Sunday, 6 April 2014

I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can

I think that’s the title of a book or movie and I seem to remember something about that if you don’t dance fast enough, something bad happens. Well, I’m not expecting something bad, unless it’s tripping over my own feet, but I honestly don’t think I can dance any faster, either! March has been a frantically busy month and it does seem at times as if I’m being a bit overwhelmed.

First, there’s the WI (that’s the national Women’s Institutes if you don’t live in Britain). We’ve put up a new website (http://www.southstreetwi.org.uk) and although we have a cracking great web guy doing it, I’m still having to liaise with him for text, photos, etc. Not too time-consuming, most of the time. Then I still do the newsletter for our group, plus I started a blog for our group (http://southstreetwi.blogspot.com). And of course, we’re starting up the Programme Committee to plan next year’s programmes, also. And guess who’s doing that again? Yes, yes, yes. Oh, and I’ve been taking lots of photographs for the website, newsletter, and blog, but you can see those if you look at those links to the website and blog. On the 26th of March we had the Annual Council Meeting for the East Kent Federation, and I was the voting delegate from our group. It was a great meeting and we had 850 attendees, so the Women’s Institute, which was started in 1915, is still going strong. I feel really privileged to be part of it.

But then… as if this wasn’t enough, I joined the local Whitstable camera club. Oh, dear… they meet EVERY Friday night, which is a little bit of a downside. I’ve already learned so much, though, that I’m really glad I did. I dug out all my old and new camera equipment, added a few more bits to it (of course), subscribed to a photo magazine, etc.

I belonged to some camera clubs in Colorado and Texas, but it’s been awhile. I didn’t even have a digital camera then…. it was all on film or slides. Below is a sunset picture I took recently from our deck.IMG_0485

So where has all this left my crafting life? Well, photography IS a craft, but I’m still carrying on with my Project Life scrapbooking, too. In fact, it’s probably what has spurred my renewed interest in photography! I’ve been devouring information, inspiration, advice, tips, and discussion online with other PLers this month. I’ve so far finished January, February, and March (I’m doing the month-by-month approach) and absolutely love it, still. It’s not as easy as it looks, though. Here’s what I struggle with:

- getting the right photo in the right orientation (portrait or landscape) for the pocket pages

- getting the right orientation in the right chronological sequence (but I think I’ve given up on that!)

- making my layout look lively and unified, not just a collection of photos slapped into an album

So I’m not going to share any layouts/pages just yet. I will, in time, once I get something worth sharing. I’m accumulating quite a big pile of PL cards, stamps, dies, and page protectors meanwhile.

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This represents just a start. I’ve added even since then! 

The thing about Project Life is that each layout is a collection of photos of things or people that means something to the person doing it. For example, I’ve seen pictures of meals, manicures, pets, flowers, weather through the window, and other ordinary daily encounters. Unlike traditional scrapbooking, where one or two photographs are decorated and embellished on one page, then admired by everyone for their artistic qualities, the PL albums to me are so much more personal. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE looking at other PL layouts even if I don’t know the people in the photographs! In fact, I seek them out, but for inspiration and maybe to validate that what I’m doing is also “okay”.  I especially love looking at handmade decorated journal cards. I can see my altered art and art journal experience coming into play here. Someday. When I have time. Umm hmm. . .

Saturday, 1 March 2014

March again

How quickly these months roll around. It's March again and I didn't do a single post in February. Even so, I've been very busy.

Moving ahead with Project Life, but struggling with the photos. The weather has been so bad to take photos and I'm not especially creative with ideas, either. I have a nice camera: Canon 550D but I haven't used it enough to even get familiar with all the settings! I found a fantastic video here on YouTube and learned a lot just watching it. I ordered a new close-up filter for my camera, but haven't actually used it yet except for one outdoor shot on a very windy day.


Not exactly spectacular results! Can you tell what it is? (Stem on a rose and these are the thorns)  Focus is bad, lighting is bad, and frankly it was so windy I could hardly stand up to get the shot. I gave up. I read some reviews of this filter and they were all very favorable, but they did say it takes a bit of work to get up to speed with it. I think I may join a local camera club for some tips and inspiration.

Also this month I've been fighting with my PC. Generally every evening when I go to bed, I don't turn off the power, I just put it to "Sleep". Lately it won't wake up. I have to power on and off twice to get it to wake up and be useable. Aside from the frustration, I've been filled with dread that one of these days it's just not going to wake up at all. So I guess I'll need to start scouting around for a new system. I don't mind getting a new computer, but I really hate the thought of transferring all my files over. That takes hours and hours. I do back up, but of course not every day. I'm living in fear now......

Yesterday I went to the Make-It Show in Farnborough. This year they combined it with the Knit and Stitch Show, so together they made a very big show! I drove and brought three of my crafty mates with me for a lovely day out. We all "shopped til we dropped" and had a good time, but I was really tired by the time we got home. At the show, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a lot of Project Life supplies, so really that's about all I bought other than some Washi tape. I have enough paper already that if I made cards and scrapbooks every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn't be able to use it all! I've got a self-imposed ban now on buying any more supplies other than things like glue, which does get used up, and a few Project Life things. Even those have to come to a halt for awhile as I'm not using them up as quickly as I can.

