Friday 21 December 2012

Happy Wrapping Happening

We're busy busy bees in this household. For the first year I have managed to find the time to locate, buy and put together the gift wrapping that I've envisioned in my head.

But it takes a long time to wrap! My husband is a champion wrapper - all for straight seams and hidden seams and neatness - and we make a pretty good team.

Look! They're so pretty! I don't want anyone to open them!

I punched the tags from Lily Bee's Handmade collection

Monday 19 November 2012

Like a Phoenix...

...or more like a lazy hibernating bear, I am posting on my blog again, six months to the day that I stopped.

It's tentative, an experiment to see if I can still manage it, and I have no idea how many of my old friends and followers will still be following and reading, but let's see. It's partly just for me anyway :-).

I had to take a break. I thought it was so that we could property hunt, but 1) we still haven't found anywhere and 2) it's more like I needed to just step away and have a clear enough mind to rethink things. Craft things, and how they will fit into my life from now and into the future. And I feel like I've gotten somewhere.

For example, I'm going to be taking some classes in the new year - learning new skills, broadening my talent. And, in response to local demand, despite my lack of activity on the scene, I've set up a platform which I hope will be the solution to an online shop, after a few wayward attempts elsewhere: on my facebook page, of all places.

And so, I hope you are all well, and happy. I have been watching a little the developments on some of your blogs, but since I really needed to step away, I confess I've not been as regular a reader as I once was. If you're still out there, still reading me, drop a comment in below and let me know how you are, and I'll see you soon on your blog.

It's good to be back...

Saturday 19 May 2012

The Swing of Things

I might be getting back into the swing of things. Going out into the blog world and reading that many, many other people struggle with time is reassuring. Especially when I take into account the fact that the time is being used to house-hunt. I’m not going to go on about it much more – I promise!

My super-special team-mates at Gauche Alchemy are always sharing stuff they find online. Last week, Michelle found this, and we all had a discussion about how expensive the pens are, and whether there wasn’t another way.

Confession time: my watercolour pencils have sat long and neglected on the shelf for one most shameful reason: I couldn’t find the pencil sharpener. Anywhere. I’m talking like two years. The odd drawing pencil is fine to sharpen with my Leatherman, but not 40 watercolour pencils. In the end, spurred on by this beautiful, colourful idea, I consented to using my make-up pencil sharpener for the watercolours. And I got to work on my version of the project. Ah, the joy of objects fulfilling their purpose after a period of neglect!

I forgot how lovely watercolours are. I'm so happy too that the project works with watercolours as well as the pens. Go us and our money-saving ways!

Monday 14 May 2012

Stealing Moments

That is how I am getting back into scrapping: snatching an hour here, 30 minutes there... I was getting too caught up about needing a large-ish time slot in order to get around to doing anything. 

I realise my blog posts are still sounding a bit subdued; however, the response I got from the last post, and being able to read everyone’s blogs again, has certainly put me on the path to being cheered me up.

Anyway, I stole a few moments to get a quick layout together. Using a kit from GottaCraft, a special photo from our engagement shoot, a selection of bits from Gauche Alchemy, a sprinkling of my Crate Random win, and just a smattering of paint, I created this in not much time at all:

And into the album it goes. 

In other, though not so different, news, it’s been a restless, uncomfortable start to the week, despite the beautiful sunshine bringing the conviction that May is finally deciding to show its face. Anyone got any tips on sort of centering oneself after what feels like a rough kind of month?

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Far, Far Away

I've been away for a while... yup. Lost a lotta contact. Missed a lotta happenings. Feels like a lot longer than 3 weeks since I've blogged, but it's that. It's been a good month since I've been able to make anything, that's for sure. Something snapped, I guess. In the househunt time condensed and my craft room gathered dust. I'd like to say that in this time we've gotten ourselves a nice little property, but it's not the case. Not yet. A standard has been set, though.

I'm gonna get back on the blogging horse, and visit all of you and see what I've been missing. I hope you'll all come back and visit me, too. I've missed this contact.

Anyway... deep breath...limber up (stretch, stretch)... what have I actually managed to scrape together these last few weeks?


...a wedding invitation order took up a lot of my time:

But that's OK because I made someone very happy.

