Gettin’ reflective

Not another post about mirrors. I have been blogging for exactly 6 months today, and thought I might do one of those ‘looking back, what have I learnt’ posts. Hmmnn.

Firstly I have learnt not to look back too quickly, makes me dizzy.

What else? Well, OK, I have learnt that I like blogging, which is actually a surprise, because I didn‘t think I would. I don‘t know why I had felt that way, maybe just the whole ’social media’ thing daunted me a bit. I cannot cope with Facebook: it is just too ‘busy‘ visually and literally. But blogging is different. It is BRILLIANT fun to have little chats or exchanges with total strangers. Blogging puts you in touch with amazing people you would never normally meet.

Some of my preconceptions have been challenged. People I thought were super-cool, or super-talented, or super-funny and would therefore never look at my blog, or comment, or click to follow have done just that. It’s a lovely thing.

I have had some of the most fun and funniest ‘conversations’ here or on other blogs. There’s a wealth of wit out there.

People are nice. The times I have posted about a (creative) disaster, or dearth of ideas, bloggers ALWAYS step up and say something kind, or supportive, or just laugh at the disaster with me.

I should have read the manual. Is there a manual? Blogging for the Inept? I didn’t read it. I got talked though my first post over the phone by my sister and then got typing. If I had read the manual I might have saved myself a LOT of time. I would have found that I had email followers as well as WordPress ones. It took me a while to find the WordPress ones too! I would have worked out what the Notifications button did, instead of flicking back and forth from email to other sites to comment or reply. I would have learnt earlier to search using tags to find other blogs that would be fun to read or follow. I should probably read the manual now anyway…. Based on this track record I think it is fair to assume I am still probably doing a bajillion things wrong!

Anything else? Oh yes, blogging is starting to creep into everyday life a little too much. I have found myself typing replies to work emails and then realising I have gone way too heavy on the exclamation marks, and smiley faces are really not an appropriate response to a Senior Partner. Nor is telling him that I ‘love his work’. He took it pretty well though.

Lastly I have learnt that no matter how hard I try, I cannot break the internet. Good to know.

 

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If at first…

Or is it ‘Oops I Did it Again’?

I previously posted a card I made and was not happy with. What I had in my head did not make it into paper form. But I knew I liked the colours I had chosen, and the stamp is adorable, so I decided to have another go. A fellow blogger Kim (go see her amazing work) suggested perhaps a bit of depth would be good. That gave me an idea. Thanks Kim!

vintage sunbather

I used dies to make the base card and a frame. I also caved in on the clean idea and ‘vintaged it up’ a bit, which I think works better. The controversial (lol) giant shells didn’t make it into this version – I tried them but was still unsure so opted for a tiny anchor instead. Same issue, but reversed, and different embellishment!

There is glitter, but it doesn’t show in the photo. That seems to happen a lot. Someone should invent photogenic, non-camera-shy-but-still-subtle glitter. It’ll probably need a catchier name than that… GlitterArti, maybe?

I definitely prefer this version. It isn’t super, but I think it is better. Thank you to everyone who commented on the previous card post. Sometimes a team effort is just what I need!

The stamp is from Crafty Individuals; blue spotty paper and bunting are from Serif digikits and the red spotty is from Craftwork Cards.

Another Caturday Post

Moby

This little furball was my first cat. I had lived with others, but he was the first one that was truly my own. Ferocious, huh?

He was called Moby and he was challenged: he had a twitchy leg from birth, which was resolved but might have meant he would possibly be difficult to home or may not have even been given the chance if I hadn‘t taken him. He became allergic to fleas, or flea poo, but also allergic to the available flea prevention treatments (yep, really), which meant he shed his fur in patches, so his beauty was somewhat impaired. But he was adorable, whatever.

He liked to play with water: a big bowl filled with soapy suds (also liked the bubbles) and a bobbing plastic bottle top or two would keep him amused for ages as a kitten. I have to confess, having realised this, I bought him a set of rubber ducks, which he happily played with….

He was intended to be an indoor cat. I had no experience of this, but had been told it was perfectly reasonable. Within a short time it became clear that, for Moby, it was not acceptable at all, and he needed outdoor access. Given the layout of my home, it didn’t seem it would be possible to do this safely.

Some background here, which you need for later. I lived in the top half of a Victorian house which had been divided in two. For those who don’t know UK architecture, this means large-ish rooms (by UK standards, probably nobody else’s!) and high ceilings (again, probably same caveat!), plus two extra floor levels, making the building overall much taller than a modern house. I had no way to let him out other than onto the street, which I didn’t want to do, and no obvious place for a cat flap.

