Thursday 31 December 2009

A 'SMART' New Start

You can take the girl out of the Learning Mentoring but you can't take the Learning Mentoring out of the girl. Or so it would seem.

One of the things my mentor training taught me was how to set Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic and Time-related targets for the children I worked with. In short, it's all about setting goals which are achievable as nobody wants or needs to be set up to fail, least of all some of the kids I came across.

That said, 'acheivable' is not the same thing as 'easy'. Once each tiny goal was reached and reflected back on it often built into something quite significant. For example, there were the very quiet children whose target was to speak once in class, or there was the hyperactive Jordan [ahhh Jordan ... a complete and utter legend who I always thought of as a real life / 10 year old Joey from Friends, of whom I could regale you with tales of sheer hilarity. Remind me to share with you his concerns about the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi one day ....but I digress!]. Yes, good old Jordan whose targets I kind of, sort of, ended up adapting into something resembling gambling ... "I bet you can't sit still for 2 minutes"... and so on ...for an hour! Hey, it worked for him and his teacher, who despaired over who would get him to stay in his seat after I left the school!

So, what's this got to do with anything? Well, it's that time of year isn't it? Where people set themselves grand life-changing goals but which, more often than not, will probably be forgotten or 'failed' by February. Which is where my approach to target setting comes in. I don't do resolutions - they're too big, too wooly, too huge-yet-still-vague. I need to take my big goals and break them down into smaller steps's all connected to that thrill of crossing something of my 'To Do' list [if that makes me sad ...then so be it!].

Here's a layout I made at this time last year, which shows some of the small targets I set myself :
And I reckon that I achieved most of that. Go me! Put a tick on my behaviour chart, slap a shiny 'Well Done' sticker on my jumper and send the house points my way, thank you very much.

So, onto the 2010 targets. Here's the layout:
[Materials used: corrugated card; mini-alphas; vintage alphas; number brads; index label; '10' card and ticket from various Gauche Alchemy kits. Patterned papers; 'Ten' tag; vintage book page; yellow index card and green cardstock from the 'Resolutions' kit from Crafty Templates. The vintage wallpaper print circles were a digital download from SooArt on Etsy.]

And here's where I will be writing those goals:

The thing is ... I haven't actually pinned any concrete targets down and I don't want to just make something up to fill a blank section on a page. So, I'll be giving it a little more thought before committing the list to paper.

But I will certainly get it done. I think it's important to put things in writing as, even if I show no one else's seems more official when it's all there in front of me in black and white! I remember when I made the following layout, almost two years ago now and how, after coming up with the title I struggled so much with filling out the dreams and wishes sections:

Now, I don't consider myself superstitious, but something back then was preventing me from allowing myself to write down what it was I wanted ... in case it somehow got taken away from me. I can't remember what it was that changed my mind but eventually I wrote it all down and soon afterwards a lot of positive things connected to my dreams began to happen. Obviously it wasn't anyhting to do with creating the layout itself ... but it was related to getting those goals clear in my head and subsequently, actively, working on them.

If you make a date to check back in with me this time next year, I'll share my '10 targets for 2010' with you.

Don't be surprised if 'to be able to sit still for 2 minutes' features in there somewhere!

Happy New Year!

J x

Thursday 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by Nabview
Hi you,

Just squeezing in a last minute festive 'Hello' and and even more festive 'Merry Christmas'.

In between escorting a 12lb Goose to my parent's house this afternoon and visiting my sister later on tonight ... I made this little video with some candles I'd been keeping for 'something special' ... and wishing you a Merry Christmas is surely that!

Whether we last met this morning, last month, last year ...or if we've never met at all I'd like to thank you for dropping in on my corner of blog-land and for making it such a cosy place to be. Thank you.

Best wishes for the Christmas season, take care and may 2010 bring you more than you knew you could hold.

Julie x

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Making a list.

It was around this time last year that I, like many other people on Facebook, completed a list of 25 Things About Me. When I wrote the list in December 08 I decided that it would be fun to scrap each of the 25 items I came up with and I did. I really did.

But do you know when I actually, finally, got all 25 completed? August! Yes, eight months later. I know.

Prior to this bout of extreme tardiness, I had thought it would be good to repeat the process each year. For obvious reasons, I wouldn't necessarily repeat the scrapping side of things, but keeping a record of things about myself each year is certainly my kind of thing. I've been keeping diaries, notebooks, 'About Me' books, journals and scrapbooks ever since I could write and the 25 Things - with its entirely random nature - can capture whatever is at the forefront of your mind on the day you respond.

