Friday 30 July 2010

On my way

Well by the time that this post publishes, I should be on an aeroplane heading towards Naples airport. We will be staying here for a week.
It looks nice in the brochure and Tripadvisor has good things to say so fingers crossed!
It looks like the kind of place that has plenty of opportunity for photographs so be prepared to be bored with Sorrento photos on my return.
I've scheduled a few posts to pop up from time to time in my absence so you all behave yourselves while I am gone. Forgive me not commenting on your blogs for the next week but rest assured that I will be checking up on everything on my return!
See you soon

Thursday 29 July 2010

And he's back!

My boy is back! Sporting a rather gorgeous beard which he didn't have when he left almost 5 weeks ago! He's had a fantastic time and has some wonderful memories and experiences to hold onto.
I'm loving having him home and waking up this morning with the knowledge that he was safely back. Out of all the places he went, it is Germany that has captured his heart and I know that he is already quietly planning a return trip!
I don't know who enjoyed the big cooked English Breakfast this morning the most, him having a large plate of food produced as soon as he said 'I'm hungry, what is there for breakfast?' or me cooking bacon, tomatoes, egg and baked beans with a nice slice of wholemeal bread and a coffee for him.
His clothes are, shall we say 'grubby', and the landing outside his bedroom is covered with the contents of a rather large backpack. Mess? Washing? Ironing? Wet towels all over the bathroom? Loving it!

Wednesday 28 July 2010


May I ask your opinion. Are 4 pairs of shoes enough for a one week holiday to Sorrento?
Flip flops for round the pool. Check.
Comfy walking 'slip your feet into' sandals for serious walking on cobbled hills. Check.
Pretty, oh so pretty diamond encrusted (very uncomfortable) flat sandals for swanning down to the restaurant in the evening (absolutely no tread on those shiny leather soles so hopefully no marble floors for me to fall over on). Check.
Pretty sandals that are comfortable in quite small doses for walking down to the harbour in evening for glass of prosecco whilst people watching. Check.
Does that cover every eventuality? Oh I nearly forgot the pair of higher heeled wedge sandals. Well, in a maxi dress those of us vertically challenged people need a bit of a heel to avoid serious tripping up injuries ....Hmmm.
Are FIVE pairs of shoes enough for a one week holiday?
Goodness. I hope the husband isn't hoping to take much luggage .....

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Pack up your trunk

When I saw the prompt for using several photos on a page I knew exactly which sequence of photos I wanted to use. This goes back to when the Elephant parade was going around London and I asked my husband to go and take some photos of them when they were on show around Tower Bridge.
I wanted to try making a grid effect of different patterned or coloured papers as well as the grid effect of the elephant photos. Sometimes I look at this and think it works and sometimes I think it really doesn't! But I guess that is what this class is all about, trying something you wouldn't normally try.
Maybe my opinion of the page is tainted by the mood I am in today. Can't put my finger on it but I've woken up feeling blah! The weather is horribly oppressive today, humid and it feels like we could be in for a storm later. I'm also in pre-holiday mode, clothes everywhere, lists appearing, stocking up the house for the kids to eat their way through while we are gone. Trying to leave it all neat and tidy despite knowing it will look like a war zone when we walk through the door on our return. Plus I am really missing my boy. He's been gone for a month now and he comes home late tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see him again and hear what he has been doing and where he has been.
Maybe a bit of a blog hop will cheer me up .....

