Saturday, 31 August 2013

My Month in Numbers 2013: August

Hi, hi.

Don't shoot the messenger but ... that's another month gone you know? Gone. Vanished. Like sand that's sifted through the grand egg-timer of life!

What did you do with your August? What made its mark on all those hours and minutes you held on to by your fingertips during the last 31 days?

What did I do? Well ... let me tell you ...

I'll  begin with my own responses to the questions I set you in the 2nd ever Communal Count where [in case you're new here] we all counted the same thing so we could compare notes at the end of the month. The questions were:
 And my answers are ...

(a) = we had 7 visitors to our house during August. Here I was just counting the ones I allowed over the doorstep and who I know by name. So no Posties or delivery people!

2 of that 7 stayed over for 3 nights and ...

2 = how many usually live here. Me and him.

and (b) = shortly after 7am was the earliest time I got out of bed,[I forgot to look at the exact time. I know ... you think I'd know better wouldn't you?]  and that was on the day of the 199 steps ... more of which below. This isn't that unusual when I'm not working from home, but it is a little early during the summer. However ...

... if you want to talk about the earliest time I almost got out of bed, then that would be ...

4.36am = the time I very nearly got out of bed one night this month after having a nightmare and being too afraid to close my eyes to go back to sleep because ... each time I did ... I saw the horridness which had woken me in the first place! I was crying uncontrollably, shaking and trying to process available evidence that would prove I was actually awake ... and that it wasn't one of those tricks your brain plays when you're still asleep!

4.39am = the time it genuinely crossed my mind to phone my parents to check they were OK after the aforementioned nightmare.  I reasoned that, seeing as how I wasn't phoning them with bad news [which no one wants to be woken with] then they really wouldn't mind. Fortunately for all involved ... I did eventually fall back asleep without needing to phone anyone!

Now let me hop back to some numbers relating to those 2 overnight guests we had: James's oldest friend ['oldest' in that he's known him longer than anyone ... not that he's old!] and his son. The three of them all seen here together on our trip to Whitby:
I really want to use one particular number here ... but it's not mine to tell, so ... let me put it like this ...

X = the significant friendship anniversary which James and his friend celebrated [after meeting at nursery when they were both 3 years old old].

As a way to mark the occasion his friend travelled 200-odd miles to our house, then we all travelled the 30-odd miles to Whitby ... so that the pair of them could get their photo taken, in a vintage style studio, dressed as American soldiers from the 1860s:
[For the record: James's friend does actually have a face! ;-) I just didn't feel right using it here.]

Anyway, once they'd finished playing dress-up ...

....we all did one of the things you just have to do when you're a tourist in Whitby ... walking up [and down] these...
 ... the 199 steps = the path which takes you up to the church, graveyard and Abbey ruins [You know? the locations that inspired Bram Stoker?].

And, as if the Rector and Church Wardens knew that I'm a number counter who also likes funny signs ... they left this one at the top for me:
 And. as if all those steps weren't enough exercise for one month ...

12 = the number of walks I've managed to fit in. Working from home I need to make myself get 'up and out there' some days. So these were either walks for walking's sake, or trips to the Post Office with shop orders.

Now then with the next photo ... don't panic ... and do not adjust your screen ... it's not you ... it's me ...

370 km = the distance between me and the International Space Station when I took this photo:
That little white dash up there on the right [like a sprinkle from the top of a cake] that's it. My Dad uses an app that tells you exactly where to look at exactly what time to see it pass overhead. Without the use of a telescope. And when he texted to let me know what time we could 'go and wave to Howard' [fans of the Big Bang Theory will understand that one] we made a point to go into the garden, look up ... and wait. And at 21:22, right on cue, there it was! 

18 = the number of 'Fabricky Bits' packseventually compiled from all this: [and this is 100% tidier than it had been the day before when I had every last ribbon and scrap of fabric I own tipped out on to that table!!]
In order to get my dining table back  I called in for assistance in the form of slave-labour [ Mam] who admirably stepped in to help me organise my ribbons and prepare 48 pack labels for me. [I only needed 18 ... but I had printing issues!].

I haven't done that for quite some time - call a parent for help with my work - not since I was at school at least! But it was lovely to work with someone for a change!

And there's no one better to call upon for help with very little notice ... than a retired person who loves you!!

2 = books read with 2 more started. And, writing this post I've just realised a connection between the latest book I've started and another number I've recorded ... because part of the novel is set during the American Civil War ... so clearly James's costume has had a deeper influence than I knew!

And, finally, while we're on the subject of books ...

2 = the number of copies of my favourite novel I now own after I received a 2nd copy as a gift this week. A first edition. A signed one in fact. From the author himself. The result of a very wonderful-yet-entirely-unbelievable series of events this month.

