Friday, 30 November 2012

November's Number News

Eek - what happened there?  November's End crept up on me very suddenly!  Part of the reason was a scare with my Mum which has distracted me all week.  My CKCB projects didn't get any attention and there was no question of blogging creatively.  Hopefully things will be calmer for a day or two before the Christmas panic ramps up!

So here are my Numbers for November (joining in with Julie's Month In Numbers as a way of recording the year's activities):

4 = books read, bringing my total so far this year to 44, which neatly means that my monthly average is also 4

Book Cover - Star Of The Sea - Joseph O'Connor
"Star Of The Sea" by Joseph O'Connor was October's book club choice and proved to be a very interesting and educational novel set in the time of the Irish famine.  Quite an eye-opener about conditions on the ships taking people from Ireland across the Atlantic, the awful straits that Irish tenants struggled under and the disgusting racism that many Irish endured.  Based around a murder on the ship, the book was written from several people's points of view, with songs, newspaper articles, letters and diary entries interspersed with narrative passages.
Jeffery Deaver's "Death Of a Blue Movie Star" and James Patterson's "Toys" were random picks from the library shelves and both were readable, but ultimately I learnt too much about bomb disposal from the former and too little about character development from the latter!
Book Cover - The Readbreast - Jo Nesbø
Jo Nesbø's "The Leopard" was November's book club choice, but I haven't got hold of it yet.  Instead I thought I'd compromise by reading "The Redbreast" which seems to be the first translation for the UK market.  I found this quite heavy going but considerably less gory than Nesbø's "The Snowman" and "Headhunters" which I read earlier in the year.  Lots of flashbacks, different voices and Norwegian names added to my confusion, but by the end I had learnt quite a lot about Norway's experiences in WWII and was keen enough to grab the sequel "Nemesis" from the library straight away!  This was pacier (perhaps I was also more familiar with the main characters in Inspector Harry Hole's police department) and I was desperate to read more, yet also sad to reach the end of the book; while the case might be closed, there are enough threads running from book to book to make me want to grab the next in the series a.s.a.p.

5 = days course on "Advanced Employability" attended by No.2 Son at the Job Centre {I don't think there's actually a "Basic Employability" course}.  He has given up on university and now needs to find his first job.  I'm hoping that he's now motivated enough to send out his new CV, that his role-played interview skills are effective and that satisfying employment is quickly found.

½ = size of our family Christmas fund compared to last year!  Hubby's family is HUGE and, rather than each family unit buy 40+ small gifts for various siblings, their partners and offspring, each one contributes to a central fund which pays for one larger gift each. Belts have been tightened this year and the whole thing was under threat, but we have managed to prune it back a little and cope.

2 = friends I met for a belated {August} birthday lunch; my turn for a belated {October}birthday lunch will have to wait until after Christmas now!

3 = alternate destinations that Child No.3 was given when her forthcoming 2013 expedition to Madagascar was withdrawn due to potential political unrest next summer.  We now have to start researching inoculations for Costa Rica/Nicaragua!

5 = shifts at work for Child No.3 - she was successful in getting an out-of-school job as usherette in our local theatre back in August, but the wheels of local government (who own the theatre) run very slowly it took ages to get the paperwork and forms done!  She's discovered that Ken Dodd certainly does carry on and on and on telling jokes (well past midnight), but that she doesn't mind when she's being paid time and a half for working on a Saturday!  Potentially plenty of money to pay for her share of the expedition costs!

Photo - Uggly Sisters & Buttons @ Crewe Lyceum Theatre 2012

4 = free tickets to see the preview performance of "Cinderella" at the theatre: great fun, lots of cheesy laughs, brilliant costumes for the Ugly Sisters and a wonderful start to the festive season.

125 = cubic centimetres of engine capacity of the motorbike just bought by No.1 Son who is determined to turn his mother's hair grey!

If you want to see what else has been happening in November then pop over to see Julie at Notes On Paper here.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Inspiration Leaves

Occasionally it does.
Confronted by an empty cutting mat and neatly tidied supplies.  Overwhelmed by a pile of newly printed photos and a mountain of stash.
My mojo disappears.  Entirely.

What to do?  Where to start?