Sunday 25 July 2010

It shouldn't happen to a mum

I've told you how my music loving son is in Europe at the moment. I've also told you how he left with no firm itinerary and very little intention of keeping in touch with his progress. He was starting at a music festival in Croatia and the last I heard was an update on Facebook that he was leaving Munich en route to Berlin.
So last night before I went to bed, I thought I would just catch the news headlines on TV as I hadn't heard any news all day. What was the headline? 17 teenagers killed at a German music festival. You know in cartoons where the character's heart beats so hard it shows through their skin and clothes? I know how that feels.
I fired up the laptop, googled a route from where the festival was to both Berlin and Munich. It was over the other side of Germany. It didn't sound like his kind of musical taste and I didn't think he would have gone that much out of his way to go to something that wasn't his kind of thing. But you never know, do you? My husband was convinced he was fine and I pretended I was too. I toyed with the idea of texting him or ringing him but it was late and the thought of not receiving an answer would have meant a sleepless night. But by 10am, I couldn't stand it any longer and secretly sent a text asking him to just let me know he was OK. 5 minutes passed. 10 minutes passed. 15 went by. I kept doing lots of busy things. I went upstairs. My daughter called out 'Mum .. your phone just beeped' I was down those stairs in nanoseconds. Yes, he was fine. I however had aged several years (and without the aid of Photoshop!)
So to try and retain a little youth, I took my daughter to see Toy Story 3 this afternoon. We were the only people there without a young child! It was so good. The animation is amazing - I would recommend. With or without a little person in tow!

Saturday 24 July 2010

To have and to hold ...


Today was the wedding of my daughter's friend, Jess. I had been toying with the idea of going the church just to see her come out in her wedding dress but had just decided not to go when I had a phone call from my daughter 'Mum, I've left my camera on the breakfast bar. Can you bring it down to the church for me?' So the decision was made for me, I obviously was going to go and see Jess in all her finery! I arrived when the service was underway so waited outside for the service to finish. Sun shining. Lovely old church. My own camera in my handbag too ... cue photography session! So I took some photos of things that I thought showed a typical English church wedding. I'd been taking pics of my daughter beforehand when she was getting ready to go and had done some close ups of her hair and her in various poses, plus one or two of her in the garden with a friend who was going with her. This was clearly becoming something that needed to be made into a collage!
Congratulations to the new Mr & Mrs Hutchinson. What a beautiful, fairytale bride Jess made.
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Always will be a Daddy's girl

This is my take on the 'two picture' prompt, using pictures taken 21 years apart. As I mentioned on Shimelle's forum, in the first one, she has little chubby cheeks and fine wispy hair. Her daddy has thick hair and chiselled cheek bones. 21 years later ...ummmm.... well they seem to have swapped characteristics.
You probably can't see from the picture but I had experimented with spritzing glimmer mist over the cardstock. I wasn't too keen on the finish, but it looked better once I'd hidden the more blobby bits with paper and photos!
Although I love using the 8.5 x 11 size album, when you use 2 pictures on a page, it kind of leaves you very little space for any embellishments or journalling. Not sure how I'll get round the next prompt for 4 or 5 pics on a layout - maybe I'll have to resort to Picasa collages!

Friday 23 July 2010

Friday Fun

For anyone with even a smidgeon of Welsh blood in them! Or anyone that fancies hearing a Welsh take on the Big Apple:

Thursday 22 July 2010

Time off for good behaviour

Tonight after school we all stayed behind to say farewell to our librarian who is retiring after 25 years. TWENTY FIVE YEARS!!! I started working at the school back in 2001 on the thought that working in a school would be handy while my kids were at school and I needed school holidays off work. Well my youngest is now in his 2nd year at uni so they are well and truly finished with needing me in the summer hols now but I'm still there. What went wrong?! Although we all moan from time to time when you get to just before a holiday you remember what you like about it! I do think that the main reason I stay there now is because I dread the idea of the whole leaving thing. I am happy to join in and wish others good luck for the future, but the thought of standing in the staff room and giving a farewell speech is enough to keep me out of the 'situations vacant' bit of the newspaper.
A few people have asked me about the story about the footballer in my '49 things' post. Well, my nephew got married 9 years ago at Hanbury Manor Hotel. My daughter was bridesmaid and my son was an usher and it was a fabulous day. The whole family were staying there overnight. In the evening, my niece thought it would be fun to decorate the bridal suite as a surprise and we went to reception to ask if we could have the key to the bride and groom's bedroom so we could leave balloons, champagne, confetti etc. They gave us a key and my daughter, niece and I gathered our goodies together and headed upstairs when we were sure that the bride and groom were busy on the dance floor. We opened the bedroom door and thought we could hear voices inside. Impossible. Matt and Angela were definitely downstairs. Maybe they had left the TV on? At that point, the curtains around the four poster bed parted and a rather handsome, young footballer (looking rather surprised) looked out. Reception had given us the wrong key! We beat a hasty retreat. Never have I been more embarrassed! The footballer was Michael Carrick and my son was absolutely thrilled to see him the next morning after breakfast as he had recently played for England and was on the books of Tottenham Hotspur (son's favourite team) and agreed to have his photo taken with him. I'm not sure he would have been so willing if he had realised that the young boy's mother was one of the trio of ladies who interrupted him the night before!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Lost: One comfort zone. Reward will be offered

