Sunday 31 October 2010

The Mysterious Tale of the Haunted Aerial

It's the morning of Halloween ... a cold day with a low white mist rolling in across the hills ...

James comes in from the garden with the instruction: "Go outside, walk to the bottom of the garden, turn around and look up at the roof".

Dubious at first [mainly due to the cold!] I eventually do as I'm bidden.

I go outside. I walk to the bottom of the garden [which must take me all of 10 steps!]. I turn around to inspect the roof anticipating some money-draining-gaping-hole-in-roof-disaster ... but instead ....

... I'm greeted by a ghostly white entity, gently fluttering in the cold morning air. A pale, amorphous presence settled upon our TV aerial:

The Haunted Aerial

"Is it a ghost?" I ask.

"No" he replies, "It's a shirt":

The Haunted Aerial

And he goes on, in rational-man-speak ... "It probably got caught in the vortex of our drive, which took it higher and higher, then a crosswind blew it across and it got stuck."

"Oh". I reply.

"Will it do any damage up there?".

"Probably not. If it doesn't come down on it's own, I could always get it with a ladder and a big stick".

"Good" I say "Because then I can make a brooch out of it."

Just then, a car pulls up next-door and our neighbours' 6 year old grandson gets out. Through the fence we hear a small voice declaring:

"Look Nanna! A ghost!"

... just as I'd suspected ...

Happy Halloween!


Saturday 30 October 2010

Blog Hop: This Is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween.

Hi there.

Another month. Another Banana Frog 'blog hop' [see the BF blog for a full list of hoppers this month]. Another chance for me to slightly mangle the proposed theme ...

Do you think I'll get away with a slightly macabre Halloween journal spread when the theme was meant to be 'Autumn'? I'll take the chance:
The 'This is Halloween' title, is taken from one of the best animated films ever The Nightmare Before Christmas:

... and is stamped using the Banana Frog 'DeLousiville' and 'Budmo Jiggler' alpha sets:

And I'm just hoping that Banana Frog owner-designer Bev will forgive me for what I did to her 'Fairytale Princess': And ... if you look carefully ...: I might just have corrupted the sentiment from the same 'Fairytale Princess' set, which usually just reads 'It's a truly fairytale kind of day':
I added the 'dark' myself ... well, if you can't go a little dark and dramatic for Halloween ... when can you? I always knew that having 3 different shades of red spray ink would come in useful at some point!

A special hello if you've dropped by from the blog of this month's Guest Designer AlisonDrummond-Jones and a reminedr that, as always, there'll be a chance to win a set of stamps somewhere [or everywhere] you leave a comment along the blog hop. Best of luck to you all.

Right then, I'll set you free to hop on your way to Nat's blog ... and I'll see you very soon, I feel another Month in Numbers heading this way ..

Julie :-)
p.s: will you allow me one small plug for the online crafting class I'm co-running which begins next Thursday? You will? Awww thanks ..... if you'd like to join Kirsty Neale and I for a fortnight of thrifty crafting tutorials then all the details you need are here.
Please note: the blog hop prize draw for October is now closed. I used a random number generator to select a winner from the comments, so congratulations go to Tara E.
Tara - keep your eye on the BF blog this week for details of how to claim your set of stamps. :-)

Monday 25 October 2010

A heavenly find

Hi you.

In a post last week I discussed the idea of 'shopping at home'. But, for today's post, I thought I'd put on my winter coat, cross the doorstep, brave the late October air and show you something I bought whilst shopping a few hundred metres from home instead:

I found her in her original box: ... for 75p, on the shelf of my local charity shop.

Despite spending much of this year trawling the second-hand shops, carboot sales and collectors fairs of any town we've passed through, until a fortnight ago I'd never bothered to seek treasures the charity shop in the town square I can just about see from my bedroom window.

Perverse. I know.

But now that I've broken my duck there [metaphorically speaking] I can see it being added to the list of 'must do' things in the square, right along-side scooping up a necessary vanilla slice and having my buns pinched [which is not quite as bad as it sounds ...].

Because, if there's a chance of picking up anything nearly as cute as she: Then how could I risk missing out?

To my eyes and in her own kitschy blue-eyeshadow way - she's a beauty:
And she makes me grateful that, for the effort of brisk 5 minute walk uphill, I can be rewarded with cream cakes, fresh bread and the occasional kitschy Christmas cutie!

How about you? What treats await you just over your doorstep?

Julie :-)

Saturday 23 October 2010

Shopping at Home

So ... what's the last crafty thing you bought?

And by 'crafty' I mean 'related to crafting', not 'what's the last sneaky thing you bought'. Although ... they might well be one and the same!