That said, I was really pleased to get a message from TinkerTailor [at
The Inked Edge] saying that she'd passed on a blog- tagging thingy - in which I have to list '5 Things I like Doing'.

I was happy about this for a few reasons. Partly because TinkerTailor is one of the rare, rare breed of online crafters who I've actually met in the flesh and she's great! And partly because listing a mere five things sounds feasible. Five's so much easier to handle than 25.

In fact that's four fifths easier. Or 80% if I'm being precise. On that scale, if I did choose to scrap them at the rate I managed the task this year, it'd only take me until February to complete .... errrm, sorry, didn't mean to drag you back into GCSE Maths ... here's those '5 Things I Like Doing':

1. I like wearing high heels when I'm doing housework. This was me last week, breaking-in the shoes I bought to wear on Christmas Day, after a trip to the bottom of the garden to sort out the recycling:

Maybe it's because when I'm in heels I feel prepared, grown-up and ready for battle. Maybe it's because I'm small and they give me the edge over the mountains of ironing. Or maybe it's because they're just darned pretty things which make a fantastic noise when I storm through the kitchen!
Please note: despite the rumours spread by
Shimelle and Clair regarding my favoured heels / chores combo, I am [almost] certainly not a Stepford Wife. ;)

2. I like to read
'metafiction' [fiction in which books feature as parts of the plot/story]. In the past I've worked my way through titles such as House of Leaves; The Alchemist's Apprentice; If On A Winter's Night A Traveller; The Name of the Rose; all of the Thursday Next novels ... and many more - I find they gravitate toward me. Currently I'm reading this:

... a novel about illuminated manuscripts [I'm only on Chapt2 but it's going OK so far ..]. Several times I've attempted to read the classics of the genre - Tristram Shandy and Don Quixote - and while I may have given up on Tristram I'm persevering with Don!

3. I like sitting in front of the fire with my laptop.

Not only is that what I'm doing in the photo - it's what I'm doing as I type this. Warmth + internet = perfect contentment.

4. I like not taking myself too seriously. It's why I got James to take a photo of this street sign in York this month after it struck a chord with me: Call it one of the pleasures of getting older, not only can I admit to not being perfect ... I really don't care that I'm not. In fact, I've recently realised that I enjoy sleeping too much to strive for perfection any more! Little? Yes. Shambolic? Sometimes ... and that's fine by me. [Well, that's how I feel this week ...]

5. I like to watch stand up comedy. In 2008 I made this layout to record the comedians I'd seen: Then, during 2009 I saw more in one year than I'd seen before then. For the second time around I saw: Dave Gorman, Dylan Moran and Count Arthur Strong. Then then there was Steve Coogan, Ross Noble, Dara O'Briain, Jimmy Carr and and Jon Richardson all whom I saw for the first time this year. Now we have plans afoot to get tickets for Chris Addison and John Bishop in 2010 ... and that's just for starters.

There you go then there's my five ... you? If you share any of these proclivities I'd be interested to hear about them. Within reason.

Let's not allow things to end up as a fully-blown confessional .... expecially if it involves the inappropriate wearing of heels ....

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Angels we have heard ...

...that I might just have stumbled across something else to add to the list of "Things which I rather love to make" please welcome my newest crafting crush: fabric dolls.

The first one I made last week I'll be sharing on the Gauche Alchemy blog on Friday then, caught up in the 'Oh my, making dolls is sooo much fun I need to do it every single day' type of hype, I went on to make an angel as a Christmas gift for a friend:

Both of the dolls I've made emerged as a result of finding fabrics in two of my recent design team packages. While I could have used them by layering them on layouts or for making mini-book covers I really wanted to exploit the potential for creating something tactile and 3D.

The one-piece body of the angel is made from a section of the heavy cotton canvas which is part of the current 'Resolutions' kit from CraftyTemplates., as is the yellow netting I've used to make the wings and halo. [ETA: I've posted a full tutorial on how I made it here - on the Crafty Templates blog].].

Here's a close-up of so you can see the glitter cabochons [also from the 'Resolutions' kit], buttons and beads which I used to form the halo.

