Wednesday 30 November 2011

Journal Your Christmas: The Title Page

The festive season has begun. And I love it already. Merry Christmas!

Kisses xxx

Saturday 26 November 2011


I can't believe how fast this year has gone. I started making this page in January, about New Year's eve with my friends. I hosted at my flat last minute. We partied hard with pizza, mulled wine and dancing to the Macarena. Because we all know the dance to that. We also played Articulate and waved to the people on the balcony on the flat opposite.

I pulled out out a couple of days ago (tidying up as my parents are visiting - yay!) and first of all I felt all warm and fuzzy because that was a lovely night. And secondly it made me think about how my pages have changed in a year. So I put the finishing touches to this page, and I'm going to scrap my New Year this year and take a look at how I've changed. Interesting times.

Also, I'm planning on launching a big new project that I'm working on. Watch this space :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. I learned this week that my Year 12s impersonate me. They do it frighteningly accurately. Apparently it's the face I do when I'm trying not to laugh and attempting to tell them off at the same time.

P.P.S. I am ludicrously transparent.

Thursday 24 November 2011

And it's Finished!

I've had this page half finished for ages as part way through, I decided I didn't like it. But I also didn't want to ditch it. So I hauled it out, yanked off a couple of offending items, added a few news ones and presto change-oh, I like it now.

I am nothing if not fickle.

The pics are from my friend Maja's birthday party. I've already made a page about the party, but never a page about our friendship. We met in first year at uni and by the end of the year, we were firm friends and we were hunched around a laptop booking me a plane ticket to visit her in Poland in the summer when suddenly, a thought occurred. What if we fell out before the holiday? Awkward.

However, being Oxford gals, we put our extensive scientific minds to the problem and came up with the perfect solution. We promised never to fall out. Problem solved!

And we never have fallen out. So clearly, it's working.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Is anyone else finding snapping pics of their pages really annoying since the dark descended?

P.P.S. I think that if I periodically complain about this, it might go away.

P.P.P.S. I am reading your blogs but not finding much time to comment. But I am enjoying :D

Sunday 20 November 2011

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

Christmas! I love it - it's my FAVOURITE time of year, and in recent years, Christmas for me includes Shimelle's class Journal Your Christmas. I've had a root through my stash and put together a little kit of things I'm going to be using. And I've come up with this:

I'm going to work in mainly 4x6 with divided page protectors, but I also reserve the right to chuck in 12x12 pages when I have more to say on a particular topic. I've got a couple of different styles of page protector: in the 4x6 ones I can include little journalling cards or just a photo, or a combination. But in the mixed dividers, there are 6x12 slots, or 4x4 and other different sizes to play with. Bring it!

I've looked out quite a bit of older forgotten stash to use, and I'm not buying any new Christmas supplies. I don't think they really go out of style. And I love these snowflake stickers :D

I've sliced up some little cards and found various scraps and things so I can layer up different bits and bobs as I like.

I've pre-cut lots of 4x6 rectangles to work with from patterned paper. Most of the sheets were partially used so I feel like I'm getting the most from my stash. And it's clearly time to use this pearl embellishment that I've been saving. Maybe to adorn an introduction-style page?

Finally, here are a few of my less traditional 4x6 rectangles. I love having a whole range of colours to work with, so my JYC won't be coordinating, but it will be festive and colourful. I hope!

Kisses xxx

P.S. I think this is the most organised I've ever been, JYC-wise. Good times.

P.P.S. Feeling extra Christmassy today as we took the Guides to Ringos. Wear warm clothes and wellies, tow an inflatable ring up the snow slope, and gleefully slide down. Repeat for an hour and then imbibe hot chocolate. Real snow indoors? Fabcakes!

Sunday 13 November 2011

New Challenges for November

Given how much I enjoyed challenging myself last month, I'm going to have a go at a few bits and pieces this month.

