Tuesday 27 December 2011

Just a Note

Well, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We certainly did.

I have a little story to tell today. It's about the time when I got married, and I forgot to bring my vows with me to the ceremony.

I had been thinking about what to say for months, rewriting, deleting, starting again... I never thought I would have such trouble. I've always been able to express myself in writing - much better than in speaking. Anyway, I was planning to write them out by hand and take them with me. But in the rush of things (you can read about my veil incident here) I clean forgot. It's not like I'd committed them to memory or anything - I needed those vows!

I remembered just in time to quickly scribble from memory a few of the things I wanted to say. But for the most part I was so mad at myself, and felt like I was doing the husband an injustice, that I rushed through them and failed to make the moment what it should have been. At least, that's how it felt, but he will say otherwise.

So to make things up to him, I have now written out the vows in full. I popped them in an envelope and gave them to him on Christmas morning. I also gave him this:

music, cake, love - our wedding in a nutshell
It's a Tagxedo representation of my vows, rendered in the wedding colours and framed for posterity. He loved it (of course!).

Tagxedo makes you feel clever

I'm still annoyed that the one time I really truly needed to express how I felt, I fell down. But it could've been worse, and it certainly doesn't mean that I don't feel what I tried to say I felt. This print, though, makes me feel a lot better. It's added the full stop to my sentence, the vow saga is now over, and I feel complete.

And on that note, I'll announce here that I'm going to take a little break from blogging - just a week or so while everyone recovers from Christmas. See you in the New Year!

Saturday 24 December 2011

My Very Own Peg Wreath

Yup. I copied Hambly - and just in time for Christmas, too.

Surprisingly quickly, you can apply washi tape to pegs, apply pegs to a cardboard donut, and apply a cardboard donut to your front door.

just in time for Christmas

I went a little further and used some of the fake snow I had left over from last year's Christmas Crafts classes:

the only snow we'll be seeing this Christmas

We had a lovely evening yesterday hosting mulled wine and nibbles with friends who are still in town. The house still smells of mulled wine, which is not a bad thing. Now it's time to hole up with the husband - wrapping presents (well, embellishing them with home-made bows and labels), watching Home Alone (we've gone right through the Christmas film library this year, starting with A Nightmare Before Christmas, and ending with Die Hard 2), cooking and eating a lovely three-course meal (got to get our eating stamina up for tomorrow), and pretending all our tiny candles are in fact one large warm cosy fire. A twinkling tree, a nightcap, and to bed to wake up on Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Ps. I forgot I issued a teaser here about another wreath I made. It's a bit late for a tutorial, since it's an advent wreath, so maybe we'll revisit that next year. But here's a photo of what it looked like at the start of December anyway:

pretty, no?

Thursday 22 December 2011

Give a Girl the Right Shoes...

...and she can conquer the world. 

(Marilyn Monroe)

A long, long time ago, I started a blog. On my blog I wrote my first post. And in that post I wrote a poem about shoes. I've blown away the dust, so you can read it here.

Fast-forward to 2011, and things have changed somewhat. A wedding on the horizon produced the necessity for both the bride- and groom-to-be to buy shoes. Usually, when it comes to weddings, no expense is spared; but we are sensible people, and know our limits. We also knew what we wanted from our respective wedding shoes.

So, while he secretly broke in his shoes by wearing them around the office, I secretly practised teetering around in mine at home.

Creative Scrappers sketch #187
Mine were grey felt with a scottie dog patched onto one; his were black and white and shiny. They certainly produced a lot of 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' on the day.

and dance we did
On that special day, it wasn't just about a girl and her shoes - it was about a boy and his, too. And you know what? We both knew we'd chosen the right shoes, and we both felt that we could conquer the world.

Monday 19 December 2011

Smart Words

A few people out there in the cloud are talking about the new answer to Wordle (Sian, your finger is on the pulse as ever!) - and so I will too.

Tagxedo is a cute, easy-to-use little app that makes pretty things happen to words. You have to play around with different colour/layout/orientation combos, and different amounts of words and which font(s) you choose, to get a shape that you're happy with, but in the end, you end up with word (sm)art like this:

It's pretty. But I looked at it aftwerwards and wanted to bling it up a bit. This is when things get dangerous - I'm liable to ruin something in search of a (possibly unreachable) goal. So I "reined" it in a bit. I kept bling to a minimum and it gave it just the right amount of Christmas sparkle, don't you think?
a sparkly eye for christmas time
You can even create your own colour theme (if you don't know all the HTML colour codes by heart (!) then go here for some simple assistance). 

