Saturday 31 December 2011

My Month in Numbers 2011: December

Hi, hi, hi.

Here it is - the final Month in Numbers post of 2011 which features some suitably Christmassy statistics, starting with my first ever craft fair as a seller ...

2  = the number of tables which were booked between myself and 3 friends at a church hall Christmas fair.

4 = the number of tables we'd managed to colonise by the close of day ... let me explain ...

Here's Table #1 where Jan and I set out our items [here's my little patch with my collages, magnets, brooches, cards and paper packs]:
And here's Table #2, featuring Effie and Jean's stock:
So how did we do?

Let's just say that business was slow. Very slow. We quickly realised that this wasn't the right fair for our style of products and several other vendors seemed to feel the same as they packed up and disappeared before lunch ... which is where Table #3 came from. When the other people left, we spread out a little ....
 And then we spread a bit further when the people from Table #4 went home:
Not that it did us a great deal of good ...

£5 = the grand total I made, after fees.

Yet it wasn't a complete waste of time, the others faired better than me and it was definitely a valuable learning experience. For example I learned that:
  • people aren't afraid of talking about your stock even though you're standing right in front of them;
  • Outside the creative community the idea of 'Handmade' is a niche idea to the wider public. So many people asked 'Did you make it all yourselves?' with such a completely baffled / awed look on their faces.
Also ... 
  • I learned that if you're going to spend 4 hours in a church hall, with a children's Christmas performance going on in the next room and where the vicar walks around talking to everyone ... at some point you'll feel like you're inside an episode of Rev.
  • Plus I learned lots of new kinds of coat beginning with each letter of the alphabet as we played The Alphabet Game during the quiet times [ie: most of the day!].
And my biggest lesson of the day was:
  • Never to do a craft fair where there's also face-painting on offer ... 
 Speaking of handmade  ...

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 = the numbers featuring on the bag Effie made me for Christmas:
3 = the number of sewing machines she went through to make it - watch this little video clip on her blog to see the amazing machine she ended up having to use to finish it!

6 degrees = the temperature in my back garden on Boxing Day:
15 degrees C = the difference in temperature between this year and the photo I took for my Month in Numbers post last December which showed Minus 9 during the day.

15 degrees difference!!! And no, I haven't moved countries, it's some strangely mild weather we're having here. Just think ... if next December were to be 15 degrees warmer than this ... Christmas would be a balmy 21 degree C summer's day ...

And here's another 15 ...

15 = the number of projects posted off to Creativity and Papercraft Inspirations magazine:
5.25 = The number of the dye I used to colour my hair with its other name being an accidentally-yet-highly-appropriately festive: 'Frosted Chestnut'!

935 = approximately how many fewer pages there are in the vintage illustrated Don Quixote James gave me for Christmas than there are in the [as yet unfinished] 'proper' version which I've been attempting to read for about 3 years.

Here's the final page [from which I'm still about 850 pages from in the 'proper' version]:
And here's what page it features on:
As I opened it James commented: "I thought you might get this one finished" ... and he might just be correct! [Not that I've actually finished it yet!]

Here's who else joined in with their December numbers:
  • First timer Helen of 'Helen's World' joined in with her first Month in Numbers here
  • And another novice number counter who heard about the idea on UKScrappers was Sue C of 'A Little Bit of Organised Heaven' who joined in with this post.
  • Jayne of 'Paper Wool + Thread' joined in by spending some of the last few minutes of 2011 writing up her post, here!
  • Fiona of 'Staring at the Sea' shared her statistics once again, beginning with a great before + after photo here.
  • Laura of 'Airing Cupboard Crafts' blogged her project plans for 2012 here which includes joining in with Month in Numbers.
  • Claire of 'The Crafty Alchemist' managed to blog - and scrapbook - her Month inNumbers each month throughout 2011 and in her final post of the year here she shows no signs of stopping just yet!
  • Mel of 'Let's Get Scrappy' joined in here with tales of travel and a Pointless game.
  • Sian of 'From High in the Sky' shared another great scrapbook page featuring her month's summary here.

Thank you for reading my final statistical summary of the year but I'll be back in a month's time with the first My Month in Numbers of 2012 [there's a birthday involved ... but I doubt my age will be one of my featured numbers!].