There is an unconventional colour challenge this month at XOXO:

For which I used pink and orange. All the time I was thinking 'yeuch' but then I remembered fruit salad penny sweets and embraced the challenge - and I was really happy, in the end. There's a bit of Washi tape in there, some fabric ribbon, lace and other fabric - all from Gauche Alchemy. There's a bit of Crate Paper's Random stuff in there too.

Oh, I got my hair cut:

Yeah, that made me feel goooooood.

I've also been playing around with my camera, trying to learn a thing or two about its manual settings...

OK, work in progress - but I'll get there.

And I went to a gig - another time, another story... but I took my camera:

That was one awesome night. I will come back with the story another time because I'm gonna scrap it. Like, ASAP.

All righty, I think that feels OK - I'm blogging again. I'll go warm down now. Hope to see you all on the rounds again! Thanks for stopping by to say hello again!

Monday 16 April 2012

House of Cards

That's what life feels like, at the moment. House hunting in a competitive market is an emotional business. As a result, I've not been blogging much, because I've not been crafting much.

It's frustrating when so many things come at once and you can't devote as much time to any of them as you would like to, or even give attention to all of them. Certain things get left on the kerb while we walk around property after property. It's not even like I'm in a creative rut. My mind is still sparking.

In the last few weeks, our boiler rusted its pipes open, flooding the boiler room. My craft room/study/our walk-in wardrobe/laundry room/etc is right next door to that. Before the men could work on replacing the boiler we had to move everything out, find somewhere for it all, and then we sat and waited for the job to be done. Which, of course, dragged on because one problem after another was found. "I can't craft like this!" I screamed, near to tearing my hair out. "And exactly when were you planning to?" mocked the calendar, while the clocks tickled quietly with laughter in the background.

But enough! I have business to do. A wedding invitation order is in progress, a baby/marriage/engagement/birthday order is in the wings, and an order for one of my colleagues has just been completed, turning this upside-down house momentarily into a house of cards.

Anyone got any advice for when it all just gets a bit too much? Breathe, right?

Sunday 8 April 2012

Happy Easter Everyone!

I am sure there is plenty (read: too much) chocolate to go around, so to counterbalance I am making this light and fruity recipe for dessert (suggested to me by a colleague), and also produced some anti-choc cupcakes:

oops! I lied! there is chocolate on them :-)

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Surprise Lift

A great challenge at XOXO this month – be inspired by the team being inspired by each other! We got to do what all of you challengers do each month: lift! But it was more: a 'surprise lift each other' challenge – which was a great opportunity for me to finally make something in the style of one of my scrap idols – Michelle. She has a very arty, graphic, laissez-faire style and has a great eye for photos and telling a story on a layout. It was a no-brainer that she would be my surprise lift.

Here is her page (from 2011):

courtesy of Michelle @

And here is my lift:

Add caption

Heavily influenced, I know. Very similar, I know. But Ioved this page so much for so long and just wanted one of my own. Do you ever get that about someone else’s work? For me it was this one’s great colour scheme, uplifting message, and rock n roll elements like the wings – all in all, it was perfect.

I took specific elements from Michelle’s page and adapted them, sometimes not very much, and sometimes quite a lot, to achieve my own page. I found some cloud paper (remnants from Echo Park’s Sweet Summertime collection) and used my Sass cloud stamps to both stamp and just get a good cloud shape to cut out of patterned paper. I chose some herringbone patterns too – from Crate’s Paper Heart collection, and a Cuttlebug embossing folder. The wings were actually a pair of earrings that were joke-given to me by my mum for my hen party as a nod to me saying how I didn’t want to see halos or angel wings or anything like that (things like this, and L-plates and tiaras, are quite typical British humiliate-the-bride-to-be things and since I was not the typical bride I did not want the typical stuff). I bent the backs flush with the page with a pair of pliers. I used a balloon stamp (Kaisercraft – Up, Up & Away) and also a balloon mask (Prima). For the positioning I pretty much stuck to Michelle’s, but changed the size and the number of photos, and the colour of the title.

And yes, I love it. I wish I’d come up with it myself! Thanks, Michelle – keep on churning out those beauties!

If that's not quite enough for you, there's also a challenge this month to design something for the XOXO webpages: a new site needs a new header, so submit your designs!

