Monday 26 September 2011

One from the archives...

Hello little blog. I have neglected you. But today I am reminded why you're here.

Do you know I blogged when I was 16? I kept going until I was 18 and university got in the way.

Well, I did. And every so often, I dust off that corner of the internet and have a giggle at myself.
Two reasons: firstly that I was terribly egotistical. I still am, but I suspect I will not appreciate how much I am until I am older when I will still probably be egotistical but will not appreciate it until I am even old than that which is a long way off yet whereas at the moment I am merely amused by my sixteen-year-old self.

The other reason I enjoy this is that I have not changed all that much. I still mainly write about little incidents and anecdotes that happened to me at school. Often in maths lessons with the unwitting Mr S. To whit:


I rave about maths. Maths rocks. I love it. I have lots of little problems to puzzle out and several little maths friends to puzzle them out with, who not only enjoy puzzling out but also enjoy talking about how they puzzled them out. So I thought I would share with you all the sort of thing we do. Today, for instance:

Mr S: Can anyone tell me when the third second comes? Simon?
Simon: ...After the second second?
Mr Sharp: That's right

Mr S: You got that puzzle right. Jammy.
Me: *wibble*

Mr S: When it comes to parents evening, I will see half the register and split you down the middle. This is not very good.
Mr S: That was a joke.

So you see? Magic.


It's nice to know that the Miss Smith of today has these memories from the other side of the teaching tracks. I kind of hope someone is writing a hopeless little blog about me too. In an affectionate sort of way, because, as has been mentioned, I am egotistical.

And most of all, I am going to love scrapping these things one day. It reminds me that, if nothing else, I will always have these little bits of memories to scrapbook and that these little snippets kick of huge waves of nostalgia that I can gleefully revel in as the evenings get shorter.

This is why I scrapbook.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I have been crafting too, but it's been busy to the power of several hundred thousand and two. Plus eleven.

P.P.S. On the bright side, I ran two miles without stopping. Very slowly. But it still counts :D

P.P.P.S. According to the comments on my 16-year-old blog, my friends were disturbed and amused. And fearful, apparently.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

I Stitched!

I learned something new! I machine-sewed on my page. Actually, I sewed on 2, but the other one isn't done yet. I've really been admiring the stitching on pages that I see, especially in the style Marcy Penner does it. If you haven't come across her work, check it out as she designs for October Afternoon and Sassafras, my ultimate favourites :D

Anyway, I've started off small, and just done a few lines to journal on, but I rather like the outcome, especially with a few threads loose at the end.

Thus! Lo! Other Declamatory Phrases! I scrapped the lens baby - finally. I loved the packaging so much as on the box, it said "Congratulations! It's a lens baby!". And when I opened the box, the leaflet peeped out the top with the word "Mama?" in soft cuddly letters. An instant page title was born.

It's of the fisheye variety and I love it because firstly, I can fit whole chunks of London in the frame all at once without cropping bits of Nelson off. Secondly, it's virtually impossible to scalp anyone in a self portrait as the lens sees all. And finally, lovely soft focussy effects. Lush.

So I went with a pic of me, unscalped, and Nelson perched on his column, uncropped. Me and Nelson are like this. *demonstrating that weird crossing fingers thing people do*

Anyway, here's to many more machine stitched and fish eyed pages. Anyone got any good sewing machine tips for pages?

Kisses xxx

P.S. Just want to say a big thank you to everyone who took part in the blog hop. A lollipop for you all! I've come away with so many ideas and so much inspiration and I can't believe how imaginative and crafty and awesome you all are :D

Saturday 17 September 2011

Embellishment Challenge Blog Hop

Welcome to the blog hop challenge! A few weeks ago, I put out a call; I offered up little handmade embellishments in exchange for a promise. And I've been overwhelmed by the response. So without further ado, I cordially invite to you hop on board!

I sent embellishments zooming (sort of) through the post to far flung places in Britain, Europe and even the USA! And in return, a whole host of wonderful ladies have put them to use in all sorts of fantastic crafting projects. To see their ideas and unashamedly steal their inspiration, you can follow through the list of blogs below.

But first, I'd like to share my projects. I used my own embellishments as features on a couple of pages. I like to scrap with lots of bits and pieces in layers and so the embellishments made a great focus point for me.

This page is all about recent trip to the seaside - I've already blogged my journalling here, and I spread it around the page in little blocks. I've found this to be a really helpful way to journal recently as I can get lots of writing on the page without having to find a big chunk of space to put it in.

The embellishment clipped neatly onto one of the layers and I added a die cut from Sassafras underneath. I used the back of the die cut because the white really made the focus embellishment stand out. And partly because I really didn't like the front. Finally, I added a bit of hand stitching for detail.

