Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Layout: The Doorway Squash


There are some phrases in life which, once you've said them out loud take on a different colouring to when they were safely still inside your head. You know?

Phrases like: "Did I tell you that we have a squash in the doorway".
If I'd said this to you, you might rightly respond to with: "Oh, do you? Well, perhaps you'd better keep your personal business to yourself".

Or, alternatively, if you were feeling cheeky, you might ask: "How often?".
 And then I'd have to reply [defensively, while blushing]: "No ... really, literally. . Not: 'I literally died' literally. But properly 'literally'!"

"We literally do have a squash in the doorway ... and I have photos to prove it."

Now, here's where you might  put your hand in front of your eyes to protect them from what doorway shenanigans your twisted mind has conjured up.

But then I'd show you this:

And these close-ups:

And we'd all mumble about how it had all been a silly misunderstanding ... 

 ... and agree never to mention it again.

OooooooKaaaayyyyy then. 

Glad we've got that sorted.

Julie x

  • I'm back on Friday with details of a giveaway [I think!] and a new haircut. But then you probably care more about the free stuff than you do my hair. Which is reasonable.
  • Spoiler: the prize is NOT a squash.  

My Month in Numbers 2011: August

Hi, hi.

In last month's 'Month in Numbers' post I was attempting, against all odds, to keep thoughts of winter at bay but, fighting that losing battle, this month I'm just going to go for full-blown denial. The strain of which must be taking its toll as ... I don't think I've bought any shoes this month. None.

None that I can remember at least ... anyway, here's my August 2011 - in numbers:

1 = the number of trips made to the seaside.

It was a spur of the moment idea of mine, which was OK because the coast is only 20 minutes away and, if anything we should go there more often. This particular trip was to metaphorically 'blow the cobwebs away' but, if you know the kind of summer we've been having here then you'll understand that this trip not only blew away the cobwebs ... but the spiders and all thoughts they've ever had in their spidery lives about spinning-webs ever again too:
I swear I had rain in my ears while walking along the promenade. My ears!!

Now, why don't have these spur of the moment ideas on warm days?

2 chips 1 fish = the takeaway we took home to eat after getting rain in our ears.
But sometimes finding the perfect fish-to-chip ratio can be quite taxing can't it? Because you don't want to get so much you can't eat it all ... nor do you want too little, because it's undignified to fight over battered cod.

So do you have two fish and two chips each? Or should you just get two fish and one chips? One fish and two chips? With or without scraps? Open? Wrapped? So many decisions. Enough to make you hungry really ... We ate it all. 100%.

11 = the number of prizes given away during the Going Postal series.
47 = the number of items pinned to the Going Postal Pinterest board.
96 = the number of people who were following the Going Postal board.

40 miles and 100 years back in time = what was necessary to travel when we visited Beamish:
It's a great - if a little strange - day out, especially if you like period dramas.

In fact, for a good proportion of the time I felt I was in Larkrise to Candleford!

6 = the number of layouts I made for Creativity Magazine, the paint splattering I added to one of them left me looking like this:
My dining room table didn't look much better either. [Luckily the page did!]

Finally ... remember our dabbling with pumpkin relationships in last month's number round-up? Well ... it seems something worked ...

38cm = the circumference, so far, of the one and only squash we've managed to grow. It's just a pity that it decided to grow right above the door:
I could be wrong, but ... I really don't think that gourds are meant to grow like that. We take our lives in our hands every time we step inside ... what kind of damage do you think a falling gourd can do to your skull?

[If you swing back here tomorrow I'll show you the layout I've made about this particular peculiarity in our garden.]


So, that's my August right there. Now it's your turn.

If you're thinking of joining in with your own numbers for August you can add your post to the linky box below but as it's the first time I've used this version, if you have any problems, just leave me a link in the comments instead.

Bon voyage August. Welcome back September.

For the record I hate September, so you should brace yourself for some grumpy numbers this time next month. OK? OK.


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Guess what's in the folder.


Last Saturday was a good day. For a start I wore a stripey dress and yellow shoes [BTW:  these facts are not at all pertinent to the story ... but hey, I'm just setting the scene for you ... ], the sun was shining and James and I went out for lunch [goat's cheese bruschetta - in case you're wondering] in a little local town which has plenty of tea shops ... and almost as many charity shops. One in particular stands out as it sells mainly retro and vintage items rather than the usual tat ornaments made last year and biographies no one ever reads.

