Life is short. Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile. We're not quantified; there's no chart of desire. When the roaring flames of your heart have burned down to embers, may you find that you have married your best friend. [Steven Tyler]

Monday, January 28, 2008

Resolution: Don't Agonise - ORGANISE!

Well, it's been a busy old weekend with some very enjoyable hi-lights. Sunday morning I zipped up the A1M to the Metro Centre where 'the girls' from work were all meeting for a shopping expedition. Of course, it had to start with coffee and sticky 'things' in M&S Cafe - courtesy of Emma... thanks Emma, it was yummy. Then we were off to enjoy ourselves.

We were five on a mission and we found some bargain jewellery pieces just right for zapping with alcohol inks and mixing with Stampbord and we did an awful lot of 'hat trying on'. Not sure why as at least three of us were looking for foot wear, but the hats were a riot and everyone suited them, well most of them. I did have my camera in my bag but thought I should be restrained, after all, someone else may have had their camera too and I sure didn't fancy being immortalised in some of the concoctions I tried on!

Inevitably, I found my way to the Paper Mill Shop and bought a box of card for some book projects I'm into at the moment but more of that later in the week. I ended up going home via Team Valley and the HobbyCraft store and bagged myself a few more bargains. I'll post some photo's soon.

I have been doing a lot of re-organising in my craft room of late and trying to make more room to work. It's pretty impossible really and I have come to the conclusion that I need to do something radical like move or extend? Must give it some serious thought! But in the mean time, I've thrown loads of stuff out, given some stuff away and put some larger things that don't get used too often in the loft. It's helped a little and at least I have a clean work top and can see what's on my shelves again. I have a real problem with MESS! If my work area is in a mess then so is my brain and thought process so I am going to make a huge effort this year to really organise my work area, storage systems and access to equipment. Hence, my new years resolution: Don't Agonise - ORGANISE!

While I was tidying I came across some art work that I'd stuffed into a little suitcase bought for altering but ideal for storing goodies:-

This piece was made quite a few years ago and is a Carousel of Fashion using Hero Arts 'Ladies' stamps and lots of other stamps to build the collaged background. I really enjoyed making this and finished it with little tags instead of Carousel horses.

I mentioned earlier that I am working on some book projects...... I have always loved making books of all descriptions and I love to try new techniques and styles. Here is a selection of books ranging from the tiny 'Domino' books (courtesy of the wonderful Mr Holtz's Creative Journey DVD), an accordion type book which is double sided and two hand stitched Coptic books. With the exception of the Domino Books, all of the others were made at an Artist's Retreat I attended three years ago, generously organised and hosted by Glenda Waterworth. It was an amazing three days stuffed full of fantastic creative workshops with very talented tutors. The Coptic Book Workshop was taught by Susie Jefferson and the accordion style pull-out book was a workshop taught by the fabulously talented Helen Chilton. Happy Days!

This is a pull out Tag Book made a little more recently. I adore working with tags of all shapes and sizes and a great way of binding a series of tags is in one of these little (or not so little) books.

This is the spine of the book with all of its wonderful silk ribbons cascading from the concertina spine.Opened out, it displays the full series of 12 tags. This one was based upon travel destinations. The tags have been distressed and stamped using Distress Inks and the surface was sealed with a Tea Dye varnish before applying the embellishments. The reverse side of the tags were all painted with Lumiere Paints in bronze and coral shades. Yum!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Festive Review - Christmas 2007: Part Two

I'm back with part two of my review of Christmas but it seems so long ago now. My, how a few weeks really moves things along but it's nice to look back and it's a great record for next year when I can't remember how I had certain things arranged.

I have already mentioned Christmas/Family Traditions and one that goes way back in our family are these:-
it takes me back to a time when there was only the BBC or ITV to choose from and they both had their own programme magazine. We used to wait eagerly for them to arrive at the newsagents to rush out and buy the TV Times for ITV and the Radio Times for BBC programmes over Christmas. Then, we would sit down and go through them cover to cover, picking out all of the festive programmes and films we wanted to sit down and watch and do you know...... I still do it today! Even though each magazine printed seems to cover all the stations, including most of the main satellite channels, I still rush out and buy both of these - it's the tradition you see!!! I have to admit, I don't get to watch half of what I carefully hi-lite in bright pink marker, too busy shopping and cooking and getting everything ready but it's fun and it's part of our Christmas tradition. As are these:-

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without these three films.

