Thursday, 31 May 2012

May's Month In Numbers

May's end has arrived all too quickly.  It's been a mixed up month with hail and heatwaves, fun and frustration, celebrations and sympathy.  And being the last day of the month, it's time to join in with Julie's Month In Numbers where a bunch of us use numbers to document the things that are important to us.

30 = the minutes Niece No.1 was allowed to transform Child No.3 from a schoolgirl into the personification of the Olympic torch as part of a make-up competition at her college.

Flaming make-up

= books read this month (all World Book Night Editions) and all great reads (so far).  First there was my own choice, "The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger, which was no less thought provoking, uplifting, engaging, upsetting or brilliant upon its second reading than the first time.  I do hope the people I handed it out to on World Book Night 2012 enjoy it as much as I have.

Next up was the WBN choice of a friend from my reading group - "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy which was depressing to say the least.  At times the writing style annoyed me (no punctuation, sparse repetition interspersed with excessive flowery abundance). Perhaps that was meant to mimic the way of life of the father and son protagonists but I prefer authors not to use such obvious methods.  That's not to say I wouldn't recommend the book though - quite a worryingly believable post-apocalyptic tale which left me thinking - and that's a good story in my opinion!

Jo sent me a copy of "How I live Now" by Meg Rosoff for my daughter and I to read.  Telling the story of Daisy, an American teenager in a near-future occupied England, it was another book that didn't use punctuation but it was somehow far less of an irritation this time around.  Read in one sitting, I enjoyed the contrasts between the strangely idyllic Swallows & Amazons beginning with the horrifying realities of powerless children being buffeted about by the actions of adults.  The final part of the book felt a little rushed and unsatisfying; I'm looking forward to discussing it with Child No.3 soon.

The half-book is Ian Banks' "Player Of Games" sent to me by a friend on the Isle Of Man. Come back next month to find out how I got on with it!

130 = the height in feet of Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe, which we visited, along with Avebury and West Kennet Long Barrow while staying with friends in Wiltshire.
West Kennet Long Barrow
Us (& Alfie) in top of West Kennet Long Barrow
46 = the number of pounds I spent replacing the hard drive of my laptop which failed 7 months after my last back-up.  Not to be confused with the 46000 seconds (approximately) that I spent laboriously retrieving all the un-backed-up files from the failed hard drive to put onto the new one; which has now been backed up!

26 = years of marriage celebrated this month

5 = hours spent at home by No.2 Son while fetching a suit to wear to his university summer ball - more fun for us than posting it to him as originally requested!

3 = children who have all been sitting exams this month (last but 3 GCSEs for Child No.3, first year Sociology exams for No.2 Son and the final Masters exam in Chemistry for No.1 Son).  Now the wait for various nerve-racking results days begins!

P.S. This post was pre-scheduled so there will be some extra numbers to add when I scrap them ... such as how many people took part in my {Inter-}National Scrapbooking Day Challenge (final deadline at midnight GMT tonight), how many stitches I have in my arm and how many seconds it took for the Olympic torch-bearer to run past me today!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Final (chance for a) Challenge

I ♥ my hands - Jimjams
Yesterday at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog they announced the final challenge for the month of May - a good 'un - and today the Master Forgers show theirs starting here.  Unfortunately I haven't had time to join as I'm having surgery today and have been busy getting my house straighter than normal!  As it involves my write arm I'm not sure how much blogging or commenting I can do for a few days and have scheduled some posts in advance.  Hopefully Blogger will play nice.

It's also the last few days to take part in my {Inter-}National Scrapbooking Day challenge to be in with a chance of winning a small prize.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Happy Mail #2

The same day that my Happy Mail from Natalie arrived there was also a note from the postman telling me he'd been round with a parcel while I was out and that I had to wait 10 hours before going to the main post office to collect it!  In effect that meant I had to wait until the next day, but boy was it worth the wait!

Box detail

My friend José (who introduced me to scrapbooking back in 2006) had sent me some glue supplies: I love Hema's photo glue as it's cheap, easy to apply, repositionable, easy to clean up and it's also photo safe! José is VERY crafty and so it wasn't just any parcel that I picked up ... inside the brown paper packaging was ...

