Monday, 31 March 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #13

Helena's meme to zoom in and out with photography continues on; it's nearly the end of week 13 and I almost came a cropper as there's not a lot of photography happening.  However, today I had a moment free in the garden which is looking dull and boring: too much moss, too many weeds, too many fallen leaves, not enough colour (apart from green) ...

 ... when I spotted that there is some beauty out there - you just have to get up close. 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

March Books - A Mixed Bag

Louisa Young's "My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You" Last month I wrote that I was half way through our Book Club choice: Louisa Young's "My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You" and I am happy to report that the second half was as beautifully written as the first.  Young gives an appallingly clear insight into the experiences of the soldiers both on the front line and on leave.  Equally movingly described is the strain of waiting at home on the soldiers' wives and girlfriends.  Some tried to cope with housework and shopping: in a constant, numbing state of readiness for their loved one's return.  Others found that work was a welcome distraction, paying forward nursing care to soldiers.  Soldiers' injuries were often appalling and the book describes pioneering facial reconstruction techniques in heart-rending yet interesting detail.  The characters and plot kept me engaged right to the end; a thoroughly good read.

David Hewson's "The Killing" My sister in law knows that we are big scandi-drama fans here and insisted on lending me her copy of "The Killing" by David Hewson: a novel written from the screenplay ?!?!?  Luckily I had forgotten much of the plot of the series which was shown on BBC4 in 2011, although I could remember who did it!  The novel explained the political shenanigans better than I remembered from the TV series. Both lead you up the garden path on the trail of red herrings (mixed metaphors, sorry) but there is an extra, very clever twist at the end of the novel that went beyond the televised finale.  I was pleasantly surprised in the end and may have to borrow the novelised sequel from my sister in law to see if Hewson can pull it off again.

Robert Goddard's "Sight Unseen"I grabbed my next book from our shelf of ex-library/bargain bin/gifted books: Robert Goddard's "Sight Unseen" promised a thrilling mystery set around Avebury.  Having visited the ancient stones just last year, I was initially immersed in the description of a child's sudden kidnap and the efforts of a retired policeman and a witness to find motive, perpetrator and victim.  However I became less and less enamoured of the story as the action flitted from Avebury to Prague to London and Jersey and the originally impecunious witness paid for plane tickets, car hire and hotels as if money was no object.  Overly large amounts of historical research and improbable plot developments left me bored and frustrated respectively.  In fact I'm convinced that I've come across at least part of the plot before in an episode of Bergerac or some other TV series/film ... I wonder which came first?

John Grisham's "The Brethren"My nearest library didn't have a copy of our March book club choice so I grabbed randomly from the "new" books shelf.  John Grisham's  "The Brethren" looked like an interesting read: prisoners working a blackmail scam from inside a prison hook the wrong fish.  It started well with an engaging account of a prisoners' court dealing with internal grievances, introducing the scammers.  However, after successfully blackmailing a few unfortunates, they target a man being groomed by the CIA to be the next president of the United States.  What might have been an exciting will they, won't they story was overwhelmed by the machinations of presidential campaigning mixed with unpleasant activities involving the CIA.  There were several odd interludes that had no purpose that I could fathom and the ending left me pretty cold.  The first Grisham novel to let me down :-(

Oh dear - after a great start, March's books were getting increasingly disappointing.

Susan Hill's "I'm The King Of The Castle"It was therefore with some trepidation that I started on another random library choice: "I'm The King Of The Castle" by Susan Hill.  Although it was on the "new" shelf, the book was originally published in 1970.  The story describes the unhealthy relationship between two ten year old boys forced into companionship by their parents during their summer holiday from boarding school.  I was entranced by Hill's depiction of the psychological bullying perpetrated by one boy on the other and appalled at the inability of the parents to notice their unhealthy relationship.  Packed with symbolism, the novel is a real page-turner as the victim's torment ebbs and flows but steadily increases towards the tragic climax.  A very unsettling read; I can fully understand why it has been republished as a classic of its decade.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Style-ish Scraplift

At my recent scrapbooking retreat I was getting to know my table-mates Karen and Michelle and admiring their skills with masks, stamps and inks for making beautiful backgrounds when Karen challenged us to get out of our comfort zones by swapping styles.  She reckoned it would do me good to get inky for a change and she might have fun trying out a more blocky C&S style.