1) Scrap a story about work

I collect loads of anecdotes from school and jot them all down in an exercise book. But I never seem to get around to putting them in my scrapbook. This month, I intend to change this!

2) Finish an unfinished project.

I suppose quite a few of us have half-finished scrapbook pages. My goal is to get at least one completed and into the album. However, if I don't like the half-finished bit, I reserve the right to pull it to pieces and start again.

3) Prepare my Journal Your Christmas things

A little preparation goes a long way. And given how manically busy December often is, I want to get a head start. Christmas is my favourite time of year, and now that I'm onto my third JYC, that feels like a part of Christmas too. So looking forward to making a start!

4) Scrap a large photo - bigger than 4x6

I always scrap pictures 4x6 or smaller, simply because that's what I can print at home. And yet I love seeing pages with huge photos on. So this is the month I'm going to pull myself together, go out and get a giant print to scrap. Hurrah!

5) Include some stamping on a layout

I'm bad a stamping. But then I have always supposed that to be because I have not taken the trouble to practise. However, recently I bought a graph paper background stamp by Hero Arts, which I love and will make brilliant lines to journal on. So I'm going to take a deep breath and give it a shot.

Kisses xxx

P.S. No pictures today - this is a flying post between doing other things. Although I will admit that some of those include watching The Big Bang Theory, knitting frantically and pondering the advisability of ordering take out.

P.P.S. I'm thinking that the advisability level is high?

P.P.P.S. Also, did not win the lottery yesterday. Miffed. On the plus side, there's a whole story behind why I played and why I don't mind losing (much). Remind me to tell you about it :D

Thursday 10 November 2011

Ten on the Tenth: Challenge Round-up!

OK, a month ago I set myself ten scrapbooking challenges. I wanted to try new things, step outside my comfort zone and motivate myself to get some real scrapbooking time in. Initially I thought this wouldn't be a problem. Ten challenges in a month equates to 2 pages a week. Give or take. Ish.

Turns out that was pretty woolly thinking for a mathematician. However, on the plus side, it really has been a challenge. I've really enjoyed it. I've tried new things. I had the motivation to keep going because I posted here that I would. I don't want you to think I'm unreliable, obviously.

And you know what? I feel really good about it!

So here are my challenge pages and projects - I've linked each one back to its own blog post if you want to read more about them. Then below, I've set up a little linky thing, so that if you joined in with any of the challenges you can leave a link for me and world to stop by and say "Oooh!". After all, I need inspiration for the next month now :D

Thanks for playing along and joining me for Ten on the Tenth. Check out Shimelle's blog for other timely tidbits.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Now whatever shall I do for the next month? Check back soon to find out. And if you have good challenge ideas, totally share!

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Challenge 9: Scrap Yourself

The last challenge for the month! And cutting it a little fine :D However, this challenge was all about scrapping an aspect of myself. So I picked.... my craftyness!

Just keep tinkering.

I am a third generation tinkerer abouter. If not more. I scrap, knit, crochet, sew, bake, muck about with photography.. Too many hobbies, too little time. But I love it, and you've got to spend your pennies on something, and better crafty stuff than fags or booze, as Mum would say. I get it from her anyway. Mum scraps, sews, patchworks, gardens and makes dolls houses, to list only a few of her talents. She got it from Papa, my grandad, who makes model railways in more than one scale, can fix anything and makes radios. In biscuit tins.

I suppose we all like to keep our hands busy. There's always something to have a go at, to learn or to take to pieces to see if we can make one. And Papa says hobbies are good for your health. Keeping your hands busy keeps arthritis at bay. Who am I to argue with that?

With craftyness in mind, I added paint, ink, a hand-stitched title, chipboard and pretty paper all in together. But keeping in a yellow and white colour scheme with small scraps and the odd touch of blue helped to keep everything in check, and not become overwhelming.

