Sunday, 5 October 2014

My Month in Numbers 2014: September


Well hello there. We're just past the start of a brand new month and I can't remember the last time this happened.

Let me clarify ... I can remember the last time a new month happened, if memory serves me then that was round about this time last month ... but I can't recall the last time I was a little bit late in sharing my Month in Numbers - I always try to share mine on the last day of the month but this time it eluded me .. but I'm here now .. .albeit 5 days after I planned!

BTW: When other number-crunchers say they're 'late' posting theirs I tell them not to be silly; that there's no such thing as late - and all that still holds true: you're welcome to join me a week after, a month after, 6 months after the fact ... I really don't mind at all. But as the host ... I hold myself to stricter standards! ;-)

So, now that I'm duly admonished ... allow me to share the statistics that made themselves vital to my September 2014 ...

315ish = the number of book pages I set free [do you see how I phrased that nicely for those of you who flinch when I say 'cut up'?] from inside 'The Traditions of Edinburgh' to prepare it for my altered book project:
This was the 4th September in a row I've paused to document a lesson as part of Shimelle Laine's Learn Something New Everyday project and each year I try to record those thoughts in a different creative format. 

In previous years I've used:
... and as I have plenty of old books on hand ... and as I'd never made an altered book before ...it seemed like the ideal option.

I plan to share my finished book pages, which feature a scrappy collage for each day of the month, here on my blog in the month ahead just as soon as it's all finished.

£0.00 = the cost to park for a day out in Redcar
This isn't the most exciting number I've ever shared and yet ... doesn't it make a difference when you don't have to pay for parking?

James knows of a little car park that's free on Saturdays [in Fisherman's Square just behind all the boats + trailers if you're interested!] and, because we didn't have to fork out for a ticket or rush back when it was due to expire, it meant we spent a much more relaxed day. So much so that we chose to spend it like tourists [even though it's just up the road from us!].

And being a tourist in Redcar means that you need to have fish and chips [as well as free parking Fisherman's Square has a great chippy too! They even do small portions which are perfect when you don't feel like ingesting something the size of a deep fried whale.] and ...

... having a lemon top from the ice cream legends Pacitto's.

1 lemon top [mine] + 1 strawberry top [James is awkward!]
And when I say it's an age old tourist tradition to eat a lemon top in Redcar... it's a slightly newer option to actually become one:
And, in between all the eating and touristy doings we also hunted out some vintage treasures in the charity shops ...

99p = the cost of 6 mini tea cups and a sugar bowl:
 They didn't come with matching saucers, which is probably why they were so cheap, but still ... how could I leave such pretties on the shelf for less than a £1?!

 And, while I was filling my house with vintage treasures on one hand ... on the other I was clearing them too ...

133 = the number of items I placed on my Pop-Up Market Stall on my Facebook page.
I certainly didn't sell all 133 items but it was a success nevertheless and packaging up all the orders certainly kept me busy for a few days!
I didn't have any sales target [my hope that I'd sell everything was clearly unrealistic!] however ... do you remember the real life stall I told you about in last month's numbers? Well ... I made more in the first few hours of my online sale than I did in 7 hours at the real world version. Which taught me something about the importance of having, taking time over, and appreciating my virtual niche!

Thank you so much to those who dropped by to browse, share and buy - brazen self-publicising link alert: many of the items left over are now back in my Etsy shop at their reduced prices!!

3000% = the increase in new 'Likes' on my page during my market stall sale!
While the sale was taking place lots of nice folk shared my links, photos and details on social media [thank you!!!!] which I can only assume is what led to an increase in my Likes. This was a big surprise to me and was something I wasn't anticipating. At all.

And while a 3000% increase sounds humongous ... what it actually means is that my usual growth rate is so small [come on now, I meant on my page ... there's no need to be rude about my height!] that any increase looked quite drastic! But hey ... when you need to write a post summarising your month in numbers ... the drastic ones are definitely welcome!

