Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Memory Keeping: Work Hard, Be Nice.


Today's is the 3rd [and, yes, final] of the 3 scrapbook pages I made documenting the 2.5hours I [and an audience of many!] spent in the company of Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss.

You can find the earlier pages here and here. And after this I'll never* mention it again.

[* And by 'never' I mean ... y'know, not for a whole wellllllll ... month? Maybe. It depends really ... ].

But for now ... indulge me?
It can be dangerous, meeting the people you admire. So they say.

Because well ... to put it bluntly: they might turn out to be a bit of a knob and you'll never be able to love whatever it was you loved about them ever again.

And when it's Sherlock that you love ... the stakes are high. So there was some mild peril involved in going to see Mark Gatiss 'in conversation' last December.

Fortunately for all in general he was every bit as charming and loveable as you could have wished him to be ... and, more specifically, he was wonderful for two things in particular: 

1. The first is that, throughout the interview, when talking about his childhood in Sedgefield [around 20 miles from where I live] he referred to his mother as his 'Mam'.

And so do my sister and I. [Well that's how refer to  our own mother ... not his ... that would be weird ...].

And 'Mam' is not a term everyone uses  to refer to their mother,  not even in our same local area. And you won't find it on greetings cards as a matter of course. And when you don't hear something very often you can begin to feel like you yourself should use something different. Something 'posher'. Like 'Mum'.

Then you hear Mycroft say it ... and that makes everything better! ;-)

2. The second thing is not only how patient he was answering questions - from 'young people' who basically asked the same question over and over again without listening to his last answer - but also for what was his ultimate advice to them.

Here it is as written on my page:

So, there you have it, advice from a man whose successes go before him: Work hard, be nice.

All very doable and comforting too ...

You don't need any special equipment to make a start.

In fact ... forget about those young folk who were asking ... I'm happy to take his advice myself:


I'd love to use the comments section here to compile the benefit of your combined wisdom so ... won't you share with us all:
  • What's the best - or maybe the simplest - piece of advice you've been given? 
  • And who offered it?  

See you soon. [Without Mark Gatiss for company this time ... I swear].


Monday, 2 March 2015

My Month in Numbers 2015: February

Hello hello.

February always manages to trick me.

It's only slightly shorter than average [I know the feeling] and yet somehow those few missing days really make an impact. I really hadn't given my February numbers much thought at all ... until the point where I realised I had only 7 days to get thinking [and counting!]

In short [again, I know the feeling ...] what I'm trying to say is that I can't believe we've already bid farewell to another month; or that one sixth of 2015 is now just a vapour trail in our wake ...

So, before it vanishes all together, let's have a closer look at the moments that were worth counting in February:

£5 = the donation a happy blogger made to Save the Children after enjoying my free Push-Up Bra Approach  blogging workshop.
In a fortnight it will be 2 years since I launched the series and yet still, from time to time, my inbox is brightened with a message telling me someone new made their way to my Just Giving page to leave a token of their appreciation for the FREE series!

£585.57 = the total contributed by 75 people since March 2013!
And so, to donor No.75 and all 73 of the rest of you Thank you thank you thank you!

[Note: In case you're wondering about my calculations ... I was donor No.1 myself ... and it seemed a bit odd to thank myself - hence only thanking 74 of you!]

4,830 = another number that dropped into my inbox during February:
From looking at my blog statistics I knew that Pinterest was the biggest referral site to my blog ... but I'm not sure I'd have guessed it was quite so high as 4,830! All that traffic is thanks to the 3 'Art journal page from start to finish' tutorials I created. To view those, plus lots more tutorials I've created, then drop by here.

28 = the number of days after my birthday that I received another wave of gifts.
They were from my friends at our monthly crafting get-together and amongst them there included:
several zebra related items, geeky paperclips, washi-tape design stamps, a bird ornament and brooch .... and a nice big bag to carry them all home in:
It's almost like they know me isn't it?

Also Jean had baked piƱa colada cupcakes. Of which I had 2. Well, it was my fake-birthday!

[Fake-birthday is not to be confused with fake-Christmas although ... I'll admit I'm not entirely averse to making a tradition out of something that spreads out gift-receiving opportunities throughout the year!]

£5.00 ish = how much was eventually paid for a copy of the 1985 Tim Curry film Clue on DVD.
My sister and I almost wore out our VHS recording of Clue when we were teenagers and last month I got it into my head to find a DVD copy so we could see just how much of the script we could still remember. But, when I started looking on Ebay I soon realised that copies were selling for over £15! Clearly - in its 30th year - there's not just me looking forward to seeing it again!

We haven't got around to watching it yet though ... I'm wondering if I need a costume first. Who should I be? Mrs White? Miss Scarlet? The Singing Telegram? ...

