Monday, February 17, 2014

Project Life

Its all over the internet again, Becky Higgins has released this year's kit and everyone is taking up the craze. Everyone is jumping on the band wagon of quick yet creative scrapbooking and even Hobbycraft are in on the act, devoting a whole section to PL goodies. It seems it is the next best thing to sliced bread in the scrapping world. Every year I get a little swept up in the hype too but  my take on it is a little different.

When I was little one of the great things I enjoyed was when my mum/dad got out the Roses tin full of all the family black and white photos and go through them with my brother and I, telling us the story behind each one as we went (even though we had heard them many times). The one of my dad during his National Service in Singapore, stripped to the waist in his army issue shorts, walking up the trunk of a leaning palm tree; the one of my mum wearing her 1950's one piece swim suit (a la Ester Williams) clinging onto a road sign, taken on the day she nearly called off her engagement because after 4 years courting my dad still hadn't set a date for the wedding; oh the stories were endless and going through the pile of scattered photos was magical. 

Along with the loose photos came a couple of old fashioned photo albums. They had ornate padded and  decorated covers, silk tassels to mark your page, and on opening each black thick card mounting page was separated by the most amazing frosted glass paper to protect the photographs which were held in place by beautiful little gold paper photo corners. Each photo (those that had not fallen out) was provided with its own little caption telling its own special story, and carefully dated in neat handwriting completed in a lovely clean white ink. Before we were allowed to open them we had to ensure our hands were clean and were admonished to be very gentle and careful.

The memory of those photo albums haunts me every time I pick up a pack of Project Life divided page protectors, because to me they seem to be a poor relation or bad echo of those earlier beautiful books so I end up taking the pages out of my basket and scurrying off home to do a PL look-alike scrap page using traditional scrap-booking methods on a 12x12 card-stock page, trying to use all my creative talents, making all my own embellishments and attempting to make my page do justice to those early scrapbooks.Then because it took so much time and effort and didn't meet my style of scrapbooking, I usually tailed off doing it by March.

This year though, I have finally surcome because my photos are simply loitering inside my hard drive and going no where as it seems my craft room is still a faint glimmer in the future, I am desperate to do some scrapping so I have finally bought a set of PL pages, downloaded some freebies and set to work on last year's photos. The biggest thing that altered my mind though is that I have discovered that since I can change my Dell notebook into a tablet, I can load up a picture and then use the pen to scribble all over it to my hearts desire. At last I am not just bunging photo's into pockets, I am being creative!

I don't take enough pictures to fill a double spead a week but I am more than happy with a page a month, so here is my first attempt and hopefully I can complete the whole year this time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

R.I.P. Pie

Today I wake up on a world that is a bit emptier and a bit sadder than it was yesterday. Today I wake up on a world that no longer holds my beloved fur baby Pumpkin. : (

I have been attempting to get this blog back on the road for ages but even though I have had plenty of happy and exciting stuff to write about, its actually taken a desire to write a little tribute to  the little mate to get it back up and running, 

We took our fluffy friend to see the vet last week as he had developed a cough and wasnt eating. Since everyone else in the house was suffering either from full blown flu or chesty cough's we thought he just had a chest infection, so it was a bit of a shock when the vet said he needed to stay in and go on a drip. After a long weekend of tests, antibiotics, drips and such, Monday he was scanned (no xray, too  much handling made him panicky and end up in an oxygen tent). Inconclusive results did force an xray yesterday though, which showed his little lungs were full of the wicked C growths. There was no other solution than but to say goodbye to our little mate.

Pumpkin never was my cat to start off with. He was bought as a birthday present for Laura.   Which one is a bit of a debate because she is insistent it was 2002 - her 17th yet I have photos of him as a kitten taken on an early school digi camera labelled 2000. Anyhow whichever year it was I can remember we went to collect him from the pet shop with my parents and after we stood in sainsbury car park debating which name to choose for a ginger cat. Obviously Ginger was thrown in the pot along with all the other fav names for an orange striped cat but Pumpkin was a bit unusual and seemed to fit.