For me it was a splurge on some new My Minds Eye and Lily-Bee Design 12x12 papers that I really *had* to have, but I'm not sure I should be admitting to that ... especially not right now .....

You see the thing is, throughout the projects Kirsty and I created for our upcoming '12 Days' online workshops [which we're about to begin delivering and you can click the photo in my sidebar for more details] our philosophy has been to:

  • 'use what you have', and rather than invest in any [more] supplies for this class ...
  • .... just 'go shopping at home' as the majority of supplies needed are ones you [probably] already own.

I created this map to demonstrate the general idea:

[You might want to visit the full post I did over at Copy+Paste for the full explanation].

But, obviously, you needn't be signed-up for our classes to gain from shopping at home, you might choose to do it for:

  • economic reasons: to save your money for other things this Christmas;
  • environmental reasons: to re-use and re-cycle in a creative way;
  • as a personal challenge:to not buy anything new until you've used up some existing stash;
  • to relieve your conscience: there's nothing quite like putting some of the accumulated 'stuff' to good use is there? or ...
  • for practical reasons: simply relieving your cupboards, boxes and your life of some of its load!

Whatever the reason ... I've created a shopping at home related fill-in-the-blanks quiz for you to play along with, if you're that way inclined ...

I've already posted on the '12 Days' secure class blog, but I thought you might like to join in too.Here's my responses:

1.It would be amazing if my house really was a shop like ... Northern Lights Interiors; All Saints; Desigual, TK Maxx and IKEA ... with a deli-counter thrown in.

2.But at the moment it's probably more like ... a very, very modest, wannabe version of the above!

3.The best-stocked area of my house has got to be ... the craft room which is groaning at the seams with all kinds of things.

I'm trying my hardest not to let myself expand into the spare bedrom ... because that would be a slippery slope to step out on to, one which would lead invitably to even further 'Mission Creep' , which I wrote about last year.

I had to laugh this week when I spotted this 7Gypsies sticker stuck to the floor beneath my desk:Yes. It's official. I actually have 'stash' stuck to my floor!

4.But I'm not sure I would dare do a stock-take of my ... paper or dresses! If I thought about it I could work out how much / many I have ... I'd just rather not think about it ....5. I could actually open my doors right now and sell off most of my ... errrm, paper, dresses and bird ornaments ... and I'd still have plenty left!

6.If I could go shopping in someone else's house I'd choose ... Effie's house.

  • [a]because I know where it is;
  • [b] because it's somewhere I dare actually drive to [2 factors which must be taken into account when going shopping]
  • and [c] because she has 'a world of stuff' in her craft room.


7.With the money I'll save by shopping at home for my supplies, I could buy ... some more Jema-Holland ceramic birds like the one James found in a charity shop for me:

Just don't speak to me about the Toucan I missed out on on Ebay in the last few seconds!

Not. One. Word.

I was not happy. Not at all.

[James will vouch for my mood that night ... right after he tells you about how I should have put in a larger bid from the start ... I think you can imagine how well I took his - late - advice!! ;-)]

8. During this class I hope I will get to 'buy' / revisit / finally get to use, my stock of ... free digital printable files I created for the '12 Days' class last year, but was too busy running the main class projects to actually use:

I have plans to turn them into Christmas cards and tags this time around.

9.The best thing about shopping at home will be ... getting to remind myself of all those things I've put into boxes - for organised, tidy, storage purposes - ... but which, out-of-sight out -of-mind, I've entirely forgotten I had!

And finally ...

10.Shopping at home will mean I can get away with wearing ... no make-up and my hoodie with the holes in and I'll also be able to carry my breakfast around with me while I mooch around for 'new' supplies!


I'd love to know what going 'shopping at home' would look like in your house ... so do let me know if you play along with the quiz too.

Here's the questions again for you to copy + paste [pardon the pun ...]:

1. It would be amazing if my house really was a shop like ...
2. But at the moment it's probably more like ...
3. The best-stocked area of my house has got to be ...
4. But I'm not sure I would dare do a stock-take of my ...
5. I could actually open my doors right now and sell off most of my ... and I'd still have plenty left!
6. If I could go shopping in someone else's house I'd choose ...

7. With the money I'll save by shopping at home for my supplies, I could buy ...
8. During this class I hope I will get to 'buy' / revisit / finally get to use my stock of ...
9. The best thing about shopping at home will be ...
10. Shopping at home will mean I can get away with wearing ...

See you soon.

Julie :-)

Thursday 21 October 2010

Overheard: You've made your bed ...

Hi, hi.

