Wednesday 29 June 2011

Just Getting Down Some Journalling

I never shared this page, that I made for the audition round of Scrap Factor over at UKScrappers. I hardly ever doe double pages as I'd rather do two singles. No reason, it's just not as big. And I can make 2 separate pages about one thing if I want to. Still, here it is, and I wrote about the Drink Shop and Do aspect of the Annual Tea Potter.

Anyway, I wanted to write a little about our school fete, which occurred recently. It's a huge affair and anticipated quite highly by the students. Except the one who told me "It wasn't a good day for me last year, Miss. I fell in the Hook-a-Duck pond".

A highlight is the famed International Food Tent, stocked with delicious yummies made by parents from a huge variety of cultures. And you can always round of Chinese, Indian, Sri-Lankan, Greek and West African with a cupcake and some Pimms while the school band play an Abba medley.

The Headmaster always leads a roll call for the new Year 7 students and makes the same speech each year about the history of the school when it was founded about 500 years ago. It begins "Let it be known..." and continues to be punctuated by this same phrase each time a new historical figure/world event/old headmaster figures in the story. This year we took bets on how many there would be for a 50p stake. I lost. It was double my guess.

The day was rounded off cheerfully by watching the boys chuck wet sponges at a fellow maths department colleague in the stocks. I shall forever recollect the sixth former who, missing with each sponge, went for it with the hose instead. From a distance of 3 feet. I have copious photos to prove it, as well as some nice water-droplet-sponge-in-mid-air shots.

I knew there was a scrapbook page in the making :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. Got to pack up soon as we're taking our Guides camping this weekend. It's my first camp as a leader so I'm more excited that the girls I think. Except maybe the one who has her birthday then as well. Let there be cake!

P.P.S. Obviously there will be cake anyway as that's how we keep the Guides happy. I meant additional cake. Specifically birthday themed cake.

P.P.P.S. So now I am frantically trying to sew all my old badges to my new camp blanket before Friday. Not going to happen.

Monday 27 June 2011

No Patterned Paper????!!!!!

No patterned paper definitely warrants punctuation abuse. The English language, though it served Shakespeare well, definitely fell short when I contemplated the UKScrappers Scrap Factor challenge of scrapping without my favourite supplies: patterned paper. After some thought, I decided the best thing to do would be to make my own. Cue white Bazzill and some acrylic paint.

First I ruled a ledger onto the back. I LOVE ledger paper, it's probably my favourite thing to use as a background as it's great for journalling. And I used a biro because I thought that would stay put under paint. It did. Mostly. Then I sloshed diluted orange paint merrily over the top, dripped it in little drops in the corners and ran around the edge of the page with a distress ink pad or two. Distressed borders are lush.

I didn't work out quite as I imaged. I took Sassafras Sweetly Smitten collection (designed by the fabulous Michelle) for my inspiration. And ended up with this. I...quite like it. And I would do it again if I ever find out how to paint and not make the whole page crinkly. I know I should probably just embrace the crinkle and get on with it, but I can't. The crinkle has no place in my life. So until then, this experiment is on hold.

Except for the drippy drops and the distressed edges which I rather like and used on my page for this week. The challenge was to re-scrap a picture from an old page. Glad I did this as I like my new page much better. To check it out, as well as all the other lovely entries, hop on over to UKScrappers and take a look at the Scrap Factor Gallery.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Am a bad blogger and totally need to update more often. Have loads to share but no time to share it in, alas.

P.P.S. Thanks for the ideas with these pictures. I love the idea of printing them in black and white and making the story the focus. Pictures small and moody could be quite theatrical which will be nicely appropriate for a Globe page.

P.P.P.S. Thanks to everyone who voted for my page. I'm so excited to be through to this round, and equally nervous to match.

Thursday 23 June 2011

In Search of Lost Ideas

So here's my problem.

Lauren and I visited the Globe. And it was incredible. (This part isn't the problem). It was magical. I revelled in the way the night descended popping a velvety top over the round, open air theatre. The actors involved the audience amazingly and I think we all felt involved and caught up in the performance. A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, and monarchs to behold the swelling scene. But I get ahead of myself.

I emailed trusty friend Ruth before I went. She'd been to the Globe before. I had standing tickets. Apparently those who buy cheap standing tickets, which, incidently give you the best view in the house, are called Groundlings. And the groundlings who get there first stand at the front and can lean on the stage, taking some of the pressure off the old feet. But how soon should this little groundling arrive in order to secure such a mighty position? So I asked Ruth, who has groundling experience. Would it be like the Proms? I enquired. At the Proms if you want to be in the front row, you need to arrive five or six hours before the start of the concert.

