Sunshine in a flower

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lest we forget

Today is Remembrance Sunday and all around the country and also in Iraq and Afghanistan, services of remembrance have been taking place to honour all those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.

On 11th November it will be 90 years since the end of the First World War. As in previous years there will be two minutes silence at 11.00am-the eleventh month, on the eleventh day, at the eleventh hour.

It is crucial that we remember and commemorate those who have paid such a high price in order that the rest of us are safe and free. Since Remembrance Sunday in 2007 over 30 British servicemen and women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. So called 'modern' war costs less lives but does not leave these brave men and women unscathed. Limbs are lost in horrific numbers, recent reports in The Times stated that soldiers are being literally deafened by the horrendous noise of war. The broken bodies that come home are fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, friends-much loved people who need help financially and emotionally in order to carve out a new and often very different life to that envisioned.

The Royal British Legion was founded in 1921 and supports these men and women, day after day, month after month, year after year. This year they hoped to sell 40 million poppies. The money made from the sale of the poppies goes towards providing help in any number of ways to ex-service men and women as well as those currently serving. The Royal British Legion who also campaign for the rights of these people on issues such as war pensions and the previously mentioned hearing problems suffered by so many. According to figures on The Royal British Legion's website 10.5 million people are currently able to ask for help. An astonishing £75million was spent last year helping those in need.

Clearly all this work is only possible with the help of the general public-think of the debt we owe-is a £1.00 or £2.00 for a poppy too much to ask? The Royal British Legion help people every day of the year and need our help to help those in need. Please go to the Royal British Legion website and see what they do, stories of those they help and ways to support the incredible work they do.

We must not forget-we will not.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The very best in blog candy

Blog-hopping takes on a whole new life when you blog hop Stampin Up inspired blogs. Demonstrators have amazing blogs-Stampin Up is what they so after all and so I find them not only visually entertaining and inspiring but also packed full of product information, techniques, special offers and of course every so often, guaranteed fantastic Stampin Up blog candy.

Although Stampin Up have only been in the Uk just over a year, Uk demonstrators must surely have the Stampin Up powers that be massively impressed. Julie has a lovely blog, beautiful photos (so essential on a blog and an area I fail miserably on I know) and lots of gorgeous projects often made up with a choccie, celery and pink colour range-my favourites!Look out for the 'tea and crumpets' in 'October 2008-not alas real tea and crumpets though I suspect there may have been behind the scenes, but the new paper range 'tea and crumpets'. Julie made some lovely little note cards and a box-I keep meaning to have a go myself and really want to now!

Anyway, as always I'm veering massively off the main point of this post which is to let you know about some SU blog candy. Julie has amassed an amazing 25,000 blog hits-(WHAT?), no really and been promoted by Stampin Up! To celebrate this joint achievement, Julie has donated a new SU stamp set (normally only available to hostesses/or if you've spent over £150 in one go)to her 'blog candy event'! To be in with a chance just pop over to Julie's blog-have a read and if you're in the UK, mention this fab candy on your own blog and then leave a message on Julie's blog to let her know you've done all this and then cross everything.

Must mention that until 10.00pm on Sunday 9th November 2008, Julie is also offering FREE UK P+P on any Stampin Up order. You could save alot of money there depending on the size of order but as P+P usually is a minimum of around £3.95-it's a good deal!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monkeying around...

Hey what do you think to the jokey title? I thought as the BBC are short of comedians I'd subtly put myself forward.(um...) I have other jokes too-

'How many men does it take to buy a loo-roll?
'Don't know-it's never been done!'

Oh dear-I've dried up (I know the lingo too you know)-nightmare! I'd obviously need to practice a bit, polish up my act, maybe a few props-a stool to sit on, maybe a pint of beer-that's what comedians seem to do-used to smoke but get arrested now and that's NOT funny...um.

Anyway, back to cardmaking.

Splitcoaststampers provide the tuturials once again. This is called a 'free standing pop-up card'.

Essentially this is a really effective card in terms of 'oooh and ahh' value but it is not only beatiful; it's clever too and will fold down to put into an envelope. How good is that! Whatever next? A card that makes itself?

Both cards are virtually all Stampin Up in terms of DNA-the monkey set is called 'Monkey Business' and is a long since retired US set and I love it! There's another monkey too which is in a hanging position so you could stamp it hanging from the foliage. I struggled determining the precise height as to where the monkey needed to be as I didn't want him standing in mid air-I wanted him to look as though he was standing on the card base. I knew the tag part of the card goes down into the box base a bit but hard to be precise and I feel certain each card would slightly differ to be honest on this point. I used my PSX stamp positioner on every image on the tag and although I'm pretty close with the monkey, I feel he is a bit low in truth but considering it's the first time I've made this type of card it's not too shameful!

The cardstock is 'Barely Banana'(who's have thought it!)'Certainly Celery' and the ever gorgeous 'Chocolate Chip';and the same colour inks are used too bar the yellow which is a versacolour as I don't possess the barely banana ink. I coloured in the monkeys tummy and added depth to the bananas with the 'Cocoa'from the SU pastel set.

The background stamp on the box type base is called 'Swirls and Blossoms' and it was the best I could find that worked with the theme as I felt the base needed decoration too.

Very Vanilla taffetta ribbon and an unknown chocolate grosgrain. I used a paper reinforcement ring to keep the hole in the tag nice and neat.(Hole punched by Silent Setter) I inked the reinforcement ring let it dry and repeated about three times to ensure a deep chocolate colour. All I could think of as no eyelets in a suitable colour big enough! I'm glad I persevered with my quest to find paper reinforcement rings even though it took months to find any!

What about the monkey button on the base! How gorgeous is he? A local shop was selling off a load of buttons they won't be stocking anymore and happily I spotted this box of treasures-all sorts of kinds and this monkey was among them. Let's just say that after I left, there were no more monkeys in that shop!!!I left the button back intact and managed to thread my ribbon through it (eventually). removing the button back is useful if the button needs to sit flat on a page as it can then be attached with glue dots or similar.

This stamp set is 'Spring Garden'another favourite and about the only floral set I could find that was small enough to work on the limited space the tag allows. Great set though so no hardship to use and I think it's very effective.I used the 'Canvas' background stamp on the base on this card-it's a real classic in my view.

Bashful Blue and Certainly Celery card and ink, unknown grosgrain ribbon and blooms, finished off with a Bashful Blue button. The tag is reinforced with a Stampin Up large eyelet.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I support Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross

This world never fails to amaze me!

The news events that are happening,recession, mass job losses, war, disease, terrible weather, the election of a new President for the most powerful nation on Earth....

In the Uk the newspapers, TV and radio news, TV programmes, the internet, THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, everywhere the talk is of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.

It seems ridiculous to discuss the details of the event-it's everywhere, though as always the facts aren't necessarily as well known as the 'hype'. I just feel it's just ludicrous what is happening, and thus feel a strong need to express my personal opinion on the matter.

Jonathan Ross was a guest on the Russell Brand radio show on Radio 2 a week or so ago. Andrew Sachs (who with respect is best known as 'Manuel' in 'Faulty Towers') was due to be a guest on the show too but pulled out due to 'unforeseen circumstances'.

Russell Brand (the RISQUE comedian) and Jonathan Ross (the RISQUE and well paid TV and radio presenter) telephoned Andrew Sach's answerphone several times leaving increasingly silly and 'offensive' (thus deemed) messages. The most offensive, relates to Andrew Sach's grandaughter who Russell Brand has slept with (in common with most women frankly). The said grandaughter Georgina may have been attracted to the 'risque' side of Russell Brands personality as she is certainly that herself being a member of some very rudely named 'dance' group and a fondness for appearing with very few clothes on her You Tube site.(She maybe had a better Summer where she lives than we did, hence the lack of clothes!).

