Tuesday 31 May 2011

Half Term Again!

Half term seems to have careered into existence pretty sharpish this time around and I am extremely glad it has. I popped to Hay-on-Wye for the Literary Festival with a friend for the bank holiday weekend and had the most wonderful, relaxing, stress-free time. Plus it rained and I got to have the ultimate camping experience. Sort of.

Just wanted to share my page for ScrapFactor from last week. We had to use multiple photos and I worked in a bit of paper piecing as well.

"So Robert took us to see the dinosaurs in Regent's Park because some bloke had told him they were there. When we got there, no one knew what we were talking about. So we went to see the geese instead. Geese are naturally hilarious and have this crazy offended dignity which completely disintegrates when they run away from your camera, honking. Then all the other geese try to pretend they aren't with that one. Anyway, we had an unexpectedly brilliant time, saw (and heard, oh-my-goodness) baby herons, and had a cup of tea. Slurp."

I'm still working together my journalling for Week-in-the-life and now that it's half term and I have a little more time, I want to start sharing that and think about some of the pages I'm going to make. My approach has been journalling-focussed, partly because that's how I scrap, and partly because, I knew I was never going to have time to do the crafty. However, once the journalling is ready, I'll have the record ready to go whenever I like and those snippets of writing will always be here.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Survived another round of Scrap Factor over at UKScrappers - pretty nerve racking each week so thanks times an embarassingly large number if you voted for me!

Thursday 26 May 2011

A Week in My life

I'm collating my week in the life stuff although I think I may have hit overkill. Have you ever done something every day for a really long time and never thought it was weird? Try writing about it. It turns out I'm psychotic.

When I get into bed tonight, I will set 2 alarms: the clock radio for 6:30 which is the proper alarm which makes Classic fm start playing, and then the phone alarm at 6:35 just in case the clock radio experiences a power cut and doesn't go off and I miss work. None of this sounded paranoid yesterday when I hadn't written it down. Anyway, both clocks run fast, the clock radio by about 5 minutes and the phone by about seven so in reality it goes off 2 minutes later than the clock radio and still pretty close to six thirty.

I do this EVERY DAY. And it's not normal. I can quit any time I want to obviously. But I'm not going to in case of the power cut and the work-missing potential.

Many more thoughts have been collected and over-analysed and then next week over half term, I can start to scrap them :D

Meanwhile, I've been working on these....

And this....

And this...

Kisses xxx

P.S. Anyone done Week in the Life before?

Monday 23 May 2011

Just One of Those Moments

Tough on crime, fair on justice...Sings a song, has a moustache?

This is one of my favourite ever quotes from the West Wing. If you haven't seen it, see it. Seriously, I'll wait. Anyway, I was (quite literally) making a song and dance out of this quote at work. My niche in the office is being annoying. Anyway, the reference was lost, the dance unappreciated. Whilst complaining about this to fab friend Ruth, not only did she simultaneously quote with me but she had also had the thing stuck in her head. Great minds think alike. Even greater ones then go on and make scrapbook pages. Although it was Ruth that got me hooked on the West Wing so I think I'm going to have to claim hers is the superior mind.

This was my page for ScrapFactor last week - I'm totally chuffed to be through and this week's pages are now up on UKScrappers.

This week, I'm going to put together some week-in-the-life type journalling, although I'll be working a day behind. I've never done one of these before and I know Ali Edwards runs them every so often, so I'm going to take inspiration and do it my way. So tune in tomorrow for the stuff I'm recording about today. Make sense? No?

Kisses xxx

P.S. This photo isn't relevant to the story particularly but it is a picture I love of me and Ruth giggling away on Deckchairs. I love photos from this perspective. Maybe a post on that at some point too.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Miss Smith Makes...

...A picnic.

...A ribbon garland.

...An iPod case.

