Wednesday, January 30, 2013

And life goes on

it is the beginning of February the day after tomorrow. We are 1/12 of the way through the year already. Today I was at a meeting which was starting to plan for work from Sept 2013-August 2014. I already have two weddings booked in for 2014. And realise that if I am going to have a sabbatical that year I had better start deciding on dates now. I was looking to see when the flower festival might be as well (important stuff you know) as well as juggling other things like Carys and my birthday celebrations and realising she will be 18 then.
And life goes on.
But still that is aaaaaages away.
Yet only a heartbeat.
I think photos of my three when they were little become even more treasured now as they are not sweet smelling bundles of joy that sit on my lap and give me kisses (ok Carys still does that and they are all still bundles of joy. We'll say no more about whether they are sweet smelling). And actually it won't be THAT  long (she hopes) before the next generation arrives.

OK before I start wailing about how my liiiiife is neaaaaarly ooooooover, how about showing what I have been creating recently?

the layouts are all  based on sketches.
One from Creative Scrappers #245
I used a Studio Calico template and various sprays. I also used a Heidi Swapp mask and some white paint. I also included a few strips of Crate Paper Random; a Hambly transparency; American Crafts thickers and Studio Calico chipboard hearts. Oooh and Lily Bee/Crate Paper stickers. And lots of black pen.

Secondly Sketchbook 365 Challenge - which included multiple photos - eek!
You can see the dimension thanks to the fact the actual sun cast shadows. 
I made the background as muddy as the walk! Including a woodgrain stencil and a Kaisercraft stamp.
All the papers and stickers are from Basic Grey Clippings apart from the little bird and kite cut from a MME 6x6 pad. The letters are Amy Tan "thoughts" and very, very old something "foxed". And buttons from stash threaded with twine.
Phil thinks the blurb is really hard to read so here is it in close up

Here are the fussy cut details which you have to admire as they took ages to do

and finally one based on Creative Scrappers #244

Papers are from all sorts of places. Some are October Afternoon. The background paper is Heidi Swapp coloured with Distress Ink. I added stars cut using a MFT die - and used another for the journalling block. My favourite part is the title - I die cut letters in black funky foam and then smooshed lots of silver Stickles over the top.
And that's all there is right now!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


The post title mostly refers to my new tack on crafting - namely art journalling. I so love what proper artists do in little books and following Nat Kalbach's Creative Jumpstart this year has given me a , well creative jumpstart. Actually the free series she did in January 2012 did this too but it took me a whole year to get going! I think the final stimulus was the Julie Fei Fan Balzer technique video using her own stencils (which I have watched more than once). Which also meant buying more stencils. Sigh. I am so weak. Less damaging than some things I could spend money on but still...

So here is page 1
Lots of layers of stencils - mostly using Distress Ink but also a little bit of black acrylic paint added with a make up sponge and doing the "dayb ahn, dayb awf" thing that Julie Balzer says and I can't help repeating in my head as I do it (love her Noo Yawk accent) (i.e. dab some paint onto the sponge and dab it off again before putting it to paper).

The next few pages have evolved. And I started to take photos as they moved and changed. Which is quite cool. So...
This was done at the same time as my two Christmas decorations layouts. When I had sprayed the "reflections" layout using a mask, I then pressed the wet mask into the paper here. Then I swooshed it a bit with a baby wipe. Then a layer of glitter paste. Which was coloured with distress ink. Then some red stamped scrolls. Then some black stamped ink splots all around. (OK I could have photographed it in between some of these layers)

The next stage was photographed using a flash so you can see the glitter. And spot what else was added

And finally - the finished product
Not bad but I wish I had used a thinner pen for journalling with.
Here is the third page which first had a coat of gesso painted on

Then I used a zebra stencil with some chalk sprays. The stencil doesn't fit across the whole page. I outlined the stripes with black pen.
I made my own stencil letters by cutting out my dienamics letters and inking over the spaces. Added some Stickles dots and writing but for a long time it just wasn't done. Kept tinkering about
 Much prefer it now. Louder lines with a sharpie pen. White paint circles and a little washi tape. Stickles all over.

