Saturday 31 December 2011

4x6 Photo Love November (belated)

Dear Shimelle,
When you are designing your very clever multi-photo layouts please bear in mind the challenges you are giving us not only to follow them, but to take photos of them afterwards!

It wasn't until I received the prompt for December that I remembered that I had never actually got round to doing last months.  I distinctly remember thinking 'I don't have eleven photos of the same theme' but obviously that was as far as I got.  Now this is one project that I am absolutely 100% determined that I am going to finish and so I could not let November pass by in a blur of 2 empty page protectors.  So I figured that it was in November 2010 that I went to the Cologne Christmas Markets therefore I am completely entitled to bore you with photos from that which I have shared before.  
Here comes the photography problem.  It is a double page layout with a slim divided page protector sandwiched between the pages.  On a dull and murky day, how do you photograph that.  
You start with the double pages on their own, out of the album.
You then put the divider alongside the first page
You then take about ten photos that you discard before putting the layout in the album and taking a photo of the back of the divider next to the second page.  Does any of this make sense?
Now I need to have a look at how the project will end with the 12 photo December edition.  Has anyone out there managed to complete the whole album before the end of the year?

Friday 30 December 2011

Farewell to 2011 and all that

Well not long now until we say goodbye to 2011 and welcome in 2012.  My main feeling about the year is that I will be pleased to see the back of it, for it has not been a good year for us here.  My husband lost his job around Easter time,  and my father in law died in August.  My husband has struggled with both situations and it's been tough all round.  But it's easy to focus on the bad and I intend to redress the balance here and concentrate on the good bits.  Highlights of the year include:

  1. My daughter met her boyfriend and within the year has bought a lovely new house with him
  2. She 'adopted' the cutest little puppy
  3. My son graduated with a 2:1 degree in Politics in the summer and we so enjoyed his graduation ceremony
  4. He's now embarked on a Masters degree in African Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies which is part of the University of London 
  5. He started a weekend job at Stansted Airport so is now financially solvent again!
  6. I became Godmother to my niece's daughter
  7. My sister and brother in law celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary
  8. My niece discovered she is expecting another baby in February
  9. We've already booked our flights to spend a week at my sister's house in Portugal in July 
  10. We had a wonderful Christmas with all our family together, no stress, no arguments, good food, good wine and lots of laughter
So just one day to go ... we're not socialising this NYE.  The first year in absolute ages that we haven't gone out somewhere.  Our daughter and her boyfriend are hosting a fancy dress party at their house and so we have the puppy coming to sleep over - she would be mightily confused to see her 'dad' dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and her 'mum' as the Queen of Hearts, not to mention the 20 others taking over her house in various disguises, I think she is better having a quiet night in with us!

Thursday 29 December 2011

Back to the classroom

Not literally, of course, schools don't go back until next Thursday and when we do return, we hit the ground running.  First day back we have Year 11 GCSE mock exams starting and Senior Presentation Evening later on.  You'd have thought they would let us have a day's grace before making us work wouldn't you? 
No, the classroom I am referring to is the one in my study with the computer and all my crafty bits.  I've been awful at doing the last couple of Shimelle classes that have been daily prompts over the course of the month and I hate signing up for something that I don't manage to complete.  So I have gone 'off piste' and signed up for a couple of classes that other people have mentioned.
One that Mel mentioned over at Curiouser and Curiouser and one that Rinda mentioned which is Creative Jump Start .  The first one, called 'Just one sketch' sounds like it will be fun and not only that, it's to raise funds for a good cause so I'm looking forward to that.  Two prompts a week for six weeks, that's doable - right?   And for a bargain price of £5.  The second one had me when I read the title.  A Creative Jump Start is just what I need to start the new year off properly.  And just to make it perfect - it doesn't cost a penny!  Yay!
Can I tempt anyone else into joining in too?

They both sound good and I'm looking forward to them both starting.
New Year's Resolution?  Done!!!

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Christmas roundup

Once again I had to struggle to get everyone agreeable to the annual family photo.  It's so much easier when children are younger and more happy to pose for the camera!  And this year we had to factor in a time-delay shutter with an energetic puppy who just wanted to escape and play ...
We have had a lovely couple of days here, Christmas day at our home and Boxing Day at my sisters.  I feel truly blessed to have such a great family and as people have grown up and found husbands/wives/partners everyone has joined into the extended family so well. 
This is just a quick post for the moment to wish everyone a happy and healthy post-Christmas - I'm enjoying blog hopping around to see what you have all been up to, not too much time to leave a message on every blog at the moment, but I will be back!

Saturday 24 December 2011

The great sprout debate

Love 'em?  or hate 'em?
Sprouts seem to be a bit like Marmite, you either really like them or you really don't.  And I fall into the 'really don't' category.  Over the years I've tried to disguise them in many ways, cooked with pancetta, cooked with chestnuts, stir fried or boiled.  Still don't like them.  Husband and daughter love them, can't understand why I don't.  So when I charged the husband with the job of picking the sprouts off their stalks, he asked how many I needed.  He figured most people would want at least six.  SIX?  I don't think so.  One is more than enough for me!  When you buy them on the stalk it is very deceiving how many there are, I had bought two stalks.  Turns out you get about 50 sprouts on each stalk.  I think we have more than enough.
Do you have a favourite vegetable that Christmas dinner HAS to have?  For me it's parsnips, parboiled, dipped in flour and coated in parmesan cheese.  Back in the oven for the cheese to crisp up.  Yum.  But it's also the roast potatoes.  Crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle.  Mind you, I'm quite partial to carrots cooked in the microwave with a few cubes of butter and some demerara sugar to make a glaze.  And peas.  Can't have roast turkey without peas.  But I think I'll pass on the sprouts.