Max Clifford (words fail me) has taken the horribly wronged Georgina under his wing and is apparently now assisting her in making a fortune from selling her story to the 'news'papers. Presumably this is 'compensation' of a sort for the fact that her character has been violated by the oh so naughty Russell and Jonathan.

Andrew Sachs who was clearly horrified by the whole thing and did NOT get the 'joke'certainly deserves the apologies he has been given and I am sure the assurance that this will never happen again must be of comfort to him. According to reports, Andrew Sachs is satisfied by the apologies received and does not wish the matter to be taken further. However grandaughter Georgina who loyally defended her Grandfather, appears to have her watch set differently to the rest of the world (well the sensible ones weary of this 'story' dominating the news and wondering about all that life and death stuff that normally is on the news?) Georgina's watch appears to show that it's only 5 past the hour, which means she has a whole 10 minutes left in accordance with Andy Warhol's comments (read contract). A person can earn alot of money in 10 minutes and although it is unseasonably cold, 10 minutes isn't too long to have to be undressed, for 10 minutes can mean alot of '0's'or to be more accurate '£££££££££'s'.

Good old Max Clifford. The newspapers (even the red-tops) have been all too serious lately with all this talk of recession, job losses, negative equity and so forth. Dear Max is attempting to jump start the economy himself and in his own inimitable way. I suppose Max Clifford is in a 'prof-no, sorry 'job'
that is 'recession-proof'.The selling of souls (and along with it reputations, self respect etc) is absolutely recession-proof. It's just such a relief that something 'good' (barely dressed Georgina making all this money) came out of Andrew Sach's distress.I'm genuinely relieved he feels better poor man.

I really do understand that Andrew Sachs was upset by the stupidity of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. It's just in my opinion blown up out of all proportion. Thousands have now complained-99.9% AFTER the media fuss developed. People dislike Jonathan Ross as he is on a huge salary. People dislike Russell Brand as he is successful with women (polite way of putting it!) and they don't understand his humour and people dislike the BBC as it's not only responsible for the licence fee which means it's beholden to ALL of us but also is inextricably linked to the Government.The BBC has to please all of us all of the time and it's frankly an impossible task.

I'm not sure if this is just a UK thing, but most of the time the media is raving on about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. Just as with everyone else it builds someone up and then beats them down again. It's ugly and vile and I'm sick of it. They went too far but they're not murderers or child molesters or terrorists. They're people working in the entertainment industry, catering for the more 'wild' and dare I say it 'younger' audience and the people shrieking and wailing aren't the people who would be part of the 'target' audience for either Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross (except perhaps on Film 2008/whatever!).

The media and certain parts of society are making noises that sound scarily like baying for blood. If we could all calm down, stop acting like pack animals with the whiff of blood in the air and get back to being supposedly 'civilised' people, I would feel a great deal better. I just have this funny feeling that I'd rather our Prime Minister concentrated on keeping people in work, with roof's over their heads and able to afford to eat and be warm, rather than pass comment on two people (in a population of 50 odd MILLION). I need you more Gordon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Record breaking card and 'catch'!

Thought I'd post this card I made recently for my Mum to give to her husband on his birthday. The said husband loves fishing (to the point of having a large pond dug out of a paddock in their house when they bought it-complete with island and little boat!) and I had spotted these in a craft shop one day and knew that they would be perfect for my Mum's husband.

Mum asked me to do a card a couple of days before his birthday and said she'd pick the card up on the Sunday evening. She then appeared on the doorstep on the Saturday (I'd literally just walked through the door myself) and asked if the card was ready as she wanted to take it now!!!

I am a terrible last minute person; I think this goes back to the days of being a student and doing my essays and even dissertation at the last minute!! I hardly need to say then that no, the card wasn't done. I had actually stayed up late the previous night to cut out the decoupage but other than choosing card stock, that was it. I showed Mum the sum of my efforts thus far-cut up decoupage and a couple of bits of A4 card. 'OK' she said. 'What do you need, say half an hour?'!!!

I managed to get an hour and got to work. Mum reappeared after half an hour and said not to worry about it not being completed, she'd sit and watch me finish it. I am not a demonstrator, never would be as totally lacking in confidence (and skills frankly). I have shaky hands at the best of times, with Mum right by me watching it was a nightmare just putting the decoupage on top of one another accurately. I had glittered the fish with Stickles in the hope it would dry in time and somehow I managed to complete this card and insert in super quick time.

Now, I'm sure opinions are divided on the whole 'Paper Nation/Jolly Nation' range which is where the Fisherman comes from. I like some of them, not all, but can certainly see their appeal and in truth I think the designers have done a great job and really captured the market with these designs. I think they're great designs for people with certain hobbies-there's a lady cooking, a little girl doing ballet, wonderful cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters etc, some unusual designs are covered, and for the more difficult cards-often cards for men, the hobbies covered are across the board and are such fun.

Having never used this range before in a card-(I have used the cat on a scrapbooking page for Tom), I was pleased with the result-especially under such pressure-both time-wise and with Mum watching!!

Hubby loved the card apparently-especially the glittered (and HUGE) fish! Thank goodness for 'stash'-the bits we collect for 'one day' that do come in handy and are card life savers when they do!

The card stock is part Europa (the blue) - I love this card! It's so thick and heavy and gorgeous marble colours. The khaki card is an amazing sort of linen effect card I found in my local craft shop-no idea of true identity I'm afraid but it's too thin to make cards but great for matting and layering.
Stickles glitter glue on the fish, Paper Nation for the image and background paper and a DCWV sentiment sticker.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two new techniques for the price of one! (Happy Birthday Mum)

(updated photo-a bit better anyway!)

With apologies for the poor photography (Mario Testino was partying in Brazil and couldn't make it), I present my return to the blogging world and a pretty card to boot. You will seriously have to forgive the poor photo-it is very dark and cold and windy and bleak and despite putting on every light I could, the photo still looks as though I took it in a cave. If the sun ever shines (Please not that SAD is my companion today!) I will try again to get a photo that allows you to recognise that the card and ink used for this card are Stampin Up's 'Pretty in Pink' and 'Chocolate Chip' (yum).

The marvellous
Splitcoaststampers (SCS) site has an amazing section called 'resources'. This rather boring title is in reality a veritable feast of techniques, amazing card designs, boxes...go see! I have decided to try a few of the tutorials for various cards out. It's slightly tricky sometimes as SCS is an American site and as you may already know, Americans don't have A4 as a size of card/paper. Basically this means that the cards made in accordance with the tutorials on SCS will not be in sizes we in the Uk are used to. The tutorials also use Stampin Up products in the main and not only do I not have a huge SU (Stampin Up) stash, but the UK does not have access to the entire range availability to US crafters. None of these issues are insurmountable (where there's a will there's a way'-many of the cards are so stunning you'd want to make a box for them anyway-so no worries envelope wise and with a bit of thought lacking the precise tool or product rarely means you can't tackle the project at all-just think outside the box a bit and off you go.

The above card is called a 'joy-fold' (nope, no idea why it's called that) and is a 'joy' to make and a 'joy' to give and a 'joy' to receive and a...oh enough of the 'joy'...oh OK, back to the card!

My very first attempt went reasonably well. 'Chocolate chip' cardstock with 'Pretty in Pink' works well I think and I felt no need for a third colour, especially as I used 'Whisper White' for the main image. The 'Pretty in Pink' cardstock was stamped on in the same colour ink using two of the most useful background stamps known to man-'Paisley' and 'Canvas'-both
Stampin Up.

The stamp set is the beautiful 'Best Blossoms', a US set which I am almost certain is retired. I love it. I stamped the berries and the 3 flower stamp in 'Pretty in Pink' onto Whisper White and the sentiment (from the same set) in 'Chocolate Chip' ink.

(trying to update this photo but computer is currently saying 'no' as per usual).

