Friday, 30 July 2010

Blog Hop: Bring out the bunting

Hi, hi, hi.

It's time for the
Banana Frog blog blog hop once again [not that I'm getting any better at that tongue twister!]. A special 'hello' if you've dropped by from the blog of BF's guest Design Team member for July, Diane Ingram's .... [to see a full list of whose hopping today - have a look here].

So let me share with you a page I've made featuring photos taken on the weekend break to Lincoln I had at the start of the month:

If you're a regular reader of mine then you might remember that this trip involved an airshow, but then again, you might not know about it, seeing as how I hardly mentioned it ...

Anyway ... one of the upsides to accompanying James on his little hobbyist's trip was that, feeling obliged to make the whole weekend enjoyable [presumably so I'd keep visiting the airshow with him each year] he made sure we stayed somewhere nice ... like the
Bailhouse Hotel .

As if I hadn't been excited enough to stay in a beautiful hotel in the heart of a city we both love so much, upon arrival I was greeted with the central street decked top-to-bottom with the most wonderful, old-fashioned photo-worthy bunting:

[Title stamped using the Pharmacy and FT Rosecube font sets]

The bunting had been hung in place ready for a street party celebrating the restoration of the old part of the town:... but I prefer to think it was because they knew I was coming ....

[The castle is taken from the Fairytale Princess stamp set and is coloured in with ProMarkers. The journaling block is from the Cake Greetings set.]

On one of those bunting bedecked streets was a vintage shop from where I bought the green houndstooth check fabric I used to make some bunting of my own when I got back home:I should probably think of something else to make with the rest of it. Unless of course I make more bunting and decorate our entire street with it....It's a thought ..... If I do, I'll be sure let you know!

Don't forget to visit the next stop in the hop - Debbie's Country Heart + Home blog. And I'll be back soon ...

Now, hop on people, hop on.

Julie :)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Overheard: Swarm!

Hi. How're you? Been anywhere where there's the possibility of overhearing something interesting?

One of the major problems I have during the summer break away from working on campus is the lack of eavesdropping opprtunities! As I spend the majority of the day on my own, any conversations happening in the house would have to involve me talking to myself ... and if it ever comes to that, then I think I'll have a bigger problem on my hands than a lack of overhearing opportunites!

So, here's one I heard, pondered over and noted down earlier.

01.04.09 Lecture theatre, prior to start of lecture:

Male student to friend: Pete was laying on the floor and he was all like “Oh, there’s a swarm.”
I don't know about you, but I'm thinking maybe the swarm in question was on TV or in a computer game??

Because if not, Pete sure was taking the whole swarm thing in it all in his stride wasn't he?

Sometimes I think that being in a position to gather material like this is one of my favourite parts of the job. They should add 'excellent eavesdropping opportunities' onto the advertisements for prospective applicants. Perhaps I'll suggest it to Personnel...

J ;)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Overheard: Safety in numbers

Hello again. It's been a long time.

Well, a week feels like a long time when I can't get online! I missed my laptop. I missed the internet. I missed telling you about the things I've overheard.

Now that order, and my hard drive, has been restored let's get on with the eavesdropping shall we?

Today's 'overheard' is something from almost two years ago now and is for anyone [like me] who is missing Glee and eagerly awaiting the next series. [I even watched the first episode of Five's Don't Stop Believing in an attempt to fulfil my need for Glee-fulness .... which didn't exactly work for me, but nevermind].

It's also a tale for those people who cannot suspend their disbelief while watching musicals and who say things like: "How come everyone around them just starts singing along?" and "As if that'd happen in real life!", when everyone on screen spontaneously starts joining in!

Because let me tell you - all you non-believers - it does happen in real life. I know, because I was there when it happened ....

I was in my usual place, secreted at the back of a Games department lecture theatre at work, waiting for the tutor to arrive and begin the lecture. And while I was minding my own business, in walked a student, through the door at the front, singing the Men in Hats song The Safety Dance:
He proceeded to walk up the steps in the auditorium continuing to sing:

“We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind."