Scrap 365 Sketch March 2014The Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog had a challenge to add texture to your background which needed doing.  I also wanted to have a go with Scrap 365's March sketch and wondered if I could replace most of the layers of paper with layers of texture paste and ink ...

I used a 6x6 Crafter's Workshop punchinella stencil and some texture paste to add 2 strips of small dots across the page as well as a scrap of white card for an extra layer.  Once these were dry I added some colour to the background before inking through a chevron stencil right across the page.  This was then overlaid with the 12x12 version of the punchinella stencil and more texture paste.  Finally I added some ink splatters before layering up the photo on scraps of paper from my March Counterfeit Kit.

Jimjams - Layout - Seaworld 2001

The page needed a little more colour ... a sun made from a spiral paperclip and some washi combined with a few of my kit's starry gems did the trick.

Jimjams - Layout detail - texture paste, stencilling, washi clip and gems

Hmmm ... it certainly is inkier than my normal but you'll note that I still had to have my layers horizontally placed across the page!  Karen adopted the blocky graphic style of one of my pages but couldn't quite resist adding a few trademark ink splats - we are obviously both creatures of habit!

ETA: Here is Karen's style scraplift of my original page.

Do you have a particular technique/style that you struggle to avoid?  Do you ever style-scraplift your friends' pages?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

My Name Is ... Brie

Jimjams - Layout detail - polaroid journalling - for SJ Crafts
I'm rather envious of Child No.3 because she has already met the latest additions to our "family" and I have not:  No.1 Son and his lovely girlfriend became proud owners of two Bengal kittens on Boxing Day.  Had they produced our first grandchildren we'd have been up to visit long ago, but it's hard to justify a 6 hour round trip for some cats, no matter how cute they are, especially when Hubby prefers dogs!  However, Child No.3 enjoyed a long weekend with her brother and got to play and pet and photograph them.  I, meanwhile, have had to make do with Facebook photos and videos ... when I spotted a "selfie" there recently I knew it needed scrapping!

And when I received the Teresa Collins My Name Is collection pack from S J Crafts I knew I had the perfect papers for the photo!

Jimjams - Layout - Cattitude - for SJ Crafts

There are 9 double-sided sheets and two sheets of sticker in the collection - I've used large blocks from Journal, Love and Words, pieces from Polaroids and Record, along with some scraps of toning cardstock, wooden buttons and twine.

These kittens are quite a handful already - playful, intelligent, spirited - so it seemed appropriate to alter one of the 3x4 cards with the alphas from the collection pack.

Jimjams - Layout detail - altered quote card - for SJ Crafts

I'd better get a companion page done for the "boys" now - off to check out their Facebook uploads!

Monday, 24 March 2014

How Many Posts?!?!?

Welcome to the final post of the March CKCB Members' Blog Hop; if you didn't reach me from Cindy then you might want to start at the beginning with Lisa.  This month we had a choice of three challenges to use for the hop (#1 Use Watercolour Techniques, #2 Be Inspired By Jennifer and #3 Add Texture To Your Background).

I had a page all ready for the texture challenge, but then I realised that today I'd also celebrating blog post No:

Jimjams - Tagxedo - 400th blog postso I decided to combine texture with my favourite on-line tool: Tagxedo.

As you can see from the image, it's possible to load up  your own text to be used as the outline rather than use the pre-defined shapes (here I selected Shape ► and Add Words ... and typed the characters "400", chose ChunkFive font and then inverted the shape.

It's also easy to upload special fonts to use instead of the standard ones: my 200th blog post explains how I used Saru's Flower Ding Font, available free from dafont here.  Any special font has to be already downloaded onto your computer and then uploaded into Tagxedo by selecting Font ►and Add Fonts ...