So Shimelle said 'Step away from your comfort zone'. Well, if I am honest, I prefer to take pictures of people. When I make a scrapbook page, it tends to be using photos of friends and family. So when my daughter hosted the surprise engagement party last night and I picked up my camera, I really wanted to take pictures of the girls but made myself concentrate on the 'things' that made up the party. Like the lovely OMG! balloon that has an engagment ring as the O. The cupcake serviettes, the chocolate and cheesecake muffins ... I'm not sure I would ever use this collage for a layout, but it was good to have a little play around and it does sum up the party. Although I would have liked to include a picture of the girlies ....{instead of accidentally using 2 of the same balloon picture }
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Tuesday 20 July 2010

49 things

This evening my daughter is hosting a surprise Engagement party for one of her friends. I was given the responsibility of setting the table with all the food she had prepared in advance, making a jug of sangria and hiding the guests. One of the guests was so excited I truly thought she was not going to be able to keep quiet for the few minutes between the guest of honour arriving and opening the door to the dining room. It was like a champagne cork waiting to burst out of the bottle! The bride to be was totally and overwhelmingly surprised and it sounds like it is all going perfectly well. So while I am exhiled in the lounge while they take over the dining room and conservatory I thought I would follow Sian's 49 things:
Have I ever:
1. Seen The Terracotta Army in China - No, and I don't honestly think I'm ever likely to!
2. Cross stitched a sampler - yes, made several when my daughter was born
3. Kept a friend for more than 20 years - My friend Jill and I have been friends for 40 years - oh my goodness, how old do I feel now!
4. Made your own jam - there is a brilliant Pick your Own farm nearby and we used to make strawberry jam every year after getting overenthusiastic with our picking. Please note the 'used to' haven't done it for years now
5. Seen the Crown Jewels in The Tower Of London - Yes, Love those diamonds!
6. Attended a school reunion and enjoyed it - been to quite a few and as you can see from yesterday's post, mini reunions happen quite frequently
7. Kissed the Blarney Stone - no
8. Learned how to tap dance - used to go to classes when my son was at nursery school - I wasn't awfully good but loved it and practised non stop whilst cooking dinner (I have quarry tiled kitchen floor!)
9. Seen one of the Wonders Of The Ancient World - not yet
10. Ridden a tandem bicycle - unlikely to find anyone prepared to risk life and limb on the other half of the bike
11. Commissioned a piece of furniture - no
12. Sold for profit something you made yourself - I used to run the primary school PTA craft stall at summer fetes
13. Seen Sydney Opera House - not yet
14. Walked up the outside of a volcano - well sort of - tourist trip part way up Mount Tiede in Tenerife
15. Met an idol - no but I live in hope that me and Brad Pitt will meet up some day
16. Found or sent a message in a bottle - No
17. Held a stranger's hand, just because they needed you - no but I like to think that if the need occurred, I would be there to do this one
18. Thought you might have seen a ghost - when I was in the operating theatre awaiting the birth of my son by epidural caesarean, I'm convinced I saw my dad who died a year before
19. Been caught speeding - no but there have been a few times when I've seen a speed camera just in time!
20. Won a bet I'm not a betting person, nor were my family but every year my dad would put a bet on for us for the grand national. Once a year tradition!
21. Visited a penpal - and she's been over here too! Been writing to each other since we were 10 (42 years now!)
22. Published a poem - no, my poem writing will never win prizes
23. Had your appendix removed - aged 12. I was taken ill about 6pm but mum left it until morning to ring the doctors because she 'didn't like to bother them once the surgery was closed'
24. Pierced an interesting part of your body - only the normal boring bit of my ears and only one hole in each one
25. Seen your name in lights - no but there is still time (isn't there?)
26. Had a handsome man buy you Champagne - husbands count for this one, right?
27. Had tea at The Ritz - well, not actually the Ritz but we went to tea at Claridges for our silver wedding anniversary and that is very similar
28. Found a peacock feather -At a National Trust property in Cornwall
29. Made a collection of more than 50 objects - Do David Cassidy posters count? My bedroom was covered in them when I was younger
30. Crossed The Equator - not yet
31. Partied through til breakfast - not quite
32. Found a fossil - well pretty sure it was a fossil and it was Lyme Regis which is famed for them!
33. Seen The Northern Lights - only on TV!
34. Built your own house- no and I don't think I ever will
35. Started a Mexican Wave - taken part but never instigated one
36. Judged a competition - once and never again. I can't bear disappointing the people who don't win
37. Flown in a hot air balloon - no
38. Spent too much money on something you've only worn once - but I was a lot younger, I've learnt my lesson
39. Scored an own goal - not that I'm aware of
40. Appeared on live tv - not live TV but I was in an advert once
41. Asked for your money back - only if I feel it is really justified
42. Had your photo taken with someone famous - no, but I was once (very briefly and by mistake) in a bedroom with a premiership footballer
43. Grown your hair long enough to sit on - no, elbow length is as far as I have managed
44. Been locked in somewhere overnight, or long enough for it to start getting scary - no and the thought of this happening is one of my greatest fears!
45. Found something valuable and made sure it was returned to its rightful owner - found a wallet once
46. Taken part in some kind of endurance event or attempt - I did Race for Life and while it's only 5 miles, it was endurance for me!
47. Driven from one end of your country to the other - No, and I'm worse than a bored 5 year old when I'm passenger in a car on a long journey so it's unlikely to happen (are we nearly there yet? ...... I need the toilet .... I'm bored .... Can I drive now .....)
48. Been publicly recognised for bravery or special community service - I'm sure it's only a matter of time ;-)
49. Gone out on the town in an outfit you've made entirely on your own - used to make all my own clothes when I about 18
So, what have you done from this list???