Inspired by Pinterest and Mollie Makes, it's been a crafty weekend. And now I'm going to snuggle up with my knitting and watch a bit of Grey's Anatomy. Talk about melodramatic.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I made the ribbon garland out of some old curtain rings and offcuts from my ribbon box jar which was overflowing and crying out to be used. I'm quite chuffed with it.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Letting Go

Letting go is hard, even when, at the end of the day, it's just stuff.

Journalling reads:

Here it is. All my notes and working from all that time spent in lectures and libraries, at my desk or lying on Robert or Claire’s rooms’ floor working on problem sheets. Figuring out and mainly getting stuck. And occasionally resorting to copying. Good copying, adding in my own mistakes and false starts. I found out what it was like to truly not understand a problem no matter how hard I tried. To sit in concentrated thought for hours and achieve nothing. Or to battle against a slowly retreating tide of knowledge. More and more aware that there is a vast quantity that I will never understand, never know, and an even greater amount whose existence I will never be aware of. But now I don’t really have room for it. I don’t need it and it has done its job. A 2:1, hard earned. But this is not how I measure it. 2 feet of notes in lever arch files might be the sum of my knowledge. But it is not the sum of my experience. Lessons learned, ideas challenged, the pursuit of knowledge because it’s interesting because I want to know, because I love it. Geek! Rushing headlong through a mathematical landscape with friends. Good times. And although this is all behind me, and I might get rid of these files, I will always have this experience. Although, actually, I think I’ll keep one.

It's funny how sometimes a picture doesn't tell you anything. But now I've got the picture, and the page to explain it, I don't mind letting go. Because I know I'll never need to remember the difference between div, grad and curl, know how to mathematically model a financial derivative, or solve a multi-variable partial differential equation. And if I want to know how to prove Sylow's theorem about p-subgroups, it's in my organiser because I wrote it all out in there to help me learn it for finals.

I just might like to remember that I could.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I've been a bad blogger I know, but I totally intend to make up for that in the near future.

P.P.S. It's not too late to check out the London Scrappy Meetup - get in contact with Nat or me if you can make it!

P.P.S. Deep breath....through to another week of ScrapFactor! Thank you so much for voting for me (if you did ;D) and you can head over to see the pages this week.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Tumbled into bed last night after Guides and a long week at school with a bowl of rice pudding (and golden syrup with little white chocolate stars for bedtime, obviously) and just though....Yes. I needed this.

It's been a busy week: school concert, meeting parents, marking exam papers, last minute exam-preparation with the older students, and an explosive nosebleed. Not me, a pupil. However, a pupil with reasonable common sense who bled into his hands and on his clothes very neatly, whilst avoiding getting any blood anywhere in the classroom. I think I'll give him a merit sticker.

Of course this riled up the rest of my excitable class and found me exclaiming "EVERYONE SIT DOWN AND TAKE A WHOLE HANDFUL OF CALMING TABLETS". They did. And one student looked at me, all kindly condescension and said "I think you mean a chill pill, miss".

This is the kind of week I've had. Could be one for the scrapbook though. Because even though it's been hectic, it's been fun.

So today, it's going to be casual lunch with a friend, and Eurovision + pizza + mockery tonight. Anyone else have a Eurovision tradition?

Kisses xxx

P.S. I will soon get back to folks who are interested in the London Scrappy Bloggy Picnic. Yay! But so far, we're thinking afternoon in Green Park.

P.P.S. The winner of my ScrapaGoGo NSD giveaway is....Candace! Congraulations Candace and thanks to all who entered.

Monday 9 May 2011

Roll Up for the Big London Scrappy Bloggy Meet Up!

OK, so we're going to work on the name but Nat over at Scrapbooking + Other Adventures and I feel it's time we got to hook up with you lovely crafty bloggers out there. So on Saturday 21st May, we'll be hosting a picnic in London and you're all invited! I really hope some of you are close enough to London to join us - for details send me an email: kirsty dot merran at googlemail dot com, and I'll set up a little mailing list. And a plan in case it rains...