I started taking him out the front and around the side of the house, through the garden of the downstairs flat and into mine whenever I could. It was OK, but less than ideal. Then one day whilst gardening with him watching, my sister suggested I go inside and call him from the house, which I did. Moby looked up, did the planning and the maths (you can see your cat doing this, right?) and worked out his route from the back garden to the kitchen window. Brilliant! Except I couldn’t leave the window open for him all day, could I? So my wonderful, wonderful dad with his equally wonderful trusty assistant (mum) arrived one weekend with a couple of bits of wood and a bag of tools. When they left I had a rebuilt kitchen window with a one-of-a-kind ‘floating’ cat flap entry. Floating because dad also had to build a landing pad and attach it to the outside wall at the corner to access the cat flap.

(cue Mission Impossible music….)

So, the route was – jump onto wall dividing my garden from my neighbour next door. Follow wall until you come to neighbour’s conservatory. Hop onto this and climb to the top and back. Jump onto neighbour’s roof at the two-storey level and climb to the top and back. Now jump over where the roofs meet (it has upright tiles with a patterned top so is irregular and can‘t just be climbed over) and scramble down a few feet, across a few feet, and hop onto a lower narrow window ledge. Now execute a precise jump onto a 15 x 15” platform which looks like it is floating in mid-air, making sure you don‘t overshoot or you are flying across the garden path, about 40 feet in the air and no hope of a safe landing. Make a sharp left turn and through the cat flap. You are now on the kitchen worktop and know that this is only allowed for entry and exit purposes. No wandering off track or meandering about. Head in a straight line and jump down immediately please. It was pretty impressive, and it worked well and made him a happy cat.

Unfortunately though Moby loved to hunt. So now imagine him scaling the above obstacles to entry with a mouse in his mouth. Umpteen times. The mice were always unharmed, so our mouse-catching skills got pretty good too. Maybe he just thought we needed the training….

One day I nearly lost my sense of humour over his predatory habits. Getting up to go to work I walked into the living room and switched the TV on to check the news. I seemed to have gained an ornament overnight. Eyeing me from the top of the TV was an undamaged very large, very grumpy blackbird. Probably about half the size of Moby. How on earth had he managed that route with that bird in tow?

Have you every tried to catch a blackbird? Or shepherd it off the premises via the window? Oh, and guess what, high ceilings are really, really useful for birds trying to evade ‘capture’…

Have you ever had to tell your boss that the reason you are late for work is that you were trying to catch a blackbird in your living room? It’s a difficult sell, I can tell you!

 

 

What has plenty of ‘or’s, but no boat?

This does. Another ‘warts and all’ post..

The temperature in my corner of the UK is 32°C today. We are not prepared for such things. Air conditioning is not commonplace; people are hot, and there is no cooling breeze, real or man-made. I work in an old building which takes ages to warm up in winter and ages to cool down in summer. There has been some petty pilfering of, and ugly scenes over fans. Towns are unbearable in weather like this, especially if you have to work and try to still look vaguely professional and not like a melted waxwork gamely sporting a summer frock.

What happened to the Goldilocks effect? Why is it either ‘unseasonably cold’ or ‘unseasonably hot’? Why is it hardly ever ’just right’? of course I know my ’just right’ is not for everyone. but, my ‘just right’ is pretty much bang on what we are daily told we should be expecting for the time of year. Fine & sunny, lovely. Warm, sure. Low to mid 20s C, super. I am pretty sure temperatures of +30° are unconstitutional.

Here is something seasonal, as well as being the warts and all bit (sorry if you thought that was covered in the above rant)! I think it also lacks the Goldilocks effect. A few days ago I made this card and I am not sure about it. Sometimes I think it is fine, and other times very much flawed. I love the image, and because I am somewhat challenged in the colouring department I opted for a bit of punchy selective paper piecing instead. Cunning, huh?! OK, not exactly Machiavellian but not Baldrick either. Then I though I would aim for a vintage look, but with sun-bleached seaside colours.

vintage seaside

I found the bunting in a digikit and it was ok, but not enough. A further search for shells and I found these two in different kits, resized, re-coloured and then added them. Now, well, I just don’t know. Maybe if I had stamped the sunbather onto kraft card instead? Or just taken down the white a bit? Or used a smaller card base and moved the main image up to touch or overlap the bunting slightly? Or not put the poor sunbather in imminent danger of being overpowered by giant human-eating shells? Or maybe it is just a bit uninteresting?

Supplies: stamp from Crafty Individuals; everything else from Serif CraftArtist

 

I have cast on! And then some….