I have made a couple more but since they are Christmas presents I'm bound to secrecy until after the 25th. Go check out Tagxedo and link back here - I want to see what you create!

Friday 16 December 2011

Scrapbook Challenges Sketch 273

It's been a long time since a Scrapbook Challenges sketch came about. The transition from Ning to SC's own site has been a priority though, and well worth it.

The sketches are back now, and number 273 has produced some brilliant interpretations from the DT. The sketch:

Scrapbook Challenges Sketch #273

My interpretation is... well, autumnal (just coming out of summer). That's the mood and season I was in when I made it - and that's how long it's been since an SC sketch! So nothing very Christmassy here, but inspiration nonetheless, I hope:

a rare photo of my dad
I used a rare photo of my dad from Father's Day this year - he's holding a chocolate orange (his favourite) cupcake that I made for him (and that I have to admit were even too sickly for me).  I used a lot of different brands on this page - Websters', Cosmo, Lily Bee, Basic Grey, Crate, Sass - because I wanted to get that brightness of colours going.

still loving those circles
Here, I punched a circle in the base layer and adhered some patterned paper to the other side to show through the window.

OK - over to you! Go to Scrapbook Challenges, sign up if you're not already a member, and find the inspiration!

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Doing a Jenni Bowlin

At the weekend we visited a flea market while all others about us were losing their heads in the melee of Christmas shopping. And in the crisp clearness of Saturday lunchtime, with our breath before our faces and our toes crunching up in the cold, we came across a stall tended by a little old lady and her daschund, wearing matching quilted, bejewelled navy coats. She was selling vintage fashion items (what a fool I felt for not having my camera with me that day) - brooches, clothing patterns,  stockings, earrings... and buttons.

The Husband quickly ducked out; any opportunity to avoid having to look at, think about or touch buttons is leapt at by that man. I was left to rummage, happy if a little colder for having taken off my gloves for the express purpose of more effective rummaging.

I found many things I would have liked to take home. In the end, only one item found its way into my bag:

in the fashion indeed.
please excuse the lighting; it's black outside today

Just as Jenni Bowlin boasts vintage button finds, now so can I. I expect I'll look at them for a while, before using some on wedding layouts. And then, back to the little old lady and her daschund, for the next purchase.

Friday 9 December 2011

Our Own Little Christmas

Although Christmas is supposed to be a family time - and I'm not complaining about that - we've had scant opportunity to explore other options over the years. As we've both lived away from home since we were 18, each Christmas was taken up with visiting sets of parents - separately, at first, and then together (meaning we have to operate on an every-other-year basis).

In 2009, when we moved to Brussels, it was the Belgian parents' turn to have us. But because of one thing and another, in particular horrible snowstorms, we ended up waking up in our own house on Christmas Day. It was perfect - we had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, a glass of Bucks Fizz, and a few presents in our dressing gowns before having to pack up into the car and trek down the empty highway to the family dinner. But we didn't have any real decorations - we'd just moved in in October - save the home-made wooden heart garland that my parents had lovingly put together.

toadstools can be christmassy too!

Last year being the English parents' turn, we didn't bother with decorations at all. But this year, we are here, newly married, at home, much more settled - and we have just put up our tree. It's there in the corner, twinkling and smelling all christmassy, and it embodies a lot about our own little Christmas - we've made the place all festive, we are now husband and wife, we will work all the way up until the 23rd and then have a cosy Christmas Eve, and wake up on Christmas Day in our own place, with our own tree, and we will be here to enjoy its beauty.

So, you wanna see it?
{heart cushion from Ikea}

Punky Scraps only have one challenge this month, because they know how busy we are all going to be with the last-minute shopping. It's a sketch - an incredible sketch:

# 36 from Nat. WOW!

I felt very christmassy when I was thinking about what to do with this sketch. And so, my first Christmas layout (yep - ever!):

I have s.e.i. and their Winter Song patterned paper to thank here
I used mostly ancient stuff - bling, alphas, epoxy stickers, sequin shapes felt flowers - but also some Emma's Shoppe accents and a lot of stamping and painting and misting.

sideways close-up
Here's to the next few weeks and a happy, exciting build-up to Christmas 2011 - our first as a married couple.

