Tuesday 30 November 2010

Auf Wiedersehen Cologne

It's official - it's nearly Christmas!  I didn't believe it until we went to Germany for the weekend but now I am well and truly in the Christmas mood.
The markets there were fantastic, there are several of them and each has a different theme.  I'm struggling to catch up with getting back to work, filling up empty fridges, emptying full laundry baskets and unpacking suitcases so for now I will just pass on a few clips of our visit.
 How enormous is this cathedral?!  Absolutely huge, what an amazing piece of architecture.  The main markets were around here.
 The market stalls had some lovely gifts for sale, these little pottery houses are typical of the buildings in this area.

It got a bit chilly walking around, we had to keep stopping for Gluhwein to warm us up ;-) 
Each market had it's own style of mug and you could either return the mug when you had finished your drink and get your deposit back or keep the mug as a souvenir.  Needless to say, our baggage allowance doubled under the weight of mugs and mulled wine glasses!  {apologies for the strange face being pulled by our friend Richard, sometimes the gluhwein was hotter than you were expecting and if you took a mouthful without testing it ......well, the face says it all}
chocolate ;-)
so a trip to the chocolate museum was a must.  Just look at this fancy chocolate fountain - yum!
It was SO cold while we were out there, about -6 degrees and it started snowing heavily on the morning we were coming home.  I was a little concerned that our flight may be delayed or cancelled, but when it arrived at Koln/Bonn airport, they had an 'elephant' to spray de-icer on the wings. 

So that's a very quick resume of what I've been up to over the weekend, trust me, there will be more to share in days to come.  Don't say you weren't warned!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Who'd have known ...

Well no wonder my blog has been looking so old fashioned and boring, there's a whole new setting I didn't know about!  You all kept that pretty quiet.  Fancy!
Be prepared for some mind blowing, spectacular  new look posts.
I may change colour
I may change backgrounds
I'll still be boring you with links to places I am going , like this
And who knows, maybe my photos will all become clickable! 
Thanks for the suggestions about papers, I shall be browsing the internet to check up on your ideas.
And of course I shall be trying to add some Deb type hearts ♥

Suggestions welcomed

Excuse the duplicate photos from yesterday, a few people commented that I should post larger photos so I have gone from 'small' to 'medium' uploads. Also, can anyone tell me why sometimes blogger lets you click on photos and enlarge them and sometimes it doesn't? Yesterday is a perfect example, I upload two photos at the same time, on the first one it let you click and enlarge and on the second it didn't? I tend to do my posts just through the 'new post' tab on the blog, is there another way to do it? I know some people manage to get all manner of fancy stuff on their posts like scoring through words to make it look like you have typed something and then changed your mind, and Deb over at Paper Turtle gets all kinds of pretty shapes on hers like hearts and things. How do you do that? I can only get bold or italic going on?

Now when it comes to scrapbooking - I'm the kind of gal who loves instructions to follow. That's why I like the subscription kits, lots of pretty papers that someone has co-ordinated and suggestions for layouts.
Where I live we have no shops that sell scrapbook paper. I know - hard to believe, in a town of 38,000 people, I can't be the only person scrapbooking can I? There's a shop about 10 miles away and a stationery store that stocks basic cardstock about 5 miles away but nowhere you can browse through displays of pretty papers. So I have to internet search or rely on kits.
As I mentioned on Sunday, we're off to a Christmas Market this weekend and naturally, many photos will be taken and many will be scrapbooked! So I need some nice paper to use for the pages. Last year we went to Brussels for their Christmas market and I used a selection of Websters papers which I loved but I'm hoping for a different kind of look for this year's pages.
Does anyone out there in blog land have any suggestions for any nice new collections that would suit a Christmas market theme? Any ideas gratefully received!

Monday 22 November 2010

The one with some layouts

Ladies -
May I introduce you to 'My Mate Mandy's Marvellous Margarita Mix'
and also 'Fab Funky Flowers & Family Foto Frames'

These were the layouts we did at the crop yesterday and I love them both! We learnt some new ways of making flowers that were simple but oh so effective - although at one point there was a small issue of my fingertips being firmly glued between the 2nd and 3rd layers of the petals on the largest flower. Who knew Glossy Accents was so strong?

We also made our own little photo frames with some fancy cutting machine - please don't ask me what it was called as I was so worried about a) breaking it b) ruining my paper and c) getting my hand caught between the rollers that I forgot to ask what it was.