Plus, if you're coming, stick it on your blog and spread the word! Looking forward to meeting you :D

And on the subject of scrappy goodness and sharing, I wanted to share my page for the UKScrappers ScrapFactor last week. Totally jazzed to get through! The challenge was to take inspiration from a song and so I did. Sort of. In fact, I went for a bit of anti-inspiration in the form of the Thong Song. Not my taste in music at all, but it was the perfect light-hearted inspiration to scrap these photos taken a couple of years ago at uni. The day we knitted thongs. The journalling reads:

"Stitch and bitch was always most awesome in the summer. We’d cart our big box of knitting outside and plonk on the grass of St Swithuns lawn. The cake came with us, but the kettle had to stay inside. Because that’s where the plug socket was. Duh. Still, there was plenty of tea and some knitting and the odd game of Frisbee which kept the guys happy and was considerably more successful at our out of doors gatherings. It was just so lovely to lie outside on the grass, large sunhat for purposes of style, looking good and just a little bit eccentric in the tourists’ photographs, and cunningly avoiding sunburn. The most memorable was the one when Connie and I decided to make thongs. Out of liquorice. We found a pattern online. By accident, naturally. We weren’t googling for “how to knit a thong out of liquorice” obviously. The pattern recommended knitting on chopsticks to avoid stickying up the needles so we turned up dutifully to the lawn on Sunday afternoon with pattern, chopsticks and packets of red laces in tow. The pattern turned out to be simple; the execution a nightmare. Our laces weren’t all that long so we had to periodically pause the knitting and tie on a new one. The chopsticks were chock were basically friction central so we made our peace with sticky needles and abandoned them. Eventually, after not inconsiderable effort (and mockery), we made it. Totally triumphant, dude. We laid them on the grass while we played frisbee and gossiped. Gossiping being the most important part of Stitch and Bitch. Clue’s in the name. As we cleared up to leave after an afternoon well spent avoiding work and responsibility, we realised that our carefully crafted liquorice thongs had dried out in the sun and disintegrated. Structural integrity fail. So we chalked it up to experience and ate them. What, did you really think I was actually going to wear it?"

Kisses xxx

P.S. Please come!

Saturday 7 May 2011

National Scrapbooking Day Bloghop!

Welcome to (Inter)National Scrapbooking Day and my leg of the ScrapaGoGo bloghop. If you're following along, you may be visiting from Sarah's lovely blog. If you want to join in, you can start at the ScrapaGoGo blog too :D

Thought I'd share the story behind this page, which is brought to you by a few hybrid elements and a rather lovely die cut piece of paper from my May ScrapaGoGo kit.

"When we set out to walk around Snailsden reservoir, the first thing Dad did was strike out in the opposite direction. On what it pleased him to call "the path". Up on t'moors (Yorkshire), t'ground were covered wi' great bigg grassy tussocks, some o' which give way when trodden on. No way of telling which ones! You can always tread the gaps betwixt them but some of 'em 'ave boot-sucking bogs in between. Again, no knowing which. So we tramped and stumbled and wound our way around the reservoir, brought up short by the odd wall here and there, or a hidden stream without a bridge and clumps of thigh-high scrubby bushes. And all the time we were entertained by the incessant nasal honking of a Canada goose choir rehearsal. At least, that's what we assumed it must be. Eventually we made it round which was quite the achievement (and actually quite good fun). But there was absolutely, definitely, completely, totally and undeniably nothing whatsoever approaching a path."

I love playing with words when I write my journalling and I couldn't resist including a little bit of God's own country. Yorkshire five! (That's like a high five but while wearing a flat cap). Ever tried to include an accent or dialect on a page? Give it a shot!

And now onto Nic who has another post in store. Happy Hopping!

Kisses xxx

P.S. The work RAMBLE might be useful to your in your travels along the hop!