I normally resort to a quick surf around my favourite sites: what's the weekly challenge over on UKScrappers, or is there an inspiring sketch at Pagemaps, or how about a sketch or a challenge from the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog?  Or some combination?

The second challenge for November at the CKCB was to use autumn foliage for inspiration.  Hmmm - not an easy task with the colours I had chosen for my kit, nor great for the photos I wanted to get scrapping with.  So I did a quick Google for images and found this gorgeous spectrum of leaves from the same maple tree.  I'm a sucker for a rainbow of colour ...

Photo - Autumn Leaves Spectrum of colour by Chris Glass

And here's the page that grew out of that inspiration: spiky shapes, colourful changes, curves ...

Layout - Fun By The Bus Load - Jimjams

Layout detail - flowers made from punched snowflakes
It's a little bit of a cheat to be honest as the only things from my November Counterfeit Kit are the block of paper and the large alphas.  And yes, I did manage to combine it with the weekly challenge on UKS which asked for home-made flowers, punched shapes (they're made with snowflakes), inking and crumpling!

I'm off to look for a sketch now to keep my creative juices flowing and stop inspiration from leaving!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Wet & Windy

Layout detail - paper windmill
It's wet and windy today which reminded me of a page I did a while back as J for Julie's A-Z.  At least I can stay indoors today, but back in 2002 we were all hoping to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee with a street party so wet and windy was most unwelcome!

We started the day dry ... and it was certainly warm enough to wear shorts and T-shirts ...
Layout - Party Jubilations LHS - Jimjams

... but shortly after the children had polished off their food ... the heavens opened, giving everyone a good soaking.  We even had hail!

LAYOUT - Party Jubilations RHS - Jimjams

I've used a Sketch Support travel sketch, various Papermania Portobello Road papers and some Bo Bunny Christmas alphas :o)

Double Layout - Party Jubilations 2002 - Jimjams

The story of the day was blogged one Sunday in June back when this year's Diamond Jubilee celebrations were in full swing.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Frosting Optional!

Welcome to my little corner of Jennifer's Frosty Festivities Blog Hop.  If you've come to me from Jacky then you'll already know all about the great prize on offer, but if not, there are details at the bottom of this post.

It's getting colder and colder here in the UK and with the nights drawing in it's harder to get out for a healthy and invigorating weekend walk with the family.  But we do our best and if there's something yummy to come home to, like a steaming cup of hot chocolate or a tasty treat, there are fewer complaints as we set out!  With Christmas approaching, the next baking session is likely to include some mincemeat (the sweet kind full of raisins, sultanas, cherries and maybe a little brandy) but rather than traditional mince pies, my family is very keen on mincemeat muffins.

I discovered the recipe in January 2011 when I was looking for ways to use up left-over mincemeat after Christmas.  This festive treat is from Debbie Nicholas at Country Heart & Home and provides a welcome change from more traditional mince pies and Christmas cake.

Photo - Mini Mincemeat Muffins ready to bake

We're not great lovers of cupcake frosting here, so our version harks back to Debbie's original from 2009: topping the muffin mixture with cinammon and chopped glace cherries and omitting the frosting.  In an effort to further cut down the calories, we make them in mini-muffin cases.  These photos were from a massive baking session for a family buffet ... 60 mouthfuls of festive heaven.

Photo - Mini Mincemeat Muffins
Debbie has just produced a book full of clever recipes (including "Christmas Muffins") with lots of gift-wrapping ideas to make wonderful presents ... "Gifts From Your Kitchen" ... perfect for a crafty friend on your Xmas list, or great inspiration for yourself if you like the idea of a home-made Christmas.  It's currently half-price on Amazon too!

Photo - Frosty Festivities Prize
Click on the pic for a closer view
Do you make bake gifts at Christmas?
What's your favourite treat after a chilly winter walk?

Don't forget, if you comment on all the blogs listed in the Frosty Festivities Blog Hop, ending up with a comment to let Jennifer know you've been all the way around, then you'll be in with a chance to win a spectacular seasonal prize of Basic Grey Aspen Frost and Carta Bella Winter Fun items, worth over £25!  Comments must be made by 10.59pm GMT on Monday November 19th.

Your next hop stop is  Jenny - have fun :o)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Dot Dot Dot

Layout detail - stamping on paper and mixed font sticker title
Morse Code's  ●●  represents the letter S: S for Scrapping, S for Stamping, S for Set, S for Square, S for Stencil, S for Stickers and S for Song.

