Welcome to my blog

I hope you enjoy reading my posts, and please leave me a comment. I always enjoy reading them, and will try to visit you in return.

You are welcome to copy any of my designs, as long as you do not take credit for them yourself. I am very happy for you to sell them. If I have used anyone else's design, I always try to give credit where it is due. If I have missed anything, please let me know and I will put things right.

This is intended to be mainly about my crafting stories, as a personal record of what I do. However, I interpret crafting quite widely, not just paper crafting but other things too. I have a butterfly mind and like to change from one thing to another depending on what I feel like on a given day - knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, cards, baking and several others.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday Smiles

This is not a crafty thing nor a family thing, but a video that someone else sent me the link to.  I actually watched it in the middle of the night and nearly fell out of bed laughing at it.


It is the one who put the cot side back up that really brought tears of laughter.  I defy you not to giggle at least at this video.

If you want to see some other smiley things, just slip over to Annie's blog at A Stitch In Time, where she shares, sometimes with a joke added in too for good measure.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pixie's Snippets Playground 109 - a fun challenge.

This is not a card, and, in fact, I am not sure it will ever become anything but a fun exercise.  It was born out of a silly throw away remark I made online about playing with the envelope as well as the contents.  After a bit of banter, it was a point of honour to, at least, try to see what I could do with a padded envelope.

I wanted it to be obvious where all the bits had come from.  The picture in the middle was placed to hide my own name and address.  You may have seen this picture before, but in case you missed it, it came originally from a photographic slide taken by my father years ago up on Bodmin Moor in the middle of a storm.  How I created the card from that can be found at  Craft A Scene - Troubled Skies 1

After I had brayered the background with Adirondacks, which brought up the bubble wrap patterns from the envelope, I quite liked the result. 
 I masked off the postage label as part of the effort to show where the envelope came from, and brayered over it.  The other Claritystamp label came from a newsletter envelope and I just added a little Adirondack Stonewashed to make it see a bit more cloudy and moody to fit with the picture.  I also continued the silhouette of the skyline freehand with a Slate Promarker on both sides of the envelope. 
 I added a couple of stamped images of the foliage, and drew in the birds freehand.

I am using this as a snippets creation for this week, if that is ok, Di.  Apart from the picture, everything else would have been thrown away, and I learned a lot from the exercise, not to mention a lot of fun, and head scratching.

If you would like to see other creations made from things that would otherwise be thrown away, just go to Pixie's Crafty Workshop.  You could also join in as well.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

WOYWW - 243 - It was there all the time!

Good morning, Julia, and all you busy WOYWWers this week.  For those who are new to crafting, just slip over to Julia's Stamping Ground Blog and all will be explained far better than I could.

It has been a long time since I saw this much of my desk.  I had actually cleared the whole thing this afternoon, but I thought it might look too shocking and boring if I did not put one of two oddments on it somewhere.

There are a couple of newish Clarity stamps, still in their packets until I have catalogued them properly.  There is also a Clarity envelope to the left, all ready for a special project (If you are reading this, Sam, I have ideas just ready to put into place).

My large baby powder is there ready for a multitude of uses, from covering up badly placed glue to preventing static while heat embossing.  Next to is my newest Speedball brayer.  The older one has been relegated to applying acrylic ink to the Gelli Plate.  I will leave it to you to see what else is still there, including my WOYWW badge.

I have even managed to test out my new printer - I only had it three months ago, when the other one had a total mental breakdown and refused to print anything sensibly or legibly.  The new one (Epson) prints almost as well as my wonderful Epson Photo.  I still need to see if it will print the same thickness of card as the Photo, but the quality so far is good.

I also spent quite a lot of time trying to find out why I could not get any volume to listen to my music.  It was only after a couple of updates and a lot of messing around that I realised what the problem was.  Can you guess?  I am sure you can!

It was an afternoon of finding lots of goodies, and then losing things that were in my hands two minutes before, including a whole pack of Christmas toppers, ready to start for this year.  They did turn up just as I came downstairs to have my home made mushroom soup for tea (Yum and just enough for tea tomorrow, and no cream or other bad calories in it either).

If the police helicopter sits on top of my roof again tonight, I shall get up a and make a couple of quick cards.  More productive than lying there trying to stop the dogs going berserk at the dreadful row.  I think they were all round the town last night, as everyone at the gym was chuntering about it.  There is one good thing - when they are there, you have no chance of being burgled.