So today, I'm off to play with my new supplies and finish my February PL layout. And maybe do some laundry and a little housework?


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A Slight Moan

Yes, but only slight. My Project Life bits are still not here and I don’t know WHEN they will be! I ordered them from Amazon UK, but it will my last Project Life order with them. First of all, I didn’t realize that they would be shipped from the USA. That just takes tooooo long! Second, I got two notices that the order has shipped; one was shipping via USPS (US Postal Service) and one was via DHL Couriers. I wrote and asked which one is the real one, and they (the seller) replied they ship out of the US via the USPS and then in the UK it’s delivered via DHL, but they couldn’t/wouldn’t give me any kind of tracking number. So now I just have to sit and wait, possibly for a couple more weeks, and hope it comes. Meanwhile, I could have ordered it through a UK-based company and would have had it all by now! I did look for one, but didn’t find it until after I’d ordered! Anyway, I’ve since found some page protectors at Hobbycraft, who have a fair selection of Project Life supplies, and some other goodies from Sarah’s Cards Ltd, who have lots! I’ve also found several web pages of printable (and free) PL cards, so I suppose I could get started.

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Also, I’ve found tons of wonderful examples, information, ideas, and more on Pinterest as well. (Pause to answer the door) Oh my goodness! It’s here….. a huge box with my album, core kit, page protectors, and more. Now if the order comes from Sarah’s Cards today or tomorrow, I’ll be well away……

About finding things to document: I’ve been getting so many ideas of things to put in the album that I hardly know where to start. We were away this weekend at the youngest grandson’s christening, so I took several pictures there, of course, and a few along the route. And photos of things I’ve made this month so far, and the month isn’t over yet!

I’ve also started my 5:2 Fast Diet. It’s going well…. until this weekend away, that is. But never mind, I’ll just get right back on the wagon. I’d lost 8 lbs this month until the weekend and now gained back 2.6 lbs. I’m not too disheartened.

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Well, I’m salivating over my non-food parcel just now. I’m sure I’ll be posting more later, with photos. If anyone have comments on either the diet or on Project Life, I hope you’ll share them.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Project Life

After hearing about Project Life for a few years now, I've decided to give it a go. My scrapbooking efforts have become, well.... a bit soul-less lately. I want to get some enthusiasm back into my crafting, so here I go. In case you don't know about Project Life, it's a scrapbook method of documenting your everyday life. Most people buy the page protectors that have little 4x6 or other small size pockets for storing photos, memorabilia, journaling notes, etc. The beauty of it that you don't have to spend hours in agony over papers, layout, embellishments, and the usual messing about that goes along with it. I did a Google search on Project Life Images and here's what I got:


As you can see, there are many approaches to scrapbooking in this way. To get started, you really could use just about any normal scrapbooking supplies, but I've ordered some of the Project Life dedicated set:


As usual, when I decide to do something, I jump in head first. I've also ordered some "Theme Cards" just for fun. I hope it all arrives soon as I can hardly wait to get started now that I've caved in to the idea!

The idea of Project Life is to "document" your life as a project. Some people (not many, I assume) choose to do a layout every day. Others do one per week and still others do it once per month. I'm going to attempt the once per week, which means that at the end of the year, I'll have 52 layouts . . give or take a few, no doubt. The thing is, I do take  photographs that aren't necessarily worthy of a whole scrapbook page and all the effort that goes into it, but I want to start taking more photos and better ones. This Project Life is perfect for that. Also, I've started a new diet (more on that in a moment) and I'd like to document my progress, assuming there IS some progress! It sounds very similar to the "Book of Me" scrapbooks that we did several years ago, but much easier and quicker. You can also take a sort of art-journal approach, using the theme cards, sketches, and your own original art on small cards. I like that idea a lot, as nothing intimidates me like a blank piece of 12 x 12" paper or a blank page in an art journal. I'm hoping to let my limited creativity have full rein and see where it takes me.

Now about the diet. I read about the "5:2 Fast Diet" in several recent articles in magazines and newspapers. I've tried several other diets and they work well and I do lose considerable weight to begin with, but then I get terribly tired of obsessing about calories or points (Weight Watchers) or GI content, etc. and fall off the diet. I end up putting back on the weight I lost PLUS some!! The last time I tried Weight Watchers and failed, I said never again. Now this diet is decidedly different. In a week, I fast two days (usually Tuesday and Thursday, but it's flexible). On the two Fast Days, I can have up to 500 calories, which isn't much but it does keep you from going into starvation mode. The other five days, you can eat relatively normal, providing "normal" isn't pigging out on chocolate cake, pasta, fried potatoes, etc. I've honestly found it isn't near as hard to do as I thought it would be. There are several good cookbooks specifically designed for the diet and loads of help online. Since 31 December, I've lost 8 lbs and that's included five Fast Days and trying to eat sensibly on the non-Fast Days, so it's working okay so far. Apparently there are many health benefits, aside from the weight loss aspect. I suppose those would become noticeable after I've been on it awhile. 

