Thursday, 31 May 2012

I've spied, with my little eye... - Blog prompt, day 27

For day 27's blog prompt Emma wanted us to let on who we've been blog-stalking this week.  Before the blog prompt I was an erratic blogger at best.  I wrote little and read even less, except for the blogs of a couple of close friends.  The prompts have given me the push to write, but critically to join the blogging community by reading too.  I've really enjoyed exploring the blogs of my fellow prompters, not just their latest posts, but their pre-prompt ones too.  I've also loved getting comments (please leave me one!  It's great to connect to new people through the blogs), and they have taken me to new blogs too.  Here are a few of the places I've been having fun lately:

http://coventryann.blogspot.co.uk/

http://craftyfran.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.geniushands.co.uk/

http://www.theprmummy.com/

http://craftycoops.blogspot.co.uk/

http://anniescardsandchat.blogspot.co.uk/

http://christinescraftyart.blogspot.co.uk/

http://craft-owl.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.d-dazzledscraps.com/

http://doreensdream.blogspot.co.uk/

http://glitterarti1.blogspot.co.uk/

http://powered-by-fairydust.blogspot.co.uk/

http://veecassidy.blogspot.co.uk/

http://taylor-madecards.blogspot.co.uk/

http://what-nikki-did-next.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Thanks everyone for the company!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Happy day, happy card - Blog post 17

Born to Shop new home card
Born to Shop new home card
Day 17's blog prompt challenge was to create a cheerful card and dedicate it to someone.  Here's the card I made, using papers and an embossing folder from the Born to Shop 'Go Green' collection.  Not only is it a cheerful card, but it's about happiness, so I hope it counts :-)  I made it as a new home card for some friends who have just bought their first home together, as I thought it was a nice way to wish that their new house is always filled with laughter.

I really like making backgrounds like this, with several coordinating papers, and it's a good way to use up off-cuts.  It's a technique that I think looks good with everything lined up neatly, or with a more fun layout like this.

For the main image I've embossed the design onto Core'dinations Whitewash cardstock and sanded it.  I applied some light colour to bring out the design and picked out the writing with a fine pen.  The frame is cut freehand.  I hope you like it!

Favourites among favourites - Blog prompt day 13

My Grandad used to say you shouldn't pick favourites from those you love, but I suppose there are bits of my stash I love just a teensy bit more than others :-)

My paper collection takes some beating in my affections, but probably shouldn't count as my favourite thing. Much as I get a warm and fuzzy feeling from seeing shelves full of paper stacks, the same view often causes a rising panicky feeling when I realise how many packs haven't even been opened, and how few of my crafting plans I've managed to get made! The same applies to my stamp collection. Having said that, I love both collections so much that my current faves ought to get a mention. In the papers it's Papermania Pampered Pets (I'm not owning up to how many packs of this I've bought), the new Lucy Cromwell papers, and DCWV Old World. For stamps, it's a tie between the John Byars Nostalgia wood-mounted range and my friend Chris Saunders' super-versatile 'Build A Landscape' range. Seeing my choices written down seems a bit odd to me though - there's a lot of pastel and vintage there, and I really didn't think that was what I liked best!

There is one bit of my stash that has been getting a lot of my love for awhile now: my collection of XCut nesting dies. I really wouldn't want to be without them and, although I've been trying to prioritise them for shopping, I know I'm going to want them all! The bunting ones are top of my wish list at the moment - I have some plans for Bob's room!

In the meantime, here are a couple of projects made with nesting dies.  I made the tag book for the docrafts advent calendar - instructions are here.

[caption id="attachment_341" align="aligncenter" width="296"] Nesting all on one layer like this is really economical with your paper, and you can make two complementary cards at once.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_361" align="aligncenter" width="300"] New year resolution tag book[/caption]

Shoptastic - Blog prompts 23 and 24

 Today's blog posts are brought to you from here :-) 
I've got a bit more behind than usual this week, as little Bob has just learned to crawl forwards. He's getting quite speedy now, so needs a lot more watching when he's playing on his mat, as we appear to live in a death trap, full of inappropriate things to chew and hard pointy corners to fall onto. Ah well, I may not have been able to spend time on my laptop, but I know nearly all the little songs on Bob's Fisher Price pretend smart phone by heart now :-)

Anyway, to business. Blog prompts 23 and 24 were "write about your favourite craft shop" and "do you prefer online or bricks-and-mortar shopping?".