So far so good ... but wait ... it gets better. Bearing in mind how much I adore, crave, seek-out and obsess over retro prints .... and keeping in mind too just how much I have always loved stationary ... just imagine how I felt when my eyes alighted on the shelf where these beauties stood:

Two A4 ring-binders with the most incredible textured plastic covers, in amazing designs:

So far so amazing, yes? But then ...

... then, drawn nearer by their sheer magnificence I reached out to touch them and peer inside. Which is when 'amazing' turned into 'amazing-er'.

And here's why:
They house a stamp collection.

Stamps! STAMPS!

Lots and lots of them:
Stamps arranged by country of origin:

Pretty stamps:

Stylish stamps:

Wonderfully illustrated stamps:

Stripey stamps:

Weirdly hot stamps:
Apologies to any Belgian readers for checking out your ... whoever he might be!

And if all this wasn't enough for one woman to take ... alongside the pages of organised stamps were several envelopes stuffed with assorted unsorted extras:
And packets of stamp sets ... and several postcards from a 'Ken' who, it turns out, was no great travel writer!

They're not all mine. We bought them between us. And I can feel doubly delighted at the fact that while all the postal-pretties came to live with us, the money we paid went to the British Red Cross, which feels so much more rewarding than if I'd bought them from ebay.

James is going to go through them and point out the ones he would prefer not to see end up on a layout or collage ... and he harbours dreams of researching them and finding our fortune therein.

But the rest ...

.... the rest is fair game and postal-themed projects look like they're here to stay!


Thanks for dropping by to see my latest treasures.


Julie :-)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Layout: A Broken Favourite

Hello, hello.

It's my turn to blog for the 3DJean Design Team today so I thought I'd share a page made using a backing paper from the Studio2Mers 'Constellations' range which is in stock in the 3DJean shop.

Here it is .. but if you have a favourite mug for your tea/coffee ... you might want to look away now:
I'd had this mug for a good few years. It was perfect for me.
  • Its body ... was just big enough to hold just enough vital caffeine.
The fabric is from this kit, which I guest-designed with in June.
  • Its base ... just wide enough to balance safely on the bed / sofa / my chest ... basically anything I casually set it down upon. 
  • Its handle ... just the right size for me to slide my whole hand through which is my absolute, No.1, essential criteria for a mug as I'm an unabashed mug-hugger.
  • And finally ... its ceramic was just thick enough to withstand most of the mishaps, wobbles and knocks which life with me inevitably brought it.
Over the years it valiantly withstood most of those things.

But not all:
I very nearly cried.
 I was appalled at myself and my carelessness. I just stood staring at my beloved mug.

All 2 separate pieces of it!

I'm wondering if my over reaction to a broken mug might be something I can blame on family folk-lore [well, it's better than appearing entirely feeble and over-emotional isn't it?].

When I was growing up, for as long as I could remember my Grandma drank from the same mug at our house. She only ever drank from that mug and none of us ever used it when she wasn't there.

We joked that she and the mug might be linked together like in the nursery rhyme 'My Grandfather's Clock', where the clock "stopped, short, never to go again when the old man died"! I think we were always worried that if the mug ever broke ... well ... I think you can guess what we worried might happen!  In the end Grandma outlived her mug but seemingly, she passed down her one-woman-one-mug traits to me.

And fear ye not for, while it took time, I finally found a mug to take the place of my own broken favourite [which I blogged about it here ... if you're curious!].

Maybe I should have bought two ... just in case ...

Anyway .. it's nice of you to drop in... shall I put the kettle on?

See you soon.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Overheard: Do mythical creatures sweat?


The trouble with me only working from home during the summer is that I don't get to hear, or rather overhear all those interesting snippets I so like to collect!

However ... I guess this means that when I do get out of the house, my ears are sharpened and ready for the listening. And here's the latest ...

The other week I was in a charity shop looking out for old tat treasures when I walked right into the middle of this ...

There were two young [early 20s] shop assistants chatting while arranging stock.

Shop Assistant 1 was chatting about how warm it was in the shop with Shop Assistant 2 who had several items of clothing tucked beneath her armpit [this fact will become relevant ... if unpalatable later].

