Monday, 30 May 2011

Counterfeit Crop

I've finally come out of my sulk about Karen moving away and I suspect that distance will not affect the number of emails and text that pass between us and it could be that we make more of an effort to actually 'see' each other rather than just chat! 
So it's time for me to dedicate a post to one of my other great friends.  A few of you know her already, Denise and if you haven't actually met her, you probably visit her blog!
I met Denise when we first started working at a holiday company called OSL.  She was in accounts and I was in travel administration.  We became friends and when we got married, it was to two guys who were also good friends.  We married within a year of each other but she got a head start on me in starting a family and also, when I stopped at two babies, she went on to have another!  We've kept in contact even though we live a good half hour away from each other and it was Denise who introduced me to scrapbooking.  I know I can tell her anything and she will be there to laugh with me, offer advice, sympathy or share a funny story.  We have so much in common (including a love for Tom Selleck) and she is just a genuinely lovely lady.
There was a crop that I wanted to go to on Sunday but for various reasons, I couldn't go.  Denise gave me a heads up on the layout and I realised I already had some of the papers in a recent Sarah's Cards kit. So as I had the house to myself, I put an old Brad Pitt film in the DVD player, poured myself a glass of wine and had a go at recreating the layout I would have done if I'd been sitting next to Denise, gossiping and chatting and sharing news.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Moving on

There are times when you realise that it's time to start a new chapter in your life, and my friend Karen reached that place recently.  She's decided to move away - just 8 miles down the road, but I'm finding it hard to accept that after 24 years of having her just across the road, she won't be there any more.
Karen and I met via our daughters back in about 1987.  We met at the swings where our girls were having fun going back and forth and we were standing beside them, gently keeping the momentum going.  Got chatting, turned out we lived in the same road.  The girls grew up together, went to the same primary school, then the same secondary school, then kept in touch even though they went to different universities.  Karen and I both had second children, one year apart.  She comforted me through the sudden death of my dad, and supported me through losing my mum after her brief battle with cancer.  I cried with her when she returned from holiday one year to discover her dad had died while she was away.  I babysat her youngest while she sat with her elder daughter in hospital when a second bout of chicken pox was wrongly diagnosed as meningitis.  I had her elder daughter come to stay when the younger was rushed into hospital with appendicitis and Karen's husband was away on business.  She sat me down with common sense if ever I had a stupid worry and a way of always seeing the best in bad situations.
Our husbands became friends and we were part of school quiz teams, and murder mystery parties, we even went on holiday together 6 times.  To see her suffer through being told by her husband that he had found someone else and was leaving after 17 years of marriage was so painful and we shared many boxes of tissues, and a few bottles of wine while we tried to find some sense in it all.  I hope that she found comfort in my support to build a new life on her own, and knowing that if she needed someone to talk to I was at the end of a phone and only 2 minutes away if I ran.  I've laughed with her at disasterous attempts at speed dating, internet dating, and blind dates and taken pleasure in knowing that 2 years ago she found someone who treats her with the love and respect she deserves.  She was determined to keep her girls' lives running exactly the same and saw them through school and university, managing somehow to finance the same family home with little to no financial support from her ex.  But the girls are all grown up now and both living away from home and that four bedroomed detached house is a little large for one lovely lady on her own, it needs a family to live there. 
So last night she gathered her friends and neighbours together and threw one last party before she leaves for pastures new.  And I have to say I'm finding it hard.  My common sense tells me she is probably only 15 minutes away by car but I love knowing she is close.  I know if I rang in an emergency she would be on her way round to help by the time I had put down the phone.  So much of my memories of our kids growing up include her and we have had so much fun and laughter in that house.  And  I know it's only right and sensible for her to move and my reasons for wanting her to stay are selfish ones, but boy I'm going to miss her. 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A glimmer of improvement

About two Christmases ago I bought a bottle of Glimmer Mist and in my imagination this little bottle of prettiness would transform my papers, I'd be glimmering and glistening all over the place.  But in reality, when I used it, the effect was more Glimmer-blobs than Glimmer-mist.  It became one of those products that was consigned to the 'tried it and didn't like it' section of the study.  Today I decided to have another go, and armed with instructions from Denise I sprayed, I wafted card beneath the mist and I have to say that I finally see how this stuff works!  Now I just have to master how to stop the Glimmered card from curling at the edges and I'll be fine.  Still once it's in an album it won't show that the edges curl will it? 
I used it to work on a layout using a photo that was taken on Comic Relief's Red Nose Day this year.  In order to 'do something funny for money' all the secretaries {and a drama teacher} at work dressed in red tutus with deely boppers.  This is something that will probably never happen again, so has to be recorded for posterity, right?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

You may now turn over your paper …

Up and down the country, thousands of students will be lining up alphabetically, filing into exam halls, sitting at desks with a see-through pencil case and bottle of water with the label taken off (no chance for cheating by writing answers on a label!), waiting patiently while an invigilator walks up and down the rows of desks handing out exam papers.  Sitting there with the paper face down, while the clock slowly clicks round to 9am and those final words are spoken.  It’s a busy time of year for staff as well as students, and when I tiptoe past the hall on my way back to the exams office, I still get ‘that’ feeling in the pit of my stomach as I sympathise with the students inside whose futures depend on those results. 