My second page is the same process, but I've kept the embellishment a little more subtle. It helps to add detail to the page and balances the design, so that there's an element in both the top right and bottom left of the page.

I also really liked the way the blue in the embellishment matched the tones in the photo. I took this picture of cupcakes at a friends house after a slightly... shall we say interesting?...baking session. But they turned out quite tasty in the end, and we really went for it with the food colouring. Anyway, when I took the picture, the light was really bad and it came out rather bluer than intended. Because the cupcakes were green. But I loved the atmosphere in the picture and really wanted to scrap the memory of the weekend, and I tried to turn the blue to my advantage!

So, that's all from me, but things don't end here. I'm passing you along to Beki's lovely blog What a Load of Scrap for the next project...

If you get derailed from the blog hop at any point because the internet elves won't stick the right picture on your screen when you click on a link, you can find the total list of the blogs below. I really encourage you to have a look at some of the amazing crafting that these talented ladies have to offer!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. I'm going to alternate between erratically exploring London with camera in tow, and scrapbooking. Lush :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. If all goes well, maybe we'll do the same next time I hit a blogging milestone.

Friday 16 September 2011

Pop back tomorrow.

We're having a blog-hop extraordinaire tomorrow, so do pop by for some embellishment action!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Been hit by disaster this week. My form and I are supposed to be putting together our class assembly. But my projector is broken, so no PowerPoint. On the bright side, we can all just about see it on the computer screen if some of the boys climb on the furniture, until the computer stopped working on Thursday morning. I was waxing lyrical to the class:

"So, we will get this assembly together somehow gents, even though there's no projector, and no computer..."



You can't make things like this up.

P.P.S. Check it out! Mug cosy in Beki's shop. *wants* I would be the envy of the staff room.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

A few things I've learned this week.

The masters-binding machine doesn't work like I think it does. Also, it is not called the masters binding machine.

Going to the theatre after work is always worth the effort. London is gorgeous at night.

The plastic tubes were perfect for the Guides. To wallop each other with.

Last Night of the Proms tickets come to those who wait. 10 hours.

Just because running hasn't killed me yet, doesn't mean it won't. But I may as well keep going in the mean time.

Spouting enough Pokemon trivia to appear fluent will win over almost any new class of students. Along with interested questioning about Yu-Gi-Oh (Spelling????)

Comedy with the staple guns is unappreciated by colleagues. Staple gunning without comedy is dull.

And finally, my lesson for today: I can draw a rectangle with three straight lines. This was set by my Year 11s and took me quite a few attempts before I hit on the solution. So, I challenge you to see if you can learn something else today:

Draw a rectangle with three straight lines.

Answers on a postcard!

Kisses xxx

P.S. I'm working on the Couch to 5k running app on my iPod - you listen to a calming Australian lady who tells you when to run and when to walk at various intervals. Every few runs, you have to run a bit more and walk a bit less and, having hit week four, I can tell you that it is HARD.

P.P.S. But I want to beat it :D

Sunday 11 September 2011

Our Third Last Night

Oooh, long time no blog! But it's been busy. First week back at school with all that entails, having a social with the guiders, which predictably went on all night (on a school night), squishing in a play at the National theatre and then, the crowning glory... The Last Night of the Proms!

There's so much to tell about that night, and it merits a post in its own right (see: the future) but for now, I want to share a few pre-scrapping thoughts.

When going to something like the Last Night, I know I'm going to want to scrap it afterwards. So I make sure I've got the camera stuff I want. In this case, I took the fisheye lens, because I knew I'd want wide angle pictures inside the hall and I know I'd be taking lots of self-portraits of me and the friends. The fisheye has a really wide angle of viewing so I know I can always get everyone in. After all, when you're queueing for ten hours, you may as well make your own entertainment :D

Once I know what camera stuff I'm taking, I can make sure I've got plenty of battery life and memory card space and I know I'm going to get millions of pictures. And maybe a few great ones!

Before any really scrappy stuff starts, I like to get my journalling down, while it's fresh in my mind. I often edit a bit afterwards, but I think it's always best for me when I sit down and type out whatever I happen to be thinking, the sooner the better. I have to type because my handwriting can't keep up with my thoughts.

Next, I go through the pictures, choose the best ones and print. I print at home because that way I can do any size I like. I do love photo strips if there are lots of pictures that are quite similar, and that can be great for scrapping. However, this year, I've got half a dozen or so that I really love and can't bear to shrink down. So I'll print them all at 6x4 and scrap one or two at that size. The rest can go in 6x4 divided page protectors so that I can still enjoy the full-size effect in my album.

