Saturday 31 August 2013

Pretty Polaroid Project: snap the fourth

The Pretty Polaroid Project is back! The idea is simple: in each new project post, I will share a step-by-step tutorial for making a little Polaroid-themed embellishment and then when they're all complete, I will share an idea for putting them all to good use.

It's been a while since I did one of these but I'm back on it now.  However, if you want to catch up, you can find the other posts below:

Allow me to run you through the thought process for this fourth little project.  #1: cut out a Polaroid frame and #2: find a white background that will slot behind it.  Before you stick it together, #3: cover the background in your handwriting.  You can write nonsense (I did!) and it doesn't matter if it's legible as it's there to create design texture rather than being something to read. In #4: stick the background behind the frame and #5: add a circular die cut element.  Anything will do; just a pattern or colour you like! For #6: outline the die cut with hand stitching and #7: add some flair! #8: sees us including an arrow to point to the important part of the design and finally #9: decorate with little hearts.

Use whatever scraps you have lying around.  Little projects like this are a great way to clear a cluttered table so if you don't have flair and arrows you could just as easily use brads and washi tape.

Finally, if you'd like a copy of the polaroid template I use to make each frame, scoot me an email to the address below and I can send it on to you.  I know I'm a little behind with these and some of you have requested the template and not heard back yet.  But rest assured, don't panic - seriously, stop panicking! - as I'm going to do it today.

journalofcuriousthings @ gmail . com

Fabcakes :D  Hope you're enjoying a lovely weekend.  It's so sunny outside and I'm enjoying a tea break in central London while I indulge in a bit of blogging.  That's a fancy way of saying I treated myself to a huge lunch because it's my last weekend off before I return to school, and now I need to sit down until I can move again.  I'm like a snake who's swallowed a small rodent whole and has to bask in the sun.  Except I'm not a snake and I think I swallowed Mexico and I want to bask in a deck chair.  With a cocktail.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I am sticking to my 'Give Instagram a chance!' experiment and used my phone camera to put this tutorial together.  The picture quality isn't as good as my beloved proper camera, but I think it's good enough for this and I kind of like the final effect.  Any thoughts?

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Happy Scrapping

This page tells the story of our attempts to teach English to the Guides we met in Cambodia.  I've already blogged this story - you can read it here - and I just wanted to do a quick post to follow up with the page! You may notice that I've referred you to a reasonably long story and then produced a page without the merest hint of a wordy ramble.  Given that I'm a wordy ramble fan, you may currently be staring at your screen (or hologram if you're an archivist reading this in future) in openmouthed dismay, astonishment and disbelief.

And well you might. For there is not a jot of journalling on this page.  That's because I wanted to include the whole story in glorious detail, so I will write down the journalling from my blog onto a 6x12 card to go next to this page in the album.  I will also include three further 6x4 landscape photos to complete the look.  I'll aim to stick a picture up here when I'm done, but I'm not done yet and I find it ever so hard to take photographs of things that don't exist. Anyone else find this?

But still, the page is made.  And it's yellow which is a happy colour and I used up some older stash which is always a bonus.  I don't love this page, but I don't hate it either, so swings and roundabouts really. Personally I prefer swings which must make this page more of a metaphorical roundabout.  In the end, I just decided enough was enough and refused to mess about with it any more.

I had two ideas going on for the design. I wanted to emphasise the word 'Happy' it's the whole crux of the story.  So I stitched it onto a tag in a contrasting colour that makes it pop off the page.  The other design idea that I wanted to incorporate was the cloud motif.  I doodled and hand-cut these outlines which was a bit of a fiddle - especially cutting the middles out! - but I was pleased with the effect of the clean, stark white against the yellow.  Actually, I like most of the elements of this page and would use them again, but there's something about the whole that just doesn't strike me quite right.

Maybe it's the missing journalling after all.  

Anyway, today finds me back in London having now lost 4 ticket lotteries for Book of Mormon tickets.  Alas.  But the weather is sunny, I'm having dinner on the south bank with friends tonight and this wonderful city always has so much to offer that I really can't bring myself to sulk about it :D I am happy!