To those who've been talking about joining in with your own Month in Numbers during 2012 ['Hello' to you if you're new here from the UKScrappers thread where some of you have been chatting about joining in!] here are few useful links:
Give it a go, see what you think, try it out in a format which suits you and don't forget to link me up when you do.

And if you've managed to fit in your own final one of the year now - leave me a link to that too and I'll add you to this post when I get chance [in between taking decorations down!].

So, as 2011 walks off into the distance and the top of 2012's head begins to appear on the horizon I'd like to wish you 365 brand new days filled with enough happy and healthy moments that you forget to count the less happy and healthy ones.

See you soon.

Julie x

Friday 23 December 2011

A Christmas Greeting

Hello you.

Actually, is that you? I can't quite make you out behind that pile of wrapping-paper scraps and under that slightly wonky Santa hat.

How's it going? Have you broken open the Christmas cake or the emergency supplies of chocolate and/or alcohol yet?

Me? Well, I'm planning my night's TV viewing while waiting for James to come back from the Indian takeaway with a festive Sag Aloo and Garlic Chilli Chicken Karai. And two naan breads. [We're nothing if not traditional ...].

In a more traditionally seasonal moment let me grab this chance to wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Thank you for dropping in on me here from time to time during the last year. I'll be back on New Year's Eve with my final Month in Numbers of 2011.

Whatever you're doing, whoever you're with, wherever you're going to wake up on Christmas morning ... may you have a happy heart, peace of mind and at least one gift which shows you that someone has worked out what you'd really like!

Take care, grab a chance to put your feet up at some point, and I'll see you next week.

Julie x

Friday 16 December 2011

Overheard: Ahh... but he's a *clean-handed* idiot.

Hi, hi.

Wednesday afternoon was a bit of a treat for me.

Not only had I just finished the day job for Christmas ... and not only was I trying on a nice pink jumper ... I was also listening in to an amazing conversation happening across the changing room ...

Young woman 1 to Young woman 3: No, I met him when I was shopping the other day ... I just thought she'd like him.

[Turns out that 'she' was Young woman 2.]

Young woman 2 [unconvinced]: You said he was an idiot.

Young woman 1: Yeah ... but ... a nice idiot. I just thought you'd like him.

Young woman 2 [although I couldn't see her face I could tell by her voice that there was some heavy-duty eye-rolling going on]: Yeah, well ... if I ever find myself shopping at midnight and I'm bored then ...

Young woman 1 [with one final, beautiful, attempt to match-make]: You both carry wet wipes in your bag ...

And, my friends, I'm afraid we'll never know if this masterstroke of persuasion won Young Woman 1 over because, by this point I'd finished trying my jumper on and left the changing room [not before getting my diary out and writing it all down of course!]

I thought that this photo proved how there really is someone for everyone. I mean, there's at least two of us who can have a high-old-time making freaky faces by sticking on the discs from the holes of cardboard ribbon reels on to our eyelids ... and then take photos. So maybe there's hope for the wet-wipe pair after all. 
'See' you soon.

Julie :-)

[Oh and in case you're wondering yes, the jumper fit. I bought it. Looks nice, thanks.]

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Layout: Holy Halloween Costume Bat Girl


It's very blustery and wet here and I walked about for the most part of the day with wet socks ... but enough about me, how are you? You hanging in there? Not been blown away yet?

Unless ofcourse you're in another hemisphere to me, in which case it's more like summer for you isn't it? And your socks are probably dry today.

But now allow me to further seasonally confuse me you even further as I share both the page I've got to share today and the story behind how it came to be.

A few months ago the lovely, hugely talented, Sharmaine Krujiver and I decided to have a little 'stash-swap' between us. So I put together a custom Plundered Pages pack, based on the topics and stories she blogs about at '4 Squirts and a Dollop of Cream', and posted it off to the Southern Hemisphere ....meanwhile this pretty parcel packed with goodies found itself on my [much colder] doormat as somethign of an early Christmas gift:
There were lots of lovely things inside, some of which I've already used [like the ticket, cabochon, vintage paper, button and envelope on this recent layout for example] and others which will be cropping up in my work until they've been used up!

And a few of them made their way on to today's page ... about Halloween [yes, I know it's the wrong season for this ... but I couldn't scrap Halloween photos until after Halloween could I?].