Monday 19 July 2010


Last night I met up with 3 ex-school friends in what was our local pub when we were in 6th form at school. They hold a quiz night there on a Sunday and over the last year or so, some of the 'boys' we went to school with have got into the habit of meeting up there and doing the quiz. A few ladies were invited along a few months ago, and a routine seems to be evolving!
Last night there were no Mark Hall Old Boys available to come (by coincidence every one of them is out of the country at the moment) and they assumed that us Mark Hall Old Girls would not bother if they were not around. WRONG!
Now part of this quiz is that in the last round, there are 10 questions and you get a point each with a bonus if you get all 10 right. But if you get just one wrong ... you lose ALL the points for that round. It's a nail biting moment and you must only answer if you are positive you are right. Quizzes have been lost on this round and a 'Shield of Shame' has been made for the person who is responsible for the loss of reputation. There is also a 'Badge of Honour' for the person whose brilliance in the last round results in winning. Interesting enough, there are only men's names on the Shield of Shame, and only girls on the Badge of Honour. I say no more.
We were quietly confident that we were doing ok last night. Right up until last round. We held our breaths as we waited to hear what the subject was going to be. If it were sports related or historical we were sunk. The quiz master stood in the centre of the pub. Cleared his throat. 'Ladies and Gentlemen. The final round. Name 10 of the 12 finalists in the 2009 series of X-Factor.' I looked across the table at my friend Jill. We both sat there with grins on our faces. We were home and dry! I knew there was a reason I get engrossed in shows like that!