Ruth's response was magnificent: "As I recall, they open the doors about half an hour before, and people don't tend to queue, they tend to mill around, so it's all about getting there a bit before doors open and milling strategically near an entrance! Evidently Shakespeare etiquette is different from classical music etiquette!" It seems in this case at least, queueing is a custom more honoured in the breach than in the observance.

We decided to go an hour before curtain up (although there wasn't a curtain) and take our chances with the milling around. We're both plucky young lasses from Yorkshire and we were pretty sure we could take these Southern Softies if needs be. Once more unto the breach.

Anyway, it turns out there was a queue but a short one, and we joined it and, when let into the theatre, managed to secure one of those revered spots leaning on the stage. And so we were ready for them to turn th'accomplishment of many years into an hourglass, for the which supply, we paid our five pounds. Sounds cheap but it's a rip off if you remember that the peasants only had to pay a penny. Inflation is a cruel mistress.

As you know, when it comes to Shakespeare, the play's the thing and the actors start off by coming out and having a chat with the audience, welcoming them etc. and two pleasant ladies in Elizabethan costume casually discussed the proximity of the Globe to the Northern line with us. As well as causing an incredibly awkward moment where Lauren and I misunderstood the question "Have you come here together?" There's nothing like genuine Elizabethan conversation. It just happens to be the wrong Elizabeth.

As I've mentioned, the play was like nothing I've ever been to before - I forgot about my feet hurting and revelled and chortled in the vibrant atmosphere. When one of the characters brandishes a sword over your head, leaning out over the audience and sliding his foot inexorably over the edge of the stage, right where you were standing half a second ago until you're pretty sure he's going to overbalance....well, you have to pay attention.

The play ended as the actors all danced a cheerful jig and All really was Well that Ended Well.

And my problem is this: these are the only pictures I have. That they aren't good, tis true. Tis true, tis pity, and pity tis, tis true. But since brevity is the soul of wit, I shall pose my problem here without further ado. I want to scrap this story. I don't like these pictures. How would you get round it?

I could print them tiny so no one will ever know. I could get better ones off the internet (don't like this idea, but not sure why). I can wait for another visit and get better ones. I guess I'll have this story here until then anyway. So all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Would really appreciate other ideas and suggestions.

Good night, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I LOVE Shakespeare. But All's Well That Ends Well is a strange play.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

In Need of Tranquility

I scrapped this story here, words by Liz, about our tea experiment (inconclusive due to inadequate levels of significance) for Scrap Factor over at UKScrappers where the theme was using texture. And this week's gallery shows how we all managed without that number one tool in the scrapper's arsenal: patterned paper.

Never again - it was far too hard to resist the stash!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Crazy busy, need a holiday, and a proper one this time with nothing actually to do. On plus side, busy has involved school fetes, ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, planning fab things to do with Guides at camp and setting up my own little photo-booth project. More on all of these later. In theory. If I ever finish writing those school reports.

P.P.S. For those that asked, the washi tape from last post is from Paper Chase, the big one on Goodge Street in London (Baby!) and I LOVE it and try and sneak it into all my pages.

P.P.P.S. Really want to say thanks for all your lovely comments - has totally given me a lift this week as I dash past the internet in a blur :D

Thursday 16 June 2011

Unhealthy Obsession

Short post just to say: I LOVE washi tape with journalling lines already on it. GENIUS.

"I go through phases with DVD boxed sets. Wendy caught me at a vulnerable moment when I'd run out of House. Her cure? Lending me Grey's Anatomy. This is all very well as it's gripping, absorbing, melodramatic, utterly addictive, and I love it! Basically, Wendy is an enabler, able to accurately predict when I will run out of one season in order to feed my habit and supply the next. So now in a morning, upon my arrival at school, we gossip about people I don't know pretending to be other fictional people I don't know. In fact they make my own colleagues seem tres staid and conventional. Then of an evening I go home and watch a couple more episodes. "I can't believe George slept with Meredith!" "Will Burke ever opperate again?!!!" "NO WEDDING???!!!" And the whole process is very satisfying because I firmly believe they could lead cheerful lives if they just pulled themselves together. But if they did, it wouldn't be much of a TV series and I'd have to gossip about my real colleagues. Hmm..."

Kisses xxx

P.S. This page was for last week's telly-themed ScrapFactor at UKScrapper. Thank you so much if you voted for me to go through!

P.P.S. And now I must go and play with my shiny new white mist because, y'know, YAY!

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Dove or Sure?