Anyway, here it is:

The large butterfly die-cut and the cabochons came from Sharmaine, a did the little cloud stickers.
I do accept that, in my doing fancy things to the contrast and colour in the above photo I have pretty much removed my nose thereby giving me more than a passing resemblance to a feminine Voldemort ... now let me move on to something equally as scary to some of you ...

Here I used butterlfy peel-offs [yes peel-offs and look - I lived to tell the tale!] as masks before inking over them which is one of my only current favourite uses for peel-offs. And similarly I heat embossed a few more butterflies as a resist before spritzing and using a brush to swipe spray ink across the page:
Here I created a little character from a tag, sticker, ticket and cabochon from Sharmaine and some ArtChix German Scrap wings and paper doll wellies from 3DJean.

And as for that costume ... well, it wasn't actually a costume ... it was just a regular dress I found on a rail in New Look! Not that I bought it for everday-wear you understand ... those days have gone [I haven't worn a dress that tight for a few years now ... and secretly I quite enjoyed it!] but I did buy it specifically for the Halloween party and not for a night out ... unlike some people:

And as for the title, well, my friend Kirsty and I often refer to each other as Bat Girl, [that sounded perfectly normal to me ... until I typed it out loud ...] so when I went to a Halloween party as a glamorous bat ... it seemed like a natural title choice!

So there we have it, seasonally a little late and sartorially a little questionable - but a lot of fun. And yes, I have kept the dress ... but I think it's going to be staying on the hanger until at least next Halloween!

OK ... I'll let you put your Christmas head back on now. See you soon.

Julie :-)

Friday 9 December 2011

How to Record your Month ... in Numbers

Hi, hi.

Next month [January 2012] will mark the 2nd anniversary of me blogging My Month in Numbers.

Not that I  ever intended it to be a regular feature, I'd just had some pretty interesting numbers to record that month and the idea just spilled out ... then some people seemed to like the idea [me being one of them] ... and I just kept going.

Over that time I've had questions about exactly how I go about recording all of my numbers and about how I don't forget them and which ones I choose to feature and so on, so finally I've put together the following 'Tips for the Month-in-Numbers-curious' for anyone who's ever wanted them!

Warning: if you've ever harboured a romantic notion that I have divine inspiration when it comes to recording my monthly stats ... prepare to feel like Dorothy when she discovers the Wizard of Oz is just little guy pushing buttons. But, if you're OK with that ... then read on ...

How are you going to work out what's happened each month and which numbers belong to those events?

I guess the most simple answer to that would be to say - write it down, make notes, add things in your diary except ... while this is what I do from time to time, it isn't what's consistently kept me blogging my Month in Numbers for 2 years.

But what has helped me the most is my photographs.

Whether or not you plan to use photographs to illustrate your Month in Numbers blog post they're a great aide memoire when it comes to writing your post and preventing one month's events blurring into another.

So you're going to need to find all the photographs you took during the month in question:
  • You can do this by looking at the date stamp on the photo - but you can make this easier still by storing your photos in monthly folders.
  • I store the majority of my 'general life' photos in folders marked with the year, containing sub-folders for each month. A quick look through that folder brings up the events of the month ... which is usually my MinN starting point.
Failing that, during less organised months, I go to Picasa [a free photo editing+ organising package] and use the slider bar at the top to 'Filter by Date Range':

Here I can adjust the date range so it only shows me the photos taken in the last month:
  • Then I know for sure that those are the moments, memories and events which are the starting point for my post. It's amazing how often I misremember and would end up writing about something that happened over a month ago if I hadn't checked the dates on the photos.
  •  I believe Apple's iPhoto has a similar function, and I would guess most other photo storage packages let you sort like this too.

If you don't take lots of photos then I think your best resource will indeed be a notebook ... or the online equivalent ...

I don't tackle my entire 'Month in Numbers' post the day I plan to publish it. That way madness [and a very brief post] lies.
  • Often, as soon as I publish the current MiN post, I immediately create a new draft post for the following month.
  • Then, throughout the new month I can open it up and add in quick ideas, things that have just happened, numbers I've just thought of, rough notes and sometimes photos straight away.
  • Then, when the end of the month arrives there's the basic shape of a post already waiting for me.
  • I then knock it into shape, adding in details, more photos and constructing actual sentences!
So, you've browsed through your photos, you've got a few ideas and reminders of your month PLUS you know where you're going to store the numbers and the inspiration when it strikes - now let's move on to exactly what you'll be documenting ...

