Friday, 28 February 2014

My Month in Numbers 2014: February

Hello then.

This post almost didn't happen. Mainly because not much else did this month. February has been so unremarkable for me that I struggled to think of anything much to summarise here.

I'm currently kidding myself that this woeful lack of excitement is all down to February being a particularly short month; all the interesting stuff that could have happened probably would have done so in those 2-3 days we've been deprived of ...

But, never let it be said I can't make a mountain out of a mole-hill; I've given it some thought and have managed to come up with a number or two to share after all ... here goes:

3 heads are better than 1 = James added to my head collection this month with a Valentine's gift of a little phrenology bust [I've always wanted one!]:
In fact, all of the chaps in Head Corner - the phrenology bust, wig form and doll's head, were gifts from James; it's almost as if he knows what I like isn't it?

As he was studying the latest addition he laughed as he came across the region of 'Domestic Propensities' ... and tried [unsurprisingly in vain] to locate any evidence of them on my head:
[Notice how I avoided saying that I'd "spent Valentine's night with James feeling my bumps"? I knew you'd get the wrong idea. I know what you're like ... ]

2 = the number of household things that began to break down  Our shower is on a work-to-rule strike at them moment, cutting-out after only a short while and refusing to come back on. Which may well be OK if you've only got very short hair to wash in a hurry [James] ... but it's not so OK when your hair's the longest it's been in years [me]. I'm actually getting my haircut today ... but I'd rather have a new shower fitted that resort to any drastic lock-chopping!

Oh and the 2nd thing is: the washing machine which, like me in a large shopping centre, has very poor bearings. Ball bearings which, apparently can't be replaced. So while we're on the subject of things that are broken ... you can add to that my spirits when we had to go and look for a new machine.

I had little to no interest whatsoever in spending my Saturday in the white goods aisle of a electrics shop let alone mustering up an enthusiasm over the fact - told to us by the very capable sales assistant - that the latest model somehow forces detergent into the fibres of my clothes. To give him his due he did his best to chat to us about the pros and cons of the various models we were skulking around but, seriously ...

... he was never really going to be able to get me to care, he only needed to feel the bumps on my head to know that ...

6 = the number of books read: the 5 here plus Dark Matter by Juli Zeh: 
Just like last year I'm keeping track of all the books I read on a dedicated Pinterest board - if you want to read more about any of the titles just click through for  links + reviews.

I've often been super-impressed by some of you who mention finishing lots of books each month ... then it dawned on me that, in order to do the same I just needed to read shorter ones! I even scanned the shelves of the library for slimmer volumes this time round I'm not sure how long I'll keep it up ... because I'm actually rather drawn to door-stoppers!

I might just start recording the number of pages I read instead ...
  • This month I read 1824 pages over 6 books = an average of 304 pages per book.
  • Meanwhile, in December I read 784 pages ... but that was just in 1 single arm-muscle-building epic of a book - Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch!
2 x '10 Ways'I regularly design for the '10 Ways with ...' feature in Papercraft Inspirations magazine where I create 10 items using a similar product or technique [eg. cork, corrugated card, alphabets, fabric, buttons, envelopes and many more!] and this month I've completed 2 sets for upcoming issues.

See if you can guess what the theme was for this sneak peek: 
For Papercraft Inspirations magazine Issue 127 [April 2014]
... and this one:

For Papercraft Inspirations magazine Issue 127 [May 2014] 
1732 words = the word count of the first ever non-crafty article I've submitted to a magazine for consideration. While I hope it will be ... I'm not sure it'll make it as I haven't heard anything back yet.

Should  I have just admitted that? I don't know. But I have! You know me ... I like to put things out there ...

Needless to say you'll be one of the first to know if it does make it into print ... by which time you'll be tired of hearing me mentioning it! ;-)

4th = a day to remember  the 4th would have been my late Grandma's birthday and we marked it by talking about, then doing, a few of the things she would have done.  Here's me drinking tea from a BIG mug like she always did:
Actually ... I'll share more about the things I did very soon when I photograph a layout I've made all about it.

And finally ...

22 = terrifyingly the number of weeks left until August! You may well ask how of why this is important. Well, it's not really ... it's just that I've been playing along with the 52 Weeks of Photos project  where, each week since last August I've been taking a photo to match one of the categories, then scrapbooking them. But, each week, as I cross off yet another photo taken I'm becoming more aware of just how few categories [and therefore weeks] there are remaining!

Quick ... time's gaining on us and we'd better look like we've done something by the time it catches up!

And now we're back to wishing February had those 3 extra days aren't we?