Friday 23 December 2011

Altered agenda

Well one thing I did not factor into my Christmas preparation schedule was a hastily arranged trip to the dentist, but that's what I ended up doing yesterday.  Although I drag myself to the surgery for a check up every six months I have a bit of a fear about going and get myself into a bit of a nervous state whilst waiting for my name to be called.  So when I brushed my teeth on Wednesday night and a corner of one of my teeth crumbled away, taking a slither of the back of the tooth with it - I knew it was not good news.  I'd had x-rays taken a year ago and had been for a check up six months ago so I convinced myself it couldn't be anything serious right up until the point at which I sat in the waiting room and imagined crowns, caps, root canals, extractions ..... Fortunately he had a quick look, decided that all that was needed was a white filling to make good the missing bits and he was able to make a temporary repair there and then.  Of course I need to go back in the New Year to have a permanent filling done but hey, I'll worry about that in January!  And it's only going to cost £40 for both appointments, both treatments and the six monthly examination.  Phew.
So here we are, the day before Christmas Eve and I seem remarkably cool, calm and collected.  There must be something I've forgotten!  Life has changed a great deal for us in the last 12 months and I have to say that I will be pleased to see the end of 2011.  But then I think that there have been good things too and I should be concentrating on them.  Daughter has a lovely man in her life and they are happy in their new home with their little puppy.  Son is graduated and embarking on his Masters degree.  We have our health and will be spending time with all those we love over the next weekend.  The cupboards are full and the fridge and freezer overflowing with goodies, there are gifts wrapped and waiting to be opened.  OK Christmas, I think I'm ready for you.
I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you have a lovely weekend and a peaceful Christmas.  

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Busy busy busy

Yesterday afternoon we had my goddaughter come to visit while her mummy went to have her hair done.  Sophie is now 19 months old and there is a brother or sister arriving at the end of February so her Mummy is going to be very busy in 2012!  Christmas preparation had to take a back seat while she was here, as we had far more important things to do.
Like ... a bit of internet shopping
and making a hat for teddy
So the making of the mince pies had to wait until she had gone home 
Another thing to tick of the list!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

A Tuesday smile

On the BBC news this morning they showed this Youtube clip which is one of the most viewed at the moment and it made me smile so thought I would share

 I've got a million and one other things I ought to be doing but it just made me smile so much I had to pass it on!

Monday 19 December 2011

Can I ask your opinion?

Having been into town this morning and having a beautiful Shellac manicure, should I be using my pampered hands to do this
 or this
And remember, the continuation of our friendship may depend on the answer you give ;-)
Have you ever had a Shellac manicure?  They are amazing.  Practically guaranteed to last at least 2 weeks, and I have found that mine last about a month.  They are so durable.  I'm not one for spending much time in beauty salons but this is my one luxury.  
So as it would appear that Christmas really is less than a week away, I have been busy in the kitchen this morning.  Now have mince pies and sausage rolls all cooked and in the freezer and there is a Victoria Sandwich cake cooking at the moment that will be joining them very soon.  I've been into town and stocked up on some amazing bread that they bake in our branch of M&S.  It is a 'cob' loaf, that nice crusty circular shape and has red Leicester cheese in it.  I bought three; two to freeze and one to have with some homemade butternut squash soup that I made this morning too.  Yes, I have been busy!  
Tomorrow I intend to make my cake.  We're not into traditional Christmas cake here, it's only my husband that likes it, and that's a lot of cake for one person to eat!  So I will be making a whisky cake and putting a bit of icing at it on Christmas eve.  Although it's still a fruit cake it's nowhere near as 'heavy' as the traditional recipe and doesn't need to be made well in advance.  Plus I need to make my sticky toffee pudding as the alternative dessert for Christmas day.  There's a fair few of us that aren't really lovers of dense fruity food and sticky toffee pudding is a perfect lighter option.  
How is everyone else getting on with their preparations?

Sunday 18 December 2011

Led astray

"I'll tell you what, you go and visit your mum and while you're gone I'll cook dinner, hoover, unload the dishwasher and generally tidy up the house."
You'd think after 31 years of marriage he would know better than to believe such houseworky comments.  I busied myself in the kitchen while he de-iced the car, brought the vacuum cleaner into the lounge while he thawed out frozen fingers and hunted for his gloves.  But once I had waved him off and seen his car drive off into the distance I rushed upstairs and turned on the computer.  While waiting for it to fire up,
I wrapped a few presents
Unwrapped a few chocolates
Got excited about the snow
and then checked out Sian's blog.  It never ceases to amaze me how she manages to find such quirky, interesting websites on the internet.  I imagine that while she sits 'High in the Sky', she has chefs cooking magnificent dinners in her kitchen, little gnomes landscaping her garden, housework fairies doing her dusting and ironing elfs doing the worst housework job in the world.  While this hive of activity is going on, Sian is sitting serenely in her craft room, creating masterpieces and browsing the internet while Johnny Depp feeds her peeled grapes. How else would she find time to pass on the fab websites she finds?  A blog post or two down I came across the link for Tagxedo.  Next thing I know is that it's half past 11, the roast pork is still a raw joint of meat in the fridge, the oven isn't even switched on and don't even think about vegetable preparation.  But I have created this
which is the words to Santa Claus is coming to town in the shape of a Christmas tree.
She's such a bad influence ;-)