Picking my favourite bricks-and-mortar craft shop is easy. Demoing in shops from Surrey to the West Midlands and from Berkshire to the East Coast, I've been to a lot of craft shops! I also see them from a different perspective, as I'm neither staff nor customer (OK, I confess I am often a customer too!). The store that has always stood out for me though is In2Crafting in Wickford. They're everything a family run craft shop should be - friendly, well-stocked, helpful, and all really keen crafters. And they make a really good cup of tea :-) I've really missed my demos there while I've been off with Bob, there's a lovely group of regulars and the atmosphere's always relaxed and fun. My favourite online shop is one that specialises in die cutting - Country View Crafts. It's run by two of my bestest friends, so I know I'm biased, but I also get to see how hard they work. What they don't know about die cutting really isn't worth knowing, and they're always happy to share that knowledge too.

As for the second question (online or bricks-and-mortar), I enjoy both. When I know what I'm buying, online is so easy, and of course you can keep an eye on what you're spending before you get to the checkout. What online shopping can't do though, is give you a sense of the quality of an unfamiliar brand, you can't be sure about the colours, and of course there's no 'Aladdin's Cave' feeling of being surrounded by crafty loveliness, or the happy feeling of finding something you didn't know you
wanted
needed. Online shops also don't generally offer demos, and my own crafting didn't really take off until I went to my first docrafts demo, and that experience was what drove me to be a demonstrator myself.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Spring cleaning (!) - Blog prompt day 18

On Friday, Emma wanted us to confess our spring cleaning secrets, so here goes.

I'm not a great fan of any housework, with the exception of getting a huge pile of fresh laundry in from the line on a bright and breezy day and burying my face in it :-)  Cleaning in particular just depresses me while I'm doing it - I know the bit I just did is already gathering dust, and that I'll never have finished.  Spring cleaning is different though, as it's well defined.  I find it hugely satisfying to tackle all the jobs that have nagged at me for ages and to get absorbed in detail of it, before shutting the door on a 'perfect' room.  It's just a shame you always end up with a shoe box of weird things that don't really belong anywhere...

Emma also wanted to know about favourite cleaners and adverts.  Well, I watch very little telly, and what I do watch is recorded, so I fast forward over the adverts.  I can't think of any recent cleaner ads at all!  As for favourite cleaners, I love Orange Glo wood polish - it eats through all the old polish layers and leaves a gorgeous orangey smell that fills the room. As I mentioned in one of my first posts on this blog, I'm also a big fan of baby wipes for all sorts of cleaning jobs. My other favourite cleaner is white vinegar - I've used it with newspaper to clean windows since reading "How clean is your house", from the Channel 4 show. What I don't have (and unfortunately need) is a way of getting dried water-based paint out of a carpet (I didn't notice the tin had dribbled :-( ) If you know how to fix this, please take pity and leave me a comment - I like carpet shopping even less than cleaning!

Just one word - Blog prompt day 19

Saturday's blog prompt was "A word".  The challenge: to describe ourselves in one word.  Time to make that noise plumbers make when they're about to give you an estimate :-)  I was struggling to come up with anything other than "disorganised" for a while, but that's just at the moment.  I go through phases of being very organised, so I didn't think that was fair.  I asked my husband, who suggested "short" and "untidy".  Both are sadly true, but I rejected them too.  The first was just a physical trait, the second is only half the story.  I *am* particularly talented at messing up a craft desk or a kitchen, as anyone who's been to one of my demos or my kitchen will tell you, but I *want* everything in its place (and a place for everything).  One reason I make a mess is that I get too absorbed in the task at hand to tidy as I go.  I also have difficulty starting a job if I know I can't finish it, and I do tend to get bogged down in reorganising my storage of things, rather than just focusing on clearing the decks.  In the end I decided to be kind to myself and plumped for "optimistic".  Much of my messiness and lateness is the result of me thinking I can achieve more than I can in the time, rather than being disorganised as such, and I do generally think of my glass as being half full, so I think it's a fair assessment.  Of course, this just reminds me of the old bit of job interview advice for when you're asked for your greatest weakness: always say "I'm too much of a perfectionist", as it's not really a weakness after all:-)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Thanksgiving in May? - Blog Prompt, Day 20