And that sees me to the end of my challenges! Tomorrow, I'll post a round up of them all to coincide with Shimelle's Ten on the Tenth. I'll also stick in a linky thing if you've got pages to share. I've never used one of those before, so fingers crossed :D


Kisses xxx

P.S. Ordered three 12x12 albums. I've decided it's finally time for me to get organised and come up with a system. I think I like Shimelle's way of doing it. Any tips?

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Challenge 10: Take up a Challenge on the Internet

All the time, inspiration, tips, techniques and challenges role through my Google Reader. And many of them make me think "Ooh, I want to do that!". But in between scrapping the things I want to scrap anyway and ..y'know, life, I never seem to get round to it.

All that is about to change, now that I'm tackling Challenge 10: Take up an internet challenge on my challenge list And the challenge I chose was Take 1, a challenge set by SJ on her blog Little Musings. Every fortnight, she looks back through her pages, chooses one that catches her eye and scraps a new page, borrowing a particular element from the old one. And she shares her own pages in a lovely video. I thought this was a brilliant idea - self-inspiration means we can celebrate the things we love in our own scrapbooks.

This is the page I chose for my inspiration. I made this page about going to the Last Night of the Proms just over a year ago in September. I really like the mix of patterns and the way the red-white-blue colour scheme echoes the Union flags in the picture.

So I borrowed those things for my new page, made with this year's Last Night of the Proms photos. Red white and blue colour scheme, mix of patterns.

I spy checks, polka dots, clouds, stars and the all important ledger :D I also included some stitching for good measure, and a bit of grey to add into the colour scheme.

We had a great day at the Proms - I still have more to scrap - but I did want to document these awesome bowler hats. We were sat on the pavement waiting to get tickets for the concert (ten hours folks!) and over the road, I could see some people handing out hats to other queueing concert goers. Heedless of my own safety, I dashed across the road (gasp! shock!) and went to get one. Were they free? Yes. Score! Could I have one? Yes.

I mimed across the road to the other folk in the queue. It's quite hard to mime: "these people are giving out bowler hats for free and I'm not sure why but free is free so do you want one?". But I managed, the folk across the road thumbsed-up, and I tottered back across the road clutching half a dozen. We assembled our hats by making sure the extremely classy Union flags were secured to the top, and carried on queueing. In our frankly awesome new headgear. Win.

They helped to keep off a bit of the rain. I snapped this self portrait of me and the friends with my fisheye (by the way friend, I hope this photo meets your approval. You know who you are), umbrella bobbing behind us, wearing our definitely-not-ridiculous hats and flying our flags the right way up too.

We are not in distress.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Last challenge tomorrow! Which means I have to finish off the page tonight. Stop by on the tenth to share your creations if you've been challenging yourself too, and to see the full round up!

Monday 7 November 2011

Challenge 6: Scraplift

So, I'm getting near the end of my challenges now: this is the eighth I've completed and, because I'm not all that great with numbers, it's challenge six. I love stealing ideas from other scrappers. It's one of my main form of inspiration. But I rarely set out to scraplift so I thought this would be a great way to try something new.

I love this page by Kelly Purkey: it has brilliant misting and wonderful circle details and a feature photo... It's brilliant! Bingo, I thought, my scraplift.

Turned out to be harder than I thought. It's just not my style. No real space to journal, I'm rubbish at misting because I hate page curl, I don't really so stamping and I don't own a circle punch. Error.

So I took bits and pieces. I made a central focus point for my photo (check) and added a few circles to the background which I cut from a sheet of paper that was already covered in pretty circular designs. Check. Plus no need for a circle punch. I give myself extra scrap points for this. (And I award everyone reading this 138 extra scrap points, just for funsies). I added little mist splatters to get the misted effect without page crinkle. Ooh, and I took the twine from Kelly's page too. Because who doesn't love twine? In fact, if you don't like twine, I'm taking back your scrap points.

I added in some of my own stuff though to made the page seem a bit more me. I included a block of journalling (yay!), bits and bobs like little tags and butterflies and lace, I inked edges, layered paper and machine stitched around the edge. Since Challenge 3 I love stitching.

