Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Everybody

Well, we're ready, as we'll ever be.  Presents all wrapped and delivered, ours under the tree, a nice meal cooking and Midnight Service to look forward to.

I feel incredibly blessed to have my family around me, a fun time to look forward to and be warm and safe in our homes.  I feel for all those who are missing loved ones, worrying about our boys and girls in the Forces, living with pain, ill health or financial difficulties.  My Christmas prayers are for you.

I will miss having my wider family around this year as they are all in Wales but know they are having a good time up there.  I am also glad it's not snowy even though I enjoyed my first White Christmas last year.

If you've come by my blog this year, thank you for your support and encouraging comments.  Merry Christmas to you and yours, and peace and goodwill to all as we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twisted Sketch #133

The last one before Christmas, and I've gone with a festive theme. The sketch can be found here  and the Twist is 'Sparkle' so I had to add a little glitter, just to make it all nice and sparkly. I did this at my local crop a couple of weeks ago, and it took me all day, pushing the leaves a little bit one way and then the other, glittering my brads and deciding which eyelets to use (yes! even on this I have used up old stash :) ) along with some lovely new Echo Park Christmas papers.  I also have to give a big thanks to my friend Petra for her help in cutting out the holly leaves using some magic cutting design programme and finally a big thank you to netty b for her poinsettia inspiration from recent Christmas chipboard swap on UKS.  I think the bells just finish it off beautifully.

So a happy festive layout to take us into Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

December Daily - the story so far

It wasn't supposed to be like this...  I had my book made up (sort of), enough embellishments and extras to hand and was raring to go, and the December happened.  I was going to put my calm efficient Ali Edwards hat on and do my December Daily every day (or nearly) and keep up.

It hasn't happened!  Life has well and truly taken over and I have been chasing my tail all week.  Christmas Concerts have been and gone, the tree is up, presents have in part been wrapped and delivered - mainly due to a whistlestop lunch in Chester - yes I went there for lunch (from Surrey!) - to swap family presents and see my parents very briefly as we're down here for Christmas.  So on the surface I am organised, but underneath my December Daily has taken a very back seat.

So I thought I'd share a couple of today's pictures with you - and make myself believe that if I've taken the photos and journalled a bit then I can catch up before the end of the month!

Today's entry will be entitled, You know Christmas is really coming when... and features those things, like the Radio Times'  arrival in the house - soon to be defaced by 5 different felt pens - all competing for two channels' worth of recording space at a time - and Christmas plants - fortunately no poinsettia this year - I can kill them off in days, but instead a gorgeous Christmas cactus and a bowl of bulbs just beginning to burst out of their leaves ready for January blossoming.

We also had some snow today, so I may sneak a stray snowflake into my entry as well.  2 out of 3 kids break up today, and we have parties to go to this weekend.  Now if anything makes you know Christmas is coming it's breaking out the sparkly clothes for parties.  Wheel in the mulled wine and I must remember to take a photo of my sparkles!

Have a happy weekend.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Try Something New Every Week #16

Well, it's a day early but I'm still excited from last night.  For this week's new thing I went to the O2 with my 16 year old son to see Kasabian, one of our favourite bands.  We were rather late getting tickets so we were near the back but straight on to the stage so had a great view.  They were absolutely awesome - loved every second of it and the sound was pitched perfectly - the support Miles Kane, was too loud and raw for my taste, but K were polished and just the right loudness to enjoy to the max.

I'm very aware that I was immensely privileged to be allowed to go with DS and it will probably never happen again which made it extra special - bless him for not being too embarrassed to go with his Mum!  The set was fantastic too, with this curved screen behind and above the band, and the light show amazing.  As DS is studying lighting he was ultra keen to give me a lesson in all the technical aspects of setting up such a light show but from my point of view it just looked good!

Hard to tell which was my favourite - Velociraptor was amazing, and the finale of Fire just rocked the house. An awesome night out - ending in style with a riverboat back to London Bridge to avoid the scrum of the tube - and enjoy the lights of London.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Swap Update

Oh I'm having a lovely time opening a parcel every morning.  Beautifully wrapped in a variety of gorgeous wrapping, and with chocolate and matching ribbons they are a joy to behold, and even more of a joy to open.
The photo doesn't do it justice, but here are some of the gifts I have opened in the past 14 days.