Mothering Sunday is approaching (in the U.K.) so I thought I'd see if I could combine these two actions and make my outline shape from the character set of an added font.  I loaded Wingdings2 into Tagxedo first, then made my shape the letter "u" in Wingdings2 to give me ❶ (I generally copy & paste from the Windows Character Map to select characters in weird fonts as it's impossible to remember all the character equivalents ... this sheet is useful for quick reference though). 

Jimjams - Tagxedo - No.1 Mum

My Tagxedo text was simply the letters "M", "u" and "m" rather than the word "Mum" plus a ♥.  I forced the ♥ to be artificially large using ♥:150 and the letters were repeated 40 times (for some reason it's necessary to type in the letters individually rather than use "M:40 u:40 m:40" but I have NO idea why).

I used the defaults for everything else except:
Theme = Pi Palette
Font = a few of the ones I like best (deselect unwanted ones, including Wingdings2!)
Orientation = Horizontal
My Word Options were:
Remove Common Words = No (for small words like “a”, “is” and “it” ... and "m" and "u"!!!)
Combine Identical Words = No (so that "M" and "m" aren't treated as one item)
My Layout Options were:
Max Word Count = 150 (stops the letters getting too small - for printing out reduce it further)
Allow Replication = Yes (to fill the shape without typing "M", "u", "m" repeatedly)
Font Preference = All (the ones I have selected)
I messed about with  Layout, Colour, and Font Respins until I found a combination that I was happy with - utilising the History to see thumbnails of the variations - before using Save ... to get an image onto my computer.

And here's the finished card:

Jimjams - Card - No.1 Mum

My Coluzzle circle templates were dusted off to cut out the Tagxedo image and mat it onto a scrap of textured orange card before scissor distressing the edges.  The starry strip is made with a 6x6 Crafter's Workshop punchinella stencil and some texture paste which was coloured once dry.  The rest of the supplies (washi, butterflies, ledger paper scraps) are from my March Counterfeit Kit.

I've just had the Tagxedo image printed onto a mug for a matching gift ... Aldi have free postage on gifts at the moment with the code EASTER3 ... hope it arrives in time!

Well, that's it for the CKCBMBH today - if you missed anyone you can see the whole blog hop listed here. If you fancy joining in yourself next month, just drop the CKCB a mail - everyone is welcome.

P.S. If you're new to Tagxedo, please check out some of my other Tagxedo posts for more tips & tricks.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #12

This time last week I was scrap, scrap, scrapping away at a wonderful retreat organised by my friend and fellow Master Forger Lesley.  She has blogged a few photos from the weekend here ... can you spot me?  No doubt there'll be a layout or two about the retreat to go with the ones I made at the retreat!

I was sitting on a sofa in the hotel reception, waiting for my lift home, reflecting on the challenges, the chocolates and the chatter, my new friends, their inventive fancy dress and the delicious food ... when I looked up and spotted ...

... the most amazing light fitting!  Our crop room was directly opposite the reception desk so I must have passed underneath it a hundred times during the weekend ... ????

It just goes to show what you might be missing if you don't take a moment to look around (up?) from time to time.  With thanks to Helena and her ZIZO meme which is making me do just that!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Very Versatile Vellum

My first DT post over at S J Crafts has just gone live ... I've been playing around with the most versatile product: starry vellum from the Crate Paper Boys Rule collection.  I'd already used it once for this page to tone down the bright stripy paper, but I found another four fun ways to use it, including a pocket ...

Jimjams - layout detail - vellum pocket - for SJ Crafts

... which helped me squeeze 14 photos of No.2 Son with crazy cartoon characters (from our Florida 2004 holiday) onto a double page spread:

Jimjams - Layout - Crazy Characters - for SJ Crafts
{click on the picture for a larger view}
The title letters are cut with Sizzlits Round-a-bout dies but the page is so busy that I had to doodle around them to help them stand out a little more.