Hema fotolijm box

AND there was a little extra something in there just for fun:

Decorated box of gems

Almost too nice to start using ... but not quite!  Thank you José - I ♥ you!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Happy Mail #1

Look what was waiting on my doormat when I came home the other day - some beautiful mail art from Natalie over at Almost Never Clever - it's part of Ginger's words-themed 2012 Mail Art Exchange.

 Thank you Natalie - a gorgeous envelope enclosing a beautiful card.  They made my day!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Hat Trick

The first challenge over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog this month was to be inspired by some hats that Bethany had pinned ... and I had a tale to tell about No.3 child and her new beret so it seemed appropriate to be using some photos of her wearing it.

No.3 Child & Alfie the English Sheepdog
No.3 Child ♥ Alfie
But as is often the way, I got sidetracked and put the unfinished page to one side.  Then along came challenge #2 which was to use fabric ... and I'd already decided to make use of some net inspired by those hats ... what luck!!!

Layout detail - net

We recently spent a weekend in Wiltshire with friends and enjoyed some great rain-free walks in the countryside with their beautiful dog Alfie.  As you can see, Child No.3 still had energy left over for climbing trees!

Layout - a top hat - Jimjams

Using my May Counterfeit Kit, I've based my page on the May sketch over at Sarah's Cards so that is, appropriately enough, a hat trick of challenges in one layout!!

Layout detail - net and lefy die-cuts

Friday, 18 May 2012

Five on Friday #4 (Blog Loving!)

The other day I had a sweet comment from Ang over at Mad For Paper to say she was naming me for a Liebster Blog Award as she liked it here at Just-Jimjams.  Thanks Ang!

I'd never heard of the award, so I Googled ... and came up with over 2 million hits, but no real origin because pretty well ALL the posts I checked were from recipients like me, puzzling over the origin, but accepting it gratefully and passing it forward to five of their favourite blogs!  A sort of blog chain-letter I suppose.  In fact doing the maths ... if one person awarded it on January 1st to five others, who took a month to award it to five others, who took a month to award it to five others ... then we'd have a mind boggling 244,140,625 recipients by the end of the year (and many billions more if people were quicker to re-award the award).

Liebster Blog Award - all 244 million of them

Now chain-letters that appear in my in-box get deleted immediately, but this is more about spreading the love and telling smaller bloggers (with fewer than 200 followers) that someone, somewhere, not only reads their blog but likes it enough to recommend it to their own readers.  I'm very, very happy to be on Ang's List of Five (and one of the 244 million + bloggers to receive the award in 2012 too), so I put on my thinking cap and tried to come up with five blogs I'd like to recommend further:

Alexa over at Trimming The Sails because her blog is calm and serene, thoughtful and inspiring; she has a wonderful way with words, photos, paper and pixels and, having been lucky enough to meet her at a retreat last year, I know that the humour and sunny smile that shines through in her blog posts is there in real life!

Ann, a mad scientist from Coventry, whose musings are always interesting and filled with lots and lots of scrappy goodness.  She's got 3 kids (like me), wears glasses (like me), gave a class at Pink Booby 5 (like me), has taught at the, now defunct, Exhall crop (like me) and is a very hard-working Primary School teacher (unlike me, but that's another story).

Lisa from Recklinghausen Musings, is a fellow Master Forger from the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog.  I am in awe of the quantity of quality items that Lisa makes.  She takes part in frequent LOAD challenges, makes huge numbers of Christmas cards, helps run a challenge blog of her own and is always enthusiastic and supportive.  All this means that I completely forgive her predilection for pink!
I love all the things that Lizzie made, especially her wonderful hand bound books.  She's another blogger I have had the privilege of meeting in real life at the aforementioned retreat (which Lizzie organised)!

And last alphabetically, but by no means least,  there is Tracie of Doodledays who scraps and journals beautifully about her large and complicated extended family.  You can't pigeon-hole Tracie's "style" because she is always coming up with new ways to showcase her photos with clever hand-cutting, doodling and page design; she's a constant source of scrappy inspiration.