Out of Print papers with matching cardstock by Basic Grey, Book rings, letter stickers in two styles, bling, book rings, stamp cleaner and today a stamp from Prima with a row of rhinestones to make it even prettier.
I'm being strong on the chocolate as I have my coin to eat every day (if I can keep the kids away from it!)

With DH's romantic gesture of a home made advent calendar made from some of the photos on his iPhone, I am having such a lovely time each morning.  I can even forgive the postman for bringing only bills and business letters this morning.

Not to mention my Try Something New Each Week challenge which will take place tonight..... can't wait!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

10 things....

.... that made me happy today

1) The North Cheam Christmas Crop - lots of fun, food and the sock game - what more could you ask for?  well perhaps a bit more productivity, but hey! that was down to me!

2) Made a perfect pavlova - well maybe not perfect, but I have history with failed meringues and this wasn't one of them :)

3) A beautiful fine brown journalling pen in my Advent Swap today.

4) An even more beautiful Christmas cupcake made by Yvette at the crop - tasted divine

5) The discovery of a new shop just down the road from the crop - full of nice treasures that you don't need but you definitely could want!

6) Liverpool winning!

7) Learning to make 'jumblies' wrapping - good news for small present wrapping

8) Brilliant friends, both scrapping and other - and we even got to go and have dinner with some of them tonight.

9) New stash - a delicious Christmas kit from Gottacraft which I cracked open and used at the crop, and half a pad of October Afternoon's yummy Christmas range (name escapes me).

10) Cherries!!  My lovely DH found some at a local greengrocers and bought me a bag of black cherries - this is his traditional romantic gesture - he knows I love them, and him!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Try Something New Every Week #15 - A Crocheting Adventure

I've seen all sorts of beautiful mug cosies on my travels round blog world and then recently, on a visit to the Owl and Sewing Cat in Eastbourne I saw one in real life, which was crocheted.  Having seen it close up I decided to have a go at counterfeiting it!  As I'm a fairly novice crocheter, this is the kind of adventure I can cope with!

Using my delicious wool from The Fluffatorium in Dorking, rooster almerino dp, and a size 4 hook I cast on enough stitches to go round one of my mugs and started crocheting!  Eureka!  It works and now, with the addition of one button, I have a mug cosy all of my own - a bit wobbly but hey!!.

There are other patterns I like, particularly a cable knitted one, but I don't have a pattern for that, and I'm not such a good knitter as to be able to make it up, so I'll stick to this one for now, and maybe a few variations for friends and family.  But if anyone could direct me to a pattern??

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Twisted Sketch # 131

How quickly a fortnight goes at this time of year!  My life is usually busy but these last few weeks have been overfilled with activities, meetings and pre-Christmas planning and shopping.

It was nice therefore to sit down and look back only 8 weeks to the sunshine of early October when we celebrated our 19th Wedding Anniversary and scrap the 'official' photo of our day out in Windsor.   My Twisted Sketch can be found here and the twist was 'Red' which fitted in very well with my outfit and with the lovely Lily Bee Memorandum kit from Gottacraft.

I cut the bracket shape using another piece of die cut paper, matted the photo, and cut out two tag shapes from different patterned papers.  I had already decided not to use cardstock for the base and instead use a piece of newsprint pp, inked liberally with my new Stamping Up! mini inkpads.   The diecut numbers are from an old sheet of KI Memories (I think?) which I had half used, but which still had the 1 and 9 visible - for the 19!  I added gems to these to highlight them more.  The title is Pink Paislee alphas, the flower is cut from two scalloped circles and centred with a Prima jewelled pebble.

Thanks for looking at my layout and head on over to Twisted Sketches for a look at the other ladies in this week's DT.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A little Christmas Crafting

I've been highly productive lately!  It's not a phrase I'd use about myself very often, but I seem to have tapped a seam of motivation and energy over the past few days and have achieved quite a lot in a few different spheres.