He was a tiny scrap, the runt of the litter (but all the rest were black or white and Laura so wanted a ginger puss) and he had so many fleas you could see them running across his face. The pet shop had treated them but the injections killed off the ability for the fleas to breed so you had to wait for the initial ones to finish their lifespans. Yet we all loved him, even Martin who insisited he was scared of cats and who had made us wait so many years to get a cat,

Pie Alley became an indoor cat, for the simple reason he couldnt be trusted outside on his own. On his first attempt at the outdoor life he had managed, somehow without our seeing, got into next doors garden. We searched for 2 hours, panic setting in, before Martin finally heard a mewing and discovered him trapped by the neighbour's cat between the side of their conservatory and our garden wall.  On his second outing he decided that Yes it was possible to walk across water. No! Its not, and a very wet drippy cat had to be rescued from his improptue dip in the pond.  So after that he was only allowed out under strict supervision.


Pumpkin has been a wonderful cuddly friend and we will miss him desperately. He left us way to early and way too quickly, but he has left us with many happy memories. Only a few weeks ago, he had us in peals of laughter attempting to get his christmas treats out of the new fangled Whiskers treats dispenser, not by swipping it with his paws as intended but by trying to get his tongue into the holes and lick them out

 Go in peace little mate, with all our love xxxxx.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I am thinking it might be time - since its coming up to Christmas and all that - to revive my little space in cyberland. Lots has been going on in real life that I should really have been recording but I dont seem to have had the inclination to sit down and blog it. My bad, and I know I am just going to regret it in the future. So I am going to try hard to get back into good habits and give this blog the kiss of life. 

Watch here for a little montage of photos covering the last 6 months soon.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

For Sale

Life has been a bit strange lately as we have finally put our house on the market. It feels odd to be doing this after living here for nearly 28 years, it is even weirder showing round people who may end up living here instead of us.

This time round we took a bit longer choosing our estate agent, and making sure we got the best commission deal, and the agent most likely to work for us. We eventually plumbed for Reeds Rain, who not only had a deal on fees, but also seemed the most likely to guide us through the various stages since this will be the first time we have ever sold a house (our only other move being an insurance jobbie as our home was subsiding).

So far we are happy with our choice, after only 3 1/2 weeks we have had one couple who liked it, wanted to come for another look but somehow got lost in the ether as they never did come back, a couple who decided it was too small, a couple who thought they would up their budget after a day looking at lots of houses including ours, and a couple who love the place, have made three visits, have bought along both sets of parents, yet have still to make an offer, and last night, a couple in need of a place to move into before May and who made two visits in the same day. Oh and apparently the estate agent herself is also keen but has not managed to sell her home yet so is not in a position to make an offer.

There is not a great deal in the way of bungalows in our price range about, we have been to see a few, and even put in an offer on one we love but its catch 22 as the agent on that one wouldn't take a firm offer until we manage to sell ours!

We await the next installment, next week.

 Martin had a week off the week before half term. The weather wasnt brilliant, cold rainy and mainly overcast plus I ended up doing two days supply and we looked after little Finley for two days but we did finally get to go to Harry Potter Studio Tour!
  The website reckons on it being a three hour walk round and they are not wrong (we have been to other places that boast just as much cost the earth and turn out to be little more than a 5 min walk round a poorly themed room). We took over the three hours and could have happily looked round for longer except neither of us were fit enough to stay on our feet any more than that.

 Its a fab place to go, so much to see, and so much in the way of interesting information, in fact its difficult to take it all in at just the one visit and I can well see us going again in the distant future to refresh our memories and learn more.

 Some things were simply magical like the set for the Weasley's house, some were surprising like the dormitory where Harry slept for the duration of his time at Hogwarts (such a small space but made to look so spacious)

 some things were wonderful secrets but nothing on how the magic was made actually took anything away from the films and tended to make us think just how clever everything really had been such as how Hagrids hut was designed to make him look big or the children small,

 some stuff simply took a very long time to think through, design and make which really gave a sense of awe towards all who worked on the films and just how much attention to detail there had been

 and somethings just knocked you off your feet, like the scaled model of Hogwarts castle that filled a whole room and was simply amazing to behold.


