Countdown to Easter

Easter is a month away, which means it is time to break out the bunnies and scramble the eggs.

This is my first Easter offering. I say ‘first’ implying that there is a whole raft of projects lined up. That is not true. At the moment there is not even a ‘second’. I have though dug out all my seasonal supplies, and stared at them for a few hours. Not feeling it so far. Maybe inspiration will strike overnight. Does the Easter Bunny do house calls?

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Sorry about the state of the little chicks. I bought them either last year or maybe even before then, but never released them from the box. I think one or two were rather hastily put together, with little regard for realism, or indeed basic chick anatomy. But, I can’t resist them, so they had to get an outing or two. In fact I picked out some of the most oddball individual ones. Perfect is not always the best!

Supplies: Lawn Fawn Hoppy Easter stamps and dies; MFT Die-namics Basic Stitch Lines; Memento Tuxedo Black ink pad; Embossalicious A4 folder Picnic Plaid; Adorable Scorable card (yellow); various alcohol markers; glitter card from stash.

 

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Lickety Split: If I were a dinosaur, I would be a velocowrappter….

Gift wrapping seems to give so many people stress, and at this time of year it is like immersion therapy for the daunted. I will happily hold my hand up to being a gift wrap nerd. I love to wrap a present, to make it look pretty, or fun, or glamorous or just different. But I am not one of those who can tie an immaculate bow, and I dont use the most expensive gift wrap, just whatever the high street stores have to offer.  The gifts don’t have to be perfect, or ‘shop style’ or works of art. ‘Pretty’ will do fine! Dont get me wrong, if I could spend bazillions on wrappy stuff it would ABSOLUTELY happen. I once heard that the Spelling family (of TV and/or movie fame) had a gift wrap room in their house. I swear I have never in the whole of my life wanted to be someone else more than I did right then. But now I have a craft room and maybe that is better!

Gift wrap is my spiritual home as a crafter. However, I have been told so often by people that they struggle with it. I can’t think how many times someone has handed me a gift and apologised about the wrapping. Well, they should NEVER feel they have to apologise. It IS the thought that counts and a person shouldn’t feel pressurised into striving for some kind of perfect presentation. Realistic and achievable will do nicely, if someone wants to give it a go. But if is just not in their skill set, who really cares?! Not me, for sure.

But, if you are despondently soaking your paper cuts in antiseptic before taking another deep breath, maybe also a fortifying swig of mulled wine before getting back in there amongst the paper rolls and curling ribbon, here is a little something that might help.

The PaperPuff Pockety Pouchy Thing. Yes indeed. So maybe the name needs a little tweaking. Bear with. Imagine you have some little presents for the girls at work. Maybe some hand cream tubes and a nail colour, or body lotion in a squeezy bottle, that kind of thing. Or male grooming products. All lovely gifts, but a struggle to wrap. Now this won’t be pristine angles and hospital corners, but it is easy, it works, and it looks fine and dandy. Plus, it takes just a few minutes.

Lock and load.

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So, now there are plenty of options to close it up. You can:

Cut the edge with fancy scissors (or you could have die cut the edge at an earlier stage if you wanted), cut or punch several holes, or just two holes, and thread some ribbon through, or even a strip of paper

Use pretty pegs or clips to fasten it

Here I have just done the simplest thing. I folded the top open edge over twice to the back (neat edges = happy) and then knotted some organza ribbon around it.

This really takes just a few minutes and then you can add whatever embellishments you fancy! I like tiny baubles/ornaments, jingle bells, candy canes or chocolate coins, or sometimes a bit of real evergreen and a pine cone.

wrapping-final

Sorry some of the pictures are a bit blurry. I think my eyes need polishing. The basic idea is just to create your U shape and don’t worry about the height of it: it can be shallow or tall, and longer on one side than the other is also fine! I only wrapped one item here, but you can wrap several things together and you can always secure them to the card with a bit of sticky tack, or tape if it makes it easier for you.  This isn’t meant to win us any competitions, after all, just get us through Christmas!

Hope everyone is having fun, or at least surviving anyway!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3D Thursday: salty baubles. Really.

Thursdays seem to be coming around quick these days. Today I have another home made Christmas bauble/ornament to share. I have a bought a lot of fancy tree decorations in my time, and one of the favourites is the inspiration for this project.

