Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I had such plans for this week.  I have time off work you see, and friends coming Saturday to have a creative day.  I hoped to have my Cabin tidy and organised as this is the long-awaited day when we celebrate my new workspace.
But I didn't count on taking the bookcase out of the house and putting it in the Cabin to make way for the new sofas we have ordered.  So once again the house is in upheaval, and there is an enormous pile of books and boardgames on the lounge floor and half way up the wall.  Goodness knows where they will go now!
And the Cabin is also in a state of mayhem.  Shelving units had to be emptied so they can be replaced by the bookcase, and I have worked solidly for three days trying to organise the space. Of course, rummaging through my craft materials is fun, but it is also proving quite stressful.  I never realised how much I had collected, since I have a habit of not finding what I want and just buying more.  The other day Sian wrote about glue and it made me think about the different types that I use.  And when I gathered them together they filled two boxes boxes, one with assorted tapes and one with glues (shown here) ..... 

And I also found lots of empty Pritt Sticks.  I so hate how you can't get to that last bit in the tube. And so I scraped it out and loaded it into one - result - one nearly full tube.
So, I now have tidy boxes and an endless supply of tapes and glues.  Enough to last me for some time and I shall work on putting it away so I know where to find it in future.  That way I won't feel the urge to buy even more!

And just when my momentum was flagging I had a wonderful and unexpected surprise.  My friend Melanie is over from Australia and she phoned last night and wanted to know if I was free today to meet.  So the Cabin was abandoned and we went to visit 'my girls' as it has been several years since Melanie last saw them.  Fortuantly Unfortuantly Summer & Ivy are off school with throat infections so this meant Melanie was able to see them all.  As always we took a group photo, which caused some laughs as we tried to position ourselves
Summer had made a long cord out of wool and wanted to show it in the photo, so I had to scoop Wren off the floor and do a limbo as the timer on the camera counted down.  Needless to say two attempts were needed but we were happy with the result.  Another photo and story for our memories.

Melanie has gone now and so it is time to go back into the Cabin and carry on.  This really is proving harder and taking longer than I expected, but I need to press on because I know it will be worthwhile in the end.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

10 things on the 10th (November 2011)

It was July when I last posted 10 things on 10th, despite thinking that I'd like to do this regularly.  So I'm pleased to be part of Shimelle's monthly group this time round and to share some random ramblings:

1.  Nearby there is a tearoom at the top of a granary, high in the sky.  It overlooks the watermill and river and it is a tranquil spot where I like to sit and linger over a cup of tea and slice of cake.  Which is what I did today, because I decided this was the perfect place to leave a couple of books that I hope someone might find by chance, and enjoy. 

2.  A week ago you see, I joined BookCrossing.  So I hope that whoever finds the books will record them and that I can follow their travels.  If you have not heard about BookCrossing I have briefly explained it here. I love the sense of surprise so am quite excited about leaving books for others to find in unexpected places.  And I hope I might find the occasional book too!

3. I recently discovered 'Simple Stories', a beautiful collection of papers & elements that are ideal for quick pages or mini albums.  And there are some free digital downloads here that are perfect for the 'starting school books' I plan to make.  Shimelle has been suggesting in her 'Pretty Paper Party' class that you can combine bought and digital papers or elements.  I have done this for a long time and I love being able to mix and match and to expand my materials.

4. While downloading new digital papers and kits I realised just how many I have saved on my computer.  Mmmm.....  along with my boxes of 12x12 and other papers, I cannot possibly work my way through this collection but it does not stop me buying more on a weekly basis!  Jessica Sprauge offers some wonderful bargains on One Buck Wednesday.  Note to self: do NOT buy any more Christmas papers!!

5. A friend has just been given a new camera and she is very excited and keen to use it.  What's more, she has asked if we can get together for some photoshooting fun.  I would love to use manual settings rather than rely on automatic but I am lazy and short of time, so I go for the easy option.  But now I might be inspired to use some of the ecourses I have bought and saved on my computer.  This will give me a basic idea, and then I just need to put it into practice.  I was much inspired by Margie's clever shot where she added two images of each family member in one photo.  I love creative ideas using photos.

6. That's probably why I love programmes such as Picasa, Befunky and Fotosketcher.  All are free downloads with lots of creative ideas that are quick and easy to do.  I have Photoshop but  this takes time and effort to use, so like manual controls on my camera, I often resort to quicker ways of achieving what I want. 
Hopefully one day there will be more time to experiment and play!

7.  I am woefully behind in organising my photos and Project 365. I keep telling myself I should spend time doing this, instead of browsing blogs.  But another hour or two passed this morning as I enjoyed reading different takes on 10 things on the 10th.