24 = the number of tracks on the Guys & Dolls soundtrack James secretly bought me 'just because'.
Entirely coincidentally a day after he'd ordered it online I was in the hallway giving a rendition of Sit Down You're Rockin the Boat while putting on my coat and boots [you're never too far away from one show tune or another when you're with me] ... and apparently he'd paused to wonder 'Does she know I've bought her the CD?' .. and to reflect on just how much I could read his mind ...

Some mini-book related numbers:
9 = how many teeny tiny notebooks I made with old postcards for covers:

Oh ... while we're on the subject of postcards I received 6 as part of the Valentine's Postcard Swap hosted by my friend Sian at From High in the Sky. Thank you all!!

25 = the number of new Junk Journals I put together [which are now on sale in my Etsy shop].
25 = the number of new hand-sewn mini-junk-books I started - these are my current love! They're sooooo tactile, full of everything, with reclaimed covers and fabric spines and general lovely ephemeral splendour!!!
4 = how many I'm keeping for myself / to give to friends with the remaining 21 heading towards the shop in March/April.

And, clearly February was Official Non-Stop Book-Making Month because ...

2 = the number of bookmaking workshops I invested in:
Even though I've made lots of mini-books and journals in the past - it never hurts to pick up additional skills and new perspectives. And actually, I'd never made anything quite like the projects taught in the 2 classes:
  • The 1st was a video-based workshop created by Christy Tomlinson all about making your own 'midori' style folders and books to slot inside. [If you're interested the workshop was the February edition of her 'Art Society' - and you can find the details here.] BTW: the workshop gives you a great excuse to browse for colourful elastics ... and if that floats your boat [it did mine] then you'll love the class!!
  • And the 2nd was a rare thing indeed ... a workshop 'in-the-flesh' so to speak. By which I don't mean we were all naked .. I just mean it wasn't online. It was in a real room with a real tutor - Chris Morton.
And here's the real room in question - a perfect workshop space: lots of room, plenty of light, with a kitchen for essential tea-making and a comfy spot to eat lunch:
It's part of the Navigator North studios, situated 3 floors up above the Dundas Arcade in Middlesbrough town centre.

I'd pondered whether or not to go and left signing up to the last minute ... but you can't really complain that there's never anything like this near to where you live ... and then not go along when there is can you?!

I'll share more about this particular class in a post of its own soon, along with the items I made ... but, until then ...

I'm handing over to you ....
  • if you'd like to join me by sharing your own numbers on your blog,  you're welcome!! Have a quick speed-read of the protocols [Oh my! How official sounding! Don't worry, it's not so scary!]
  • OR if you'd simply like to leave me a comment to say Hi - maybe one of my numbers sparked a memory of your own? - then I'll look forward to hearing from you.
Wishing you a magical March. From my window I see that this afternoon's flurries have left my hilltops with a powdery dusting -  so maybe Spring's not here quite yet ...

Julie :-)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Memory keeping: My Daleks are *still* there.

Hello, ahoy, welcome.

Yes, this is another post - and another scrapbook page - about the night we went to see Mark Gatiss in conversation.
And if, after I mentioned it in December's Month in Numbers and then again with last week's scrapbook page you 've begun to feel like you just can't escape it ... then you'll have an idea how I felt the week the Daleks took to following me around ....
I've told the story here before but here's a re-cap via the tweets/ Facebook updates I wrote as the strange events unfolded on campus ...
So far so strange. No?

There I was, all week, telling people I kept seeing Daleks at work - when there was absolutely no good reason for me to be seeing Daleks at work. While the word "assistant" is indeed in my job title it is not, nor ever has been, preceded by the words "The Doctor's".

I was just grateful that, each time I'd seen the body parts of a Dalek in the most unlikeliest of places, I had been with someone who saw them too! He could corroborate my story ... and I could rest assured that it wasn't all in my head!
[For the record, yes, I did try to take a photo as proof. But both times it was dark outside, or we were in a hurry, and - the time I did approach the building to grab the shot of them through the window ... I got close enough to activate the automatic doors which suddenly opened out towards me ... which  pretty much convinced that [a] they'd come to life and [b] the next thing I would hear would be 'Ex-ter-min-ate'.]

So, at the end of a strange week of  wondering 'Why Daleks? Why now? Why here?', I went out on the Friday night, to relax, to escape from it all, to see Mark Gatiss ...

...and so did they:
I spotted them in the foyer as we approached the building where the event was being held [which is not the same place where I work ... but several miles away] and the penny dropped: while I may revere him for co-creating Sherlock Mark Gatiss is also one of the writers on Dr.Who. And the organisers had clearly run with the theme.
However the ones in these photos aren't actually the ones who'd been following me through the week - in fact these ones were even more sinister as they moved and spoke to us as we entered the building!
I mean ... what are the chances that you'd bump into 2 Daleks on a Friday night that weren't the same 2 Daleks you'd met earlier in the week? Really? Could it be that they had nothing to do with the first two. That this was just a random coincidence???
Well no.
The other two, the ones that were fast becoming regular acquaintances of mine, were actually waiting for me inside the auditorium we went into to see the man himself. Clearly there was no escape! 
[Did you spot me photo-bombing this shot?]