As he reached the top of the steps near to where a group of fellow students were seated he was nearing the end of the chorus:

"'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance ...."

..when suddenly the rest of them, spontaneously and without prompting, chimed in with the final phrase:

"Then you’re no friend of mine."

At which point everyone in the room burst into laughter. Myself included.

So, you see, it does happen in real life afterall! Unless my life is actually a version of The Trueman Show movie ... but with musical numbers thrown in that is. Not that that would be a bad thing!

So, with this image of a spontaneous group rendition in mind ... imagine my surprise when, almost two years after I experienced it in real life, the following scene appeared in an episode of Glee:

I think the whole thing can be filed under 'Art imitating life' or should that be 'Art imitating life, imitating art'? Or maybe ... oh, you know what I mean!

It was weird. And great fun. And communal singing is for life ... not just for musicals! So there.

J :D

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Cards: Scrap papers and fantasy stamps

Hi, hi, hi.

How's your day going so far? I'm writing this yesterday and my day has gone pretty well up to now. When I say I'm writing this yesterday, it is actually still 'today' at the time I'm writing this, I haven't yet conquered time-travel, I've just scheduled a post in advance in case I forget .... however, there is actually a way I can be in two places at once today ...

...over on the Scattered Scarlet blog right now I'm sharing some of the cards I've made using a new range of stamps and some scraps of handpainted paper. Cards like this made using the 'Silk Dance' Sweet Pea stamp: If you've dropped by from there already - ->> Hello again you. Twice in one day? We must stop meeting like this ...

....but first have a look at the second Sweet Pea stamp design I've used which goes by the name of 'Misty Reflection':I placed my sentiment stickers [just about] inside a Purple Onion 'Labelers' design stamp: As I detail in my Scattered Scarlet post, all of the backing papers I've used on these were kindly donated off-cuts from Effie who'd made them herself. I'm lucky to sit within poaching distance of her leftovers at the crop!Finally I added one of my favourite ribbons and a gloriously appropriate 7Gypsies sticker:Right then, that's enough for one day ... whichever day it is now.

If you haven't done so already, do drop in on me and the rest of my cards at this post on Scattered Scarlet and I'll catch up with you sooner of later.

Tomorrow or yesterday. Sometime know ... whenever ...

Julie :)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Me and the Zebra

Hello, hello.

Do you remember how, when I first introduced you to Zebra, in this post:... I promised to attempt to enlighten you as to why, despite being a relatively well-adjusted adult, I'd taken a plastic zoo toy on holiday with me?

Well, as promised here goes, I'll do my best: In short - it was for old time's sake - but allow me to explain properly ...

Zebra's creation myth begins approximately 15 years ago with a story my sister's oldest friend, a teacher, told her about a small girl she'd had in her reception class ....

The girl had carried a toy zebra with her everywhere she went and the adults around her recognised that she was using it as a comforter to help her through the daunting task of starting school. One day my sister's friend decided to address the issue with the zebra girl:

"Is he looking after you?" she asked.

"No ... I'm not scared." she replied "He is! I'm looking after him".

And, to be honest, that's really all I know about the girl who carried her zebra everywhere with her, just in case he got worried about being away from home.

At least, that's all I know about the original girl who carried her zebra everywhere, because there was another one who followed in her footsteps ...

Around the time I heard this story I was spending a lot of time at home myself. I had clinical depression and was afraid of most things and couldn't face going most places.

Which is when James bought me my own Zebra: As I gradually built myself up he used to go everywhere with me. The zebra, not James.

Although indeed James did actually have to go most places with me until I was back on my own two feet. Once I was, once I'd begun taking baby steps without my family and James beside me, Zebra took their place.

Well, like the little girl said ... he was scared of being out in the big wide world on his own so how could I leave him behind? He needed me. I was the brave one in the relationship.

So I kept him safe, in my pocket, while I went for walks to the end of the road and back to see how it felt to be outside alone.
Next he became my travelling companion when I managed to start taking trips by bus, after which
I let him come to college with me ... and then university, because he'd be anxious if he'd been left on his own.