Why not play along? It's a beauty of a sketch. Head over to Punky Scraps for some more inspiration from the DT - it's not all christmassy, if that's not your thing!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Scrapbook Challenges - New Site Launch

Scrapbook Challenges newsflash: the new site is open and awaiting your registration! With a great new look, better interface (meaning waaay easier to use) and its ever-inspiring sketches and challenges, Scrapbook Challenges is reaching for the stars.

Go register now to become part of it, and join in with the opening celebrations for lots of chances to win goodies!

Monday 5 December 2011

Off Celebrating

It's the husband's birthday weekend, and somehow it's turned into a four-day celebration. Lucky he took Monday and Tuesday off work. Unlucky for me: I'm ill, ill, ill.

His card this year is a good reflection of how I was feeling when I made it. I was just beginning to see a bit of colour again, but my head was all over the place: buzzy, frenetic, wishing my cold would fly away.

this is me, ill, in card form - could be worse, I suppose!

I used some Gauche Alchemy stuff of course - perfect for this kind of mood. New punchinella from India, ouchless cardboard and pages from an old dictionary and a music book. Most surprisingly of all, though, was the fact that I busted out my watercolour pencils after years of neglect - and I'm so glad I did. (Even if the red did turn out a bit pink - sorry, husband!)

watercolours, oil  paint and Cosmic Shimmer Mist make up this eclectic background
I sealed it all together with a home-made envelope:

that's the man's name
Happy Birthday, Husband!

Saturday 3 December 2011

The Wedding of Awesomeness: Part Five

I got a great write up on Gauche Alchemy's blog - go check out our wedding being famous!

getting married on the same day as the National Beer Festival... priceless

Thursday 1 December 2011

New Paper

I got a delivery at the end of last week. It was a very exciting delivery, because it embodied at least three things in one.

It satisfied the need to impulse buy that sometimes befalls all of us; it pulled together lots of papers I'd been looking for for a while; and it appealed to the part of my brain interested in wallpaper patterns. In short, it was perfect.

And what did it look like? It was this:

And with it, I did this:

bliss indeed
It makes me so happy to look at it and remember the feeling of the first day of our honeymoon - euphoria, triumph, love, satisfied exhaustion, excitement, anticipation... and more, so much more.

I can spot 3 Gauche Alchemy goodies in this shot
And I suppose it makes me a little sad, too - so brief, that first day, and soon the honeymoon was over, and life began again. But memories are there for enjoying, and that is what this page does.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Creatively Scrapping

I'm on a bit of a roll with layouts lately. Perhaps I'm subconsciously trying to hit 50 before the year is out.

Creative Scrappers gave me a hand with this one. They're on a stars fix at the moment, which suits me just fine. This is how my thought process went: stars - nautical stars - nautical - boats - harbours - the harbour on honeymoon. And a layout was born.

Creative Scrappers sketch #184

I'm loving this streak - I'm using up scraps, using paper that I bought ages ago and can't remember why, and combining it all with newer bits and pieces too.

ah, stars! how I love you
Why not go join the fun at Creative Scrappers? They're very, very, very good. You'll see.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Just for Me

It seems like I've been doing an awful lot of tasks for DTs lately, and not a lot just for the sake of scrapping. It's not that DT tasks are tiresome or unwanted; it's just that in moments of high motivation and creativity I feel the need to just...well, create.

stretching the Sass to the max
 So I started from scratch, drew a sketch, and made a layout just for me.

the engagement shoot photos finally get an airing
It's a whole fun, eclectic mess of bits and pieces and ideas, and I love it. The good news is, this period of high creativity hasn't stopped yet. I've got another layout up my sleeve waiting for a break in the clouds so it can be photographed, and one on paper and in my head that will probably come into fruition later today. Anyone else feeling super motivated at the moment? 

Thursday 24 November 2011

Christmas - a Preview

Not much time to stop in today as I'm preparing for an interview, but I just wanted to show you a sneak peek of something I've been working on. It's not available to the recipient until the First of December... any ideas?

Both Gauche Alchemy and I will be publishing a tutorial on how to make this, so keep an eye out. But what is it, exactly? I'll give you another clue: it's shaped like a donut.

In the meantime, Punky Scraps challenges for November are still open (I'll be featured there tomorrow so please swing by and leave me some love), and True XOXO Girls scraplifting opportunities continue until the end of the month.