And finally...
one of the Creative Jumpstart videos was about just letting paint be swooshed and dripped and splattered and then see what you can see. In the vid the resultant flower shapes were left there and the rest of the colour was gessoed out but I did something different.
Here is my finished painted bit.
I looked and first all I could see was a mess
And then I saw a tree just left of centre. So I outlined that and then added a stamped title and a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer about waiting and seeds. And I loved it
After adding the writing I saw more trees and bushes so outlined them too
My favourite page so far.
Except that I then decided that the title needed some white. And I went for enamel dots. Which has turned out to be a bit of a mistake. So this page still needs some evolving.
And I do too.
The pattern of life that I have developed here needs to evolve and change - one of the things I have realised is that there is an awful lot of time taken up with meeting with other people in various ways. Which is fabulous! But I am an introvert and do need times on my own to recharge my batteries. I am hoping to evolve my art journal to be a place of spiritual reflection and creative prayer - my last page points the way towards that and I need to find a way to make space to do it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cue for my favourite joke

Why are pirates called pirates.
Because they Aaaaargh.

Which has been swirling round my mind as I made my Daring Card for this week. (I wish I could have remembered it when Carys asked me for a joke two days ago. When put on the spot I can only remember a rude joke told to me 25 years ago. I'm not repeating it now. But whenever asked for a joke that one comes to mind first and allows no cleaner ones entry and I always have to say "I don't know" rather lamely)
Anyhoo this week we were all sent die sets from the generous Docrafts to play with. And if you join in this week you can win one of them too!
I was sent the Nautical set. The die sets look huge and I did wonder how it would all fit on a card. Well
a) you don't use all the dies at once
b) they are deceptive. I used a 5x5 cardbase which is not that big and managed to fit a load on anyway.

If there seems to be an extra wet look to the Stickles that is because when I first finished the card there weren't any. And the whale didn't have a spout. It was just wrong. So a quick spurt of stickles later and I snapped the card while there was still enough light. The sun is a Memory Box die and clouds are Dienamics. Everything was sponged with Distress Inks of various colours which does help to give dimension. I don't have alphabet stamps small enough to stamp a custom message but don't really like my handwriting on cards. Ah well.

I've also done a layout this week. It is based on one of Shimelle's most excellent  scrapbook starting points - a sketch for two 4x6 photos. My photos are not 4x6 but that is the beauty of scrapbooking - it is adaptable.
I used the lovely Random papers by Crate Paper with a few other things thrown in - like a grey spotted OA journalling card and a paper compass from a different CP set. But see - there is some purple paper (the thin strip). For some reason it is really hard to find purple scrapping paper. Wish I had thought of that when I bought my coat (not a fashion purchase but a windproof, waterproof coat that is necessary in Devon and it was this colour or nothing. Phil has bought a similar coat more recently in a bright red which I much prefer). There is also some washi tape; MME enamel dots and some dewdrops (the clear raised things) that I found on my still fruitless search for the little wooden stars I have put somewhere.

After I had started sticking down the first word of the title (using BG chipboard letters) I realised that I had made a layout within the last 4 months about a family walk that also started with "another". Fortunately they won't be in the same album as I have just finished one. Still a bit annoying though. But then we do have a lot of adventures on family walks (and many photos of the back of my kids!)
Phil photoshopped a photo of the day to demonstrate my mum's poor choice of headgear and how windy it was. I thought it was too mean to put that on a page. But will still show it here!
(My dad is called Ivor and this is what mum says when she is in distress)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Cold still hasn't really developed so probably it won't. Phew.

But I'm still bone weary. Fortunately because I am a bear of little brain I tend to forget how pants January is. Until it comes round and hits me in the face again. Still not so much of it left now. Ah, but then its February. Hmmmm I probably shouldn't move to Scandinavia with that attitude.