Which is also why he had to come with me to work with me when I got my first 'real' job. And why he came along to every scary new place and social occasion in between. All of which goes some way to explain why his stripes bear scuffed and faded battle scars:But at least we won the war.

It's telling that, when I wanted to introduce him to you a few weeks ago, I couldn't find him.

I looked in the bureau in the hall, near where we keep our coats and bags. The place where he used to be kept within easy reach for whenever I went out and couldn't face leaving him behind ... Eventually, after looking in every pocket, bag, cupboard and dark place I could possibly contemplate having once upon a time left him, I found him in the back of the drawer I keep my belts in. Obviously!

And even though he's not afraid any more, I have it on very good authority that when I plunged my hand in that drawer and felt four small hard plastic feet poking out amongst the leather and fabric ... there was a great deal of relief at our being reunited.

For both of us.

So now what? What do we do together now he's no longer afraid of life?

Well, we start on a new journey together. We open an online shop. We start selling things I've created ... we see where we go from there.

It's a venture which could be daunting. It's one which could make you more vulnerable than you've been in a long time and it might just be enough to make you the tiniest bit scared .... if you're a zebra.

Luckily for him though ... he's got me.


Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Airshow Treasure Hunt!

Remember how I mentioned in this post that James had been instructed to set me a treasure hunt to keep me amused while at the airshow last weekend?

Well, in case you've been having sleepless nights about how I got on .... here's an update which I've accompanied with some treasures I found for myself.

Treasures such as this photo of a plane-free sky:
... quite some achievement an an airshow wouldn't you say?

Amongst other things, James had challenged me to find:
  • A bad tattoo: that was easy. It was a very hot day, there was a lot of flesh on display and a lot of bad tattoos unveiled. In contrast, my mission to find 'a good tattoo' was not so successful...
  • A painting of a plane that I wouldn't mind hanging on the wall: Yeah, nice try Mister. The moment I find a painting of a plane, on sale at an airshow, which I'd happily have ... we can hang it right next to that photo of me posing with a unicorn and Lord Lucan.

That said ... I did find a rather handsome vintage model box that I would've given house room to:But he didn't buy it! There's just no pleasing some people. ;)

I was also meant to count:

  • How many model stalls there were: I counted 3 before they all started to blend into one. This one however, stood out for special attention:

James fair nearly fainted with delight when he saw all that rammle awaiting his scrutiny. And judging by the amount of men jostling for position around the tables and in front of the boxes, he wasn't alone.

I can't really I blame him, everyone likes a good rummage for a bargain don't they? But honestly, I had to step over a veritable river of man-drool around that stall to take that photo!

I also had to:

  • Find out how much the fruit cocktails were: £3.00... in case you're wondering.
  • Locate the 'Sleaford Sausage Man' stall [the stall from which we've often bought lunch in the past!]: But he wasn't there so, my best guess at his location? 'Still in Sleaford'.
  • Spot a child carrying an inflatable Red Arrow: Check!
  • Correctly differentiate between a plane from WW1 and WW2: Tri-plane. Spitfire. Result!

At one point, when I voluntarlily slowed down to take a closer look at a particular plane, even going so far as to take out my camera ... I think James was hoping he had converted me .... but alas not:

"What are you doing there?" he asked ... intrigued.

"Errr ... it says 'manhandling'" I replied... smirking sheepishly:If only I'd been able to find a sign mentioning an 'undercarriage' or a 'cock-pit' I'd have been in risque-word-play-nirvana!

There were other quests, concerning Burberry caps, carrier bags and helicopters but I don't think you need to know all my failures. Something I did manage to thoroughly and exhaustively investigate though was this, the most bravely posed of all the challenges:

  • Identify the nationality of the sexiest pilots: Well, let me just say that it was a dirty job ogling all of those capable men in uniform in the name of hunting for treasure. And I will admit that, at times, I had to agree with a comment left by Jo [from the blog Mrs.Beee ] in which she stated that many men in uniform tend to look like Postman Pat! [Thanks for that image Jo!]. Plus there were others who were just plain funny, for example ...