It’s also a time for kids to become more accident prone.  The number of students who have come to us with sprained wrists, twisted ankles, broken fingers etc asking for us to apply for special consideration on their behalf.  Parents ring up with the strangest requests for us to let the exam board know that ‘xxx has taken a cold relief tablet this morning and may become sleepy’ or ‘ their hamster died at the weekend and they are still very upset and couldn’t revise properly’.  Trust me, we have heard them all.  It’s a time for sensible shoes as we try to walk silently down the corridor between the hall and the rest of the school.  It’s funny how shoes which walk quietly in town become noisy in the hall and I am frequently seen kicking off my shoes as I enter the corridor and walking barefoot down the link!  It’s a time for kids to over react and our poor head of sixth form is fast becoming more of an ‘agony aunt’ with a constant supply of boxes of tissues and sympathy for those who come out of an exam positive that ‘I’ve failed, I know I have, what am I going to do?’  Speaking as a parent whose kids have gone through all this, I know it from that side of the story too and I know how we worry on their behalf and try to keep positive and encouraging, force feeding healthy food and trying to keep them well for the weeks of the exams. 

So on a lighter note, let me share a layout I made to remember the day that our daughter moved out of home and into a flat with her boyfriend.  Seems like only yesterday she was one of those stressful students …



Sunday, 15 May 2011

May-be my most productive crop

Well I was a busy little bee at the Eclectic Keepsakes crop yesterday, I came home with four new layouts completed.  Yes – FOUR!  But before we get onto that, let’s start with the important business of the day.  Cupcakes.  What do you think of when you think of and English summer’s day?  Strawberries and cream right?  Well the sun was shining – it’s almost summer and the cupcakes did not disappoint

may cupcake Karen had dipped into her encyclopaedia of cupcakes and came up with this.  The sponge had a tropical twist to it, but the topping was pure English flavours.  Now, I don’t know if we should have been taking the hint that we were all a bit too chatty, because as soon as we got that little strawberry bonbon in our mouths, we were silenced with the delicious chewiness of it. 

I photographed it while working on the first layout I had decided on

cousins These are my sister’s grandchildren and the photo was taken at Easter when the eldest and youngest were both sporting the ‘only got one front tooth’ look.  Then I started work on a layout using some photos we took when my son was home from uni at Easter.  It was a Friday night and our daughter said ‘It’s the end of the week, let’s go to Pizza Express for dinner’  We don’t often go out as a foursome nowadays so that definitely needed documenting:

pizza exp After that is was lunchtime and in between that and the afternoon class, I managed to get this page done

skype This photo was taken when a group of us took part in a webcam chat on Skype in March, I hadn’t made a page for it and as it was a momentous occasion, it needed to be recorded for posterity.  And so on to the main business of the day.  Karen Cole had designed us a beautiful layout based on paper with hot air balloons on it.  balloon

Now, before I go, I do not want to tell tales on anyone BUT, Karen had sent us lovely detailed instructions on what we needed to bring.  Three small photos – all the same, two in black and white and one in colour.  I had to tell Denise off as she had not come prepared and spent valuable crop time trying hard to find 3 suitable photos ;-)  And still hers ended up looking better than mine grrrrr………

Sunday, 8 May 2011

It's all a bit fishy

"Why are you washing up that empty sardine tin?" asked The Husband.
"I need it for a craft project" I replied.
Then followed a raised eyebrow look which I have noticed happening more and more frequently whenever I see something on the internet that I fancy trying.
It all started when I saw something on UK Stampers which involved an empty sardine tin with a flower inside and I thought ' You know what?  I never have a go at doing an 'altered art' project, loads of other people do - so I'm going to try this.'  Having spent a frustrating time this morning with fiddly bits of paper, foam pads and glue, I've remembered why I never have a go at altered art projects.  So, as you will probably never see me tackle something like this again, I have photographed it for posterity ...