So, here's one from a couple of years ago [which really makes me aware of just how long I've been in my current job!]. I'm not sure why, while browsing through my entire overheard collection, I decided to share this one with you right now.

I think it might be because, after being back working my 'day job' for 3 weeks now, my own bed is calling to me more than ever ....

To quote Sophia from the Golden Girls ... picture the scene ....

... it's March 2008 and I'm blithely drinking my cup of tea and eating a sausage bun in the Student Union cafe, when what should drift across the room but this delightful, one-sided telephone call, glimpse into debauched student life ....

Male student on mobile phone: What? You threw up on your bed?
Awww that’s the worst that!

You know what’s funny though? .....

Did you still sleep in it even though you’ve threw up?

Yeah?!! I’ve done that!! Are you still coming out though?
Just get a bacon sandwich and Lucozade down you and you'll be alright!

There you go. Don't say reading my blog never taught you anything! Next time you vomit on your bedding you know the remedy ...

You can thank me later.

J ;-)

Photo details: My bed. Which I can honestly say I've never thrown up on.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Paper roses.

Hello, hello.

This might be heresy to admit [within the papercrafting world that is .. not in the wider world ...] but I'll take a chance .... paper flowers don't usually do much for me. I'm not saying I never use them or that I dislike them ... just that they're not really my thing.

But, before I'm stricken off the papercrafting register, I would like to say that these beauties are definitely changing my mind: has just started stocking these mulberry paper roses and others [see here for the current range]and I snapped them up the moment I saw them at the crop a few weeks ago and used one on a tag which I turned into a card for my Mam's birthday:
I also made a little video type-thing to show you, step-by-step how I built up the layers on the tag:

Next week, when it's my turn to post on Scattered Scarlet [the 3DJean Design Team blog], I'll share a few more of the tags I made featuring the roses and some vintage cigarette cards.

Until then, drop by my rose-themed guest post over at the 'Amelie's House' blog party where I've been sharing some of my rosy ornaments and jewellery.

My photographs in the post have been inspired by the amazing iced cakes with hand-painted flowers which Natasha [of Nevie-Pie Cakes] creates.... you will want to see her cakes, I promise you! They're so very pretty.

Right then, I'll let you go and ogle roses and cakes.

I've got posts about a plastic angel and going shopping at home to write and a meal with friends to get get ready for ... so I'll see you very soon.

Julie :)

Thursday 14 October 2010

Ordinary, everyday, Treasures

Hello, hello.

Over the last few years ... mainly since we installed WiFi at home [where I can be curled up in bed and online too!] I've been lucky enough to have 'met' lots of wonderful web-people!

I mean, there's you for a start, obviously ... but today I wanted to give a quick mention to the members of 'Ordinary Treasures', the social group I belong to on the UKScrappers forum. When Helen and I initiated the group, we chose the name as it fit with our mutual love of using everyday bits + pieces, such as office supplies, haberdashery finds and home-made embellishments, on our scrapbooking pages. But, over time, we've realised that it's the people in the group who are the real treasures.

So, today I thought I'd share something with them - and you - which I spotted a few weeks ago and which lifted me right out of my ordinary day!

I was in the bedroom, on my laptop, when I just happened to look up and catch sight of this:
... a perfectly pastel palace rising up from between the roofs of the suburban bungalows!

After my first glance, I actually did a full-blown cartoon-style double-take! And if I'd had cartoon eyes, they'd have bulged out at the same time too. It's really not the sort of thing that crops up on my horizon every day! I even called James in to check if he could see it too .. just in case I was hallucinating ...

Which I wasn't! As the photos prove! And this Brigadoon of a bouncy-castle, rising out of the mists of our estate, truly made me smile and, literally, brightened up my day.

[It was almost as good as the time my Mam and I crested the top of a hill to find an elephant on the other side ... but that's a tale for another day ...]

So, these photos today are especially for Alexa a most wonderful and gracious supporter of all my online ad/ventures and who might just appreciate being lifted out of the ordinary. She's in the midst of building her own castle [OK, so it's actually a house extension ... but still] and right now, the view across her garden is not quite as colourful as the one above!


Alexa, I'm certain that when those shiny new windows are finally delivered ... you'll find something as magical outside to look at in no time. Even if the only things visible are seemingly ordinary ... I know you'll be able to catch a glimpse of the treasures. Because that's what you do!


And if you're feeling a bit ordinary today [yes, I mean you] ... then please allow my castle-from-nowhere give you a little lift too.

Now, how does that song go? 'Just the two of us, building castles in the sky ... just the two of us you and I .... '

Julie ;-)

Monday 11 October 2010

Overheard: It's like the Fort Knox of the sandwich world.