Today's blog prompt is "I'm thankful for...", within the context of crafting.  Where to start?  There's so much!  Firstly I'm thankful for any time I get to craft.  There's not much of it at the moment, with a demanding baby to care for, but that means I appreciate any time I get all the more.  It really is a pleasure to engross myself in something calm and creative.  Secondly I'm thankful to be crafting at a time when there is so much choice available in both products and types of crafts, and so much access to help, tuition, and inspiration.  Staying informed and stimulated is so much easier now even than when I started card making just a few years ago.  Thirdly I'm thankful for my husband's patience.  He's not a crafter, but puts up with his home being invaded by craft supplies (and foam pad backing squares!), the interruptions to weekends when I'm doing demos, and my frequent queries about whether this project he doesn't like looks nicer with the flowers here, there, or in both places.  Oh, and finally I'm thankful for good glues, without which we'd all come unstuck!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Which one's the craft room? - Blog Prompt Catch-up, Day 11

Having confessed yesterday to hoarding far more crafty goodies than I have room for, I thought today would be a good time to catch up with Day 11's blog prompt - sharing our craft rooms.  Before I talk about mine (which isn't finished), I thought I'd start by saying whose craft room I'd like - that of the awesomely talented Sarah Youde.  I'd also like to live on the coast, so if you ever fancy a house swap Sarah, I'm your girl :-)

In the beginning there was the tiny bedroom, some clear plastic boxes from WH Smith, and some old office furniture.  There was one box of peel-offs, one of flowers, and one of die cuts I'd bought on eBay, and on the bookshelf there was one (yes, one) shelf of papers, and one of stamps and random bits.  When I wanted to make a card, I opened all the boxes, picked some things, made the card and then tidied it all away again.

Soon the shelves and cupboards were full.  The magazines went under my bed to make room, boxes appeared on top of the cupboards, and the most used things stayed on the desk, leaving a creative space the size of a cutting mat.  It became known as the craft sty, and it all needed a good sort out. I was demonstrating by then though, and couldn't be without a working room.  But wait, if I just moved the desk and essentials into the not quite so tiny spare room, I could sort out this room.  Brilliant idea!  Err, except that I didn't, I just filled up two poorly organised rooms.  Boxes appeared under the guest bed...  By then I was doing store demos, magazine work and Create and Craft demos and I needed an extra desk to keep all the work in progress separate.  Boxes appeared under the dining table, and when I mentioned the craft room, my poor husband would ask "which one's the craft room?"...

Then along came Bob, so everything had to fit into the tiny bedroom, just like in the olden days.  We decided new shelving was the way ahead, but couldn't find anything to make good use of the space, so decided to build our own from MDF.  Luckily I have a software engineer for a husband, who wrote me a design program, and a joiner for a neighbour, so all I had to do was decide what I wanted and pick some paint.

Here's the result.  I had Mondrian in mind when I designed it, and it completely fills up the only unbroken wall of the room.  A true homage to Mondrian would have needed breaks in the verticals, which would have made it too weak, and the bright colours with black outlines that he's famous for would have been too much for the tiny room.  Instead I chose three pastel shades - green, creamy yellow, and blue - painted each of the three visible walls in these colours, and painted the shelving cells 'randomly' in one of the same colours with white dividers.  I say randomly, but it actually took quite a few goes to make it look random!  As you can see from the picture, it's not quite finished.  As I was pregnant, we had to use low emission paint, which is sadly also low performance.  It needed so many coats that we ran out of time to get it finished before Bob was born and we had to put the room back together to get the rest of the house presentable.  When I've had a chance to use it a bit and see how it works, there'll be a matching shelf unit on the opposite wall, and we'll finish this one at the same time.  One great thing about them is that they're not attached to the wall, and can be dismantled when we move :-)

The shelves are 12" deep, so I can store my papers nicely, and I decided I didn't want boxes piled more than 3 high (otherwise I never put anything away), and I didn't want any hidden.  I also didn't want to waste the space behind 8x8 and 6x6 papers though, so I've put unopened packs of card blanks and envelopes behind them.  As long as I keep a working selection of card blanks accessible all the time, I only have to move lots of things to get more occasionally.