Several thousand = the number of old product images I deleted from my hard drive.
In organising the market stall I needed to find all the images of  my older stock to add them to the Facebook photo album. Then afterwards I went through all the photos of all the products I've ever listed in my Etsy shop sorting out ones to keep [so I had a record of all previous products] and what to delete [all the detail shots, doubles etc]. It felt almost as good to clear out the digital versions as it did to send off the physical items to their new homes!

Millions = the number of confetti scraps which filled a greenhouse at the Festival of Thrift:
'Full Circle' by Beccy McCray was an interactive installation ... but we didn't go inside. For one thing ...  we didn't know if it was just meant for kids [who tend to have all the fun at these kind of events!] and, for another ... from the traces of the cofetti that were in evidence all around the festival, here, there and everywhere ... I'm not sure I could have faced having it all drop out of my crevices for weeks to come ...
 And finally ...
 
3 = the number of episodes of serendipitous circularity that visited me this month ...
For a reason yet to reveal itself moments from my past kept resurfacing during September and while none of them, on their own, was especially momentous ... together they made an impression. Here's the 3 main blast-from-the-past moments:
 
11 years after he sold the house to us ... a letter addressed to the previous owner dropped through our letterbox. And not for the first time. In the past we've put the letters [all from the same company] back in the post and even emailed the company to tell them the recipient had moved. But they continued to arrive so, this time, I turned to Google, searched for the [fortunately unusual] name, found his work email address and asked him if he'd like his mail back! After sending me his new address his response was ... 'I hope it's not a bill'!
 
7 years after attending a one-off event with a student on campus ... he's returned to do some further study ... and, entirely coincidentally, I've been matched with him again. The best thing about this whole situation is ... if you're a long-standing reader here ... you'll know him too.

Well, you won't know him in person, but you'll remember he was the one taking part in the 'Laughter Workshop' I wrote about here a few years ago. Remember? The one where I used my professional status to avoid having to join in? If you missed it - do drop in here to catch up on the finer, more ridiculous, details. Since starting work with him once again last week we've reminisced about that afternoon which neither of us have forgotten! [Let's face it ... it's not the sort of thing you really can forget!]

And lastly ...
 
6 years after finishing it ... 4 random pages of a draft of screenplay I wrote resurfaced last week and yanked me out of the here and now and right back to the time I wrote it:
I took a screenwriting night class, for fun, back in 2008 and wrote a 15min comedy drama as part of the course. Then last week, while hunting out some scrap paper, to help me work out the construction of a craft project, I grabbed some sheets from a scrap pile I rarely ever use beneath the printer. When I turned it over ... there it was ... the draft with my handwritten edits scrawled across it.
 
So I stopped what I was making [a project using pretty patterned papers and flowers] and read this snatch of the whole [a drama about a boy with a disability and his struggling mother, with a dead cat and rabbit thrown in for good measure!]. Needless to say it was a bit of a culture shock ... and left me pondering my rather diverse interests and career paths!
 
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And so ... those were my numbers; the digits that documented my September days. How about yours?
 
If you'd like to join me then - as always - if you leave me a comment with your link I'll be round to visit when I can [bearing in mind that it took me 5 days longer than normal to publish my own post ... don't be offended if I don't pop in for a little while. I will get around everyone's vital statistics in the end!].
 
If you'd like the full details on how to join in - with inspiration on how and what to count up each month ... then visit those here.
 
And if you just dropped in for a read then ... hello ... nice to see you! I hope something in my month connected with you in some way ... I often find in reading through all the Month in Numbers blogger's contributions that there's something familiar to me wrapped up in their numerals somewhere.
 
Happy October!
 
Julie :-)
 


Thursday, 2 October 2014

It's a Sign: A dog's life [please don't shoot the messenger ...]


Hello hello.

Firstly ... I'm running slightly behind with my September Month in Numbers post ... all the numbers are there, I just need some photos ... and a few words and then I'll be back.

But, until then ... let me share a sign - of sorts - that caught my eye while James and I were waiting in line for lunch at the Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point in  Darlington last weekend.

If you're a dog lover ... you might want to look away now. You might also end up being mad at me ... but let me just squeeze in my defence before you do and say ...

... whatever it is I'm to blame for here, it wasn't me who made the decision to park these two particular vans next to one another.