Last but not least, Scrapbook Challenges is moving! Make sure you follow them to their new home. The Challenger newsletter is also being relaunched with moi as Editor - sign up here before 25th November (that's tomorrow!) to be in with a chance to win some Echo Park Christmas paper:

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Feedback and Freebies

I'd like to thank everyone who left a comment here when I asked for feedback a few weeks ago.

I let Django Dog pick a winner, and that winner is:

...to whom I will send a small gift of handmade goodness (oh the tension - I'm not going to show you even a peek of what it is!). ScrappyJacky, well done! Thanks for your comments! Please drop me a line with your postal address.

Thanks again everyone!

PS. When I was talking before about this community being so generous, I meant it. I've been proved right by Michelle, a.k.a. the Willieburg Scrapper at My Analog Life, from whom I have just received in the mail from across the ocean this cute and generous gift:

not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR Sass packs!
She even included this incredibly thoughtful card to congratulate us on our marriage:

great colours, huh? ;-)

Thanks Michelle - you're a star!

ScrappyJacky, don't forget to email me your address so I can mail you something handmade!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Christmas Already?

Time sure flies.

The flurry of post-wedding sorting, tidying, organising and documenting has only just started to calm down, and I find myself half-buried under an avalanche of card-making materials.

But it's the life I signed up for, I guess! Actually, this year, without a wedding looming in the near distance I feel very relaxed about Christmas preparations. Good thing, too, since I have nearly 100 cards to make for customers! The first batch has already gone, and I'm working on the second next week.

rolled paper scraps make a great Christmas tree
and give such interesting dimension to a card
the brief was traditional, but I like to add my own twist
again, great dimension from these baubles

and reusing last year's gift tags? genius!

 How about you? Have you started with Christmas yet? 

Friday 18 November 2011

Punky Recipe - the Star of the Show

It's time for another Punky Scraps challenge! Don't try to resist, because this one is too good to miss.

Make a page from the following ingredients:
  • Stars
  • No patterned paper
  • Masking
  • Staples
  • Exposed cardboard
  • Book page
  • Bottle cap
  • Washi tape
Credits can only go to Inkadinkado and Tim Holtz for the star stamps
Not using any patterned paper was the biggest challenge for me - the biggest to date. (At least I know the need to use patterned paper will prevent my stash from ever getting out of control.)

I used everything on the list EXCEPT for the bottle cap because I FORGOT it. I had a Newcastle Brown Ale bottle cap somewhere (it has a star on it - perfect) but I only remembered it after I finished the page.

Love stars? Love ripping up cardboard? Look no further...
Again, as I mentioned in my previous post, I spent a LOT of time thinking about this page. I left it till the very last minute, and then woke up on the last day before deadline with the idea in my head. This time, the ingredients were decided for me; it was the laying out of the page that was taking time to come into focus.

I would LOVE to see people playing along with this challenge especially, so please pop over to Punky Scraps and check out the inspiration from the DT.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

My Creative Process

I've had a few questions lately about my creative process, so I wanted to talk a little about that today. I've been asked whether I plan everything on a page or just go with the flow. I'll focus on layouts today.

Usually these days I start off with a sketch - Scrapbook Challenges and Punky Scraps DT duties provide me with most of them, but I also like to look at Creative Scrappers and others that come up along the way.

Punky Scraps Challenge 34 sketch
my take

Then I spend a good few days thinking about the theme of the layout - I'm finding I like to tell a story on a page, but not necessarily with words. My journalling is usually on the back of the page these days, or hidden in an envelope or pocket somewhere on the page. So I think about the story, and which embellishments I have that can help me tell that story. Gauche Alchemy kits are great for finding the right bits and pieces.

I'll usually re-draw the sketch myself, adding notes about layers, embellishments, techniques and so on.

Next - and I find this Absolutely Important - I select the Most Appropriate background paper (I'm making 12x12 and A4 layouts at the moment). This is the true beginning. I have often made the wrong selection. I rarely go back and redo a page if I've already finished it. But if I haven't yet begun, or have only just begun, I will go back and select the right paper.

From this, the colours and textures will start to flow. Keeping the sketch in mind, I think about the page layer by layer - do I want the rub-on under the paint? Should I mist and mask the base paper? Can I stamp over that series of paper strips? Can I stamp over that stamp already there?