In my original design, I wanted doors on all the cubbyholes, with magnetic push latches, so I could have a smooth finish, no door handles, and no risk of fading for my papers.  That idea got abandoned very early on!  Apart from being a lot of work, it was going to mean spending hundreds of pounds on hinges and latches, which was just daft.  Think of the stamps and paper that would buy!  Err, I mean, think of the baby clothes and toys that would buy ;-)  Anyway, my lovely husband had the brilliant idea of making fabric doors and decorating them with different crafts, so that's the new plan - the shelves will become a long term craft project in their own right, giving me an incentive to try out some new crafts.

To scrap or not to scrap - Blog Prompt Day 16

Today's prompt challenge is to talk about our attitudes to scrapbooking.

Nowadays I'm a keen but painfully slow scrapbooker with a long To Do list of page ideas.  It wasn't always this way though.  I bought my first scrapbooking magazine not long after I first started crafting, and I didn't find a single thing in the mag that I liked.  Everything was quite American, heavily decorated and very sentimental, not a stiff upper lip to be found!  It wasn't until I saw some cleaner layouts, smaller than 12x12, that I could really imagine myself scrapping.

[caption id="attachment_305" align="alignright" width="300"] I love mini books[/caption]Smaller formats are still my favourite - I adore maze books and mini books, although that's normally because they're made in a clever way, and I'm a sucker for anything trick!  As I mentioned in My Crafting Style, I like the photo or journalling to take pride of place in my layouts.  To me, scrapbooking is a really personal hobby.  It's about presenting my pictures and memories in a nice way, and helping them tell a story, rather than creating something pretty for its own sake.  That's not to say I don't think that's worth doing, it's just not what I want to do.  I love the idea of showing my scrapbooks to Bob when he's older so he can see what we were like before we had him, and what his childhood was like.  It's almost like being immortal :-)

[caption id="attachment_312" align="alignleft" width="300"] Sometimes it's all about the paper![/caption]The other great appeal to me of scrapbooking is getting to keep my creations!  I have a big box full of cards ready to send and it's at least half full of cards I don't really want to part with.  One great thing about scrapping is that you don't have to feel bad about that.  I often say that I need at least two sheets of all paper designs - one to craft with and one to keep.  Papers used in layouts tick both boxes though, so it's also a great way to hoard :-)

There's just one thing I don't like about scrapping - printing out my photos - although that says more about my printer than scrapbooking.  I'm trying to get a batch of pics together to get printed, so they're available whenever I feel like doing a layout.  If you can recommend a printing service, please leave me a comment!

[caption id="attachment_306" align="aligncenter" width="297"] My first ever scrapbook page, done for my application to docrafts - I love to include tickets and other mementos[/caption]

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

My Guilty Pleasures - Blog Prompt, Day 15

Tuesday's topic was guilty pleasures, which is quite an easy one for me, as I only have a couple.  Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of pleasures, I just talk myself out of feeling guilty about them :-)  I have weaknesses for chocolate, cheese, and ice cream, but I also walk a lot and eat a healthy diet the rest of the time, so I don't think they quite make it up there to guilt.  Closer is my compulsion for playing web games like Bubble Witch Saga and DrawSomething even though I know there are more productive or instructive things I should be doing when Bob is asleep on my lap.  Again though, I reason that a bit of what you fancy is a good thing, and that maybe it's even good to be non-productive some of the time.