Saturday 17 December 2011

Mixed emotions

This part of December always feels bittersweet to me.  There's the general hustle and bustle of being busy and preparing for the big day in a week's time.  School broke up yesterday which is always a nice feeling, no more office work for me until January 5 2012.  Doesn't that sound good!  Last day of term is always relaxed, the kids are off timetable and there's carol concerts and final assemblies.  The Sixth Form always lay on entertainment for the rest of the school and it always seems to involve them impersonating the teachers and sketches based on whatever reality show is popular at the time.  The younger girls love it although they always come out of the hall somewhat overexcited and really noisy! Now I need to crack on with all those jobs I was putting off for when I had a week to myself.  And the list of things 'to do' is somewhat longer than I would like!
Christmas was always magical when I was growing up, my parents went totally out of their way to ensure it was a wonderful time even when we were grown up.  My mum would be baking for weeks in advance, everyone's favourite foods would be prepared and the kitchen cupboards would be groaning with the amount of food she had cooked.  So many happy memories, and so many family traditions that both me and my sister try to keep going even though we now have grown up children of our own (and in her case, grandchildren!).   Christmas really was my mum's time of year.  Which makes it all the sadder that she lost her fight with cancer just one week before Christmas in 1997.  So in memory of my dear Mum, I'm just going to share a Christmas Candle with you this weekend.  

Thursday 15 December 2011

Dear diet ...

... it wasn't my fault.  The ladies in the kitchen brought in some cakes for the school secretaries.  The ladies from the uniform shop brought in some chocolate biscuits for us too.  The English faculty gave us Lindt chocolates.  The science department gave us chocolate mints.  The Senior Leadership Team gave us a tin of biscuits too.  We're doing our best but there are only six of us .....

Friday 9 December 2011

Calendar Girl

There were three classes at the crop last weekend and the final one was by the very talented Anne Freeman who had designed a calendar that fitted into a cd case.  Such a clever idea and just what I needed for the new year.  Here is the cover:

And here is what it looks like when open:
Here are the 'odd' months:
And here are the 'even' ones:

It was made out of squares of Basic Grey 'Out of print' paper and I absolutely loved making it.  It is so nice to have a personalised calendar to have on my desk.
The circle on the cover page was stamped onto one of the sheets, and I believe that the date grids are simply  downloaded as a Word document.  Simple but oh so effective.

Thursday 8 December 2011


It's that time of year.  Time to get the address book out, queue at the post office for overseas mail to be weighed and the writing of cards.  It used to be my job.  Just mine.  Then I realised that at least half the people on the list were actually from the husband's side of the family and roped him into helping.  He started with good intentions.  Each card had a little individual message written inside and the handwriting was beautiful.  'I don't know why you say this takes forever' he said.  By the end of his pile of cards, it was a different story.  There was no 'To  ....' above the printed sentiment and the from part just said 'Paul, Deb & Family'.  No message.  I gave him a knowing look.  I know that some people include a family newsletter in their cards; I find this interesting, but for some reason the husband thinks it is wrong to boast about everything you've been doing in the year.  So there is no annual catch up from this household.  I don't make many cards.  I'm not really a card maker, but at the class on Saturday Denise taught us how to make a lovely folded envelope
(Camouflaged among the branches of the Christmas Tree)
and how to stamp a design on a rather pretty shaped and embossed card
Hands up all those people who noticed that I was somewhat heavy handed with the stamping of the shapes around the edge.  Not so much 'O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree' more like an Enchanted Forest.  Denise's looked fantastic, that girl is a dab hand with a blending tool and an ink pad.  I thoroughly enjoyed the class but still think that I'm not really cut out for intricate card making.  Must remember:  Less is more ....

Sunday 4 December 2011

An Eclectic Mix

It’s the first Sunday in December so it must be time for Storytelling Sunday.  As it’s the pre-Christmas season, let’s go get ourselves a glass of warmed mulled wine while I get myself organised.  Can I interest you in a mince pie too?  Freshly baked and still warm, that’ll get us in the mood!

It’s also the day after the Eclectic Keepsakes crop and boy what a fun filled action packed day we had.  Not one – not two – but three fab classes, festive cupcakes, and boxes with little chocolate surprises inside.  So while I think of a story to tell I’ll show you what we did in the first class.  Now this would be an excellent way of doing an abridged version of Journal Your Christmas.  A double paged layout by Debbie Jewell – a countdown to Christmas. 

 P1020977 P1020978


Each number had a little acetate pocket attached so you can either slip a small photo from each day inside it or add a few words of journaling – brilliant!  As the background was on gridlined paper, the instructions read a little bit like a crossword puzzle – 1 across and 2 down …

So the story then.  Well.  It’s about this time of year that we start thinking about putting up the Christmas tree.  And I have a trio of clear memories about that from when I was younger.  Mum loved to decorate the tree and was very particular about the size and shape.  Had to almost touch the ceiling once the fairy was on the top and had to be a proper triangular tree shape.  She would pick out the tree from the local greengrocers and then me and my dad would walk into town at the weekend, collect it and carry it home.  It was about a mile which is long enough when carrying a spiky, unwieldy tree.  One year it seemed to become particularly heavy; I was in front carrying the top end and Dad was behind me in charge of the root end.  Only when I turned round to see if he was walking as fast as me as it seemed to be dragging from his end, I saw that he had let go and was eating a pear from the bag of shopping we had also picked up from the green grocers.  I was not amused!