All I'm guilty of is noticing their rather unfortunate juxtaposition ... [oh ... and ... of taking a photo of it.]
That's one awkward way to answer the question 'Can you rehome a dog like me?'.

[For the record we ate a 'Snoop Dog' for lunch. And it was delicious.]

Julie ;-)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2014: the full collection


Hi there.

Now that summer's gone, and the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt is over, I thought I'd join Rinda - the hunt's creator and hostess - with a final all-encompassing round-up of all the 21 discoveries I made as summer 2014 unfolded.

And, in a little warm up for Tuesday's Month in Numbers statistical summary ... I did a quick survey of my photos and worked out that ...

Of the final set of 21 images:
  • 3 were taken pretty close to home on average days ....
  • 8 were taken while I was on my official 'summer holiday' ...
  • and the remaining 10 were captured while on occasional days out, to cities, country and seaside.
And here they are:
Seeing them all together like this is both fun to see and a little strange! Some of those moments already feel like years ago now, so I'm glad I've got an accurate reminder of them here and in my summer junk journal. But also ... I was surprised at while they're mostly taken in completely different locations, viewed together, they form their own coherent colour-palette. A palette which pretty much sums up an English summer:
  • a few bright blues skies ... but with plenty of paler ones thrown in too;
  • plenty of natural abundant greenery ... with an equivalent amount of carefully curated municipal flower displays;
  • and a liberal amount of British eccentricity and tradition on show.
It was worth re-visiting my photos to really reflect on all of that!

Now here - mainly for my own future reference - are the links to the posts where I shared more about each of my 21 summertime discoveries:

1. A sign welcoming people to my home town
2. A garden gnome - a goal-keeping gnome, taken during the World Cup ... how long ago does that seem now?!!!)
3. Birds on a wire - finding the iconic 'birds on overhead wires' shot was a lot harder than I would have guessed!
4. A group of tourists
5. A rack of post cards - this one also includes a photo-bomb too.
6. An urban street scene
7. A rural landscape
8. A tattoo on a person
9. A bakery
10. A photo bomb - I managed to find another photo-bomber ... underneath Frankenstein's Monster ...
11. A horn
12. A mascot - a flying bear
13. A sunrise - the trickiest of the lot to capture... and yet it happens every day! And I thought 'Juggler' was going to be hard to find!
14. A parade
15. A juggler - apparently easier to find than a sunrise ...
16. A sign in a language other than English
17. A lamp post
18. A water fall
19. A public garden
20. A bus (not a car, truck, lorry, camper or RV) with a picture painted on its sides.
21. A photograph of you with something representing the season
And, as I found all 21 ... I didn't need to resort to alternative A: A kite, hot air balloon or blimp
or alternative B: A bird house

In the depths of the coming winter, when I won't be able to take a decent photo without first taking off my thermal gloves and pushing my woolly hat out of my eyes ...  I'll be thinking fondly of the day Rinda will release the categories for the 2015 hunt!

Julie :-)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bang! Card making: with a car from a Christmas-cracker [and there's today's tongue-twister right there].


Hello hello.

There are a couple of reasons I feel it's OK to share this particular card today; and they're both to do with the season.

A typewriter comes in really handy for creating a quick sentiment for cards.
For a start - it's now officially Autumn - so the card's colour scheme of greens turning into yellow, orange and brown is appropriate in itself:
[The background paper is just a page from an old book which I had handy while I was experimenting with paint. I just removed excess paint from my brayer on to it.]

So, yes, the autumnal colour-scheme is one good reason to share this card right now:
But then there's this ...
... the car embellishment focal point is actually a little gift I saved from a Christmas-cracker last year!

And, in the past, whenever I've shared the cards I've made with silly throwaway [or not!] Christmas-cracker gifts someone usually says they wished they'd seen the idea before Christmas, so they could save some of their own.