If you have got to this point in my post, it is probably time for you to visit some of the other people showing their desks this week at Stamping Ground, courtesy of Lady Julia Dunnit.  I hope you will find a moment to leave me a comment, and I will visit you in return.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch - Where are all the birds?

Every year, we have done this bird count, which is to identify which birds are doing well and which are in danger.  

Every year, for weeks we have a wide range of birds, usually in large flocks.

Every year, on the weekend of the Big Bird count, all the birds vanish.  Who tells them and why don't they want us to count them?

These are goldfinches and they turn up in flocks of twelve or more.  The two feeders they go for have twelve ports for them to feed from.  At the moment, they seem to have gone off the niger seed and they are demolishing the sunflower hearts.

No birds on this photo, but it does show that the trees think that Spring is on the way.  These catkins are huge and so beautiful.  All my photos are slightly fuzzy, despite using a fantastic camera, but I was shooting through the double glazing, which never helps.

I did do my count this morning at the time that my garden is normally full of birds, not to mention squirrels, but the numbers were well down on the rest of the week, so I am going to try again tomorrow to see if there is any difference.  So, please, if you have stolen my birds today, send them home tomorrow for me to count them.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Pixie's Snippets Playground 108

 Three Snippets cards this week.  The first is another one with silver birch bark and that heart die.  The silver birch is mounted on red glitter card.  I had to scrape some of the glitter off to get the bark to stick.  The spine is just a snippet of sentiment type gold paper to match into the gold mirri card under the red glitter card.


The second card goes back to some toppers I made ages ago after a trip to the NEC.  The toppers had been stuck in a box since then.  I still love using acetate.  With this card, it was a print out onto the rough side of the acetate, and then colouring in, again on the rough side, with my Sakura pens.  Then it was mounted on black card and then onto white glitter card.  I was lucky to have a pearlescent card to match the rose.
The snippets on this third card were a set of sparkly motifs that came with a kit I bought so long ago.  It looked like a good kit, but, as I have said before, I have found that there are bits that it is hard to find a use for.  These embellishments are something that annoyed me and defeated me for too long.  It came down to a choice of throwing them away, giving them away for someone else to struggle with, or just sticking them on a card and be done with it. Hence this card.

I hope that by next week, I will have found a load of other snippets to get rid of in some way.  If you want to get rid of your snippets in a constructive way, then go and have a look in the Playground to be found at Pixie's Snippets Playground and see what others are doing with their odds and ends.  If nothing else, you will have a good time on the swings or in the Wendy house and a giggle with other friends.

Friday Smile

This is part of what made me smile today.  I can cope with this dismal weather when I come home from the gym and find an envelope from Clarity Stamps in the porch.  This is a brand new set and I have loads of ideas for playing with these.  There are the six petal stamps and the matching stencil to mix and match.

The word Filigraphy was conjured up by Barbara Gray to use instead of Zentangle.  There is, apparently, an copyright issue over the word Zentangle, so she just invented a new word.  It is a mix of Filigree and Calligraphy.  
Don't forget to do the Big Garden Bird Count this weekend.  I was so pleased to see my male woodpecker back on the feeders this week, wolfing down the sunflowers.  The robin is in and out, like a fiddler's elbow, scoffing the dried mealworms.  

If you want to see some other smiley things, just slip over to Annie's blog at A Stitch In Time, where she shares, sometimes with a joke added in too for good measure.




Wednesday, 22 January 2014

WOYWW - 242 What a mess!!!!!

Why on earth would I be mad enough to put photos of this total wreck on public view?  Well, it is the brainchild of Julia  our esteemed leader, who can be found at Stamping Ground.

This is not the worst I could have shown you. Before I got to this stage, the camera batteries were all flat.  At that point, there was no chance of even getting to the chair.


Even the dogs could not find a way in.  Since then, I have transferred a lot of things without a home to two empty bookcases on the landing for future sorting to permanent positions. I have put all my lovely new Clarity things there, so they are safe, and it will be the inspiration to find them a proper home right next to me, as I know they will be the things I really want to use.  There is method in this madness or to quote Barbara Gray "I have a plan".

Even this heap by the door is less than it was.  The recycling bin is now full to the brim with all the boxes and envelopes that I have now emptied and sorted where possible.

Now I can get in the room, I have a chance to clear my desk and do some real crafting at last.  That will be such a joy.  Meanwhile, I shall have a play with one of Barbara Gray' s project, which is zentangle or filigraphy.  If that goes well, I may show results tomorrow.  More photos of the recovery of this room will also follow.