....this Czech pilot and his furry friend may not quite have made it to the top of the sexy list - but he did give me a fantastic photo opportunity: So 'which country did have the sexiest pilots?' I hear you ask.

Well, the results of my, purely objective and scientific, survey showed that it was, incredibly, the British! There were quite a few rather handsome RAF men on display alongside their planes this year. A discovery which I did indeed, dutifully record on my treasure hunt sheet and pass on to James. Well, he did ask ... I was just following orders.

He took the news very well but, just in case he hadn't and always keen to plan ahead, earlier in the day I'd taken note of the whereabouts of this particular tent on the concourse: It's the 'Relate' tent.

The tent of the charity which used to be know as 'Marriage Guidance'. Well, it can't hurt to have all your bases covered can it?

So, there you have it, the third [and probably final] post on my airshow exploits for this year.

Now don't get me wrong, despite all my suggestions to the contrary I really did have a good time.

After all I got to [a] eat chips out of a polystyrene tray and [b] freeze in horror when, after returning to the car to read Wolf Hall [no ... I haven't finished it yet!] while James went to watch the Battle of Britain re-enactment there was a huge explosion. Then, after I spotted the subsequent clouds of black smoke and heard the sounds of machine-gun fire I had to reassure myself that there was no need to panic, everything was fine, that it must be part of the show and not some horrible incident or accident ... so what was not to enjoy?

Oh .... RAF Waddington International Airshow does the fun just never stop?

So, in 12 months time will I be there again, hand in [sweaty] hand with a grown man who gets excited about P51 Mustangs? ....

Most definitely.

I'll be the only one with a notebook and camera who isn't actually making notes about or taking photos of the planes!

Maybe I'll see you there?

Julie ;)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Overheard: Airshow special

Last Saturday was the annual airshow at RAF Waddington which James has been dragging me to taking me to for almost as long as I've known him.

Just so long as there's sun on my back, people to watch and a notebook and camera in my bag he's learned that it's safe to ask me to amuse myself all day while surrounded by all those aeroplanes and model stalls without him needing to feel guilty.

On the other hand, if it's cold and rainy, and this being England-in-summertime, it often has been precisely that, well that's a different story ... one which usuall involves me sitting in a car. But luckily for James's mental health, this time around the sun shone all day.

And luckily for me, as it's estimated that 100,000 people attended on the day we went, there were plenty of conversations being held for me to listen into ... and you know how much I like to do just that ....

Here's my pick of the best in reverse order of my favourites!

4. Perplexed grandson [about 11 years old]: Grandad? How come all of the warplanes have paintings of ladies on them?

How're you going to answer that one? Something about young men at war ... away from home ... facing death ... finding a morale booster in the form of paintings of scantily clad pin-up girls ... ? Or would you just say 'because it looks nice?'.

I didn't get to hear how Grandad handled that, nor did I hear what the exact topic of this gem was:

One woman to another: You do get used to it though. Like plucking your eyebrows.

I wonder if we ought not to speculate about what it is they were discussing ...

At one point, while watching an aerobatic display [not the one pictured above, but one with 4 planes doing some rather swish flying which actually impressed me .... don't tell James ....] we were only one row back from the barrier positioned behind a family on deckchairs. All the while I maintained one eye on the overhead display and one on the teeny tiny talking toddler standing on the deckchair in front.

Wearing large red ear-defenders he watched the aerobatics with rapt attention and mimicked the planes' movements making full graceful circles with his little arms.

After one of the planes had flown by he turned to his mum and said:

2. Can I just say .... they are beeeauuuuuutttifuuuuul.

How adorable is that? [And sounded very much to me like something Little S would say H!] It was nice to view it all from his 3 year old perspective which certainly helped me see the beauty in the planes for a change!

That was the cutest thing I heard that day ....and now finally, here's the most random ....

We were behind a middle aged woman [wearing a cap] who slowed down to greet a young man approaching her, who looked to be her son.

1. Son, scornfully, to mother: What's that on your head?

Mother, reaching up to touch her head, replied matter of factly: Daniel O'Donnell.