We even got to sample a pint of butter-beer and although we didn't go much on it, it being much to sweet for our tastes it was still a brilliant experience. All the staff were amazing, and looked after us every step of the way without seeming pushy and all in all I would recommend anyone with any interest in film making or watching (and not just HP films) to take the opportunity to go have a look.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Roller coaster

week that is.

Monday an early morning phonecall got me a days work in a school were the staff were dropping like nine pins to a strange illness, followed by finally collecting Kelly from the station and signing up for Slimmers World, 

Tuesday I took little Finley to shop for all the fruit and veg I would need and visited my dad who also seemed to be developing the strange illness going round (strange as in no-one could really describe the symptoms other than to say they felt ill or wibbly!)

Wednesday it was back to work again but luckily those who had succumbed to the virus had all recovered. 

Thursday we heard that my Uncle Derek had died after a long fight with the dreaded Big C.  RIP

We also spent the day interviewing estate agents as the time had finally arrived to put our house on the market. We had seen a bungalow with lots of potential and were hoping it would hang around long enough for us to at least be able to say ours was up for sale even it it hadnt been sold, when we made our offer.

 Having estate agents round is an odd experience, and it was interesting to compare the different sales pitches. The first turned out to belong to the same golf club as Martin and in fact had even played a round with him at one time. His approach was to spend ages chatting to Martin about golf and almost ignoring me, then when I was forced upstairs to change a dirty nappy from our little man, proceed to tell finally Martin all the stuff we needed to know about how their company were going to market our home.

The second one tended to start talking about herself the minute we finished the first half of any answer to a question e.g How long have you been in this house? Twenty eight years ever since ....ooooh thats nearly as long as I have been an estate agent.  Then she spent the next 15 minutes trying to sell us stuff already on their books and to get us registered before she finally gave us the info we needed. Having valued the house she then told us it was best to put it on at the exact asking price because that would be what we got (and we all really know that no one offers the asking price when buying), Oh and our 3 bed semi detatched house would be in direct competition with the 2 bedroom bungalows on the other side of the main road?????

It turned out the last agent we saw (recommended by Kelly) had once owned a nursery and we knew each other from when she used to attend monthly consortium meetings at my previous school. She came in and immediately asked about what we were wanting to do, and then using a presentation 'big' book made a proper professional presentation on how and what her company could do for us. No hard sell, no trying to be our friend and no genderism. Not only that her commision was cheaper than the others. 

So guess which one we chose?

On Friday I got a text from the agency at 6 15 am asking me to work (a different school this time) so I had to leave Martin who was supporting a head ache, to clean up and dress the house for the agent to come back and measure and take photos. Mmmmm......

Finally the week ended with our annual family outing at the local playhouse pantomime although sadly dad was still feeling rough so couldnt join us. I dont really think he missed much or maybe after such a heavy week or from lack of sleep I was just too tired, but I really didnt think it was up to previous years performances. Still it was nice to go out together as a family and we did laugh at our favourite two stooges who never seem to let down the play or the audiance.

Sadly by saturday the bungalow we had set our hearts on had been sold, leaving not a lot on the market at the moment. This at least takes the pressure off the rush to get all the paperwork done for getting ours on the market but is worrying in that there doesnt seem anything for us to buy.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

White stuff!

Since my garden is looking like this right now, I have decided to stay in and do a bit of sewing.  Last night I finally finished my peplum top (photo to follow) and had luckily bought some suit material in the C&A sale when I popped in last saturday, so I have drafted up a block for the veravenus 1930's skirt which I am going to make to go with the top.

