Wednesday 31 August 2011

Giveaway - with a twist...

***This post will stay at the top of the blog until the giveaway closes - scroll down for new posts!***

So, to celebrate my 200th blog post, I thought I'd have a giveaway... but this is a giveaway with a difference.

Last week, I got to work making some embellishments: a little lace, a bit of the old tape measure, a button or butterfly or two, maybe some text paper, a spot of stitching.... and the all important paper clip. And here's what I've come up with:

Each one is slightly different but they all follow a similar design with a scalloped circle and a little tag, combined with snippets of lace or ribbon and an embellishment or two. Each one also features a paper clip. They can be glued to things permanently or you can use the paper clip to simply to clip them to something, and take it off when you've had enough!

The giveaway challenge is this: all you have to do is request an embellishment and I will send one winging its way to you through the post. Then, you need to do something with it, whether that's include it on a scrapbook page, a minibook, a card...even just using it as a bookmark counts! Whatever you do, however you use it, snap a picture or two and get ready to blog it. All being well, I can then set up a bloghop so we can all admire your work! Interested? Just scroll down for the details.

But first, a little inspiration. Not my final project, but a work in progress :D

Below are the nuts and bolts of the thing. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch!
  • If you want to take part, drop me an email at kirsty dot merran at googlemail dot com. Or leave a comment with your email address if you prefer. Either way, let me know what address you'd like me to post your embellishment to! Make sure you include your country if you're outside the UK!
  • Wednesday 31st August is the last day for emailing - I hope to get the embellishments made and posted out by the beginning of September.
  • Assemble a project. It doesn't matter how big or small, but it must include the embellishment somewhere. Absolutely anything goes! Well, apart from throwing it in the recycling.
  • You have until Friday 16th September to get it ready, snap a picture and put together a blog post ready to publish. I'll email anyone who wants to play along nearer the time and organise the blog hop for Saturday 17th September, and all the posts will go live together.
I really hope you can take part - it doesn't have to take hours. I've never done anything like this before so I'd really love it if lots of people could join in, in any way at all! One of the things I love most about projects like this is seeing the hugely different interpretations people have on the same idea :D

So. Have I whetted your appetite?

Kisses xxx

P.S. If you mention this on your blog, let me know and I'll send an extra embellishment your way! It's a good way to get people involved (I hope :D)

Monday 29 August 2011

Le Cidre

On our school trip, we stayed in a fab centre in Normandy with a chateau, doing adventure activities and learning French. Par exemple, je suis une moissoneuse-batteuse. See?

An awesome, proper authentic-looking Frenchman showed us how they brew their own cider au chateau. After a quick look at the antique, enormously heavy apple press, Gerrard (the Frenchman who also goes by Monsieur-le-moustache due to his magnificent set of handlebars) popped a bottle and let the boys taste a couple of fingers of the brew.

He said "Il y a seulement 50%, oui?"


"Oui, c'etait une blague"

"...Parce-que il y a 80% alcool"*

Actually, it was maybe 2-3% proof and very delicious. Most of the boys didn't like it so I got them to tip their cider into my glass. Win. The whole experience was a bit surreal, but certainly quintessentially (or stereotypically?) French. Merci Gerrard.

And so I made a page about it. Naturellement. Alors, non? etc.

The photo, incidently, is from French disguise night. But the moustache reminded me so much of Gerrard's that I had to stick the photo in. So it's wine in the caraffe, not cider. They were terribly keen on shoving the stuff at us. As I said, surreal on a school trip. Don't worry, we were very sensible. But it was amazing to sit in the glorious sunshine of the evening at a picnic bench, watching the students haring around, dealing with the odd bump or bruise ("You're alright now aren't you? Or maybe you'd better stop playing and lie down...?" "No miss, I'm fine now!") and having a good gossip. With the chateau behind us, rolling green scenery in front and the odd glass of wine, it really didn't seem like work. Good times!