The final result is interesting - it's not my usual style but there's enough of my usual in there to make it feel 'me'. And I would never have thought to do circles behind the design had it not been for listing Kelly's page. So I definitely gained something by doing the scraplift.

My conclusion then, is pretty much the same as when I'd done Challenge 4: Scrap from a Sketch. Scraplifting and sketches are fantastic resources for inspiration when it comes to designing a page. They also challenge me to think outside my comfort zone and try something new. But copying exactly makes me frustrated as it doesn't seem to come out like the original, but also doesn't feel like something I made.

I shall definitely scraplift again. But I'll do it my way :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. Loved popping around and reading everyone's stories yesterday -thanks for the comments you left, I really appreciated them!

P.P.S. Is anyone else feeling totally Christmassy? Looking forward to Journal Your Christmas with Shimelle!

Sunday 6 November 2011

Sian's Storytelling Sunday: Lessons in ....Um Yeah

The topic for my Storytelling Sunday is perhaps a little unorthodox... but it's kept me vastly entertained this week. This half term, my form and I are discussing the big daddy of PSHE topics. Could they guess what it was?

Form: DRUGS!!!

Me: No, but I am worried by your enthusiastic yelling.

Form: *snigger*

Me: Exactly. Sex and relationships.

My form are mostly thirteen, there are 30 of them, and they are all boys. But y'know what, for my first attempt to teach sex ed, it's a nice group to be working with. They're giggly, absolutely, but still curious, and really quite naive. Older students tend to be harder work. Less naivete, more innuendo.

When it came to my form having some input, they clammed up somewhat.

Me: First of all, we're going to think about some of the things we might be discussing, and come up with a few ground rules for our discussions so that no one feels uncomfortable or embarrassed. So, what might we be talking about.

Long silence. Eye contact avoidance. One tentative hand is raised.

Student: area?

Me: A bit yes, but the biology and the anatomy is more something you'll be talking about in science. We're going to be thinking about the social and emotional sides of sex. How to make sure you're being safe and responsible. What to do if you have a problem, that sort of thing.

Student: Isn't there like an age.... in the law...before you, yeah?

Me: There is, yes. We'll certainly be talking about the law and your rights.

Student: Will we be talking service?


The ground rules we set later said that no one should laugh at anyone else's questions. Everyone will know different things and what to know different things and if they laugh at each other, they'll all be too embarrassed to ask anything about " yeah".

I didn't realise that the person who would find it hardest not to giggle would be me. Navigating the world of innuendo was extremely difficult. I had to hold on to my laughter with both hands and all my strength until I could get back to the office and collapse helplessly at my desk.

All the boys tried desperately to avoid saying 'sex' and their faces would contort marvellously mid sentence as they tried to come up with a politically correct way of saying what they wanted to say. I think it always made it worse. But they kept trying!


The school nurse came to do a session with us on contraception and STIs and the effects of alcohol and sex. She showed us a video where a rather drunk young girl is pressured into sleeping with her boyfriend. Every so often, the video would be put on pause.

Nurse: So, what are your thoughts about the behaviour of the boy here?

Student: I think the quality of the acting is poor. It's really overacted.

Me: *not laughing. Definitely not laughing*

Nurse: *taken aback* OK.... but we're really talking about the relationship between the characters.


Nurse: Everybody's different and different people use different forms of contraception, but whether it's the pill or the coil-

Student: What's the coil?

Nurse: *holds it up* This is the coil.

Student: How does it work?

Nurse: It's implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Student: How does it get....up.... *resorts to hand gesture*

Me: *Still definitely not giggling. Or smirking*

Nurse: Oh, a doctor puts it in at the clinic. It comes in a little plastic case. The case gets removed and the coil stays behind, and then this string gets cut off.

Student: Hm....doesn't it hurt?

Nurse: No, no, you can't feel it. And once it's in it can stay there for ten years.