Yes. You heard correctly. He said: What's that on your head? And she answered: Daniel O'Donnell.

I know that if we could have seen her from the front we'd realise that she must have been wearing a Daniel O'Donnel tour merchandising cap. Bu tthat's not nearly as much fun as the image the original non-sequitur conjured up for me!

The day I stop smiling at that image in my mind is the day I hang up my overhearing ears, notebook and pencil. Ahhhhhh I do love me some real-life 'found' comedy! Will you allow me one last go before I leave? OK then, here goes ...

What's that on your head? ..... Daniel O'Donnell.

Yep, it still does it for me!

How about you? Heard anything that made you smile lately?

Julie :)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Stepping off the carousel: the zebra goes on holiday

Hello. I've been away and now I'm back. Hello again.

Firstly, due to the wonder of pre-scheduling posts, I had a giveaway running while I was gallavanting around Lincoln and I can announce now - in person - that the winner is:

Yay SJ! Please send me the address you'd like me to send it to. :)

In other news ...

... you know how I'm in the middle of setting up an online shop called The Carousel Zebra? Well, when I was running that name by a few friends one said that if it meant something to me and if I could explain it's meaning to others then I should go for it.

And I have, because indeed the the name does mean a few things which I'll explain properly soon but for now I wanted to quickly introduce you to the figure behind one of those meanings. Someone who I've known for a while now and who's stood by me through thick and thin.

Someone who, after partially naming my shop after, I decided to dig out from the back of a drawer and take on holiday as a treat.

Blog peoples, meet Zebra:Zebra is kind of my alter ego - I swear I'll explain it better soon - and clearly he's braver than me when going past those big old scary cooling towers we have to go past on our way south to Lincoln. [The towers which I've been known to burst into tears when passing as I DO NOT like big 'stuff'].

While Zebra is definitely braver than me, we were similarly unbalanced on holiday:

.... and we both enjoyed the four-poster bed in the hotel:I think I look like a broken marionette puppet in that photo .... so let's move on ...

And while at the Waddington airshow James even took this photo in commemoration of Zebra:

James is great. Stripes are great. Aeroplanes are ... well, let's not go that far ... shall we?

Right then, that's enough zebra and airshow tales for one night, I don't want to over excite you you'll need to save your energies for the 'overheard at the airshow' special and the update on how my airshow treasure hunt went ...

Be back soon.

Julie x

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Giveaway: Frayed fabric brooch

Hi all.

Over on the Banana Frog blog today [July 3] it's my turn to give the Lesson at the Lilypad!

My step by step photo tutorial today shows how I created a set of fabric accessories and it would be great if you could drop by and visit me over there - I'd love to hear your feedback on my 'frayed and flirty' collection!

As I've had such a good time making the accessories I thought that I'd offer you this little something I made using the techniques in my tutorial: If you would you like to win this brooch [which is stamped using the 'Hiya Chick' set] either for yourself or to hand on as a gift to someone else then just leave me a comment below.
If you mention it on your blog or on Twitter - and then leave me another comment with the link - you'll have more than one chance to win.

Plus I'll be doubly delighted that you did!

Closing date for entries: Wednesday 7th July 2010 23:00 BST.

See you soon,

Julie x

Thursday, 1 July 2010

My month in numbers: June


I hate to be the one to break this to you but we're half way through 2010 now you know?

Half way! Six months! Only 177 shopping days left 'til Christmas! But, before we all panic and rush out to buy those last minute gifts ..... let's have a look at the numbers which have played a part in my June:

0. Free. Gratis. For nothing = the price of two trays of marigolds which had apparently been blighted by frost and were being given away at a garden centre.

I simply snipped off the dead bits [a delicate horticultural procedure not to be attempted by amateurs ;)] and now their vivid orange is cheerily lighting up the bottom of my garden. Isn't 'free' pretty?

1 = If I tell you that this is in relation to a jigsaw can you guess what significance the number '1' has? Let's see...