Kisses xxx

*French errors in journalling obviously intentional. I am clearly completely qualified to make up spellings of geniune French dialogue. I have a GCSE and everything.

Saturday 27 August 2011

A trip to the Tower

I loved the Tower of London! It's incredibly imposing and absolutely creaking under the weight of history. And a bloody history it is, in places. I took a tour with an extremely entertaining yeoman warder (or beefeater) Mitch, who was very cheerful, garbed traditionally, and a very good raconteur, doling out enthralling and gruesome tales spanning the ages in a melifluous Welsh accent. After the tour, he kindly posed for photos. Various family groups trooped up dutifully for their snap, but mine was the only camera-at-arms'-length selfie. This was declared to be very modern. Perhaps they don't get many scrappers at the Tower.

Once the tour had given me my bearings, I trekked up and down lots of the towers, although doing all twenty defeated me. Especially as each one seems to consist of innumerable cramped spiral staircases with uneven steps that catch you out! I went to a demonstration of knights fighting. They wouldn't let me wave a flag - apparently that's for the children - but it livened up my picnic and I cheered dutifully for the red Lancastrian. He won, but I secretly wanted the York knight to win. I took another tour in the white tower, the oldest of all built by William the Conqueror, the highlight of which seemed to be sitting on a king' closet. And I had an ice cream which wasn't very historical but was quite delicious. The weather was perfect and I patrolled the battlements armed with my camera. I was not obliged to oppress any peasant revolts, sadly. I'll have to practise my peasant-revolt-repressing skills another time. Oh, and I saw the crown jewels. I have to say - tacky. But suitably royal and enjoyable nonetheless.

I've had a busy week since then - my family popped down for a visit which was lovely, and today I took a trip to the London Aquarium. Oh, and you'll be pleased to hear I spent last night making embellishments!

That's all for now - friends coming around tonight for Doctor Who. Geeky excitement win!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Just to let those of you who've emailed me about the embellishments, I haven't forgotten you! I'm so happy that you want to take part in the Giveaway Challenge (still open if you want to join in!) and I'll be emailing you before long to let you know I've put your embellishments in the post.

Monday 22 August 2011

Les Escargots, s'il vous plait

I think I've kind of wanted to try snails in my head but never actually made an effort to eat them before because, let's face it, they're snails. It's one thing to want to have had them and quite another to actually want to nibble on a slug with a caravan. Ew. Anyway, they turned up at the French evening as a "Suprise" course. The shells were very pretty. There was a blind taste test first with an unwitting volunteer from among the boys. His face went through a series of fantastic contortions behind his blindfold before he grinned around at his audience, totally hamming it up, and gave everyone a thumbs up. The applause was spontaneous, and we started dishing out the snails to the rest. It turns out with snails that there's not much to dislike. The taste a bit like gravel but with garlic. Not much to like either if I'm honest. The most fun was getting the boys to eat them, be it through motivational pep-talks, chanting "EAT IT!" or via the medium of some, frankly unpleasant, threats. Fabcakes.

One of my colleagues was kind enough to snap this series of pictures of my own snailey experience. To embellish, I used a little envelope and scattered butterflies and sticky pearl around the page, tumbling from it. It's a great effect that I'd definitely use again.

And the background sheet? It's by Sassafras from their starters line and is my new favourite paper ever :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. A week left to sign up for the giveaway challenge!

Thursday 18 August 2011

Dissertation Day

I have I love-hate relationship with my Masters, but without the love part. So I made a bargain with myself. I would work on it and in return I would make a page out of pretty things. I'm 15000 words plus a few in, I never want to venture into academia again even if it is free and I'm going through and editing and improving now. It's dull work.