Jimjams - layout detail - doodled alphas - for SJ Crafts

I had originally planned to spread the word "Characters" across the two pages, but annoyingly the word wouldn't fit without leaving one letter across the page join or another obscuring part of a photo!  Once I'd decided to split the word and keep it on the RHS, I hated the empty space left on the LHS ... and added the word "toon" in an effort to balance it all a bit.  Ggggrrrrr!!!!  Next time I must remember to plan my title a little better before sticking everything down!

The page supplies, including the starry vellum, are all from Crate Paper's Boys Rule collection (see here for details of the products and all the other ways that I've used the vellum).  While you're over at S J Craft's blog, don't forget to check out their March Prize Challenge - the deadline is March 31st.

P.S. I've already made a Lean Mean MAXI book with these photos for No.2 Son, but now we get to keep them in our holiday album too.  Do you ever scrap the same (set of) photos again?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Unexpected Mail

When I'm expecting some post, I end up listening for the footsteps of the postman striding up our garden path and the clunk of the letterbox flap combined with the thump of mail falling to the hall mat.  These days there is quite a lot of junk mail delivered with the regular post, but when I was younger, the bills were fewer and the hand addressed mail more regular.  The anticipation of opening an envelope written in an unfamiliar hand was only exceeded by the happy recognition of a letter from an old pal.

These days it's all too easy to dash off a quick e-mail or post something short on social media.  Less thought and effort can go into "talking" this way, and quite often less attention goes into "listening" like this.  A physical letter can be read and re-read while it hangs around on the side table; a postcard adds some colour to the kitchen noticeboard; both remind you to get back in touch with the sender!

Jimjams - Happy Mail
A couple of my blog friends (Ruth & Mel) have been making an effort to send real mail out during February: their cards really brightened my month along with a wee prize and a beautiful thank you note.  A great reminder that post doesn't have to mean payment and a nudge to put pen to paper a little more often myself!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #11

All too soon it was time to collect Child No.3's art back from the Young Artists In Tuscany Exhibition (see ZIZO #10).

Jimjams - ZIZO 11 - Art work - Young Artists In Tuscany
However, having unpacked, we will now be able to display some of her art on our walls instead! Looking on the bright side with Helena's Zoom In Zoom Out.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Going Wild With Washi

Over on UKScrappers there are occasional mini-cyber-crops when some enterprising souls put together a few challenges to get the creative juices flowing.  I spotted one asking us to examine our stash and feature something that we have a lot of but use too little, whilst eschewing patterned paper!

Well my March Counterfeit Kit doesn't have a lot of patterned paper & this would be a good chance to use up several of the journalling cards ... plus LOTS of washi tape ...

... though not as much as at first glance because it's only between the photos and journalling cards, not underneath them {I'm not made of washi unlike a fellow Master Forger at the CKCB who shall remain nameless}!

The photos are from last summer's Scandinavian road trip which culminated in Stockholm.  Following a quick introductory tour of the city with friends, we explored the quaint, narrow streets of the old town: "Gamla Stan".  Hubby & I had elk meatloaf for lunch.  You've got to sample the local dishes when you visit a foreign country, haven't you?  However, we did feel guilty seeing real, live elk in the zoo the next day!

What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten on holiday?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Counterfeited Stitching

One of this month's kits-to-copy with the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog included Studio Calico stitched journalling cards.  Regular readers will know that my sewing machine is set up and ready to go sew at the slightest opportunity, so I jumped at the chance to counterfeit these.

First off, I grabbed some scraps of ledger paper and cut them into rectangles that more or less matched some of the journalling cards in my March Counterfeit Kit.  As I'm not a pocket page scrapper I wasn't too bothered by the exact dimensions, but if Project Life is your thing then you need to measure more carefully!

For my first card I lightly pencilled in the word "happy" in a cursive script, keeping to the ledger paper lines.  I slowly, slowly machine-stitched along the pencil lines, exactly as I had drawn them, using a medium stitch length and stopping to rotate the card every few stitches.  A hand sewing machine would be ideal for this.  I alternated between careful pressure on my foot pedal and hand cranking!  When my pencil line reversed direction so did my stitching and I was very careful to match up the stitch holes when over-sewing to avoid shredding the card: paper is not as forgiving of needle holes as fabric is!