Saturday 31 March 2012

Baking Therapy

The last...year has been a tornado of life-changing moments, breathlessness and excitement. But the last few weeks have been stress piled upon less time piled upon exhaustion.

It turned out that our boiler giving up and needing completely replacing, and me needing to take the morning off work to let the men in and whatnot, on top of already having a cupcake order to fulfil, resulted somehow in a weird moment of calm (weird because over the drilling, yelling, scraping and hammering, I managed to just get away from everything for a little bit).

And thus I got some baking therapy.

finally found some cases that don't go see-through from the fat when cooking

I was really sad to let these babies go.

but fly away, my pretties, and make someone happy

Monday 26 March 2012

Metal Breakdown

That mini album I made for Dublin – the one with no photos – gave rise to not one, not two, but three video tutorials for Gauche Alchemy. The first one showed the structure of the mini. I think we missed the second one, about getting messy with paint and textures of backgrounds. (You can see them all here.)

And then there’s the third, about how to achieve a faux metal look from foil paper:

The Gauche Alchemy team is riding high at the moment – there are lots of achievements, great techniques and fabulous little projects going on, so if you’re feeling stuck for inspiration or fancy trying something new, pop over to the GA blog.

That's all for now!

Friday 23 March 2012

A Litte Misty-Eyed

Last week I mentioned Revlie's class and how great it was to be in that freedom-to-create-without-boundaries environment... I also mentioned how I was a long way off finishing either of the projects...

...yep, OK, you guessed what's coming - I finished one of them!

love is... embracing the new
This mini album was made with a focus on Tattered Angels products in mind.
I don't know how many layers
I am so very, very happy with this project and I want to tell you why:
  • During the class, Birgit did some demos for us and then we'd go away and recreate a page with her techniques. It was so useful to actually see first hand how layers can be built up. (What was also very sweet was that some of the ladies were translating into my ear as we crowded around to watch Birgit... who was speaking Dutch, of course, since we were in the Netherlands.)
yep - it's punchinella making another appearance!

  • Having the free run of the whole product selection was a joy - but more importantly, it made me realise the gulf in quality between these mists and the ones I currently own (Cosmic Shimmer Mists). Tattered Angels' mists still clog sometimes, but the fineness of the glitter, the smoothness of the spray and the blendability of the colours is far, far better than anything I've used before. (Interestingly, I've just ordered some Dylusions, so we'll see how they compare. In fact, I am going to go and buy a Tattered Angels pack from the art shop down the road once I get paid, so maybe I can do a product comparison video...)
I really have fallen in love with these products

  • I was so happy during the class just to be creating, with no pressure from anywhere. One attempt that I wasn't happy with even got redone (my attention span is such that I am hardly ever (read: never until now) able to redo creations).
  • It has opened my mind to lots of other products, to techniques, to different canvases and to the option of using colours and motifs that I usually avoid.
pink AND a butterfly, on the same page? Who are you and what have you done with Cheryl?

  • It made me realise that it is actually pretty comfy outside of my comfort zone.
in for a penny...
Basically we did our work on a sheet of paper, and once it had dried, we stuck it onto a sheet of cardboard (cut from a box), and then punched holes and fixed the pages together into a book.

So what did Birgit teach me?
  • I learned how to employ screens with spray, ink and sponge, gesso and credit card, Glimmer Glam and Glimmer Glaze.
the swallow is a screen that was painted with Glimmer Glaze, stamped onto the page and then left to dry before misting over. It acts as a resist and comes in a large range of shades.

  • I learned how to use gesso and Glimmer Mists together.
  • I learned how Chalkboard Mists and I are a match made in heaven.
  • I learned that all of that mist and glaze and ink is pretty hard to clean off hands and nails.
  • I learned how to forget about patterend paper.
  • I learned how to start thinking properly about mixed media art.
  • And, most important of all, I (re-)learned how to have fun. I've been putting too much pressure on myself lately, and now I know I have to sit back and have fun sometimes.

Watch this space for news on the Tattered Angels vs Dylusions face off. If anyone wants to throw in some Mr Hueys too, feel free!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

And it's a WIN!

