabric paper. We got lovely and messy with glue and paper, there was much laughing as we jostled for space and glitter. No, some women never outgrow this!!

As well as trying new ideas, such as an album bound with bamboo sticks, and machine embroidery, I managed to complete two mini albums that I'd been working on, two new ones and experiment with some new ideas. I was very pleased with my fabric paper and this will be further worked on . It will be made into a wallet, to hold one of the mini albums I finished. I will show you this another time, and I have other ideas I want to share too. All for later.

Oh, this bed was SO welcome at the end of the day. I had been exhausted and yet the excitement of having my 'stuff' spread out and being in a room filled with other buzzing women made it hard to leave. When I did drag myself away it was to a cosy room and a good book, 'The Christmas Cookie Club'. Quite an appropriate read, since is is about a group of women who meet to share cookies and stories.

There is something very special about what women
do when they

Despite the frosty weather which provided some great opportunities for photos, the apmosphere inside was warm and womderful. I made some lovely new friends. We shared ideas and interests, and I discovered 3 of the women live in my area. We have made plans to meet up and do some creative work together. Good things are stirring.....

Belstead Babes!

Before I finish you might be interested in two new e-courses I am signed up to. 'Inspiration Everywhere' is a free 10 day class run by Jessica Sprauge and it is suitable for everyone interested in creating. Today I have made a quick cover for my journal. Like many of us I am juggling balls and have little time for all the things I would like to be doing. And these courses are proving a good learning curve for me. I can either work myself to a frenzy and give up, not even start it because it feels too much; or I can do the best I can, and be good enough. So that is what I'm doing. I am using it in other areas of my life too and it's great to meet other woman who struggle with the same choices. I am also taking part for the first time in 'Journal your Christmas'. Another of Shimelle Laine's courses, these are always amazing value and learning experiences. Looking forward to meeting up on the forum with friends old and new. I have to start getting my album and papers together. Again I shall keep it simple, because I know there will be lots to do during December. Christmas is fast approaching!!

Hope you are enjoying your own preparations for the season, and not feeling too cold. So far the snow has missed me a part from a brief fall while at Belstead. It added to our excitement and more photo oppoprtunities!

Despite my lack of postings in recent weeks (there hangs a l-o-n-g) story, I have enjoyed visiting blogs and keeping up with what is going on. I have lots of news and things to share but little time. So I may just pop in here and there, rather than wait for time to do a big blog. As I keep reminding myself, sometimes I can only do my best!

Enjoy your week :)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


What an apt title. I have just sat here for 2.5 hrs composing this post, only to find it was not saved.
That all I posted was the title. Yes, I need to keep calm and breath slow......

I do not have the time or energy to rewrite it.
Infact I almost want to laugh with hysteria! Because I was posting about my emotional roller coaster over the past 2 weeks....
Of my fury at not having a landline and broadband just at the very time I needed it most. At the time my daughter was about to give birth.
And I was making myself available at all times so I could be birth partner or look after my two grand daughters. Which ever was needed.

AND I have just realised that I have not used Firefix to write this post! So there is no point in continuing. I will not be able to design the lay out as I choose.

What did I say about breathing slow??

I have lots of good things to share.

But my frustration will remain if I delete this. So excuse me while I have a cup of tea and a short break.

And start again.............

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

What's on your workdesk? Wednesday

There is quite a mess on my workdesk today, as you can see! Apart from a box of home made chutneys and pickles made from produce grown on my allotment, there is still a lot of kitchen clutter. I am struggling to find space for this after the recent work in the kitchen (previous blogs show work in action). More interesting are my mini albums that I am leaving to hand as I want to work on these as and when time allows. I have only one page of the Alice in Wonderland album to do. It seems to be taking forever, but that's only because I keep starting new projects rather than finish what I began! Do you do this too?

This morning I went to a craft shop with my daughter and 2 granddaughters. My own workdesk is out of action just now due to the building work so it was back to Emma's to work. We had a bit of a production line going. Emma is expecting her third baby any day and wanted to make 'washable wipes'. These are small squares of terry towelling backed with microfibre. Emma likes to use environmentally friendly options so these are for nappy changes instead of disposable wipes. While Emma cut the fabric, I sewed them together on my overlocker, and my granddaughter removed the pins. We ended up with over 30 and we have about another 30 to make.

It was a good day and I finally feel I have christened my overlocker. At last!! Some time ago I took a one day course but despite all good intentions to practice and use it regularly it has remained in the box until today. Now my confidence has finally increased and I hope we will find lots of other reasons to use it.