When I've got the pictures and I'm good to scrap, it's nice to work out what colours are really going to work. With the last night, we dress up in red white and blue, and it's really easy to pick out and emphasis those colours using patterned paper. This is my page from last year, and I borrowed the union flag motif as well. The grid motif really helped to make the most of the photos; I had just a handful of good ones and the grid made it simple to incorporate them all.

Then I scrap! I often don't have an idea in mind, I just go with the photo and see what works. And what works for me is usually quite a lot of shuffling about bits of paper with the photo and wondering whether I can fit all the journalling in that space or not.

So, with this process in mind, I need to get my favourites printed and set aside some crafty time for this week. Fingers crossed!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Yes, that was us at 1 hour, 24 minutes and 55 seconds on iPlayer in the first half of the Last Night. Finding out if you got on telly is the cherry on top :D

Monday 5 September 2011

Learn Something New Every Day

Kisses xxx

P.S. I think more on some of these another time.

P.P.S. Thanks for the lovely comments :D I love storytelling Sunday.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Storytelling Sunday "Marzipan Education": a drama in one scene

A drama in one scene featuring:

Miss Smith, in normal text.
Year 9s, various, in italics
Stage directions for future productions of this fine work of literature, [in brackets]


[October, 2010]

Right gentlemen, put your pens down and look this way. It's time for a little trip to the land of ratio, so everyone hop on board the maths train and we will be calling at proportion on the way....pens down now please.

Good, thankyou. So, let's see what we can remember. Someone give me a context, a topic, anything. Anyone?

Sweets, miss

We always do sweets.

But we like sweets

Alright. But next week, we're going to do starfish or yoghurt or kettles or something. Here's my problem....Sweets are sold in a packet and in the packet, you get reds, yellows, and greens in the ratio 2:3:5. So if I have12 red sweets, how many greens do I have?


Hands up!...Yes?


Exactly. But how did you know, and don't say because he already said it.

Can I show it on the board?

[I pass him the pen and he does it in giant wobbly numerals across three quarters of the whiteboard.]

Perfect. Even the people at the back of the classroom can read that. The back of the classroom in the far reaches of another continent. Where I am supposed to write now?

[He hands back the pen grinning sheepishly]

Lovely maths though. Fantastic. Anyone got a question? Well remembered gents. What about a different method? Let's take this ratio red, yellow, green in 2:3:5 and find how many reds there are, but with a different way of solving the problem.

[I pick a volunteer and he completes the problem in the remaining small section of the whiteboard. We all look meaningfully at the original volunteer. Still grinning.]

There are also oranges and purples in the bag. What kind of sweets are they?


And what can we taste?

The rainbow

Brilliant, so that's fantastic progress in this topic, and it looks like we're all on board. Let's have a look at a slightly more tricky problem...what's your favourite kind of cake?

Fruit cake

You have the whole world of cake related options to pick from and you choose fruitcake? What about chocolate cake, brownies, carrot cake, lemon drizzle, jam roly poly-

That's a pudding, not a cake.

It counts, I'm in charge here. What about triple decker chocolate fudge cake with chocolate icing, sparkly sprinkles and banana cream?

[They wisely refrain from comment]

Fruit cake it is then. OK, so, write this down, have a think about it, and then we'll talk it through.

[I write "A 350g fruitcake requires 250g of marzipan to cover it and make it extra delicious. How much marzipan is needed for a 400g cake?". A hand goes up]

Yes, you can use a calculator.

I wasn't going to ask that.

Sorry. What's the problem?

What's marzipan?

You don't know what marzipan is?

[Other heads pop up from being bent over exercise books]

Me either, miss.


What is it?

It's delicious.

Thanks for that, miss.

[I make a face at him]

Everyone put your pens down. Now raise your hand if you know what marzipan is.....No one? No one at all? In 28 of you? Good grief, you're all missing out. And sadly educated, but that's another issue. Marzipan is... well, it's a bit like play-doh in texture and you can make it into shapes and cover cakes with it, and it's usually either yellow or white, and you can eat it and it tastes sweet and like almonds. Because it's made of almonds.


No, it's delicious.

Play-doh is not delicious.

Yes, but you aren't supposed to eat play-doh. It doesn't taste good. But marzipan is great!

[Unconvinced faces]

I will PROVE it to you. Like an equation. I will bring you all some marzipan and you can try it and then you will love it. And fruit cake will never be the same again.

[They perk up]

When can we have it?

Um..., maybe Christmas. Or the summer holidays. Now, on with your work, that's quite enough of all this....


By picking an unspecified future date that is a long way in the future is a guaranteed way to ensure that students will forget. But this class was special. They were bright, sure, but they had character, and charisma, and other things beginning with cha, and more than that, they remembered things.