I don't want to go into all the embarrassing details but ... let me tell you, you haven't felt awkward until you've, in a moment of blind paranoia, probed your favourite novelist about whether or not he's who he says he is ... and he is.

But, as the gift of the book attests ... it all turned out OK in the end!


Right then ... I'll go now to calm down from all that excitement [who am I kidding? Like I'm ever going to take that in my stride!!] ... but as for you my friend...

Here's how YOU can join in with your own Month in Numbers:
If you've never joined in before there's a lot more information on the Month in Numbers page - including a 'How To' guide to inspire you. [There are no 'rules' other than those I'm about to set out below ... everything else I'll leave up to your own interpretation!]

If you want to share a link to your Month in Numbers post / photo / layout etc I can then visit you, comment on your contribution and then pin it to the communal Month in Numbers Pinterest board - which, as their all in one spot, makes it easy for everyone taking part to hop around and visit a few others.

**Please note: I can only 'pin' a post to the board if it contains at least one image/photo. Otherwise I can only leave a comment and smile at you from a distance**

So ... you just need to:
  • Leave a link to your numbers in a comment on this blog post ... but ... 
  • When you swing by my blog to drop it off - please leave a comment for me , about my post, while you're there. Not because I'm needy ... but because it's nicer if you don't just throw your link at my feet and leave without saying hello!  
  • Please remember to link to my blog in your post. As much as I'd like to think that everyone who reads your blog already knows what 'My Month in Numbers' is [hey, it's nice to be popular, right?] ... the truth is, they don't. So unless you explain to your readers where the idea comes from and how they can join in too, they'll never know.
  • And finally ... please try to take time at some point in the coming month to visit and comment on a few of the other posts too. It really does help build a community both around My Month in Numbers ... but also around your own blog space.
If - after reading through all the info on the Month in Numbers page of my blog - you still have any questions just get in touch. My email's in my right sidebar as are the links to my Facebook page and Twitter.

And please bear with my as I go around pinning and commenting on all your contributions ... the more you all keep me company with this memory-keeping-by-numbers lark ... the longer it's taking me to visit you all. But I do get there in the end!


See you tomorrow when I'll reveal what you need to be counting for September's Communal Count ... until then ... I'd love to read your comments on my August ... and I'll be round to comment on yours soon.

Julie x

Friday, 30 August 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like ... Autumn

Hello hello.

Firstly - a quick note to say that I've drawn a winner - 'Scrapping Katie' - for the place on Shimelle Laine's 'Learn Something New Everyday' - and so the competition is now closed. I've heard back from Katie and am just about to purchase her place and pass her details on to Shimelle.

And, as the recurrence of LSNED indicates ... it's almost September ... and autumn's on its way!

I've been preparing lots of new autumnal coloured and flavoured kits for the shop, the first few of which you can visit here. But there's more to come in the weeks ahead ... so keep dropping back in for a range of items [many priced £5 and under] to help you kick-start your Christmas shopping! 

[Sorry to drop the *C* word on you when the sun's still high in the sky and you've probably not even broken out your cardigans just yet... but sure as September follows August ... Christmastime certainly follows autumn ... and it won't be long now...].

But let's just wallow in autumn for a while yet shall we? Let me share with you a little sneak peek into something distinctly woodland-y and squirrelish which I made for the latest issue of Papercraft Inspirations Magazine - Issue 117 - which is available now:
There are four squirrelly projects of mine inside so, if you'd like to see more, then this is the cover to look out for: 
I also created the 'Stencil Masterclass' in this issue [see the top right corner of the cover] which you can read either inside the magazine or via this 99p download from The Making Spot [Disclosure: I don't get paid for this - I'm just pointing out another way you can access my work - plus there are many more individual tutorials you can buy at The Making Spot.] 

See you tomorrow for My Month in Numbers and then on Sunday when I'll announce the next set of Communal Count categories with new things for you to tally-up during September.

But for now, I think I'll let you go and find where you've left your woolly tights ... you might well be needing them any day now ...

Julie :-)

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Snippets of Words: Make it when you find it [or else find a really good storage system!]

Hi, hi.

If you're my mother, you might want to skip this post otherwise your birthday is going to hold few surprises. OK? OK.