Although I love their tv shows. Borgen is on now which is like the West Wing but proper European. I am so proud that I can now tell the difference between a Swedish and a Danish accent. Every now and then I think that I can suddenly speak Danish but then realise that they have switched to English. Effortlessly. And the lead in Borgen has a cracking French accent too. Also it is just as well that I have finished having children as I love all their names. I'm trying to convince Carys to call her children Troels, Pernille, Pilou, Sidse and Soren but she remains unimpressed by my choices. (NB I don't really expect her to have that many children. And I got to choose names for my kids so what ever she chooses will be lovely) (BTW I've just googles and it turns out Pilou is a nickname so that one can leave the list)

Anyhoo here are some layouts that I have finished recently
the first one was a bit experimental
and the camera hated it! Couldn't get a good sharp picture. Maybe the camera was trying to tell me something...
I decided to go for a funky background on patterned paper. I'm beginning to think I should give up on trying painty backgrounds as I am never happy! First I put on some Gesso, then when that was dry I added some glitter texture paste and covered some of that with a light blue paint. I added some artemio stamped swirls in red ink. All the papers are from my Christmas card leftovers so include a lot of Basic Grey and some Fancy Pants. The stickers are all Basic Grey. I enjoyed using all those letter stickers all at once. I think that is all the green "e"s though. I also added some Sarahs Cards red gems and some stars that I bought in Wilkinsons - a huge lot of them for 10p as they were in with the Christmas decorations sale.

Here's the writing. When it was done I was disappointed that the red swirl was under the journalling block so I stamped another swirl on the top. Its a little smudgy as the sticker is shiny but you wouldn't know it wasn't all one stamp if I hadn't told you would you?

I'm happier with this layout
I bought a few sheets of 12x12 Midway by October Afternoon as well as the 8x8 pad so used one of those as the background to this page. I now have some ink droppers that were put to good use with the black and red mists. I randomly chopped papers to layer behind my photo. Because the background paper had got a little dog eared at the edges I decided to add in top and bottom layers (header and footer if you will. I write too many papers). The letters are two sorts of Amy Tangerine thickers. The ones under her brand seem to last for ages, I'm not sure why. Other embellishments are a metal star (I've got loads of these hanging around!); some Basic Grey flair (that is the name for the red thing that looks like a badge but isn't) and a Studio Calico heart. The little stars are Studio Calico too. I have a whole packet of them somewhere but it hasn't been put back where it should be (by me) and I have tidied two drawers and still not found them. Otherwise there would have been more on the page. The other little dots are Liquid Pearls (uh-huh I am addicted to them). Oooh and the paper clip and banner are Smash. I have a Smash journal which I think I am going to use for my trip to Florence later in the year to celebrate our Silver Wedding. (Oh boy, admitting I have been married almost that long makes me feel really, really old). At this rate I won't have any actual Smash elements left! oh dear, I'll just have to buy some more then...

I hope you feel full of sunshine inside even if it is dark and cold and horrible outside!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Out of kilter


1: We are about the only part of the UK with no snow. I like a good 36 hours of proper snow. And then for it to disappear instantly

2: I went to see Les Mis this week and came out unmoved. I looked at my watch near the end to see how much more I had to endure. My poor DCM colleagues and Facebook friends have heard some of my reasoning so I won't go into it now, but it is odd to read about rave reviews and people sobbing and thinking "how come we watched the same film?" And I quite liked Russell Crowe as Javert

3: I am bone weary, keep feeling like a horrible cold will develop and yet it isn't. I DON'T want a cold, but I want to stop feeling on the edge of one. I am not much fun to be around!

4: I've actually managed a bit of crafting this week but the bad light has meant that taking photos and then finding time to blog has been limited. I could have done a lot more crafting as I didn't have as many evening meetings this week but thanks to 3: I spent more time lying on the sofa watching Buffy (now on series 2 and Spike has arrived. Yay!)