I left the images to dry thoroughly before cutting to the correct size to mat onto a 'canvas' mat on the outside of the small card. I then attempted the 'dazzling diamond dust' technique from
SCS. This technique uses an embossing powder we don't have available to us in the UK and so the need to improvise was apparent. Having posed a question on the SCS forum relating to tools and techniques, I knew that if I mixed equal quantities of clear embossing powder and a fine iridescent glitter and used this, the technique should work. I used Stewart Gill's ultraclear embossing powder and an unknown fine iridescent glitter. Simply cover the image sheet in Versamark and then emboss as usual with your heat gun using your DIY embossing powder and glitter mix.

It's essential to ensure that the embossing powder melts sufficiently in order to ensure that the glitter becomes part of the embossing and therefore won't 'shed' glitter everywhere. This takes a while, be careful not to go too close or remain too long in each area as you don't want to burn it and have to start again. I just took it slow, moved around and turned off my gun a couple of times and after waiting a few seconds to allow the embossing powder which has liquified) to cool, I would then gently touch the surface to see if it felt gritty or smooth. Gritty areas were re-done with the heat gun.

I was really pleased with the effect and so also did the single flowers in the same way. These were a bit fiddly to say the least as they blew about in the draft of the heat gun so you need to get a pair of tweezers or even a knife and hold down a tiny bit so the item stays still but you don't lose too much of the embossing by covering it up whilst you hold it. (No one ever said crafting was easy!).

The glittery shiny effect is stunning. This would be great with Christmas snowy cards and I can't wait to try it with a coloured glitter. I think if a light colour was used you'd still be able to clearly see the stamped images but with say a pinky hue or silver maybe.

The flower on the front left of the card enables the smaller card flap to slot behind it and keep the card closed. This isn't crucial but I thought it meant the card had more impact if the recipient opened it themselves and is so easy to do anyway so no trouble. I used
Stampin Up dimensionals (3d pads would be fine) to hold the flower in place. The card was finished off with a piece of 'Pretty in Pink' taffeta ribbon bow-ribbon courtesy of the most wondrous Monica who kindly sent me a few bits and pieces when I told her I needed to make a card for my Mum's birthday and running out of time and missing 'pretty in pink' ribbon! Thank you!

P.S. Gave Mum the card-she loved it. What's nicer than making something special for those we love? The best bit of crafting I think, are the smiles- even if people have no idea how amazing a technique such and such is, or how many times a particular image was stamped until it was absolutely PERFECT! We crafters know though don't we!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Candy that won't make your dentist cross!

Must quickly post about some gorgeous blog candy over at Linda's blog. Linda is a Stampin Up demo and has some lovely cards and projects on her blog.


I absolutely insist that if you follow this link through to the blog candy you hang around and look at her lovely cards and other creations! If you don't I will know! Big Sister is watching!

If you don't win it (sob) once you've wiped your eyes, picked up all the soggy tissues and peeled your loyal cat/bunny/dog/snake/child/whatever off your lap, follow the link Linda provides and make your own!! The site the instructions for this stunning creation come from is by Danni and well worth a look.

This is the wonder of blogs, not only is each blog amazing in it's own right (present company excepted!), but blogs are like the little windy streets you find in places such as York, Winchester, Oxford,Warwick, Cambridge etc when you're visiting for a day on a short break. Down these lovely streets you seem to find a mass of amazing and highly individual shops filled with an eclectic range of 'must haves' and 'I want it alls!'.

I love blog hopping/wandering, what is it called? Just remember to bookmark or put into favourites all these blogs so you can come back when you've a few weeks to spare!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blackberries galore

(Blackberries 2008)

Well, late Summer seemed to catch up on us all too soon I feel. Now, it's September, I suppose we're in Autumn now; it certainly feels like it and the nights are drawing in at a speed akin to the fastest of Olympic athletes. The sun (despite it's best endeavours) takes longer to warm the day, but, for me at least, the most significant
signs of Autumn being upon us has to be the smell.

Our sense of smell is such a magical sense. I often think it's such an abused and taken for granted sense; usually we are only aware of this incredible gift when we smell something horrible; drains, smelly public loos (yuk), for me a shop in town that sells fishing stuff and maggots and smells like hell-it literally makes me retch uncontrollably if I go anywhere near it. I feel ill discussing it; it is indescribably awful.

Our sense of smell though is surely the strongest provoker of memories that we have? It links directly to our feelings, even if it's just the smell of fresh bread in a bakery, a fish and chip shop, a bar-be-cue. A newsagent near me has recently began stocking those large jars of sweets that used to be bought as a '1/4' but now is 100g I think! As children we were allowed 1/4 of sweets a week. We bought these from our pocket money and they were supposed to last us a week. It was always so hard to decide which to get and having three siblings, I always ended up wishing I had chosen what they had. I remember my brother loved 'Rosy Apples'. he used to let us have one of his, even though there wasn't many to a 1/4. I did like them but never chose them for myself, I liked sherberty sweets, and later 'medicinal' tasting ones like 'Kop Kops', 'Cough Candy twist' and various other herbal type ones. I have always adored liquorice, still do, especially the difficult to source 'Lakeland' liquorice from Australia (all those food miles are hard to reconcile with too when it's liquorice).

As I spied these jars of sweets in this shop, I had the same decision making to do. I ummed and ahhed and eventually decided. As the lady opened the jar to measure out my '100g', the smell of the sweets as she lifted the lid made me feel very like I was experiencing a 'Life on Mars' moment and I had been transported back to the late 1970's and early 1980's. It was phenomenal and dramatic as this sounds, it literally caught my breath.

Autumn smells of bonfires and leaves and where I live chimneys as virtually everyone has 'real' fires. Autumn also smells of casseroles and crumbles and warmer food. soon the smell (and sound) of fireworks will fill the air as Bonfire Night approaches all too quickly!

My birthday is in November and as a child I always adored Autumn, probably in part to the linking of falling leaves with heaps of presents and attention! I loved kicking leaves about. Although we do have trees where I live, the ones right by my house aren't especially dramatic. I'd love to go to an arboretum and most of all would love, love, love to go to new England in the US in Autumn/ the fall, and see the awe inspiring display of colour en masse.

(Blackberries 2008)

Back here in 'sunny Blighty', I've been blackberry picking galore, thus quite often are to be seen returning home somewhat bedraggled with purple hands with the blood from a million bramble thorns creating an 'interesting' and in some eyes I'm sure 'artistic' marbled effect from numerous (painful) scratches. I never fail to be amazed at the various bobbles and seeds attached to my legs in natures highly successful attempts at spreading seeds as far geographically as possible through the manner of attaching to whatever poor soul, be that cat, dog or blackberry hunter! On occasion I also have brought home a few caterpillars and indeed a beautiful teeny/baby snail, who have all hitched a -permisionless lift from the unsuspecting me!

(Mad apple tree 2008)

My freezer is now full of blackberries and stewed apple that should provide for scrummy crumbles and pies for some time to come. We're still only on the apple 'faller's' currently of which there are aplenty on account of the horrendous weather and storms which regularly torment us. On a more positive note, these 'fallers' are victims of the storms and high winds and thus are to be found with only a dusting of soil from the ground and thus the battle between man and slugs, grubs, is avoided.(For this I will be forever grateful as a crumble loses a great deal of charm with the knowledge that the apple from which it was made was previously inhabited by a family of grubs). My kitchen and wooden spoons have all been dyed a beautiful purple (and it is purple) along with the odd tea towel and alas a favourite top of mine is now 'individualised' by Jackson Pollock type spashes of stewing blackberries! It's clear that blackberries were an extremely useful colour provider in times when natural dyes were used entirely!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Still playing...

I've been playing a bit more with some Stampin Up stamps and here are the results! The card above is made with the 'Spring Garden' set. This set is so beautiful and ethereal, a really gentle and pretty set of stamps. I versa-marked the stems, flowers etc and then chalked on top, gently allowing the colours to merge. I actually used the chalks I received in my Stampin Up prize. Three colours only would you believe! I used the 'Bashful Blue' (love this colour so much), the 'Rose Red' and the 'Always Artichoke' which is a darkish green.