BTW: I was so pleased with myself when I found this appropriately robotic illustration and the timey-wimey themed caption for this page. If you ever want me to delve into my collection to try to source something appropriately themed to match one of your projects just get in touch and we can chat about a custom pack of pages. There's no minimum limit on the amount you can request; unlike the Daleks ... I'm flexible [and can run upstairs].  [p.s there are currently 3 Game of Thrones themed packs currently available for anyone who fancies some Seven-Kingdom-style scrapbooking/journaling!]

SPOILER ALERT:: For anyone still wondering if I'd turned into The Master ... there's actually a more mundane explanation as to why the Daleks had been at my workplace. We learned that the woman who organised the event worked for the same university as me ... which is when I recognised her as the person who, just after we'd seen them for the second time, had come out of an office declaring 'Ah. My Daleks are still there' to no one in particular as we looked on bemused.

'My Daleks are still there'. 'My Daleks are still there' ...

Now there's a phrase that sums up that entire week for me!

Thanks for stopping by today.


Friday, 20 February 2015

Memory keeping: 'What does one wear when they're going to visit Mycroft?'

Hello hello.

You know the proverbial bus stop situation, where you wait ages for one and then three come along right after one another? Well that's exactly the state of my 12x12" scrapbooking right now.

Throughout much of 2014 I couldn't motivate myself to scrap many large layouts at all [in fact ... I think I made the grand sum of 5 all year] but then ...

... then December came along and brought with it something so eminently scrapworthy ... that I've ended up making 3 pages about it! Here's one of them ...
It's fair to say that 3 pages on the same subject would be a lot for me to make even if the event had lasted 3 weeks ... so, when you consider that it lasted more like 3 hours, you might get the idea that it was something I reeeeaaaallllly wanted to document!!

I bet you already know what the event was don't you?
Yes ... I might have mentioned the fact that I went to see Mark Gatiss 'in conversation' once or twice already. Ummm, yeah ... well ... if you think you're tired of it now ... I've got two more scrapbook pages left to share ... so, I'd just get used to it if I were you ....

For the record, when I went to visit Mycroft I wore a black jumper, striped skirt and silver boots ... which I accessorised with giddy eyes and a 'I can't believe how good tonight is' smile ...
My sister felt the same.
It's always good to share an experience like this with someone equally as likely to lose control and squeal in public as you are isn't it?

BTW: That adorable face [no, not mine, stop it, you'll make me blush] the face on the old book page, above, is a stamp from the 'Girls' AHA Arts stamp set by Ashley G. I bought mine from her Etsy shop but can't see it I stock right now. [I think it's available elsewhere though - it's my current favourite set too. So cute!]

Here's the final page again so you don't need to scroll [you know how I like to help you avoid RSI] ;-)

I'll be back with the remaining two pages featuring my splendidest of occasions soon.

Until then, have a great weekend, treat yourself to some Sherlock while you're at it why don't you ...

Julie x

Friday, 13 February 2015

Memory keeping: What Would Grandma Do?

Hello hello.

Around this time last year I had an idea to mark what would have been my Grandma's birthday by wearing something to remind me of her.

So I picked out a cheerful but, most importantly, comfy flowery dress plus a cardigan with pockets. Because what use is one without pockets? Where do keep your tissues?
And this led me on to thinking about a few of the other things she would do:
And, after I had the photo opportunity and the memories fresh in my mind the scrapbook page practically made itself ...
The layers, the pink and florals, the old paper and silver accents will be familiar to you if you saw my post earlier this week about 'signature styles' and 'go to' combinations how, time and again, I return to certain colours, prints and styles in my crafting.
And my Grandma would certainly have approved of the strips of tinsel  I used ... because while she was ever practical [hence the cardigan pockets] she was partial to a spot of festive sparkle too. [Can't imagine where I got my magpie streak from ... ].
As for how I marked her birthday this year ... well, she was a prolific reader, so I spent the afternoon working on my first book review post for my new book-relate blog feature Portable Magic so I could publish it on her special day.
Although our tastes in literature differed [no Catherine Cookson on my reading list this year] she, like me, found ways to feed her reading habit without having to spend a lot of money by visiting libraries, jumble sales and charity shops. 
And the nice thing is, now that I visit charity shops regularly, to seek out treasures for craft projects, for my shop or for my own book shelves ... I don't only stop to remember her on her birthday. Her bargain hunting spirit keeps me company year round!
Thanks for stopping by today so that I could keep my memories by sharing them.