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Banner Ponderings

Subtly different from Banner Musings. But still draped with floaty reams of ribbony paper which make us just as happy. I wanted to share this project: it's a page I made for ScrapaGoGo with the May Kit. I'm a big fan of this one and I think this is my favourite of the pages I made. Pink + Aqua = lush. I made all the banners here using the Stamp (and then painstakingly cut them out) - you can find the tutorial over on the ScrapaGoGo blog. My first tutorial!

And why Green Pasta? It was something of a signature dish of ours back in those uni days. The pasta isn't green but we put lots of broccoli and spinach in the sauce. And garlic too, which doesn't make it green, but y'know, tastes top banana. Only not actually of bananas. And that's why I'm not a food critic. Anyway, vegetables are good for students and we loved this recipe. It made us full and happy because it was delicious and it made our doctors and parents happy because of the vegetables, and because we didn't mention that the sauce is made from cream.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Totally been scrapping to the telly of late: I have run out of House DVDs after Season 4 and I'm now working my way through Grey's Anatomy. In between I watched Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. Why did it get cancelled?!!!

P.P.S. The mathematician and the scrapbooker within me are in love with graph paper patterns. It's like ledger paper for geeks. LOVE and fabcakes.

Monday 2 May 2011

Banner Musings

Banners are lush. True story. I made this page for the UKScrappers ScrapFactor competition. Thanks times loads if you voted for me because I made it through to the next round! The challenge was to take inspiration from an advert and I found this really tricky. Mainly because the things I usually like about adverts are the words and unless I felt like making a layout called "Beanz Meanz Heinz" (I didn't) I was going to have to work a little harder. And then I found an advert in a quilting magazine of my Mum's with a photo collage and... bunting! Bingo.


"Dad has great ideas. As he says: if he didn't have them, no one else would. And this day was all his idea. First, we had a cuppa in bed. Obviously. Then a crumpet for good measure. While we chewed it over, Dad explained the plan: have a little stroll around Holmfirth's charity shops, then head home for a delicious fry-up brunch in the garden. It's been a terrifically sunny April and we totally indulged in Mum's fab cooking. Plus we had waffles and hash browns. Jazzed! Then we went for a walk around Scout Dyke reservoir. I was conned into believing it was one but actually we clocked 4 and a half miles around Royd Moor reservoir too. Anyway, we took loads of photos, got eyeballed by a committee of six cows (rude!) and finished off with an ice cream. In a chocolate waffle cone. Yum! And then we went home and made curry for tea. The end.

I love being able to visit home, go for walks and catch up with Mum, Dad and Matthew. I wish I could do it more often"

This design was pretty much built around this banner that I cut out from a sheet of October Afternoon patterned paper.

So I'm stash diving* at the moment, pulling out anything with a banner, cutting it out, painstakingly I might add and then adhering it on foam pads. I love the light touch it gives, like something strung delicately across the page. Having a bit of a bunting theme going on in fact. And it's also cropped up on Shimelle's blog this week. I LOVE what she's done with fabric and want to branch out and have a go at this!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Thanks for the camera feedback! Watch this space for more photo info soon :D

*If anyone would like to join me in the creation of an Olympic Stash Diving team, please put your send your available hours on a postcard and we'll set up some training for 2012. Go Team GB.

Sunday 1 May 2011

O! How I love my camera

I really appreciate all the comments you left about my photos and I want to answer one of the questions as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday. Colleen's asked about my camera and I want to tell you about how it came to be.

I use a Canon EOS 30D. And I LOVE it. I bought it about 3 and half years ago after 6 months of agonising. And saving all my pennies, naturally. I had outgrown my point-and-shoot and really wanted more creative freedom. The kind that you get from a dSLR in manual mode.

It all started one summer when, bitten by the photography bug, I spent time in bookshops, reading everything I could about photography and buying photography magazines. I have always enjoyed learning and being a mathematician I was very comfortable figuring about the technical side of the camera I wanted. To some extent, it's a numbers thing. And it took time, but I felt it was worth it to acquire a new skill and to improve my photos.