The base card is a light pink card from an Anna Griffin set off QVC sometime and I used the 'bashful blue' ink with an Anna Griffin background stamp, again from a set sometime I think, it's acrylic, I'm sure it was part of a set with a garden theme...! The sentiment is a sticker from 'DCWV' and I am annoyed as it looked the perfect colour until it was well and truly stuck onto the card. At this point, the sticker decided to become 'turquoise' instead of light blue/teal. I contemplated various ideas and think I'll end up having to matt over it and stamp a sentiment. I'm just trying to be good and use up some of my stash, and the DCWV stickers remain unused despite me getting them in a long ago parcel (mentioned on this blog) after I made some suggestions to a craft site regarding definitions of craft tools/materials etc.

The ribbon is from a local haberdashery department, the blue matting layer is a shimmery blue but part of my stash and origin unknown! The pink dotty matting is from a Karen Marie Klip polka dot pink card set. I love the colours but find these cards very disappointing as paper thin. All the cards in this range are the same; such a shame and really surprising as the range is so pretty and original, I am amazed the cardstock would be so poor. Useless for card bases but can be used for matting and layering at least so money not entirely wasted!!

The other two cards use the 'Stampin Up' 'Flower Factory' set which I think is a really useful and versatile set. Alas, the horticultarists amongst you will note that the stem and leaves are wrong and indeed are from the 'Stampin Up' 'Terrific Tulips' set. I seem to have lots of flower heads and few stems and leaves....! I thought I'd give it a go and just ensure, if I ever send these cards, that I send them to someone who won't know the difference between the leaves of a dandelion and a tulip!

'Europa' cardstock on the large card, with random matting and layering card. Also unknown in origin (as ever) are the miri card and the gingham paper. The gingham ribbon is 'Stampin Up', the sentiment is from the 'Riveting' Stampin up set and the button is from 'Love Elsie'. The rub on sentiment is 'Anna Griffin' and the crystals are again unknown but the non stick kind so thanks 'Quickie' gluepen!

The small card has random ribbon and cardstock with a 'Making Memories' ribbon slide and 'Stampin Up' crystal brads. 'Stampin up' ink pads and 'Stewart Gill' 'metallic silver' embossing powder. The sentiment rub on is once again by Anna Griffin.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Spring Garden cards

These two cards were made remarkably quickly and easily using the beautiful 'Spring Garden' stamp set from Stampin Up.

The long thin card was inspired by a card in the current Stampin Up UK catalogue. The stamps are just such fun to use. The quality is always superb and I honestly think Stampin Up stamps are the easiest stamps to use that I've come across too.

I love the way you get 'sets' of stamps, other than the odd stand alone that usually either a very large single stamp or a background stamp. The individual stamps within each set all work together, often in layers so to speak, as in the petals of 'Roses in Winter'.

On each card the stamps the flower stamps are 'Stampin Up', the sentiment stamped in black Stazon onto the red grosgrain ribbon is an unknown make (sorry). The inks used are again 'Stampin Up'(Rose Red, Bashful Blue and Always Artichoke).The red cardstock is also 'Stampin up'.

A 'Royal and Langnickel' white card and the blue card from a pack bought from QVC many, many moons ago. the green grosgrain ribbon is from 'Stampin Up' and the red bought from a local haberdashery department. the centre of the small flower on thee white card has a red snap; again, the origins are unknown...just part of my stash collected over time! I used a lovely apple green 'Staedtler triplus fineliner' pen for the faux stitching around the flower (I love these pens for journalling too). Finally, an Anna Griffin rub on sentiment was used on the blue card.

Anyway, I realise this sounds rather too much like an advertisement and that's not my job; I'm not in advertising I promise!! I think, if anything, I'm being rather evangelical about 'Stampin Up. When I first started card making I really wanted to do rubber stamping but always truggled to achieve the results I craved. Once I got my Marvy le Plume pens, I felt a whole lot better, getting some good quality watercolouring pencils also was a massive step and now to find such beautiful stamps that enable, nay positively encourage stampers to take stamping to that extra level; I'm just feeling really happy about my stamping right now. Best of all, I am really enjoying playing!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Blimey, I've made a card! (and posted twice!)

I thought I'd post my latest card creation so to speak. I have actually made a few cards lately (believe it or not) but I am always so unorganised and the cards take ages to make due to poor energy etc and then I end up forgetting to take a photo!!

Anyway, I am really pleased with this card. It's (as some of you will recognise) made using the breathtakingly beautiful 'Roses in Winter' rubber stamp set from 'Stampin Up'.

The base pink card is an unknown make (bought when I first started card making a few years ago,the green card is by Anna Griffin as is the sentiment stamp which believe it or not I've had for ages and never used!

The ribbon is from a local haberdashery department and somehow (don't ask how), I've managed to follow the instructions for the knotted bow in a beautiful book that I absolutely recommend 'Paper Crafting with Elegance' by Anna Griffin.

I used Colorbox Queue inks for the pinks of the roses and Versacolor in lime for the stems together with a Pretty Color inkpad for the sage green leaves.**

I've decoupaged the roses and asides from the fact that I think this is such a pretty card, I really enjoyed making it; the stamping was great fun! I think this stamp set could be used in some many different ways, colours and styles and certainly I've seen some beautiful cards in the galley on Splitcoast Stampers (go to gallery, choose Stampin Up as a category and set 'Roses in Winter'). I really am just so excited about this set, I feel in love with it when I first saw a card using it and to have at last it is a combination of 'phew' and ''yes! yes! yes!'!

**Oh, just thought, I could and should have used the Stampin up inkpad in the sage type colour that I won!!! I'd forgotten about that as it's all still in it's box looking gorgeous. I really struggled trying to find the right colours too! Typical! Must unpack my goodies now-they all just looked so pretty in their box....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mrs B

Mrs B is a beautiful female blackbird who comes to visit and I just have to blog about her. I first met Mrs B last year. She built a nest just outside my back door in the small area of the overflow pipes from the bathroom. I have an extremely ugly but incredibly functional and useful plastic roof covering an area of maybe 8 foot by 8 foot (IE probably not that at all-I'm terrible at numbers and spacial awareness!).

Mrs B's nest (Mrs Blackbird..get it!), was under this covered area so sheltered from the rain. Unfortunately, we have a West facing garden so it gets very, VERY hot. In the morning the sun rises at the front, but by late morning, the sun is racing up the garden towards the house at a cracking pace. I was consequently really worried that Mrs B's nest and contents would bake. I also was concerned about cleaning products reaching the nest so I didn't let anything go down the sink or bath that could be hazardous.

Regarding the heat, I did manage to reach out of a window to put a towel over the plastic roof over the nest site. Mrs B seemed anxious, presumably as the towel made the area darker too, so I had to remove the towel-pronto!

Mrs B was a lone parent throughout her motherhood. I supported her as best as I could by providing a generous supply of live meal worms (a difficult thing for a vegetarian to do)and water which I would put on top of the sandpit/digging box for the bunnies with its canvas roof. One night I noticed she hadn't returned to her nest and it was 11.00pm and dark. I knew this meant either that something awful had happened to Mrs B, or that she had deserted her nest. I couldn't see inside the nest so had to use a mirror and angle it, and it was then that I discovered that Mrs B's brood, in reality a sole chick, had died. Mrs B had deserted the nest as there was no reason to stay.

I saw Mrs B for the rest of the Summer of 2007.The meal worm deal continued too and it was so lovely to see that she was well and nothing awful had happened to her. One day, as Summer (what Summer we may ask!) breathed it's last breaths, Mrs B didn't come for her meal worms, nor later that day, nor again. I hoped she had found a life that didn't involve relying on me for food, I really hoped and prayed this is what had happened.