Meanwhile, do go off to Julia's for a cup of coffee and a view of loads more desks, messy or tidy.  Better still why don't you join in with us.  Come on, bare all (your desk, that is) and have fun.  Full details can be found on Julia's blog.  It is easy.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The wonders of dialects

While chatting on Facebook about what I had been doing this week, I used the word "canking" and no-one knew what I meant.  Just to clear that one up straight away, it actually means gossiping or talking a lot.  This word comes from the Birmingham, Walsall, Black Country area.

That set me thinking about dialects in general.  I love listening to the Black Country dialect in particular and there is a wonderful version of the Nativity, all written in Black Country  http://blackcountrysteve.blogspot.co.uk/  Don't try to just read it.  Read it aloud and it will make more sense.

I was born in Walsall and spent a lot of my childhood going back there to visit the rest of the family.  The first picture shows what was my grandfather's undertaking (funeral) business - not the big double fronted Horrocks Hardware, but the small shop to the left, which actually has a cremation urn in the window from the time after my grandfather had died and the shop was taken over by a stonemason.

As you can see, the second photo is from a much earlier time, but shows the same building from the back.  My grandparents are on the right, with their eldest son's wife.  You can see planks of wood propped up again the building.  This was the back yard where the coffin workshop was and also the even older bridle bit workshop (Walsall was the main centre of saddle and bridle bit making, in fact for any parts of horse harness).  The wood was generally good seasoned oak for making the coffins.

After all the time spent round the family, I can usually pick someone who comes from Walsall at 20 paces.  These days, Walsall is usually considered to be in the Black Country, but the dialect is not the same.  There are subtle differences.

It is not just the words and dialect which define where you come from, it is the phrases you use in common speech.  I went to Teacher Training College  at Bingley in what was the West Riding of Yorkshire.  Till then, I had never realised that some things are truly regional.  I said something about I had "gone all round the Wrekin", meaning I had struggled to find my way, it had taken much longer than it should.  All the northern folk looked at me as if I had gone mad and had no idea what I meant.  For those who are confused, the Wrekin is a large hill in Shropshire.

There is another site which give the translation to the more commonly used words and phrases from Brum (Birmingham).  http://www.thedialectdictionary.com/view/letter/Brummie/  The other great things to listen to are the CD's by Professor Carl Chinn, Malcolm Stent and Laurie Hornsby - Brummagem Air and Any Road Up.  Did you know that Birds Custard, HP Sauce and Typhoo Tea were all made in Brum?


Do you cringe at the way TV people pronounce the names of places round you?  I was most impressed recently that one managed to get the name of an area of Walsall right.  It is spelt Caldmore, but pronounced as Carmer.

Any road up (translation = anyway), what dialects do you like, and do others understand you?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Technology - easy or not?

I seem to have spent the last six months setting up new technology, either for myself or to help others.  All these things we were told were "easy" and would "only take ten minutes".
WRONG!!!!!

Sorry for shouting there, but it needed to be said.  I don't think I am particularly clever or stupid, but the instructions or lack of instructions for all these new gadgets are not helpful.  They mostly seem to have been written in a foreign language, translated into another foreign language, words left out or translated from the original Latin.

I had a new phone several months ago.  Admittedly, I did not go into the local shop and buy it there and get the youngest child in there to set it up for me.  I have set my last three phones up myself with the help of the internet, and lots of Google searches.  This one was particularly awkward and it took over a fortnight of searches to sort the basics., and find the settings that I needed to alter.

I have had a Kindle Fire for over 12 months, but when I recently got the new bigger version, I was quite wrong in thinking it would be the same settings.  Back to Google!  Mostly done now, thankfully.

I am quite lucky, in that I am thoroughly bolshy and stroppy and hate to admit defeat.  I am also very lucky in having Shaz Brooks' very kind husband locally, who either knows what I need or knows where to find it.

In the last few weeks, I have been asked for help from two friends, who are far from being stupid, but have been made to feel like that by difficulties in setting up their tablets to work with the other technology in their homes.  I reckon you almost need to know the answer before you can ask the right question to sort out problems.

My latest problem of my own came when I wanted to set up a second speaker on the Sonos system (plays music from your computer wirelessly anywhere in your house where you have placed a speaker.).  Having set the system up in the first place without too much difficulty, I foolishly thought it would be a five minute job to remove it from its packaging and integrate it with the existing system.  Oh, no!