As for the rest of you well ... the thing is, her birthday isn't for quite a while ... but I made the card just a few days ago, and not because I'm particularly efficient ... but because the opportunity occurred and I grabbed it. Which is really the point of this post, because once again I'm talking about using wording cut from books to decorate craft projects and:
  • when you're dealing with tiny, lightweight, one-sneeze-and-it's-gone strips of paper snipped free from a full page ... you're either going to have to find a good way to store them until you need them OR
  • get them safely stuck down before the next light breeze comes along, whether you need it right then or not!
As I've started needing to scour lots of snippets for another, on-going project, I've actually started to think of ways to securely store them while still making them easy for me to browse [I can't face just tipping them all into a envelope where they'd get all jumbled up!].

So at the moment I'm working on the idea of having layers of sheets of felt for all my free-floating phrases nestled on top meaning hopefully the nap of the fabric will help keep them from flying away! But I'll let you know how that goes when it's been tried and tested. But, failing that ...
... sometimes you just have to use those ideal snippets when you spot them.
  • Before they sail away.
  • Before you forget which page you saw it on.
  • Before you accidentally pick it up on your cardigan sleeve and then deposit it somewhere random. Like inside your coat. Or Tesco.
And so ...  after making this card [one of my 3DJean Design Team projects for this month] I spent quite a while browsing for an interesting phrase to use on it, but only one stood out, and it didn't really mean anything useful except ... except it just put me in mind of the kind of thing my Mam [and my Grandma before her] would think or say...
... and while I hadn't originally intended for this to be her birthday card ... I just had to. It was too perfect not to grab the opportunity and put the snippet to its perfect use:
[For the record: she's not in the habit of not coming home!! It's more of a 'free spirited' kind of thing ... a bit hard to go into here!]

So that's how browsing for a phrase, for something, anything very broad and non-specific to finish off a generic card somehow became a very specific card for someone special:
But, if [like me] you can't always turn the phrase into something special right there and then ... then, like me, you're going to also develop a grand collection of little plastic bags stuffed with perfect phrases in search of a project!

I hope my examples of 'Snippets of Words' are inspiring you to give it a try. They really can help to deliver some sneaky poetry, an undiscovered story and an element of serendipity to your everyday crafting!


Supplies from 3DJean:
Meanwhile similar pages from a vintage German dictionary page are available from my Etsy shop here OR I can easily create an alternative option of non-English-language pages for you. You only have to ask.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Win a place on Shimelle's 'Learn Something New Everyday' 2013 class [competition now closed]

Hi you.

PLEASE NOTE: this competition is now closed and the winner 'ScrappingKatie' has been notified. Thanks to all who entered, sorry I could only offer one free place!

Do you know about 'Learn Something New Everyday'? It's 30 days of prompts from Shimelle Laine which aim to help you document some simple life lessons throughout the month of September and has been running at for the last 7 years:

If you're not familiar with it, or if you need a refresher - here's how Shimelle herself recently described Learn Something New Everyday :

"Are you…
…a scrapbooker who keeps a Project Life album but sometimes loses direction with what to write and what’s worth recording when things seem pretty routine?
…a 12×12 scrapbooker in need of a creative kick to get out of a repetitive rut?
…wishing you had five minutes to stop and reflect on your day before running to the next thing?
…longing for scrapbook journaling to come easily and flow naturally?
…looking for a new project for the back to school season without dedicating a huge amount of time or money?
…wanting to return to scrapbooking after a break?
…someone who enjoys working on a project with other creative crafters?

If any of those describe you, then I believe you’ll enjoy Learn Something New Every Day."

Well ... I've taken part and documented my September for the last 2 years and plan to do the same once again this year as anyone who purchases the class once gets access to the materials each year, for no additional fee.

Taking the time to mark out my days with LSNED during those two Septembers has led to all kinds of good and worthwhile things for me. And so this year ...

... I wondered if you'd like to join me? Where maybe it could lead to something worthwhile for you too.

My Good Things are things I could never have imagined when I first enrolled. Things like:
  • having the pages I made during Year 1 spotted by the editor of Stampington's Art Journaling magazine ... leading to a feature in their magazine the following year.
  • deciding to make a step-by-step blog post to share how I was creating pages for that first September ... which became, and continues to be, one of the most popular posts on my blog and has brought in many new readers and kind comments.
  • realising that a month I'd often hated [due to that dreaded 'back-to-school feeling] really wasn't that bad any more!
  • having a good excuse to sit and be creative and really try out and test new journaling and collage styles each time.
I could go on ... but I won't ... I'll quickly get to the important bit!