The irregular shape of the head section it's over-large size and it's tilt came about entirely as a result of me following what was only a very quick sketch directly onto my fabric in a pencil whose lines I couldn't really see when I was feeding it through the sewing machine ... a machine whose presser foot didn't let me follow the pencil line because of .... well, you don't really need to be on intimate terms with my sewing machine anatomy ... let's just say it was tricky!

So, not wanting to unpick it and start again [I'm really not a patient person when it comes to things like that!] I decided to work with the shape instead of fighting it and it began to .feel similar in some ways to the depictions of saints in Russian icon paintings:

When I positioned the face and began adding the glitter cabochons that I recognised a similarity between the shape and style of what I'd made and these kinds of images. Perhaps my wonky stitching was actually a subliminal result of watching the BBC4's 'The Art of Russia' series!

I don't think there's anything in that series about crochet, embroidered trimmings and velvet ribbons ... so 'm pretty sure the details I added to the angel's gown were all my own idea!

[The yellow Italian cotton lace is again from the Resolutions kit and the rest is from my own stash].

I'm so tempted to make dolls for each and every possible occasion next year and just wish I'd thought of the idea sooner so i could have a heavenly host all ready to hand out as gifts next week. But come next Christmas everyone I know will be getting a fabric doll!! Unless ....

...unless, and as unlikely as this may sound, unless I get distracted by yet another shiny, pretty, new craft in the meantime... but, really though, how often does that happen .....??

J :)

p.s: there's a smidgen more decoratively festive / festively decorative inspiration from Kirsty and I in the new Copy+Paste challenge we posted today!

Monday 14 December 2009

Season's greetings

Hi there. How're you today?

Did it ever get light outside where you are? It didn't here. Not really. However, somewhere during the several nano-seconds between the dark dingy light of this morning and the mists and setting sun of the afternoon I did manage to snap a few photos of the Christmas cards I made at the weekend.

They're quite minimal as I didn't want to over-shadow the leaf design stamp which I bought from Make Your Mark in York last week. I added lettering using various colours of 'Tiny' Adornit and Making Memories alphas.

Then, on the cards which are plainer still, I simply stamped diractly onto the card base and stamped my wording with Studio G alpha stamps.

The majority of the inks I've used come from one of my favourite ranges at the moment: Dew Drops 'Memento' Dye Inks of which I'm gradually building up a collection. They pander right to the core of my colour-obsessed side, not only do they some in a really interesting spectrum of colurs, the've got such evocative names such as: 'Paris Dusk'; 'Summer Sky', 'Rose Bud'; 'Pear Tart' and 'Rhubarb Stalk' ... I mean really, how am I expected to resist?!

Oh and those inks also smell lovely too [don't look at me like that, I know for certain that I'm not the only craft-supplies-sniffer on the block!!]. In fact they smell exactly like a pack of scented felt tip pens I had when I was young. I swear!

OK, I think I'll leave it there before I let any other secrets out. I mean, before I know it I'll be letting it slip that there'll be a new Copy+Paste challenge up before the end of the week and also that PaperCraft Inspirations magazine have featured our 12 Days class in their latest issue.... errrr ... oops... try to forget what I've just said ...


Sunday 13 December 2009

Festive [paper] foliage.

Greetings. And season's greetings at that. How's things going? Braved the town centre yet? We did. And we mostly survived too.

Granted, buying mysef some really lovely grey, studded-leather shoes helped me on my merry way ... but we did manage to squeeze a few Christmas gifts for others into our bags too. Now they need to be wrapped.

Following a blog post I did around this time last year I know I'm not alone in selecting a theme for my gift wrapping. This year I'm continuing with last year's purple and kraft-paper style and have splashed out on two rolls from ... Aldi!! So, seeing as how I've got my paper so cheap and mass produced, I've spent more time hand-crafting my gift tags, including these:

If you'd like to see the video tutorial which shows how I made the leaves on my tags then have a look here - where I've blogged the process, step-by-step, for the Gauche Alchemy blog.

As I promise over there, I'll show you a few more examples over here. [If you're anticipating recieving a gift form me this year, and don't wish to see the hand-crafted tag that'll be dangling from it ...then look away now].