So what do I feel guilty about?  Well, my collector attitude to craft supplies is the main one.  In as much as anyone needs any craft supplies, I have a lot more than I need, and more than I'll be able to use in one lifetime, unless all that walking and healthy eating makes me live to 250!  The environmentalist in me feels guilty about having so much, but my main source of guilt is that I have more than I have room for in my little craft room, so it's invaded most of the rest of the house in one way or another.  Despite this, I still buy more of it, and that's what makes me feel bad.  It's just that I enjoy owning it almost as much as crafting with it, and I enjoy the possibilities of what I could make with it almost as much as the making.  In fact, when the making is going to involve lots of measuring and not much technique, sometimes the design process is the most fun!

My only other guilty pleasure is biscuits when I'm out.  They went from being a pleasure to a guilty pleasure when I saw a Panorama about palm oil (an ingredient in all sorts of processed foods), and how our use of it is putting the orangutans at risk of extinction within the next decade.  At home I've switched to all butter shortbread, as I reason that the orangutans need trees more than I need chocolate digestives, but I do still eat biscuits of unknown oiliness when I'm out - something I feel bad about almost immediately :-(  Hmm, maybe they don't count as a pleasure after all...

That's a bit of a serious way to leave this post, so please help lighten things up by leaving me a comment about your guilty pleasures!

A day in the life of baby Bob aged 8 months - Blog Prompt, Day 14

Monday's blog prompt was "A day in the life of..." and I thought I'd feature a guest blogger.  I helped with the typing ;-)
Milk! I need milk! Where's Mummy?! Oh, there she is, phew! Mmm, lovely milk. I love milk. But where's Daddy?! Phew! There he is, and he's got Spot and Quacky and Bunny. Brilliant! I love playing with Daddy. And here's Mummy again with my breakfast banana. I love bananas. Why does she keep showing me that banana, can't she tell I'm not hungry?

Oh no, don't change my nappy Mummy! I don't like changes! Oh, that's nice, I like having a dry bum. Where are we going now? Oh no, not the car seat, I don't like that! Don't you want to cuddle me Mummy? Ooh look, we're at the wood! I like the trees and I love being in the carrier with Daddy. There's Molly! I hope I can run like Molly one day, and sing like the birds, and <yawn>...

Where am I? This looks like home, but I was sure there were trees before... There's Mummy and it's play time! <BANG! BANG! BANG!> I love these bright cups. "SQUEEEEEAAAAAKKKK!!!!"  <BANG! BANG! BANG!>  Oh, I've fallen over backwards.  Luckily there's always something soft behind me.  Daddy's come to pick me up!  Where are we going?  The park with Molly!  I love the park.  "Wo! Wo!"  I keep talking to Molly, but she doesn't seem to understand me.

Home again and there's my Mummy with my lunch!  Mmm, fish and vegetables, my favourite.  Yum, yum, I love how cheesy mash feels in my hand.  I wonder if it feels nice in my ear as well?  I'm very full now.  Ooh grapes!

Ooh good, more time on my playmat!  I could play for ever.  Mummy!! Cuddle me!! <yawn> ...

Where am I?  On Mummy's lap, my favourite place.  Oh look, Daddy's got the carrier again, we're all going to the park!

Home again and Daddy's staring at that shiny screen again, and pressing all the buttons I'm not allowed to touch.  I've got a great view of Mummy playing with food from my high chair.  I'm not allowed to touch anything in here either - Mummy says it's all ouchy.  It's dinner time!  Now I get to play with the food!  I'm very full now  Ooh peaches!

Ooh good, more time on my playmat!  I could play for ever.  Mummy!!  Milk and cuddles!! <yawn> ...

And that's why I get nothing done!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My Crafting Style - Blog Prompt Catch-up, Day 4

Day 4's blog prompt was 'my crafting style', which is a problem for me, as I'm not sure I have one any more! Before I became a do crafts demonstrator, I'd say my style was quite minimalist, symmetrical and obsessively precise.  I measured everything, and the closest I got to distressing anything was tearing mulberry paper along a wet line :-)  One of my favourite things about demoing is that I get to work with products of all styles and types, not just those I'd automatically choose for myself, and that it pushes me to create projects that will appeal to as wide a range of crafters as possible.  I'm happy to say that it really has broadened my crafting so much that my own style has assimilated all sorts of influences along the way.  I've tried a wider range of crafts over the years too, like jewellery making, and that in turn has influenced my papercrafting.  I still do tend towards the minimalist and symmetrical, but the measuring has definitely gone out the window ;-)  One style I'll always enjoy is to make a card or page that looks like something else, or presents a scene.