I took this picture of our deodorants 4 years ago. And I hung on to it because I knew one day I'd scrap the story. The picture of Connie and me is more recent but as we had just spent a weekend hanging out, it seemed appropriate. So I give you, the conundrum, Dove or Sure.

"Connie and I shared a room in the little Chalet in the Polish mountains. We put our deodorants out and instantly confused them. The ensuing conversation went:
"Are you Sure?"
"No, I'm Dove."
"Are you sure?"
"No, I'm Dove."
Repeat ad nauseum. As Connie said, we accidently produced one of the most underrated pieces of rapid-fire comic dialogue ever to have escaped the London stage. Genius! We were informed that our subsequent giggles half the night kept our friends awake. Two rooms away."

And this page is brought to you courtesy of Shimelle's sketch of the Week

P.S. Car wouldn't start yesterday. Exasperated. Ran around London looking for public transport going in the right direction. Tired. Arrived at work late. Sweaty. Ew. Discovered yoghurt had exploded into bag. Unlucky.

P.P.S. In the evening, after copious attempts to get the car going, I called the AA. Cheerful chap arrived, turned the key and the car started. Embarrassed. Tried to explain that I am not as pathetic as I seem and get him to write a serious fault on the form that he had then magically fixed. Offered to let him take all the credit. Offer deemed not all that generous as I wouldn't have been able to help anyway. Car behaving perfectly today. Think car should have the grace to at least look sheepish. Had heart to heart and explained that I love it but that it needs to be reliable. Car potentially confused as doesn't seem to speak English or any recognised human language. Or unrecognised human language.

P.P.S. Just want to reiterate that I am not pathetic. Honestly. Modern young woman of independent means. Good at coping.

P.P.P.S. Honest.

P.P.P.P.S. On bright side, can scrap all this. Maybe when I'm older I will think of it as amusing instead of mortifying/irritating/worry-inducing.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Kitchen Table

This is where I craft. Except for the times when it isn't because I've commandeered the sofa and coffee table and surrounding floor. Plus it's nearer the telly. But this is where I crafted this week. The table is poised perfectly mid-way between the kitchen end of the room for nibbles and the living room end for DVDs and it's extendable for large projects :D I heart open plan!

Actually the table has acquired a layer of paint now as well as I try desperately to meet the challenge set for next week's round of Scrap Factor over at UKScrappers. The brief? No patterned paper. Hence the paint and the attempts to make my own.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Went to the Globe this weekend. More on that when I scrap it but it was AMAZING!

P.P.S. Also went to uber trendy breakfast place that I was clearly not cool enough for but the food was fabby and the people watching fit for a connoisseur.

Friday 10 June 2011

Ten Things I Love Right Now

1: My 50mm f/1.8 lens. And it’s been, like, a year.

2: Macaroni Cheese. Can’t stop myself.

3: Actually, any take away or meals out or junk food. Pizza (Dominos please) chips, Chinese take-out, curry, Mexican, anything I’ve baked…. Slurrrrp.

4: The theatre. Coming up I’ve got tickets for the Globe, the English National Ballet, and David Tennant and Catherine Tate doing Shakespeare.

5: Scrapbooking. I love it more and more. And more.

6: Sarcasm. When it’s funny. Snobby intellectual humour. Satire. In-jokes. Just because.

7: Doctor Who, The West Wing, Grey’s Anatomy, House…If it comes in boxed set form and it’s not scary, I want it. Thankyou Love Film.

8: London. What's not to love?

9: My flat. It’s my little cosy place in the world and I can shut everything out and curl up in bed or crash on the sofa and enjoy the little things. Which mainly means tea, stash, a DVD and a book. And it’s not fully sorted yet but I know that it will be and I know that it’s mine. Love!

10: Other folks. So family, friends, colleagues, students, Guides… everyone makes life a little bit more lovely and considerably more humorous.

Check out Shimelle's Blog for more selections of ten things. It's the tenth after all.

Actually, I scrapped this last August. And I have the scrapbook page to prove it:

My faves then were apparently 1) My family, 2) My camera, 3) Amelia Peabody, 4) Junk food, 5) Sherlock, 6) Wahaca, 7) Doctor Who, 8) London, 9) Stash, 10) Lists

Not much has changed then :D I'll have to make a new page now.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Looking forward to reading other bloggers' lists. See number 10).

