Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Thank You

Two little words - but so important!  Here in the blogging world I often come across people who strive to add a little "Today I am grateful for ..." sentence to the end of their posts.  Some of you spend a whole month displaying a really keen attitude of gratitude.  It's good to reflect on what we have rather than want we think is missing (most of which we could manage without).

Today it's my 2nd Guest Post over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog and it's all about saying "Thank you" - or rather it's about sending gratitude in a Thank You card!  Over there I've shared some card inspiration to make things a little more interesting (without eating up too much of my/your precious time) - and I also linked from there back to here because I wanted to help make this card:

It's made using Tagxedo which regular readers will know that I love ... but if you have spent less time fiddling with it than I have, you may need some short-cuts to making a similar card (no point in re-inventing the wheel eh?!).

I loaded the following words:
merci danke~schön arigato tack~så~mycket muchas~gracias
спасибо dziękuję obrigado grazie toda~raba mahalo~nui~loa
kiitos bedankt ευχαριστίες takk diolch salamat
merci danke~schön arigato tack~så~mycket muchas~gracias
спасибо dziękuję obrigado grazie toda~raba mahalo~nui~loa
kiitos bedankt ευχαριστίες takk diolch salamat
merci danke~schön arigato tack~så~mycket muchas~gracias
спасибо dziękuję obrigado grazie toda~raba mahalo~nui~loa
kiitos bedankt ευχαριστίες takk diolch salamat
The tilde (~) characters keeps associated words together and the text in red is the RGB code to make the word "thanks" appear in red!  The 200 forces "thanks" to be the biggest word and the @0 apparently forces it to be horizontal (though I'm not convinced)!

All settings are the defaults apart from:
Theme = Shades of Grey
Font = Euphorogenic
Orientation = H/V
Shape = Heart (the 5th variation - above the 2nd horse!)
Word: (I wanted some repetition of words other than thanks)
          Remove Common Words = No
          Combine Related Words = No
          Combine Identical Words = No
          Max Word Count = 50 (stops the words getting unreadably small)
          Normalize Frequency = Yes (smooths out the variation in word frequencies between 3 & 200)
          Hard Boundary = Yes (makes the shape seem more defined)
Hopefully these settings will help you get started - you can keep altering options until you see something you like and the History Option is worth looking at if you preferred an earlier version - just click on it to reload it.  Have fun and THANK YOU for stopping by!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Made It !!!!

It wasn't like I was really having doubts.  I mean, how bad do you have to be to get struck off the "Nice" list?

I'd done my bit and sent off my side of my Counterfeit-Kit-Master-Forger-12-Days-Of-Christmas-Swap.  My swapee, Susanne, received the parcel just seven days later and was (secretly) opening her goodies across the pond.  Meanwhile I was waiting ... and hoping ... and waiting ... and hoping ... but wait and hope as I might, the postman simply refused to deliver Susanne's reciprocal parcel to me!

Seven days passed ... then seven more ... and three times seven days ... what had I done to deserve being put on the "Naughty" list?

But then - on the the very last day before Christmas, while I lay sleeping soundly, the postman knocked loudly on the door, getting poor Hubby out of bed at 6:45am on his first day of holiday rest (ho ho ho poor thing) and delivered a package that had flown the 22 day scenic route from America ... HOORAY!!

Well it was worth the wait I can tell you ... take a look at what was securely and beautifully packed inside:

Thank you so very much Susanne - I'm extending my Christmas gift experience by opening one (or more) of these beauties each day!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Jingle Bells

Just one more sleep to go ... are you ready for the big day?

I'm nearly there with my preparations (although I'm woefully behind with Journalling my Christmas) and have just enough time to share a little something I made for a colleague at work.  She had been admiring the anti-pickpocket dangly bells on purses (apparently handed out by the local police to victims of theft) but had been unable to find where you could buy them.  She was understandably reluctant to go down the getting-your-purse-stolen-so-that-the-police-will-give-you-a-free-one route and I thought "I could make one of those" ... so I did.  A few bells and some beads attached by wire to a clasp ... and hey-presto:

Naturally, having bought a whole bag of bells and clasps, I had to make a few more!  Turns out they are the perfect size to go inside my Mum's Christmas cracker too!  My colleague was chuffed to bits (she was too curious to wait until Christmas day to open her gift)!

