Monday 23 April 2012

Playing with Paper, Pianos and aPplique

On the Tea Potter, we did in fact go to a place that wasn't about the tea.  I had tea there anyway, but it was lunch time and we needed something to fill the gaps between the cake.  Enter Flat Planet.  They make these amazing flatbread pizzas that are to die for.  They just do.  They use clever things like harissa and rocket and "really expensive chorizo".  Their words, not mine.

I love it there.  And not just for the food.  When I took the tea potter crowd there for lunch we sat in the basement.  They have a piano, adorned with a "Play Me" sign and a book of 'Easy Shostakovich' pieces.  Just in case spontaneous pianistic inspiration is lacking.  

There's also a huge mirror where one can play pouty-photo-taking and jammy-internet-self-portrait-collecting if one is so inclined.  I was totally so inclined.  Witness the selection of photos on this page.

And when you've finished playing that game, you can persuade your friends to pose for "hilarious" pictures using the sign on the piano. Fortunately you remember in time that not everyone finds it so funny when you put these pictures on the internet.  Sadly I am possessed of no such inhibitions.

 I love finding dinky little places like this.  Food, photography and a place hidden from tourists.  And I love this Studio Calico circular grid.  It makes journalling all cool and interesting and that makes me happy inside. And the Echo-Park camera paper is a wonderful way of getting loads of really inexpensive camera icons.  All you need is a pair of scissors, one sheet of patterned paper and a couple of foam squares to pop up the lens!

Kisses xxx

P.S. The title in this page was inspired by Amy of Amy Tangerine's 'Crafty' reverse applique T-shirt.  Sadly I cannot find a picture of this anywhere on the internet.  Buy it's cool and I love the stitched-around look with a different pattern peeping through from behind.  Works on fabric, works on paper :D

Friday 20 April 2012

Getting Brighter Later: Confetti Time

Another page about camping in the Lakes.  Once again, I've borrowed journalling from my good friend Connie as she writes such fab writings.  They make me giggle and sometimes it's nice to have a friend's account of an experience in an album.

We climbed Helvellyn.  Sort of.

We' got a map from the tourist info place: the lady in the office said not to worry as the route was clear and easy to follow and that the weather would be "brightening up tomorrow!"

It turns out that 'brightening up tomorrow' is Lakes slang for 'unrelenting rain, mist, cold, utter misery, and high possibility of snow.'  After getting lost for about an hour (entirely my fault as I kept insisting I could see the path) we found the trail.  After a while, we got a lovely view down over Thirlmere.  After that the mist completely obscured everything.

We met a couple coming down and asked how far it was to the top.

Them: Oh, an hour, probably.
Us: Is it worth it?
Man: Oh yes, definitely!
Woman: Yeah. The view is about the same, except, the only difference is, at the top there's driving rain.
Man: Oh, yeah! Driving rain!
Woman: And it's really cold. And there's no view.
*long pause*
Woman: I guess the good news is that the ascent doesn't get much harder.
Man: Totally worth it!
Woman: I'd come down if I were you. 

Driving rain.  Driving rain and no view.  We packed it in and slithered back down to the base.  We met other intrepid hikers braving the rain on the way up.  We saw them back at the bottom too having given up.  

Brighter later?  It rained all day.

I kept the word 'Brighter' as my title and balanced the letter stickers on three pieces of twine which are threaded through to the back of the page and stuck down.  The effect is to lift the title up off the page and give it a bit of movement.

Quite a few people asked how I stuck my confetti down.  I'll just increase the suspense a bit by saying that I love doing this at the moment and I'm using confetti on lots of pages :D  I think it's pretty!

But sticking it down can be a problem.  Not a fun one.  Do I have a magic solution?  Honestly: no.  You're not going to like the answer.  I assume people look at the pages and think to themselves: "Surely no one would bother sticking down each individual little punched shape.  There is clearly a simple magic way of doing this".

What I do is stick down each little punched bit of confetti individually.

I hope you're not disappointed.  I use Glossy Accents glue as it has a fine nozzle that means I can apply the glue exactly.  When I've just about finished a page, I sprinkle the confetti randomly over the page.  I like it to look naturally sprinkled and that's hard to fake.  Then I use my Glossy Accents glue to put a tiny dot of glue on the page next to a little punched shape, and stick it on.