You should have seen the shenanigans to get anywhere near a decent card for DCM this week. Keilly dared us to go for Embossability
Here's my card
I bought a bargain priced Docrafts deep embossing folder this week (OK I bought 2). I love the dimension it gives to plain cardstock. I tried inking and embossing at the same time as well but that didn't work, so I embossed one of the clock faces again and swooshed ink over it. What I should have done is carefully measured everything as I planned to put it over the matching plain white image - but my embossed greeting section was too big. (Yes "Celebrate" is slightly squiffy). I used October Afternoon Midway papers; Banana Frog and Imagine That stamps; Versamark ink and detail white embossing powder; Liquid Pearls and  enamel accents.
I decided to go one stage further with the old embossing and do some triple embossing with UTEE. I took a chipboard number and green and blue UTEE, embossing and melting 3 times. on the last layer I pressed a Clearly Besotted stamp into the still warm powder to create this ridge effect. Only now have I remembered that perhaps clear stamps aren't the best thing to use for this so hopefully my lovely new stamp is still ok. I'll report back!

I also made a card for a church member who reached a special age this year. Again the light was TERRIBLE so please excuse it
The numerals are a pale pink in real life and have been embossed and covered in glitter, as were the paper roses and leaf. It is lovely to know that you are hand delivering a card so it can have loads of dimension. The papers are all Echo Park This and That Graceful. I also used PTI number dies; Sizzix and Dienamics shape dies; Cuttlebug embossing folder; Martha Stewart punch; Imagine That stamp.

One other thing to share just now - as I wasn't feeling creative I decided to be useful instead and made handy guides for my Stickles and Liquid Pearls so that I know what colours I have and what they look like

Turns out I have quite a few.... I love using Liquid Pearls most as they tend to flow much better which allows for more even distribution. I had trouble with the green and patina Stickles as you might be able to tell. Hopefully this will help me to use them even more.

If you have snow this weekend - hope you are safe and warm and can have some fun!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Did you hear me?

My voice was on the telly this week!
If you watched the Hotel on Channel 4 last Sunday where they featured a wedding reception, then you would have heard a snippet of my voice as I did the ceremony at Furrough Cross Church (they obviously decided that was a better picture to have on the screen than my ugly mug)
My confession is... that I can't bring myself to look or listen to it, even though it will be on 4oD.
I'm happy to send autographed photos as long as you send an sae....

In other news - we are in the middle of exam week here. I think it is really unfair that Carys has proper AS exams already. Although I suppose having unit sized exams is easier than all in one go like in the olden days of A levels when I were a lad. She has one more after today on Monday and then we will celebrate by watching Les Mis.  She and her friends do "Suit Up Friday" so she has gone to college in her new smart jacket today! Later I will pick her up so we can both go to Messy Church. I spent last night prepping and had to cut things out of funky foam. I am now so over funky foam. Depending on the thickness I could only put two or three layers of foam through the cuttlebug at once - although I was able to cut two different sized circles at the same time. I needed 150 circles. (Its a rather lovely noughts and crosses board with pipe cleaners and punched circles and everything), Still we watched an episode of Buffy while I did my upper arm exercises (aka diecutting). We are 7 episodes in and loving it although Carys is not keen on Angel - which leads to much hilarity (don't kiss him - put a stake through his heart). I suspect she will be a Spike girl like me. Which is weird imo.

I did manage to squeak in a little time for card making yesterday and so actually got my card onto the Daring Cardmakers blog on time this week! Leo came up with a lovely dare - the Frill of It, which made us come over all Jane Austen with frills peeking out from everywhere!
 I think this photograph is truer to the colours than the one on the blog. Its a tough time of year for photos! I wanted to add a cascade of frills to the bottom but saved that for last. First I chose some matching papers from a MME pad, with the addition of the soft green from Echo Park. I used Craft Creations cardstock for the base, the stamped tile and the raised bit. I used a new Clearly Besotted Building Block stamp for the tile. I used their butterfly die but cut off some bits of it. Other dies: Cheery Lynn; MFT Dienamics and Nestabilities. I think the other stamps are Paula Pascual. The border punch is Martha Stewart. I punched longer strips so that I could line them up properly.  The middle section is raised on foam pads and as I also added some stick on pearls, this will probably have to be a hand delivered card!