So it was pretty appropriate (but entirely coincidental) that the stamp I chose to feature in response to November's first challenge at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog was a dotty one - from a Personal Impressions set: "Grunged".   I had fun stamping the 5x5 dotted square on the background cardstock and some of the plain paper on my page:

Layout - We're Leaving On A Jet Plane - Jimjams

This layout was made during the recent UKScrappers' Cybercrop in a class that encouraged us to use lots of layering and a really long title!  Supplies are from my November Counterfeit Kit with the addition of some extra alpha stickers for the adapted song title, the sequin waste stencil I inked through, the dotty stamp and the bar-code stamp (also from the Grunged set).

When I showed the page to Hubby he said "Though we're on the monorail!" and he's right ... but it was the monorail at Orlando airport! 

I enjoyed the stamping, especially to add interest to a plain-ish paper - I'm looking forward to seeing what other Counterfeiters do with theirs as my stamps are rather neglected and need more use!


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Something For The Weekend?

I haven't posted here for a couple of days, despite having prepared several posts in draft.  Trouble is that they are for later!  BUT I don't want you to go away ... so in the meantime here are a couple of things I can share with you:

Photo - Autumn Trees
These splendid trees are just 15 minutes walk from my house
Not quite the rich colours of Autumn that I love from across the Atlantic ... perhaps this is more in tune with the season?

Wall Art - Magpie's Nest - Jimjams
Wall Art inspired by a poem about a Sparrow's Nest
published in Simply Stamping Issue #3

Things will get chillier this weekend when Jennifer's Frosty Festivities Blog Event kicks off - I'll be there with something pre-prepared - and did I mention?  There are prizes! 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Ten * Eleven * Twelve

Isn't today's date wonderful?!  It looks great (at least here in Europe ... probably less so to my American readers)!

Regular blog readers will know that I love numbers - I like them better than letters.  Can you count the reasons?
  • there are fewer of them - 10 as opposed to 26
  • they can be strung together any old  how to make newer, bigger (or smaller) numbers
  • unlike a random string of letters I can still read & pronounce 34218642556021756346906314580!
  • the everyday rules for manipulating numbers are pretty simple and very powerful - no past participles, no imperfect subjunctives, nothing irregular to trip you up - just adding and subtracting with some multiplying and dividing for speed!
  • two digits, not two letters are at the heart of the industrialised world: 0 and 1 are the binary representations of Boolean algebra that helped drive early mechanisation
  • you can count letters but you don't need to spell numbers
  • numbers are internationally recognised: I can write down my credit card number for a Norwegian, a Ukranian or a Mexican and they will all be happy
  • marking maths problems is quicker than marking English essays
  • numbers are lucky - have you ever heard of anyone having a lucky letter?
  • people understand you when you dictate a number - no confusion between 6 and 3 like there is between M & N or B & D; no need to behave like police dispatchers and spell out Oscar Uniform Tango
Unfortunately, in the hands of certain people numbers can be made into tools to trick and deceive the unwary.  My children are pretty fed up with me shouting at the TV adverts whenever a sale is announced with "up to 70% off" or a beauty product guarantees "up to 50%" of your wrinkles will be visibly reduced or your teeth will be "up to 4 shades lighter" after using a particular paste!  The adverts sound convincing, but those all important letters in the words "up to" render those poor numbers completely meaningless!

Do you like numbers?  How about Tens?  There are lots of them over at Shimelle's place - why not share your own?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Fire Away!

Layout detail - Stitched title It's the little things that separate us, make us unique!
Brits wear pants underneath their shorts.  Yanks wear shorts underneath their pants.
I walk on the pavement.  You might walk on the sidewalk (but don't drive on it or someone might think that you're an idiot!).
When it's my birthday, people here send me greetings.  In Holland they also congratulate Hubby (for what? Having such an old wife?).
I like stitching on my pages.  My friend does not. 
We have red fire engines which connect to unobtrusive hydrants under the ground ... whereas Americans ...

