I’ve spied, with my little eye… – Blog prompt, day 27

For day 27’s blog prompt Emma wanted us to let on who we’ve been blog-stalking this week.  Before the blog prompt I was an erratic blogger at best.  I wrote little and read even less, except for the blogs of a couple of close friends.  The prompts have given me the push to write, but critically to join the blogging community by reading too.  I’ve really enjoyed exploring the blogs of my fellow prompters, not just their latest posts, but their pre-prompt ones too.  I’ve also loved getting comments (please leave me one!  It’s great to connect to new people through the blogs), and they have taken me to new blogs too.  Here are a few of the places I’ve been having fun lately:

http://coventryann.blogspot.co.uk/

http://craftyfran.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.geniushands.co.uk/

http://www.theprmummy.com/

http://craftycoops.blogspot.co.uk/

http://anniescardsandchat.blogspot.co.uk/

http://christinescraftyart.blogspot.co.uk/

http://craft-owl.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.d-dazzledscraps.com/

http://doreensdream.blogspot.co.uk/

http://glitterarti1.blogspot.co.uk/

http://powered-by-fairydust.blogspot.co.uk/

http://veecassidy.blogspot.co.uk/

http://taylor-madecards.blogspot.co.uk/

http://what-nikki-did-next.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Thanks everyone for the company!

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Happy day, happy card – Blog post 17

Born to Shop new home card

Born to Shop new home card

Day 17’s blog prompt challenge was to create a cheerful card and dedicate it to someone.  Here’s the card I made, using papers and an embossing folder from the Born to Shop ‘Go Green’ collection.  Not only is it a cheerful card, but it’s about happiness, so I hope it counts 🙂  I made it as a new home card for some friends who have just bought their first home together, as I thought it was a nice way to wish that their new house is always filled with laughter.

I really like making backgrounds like this, with several coordinating papers, and it’s a good way to use up off-cuts.  It’s a technique that I think looks good with everything lined up neatly, or with a more fun layout like this.

For the main image I’ve embossed the design onto Core’dinations Whitewash cardstock and sanded it.  I applied some light colour to bring out the design and picked out the writing with a fine pen.  The frame is cut freehand.  I hope you like it!

Favourites among favourites – Blog prompt day 13

My Grandad used to say you shouldn’t pick favourites from those you love, but I suppose there are bits of my stash I love just a teensy bit more than others 🙂

My paper collection takes some beating in my affections, but probably shouldn’t count as my favourite thing. Much as I get a warm and fuzzy feeling from seeing shelves full of paper stacks, the same view often causes a rising panicky feeling when I realise how many packs haven’t even been opened, and how few of my crafting plans I’ve managed to get made! The same applies to my stamp collection. Having said that, I love both collections so much that my current faves ought to get a mention. In the papers it’s Papermania Pampered Pets (I’m not owning up to how many packs of this I’ve bought), the new Lucy Cromwell papers, and DCWV Old World. For stamps, it’s a tie between the John Byars Nostalgia wood-mounted range and my friend Chris Saunders’ super-versatile ‘Build A Landscape’ range. Seeing my choices written down seems a bit odd to me though – there’s a lot of pastel and vintage there, and I really didn’t think that was what I liked best!

There is one bit of my stash that has been getting a lot of my love for awhile now: my collection of XCut nesting dies. I really wouldn’t want to be without them and, although I’ve been trying to prioritise them for shopping, I know I’m going to want them all! The bunting ones are top of my wish list at the moment – I have some plans for Bob’s room!

In the meantime, here are a couple of projects made with nesting dies.  I made the tag book for the docrafts advent calendar – instructions are here.

Nesting all on one layer like this is really economical with your paper, and you can make two complementary cards at once.

New year resolution tag book

Shoptastic – Blog prompts 23 and 24

Today’s blog posts are brought to you from here 🙂

I’ve got a bit more behind than usual this week, as little Bob has just learned to crawl forwards. He’s getting quite speedy now, so needs a lot more watching when he’s playing on his mat, as we appear to live in a death trap, full of inappropriate things to chew and hard pointy corners to fall onto. Ah well, I may not have been able to spend time on my laptop, but I know nearly all the little songs on Bob’s Fisher Price pretend smart phone by heart now 🙂

Anyway, to business. Blog prompts 23 and 24 were “write about your favourite craft shop” and “do you prefer online or bricks-and-mortar shopping?”.