All of those pretty things you saw in my previous post (and more, oh, many more!) arrived on my doorstep a week or so ago from Crate Paper... I won a comp and they sent me a huge box way more full of stuff than I would ever expect!

I was thrilled because it's very rare that I win anything... and because I love Crate's designs.

I'm still thrilled because 1) I'm seeing now, 3 projects in, just how far this freebie's gonna go and 2) I'm designing projects with a lot more freedom, knowing that there is no guilt from spending and no hoarding feeling hanging over me. That second one is a side effect I wouldn't have guessed at.

Anyone else found any unexpected side effects to winning something?

So, thanks go to Crate! Who's next? Tiffany's? :-D

Sunday 18 March 2012

Happy Mums Day

In the UK it's Mothers Day today. (Hi Mum!*waving* I made something for you!)

Even though she's just very recently had a super special day, here's another one for her - because of course she deserves it. I hear she has a bright new craft room and I hope she gets to spend some time in there today.

Here's the layout I made in close up:

a pretty page for a pretty lady

finally got access to the sewing machine

Happy Mums Day, Mum!

(p.s. I'm sorry but the soundtrack is the closest track to Metal that the iMovie generic music list has to offer)

Friday 16 March 2012

Dublin in Mini

...nope, not in a mini, just in mini. In a mini album, in a mini weekend, in a minimally tourist and maximally family visiting kind of way.

I fancied folding some pieces of card to make a mini album of all the fantastic photos I was gonna take when we went to visit Dublin... but then I got ill, spent the whole of the Thursday in bed in the hotel, and then most Friday and Saturday with family. Plus my SD card decided that no, the nice photos I took on my solitary stroll around on Friday morning were not good enough, and converted them into randomly gigantic encrypted messes. It was easier to try to recreate the stroll and the photos than to work out how to save them from my evil SD card.

So the result is a mini album so far empty of photos but eagerly waiting. I happened to film the process for Gauche Alchemy, and you can also find the video on the 'my videos' page on this here blog of mine.

There are two more videos to go along with this one. They show specific techniques used in the making of this mini - but you'll have to wait! They'll be out later this month. For now, a little taster of the mini album:

I spy Gauche Alchemy products!
See that ouchless cardboard? The coaster? The foil paper? All GA, baby! Go have a look at the GA blog and shop, and at my video too. And do let me know if you've had any annoying or even heart-wrenching experiences with digital images, cameras and SD cards. In my experience sharing is cathartic (plus it'll make me feel a little better to know I'm not the only sufferer).

Thursday 15 March 2012


Just a quick roundup of a few things today...

Cards for Boys
...are not soooo difficult, I have found lately:

that's a special birthday, that is

To get the pennants - which are stickers from Echo Park - to stand up, I first stuck them onto some paper, just up to the point where I wanted to curl them away from the card, and then adhered them by the remaining sticky part.

just like they're fluttering in the breeze
And I employed the old paper-weaving technique again for a friend's birthday card. A friend who plays the bass in a band. A hippy living, reggae loving friend.

that's another quite special birthday

Paper Piecing
Just a quick share of something I worked on for a certain wedding anniversary last year:


Stuff Going On
Don't forget the Gauche Alchemy DT Call, running till the end of the month. And don't forget the March Madness at Scrapbook Challenges - we're taking bets now, and the competition starts tomorrow! You gotta be in it to win it!

Intelligent Product Packaging
I really appreciate it when a manufacturer thinks about their packaging. Check out this freebie I got from Revlie's class:

ooh, canvas flowers!
And then you look closely, and see that they've also given you a nice thick acetate sheet with beautiful white doily patterns on:

I like acetate with patterns on. A lot.
Has anyone else come across really intelligent packaging of scrapbooking products? I want to hear about them! And why do you like them? Because they're green? Because you can reuse them? Do share!

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Scrapbook Challenges: March Madness

...and it really is. Madness. They're pitting us DT against each other in a knockout competition where forum members can win big if they predict the right winners. It's dog eat dog, each woman for herself... and other fighting terminology that's suitably kick-ass for the level of this contest.

Get on over to the forum to find out what exactly it's all about, and how you can win big!

Monday 12 March 2012

The (Mini) REVolution Event

On Saturday I spent a fantastic day with Revlie Schuit, who had organised a day full of craft classes up in The Netherlands.