See the circle background on the first page? That was made by cutting an 8" circle of pretty pink paper and then carefully using a corner punch to go round the edge, making sure you lined it up properly each time so the pattern was continuous. A little tricky but it made a lovely pattern and even if you use a corner punch that doesn't exactly line up when you get to the last one in the circle, it's hidden by embellishment.

All in all, a lovely day spent crafting and chatting to my lovely friend Denise. Plus I finally have something crafty to show you!

Sunday 21 November 2010

A confession, an apology and a warning

Firstly, forgive me Shimelle, I have fallen by the wayside. Normally I throw myself wholeheartedly into Shimelle's classes and I absolutely loved Something out of Nothing and Blogging for Scrapbookers. I'm even a past participant of Journal your Christmas and My Journey. But this time I got a certain part in and just fizzled out. I am sure that I will get back to the latest class, but for some strange reason, some of the prompts I haven't even opened: the class hasn't captured my enthusiasm in the same way that the others have.
Secondly, I have been a bad blogger. Been 5 days since I last blogged. So please accept my apologies for not commenting on my favourite blogs but I simply haven't been travelling round blogland like I normally do. This is going to change! I have been at a crop all day today and have two fab layouts to share that were designed by Sue at Crafty Stash. But the lighting's not good enough to photograph tonight so that's a job for tomorrow.
Finally, here's your 'one week warning' fellow bloggers! There is likely to be an excess of photographic posts after next weekend so be prepared. We're off to Germany to visit a Christmas Market and I think it's safe to say that the camera will be out in force!
So there you go, three big 'sorries' to everyone, I'll be back on track soon - honest!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Strictly too much spare time ...

There are five of us in the main office at work, and two of us work part time. Now I'm not saying that the other three are jealous of me and Dany but they don't always seem to put much feeling into their 'Have a nice day off tomorrow' comments when we walk out the door on a Tuesday. I'm sure they don't begrudge us discussing what we've done and where we've been when we come back in on a Thursday. Well, pretty sure anyway.
Dany fills her day with shopping, dog walking, meeting up with friends etc etc and I fill mine much the same but substitute 'craft related work' for dog walking. The other thing Dany and I share is a love for Strictly Come Dancing. First thing Monday morning as we take off our coats and wait for the computers to fire up we discuss the latest person to be voted off, whether or not they deserved it, the other's performances and who should be next to go.
So anyway, next week is Dany's birthday and I wanted to make her something a bit different rather than just a card. Then I got the idea to make her a birthday glitter ball like the one off Strictly. It started life as a Christmas bauble, but I think it's turned into a pretty original birthday greeting!

Monday 15 November 2010


The reunion quiz night last night was such fun. The pub landlord said there were too many of us to all be on the same team so we had to split into 3 teams so names went into a hat and we all changed places. Needless to say, none of us won and thank goodness for that! If one of our teams had come first, the other two would never have heard the end of it.
The 'boys' were all fired up after the magnificent rugby match on Saturday. That was the reason so many of them were back in town, they always get together for the big England rugby matches and go to Twickenham together. My in depth knowledge of trashy TV shows proved worthy despite their derision, and in the end it was a sporty round that caused our failure! I was quite relieved at that as I was famous for being the most unsporty person in the class so no one expected me to participate in that round! Winning or losing was not the reason to be there though and it was such fun to see everyone again.
Photos were taken at the end of the evening and hopefully I will receive a couple via email later so will post at a later date. Not sure of the quality though, it's a very small, traditional, old fashioned pub and the lighting was not brilliant and (how do I say this nicely?) there were 16 of us and some are a little larger than they were when they were the hunks of the school rugby team, we were a little squashed together to get everyone in the viewfinder ;-)

Thursday 11 November 2010


Ah - 1976. What a memorable year. I turned 18 in 1976, which to put into context, was also the year that Emma Bunton of the Spice Girls was born. How old does that make me feel?! The band U2 were formed. We used to boogie on down to Abba's Dancing Queen, and the video for Bohemian Rhapsody was just amazing. Rod Stewart was strutting his stuff to Tonight's the night and Leo Sayer made us 'Feel like Dancing'. If you wanted to be scared out of your wits, you'd have gone to see The Omen at the cinema (I'm a scaredy cat so I didn't) but I was a Robert Redford fan so I was more interested in All the President's Men. We all fell in love with the Muppets. A lot of the fashions we had are enjoying a revival at the moment which is a bit bizarre and we were enjoying a wonderfully hot summer.