Hope you're enjoying the sunshine!

Kisses xxx

P.S. The Great British Bake Off was excellent as ever.  Looking forward to next week's petit fours.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

How are you? I AM HAPPY!

Get ready to run...
Teaching English as a foreign language to the girls in Cambodia was an experience.  They speak, read and write in Khmer; different language, different alphabet, different sounds... and we had more success with some things than we did with others.

They all mastered 'Hello' pretty quickly and as we arrived each morning and afternoon for lessons, all the girls would run along calling Hello to us, grinning and waving and proud of themselves.  It made us grin too :D

We called them lessons, but the sessions we ran with the girls were a series of games, crafts, making a lot of noise and being silly.  And learning sort of happened accidently on the way. We kicked off every session with greetings and performed ever more exaggerated versions of the following conversation.

Hello, my name is Kirsty [Frantic waving and pointed at self]
Hello, my name is Libby. [Ditto]
How are you? [Pointing at friend and raising eyebrows and shoulders in dramatic enquiry]
I am happy! How are you? [Freakish bearing of teeth in grin, pointing at face, thumbs up]
I am sad. [Yanking down corners of mouth, slumped shoulders, thumbs down and tearful tone of voice]
Goodbye. [Frantic waving and walking away]
Goodbye. [Ditto]

You have to remember that when I say we performed this conversation, I mean performed. And this was all fine, they got the hang of it really well and we added our ages and favourite colours into the mix as we got better at conversation.  But the bit that never seemed to catch on was the 'How are you?' section.

How are you?
At first, it seemed that no matter how many times we practised 'How are you?' the girls would neglect to answer the question and simply repeat back 'How are you?'.  Which leaves you wanting to say 'Aha! I asked you first!' but that seems a bit mean someone when faced with a seven year old with large puppy-dog eyes who's struggling to master a foreign language.  So we persevered.  Some of us more than others.

There was a memorable morning when demonstrating and recapping the previous day's vocab with the team, I asked them 'HOW ARE YOU?' clearly in precise, ringing tones so that all the girls could hear.  And all but one of my team just repeated me. They're supposed to speak English already; that's what qualifies us to be here!!!

Fortunately, Heather came to the rescue, and she volunteered that she was happy.  And asked me how I was.  Great.  I am happy.  At least, I am now. And so we returned to conducting little role plays with the girls, asking them their names and how they were and so on. And slowly but surely, we got to the point where they could all respond to the question 'How are you'.

And they were happy.  Every last one of them was happy.  And no matter how many times we tried to get them to rehearse 'I am sad' they just wouldn't say it.  They'd do their part in the conversation, repeat along with us and then in the last instant, change 'I am sad' to 'I AM HAPPY!' It was a little frustrating.  How are they going to learn if they won't ever say it?

But on the other hand, 'I am happy' is a lovely response to get to the questions 'How are you?'.  Much better than the standard 'Fine' we tend to say from day to day.  And I think the girls genuinely were happy.  So maybe we shouldn't complain after all.  And for the whole trip whenever anyone asked us how we were or we asked each other, the team would share a grin and respond as one:


Kisses xxx

P.S. I'm in the process of scrapping this - fingers crossed I finish tonight so I can pop the accompanying page here too :D

Time for Tea

I can't believe it's the end of August.  Last time we sat down for tea it was the beginning of summer and the prospects seemed endless.  Not that September is a bad time at all; I love my job and returning to school will be great.  But it does tend to cut into my crafting/travelling/going out time.

Sorry, I've started talking already and I haven't even offered you tea.  How does vanilla sound? The box says you shouldn't take it with milk, but that seems a bit daft to me. I think the milk takes the bitter edge off the tea and lets the sweet vanilla sing through.  Which is a long way of saying trust me: it's yummy!

It's nice to look back over summer though with a sense of having embraced life. There was the first week of frantically organising last minute things for my Cambodia trip and then three weeks experiencing another culture; meeting wonderful girls and leaders and sharing our love of Guiding.  But I've talked enough about that, and will continue to talk about it a lot more so perhaps I'll tell myself to stop there on that topic!