If YOU'VE never taken the class before ... and you'd like to give it a go this year then ...
  • Leave me a comment here, on this post, making it clear you'd like to enter the draw for one free place.
  • You can say why you'd like the place if you wish -
  • Maybe there's something special going on this September that you'd like the class to help you record.
  • Maybe there's something you'd like to work through using the prompts [I had some 'stuff' to digest last September, and I was so pleased to have a record of it when, a few months back, I re-visited the pages I made during that time].
  • Maybe you want an excuse to sit and get creative each day.
  • Whatever it is it would be fun to hear ... but it's not a deal-breaker if you don't want to! Just be clear that you want to be part of the giveaway ... and I'll add you to the list!
Please note:
  • You MUST comment using an account [eg your Google account] where I can click on your name and reach your blog to let you know you've won. OR ELSE you must leave me another link where I can find you. If I can't get in touch, I'll have to select another winner.
  • I will get in touch with the winner personally but I will also announce the winner on my Facebook page.   At some point I will mention it here on my blog too - but that'll have to be sometime after Saturday 31st because that space is taken up with My Month in Numbers!
  • Only comments left before 9am [UK time] on Friday 30th August will be entered into the draw for a free class pass!
Once the draw closes, I will :
  • use a random number generator to select a winner;
  • contact the winner to let them know they've won AND to collect an email address from them;
  • then I will personally purchase another enrolment to Learn Something New Everyday and pass on the winner's details to Shimelle.
  • And it will be Shimelle who will enrol the winner into the class.
Phew!! ... have you got all that? If anything seems unclear, please shout up and I'll try to clarify things.

If this isn't something you'd like to win for yourself ... please share it with others via social media / carrier pigeon / loud hailer. I'm dead certain that there's someone out there who really needs to grab this opportunity this September. So please help me let them know!!

Here's the link for you to copy and distribute:

Right ... I'll leave you to your commenting / sharing.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2013: Going out with a bang

Hello hello.

After 9 weeks of hunting and snapping I've finally now found all 21 items on the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt list which was created by Rinda of Gallo Organico!

And I thought that for my final item ... I'd try something a bit different ...

As soon as I read No.21 on Rinda's list I knew I'd have no trouble whatsoever in finding it, because No.21 is: A photograph of you with an artistic tool or craft supply!

From the start I knew I wanted to take a picture of me with my crafty-weapon-of-choice: my ATG tape dispenser ... and from that starting point ... well ... something came over me ... and then everything went a little bit Dirty Harry after that ...

Anyway ... here's my final scavenged item of 2013:

21. A photograph of you with an artistic tool or craft supply
[If you want to catch-up with the original, less crafty version, you can find that here, but be warned, he doesn't overcome his enemy with glue-tape.]

Thanks as always go to Rinda for creating the list, hosting the hunt, and getting me to see my summer with new, treasure-seeking eyes. Just like last year, I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part ... roll on summer 2014!

Julie :-)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Snippets of Words: Recycling, using your 'bits' and finding the 'right' phrase!

Hi hi.

Several of the cards I've shared in the 'Snippets of Words' series so far have been quite simple, where the found phrase was one of the key focal points, but today I thought I'd show how they can be used as just one little element on a busy multi-layered card:
This was another of my 'bit box, plus ...' cards where I take a focal point [in this case it's a fashionable chap cut from an old book]:
... and then I just sift through my scraps and 'bits' to find lots of colour co-ordinating items to layer up.

Behind him sits a section of recycled  kraft cardboard from an envelope which a friend sent me something in. An envelope which she'd already recycled it  [she added the butterfly stamped image across it] - so  really this is doubly recycled scrap ... and if whoever I send the card to then recycles it into another project this scrappy card could turn out to be immortal. Reincarnated indefinitely!
I've also been making an effort this year to use up all the stickers I have lurking on years-old half-used sheets [uh oh ... I feel another mini-series coming on ...]. There are just some sentiments and phrases that I can't ever imagine myself needing to say and so I've been using them simply for their colour - this card features several tucked away under paper layers where just the [useful] turquoise shade can peep out.

Likewise while I wanted to make use of the butterfly image [below] I hid the printed sentiment beneath a strip of woodgrain tape. Another perfect use for my ever-expanding decorative tape collection:
And here's the snippet itself was chosen for the way it seemed to reflect the way butterflies flutter by; twirling and twizzling across the sky!
As I've said throughout this series ... you really can't go looking for the 'perfect' phrase ... [mainly because you probably don't know what that looks like!]. But, with an open mind [and eagle-eyes] you can go looking for 'something' ... and invariably the right phrase will find you!
If you'd like to browse for the right phrase within some new-to-you vintage pages then drop by the shop.
  • Have you seen the brand new range of Sheet Music packs yet? There'll be some fun lyrics amongst them for you to pluck out and use on your projects.
  • And there's always a great collection of phrases inside the Fiction Themed mixed packs.
  • And if you want to take true spirit of surprise ... then a Serendipity Pack is the way to go! These packs are sold unseen and could contain anything!
And, if you haven't used my shop before you can always read through the positive feedback my customers have left there, and I hope it will answer some of the questions you might have about whether or not to try me out!
Happy browsing.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Have you seen: Sven Helbig's 'Pocket Symphonies'?