On Sunday I will be taking a trip down memory lane and revisiting 1976. A group of people I was at 6th form with are getting together for a quiz night at a pub we used to go to in our youth. We meet up now and again and whilst the females are still looking youthful and svelte and seeming as time has stood still ;-) the males have slightly less hair and rather more waistline!
But it's weird how after a while we all fall back into the ways we were back in the 70s. The old 'pecking order' creeps back in and the banter is flying back and forth just like we were 6th formers again.
Well, 52 year old sixth formers really! Now there's an image!

Wednesday 10 November 2010


Dear fellow bloggers,
My apologies for being AWOL for the last few days; it's been a bit hectic! First of all, my son is back from uni for a week so I am grabbing precious mum time with him before he heads back on Friday. He's decided that he wants to apply for a PGCE course to become a secondary school teacher so I have been going through all the application paperwork with him, and giving opinion on his personal statement. He's had the opportunity to go and observe a teacher in the local Grammar school too so that has taken up two of his days.
Return of son = much washing and ironing. When he was younger and living at home, the pile of ironing would fill me with despair, but I'm kind of enjoying having his clothes in the basket again. (did I really just say that??? The words 'enjoy' and 'ironing' in the same sentence?)
Tonight we have my sister and brother in law over for dinner. You know the expression 'chalk and cheese' - that's us. I am Mrs Messy, she is Mrs Neat. I am Mrs Disorganised, she is Mrs Streamlined. I am Mrs I-hate-housework, she is Mrs Hoover-and-dust-every-day. So, inviting her over for dinner requires much hoovering/dusting/clearing up before their arrival. Plus the opportunity to spend my day off making a mess in the kitchen! Chocolate brownie cupcakes baking in the oven at the moment and I now need to get started on an alternative dessert 'Orange Boodle Fool'.
Am I excused? I promise normal service will be resumed!

Sunday 7 November 2010

The morning after ....

What a busy day! All day at the Eclectic Keepsakes crop - home - dinner - then the Celebrating Blog Friendships party all night!
Firstly, a huge thank you to all who commented on my Blog hop post yesterday, I was overwhelmed when I looked this morning! I haven't had time to look at any of the contributions to the party yet. I could have skimmed through them last night but I was tired and wanted to have time to read everyone's posts properly so the plan is to go to Sainsburys in a moment, buy the ingredients for beef stew for lunch, put that in the oven then position myself in front of the computer for a while. The husband thinks it's stew for dinner as it's one of his favourites, but really it's because once it's in the oven I can have two hours uninterrupted blog hopping time ;-)
So yesterday I was at the crop and got loads done. A page with two pictures of my kids. I like to document them frequently as they both like to change their images from time to time and it's nice to see them in various 'looks'.
Then the last of the pictures I want to use from our 30th
Please note the exceptionally pretty butterfly strip in the centre of this, how gorgeous is that? I was lucky enough to be sitting close to 'the other Karen' (the crop is run by two Karens!) and she lent me a new border punch that she had. It's so lovely and the bonus of it is that you also get lots of little butterflies and stars from the paper that gets cut out of the strip. Bonus! I also got to use a rather beautiful heart punch which was perfect for a centre decoration.
Then there was just time to make a card:

See the little butterflies? they are the off cuts from the border that is in the previous photo!
Then onto the real business of the day, the tags:

These are 90% finished but need a bit of hand stitching in places. They are so pretty and I think they would adapt well to being made into cards or embellishments on layouts.
You see now why I was too tired to blog hop comment properly last night! However, I am fresh and ready to go today so am anxious to get to the shops so I can get going properly - gotta go!!!

Saturday 6 November 2010

Celebrating Blog Friendships!

A year? Has it really been a year? Well in honour of the occasion, I would like to share a poem (I can almost hear my family sighing, oh no, not another one of her poems ....)

I can't believe it was a year
Since Shimelle gathered us all here
With lots of ideas to improve our blogs
She really is a clever clogs

Choosing colours, fonts - a new design
Our blogs are looking mighty fine
With prompts arriving every day
Our blogs were changing in every way

One by one I found new places
To check out blogs with friendly faces
Scrapbookers who made me laugh out loud
Bloggers are such a friendly crowd

I learnt to follow many new trends
But mostly I discovered new blog friends
Such talented, artistic, friendly gals
So a huge thank you to the lovely Shimelle!