I made two more cards earlier in the week
This one uses the blank left by the letters I die cut for last weeks DCM card. I added papers from an old Quirky Kits kit (the last of the leftovers!) and some toning liquid pearls. The alphabets are Dienamics and Tim Holtz. The punch is Jenni Bowlin for Fiskars.

this one uses a MME pad (see the white circle - that is cut from the pad cover!); Dienamics and Nestabilities dies; Cuttlebug embossing folder; Liquid pearls; Banana Frog stamps and white embossing powder. The butterfly is hand cut from one of the papers in the pad.
 I've got another packed few days with service preparation; Messy Church; recovering from Messy Church; singing with Phil and Carys at a church event; preparing for Wednesday service on Sunday as I won't have time during the week. If the weather is nice Phil and I are going out on Monday. The plan is to go out every other Monday. This is it. Even if it rains we will probably go to Trago Mills - to buy waterproof clothing and look at the craft department. Hopefully there will be time for playing with paper as well. Have a good weekend whatever you are doing

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

What is that yellow thing in the sky?

Don't say anything too loudly but I can see the sunshine. And last week we had two days without rain, which, since I moved to Torbay, has to be a record. And when the sun shines I am reminded just how beautiful it is round here. What a blessing and a privilege it is to live and work in Babbacombe and Brixham!

By the way - thanks for all the comments and questions on my last blog post. What a fabulous notion Story Telling Sunday is. I do hope that some people fall in love with the books as I have done. I am a fast and voracious reader and have nearly finished the first book - although if I remember rightly there is another big set piece to come. And still so much I had forgotten!

Well the boys are now safely ensconsed in their little university rooms with their mahoosive computers and Carys is back at college and so the house feels very quiet and still. It did mean that I got the chance to do some crafting on Monday and so can show some of the results.
I really want to blog a bit more often but I'm not making any promises!

Firstly a couple of layouts

 I wanted to write down my thoughts about Christmas and had in mind a pretty simple layout. That was until a little bit of a masking accident which left an unexpectedly large white space (NB to be arty you have to only spray within the masked area you fool). The mask is a Prima one.

So I used rather more paper than I had first expected. These are all leftovers from my Christmas cards and include Basic Grey and (I think) Fancy Pants. I can't remember now all I have are little pieces!) I also added some BG stickers and a Studio Calico chipboard heart
because the bauble I am reflected in was gold I wanted to add some gold accents so added gold (and red and green) liquid pearl dots. I also covered the title lettering (Dienamics alphabet dies) and the hand cut dotty heart with gold Swish ink
the other letters are Cosmo Cricket and numbers from American Crafts

Here is my second layout of the year
WARNING - it is quite bright
Isn't that such an adorable photo? Spider was fascinated by the 3d glasses and was really quite patient about having her photo taken. I wonder what the world looked like to her with them on?

Base cardstock is Heidi Swapp coated paper which I covered in Mustard Seed Distress Ink. The other papers are all from an October Afternoon Midway 6x6 pad. The stickers are OA too. I thought the little paper accents were perfect for this page and I also added some cameras made from a Dienamics die. The letters are various - the large ones are thickers. I had run out of "E" and "D" - can you tell?

Oh it is nice to get a bit more back to normal - although as ever January is a demanding month work wise. All the stuff that was put off in December is done in January - plus the regular stuff and if you are wise you are also starting to prepare for Lent and Easter as well. Its never a dull moment being a Minister in the Church - but it is lovely too to have time for some creative expression as well. It is good for the soul. So if you are a crafting person just think - you are not just playing with paper and glue, you are expressing your spirituality. And if you are a Christian who shudders at the thought of playing with paper and glue - how do you creatively express your spirituality?