Of course, the most interesting is crafting and besides my scrapbooking for Twisted Sketches, I have branched out into some other papercrafting, mainly inspired by the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog, of which I am a big fan, and who, recognising that we are all manically busy at Christmas but still would like to do something creative, have set a whole daily inspiration thing going so you can dip in and out and find something inspiring.  So enough of the waffle....

My first project is this tree!

It is an old Sainsbury's Magazine and it took me all of about twenty minutes to make.  Guided to this site called Auntie Recreates by the awesome Kim Strother, who has posted a load of other inspiring ideas on the CKCB site here the instructions are clear and although I didn't have a novel I was prepared to cannibalise, the colour in the magazine gives a different if slightly less classy look.  My boys have already bagged it for their room!  The decoration is a length of snowflake wire from IKEA.

The second idea was taken from my wonderful crop-mate June who created a truly amazing series of hanging stars at our recent Eastbourne Crop.  I found a similar idea on the cover of month's Making Magazine which I bought for the first time and have set about making some alternative Christmas 'cards' for my friends.

I still need to perfect the gluing as the DST isn't very strong but I like the look, and have happily employed S-J's Christmas Tags offered on UK Scrappers here as for my greetings.

This has turned into rather a long post so I shall save the rest for another day - suffice to say that I am rather excited about my new Christmas Tree and have been creating in the kitchen ....

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Layouts from my Class

It suddenly occurred to me that I never did post the completed LOs from the sneaky peaks I posted for my Eastbourne class so here they are - although the photos could do them more justice if only there was more daylight - it's so grey now that it's hard to get a decent photo even in the middle of the day :(

I had an awful lot of fun playing with mists, stencils and the Viva Decor pearl pens, made loads of mess and came out with two layouts that I love, plus the ladies at the retreat made some even better ones.  The Tim Holtz Tattered Florals die came in very handy for the flower too.   

Saturday, December 03, 2011

December Daily - getting started

I decided to do a December Daily minibook this year.  I love Ali Edwards spare style and her discipline in keeping to her colour scheme, but I'm so not her - low boredom threshold, too many stimulating ideas etc. So ages ago I treated myself to the Simple Scrapbooks ' 25 Days of Christmas' collection, and a set of 6 x 12 page protectors, some whole, some divided - very traditional colours and style but great with kraft paper and lots of options and left it at that.

Later I rounded up my Christmas stash - not too much of it after the Christmas book I made a couple of years ago, to use up.  I found some Teresa Collins numbers and Making Memories numbers, some old cards, tickets and some mini luggage tags which I hope to incorporate into the book and put it aside again.

On 1st December I duly did my journalling and took some photos, and finally today I got to sit down and put together a page or two.  I still need to print photos but I have got more or less up to date, and I'm not sure I'm sticking to the one story a day idea but hey! it's my book and hopefully I will get a book I really love at the end.

I was fortunate enough to have an event to attend for the first day, which kicked things off nicely.  For Day 2 I concentrated on our new Christmas decorations, and today is not Christmassy at all, as I've been painting my bedroom wall!

Friday, December 02, 2011

~ Try Something New Every Week #14 - Celebrating Thanksgiving

I have American friends and family and I've always thought that their festival was something worth celebrating and definitely worth replicating, given how very blessed we are and have so much to be thankful for, but it is only this year that we finally got round to having a proper meal and celebration, and jolly nice it was too.

We had a big roast chicken and I raided Martha for a recipe for Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon, Leek and Pecan, and even made the cornbread first :)  We had proper cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, although I drew the line at putting marshmallows with them!  We invited the kids' godparents over and they  brought a delicious home made Key Lime Pie.

We also had delicious non-alcoholic Fizzy Mulled Cranberry Juice to drink - serendipity led me to the recipe leaflet as I was leaving Sainsburys - and it was very very nice.  I think it might be my new favourite Christmas drink.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Swap 2011

With other ladies at our Crop, I take part in an annual Advent Swap where we become a Secret Santa for another member and receive a parcel in return.  As tomorrow is 1st December, a meeting was convened last night to make the swaps and this was mine.