Oh look, the ultimate accessory. A cat to match my scarf…

I posted a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to try knitting again. My mum and sister immediately leapt into action. Well, they leapt into their local haberdashery shop and bought me some yarn and a couple of project books. My sister has already placed an order for some beautiful, delicate long slipper sock thingies. Might take a while to get to that level!!

The yarn they chose is a super-chunky one – not right for the aforementioned socky things, so I am off the hook there for a now. After a bit of deliberation I decided to make something really simple and straightforward. I am pretty ring-rusty and didn’t want to fail dismally and lose interest or enthusiasm.

I found a (free) pattern at LoveKnitting for a rib scarf that was suitable for super-chunky yarn. I had already armed myself with a cheap set of needles from Amazon: I know there are much better quality ones available but I saw no point in spending lots of money given that I might only make one or two things. And actually I like these slippy metal needles – they are comfortingly familiar.

The scarf is going well. I have only spent a few hours and it is already nearly 3 feet long. The stitch is simple, so it doesn’t require too much brain power, and I think it suits the variegated yarn pretty well.

Looks like I have rediscovered another hobby!

 

 

 

Christmas already?

I know non-crafters will look at this and think ‘what the bleep?’ But card makers know that you have to start Christmas cards early. In fact, I am probably already cutting it a bit fine. Especially considering my production rate at the moment is about two or three cards a week. plus a bin-full of disasters of course.

So, hopefully, a slow trickle of Christmas cards to come. I don’t even have to produce hundreds, meaning there really is no excuse. I always make some for my mum to give first, but somehow despite my best intentions I am often finishing mum’s cards in December and have no time or inclination to then set about making more. This means I end up either buying them or, shamefully for a woman with a room crammed full of card making stuff, actually not sending any at all.

I had hoped writing a blog might have pushed me to plan better, but I cannot bring myself to think about Christmas in June, it just won’t happen. However today was windy and rainy and a bit ‘October’ so I didn’t feel quite so bah-humbug about tackling the festive theme.

I used the Tree Landscape die from Clearly Besotted. I like the clean lines, and the brilliant price of £3.00! The snow is a small Altenew stamp called, unsurprisingly, ‘Snowing’. It is only 4.5 x 7cm, but you can easily repeat stamp as I did here until you cover the required area. I stamped in Versamark and used a white embossing powder.

The sentiment is from The Ton Holiday Lyrics, embossed with Stamps by Chloe Wow silver embossing powder onto white vellum.

CB Tree Landscape

A bit of a mix and match of various products, but I am so bloomin’ happy to have produced something, anything really. I am aware the size of the snowflakes would concuss any individual daft enough to attempt walking in such a freak blizzard but y’know, in the spirit of Christmas I am hoping we can gloss over that!

CB tree Landscape detail

 

I beg to differ

The sentiment on this card says ‘a cup of tea solves everything’. Well (a) it hasn’t. I am still in the crafty doldrums, and (b) I don’t like tea. There it is. I am British and I don’t like tea. I try: every now and again I give it a go, but no. Think of an eight year old asked to drink a broccoli and sardine smoothie and that is the face, right there. Bleagh! Gimme beans, any day.

But, I do love teacups, and these stamps are so, so cute. Lovely old-fashioned wide-rimmed teacups. Gorgeous. I haven’t done them justice today, but I have done something, after ages of nothing. Maybe tea has helped, a little, after all.

The pictures are a bit odd – I took them in that evening light that changes the colours a bit. The red is way more scarlet and less neon in reality and the yellow and blue a bit brighter.

Supplies

Dies and stamps: Clearly Besotted Warm Solutions and Diagonal Stripes stamps

Inks: Altenew Mango Smoothie, Persian Blue, Jet Black;  Lawn Fawn hippo. The red is Vivid! Hot Red but I am not sure if they are still around? I searched but just got a lot of tattoo sites!

 

Open letter to the President of the IOC

Dear Mr IOC President,

I know you are a busy man, so have probably not had time to catch up with my blog. I’m sure you would get around to it as some point, but here I am, saving you a job. You are welcome.

Anyway, the thing is, a few of us are feeling like maybe you have missed a trick, and your (albeit pretty successful and enjoyable) Games could do with modernisation. We have had a few hours to think about it, so it is not ill-considered.

Your Games are flawed. They are elitist, discriminatory, and not fit for a 21st century society where competition is eschewed and everybody gets to win something. So we demand to be included. Every chip-eating, beer-swigging, glasses-wearing, rheumatic, asthmatic one of us. Those who can’t run, or swim, or jump high or long; those who would suffer vertigo astride a horse, seasickness in a rowing boat, or need stabilisers for their bicycle.