Then there was the year that we brought the tree home, put it into it’s bucket of earth and left it in the lounge for the branches to settle while we went into the dining room to have dinner.  Only when we opened the lounge door later, the room was full of little flying insects that must have been in the branches and had come to life in the warmth of the house.  Mum was not amused.  The lounge had to be sprayed within an inch of it’s life with fly killer and you needed a safety mask and goggles to go in there.

There were set rules to the decorations, after Christmas each decoration was taken down and wrapped in tissue paper, the tinsel had to go in special paper to stop it tarnishing and the unwrapping of them the next year was part of the magic of putting up the tree.  Little chocolates wrapped in coloured foil would be hung from the branches so that one could be unwrapped each day leading up to Christmas day and even the dog was catered for with little sugar mice tied onto the branches here and there.  There was one year that we spent ages decorating the tree, admired it from inside the lounge, went outside to see how it looked through the window and once we were satisfied that everything was just so, we went into the other room to watch tv.  Probably the Generation Game.  Which was disturbed by a large crash.  We ran into the lounge to be met by a rather guilty looking dog, covered in pine needles and tinsel with a sheepish expression on her face and a sugar mouse hanging out of her mouth.  Temptation had been too great and we must have tied one slightly too low and within her reach.  A slight doggy strength tug and the whole tree came down.

Does anyone else have any tree related memories?

Friday 2 December 2011

JYC 2 Dec

Shimelle's prompt for JYC today spoke about the weather and what we associate with Christmas.  It reminded me of a nonsense poem my dad taught me when I was little:

Whether the weather be good
Or whether the weather be not
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not

Whilst we love to think of a white Christmas, they are few and far between in this part of the UK.  More often than not Christmas day is a bit like today has been.  Frost on the ground when you wake up, temperature rising slowly but never making it into double figures and a bit of dampness or rain.  But tradition dictates that we go for a walk after Christmas dinner, so no matter what the weather is like, we wrap up warm and head for the fresh air.  This photo is of the lane at the back of my house:  
it would be lovely if it looked like that on December 25th but this photo was taken the year that we had snow at Easter time!

Thursday 1 December 2011


I'm sure the mathematicians among us will love the sequence of numbers in today's date!  And so December begins, dark and drizzly in my part of the world but the countdown to Christmas officially starts now.  
Advent calendars already have their first door open and when I walked past the Heads of Years office this afternoon, there was an eerie glow coming through the glass of the door.  The door was slightly ajar and I peeked in and saw the equivalent of Santa's grotto in there.  Each of the 5 desks had sparkly lights around them, a Christmas tree was resplendent in the centre of the room and I think I spied an open selection box of chocolates!
So with Journal Your Christmas in mind 

Saturday 26 November 2011

Passing the book

Well today is the day that I Pass the Book.  Painted Pages is about to find a new owner ... drum roll please ...I had five people asking to be included in the draw and I have numbered them in the order in which they left their comment

  1. Cheri
  2. Rinda
  3. Mel
  4. Jo.C
  5. Jennifer
I have found a dice throwing website where you can choose the number of sides on the dice so without further ado ...
Number three - Congratulations Mel - drop me an email and I'll get it in the post to you.  I think you will really enjoy it.  Thanks again to Sian for organising this project - it's been great!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Two things

Firstly, I am going to draw the name for the Pass the Book on Saturday so if you are interested let me know.  Only three names in the mix so even to someone with my poor maths skills, it would appear pretty good odds to being lucky!  If you want to add your name, please make sure you do by Friday night.  And please don't be put off by the painty sound of the book, I found it really interesting to see how I could transfer what I was learning about really looking at a photo and the colours within it for choosing colours and patterns and embellishments for paper page layouts too.
Secondly, do any of you live within easy reach of Colchester in Essex?  If so, do you fancy joining us on the first Saturday in December for a lovely crop day organised by Eclectic Keepsakes?  Full details are on my dear friend Denise's blog.  She's doing a pretty card and envelope class I believe.  It's all a bit top secret so I can't tell you any more as I don't know myself but I am sure it will be lovely as she is one very talented lady.  One of the other classes is being taken by Ann Freeman who comes up with some rather clever layouts and projects.  A CD Calendar is how it is described on her blog, but knowing Ann, this is probably just an excuse to make something using twelve photos of her heart-throb Matt Cardle!
Please try and join us, contact details are available at otherwise known as the Queen of the Cupcake, Mrs Karen Moss!
I - for one - am counting the days .....

Sunday 20 November 2011

Out of my comfort zone

I've really enjoyed browsing through the book that I received via Pass the Book last month.  Painted Pages by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.  I am the first to admit that I'm not a keen painter.  Well actually, I'm not a painter at all, so I relished the opportunity to look at what someone with that kind of talent can do.  Now in the spirit of Pass the Book, I chose a page in the book and used it for inspiration to make a page of my own.  
 The thing that attracted me to this page was the image of beach huts that it put into my mind.  I do love beach huts.  Fortunately for me, I can get to coast line that has beach huts by the dozen within an hour and a half drive from home.  So there was no problem in finding a photo for my layout.  There was no way I could just have painting on my page - far too scary - so I've incorporated a bit of mixed media here!  I added some texture to the photo by uploading the photo to my phone and using an app that does special effects and I like the way it has altered the look of the beach huts.
I wanted to get a bit of texture there too, so the quote is on card with the edges distressed, and the clouds are from some patterned tissue paper.  The quote is from a rub on that Rinda included in her package of goodies to me earlier this week.  I loved the sentiment behind it and decided that in keeping with doing something out of the ordinary for me, I would - write it out in my own scruffy handwriting.
So there we have it.  Something totally different for me, and something that I am reasonably pleased with.  It doesn't show too well, but the top half of the page has been sprayed with glimmer mist, and I painted round the edge with the same liquid too.  Rather heavy handed as you will see from how the paper got so wet it no longer lies flat!
Now, we all know what comes next don't we?  I have to find a new owner for the book.  So, without making a fuss like I did last time, I'm putting out the call for people who would like to read the book for themselves.  If you are interested - let me know by leaving a comment.  