Hello hello.

Whenever I'm tired of hearing voices on the radio I switch over to listen to Radio 3 [a classical music station]. But as I'm usually doing something else at the same time [working, web surfing, falling asleep ...] I rarely give it my undivided attention. And so I'm no big expert. [In fact I'm not even a little expert.] 

But, occasionally something demands my attention and insists I both listen carefully and that I try to remember the name of the composer and the title so I can make a note of it. And that's just what happened a few weeks ago when I first heard a piece from Sven Helbig's Pocket Symphonies. 

Helbig describes the album as '12 little evening mood pictures; 12 ways in which you reflect on your life or your day or whatever. I had 12 different things in mind for what comes over me in the evening' [source] and so it's appropriate that I first heard one of the tracks on the radio as we were driving home, in the dark, after an night out. Maybe that's why it grabbed my attention.

Anyway ... apart from the fact that I've enjoyed what I heard I thought I'd share this with you for a few other reasons too: in the reviews I've read there's been a lot made of the fact that these are symphonic pieces but at the length of a pop song - making them more easily digested by those of us with shorter attention spans! Plus, they'd be ideal if you're looking to add something classical-but-accessible to your iPod etc.

And second is: that I discovered that Helbig's work is often accompanied by a music video which I think, again, really helps remove some of the barriers to a genre of music that can at times feel intimidating:

This one's just a short promo, but no less powerful:

Now, after all that, if you'd like to know more about the Pocket Symphonies - you're better off watching this than listening to me go on any longer!

So, what do you think? Is it something you could imagine yourself listening to? Maybe you're already a fan? Or maybe you're bursting with your own classical recommendations?

Whatever it is feel free to throw it at my ears [gently if you can, thanks]!

Julie :-)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2013: The Sunset

Hi hi.

Call me corny but ... I'd planned to end my summer of scavenger hunting by blogging Item No.5 'A Sunset' as my final post ... and then driving off into it ...

But this isn't actually my final post. I've still got one item left to capture so ... while I may well drive off into a sunset this weekend, next weekend I'll be reversing back up the road to meet up with you so I can share the final final item I'm crossing off the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt list created by Rinda of Gallo Organico.
But until then ... I don't want to let this particular  sun go down without sharing it with you ... so here it is:

Item No.5: A sunset
This was the view from the side of the road, in the outskirts of Lincoln last month. We'd bee driving around the country lanes for 40-odd minutes after having a meal ... just waiting for the sun to set. Which took a surprisingly long time!
Not that that's a bad thing. I don't remember the last time I sat and focussed solely on the sun, watching it casually meandering its way downwards ...
... watching how this magical, luminous, white disc managed to paint the surrounding canvas every shade of orange, red, pink and purple on its way by until ...
... until it reached a hidden bank of cloud and began to vanish, growing less and less round:
And, like a artist who'd suddenly changed its mind it ...

... it then scraped away at all that vivid colour it had just painted on ... until all that was left was a white dot in cool pastel sky:


So, there' my penultimate treasure. Yet another item I'm happy to have had cause to stop and take in properly. Now just one more to go and my 2013 hunt is done!

Will I see you next week?

Julie :-)

Friday, 16 August 2013

Simply A Moment [August]: It's 'paperwork' Jim. But not as we know it.

Hello hello.

I sometimes feel that having too many dates marked out in my diary, dates setting out the path of my life for the year in advance, somehow seems to make the current month speed up.

Like I'm always living in the days ahead.

But not with 'the 15th of each month', when 'Simply A Moment' happens.

Having the 15th ringed in my diary never seems to make the intervening days rush by. If anything, they seem far apart. Maybe because they slow me down, give me a chance to absorb a minute or two, to feel time stretching out. Being lived.

In case you don't know 'Simply A Moment'  is a mid-month marker created by Simply Alexa who encourages us to pause and record something which could otherwise have disappeared into the ether.

[To learn more you can read Alexa's tips on how to record your own moments and if you do join in, there's a link box on her August moment for you to add your post.]

It's something I commit to blogging each month and the photos I take for it, alongside the text of my blog posts printed out, have even become the single solitary things I currently sit down to scrapbook [gasp!]. And I haven't even shared any of those pages with you! Maybe one day ...

But for today ... here's my August moment ...

It's 'paperwork' Jim. But not as we know it.