If my memory-keeping-by-numbers has inspired you to give it a go yourself [especially as you now know that you can still create a post even when nothing exciting whatsoever has occurred!] ... then all the instructions for how to join in the Month in Numbers community can be found on the dedicated page of my blog.
The main 'rule' is really just to link back to me somewhere ... and to try to visit at least 1 or 2 fellow MinN bloggers during the days ahead ... but go and have a good skim through the details here.
If you leave me your link to your post today I'll make sure to drop in on you soon to catch up with your February counting.
And if you just dropped by to read mine - thanks for that! I hope you enjoyed exchanging a few of your own minutes to read through a collection of mine.
Happy March to you!
Julie x

Friday, 21 February 2014

Shop news: Spring time crafting

Hello hello.

If you're not one of those folk who come and visit me on my Facebook page then ... my apologies ... I've been very bad at letting you know about new additions to my crafty supplies Etsy shop.

I'm good [even if I do say so myself] at putting new kits together; I spend a long time photographing and adding useful descriptions to each new pack and I'm always prompt with the packaging up and posting out of orders ... but I keep neglecting to let you know about all that on here.

To be honest ... sometimes it's such a relief to have completed all the creating, packing, photographing, editing, describing and eventually adding something to the shop's [virtual] shelves ... that I simply just stop short of writing a blog post all about it ... and I scurry away ... usually to breathe and drink tea! And I let the shop look after itself ...

But ... as I sit here, with a blue sky outside lit, from low down by late afternoon sunshine, I realise there are some kits that I need to tell you about right now ... just as spring is daring to creep back into the air!

First of all there are two Easter themed Interesting Bits kits:
As with all the Interesting Bits kits these are a mix of colour-coordinated patterned papers plus embellishments of all kinds eg. tags, labels, stickers buttons etc. drawn from all kinds of sources. There's even a little Easter chick cross-stitch inside the Sunny Springtime

They contain enough complimentary bits + bobs that you can open up a pack and create something lovely by only needing to add a blank base eg. a card/tag/gift bag/scrapbook background or whatever you fancy making!

And, if these lighter nights are making you feel a little more like cracking open your crafty supplies, then here are a few more kits inspired by the coming of a new season:
  • A Cycling Adventure [a cheery collection of items inspired by a drift through the countryside on two wheels] and
  •  My Sunshine [a cosy, folky, cheerful kit packed with the kinds designs/patterns you might have found on your t-shirts and dresses if you were a child of the 70s!]
If these colour ways don't grab you wherever it is you keep your creative juices [I don't want to assume ...] then do drop by the 'Creativity Kits' section of the shop where you can see how your juices feel about any of the 14 other options in stock at the moment. For example ....
  • if you like things a bit graphic, eclectic, turquoise and black... then try Edgy Folkiness;
  • but if you float toward the feminine and dreamy then try A Fairytale Flight of Fancy or Free to Dream ... [perfect for mixed-media books / junk journals] OR
  • if you're a card maker who likes things a little more traditional there are a couple of 'general birthday' themed packs in Blue, Pink and Bright Pastels. 
So, that's that. You're now in the loop [feel free to decorate that loop to suit your own crafty tastes ...]

I'll leave you to have a browse around my Interesting Bits!

Have a great weekend.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Simply A Moment: February 2014 'Ah but 'monumental' doesn't get the creases out of jeans'

Hello, hello.

While I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front I am, as ever, determined to keep pausing for 'Simply A Moment' hosted by Alexa at Trimming the Sails.

[To learn more you can read Alexa's February moment here, [which includes a place to leave your own post link if you join in - or else Alexa also has a few tips on how to record your own moments.]

'Ah but 'monumental' doesn't get the creases out of jeans'

Date: Sunday 16th February 2014
Time: 21.15 ish
Location: home

Still smiling from the text conversation I've been having with my sister since Call the Midwife ended a few minutes ago I stand at the chopping board preparing sandwiches for tomorrow's lunch.

James has switched channels to the BBC4 documentary about 'Brutalist' concrete architecture he wanted to watch but here he is wandering in to see what I'm doing.

"I like a bit of Brutalism" he declares as I attempt to chop beetroot without getting any of its vivid, lasting, stain on my fingertips.

With his help the sandwiches get finished and safely packed away until the morning. And I head upstairs.

While I'm there I hear the kitchen tap running. "What he's doing now?" I think to myself.

As I make my way back down the staircase, just as the living room door comes into view, I see his hands carefully set down both a full glass of cold water and the water jug for the iron. Then I notice the ironing board is up with the iron sitting patiently on top, its power cable unfurled expectantly.

And I creep back upstairs ... unnoticed ...

"I know I left the camera on here somewhere" I think as, in complete darkness, I carefully grope about on top of my workroom desk. In that room you're never too far away from something to either knock over, spill to the four winds or cut yourself on ... but eventually the palm of my hand finds the camera-shaped object it was feeling for.  And I sneak back down to capture this ...
It's not like he doesn't ever iron. That's not my point.

But on a Sunday night? That's new.

The sight drags me right back to the days of having my uniform ironed just in time to start a new week at school the next day ... and suddenly I feel an urge to check if I've finished all my homework ...