I knew it would need a software update to get it sorted, but I tried all evening to persuade it to update with no luck.  It could not even see the new speaker.  Five minutes after I fired off a furious email to Sonos, it miraculously did an update and then recognised the new speaker in 5 seconds.  Coincidence!  I doubt it.

It worked well for a week and then lost the speaker off the system again.  This morning, after I had threatened it with the dustbin, it decided to find the speaker again.  I made a very silly decison then to buy a smaller speaker to put upstairs in the bedroom to play my relaxation music to help me get to sleep.  That is still in its box while I summon up the time and energy to go through all the problems again.

How do the rest of you deal with your technology problems?  Do you have a "Doug" who can help when needed?  Do you just send the stuff back to the shop etc?

After that stropbox rant, I am having dinner, before heading up to dive into the tip that is laughingly called my craft room.  I shall be taking photos as I go to display later.

Have a good day, folks!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

WOYWW 241 - Using natural products

What is WOYWW?  Well if you visit Julia's place over at Stamping Ground, she will explain it far better that I could.  Although you cannot see an actual desk here, the second photo shows where some of my materials came from, out in the garden.  This is not actually a new idea for me, but I am fairly certain I have not shown it before.  The reason I am showing it now is to reiterate that you do not need to spend a fortune to make a card.It really is made from snippets of this and that so it is combining our lovely Wednesday get together and Di's Playground too, symbolised by the two intertwined hearts.  I am getting all poetical here.

The two hearts are die cut from silver birch bark, not the white side but the more brown underside.  I love the dark lines that show through.  This bark will come off the tree in large peeling sheets if you are lucky. 

The brown border is also a tree bark, this time from the Prunus Serrula, a tree also grown for its bark.  this tree has the morst glorious peeling flaming copper bark.  Seen with the sun shining through the bark, this tree is so spectacular.  The bark tends to come off in fairly narrow strips, so I just cut it with fancy scissors to use it like ribbon, and added stripes of glitter.  This is not the best photo I have of the tree, but it does show our resident woodpecker and that is yet another sorting job to be done, to reorganise and catalogue all my photos, get rid of the hundreds of duplicates etc,  I hope it does give a little idea of the gorgeous bark on this tree.

Both these trees are in my own garden so I have not been going round stripping public trees, and I only took small bits of what was already peeling off.

I mounted the hearts on white glittery card, then onto gold mirri card, then onto an A5 textured card.  The sentiment was gold but I added some colour to turn it more coppery.

I am showing this as a snippet card for this week, if that is allowed, Di.  If everyone leaves me alone on Thursday, I am hoping to get into my room and make a couple of new snippet cards to show you.  I am looking forward to getting back into the playground even if the playhouse has been a little bettered by the winds.  I have got an absence note, honest I have.

If you have got this far and are still reading, you might now have decided that I am completely mad.  True, I am.  However, if you go over to Pixie's Crafty Workshop, our head teacher, Miss Di, will explain it all to you.  Come and join us in our mad games in the playground.

You should also go over to Julia's to see everyone else's fascinating desks.  This week, I have a plan to actually get more than a toe into my wreck of a craft room, so I will take a photo of the before and then the after and show you next week.  

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The mysteries of life

There are lots of mysteries in life, but as individuals, we can only deal with the ones that directly impact on us.

Today's mystery for you to find the solution for is this.  When the temperature outside is freezing but the temperature inside is high, why then does a glass of water cool to well below the inside temperature?  Surely, it should cool to the ambient temperature in the room.

Also on the subject of temperature, why does 19 degrees C feel hot in the summer but quite chilly in the winter in the house? 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Wolves galore!

This is another of my crafting hobbies, which actually came before card making.   Some years ago, I had a bad dose of vertigo, and could not even move my head, without the world spinning madly - very sick making, and it took a good six weeks before it subsided.  

During that time, I needed something to keep me occupied.  I had one tiny cross stitch kit of a dolphin, specially for children, which suited me as I had never done any cross stitch.  I had done some limited tapestry work, using kits bought from the local needle maker's factory shop (Redditch was the centre of needle making in this country and possibly worldwide at that time).  Sadly, all the local needlemakers have all gone out of business, apart from one making surgical needles.  All our needles are now made abroad and some get packed in this country - what a wicked sin!