To be helpful, we have come up with a list of events. Please read all the brilliant suggestions in the comments to my previous post. When you prepare for the 21OG (see, I have even given you a catchy new name) these bloggers will be your ‘go to’ people for technical advice and expert knowledge. I would strongly suggest you reward them generously. Again, you are welcome.

As I write this, I am also thinking of current Olympic events which could be made a little more relevant to our world. My further suggestions for regular folk are:

Fencing. I have a couple of ideas here. Either landscape gardeners or everyday builders putting up a garden perimeter. Or, slightly less admirable, the competitive selling of ill-gotten gains. I know this should go against the Olympic spirit, but then again, so does drug taking, right?

Boxing. Putting stuff in boxes. The most stuff, in the least amount of boxes. Timed.

3 day event. Partying big-time, starting Friday, ending Sunday. In the UK I would suggest you look to the county of Essex for expertise. They are pretty good at this.

Jimnastics. Open to anyone called Jim. To do whatever they want.

Judo. Teenager speak. Like “innit doh”. “D’you, doh?” Whole load of teenagers speaking in a language adults cannot comprehend. The least understood wins the medal. Delicious irony. Maybe an iron medal?

Swimming. Against the tide. Specifically, going the wrong way around in IKEA. Fitness, courage and a tough skin required for this one.

Sailing. AKA Sale-ing. Bargain hunters, boot-sale fans, this is your moment. Purchase for your country!

(Re)cycling. Saving the planet, one bit of rubbish at a time. It’s important, so include it somehow.

Wait-lifting. All those times we are hanging around, for someone to finish what they are doing. Give us a medal to lift the boredom a bit.

Row-ing. For gardeners and allotment holders. Sowing lovely neat rows of seeds or plants… Or, OCD sufferers? Lots of tins and cans arranged front and centre, nice and orderly…

Archery. Ability to consume large volumes of peach schnapps… See earlier Essex reference.

Squash. Speed consumption of sugary diluted drinks.

There will be more, I’m sure, but this is something to get you started. I am currently employed but willing to consider a move to act as advisor should you offer attractive terms. I think you need me.

Respectfully,

PaperPuff

A different kind of Olympics

Are you watching, and enjoying the Olympic Games? I have always loved them – all that endeavour and grit, toil and skill. I have huge admiration for every single individual that makes it to the Games, as well as those that miss out, or those that just get motivated enough to go for a run or swim. You are all marvellous.

However, we are not all Olympic material, but nowadays it would seem that any kind of exclusion is not allowed. At school team sports are in, individual success is out. All can join in, and pretty much everybody wins something. So, if those are the new rules of competition, why not apply them to all of us? This means (stretching it a little) that you, me, and everyone else should be allowed to enter the Olympics, if we want, right? Brilliant. Can’t wait. Except I don’t want to have to train….and I am no spring chicken…and a ‘no mascara’ day will never happen…also I am (probably) allergic to lycra…the list goes on.

But I have RIGHTS! There has to be an Olympics for me. So, quick ponder, what are my skills? What would my event be? I should probably give such a major decision a tiny bit more consideration (I had this idea about 15 minutes ago), but I am thinking my events (yep, going for a Michael Phelps multi-medalling feat) would be:

Random word association

Sarcasm

Most pairs of shoes worn in a day

I am nodding my head, pretty confident here that I can do rather well in my chosen disciplines.

So, what would your Olympics event(s) be? You can choose anything. Dog-walking, shoe-polishing, speed ironing or apron-folding, it doesn’t matter. Pick those you can win and live the dream!

 

 

Mojo Doldrums, located 51° N, 0.1° W

I have made nothing, for days and days. In my previous post I said I was inhabiting the Mojo Doldrums (small group of islands populated by burnt-out crafters). Now it feels like the other inhabitants have called a meeting, decided I am some kind of evil spirit sucking the creativity from all of them, and voted to set me adrift in a small boat. Of course the boat is fabulous, fashioned from pipe cleaners and squeezy bottles, covered in glitter and with crochet sails and knitted bedlinen (crafters are kind, after all). I do have a tiny complaint about the practicality of the macramé water bottle though… So, becalmed in a toxic fog of crafter’s block I sat, and tried, but could do nothing. Not even an idea, never mind trying stuff and it going wrong. That would actually be progress, this week!

This evening, a tiny little glimmer. Just a simple card, combining digital content, dies and stamps. I used Serif CraftArtist and resized some of the various Louise Tiler ‘materials’ to make some close-patterned squares, then die cut balloons and gave them glittery cord strings (sorry, Myra, if you read this!). The ’friend’ Altenew stamp and die is one I made a while ago and didn’t use because I messed up the rest of the project. Like that never happens!

That’s all I have. Tonight I plan on drinking the sea water.

Pretty balloon bunch