Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas excitment

Ok I know I keep going on about Christmas, but I have to admit I am like a little kid when it comes to this time of year. In fact according to my family I am WORSE than a child, every year getting up way way before the children were ever awake to get them to look in their stockings. I guess I was lucky, my parents always made it so special, even though often we were living hand to mouth there was always a huge pile of pressies under the tree, special treats in the way of food and drink and a brilliant brilliant family atmosphere. I want to remember, record those memories and my scrapping speed is not a match for the speed that my memory is failing so this blog seems a great place to record until I can get the stories and photos on a LO.
So my christmas as a kid? Well as I said, we never had much money, people were paid weekly in cash in those days (hard to beleive now in the land of plastic credit cards and easy debt) but often my parents got to the day before payday and we were living on eggs alone. I have a big extended family, my dad is one of seven and they have all married and had children so alot of cousins. Then living in Kent September was spent out in the hop fields earning some extra dosh which meant (for us kids) we met and aquired lots of extra 'aunts' who would give us christmas presents too. I don't really know how my mum managed to afford presents for all those she had to buy for but she did. I can remember helping her wrap and tick off the very long list, checking several times that no one had been missed.
There were always ways to save a few pennies though. Maybe thats where my love of papercrafts started? When dad came home with our packet each of pre-gummed paper strips to make the paper chains? When mum went out looking for the perfect tree twig to paint white and use to hold little ornaments made from silver paper? My Grandad worked for Bowaters, the paper mill and would get some of that white core silver and gold card to make into decorations. Then there were the traditional snowflakes cut from sheets of paper, the silver paper bells made by fashioning the paper over your finger, pine cones sprayed with silver paint, tags cut from last year's christmas cards. It seems that for days our table would be covered with glue, paper, card (much like mine now I suppose LOL)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Two, yes TWO cybercrops on each of the forums I belong to this weekend. And I managed all of .....two classes.

I used to love cybercrops, well I say that, I only ever got involved in the UKS one and I really enjoyed it at the beginning. When I first joined it was ALL about scrapping and with a smaller community it had a terrific feel. Layouts were encouraged from the stash you all ready owned and classes focussed on technique rather than style. Simple challenges were dotted throughout the weekend and I would dash about trying to do EVERYTHING!!

But now its just too big, too busy and too .... Oh I dont know ... arty? for me. Scrapbooking doesnt seem t o be the main reason for the whole chebang anymore. Firstly nearly all the LO's need you to buy a kit. OK they SAY you dont, but this time round you really did need some of the stuff in the kits to do the classes. Which wouldnt be so bad if the kits didnt sell out within minutes ... and I do mean literally minutes, apparently this year there were people sitting at their computers repeatedly hitting refresh just to be in on the word go when the kits when up for sale! Which is a bit unfair on those for which Real Life must come first.

I think that is what puts me off the UKS cybercrops nowdays, the unfairness of the whole thing. I'm not knocking the organisors, far from it, it's just got too big to even think that it would cater for everyone involved, but it certainly disadvantages you if... you work or can only get to the computer for short periods of time at set times, you dont have money to buy every item needed, or you are not into altered art, or decorating clipboards.

And the pace is unbelievable now, again disadvantaged if your pc is not near your scrapping area because with so many challenges invovling whole LO's and so many classes there is just no way...!

On the other hand the one day cybercrop on the pad was just my pace, with just enough good quality classes, using things you can find in your everyday stash or if not, clear instructions or templates on how to make them or adapt stuff. A good mix of challenges and quizes and none of it reliant on either visiting sponsor's shops or buying stuff you can ill afford just near christmas.

Of course having said all that I was out for most of yesterday and then when I got in felt so rough with a winter cold coming that I didnt actually do anymore than download the classes, peruse the respective galleries and retire to bed. But what I do want to say is, whether the pace or classes or whatever were to my taste or not, a big thank you to all those ladies who work so hard to organise such events for us all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Christmas in a box

Friday, since it was hubby's day off and he had to venture into the loft for the curtain rail anyway, I got him to get the christmas decorations down. This has become known as "Christmas in a box" by the girls and usually caused great excitment when hauled out for its annual airing. Mind you somewhere along the line two tatty cardboard boxes containing all of the tree and hanging decs has grown to 5 large plastic lided containers and two smaller plastic storage boxes. Where did it all come from??????

Well lets is full of 'christmas teddies and stockings', so that one is easy because each year, traditionally, Santa bought the girls a new christmas teddy and although Kelly has moved out and taken her share of them, Laura's are still here. And the stockings? We started off with two red fur fabric ones that Martin's mum made for the girls when they were small, complete with their names on cut out of black felt, but gradually the collection has grown as presents of sweets, or just as decorations sent from my Sister-in-Law in America.

Of course I also had to supply the decorations for the classroom at school. We were given £10 eac year but most of that went on the children's christmas party prizes so I consider any decs I bought for the school to me mine. Lets face it a decent artificial tree cost me £30, and during my time there I have had to buy two of them! So that accounts for another three boxes.