I'd like to offer one as a seasonal give-away to one of you lovely (anywhere in the world) readers - just leave me a comment below and I'll pick a random winner on New Year's Eve.

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Satnav Strikes Again!

Seems like it's not just me who struggles with a satnav!

P.S. Mine is now back on GMT - hooray for Google - what's the betting I'll now be an hour late for something next summer!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Seasons' Greetings

Card detail - Tagxedo Xmas - Jimjams
At last they're done.
Presents and Christmas cards that is.
And delivered (or at least posted ... we shall see how well the Royal Mail does now that there's been half a dozen flakes of snow ...).
So now I can feel less guilty whenever I hear the clunk of the letterbox and the thud of mail hitting our doormat ... but some of my crafty friends are not making it any easier for me by sending gorgeous, clever, crafty hand-made cards ... as I have only sent out shop bought ones!

Take a look at these lovelies from Tracie, K, Mel, Alexa and Claire:

Photos - cards I received
A special thank you to K for the yummy extra in my card
(possibly slightly tempting to someone en route
as both the card and the envelope were ripped!)
Thank you so much for finding the time my friends ... if I had known you in 2005 you'd have definitely received a hand-made card, but having overdosed by making over 100 that year, I only ever make a handful these days!

Regular readers will know that I love to play with Tagxedo - and have whiled away several hours with it to help me make scrapbook pages (here & here) and blog posts this year (here & here).  Lately, I've been playing around with it for card-making and this is the most recent result:

Tagxedo Christmas cards - Jimjams

If you want to know exactly how to selectively colour your text you can check out the Tagxedo blog ... or, alternately, pop back here between Christmas and New Year for my next Counterfeit Kit Challenge post!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Today it's my turn to do the post at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog and it's all about recycling magazines to make gift toppers.  I've shared 3 tutorials that I found on the Winter-Wonder-Web - check out my post here - and I also linked from there back to here because I've adapted the Paper Pom Pom tutorial from Nice Package that I shared, as I didn't have the necessary ribbon punch.  I experimented with the same 1½" circles to see if it would work and made my prototypes:

Magazines used to make gift toppers - Jimjams

And here's one topping off a gift!

Magazines used to make gift toppers - Jimjams

Then I tried it out with a heart shaped punch - using the title panel of old "Which?" magazines that I was clearing out.  I've used 7 punched shapes for each pom-pom plus an extra, slightly thicker one punched from a glossy magazine cover (or scrap card would do too).

Magazines used to make gift toppers - tutorial - Jimjams

Fold each of the seven shapes in half vertically, score the fold line and glue them together to form a stack.

Magazines used to make gift toppers - tutorial - Jimjams

At this point (unless you are a whole lot more careful than me) it might be worth inking the edges of your stack of shapes, as well as the spare base piece, so that the edges are uniformly coloured and no annoying white bits are showing.

Magazines used to make gift toppers - tutorial - Jimjams

Finally sandwich the centre of a length of ribbon between the opened pom-pom and the base shape - you are now ready to gift wrap.

Magazines used to make gift toppers - tutorial - Jimjams

Alternatively, if you are making toppers in advance of your gift-wrapping, adhere the opened pom-pom to the base shape and attach to your parcel with a glue dot or strip of double-sided tape when you are ready.

Heary shaped gift topper - Jimjams

If you don't have a heart or circle punch I'm sure it would work for any symmetrical shape - even a hand-cut one.  If you give it a go please let me know what shapes work for you.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Ten on the Tenth: Not 10 JYC!

This Ten on the Tenth post was supposed to show you my progress so far with my Journal Your Christmas album ... only the progress is somewhat minimal.  I've made the bones of my album and notes about what to write, which pictures to include; I have plenty of embellishments and stickers and tags from the Kaisercraft kit that I won earlier in the year.  BUT although I worked on it at today's full day crop, perhaps there was a little too much jollity, cake eating and secret santa-ing, because I have only completed 5 pages rather than 10!