Then there was the catching-up week when I got back.  There was admin to do and reports to write; photos to edit and the scrapbook ideas to organise, friends, boyfriend and family to see and jet-lag to conquer.

And now it's the last week.  It's been a beautiful bank holiday; meals outside, outdoor theatre and drinks by the river.  This is the stuff bank holidays should be made of and almost never are.  But the sunshine was on our side this time! And I fully intend to squash as much into this last week as possible.  To try out new projects and learn new things and exploit this last free week and embrace the feeling of expectation September brings.

I'd love to hear about your summer too.  It's lovely to hear what people get up to when the weather turns pretty and anything seems possible.  

I'm sorry this has been such a brief chat; I have lots of plans for the rest of the day!  I hope that it will involve cake pops, blueberry gin, blogging and my continued adventures into blog design (slow going!), a spot of shopping for crafty bits and pieces, lunch out and if I'm lucky, a theatre ticket.  I'm trying to get a ticket to see Book of Mormon.  It's sold out but if you turn up on the day, you can take part in the ticket lottery and win one of 20 tickets for £20.  I've not been successful yet, but maybe today will be my day?

Frankly if not, I shall be curled up with the Great British Bake Off tonight :D

Why not have a spot of tea with Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams?  It's time for tea with her too, and many other bloggers will gather to share their teapots and adventures.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I am learning to use Instagram to get better iPhone pictures.  I have a love-hate relationship with the iPhone camera as it has nothing like the flexibility of my beloved dSLR.  However, I do always have it with me, and so I'm making a conscious effort to embrace its limitations and use it. I know people can produce wonderful images with these little cameras and I suppose like anything else, I need to learn to get the most out of it.  Anyway, those pictures are some of the cups of tea I have enjoyed over the last couple of months.

P.P.S. Using the BigHugeLabs Mosaic Maker to make a whole collage of Instagram tea photos has helped me warm to it a little more :D

P.P.P.S. You can follow me on Instagram apparently, if you're so inclined, by clicking on the icon below.  I'm pondering the idea of doing an Instagram version of Learn Something New Every Day - Shimelle's September scrapbooking class.  It would be a good way for me to keep using it...


Wednesday 21 August 2013

Then and Now

These two pictures were taken a year apart.  The one on the left is of the girls I went to Armenia with and was taken in July 2012.  We travelled in the very formal but oh-so-ill-fitting Guiding shirts, we spent a long time debating how many pairs of pants to take (or knickers if you prefer - even the word pants seems to cause confusion) and we had to cram two tents into our luggage to camp in.

The one on the right is an unconscious echo.  These are the girls I took to Cambodia, this time the team leader, and was taken in July 2013. We travelled in the standard uniform polo shirts and hoodies, the team were slightly more enthusiastic about having an extensive group portrait session and we spent time comparing mosquito nets, the strength of our Deet and wondering exactly how hot it was going.

However, in both pictures, we are excited and nervous; we are representing the UK Girlguiding movement, we have our UK international neckers tied in friendship knots and back packs that go easy on shoes and sun dresses but have coloured crayons shoved into every available space, roles of gaffa tape (because gaffa can hold together a bag, a tent, a mosquito net and probably even a plane in a pinch) and yes, lots of pairs of pants. 

Seriously, TWO of my team this time around found they'd actually packed knickers more than once - one had over 40 pairs and one had over 60.  Crumbs!

I like how both pictures represent the excitement of going on adventure, or being part of a team, and of just plain old being silly.  I also like that while some things have changed in a year, some things haven't and that's just lovely. I haven't actually scrapped the photo on the right - I picked a different one from the photo shoot that had me in thanks to the self timer - but I've still scrapped this moment of anticipation for each trip.

'And They're Off' was the page that I made about our departure for Armenia - you can see more details in the post I wrote here. The departure page for Cambodia, 'Engage GOLD Mode' is much more recent!  You can read more about that here.