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Story telling Sunday

I am a big fan of Sian's blog in general - and of her monthly Story Telling Sunday but have usually thought of a story just a leetle too late. (Brain is always fried on a Sunday afternoon. Its part of the job you know)
So today - as I am feeling a bit discombobulated as my sons have headed back to Uni - I have decided to console myself with some fun activities. I am going to watch some Creative Jumpstart 2013 videos and try some techniques. (I don't think it is too late to sign up and it is awesome). And I am going to tell a story. A story about something small/insignificant but precious. I've had to borrow a photo of my thing as the camera is also on its way to the Uni so that some lovely photos can be taken tomorrow by the Chauffeur on his way home.

Are you sitting comfortably? then we'll begin.
The tale of Cross Stitch.
My copy looks like this. Well this version does. It is my second copy as the pages started to fall out of my first. But when I was introduced to the book - it was a hardback from the library.
Sometime around February 1994 I was signed off work with low blood pressure for two weeks. I was  6 months pregnant with my second child. It was decided that it would be easier to ship me and little H. (Then a very lively 18 months) to my parents for a bit of R and R. I visited the library before hand and spotted this book. A friend had told me about a book called "Cross Stitch" that was really intriguing, all about a family and how their lives were interwoven. So I checked this out without reading any more about it.

It took a few pages to realise it was obviously not the same book.
It only took a few more to hook me in completely.
Rather than resting I was burning the midnight oil - I couldn't wait to turn the page (and there were a lot of them - 864). When I finished I sighed a deep sigh.

If you like history, romance and time travel, then this might be the book for you too!

The rest of the pregnancy was fine and my Milky bar Kid was born mid May (yup, as a toddler he used to look just like the kid in the advert and being a caring mother I used to force him to say "the milky bars are on me").
As our 2 kids were under 2 we thought now was the time to visit Phil's sister in Canada as the boys would go free on the plane. We spent some time in West Edmonton Mall where I discovered there was a sequel to Cross Stitch. In fact there was already a third book. Be still my beating heart!
I carried my three treasures back from Canada waiting for the right time to read them. Starting with Cross Stitch again. Or more truthfully Outlander as it has a different name in the US/Canada.

There are seven books in the series now. When a new one comes out I often go back to the beginning to fall in time and space into this magical yet also historically real world, all over again. Which is why the paperbacks needed replacing. I'm back with Cross Stitch as a title again.

For Christmas I was given a companion book with 4 novellas in it. And it drew me back again. So I am currently about 240 pages in to book 1. Probably about the 8th time of reading. Fortunately because the books are so long, although I remember the arc of the story many of the details are forgotten. My husband thinks I am daft to keep rereading the same book and maybe I am. But the world of Cross Stitch - and its escapism - is very precious to me!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Another year over.....

a new one just begun!

Hope you have had a Happy Christmas and a fantastic New Year.
I've had a busy Christmas (6 services in less than three days) and a frantic New Year (including a 48 hour trip to my mother in law) but it is all good.

Let's see if I can post any more than last year. Although looking at my work schedhule I kind of doubt it (sob).

I have made quite a few cards recently but then have given them all away as presents so can't show them to you. (They were given but with the ink almost still wet. Actually it was just as well I had put each card into plastic sheaves as one package of them got a bit wet just being taken from the house to the car).

But I have managed one whole new card since then - for the first Daring Card of the year. And we have continued with the colour theme for the first Friday of the month. Leo came up with this wonderful photo and palette
my bedroom walls are quite similar to that teal. But there are no leopards. However I was very excited to realise that I had some patterned paper that was almost perfect  - from a Heidi Swapp pad. Just look at that heart!
All the papers were from the same set apart from "thanks" which was MME (I think). I used Dienamics and PTI dies; a heart punch and an EK Success border punch for the little circles. Everything was outlined with a sharpie pen. The kraft cardstock is PTI ink.

Mags lovely comment below has reminded me that I should point out that I used this weeks Studio Calico card sketch which you can find here (scroll down to 30/12/12) and pretty much stayed with it!

My boys go back to Uni this Sunday - boooooo - but it does mean I might have some crafting time on Monday - here is hoping! Mind you, as it is Twelth Night on Sunday there will also be some tidying and cleaning to be done. Double boo!