Spring 2008 arrived and as the warmer days occasionally and all too briefly appeared, so too did Mrs B. I knew it was her immediately. I was so thrilled, firstly that she was alive and well, and secondly that she had remembered me and knew to come to me when she was hungry. The meal worm order resumed and as Mrs b was soon joined by another female and a male blackbird, the order increased accordingly! I think the shop must have thought I was feeding the 5,000 not 3 blackbirds! Having said that, it was soon apparent that the meal worms were providing sustenance for more than the adult birds. These incredible parents, would arrive, grab a couple of meal worms themselves and then fill their beaks to beyond capacity and fly off to their nests before returning shortly to repeat the process. The water provided was clearly much appreciated as was the large water bowl we always have outside for the mammals in my life, which developed a dual role of water bowl and bird bath!! Needless to say, once bath time was completed, the bowl would be thoroughly washed and re-filled as no one wants to drink someone elses' bathwater do they!

Mrs B has continued to visit throughout the Summer. She sits on the roof of the sandpit/digging box and peers through the window for me if I don't immediately rush out armed with meal worms! She squawks if peering doesn't work and should the back door be open, Mrs B will come into the house to find me.

Whenever I am in the garden I have the company of Mrs B. If I am in a neighbours garden or down the alleyway, Mrs B will appear and make her presence known. She's actually very patient once she's found me and will happily sit on the fence or a wall for a while whilst I finish a conversation or gather sufficient veggies and herbs for the bunnies!

Unfortunately Mr B (who isn't Mrs B's Mr B if you see what I mean!) has got to be rather aggressive, as blackbirds do, and so when Mrs B visits to eat, I have to stand guard in order to prevent the foul tempered Mr B from frightening poor, gentle Mrs B and preventing her from getting near the meal worm feast. Mr b is actually extremely brave as well as bad tempered as when I 'stand guard', I have to keep in clear view of Mr B or he tries to intimidate me and will fly towards me, such is his determination not to allow a single meal worm to be lost to another. This is not a character assassination however, and Mr B is clearly a devoted father as it is very unusual for him to eat a single meal worm. Mr B lands, fills his beak furiously and departs. Perhaps it's a man/woman thing, the ladies hang around a while, have a coffee (sip of water) and a chocolate muffin (hey, I deserve a treat looking after so many children is tough work you know)and see if anything new is in stock, maybe some apple, a bit of chicken, to break up the meal worm monotony!!

Mrs B, Mr B and their fellow blackbirds have brought me such joy with their daily antics. Mrs b is such an incredible blackbird, I never imagined a bird could be so tame unless I had hand reared her which I obviously haven't. I have no idea where she nested, nor where her Mr B is as i have caught no sight of her with a male. She is always alone. Of course, there is always a price to pay for love and I live with the threat of Mrs B disappearing one day never to return. I honestly wish I could keep her totally safe, but her need for freedom as a wild creature is a daily battle for survival. I only hope I have brought something positive to Mrs B's life, if only that I am a reliable source of food for her and indeed all birds as the bird tables are always well stocked.

For now, I must just enjoy what we have; a wild bird who for some reason chose me out of all the billions of people in the world as someone to trust. I hope I never let her down.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Back home

(Tom Summer 2006)

Tom is back home and recovering.

It was such a stressful day, not helped by the fact that the vets telephoned me when Tom was under anaesthetic to ask if I wanted his facial cyst removing as he was coping well with the anaethestic. Tom has had a cyst on his lower face, just going into his neck for approximately a year now. it grows and grows but coording to my vet was painless. I got very concerned as the cyst grew quite large indeed but one day Tom came in and had a tiny bit of blood on his scruff. When i investigated, the cyst had burst, possibly on a twig or similar as Tom adventured. Tom was totally oblivious to it and I was just glad the issue had sorted itself out!

Over the last few months the cyst has began to grow again. As before, Tom seemed entirely untroubled by it. There was no discussion of the cyst prior to Tom's denta, in fact my vet upon examining Tom stated 'Oh, it seems as though his microchip has slipped round' which was rather worrying as he was refering to this much discussed cyst.

I was really thrown by the telephone call from the vets. I had been told to telephone at 3.30pm to see how Tom had got on, so to be telephoned before then by the vets was for a few moments really frightening.

I was concerned about recovery time if the cyst was removed and ultimatly it hadn't seemed to cause Tom any pain. I said that I felt this was a veterinary decision but that Toms welfare and recovery was the priority.

In the event it was removed and poor Tom has a large wound (surprisingly large) with three stitches. His neck has been shaved and as the other side was shaved to take blood for tests last week, he'll be needing a scarf if it doesn't grow back soon! The stitches need to be removed in ten days.

I am cross though as Tom's claws were cut, very badly and at least two nails have bled. I didn't ask them to cut his nails, nor did I give permission. The claws have been very badly cut, I would guess with an inappropriate tool, as the claws are chipped and scuffed badly. All the nails have been cut, which is ridiculous and entirely unnecessary and all are far too short.

I have spoken to my vet and astonishingly he cut Toms nails. He said they'll grow back so 'you needn't worry about that, they will grow back'. Obviously I am well aware that nails grow back, my point is that they shouldn't have been cut in the first place, and certainly not as badly as this. The vet said that he cuts lots of nails and some bleed, some don't. Well, yes, they bleed if cut too short and into the quick.

It's probably best if I don't discuss this any more on here, and besides, I feel so angry and upset about it. Tom has enough on his plate without sore bleeding and chipped nails.

Anyway, he's home and safe. What a brave man he is, 'king of the jungle' as I call him. He coped extraordinarily well, and home is as it should be, everyone together.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Please pray for Tom

(Tom - June 2008)

A week ago Tom was diagnosed with chronic renal failure (CRF). I had felt for a couple of weeks that Tom had been drinking alot and urinating a great deal, was ravenously hungry and when he slept it was a really deep sleep.

I had already decided I would get Tom's blood tested when the vet examined him at Tom's yearly MOT and told me that Tom needed some dental work doing.After a certain age, vets recommend that blood tests are done prior to any surgical procedure. if Tom had had his dental without blood tests, he would have been very ill and possibly worse.

As the day of the dental approached I became increasingly edgy, I just didn't feel right and it was more than the usual (though huge) anxiety felt when one of my guys is at the vets. the day before the date of the dental last week, Tom didn't actually properly get up and eat anything of substance until 5.40pm. Most animals other than rabbits (who must NOT fast)have to fast in order that they are not at risk during surgery; the same reasons we have to. Tom hadn't eaten enough considering the next day he wouldn't eat much at all and not until late in the day and I was very anxious about this. The next day I cancelled the dental but took Tom in for some blood tests as he was in a virtually constant deep sleep by now and I was concerned his toes weren't as pink as usual.

The blood tests confirmed that Tom is in the early stages of kidney failure.Although it is classified as the early stages, the kidneys in fact has to be failing quite consideratly before tests can pick up any problems.

Tom has been put on medication and we also have some special food. I will post more about this soon and provide some links to wonderful support groups and sites which provide information that can be understood by us laypeople!

I am posting this now as Tom is due in a hour to go to the vets for the aforementioned dental. Due to his condition he will need to be on a drip before and throughout the procedure. I am scared to death. Tom is the most beautiful (inside and out) gentleman who has been a loyal friend and family member for a good 15 years now.

Please pray/think positive thoughts and I will let you know how we get on asap. I'm hoping all will be ok and he will be back home tonight. Tom is so brave and resiliant. I have to be too.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tom the Polydactyl

The extremely photogenic Tom has been a member of our family since 1993.The year before the much loved Benjie had become very ill and I had had to dash back from University to take him to the vets to be put to sleep. Although Benjie was officially a 'family' cat, he and I were very close and I miss him greatly. It broke my heart, that trip to the vets, and as Benjie had been the sole survivor of the vast array of 'original' animal family members, Benjie's loss hit us all very hard indeed.

One day my Mum telephoned and told me that she had been to the local RSPCA centre and adopted a cat. The 'new' family member looked very like Benjie and was at the centre following a road traffic accident. No one had claimed him so after the qualifying period, the cat who would become Tom, became available for adoption and we were blessed to re-home him.