Anyway, back to me and my vertigo and cross stitch.  I found that I could do this kit and still keep my head perfectly still.  From small beginnings grew a real passion, and cross stitch kits and projects now form one of my SABLES (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy).  After a while, I wanted to do more complicated designs, and I found these three wolf pictures.  They are all from kits.  Please excuse the flash on each one, but they are hung safely out of direct light and I cannot reach to get them down.  The two single wolf pictures are done on very fine linen, and were so satisfying to do.  Once the first eye was in place, the whole thing came alive.

This third picture of the pack was much easier, being on larger Aida and easier to see, but because it was easier, it did not give me quite the same satisfaction to complete.  All three pictures were really done for Geoff, who really loved wolves, but I do like them myself. 
I am intending to get back to doing some of my outstanding cross stitch projects sometime this year.  I have three things on the go as it is.  There is a large picture of a Unicorn on the big frame, on fine Aida, which is almost finished.  Another week would probably see it completed.  Then, I have a series of  small squares which fit together to create the 12 Days of Christmas.  That is on much larger Aida, which makes it good to take away and do in the caravan.  That, too, is not far off.  I think I have done seven of the twelve days.  You never know, I might show you that one by Christmas 2014.

I will show you some of the other projects I have completed later in the year.  Meanwhile, it is time for my lunch so I am off.  If you like what you see, please leave me a message and I will answer you.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Craft A Scene - January Week 2 - Fishing at sunset

This is my second offering of the month for the Craft A Scene challenge which is to make your own theme.

Ingredients:
Large Landscape stamp from Clarity stamps
Boat and bird from the remountable love set from Clarity stamps
Big and Juicy ink pad (or any other pad that give the right colours)
Speedball 4 inch brayer
White pen
White coated card from Clarity stamps (any other coated stock will do)
Black card, or a black pen
Adirondack black ink pad

1. Stamp the landscape stamp onto the coated stock with the Adirondack black
2. Allow to dry, then stamp the bird and the boat into position.  As these are all silhouette stamps, there is no need for masking on this project.
3. Load up the brayer with the pinky colour and ensuring that the leading edge of the brayer is clean, start applying the colour by coming in gradually from the top corner..  You may need to reload the brayer, depending on how strong you want the colour to be.
4.  Do the same with the blue ink, coming in from the opposite corner, until you have the desired density of colour.
5.  When the ink is dry, take a piece of kitchen paper and polish the whole picture.  The coated stock should then look as shiny as glass.
6.  Then take a white pen and add suitable highlights to the trees and the boat etc, watching that you reflect the position of the moon that you cannot see.  Think about where you want the light to come from and highlight on that side on all pieces.
7.  You can either mount your work on black card, or take a black Promarker (or similar) and, using the chisel edge, run a line down the edge of your topper, all round.
8.  Then you are ready to mount it on the base card of your choice.

Brayering may seem to be difficult if you have never tried it, but you cannot do better than to find a video of Barbara Gray demonstrating and there are plenty of those out there on YouTube and the like.  It is such an effective way of laying colour down on a piece of card to give that soft look.  The type of brayer is important too, which is why I have specified the Speedball.

Whatever theme and technique you choose for your scene this month, make sure you go to Craft A Scene and show us what you have done.  Mr Linky is there waiting for you.  Come on and join in. Have some fun.

Remember that you must have a theme this month, but your scene must have a foreground and a background to fit in with the brief.


How music brings back memories

I am focussing on music today.  I don't know what is important to you, but there are two things that I would miss dreadfully if they were taken from me. 

I could not function without books to read, whether on the Kindle (I am gradually replacing all my books with the Kindle edition as they fall apart or to save space) or the printed page.

Music is a real necessity to me.  So much music triggers memories of things that may have happened years ago.  When I was a child, I remember all the classical music that Dad used to play, all on 78's.  He loved the voice of Dame Joan Sutherland, the Australian soprano, and his favourite record was the Puccini aria "O mio babbino caro", rendered in English as "O My Beloved Father", or it was until yours truly sat on it.  Not a good idea.  Being a 78, it did not take well to that treatment and was in several pieces.  I was not popular.  I never had the guts to tell my Dad that it was partly his fault for leaving it on a chair.  Fortunately, it was about the time when 45's were becoming popular, and I managed to track down a copy to replace it.

The Four Seasons were not a group I liked in particular, but when I was living in halls at college up in Yorkshire, they were very popular, and the main song was "Let's Hang On", and it was always blasting out somewhere in the building, at full volume.  So that song takes me straight back to that time, the first time I had been away from home for any length of time.