Saturday 19 November 2011

Butter wouldn't melt ...

Look at the sweet innocent Puppy
Look at the happy little penguin showing off a gorgeous crystal embellishment that Deb Turtle saw in a shop and thoughtfully decided to buy and send it off to me {thanks Deb!}
And while I put the gorgeous crystal penguin somewhere safe .....
GULP! .........

Thursday 17 November 2011

Back in blogland

I've been a bad blogger recently, haven't posted anything and haven't really been in a crafty frame of mind.  It's a combination of things really, and I seem to have slipped into feeling a bit miserable.  It's been a whole combination of things, six months down the line my husband still hasn't found another job and it's affecting both of us.  He's not sleeping well and I'm just plain worried about him I guess.  Our daughter was pretty poorly at the beginning of the month with food poisoning, the weather's turned miserable, a close friend of the family died aged just 64 and work is just full on at the moment for me.  So I've been feeling a bit 'down in the mouth' but yesterday I received something in the post that brought a smile to my lips
A package of rather lovely craftiness all the way from sunny California!  I won a giveaway from Rinda over at Gallo Organico a little while ago and this is packed full of new papers and stamps and all manner of lovely things.  Just what I need to get my scrapping mojo back on track.
Hopefully this will help me turn the corner and back to regular blogging !

Wednesday 9 November 2011

October 4x6 Photo Love

I am really enjoying this project that is organised by Shimelle where every month you increase the number of photos on a layout and this month we had to use 10.  Eeek!  One of the main problems that I am having is finding a large amount of photos all linking to the same theme - clearly I need to go on that round the world trip to rectify the situation!  So for this month I used some photos that my husband took when he went on a trip to Florence and the surrounding area in Italy last year.  Instead of doing a normal layout, we had to use a divided page protector.  (Which I didn't have so the trusty sewing machine came out and I made a do it yourself version - seems to have worked just as well though!)

The background to him going on this trip always makes me smile.  Friends of ours went to this area a couple of years ago and my husband had said how much he would like to go there too during the very early summer before it got too hot and crowded with tourists.  Now, I work in a school and am not allowed time off during term time.  Just because we have 12 weeks off at various times of year, they don't seem keen on letting us have other time off in addition or in place of that time.  It's a very inflexible place to work!  So I said to my husband that as it was a place he really wanted to see,  and June was the ideal time to go, why didn't he have a few days away with his friend?
So one evening we went to our friend's home and the husbands went upstairs to their study to book their trip while we shared a glass or two of wine downstairs.  After a while they returned downstairs, smiling and already planning the places they would be visiting.  'All booked?' we enquired.  'Yes' they happily replied.  'When are you going?' asked my friend to her husband.  He told her the dates.  All went quiet.  Apparently he had chosen the weekend that coincided with their 30th wedding anniversary.  Ooops! 

Sunday 6 November 2011

Storytelling Sunday - Vertically Challenged

Can you guess what Lulu, Kylie Mynogue and I have in common?  Natural youthful looks? An ability to look good in gold hot pants? or not being very tall?  I'll leave it to you to decide while telling you a tale from my childhood.
My sister is 8 years older than me.  This means that by the time she was a teenager, I was at quite an annoying age.  So every now and again, she would try and get me into trouble.  At least that's how it seemed to me.  Our home had a brick built storage shed attached to the back of it and we kept things like bikes, lawn mowers and dad's diy tools out there.  It wasn't very big, and it had a small window on one side.  To try and make it blend in with the garden, mum and dad had planted a forsythia hedge around it and by the time of this story taking place, the forsythia had grown the height of the shed and dad had cut a square out of it so that the window could be opened and closed.  We hardly ever locked the shed up and the key was kept in the coal bunker out of harms way. 
So one day, Gill told me that she wanted to see what it was like to be locked inside the shed.  Honestly!  That is what she said.  Being a gullible child - I didn't question her.  We went outside, got the key, she went in the shed and closed the door and I was left outside to put the key in the lock and turn it.  Now it hadn't been used much and over the years the lock mechanism had become very stiff but eventually the key turned and she was locked in.  I went off to play in the garden and after a very little while, she decided she'd had enough.  She called me over and told me to unlock the door.  Well I was only about 7, and the key was very stiff in the lock and I just couldn't do it.  She did not seem keen for me to go and tell mum what had happened so I suspect that she wasn't really supposed to be in there!  
Then she had the bright idea of opening the window and for me to hand the key over to her so she could unlock it from the inside.  Brilliant!  Only I couldn't reach.  The ground must have sloped slightly on the outside and the forsythia hedge was too tall and prickly for me to reach over and hand the key over.  I was only little remember.  I suspect she started to get annoyed with her little sister and get cross with me.  I can still see her reaching out through the window as far as she could, and little old  me on tippy toes leaning into the hedge as far as I could, and the key dangling from my fingers and oh so very nearly reaching hers ... and then I dropped it.  Our eyes met across the hedge, hers in horror and mine in 'oh no, she's going to be very mad at me'.  The key fell through the hedge and the more I shook the hedge to find it, the further into the foliage it fell until neither of us could see it any more.
At this point I obviously decided that I'd done all I could and it was time to go indoors.  And as Gill had banned me from telling mum what we were doing, obviously I couldn't tell her what had happened.  I think I may have been sitting in the dining room with a glass of warm milk watching Blue Peter when mum noticed that Gill hadn't been seen for quite some time.  Gill may have been trying to get our attention but the walls of the shed were thick and I may have had the tv on loud ;-)  I mumbled something about 'she might be locked in the shed' at which point dad arrived home from work and the two of them had to go out there and root around in the hedge to find the key and release her.
I can't remember who was in the most trouble.  Her for leading me into doing something I shouldn't or me for not telling anyone what had happened.  But I'm pretty sure that dropping that key was an accident.
Or was it?