Date: Thursday 15th August 2013
Time: 11:15am
Location: Home. Living room office area 

What began as a custom order for two packs led to this:
Lots of sheets of paper spread out across the floor because I ran out of desk space for all the new ideas I had while browsing for just two themes. 

I'm wearing thick grey tights today and I haven't worn tights for weeks. Months even. Because, unusually, we've actually had a summer this year.

But now ... now there's the beginnings of a slight, but familiar, back-to-school nip in the air.

From where I sit, in the swivel chair, at the pull-out desk in the living room, I realise I am actually physically positioned between my various jobs [careers?].

Above me, on the top of the shelf unit lay copies of all the magazines my work's been published in [let's call that Job #1 ... if we're counting]. Actually no, it's not all of them, because I stopped buying some titles when it became such a regular thing.

I feel a slight pang now that I don't have them all ...

And, as we know, I'm surrounded by paper just waiting to be shuffled into shape and added it to my Etsy shop shelves [where 'selling online' is Job #2].

And then over there, on the floor, nestling up against the base of the settee there's my bright pink leather-bound note book which is gradually filling up with little 'tales' which I want to turn into prints. To share. [So let's call 'my own range of printed ... stuff' Job #3 shall we?]

[BTW: that 'back-to-school' nip in the air I mentioned? Every time I feel it I'm put in mind of how the time to return to Job #4 'University student support' is edging ever nearer.]

Next to me, at the desk, sit two boxes of padded envelopes delivered this morning. 50 in each. 100 in total. Together the stacked boxes reach up almost half my height. I quietly hope that I'm going to use them all. Need them all. [For Job #2 that is].

And then there's that email [hovering there, beneath this screen as I type] which I haven't replied to yet. The one to discuss something I'm going to make. But it's for someone I couldn't dream of taking payment from. So that's not a job as such.

I sip tea from the mug with the owl on and smile at the text from James saying he won't eat the muffin he took to work with him. Because it's mine! I'd put one in his bag for him while he wasn't looking, and he'd already put one in.

Outside the sun shines and a breeze pushes open the French doors onto the garden. The orange flowers we didn't plant [which have been there since we moved in ... one of very few 'original' things we didn't clear away] bob and wiggle with the wind.

A male house sparrow hops around pecking at a stale slice of bread. Nearby there's those two stale bread buns which, when viewed from a certain angle, I thought looked like a guinea pig out there yesterday!

They do look like a guinea pig ... I have the photos to prove it. [I'll put them on my Facebook page for you!]

Today, this, what I'm doing, is what I want to be doing. And I want it all to work out.

I move my fringe away from my forehead. It's grown. The fringe. Not my forehead.

My eyes now register pink blotches where the sun was shining down on the light paving stones while I was watching the sparrow.

I think: that looks like the kind of strength of  sunshine that's grabbing its moment in between rain showers. Determined. Bright. Clear.

'Hey, sunshine' I think 'got any of that going spare?'

It shines its response. I smile ... sip my tea and return to my 'paper' work.


Thank you for taking a moment to read mine.

See you at the weekend with some more scavenger hunting!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Snippets of Words: A short-cut to profound

Hello again.

If you've been following this series then I hope maybe you've tried adding a few 'found' words to a project lately. Or that you'll at least add it to the bottom of that ever expanding 'Must Try' list you're keeping!

[If you've missed any posts so far you can catch up via my 'Snippets of Words' board on Pinterest].

And why do I hope you'll try it? Well ... because I think it will surprise you ...
I think you'll be surprised at how easily a 'found' phrase can ...
  • bring some depth to your projects;
  • a depth which you may not have thought to, or been confident enough, to add by yourself.  Off the top of your own head.
But when you have the words there, right in front of you ... all you need to do is snip them free ... re-appropriate them. They can often speak far more eloquently than I can! They remove any worries I might have about sounding too 'fancy' or even pretentious. I can hide behind them ... and let them do the talking for me:
I've even used a found phrase on a sympathy card [it's not the card pictured here].

After making the card I searched for a sentiment but 'thinking of you' just didn't feel like enough. So, I browsed and browsed and kept faith that something appropriate would gently raise its head, letting me know it was there.

And it did. So I used it, and it felt much more personal.

Obviously you have to find the right phrase for it to really be appropriate ...
... but when you do, it can certainly add a more direct, thought-provoking and even profound addition to a project.

Trust me ... a handful of the right snipped words can often say more than you dare to!

I'll see you soon.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

If Hitchcock was a paper crafter ...