Right at this minute, I am listening to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, the version with Paul Jones in the lead role, the proper version for me.  For some reason, it became the tape (and then the CD) that Geoff always played on a Sunday morning when he was washing up.  So, if Joseph was playing in our house, it was Sunday and all was well.


My school put on a Gilbert and Sullivan show every Easter term while I was there.  We could not be in it until the fourth year, unless we had a fantastic solo type voice, but in the third year, we were allowed to help with the half time refreshments in the dining hall.  Unofficially, we were allowed to stand at the back of the main hall during the show, until we had to go to do our duties, which, of course, whetted our appetites to actually join in the fun on stage.  I can still remember the order in which I saw or took part in the shows - Pirates of Penzance, Mikado, Gondoliers, Iolanthe, Ruddigore, Patience,  HMS Pinafore.  I only did the last two shows myself.  In those days, we were limited in what we could do by the copyright held by Bridget D'Oyly Carte, but on the final night on Saturday, we had usually been inspected and things relaxed.  My abiding memory in Patience was of the two leading men virtually climbing the scenery to get laughs, and then we, as the ladies chorus, had to go on stage, singing a doleful song and attempt to keep straight faces, while we were really cracking up.

I did join in with the Gilbert and Sullivan shows at college, but it was never as much fun - no costumes (we had proper costumes hired in at school) and no clowning around, a much more serious undertaking, so it is the school productions that really gave me my love of G&S.

My love of Christmas music is also sparked by my time in the school choir, and carols have to have the proper descants, the ones I learned so well at that time.  Some of the solo songs I remember well for the people who sang them, and it takes me straight back to the lovely atmosphere singing in the local church to the accompaniment of the powerful church organ (it also gave me a love of real organ music).  I can see those people whenever I hear that particular music.

In  my final year at school, we had an electronic organ fitted in the balcony in the school hall, and it was decided that the morning after the Carol Service, the choir should give a performance at morning assembly.  Unfortunately, most of the sopranos section had gone down with a bug overnight, leaving only two of us to hold the high notes and sing the descant.  Also unfortunately, some bright (not) soul had decided that the entry of the staff, while we were singing, should be preceded by someone swinging the incense, which wafted straight up to us in the balcony above.  Result - the total collapse of the descant into choking.  Oops!

Some songs also take you back to sad times, and are difficult to listen to.  Abide with Me was my grandfather's favourite hymn, and I remember that after he had died, it was sung as usual at the Cup Final.  Dad said something about it being a shame that Grandad could not hear it.  I, thinking of my surviving Grandad, said quite innocently that he probably could.  That and the 23rd psalm ("The Lord is My Shepherd" to Crimond) have always been difficult for me to sing because they were always played at funerals, and brought back strong memories.

If you are still with me at this stage, do please leave me a message and tell me about your music memory triggers.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Patience but not on a monument

These two are so fed up with waiting for me to do something interesting (to them).  They are not so keen on me writing my blog cos it means I am not taking notice of them, which is not allowed.

Has anyone been watching the craft shows from America from the big trade show?  I had heard about this wonderful new cutting machine from Brother and thought I would like to see what it did.  It sounded wonderful until the price - over £400.  In fact it does very little that my lovely Silhouette Cameo does at half the price.

There was also the launch of some new oil based pencils, but I think I will stick firmly to my lovely Derwent watercolours and the Inktense pencils which do the same job, and are made in the UK.  I prefer to keep my money in this country wherever possible.

What do you think?  Perhaps we should have a campaign to buy British wherever possible in the crafting world.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Friday Smile

This is my second post of the day but it is a while since I joined in with Annies's Friday Smiles and I have missed being a part of it.  So here I am again with a couple of photos taken on Christmas Day.

I thought I would show you pictures of a very happy little girl, who had just got the one thing she really wanted.
Charlotte has always loved the "Flumper" we gave her little sister, Rosie, when she was born.  Flumper is a large floppy eared rabbit with a wheat bag in his tummy.  She really wanted one of her very own to cuddle.

Fortunately, I had bought a second one at the same time for myself, just to keep in the caravan so it was obvious that this one was destined for Charlotte.  After all, I only see it a few times a year, when it could be loved every day.

This was the final present brought out of the box, and you can see the joy this brought.  Her pleasure certain brings smiles for the rest of us.  I hope it makes you smile too.

Now I am off to link up with Annie, and have a look at all the other happy pictures there.

New tech stuff

I was pointed in the direction of the Sonos music system by my son, who is rapidly turning out to be as gadgetty as me.  I am now hooked by its adaptability.