Saturday 5 November 2011

Happy post

You remember how Sandie stole that book  won the book that I so enjoyed about Mail Art?  Well, it looks like either she's a fast learner, or she has a natural flair for such things, as look what dropped onto my doormat this morning:

 and look what was inside it...

such a cute notepad!  Thank you so much Sandie - I love it. 
It's lucky I was quick out into the hallway to retrieve it as we have been puppy sitting my daughter's dog
and she was very quick off the mark to see what the noise was.  I expected a bit of a tug of war if she got her paws on it before me!  My daughter has been suffering this week with a bout of food poisoning.  I've never seen her in so much pain or distress.  So we had little Coco for her at the beginning of the week as she did not have the strength to look after her and then we had her later in the week too as once she was feeling better, her boyfriend had organised a night away in a posh hotel 'up north' somewhere and then a day visiting his brother.  It was lovely to have the puppy, she's quite a character and it seems very quiet now they have come to collect her and take her back to her proper home.

Friday 4 November 2011

How the other half live

I was speaking to one of our board of Governors before we went for our celebration afternoon yesterday and she referred to where we were going as 'Downton Abbey'.  It's not a programme I watch so it didn't mean much to me.  However, when I drove through the gates and saw this
I could guess what she meant.  This is just the main part of the house, to the right is another 'wing' with tennis courts behind it.  When I tell you that about 150 members of staff went and more than 100 cars parked on the front lawn you can imagine the size.  And yet although it was very grand, it was not pretentious inside.  This house is quite obviously some one's home, and not just something for show.  Yes, there were chandeliers in every room and oil paintings of the owners in the drawing room, but alongside that were framed photos of them dressed in silly costumes and pulling faces for the camera with grandchildren at Disney.  The furniture was very regal and yet they obviously have fun in this home.  There was a large dresser in the hallway, for coats and hats to hang from.  The top of it was covered with all manner of hats, from knitted berets to panama hats, bowler hats and floppy sun hats - dozens of them.
It was a lovely gesture from a lady who has been on our board of Governors for over 20 years and who has taken a genuine interest in the school.  I think we all appreciated being given a few hours off work to relax and enjoy a collective pat on the back. 

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Santa's little helper

Well I have finally done all my labels
I've kept them really simple - just chose a fancy font and am adding glitter to make them festive.  I start off enthusiastic and by number 18 I'm in a very 'Bah Humbug' kind of 'next year someone else can do this' mood!  Which is why I've streamlined them this year!  I seem to have acquired rather a lot of buff luggage labels and this has been a good project to use a few of them up.  I do like the idea of using labels on layouts and had no idea you could get them in so many shapes and sizes ;-)
We had only two little trick or treaters this year which was very disappointing, and has left me with two bowls of sweets which I suppose I will have to eat myself.  I am currently eating my way through a bag of candy shrimps and bananas.  I don't even really like them, why am I eating them????
Trying desperately hard to think of a story for Sian's storytelling Sunday but am lacking inspiration ... still, I have a few days to go to come up with something.  I have 53 years of memories, surely there must be something worth sharing!
Tomorrow will be a very different day at school.  School closes at 1.20 and all staff have been invited to the home of the Chair of Governors for a celebration afternoon.  Our exam results were simply outstanding this year, we are officially the 4th highest girls' school in the whole of the UK, and this is a thank you from the Board of Governors for all the hard work in getting such good results.  By all accounts, it is a huge house.  It is definitely a listed historic building and the word 'mansion' has been mentioned.  I can hardly wait!  Sure beats sitting at a desk all afternoon.  If there are any photo opportunities I will be sure to share them!

Thursday 27 October 2011

New book causes drama in the high street

Last year I offered to make the gift tags for the Secret Santa draw at work.  And last year I said 'Never again'.  So how come I currently have a messy dining room table and 22 labels in various stages of completion drying on my sideboard?  Someone has been taking advantage of my senior moments memory  good nature.  You see in my office there are six of us and that would be easy peasy.  But then Finance join in (another 4) and then the Head and her PA, and the lady in charge of reports and predicted grades, our Admissions Officer and a few of the Cover Supervisors, the lady in reprographics and not forgetting someone who transfered to become a Head of Year secretary in another office but still likes to be included with us, oh, and the exams officer that I work with ...  Six would have been lovely, 22 is a whole other ball game!  Memo to self.  Don't make them so fancy this year and remember to say NO if they ask again this time next year!