Here's hoping my Project Life things arrive soon, so I can get started while I'm so enthusiastic.




Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A little video tour

I've been working for hours but can't seem to get it.... I wanted to add the video in my sidebar. When I did, it covered the whole blog! So I'm going to try to add it here, as a blog post, until I can figure it out. 



Hope you enjoy it. When I converted it from a .mov file to .mp4 file, it lost some clarity. I've got to get this sussed. If anyone has tips, please leave comments. They will be GREATLY appreciated!

Playing a little

Today is New Year’s Day 2014 and I’d like to wish all my friends, family, and anyone reading this blog, a very happy new year! It’s started off really crummy with rain, wind, and more rain, so maybe it will soon be fine. Hmmm….

I’m beginning to go more than a little stir-crazy with the weather and the holiday chaos, so I braved the gales and went to my craft cabin this afternoon. I did three scrapbook layouts last week:

Catherine CameronJacob 1Louis First 2 years

If these seem small, remember you can click on them to enlarge them. The first is of my Texas grandchildren. The little guy, Cameron, is now 1 1/2, so the photos aren’t exactly current. I did them in “black and white” because my printer does B&W as a sort of soft cocoa colour. I’ve tried everything to reset it, but nothing works. My previous printer, also a Canon, did the same thing. With these papers, however, it seemed perfect. The paper is old but I seem to remember it has the name “Daisy” in it.

The middle layout is of our youngest UK grandson with my husband. It was taken just after Jacob’s first birthday (October) so is fairly current. I’ve had that star paper for awhile and thought the colours seemed to be perfect with his red shirt and yellow trousers, complemented by the blue in my husband’s shirt. The little animals I stamped, coloured with ProMarkers, then cut out. The paper is old so I have no idea about the manufacturer.

The right layout is of another UK grandson. I had a few photos I really liked, so decided to make a sort of timeline type layout, from Christening to his second birthday. The little animal figures are from his birthday cake. I saved them, as we do, knowing they’d be great on a layout! The patterned paper is Basic Grey’s Urban Prairie.

The other thing I did today is a little plaque. I found the card in a Simple Stories paper set, so I’ve used some Basic Grey (discontinued collection pack, can’t remember the name) and mounted it on an 8x10” canvas with Mod Podge. It only took minutes but I love it!!!

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It’s so fitting as it’s just the way I feel  when I’m in my craft cabin. It’s my sanctuary, my happy place, my creative space, and my favourite spot to just sit and think. I put together a video tour today but can’t get it to load so I’ll have a poke at YouTube and see what I can do. Watch this space……….

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Still crafting…..

Even though I’m not posting much lately, I really AM still crafting. We have had just the WORST weather in December, plus I’ve been suffering an arthritis flare-up in my knee, so have been kind of lying low. Not being able to get out to shop and crop is now killing me!

My first project was to be an advent calendar. In November, I bought a sheet or panel to  use, with instructions:

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I think they call this the Makower Advent Calendar. I have seen a couple made up and they’re beautiful. I bought a solid blue cotton with gold stars to use as the back of the panel:

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Yeah, well…. it “could have been” beautiful, but it’s still all folded up for “someday” in 2014! Just no time. And frankly, with my knee I have not had the motivation. Pain, especially the constant, excruciating kind like mine, is distracting, depressing, and just plain diabolical. It’s been well over a month with no relief and I can’t even sleep at night because of it.

Nevertheless, it was my turn to host our little craft group and I was eager to show off my new cabin, so in December I had my craft mates over for our Christmas craft party.

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I pushed two tables together to give us nearly 12 feet of crafting room. I only have four chairs, but added a computer chair and one of our six members couldn’t make it at the last minute, so it worked out fine. This (above) is the way it looked before we started and the picture below is in full swing:

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As you can see, we used ALL the space. The table in the left that barely shows is full of cake, cookies (or biscuits, as they’re called here), an electric kettle for making tea and coffee, and a few other things. We really had a good time and I think (and hope) everyone was very comfortable. When I don’t have crafters in, one of the tables folds up out of the way. I’m considering leaving one table (about 6 x 3 feet) in the middle of the room with four chairs permanently as it’s such a nice space to work. I’ll use the small table (here on the left) as a desk for my laptop, etc.

Now that my craft cabin is organized, I’m trying to get myself organized as well. I’ve got a list of craft project to do (birthday cards, etc.) and some almost-finished scrapbook layouts ready to work on. It’s a great feeling to sit out there in the garden with a cup of coffee and just create, read, or putter around generally. My little sanctuary!  I even have an easy chair for just chilling out:

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And almost all the mod cons: phone, kettle for making coffee, radio/CD player, laptop, printer, and lots of books. What else could a girl ask for? Well, maybe a toilet would be nice, but then I’d never come into the house!