Jimjams - Stitching on paper
Not my normal sewing foot: this one gave me best visibility of the pencil line ... I think it's actually for cording!
The thread ends were pulled through to the back of the card and taped down to secure them.  Taping them down thread rather than knotting them means that they remain secure if you decide to trim down the card a little before you use it.

The next three cards were quicker and simpler:  a longer length stitch for a straight line (or two) across each card.  These lines were embellished by pre-piercing holes for triangles, a heart and arrow heads and then hand-sewing in the same thread (see photo below).

Jimjams - Use sewing machine to quickly pierce even holes around paper shapesMy final card started wasn't a resounding success: I decided to add shaped ledger papers to patterned paper from my March Counterfeit Kit and wanted to stitch around the shape using twine from the kit.  made stitch holes with my (un-threaded) sewing machine as that's quicker and more even than hand piercing.

Sewing with bakers twine started well, but as the twine got worn from travelling through multiple holes in the card, it started to fray ... and when I started filling in the stitches to make a solid stitched line, the card began to give way!

Not a good idea to sew with Bakers Twine :-(
{Sewing with fibres is even worse!}
If I'd stuck to (stranded) embroidery thread I'd have been fine.  Rather than carry on hand-sewing, I chopped my card in two, reloaded the sewing machine and quickly framed the arrow card instead.

Jimjams - Counterfeited Studio Calico Stitched Journalling Cards

Now of course you can go one step further and counterfeit the stitching as well.  So in the order to be completely true to my post title, here are a couple of fully counterfeited, counterfeited stitched journalling cards:

Jimjams - quick faux stitchiing

Simply lay your card over an upturned mouse mat, pierce regular holes in a line/around a shape and fill in the gaps with a fine pen.  I still prefer the real thing though!!

Lots more counterfeiting going on today at the CKCB - check it out!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #10

Last Thursday we experienced our very first gallery preview night.  With free drinks and nibbles and bouquets and congratulatory speeches and everything!  Some of the artists were familiar to us and one in particular we've known all her life!  Following last October's ten day trip to Tuscany, between two weekend workshops, Child No.3 and forty or so of her fellow "gifted and talented" students have had their creative efforts exhibited at the Contemporary Art Space Chester.

One of their pre-trip projects was to design and make outfits based on the costumes in a Ghirlandaio fresco; the students had to use a coffee & cream colour palette and add a modern twist and have the outfits ready for a fashion shoot in the Italian manor house they were staying in.  Both the outfits and the photos were on display, along with sketches, plaster moulds, embroidered drawings, altered boxes, mixed media landscapes and woven fabrics.

It was lovely to see such amazing and varied artwork on display and I hope that the students and staff got as much of a buzz out of taking part as we proud parents had from being there.  10/10 all round!!

I'm linking this up with Helena's Zoom In Zoom Out ... and appropriately its 10 out of 10 for me too!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Surf's Up!

March's photo inspiration challenge over at S J Crafts got me scrapping with some photos that have been in my "to scrap" pile for a LONG time. No.1 Son had a wind-surfing course with his first ever girlfriend back in 2006, but as they broke up shortly afterwards it seemed inappropriate to be scrapping photos of her!  I think his heart has recovered by now, especially as he's currently house-hunting with his current squeeze.

Jimjams - Layout - Surf's Up! for SJ Crafts

Jimjams - Layout detail - banner stickers & "Blossom" alphas
The papers in Crate Paper's Boys Rule collection were a great match for the sails and the banner & pennant stickers were perfect for a nautical theme.  I love how the starry vellum tones down the stripes and adds extra interest.
Initially I cut the title letters (using QK Blossom dies) from one of the journalling cards that matched the stripy paper, but decided that using the coloured stripes themselves was more eye-catching against the white cardstock.

This month Annie is offering a prize for one lucky challenge joiner-inner - check the details here.