"Why are you doing that now?" I ask.

"Because this is on" he replies, nodding his head toward the TV. As if that's some sort of logical explanation. I look confused.

"Because I can watch this and do this at the same time" he clarifies.

And, while I'm not really convinced that that's the real answer I decide not to question the situation further.

In the background the presenter of the architecture programme quotes a commentator who stated that: "the 'Monumental' should have no practical use".

Mmmm ... maybe not ...

... but then, when was the last time 'monumental' spared you the trial of the ironing pile?


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Cardmaking: a Polish pin-up Valentine

Hello you.

I know it's a little early and that it's not Valentine's Day for 3 more days, but this is my Design Team project over on up on the 3DJean blog today and I wanted to share it here too. Spread myself around a little ...
Now then, I could pretend that I made the card just for you, dear reader; to express the warm and fuzzy feelings I get knowing that you're on the other side of this screen, reading what I've written. Because I really do appreciate you you know? Honestly.

But ... I think that once you spotted my snipped sentiment ...
... you might get the idea that - while I do indeed appreciate you VERY MUCH -  this particular card may well have been made with someone else in mind ... sorry about that.

I actually wasn't planning to make a Valentine's card this year [goodness knows you run out of both ideas and the urge to do full-on gooey romance when you've been together as long as James and I have!] but ... my 3DJean Design Team treats this time round included the new Tando Hearts mask and it seemed too timely not to put it to full-on loved-up use!

I sponged ink through the mask on to a page from an old Polish phrase book [similar pages can be found in the Foreign Language text packs in my shop or, if you want something more specific we can talk about that. Preferably in English.]
I used a pin-up girl image as a focal point on top ... then it was a case of 'more-is-more' and I just kept adding layers because, when you're aiming for messy/eclectic style, you can't really be timid ... you've got to go multi-layered-and-slightly-random ... or go home!

Hence the mix of washi tape, gilding, mini-staples, tags and new Shimmerz Dimensionz dots [dimensional liquid, pearly paints with a nozzle top]:
And also ... a paperclip [because I love them] and an organza rose complete with its appropriately fish-net-stockings-ish type mesh backing!: 
And finally...  a plain Studio Calico wood veneer heart covered with white Pearly Gates Shimmerz Dimensionz paint alongside a gilded heart I had left over from a recent Gilding Flakes 'Masterclass' I created for Papercraft Inspirations Magazine [issue 122]   
[Happily this gives me all the excuse I need to mention [as I did all the time I was working on the masterclass] my best crafting-meets-Shakespeare pun in the form of: 'Rosencrantz and Gilding Flakes'. Ah ... how I make myself laugh ... ]

But back to the card:
I'm pretty certain that James won't actually see this on here before I hand it to him in the flesh [so to speak] ... so really, you've seen it first. I told you you were special to me!

Julie x

Friday, 7 February 2014

Scrapbooking: The First Photo

Hello hello.

Before you settle in for the scrapbooking bit I should just apologise for the smell.

The smell of burnt sausages.

And terror.

It'll be from the burnt sausages [an explosion under the grill] ... and the terror [my hands shaking as I ran the flaming tray under the tap!]

So, yes, let's just pretend that it's barbecue season already shall we because ... despite the fact that the layout I've got to share features a close-up of 2 noses ...

... it actually has nothing to do with smell; neither eau de bonfire or otherwise! Rather it's about a tradition of taking a selfie of the pair of us soon after midnight, minutes into a brand New Year ... right after the 'first footing'.

BTW: is it still called a selfie if there's more than just yourself in it? Me+youfie? Usfie? anyway ... here's the layout:
The thing with taking a 'first photo' is ... it's always going to be the first photo .. no matter how many you take afterwards. And so, to date, none of the shots we've taken have been great works of photography - they're often grainy or blurry but, what the heck, I still keep them and scrap them. But then again none of them have ever been just close ups of our noses ... until this year:
So ... once I realised that the zoom was still on ... we had a second attempt at a first portrait; and this time it included all our main features:
How about you? Do you have any set photo-taking traditions?

  • Do you take the same photo every year? Every month? Every day?!
  • Maybe of your kids, or the garden, or maybe particular changing landscape throughout the year?
And if you do ... do you give yourself more than one chance to get it right?!

Thanks for stopping by today and again ... apologies for the smell ... let me just crack a window ...

Julie x


Supplies used:
Background paper: 'Family Stories' range by Teresa Collins
Strips of patterned paper: 'Wildflower' by Carta Bella
Number themed vintage book pages - available in my Etsy shop [p.s: there are lots of new packs on the shelves this week!]
Frame: Melissa Frances
Wood veneer head silhouette: Maya Road
Camera chipboard: Crate Paper
Washi tape: Papermania Capsule Collection 'Jewels'