Then I repeat this about sixty times.

It takes a long time, but I think it's worth it because I like the look.  And it's the kind of task I save for when I feel a bit brain-dead.  For instance, I've had a busy day at school today, my sixth form are sitting mock exams and generating marking by the cart-load and we had parents evening tonight.  I didn't have a lot of energy when I got in.  So I settled in front of the telly with my layout and my glue and did a bit of sticking.  Mindless yet productive!  So I'm sorry I don't have a good answer, but its an honest one and a simple one.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Thanks so much for your comments, I really enjoy reading them and getting some feedback :D

P.P.S. This is in response to Shimelle's challenge: Use yellow, grey and one other colour.  I went with green.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

And that's when we came to the end.

The plan was to spend a couple of nights in Keswick camping in the Lake District, before moving to Great Langdale for three nights to a different campsite.

Connie and I went together - we met at uni but now live far apart and it's fun to catch up when we can.  She blogs too, and so I used part of her account of our trip as my journalling:

We took our tent down in the rain, and little glugs of rainwater disappeared into the inside of it. We packed it up, slightly hysterically, and drove to our next location, which was again, incredibly beautiful, and more than incredibly damp. By this point, we'd had enough. We went to the front desk, and asked if we could have a camping pod. The guy at the front desk said, "yeah......nothing worse than being really, really wet and cold, is there?" He seemed happy. 

"What's the weather like for the rest of the week?" we wanted to know.
He looked at his little printed off Met office sheet.
"Probably snow," he said. 
"Ha ha!" we said. "Ha ha ha ha ha!"
"Ha ha!" he agreed.
He was a cheerful sort of chap.

Supplies here are mainly from my new Studio Calico kit which cheered me up enormously on my return :D  I'm also in love with two new punches and this one punches out tiny little stars.  Actually, it's supposed to be a border punch that makes a border with little star-shaped hole, but I infinitely prefer using the pretty little star-shaped shrapnel as confetti.

I also can't get enough of those tiny letters.

Kisses xxx

P.S.  This is made in response to Shimelle's Challenge 9 to scrap a page from an older challenge.  So I went for this Glitter Girl One.  Partly because I love Glitter Girl and partly because I love layers.  Go figure.

Sunday 15 April 2012


Well, I'm back from a week or so away.  Part of which was spent in a tent in the Lake District.  While it rained.  

Actually, that's not strictly true.  It snowed overnight once.  And once we saw some blue sky and took a photo but then it went away and it rained again.  This is the beginning of a story for a scrapbook page.

In case it's not clear, we had a brilliant time :D  But we decided to refer to it as our adventure, rather than our holiday.

To make myself feel warm and dry again, I reveled in memories of the Tea Potter.  Ahem: Miss Smith's Second Annual Tea Potter, I should say.  I mixed together uni friends, work friends and Guiding friends which was lovely, but it did mean I had to introduce a lot of people who had no connection other than that they knew me.  So the Guiding friend Laura came up with a mnemonic that we use to help Brownies and Guides learn each others' names and so we played and I introduced the friends...

This is Laura.  She likes Lollipops.
This is Liz.  She's Lovely and Literary*
This is Robert.  He likes Ringing and is...Rugged?
This is Wendy from Work and orange Wednesdays.
This is Fiona. She's not a Friend but she is Fun.

Then it got more challenging with my friend Maja who has lots of wonderful characteristics.  But they don't begin with M.

This is Maja.  She's from Mpoland and is doing a MPhD at Mcambridge.
This is Ruth.  She's Reliable and Really good at drinking tea.
Me? I'm Kirsty and I like Keys?  Too boring.  I like Knowledge and Kan't spell.

And then because I'm a scrapbooker, I wrote it all down in a note book and decided to make a page.  It's the little things :D  And I used a glass and some Distress Ink to make mug rings over the journalling.  I like the slightly themed touch.