Thursday 9 June 2011

How Miss Smith Began Scrapbooking

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while. To blog about how I became a scrapbooker. And I put it off because the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it’s actually a pretty long development. And it starts with a postcard. Or, more accurately, lots of postcards…

When I was quite a little Miss Smith, we used to buy postcards on our family holidays. These were usually staycations, a currently fashionable word which means to holiday in the UK. And we visited some really wonderful places and bought postcards. Sometimes sensible ones depicting the place. Sometimes pictures of donkeys or teddy bears or Postman Pat, more obviously appealing to little brains. (My brain is considerably more sizeable these days. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself).

This one I captioned "I like thi thes this one"

And when we got home, we would scrapbook them. Although scrapbook meant a different thing then. It meant that Mum would help my brother and me write a couple of sentences about where we’d been on the giant sugar paper pages of our scrapbooks and then stick in the matching postcard. And sometimes a sticker for good measure.

So maybe we were scrapbooking after all. It has only recently struck me that this is when I started scrapbooking. Picture and journaling. Although the journaling was considerably more of a labour then, as my handwriting will testify.There’s nothing like a neat, flowing, eloquent copperplate to delicately furnish a page with details.

This scrapbooking expanded to include postcards sent to us from relatives in Australia or my uncle who used to go mountain climbing in exotic places, or Nanny and Papa going on their holiday for the year. I’m really pleased to discover that it even included a postcard bought on a trip down the village to the post office, a little momento of the centre of the village where I used to live.

I got older, I learned joined-up handwriting and suddenly...

We stopped doing it.

I wonder why?

Kisses xxx

P.S. Obviously, this is not the end of the story. Otherwise my scrapbook pages would be, shall we say, different? So keep a weather eye out for part two!

Monday 6 June 2011

Canals and Apples

I'm really enjoying playing with journalling at the moment and making this page for UKScrappers Scrap Factor challenge gave me a great chance to try something new. I cut holes in the kraft cardstock and affixed lined paper behind them to create journalling bubbles. I was really pleased with the effect which creates a bit of dimension and makes the writing seem embedded into the page. Fabcakes! And that's enough self-adoration for today.

Journalling reads:
"Going for a walk along the canal was an accident. Because the guy at the diner said it was closed and refused me French toast, we had to look elsewhere for food. So we wandered along the canal which wound through all sorts of little waterside communities. Canal boats, ducks and ducklings, riverside cafes, people drinking and dancing. Then at Angel, the canal disappeared into a tunnel with no footpath. So we followed little tiles set into the streets in Angel. On the way, we tripped over some awesome Mexican burritos and a cup of tea (hurrah!) and about a mile later, hit the canal. We followed it to Limehouse. We got the DLR there because I reckon we'd basically hit the Thames. Robert pedantically didn't think so but he was wrong. When you've walked that far, it definitely counts. Six miles, Camden to Limehouse."

The challenge was to use a sketch and you can check out other interpretations in the UKS gallery. There's also Shimelle's interpretation which comes with a video. Note to self: learn how to make a video. *envy* Thanks so much if you voted for me - I'm loving playing along each week and there's some really inspiring stuff coming out of the galleries each week. Now onto the next...

Kisses xxx

P.S. I'll be back soon with the page I made for the class at the weekend. But now it's time for Glee...

Sunday 5 June 2011

Storytelling Sunday: Variation on a theme of a cup of tea.

Some stories are silly. This one certainly is. And yet, at the same time, it says a lot about me and my friend Liz. Liz is a writer. When she left uni she started a magazine called Oh Comely and she writes. Actually she does an awful lot of other things too, but the story I want to share today, as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday is a story of me, and her, and our friendship. But it's not a story by me. It's a story by her. It's about tea, sort of. And it goes like this...

"One morning, I sat in my room, blindfolded, and tasted one cup of tea after another. Six cups in all. It's not helpful to remember how lovely that room was, but it's hard not to: wide windows, views of trees and a stream, high ceilings. It was my third year of university; important things were afoot. But here I was, sipping tea in my overly-nice room and deciding whether I thought the tea bag had been squeezed or not. It was the last act in my longest-ever argument.

Tea-drinking is like any other drinking in that you seek out a companion with boundless enthusiasm. Kirsty never refused a cuppa. Our drinking at times became distinctly unhealthy. We would drink so much that we'd be vaguely juddery from the caffeine and lie around feeling bloated. Every now and then we'd comment on the noise the tea was making sloshing around in our stomachs, and then get up and put the kettle on. We went to the bathroom constantly. It was mildly obscene.

So in many ways, it was perfect. We drank tea every time we saw each other. We drank it alongside trays of pasta bake and cheery TV dramas. We drank tea to dilute the pain of our studies, which were not as much fun as we'd hoped. But something bothered me: Kirsty squeezed the tea bags. What was worse was that she flatly refused to admit that it made a difference to the taste. Our feud followed us quietly through the terms. It survived almost three years of listless studying and six seasons of Gilmore Girls.