Tom didn't actually become 'Tom' immediately. Initially (and as a direct result of his mischievous character) 'Tom' was named 'Houdini'. 'Houdini' was with us very briefly however and so Tom became 'Tom' or to be more accurate 'Tom Thumb'. Tom, you see, is a 'POLYDACTYL';

'A polydactyl cat is a cat with a congenital physical anomaly, with more than usual number of toes on one or all of its paws as a result of a cat body type genetic mutation. In animals including humans, polydactyly (or polydactylism, also known as hyperdactyly) is the anatomical abnormality of having more than the usual number of digits on the hands or feet'.

Tom's front paws look very much as though he is wearing boxing gloves. We always used to say that Tom could write as he looks as though he could hold a pen. vets are always fascinated by toms toes; our last vet used to spend much of the consultation repeatedly saying 'toes everywhere, there's toes everywhere'!

As well as being very cute, these extra toes come with extra responsibilities. With most cats (and indeed dogs, walking on a hard surface such as concrete will naturally keep the claws in check and prevent them becoming excessively long. With Toms toes, many of them don't ever touch the ground and so its is necessary to trim them on a regular basis in order to prevent them growing too long and then be vulnerable to getting caught and potentially being torn off which would obviously be very painful for Tom.

As you can imagine, it's important to have a cats co-operation when attempting nail trimming. Alas, Tom disagrees with the need for what I call 'maintenance' and he calls 'mutilation'! What follows is very similar to wrestling but with no rules; basically I try my very best to quickly but accurately clip the necessary claws and not cut off one of Toms toes accidentally, while Tom fights like an extremely wild and probably rabid banshee and in a valiant attempt to ensure absolute authenticity, Tom screams and wails and hisses and yowls like a wild rabid banshee too!! It truly must be a sight to behold; me with blood seeping from numerous scratches, ducking desperately to avoid additional injury and trying my very best to control Toms mad thrashing (and that's just trying to wrap the towel round him), whilst Tom puts in yet another Oscar winning performance (Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining' looks like a child in a school play compared to Tom) just to avoid having a few nails trimmed!!

As you imagine the scene, may I mention that Tom has claws actually in the space between his 'thumb' and 'first finger'. These claws never even see the light of day,(even my vets are surprised when they are mentioned), but they (left to their own devices) would continue to grow until they would simply grow back into Tom himself.These nails are the very devil of nails and it is these (astonishingly and heart breakingly) fast growing nails that cause the most yowls (from Tom) and (prayers) from me in my determined efforts to prevent Tom becoming lame from these awful nails.

Afterwards, Tom makes a big thing of shaking himself clear from me and licking off my horrible touch and then will sit beside me happily with no apparent fear or upset remaining. My recovery takes a little longer and generally involves tissues (to mop my brow and soak up blood!)plasters, and on the odd occasion a paper bag to control the hyper ventilation brought on by the extreme stress and fear involved in facing an animal who looks and behaves as though tempted to kill you!!

Funnily enough, although Tom is happy enough (no doubt congratulating himself on another incredibly authentic performance) my other animals all view me with caution and wariness for quite some time! Tom will notice this and with his beautiful eyes will gaze at me intently before producing a drawn out blink; as if to say 'Tom 1 - Human 0 again!!.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cool Tummies

This is my most recently completed layout. The stars of the how this time are Humphrey and the Beautiful Sophie. I started this page in the days following Sophies death. I wasn't sure if I could cope but she had always been my crafting company, always close, too close actually as I had to climb over here more times that I could say! I always told Soph that when I did her page (I always intended to do a joint Humphrey and Sophie page and then individual pages) that it would be the most beautiful page ever, really girly and beautiful as it would have to be to properly represent her - the beautiful Sophie.

That page is next to do and I have gathered as many pretty things as I have managed in an attempt to properly show off how very beautiful Sophie is.

This page concerns Humphrey and Sophie in their 'digging box', which is a large wooden sandpit with a canvas roof. Sophie adored being outside, literally spending every moment she could and as well as munching on everything she could find, Soph also pursued her hobby of digging. It was Soph who discovered that if she dug a hole and lay in it, her tummy would be much cooler and with her brother (Humphrey), would spent happy times in the shade watching the world go by.

When I did this page I was very much out of my comfort zone. Emotionally it was very hard and the pressure to produce a page that was worthy of Humphrey and Sophie was higher than ever. I knew it neede to be a sunnyish page though hence the involvement of the colour orange which I loathe! I had great difficulty finding stuff that would be suitable and once again the paper I used (K and Company) whilst initally appearing perfect, was in reality very difficult to 'control'.

I did my very best and again chose to add some hidden journalling (under the smaller photos to be accessed via the green tags) which for Sophie contained additional information about her and for Humphrey likewise. I do have some journalling on show in my awful handwriting, but I do think it's more personal to write it myself.

As ever my photos aren't great and my cropping is criminal! (I do find it hard to photograph my layouts well). Unhappily this means that the detail on the paper isn't very clear. The paper itself contains words too which I picked up by using additional K and Company words. The vinyl American Crafts thickers I felt were perfect in texture as well as colour and add to the summery theme.

I hope the page shows not only the fun Humphrey and Sophie had outside but also their deep love for one another. We miss Sophie terribly and when I did the journalling I found I was unable to speak of Sophie in the past tense, so the present tense is used. It's hard now to say Sophie 'did' rather than 'does'.

I am only a beginner at scrapbooking so my technique, style and sense of design isn't all that great. Having said that, to me scrapbooking is about preserving memories, about the ability to create something that in 50 years time people can see and know something about the subject matter, why the photo was taken, what's happening, why the event, the time, the participants are special. I'm not stretching the boundaries of design but I create a page to fulfill all the requirements mentioned above. I do this for me and I do it so others can see the pages and enjoy them but mostly I do it so the people/animals on the pages will never be forgotton.

A favourite place

At number three in the 'scrapbook history of me' is 'A favourite place' featuring Basil.

I mentioned how difficult I found this layout on the previous post. I found it so tough. I think one of my problems (I have loads!) is that I am very hard on myself, I want perfection immediately. I am an avid reader of just about everything, but certainly card and scrapbooking magazines and also have somewhat of an addiction to UKS. The gallery on UKS is inspiring, amazing, fantastic and also a little intimidating for a beginner who can't even begin to determine what materials have been used, where to get them from, how to use them etc!

For this layout, I really wanted to try the idea of using a single photo within a simplistic layout. This photo of Basil on his climbing frame seemed perfect so I printed it off in various sizes to see which would be best. The moment I saw this paper (K and Company - Amy Butler), I knew it would be perfect for this layout. Everything seemed to be going really well until it became apparent that the paper is extremely limiting due to having large patterns in two corners. This affected the size of photo I could use and also how I was able to further embellish and add the necessary journalling to the layout.

I had bought the 'Queen and co' felt ribbon a while ago and just had to use it on this layout. This version isn't self adhesive so typically I had huge problems trying to work out how to adhere it invisably to the page! I tried everything - Xyron, PVA, glue dots, double sided tape etc, etc. I didn't want to use brads as it would have affected the whole presentation of the ribbon which I believed provided a great effect but only if it could be attached to the page without other adornments!

In the end UKS (as usual) provided the answer. The forum is an amazing source of information and there seem to be so many members that any questions asked receive an answer almost immediately!

I 'xyroned' the ribbon and with my 'pricking tool' then removed the excess glue from the holes in the ribbon. (Yep, as awful and ridiculous as it sounds).

Although I really struggled with this layout, I am pleased with the result. I tried very hard to keep the embellishing under control and the hidden journalling underneath the title was my solution to the issue of potentially cluttering up the layout with words.

I felt uneasy about 'space' though so had to fill it, but I hope I've not overdone it with the flowers (first time I've done these and I think they'll transfer well to cards too). What would I be without inspiration from magazines, websites and blogs?