Liebster Award

That just leaves me one more thing to do according to the Liebster Blog Award rules:
1. Thank the person who gave the award √
2. Link back to their blog √
3. Post the award onto your own blog √
4. Choose 5 new recipients with fewer than 200 followers √
5. Let each of them know about the award

P.S. There's still time to enter my {Inter-}National Scrapbooking Day Challenge here ... the odds of winning a random prize are still good ;o}

P.P.S. Just found a Liebster post from December 19th 2010 but the recipient couldn't remember where she got it from, so I guess there are now a gazillion recipients out there :o}

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Accounting For April

I will keep up.  I will keep up.  I will keep up!   Following hard on the heels of March's Month In Numbers which was very, very late, here are my only slightly late figures for April!

Easter Egg Hunt 2012

27 = the number of plastic eggs I hid in the back garden for my 3 not-so-little kids to find.  The eggs contained clues towards some giant luxury chocolate slabs along with tons of brightly coloured jelly eggs I brought back from Las Vegas.

Jelly Eggs

6 = people at home for an Easter roast dinner which was all eaten up despite the copious quantities of sweets and chocolate that had been scoffed!

24 = World Book Night Books I gave away, including a few to readers of this blog

3 = books read this month: "The Last Testament" by Sam Bourne, a tale of intrigue in Jerusalem which left me cold.  I much preferred my Reading Group's book: "Remarkable Creatures" by Tracy Chevalier, a very interesting account of early fossil hunting in Lyme Bay, highlighting the inequalities that the fairer sex suffered, especially if they were from the working class.  It was also educational to read about the struggle to reconcile religious beliefs regarding creation in relation to the newly discovered fossils from unknown creatures.  I was also almost unable to put down the first book in "The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins as the story was gripping from start to finish.  I wonder if the film will be as good?

2 = how many kilograms I lost a week after re-starting healthy eating - 7 more to go to reach my initial target

1 = a weekend visitor from Lithuania who was fascinated by the local dry stone walls, our friends' sheep, geocaching and a 1000 year old hollow yew tree in a nearby churchyard

1000 year old hollow yew tree - St Mary's Astbury

9 = pages made from my April Counterfeit Kit - my all-time record.

Are you joining in with Julie Kirk's "My Month In Numbers"?  It's a fun way of documenting your year - check it out why don't you?!  Go here for other Aprils in numbers.

Oh and while I'm at it, I guess this post will be just the ticket for Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth, being as it contains ten numbers!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Little Light Counterfeiting

May Kit detail
Welcome to the  Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog Master Forgers' Blog Hop (or CKCBMFBH for short)! 

Studio Calico's sell-out April 2012 kit City of Lights was chosen as the kit-to-copy for May:  there was a main kit with lots of exclusive papers, stamps and embellishments along with four luscious add-ons to choose from.

I wanted to keep my kit quite small this month and plumped for just one of the add-ons ... "Louvre".

Studio Calico April 2012 Add-on "Louvre"
Studio Calico's Louvre Add-on for April 2012
Hmmm, my stash contains no butterflies, no woodgrain, no chevrons ... maybe I should have plumped for one of the others kits?!

Hang on!  If I substitute stripes for woodgrain, with some butterfly stamps and white ink taking the place of the white doily print, select some bright vellum circles instead of bright butterflies, choose some lime fine print for chevrons and finally grab some yellow paper with regularly spaced circles then, perhaps, a reasonable counterfeit is happening!

May Counterfeit papers

Each of the original patterned papers has also got a "B" side so I gave myself permission to grab stash that coordinated with my substitutions so far, rather than match them to the originals!

May Counterfeit papers - "B" side

After adding some stamps, a few sheets from a SMASH pad, some plain white chipboard alphas and a few buttons, I was ready to counterfeit those lovely Maya Road kraft pins.

May Counterfeit Kit - Jimjams

Grandpa's Overalls Stripe by Mustard Moon
B side of  Happy Days from the MME Ooh La La collection
Spring Green Wallstreet by Mustard Moon
Sei Sporty Circles vellum

The Fifth Ad from Gin-X's Desperately Seeking Summer collection
K&Co Wild Saffron Blue Swirl
B sides of of MME Ooh La La Checked Out & Soiree

Banana Frog butterfly stamps, Brilliance Moonlight White pigment ink
Personal Impressions texture & dots stamps (from the Grunged Set by Kirsty Wiseman)
BG White Chocolate Chip Alphas
K&Co Travels Smash pad
Grey & white baker's twine {not in the original kit, but having bought it in a fire-sale, I need to use some of it up}
Various buttons from my stash
Kraft pennants made from pins and parcel paper

Last month it worked well to choose cardstock on the go, so, like the Add-on that I'm counterfeiting, I'm leaving it out of my kit for now.