Sunday 18 July 2010

I'm not short - I've got Tinkerbell Syndrome

I knew it! There had to be a benefit to being 'vertically challenged'. I always knew I had something in common with Kylie Mynogue and Cheryl Cole and now it's out in public for all to see. We're all short.
Apparently, men like a woman who looks up to them (literally) but whilst we like this attention it can result in shorter ladies rebelling and becoming more ambitious and flamboyant. Lady Gaga is a better example of that part! Tinkerbell could sometimes be 'all good' and sometimes 'all bad' and us shorter ladies enjoy being sweet and submissive little girls one minute and bossy grown up women the next. I have to admit that I have taken advantage of my size occasionally. What? Change that wheel on my car myself? - I couldn't possibly. You're such a big strong man, could you help me please? Eyelash flutter ....
Ruby Wax, Dawn French, Judi Dench - all 5' 2" or under and yet larger than life characters.
I love Judi Dench's comment ' I've been called square, dumpy, round, puckish-looking. In my mind's eye I'm 6' tall and slender as a willow, and I'll go through life like that.' I can relate to that!
Well, I'm at the end of this post, and I'm such a weak helpless female - I wonder if there's some muscular hunk that could help me press that 'Publish Post' button. Oh, Dr McDreamy, thank you so much, I couldn't have done it on my own.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Bella Italia

This layout brought out my messiest side. I am a messy person at the best of times, but put me in the same room as pale cream cardstock and a black ink pad and we are asking for trouble. I knew which photos I wanted to use as soon as I saw the prompt. We went to Lake Maggiore in Italy last year and have dozens of pictures of the islands in the middle and views across the lake. Then I remembered a rubber stamp that I got as part of a kit last year. And some inner messy part of me thought it would be a good idea to use that to make a background rather than paper. Big mistake. Very big mistake. Cue fingerprints and smudges and 'I'm just going to have to start this all over again' moments. I wanted to include the border from a pad of paper that I bought while I was out there as I love the design on the bottom. It just looks so 'Italian'. {and it hides a big fingerprint}

So today is bright and sunny and perfect for taking those pictures I was so disappointed with earlier on this week. Tree against blue sky with fluffy clouds....

Blurry backgrounds....

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Friday 16 July 2010


Shhh .... Sophie's sleeping.
This is my niece's baby girl and I have been longing to do a layout with her as the centrepiece for a while now. The photo kind of fits what we have been learning this week, although I wanted her little face to fill the page as much as possible and by the time I had cropped it to fit, I'd lost the bits that were slightly out of focus so you will just have to take my word that they were there! I'm using a 8.5 x 11 album which I'm loving but with a 4 x 6 photo in landscape there's not much room for much else on the page!

Thursday 15 July 2010

Worried? Of course I wasn't worried

It has been 5 days now since I last heard from my son and I was starting to feel a bit twitchy about where he was and how he was doing. I've had to stop myself from picking up my phone to text and check up on him. I don't want him to be the only one whose mum is texting him (oh the shame) but I did want to know he was ok. I had mentally told myself if I hadn't heard by tomorrow I would send a bright and breezy message and keep my fingers crossed that a reply would come back. But when I logged onto Facebook this afternoon, I saw that his status had been updated to say he is now in Krakow. Phew. I can relax again and he needn't know that his mum was fretting about him back at home. I look as though I'm laid back about him being gone and he doesn't look as if he has to keep contacting home. All street cred intact.
I think you are going to have to excuse my use of photo when I get round to doing today's layout. My pictures taken in the garden weren't brilliant, but I do have a picture that I have been dying to use in a page and it kind of fits the bill. I'm still in the 'playing around with papers' stage so not ready to reveal all yet!
Today at work has been manic, with a week and a day left of this academic year, we are now trying to fit the next 6 weeks of work into the days we have left. Crazy times, but when I walk out that door on the 23rd and know that I won't be walking back through it until Sept 7th, it will all be worth it!

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Nice weather for ...

When Shimelle typed up today's prompt she obviously had no idea that this morning would see wet pavements and damp grass and much as I try to follow her instructions and prompts to the letter, I think that I will have to wait and see if the weather improves this afternoon!
The thought of trying to smuggle Princess out into a muddy environment would have been like something out of Mission Impossible so I have chosen three other willing volunteers. They are bathtime ducks which are sold in aid of Cancer Research charity every year and I started buying them 3 years ago. The first one I bought was Disco Duck. The one wearing the silver tiara. Put her in your bath and as soon as her tail feathers hit the water, a little light inside her changes colour.
How easily I digress. Whilst the weather outside is very suitable for ducks, I decided that the bathroom floor was as close to the ground as I was going to get so here are three shots taken from various angles. I think my favourite shot is the one taken while standing above them looking down but I can see that with a larger subject, the 'flat on the floor' one would work well too.
Hmmm. Something larger. Somewhere clean. {light bulb moment}