... then The Birds might have looked a bit more like this:
This frilly miss is one of several fun [and very pink!] flamingo themed projects I created for the current issue [116] of  Papercraft Inspirations magazine:
There's also a 'Masterclass' of mine in there too - all about using masking in stamping.
But, if you want to get your hands on the flamingo article without leaving the house then you can purchase and download a digital version of it here at The Making Spot.
[FYI: I don't get any payment whatsoever from this - that's not why I'm pointing you towards it. I just thought you might be interested in a way you can access lots of articles and tutorials without having to buy the full magazines. The Making Spot has hundreds of them for sale covering all kinds of crafts. Just passing the information on!]
Finally ... while we're on a Hitchcockian bird theme ...
After making a list of all the custom Plundered Pages pack themes I've been asked to create I realised there was a big demand for our feathered friends out there. And so I've mow added lots of birdy paper packs to the shop shelves - some full size, others smaller ...[all depending on how much of a crazy birdy lady you are!]
If you do go and have a browse over there you'll also find new map paper packs and a brand new range of vintage sheet music packs too.
So, go wing your way over there [do you see what I did there? ...] and I'll see you soon.
Julie :-)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2013: Dinosaur hunting

Hi you.

I'm almost there you know? How about you?

I've now found [and blogged] 18 of the 21 items on the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt hosted by Rinda of Gallo Organico!!

And now ... after an eagle-eyed James spotted a familiar shape peeking out from one of the decorative metal paving slab along Redcar seafront ... I'm about to share my 19th item ...

Item No.20: A dinosaur
Can you make it out? It looks like it's been trapped inside the molten iron ... or else like a worn away rock which reveals a fossil beneath.

I'm no great dinosaur expert but *awful joke alert* I'm going to stick my neck out and say it's a brachiosaurus:
It's great isn't it?

All along the promenade there are different metal tiles each with an unusual design 'trapped' inside:
And ... as I walked along, 'ooh''ing and 'aah'ing and taking photos of the fabulous steam-punkish designs ... do you know what I started to think?
Wouldn't they make AMAZING embossing folders?
I think whoever designed these slabs needs to team up with Tim Holtz post haste!
So 19 down ... just 2 to go! And I've already got one of those waiting in the wings. The only photo remaining to be taken yet No.21 which requires me to pose with 'an artistic tool or craft supply' ...
... and  I think I should just about be able to manage that one!
Hoping your weekend is treating you well.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

It's A Sign: Dr Frankenstein's shopping list

Hi, hi.

This one isn't so much a funny sign I've stumbled across, so much as a forgotten shopping list of my own ... but I thought you'd like it just the same ...


I was rummaging through a storage basket on my work desk recently when I came across a little notebook that I'd started taking in my work bag with me during the spring term of my University student-support job ... and I'd forgotten all about it.

Remembering that I didn't currently have a notebook in my everyday bag [and goodness knows it's an essential!!] I looked through it to see how many useable pages were left before dropping it into my bag.

And, as I flipped through the 90% blank pages ... on the back page I spotted a somewhat rather macabre shopping list ...
What the?

It certainly gave me pause for thought.

I mean ... that is indeed my handwriting ... but I had to cast my mind back to why on earth I'd added '15/20 square feet of skin' to an otherwise completely innocuous shopping list?

What had I been planning?!! I know I'm creative ... but that's just plain weird. [Not to mention very probably illegal].

And then I remembered ... during a lecture in the School of Health, way back in the spring term sometime, the lecturer had mentioned how much skin the human body has, on average ... and as well as making a note of it in the notes I was taking for my student [that's the nature of the job] .... I'd scribbled it down in my own notebook too.

Why? You might well ask.

Because ... I thought it would make a good statistic for 'My Month in Numbers'!! Naturally!

Obviously I'd forgotten all about it in the intervening weeks. I remembered the 3D foam pads and the shoe polish though!


If you needed a smile today ... and even if you didn't ... I hope you've just had one!

[Apologies if  the thoughts of all that skin have put you off eating your breakfast ...]

Julie :-)

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Snippets of Words: Say it ... with speech


I often make cards just for the fun of it [crazy times abound round here! ...] and, having no particular occasion in mind while I'm making them really means that I'm free to add any snippet of words to the final thing ... no matter what they might or might not mean.

But, I'm not saying I simply close my eyes, pluck out a snippet and stick it down come what may. That could lead to all kinds of trouble [especially if I manage to pluck out a page from that banned book!]

No, I do have a page or two [or should that be long shelf or two] of book pages to select from and I do try to find something which, in some way or another, connects to something else I've used on the project.

See if you can interpret why I felt this snippet ...
... fitted the other elements of this card:
Well ... in my mind ... I felt the idea of 'living in one place' connected with the image of the bird in flight and also the stamped image with the keyhole  body!

And no ... it doesn't really mean anything, but I don't think all the cards we send really need to. Do they?