Picking my favourite bricks-and-mortar craft shop is easy. Demoing in shops from Surrey to the West Midlands and from Berkshire to the East Coast, I’ve been to a lot of craft shops! I also see them from a different perspective, as I’m neither staff nor customer (OK, I confess I am often a customer too!). The store that has always stood out for me though is In2Crafting in Wickford. They’re everything a family run craft shop should be – friendly, well-stocked, helpful, and all really keen crafters. And they make a really good cup of tea 🙂 I’ve really missed my demos there while I’ve been off with Bob, there’s a lovely group of regulars and the atmosphere’s always relaxed and fun. My favourite online shop is one that specialises in die cutting – Country View Crafts. It’s run by two of my bestest friends, so I know I’m biased, but I also get to see how hard they work. What they don’t know about die cutting really isn’t worth knowing, and they’re always happy to share that knowledge too.

As for the second question (online or bricks-and-mortar), I enjoy both. When I know what I’m buying, online is so easy, and of course you can keep an eye on what you’re spending before you get to the checkout. What online shopping can’t do though, is give you a sense of the quality of an unfamiliar brand, you can’t be sure about the colours, and of course there’s no ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ feeling of being surrounded by crafty loveliness, or the happy feeling of finding something you didn’t know you wanted needed. Online shops also don’t generally offer demos, and my own crafting didn’t really take off until I went to my first docrafts demo, and that experience was what drove me to be a demonstrator myself.

Spring cleaning (!) – Blog prompt day 18

On Friday, Emma wanted us to confess our spring cleaning secrets, so here goes.

I’m not a great fan of any housework, with the exception of getting a huge pile of fresh laundry in from the line on a bright and breezy day and burying my face in it 🙂  Cleaning in particular just depresses me while I’m doing it – I know the bit I just did is already gathering dust, and that I’ll never have finished.  Spring cleaning is different though, as it’s well defined.  I find it hugely satisfying to tackle all the jobs that have nagged at me for ages and to get absorbed in detail of it, before shutting the door on a ‘perfect’ room.  It’s just a shame you always end up with a shoe box of weird things that don’t really belong anywhere…

Emma also wanted to know about favourite cleaners and adverts.  Well, I watch very little telly, and what I do watch is recorded, so I fast forward over the adverts.  I can’t think of any recent cleaner ads at all!  As for favourite cleaners, I love Orange Glo wood polish – it eats through all the old polish layers and leaves a gorgeous orangey smell that fills the room. As I mentioned in one of my first posts on this blog, I’m also a big fan of baby wipes for all sorts of cleaning jobs. My other favourite cleaner is white vinegar – I’ve used it with newspaper to clean windows since reading “How clean is your house”, from the Channel 4 show. What I don’t have (and unfortunately need) is a way of getting dried water-based paint out of a carpet (I didn’t notice the tin had dribbled 😦 ) If you know how to fix this, please take pity and leave me a comment – I like carpet shopping even less than cleaning!

Just one word – Blog prompt day 19

Saturday’s blog prompt was “A word”.  The challenge: to describe ourselves in one word.  Time to make that noise plumbers make when they’re about to give you an estimate 🙂  I was struggling to come up with anything other than “disorganised” for a while, but that’s just at the moment.  I go through phases of being very organised, so I didn’t think that was fair.  I asked my husband, who suggested “short” and “untidy”.  Both are sadly true, but I rejected them too.  The first was just a physical trait, the second is only half the story.  I *am* particularly talented at messing up a craft desk or a kitchen, as anyone who’s been to one of my demos or my kitchen will tell you, but I *want* everything in its place (and a place for everything).  One reason I make a mess is that I get too absorbed in the task at hand to tidy as I go.  I also have difficulty starting a job if I know I can’t finish it, and I do tend to get bogged down in reorganising my storage of things, rather than just focusing on clearing the decks.  In the end I decided to be kind to myself and plumped for “optimistic”.  Much of my messiness and lateness is the result of me thinking I can achieve more than I can in the time, rather than being disorganised as such, and I do generally think of my glass as being half full, so I think it’s a fair assessment.  Of course, this just reminds me of the old bit of job interview advice for when you’re asked for your greatest weakness: always say “I’m too much of a perfectionist”, as it’s not really a weakness after all:-)