I found two vintage Waddington's jigsaws in a charity shop for £1 each and despite not knowing what on earth I was going to do with a jigsaw map of the British Isles and New Zealand [!!] I bought them both! Then, last Sunday afternoon at my parents' house, [post-barbeque and pre-England-v-Germany match] four of us, in a scene which could have been from an earlier age, sat down together and spent a couple of hours working on a jigsaw!

And after all that effort ... guess what?

Well, there was only ever going to be one punchline to this story wasn't there? And here it is: Typical!!! But then , what can you expect for £1?

And no Dad, I won't be taking it back for a refund .... [he was only joking, I think .....] ;)

53 = the number of followers this blog had at the time of writing this post. I'm not going to lie to you and say that I don't care about numbers and popularity ... I know I shouldn't care and keep count and compare .... but I am only human ...

A few weeks ago I realised that at least one of the reasons [although I'm quite sure there are others ...] that I didn't have more followers was that I didn't have a 'Followers' gadget in my sidebar. So I added one and watched the number climb and then plateau at 40 something.

The day after it reached 50 I mentioned to some friends who were discussing their follower numbers, that I was happy to have at least reached 50 ... but, as the old saying goes, pride comes before a fall ... and over the next two days I lost two followers!

Now after writing that last sentence I realise that, if history repeats itself, by telling you all about this ... I'm in line for losing followers left, right and centre ..... unless you feel like boosting my numbers yourself .... ;)

A few hundred = roughly the number of my tweets that went missing when Twitter had a server glitch for a couple of weeks. While this may not sound like much, if you're not a Twitterphile like I am, it really did bother me ... I do some of my best writing within the confines of its 140 characters!!

It also gave the appearance that I didn't Tweet very often as it registered only 600 or so. Thankfully now it's back as it should be and as you can see I've actually rambled on, all be it in very short bursts, over 1600 times now!!!If you still don't 'get' Twitter, I'm planning a post which I hope will help demystify it, show you a few ways to use it to your advantage and may just make you reconsider your current anti-tweeting policy! Just be warned, may get a little evangelical about it. Again.

4 hours = about the amount of notice I got that we were having two small house guests for the weekend. The same weekend during which I had to produce 5 projects for a magazine article! A weekend which was apparently all planned and one which someone forgot to mention to me.

After I'd taken in the news [quietly, but pointedly!] I was fine with it. The small house guests in question are aways impeccably well-behaved and rather oblingingly they even share James's and my respective loves of sci-fi and crafting. So while the big boys waged Star Wars Lego battles we, the girls, worked on crafting deadlines and making mini-albums.

You'll have to wait until Issue 78 of Papercraft Inspirations Magazine is published [which I think is September] to see what I was working on, but here's a peek at what the small house-guest made for herself. Her little book of things she likes:Which, as you might just be able to make out, adorably includes animals such as 'ginny pigs' and 'gecos' and the colours 'perpol' and 'wight'! So on this surprise house guest weekend what did we learn? Well...

  • Small House Guest 1 learned that the one and only time he won a round of 'flicking over Lego Star Wars men with elastic bands' his uncle James hadn't actually meant let him win ... he'd won fair and square on his own merits! [But really? One round! Why can't men let kids win more often?];
  • Then Small House Guest 2 learned she's never too young to begin scrapbooking;
  • James learned the joys of taking two kids to the cinema on his own to see a film which he was embarrassed to ask for tickets to ['Furry Vengeance'!!] and during which he nearly fell asleep.
And finally .....

  • I learned to be highly suspicious of phone calls from him on Friday afternoons which begin with the words: "How much do you love me? ....."
OK then, that's June under our belts. Now what? July is currently offering me:
  • a short break;
  • a trip to an airshow [for which I'm already forcing James to pre-prepare a treasure hunt style worksheet [like museums have to stop kids getting bored] for me to play with while I'm there!];
  • swiftly followed by a trip to a large antiques fair; and finally ...
  • the opening of 'The Carousel Zebra' my first online shop. [I've edited this to add the link so some people don't burst with curiosity ;)]
Non-stop action or what?

Happy July everyone, I wish you everything you wish for yourself.

Julie x