I didn't have a picture. I took a few but they looked contrived. Probably because they were contrived. So in the end, I settled for no picture. I journalled about the good and the bad. The good being it was free as a cunning government initiative to raise the qualifications of teachers, I only had to do 2 years instead of 3 due to masters credits earned during the PGCE, and I bonded with my colleagues doing the course about how much we hate the masters. I suppose on the good list would also be how much I enjoy ranting about the masters. There's nothing like a good rant, I always say.

The bad is basically that I had to do the masters. As a pilot programme it has turned out to be full of holes and seems to me to be little more than a hoop-jumping exercise. Sadly.

But back to the good: it's due at the beginning of September and then I never have to think about it again.

In the mean time I was consoled by my October Afternoon 5 & Dime Miscellany. It's the most wonderful collection of vintage-style die cuts, book plates, chipboard, ribbon and the most beautiful vintage buttons. It's like getting a little bit of each of the coordinating embellishments for the line without having to buy the whole pack. Lots of the stuff on this page is from the Miscellany.

Oh, and I got in the obligatory paper clip, which is becoming something of a staple on my pages now. (Stationary pun anyone? Six bonus points if you got it before you read the bracket)

Day out tomorrow: the Tower of London awaits. I hope it stops raining.

Hope you're all having a wonderful summer!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Thanks so much to those who've said they'll take part in the Giveaway Challenge, I was really touched! I'm totally looking forward to it and I'll be in contact this weekend, just to confirm. If you haven't signed up and want to join in (which I'd love :D) then check out the Giveaway post here!

P.P.S. Planning to do the making next week as I get an idea of numbers and then post the first batch at the end of next week. You've got until the end of the month to join in if you want to!

Sunday 14 August 2011

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

For the past three weeks I have been here there and everywhere which has meant scheduled blog posts and little to no chance to read up on anyone else's stuff. I hope you've all been behaving yourselves, but Google reader informs me that you've been busy blogging about it at any rate. So my apologies (and thanks for your lovely comments :D)

This post is an attempt to recount recent adventures in Whitby. Never mind writing the journalling first, I'm writing the blogpost first. And then I can sort all my photos, pair them up with the relevant paragraphs and go to town. Thanks go to Sian and Sandra for the idea...

So, the family and I tootled on over to this lovely seaside town partly to spend a cheerful day by the sea but mainly to eat fish and chips. Or that is how certain of us viewed the prospect.

Everyone knows they don't make proper fish and chips in the south. They just can't. But they do it rather nicely at Whitby. Very nicely indeed. So having found our clifftop parking space, we descended into the town and the first thing that strikes you is the delicious aroma of freshly cooked fish and chips. It being lunchtime, we hit up our usual haunt and tucked in. Yummy!

The seagulls cheerfully attack the tourists as well. I maintain they wouldn't if the chips weren't really good. QED. Plus this on eyed my camera in a particularly malevolent fashion.

We explored the town and made the obligatory trek up and down the 199 steps to the abbey and back again. And then it was time to take tea, naturally, although I intend to devote a whole post to that another time...

Post cuppa, we climbed back up the cliffs in order to play crazy golf. I, obviously, trounced everyone except Dad. The only explanation must be that he cheated.

Rivalries put aside for the present, we sauntered down the cliffs again, beachward, singing "I have often walked down this street before" from My Fair Lady at the top of our lungs. No particular reason, but it had been going round in somebody's head all day and things like that are catching, so snatches of tune and hastily patched-together words could be heard drifting along in our wake all afternoon. On the cliffs, no one can hear you sing as the wind carries your voice away. And words like "Oh, the towering feeling!" suddenly take on a new significance.

Reaching the brightly coloured beach huts, we quietened down and gradually headed back along the beach into town. The sun reflected off the damp sand, the pier arced gracefully out to sea, lively waves tumbled and crashed, and spray lent a hazy edge to the scenery. It was lovely photography practice.

(We debated having chips for tea too but didn't in the end. Probably good for us. Still, it's always nice to leave things to be accomplished in the future)

And then it was time to go home...