Here's one made from items from my pink mixed media kit from Gauche Alchemy [now also available as a mixed pink + green kit called Funky Fa La La:
And another:

There's something about these wired leaves [made from the old dress-making patterns which Gauche Alchemy wrap their orders in!] which reminds me of the flowers which surrounded on a wind-up musical statue my Nana had of a Saint Bernadette when I was little!! So, I'm feeling rather nostalgic right now and simultaneously can't seem to get the 'Immaculate Mary' hymn out of my head!!

Anyway, enough rambling - here's another tag:

And a few more with green berries this time:

Finally, here's a still from my video tutorial - if you like the idea of wired-tissue-paper-leaves, then do give it a look [it's only 2mins long and has a rather festive soundtrack to boot!!]:

I'm definitely feeling in the spirit of the festive season [We've had our decorations up earlier than ever this year] and am planning lots of festive blogging. I mentioned yesterday that I was going to begin making my Christmas cards today and ...believe it or not ... I got ahead of myslef and made them last night.

In between watching the X-Factor final and nursing such an annoying pain in my arm [which is still hanging around from my 'falling-from-bike injury in Summer 08!] I managed to make the most important cards at least [you know? The ones for various parents and siblings.] Once they were complete, I realised how nice they are! I think I've impressed myself - it's nice when then happens isn't it? I'll do my best to remember to photograph and share them with you here soon.

I appear to be finished work now until the New Year [although if someone can remind me to go in on Wednesday morning I'd be pretty grateful...thanks! I've got a student to see in the morning and then a Christmas lunch with my colleagues and an end of term meeting to attend - so it's not all over just yet].

I'll see you soon. With some Christmas cards or a stuffed Santa or a festive Copy + Paste challenge .... whichever I get around to first!!

OK people - soonly.

J x

Saturday 12 December 2009

Words fail me [sometimes!]

I've had the following two layouts languishing partially complete on my floor for over a week now and thought it was about time I finished them and shared them ... but I haven't quite got there yet. For one reason or another I simply couldn't think of appropriate journaling for them, which would be fine if I hadn't already stuck lots of journaling blocks down on them first!

I used the 'Resolutions' kit, the latest Quirky Kit from Crafty Templates to make this layout of my Mr.

From the 'Resolutions' kit I used: the KI Memories heart lace cardstock, the vintage book page, the Shabby Chic journaling block and the 'Seven' tag. I combined it with a sheet of the amazingly cute Onirie 'Projet Toto' 12X12 paper which I won in last month's crop raffle. Thank you 3DJean!

I'm never usually great at adding numbers to my pages [one of the reasons I delayed finishing the page] but, when presented with the 'seven' tag I thought it would be appropriate to use it to mark how many years we've been together.

Like the photo above, the photo below was taken by a photographer friend of our ours who was experimenting with a new camera in the summer. [You can see more of Carl Mole's work on his photoblog and here on Flickr].
Again I've used 'Projet Toto' backing paper with elements from my kit along with a quotation from Buddha. Perhaps it was the addition of this quote which rendered me speechless / journalling-less. What can I really add to that? All reasonable suggestions for what I should fill my empty journalling blocks with will be considered!

That's all I wanted to share really, except that today I have:

  • some glorious new shoes;
  • a £6.99 shopping trolley bargain - crafting-on-wheels here I come .....and
  • a new Banana Frog 'Project of the Day' to share here.

Tomorrow I'll have:

  • Tapas for lunch;
  • my Christmas cards started & finished [I hope!] and
  • a Gauche Alchemy blog project to share.

Soon then.

J x

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Promo ho.

There now follows a broadcast blatantly pointing you in the direction of stuff I've been doing!

[a] I made this:

Let it Grow
[b] For these: Gauche Alchemy.
[c] Then blogged about it here.

(1) Next, I made this:

Another retro LO

(2)For these: Crafty Templates.
(3)Then blogged about it here.

And while I'm in a shamelessly promotional frame of mind:

[a] I've been watching this: Cast Offs [Channel 4 Tues + Wed.]
[b] From these: Jack Thorne, Alex Bulmer and Tony Roche.
[c] And quite apart from the fact that I know Jack, I can honestly, objectively, tell you it's a great series and you should try catch the next episodes tonight and tomorrow night after 11pm.

Give it a watch if you think it's your sort of thing. In fact, give it a go even if you think it's not your sort of thing.

Especially if you think it's not your sort of thing! [If like me you're one of the non-insomniacs of this world ... you can catch it here on 4OD later.]

End of commercial break. please stay in your seats. Normal service will resume soon.