So here it is, your 3 months in advance warning:
  • Remember to collect up all those odd bits and bobs you find inside the traditional [who said tacky?] crackers!!
  • Prepare yourself to gently manoeuvre little children out of the way at the Christmas dinner table to scoop up the bits before they get their sticky little hands on them. [What? They'll only play with them for 2 minutes then throw them on the floor. Or choke on them. So really, you're doing them a favour.]
  • Then make sure to remind yourself to reuse them on fun cards throughout the year ahead!
If this has whetted your appetite for Christmas-cracker-gift card making ideas ... then here are several of my previous examples:
But ... if it's whetted your appetite for Christmas Lunch ... I'm sorry about that ... I can't help you there! Will it take your mind off it if I just sing the 12 Days of Christmas to you? Five go-oh-ld riiiings, four calling birds ...

Julie ;-)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Summertime Photgraphy Scavenger Hunt: The sunrise; my final find


Hi there.

It's definitely turning Autumnal out there, and as much as it pains me to do so ... that means the time's come for carefully wrapping summer in bubble-wrap and packing it away for another year.

And the same goes for the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt [admirably organised and hosted by Rinda at Gallo Organico each year.]  So, here's what became of my search for the 21st and final item on the hunt. The hunt for ...

No.13: A Sunrise

No.13 eh? Unlucky for some? Well ... yes, kind of.

You would think, wouldn't you, what with it happening every day and all ... that a sunrise might have been one of the easiest categories on the list of 21 items to find. But 'twas not so ...

During the height of summer the sun was rising around 4am and ... well ... I never quite got around to dedicating myself to the Scavenger Hunt cause quite that much! Plus, I kept telling myself that there would be plenty of opportunities to catch one later. [Because let's face it, if the sun didn't rise on another day, we'd all have a lot more to worry about than me finishing the scavenger hunt ...].

Then, as summer wore on, and the mornings became gradually darker, I decided to go for one last push and make the effort to rise early and catch that sun on its way up.

At 6.30am two Saturday's ago I got up, armed myself with a dressing gown and a camera and wandered to the window from which I thought I'd have a good view. The thing is 432,450 miles wide after all ...

... but there was no sun. Not even a glimmer. So I decided perhaps it was a little early ... and waited. And waited.

Now, I'm not suggesting that it was pitch black as I sat there; it was light. But there was no clear 'sunrise' visible; no rays, no hint of pink, orange or even washy lemon. Instead there was a bank of mist, heading in from the coast, diffusing the light and obscuring whatever sun there was.

And ever since that weekend, that seems to have been the pattern round here on these almost-autumnal-mornings; mist, fret and fog obscuring the hills every morning and only burning off - if we're lucky - in the afternoons. In fact over the last few weeks this ever-so-slightly-blushing sky below is the nearest I've got to capturing anything vaguely sunrise-y in the sky:
But you know me ... if I can't find the obvious photo that fits the category ... I'll just keep my eyes open for an alternative [like I did with No.3 Birds on a wire] and on another grey Saturday morning, which ended up turning into a bright and clear day at the seaside, this particular wrought iron design fixed to the sea wall caught my eye:
Here's the full scene:
And whether or not it's meant to be a sunrise, or a sun hiding from the crocodile from Punch & Judy ... I don't know. But I'm claiming it as my No.13 anyway!

But before the sun sets on my sunrise-seeking let me share with you a nice spot of serendipitous reading ...

... while I spent the season planning, and failing, to capture an actual sunrise, as time started running out I just happened to buy Mindy Kaling's[creator of The Mindy Project one of my favourite programmes at the moment!] memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?  ...

... and what do you think I found right there in its introduction?
 And, these appropriate words of wisdom came from a book I read during the summer ... I'm going to argue that it means .... I DID FIND A SUNRISE after all!!
 
It just happened to be in words!  
 
And best of all ... I didn't have to get up at 4am to document it!
 
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Thank you Rinda for another inspiring list that has got me out and about snapping random things and sharing ideas with family and friends about what fits which category and where I might find one! It's been great, here's to summer 2015!
 
Julie
 
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p.s; I've extended the big stock sell-off I'm hosting on my Facebook page until 6pm on Sunday September 21st [I've been getting excited about all the shelf space your orders have helped clear so far ... and want to see if I can create more room by offering up all the bargain gift ideas/craft packs for a few more days. I've even reduced a few sale prices even further!]. Do have a browse if you get chance. :-)
 
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