Thanksgiving in May? – Blog Prompt, Day 20

Today’s blog prompt is “I’m thankful for…”, within the context of crafting.  Where to start?  There’s so much!  Firstly I’m thankful for any time I get to craft.  There’s not much of it at the moment, with a demanding baby to care for, but that means I appreciate any time I get all the more.  It really is a pleasure to engross myself in something calm and creative.  Secondly I’m thankful to be crafting at a time when there is so much choice available in both products and types of crafts, and so much access to help, tuition, and inspiration.  Staying informed and stimulated is so much easier now even than when I started card making just a few years ago.  Thirdly I’m thankful for my husband’s patience.  He’s not a crafter, but puts up with his home being invaded by craft supplies (and foam pad backing squares!), the interruptions to weekends when I’m doing demos, and my frequent queries about whether this project he doesn’t like looks nicer with the flowers here, there, or in both places.  Oh, and finally I’m thankful for good glues, without which we’d all come unstuck!

Which one’s the craft room? – Blog Prompt Catch-up, Day 11

Having confessed yesterday to hoarding far more crafty goodies than I have room for, I thought today would be a good time to catch up with Day 11’s blog prompt – sharing our craft rooms.  Before I talk about mine (which isn’t finished), I thought I’d start by saying whose craft room I’d like – that of the awesomely talented Sarah Youde.  I’d also like to live on the coast, so if you ever fancy a house swap Sarah, I’m your girl 🙂

In the beginning there was the tiny bedroom, some clear plastic boxes from WH Smith, and some old office furniture.  There was one box of peel-offs, one of flowers, and one of die cuts I’d bought on eBay, and on the bookshelf there was one (yes, one) shelf of papers, and one of stamps and random bits.  When I wanted to make a card, I opened all the boxes, picked some things, made the card and then tidied it all away again.

Soon the shelves and cupboards were full.  The magazines went under my bed to make room, boxes appeared on top of the cupboards, and the most used things stayed on the desk, leaving a creative space the size of a cutting mat.  It became known as the craft sty, and it all needed a good sort out. I was demonstrating by then though, and couldn’t be without a working room.  But wait, if I just moved the desk and essentials into the not quite so tiny spare room, I could sort out this room.  Brilliant idea!  Err, except that I didn’t, I just filled up two poorly organised rooms.  Boxes appeared under the guest bed…  By then I was doing store demos, magazine work and Create and Craft demos and I needed an extra desk to keep all the work in progress separate.  Boxes appeared under the dining table, and when I mentioned the craft room, my poor husband would ask “which one’s the craft room?”…

Then along came Bob, so everything had to fit into the tiny bedroom, just like in the olden days.  We decided new shelving was the way ahead, but couldn’t find anything to make good use of the space, so decided to build our own from MDF.  Luckily I have a software engineer for a husband, who wrote me a design program, and a joiner for a neighbour, so all I had to do was decide what I wanted and pick some paint.

Here’s the result.  I had Mondrian in mind when I designed it, and it completely fills up the only unbroken wall of the room.  A true homage to Mondrian would have needed breaks in the verticals, which would have made it too weak, and the bright colours with black outlines that he’s famous for would have been too much for the tiny room.  Instead I chose three pastel shades – green, creamy yellow, and blue – painted each of the three visible walls in these colours, and painted the shelving cells ‘randomly’ in one of the same colours with white dividers.  I say randomly, but it actually took quite a few goes to make it look random!  As you can see from the picture, it’s not quite finished.  As I was pregnant, we had to use low emission paint, which is sadly also low performance.  It needed so many coats that we ran out of time to get it finished before Bob was born and we had to put the room back together to get the rest of the house presentable.  When I’ve had a chance to use it a bit and see how it works, there’ll be a matching shelf unit on the opposite wall, and we’ll finish this one at the same time.  One great thing about them is that they’re not attached to the wall, and can be dismantled when we move 🙂

The shelves are 12″ deep, so I can store my papers nicely, and I decided I didn’t want boxes piled more than 3 high (otherwise I never put anything away), and I didn’t want any hidden.  I also didn’t want to waste the space behind 8×8 and 6×6 papers though, so I’ve put unopened packs of card blanks and envelopes behind them.  As long as I keep a working selection of card blanks accessible all the time, I only have to move lots of things to get more occasionally.