Again I have used the kids toy balls that my sister covered with papier mache. This time I coated it with Brilliance Cosmic Copper pearlescent ink. The ink was still tacky after two days, which is odd, because it should dry on non-porous surfaces. As the next step was to paint on diluted pva I was worried it might slide off with the glue, but it was ok. So, I used approximately 2 parts glue to one part water and, resting the ornament in a votive candle holder (like an oversized boiled egg) I painted the glue on from the top to about 2/3rds of the way down. I had already decided to go for a rough edge and leave some of the shiny copper showing at the bottom. Partly a design feature, mostly practicality!

Then, the really quite astonishing bit – I threw Epsom salts over it! Honest! And look, you get this rather nice icy effect where they stick to the glue. Proper chuffed, I am. Also, clearly, becoming Yoda again.

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I then made a couple of holly leaves from sheet music, distress inks and good old Smoky Quartz glitter, my ‘signature’ glitter shade this year! I bought a book of sheet music for craft purposes years ago. I think the sales assistant was confused by my reply to the ‘can I help you?’ question. ‘Oh yes, please. I need a big book with music that has LOTS of notes in it’. I expect the word ‘philistine’ popped into their head. Or maybe just ‘pleb’.

I tied the holly leaves on with garden twine and job done.

You can see the ‘blank’ ornament in the pictures above. Also, I finally have the tree up! No decorations yet, just lights. And one salty bauble, of course!

If you try the Epsom salts lobbing technique yourself, my top tip would be to stand the object to be a-salted (sorry) in a container which has quite high sides because the crystals ping around all over the place. I used a large cooking saucepan in the end, which did the trick nicely.

Hope everyone is steaming ahead with Christmas projects and chores!

 

 

3D Thursday: sometimes it isn’t rude to point

This is a WIP post. This week I enjoyed reading the results of a couple of Pinterest projects from gillyflower over at Wood So Wild (very cool blog). It is so useful when a ‘real’ person attempts some of these things and lets you know the outcome. I really liked how her sea glass turned out!

As of this morning I had a big fat nothing prepared for 3D Thursday so no post, or a quick project was the order of the day. Nothing like a deadline to sharpen the mind! Then I remembered that a while ago, whilst Pinterbinge-ing (as in looking at Pinterest for way longer than is healthy) I came across a link showing how to make a five-pointed origami star. Hurrah! So gillyflower is my inspiration today and I am very grateful!

I did my searches and found the site here. I watched both the videos – one to make a pentagon and one to make the star, then went for it with a sheet of copier paper to practice. This is the first star I made.

origami-star-white

Not bad, huh? Of course I had to pause the videos several times to catch up: I haven’t done much origami since I was a kid and am a bit rusty. But don’t worry, you definitely do not need a black belt in origami to do this.

Once I had made the initial pentagon shape I was a bit concerned about all the random score lines, but most of them became integral to the star shape. If I was doing a lot of these stars I would probably make some pentagon templates to save a bit of time, but to just get a couple done whilst there was still some daylight available, and in case we get yet another power cut, it was as quick to make them from scratch.

The papers I used are single-sided. Initially I was looking for double-sided as per the website but once I watched the videos I realised you only see one side anyway. Mine are good quality 12 x 12 inch K&Company that my sister bought for me when I started card making. I love them so much I use them sparingly! Actually the quality probably made the folding a bit trickier, so you definitely want to use paper weight only. The end result is better with the quality paper though, so it is swings and roundabouts!

The trickiest bit I found was the very last fold, but it just needs a bit of finagling and you are fine.

origami-star-pair

I had just enough time to get some of my lovely Martha Stewart Smoky Quartz glitter on the edges of one star and take a couple of photos. I was trying to catch the glitter in the sunlight, but no luck. You will just have to believe me when I tell you it looks not too shabby at all.

glitter-star-detailglitter-star-single

So, I made three stars, they all worked, and by the time I was making star three I had most of the fold sequence in my head and could (almost) do it as quick as the demo chap. So it is easy, believe me!

I said at the top they are a WIP, because of course you could add all sorts of things to them. I have an urge for jingle bells on the points. Maybe I am just getting confused with jesters’ hats?

 

3D Thursday: not Teas-day then?