Until that moment. There were three pairs of tea to taste. One cup of each had been left to brew, with the other Kirsty had carefully mashed the tea bag just as she always did. I got it right, of course. She didn't believe me, of course. She declared that the result not statistically significant. I was not the mathematician, so there was nothing I could say. But I knew I was right: I hadn't got it right by chance, I got it right because I knew which was which. The squeezed tea bag tasted acrid and a little bit dreggy, just as I knew it would.

There are plenty of other things to get angry about with tea, of course: too much milk, an underbrewed cup, tea bags left floating in the bottom like jellyfish full of tannin. But with tea bag-mashing, it's not just the bad taste. There's also something so unnecessary about it. It's always deliberate. There is no half-mashed middle: people either look insulted or utterly bewildered when you ask them not to mash your tea bag.

Some people say that a cup of tea is a tiny gesture of kindness in a hard world. It is true that I find it slightly sweet when someone makes a me cuppa. It makes the world seem softer and gives you something warm to wrap your hands around. That's always nice, especially when it's cold. On days when everything threatens to descend into chaos, a cup of tea makes me feel a little more loved. But only if someone didn't squeeze the tea bag."

The pedant in me is obliged to reiterate that this test is not statistically significant which is a maths way of saying the chances of her guessing right by accident were too big, one in eight, and no self-respecting mathematician is going to accept a significance level of 12.5%. Duh! Plus, once you've made the tea, in the cup with the teabag floating in it, it's common sense to whip out the teabag and squeeze that excellent tea-loveliness back into the cup. And it makes NO DIFFERENCE to the flavour.

I love that this story has 2 totally different perspectives and that I can scrap these, hers and mine, as a little part of my life history. If you know someone with a talent for the written word, get them to write you a story and find out what they really think!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Have loads to share as spent the day yesterday at GoGo To You, a ScrapaGoGo day event and crop where I met some lovely ladies who came to crop with us for the day, took some fab classes and I got to teach my very first class! Pages forthcoming.

P.P.S. How FANTASTIC was Doctor Who?

Thursday 2 June 2011

My Favourite Photo Perspective

I take a lot of pictures and invariably lug my lovely camera with me wherever I go and the more I use it, the more I know what I like. For example, I like to use the biggest aperture possible and as I have a 50mm f/1.8 lens, that's pretty good going. I wide aperture means that lots of light gets into the camera quickly and gives a lovely shallow depth of field. So If I focus on a particular point, things in front of and behind that point blur into a lovely soft, light look. And as I usually overexpose my pictures, letting just a bit too much light into the camera on purpose, I LOVE the slightly dreamy look that ends up happening.

This is how I usually set up my camera, particularly to photograph people. And when I combine that with my favourite perspective, these are some of the results!

I love to stick the camera on the ground. That's it. I often prop something just underneath the lens to point it up a fraction (otherwise the entire shot is filled with ground) but otherwise, no more complicated effects needed. And these shots give me great pictures of people in their surroundings, perfect for scrapbooking.

I love the blurred out look that the ground has in the bottom of the photo. Although, it's important to focus on the right thing... However, it shows lots of interesting texture if you miss!

Sometimes, I get the shot all set up and then get a friend to push the shutter. Then I can be in the photo knowing the shot is all composed just how I like it.

Other times, I have to set the self-timer and run. This works best if I have someone else in the photo with me because then I can set up the shot and focus on the correct distance from the camera.

However, when it's just you, or you're making everyone else be in the photo, you just have to abandon camera on the floor, make a run for the spot in focus, smile gamely, and hope no one steals the camera. I am pretty confident in my ability to shriek like a harpy at anyone who attempts such a thing, even if I would not be the speediest at running after such a dastardly criminal. However, an earth-shattering, piercing "Stop, you bounder! Halt thief! Arrest your progress, scoundrel!" must surely bring even the hardiest of hardened rascals to their knees.

It's all about having a plan for every eventuality.*

The beauty of pictures like this is that you can do them no matter what camera you have, so what are you waiting for? I'd love to see any pictures you take from this perpective - if you share a link, I'll collect them all together for a little gallery in another post!

Happy Snapping,

Kisses xxx

P.S. My landscape photography however, is dreadful. Hoping to take a course on this during this year to improve!

P.P.S. Anyone got any favourite photo tips?

*Fortunately I have never had cause to try this out so I can't guarantee its success. But it almost seems impossible that such a cunning idea could fail.