Dec 1st - Panto, Dec 2nd - Crop Xmas Meal, Dec 3rd - Christmas Cards
Journalling is on the tags behind the photos/in the pockets
Dec 4th - Dreams of Decent Photo Ops, Dec 5th - Advent Calendars
So I'm still 5 pages "behind" (I know, I know, Shimelle reckons you can't get behind with this class, but I have 5 empty pages in my album that need filling NOW)!   I don't quite know why I'm torturing myself by looking around at all the other things that I'm behind with ... but there are a number of other Un-Finished Objects lurking around here:

I haven't made a start on the mdf NOEL that I bought at the NEC at the beginning of November - I wonder if it will be ready for next Christmas?

Then there's the decopatch paper I asked Santa for in 2007 ... used on a pen and a coaster pen-pot, but not yet for the purpose for it was intended for: prettifying my crop box!

Back in 2009 I made a lovely matchbook mini with the help of my friend eClaire ... it's still awaiting any photos!

Then there's the Christmas star album I made at my very first Scrapping Day Retreat towards the end of 2007 ... also devoid of photos!

I've been making a perpetual birthday calendar since January 2010 but because I wanted to include a variety of my best nature shots taken during each calendar month ... it still has several months to go as I've never managed to take the right sort of photos at the right time during June, July, September, October or November!

This is becoming the story of my life!  Are my eyes bigger than my crafting time?  Do you have this many UFOs?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Hoera voor Sinterklaas!

Some of you may know that we used to live in Holland when Sons No.1 & No.2 were small (in fact they were born there). One tradition we loved to join in with was the early December excitement and gift giving around December 5th/6th.

As you can seen, Sint & Piet didn't exactly factor in shoe size when leaving gifts!
Three of those packages will have contained the appropriate yummy chocolate initials!

There's a post all about St Nikolaas traditions on the CKCB today if you want to know more and get some creative inspiration from fellow Master Forger Lisa.

P.S. We also had fun before becoming parents with Sinterklaasavond "surprises" but that's a whole different post!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!

Welcome readers to the final Sunday Storytelling for 2011.  I've managed to join in each month with a variety of stories from my childhood, my children's childhood and the present day and each month I have enjoyed reading a whole host of interesting tales from other joiner-inners!  So I couldn't miss out this month - I'm a finisher-offer :-)

My story begins early one Friday in late November.  I was making my final preparations before setting off for a weekend away with several fellow bloggers.  Not one of whom I'd met beforehand.  Scary stuff.  Although I'd followed several of their blogs for a while, and exchanged e-mails with a few, it wasn't as if I really, really knew anyone and yet here I was about to scrap with them, eat with them and even (thanks to the budget bunk-bed accommodation) sleep with some of them!

The Telford Ten (not really that scary in real life):
Lesley, Alexa, Lizzie, Julie, K, Clair, Mel, Ruth, Jo & Me
Not to worry though, I told myself - you have mobile numbers, directions, supplies (both of the paper, scissors, glue variety and edible) and you've got your big girl pants on.  I had offered to collect Ruth from the station as it was more or less on my route - which had the added advantage that we'd both have met one person before arriving officially!  So I programmed my satnav and set off with plenty of time to spare - I did not want to keep her waiting!

Now, I am frequently 5-10 minutes late because things crop (pardon the pun) up at the last minute and today was no exception: I remembered I had to get some cash and buy milk to leave at home for my family, but I had factored in plenty of leeway - no problem!  Off I set and made good progress southwards.  The train was arriving at 13:50 or thereabouts and after half an hour or so I decided to check my predicted arrival time on the satnav ... OH NO ... I must have miscalculated (bad show for someone with a degree in mathematics) as it was saying that I was due at the station at 14:10!

Oh dear, oh dear - what a terrible first impression I was about to make.  Poor Ruth - left waiting at a strange station!  I put my foot down and drove as fast as I safely could - shaving a minute off the arrival time here, another one there ... getting closer and closer to the dreaded 13:50.  Maybe her train would be late!  That would be good (sorry Ruth).  Luckily the traffic was fine and, despite going slightly wrong on one of the final roundabouts, I pulled into the car park at exactly 2pm.  Phew - just 10 minutes late. Not bad considering!