Gift wrapping is an obsession for me. Not to the extent it used to be before I got into paper crafting, but still, any present I am giving has to look good or I, and it, cannot leave the house. I don’t always go to these lengths for every gift, but I do like to have a small stash of interesting and/or pretty bags, boxes or other containers on hand. Things that will hold a couple of those hand creams that look like tubes of paint, maybe a pot or two of nail colour or some makeup. Or even tea, come to think of it! Things that are a pain to wrap, or seem more like a pampering gift if they are presented together.

This tea cup was made using my new-ish Cricut. I still haven’t played with it all that much so I’ll do a mini review some other time, but as I had the Tags, Bags, Boxes & More 2 cartridge I figured I would browse through that for a suitable 3D project. This cartridge is jam-packed with exactly what it says – boxes, bags and tags, and I chose the tea cup.

There were a couple of teething problems (and three wasted sheets of good cardstock) before I got the cutting achieved. I will say here and now that I did not help this situation. I don’t have things set out very well at the moment: you need to use your pc/laptop with the Cricut Explore and currently my Cricut is positioned behind my desktop screen, so I keep having to walk between the two to follow the steps. Once I sort this out I expect it will go a lot more smoothly! Another issue was that this image required use of a scoring tool first, but I couldn’t actually see that mentioned on the screen anywhere. I may have missed it in all the wandering about of course. Anyway eventually I worked it out and I got what, I have to say, is a great cut, and in my opinion much better than I achieved on my old Cricut. Cue the happy dance.

Construction is pretty obvious, although you have two different sized circles and had to work out which was for the cup base and which for the saucer. The physical cartridge came with an assembly guide, and again I couldn’t see this on my screen anywhere, but I am sure you can get help with the more complicated shapes from Cricut’s site or YouTube if you need it. For my plain white test run version (should really have done this first rather than waste pretty card) I used the large circle for the saucer and smaller for the tea cup, but it should have been the other way around. Obvious, really, but there you go…

When I felt I knew what I was doing I moved on to a spotty Tim Holtz paper. It was a bit of a struggle to get the larger circle to fit the tea cup properly and in the end I just stuck it on and trimmed it down once dry. This worked fine and has given a neat finish so no worries.

Now for some decoration. I have cut into some doilies and snipped out the centre circle to give me a curly strip. This is stuck to the inside of the cup and underside of the saucer using double sided tape, pleating it as I go to make a frill. This also helps to ease it in and cover up where you join the next strip.

If I had more time I might have added flowers or something, but the deadline is upon me and 3D Thursday cannot run over to Friday. It’s the law. I made do with a little tea cup shaped tag I cut from the reverse of the Tim Holtz paper with a Spellbinders nesting die set.

Typically the only tissue paper I could find was spotty red, but actually I like the contrast. Sorry it is a bit wrinkled but I don’t crave blogging photographic perfection enough to get the iron out.

These are great for favours, or a shower, or work colleagues for Christmas, and they look really cute if you make lots in different colours and patterns and pile them together. Cellophane or large cello bags (the kind we put cards into) are also really handy if you want to have them all enclosed but still want to show them off. And of course you don’t need a cutting machine to make paper or card tea cups, there are plenty of templates available.

 

 

 

 

3D Thursday: something advent-agious?

A few days ago a friend told me she had bought herself an advent calendar with a difference. Instead of pictures, or chocolates, it would give her daily presents of a favourite cosmetic brand. I have to confess to a touch of the green-eyed monster here as it is also made by one of my favourite brands, but at nearly £70 including delivery it is not in the budget for this year.

However, the idea of a daily treat for adults through December sounded pretty attractive. Why should the kids have all the good stuff? I think it would be fun to make an advent calendar for your other half, sister, brother, parent(s) or friend. Anyone, really!

So I pulled out my Tonic Advent Treat Squeeze Box die set. I have had this for a long time now – from whenever it first came out, I think. It is one of my all-time favourites, and still available. The box takes moments to make and all the recipient has to do is gently squeeze two opposite corners for the treat to fall from the bottom. And of course you can keep them plain or gussy up as much as you like.

squeeze-box-tgrio

If I am meeting girlfriends for lunch at Christmas I will make a few up and load them with a swanky truffle or wrapped sweets. You can also use them for small gift items such as makeup or jewellery, but maybe not for anything too precious as one squeeze and it could be lost! Also you don’t need to confine their use to Christmas or Advent: just leave the numbers out and you have year round table favours or dinner party treats, or just gift wrap. I have seen them, or something similar, made into Santa, or Rudolph, or a bee, a pig, a cow…Pinterest has loads of ideas for novelty triangular boxes.