There is a small Bridge component which is wired to the computer via a router.  Then you can put a number of the speaker components anywhere in the house, linked wirelessly to the Bridge.  I started with one speaker which I have in the kitchen, so that I can play any of my music, which is all stored on the computer, while doing things in there.

Then I thought it might be good to have a speaker in the bedroom so that I can play my relaxation music and try to get some more sleep, so another speaker was ordered.  Because it arrived just before Christmas, I had not got round to fitting it.  This week was crunch time.

According to the instructions, it is easy to add another speaker to the system. Nah! Not so.  at least not for me this week.  I tried everything that Sonos said, but nothing would persuade the system to see this new speaker.  Having fitted other things, I was fairly sure that a software update was what was needed, but nothing I did would convince it to do an update.

After 2 hours, I lost patience and I had visitors anyway.  So I left it alone for a bit.  After the visitors had gone, I thought I would have one more go.  Needless to say, being a stroppy person who hates to be beaten, it was more than one go.  Eventually, I emailed Sonos with my problem.  Strangely, five minutes later, the system decided that it did want to update and did it.  Five seconds later, the speaker was installed and working.

I can now play the same music wherever I have a speaker, using my mobile phone as a controller, or I could, if I really wanted, play different music through different speakers.  Cool?  I think so.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Christmas is officially over and done with.

This is the very last thing I intend to show you from Christmas 2013.  

These candles have been put up in our house for more years than I care to remember.  Originally, they were normal straight candles, bought just to look good in the holder.  We did this for several years and put them away after the festive season was over.

They were always stored in the same place and laid flat.  One year, we were a little late putting the decorations up.  The candles came out and we just fell about, they had turned into twisty crooked candles.  We did not have time to buy more to replace them, so they were plonked into the holder and put out, just as a giggle.

My twisted candles became a real talking point, so we carried on using them every year after that.  Each year, the twist is different, so you never know what you will find when the decs come out.  Perhaps, one day they will come out dead straight again .........

That is it for Christmas 2013.  I shall start again for 2014 on 25th January, joining in with Rudolph Day at Sarn's blog, http://stampingforpleasure.blogspot.co.uk/

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

WOYWW - 240

Barbara
Warning - loads of photos today - sorry Julia.

This might not be my desk today, but it does show what I have on my desk.  Having taken all the cards down, I am in the middle of sorting them out, keeping all the lovely hand made cards and some others from the family.  The rest will get sorted for recycling, upcycling in some way.  Nothing will be wasted. The hand made ones will come out again in future years. 

There is no particular order to these cards, they are showing just as the computer sorted them.   I love how they show so many styles and how people like to work.  Every single one is a masterpiece in its own right.

 
Lynne & Charles


Some people like to stick things.  Others are so good with a camera, having a good eye for what pleases.
Darnell



Some go for traditional images.





Others like more modern styles.

Helen



Jen
Sara

 Others recycle.
Shaz

Others leave me wondering how they manage to get such masterpieces done in time


Debbie

 I have to apologise to Debbie as this scan does not do justice at all to the hard work she put into her card and the beautiful masterpiece I received.



Trissa
This was a real achievement for Trissa, as she had to overcome deep feelings even to do this card for me.  Thank you.

This one came from my neighbours, who involve their children at all stages.  They like to use the computer for their offerings.

Charlotte has just started school and this was her very own design.
Charlotte

As you can see, my treasures are a varied group, but they are all valued and they are all art.  thank you to all those who spent their time and energy in thinking of me at such a busy time.  

If you are still with me, thank you for that.  I am sure you would like to see lots more treasures on show over at Julia's Place.  She and all her other visitors will be delighted to see you and to hear from you.  With luck, there may be some coffee on the go and, perhaps, some shortbread left over from Christmas.  Enjoy!

PS  Look at what Google did to Charlotte's card, all by itself.  I did not ask it to do it but it is rather cute.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Belatedly, my Christmas hurdle.

When I decided that I was still going to make my own cards for Christmas, this was the only design I could come up with that would work in a hurry.  Having realised that I needed 130 cards, I knew it was going to have to be what I really hate - a mass production.