Another family tradition that goes way back to when I was a little girl is always having a new nighty or pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve and Mum making up our beds with freshly laundered linen...... something else I've continued in our home. This year, I came across some fantastic bed linen - a 1000 thread count no less. Oh Bliss! Together with a feather bed (a Christmas pressy to myself and DH) it makes getting out of bed on a cold winter morning even more difficult than normal.

One of the last jobs on Christmas Eve is to make up the bed (it's actually the penultimate job as this year I didn't have any of the pressies wrapped in advance) and then climb into fresh PJ's, pour a glass of Champagne and sit down to all the wrapping.

Christmas Cards and Candles.... are a must. I love writing out my Christmas Cards, it's one of the few opportunities I have in this age of email and phones, to sit down (with a little glass of something of course) a beautiful writing implement (I love proper PENS)! and write to family and friends and watch the little pile of envelopes grow into a heap. All of this is enhanced by candle light and the magnificent fragrance from the Yankee Candles which burn in just about every room in the house over the holiday season.

I love receiving Christmas Cards too and really look forward to hearing all the news from friends near and far. It's a great time of the year to catch up with everyone I haven't heard from in a while.

The Tree in the Lounge
The hall is all ready with its much smaller tree and swagged staircase just waiting for Santa to arrive! He has to use the front door as we don't have a proper chimney (tee hee).

....... and finally, Santa was very generous to Diesel,

he got squeaky toys in abundance (UGH)! A football, rugby ball, base ball, ball in a net, edible treats and this......

can you believe this?

Yep! it's dog beer and it even has a German Shepherd on the label! We thought it was so appropriate for Diesel as he helped himself to a crate of 24 John Smiths Extra Smooth when he was just a pup... but that's a whole other story. This one is very definitely NON ALCOHOLIC!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Festive Review - Christmas 2007: Part One

(This could be quite lengthy so I'm going to split it up and look at before and after Christmas in different posts).

Well, where did it go?

The decorations have all been taken down, dusted off and safely stowed away in the loft until the next time. We were all packed up in plenty of time to comply with the tradition of 12th Night... but only just!

I really don't like it when people start taking down decorations early. Some homes in our neighbourhood took down their displays almost straight after Christmas and others waited until New Years Day. There were about half a dozen houses within view of ours that left everything in place until 12th Night which I whole'heartedly agree with. Christmas has become very commercialised and it is nice to preserve some of the original traditions of the festive season. It also takes so long to get everything in place and looking just right, that it is such a shame not to be able to enjoy it for as long as possible.

I like to maintain as many 'Traditions' as possible so that Christmas doesn't just become a huge eating and money-spending binge, although we do enough of that too but in proportion.

Sunday 23rd December, 2007

Dressing the outside of the house is just as important as the inside and I love to have a beautiful fresh green wreath hanging on the front door. This year, the ready-made wreaths were so expensive and as I love flower arranging I decided to make my own. The photo's not too good and I had been up all night decorating the tree in the lounge before I sat down to make this........

but I was really pleased with the result and the bow behaved perfectly when I put it together. So while I was on a roll, I made one for my parents door too. I raided the garden for greenery and added in some Laurel and some Mock Orange Blossom as I didn't have any more pine cones. I was so surprised when I went out with the secateurs to find blossom buds on the Mock Orange Blossom bush, it was so Christmassy.

Things I Love About Christmas:

Being with my Family

Family Traditions

Snowstorms, Freshly Fallen Snow and Frosty Days

Decorating the home and trimming the tree

Christmas Music to trim the tree by

Mugs of steaming Hot Chocolate


Long walks with my husband and dog

Choosing gifts and wrapping them

these are just a few of 'my favourite things'!

Finishing touches were put to the decorations in the dining room. The Christmas Tree and illuminated swag above the french windows were joined by hand-blown clear glass baubles which contain solid glass features in the centre....

there's a star in one, a very delicate snowflake and a dapper snowman all suspended by invisible thread from the chandelier. It looks really beautiful at night when the chandelier is on but dimmed to a low level and it hangs centrally over the dining table creating quite a focal point whilst sitting at the table.

Here is the bauble laden swag that dresses the fireplace in the lounge with stockings hung at either side......

and the main tree which stands in a corner of the lounge waiting for all of the presents to be placed beneath it.

And finally, the front entrance taken at night. The door is surrounded by a greenery swag which has pine cones, black berries, twigs and cinnamon sticks wired into it and lots of tiny white fairy lights to create a welcoming entrance.