This one is the simplest. Just gold card, a scrap of red I had previously embossed and a ribbon loop. You can omit the loops of course if you don’t plan on hanging them on the tree. I just like the extra texture and detail!

squeeze-box-plain-gold

This one is made from a scrap of Anna Griffin card. I wanted to use invisible thread to hang the jingle bells, but I can’t see it anywhere! Clearly it is living up to its name. I made do with white thread, which then broke on me once I had the bells in place, so a bit of keyhole surgery was called for. I had added a second holly leave but then decided it looked like the box had aspirations to be a windmill, so I removed it.

squeeze-box-silver

This third one is a bit more vintage looking. The paper is from Trimcraft’s North Pole collection. I bought it last year but I have seen it still around this year too. Personally I like a bit of glitter with vintage, but I know it is not for everyone. I had tried the number 4 in one of the other papers from the pack but it just lacked impact, so I cut another from red and glued it over the top. Maybe those last three words describe the effect well!

squeeze-box-north-pole

Of course if you fancy doing something like this you don’t need a die. Any small boxes, bags or envelopes can be adapted and decorated, ready for your advent treats!

 

3D Thursday: Retail Therapy

Welcome to 3D Thursday!

Some people may remember a little while ago I was asking how other bloggers plan their posts, do they have a structure, do they schedule ahead and so on. Whilst reading the responses (and thanks again to everyone who took time to comment) I began to get a few ideas in my head, and one thing I realised was that I wasn’t posting anything much other than cards, yet I love making 3D objects too. Maybe this was worth pursuing?

I decided I would try a regular 3D-something post each week and see how I go. Hopefully I will at least make it to week 3 anyway. The irony of failure to do this would not go unnoticed.

Not wishing to raise anyone’s expectations for the future, not everything will be quite on this scale, but on week one I thought I may as well go all in.

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This is a Tattered Lace Retail Therapy shop. Cake shop, obviously! Well they say if you want to write about something, start with what you know…. And this will be something of a novel because I thought I would write a review, of a sort. Non-crafters, feel free to look at the pretty pictures only! Well, anyone can really….

tl-retail-therapy-patisserie-detail

This was my first attempt. I bought the bundle which gives you dies for the shop exterior, three different interiors and a CD-ROM with images to match the dies, backgrounds etc. There are absolutely tons of dies so lots of scope to change the look of your finished project every time, should you wish. The detail for the shop exterior is amazing – all sorts of different architectural features, hanging baskets etc to play with.

I started off by looking at the CD-ROM, which is a Click, Print, Go! product. This should mean you just open, browse through the selections and then print your choices. You do not want to resize the images as they are made to fit the dies. However, the running programme does not work with my Windows 7. I had contacted Tattered Lace about this in the past and to be honest I was a bit let down by their response. I felt that if they knew it was a problem then they should mention it, or fix it. Maybe I just got them on a bad day, but whilst waiting for them to get back to me I found my own solution. I copy into Serif CraftArtist, and although the image sheet comes in too small I just resize it to exactly A4 and it works fine. If you have had the same experience and have got CraftArtist then this may work for you too. I was hoping the issue might have been fixed by now, but I still have to go through the procedure with this new CD-ROM. It works, but it takes longer and means I have to wade through lots of file folders instead of whizzing through screen images. Because of this I didn’t go through everything on the disk, just found some colours I liked and made a start.

I chose a bright blue and soft green combination, and cut the shop shell first. Be aware that if you have colour on only one side of your card, because you will be folding two parts (the canopy and the support at the base) back on themselves, you will end up with white showing, as you can see on the base in this shot here.

tl-retail-therapy-white-base

For the canopy you are likely to be covering it with lovely scallop shapes anyway, and for the base I just covered it with some more of the blue. It’s not a problem, just don’t think you have done something wrong! Of course though you could use some card coloured on both sides. The construction is pretty obvious, and included on the packaging anyway.