8. I have received and sent Mail Art.  I was lucky enough to be the recipient of Sian's Pass the Book and I did not anticipate the envelope to be so thoughtfuly decorated by Deb.  I especially liked the Google map she printed on the back showing her home and mine.  What a brilliant idea!! 
And I loved reading Ginger's post about the Mail Art she has received.  I have decorated envelopes for as long as I can remember, as I have always used opportunities to create and use my imagination.  It is only recently that I discovered it is an art form in its own right and it is lovely to see a focus on sending happy mail as I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses handwritten letters and interesting post arriving through my letter box.  I plan to connect with other Mail Artists and it has been interesting reading the book that Deb sent me.  I have picked up tips and ideas, and I'd love to send out mail to people who appreciate what it is about.  So drop me an email with your address & blog if you would like some post to come your way. 

9.  As much as I love good paper mail, an occasional email brings much joy too.  Over the years I have dipped in and out of tracing my family history but one connection left me completely stuck.  Recently I put a message on and a wonderful woman has done some research for me and untangled the thread!  I need to follow up her leads now but I am very excited.  At least I know some answers and more questions will follow. Perhaps there will be a story there to tell?

10. Another reason for being excited is that my workspace has made more progress.  It finally has electricity and heating, and I have bought new tables and chairs.  It will remain work in progress as I like to live in space and allow it to naturally evolve, but it is comfortable enough to finally invite friends for a celebration and creative day later this month.  And I hope to start preparing pages for Journal Your Christmas.  I learnt a lot last year about how not to do it, so I hope I can make it less complicated and time consuming this time round.  Only sometimes, I have discovered, I need more than one lesson!!

Now, I am off to look at more '10 things on the 10th' blogs before I snuggle infront of the log burner.  I so love a real fire these dark nights.... 

Saturday, 5 November 2011


I have been trying to declutter this week.  I have made an impact and feel quite satisfied with the space I have made.  But there is still lots to do and I often look at my piles of books and quickly walk away.  That's because I know there are many I will never read again but I hold on to them 'just in case'.   There is only so many books I can accomodate though and to be honest I really do need to make way for new books that I keep buying.

Books to the ceiling Books to the sky. My pile of books Are a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I'll have a long beard By the time I read them.

Well, I'd be seriously worried if I grew a beard, but you get the idea!  Recently, I have resisted buying paperbacks as I have so many on my shelves unread, but the other day I was intregued by one I saw in a charity shop.  'The Road Home' by Rose Tremain is not the type of book I would usually read, but something drew me to it and I am so glad I am weak willed at times!  The book was thoroughly enjoyable and I recommend it, but it made me think that there could be other books that I might enjoy and would normally pass by.

Fast forward...........

Yesterday, in the midst of organising paperwork, I suddenly remembered BookCrossing:

n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.
Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2004

So, I immediately left what I was doing, to go find out more and several hours later I was signed up and had registered my first book.  I was buzzing with excitement!

Part of the fun is thinking up somewhere interesting to my 'release' my book.  Airports and railway stations are out as I don't want to cause panic over unattended packages!  Then I thought about our GP surgery, but that would mean someone has to give a donation for charity which is a nice idea, but it is  more fun to leave it in an unexpected place for someone just to find.  And so on Sunday I will pop along to a tearoom and discretely leave it and hope that someone is intrigued enough to  read the label and record the book as 'found'.  How exciting would that be!!  The idea of BookCrossing is that each book is uniquely registered, and that you can track who has read it and it's journey around the world (well, there is no harm in wishful thinking)!   And with that in mind, I feel happy to sort through my book piles and to release some in hope that other people will enjoy reading them and that I might be able to follow some of their travels.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, I am going to my monthly crop.  And to make it doubly exciting I have discovered that someone has hidden a book in the locality.  So guess what I will be doing while the rest of the group are eating their lunch?  Yes... I'll be going around looking under benches for a hidden package!  Ofcourse, there are other BookCrossers so someone may have beaten me to it.    Oh... incase you are wondering, sometimes there are clues or a locaility where books are 'released' while others are just left to chance.  Why has this got me excited?  To quote from the website:

BookCrossing combines serendipity, adventure, altruism and literature in an unique mix that true bibliophiles find irresistible. With its similarity to releasing messages in a bottle, or notes in helium balloons, BookCrossing harkens back fond childhood memories. Also, you can see BookCrossing as a worldwide free library. 

I couldn't put it better!  Now remember, the idea is for me to reduce my book collection and not add to it, but next year I will have great fun releasing books in different locations as we travel around in our campervan and perhaps I'll go on the search for the occasional book too. 