Not a bad counterfeit, and it certainly didn't cost me $31 to put it together ... more like $0!!!

I wonder what Jen chose to counterfeit?  She's the next port of call on the CKCBMFBH ... right here!

Piggy Tales

I really enjoyed last every month's Sunday Storytelling over at High In The Sky - some of the tales are sad, others funny - but I really love the ones that spark my own memories. When that happens I immediately start preparing a tale of my own to share later in the year. Siân had a story about two beloved teddies at the beginning of March which got me thinking about No.1 Son's favourite toy: a pink pig called, appropriately enough, "Piggy".

Layout - This Little Piggy - Jimjams

Now this Piggy was little, perfect for chubby hands, with a curly tail and soft pink fur. Piggy went everywhere with No.1 Son and kept him safe at night; he was so well loved that he was soon rather more grey than pink. After about a year, Piggy came with us on our first family holiday - to Majorca, one of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. Piggy stayed in our apartment when we went to the pool or the beach, but listened closely to the bedtime stories at nap time and at night. One day we hired a car to do a little tour of the island and Piggy was invited along too so that he wouldn't feel lonely at nap time! We had a lovely drive around the west coastal roads and stopped for photos of poppy fields and olive groves and lemon trees on the way home.

Lemon Groves - Majorca
The freshest lemons I've ever seen!
Finally we returned to the apartment and struggled up several flights of stairs with a sleepy toddler, the picnic basket, the blankets ... but ... no Piggy!
Piggy was gone!!
Not in the car, not on the stairs, not in any of the bags ... nowhere!!! Tiredness soon turned to tears and No.1 Son was inconsolable.

Layout detail - twine & tags - JimjamsBeing relatively new parents with nothing better to do than indulge our 15 month old, Hubby got right back in that car and retraced our journey half-way round the island, reaching the poppy field and the lemon grove before realising it was too dark to carry on searching! On his empty handed return we were desperate to find a substitute and searched the apartment for a cuddly item for No.1 Son to hug. We eventually managing to get him off to sleep clutching the slightly damp ball-shaped sponge from the bathroom!!!!

The sponge was a bedtime fixture for the rest of the holiday but was supplanted by something furrier on our return to Holland. Piggy made a miraculous re-appearance a few months later, complete with a very clean coat, a straight tail and the ability to squeak when squeezed!
No.1 Son was SO pleased to see him that the differences weren't a problem ;o)

Do you have your own soft toy memories? Why not share them via Storytelling Sunday - we'd love to hear them!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

{Inter-}National Scrapbooking Day 2012

Welcome to the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog Master Forgers' blog hop to celebrate National Scrapbooking Day - though as I'm in the UK that should really be "Inter-national" shouldn't it?!

I'm hoping you've travelled via Crystal to reach me, but if not you can catch up with the start of the hop right here.

We've put together some challenges to help you use your stash and I'm looking at my pile of half-used alphabets today.  In this house, half-used alphabets often stay that way, gathering dust and I end up cutting my titles with alphabet dies.  Why?  Because the title I have in mind contains the letter "e" ... or "s" ... or "o"  and those letters are among the first to get used up - no matter how many elextra vowsletter repeats there are, it is never enough!
What can be done about it?  Here are five ways to reduce that pile of half-used alphabets:
  1. Adapt
    It all depends on the alphabet of course but a number of letters can be made to look like others:
    Cut the tail off a "Q" to make "O", turn a "W" upside down to make "M", try a "p" or "q" on their heads for "d" or "b" (and vice versa) or try "Z" on its side for "N"!