I went to my local crop on Satuday and met someone new who'd not been before. During one conversation some of the regulars [ie: my friends] decided to warn the newcomer to be careful what she said near me as anything she said could possibly appear in print, on my blog, sometime soon .. now, wherever did they get idea from?

It would appear from this that I've got something of a reputation, but, really, I'm not that bad ... I mean, it's not like I run to the nearest computer to blog about what I've just heard. I mean, sometimes it takes me a few hours ... and ... well, actually ... it's just that ... I've been dying to tell you this lovely fresh one I heard just this morning ... so here I am!

It came from what is so often a rich seam of enlightening conversational topics amongst students: food. This time it was a group of students near to me were discussing the Subway chain of sandwich shops.

Female student [who I'm guessing was not a natural cook]: I spent £15 in Subway ... they even have bouncers on the door there.

Incredulous male student: F#?k off!! What for? In case you, like, get a bit fresh with a jalepeno?

Made me smile at least ... right before I nonchalantly reached into my bag for a notebook and pen ...

Reputation? What reputation?

J :-)

Friday 8 October 2010

Bird Week [Belated] Day 5: Either that or it's a pterodactyl.

Hi you.

While I've been going on [and on] about the Buzzard we spotted while in Scotland last month, I've neglected to tell you about how we met the heron.

We were visiting Coldstream on a special nostalgia trip for James who had spent many happy holidays there as a child with his Nan and Grandpa, yet he'd not visited there since.
Many of our short breaks away are pretty much spur of the moment with hardly any research into where we're going, apart from a cursory Google-around, and the same went for this trip. And, as James is a natural navigator and knew that, after a quick glance at a map, finding the actual town wouldn't be a problem.

He also assumed that finding the exact spot beside the river Tweed which we were looking for, the green on which his grandparents' caravan used to berth, would be just as straightforward.

But it wasn't.

Parking in the first carpark we could find we set off on foot down a road which he thought felt vaguely familiar. After all, how hard can it be to find a caravan park full of caravans. They're not the easiest thing to hide are they? If they're still open after 30 years that is ...

We rounded a corner which felt promising ... and discovered a small stream which was clearly not the river Tweed and I watched as James cast his eye around for a glimpse of any wide open space, a field, a caravan-park-sized area beyond the trees.

But there wasn't one.

Seemingly there was only a road to one side, and a footpath and houses to the other. Then, ahead of us, spanning the stream, stood a small wooden footbridge towards which we walked and stood and looked down into the clear trickling water ... because ... because that's what you do with bridges isn't it? Especially when you don't know what else to do. Or where to go. And you're wondering if you've travelled over 100 miles and 30 years to relive a memory that might not be there anymore.

As James faced downstream, I turned to face the opposite direction just as several pigeons took off from the bankside and flew over us and that's when I saw it ... the heron.

It was on the bank, where the pigeons had been and was just about to take flight itself. And in that split second in which I noticed it, and noticed that it was about to fly away, I managed to spit out a rather baffled:

"What's that?" ... and as James turned to see what I was talking about, and just as he was muttering "It's a pigeon" ... it came flying directly at us calling out loudly as it just missed our heads!

But it wasn't a pigeon. It was a heron. Or, as James suggested, ... a pterodactyl. But for argument's sake, let's settle on a heron shall we?

As any scrapbooker worth her salt would, I reached for the camera and attempted to get a shot of it, where it had landed slightly further downstream a few metres aways from us. But just as I got it in focus ... it flew away: Can you spot it, just above the grass there, it's wings at full span? Every time we crept up on it, camera in hand, it waited until we were just nearby, eye to view-finder, finger to button ... then flew away. Ahead. Along. Every time tempting us further along the stream until ...

...until suddenly the trees cleared, the water widened and we saw it ... ... the river Tweed.

But not just any stretch of the river Tweed. The exact spot along the river which James remembers paddling in. Just metres away from where the caravan once stood. And then, either we stopped looking for him or he flew clear away out of sight, I can't remember which but, whichever it was, I guess we didn't need the heron anymore.

After all, I had views like this: And James had some 30 year old memories to keep him company ... ... and his Nan and Grandpa. And while we didn't quite re-live his paddling days full-on....
... we did get the soles of our feet wet:
We could have spent months in advance planning such a trip. Taking care of every last detail, knowing precisely where we were headed. Printing out detailed maps and directions and relying on GPS.

And, do you know what?

It couldn't have been any more entirely perfect than our 'let's just go and see what happens' day was. Because, the thing is ...... you can't book a heron tour guide. You've just got to get lucky.

And we were lucky.