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Tuesday 13 July 2010


Well after weeks of unbroken sunshine, the day that Shimelle sets us the task of taking photos of the sky - we awake to cloud and drizzle. Typical! I was quite possibly the only person in town today, walking back to the car park and taking pictures of overcast skies. When I got home, I looked at what I had taken and was not impressed. The only way I could make it look half way decent was to make it black and white to get a bit of texture to the clouds. I suspect I may be re-visiting this prompt on a day where there may be a bit more blue to the sky!
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Monday 12 July 2010


Ladies, may I introduce you to the diva in the family - Princess.
Princess came to live with us nearly 3 years ago, our daughter had been our little princess for 21 years and we thought it was time she had a little princess of her own to love and look after. She was adopted from the Build a Bear workshop and if you cuddle her tightly you can even feel her little heart beating. She has various outfits, here she is modelling her ballerina dress and ballet shoes, but she also has a graduation cap and gown, Christmas jumper and denim mini skirt. My daughter is a little precious about Princess and if young children come to the house and ask to hold her, she smiles artificially, grits her teeth and agrees. But I can almost feel her holding her breath until they give her back. My nephew's daughter came one day and horror of horrors, asked if she could take Princess home. I've never seen my daughter so close to fainting before!
So I came home from work, opened up the prompt from Shimelle (because of course I would never check my private emails at work would I?!) and saw I needed to practice with focal lengths. I trawled round the house looking for worthy items to photograph and noticed Princess looking a little bedraggled and caught up in the bedclothes in Princess Snr's bedroom. I carefully checked to make sure no one was watching and brought her downstairs. First of all we tried posing in the window of the conservatory (bottom right) but all that showed up was the dirty window behind her. Then she suggested that we went out in the garden (top right) and I was reasonably happy with that and then I thought that maybe I would get better results using my husband's camera. So the other two photos were taken with that and I think the results were slightly better. Princess was in her element, turning this way and that, close ups, full length photos, she was keen to try them all. And then I was aware of a shadow behind me ...'Mum... why is Princess out in the garden?' Cue Princess being picked up and marched back indoors.
Don't worry Sweetie, there'll be other prompts.
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Text boxes

My heart sank a little bit when I saw prompt 6. I don't have photoshop and I wondered how I would manage to work my way around this one. And then I had a 'light bulb' moment - my new toy - Picasa! I'm sure I had seen an icon for text on one of the pages and sure enough, there it was. I found a picture that I took in June with a decent amount of sky crying out to have text written across it and voila! Actually it wasn't quite 'voila'. There was an awful lot of 'which font looks good on it?' Too boring. Too elaborate. Too overpowering. And then which colour to choose and which size. So what that dinner was half an hour late, I was experimenting on something much more important. But it was fun and I like the effect that it gives. The tag that I have used was bought ages ago. Bought and then stored safely somewhere, never to see the light of day. But I came across it today and it went well with the overall beachy, holiday feel of the page.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Layouts 1 & 2

I took full advantage of having a whole day's worth of scrapbooking time and got the first two layouts of the Shimelle class made.
For the first one, I used a photo of the flowers in my garden that I took during the week, laying on the newly chemicalled lawn - shooting skywards (not a position I normally adopt whilst photographing flowers!) and thought that it would go nicely with a photo taken whilst enjoying a refreshing glass of wine in our friends' garden a couple of weekends ago. They always have a bottle (or two) chilling in the fridge, ready for guests so when you ask what time you should arrive, it's always 'Wine O'clock' - hence the title!
For the second one I used a photo taken in Portugal last month. I had remembered my lessons in looking for groups of three, and loved the look of this beautiful tree blossom against the sky and the gorgeous green tiles of this building in Lagos. Which just happened to have 3 windows conveniently placed ;-) Without realising it, I had also followed the rule of looking above eye level for a photo! I tried so hard to keep this layout clean and simple although every fibre of my being was shouting 'Embellishment' ' Glitter' 'More papers' 'More stuff' . See how restrained I can be when I'm trying to do as I'm told?
Now, I don't have photoshop so not sure how I will get on with the 3rd layout but I have my newly installed Picasa to play with so watch this space....