I've been reading a few pages of my new Pass the Book book and I even have a few ideas of a sample page.  Even printed off a photo that will be the inspiration for the page.  And {get this} I went shopping and bought a special pencil that when you brush water over it, turns to paint!  Yes.  Me.  Buying painting supplies.  Never been known before!  It was such a surprise that a man in the aisle next to me fainted.  That was probably a coincidence - and caused uproar in the shop -"what do I do?  I've never called 999 before"  asks the shop assistant.  "dial 999" says the gentleman's daughter.  "Hello.  Ambulance please.  No, I'm sorry I don't know the post code of the shop.  Does anyone know the postcode of the shop?"  Our town is a one way street and WHSmith is the biggest shop in the middle of the street.  The ambulance centre is half a mile outside of town.  I really don't think they needed a postcode to find it.  By the time I had paid for my painty bits the man had revived and was last heard saying "what did you call an ambulance for?  I'm perfectly ok".  I slunk off before he could say 'Was that really Deb buying something from the artist's department?' 

Wednesday 26 October 2011

A full bookshelf again

I am happy to report that the gap in my bookcase is no longer there.  When I got home on Monday there was a card from the postman on the door mat to say he had tried to deliver something that was too big for my letterbox and needed me to go to the post office to sign for it.  'Woohoo!' I thought, 'clearly they have realised that sending on that Good Mail Day book was a mistake and they have returned it to sender'.  But it was actually another Pass The Book book that I had been drawn to receive from Alexa over at Trimming the Sails.
Now this is not my normal type of craftiness.  Although I enjoy shuffling bits of paper and glittery, flowery things around on a page, I'm not one to normally pick up a paintbrush and create.  So this will be something very new to me and I suspect that it may take me a few reads to get the courage up to do some proper art work.  But I am always up for a challenge and even if it's a disaster I promise I will share.  I've only had a quick look so far but it's half term here so I have plenty of time to sit down with a coffee and look at it properly. 
I have to say that Sian has been very clever in her choices for Pass the Book subjects, they have been very varied and inspirational - it's been a lovely project to take part in and I've been lucky in the books I have 'adopted' over this past year. 

Sunday 23 October 2011

No excuses

Guess what?  Sandie has sent me her address.  I have finally run out of excuses not to pass on this book.  She could at least have the decency to show some remorse at stealing it away from me.  But no, she seems far too happy to be getting it.  So I've had once last look through it, and put it in it's envelope and tomorrow I will be dragging my feet along to the post office to send it off.  There may be a slight tug of war over the counter as the post mistress tries to prise it from my hands and put it in the postman's sack for collection.  There may be some pouting and stomping and 'it's not fair' business going on.  
The post office also has a sweet counter.  I may need to stock up on chocolate as consolation to get me through the sadness of seeing the gap in my bookcase where the book used to be.  If I put weight on this week,  I hold Sandie personally responsible.
Just sayin'.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Decision time

Well the day has finally come.  Time to decide who will get the book.  Time for me to 'man up' and agree to hand it over.  So, the following people offered to take it off my hands {thanks a bunch}
  1. furrypig
  2. Mel
  3. Heather
  4. Sandie
  5. Amy
  6. boysmum2
  7. Cheri
  8. Kimberley
  9. Scrappy Sandi
  10. Jennifer
Alexa very kindly offered to have it again if no one else was interested despite having had it once already.  I don't think so, but a very good try nonetheless!  Hmmm - is it too late for me to enter into my own giveaway under an assumed name ......

I was going to roll a couple of dice but then it was pointed out that certain numbers may have an unfair advantage/disadvantage and I'd hate there to have to be a steward's enquiry.  I do hate maths and all numeric issues involved in it so I will go back to the drawing board.  Popped round to investigate the chance of using puppy for drawing the number.  Turns out that if you lay 10 doggie treats on the floor, numbers 1-5 have gone before you get to lay the last one down.  10 doggy toys on the floor?  Puppy takes flying leap across floor, skids to a halt across the ceramic tiles and tries to get at least four in her mouth at the same time. 
It is clear that I am going to have to resort to technology ... and so - oh random one, which number will you choose ....

So, Sandie is the lucky lady!  Congratulations Sandie {she says through gritted teeth} I think - no - I know, you will love it.  Let me know your address and I will send it off as soon as I can.  It's half term next week so I have no excuse for not getting to the post office!

Thursday 20 October 2011

The roll of the dice

This is the final call for people to express their wish to be included in the draw for Good Mail Day.  If no one new adds their name to the list I have a perfect number of names for me to be able to make the draw with the roll of two dice
I still can't believe there are so many people out there willing to take this away from me but hey ho ...

Wednesday 19 October 2011


My daughter has had the builders back into her house today and as she didn't trust them not to leave a door open and let the puppy escape, Coco came to stay with me at my house.  There's been very little housework done today as she likes to go to sleep nestled up beside you on the sofa, so once she's fallen asleep - you are stuck there next to her until she wakes up ...
And you know what they say about letting sleeping dogs lie ........

Tuesday 18 October 2011


Well it would seem that my cunning plan to keep the Good Mail Day book has been a failure as several people seem only too happy to take it off my hands - and there's still time to add your name to the list!
I was into Happy Mail from a very young age.  Back in 1968 I was a huge fan of The Monkees.  Davy Jones in particular.  Loved their music and loved their tv programme.  Even joined their fan club!  In one edition of the Fan Newsletter was an article where you could be matched up with another fan and become Pen Pals.  I immediately knew I wanted to join up.  I asked for a pen pal in California as that was the only exotic place in the USA I could think of (well, I was only 10 at the time!)  I had a letter back saying they had no members in California who wished to be pen pals but they had matched me with a girl in Chicago - guess they went through the country alphabetically and Chicago was next on the list from California.  So I started writing to Cindy and we have continued to write to each other for the last 43 years.  Well, more often than not it's an email now or message via Facebook but back in my teenage years, letters was the only way to go.  I spent much pocket money on pretty notepads, Holly Hobby being a favourite and also Charlie Brown.  I even used to seal them with pretty sealing wax, stickers, cartoons out of newspapers, you name it, I would stick it on the outside of my envelopes.  And she would do the same back, only hers were better because hers had come from AMERICA!
We've met a few times now, she came over when in about 1978 and we met up when I went on holiday to Florida with my family in 1998, and then she came to visit when she was stopping off for 48 hours in the UK after going on a cruise around the Mediterranean.  Which can only mean one thing ... it's time for me to go and visit her again!