Layout - Fire Away - Jimjams

I was fascinated to see a real "live" American fire hydrant when I visited Las Vegas.  Even more intrigued to find that they came in different colours.  Post-holiday Googling advised me that these two were just plain boring compared to some American hydrants, but they made me happy at the time :o)

This page was made with supplies from my November Counterfeit Kit for one of the challenges in the recent UKScrappers Cybercrop - to scrap about the little things that you spot along the way.  Do you take photos of oddities when you are away from home?  Do you scrap them?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Kit detail - ribbons, buttons, blooms and a fancy paperclip
Welcome to the November Blog Hop from the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog Master Forgers.  Hopefully you popped over from Crystal, but if not, the hop started here, where there's a full list of participants so that you don't miss any inspiration.

As this post title suggests you won't be getting the normal CKCB MF Blog Hop because this month there is NO kit-to-copy!  There won't be one next month either {but that's another story, and if I told it to you I'd have to kill you LOL}  Instead, what we have been asked to do is counterfeit any collection that we have coveted from this year's releases.

I chose Crate Paper's Storyteller collection from last winter's CHA, released in February 2012.  Part of the reason was that I already had a few Storyteller sheets and stickers in my stash from a prize.

November Kit Originals

So that's: Phrase stickers, Lifetime (yellow graph & hideous flowers), Document (R,W&B diagonal stripes & blue plans/ledger), Tag Cuts sheet (which sadly has a lovely grey/white pattern on the reverse - why couldn't those flowers be the B side of the tags?), Border stickers and a 12x12 Alpha sticker sheet (which already featured in my August Counterfeit kit)

I set about investigating what else was in the collection:

Crate Paper Storyteller Collection Winter 2012

Some red chevrons & pennant outlines, yellow/white letters & plain-ish dark grey/navy, more hideous flowers and pink plans, white plans & cork, orange & green dots, red pattern & blue chevrons & grey pattern & woodgrain for the papers and a large sheet of die-cuts.

Now there are no rules to counterfeiting; it's about using up your stash, so I refused to include any pink and certainly had no intention of trying to match the floral sheet!  Nor do I use many shaped die-cuts on my pages.  Instead I pulled the following:

Dots = Lily Bee Design Double Dutch Lemonade plus Portobello Road Polka Dot Blue
Chevrons/cork = MME On The Bright Side Brown Stripe
Navy/Grey plain-ish paper = B side of MME On The Bright Side Polka
Red papers = B side of Prima Animal Bash (the A side of which which I will NEVER use)
And together with some trim, buttons, blooms and a couple of fancy paperclips, my November Kit was born:

November Counterfeit Kit

The next Master Forger to share her counterfeiting is Lisa so please hop over there to see what she's been up to this month.  In the meantime, if you fancy it ... here's a musical interlude :o)

P.S. Last few days to submit to the CKCB Master Forger call ... details here!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

I Was A Mummy ...

Layout detail - title buntingAs children we don't always think about our parents as real people - they provide & protect, comfort & cajole. Their lives surely revolve around us: we are the centre of their world :o)

Eventually as we get older, realisation dawns that our parents were alive. Just like us, they studied, travelled and partied; they were not always so staid, so stay-at-home; they might even have a tale or two to tell.

Those two paragraphs are written on one side of a tag on this page in my Book Of Me - an 11.5"x8" album that contains pages about me and my past.  On the other side of the tag is one such tale, about my fancy dress exploits in Sweden, prompted by the photos which recently surfaced on Facebook!

Layout - I was a mummy RHS - Jimjams

Drinking in Swedish pubs was shockingly expensive so it was perfectly normal to have a few liquor-store-bought drinks at home with friends before hitting the town. The prices encouraged us to host and attend parties most weekends and these were often themed to spice them up. Here we are, a mix of Brits and Swedes in the lads' house in Bjurhovda in 1982. I can remember thinking that Karin's carrot outfit (an orange sheet and a plastic fern) was simply inspired, whereas my bandages kept slipping and gradually revealed more and more as the night progressed!
Fun times :o)

Layout - I was a mummy LHS - Jimjams

The photos and story were committed to paper (made with the remains of my October Counterfeit Kit) thanks to inspiration from the UKScrappers Cybercrop - just about finished now - though there are some "use your left-overs" classes to come today.  And this post is part of  Siân's Storytelling Sundays - there will be lots more Sunday stories here (all comers welcome)!

Double LO - I was a mummy before I was a mummy - Jimjams