There was a great, cute mini album made from fabric and felt, and a Tattered Angels workshop by Birgit which was just amazing.
my workspace before things got messy

I am so glad I went - what an inspiring, creative day! I brought home so much from it - ideas, knowledge, a warm heart, a smile, new friends, some random Dutch vocab... not to mention two projects that are so far from being finished yet that I can't even show you!

Thanks, Revlie - I'll see you next time for sure!

Friday 9 March 2012

Do YOU Want to Go Gauche?

I recently made another card solely from my Gauche Alchemy stash, and this time* I managed to save the photo before my temperamental SD card deleted it:

a his n hers kinda card
After I’d made it, I staged it, and stepped back, camera at the ready… and stopped for a moment to admire it. Yep, I actually admired one of my own cards. Over the last year, my fingers have worked hard at scrapbooking, but neglected card making to the extent that I have now lost confidence in the art. But this Gauche card, to congratulate a Gauche kind of couple on their engagement, was a doddle. And I realised that it was the nature of the products that made it so easy: I hadn’t worried about composition, balance or the message; I’d just done. The process was so enjoyable because I hadn’t had all of this worry hanging over me and my fingers were free to do as they felt. It came together in less than 20 minutes, and is perfect for the recipients.

The great news is that throughout March, in honour of National Craft Month, Gauche Alchemy is offering 10% off everything** in their store – so drop by, browse and splash out!

What news could possibly beat that? Actually, this might: if you already love Gauche Alchemy and want it to be a bigger part of your life, check out their Design Team call. It runs until the end of March so make sure you get your application in by then! The Gauche Alchemy mamas are a feisty but caring & sharing group of driven yet fun-loving ladies, and the DT are a superbly creative and active bunch. You will feel welcome from day one, will be challenged and stimulated daily, and will without doubt feel proud to be part of this growing company.

I’ve got lots of Gauche stuff planned this month so while you’re browsing, buying or applying I’ll be working at reducing my GA stash. Enjoy National Craft Month, everyone!

* I have created a few other great GA cards in the past, using various Color Kits, and the Nearly Nekkid and Acme kits, but I’d put them in the post box before my SD card did the evil deed, and the recipients haven’t managed to take photos for me yet.
** Acme subscription kits are not included in this offer.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

A Very Special Day

Today I’d like to tell you a little story.

It was the height of the summer holidays, and a blazing hot, thirst-making kind of day. I was perhaps eight years old, and playing in the street with my friends, at the outskirts of the small town on the edge of farmland where my family spent a few years living the country life.

At some point that day, I came inside for a cold glass of refreshing lemonade, or maybe it was an ice-pop, and found my mum in the living room, listening to Kool & the Gang, knelt over a spread of fabric. There were chalk lines and scissors, pin cushions and thread, and panels ready to make up a dress for a little girl.  
I can’t remember if she asked me to stop in for a while so that she could measure me; but I do remember the fabric: it was white, with large neon orange polka dots, and it was pretty much the same shape as the dress I’m wearing today:

Cheryl's cherry dress #2
And why am I wearing such a dress today?
Today is a very special day, because a very special lady is having a very special birthday.

Last night she was surprised by an unexpected visit from us, and today she is showing us her new craft room and opening cards and presents. She also doesn’t know that this afternoon we’re going to take her out for tea.

I made her a card, naturally:

Happy Birthday, Mum!
But I also made her a little something to hang on the wall of her new craft room:

that's right. Ain't no one else's craft room.
She loves Webster’s Pages, and things in the style of Cath Kidston and East of India, so I hope this little wall decoration will meet her tastes and match her craft room. The image you can see inside is from Crafty Secrets, and I chose it because, more than scrapbooking, cardmaking, flower arranging and baking, the strongest memory I have of my mum is of her at her sewing machine.

Cute, huh? All those little sewing elements are actually buttons. I just set to work on them with my glue gun and suddenly there was a miniature sewing basket fit for a doll’s house.

Having taken direction from All Things Thrifty, I spray painted this box instead of using acrylic paint and a brush:

the finish is much smoother. Now I feel confident to move on to big pieces of furniture!

a better view of the inside
Wishing you a very happy birthday, mum!