Of course ... if I suddenly needed a card for a friend who was moving house .. I'd have just the perfect thing ready and waiting! But it needn't be that literal.

I think card makers should be wary of getting stuck in a sentiment rut! We don't always have to be so literal with our Happy Anniversaries, Happy Birthdays and Get Well Soons.

Have you ever bought someone one of those more 'arty' cards? Ones which reproduce paintings and illustrations?

There are miles and miles of them on shop shelves ... and they don't mean anything in particular do they?
Sometimes we should just be brave and allow our arty-ness speak for itself!

Oh and .. speaking of speech ...

Tips on where to find direct, conversational style snippets:
If you want your card to actually 'say' something [even if the meaning is up for interpretation!] then ...
  • make sure you browse through pages of fiction
  • it could be any kind of fiction from a classic novel to a children's comic book ...
  • but any book that has characters talking to one another will feature snippets of speech in "quotation marks" ... that you can simply snip out and add to your project
You can find a nice mix of stories in the Fiction themed mixed text Plundered Pages packs on my shop shelves.
 Here's a closer peek at some of them:  
 They're pack full with a range of stories just waiting to be set free ... then you can pass them on to someone else on the front of a card.

There's plenty of other options in the Plundered Pages range if you want a wide choice of pages to snip!


If you're enjoying the 'Snippets of Words' posts then don't forget I've been keeping them all together in this Pinterest board.

I'd love to see anything you make inspired by the series [you don't need to have used my papers to come and show me! I'm pretty equal opportunities like that!]. Just get in touch [all my contact links are in my right hand sidebar].

See you later in the week.

Julie x

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2013: The Fisherman

Hi you.

When I first saw Rinda's Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt list there were certain items that I knew, if all else failed ... if I didn't come across them on some exotic day trip somewhere, I'd be able to seek out close to home. And the fisherman was one of them.

We live a 15min drive from the coast and I reckoned that if I couldn't find one anywhere else ... I'd very likely be able to capture one down along Redcar seafront. And I did ...

Item No.19: A fisherman
I took the photo from the newly built [somewhat controversial] promenade because my dog-phobia keeps me off the beach when I spot one running around down there. Even though this section of beach is meant to be dog-free during the summer some owners clearly don't know or care about that ...

Anyway, from there I watched as he towed his boat down to the shore:
And then wade out to begin his trip in the Eleanor May:
Like finding an aeroplane at an airshow ... finding a fisherman near the sea was something I felt fairly confident about.
And, once again, as has happened so many times In the hunt so far, it put me in the interesting position of seeing a very familiar place through a fresh lens ... and I paused to take in something I may otherwise take for granted. 
You can see other people's scavenger hunt finds by visiting the links people leave at Rinda's blog.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, I'll see you soon.
Julie :-)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

My Month in Numbers: The Communal Count #2 - Aug 2013

Hi, hi.

Welcome to the second ever My Month in Numbers: Communal Count!

I blogged my responses to July's communal question yesterday as part of my regular Month in Numbers post ... and I'm looking forward to comparing notes with everyone else who managed to join in too.

I think that over time, by playing along with this, we'll learn a lot of intriguing [and random] facts about one another which we wouldn't, ordinarily, have thought to reveal!

Now let's look ahead to what we'll be sharing at the end of this new month ...
What do you think? I don't think they're going to be too tricky for you to keep track of during August.

So, as before:
  • you're welcome to answer both, either or neither it really is entirely up to you
  • you're welcome to interpret them however you like
If you don't usually join in with My Month in Numbers because you don't want to create a full length blog post ...
  •  at the end of August you're welcome to join in with just your responses to these shorter questions 
  • you can do this in a blog post / an Instagram / a tweet / OR simply in a comment on my August Month in Numbers post 
  • OR ... join in with your response on my Facebook page
  • OR ... any other creative way I haven't thought of!
  • then - if it's 'pinnable' I'll pin it to the My Month in Numbers Pinterest board.
You can then check back at the end of the month [and into September] to compare notes with the others who've joined in, and once again we can see where we're alike ... and where we differ.

If you'd like to share the question on your own blog / social media so your friends and readers can join you - then you're welcome to. You can simply save and use the image above [all my details are on there so you don't really need to link anything up].

Right ... I'll leave you to go jot down what you need to keep a count of in the brand new month but, before you go ...

*REMEMBER*: My Month in Numbers is never really just about the numbers:
  • it's more like how a combination lock unlocks the chain around your bike wheels 
  • how your PIN number unlocks your bank account ...
These numbers are just a 'way in' to the fun stuff, the important stuff: they crack open the story of your day-to-day life and allow you to share it with your online friends.

Julie :-)