I'd love to hear from any fellow BookCrossers, and if you love books and have not heard of this idea before you may just want to check it out for yourself and join in the fun!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

WOYWW - Post Belstead & Halloween

Well, my bags are still unpacked after a weekend away at Belstead.  I spent time trying to finish the Halloween Tag Books for my grandgirls but Halloween come and went and they still sit on my workspace as work in progress:

Also  on my desk you can see the mini book that I made using an off cut piece of paper that I mentioned here.  In the same post I told how I made the paper, after being inspired by Shimelle's Pretty Papers class.
At Belstead I made handmade paper and I dared myself to cut into this and new 12" papers.  After all, Halloween was approaching and I was getting prepared for taking risks!

But would I feel tricked or treated after I had mustered up my courage.....?

What do you think?  I was extremely pleased with the finish wallet and album, and I will be taking many more risks in future, Halloween or not!  There are lots of hidden pages and pockets and I am not quite sure yet what I will put in the book.  I will keep it a while until an idea emerges but any suggestions are welcome!  And I'll also be using many more scraps and strips to make my own papers.  Idea's are bouncing into my head and I just wish that life did not get in the way of creative time.

Have a good week what ever you are doing.  And do pop over to Julia's if you have time to see more 'What's on your workdesk' this Wednesday.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


I'm home after another 3 days at Belstead and how I wish I could have stayed longer!  My creative energy bounced back and the time went even quicker than usual, so I am left frustrated as I started new projects that I want to work on.  Such is life.  Some of these are packed away until until Saturday and I can atleast look forward to my monthly Eclectic Keepsakes crop.  And I am off work all week, so I really should not feel too sorry for myself.  At least I have time to start on some major decluttering and rearranging around the house.  This is something long over due and it will eventually allow me more time for creating and crafting,  so I need to use that as my motivation.

Belstead gives me an opportunity to spend more time with my friends and I was extra excited this time as I met  Pauline, my 'Explore' Buddy.  I'd told Pauline about Belstead and she lost no time in booking a place for herself...... and it was like she had always been part of our group.  Pauline only started scrapbooking this year but she seriously has some stash and a natural talent!  We already have plans to meet up again soon, so thanks, Shimelle, for the introduction. 

As I said, most of the things I made at Belstead are works in progress so I will share these over time, but I was especially excited about this:

Moira, our tutor, had laid the table with acrylic paints and dyes for us to get messy with.  So I stamped on one, and used finger and hand prints on the others.  Four of us at Belstead are doing Shimelle's new class, Pretty Papers.  I was in good company because none of us had started any of the daily prompts but this was the day to bite the bullet.  My friends reminded me that we are meant to be using our papers and that my idea of taking my hand made paper home to scan was not the idea.  So I gritted my teeth as I cut into 2 of them!

Then I took a 12" paper that I do not like, and used the plain white side as my base.  I then used scraps and the strips to decorate my paper.  Moira loves her sewing machine and much of her work is multi media.  So, admiring her work I added zig zag and straight stitches to my strips and I must say, it really made a difference to the effect.

Then I measured,  closed my eyes, gritted my teeth even more, and cut into it!!  My bravery was holding up, and I was amazed how just by reading the daily prompts, Shimelle had changed my perspective on using paper rather than stroking it or saving it for that extra-special project.  After all, I told myself, my time is worth something and that should be reason enough to use my paper!  I added a few stamped words onto the A4 piece and then laminated the page.  To finish, I applied spray adhesive on the back, added a piece of felt, and then sewed across the top edge.  Finally, I folded into three to make a wallet, and used the sewing machine to run a line of stitching down each side and across the top of the flap.  

These instructions may not be clear without detailed instructions, so if you would like me to add these please let me know.  Unfortantly I am feeling pressured for time and really do need to make an impact around the house this week.

With the 4"x12" piece that was left of my paper, I made a mini album to fit inside wallet.  This was a labour of love, as it seemed to take hours and I was impatient to finish so that I could start other projects.  But I was pleased with the result and I will have to show this another time as I just realised I have no photos of it as yet.

So, a big thank you to Shimelle for helping be break my resistance to cut into paper.  It became a bit of a joke around the table as I took other complete 12" papers and cut into them, sometimes six or ten papers at a time.  It felt a sense of relief and was very liberating!  I'll share more of what I made another time.  Including the Halloween tag books that are still work in progress!

And an equally big thank you to Moira Neal for running such amazing courses at Belstead.  Moira never ceases to amaze me with her range of ideas and techniques.  And I'm already booked for the next two in February and November.  If you want to come book soon - places are already limited!!
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