I also think it's interesting to see how my scrapping has evolved - in some ways I think both pages have a lot of similarities and quite a consistent style.  I think I'm growing into it!  I've got my hand-journalling on both pages, my flair, layering, Thickers, a single photo, mist, white space, sewing, cameras... And while the second page doesn't have any paperclips (Oh no!) I still love to use them.  I think the more recent page is perhaps a bit more refined some how; there's more detail in the layering and the colour combination of yellow/blue/green is a bit more consistent throughout the page.  It's fast becoming my favourite palette :D

None of this really has a point to be honest, but it's an interesting exercise to dig out photos and pages made a year apart and see how things have changed.

Kisses xxx

P.S.School holidays are the best - went to the cinema at lunchtime today with the boyfriend, then meeting the friends tonight and to fill the gap in between, I'm having tea in a cafe (thank you free wifi!) and blogging.  This is the life!

Tuesday 20 August 2013

A Stitch in Space: Sewing on a scrapbook page

I missed scrapbooking! But what better way to get back into it than digging out some photo shoot pics and starting on a new album :D  Before we set off for Cambodia, I took the team outside and we had a quick photo shoot of us looking all shiny and happy and excited.  

Journalling reads:

This was it: the last time we were properly clean and sweat-free for three weeks. Definitely worth an extensive photo shoot! While I think we all looked quite relaxed and happy, in my head I'm thinking about printing aeroplane boarding passes, triple checking flight times, hoping we can cram all the resources into our bags without exceeding the luggage weight limit, printing insurance documents, copying passports and credit cards and wondering if it's acceptable to feed the team the leftover contents of my fridge. (It is acceptable). So obviously, photo shoot comes first!

However, when I had put most of the page together, everything seemed to have drifted towards the bottom of the page leaving a lot of white space to play with.  Now I love white space as much as the next person (and probably a little bit more) but I like it to give a page a bit of breathing space rather than looking like a big dead area that I forgot to scrapbook in.  So I needed something to fill it...

See?  I was looking at the page and thinking it was scrapped by someone who couldn't reach all the way up to the top of the page.  12x12 is a large canvas, but it's not so huge I can't reach the top. So I added a little plane rub-on - good chance to break out with my beloved October Afternoon Boarding Pass stash - and doodled a little flight path for the plane in pencil, ready to be stitched.  I love hand sewing on pages as it adds great texture and and nice hand-crafted vibe.

I pricked holes for the stitches with a paper piercer - I wanted long-ish stitches with small gaps in between as I thought a solid stitched line would be too heavy.  Little gaps still gives the suggestion of a flight path but looks a bit lighter and freer.

Then comes the sewing - it's reasonably straightforward to follow along the pattern and I rub out the pencil marks a few stitches ahead so that it won't show through in the final design.  I deliberately left some stitches out so I could come back in an accent colour.

And here's the finished sewing; blue thread with the odd yellow highlight to draw from the yellow and blue tones in the patterned papers. I also added a couple of cross stitch accents in different areas of the page to tie the sewing in with the rest of the page.  I have found this to be a great way to fill up white space - the page now looks much more complete to me and the sewing adds interest without dominating. I still get my white space but it's not dead space any more!

A few ink splatters in blue and pearls in yellow made ideal little page accents and again toned in nicely with the sewing and the papers. A camera - must have for me these days - tops off the title and I popped out the lens on a foam pad and added a little heart. Journalling done, and finally the doodled border (broken every so often with the words 'Zoom! Zoom!') completes the design. 

Kisses xxx

P.S. I think since I'm bubbling over with pages to make, I'm going to hunt the internet and take on some scrap challenges.  Sketch challenges, product challenges, theme ideas....Anyone have any recommomendations that they've enjoyed?

P.P.S. Great British Bake Off is back tonight.  SO EXCITED!!!!!