Keen readers will remember that I promised a prize for having a go with the S J Crafts' February sketch.  The winner is announced over at S J Crafts here - along with a couple of favourite sketch interpretations.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #9

We spent half-term visiting universities to help Child No.3 decide where she's like to spend the next three years of her life.  You'd think that this was the perfect opportunity to snap some great photos for Helena's Zoom In Zoom Out ... but no ... there were far too many talks and tours and mini-lectures to attend.  Plus I did not want to embarrass her any more than I normally do ;-D

So I was content to wait until a quiet walk through woodland near my step-mother's house when we visited the night before one of the open days.

Jimjams - ZIZO 09 - Forest Walk
A peaceful, if slightly muddy, ramble in the company of two border collies - I wish we'd thought to bring wellies, it would have saved a lot of shoe cleaning!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Thirtieth Counterfeit Kit

Jimjams Counterfeit Kit detail Time certainly does fly when you're having fun!  I have been Counterfeit Kitting for just over three years now and this will be my 30th "free" kit, "bought" from my existing stash ... you'd think that I'd have no scrappy supplies left by now, but somehow they keep getting replenished ... can't imagine how LOL

Anyway, welcome to my 30th kit share: we're using Cocoa Daisy's February Kits as inspiration and you may have started with this month's Guest Designer, my friend Elaine, or you may have popped over to me from Angela's blog and seen her arty take on things.

Time is short for me this month, plus I have my first DT kit from SJ Crafts to play with, so I decided to keep my Counterfeit Kit small.  I was desperate to counterfeit the Studio Calico stitched journalling cards, so I decided to have a go at counterfeiting the Day In The Life Add-On.

Cocoa Dasiy February 2014 Day In The Life Kit

Now I don't actually do a daily, weekly or even monthly pocket style of scrapping ... but I'm going to try and incorporate all these mini cards into my layouts ... either with lots of layering or with a blocky design.  So here's what I'll be playing with this month:

Jimjams Counterfeit Kit March 2014

Supplies (many gathered while tidying away old counterfeit kits)

Echo Park For The Record 2 Alpha Stickers (Aug/13 CK)
MME Cut & Paste Flair Today Tiny Word Stickers (new stash from SJ Crafts)
Simple Stories SN@P Alpha Stickers
EP FTR2 Journalling Cards (blue dots reverse)
¼ sheet of EP FTR2 Just My Type (ledger reverse) (Aug/13 CK)
½ sheets of  EP FTR2 Wallpaper (B&W diamonds reverse), Diamonds (blue arches reverse), Fancy (yellow damask reverse) (Apr/13 CK)
Tiny Envelope
MME Happy Days Twine (Jul/13 CK)
American Crafts Flair Buttons
Studio Calico Wood Veneer Stars
Counterfeited Flag Clip (fold washi around a paperclip and trim)
Home made "polaroid" card (Aug/13 CK)
Dovecraft Silver Jewel Brads
Simple Stories Journalling Cards from Urban Traveller and 24/Seven
Spiral & Hanger Clips
Studio Calico Veneer People
Webster Pages Transparency (Nov/13 CK)
Gold Star Gems
Die Cuts from Pink Paislee's Portfolio Ephemera (Nov/13 CK)
Punched/die-cut butterflies
¼ sheet of MME Dolled Up Madras (multi-coloured cross hatch reverse) (Mar/13 CK)
WRMK Yellow Washi Tape
Websters Pages Green Washi (Jan/14 CK)

That's a LONG supply list for such a small kit!!  As intended, I've had fun with my sewing machine counterfeiting the journalling cards - not all of my experiments worked well - please come back on the 8th to see how I got on.

Jimjams Counterfeit Kit detail

The full hop list along with this month's details is published on the CKCB today - but if you're already on track then Julene is next on the tour.

P.S. There's still time to have a go with the SJ Crafts  February Sketch before their March challenge goes live on Tuesday 4th and be in with a chance of a prize ... check it out
Sorry! Too late the linky has expired :-( More prizes later this month though!