My scrapbooking is a bit more conservative.  I prefer the photos (or journalling) to be the dominant thing on the page, and I like as many of the embellishments as possible to relate to the story I'm telling on the page.  As a consequence, it takes me an absolute age to complete a layout, and this is a hang-up I hope to get over when I start scrapping in earnest for baby Bob, otherwise I'm going to have to live an awfully long time if I'm going to have something to pass on to him!

I've picked a few piccies from my crafting history, oldest ones first, that I think are most typical of what I've preferred to make. Looking at these I realise that maybe I do have a style after all!

My minimalist beginnings
I've always loved flowers and butterflies
 I do like things to match...
Mmm, symmetry :-)
Ooh look, more symmetry

Uh-oh...
Oh, and I never remember to check it'll fit in the envelope! 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Great giveaway at Keepsakes by Melissa

My good friend Chris posted about this blog giveaway over at Keepsakes by Melissa.  There are some really lovely projects on this blog - lots of beautifully crafted vintage cards.  Thanks Chris for taking me there!

Give us a smile - Blog Prompt catch-up, Day 10

[caption id="attachment_230" align="alignright" width="225"] When Bob smiles, so do we :-)[/caption]Day 10's prompt was "what makes you smile". This was sadly a very easy one to answer, as the things that make me smile had been put to the test the evening before, when my Mum called to say that her sweet and gentle little Cavalier King Charles spaniel had died suddenly. Anything that can make you smile after sad news deserves a place in this post, and little Bob is pretty much top of the list. He's been getting a new batch of teeth recently, so he hasn't been his usual cheerful self the last few days, and has needed a lot of cuddles, hence the delay in me posting. He has five little teeth now and, although I'll miss his gummy grin, it looks like his little toothy grin is going to make me smile even more :-) All but one of his teeth is on the left of his mouth and, as his Daddy and paternal Grandparents are all left handed, I wondered idly if there's any link between handedness and the order that teeth come through. I Googled, and found a study that suggests there is a link, but it cost $86 to read the results for 24 hours, and I really didn't need to know that much!!

Anyway, back to the prompt... Close on Bob's heels is Molly the Collie. If you need cheering up, all you have to do is show her a broom or hosepipe and she goes all growly and bitey, but in a way that's far too cute to be scary. We're not sure if the broom is her favourite thing, or her arch enemy, but if you look like you might be opening the garage door, she waits patiently for a chance at a show-down.

Although not really up to combatting very bad news, two other things deserve a mention here. The first is my crafting stash (of course!). Papers and stamps are my main two weaknesses (not that I'm particularly strong willed with any crafting goodies!) and I often think I get as much pleasure from just looking at my stash as I do from creating with it. The second thing to mention is the great outdoors. I love to walk in the countryside, and I can think of little as deeply satisfying as gazing at a lovely view with the sun on my face, a breeze in my hair and the sounds of birds singing all around me.

[caption id="attachment_232" align="aligncenter" width="225"] With Molly and Bob the bump , Castle Rock, Devon[/caption]

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Bank Holiday Memories - Blog Prompt Catch-up, Day 7

Two posts in one day!?! I'm feeling a little faint...

The bank holiday prompt was to share childhood memories of bank holidays, and talk about any traditions then and now.

I'm an only child, and we always did everything as a family when I was little, so I'd struggle to separate my memories of early May and August bank holiday activities from those of regular weekends.  I grew up near the coast in Essex, so we would sometimes go to the seaside at Clacton or Walton with Nanna and Grandad (we didn't have a car), and weekends always included a walk or cycle ride in the countryside.  Dad has grown his own veg for ever too, and I loved 'helping' him in the garden.  I always had my own few square feet of veg patch, and this is something I'm very keen to do with little Bob.