I detest making more than one of any card, at a push (for notelets etc) half a dozen, so this was immediately daunting.  readers of my blog may remember that this was a card that I have already shown you, so I will not bore you with details of how I created the original.  For anyone who would like to know, then please follow this link http://silvercrafter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/you-can-do-it.html

The original card went off to Barbara Gray at Clarity Stamps, so I only have a scan on the computer.  This time, I brought up the scan, cropped it to remove the card itself, leaving me only with the topper.  Using My Craft Studio, I managed to get four on a piece of A4 white card, and then set the printer into action, with several stops for ink changes.  Then they all had to be guillotined, after which I edged each one with the chisel end of a black Promarker, before putting fingerlift tape on the back.  They were all mounted on plain white card before the marathon of writing them and getting them out.

Everyone seemed to like them, but I am never ever doing them in this way again.  It felt like cheating and really gave me no satisfaction.  As a result, I am starting my cards this year in February, and writing them before the end of November.

Tomorrow, hopefully, I will show you some of the lovely hand made cards that I received, all of which I will keep as always.  If anyone takes the time and trouble to make a card for me, I always appreciate it and keep it.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Craft A Scene, January - Make Your Own Theme (Week 1)

Make your own theme does not mean that anything goes.  The basic rules for the challenge still apply.  If you want to be certain that your design fits the brief, then follow this link to check   http://craftascene.blogspot.co.uk/p/challenge-rules.html   There is one further rule this month.  When you make your own theme you need to tell us what theme you have chosen.  Only those who include an explanation of their chosen theme will be included in the Top 3 picks.

Many of you will be aware that I have been missing from my Design Team duties for a while, but I reckon I am back on course now, and so pumped up by a great day of watching the wonderful Barbara Gray demoing on Create and Craft TV, and chatting online with like minded crafters on the Clarity Stamp Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/claritystamp.co.uk

This first card reflects that increase in mojo, and uses the Clarity Stamps small Village set.  I chose the Clarity coated card, which is perfect for brayering, and stamped the various bits into place.  Then I cut masks for the houses, wishing well and lampposts from the sticky end of a Post-It-Note and put them into place.  Another mask was needed for the sun, just a circle cut from the sticky end of the Post-It-Note again.

The brayering of the sky was done with Adirondack Cloudy Blue.  If you want to see a good tutorial on brayering, download the Create and Craft App and watch yesterday's programmes with Clarity Stamps.  Load the brayer in the centre with your chosen ink and then transfer it to the SplodgeAway mat, making sure the leading edge of the brayer remains clean and ink free.  Then you come in from one corner, starting off the paper and finishing each roll off the other side of the paper and lift the brayer at the end of each movement.  Gradually come down the paper in repeat rolling until you achieve your desired level of colour.  That way, you should avoid the dreaded lines across your scene.  If you don't have a brayer, get a good make up brush or a stencil brush and use that to apply the ink, again coming in from one corner and gradually increasing the amount of ink applied. Remember to do it gradually, you can always add but you cannot take it away.

The ground was done with a piece of torn copy paper, holding the paper in place to create the hills and applying ink gently with a make up sponge working off the torn paper, then moving the paper to do the next hill.  You need to place the hills carefully so that you can "ground" any trees or buildings, so that they are not floating in mid air.

To colour the sun, I used the hole left by punching out the sun mask and coloured through that, trying to add shape by shading it.

To create the misty effect, I added a little black Adirondack around the edges.  You can use the brayer or brush for that.  Then it is just a case of removing the masks and colouring the various bits of stamping, the houses, church, wishing well, and the lamps.  I used Promarkers for this, which work well with the dye based ink pads without smudging.  

Once the inks are dry, you can use a piece of kitchen roll to polish the surface of the card to a high gloss.

The backing paper was created at the same time as doing the brayering.  I used Clarity coated paper, and applied splodges of ink fairly randomly.  Then you need a piece of cling film, spray it lightly with water and apply it to your brayered paper, scrunch it a little and then leave in place until it is thoroughly dry.  Remove the cling film, trim the paper to the desired size and use it as a wrap for your card, and position your topper in place - a perfect match as you have used the same colours.


I like to match my inserts wherever possible.  This is a mixture of computer work and brayering.  I printed the sentiments, and then gave that time to dry thoroughly before getting the brayer out again, and working in the same way as for the main topper.

I hope that this explanation will convince you to have a go and produce your own themed card for this month's challenge for Craft A Scene   There are other ideas on the blog from the other members of the Design Team to give you inspiration.  You do not need a lot of stamps to create a scene.  You can do it with just one small stamp, some cheap copy paper, a brayer or make up brush and a make up sponge, a couple of ink pads.  See what you can do and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Have fun with your experimenting.