Student: How do they get it out again.

Nurse: Again, a doctor will do it, and get it out using some forceps.

Student: *turns pale*

Nurse: I won't deny that it's uncomfortable, but some people can't use the pill, so it's a good alternative for them. Better than an unwanted pregnancy.

Student: *blanches*

The nurse moved on and I edged around the room to my worried looking student.

Me: Pssst!

Student: Yes miss?

Me: You don't need to look so worried.

Student: Yes miss.

Me: The coil is for women.

Student: Ohhhhhh.....

Relief really brightened him up.

The nurse got out her model penis and showed them all how to put on a condom properly.

Nurse: If you come to the sexual health clinic, we will give you free condoms, but you'll have to demonstrate to us that you know how to put one on properly. We keep a record of your visits, and then if you've been to see us 6 times, we ask you to give us another demonstration to make sure your still using them properly. If you don't use a condom properly, you can still potentially pass on lots of STIs, or get your partner pregnant.

Student: You mean you have to show, like, a nurse or someone?

Nurse: Yes. Just to be on the safe side.

Student: But will

Nurse: Well, yes. So that we know you're doing it properly.

Student: ....But......

Nurse: Not on you! On the model.

Student: Oh.......


Here ends the lesson for the week. Who knows what next week's lessons will bring :D Wish me luck! With keeping a straight face, if nothing else.

Kisses xxx

P.S. For a whole range of wonderful stories, check out Sian's blog From High in the Sky where loads of bloggers will be sharing as part of Storytelling Sunday.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Challenge 4: Scrap from a Sketch

Scrapping from a sketch was quite an obvious choice for a challenge, and while I often sketch out my own pages before I draw them, I don't often use other peoples' sketches. So I thought it would be good for me to try using another scrappers design for a model and went with a sketch that I felt would be a challenge for me, away from my usual style (found on Pencil Lines)

The result? Well, I ended up quite a long way from the sketch, scrapping in my own way and using the sketch more as a starting point for inspiration instead of as a map for a page. I'm glad I tried it - I got to borrow elements of the design while still scrapping a page that I feel is "me".

I used a selection of scraps to make this page (thanks Shimelle and PPP) and used the scroll shape out the side in the design. But I wanted to include more space for journalling and also more white space with a smaller, more focussed section for just one photo.

The page is about a recent weekend in Newcastle to celebrate the housewarming of two friends who qualified as doctors and moved up there to begin junior doctoring. We had a lovely time out seeing the city. They have a statue of Earl Grey (score!) and I got to see the lovely concert hall, the Sage (after being convinced it was called the Herb for a while. The Herb sounded OK but not quite right and I couldn't figure out why...). We followed it up with sunset over the river and a wonderful dinner and evening of fun in the flat, which is lovely.

Miss these folks, so here's hoping we can visit again soon!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Thanks for the comments about my Masters. I'm so pleased to have finished, it's a giant relief. Really chuffed!

Thursday 3 November 2011

Challenge 3: Stitching on a page.

So, looking at the list of challenges once more, brings me in completely non-numerical order to the technique challenge. Stitching. I've recently started to get on board with the sewing machine (Thanks Mum!) and I wanted to combine my tentative skillz - skillz are way cooler than simple skills - with a bit of good old fashioned hand stitching.

So here we are! Machine stitched border and hand stitched title. I'm really pleased with how it came out :D

The title stitching was inspired by the titles I've seen on pages by Amy Tan which I love. But I've wanted to do more stitching since I've found the blogs of Michelle Clement, who uses lovely touches of embroidery, and Marcy Penner who has lovely loose threads falling across the page after machine stitching. Check them out!

I also enjoyed layering up lots of bits and pieces for this layout - thank you Studio Calico kit! - and it fits in nicely with Shimelle's Pretty Paper Party prompt for today. I even tore through a sheet of kraft cardstock (shock! horror!) to have a piece of this gorgeous pattern from Crate Paper peep through. It's got a lovely floral which normally I would think is too big to use easily, but the colours are so soft it matches really well with other patterned papers.

