Tuesday 31 January 2012

My Month in Numbers 2012: January

Hello, hello. Welcome to the first Month in Numbers post of the New Year.

If you're planning on joining in this year, this month, today, as and when ... or whenever ... then hang around until I get to the bottom of this post for details on the method I've decided on for keeping track of your posts.

Until then, from largest to smallest here's my January in a numbered-nutshell:

2012 = The new year we rolled-over into 4 weeks ago. Not that I've gotten entirely used to writing the date yet.
Our first photo together of 2012. Taken a few minutes after midnight in our garden. [For the record, that look I'm doing is not 'moody and sultry' but rather 'I hope both of our heads are in shot here, because my arm won't stretch any further away.'] 
 As the year began I didn't blog, didn't make any life-changing decisions or declare any resolutions, intentions or goals ... I just let 2012 creep in quietly while I read and re-read The Radio Times from cover to cover, watched Jane Austen adaptations and found spaces in drawers for new jumpers.

400 = the number of yards on a full bobbin of button twine I invested in with a friend ...
Our other friends ordered a reel each, but Jan and I decided to share one between us. Which seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then it arrived and we were faced with the insane logistical task of sharing it out. I mean, how were we going to do this? Unwind it all, find halfway, and then cut it into 2? Wind it directly on to another bobbin ... but how would we count out exactly 200 yards?

We didn't know, so we came up with a compromise: shared custody. As long as I remember to bring it with me every time we meet up she's going to take 10 yards off at a time, until she collects her full 200 yards!!

I've told her, that that means we have to continue to like each other until we meet up at least 19 more times ... otherwise we might have to face a button twine custody battle ... and nobody wants that. ;-)

Jan - this one's for you:

300 =  the number of tiny pieces I fitted together in the teeny tiny jigsaw my parents bought James for Christmas.

That 'WARNING' should also have included: "Be careful you don't lose the South Pole down the cushions of the sofa."

365 days worth = the amount of toilet paper James returned home with after a trip to the shops:

[And to the eagle-eyed amongst you, yes, that is indeed approximately a year's supply of toothpaste in the background too!]

I'll spare you the details of how I worked out that 36 rolls will probably last us a year, but barring any unforseen incidents ... it realy is likely to be 2013 before I need to buy any more. And I'm sure there's a calculation to be done somewhere with those 'Three layers of velvety softness' too ...

Considering that this is the amount he brought home after all I'd said to him was: "We need some toilet roll" [Note the word 'some'!] I'm now wondering how far it would get me if I told him that I needed some new clothes or patterned paper ... I'll let you know how I get on.

14 = the number of items sent to Papercraft Inspirations for publication in the coming months. I also sent articles to 4 additional magazines too. My teenage self, who was somewhat besotted with and in awe of magazines, would have been so happy for me. And more than a bit stunned.
11 = the title of the book I'm currently reading by comedian Mark Watson:
And there's actually another Mark Watson related number I learned this month. 2 = the number of years in a row his nearest live stand-up show dates have clashed with one of my crafting weekends away, meaning I can't go and see him again. If the same thing happens next year ... I'm giong to start taking it personally!

2 = visits to the osteopath wherein I spent my birthday money having a joint in my hip 'released' after damaging myself climbing up some stairs on my birthday!

What this 'release' actually involved was me laying down while a large man rolled me around on my side - quite near his groin - while he moved my leg.

Which, when I put it like that ... sounds more like a service he should have been paying me for doesn't it?


OK then, those are my facts and figures, now it's over to you ...

I've been debating which would be the best way to compile all the posts you share here and am going to try the method I use when I run my themed blog series: a Pinterest board.

It's loooking a bit empty at the moment but it won't look that way for long.

Here's how it'll work:
  • If you blog your own January Month in Numbers post, project or photograph, simply let me know in a comment on this post as usual.
  • Then I will visit your post and pin it to my board.
  • This way, anyone on Pinterest who is following the board will get to see when I add a new pin - which means you'll most likely get more visits to your post.
  • Plus - EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT ON PINTEREST - you will only have to follow one link - to the dedicated Month in Numbers board - and you'll be able to see everyone's posts in one place, making it much easier for you click through and visit them.
I think this is the best way to do it for now, so we'll see how it works. I can't wait to see the board filling up so start leaving your links as soon as your post is ready!

p.s: [Feel free to blog your Month in Numbers post at any time during the following month, it definitely doesn't have to be the last day of a month like mine.]


I'll be back tomorrow with an art journal page as part of my UKScrappers 'Art Journey' tutorial, plus details of my newest themed series 'A Month of Sunrays' ... so I'll see you very soon.

Julie :-)

Monday 30 January 2012

My tips for journaling on the UKScrappers 'Art Journey'

Hello you.