And if you want to see what an artistic person can do with a sardine can, click on this link!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

4x6 Photo Love times 4

I love the layout that Shimelle has made for this month's 4x6 Photo Love project and have tried to follow it as faithfully as I can
Even found some red and white polka dot paper!  I like the way she has designed an 'interactive part to the page, with the fourth photo hidden beneath the flap ...
although the angle of the photo makes my arm and hand look disproportionately large to the layout!  I really enjoyed doing this layout, now I have to try and do the next stage.  You have to cut a slit into a page protector so that the flap slides through it so people can lift the flap and see the whole layout even when it is in an album.  Wish me luck!
It's been a funny old day here, I had many plans for the day in addition to the important business of doing the layout but this morning did not go as planned.  My sister was over at my niece's house (which is about 5 mins walk from me) as my niece works one day a week and Gill babysits her daughter and dogsits her dog. It's easier for her to go to their house as the dog is far more of a handful than the baby ;-)  So as it is my sister's birthday on Sunday we arranged to meet up for a walk around the lake which is at the back of where I live, so that I could hand over her present.  It was a glorious morning, baby Sophie was fast asleep and the dog in need of running off some energy so we went for a nice walk up to the church and then back round the lake.  Ozzy (the dog) is a Tibetan terrier with long glossy hair.  Let's just say there was a dog-related incident around the lake which resulted in me having to go back with them to my niece's house so that I could look after the (now awake) baby whilst Gill gave the dog and impromptu shower and hair wash outside.  So my short walk ended up in a 2 hour visit - what a shame that was the time I had allocated to housework ;-)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Babbling babies on a Bank Holiday

Due to the vast quantity of Bank Holidays in April, when my Rosemary Conley class doesn't run, our instructor organised a special morning class for us today.  It was kind of hard to motivate myself to get up and get going for 9am aerobics but it was worth it in the end and I felt virtuous afterwards and inspired to actually stick to a healthy eating plan for the rest of the week.
So it must be time to add another recipe to that special recipe page of mine!  If you click on the tab and scroll to the end you'll see what I will be cooking on Thursday night.  Stir fried chicken with cherry tomatoes - yum!
The prompt for BBFS is all about videos today and after the fiasco which was me drawing Cheri's name for the Pass the Book project, I'm not sure I should be let loose with the video part of my camera again!  So instead, for today I will leave you with my favourite Youtube clip at the moment.  Twin boys having a brillliant conversation, this will bring a smile to your face I promise:

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Storytelling Sunday

You know what it's like when you're three and you're on holiday.  You've had an overnight drive from darkest Essex to glorious Cornwall, fighting for prime position on the back seat of a Humber Super Snipe with your sister.  You've got a bucket and spade, and a pack of flags to stick on the top of your sandcastles.  You wake up in the morning and you're wide awake and ready to go.  You're sharing a strange bedroom with your big sister.  She seems to still be asleep.  But is she?  Better check to make sure.
"Gillian" .... "are you awake?" {whispered}
"Gill.I.An.... are you A.W.A.K.E?" {not quite such a whisper}
"Gillian, can we get up now?"  probably shouted and accompanied by a shake of the shoulder.  From a sleeping 11 year old's point of view, it might possibly have become annoying after a while but she was nothing if not a good actress and not so much of an eyelid would flicker.
Hmmm - wonder if Mum and Dad were up?
And so started the holiday ritual of poor old Dad having to get up early every holiday morning to keep the pesky youngest daughter quiet.  We would get dressed quietly, buckle up my sandals, put on my cardi and possibly anorak depending on the weather and walk down to the seafront.  Down the cobbled streets, in time for the newsagent to open and buy a daily paper and walk down to the sand.  My dad would then do his expert weather prediction.  Now, Britain isn't known for it's balmy weather normally, but no matter what the weather was at that time of day, he would find a way to see a sign that at some point in the day, the sun would break through the clouds and we would have fun on the beach. 
'Ah, you see those shapes of clouds there?  That is a sign that probably after lunch, the sun will come out'.  'Look where the tide has brought the sea weed in, that's a sign of good weather later on.' 
' See the white tips to the waves?  A sure sign of a sunny day.'
Now at this tender age, I didn't realise that in the UK you can have every kind of weather at some point during the day so his predictions were normally right, and so Super Dad-Hero status was maintained.
A slow walk back up the hill, stopping to stroke random cats and dogs or admire people's flowers (probably under the instructions to keep me out the holiday cottage as long as possible so everyone could wake up in their own good time) and back in time for breakfast. 
This is how I remember all my young holidays - and how I loved those precious hours of having my dad to myself first thing in the morning, with our secret routines and conversations.
A little while ago I posted a photo of me showing the beach fashions of 1961 in this post , then on Friday another post with a hat theme, so just to complete the set, here's another
Pop over to Sian's for more stories on a Sunday!