Monday 17 October 2011

Reminder one

This is just a teensy weensy reminder that I will be drawing the name for the Pass the Book (as mentioned yesterday) on Saturday.  But let's get this straight - you don't have to enter, I really don't mind holding onto it.  Honest.
I'm trying to think of a way that I can involve my daughter's puppy in the drawing process but to be honest, she's a bit of a Madame Mad Paws and I can't see her standing still long enough to walk towards a numbered piece of paper and if I put slips of paper with names on it into a bowl, she would have eaten them all before you could say 'Good Mail Day'.

So if you want to add your name to the list of people who wish to steal this book away from me ... leave a comment here!

Sunday 16 October 2011

Pass the Book

I can't believe it is a month since I received the book 'Good Mail Day' as part of Sian's Pass the Book.  I think I've been trying to pretend that it isn't a month and that it isn't time to offer it onto the next person.  In fact if no one asks to be included in the draw, I may get to keep it .... I mean, who really wants to pretty up their post?
Really?  What's wrong with just plain white, or boring buff?  Functional, does the job well and doesn't distract the postman.  Come on, imagine the reaction of the postal workers if we all did this
Quite frankly I think it would just confuse them. Just because we are scrapbookers doesn't mean that we love cutting and sticking and glossing and glittering does it?  I bet half of you wouldn't even have a fancy stamp or embellishment that would pretty up a parcel.  So it won't surprise me at all, not one little bit, if no one wanted to have their name included in the draw for it.  And if Sian asks me nicely I suppose I will just HAVE to hold onto it myself for ever and ever.

But in the spirit of Pass the Book, I guess I will have to say 'Does any one else out there fancy getting their hands on this rather lovely, inspiring, fun, interesting, artistic    book?'  If you do - although I will quite understand if you don't (I mean who needs to have a template to make original envelopes out of any pretty paper?) please leave me a comment and I'll enter you for the draw.  I'll keep asking (reluctantly) until Friday, and will draw the name of the next winner on Saturday. 
I do need to stress though, you really don't have to enter.  It will be a shame if the book stays here with me but hey ho ...

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Too good to use

Every month I receive a subscription kit from Sarah's Cards.  It's a great way for me to keep up to date with new products and themes going on in the scrapbooking world as we have no craft shop within a 10 mile radius.  So no opportunity to browse.  Sometimes the papers and embellisments are more to my liking than others but I've always used what I have been sent and pleased with the end result. 
However, one came recently and as soon as I opened it, I knew I loved it.  Pretty papers, lovely colours, exactly what I would have chosen if left to my own devices.  But then the dilemma.  Did I have any photos worthy of it?  And so I've been holding onto it.  Looking at it, and sometimes stroking it as one of the papers has little birds that are slightly raised and glossed.  I knew that if I didn't use it soon, it would become one of those things that I loved too much to cut up. 
So browsing around Facebook, I saw a photo of my niece and her daughter and knew that this was the one.
And now I have finally cut up a couple of the papers, I know I'm going to use every last scrap! 

Monday 10 October 2011

10 things I learnt today

  1. It takes longer than you think to fold up 92 letters, put 92 stamps on 92 stamped addressed post cards, and put one of each in 92 envelopes
  2. I really ought to have started working on my Performance Management report earlier as my meeting is tomorrow and I have done nothing towards it
  3. Going out to lunch on a Monday with good friends is such a good way to start the week
  4. Quatro Formaggio Pizza Express pizza is absolutely delicious, why haven't I tried it before?
  5. Eating a heavily loaded cheese pizza is possibly not the best idea on the day I have my Rosemary Conley 'weigh in' in the evening - pah!  It's too late now, I've eaten it!
  6. When I am feeling guilty about having eaten said pizza, it is easy to convince me that signing up for a new Zumba class on Wednesday evening is a very good idea
  7. The minute I agree to do a new Zumba class on a Wednesday evening, I regret it but having said yes, my friend Lynda will not let me go back on the deal.
  8. Two slightly aching but much improved hips are not sufficient reason for staying home and watching 'Doc Martin' rather than going to an exercise class
  9. It really is time to put the summer clothes away for another year
  10. The more I turn up the thermostat on the central heating, the more my husband will go out to the hallway and turn it down five minutes later

Sunday 9 October 2011

The US of A layout

For his 21st birthday present, my son's girlfriend arranged for them to go to New York for a few days in September.  As his birthday was in March, this gave them plenty of time to save up for the trip and decide what they wanted to do while they were there.  One thing on their list was to go to a baseball game and they booked tickets to go and see the Yankees.  The leftover Echo Park stickers I had from last week's crop seemed to be calling out to be used on an American themed page ...
Thank you for your concern about my leg; I obviously over-compensated and put more weight than normal on the other one yesterday as guess what ... I woke up this morning and my right hip hurts.  Or maybe I am just one big pain in the ......!