I immediately phoned Ruth to tell her I'd arrived ... and she said she was still on the train.  Thank goodness I thought - her train is late!  (deeply sorry Ruth)

Yup - it's leaving in 5 minutes she continued.  Leaving?  I thought. Where??
I'll be there in about 50 minutes.  What?
OK I said, nonchalantly, I'll see you soon.  Strange.  Maybe I'd got the train time wrong?!

It took me a moment or two of glancing back and forth between my watch, the arrival time on the satnav and the car clock before the penny dropped ... my satnav was still on British Summer Time and I wasn't 10 minutes late ... I was 50 minutes early!

Ironbridge Canal at sunset
It might have been budget accommodation but it was very beautiful
I didn't let on to Ruth or anyone else as incompetence wasn't quite the vibe I wanted to put across for the weekend. The cat is well and truly out of the bag - but I'm hoping it will now just add to my charm for the rest of the Telford Ten!

Want to read the final 2011 exploits of other bloggers?  Pop over to Siân where there will be plenty to choose from.

P.S. If anyone knows how to reset the clock on a TomTom Go 520 please let me know because it's still stuck on BST!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

So Many Projects ... So Little Time ...

More haste, less speed - that's what they say.  And they'd be right!  Today is December 1st and I have been so busy and rushed and overwhelmed with all the things that suddenly needed doing that I haven't had a moment today!  Part of the reason is that I am rather snowed under with projects for December.

First off I needed to prepare two blog posts for the CounterfeitKit Challenge Blog - they aren't counterfeiting a kit this month and we Master Forgers have combined forces to do daily posts to keep the creative juices flowing.  I'd prepared the first one ages ago, but the second one didn't get finished until yesterday.  Phew - and then there was a little crafty gift exchange that needed to be sent off today as well!  Not helped by having to pick Child No.3 up from an after school meeting (that overran by half an hour), missing the parcel collection at the village post office and having to drive in the rush hour to drop it off at our sorting office!

Also, I have a place on Cheryl Johnson's (free) "12 Days of Christmas" photography course: it started today but it was the festive self portrait that I was working on last night- today's task will have to wait until the morning!

Then of course there's Journal Your Christmas which also started today - I haven't even read the prompt!!!  But my album is ready nearly finished ... (I haven't touched it since returning from my Bloggers' Weekend away ooops)

And there's more - I was rushing to get to work this morning but I couldn't locate my handbag.  Yesterday had involved several trips out with Child No.3 and I'd left it on the back seat of our nippy little car ... that Hubby had taken to work!  Arghhhh!  So I grabbed a spare credit card to pay for fuel for the nearly empty car he'd left behind.  After my 4 hour shift at the theatre, which is hectically busy preparing for pantomime season, I drove to the supermarket to fill up the enormous tank of our larger car, queued to pay and realised ... I do not know the PIN number for this card!
OMG  It was soooooo embarrassing!  Luckily the enormous queue was behind me so I only had to make eye contact with the cashier:  Take your time - are you sure you don't know the number?  No, in fact I'm not sure I ever have known it.  The card I normally use is in my handbag in the back of Hubby's car.  Any other cards?  No, they're in my handbag in the back of Hubby's car.  Any other method of payment?  No, my purse and cheque book are in my handbag in the back of Hubby's car.  Any form of ID?  No, my driver's licence is in my handbag in the back of Hubby's car.
Luckily the supermarket has a form for people like me ... headed "Idiot" ... so I filled it in and promised to return within seven days to pay.

If the next few days are as mad as this one has been, I'm not sure I'd find the time to go, so I returned to the garage this evening just to be on the safe side!  Of course, that was after picking up Child No.3, posting my parcel, fitting in a meal and attending the dress rehearsal of the panto which opens tomorrow night.

I'm certainly glad that this day is behind me!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Home-Made with the CKCB

Welcome to November's Counterfeit Kit Challenge Master Forger Blog Hop With A Twist: we're joined this month by members of Scraptastic who are sponsoring the hopping!  Leave a comment or take part in one of our two monthly hops to be in with a chance of a prize!  You may have joined me from Helen's blog in which case you are on track, but if not then you may want to pop back here to start at the beginning and see all the wonderful home-decor projects that have been created from this month's Counterfeit Kits.