About once a week, marzipan would crop up as an in-joke, as a context for an example, as a theory. And at Christmas, they were adamant that I had promised. They needed the proof. I resisted. I am not encouraged to feed the students.

And they kept on remembering and reminding each other and me. Every time we broke up, they requested marzipan. It became a Big Deal.

So I brought them marzipan at the end of the summer term. Hidden away in my bottom desk draw (and accidently discovered by another teacher borrowing the classroom during a cover lesson while looking for a pen). I decided to bake little chocolate buns as at least then if they didn't like the marzipan, they could console themselves with cake.

Obviously, I deadpanned through our last lesson. No, I didn't bring any. Did they have any idea how expensive marzipan was? I'd forgotten anyway. etc. They didn't believe it, but they played along. And so at the end of the lesson, I passed out the little cakes. May contain nuts. In fact, here is a list of ingredients in case you're allergic, and have we all got our epipens? Right-ho.

They quite liked it. Well, they ate it all, some cautiously nibbling the marzipan from the top, weighing their opinion, others swallowing whole, figuring that anything with chocolate can't be all that bad. A slight anti-climax after a whole year, but a contented one. Everyone a little bit fuller and a little bit more educated.

I will miss this class, and hope that there are new and equally entertaining lads in my lessons this year.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Don't worry, I didn't get caught feeding the students as I paid off those who knew about it in cake.

P.P.S. Now you should definitely hop over to Sian's to read her story and find some others :D

Thursday 1 September 2011

Learn Something New: The Beginning

It's Learn Something New Every Day time again! This year I am going to do a tiny album. Last year, I did 12x12 and tried to move house at the same time. Error. But fun trying! And I managed about 2 weeks solid, a page a day, and then intermittent contributions after that.

This year, I am going smaller. Nope, smaller than that. In fact, I am going....this small:

Two and a half by one. I picked this up a few years ago in Leeds, and I am going to use it to note down my learn-something-news each day. And stick in some index print sized pics. Then scrap the ones that turn into bigger pages once and for all. This totally works for me as a non-minibooker. I never feel like I have enough space in a mini to journal and say everything I want to. If I want to scrap it, I want to do it big! And I like all my pages together. So I think this might be a good compromise.

In between dreaming up LSNED ideas, I am working on my Masters (yuck). On the bright side, there is probably a lesson to be learned there.

I am also remembering my lovely week. I've squished in the London Aquarium, Doctor Who, sleepover and pizza with the friends (hey friends, whats up?), made and posted all the little embellishments, picnicked up London style in Hyde park, and paddled in a fountain. Twice.

And I also went to the South Bank and enjoyed the pretend beach - it's totally cute with sand and beach huts and buckets. Couldn't see any spades though. So I treated myself to an imaginary beach dinner (the beach was imaginary, not the dinner. Imaginary food is slimming but not very filling), sitting outside in the not-quite-cold and watching the world go by while scoffing delicious yummies and reading Lord Peter Wimsey's latest exploits.

Then I went to Foyle's, London's most awesome bookshop and held tightly onto my money with both hands and didn't buy any books. I popped to the iMax - HUGE- to see Harry Potter vanquish Voldemort (yay!) in 3D and went to see Legally Blonde the Musical. Again. Actually, it was my third time. In London. I also went once on Broadway. Ahem. But's it's SO CHEERFUL.

But my favourite thing of all? Hands down, seeing Much Ado About Nothing. David Tennant and Catherine Tate were terrific, the comic timing exquisite, and the whole thing was so slick and perfect. I laughed so hard I could scarcely catch my breath and I am feverishly trying to work out if I can go again. Quite possibly the best night at the theatre I have ever had.

What have I learned? That with a little bit of planning, and a touch of spontaneity, and a working knowledge of how to bypass the closed bits of the Underground, you can fit a lot in in London in 5 days.

I've also learned that I LOVE the summer holidays and I would like some more please. But I knew that already.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Maybe another lesson should be that if I splatter mist onto things over the sink, it doesn't go over my clothes, furniture and flat. Just a thought.

P.P.S. Why has this only occurred to me today? I first bought some mist, like, a year ago?

P.P.P.S. I hate my masters. Hence the eternally long post.

P.P.P.P.S. Still reading? Loser.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Just kidding :D I have to be kidding because I am the kind of person that always reads little unrelated things at the bottom. Or those funny little numbers you get in books that refer to footnotes at the back of the book which reference reference books that you will never read.

P(x6).S. In fact, if I write 15000 words on this post, I could just submit this, and forget the masters. And hope no one reads it.

P(x7).S This is probably unlikely. Shame.