The late May bank holiday is a different matter though, as it was the weekend when the US Air Force put on one of the best air shows of the year, at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.  It was a highlight of our family's year until the War on Terror put a stop to the shows in 2003.  I just did a quick Google to remind myself when the last show was and got a wonderful surprise - they're thinking of bringing the shows back next year!  If so, then that'll be another tradition we can pass on to Bob :-)

Favourite quotes - Blog Prompt Day 9

Today's blog prompt is "favourite quotes" - tricksy, as there are so many to choose from, and so many reasons to love them.  Top of the list of sources for funny quotes has to be the TV series "Blackadder", season 2 in particular (the Elizabethan one).  The whole series was really just one long favourite quote, and has stood the test of time for me - it makes me just as happy now as when I first saw it in the 1980's as a teenager.  It also featured the most romantic exchange I've ever heard.  Edmund Blackadder has just returned from captivity when Queen Elizabeth asks: "And me Edmund, did you miss me?" He replies: "Ma'am, life without you was like a broken pencil. Pointless"

I couldn't talk about my favourite quotes without mentioning the late, great Douglas Adams.  His books are full of great lines, but my favourite quote of his is one from an interview that applies quite well to me, and always makes me smile as it takes a character flaw and makes it seem quite endearing: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

If I want to feel inspired though, then I need to look no further than Winston Churchill.  Witty and intelligent, he was a favourite quote machine, but his addresses to the nation during World War II never fail to spur me into action.  I love the elegance of his Battle of Britain quote: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few", but the most inspiring for me is "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say This was their Finest Hour." I used it on a page in a circle journal a few years ago.  The spec was to create a page around words that inspire you and it was circular, which just said "roundels" to me :-) I liked this layout so much I made another one for me, but by then had thought to make roundel brads too.




Monday, 7 May 2012

Favourite docrafts Galleries - Blog Prompt Catch-up, Day 2

Two blog posts in a week and I'm on a roll, so I thought I'd do a bit of catching up!

Day 2's blog prompt challenge was to identify 5 favourite docrafts user galleries and explain why.  Phew!  That's a very tricky one, as there are so many talented people in the docrafts user community, and they cover such a wide range of crafts.  I've had to cheat a little, but here goes:

margaretcarter1

Margaret has some really beautifully crafted cakes in her gallery, including lots of hand painted ones, and covering quite a range of styles.  She also has some lovely cards.

CarolTadden

I found Carol's gallery because she was kind enough to comment on one of my blog posts recently. She has a lovely range of projects, and lots of altered art.

craftyyJ
craftyyJ has some really unusual projects, and seems to share my love of mini books. Her gallery is a really fun place to look.

sweetpeetje

Petra crafts in a vintage style that I'm rarely brave enough to try.  Her projects have masses of work in them, and I love looking at such carefully crafted projects, especially as they're so different to what I usually make.

OK, my 5th choice is the cheat, as it's 5 more people :-) The thing is, they're all good friends of mine, and fellow demonstrators, and I struggled to whittle it down to 5 as it was! Nikki Smith, Becky James, Cliona Larkin, Tracy Creedy, and Christine Saunders all make such beautiful projects, including really unusual items, that their galleries are always sure to inspire me.

I hope my list takes you to somewhere new!

Favourite Photo (Blog Prompt Day 6)

Ooh, how exciting, I just checked the blog prompt for today, and it's a quick and easy one for me, so I'm actually posting on the right day (well, almost!)! I might need a bit of a lie down :-)

Today's prompt is to post our favourite photo, and this is mine:

This is our beautiful collie/sheltie cross Molly in our garden the day after she came to live with us. She was nearly one year old and she'd had a very troubled start in life. At 8 weeks old, someone discarded her in a ditch in Tipperary in winter.  She survived because a kind passerby heard her crying and took her home before handing her in to the Tipp Off Animal Rescue.  They took care of her for a month before sending her to Heathlands Animal Sanctuary in Royston.  She was rehomed quickly, but the family split up a few months later, so she was passed around friends for a while before being sent back to Heathlands at just the right time for us to find her.