 

Now for the shop window! The images look weird when you print them, some almost unrecognisable. It’s a bit like a party game…hmmn…what might that be…but don’t worry, they are actually pretty genius. Helpfully all the dies are labelled, but I did have a few head scratching moments trying to match them to the printout. Once you have that sussed, just centre the die on the image and cut it out. It is amazing how an out of focus blob suddenly turns into a scrummy cake! I was majorly impressed with this. There may have been a dance…

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You also have shelves, cake stands, a little menu board, a tea service, loads. All the images have a couple of little notches that slot into slits on the shelves to help them stand upright. Nice!

I thought it would be clever to attach the base at the right hand side only to a piece of card big enough to then fold in half at the left hand side once all the detail had been added in, thus making my base card.  Like this…

tl-retail-therapy-card-attached

When will I learn? NEVER try to be clever. The lovely stiff card I was using simply did not want to fold close enough to the card edge for my liking, giving me a semi-spotted small rim down the spine. So I chopped it off instead. Probably a much better idea to stick a very slightly smaller (by a couple of millimetres) card to the back afterwards, or just provide a pretty die cut shape (with double-sided tape to affix it) that the giver can write on.

There are some helpful instructions on the Tattered Lace website, in the Downloads section. I didn’t look at these until after I had finished of course. I should have checked them out as it has cleared up the mystery of the cake stand construction for me!

I haven’t had time to make a second one yet. They do take a while, but if you like construction projects it is, honestly, great fun, and the end result is pretty darn fab. I know plenty of people who would love to receive one of these, and the images won’t just be restricted to shop fronts either, as the die cuts can easily be used for other projects. Would I recommend the product? Absolutely, definitely, yes. Do I want all the other shops they are teasing with? Absolutely, definitely, yes! Will I leave you with one more picture? Why not!

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Supplies: Tattered Lace Retail Therapy Store and Retail Therapy Patisserie dies and CD-ROM; strong white card, glue and red liner tape

 

 

 

 

Today is World Cardmaking Day. Apparently. And I have nothing.

I have nothing ready. No dazzling sample to share. Nothing to illustrate the fun to be had with my hobby. I should have planned in advance, but in reality I have sat down with 45 minutes in which to think of a card, make the card, photograph the card and blog about the bleeping card. Hardly conducive to a nice relaxing afternoon, so I though about not posting at all, but the gods of paper craft would not allow that.

So, some panicky strategic thinking is required. A kernel of a plan forms. I will make a super-quick card using minimal supplies, something which perhaps a total novice, happening across the World Cardmaking Day theme might look at and think, hmmn, well I can certainly do THAT for goodness sake…

Here we go then. I chose one set of stamps, three shades of ink and a card blank. I could have used just two inks and the stamped the rain in black, but ink is not exactly pricey and most people would happily choose a few colours to get them started I think. Also as a tool I do have an acrylic block or two, but if you don’t own any you can use an empty CD case as this will hold your stamp firm and let you see the positioning.

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I stamped the greeting first, to make sure it would be where I wanted it on the card. It is actually straight but the photo makes it look a bit wonky! If I did the umbrella first then the sentiment may have ended up too low. Actually I think I could have positioned the brolly a bit higher here, but this was a one shot attempt, no time to re-do anything. If you are starting out and wonder how to do all this, The Cobweborium Emporium has a couple of brilliant detailed posts all about stamping technique.

Second I stamped the handle, then the umbrella frame (is it a frame? Or a canopy?). The infill sections are separate images, so you can add them inside the frame or stamp, cut out and layer on. I decided on the latter to reduce any possible mess-ups. I was going to glue them all flat, again in the spirit of keeping the supplies list down, but the middle section just looked so darn good raised up on one tiny, tiny bit of 3d foam that I had to go with it.

Finally some raindrops and, because I have them, a sparkly gem for the peak of the umbrella. Again this could easily be left out. I could add ribbon or baker’s twine too.

cb-red-brolly-detail

There we have it. A card, a picture or two, a blog post. 45 minutes well spent, hopefully.

Supplies: Clearly Besotted April Showers stamp set; Altenew inks Jet Black and Caribbean Sky; Brilliance ink Rocket Red. Gem from Docrafts

 

Please, don’t eat the daisies!