What are you going to record? Which numbers?
Some months the numbers will be obvious and come completely naturally to you.
  • there'll be birthdays;
  • anniversaries;
  • house moves;
  • travel;
  • sporting events;
  • winning the lottery [OK, so that one might not be a monthly occurrence ... but we can hope!]
And all of these kinds of events will give up their numbers naturally: ages; dates; distances; scores; lucky numbers etc etc

But unless your life is so very much more eventful than mine ... you're also going to have to seek out the numbers within some of life's more day-to-day events.
  • so what are your key - everyday - events?
  • what are your activities / hobbies?
  • who or what have you shared your month with?
  • what have you made?
  • anything unusual and out-of-the-ordinary happen?
  • alternatively is there anything that happens so often, it's regular, repetitive? Because the numbers involved there are going to be worth collecting too - and even comparing with the same thing in the next month! 
So, once you've worked out your events, now you need to let the numbers emerge from them and here's where you need to think like you're still in Primary School.

Think: money, think size, weight, height, time, distance, temperature, frequency and so on ...  any and all measurements are useful!
For example:
  • What did something cost?
  • How big was it?
  • How heavy?
  • How often did X happen?
  • How much did something / someone grow?
  • How many X did you make / receive / give / find / lose?
  • How long did X take?
  • How far did you walk / drive / swim / fly?
  • How may pages did you read / write?
It's all really just a form of documenting your daily life.

Then, pretty soon, you won't be on your own doing this as I've found that once people know you're recording your Month in Numbers, they start offering you suggestions!

For me it's often James or my Dad ... or people on Twitter!
  • But if you have kids you could get them involved in offering suggestions or keeping a record of their own special statistics.
  • Or maybe it's a project they'd like to do for themselves?
  • That would make a great family record to look back on in the future.
Once you're up and running, I promise that the numbers will start to leap out at you more often and more easily. Especially when you're browsing through your photos and asking yourself the kinds of measurement questions listed above.

However ... there will be other months where you'll find yourself crowbarring the numbers in like an Ugly Sister's foot into a glass slipper!
But that's OK too. In fact, it's often these that tell the true story of your month ...

It's like the time in 2010 that I met one of my writing heroes David Sedaris and there was no possible way that that event was going to be left out of my monthly round-up. But which numbers could I fit around it?

Well, I started with the obvious: 250 - which equalled the number of miles travelled to London to see him. But that didn't tell a big enough story so ... so I added in 125 as that was the amount - in millilitres - of hair conditioner he gave me after he signed my book. [He was handing out similar bottles to everyone ... from hotel rooms he'd stayed in while touring ... yes, I know it's odd ... but you can forgive your heroes anything!]

But what I'm hoping this shows is that, no matter what the event, the moment, the memory, there are numbers there, if you look hard enough.

But, if you're wondering why you need to look that hard, why bother if there are no obvious numbers to record ... then ...

it's because, really .. you don't want to forget The WHY 
Why are you recording these numbers in the first place?
The BIG SECRET ... revealed
For me, it's not actually because the numbers - in and of themselves - are the story. They're not.  But what they are is:
  • a handy, interesting hook for you to hang the story of your month on to.
  • the padding which gives a shape to each set of 4 weeks in your life;
  • the focus for you to begin writing down what happened in the last 30 days;
  • a clear, simple, way to share your stories with people who read your blog [but who you wouldn't neccesarily share your secret diary entries with!].
So, it doesn't matter if you have to bend, twist and contort the numbers to fit the events ... because the events are more important - the numbers are just there to help you record the events.

Not vice versa.

Then, when you look back upon them in maybe a year's time ... those statistics will still mean something to you simply because of the story they were attached to.

I know some of you are planning to blog yours next year and maybe, like me, you'll illustrate this with photographs but ...

Alternatively ...
  • You could make a scrapbook page featuring your numbers each month and then blog the page which is what Month in Numbers stalwart Claire Salisbury of 'The Crafty Alchemist' has been doing each month throughout 2011.
  • Now she has a beautiful album and a full year of events, to look back on through her colourful pages: 

If 12x12 layouts aren't your thing ...