When term started again at the end of the summer, I joined the Photography Society. It worked out at about £2 a week and although they didn't teach much about the technical side, they were heavy into composition and the artistic approach. Which worked for me as I felt that was much harder to learn from a book.

Each week, we were given a theme and asked to submit a photo for discussion if we wanted. And then we would sit in the dark with the photos projected huge on the wall and one of the art fellows at the university who specialised in photography would discuss them with us.

The first week, we had to submit three photos we'd taken that we liked. There were loads as at photography club in the first week, you could go for free to see if you wanted to stay. We only discussed a few pictures and all three of mine were passed over. One was dismissed as boring - one of my favourite pictures that I'd taken at that point. The guy didn't pull his punches.

The next week, there were considerably fewer people. Maybe lots were put off by the criticism. I was nervous but when you're in the dark looking at and criticising pictures, no one can see you blushing. No one can tell you're embarassed. No one can tell that you actually really love that picture and it makes you fell small to have someone tell a whole room full of people that it's no good. So I submitted more pictures anyway.

The theme was Portraits (Indoors). I borrowed a friend's dSLR to give it a whirl and straight away, I knew the quality of the pictures was incomparable. I loved how the camera felt in my hands and I loved the way my pictures were so much lighter. I worked in aperture priority mode and I submitted this picture to the Photography Society.

And this time, the Fellow loved it. He said it raised all kinds of questions about who these people were, where they were, and why the girl in the middle was wearing blue tights. He also said it wasn't focussed properly but when you're experimenting with someone else's camera and you've got three friends lying upside down with their feet in the air so you can take a portrait for your photography class, you don't question things like this in as much detail as you should. As a beginner, I was so proud of this picture. As I've become more experienced I now know there's lots wrong with it. I should have manually focussed on the shoes nearest I think rather than a random spot in the middle. I could have framed and composed the shot a little better to include all the shadows and it would be nice with slightly more exposure to really make the legs stand out against the wall behind. But I don't care. I still love it. I keep it as my desktop background to remind me to keep practising.

I handed back the dSLR (reluctantly) to the friend, determined to buy one of my own. And in the mean time, I kept going to photography club. And fewer and fewer people would submit photos so I always got expert feedback on my photos for £2 a go. Bargain! I learned a lot. I learned not to be offended by being told a picture is boring. The Fellow was speaking as a photographer and I don't need all my pictures to be technically good if they mean something to me. I learned to submit bad photos that I wanted to get good advice on how to improve, to have the confidence to say I know there's a lot wrong technically with this picture but I like the concept so how can I improve it?

Meanwhile, I read a lot of reviews and went for the Canon EOS 30D because, as dSLRs cost a bomb, I wanted one I wouldn't grow out of. The 30D isn't an entry level model and nor is it one of the high end ones. It's sits comfortably in the middle and I love it's size and weight: it's heavy and it's quite large and I can really wrap my hands around it. I didn't get that feeling from the smaller ones. Actually there have been many new incarnations of this camera since I bought it but I'm still growing with it and learning more about it. Plus the fact that the new model 40D had just been released meant that the 30D dropped in value and I was able to afford it.

But mainly, I kept on practising. And, like anything in life, if you practise a lot, you might improve a bit.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I hope you all enjoyed snapping a day in pictures. Because being a naturally curious girl (read: nosey, interferring busybody) I love seeing everyone's insights into their day. I find it fascinating to imagine so may completely different days and lives happening simultaneously all the time, most of which I'm completely unaware of. The thought that struck was the fact that even though I posted eleven photos from my day, it doesn't necessarily convey the bigger picture, just the odd details.

P.P.S. I've never really written about photography before. It just hasn't occurred to me. Are folks interested in reading the odd post on this topic? My favourite lens, a bit of technical stuff and my favourite ways to take pictures are all things I'd all like to share.