P.P.P.S. Well and truly jet-lagged.  I got up at 3:30 this morning and scrapped for a couple of hours as I woke up and just couldn't get back to sleep!  However, it was quite fun to be up and crafting; cup of tea, catching up with Glitter Girl, bits of paper everywhere... What more could a girl want?  I think I'll do this every night :D

Monday 19 August 2013

Travels in Cambodia

I'm back!  My three weeks in Cambodia ended yesterday as we landed back to earth with a bump both metaphorically at the end of a truly incredible experience, and literally as the aeroplane pilot smacked the plane into the tarmac with a bit of a jolt!

I did all the boring things yesterday (washing, sorting the mail, accidently dying the washing some interesting colours etc.) and now I can think about the fun stuff.  Let the scrapping commence!  I think what I'm going to do is share a few photos at a time here as I process the memories and write down some of the things I want to remember.  I kept a travel journal in a notebook but there wasn't always time to write as much detail as I'd like; whilst writing a journal under a mosquito net with a head torch is exciting, it turns out you actually do more giggling and gossiping with the others than serious reflection.  But I don't want to forget the details so one of the very first things I intend to do is go back through the pictures and write.  Just let it all pour out.  And then that writing along with my travel journal can be scrapped to my heart's content!

The photo above is one of my favourites - we stayed for a week in a little rural village surrounded by rice paddies, lush green mountains and the looming menace of monsoon rainclouds.  On this particular afternoon, we had just arrived in the village and we were taken on a 4 mile trek along cattle tracks and through trees to a waterfall.  The girls who were with us all jumped into the water in their clothes and swam about cheerfully.  So we joined them, scrambling over rocks and despairing at slightly see-through clothes.  It was baking hot and humid and it did rain a little, but in the cool water, it didn't matter!  

But this photo doesn't tell any of that story.  (Don't worry, there are some pictures that do! But they are currently stuck inside my team's cameras and I won't be able to get hold of them until we meet in a couple of weeks!)  However, this photo does represent the scenery that surrounded us for that entire week - it was literally that beautiful.  Even now, I can't quite believe it. Anyway, while it may not tell a story, I think it will make a great album title page - I'm going to experiment for the first time with having a picture printed at 12x12 size!

I did take a travel scrapbook kit with me (and blogged it here) but as things turned out, we were so busy that I only made a handful of pages.  However, I'm not worried.  I've got my journal and my pictures and all it means is that I still have the scrapbooking to look forward to!

There are so many little stories to tell and I'm looking forward to sharing them.  I find blogging a useful way to record memories too as writing for an audience seems to help me focus my writing. This is a pier off the edge of Rabbit Island - we spent the morning there and it was a beautiful, picture-postcard tropical island.  And virtually empty of people.  Once we'd got over our initial confusion (Rabid island? Is it safe? Ohhhhh...Rabbit Island.  Are there rabbits?  No? Oh. It just looks like one from above) we had a nicely chilled morning which made a nice change of pace in a very hectic trip!

These are some of the amazing girls we met and worked with.  They were so enthusiastic and really embraced our visit, welcoming us into their community. And they wanted to pose for pictures just as much as we did - another of those things that makes you realise that you can travel the world and find that we have so much in common with people everywhere, and that's worth celebrating.

More than anything, I loved being with my team.  The six of us (my hands are missing from this picture as I'm lying in the dirt taking the picture) have lived in the same room for three weeks despite having only met three times before, but they were absolutely brilliant.  We laughed constantly, they embraced every challenge with good humour, they cared about the leaders and girl guides we worked with and they really put everything they had into making it a great project.  Being a leader hasn't always been easy, but without them, GOLD just wouldn't have been the same.

I'm going to pause here for now, partly because I want to order some big prints (I'm disproportionately excited about having really big prints - is that weird?) and partly because I really could ramble around this topic for hours as I peruse my pictures and giggle at some of our memories.  

Kisses xxx

P.S. While I miss my fantastic team like crazy - it's so weird not having them around all the time - it's also lovely to be home, have a cup of tea and a meal that isn't rice.  And it was lovely to be picked up from the airport by the boyfriend (who earned himself major bonus points :D) and to be met in my flat by a freshly backed loaf of bread and a banana loaf cake baked by the friend who flat-sat for me.