A gorgeous retro style pink and turquoise bag, tied with a gold bow and with a cornucopia of gorgeous turquoise, pink, gold and white wrapped parcels inside, all embellished with buttons and ribbon bows,

and the crowning glory - chocolate coins marking each day so I get a mouthful of yumminess every morning when I open my present - I cannot wait for tomorrow morning, it all looks amazing.  Thank you Secret Santa, who I believe is a closet Bingo Caller....

.... look at these coins, all marked up with bingo calls - such a fun way to do it.  Roll on tomorrow morning!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another layout...

This is probably the most labour intensive layout I have done for a long time - at least in terms of inking tiny butterflies!  It's also one of my favourites.

I love this mask, and was lent a gorgeous October Afternoon mist by my friend Sandra.  I wasn't sure where the layout was going until I really looked at the photo and realised that all the girls were in pink, like a little flock of butterflies - and there was my layout idea :)  Happy days, scraps used up, thanks to the loan of the Martha Stewart butterfly punch from my friend Wendy, the addition of a few pearls for bling, some ancient glittery alpha stickers (to fulfil my challenge of using old stash on as many layouts as possible) and a very new banner from the delicious MME Kraft Funday range.

It looks awfully wonky but I think that's the photograph!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Try Something New Every Week #13

As I have been going on retreat to Eastbourne with my cropping friends for seven years, I decided I needed an Eastbourne themed new thing this week.  There were lots of options but as our hotel looks out on the pier in one direction I thought the least I could do was go on it!  I like piers but November isn't always the best time to go especially when scrapping calls!

It was a beautiful day, I couldn't have had a nicer wander.  I went with four other ladies from the crop and we really enjoyed being outdoors in the sunshine.

Challenge: to walk to the end of the pier at Eastbourne! - tick :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More from the Retreat

At the risk of being boring, I'm going to upload a few more layouts to this entry.  I love retreats and being able to scrap for ages in the company of others with ideas bouncing from one person to another, shared tools and stash and input from others as to what might work well on a layout.

We had a lovely mystery kit of Lily Bee Harvest Market papers with some embellishments and were left to create something with it. We could add other stash but I chose not to add much, only some lettering, some stamping and machine stitching.  I had loads of fun making different stacked circles for my layout, onto Swiss Dot cardstock. I discovered that 12x12 paper didn't really work with the sewing machine! and this is my effort...  it didn't win - the winning entry was truly beautiful, and all the entries were amazing - I love how people get different things from exactly the same starting materials.  I am pleased with it though.

The above layout sees a return to the turquoise obsession I seem to have rather often - here paired with red and white and again starring the Cricut which cut me the beautiful mat and swirly bits.  I also had a play with the Viva decor pearl pens and though you can't see them on the photo above, they look brilliant in real life.

Papers were from Lily Bee Picket Fence and apart from the pearl pens, all I used was a bit of braid and some BG alphabets.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Twisted Sketch #129

I had a hard think about this sketch, and decided to interpret it a little wider than I do sometimes, so we have a bold shape in a mirror image of the original, although not the shield shape in the sketch.  I have chosen to do a Lone Star 'quilt' shape, inspired by the colours of the photograph and by the current trend for quilting inspiration in scrapbooking (especially a LO by Briana Johnson - not on her blog except in sneak form for Shimelle's PPP class).  I decided to keep to the red white and blue colour scheme to focus complement the photo rather than swamp it with too many colours.

I added a very simple border, a plain title and a loop of ribbon (for this week's twist) attached with a brad, and left it at that, as I wanted to show off the stunning colours of the Acer tree against the sky at Winkworth Arboretum which I've had in my 'to do' pile for ages.

So perhaps a looser interpretation than I sometimes do, but I love white space sketches and this gave me the chance to play and try something different.  Do go over to Twisted Sketches and see all the lovely layouts made by this week's team - so many different takes, that's what I love about Sketches.

By the way, if you are a cardmaker there is a DT call over at Twisted Sketches - so hop on over there and see what they are asking for - I do love the fact that I work in a one week on - one week off team so I have plenty of time to work on the sketches and never feel pressured.