Kisses xxx

P.S. *Liz is in fact the editor of Oh Comely magazine which is AWESOME and has lovely articles about all sorts of curious/crafty/dreamy/inspiring things and no depressing celebrity gossip.  And in the latest issue, the editorial team tried to do Brownie and Guide badges from the past and I tested them.  Oooh it was fun!

P.P.S. Studio Calico published one of my pages on their Blog.  Best Day Ever! (Compared to being rained on in a tent)

P.P.P.S. This is in response to Shimelle's Combining Patterned Papers challenge on her blog.  I LOVE her online crop weekends.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Second Annual Tea Potter

I got this lovely book for my birthday.  Well, sort of.  A friend lent it to me and I refused to give it back, so it became a birthday present.  And then we used it to plan the second annual tea potter.  (The first annual Tea Potter can be found here...

So what's a tea potter?  Think a pub crawl then take out the beer and pubs and add in tea and cake.  Sorted.  All you need are some good tea-and-cake venues (see the book above), some friends (see below) and an almost unquenchable hunger and thirst.

The aforementioned friends.

The aforementioned cake.  In this case, warm gooey banana bread.  Recommended :D

I muddled work friends, Guiding friends and uni friends altogether. Social experiment success!!!

Observe the classy Britishness of tea drinking.  Actually, vanilla chai in this instance.

The requisite posing of the book in the tea shop it describes.

Work friend is at pains to point out that she is not, in fact, friends with me, but simply came for the cake. I am, as always, oblivious.

And then I discovered a mirror in which I could take my own picture.

Multiple times.

And finally we fetched up at a little tea shop in Soho where I ordered six cakes at random and we operated a mad-hatter style rotation system, except the cake moved around instead of the guests.

In sharing this, I immediately think of umpteen (give or take) stories I want to tell about the day.  Which is fine because I took unnecessary quantities of photos and fully intend to make unnecessary quantities of scrapbook pages.  Plus one of my new ambitions is to visit every place in the book, so expect upcoming reviews.

And so now I am 25.  Crazy times :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. Roll on the third annual tea potter!  Spread the word!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Layering and the Grand Bazaar

My friend Ruth and I visited Istanbul's Grand Bazaar in October and at the time I wrote loads about our experiences. However, the journalling on this page just describes the Grand Bazaar itself and the pics are a series we took in a mirror.  Made harder by the enthusiastic shop keepers trying to take a picture for us and sell us their wares at the same time.  In the end, I didn't get a good one of us, but I thought it was a good story :D

The good pictures of piles of pashminas, carpets, fezs and huge piles of other merchandise will go next to this page in a divided page protector.  As will the stories of our specific bargaining adventures.

This page came together quite simply though.  While I was watching telly, I paperclipped together a lot of odds and ends on my table and like the resulting stack.  I whacked the photos on top, and most of the page was already done!

I took the stack apart carefully, marking in pencil where each new layer would go so that I could glue it all together securely.    So I thought I'd share the process of all those layers coming together. You can see the pencil marks all get hidden as I reassembled the stack.

All that was needed was a title, a bit of journalling and the odd punched butterfly!

Kisses xxx

P.S. SNOW???? Really?  On Friday I got sunburned sitting out in the pub garden!!!!

Sunday 1 April 2012

Storytelling Sunday: The sixth form

For Sian's Storytelling Sunday, I've pulled one out of the archives of the school stories.  I wrote it a year ago, but it's time to share now as I can look back without wanting to wring the necks of those involved.  As a teacher, they frown upon that.

This week, the old Year 13 came back to school to tell the current Year 12 about how awesome life at university is.  Fair play.  I exchanged wry smiles with my old students, with whom I used to do battle on a thrice-weekly basis over their staggering indifference to mathematics.  Why pick A-level mathematics if you're not keen on studying it?

"Do you have any classes like us now Miss?  You miss us don't you?"

"Yup, it's like a pain..."

They grinned "Yeah!"

"...Has been removed"

They didn't believe me. "Yeah but miss, it was classic though wasn't it? You LOVED our classes really."

"They were....special."

Despite my protestations, they are convinced irrevocably that they were charming and amusing.  They were not.  They were frustrating.  And so here's what I wrote about them at the time.