Hello Monday.

If you haven't heard already, there's a free introduction to art journaling course being held this year over on the UKScrappers forum, with a new tutorial being added each week to develop and expand on your art journaling skills.

 And today it's my turn!
  • The first of several tutorials I'm writing will be available to download [in .pdf format] from the Art Journey area of the forum from today.
  • It's called 'Letting the words find you' and it looks at several, quite unusual ways to add the 'Journaling' into your 'Art Journaling'.
As with each tutorial throughout the course it's broken into 2 sections:
  • 'Research' which is available from today, and ...
  • 'Action' which will be available from Wednesday ... once you've done your research!
[Note: you need to be a UKscrappers member to access the course, but registration is free ... so there's nothing to stop you!]

Here's a sneak peek at the page I've made to illustrate my tutorial:

If you've been wanting to dip your toe in the art journaling waters but dn't want to leap in alone, maybe this is for you. Leanne [from Craftaholic Leanie] has organised the entire Art Journey, and  she describes it like this:

"This journey will be looking at as many aspects of art journaling as possible, acting as a resource for both newcomers and old hands to this unique and personal art form.

On your personal UKS Art Journey, you can explore ways of representing your feelings or subjects by using different technique tutorials, mediums – even different journals. And you can’t rush art, so there’ll be no prizes for finishing first, or running so fast on the journey you miss the scenery. Certainly no gold stars for perfect attendance! Everything will be recreated in PDF format so that you can save the ‘classes’ and go through them in your own time.

Each Monday there’ll be a ‘Research prompt’ to let you know what we’ll be doing on the Wednesday, and what materials you may like to use – there’ll also be links, prompts and quotes to help you start. On Wednesdays, that ‘prompt’ will be edited to include technique instructions, and pages from a talented team of artists who are supporting this project."

Like I say:
  • it's free to register and the tutorials are free to download and keep.
  • So you've nothing to lose ... apart from your fear of journaling!
  • [Honestly, the techniques I cover are truly pain free!! I promise!].
Maybe I'll see you over there sometime this week.

Julie :-)

p.s: One of my later tutorials will be looking at using numbers in your journal which reminds me ... there's a Month in Numbers post headed this way tomorrow and I can't wait to see who's going to be sharing their vital statistics for the first month of 2012! See you then then!

Sunday 22 January 2012

Art Journaling: Power Dressing .. for Dogs


Do you have someone in your life who prevents you from taking life too seriously? Someone who, despite all your best efforts not to give-in, makes you laugh even when you're trying make a deep and meaningful point?
I do. I live with him.

And this is a page a made about one such 'OK, you win, I'm smiling' conversations which took place between us recently:
As the journaling says, I'd heard a Radio4 programme all about training Search + Rescue dogs, the dogs which sniff you out when you're stranded in a forest ... or whatever. And in it they discussed how, when it was time to go to 'work' the handlers dressed the dogs in a coat to mark the change that would be expected in the dogs' behaviour:
At tea time I'd told James all about this programme mainly for the following reason:
  • when I'd been listening all I could think about was if I was stranded, injured, cold and lost somewhere, just hoping to be found ... how exactly I would feel if some barking dogs came dashing around a corner to 'save' me.
Because that would definitely be a case of being caught between rock and a hard place for a me!

Anyway ... later that night ...
"You need to get a little coat ... like the dogs." he said, looking at me with his 'I know, I'm impertinent ... but I'm funny with it' face.

And I laughed. And suddenly it didn't seem like such an issue any more.

Besides ...

... what's not to smile about when you've just been handed on a plate a perfectly valid excuse to go and buy a new jacket?


Whether you're working from home, from a desk or from a cold forest surrounded by well-dressed dogs, I hope you have a happy week ahead.

Julie ;-)

Friday 20 January 2012

Painted Project: A little friend

Hi, hi.

As someone with a birthday quite soon after Christmas I know all too well how hard people find it to send you a gift that [a] you really want or [b] you might just need ... or even [c] that you actually like.

You see, the thign is, us Capricorns have had no time at all post-Christmas to run out of anything to put on our Birthday Wish List.

 Actually ... no, we may, like the rest of the population have run out of money, but that's soooo boring to ask for. Especially when you, like most other people, are tired of shopping by that time of year and we just dream of a nice little non-Christmassy [hopefully not random dregs from the 'Sale' bin] gift landing in your hands.

In birthday wrapping paper.
[NB: I am aware that, to any nowhere-near-Christmas babies amongst you I might sound ungrateful ... but before you judge me just take a moment to consider how, unless I wanted the gift of hypothermia for my birthday:
  • I have never had an outdoor party; and 
  • I've never been able to wear a little floaty dress to a birthday meal!
 I know ... you've got tears in your eyes now ... I can see ... ].