Materials Used:
Bazzill Basics Cardstock
Patterned paper from Paper Trunk, October Afternoon, FooFaLa, MME Front Porch, Basic Grey, 
Alphabet: Lily Bee
Ribbon from stash, Sakura Red Gel Pen. Brad - Making Memories
Border Punch - Woodware

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Layouts from the Retreat

Following on from yesterday's post, I thought I'd share some of the fruits of my scrapping labours.  One of my aims was to use up some old stash on my layouts as well as newer purchases. On one I cracked open the fibres (yes! I was addicted like many others, and rak-ed many of my collection a couple of years ago, but I did keep the ones I thought I might use, and I do occasionally.  This was one opportunity to use them - autumn colours and a range of hills in the background just made me think I could use a few of my collection.

These photos were from our trip to Shropshire in October half term, when I took the family back to some of my old haunts. I loved these photos and have had the tree die cut on my windowsill for ages waiting for the perfect time to use it.  I soooo NEED a Cricut!!   The papers are from the Glitz Vintage Blue collection which I bought from Gottacraft.  I used two punches and a little leaf stamp to complete the layout.

I did another layout from the Vintage Blue collection during the weekend, in fact these two were the first ones I did.  This time it is the blue side of the papers!  They show off the black and white photos beautifully.  The old stash on this layout are the Heidi Swapp stars which are 'mistable' - she was so ahead of the trend!  I've had them for ages!  The chipboard is Crate Paper and I even hand sewed on it!

The need for a Cricut was exacerbated by the addition of the Paper Lace cartridge which has the most beautiful die cuts which can be extended to near 12 x 12 size - well 10 to 11" anyway!  I found the one for the layout below and as I've got a bit of a thing for interlocking circles I just had to cut it. I backed some of the loops with patterned paper, sanded the photo and added a title - so simple but I love it.  The photo of DS1 isn't your classic birthday cake photo, for one thing it's a really poor quality photo taken in the dark before I knew about ISO (lol) but the thing that made me want to scrap it  was the look on his face - sort of 'What IS this?" - although I think he might have been checking we had the right number of candles!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Cracking Retreat

We ladies of the North Cheam Crop (plus Lynn - our honorary member) made our annual pilgrimage to Eastbourne this weekend for a few days of fun, shopping and cropping - and what a lovely weekend we chose!
The weather was glorious so the sea views from the hotel offered a wonderful distraction from our scrapping if we so chose to look up.

I finished about 12 layouts (3 doubles), had a good play with mists, masks and pearl pens, participated in several challenges including a mystery kit and a moustache challenge (don't ask!) for which I received the most delectable prize :) (below), a Quiz and Bingo.

We had a super fun 50s night on Saturday, complete with glamorous dresses (many more than mine!) and cocktails and for some reason the hotel (which is famous for it's way-before-Christmas Turkey and Tinsel breaks) declared it was Christmas - but only for our table - other guests looked on in bemusement as a bunch of ladies dressed in 1950s costumes celebrated Christmas!  Hope we weren't too much for them, but we had so much fun  - I hadn't laughed so much in ages.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Try Something New Every Week #12

It's been scrapbooking techniques this week for my trying something new.  I have been experimenting with mists, stencils/masks and Viva Decor pearl pens this week in an attempt to create a class for our Crop Retreat at Eastbourne this weekend.  So excited about going, very nervous about the class but here are some sneaky peaks and the final versions will appear once I get home again.

I've made two - a minimalist one and a 'normal' one - they are fun to do but you need drying time so are things to do alongside other projects.  I have yet to add the final touches (after all, I need something to do while everyone else is misting!)

I'm so hoping that everyone will enjoy having a play at stencilling, masking and making faux pearl or jet swirls and can't wait to see all the different layouts that people make, as it's not a kit class so everyone will be using their own stash to create something using the new techniques.

Got masks - tick!,  and  pearl pens, applicator sponges, inkpads, mists - so all set!  Just need to pack my clothes for the Fabulous 50s evening. Have a lovely weekend.