My intention with all my layouts is to create something I can look at again and again and enjoy. I've started with my animals (how could I not) but eventually, I hope to scrap family photos from today, yesterday and tomorrow! My work rate is slow as my health is poor and interferes constantly. It's frustrating when to be occupied is so good for my head yet so bad for my body!

Never mind, slowly but surely and at least I eventually managed to get going after several years of trying and failing. I love scrapbooking though, all those memories, Trouble is more memories are created all the time, how on earth do we keep up when I need to go backwards as well as forwards!!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

'The many beds of Tom'

(Maya Road alphabet,The English paper Company papers, Paper Nation cat decoupage, PSX stickers, Anna Griffin card and frames, Anitas acrylic paint, Glossy Accents, K and Co alphabet stickers and other various items).

This is the second scrapbook page I have made. It's called 'The many beds of Tom' as Tom has these incredible phases on sleeping in a particular place, loyally sleeping there for days, weeks, even months without fail, before suddenly transferring his affection to another place entirely!

The page is designed in a patch work format, as you can imagine, in order to mimick a patchwork quilt on a bed and thus hopefully re-inforce the 'sleeping/bed' theme.

I really enjoyed making this page and has employed 'hidden journalling' as a way of ensuring that the necessary text does not interfere with the 'patchwork' effect which is otherwise consistent in the use of photos, paper and relevent embellishments.

In my short scrapbooking life (all of four pages so far) I have grown very fond of hidden journalling! Partially it's useful in that I ideally want my pages to 'stand alone' to the extent of not needing me to explain what the page is about. In order to successfully achieve that goal, it's seemed necessary to include more text that I can happily/easily place on the layout without the text becoming overly dominant.

Perhaps in time I will gain the confidence and experience necessary in order to 'control' the layout no matter what items I wish to include. My 'more is more' policy no doubt is providing it's own difficulties, though with the next layout I did (one based on Basil cat), I did try to do a 'cleaner' layout and it was by far the hardest page to do, taking ages and involving regular episodes involving putting aside for a few days, calming down and then trying again. I got there in the end and I will post that page next, but it was hard and I certainly wouldn't say I have cracked the issue of 'less is more'..in truth,I'm not sure I really want to; when there are so many nice crafty things in the world and stash to use, why limit myself to using only one to two items a page??! Something for us crafters to ponder!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scrapbooking first attempt

(K and Co paper, Maya Road chipboard letters, Basic grey chipboard photo tag,Brenda Walton rabbit embellishment (in wood), Paper Nation decoupage rabbit,various other items from craft shops and haberdasheries).

This is my first scrapbooking page! This is Jacob bunny trying out a new tunnel. Jacob can run really fast despite having little legs and being rather porky!He has the nickname 'The Rocket' as a result of the way he blasts out of the blocks to reach me whenever I have a plate of veggies and herbs for him!

When I first started cardmaking about 3 years ago, I really wanted to do scrapbooking. The first kit I ever bought, the first craft stuff ever, was a K and Co scrapbook kit that was a TSV on QVC.

All my life I have been a hoarder and memories have always meant a great deal to me and the preservation of them. I love photographs and the stories people tell of what they have done in their life, special moments and so forth. I spent a great deal of time as a child with one set of Grandparents. Granny and Grandad meant the world to me; every weekend, every school holiday, every moment I could I tried to spend with them. Granny used to tell me about the adventures she got up to when she was young. She lived in Warwick (UK) all her life and so the places she mentioned were familiar to me. It's wonderful to think of all the generations who played on 'the common' which is also where Warwick Racecourse is.

To this day I am especially comfortable with older people and I have several neighbours who have incredible stories to tell of fighting in World War 2 and being called up for National Service to name but two of their experiences.

As a child I loved making scrapbooks, filling the big plain pages with postcards, pictures, birthday cards and all the things that meant so much to me at the time. I must take some photos (yes, the hoarder in me kept these too) and I can show you my scrapbook on Holland. I had an absolute obsession with going to Holland and did a scrapbook with as many pictures and stuff that I could find, even getting out library books on the subject! My Granny and I actually wrote to 'Jim'll Fix It'to ask if we could go but with no success. I was devastated! In hindsight it was possibly a lucky escape; I find Jimmy Saville rather sinister and scary now! I value my personal space alot and don't think Jim would have so i'm not sure I'd have coped in reality! I did make it to Amsterdam about 10 years ago for a couple of days though. Granny died in 1983 but she came with me in spirit and it was even more fantastic than I had ever imagined. I'd love to spend more time there as there's so much to do.

I visited Anne Franks house though which was desperately moving and the Van Gogh museum. I also went to a wonderful palace in the centre of town with amazing murals on the walls and ceilings. I'd love to go there again. I also had a lovely wander around the Amsterdam that's not touristy, visitng markets and seeing where people live which I enjoyed but found myself completely lost and had it not been for a local who spoke English, I may still be there now!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My prize has arrived!


Well everyone...LOOK AT THIS!

If ever there was something that changed your reluctant minds about entering competitions, surely this is it!

I am so chuffed, I absolutely love this bag and it's so special as it's been designed by Alix, so absolutely unique actually as it would be impossible to make two bags identical as made from natural materials..so very, very special and utterly gorgeous.

The contents revealed themselves to be some beautiful card making goodies! These were wrapped carefully and would have looked really nice in a photo but I'm afraid to confess that excitement got the better of me and before I could contain myself, I had (carefully - I wasn't entirely out of control)opened the pressie and was happily rooting through the contents!

I did try to re-wrap the pressies in order to take a photo but try as I might (and I really did try, I just couldn't make it all look as pretty and perfect as it had with Alix wrapping. Sorry about that. The pretty pink paper and bow in the goodies picture are the wrappings. You'll have to imagine a pressie beautifully and perfectly wrapped in the paper with a big bow and once you have that image in your mind tell me (and you have to tell the truth; I'll know if you're fibbing) if you could have resisted unwrapping it to find your camera, try and find a suitably sunny place that's reasonably tidy too, in order that the picture could be taken before the pressie was unwrapped!? Nope, thought not!

Anyway massive thanks go to Alix for holding the competition and providing, wrapping and posting the fab prizes!

Mustn't forget 'the guv' or Beverley who continues to enjoy her '40 days of celebrating' her forthcoming 40th birthday. Every day there are more competitions, more prizes and mixed up with all of that a really fun blog trip round the world. On that note, I had best end this post so you can tear on over to see Alix and Bev!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vets charging for prescriptions soon?

Three years ago (2005) a moratorium was put in place which meant that for a three year period, vets would NOT be able to charge for an animals prescription. The charge used to be in the region of £15.00 per prescription, and since this charge was removed (albeit temporarily), the animals medicine market has opened up dramatically allowing us, the consumer, to purchase animal medicine items without the additional (and often extremely large) mark-up placed on the product by the vets.

I currently have four animals; my rabbits are insured but my cats aren't, quite simply because I always have rescue animals and older cats which have been and still are extremely difficult to insure if possible at all.

Certainly when I have had my cats, insurance schemes were not available for older cats; and remember that a cat is classed as 'old' once he/she reaches the age of 7 despite an average lifespan of between 12-20!

It is important to note that in cases of emergency or urgency, the animal's need is the priority, even if this means paying a premium to buy the medicine from the vets where the animal is being treated.

For chronic and/or long term health conditions and routine 'maintenance' such as flea treatments, worming treatments, ear drops etc, as long as your vet is aware and has advised the use of a product and you fully understand how to safely apply/administer the medication/treatment, buying such products from an independent source can save a great deal of money.