Shop Assistant 1: "It's warm isn't it?"

Shop Assistant 2: "Yeah I'm sweating. Y'know, I used to say I was sweating like a P. A. G ...  [she spelled out the letters].

But then I realised that pig is spelled P. I. G. isn't it? 

Ha! I'd been saying I was sweating like a 'pag'! A pag!

A made-up an animal!"
My pig project which featured in Papercraft Inspirations Magazine.
She laughed.

Shop Assistant 1 laughed.

I made a Note to Self not to touch those clothes she'd had under her arm all this time ...  and which she was about to put out on the racks ...
Happy over-hearing.

Julie :-)

Overheard: Charity shop, 8th August 2011


  • Just a little reminder to anyone thinking of joining in with My Month in Numbers this month - I'll be blogging mine on Wednesday 31st and will probably add a linky box for you all to add yours to.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Docrafts Giveaway Winner

Hi, hi, hi.

The sun's shining here this morning and I think the day's about to get brighter for one of you ....

I've just used an online random number generator to find the winner of the 5 XCut punches and Forever Friends stamps on offer from Docrafts and it chose '50':

As promised, all of you who added the extra details in your comment had your name listed twice in a numbered list in a Word document.

All of which meant that entry '50' belonged to ... Louise!

Congratulations Louise, please email me your postal address for me to pass on to Docrafts.

Thanks again to all who took time to comment and leave such thoughtful entries.


I'll be back soon, mainly as I've acquired a new Overheard I'm eager to tell you about ...


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

They stitch horses don't they?


While my summer of post-y projects may now be over my desire to work within categories and themes hasn't. And I doubt it ever will.

And this time it's horses [all of the collages are now in my shop] :

So, where did this equine excitement come from?

I'm not too sure.

I'm not a horsey kinda girl really ... although I do think I should add 'horse-riding' to my imaginary Things To Do Before I Die list ... I mean, I already reeeeaaaally like riding-boots .. which is probably half the battle ... isn't it?
Maybe it's the fact they're just like a non-stripey zebra ....
Maybe it's the fact that I've read Paulo Coelho's novel The Alchemist - which features a young man's trip across the desert on horseback -  twice in the last month.
Maybe it's because I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Hidalgo, a film about a cross-desert horse race, when it was on TV last week.

[Although ... maybe it was the sight of a brave, sweaty and sandy Viggo Mortensen that can be held responsible for much of my enjoyment of that film ... ].
Maybe it's just the images of horses found in my favourite old Childrens Dictionaryare so lovely and atmospheric that they're stirring me to create something from them.

Maybe it's because I recognise kindred spirits in highly strung sensitive creatures who have an ability to tune into people's feelings and which have been known to fall over in a spectacularly comprehensive manner.  [Although luckily for me James doesn't keep a gun in the house on the off chance I break a limb during one of my more clumsy moments ...].


Yet, if I'm honest, far from feeling any longstanding kinship with horses, only last week I felt like I must have been a whale in a past life  ... but that's quite another story.

[Excuse me while I dash off to look for illustrations under 'W' for 'Whale' ....] .

Back soon.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

Going Postal: Just in time for the last collection

So, hello again. For the second time today.

I promise I make a habit of posting twice daily, but I didn't want to cram in all my emotional outpourings into my previous post, it just wouldn't have been dignified. Plus ... all the tears would have made those lovely rainbow stamps a bit soggy ...

And now, sitting here with a big blank post all to myself ... I really don't know where to begin ...

How about ...

A few things I've learned during this series:
  • Pinterest is going to become so useful for joint creative projects such as Going Postal, especially seeing as how not everyone needs an account to be able to join in.
  • My close blogging friends are amazingly supportive of my whims and adventures in blogland!
  • My wider blogging community truly is filled with postal-loving crafters ... just as I'd suspected! 
  • There'll be fewer security envelopes being thrown away from now on ... 
A few things I'm grateful for:
  • The number of you who blogged a Going Postal post of your own. Thanks You! You filled-up that Pinterest board with style!; 
  • The people who offered giveaway prizes. You're such a generous lot!
  • The people who've left comments and re-pinned one another's work.
A few things I'm definitely going to do again:
  • Something almost identical to Going Postal ... but with a different theme. Probably in the New Year. 
  • Be brave and run with my "Mmmm, maybe I might ... "- style schemes and plans whenever I can!
  • Ask you all a question every now and again ...outright ... no messing ... just a "So ... tell  me .....?" question from time to time. 
Because the answers you've all been leaving on the posts where I've asked a question have been one of my favourite things to happen in almost 3 years of blogging!