In my original design, I wanted doors on all the cubbyholes, with magnetic push latches, so I could have a smooth finish, no door handles, and no risk of fading for my papers.  That idea got abandoned very early on!  Apart from being a lot of work, it was going to mean spending hundreds of pounds on hinges and latches, which was just daft.  Think of the stamps and paper that would buy!  Err, I mean, think of the baby clothes and toys that would buy 😉  Anyway, my lovely husband had the brilliant idea of making fabric doors and decorating them with different crafts, so that’s the new plan – the shelves will become a long term craft project in their own right, giving me an incentive to try out some new crafts.

To scrap or not to scrap – Blog Prompt Day 16

Today’s prompt challenge is to talk about our attitudes to scrapbooking.

Nowadays I’m a keen but painfully slow scrapbooker with a long To Do list of page ideas.  It wasn’t always this way though.  I bought my first scrapbooking magazine not long after I first started crafting, and I didn’t find a single thing in the mag that I liked.  Everything was quite American, heavily decorated and very sentimental, not a stiff upper lip to be found!  It wasn’t until I saw some cleaner layouts, smaller than 12×12, that I could really imagine myself scrapping.

I love mini books

Smaller formats are still my favourite – I adore maze books and mini books, although that’s normally because they’re made in a clever way, and I’m a sucker for anything trick!  As I mentioned in My Crafting Style, I like the photo or journalling to take pride of place in my layouts.  To me, scrapbooking is a really personal hobby.  It’s about presenting my pictures and memories in a nice way, and helping them tell a story, rather than creating something pretty for its own sake.  That’s not to say I don’t think that’s worth doing, it’s just not what I want to do.  I love the idea of showing my scrapbooks to Bob when he’s older so he can see what we were like before we had him, and what his childhood was like.  It’s almost like being immortal 🙂

Sometimes it’s all about the paper!

The other great appeal to me of scrapbooking is getting to keep my creations!  I have a big box full of cards ready to send and it’s at least half full of cards I don’t really want to part with.  One great thing about scrapping is that you don’t have to feel bad about that.  I often say that I need at least two sheets of all paper designs – one to craft with and one to keep.  Papers used in layouts tick both boxes though, so it’s also a great way to hoard 🙂

There’s just one thing I don’t like about scrapping – printing out my photos – although that says more about my printer than scrapbooking.  I’m trying to get a batch of pics together to get printed, so they’re available whenever I feel like doing a layout.  If you can recommend a printing service, please leave me a comment!

My first ever scrapbook page, done for my application to docrafts – I love to include tickets and other mementos

My Guilty Pleasures – Blog Prompt, Day 15

Tuesday’s topic was guilty pleasures, which is quite an easy one for me, as I only have a couple.  Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of pleasures, I just talk myself out of feeling guilty about them 🙂  I have weaknesses for chocolate, cheese, and ice cream, but I also walk a lot and eat a healthy diet the rest of the time, so I don’t think they quite make it up there to guilt.  Closer is my compulsion for playing web games like Bubble Witch Saga and DrawSomething even though I know there are more productive or instructive things I should be doing when Bob is asleep on my lap.  Again though, I reason that a bit of what you fancy is a good thing, and that maybe it’s even good to be non-productive some of the time.

So what do I feel guilty about?  Well, my collector attitude to craft supplies is the main one.  In as much as anyone needs any craft supplies, I have a lot more than I need, and more than I’ll be able to use in one lifetime, unless all that walking and healthy eating makes me live to 250!  The environmentalist in me feels guilty about having so much, but my main source of guilt is that I have more than I have room for in my little craft room, so it’s invaded most of the rest of the house in one way or another.  Despite this, I still buy more of it, and that’s what makes me feel bad.  It’s just that I enjoy owning it almost as much as crafting with it, and I enjoy the possibilities of what I could make with it almost as much as the making.  In fact, when the making is going to involve lots of measuring and not much technique, sometimes the design process is the most fun!

My only other guilty pleasure is biscuits when I’m out.  They went from being a pleasure to a guilty pleasure when I saw a Panorama about palm oil (an ingredient in all sorts of processed foods), and how our use of it is putting the orangutans at risk of extinction within the next decade.  At home I’ve switched to all butter shortbread, as I reason that the orangutans need trees more than I need chocolate digestives, but I do still eat biscuits of unknown oiliness when I’m out – something I feel bad about almost immediately 😦  Hmm, maybe they don’t count as a pleasure after all…

That’s a bit of a serious way to leave this post, so please help lighten things up by leaving me a comment about your guilty pleasures!

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