Saturday 10 July 2010

Today was the crop at Eclectic Keepsakes over in Marks Tey near Colchester and a great day was had by all!
The morning was spent 'doing your own thing' and I took advantage of this by doing the first two layouts for the Shimelle prompts (will blog them tomorrow) In the afternoon we had a superb page designed by Laura Buckingham who took the class. How lovely are these papers? They are from the Delovely range and they just scream 'Summer'! Such scrumptious colours!
I had two pictures that I had acquired from my daughter's 'Facebook' pages (such an amazing source of photographs, she'll never pose for me, but give her friends a camera .....) They were taken at a wedding reception a couple of weeks ago.
Other news for today, my travelling son has reached Budapest via Zagreb and is there for one more night before they go onto Bratislava and then Vienna. He sounds like he is having an amazing experience and loves Budapest. He has obviously found an internet cafe - hence the email - as he has managed to access his uni account and discovered that he has passed his 2nd year exams with a 2:1 overall. Phew!
How hot is it where you are? I don't recall temperatures like this here for quite some time. Must be time for a hosepipe ban soon!
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Thursday 8 July 2010


Every now and again, something happens at work that makes you realise that people do care, all that hard work is recognised and you are appreciated. Today was one of those days. GCSE and A level exams are now all over, and the exams officer with whom I work gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers as a thank you. Working in the exams office is manic and there are three of us in 'Team Exams' and we long for early July when they are all over and we have a few weeks respite before results come in.
So with the last couple of days prompts in mind, I took a few photos of it and played with it in my new toy - Picasa. I love this editing programme, why did no one tell me about it before?! I am collaging everything - I love it!
To those people who have offspring who have been taking exams recently - see that exhausted, washed out looking woman in the bottom left hand corner, it's not just the students who are stressed out by exams, this is what working in an exams office does to you!
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Wednesday 7 July 2010

The power of 3

Some may say it's a bit of a cheat to use a photo taken last year for today's challenge but the use of 3 things and thirds in photography was something that I learnt last year.
When we were staying at Lake Maggiore in Italy I was let loose with my new camera and keen to snap anything that took my eye. After a little while, my husband suggested that I started to look more at the composition of my photos. Back in the day he was a mega keen photographer (long before digital!) and used to take part in photography competitions at the local camera club so I begrudgingly accepted that he probably knew what he was talking about. However after my lesson on 'Threes' I became obsessed with looking for 3 objects, it's probably time for me to learn something new ;-)
So I am using this picture that I took last year as I like the view of the three trees through the archway with just a bit of colour in the foreground. Having been out for lunch with a friend today, I now have to tackle some ironing, and the only group of threes I will be seeing is 3 crumpled shirts, on top of 3 crumpled t shirts next to 3 crumpled skirts and none of us want to see that!
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Tuesday 6 July 2010

Itchy and Scratchy

I've had two Itchy and Scratchy experiences in the last week. The first one was cute and cuddly. As part of activities week at school, a local wildlife centre brought some creatures in for the students to learn about. Someone mentioned the fact that there were meerkats in the hall and I was off ... I love meerkats and could not resist the chance to get up close to one. What's better than meeting a meerkat? Meeting TWO meerkats - 'Itchy' and 'Scratchy'. Itchy was in his cage but Scratchy was out being sociable and I got the chance to chat to him and give him a little tickle behind his ears. I feel like we bonded. But not as much as he bonded with one of the other secretaries, he took one look at her long, curly hair, climbed onto her shoulder and nestled down for a nap. So cute. Although it did mean she smelt of 'Eau de Meerkat' for the rest of the day. I digress.
So today's challenge from Shimelle is flower related, close ups and all different angles. It's not quite so sunny here today but I homed in on a bunch of clover that we have in our garden. I love the way it opens up so prettily in the sunny daytime, then gently closes up as dusk falls. I mostly love it because it is an off cut from a huge display my parents had in their garden and it's a little part of them and brings back happy memories. So that's where I started.