Anyway ...

A friend of mine is in an even more vulnerable birthday position than I am as hers comes only 4 [rather than my 16] days after the Big Day so, with all that in mind, I wanted to make her something special. Something brand new, not from the sales and - most importantly - something she would know for a fact wasn't an unwanted 'regifted' Christmas gift!

And here's what I decided on:
It's her. As a Kokeshi Doll.

As I'm not going to show you a picture of her you're just going to have to trust me that it looks just like my friend ... exactly in fact ... kind of ... just about. Ish.

Pre-Christmas I'd bought a 'Paint Your Own Japanese Friendship Doll' kit, from the toy department of a local sells-a-bit-of-everything type shop [FYI: I have since seen them on Amazon], containing 3 blank wooden doll figures, paint, instructions etc. Not that I used any of that.

Instead I used my own acrylics to create this little replica. Complete with floral tunic and jeans - rather than a kimono:
 The face and details took a little bit of concentration and a steady hand and [apart from spattering flesh coloured paint on my dark brown leather sofa] ... I think everything turned out OK in the end:
When I was photographing her to share with you I thought I'd take a shot of her standing next to the wooden figure we have in our dining room ... to give you an idea of scale ...

And then, afterwards, I realised that you probably don't know how big the big wooden figure is either !!! So I'll just tell you that she's approx 3.5 inches tall.

The doll that is.

Not the friend.

Fortnately for me, my friend overlooked the startling lack of arms on the doll and even liked the bulging bit around the chest! So it was definitely worth the effort.

When I blogged about my birthday last week I know there seemed to be a lot of January birthdays out there, so if that applies to you Happy Birthday! And if you're going to be giving a gift to a Capricorn anytime soon ... have pity on those of us born in a dark, cold month which most people only ever complain about ... and buy/make them something to brighten their day.   

Julie :-)

  • I've been in touch with Sheena, the winner of my birthday giveaway and, any moment now, her personalised, custom-themed, pack of Plundered Pages will be landing on her doormat.

Monday 16 January 2012

Plundered Pages Giveaway Winner + Discount Code

Hello again.

How are you feeling today?

If you just replied to that question in a grunt, mumble or, worse still, through tears then don't panic - it's only understandable:
  • On the news here in the UK today they've been referring to today as 'Blue Monday' as it's supposedly the most depressing day of the year!
  • Last Friday was Friday the 13th after all ...
  • Plus last night was the rather harrowing final episode of this series of Sherlock for goodness sake! And if you're not feeling bereft after that, then really ... what's wrong with you?
So, with all that in mind I feel obliged to do my Pollyanna bit and raise some spirits around here.

So I'll begin by announcing ith the winner of the custom-designed pack of Plundered Pages from my birthday giveaway.

I used random.org to choose the winning number:

Which made the Sheena the winner :

I'll be getting in touch with Sheena ASAP to finalise what she'd like in her custom pack.

If you'd like your own custom pack I'll be happy to work on one for you. Maybe you'd want one based around:
  • your 'word of the year';
  • your blog;
  • an upcoming holiday/event etc you plan to scrap;
  • or really just a mix of everything you like with a few surprises thrown in.
The custom packs will retail at £14 and for that I will provide assistance in working out what you'd like in your unique collection. Just drop me an email or contact me via Etsy to discuss your options.
If you fancy an existing pack, then I've just added 7 new packs to my shop with themes ranging from Geek stuff, to Ballet to the Circus!
Now here's where I extend my post-birthday good cheer even further in an attempt to brighten your day ...

until next Monday [23rd Jan] use the code:


at the checkout to receive 20% off any order from my etsy shop.

[This includes custom packs which will be added to the shop for purchase].

I also wanted to thank you for all the amazing Plundered Pages feedback that was left in the comments on the original giveaway post. You've given me a great boost and also lots of ideas for future themes!

I hope you find something you like enough to grab while the special offer's on.

Happy pack-hunting!

Julie :-)

Sunday 15 January 2012

January 'Month in Numbers' reminder, plus a few vintage numbers

Hi, hi.

We're half-way through the month so it seemed a good a time as any to drop by to say that in another 15 or so days I'll be blogging my first 'Month in Numbers' post of 2012 ... and I know some of you will be doing the same.

So, in case you've forgotten to start saving your statistics for January, consider this a gentle reminder, one which I'll try to repeat on or around the 15th of each coming month.

  • If you're new here and you'd like to know more about on the whole Month in Numbers idea then you can click here where you can read the full details.
  • There's also a permanent link there to my tutorial looking at 'How To Record Your Month in Numbers' if oyu need a bit of inspiration to get you started.