Now may I share a few photos: of old friends that I see more of now that I have taken up scrapbooking

I even got to meet Shimelle herself:

But most of all, I got to 'meet' all you guys! So many friendly, clever, crafty people. You have encouraged me with your comments, inspired me with your amazing work, amused me with your funny stories, and fascinated me with insights into your lives. Thank you so much for popping in to see me and for letting me pop over and see you! Just one thing left to do before I pass you over to Jo I need to pass on another letter for your collection. And my contribution to the puzzle is E . Come on, we need to get going!

Friday 5 November 2010

Busy busy days and party nights

Only one more sleep until the Eclectic Keepsakes Crop on Saturday! Our guest designer is Wendy McKee. Now I have to hold my hands up and say I hadn't heard of Wendy before, so I had a little google investigation and came across this blog. Now I don't know if this is the right person, but after looking at the blog, I really hope it is!
There are several things I enjoy about these crops - the chance to sit down, spread out and get some layouts done in the morning. Although, rumour has it that Karen who co-hosts the crop has the saying that if something strays onto her side of the table, it becomes hers! Anyone who knows the mess that I can single handedly create on a craft table will appreciate how concerned I was to find myself sharing her table one month. I haven't got that much equipment, I can't afford to donate it to anyone else!
Karen also realises that in order to be creative, one's sugar levels need to be maintained at all times. Therefore a generous supply of iced cupcakes are provided as well as cups of assorted sweets to nibble on while scrapping!
Then when everyone has had their lunch, a guest designer has a project for us to work on in the afternoon. We've done some lovely things since the crop started, and I've learned a lot. Wendy's class is called 'Tagging Along' so I am expecting to learn new ways to decorate elaborate gift tags, but I could be quite wrong! Then of course we have the Reunion Party in the evening - it's an action packed day!

Thursday 4 November 2010

A balanced diet (edited version)

The weather was bright and sunny on Sunday and the husband and I went for a nice walk in the countryside right by where we live. I suggested that we took a bag with us, in case there were any sloes left in the hedgerow as, apparently, sloe gin tastes different when made with early sloes, in comparison to those later in the season. So having made some with the early ones, it was only right and proper in the interests of consumer comparisons that we made some with a later crop. We were in luck, along the edge of the cricket field next to our house, the hedges still had some mature sloes. We brought them home, put them in a bowl of water to rinse them clean and then I laid them out on some kitchen roll to dry out. How surprised was I to find this little fellow clinging onto a sloe for dear life? Isn't he cute? So tiny, less than the size of your small fingernail. But still not a thing I wanted in my sloe gin so the husband was given the job of taking him out into the garden to find a new home. So whilst on a food theme, I want to show you these cookies that I made yesterday on my day off. Cranberry cookies from a recipe I copied off someones blog at the weekend. But I checked a fair few blogs and can't remember whose it was? Does anyone out there recognise these? Because I have to say they are delicious and I would like to send credit where credit is due!

I have a sneaky feeling it may have been a 'British Blog' because the quantities are all in grams rather than cups. They have porridge oats and dried cranberries in them which in my mind makes them a healthy snack and certainly one of my 'five a day'. Whoever shared the recipe, a huge thank you, these are going to be made again and again!

It was Ruth! She was the one who posted these delicious cookies. Do try them, they really are winners. Thanks to those who recongnised them so that I could edit this to tell everyone where to find them!

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Magic feathers

It's not often I notice a status update from my son on Facebook that makes me want to 'copy and paste' but today he posted this - "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick. I've not heard that quote before but it made me smile, and think of the Disney animation where Dumbo has his magic feather that he believes will make him fly.
Then I came to think there are so many occasions in life where you believe something is making you do something when in effect, you are doing it all yourself. Like a small child learning to walk, who has the lightest of grasp on your fingertip yet when they realise they have let go, they fall over. Then one day they let go and just keep walking. They didn't need that fingertip after all! Like me learning to swim when I was in my late 20s. Without that small piece of polystyrene float in front of me, I would surely sink. I watch the students at the school I work in going into exams with good luck charms, and I know that whenever I am in a situation where I need a little emotional back up - like when the Husband was in hospital recently - I always put on a gold necklace that my parents gave me and I also know I spend a lot of time touching it when I have an anxious moment. We believe that these things are getting us through a difficult time or helping us achieve something, when really we have the strength to do it all by ourselves.
Guess we all have our 'magic feathers' in some way or another.