Sow is my least favourite kind of weather alongside fog and heavy winds. Have I mentioned before that I hate snow??? Luckily our little corner of the world hasnt had that much but even a small sprinkling is enough for me, I really dont understand why people get so excited about it. I have felt this way about the stuff eversince I was small, and maybe coming through the severe winter of 1963 might have something to do with it, but even as a child I would have rather stayed inside than be out in the cold silence making snowmen with the other children.

As I said though, the heavy snows have stayed clear of here, so we were able to go into Canterbury on Friday with Kelly and Ollie for a lovely carvery meal in the Victoria Hotel. Martin has been off all week and although in the main we have stayed home and veggitated Martin did go and sit in their house waiting delivery of a new bath for them most of friday so it was by way of a thankyou that they took us our. 

The week has been filled with looking after/playing with Finley poppet, who is so funny and so much fun right now that we were more than happy to have him, me working and a few trips out to look at the outside of bungalows that may be candidates for our move. We still have a few last minute jobs to do on this house before putting it on the market but a couple of likely prospects had come onto the market that might have made us decide to move forward the time of putting this one on the market,  Although a couple of those we looked at did excite us, unfortunately they were all under offer by yesterday so instead we just cleaned up the house and decided to wait until Martins week off in February. After all, who is going house hunting in this weather?

One other thing I did do this week was to have more of a play with my Annie Sloane chalk paint. I have two beautifully carved wooden apple book ends, one of which I use as a door stop. They are highly polished medium coloured wood finish but have become a little tatty so I decided to give them a bit of a makeover. I only had white chalk paint but I poured a little into a bowl and mixed in some denim coloured blue acylic (plaid) paint to give a very pale blue colour, painted, and waxed all the parts then instead of the country look they had with red gingham fabric and string I would go for a more shabby chic look. I am really pleased with the result on the first one.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Assorted week

On Monday all the schools went back but first week out I was not expecting to be flooded with supply work, in fact I wasnt expecting any work at all as it has been so quiet so it was a surprise when Wednesday morning I got a late call saying the school I had been working with for the last two terms wanted me back for a further 2 terms. Its only one day a week but they are a great class and a friendly staff so I was more than happy to be rushing out the door to get there before assembly finished!

The rest of the week has been a bit of a mixed bag though. Monday I went with Laura to return her broken tagine, it came with no instructions but a recipe that seemed to imply it was ok to put it on the hob and fry off the onions before placing it in the oven, however it was only after it had cracked to a point beyond safety that I looked on the website where in the small print it did say not suitable to use on direct heat!  Anyway BHS were happy to refund the money and after going to Dunelm to replace with another one, we ventured into Hobbycraft as I needed a zip to finish my peplem top. 

No sooner had I picked up the zip then my phone rang and a very sorry for herself sounding Kelly told me she was very poorly and needed her mummy, so it was back home and over to her place to snuggle her up with a cup of tea (she had been too ill and weak to make herself one) a duvet on the sofa and the new Snowman and the Snow dog on the telly. Kelly loves the original and has been watching it every year (despite the fact it makes her cry) since she was 1 and it first hit our tv screens. Although we both agreed that the new follow up is not a patch on the 'real' one, we were soon both in tears and enjoying it.

Tuesday it was mum's birthday. She only wanted money but I still took Finley over to see her and dad. She had just discovered the dentist wanted to take out two of her teeth as they were starting to decay and was to do it the very next day. Not much of a birthday gift Mr Dentist :(

Thursday I woke up with a very sore back, so although it was Martins day off, we stayed in all day and played with our little lad, so it was not until Friday that I finally got back to Hobbycraft to see what they might have in the sale. Not much it would seem, but I did treat myself to a natural daylight lamp with magnifyer which was half price and seemed a good deal. The light in the craft room is very very poor so it was a godsend to actually be able to actually see the stitching I needed to undo on my top. Last night I finally got as far as putting in the zipper only to discover the new foot I got for christmas doesnt fit properly, the needle keeps hitting it and I broke two needles before I finally admitted I need to go back to putting it in without the special foot.