The very next day after I blogged that tutorial back in December, I found this fabulous 1960s school book in a charity shop:

A more handsome, creative, amazing maths book I couldn't wish to find!

Its pages are ones which I won't be plundering for my vintage paper packs and it will live out its days on my 'Ones that got away' shelf. I aim to share more of its lovely pages with you each month, in my 15-day  Month in Numbers reminder posts.

I'm still thrilled at the coincidence of writing the tutorial one day - all about where to find your monthly numbers and how to record them - then discovering this gem 24 hours later!

 There couldn't have been a more appropriate book waiting for me to find it that day. I mean ... look ... this page could have been made for those of us scouring for statistics:
I hope it inspires you to keep spotting and jotting down your own numbers, I'll most likely be sharing mine on Tuesday 31st January - but you can join in any time at all.

I'm really looking forward to seeing who's playing along this year! I'll be back a little earlier than that though. Tomorrow in fact, when:
  • I'll be announcing the winner of my birthday giveaway; and ...
  • I'll have news of a special offer in my Etsy shop.
Until then then ...


Tuesday 10 January 2012

Birthday Giveaway!

Hello again and ... Happy New Year to you and ... Happy Birthday!!

What? Haven't you got a birthday today? No?

OK, that must be just me then!

On my birthdays when I was young my Grandma and Great Aunts and Uncles would often give my sister a little gift too. And no, we're not twins. They just used to think it was nice not to leave her out on when I was receiving lots of presents [and vice versa on her birthday]. So, with that in mind, I'd like to offer a little gift your way today:
You might have already seen my 'Plundered Pages' range of themed vintage paper packs in my Etsy shop, but if not then you can catch up on what they are here.

This year I'd really like to build on the idea of offering custom packs tailored to suit exactly what you'd like to find in a pack of papers so here's your chance to grab one for free. As my birthday gift to you.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS - NB: the giveaway is now CLOSED - thank you to all who entered.
  • I'm offering one person a fully customised [large] pack of original vintage/retro papers and images.
  • The deadline for entries is Saturday 14th January 2012 at 6pm [GMT].
  • To enter simply make it clear in a comment on this post that you'd like your name adding to the giveaway list.
  • If you'd like to add in details about the kinds of themes and topics you might like to find in your pack, you're welcome to do that too. [It won't effect the outcome at all - it's just for fun].
  • I'll select a winner at random on Sunday.
  • If you're selected as the winner I will need to be able to get in touch with you so we can discuss what you'd like in your pack - so please bear that in mind when you log in [or not] to leave your comment. I need to be able to click a link, or at least copy + paste an address you've added to your comment so I can find you again and let you know you won. 
Examples of custom themed packs:

If you need some inspiration as to the kinds of things you could request in your custom pack here's a few I made earlier ...

This one was requested by someone putting together an album to celebrate a 60th Birthday:
For me to know what to include the customer gave me some details about the man for whom the album was being made, things such as:
  • where he grew up;
  • his activities as a child [trips to the beach etc];
  • his occupation in the advertising field;
  • his love of art and culture;
  • and his current hobbies and activities.
I then tootled off to browse my collection to put this pack together.
As with all my packs, there's far more tucked inside than what is visible in the front + back photos.

Anothe request came from someone compiling an album of recipes handed down through her family and she gave me the theme of 'Vintage Food / Cooking / Kitchens' to work with. Here's a few of the items which made it into this pack: 
It included various vintage advertisements, recipes, dictionary definitions, illustrations ... and more:
Next up is a pack I put together as agift for a friend, tailored very much to the things I know she likes such as: cats; cute dogs; baking; pink ... and flamingoes:
I even parted with a fabulous 1950s dress-pattern advert for this pack ... because I like her and I'm kind like that ....
I've also put together a couple of packs for friends I know through their blogs and the stories they tell there, which is what I based their themes around.

For some reason I haven't taken photos of any of these but luckily Sian of From High in the Sky blogged this photo of the pack I made for her. [This computer won't let me add a link properly but you can find Sian here:
http://fromhighinthesky.blogspot.com/2011/11/tuesday-tuesday_15.html I'll change it when I get home!]

As I was compiling her pack I was stunned to find a page in one of my books which featured part of her blog name in it! It was a perfect Plundered Pages moment for me!

I hope these examples give you an idea of the range of themes, topics, images you could receive and approaches you could take if you win a pack for yourself.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like a custom pack of your own at any time too.


Right then, I'll be off to enjoy the rest of my birthday ... so far [being in work on and off today] I've had a celebratory banana and a drink of water and am just about to walk up 7 flights of stairs to attend lecture. You're jealous, I know. I predict dark chocolate, caramel and sea-salt truffles later this evening to make up for things!

See you soon. Good luck with the giveaway.

Julie [aka The Birthday Girl]