As for my mini albums and and True Stories notebook - these remain untouched today. However, I liked Shimelle's prompt from yesterday. She suggested you can use numbers in your writing, so briefly I'll add a small glimpse of my day:

ONE messy workdesk, currently out of use
ONE car packed with overlocker and materials: ready to go
THREE generations drive to the craft shop
Bought FOUR new cones of thread for the overlocker and
SIX metres of tape - I want to experiment with printing onto it
TWO pieces of 'The Hungry Catapillar' fabric bought - with new baby in mind
FOUR hungry people have delicious meal on way home
TWO children revived
TWO cups of tea enjoyed and
FOUR slices of scrummy gingerbread cut, before we set to work
TWO pairs of scissors snipping away
HUNDREDS of shiney pins carefully placed
THREE busy people making washable wipes
ONE little person busy playing on the floor
THIRTY neatly stacked fabric pieces
FOUR of us tired and satisfied
ONE enjoyable day

I wonder what sort of day you had?

To find out more about What's on your workdesk? Wednesday - follow this link:

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I have questions AND answers.....

My notebook and pen, all ready to go....

The first prompt for my new course was questions and answers. In my last post I said I would be handwriting rather than using the keyboard. However, this prompt seemed a great idea for a blog, so I thought I would try it out.
The idea is that I pose myself questions that other people sometimes put to me. Here goes:

Q. “I understand your children never went to school. Why did you chose to home educate?”
A. I was basically dissatisfied with my own education. I remember looking out of the classroom window thinking “that’s where it happens”. I was also frustrated learning what other people thought was important when I had my own ideas. So, my own children had a very different education and this period of my life is one of my happiest and most satisfying. They have grown into amazing adults who I am very proud of. I am so glad that I followed my intuition.

Q. “You work a long way from home and this involves using a motorway notorious for its congestion and problems. Why do you do it?”
A. I sometimes wonder myself, especially when it took me 4.5hrs to get to work! But basically, I work in a specialist area and I choose to travel rather than do something I am not passionate about.

Q. “You are always busy, and yet still find time to do lots. How do you manage to fit it all in?”
A. I’m one of those people that thrive on stimulation and new challenges. In a nutshell, I work hard and play hard. My creative work is a healthy balance even if it does mean I have lots of balls up in the air most the time!!

Q. My husband and my hairdresser have both asked “What did you do today?”
A. Perhaps not what I should have done! That would have meant sorting out problems left from knocking down a wall in the kitchen. I still have contents of the cupboards to put away but lacked energy and enthusiasm. And so I went to visit my Mum, bought a new pen to go with my notebook, and went to the hairdressers. I also spent time on the computer, visiting blogs and downloading photos. Oh yes, and I confirmed a dinner date with friends. We plan an evening to catch up after our recent stay at the Gypsy Camp. We’ll be sharing photos, happy memories and hopefully discussing plans for another camp next year!

I’d love to see some of your own questions and answers. Do leave me a link if you use this idea.

If you want to know more about ‘True Stories’ here is the website:

Monday, 25 October 2010


Today is the start of a new e-course, 'True Stories'. I am rather addicted to Shimelle's courses and am learning so much from them. This one is different from others I've enrolled on. This one focus's on writing, something I love to do. But most of my writing these days is work related and as much as I like the idea of adding journalling to my scrapbook pages and mini albums I'm not really sure how to go about it in a way that is meaningful. I've even got a couple of projects half finished so I hope this course will liberate , challenge and inspire me. Shimelle encourages you to take a pen and paper for this course. She's quite right, while I love my computer it can not replace the feel and look of a beautiful pen, and the tactile cover and pages of a book. Like many others I love stationary, am often tempted into buying notebooks that I do not need, and so it is really good to put one of them to use. I love the pink one with the embroidered satin cover, but for this course I think I will choose the floral one. I have piles of pens, but for this course I think I will treat myself to one that is a bit more special. Tomorrow I will go to the shop and as I have to use black ink at work, I will choose one that is NOT black.
Shimelle reminds me that typing and writing by hand are completely different processes to the brain. I have missed writing in a notebook. I am looking forward to doing this again.
If you want to know more about the course go to

I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

$1 Wednesday

Scrummy downloads for just $1 today at
Specially liked Calico Dream, Life is Good, & Crystal's December Sparkle Papers. Can't wait to use them!!!