I use Stronghold flee treatment which additionally provides protection from ear mites and a few other 'pests' for my two cats. It is recommended that cats are treated monthly with this product (though out of the flea season, in Winter I do reduce the frequency of application as I am loathe to over medicate).I worked out that if I bought 12 months supply from a reputable UK based company on the internet I would save approximately £60.00 a year in comparison to buying the same product from my vet.One of my cats has arthritis (Tom) and he has metacam for cats. I also use metacam (for dogs but also other animals) for my rabbits in certain situations and under strict supervision of my vets. With Toms medication I am saving approximately £50.00 a year, with the other it is something in the region of £5/6 a bottle price difference.

It's not pennies, this is serious money and frankly the vet mark-up is a huge factor in this. My vet says that his supplier does not offer products at the prices I can get them, but misses the point entirely. It is my personal opinion (but one I feel very strongly) that vets should not make a profit from medicines at least to the extent that they do. A small amount is one thing, but currently it seems as though they actually make their living from medications and flea treatments. This leads people to buying flea treatments from supermarkets or pet shops where they have no idea what they're doing and this in turn leads to animals being harmed. They are a great many cats for example made seriously ill and dying each week from being given the wrong dose of flea treatment ie given dogs flea treatments instead.veterinary drugs and treatments need to be made more affordable and not less affordable. If the vets are allowed to resume charging for prescriptions in October 2008, not only will animal carers be subjected to a prescription fee likely to be in the region of £15.00 a time, but the vets will then be in a position to take a greater hold on the market and prices will rise for the medication as well.

There is a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for the prime Minister to continue with the current situation preventing vets from charging for prescriptions.(I do apologise not in link for but I have tried and tried and won't do it for some unknown reason so you will need to copy and paste.Sorry!).


Please do sign it if you can. There is a great deal of support for the continuation of the 'ban' on charging for prescriptions and the petition is a good place to start to pledge your support. It's perfectly safe etc. In an attempt to make 'the people' feel that politicians do listen to them, this petition site was set up. Anyone can start a petition about anything, but it is an official government site and so can be viewed and accessed safely (or so i would hope

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I won (the sequel)!!!!!

Wow! This is both amazing and a little embarassing!

I mentioned to you about Beverleys' 40th birthday celebrations and that there would be various things going on with the possibility of blog candy to win. Anyway, lo and behold, I HAVE WON!
I won a compettion to guess what the said Beverley would spend £40.00 on to fill the most beautiful of bags hand created by bride to be Alix.

I racked my brains (not knowing Beverly from Adam so to speak) but crafters are crafters are crafters and if there's one thing we all do, that is to overspend! Loads of people entered this competition and it was clear from the posts that EVERYONE wanted this beautiful bag.

To my utter amazement, I checked the blog yesterday (thinking myself silly even to look as there was no way I would win), and I WON!!!

I've been in touch with Alix and thought I'd do a quick post to confirm my identity!! I hope you don't mind me using the piccie of the bag Alix, just until I can take a picture of my new bag myself!!

If I can add, I am not a competition addict, nor what I would consider a 'winner' or 'lucky' person. All it boils down to is that you've got to be in it to win it and someone has to win and there's no reason it can't be any of us.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I won!!!

A few days ago I answered the door to my postman to discover that he had a box in his hands addressed to me.My postman is lovely and we often have a chat, he always asks after the animals and how my scrapbooking is going, and overall is just a really, really nice man!

I'm not sure if this is a 'postman' thing, but he loves to try to guess what my parcels contain. Often it is medicine for my animals as in the UK it is much cheaper to buy veterinary drugs from reputable internet sites that do not employ the same 'generous' mark ups that vets do! This clearly is not possible in case of emergency or urgency, but for flea and worming treatments and long term medication such as for Toms arthritis, the savings are huge, not pence but many pounds usually. Most offer free P+P too so it can really help to save money. The only words of caution I must add are to ensure that the site is reputable. I also ensure that the drugs are from the UK for quality reasons but I've never had a problem yet nor heard of issues with these sites, many are vets in fact!!

On this occasion, my postman had decided that this particular parcel wasn't medicine for the animals and as I had no idea what it was as I wasn't expecting anything, I too was dumbfounded.

There was nothing else to do but open the mystery parcel and see what it was! As I turned the parcel over to open it, I noticed that the box was labelled 'Stampin Up'. The crafters amonsgt you will immediately recognise this name for 'Stampin Up'are a HUGE and I mean HUGE name in crafting. 'Stampin up' are an American company who have recently extended their empire into Europe. their products aren't available to buy in any shops; instead, they have demonstrators who hold 'Stampin up' parties as way of showcasing and (they hope) selling their products.

This means that accessing 'Stampin up' products can be a bit difficult and so although I have heard a fair bit about the brand (and from vising websites I know how popular these products are in the States), I haven't actually ever seen any of the items nor used them. My limited knowledge extends only slightly to that I have discussed above. The only other thing i know about 'Stampin Up' products is that they are EXPENSIVE.

When I saw 'Stampin Up' printed on the outside of my parcel, my heart skipped a beat. the problem was i hadn't ordered any craft items, certainly not 'Stampin Up' and so i thought that in a cruel coincidence, whatever was in the parcel (probably cat flea treatemnts I had forgotton about) had merely been a suitable size to fit in a random box for posting and it just happened to be a box that some 'Stampin up' items had been in.

Nonetheless, I hopefully opened the parcel and couldn't believe it when the parcel did in fact contain a 'Stampin Up' card kit! accompanying the said kit was a note from Future Publishing congratulating me on being a winner in a giveaway from 'Papercraft Inspirations magazine'!

It was only then that I remembered entering a competition online a couple of weeks before. I had actually entered 2 or 3 from that issue but primarilly had entered as there was a (you've guessed it) 'Stampin Up' competition!!!!!!

The prize is a lovely card kit with some stamps, ink pads, ribbons, little cards and envelopes, some lovely crystal brads, pastels ( think this means chalks!)and even glue dots. There's a little idea booklet too with card making suggestions.

So, I was rather chuffed as you can imagine! It just shows that it is worth entering these competitions as someone has to win. I haven't actually used any of my new goodies as I've been VERY busy with various creations for my beautiful niece on the occasion of her naming ceremony.

Once I've recuperated from this exhausting but immensly worthwhile project, I intend to get back to scrapbooking and have a play with my 'Stampin up' prize.

On the subject of scrapbooking, that should be my next post actually. I have done the grand total of 4 pages thus far! I shall take some photos and post as soon as I can. Bye for now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

40 days of celebration!!

Birthdays can be funny old things can't they? For years, we are so excited about them and the excitement builds and builds over months until the day finally comes and BOOM! In the good old days birthdays were fantastic; we got presents, cards, everyone made an effort to visit and for a whole day we were the centre of attention and everyone thought we were wonderful and moreover showed that love so we knew we were special.

I don't know what birthday it is when that changes. When suddenly we're not all that important really and people don't visit, the presents are in short supply, cards arrive a day or more late and the telephone doesn't even ring. Is it a particular day, a particular age, or does this all just slowly dwindle away before suddenly it's that day and all that's planned is a dental appointment or a solitary trip round a local supermarket as loo roll is in desperately short supply?

Apologies reader (shall I go for it?) OK, readerS! This is all a bit gloomy isn't it! Despair not for I have a story to tell about a woman who in a Peter pan type way, is keeping a firm grip on the joy and excitement of birthdays and is celebrating like it's..(I want to say 1999 here but maybe not all of you have heard of Prince/Symbol/His Royal Purpleness?)...nearly her 40th birthday!!

So guys, if you have linked the title of this post to the story so far, you will gather that Beverly is celebrating her 40th birthday with 40 days of celebrating!

I'm impressed. I'm overwhelmed. Ok, I'm jealous.

Beverly is not keeping these 40 days of celebration to herself though. Oh, no! If you follow the links (go on, go on)* and you can not only write a lovely message for Beverly suggesting ways to make her 40's memorable, but maybe, just maybe win some blog candy!

Way to go!! **

*(I've been watching alot of Father Ted lately)
** (I watch too much American television methinks!)

Humphrey and Sophie

Humphrey and Sophie