But then I had an idea to drag a pot with perlagoniums in it into the centre of the lawn and photograph that. And that's when I noticed that my bare legs were a bit itchy. And I kept wanting to scratch the skin on my arms where I was leaning on the grass to take an 'upwards' shot. Then I noticed some little green pellets on the grass ... and then I remembered the card that had been put through the door telling us that the lawn care people had been round today to put summer dressing on the lawn ... and to keep off the grass for 24 hours because of the chemicals. Too late ...............

Monday 5 July 2010


Well, at last the new Shimelle class has begun! While we wait for the first 'proper' prompt later today, she had posted two challenges on the forum. One for a photo that makes you smile and one to be taken there and then. Within 5 mins of seeing the challenge.
Hmm. What to take? I look a fright having had to drop my car off at the garage for its MOT this morning which meant at the end of work I had to walk to pick it up in 30 degrees of sunshine. So with minimal make up, windswept hair and a general air of post-work-stress disorder - I clearly wasn't a candidate for a close up. My daughter was home, but on her way out for a girly pamper afternoon at her friend's house. No make up, hair scraped back. I didn't even bother asking!
But tomorrow is the day that the secretaries at school have to take cakes to sell for charity in the staff room. A perfect opportunity to try a new recipe from my new Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Chocolate muffins with white chocolate chips. They sounded wonderful. So I quickly gathered book and ingredients together, said 'smile' and voila! A photo within 5 minutes. So if anyone wants to see a 'before' photo, go look on the Shimelle forum. But if you just want to cut to the 'after' - here's how they turned out ...

I don't know about you, but I think it's only right that I sample one .... ;-) Anybody care to join me?

Saturday 3 July 2010

Ladies who lunch

Having been up since 4.30am yesterday due to taxiing husband and friend to the airport, it was good to not only have the whole double bed to myself last night, but also not to have been woken during the night with snoring ;-) So having dropped my daughter at work this morning, I found myself with not much to do and the whole day to myself.
With Shimelle's new class starting on Monday, I have cleared the decks/desk ready for some serious scrapping and charged up the battery on my camera - blinkie on the blog and I'm ready to go!
So at lunchtime my friend (whose husband is in Italy with mine) and I drove into the countryside to a place called Matching Green for a rather lovely pub lunch. It was so typically 'British' a nice thatched pub, and we sat outside at a picnic table and ate our meal with the sound of the cricketers playing on the green. Is the expression 'leather on willow' or something like that? The sun was shining, kids were playing happily on the green and all was well in the world. A chilled glass of Pinot Grigio, and a shared platter of oriental spring rolls, chargrilled chicken and king prawns in a tempura batter, with sweet chilli or hoi sin sauce to dip them into. Plus a shared white crab meat and brown crab mayonnaise on walnut bread toast as well. Mel will be horrified to hear I didn't have my camera with me to document it but I am afraid you will just have to imagine! Or I could go back next week and have it all again ;-) Oh, all right, if I HAVE to!

Thursday 1 July 2010

Done and dusted

The last couple of pages are now finished in my album although I feel the urge just to do a little something extra on the embellishment side of things. The picture on its own is the view from the terrace looking over the rooftops to the sea and I love waking up, opening the curtains and seeing it. Oh to be there now!
So the decks are now clear and ready for the new Shimelle class. How I look forward to those emails in my inbox in the mornings ....
News just in - text from travelling son. He's in Petrcane, just outside of Zadar and waiting for the music festival. No doubt sunburned on shoulders and shins if previous holidays are anything to go by. He does put suncream on, just not evenly or frequently!
Tomorrow my husband travels out to Florence for a few days. Normally the badminton team go on a cycling trip in Europe for a few days, but one guy moved to Brussels and another is planning something to do with climbing to Everest base camp later in the year and so there are just two of them this time and they fancied something different. So they fly out to Pisa tomorrow, get the bus to Florence and come back Monday.
Guess who's on the 5am airport 'taxi' run tomorrow before she goes to work?