Alternatives to the alternative:
  • how about a digital scrapbook page? Maybe using a template to add in a few photos and space for your stories [perhaps something on a smaller scale to the approach Alexa took with her September album here]
  • you could art journal or 'smashbook' or 'glue-book' your Month in Numbers;
  • you could just blog one single photo that sums up your most important number of the month'
  • you could add to the pages of a mini-album with your new numbers each month;
  • make monthly tags;
  • or even just keep a regular journal / notebook and fill it with your statistical summaries.
Whatever you choose to do,  whichever numbers you choose to make a note of and however you choose to record and share them ... I hope you enjoy it while you're doing it and then enjoy it all over again when you look back at it in the future.

And whether you join in every month,  once a year or as and when you can, that's all fine by me. Just make sure to drop by and leave me a link when you do so I can swing by to compare statistics!


I know I've packed a lot in this post, but I'll add a link to it in the Month in Numbers tab at the top of the blog for ease of reference, or you could pin it to one of your Pinteerst boards if that's easier for you.

Thanks so much for your interest in the Month in Numbers idea this year, I can't wait to see how you all adapt it in 2012!

Happy number-hunting.

Julie :-)

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Cards: mini Christmas cards with Cosmo Cricket.

Hi, hi, hi.

How big are yours? Your Christmas cards I mean ...

This year, some of mine are just 3x3 inches - not that that makes them any quicker to complete than my usual 6x6 and 4x4 size. But then, I ought to know from personal experience that small things can be equally as high maintainance as the average-sized  ...

But enough about me ...  here's those other festive little ones:
The cards are 3DJean shop Design Team project for this month so I used the Cosmo Cricket Dear Mr.Claus and the Mixed Christmas Coloured Carnations which are both in stock there at the moment.

After stitching a square of the Cosmo paper to the cards I added a postage stamp die-cut [which is this one from X-Cut] on top, followed by a smaller square cut from the papers for an added postage stamp effect:

Ideally I'd have stamped '25p' on each one - as if it were an actual postage stamp, but my tiny Studio G lettering stamps don't include numbers - so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for some small number stamps [although I'll probably find some  ... just as I forget exactly why I thought I needed some ... ]

Anyway, I used rub-ons on some instead and added the paper flowers, a few gems and a stamped greeting:
I made these while I was away on my early-Christmas-crafty-friends-in-a-cottage-weekend where ideas and supplies can spread like wildfire. The greeting stamp I used wasn't mine - but it found itself being passed around the entire group of us to add to one project or another. In return, my postage stamp dies were put to use by others too ... and the mini-sewing machine, which someone else set-up in the kitchen, was for all and sundry to use.

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... it takes a crafty-village to complete a project sometimes!

I've got a nice Kars reindeer stamp I'd like to try out on my next set of cards so I'll share them if/when I have any success with it.

After buying the new stamp, it danwed on me that it'll be the 2nd year in a row I''ll have made tiny Christmas cards with deer on them ... so I'm deciding to call it my 'signature style' ... because it sounds so much nicer than 'repetitive' and 'unoriginal' ... doesn't it?

Happy almost-Christmas to you.

Julie :-)

Sunday 4 December 2011

Vintage Books: it's *not* what you're thinking ...

Hi, hi, hi. 

Occasionally, when casually leafing through one of the old books I've gathered in to my hoard, something stops me in my tracks. 

Sometimes it's the wonderfully retro typography. Sometimes it's the amazing colour schemes of the illustrations. And sometimes ... 

... sometimes it's the splutter-inducing titles of the articles.

Like this:
Have you been seeking a new way to enjoy your bangers?  Have you? Well you'll just have to wait a minute before I share the advice they give.

But if that all sounds a touch too energetic for you, perhaps you'd prefer to read about:
Alas ... upon further reading I realised my salacious-radar had picked up on something rather more mundane than it first appeared.

Turns out the bangers in question were of the sausage kind:
Still ... might be worth a try anyway.

And as for those old balls:
Well, it really did mean old balls used for the utterly wholesome activities of feeding birds and improving 'floral decorations'.