And then I get started. I roughly follow the sketch, but don't get panicked if things start to go off course. It's an organic process, and a page may turn out looking very different to a sketch in the end. I make mistakes, and accept them. I commit.

I've made a few 'test' pages, practising techniques and so on, but I've never been happy with them. I seem to be happier experimenting as I go. And it's this experimenting that is helping me develop my skills and broaden my repertoire.

Take, for example, the punchinella that comes from Gauche Alchemy. There has to be more to it than just layering it underneath something, right? Play with it! Test it! Push it to its limits! There are LOADS of things you can do. See for yourself:

And a bonus this month:

the card I made with the punchinella resist technique

Experimenting is so important for the creative process. You can decide what you like doing, what you don't like doing, what you're better at, what you want to investigate more.

Go experiment!

Monday 14 November 2011

Happy Days

We'd already been planning our wedding for a long time when Echo Park's Happy Days collection came out. To be honest, I was so consumed with making wedding decorations that I hadn't really thought ahead to what the post-wedding scrapbooking would be like. Echo Park saved me the trouble, in the end. More than that - it was a match made in heaven.

Of course, recently I've been getting stuck in to that post-wedding scrapping, recording our happy day.

This layout you've already seen:

Materials used: American Crafts Thickers (Rainboots in Aqua Glitter Foam); Bazzill White cardstock; Echo Park: Dots and Stripes in Concrete, Happy Days chipboard accents, Happy Days element stickers, Happy Days journalling cards, Happy Days paper (Checker Board, Little Flowers reverse side); My Mind's Eye paper (Lost and Found Union Square Perfect "Happy"); Tim Holtz Bitty Grunge stamp set.
{Scrapbook Challenges Sketch #271}

I stitched and stamped before sticking down the paper strips. Then I added a printed swallow, a Cricut-cut nautical star and an RSVP - all from the wedding invitations - as extra memories. Finishing off with Happy Days chipboard shapes and Thickers was a doddle.

Why so easy? Well, Echo Park has pretty much decided my theme for me - I still want to be quite free and 'different', but I do want to have some main colours and motifs running through the pages. And Happy Days is perfect - you've seen the photos of the wedding. It should help me reach that subtle theming I'm after.

I made another Happy Days layout last week - taking into account this layout too, do you think I've achieved continuity?

Materials used: Bazzill Dragonfly cardstock; Echo Park: Dots and Stripes in Concrete, Happy Days alpha stickers, Happy Days element stickers, Happy Days journalling cards, Happy Days paper (Checker Board reverse side); Gauche Alchemy Punchinella;Tim Holtz Bitty Grunge stamp set; Toga alphas; vellum.
{Creative Scrappers sketch #181}

For the border, I cut up the remains of this chequered vellum I've had for years and machine-stictched it on, then drew a couple of extra outer lines with a black pen. To make the chevrons, I cut a strip of the reverse side of Happy Days Checker Board paper, and then cut this strip into squares. Keeping the squares in a line, turning every other square 90 degrees gave the rough pattern; then it was just a question of lining the stripes up and trimming the edges. I did the same with the Dots and Stripes paper.


Since we went for cupcakes as the wedding cake, the Happy Days element stickers had to be used: cupcakes, layer cakes and sundaes - yummy! I cut around the cake on the journalling card a little so it could stick out over the photo. Then the title - punchinella, more chevrons, and lovely pure alphas.

And finally, my piece de resistance this month...

....take one deep photo frame from a well-known supermarket chain, take it apart, and make it your own!

Materials used: Echo Park: Happy Days alpha stickers, Happy Days chipboard accents, Happy Days element stickers, Happy Days paper (Ads, Retro both sides); Gauche Alchemy Punchinella and various Mixed Media Color Kits elements.

The frame comes with a super-thick inner mount that is quite wide, providing a great working surface. I drew around the mount directly onto the patterned paper and then simply cut out the shape I wanted to partially cover the mount. I did a teensy bit of fussy cutting to get the Retro flowers; glued some GA elements onto some thin wire and stuck them down behind the big chipboard title; and then just layered the rest up.

because the frame is so deep you can really go to town on the layering

on the subject of matches made in heaven... look at this Echo Park Happy Days chipboard accent with a vintage mini film negative from a Gauche Alchemy Mixed Media Color Kit