Kisses xxx

P.S. This was my 200th post. Cool beans and fabcakes! I think this means it's time for a giveaway-bloghop-challenge. Check back soon to find out more!

Thursday 11 August 2011


Oooh, the Great British weather! It takes a special kind of damp little island to make people think that sleeping out in the rain is a good idea. There's a lovely sort of community feeling on a campsite in the rain. The one at Hay-on-Wye lit fest is the same.

I think one of my favourite moments was getting up one morning, donning the waterproofs and joining the cluster of silent folks gathered around a trough, avoiding eye contact, to clean our teeth and getting rained on by the extremely traditional weather. If you looked in the dictionary under stoic, it would look like this.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Lots of new lovely October Afternoon Boarding Pass for me! This line makes me want to go on holiday!

P.P.S. It also makes me want to go on holiday as an aristocrat from the 50s.

Monday 8 August 2011

Me at 24

This has been some time in coming really, as it's a while since I turned 24. But I wanted to record a few of the things I love most at 24. I did this when I was 23 as well, and some things have stayed the same - I'm still quite fond of my family and friends, for instance.

I still scrapbook a bit (ha!) and still love tea, mac and cheese and London, baby. So in many ways I've not changed that much. But I am into my second year of teaching with my own form, I have my own flat, I'm working on my Guide Leadership training and I have a car. In short, I think I might be a grown up.


Kisses xxx

P.S. You can find last year's here!

Friday 5 August 2011

Organisational Obstacles

When I get together with friends, we tend to beat about the bush a bit. Where and when and what order, who can meet up with whom where and which direction will they be coming from. This is often debated in a series of emails and inevitably someone (me, a lot) forgets to hit reply all and ends up suggesting a plan for the morning to someone who can only come in the afternoon.

When all this to-ing and fro-ing has taken place, we roll our eyes and agree to play it by ear. As long as we get to hang out, and tea is involved, and I get my obligatory self-timed photo, the rest isn't all that important. If we make it to the museum, great. If we never find the dinosaurs, we'll watch the ducks instead. Not free this morning? Ring us this afternoon and we'll let you know where we are.

And you know what? We do this every time.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I hate when I write a post here and I like the words better than the ones on my page. I resolve to change this. Still working on it :D

Wednesday 3 August 2011

You'd better go in disguise...

I had the most amAAAAzing time in France (according to Mum, this is what I say about everything, but I maintain that this is merely attributable to my positive, sunny, delightful personality and the fact that I am a sheer delight).

The boys behaved, mostly, I behaved, or at least, I was no worse than the boys and I took loads of pictures. Some of my favourites were from the Deguisement evening we had. Everyone dressed up French-style and I got some fantastic pictures that I was simply itching to scrap.

These pics are the staff but I shall put others in some 4x6 divided page protectors - too good to pass up but obviously I can't put pictures of the kids up here. Even if they are disguised behind their liquid eyeliner mustaches and goatees.

I love this background paper - made for journalling fans! - and I recorded a few of the moments behind the photos. I went for a rather Parisienne chic look, but managed to get red lippy on my teeth which is definitely not that sophisticated. Thanks to the colleagues who pointed it out ;) One of my fellow teachers wore a top that she'd actually bought in France and claimed to be more French than anyone. Once we added the obligatory beret and neckscarf, she looked positively revolutionary. Perhaps borrowing berets from the Cadets wasn't the best idea. One went all out with a fantastic mustache and (plastic) garlic and then found a little mini-me and one staff member confessed to being embarassed when out shopping for French gear because people looked at him strangely as he was trying on three slightly-different horizontally stripy shirts. I promised to delete the pictures I took as he thought he looked to camp. Ooops.

And then we all took it in turns to wear the mustache. I think we all successfully avoided the French cliche. Alors, non?

See? AmAAAAAAzing time!

Kisses xxx

P.S. I LOVE the summer holidays! What could be better than having time to take millions of pictures and then scrap them all?