Thursday 7 October 2010

Bird Week: [Belated] Day 4


If you're one of those who's afraid of the flapping ... be warned, because the birds are back!

I'll try to pick up where I left off last week and deliver two more days of bird bounty to you to complete 'Bird Week'. And, speaking of deliveries look what the stork brought...

... oh, OK, to be more accurate - look what IKEA brought - new, birdy-delicious fabric at £4.99 per metre!
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've just treated myself to a new bookshelf which was the principle reason we made the 80mile round-trip to IKEA.

Yet, tell me this .... have you ever been able to leave IKEA without anything other than the main thing you went for? Mmm?


Our little extras this time round included 4 seat cushions, 3 glass jars, 3 packets of their meatball sauce, something horrible in a tin which James chose ... and a metre each of two fabric designs, both from the new 'Annamoa' collection:

This one [listed as 'Multi-colour' on the website] features repeating blocks filled with designs including the stork, this little finchy thing: ... a bird cage, some turtles ... and a squirrel holding some sort of cheese knife. Obviously.

The second fabric Igot was the 'Light Yellow' version:
It has a definite feel of designs from the 1930s/40s/50s and is filled with beautiful birds like these:
And this one: Which is really rather similar to the buzzard snapshot we grabbed a few weeks back:

So, really, it was inevitable I'd be taking some of this fabric home with me wasn't it?

The thing is, when I bought it I didn't know what I was going to do with it so I only bought the one metre of each. I've now realised that both these fabrics would have made great new curtains [one side in each pattern] for my craft room which, as I showed you yesterday, has a few new additions already. Except 1metre's just not long enough and I can't flip the design around and run it horizontally as it just wouldn't look right.

And the squirrel with the cheese-knife is weird enough already.

I wondered about making a band of another fabric to get the right drop. James thinks I should just go back to IKEA and buy some more. We'll see.

But if we do go back - purely to buy 4m of bird fabric ... who knows what else might fall into my big yellow bag on the way around?

Julie :-)

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Happy Shelves

So, hello. How are you?

Me? Well, I'm a smidge tired and brain-weary after taking on something new at work, but I can't complain ... as I've also taken on a few new shelves in my craft room. Ones which are making me very happy. I know what you're thinking 'small things amuse a small mind', but really, they are very happy-making shelves
:I'd been kidding myself all summer that, eventually, I'd find time to sort out all the piles of paper and 'things' that were carpeting my floor and make everything tidy and new. Then I got real and went and bought myself an Expedit shelf unit from IKEA.

First a Big Shot. Now an Expedit. I must have passed the 'real crafter' bar by now. Surely?

But these are not the Expedit. I didn't photograph that as it's still in a mess after hurriedly receiving everything from my magic stash-carpet and, quite frankly, I'd prefer to fool you into thinking I have a perfect house.

I'm cunning like that.

Instead, I thought I'd introduce you to the new shelves I'm proud of:

Really, they're only a pair of cheap pine shelves which, when I was thinking of storage for my room, I recalled were tucked away in the back of a wardrobe, in the spare room. Neither of us can remember why we had them or where they came from ... but a wandering woodworker from Narnia is looking like the most likely option.

Anyways ... I painted them white and butted them up against my Expedit [sounds painful, I know.] And now they elegantly display ...

... my neon string: ... my old tape measure collection:

... my spray inks plus [a fraction of] my sticky tape hoard: ... my eclectic collection of small folk [maybe you should be properly introduced to them individually sometime?]:
... some of my gifts to James, who seem right at home standing guard over my Stickles: [Sorry, that noise was me sniggering. I always find something rather suggestive in the name 'Stickles'. And don't even get me started on Tim Holtz's 'Distress Stickles'. Just try saying it, fast, three times ... then you'll know what I mean...].

Finally, as if I haven't lowered the tone enough already .. my new shelves have also provided a home for a pin-cushion I was given as a gift and which, while it it's made from very pretty fabrics, I've always thought had a rather unfortunate shape:As for the Sheriff badge ... well, that's something I bought a loooonnnnng time ago, on a family holiday in Florida when I was 13. I came across it the other day when I was sorting through an old button tin [as one does] and, after polishing it up, I thought it looked especially handsome near the new metal bar and hooks hanging beneath my new shelves. So I poked it into the unfortunate shaped pin-cushion for all to see.

It's also there in answer to Sian's question regarding which was my all time favourite badge [which she asked in a comment on this post about my collection]. So, there you go Sian, I think it's got to be this one.

It's a classic. And 'Sheriff' is one, slightly more glamorous, step up from all those 'Prefect' badges I wish I'd kept!

Thanks for reading me today.

I hope you've got a happy shelf or two tucked away somewhere too.