I love this picture for a few reasons.  She's at her prettiest, and looks so bright eyed and happy - it really sums up her character for me. Less than 24 hours earlier she was shaking with nerves at being driven away from the seventh house she thought was going to be her home, but here she is looking like she's ready for anything. When I look at this picture I see the huge change it represents for her and for us. It makes my heart ache for all the abandoned dogs out there for whom rescue will come too late, but it also makes me so happy we could help little Molly. I just hope we can always live up to the expectation in her face!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Do Crafts Creativity Club 31 Day Blog Prompt

If you have a quick look through the dates on my blog posts, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I don't spend a great deal of time on my blog.  My published posts don't show the whole picture though - you need to see my drafts folder as well!  The truth is that I fuss over detail so much, and that my rare free time is so fragmented by baby feeds and nappy changes, that I publish only a fraction of what I write.  Most of my topical drafts cease to be relevant long before I've finished writing them, and much of the rest takes me so long to finish that I get bored of it,  and assume nobody else will be interested either.

When I started my new blog, I resolved that I wouldn't post about how I don't post enough, but I thought I'd mention it here to explain why I was so pleased that Emma Collins at Do Crafts was launching a 31 day blog prompt for May for the members of the Creativity Club.  I'm much better at getting things done if I have a deadline, and with 31 of them, I'm bound to meet a couple.  Of course I haven't got off to a very good start (3 days late already, and yes I have had to edit that number!), but baby Bob has picked this week to decide he needs virtually no sleep during the day.  Ah well, perhaps I'll catch up before the end of the month!

Day 1's topic is "5 reasons why you should craft", so here's mine:

1. You can wallow in the detail.  Unlike blog posts, when you're crafting for fun it doesn't matter if you never finish, the journey is just as much fun as a finished project.  I'm not driven to be a prolific crafter, there's plenty of other stuff in the world to get performance anxiety about, I generally just enjoy losing myself in the detail of my project.  I love painting stamped images, cutting out decoupage, and rummaging through my stash to find a perfect match.  Occasionally I have 'tidy up' days, where I just finish my almost-there projects, and that makes me happy too :-)

2. You can't stay cross while you're crafting.  It's a shame I didn't have time to craft when I had a stressful job, because it would have been a great way to unwind.  I love that you can't surround yourself with beautiful papers, stamp, paint or cut out when you're annoyed or nervous - you just can't help but relax.  One lovely thing about doing demos is that I get to meet lots of other crafters and find out what crafting means to them.  It's amazing how many people use it as an escape from stress, illness or just the demands of modern life.

3. There's no right or wrong.  When I was at school, I loved the security of maths and sciences.  Every question had exactly one correct answer, and you knew when your homework was finished.  In contrast, English and art made me uneasy - the person marking my story might not like it, even if I thought I'd done a good job, and there were always things I was unhappy with.  Once nobody was grading my work I realised that mine was the only opinion that really mattered, and that knowing you can always improve is a great thing for a hobby's longevity.  It also means crafting is wonderfully inclusive.  You don't have to be rich, strong or tall, or have training or ologies, you just need enthusiasm.

4. Inspiration is everywhere.  Having an artistic hobby changes the way you look at the everything around you and you realise that inspiration for creativity can be found in the most unlikely places: the privacy pattern on the inside of a business envelope, the colour of a sweet wrapper, or a muddy footprint.  Not only does this encourage recycling and upcycling, but it means that your hobby becomes a record of your unique experience of the world.  You don't get that from many other hobbies that you can do on a rainy day!

5. It shows that you care.  Not everyone will notice you've hand made something especially for them, but the ones who do will feel special and cherished.  Not so much because you've spent the time on making something for them (it is your hobby after all!), but because you've bothered to notice and remember that their favourite colour is yellow and they like primroses and French poetry.  In our busy, impersonal world, knowing someone is interested makes all the difference.

If you haven't crafted before, hopefully something above will encourage you.  Pop along to a demo, or watch a few videos on www.docrafts.com and maybe you'll catch the bug too!