If you didn't catch them - they were the comments left on 2 giveaway posts where I first asked about the unusual occupations of someone you know and then who you'd like to write a letter to and why.

Between the two categories you've had me enthralled! I've loved the glimpses into your world-beyond-the-blog and you've had me both laughing out loud and fighting back tears.

Something I always try to remember, when going about the business of life, when trying not to rush to judgements and treat people fairly is that everyone has their story. Everyone has a history, a network of events and moments and relationships unique to them which, usually, has to be held  beneath the surface just to allow us to get on with our day-to-day living.

But everyone also likes to tell that story when given a chance. And you sure do have one to tell, don't you?

Thank you for sharing all those touching details about who you'd like to write a letter to and why. Isn't it interesting how so many of you have given similar responses? It's like the author Maya Angelou says: "We are more alike than we are unalike".

And whoever would've thought that that would be the biggest thing to have come out of a series about postal ephemera!

Maybe it all turned into a joint and unexpected nostalgia trip for us.
  • There were all those memories of writing and receiving handwritten letters 'once upon a time'.
  • There were the remembered joys of snipping off an interesting stamp from an 'exotic' country when we were young. 
  • There were the sudden recollections that there were postcards, letters and stamp collections still in our houses ... somewhere ... and so many of you searched for them ... and found them and got reacquainted with stamps ... and memories.
  • And there were those of you who've decided to pass on your love of snail mail to your 21st cenury children or who've joined in a post-swapping scheme to re-awaken your childhood excitement at what might just land on your doormat any given day.
 So .. thanks for joining me when I went postal. You were great company.

Now let me go and break open a new notebook so I can scribble down my plans for next time ...

Julie x


  • Blogging business-as-usual will no doubt resume this week sometime.
  • I'll leave the full list of Going Postal posts in the righthand sidebar for another month. After that you can use the search box at the top left of the screen or my 'Filed Away' section, if you need to refer back to anything.
  • Here's the Going Postal Pinterest board - for you to check out the latest and last additions [unless anything else comes in before midnight!].
  • The Docrafts giveaway remains open until Thursday 18th Aug 2011.
  • I'm hoping to put together the first in a series of short, focussed, creative classes very soon and I hope some of you will join me.
  • Thanks, see you next week.

Going Postal: Stamps as home-decor


I know I said this would be my last Going Postal post ... but I've decided to break up what I have left into 2 posts over today. So I'm just going to launch straight into this one ... It's an way for you to use up all those postage stamps you've been digging out of your supplies over the past month, or the ones you've treated yourself to since Going Postal began.

How about some stamp-rainbow-covered magazine files?

I made these around 10 years ago now ...
... using James's stamp collection to decorate the wooden files he keeps his hobby magazines in:

I can still remember the look on his face when I asked if I could use them ...

And because he has the patience of a saint didn't seriously collect stamps he just 'had' some, and because I'm annoying / persistant / like a dog with a bone a dedicated artiste ... he eventually got worn down saw the artistic merit in allowing me to use them!

Obviously [me being me] I arranged them all in colour order, gradually working my way around the boxes and through the colour spectrum:

I only used PVA glue on them and they've been perfectly durable over the years, they don't even have a top coat on them:

While I was taking the photos of them to show you ... I must admit that I felt a little queasy at seeing all those lovely stamps glued down ... and out of bounds for my itchy, paper-crafting fingers!  Yet ... I must tell myself what I told persuaded James with all those years ago ...

"Having them on display like this is surely so much better than them being left in a cupboard somewhere? ... Surely ....?"

Especially when there's one's as pretty as this:
And other as handsome as ...:

So, there's my postal themed home decor idea  for you [and a glimpse into my home life too!]. The idea itself is pretty simple really - you glue stamps on to a box.

The debating with yourself over whether you should have done it ... it slightly more complex ...


Even though the Going Postal project finishes today, I'd still like to see if you put any of your stamps to a home decor use too.

I'll be back later tonight with a round-up post, so I'll see you later.