I was so tempted to do something Christmassy as I have several projects in the pipeline, but I thought you might have overdosed by now ... plus the colours in my November kit didn't lend themselves to the forthcoming festivities at all!

Colourful Original by Maxine
I spotted the clear instructions for this button and bloom bouquet over at Truly Madly Crafty's Blog although mine is much smaller than theirs as I was using scraps of paper from my kit (2½"-3" squares rather than 4").   The Basic Grey paper wasn't double-sided so I daubed over the back with some toning ink.  I think I'll add to my bouquet whenever I have toning scraps.

Check out the tutorial - no special dies are required, though a pair of Tim Holtz super scissors came in very handy for cutting through 8 layers of paper!

Now please hop over to Jen who has also made something lovely for you ...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Teeny Tiny Envelope Mini

As promised here is are the instructions to my Teeny Tiny Envelope Mini ... a project I made for the Green Buttons Retreat back in September.  It's cheap as chips to make using money envelopes, scraps of paper and card, but showcasing dozens of small photos or quotes.

Get Set
Prototype #1 with no cover
Prototype #2 with a protective cover
Musical Mini Book - more photos here
The instructions can be viewed, printed and downloaded from here.  Have fun with it and please link back to this post so that I can see what you've created!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Xmas Preparations

A few days ago I posted that I had things to prepare before Christmas ... shopping, cards, puddings ...
but there was another thing that I had to get done before December started:  my prep for my third year of Journal Your Christmas!

I was lucky enough to win a prize from the Kaisercraft blog earlier this year and what better stash to use for a December journal than their Silly Season Range?!  A lovely mix of red, white, green and pink papers with matching rub-ons, die-cuts, gems as well as stamps and journalling tags.

This year I decided to base my album on tags and wanted to use manilla envelopes to make pockets behind the pages from the pad of paper.  I thought it was 6"x6" but after a page or two of preparation when nothing quite worked I realised that the pad is actually 6½" square (!)  That's a new one on me!

For each page of the album I sealed two envelopes and sliced ⅛" off one short end to open up each envelope again.  I layered the envelopes onto the back of one piece of patterned paper and covered them with a second sheet.  Semi-circles cut out with a 2" punch give me access to the pockets:

By varying the placement of the envelopes I have varied where the pockets appear - left, middle or right along the top of the page, or top, middle or bottom of the side.

I have joined the pages together with strips of white card punched with my X-cut border punch ... I think I may yet have to sew the spine to the cover if the pages start to sag ... I'll have to see what happens once all the tags are in place, let alone photos, journalling spots and embellies!

If I was starting this project from scratch (don't you just love hindsight!) I'd have prepared the spine before sticking each pair of patterned pages together - no border punching would have been necessary as the edges would have been concealed.

As you can see, I'm not done yet - and the cover needs to be made too.  I'm going to a Blogger's Retreat next weekend ... meeting several fellow bloggers, including, Mel, Julie, Alexa and Lizzie for the very first time ... so I'm hoping to put the finishing touches to this then. 

In the meantime, here's a sneaky peek at some more Christmas preparation I've been doing!

ETA - revealed here!

P.S. That's ATDML's  Thirsty Thursday K for Kaisercraft, JYC Kit and manilla Kraft all sorted!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Musical Mini-Book

A little while ago I attended a scrapbooking retreat with my UKS house-mates (the Green Buttons) down near Birmingham and had a fabulous time.  There was plenty of chocolate, chat and creativity as well as a few challenges and some classes.  I prepared a class too, which I called my "Teeny Tiny Envelope Album".  It was made from those tiny kraft money envelopes you can buy for wage slips or lunch money or whatever, but can just as easily be made with larger envelopes too!

Here are some of the albums completed that weekend - each made unique thanks to different patterned papers, photos, ribbons and embellishments.  I made one that weekend too ... using my September Counterfeit Kit ... to record No.3 Child's school music trip to Normandy this summer.

The letters on the front cover have been heat embossed with PSE's "Woven Tapestry" - a lovely textural finish.  Inside the cover there is a concertina of six money envelopes, each containing a tag.

The way that it's folded you can "read" it like a book and then turn it around to "read" the other side.