Monday, 18 October 2010


I have had a great day. I set off first thing for Cambridgeshire and spent the day with Moira. This was the first time we have met after getting to know each other in May when enrolled on the same e-course (Kelly Rae Roberts - Taking Flight). At the time we learned we had things in common and have kept in touch when the course finished. We learned:

* We are around the same age and share the same birthday
* We both have a daughter and a son
* and two granddaughters of similar age
* We are both registered nurses
* We are both passionate about creating and plan to sell our work

It was SO good to finally meet up. I had a lovely drive, no hold ups, no getting lost. Infact the journey was much quicker than we both anticipated so I do hope we can get together from time to time.
So what did we get up to?
Well, a part from chatting non stop we lost no time in looking at each others creative work. Moira has posted photos on her blog, but they do not do justice to her actual work. I was both amazed and buzzing with inspiration. In November I am going to Belstead House for a residential weekend. Moira is teaching so I am looking forward to it more than ever now! Moira is VERY talented and I loved the background papers she makes, they are STUNNING!
Moira was kind enough to show me how to screen print on to fabric. I had great fun and came home with lots of prints that I will work on. Here are a few pictures :

We discovered the stem of the ivy was too thick and left a very broad stem on the printed area. You learn by experience. We played around with different ideas and I love the prints I made. Thank you so much, Moira! I had a GREAT day and look forward to meeting up again soon.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Do we, don't we, do we???

All thoughts of posting a blog this week have been put off due to big decisions being made, followed by the chaos that followed. Anyone who knows us will tell you our home is constantly being changed. To the point where my sister, who visits once a year or so, will step in the front door and ask "where do I go?"
I had intended to post some of my recent creative work, but instead I will show some photos of the current work in progress and once the dust has settled I'll get back on track. So, what have we been up to?

I'd like to say this is the finished result. But instead it was part of my kitchen before the work began. After a major rebuild 6 years ago we have never felt happy with the layout and have rearranged the furniture time and time again. So we finally decided to stop being indecisive and to do something about it. It may work, it may not, but we know from the past that we can change it if in the end we don't like what we do! And so the units were removed and down came the wall:

Since the cupboards are not yet reinstalled their contents are all over the floor, in boxes, on the table, and where ever else they can fit. There is a constant "have you seen the flour, vingegar, spices?" It's not been made any easier by a glut of vegetables that I picked from the allotment yesterday, and needed to pickle and prepare for storage. But we've had lots of experience over the years and take all this in our stride. I just hope when it is finished that we will be more comfortable with the new layout of the area that we mainly live in. I'll post more photos as work progresses. Meanwhile, I need to climb over the ladder and tools and prepare the potatoes I dug up yesterday. I've managed to pickle some of the 15 cucumbers, and chopped a red cabbage. That is now being salted, ready for pickling tomorrow. It's a nice thought that when we open the jars at Christmas, the building work might be finished and we'll be cosy around the log burner. But then again, those who know us might just laugh at my optomism!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I have just returned home from a 3 day creative camp which I arranged with friends. We slept in Gypsy Caravans and relaxed and ate in a bowtop tent, which we soon made very homely and comfortable. It was all pretty basic, with candles as our only means of light. We had looked forward to cooking on an open fire in the orchard, but due to rain and mud we had to resort to calor gas. But our spirits were not dampened in the least. As only women can together, we rallied round, set the table with flowers, opened a bottle of wine, and kept ourselves warm with a small log burner.

We ate wonderful home grown-cooked meals, sang, told bedtime stories and created for hours and hours. It was so good to be with friends, sharing what we know and do, and learning new things each day.
I will post more photos and some of the things we made next time.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Today see's me starting yet another e-course. This has become quite an obsession, but a healthy one since I am learning so much and meeting so many new and amazing women. It really started with Kelly Rae Robert's 'Taking Flight' and I do feel like I have been flying creatively ever since. Each course has been very different, and I am sad that Shimelle's 'Learn Something New Everyday' finishes this week. I am way behind with making my daily recording, and it has been a good learning experience and reminder that I need to keep things simple. I find it hard to just do minimum and because of this things often get unfinished or not even started as they are too big to comtemplate.

So, with this new course I plan to try and approach it differently. I will give it my best but be realistic. I love the fact that this week is about feet.
This morning I took lots of photos and I have posted this one to remind me that I am in the driving seat as I complete this e-course and that I can control the speed and the direction I take. Something I learned from LSNED, so perhaps I shouldn't feel too bad about the amount of time and energy I am putting into e-courses right now. They say 'Practice makes perfect'!

Rye Harbour

RYE HARBOUR is one of my favourite areas to visit and stay.
My son came and discovered hipstamatic effects on his iphone. I was a bit envious and it would take me time to create this using photoshop, but it inspired me to experiment with some of my photos and also to take different shots from my usual style. There was some farm machinery that really lent itself to this effect and so I will plan time one day and see what I can do with them. Meanwhile we also enjoyed walks along the beach and just unwinding.

Here is the black hut I mentioned in
my HASTINGS blog. I still don't
know what it is used for, but it
looks wonderful in the ever
changing light.

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