To be honest though ... considering the book the articles came from:
Maybe I should've known better from the start ....



Various pages from this book appear in my Plundered Pages packs as we speak ... but if you'd like the exact page featured in this post just let me know and I can build it into a custom themed pack for you. 

Thursday 1 December 2011

My Month in Numbers 2011: November

Hi, hi, hi.

So it's the end of one month and the start of yet another. Again.

You know what this means don't you?

It means that all of our joint efforts to slow time down have failed for the 11th month running! We really must try harderthis month people, this can't happen again, OK? OK.

Right then, let me start with the most important number first. The number without which - and I can say this without overstatement or exaggeration - it's the number without which none of us would be here right now ... 

3 years = how old notes on paper was this month! Hurrah!

On November 8th 2008 I dipped my toe into the craft-blogging waters for the first time with a post entitled 'Yes ... we can'.  And it turns out, we still can. I'm still turning up here a few times a week happily blogging away, getting to know you better and getting to know me better in the process.

I truly love blogging.  In fact, I love blogging so much I'd do it for free if I had to ... [oh, hang on, yes, I do do it for free ... so, you see? I told you I loved it!]
  • 406+ posts and counting = number of posts I've blogged during that 3 years, which averages at around;
  • 135 posts per year, which is roughly ... 
  • 2 to 3 posts per week ... which ultimately means ...
  • I blog more often than I do laundry [a fact which doesn't surprise me in the slightest!]
1 day = the number of days difference between when I first blogged and when my good friend Kirsty Neale did as her 3 year 'blogiversary' was on November 9th, the day after mine. The strangest thing about it is that we started blogging [a day apart] before we actually knew one another ... so, when we've always joked at how similar we are and how we must have been separated at birth ... it turns out we weren't far wrong!

3 = the number of times I've now seen the comedian Dave Gorman live.

2 hours = the amount of time James and I spent on a hill, in our nearest RSPB reserve watching the 'murmurations' - the phenomena where 1000s of starlings come in to roost for the night in swishing and swirling flocks. 

When we did this last year [on 28th November] it was in the middle of this freezing cold snow storm:
This year [on the 6th November]... we had this:
I wish I knew the temperature differences between the two events - that would have made a great Month in Numbers statistic!
4 = days away in a cottage with 7 crafting friends.

35 = the number of days early we exchanged Christmas gifts and ate Christmas lunch while we were there:

3 = the number of new zebra-related items I've managed to accrue this month. I bought myself a scarf:

And as part of my 'Secret Santa' gift at the Christmas weekend there were some zebra charms and a big spool of zebra stripe ribbon.

And finally ...

6 = the number of peope who'll be working on the launch of Featuring Magazine [and I'm one of them]:

That's all from me, for November.
If you'd like to join in this time around then I'm pleased to say you'll be in good company - the number of people blogging their own Month in Numbers has been steadily growing.

[Note to fed-up bloggers who've introduced a new feature that hardly anyone joins in with!: I've been blogging My Month in Numbers for almost 2 years now and it's only in the last few months that participation has grown. But I didn't stop doing it because I loved the idea no matter who else joined in. And if they all stopped playing along now... it wouldn't mean I'd stop!]

A few people are ahead of me and have blogged their November stats already:
  • Sian of 'From High in the Sky' recorded hers on a very stylish number filled layout;
  • Ginger of 'Ginger's Life of Spice' recorded her impressive card-making total in her November numbers.
  • Month in Numbers stalwart Claire of 'The Crafty Alchemist' has blogged her 11th statistical scrapbook page in a row in a post which gives a lovely glimpse into her life. [Including the 11 muffins she 'accidentally ate ...].
  • Melissa of 'Remember to Breathe' joined in with her statistics once again here.
  • Kate from 'Nana Kate' bravely soldiered on with her Month in Numbers here despite having a laptop meltdown and a corrupted memory card. 
If you blog yours, let me know and I'll add you to the list. [A tiny mention and a link to me somewhere in your post would be nice, thanks.]


The 'How to record your Month in numbers' tutorial [or should I have called it my 'Tips for the Month in Numbers-curious'?] I've been asked to write will be with you sometime next week. So that should still give you a chance to start testing out the ideas before you record your own summary post at the end of December ... if you fancy it!

I'll see you soon.