Fact of the Day

I have (unfortunately) a particularly arrogant set of Year 13 students.  They constantly attempt to trip me up, prove me wrong and throw me off balance. And they've done this for almost two years.

Teaching them is hard work. They found themselves flung from the comfortable, and, for them, easy world of GCSE into the troublesome land of the A-level. For the first time in their lives, they had to try hard at maths. They had to struggle. And they got things wrong. Do they embrace this in a mature way, exerting themselves to work harder to achieve success?


You didn't think they were going to, did you? It's much easier for them to blame pretty much anything else they can think of instead of admitting that they need to, y'know, try. Perhaps they're worried that, although hard work aint killed anyone yet, they might be the first victims. Whatever it is, they avoid working at any cost, don't seem to recognise the link between doing no practice and getting bad grades and persist in the idea that it will all come good in the end. Their behaviour has been what I might expect from considerably younger boys enhanced by a stroppy belief that they're doing me a favour by coming to the lessons.

They're mistaken. I LOVE it when they don't come.

'Fact of the Day' has arisen from one of the worst of the lot.

Student1: Alright, shhh, let's see if she knows this one.

The hubbub dies down.

Student 1: Miss, what makes the loudest noise in the ocean?

Me: It's shrimps. They all tap their little tentacles together and make air bubbles and it makes a huge racket that can interfere with submarines, it's so loud. Anything else...? No...? Good. Back to work.

They weren't really sure what to make of this.

Eventually, curiosity overcomes this particular specimen of teenagerhood and he enquires how I knew the answer.

Me: I knew the answer the same way you did: I saw that episode of QI last night on TV.

This won me a grudging grin and another fraction of an inch in the constant battle for respect.

S: QI is bear sick.

This is 6th-former speak and it means "QI is very good". My life became a tiny bit easier.


The second fact of the day was a couple of lessons later.

S: Alright miss, I've got another one for you.

When the students say "Alright", they don't pronounce any of the consonants. It comes out sounding a bit like "Aaaawwwaaaiirrr". I know because they practised with me. To get it really "street".  And in case you're wondering, 'street' is not  word that you should put air quotes around.

S: OK, so in one hand I've got a loaded gun and in the other hand I've got a bullet which is identical to the one in the gun. At exactly the same time, I fire the gun horizontally and drop the bullet. Which one hits the floor first.

Me: They both hit the floor at exactly the same time.

S: Why?

Me: Because the vertical component of the forces acting on both bullets is identical: they both fall under gravity with force mg.

S: How did you know that?

Me: I did A-level physics and I've studied mechanics.

S: Oi, D. You do physics so how come you didn't know?

Other student shrugged noncommittally. So far, it's 2-0 to me.


Over time, fact of the day has extended from QI tidbits to logic puzzles, physics questions and even good old-fashioned riddles. And it's become more of a joke, to see how long I can keep up, rather than a test of my authority. Almost a measure of their respect for me. Maybe I do know what I'm talking about, although I definitely don't know everything. For example, the capital cities quiz was an epic fail. Although I was spared the humiliation of bad guesses, unlike the student who announced that Burma was the capital of Vietnam.

However, it was never about knowing everything. It was about taking not knowing things well. It was about taking time to think about these challenges and acknowledging their minds and intellect. About returning their respect when (if?!) they knew something I didn't. Some were extremely well informed when it came to capital cities.

Teaching this class has been a very long road. It's the most frustrating battle I've fought and while I've won the war, I have definitely lost the odd battle (and my temper) along the way. In teaching, you have to hold onto your temper as hard as you can with both hands and your teeth if necessary because if you lose that, you lose everything. They want you to lose your rag. It's a sort of perverse form of entertainment, it means they've got to you. But attempting to provoke someone who is maddeningly calm all the time is extremely boring and they give up.

In a few weeks' time, they will go on study leave and that's the last I shall see of them, except maybe on results day. I shan't miss the lessons much. I may have already mentioned that they were hard work? Slightly battle scarred, having learned a lot but none the worse for wear, I shall take on the next bunch. Bring it on!


Now, pop along to Sian's blog to read more stories.  There's some amazing stuff out there :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. Stay tuned to hear about the Second Annual Tea Potter which took place yesterday.  Good pictures, good times.