    Cutting up stickers to make other letters - Jimjams

    How about cutting off the bottom of a "j" for "i", the top of a "g" for a "y" or snip the tail from a "p" to make a serviceable "a".  "R" can look like "P" with a bit of a trim, and "h" can become "n" or even "u"!  The letter "B" is easily transformed to make "E".
    Then of course there are the numbers that can do double duties: "3" could be turned into a curly "E" as can "8" and we all know that "0" is fine as "O". A flipped "6" or a "9"  might fill in for "g" or even "y" {see above}.  Take a look at your alphabets, I'm sure they are just as versatile as my examples.

  2. Mix Up
    Not enough lower case letters?  Or too many?  Mix them up and choose letters from different fonts to increase the variety.  If they are different colours you can always use paint, ink or pens to add some uniformity.

  3. Layout - Twisted Pineapple Carving - Jimjams
    Pineapple Carving
  4. Be Thrifty
    I have plenty of half-used chipboard and die-cut alphas and often use the outline of a letter that has been used elsewhere - ink or paint it to match the rest of your letters and everyone will be admiring your style rather than thinking that you are a cheapskate!

  5. Layout - Torre Alfina, Italy - Jimjams
    Inked Scenic Route Chipboard alphas
    Layout - Near & Dear - Jimjams
    Luxe Designs Classic Black die-cuts
    Layout detail - Wheely Well - Jimjams
    BG White Chocolate Chip alphas
  6. Cover Up
    Ever bought an alphabet because it was a bargain and then, in the cold light of day, been left wondering when you will ever find a use for letters which are lilac* or primrose* or pink*? {*replace with hated colour of your choice}
    I have!
    Nowadays I buy bare chipboard or white alphabets because I know how easy it is to colour them to suit.  For my older alphabets I find that black ink or paint covers up a multitude of awful colours.  Even those teeny tiny alphabets that are so great for sub-titles can be coloured: here I've transformed butter yellow into a pretty green with a little turquoise ink - just leave it to dry before using!

    Colour teeny tiny alphabets with ink - Jimjams
    This Little Piggy
  7. Feature
    OK, these ideas are all very well, but I still have sheets that are missing everything except an almost unusable combination of consonants with a few "u"s and "y"s, some punctuation and the odd digit! So why not use them as a background - just stick them to a tag, the back of a journalling card you'll never use or a scrap of cardstock.  Then paint them with emulsion, acrylic or gesso before adding some colour if required.  They'll make a great textural addition to a page!!

    Use alphas stickers on tags - Jimjams
    I even went one further with some giant letters from an old sheet of BG Color Me Silly monograms which I covered in tissue paper before inking up!

    Use up large alphas on a 12x12 sheet - Jimjams
My challenge to you is to use up some neglected alphabets in one of the ways I've listed or share one of your own!  You can join in by posting a link to today's CKCB blog hop post.

If you also leave me a comment before May 31st linking your take on my challenge to this post you'll be in the running for a small prize from me (a link back to my blog from yours will double your chances of winning), and, it being {Inter-}National Scrapbooking Day I'm happy to send out that prize anywhere in the world!

In the meantime, please carry on to Jen to see what {I-}NSD challenge is waiting for you there.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

This Little Piggy

I am not a happy bunny ... my hard drive seems to have died.  It is a month or two five since I did a full backup (oops!) and I have spent the last few days laboriously copying files and folders from my almost unreadable hard drive to safety!  Thank goodness Hubby knows a thing or two five million about computers!  While I wait for a full replacement and restore I shan't be blog-(hopp)-ing quite as much as usual because my bookmarks, contacts, passwords etc are still in limbo.

Luckily I have some posts pre-scheduled, a Counterfeit Kit for May to put together and one last page from April's Kit to share with you.

Layout - This little Piggy - Jimjams

Layout detail - hidden tag - Jimjams I had made the page for the sketch challenge over at Sarah's Cards, but thanks to my IT problems I've missed the deadline.  Not to worry though as that brings my total for April's Counterfeit Kit to a record-breaking (for me at least) NINE pages!

This little Piggy belongs to No.1 Son and there's a piggy tail tale hidden on the tag. If you want to know what's written there you'll have to pop back on May 6th when I'll be joining in with Siân's Storytelling Sundays again.  Have you got a story to tell?  Why not join us?!