This page is about a stroll of six miles we took as family along London's Regent's Canal. We walked from the Limehouse Basin up to Camden, stopping in Angel for lunch. You have to leave the canal there for a bit anyway as it goes underground, but it was a bit of a challenge to find out way back to it as you're meant to walk the other way. Instead of following the signposts, we had to guess where the previous one would be pointing from. Fortunately, I'd done the walk before.

Lovely day out, playing choose-your-favourite-canal-side-property, peering into canal boats we passed, clambering over locks and taking pictures. Highly recommended day out!

Kisses xxx

P.S. And now that's six challenges vanquished. And therefore four more to share by the tenth. But I'll let you in on a secret: I've actually made the pages for three of them already.

P.P.S. It's been exciting times for me this week as well with two pieces of big news. One I can't share just yet, but the other is definitely worth shouting from the rooftops.

P.P.P.S. Did you want to know? Probably not, I know.

P.P.P.P.S. Sure?? OK.

P.P.P.P.P.S. See, now I've built it up and it won't be as exciting any more.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. I passed my Masters.

P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. So that's Kirsty Smith BA (Oxon) PGCE MA (Ed) signing out.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Challenge 8: Tell a Story

From my list of challenges, telling a story was right up there as an obvious one for me - I love to write a lot. The hard part was getting it all on the page.

In then end, to challenge myself to do something new, I branched out and made an extra coordinating 6x12 page on notebook style paper. That gave me the space to tell the whole story which I lifted from my Istanbul travel journal. The story of how we realised our dreams of being lady travellers of independent means.

My friend Ruth and I have travelled together a couple of times. We both have very similar tastes holiday-wise so it works out well. It was Ruth that got me hooked on Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody novels, where Amelia, our herione, sets out as a lady traveller of independent means to see the world. She's a forthright Victorian lady who takes no nonsense and has many adventures solving crime and studying archaeology, armed with a parasol and "damnable self-assurance". And rope. For tying up criminals, apparently. If you haven't read them, do. They're fab! Anyway, she is our inspiration at times, and since we both have jobs and therefore are of independent means...

-*Travel Journal extract*-

I'm having tea in the MOST AMAZING hotel, sat in a ballroom that looks as though its exotic elegance hasn't changed in at least 70 years and I'm sipping tea that, at 14TL a pot, cost 14 times more than most cups of tea we've had here. It did come with a free tiny pastry on a dish in the shape of a leaf though.

We came because apparently Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express here in room 411. As lady travellers of independent means, we decided to see if we could step in for a cuppa and a journal. After all, pressing our faces up against the window had revealed an attractive tea room.

We tailed a doorman into the hotel and were immediately greeted by hoards of staff who security scanned our bags (odd) and ushered us into a gorgeous lobby. A promising start, as I was in jeans, a hoody and walking boots and half expected to be told to go away and not come back until I looked decent. We asked if we could have tea (yes) and were offered a tour. We looked like tourists, not guests, clearly...


There's more on the card about the wingback armchairs that we sat in to write (I want to upholster everything I own in that fabric), the marble staircase, the old lift-in-a-cage (second oldest in Europe after the Eifle tower. The tour was quite informative), the chandeliers, the parquet floor and the way everything was dripping with a combination of vintage European decadence combined with exotic oriental touches.

Poirot would have approved, I think.

Anyway, long story shortened somewhat, we aspire to travel in that kind of style one day. But until then, we're content with tea and a tour and a complementary map. It's pop-up. Score.

Kisses xxx

P.S. It's dark when I'm at home these days, so it's tricky to get good pictures of pages. Sigh.

P.P.S. Thanks for the comments on my last post - made me all happy inside! Loved hearing about your travel journals, and I LOVED the links Elizabeth, thanks!