There's plenty of room for lots of small photos and even more space for journalling or extra photos on the tags!  Just as well because her camera had about 100 photos from the 4 days!  I managed to include 19 in her mini-book.

This would also make a handy little "brag" book for inside a handbag - it measures around 4½" x 3" and the photos are all nicely protected by the cover.
And I'm still playing along with ATDML's Thirsty Thursdays - so this will be for I for Interactive (and inked?).  I'll be back this weekend with K for Kit, Kraft & Kaisercraft as I'm just about ready to share my JYC prep!

ETA: Instructions can be found here!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Sometimes there just isn't a photo to go with a story is there? Perhaps the camera was forgotten.  Or maybe nobody would cooperate.  Or perhaps you were just too caught up in the moment to remember to snap something.
I certainly found myself  caught up in the moment back in April when we had just arrived in Barcelona for a few days celebration of our Silver Wedding Anniversary with the offspring and No.1 Son's girlfriend in tow.  As usual everyone had left the organising to yours truly ... and I had researched things to do, places to go and methods of transport so that we could pack in lots of fun stuff like a bike tour, a visit to the famous market, etc, etc.

We had a wonderful time ... BUT ... it all went very wrong, right at the beginning!  The downloaded instructions for getting to the hotel from the airport didn't quite match up to the map at the back of the charity shop guide book to Barcelona and neither of these matched up to reality.  Child No.3, the only one who was studying GCSE Spanish and could say more than "Dos Cervezas por favor", decided that she was unable to read or speak Catalan and consequently clammed up.  We watched in horror as famous landmarks receded from view through the train windows and there were fewer and fewer fellow passengers to ask for directions, let alone passengers likely to be able to speak English!  We managed in the end though - I am not averse to collaring complete strangers in a foreign land and am pretty fluent in "Point".

This page was done for the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog's Tag Challenge this month ... having no photos, but still in possession of a walking map of Barcelona,  I decided to punch out some tag shapes from significant sections and use the page I'd started from this month's Counterfeit Kit here.  Like the stamping?  LOL! I've used a cross-head screw to fit in with a (forthcoming) challenge over at UKS!  And this page will do nicely for ATDML's Thirsty Thursday Challenge with J for Journalling and Journey featuring rather heavily - I love a good multi-purpose page :D

What do you do when there's no photo for a story you want to scrap with?

Friday, 11 November 2011


Remebrance Sunday 2008
Today is special - it's Remembrance Day here in the UK - we hold a two minute silence at 11:00 to remember the men and women who have died in the service of their country.
In the last couple of weeks many people have been wearing poppies sold by the Royal British Legion - they are celebrating their 90th year of helping with the welfare and support of injured troops and their dependants.
Many other Commonwealth countries will be remembering their fallen today.
I'll be at work at 11:00 and hope that we'll be able to ignore the phones and observe the silence there and to reflect on the bravery shown and the sacrifices made by so very many people.

Today I have also been invited by Beverly to take part in another sort of celebration of the date (a palindromic occurrence that hasn't happened for 100 years (the date not the invitation!)).  She asked us to share 11 photos, 11 things to do before the end of the year and 11 things that we've read/seen/experienced during 2011.

2012 Collage - Jimjams
11 Photos from 2011 - more or less one a month
Ranging from a Mother's day text to a  rooftop sculpture in Italy,
from 100 years of theatre  to our first home-grown peas!

As for good intentions ... they mostly revolve around Christmas: make more than two Christmas cards, post our Christmas cards in plenty of time, make some frozen Christmas pudding, make an early start on Christmas shopping (please stop feeling smug if you've already done all of yours - I call Christmas shopping in November very early!), clean the oven in advance (I don't want guests to see the state it's normally in) and invite family to spend some festive days with us.  The non-Christmassy ones are as follows ... plant some more peas and onions for next spring, tidy up the rest of the garden, de-clutter the downstairs rooms, finish off the year's bookkeeping and get myself organised for a Blogger's retreat at the end of the month!

The 11 things that have happened during 2011 ... well I blogged about quite a lot of stuff:

Pop over to Beverly's at BE Glorious to see what other "elevens" have been shared and perhaps share your own too!