The title of a Doris Day film. Also, a sentence oft spoken in our home this week, in a slightly different way. As in no ‘please’ and no ‘daisies’. More like ‘Stop eating the flowers!’ or just ‘stopitstopitstopit’ whilst wresting the paper pulp from the cat’s jaws. Don’t get me wrong, it is nice that he involves himself with my hobby, but eating the hobby is not the way to go.

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This is a WIP. My sister made some bare naked Christmas baubles (UK English) or ornaments (USA English. Hmmn, don’t know where Canada sits on this one?) to decorate. We thought it would be fun, given we both have quite large and very different stashes and quite divergent crafty leanings. I collected my orbs a few weeks ago but haven’t done much so far. I know I need to be more Christmas orientated but I think that is where I fall down. I really cannot get in the festive mood this early. But I had a naked ornament to decorate. Fun, right? I have never done this before. The base is a kid’s plastic ball, a wire hanger added and then covered in a textured papier mache layer.

Now to get going! I’m not certain where this particular bauble or ornament will end up, but it is a start. So with the ’not yet’ feeling in mind I deliberately travelled the ‘not Christmas’ road with my first effort, and started by punching many, many paper flowers to cover it with. In fact each flower you can see is two layers, offset a bit. I am not sure how many it took. I started making a circle around the middle, which took 16 whole ‘flowers’ for a bauble measuring about 6-7cm diameter. I had hoped I would just eyeball it and get a beautiful encirclement to meet up in the middle, without actually mapping or drawing it out. Fail to plan, plan to fail, came to mind as my circle was so ‘off’ by the time I had made it around the circumference once that one end was clearly heading north without a backward glance. To visit Santa, presumably. But actually it didn’t matter. Maybe I was lucky, but I just kept going and managed to cover it all without any odd gaps or some being more closely squashed together than others.

flower-bauble-1

I think I am going to finish it off with a gentle dusting of glitter and some pearls here and there. I may also cover the wire with ribbon or tissue paper. If anyone has any good ideas feel free to stick them in a comment – I have plenty more baubles!

Supplies (possibly the shortest list ever): a Martha Stewart punch. It hasn’t got a name on it and I bought it so long ago I can’t remember!

 

 

 

 

Seaside surprise

I had a lovely visit to the coast last week to see my mum, sister and her partner. I was well fed (and watered!) and had the chance to walk on the beach and chat to the seagulls. What, just me? Ok then. There is always something going on, something interesting, different or fun to look at or to do there. On the Friday evening we heard cycle bells and we rushed to the window to see a whole straggling string of cyclists, young and not so young, wearing silver foil costumes to resemble a robot or the Wizard of Oz Tin Man, and with their bikes covered in fairy lights. Mad, but brilliant. Apparently it happens every week in September! Then a little while later a laser light show started on the pier. It was a beautiful warm night so we just went out for a walk along the promenade to enjoy it. There is a real holiday atmosphere there and I am so glad my mum has been able to move to such a lively, vibrant place.

When my sister and I get together the talk always turns crafty. In the nice way. I knew she would love the idea of paper bag books/albums, and I was not wrong! Now I will be sending her some bits and pieces to create one herself to showcase her art dolls. But in the chatting about the various ways they can be constructed, my mum produced a gift I made for her a couple of years ago. It hadn’t occurred to me until that minute that it was also a sort of paper bag album. I didn’t have my camera with me so these are taken in my sister’s kitchen on a mobile phone. And some prosecco had been consumed…I think this is why we forgot about December…

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I made this following the instructions below from Clare Charvill at My Creative Spirit. This lady makes the most amazing projects.  It was the first time I had done anything like that, so I stuck pretty close to the tutorial I think. But then again if you are making the same object with the same materials I guess that is likely to happen! The paper pad for the inside is Graphic 45 A Place in Time and the outside sheet is Anna Griffin. I had to find something big enough as I only had a small pad of the G45 papers and this seemed to work nicely. The panel on the front is also Graphic 45 but I can’t remember which range – might be Secret Garden. I didn’t have any of the bags then so made my own pockets from brown parcel paper. Every page has got a top-loading pocket with a pull tab, but as they are filled with names and dates we didn’t think we should photograph them!

It took a while to make, but the instructions were clear and I don’t remember anything going wrong. It was enjoyable, I was pretty darn pleased with the end result and my mum loves it.