I used to put real ivy, holly and large chunks off the laylandi trees on the bannister and over the fire mantle, but the cat (a new addition four years ago) found that rather tasty and kept eating it so now there is a box full of artifical garlands. Its not the same, I miss my greenery, the smell, the hoovering up of dead leaves, but there you go...

A box lablelled 'lights'. Mmmm well..I love lights. That's the whole magic of of Christmas for me, enjoying all the sparkly fairy lights against a dark winter night's sky. On my route home most evenings there is a house with a single reindeer light up on the flat roof of the garage. No over-kill just one single reindeer lit with white lights and it looks fantastic, set against the black backdrop. My lights on the other hand .... well hubby isnt really into the "untangling, sorting through the lights to find the one that has blown, hang them up by climbing up a ladder" thing. But I still manage to drap quite a few little twinkling bulbs about the house. I love the ones peeping through the garlands on the mantle and down the banister. I'm not so keen on the lanterns we have round the porch door though as you can guarrantee that at least once I will have to walk down the road looking for the plastic holders that have blown away in the wind.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Christmas preparations

I have been busy getting in the mood and getting ready for Christmas.


and have been making cards, wrapping my advent swap pressies, buying advent calendars for the kids (even though they are 21and 25 years old) and sorting out pressie lists. I've also filled my ipod with christmas music and have started blasting it out in every room in the house plus the car. A different cd in every player!! Currently its Bing Crosby on the pc, Motown in the lounge, Christmas classics in the kitchen/diner and Trans-Siberian Orchestra in the car (which frightens a few old ladies when played at full pelt down the high street LOL). I am so jealous of my eldest DD who is now working in London so last night after work she took her boy friend to Oxford Street to see the lights, window displays and to play in Hamleys.

We discovered Hamleys when my eldest Kelly was really young. Hubby was working in town then so when she was about 3 years old we agreed to meet him at Oxford Street Circus underground when he had finished for the day and take her to the toy shop and see Santa. Gosh we were all so excited! My mum and I had made a day outing of it, taking Kelly up earlier in the day, on the train, to see where Daddy worked, where everyone made a huge fuss of her. A visit to Hyde Park and feeding the ducks, and then the underground to Oxford Street. We knew the toys were only minutes walk away but NO we had to wait for daddy first. So we waited,... and waited.... and ...yes you get the picture. Kelly was so patient but also so eager to get to the promised wonderland, and to make matters worse it was chucking it down with rain. That cold driving sleety stuff you get in December. Well eventually after over an hour and with only minutes left until Hamley's shut I decided to wander down to the actual underground station to see if the trains had been held up or something, only to find hubby had been standing down there, in the dry and the warm, the WHOLE time!!!! We made Hamleys with only 10 minutes to go before closing time. I could have killed that day, poor Kelly. If only we had had mobile phones in those days.

Anyway to get more in the mood I have decided to show some of the cards I have been making. I never batch make, because I get so bored so easily so every one is a unique design (all be it some are copies from those seen on the net).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sugar mice

My friend Clare asked a good question today - has anyone seen any sugar mice for sale IRL. You can get them on line but not in real bricks and mortar shops anymore, or if you are lucky enough to find them they seem to be minus their little string tails (Health and Safety I expect).
I remember them so fondly, there were one of the things Santa ALWAYS left in my stocking, along with the nuts and the satsuma, the bottle of bubbles and the balloon.

I tried so hard to make my two girls Christmases as special and as magical as my childhood ones had always been, but sugar mice eluded me. My mum and I had a tradition of picking a town we wouldnt normally shop in to have a day out and do all our christmas shopping. Dad would have the girls and we would take the train to Bromely or Croydon or where-ever, with our lists in hand and come back laden with goodies. And I would always have a weathered eye open for a glimpse of a little pink body with a chocolate coloured nose, and that string. I only got lucky three times, when I discovered the Fudge shop (now no longer there) in Canterbury made them. But now alas it seems that they really have become a thing of the past.
Yet why?
OK so maybe dentists wouldnt approve of all that sugar but hey? Its only once a year.
Going by the responses to Clare's question many others love them too and hate the demise of them.
So I had a little hunt on the net and found two recipes. One on the Bagpuss site (because even Bagpuss loved sugar mice!!)

And this one;-

Sugar Mice Ingredients:
2 pounds of granulated sugar
3/4 pint water 3oz glucose (you can get this from Boots, or good cook shops)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Nice clean white string
Red food colouring if wished

Method: Put the sugar and water into a pan, and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.
Add glucose, and boil until 240 degrees fahrenheit/105 centigrade (setting point, again).
Take from heat, and allow to cool until it starts to thicken.
When cool enough to handle, work in the colouring, if you are using it, and knead it. Shape into mice-shapes - or little grubby sausages, if you're under 2 years old.
Make the ears seperately, and press them on.
Take a tiny bit of fondant, work in the cocoa powder and make eyes. Stick the tails into the fondant.
Makes 16 mice (or hedgehogs, or dinosaurs, or grubby things with ears and tails).

Curtesy of

Monday, November 20, 2006

Links to manufacturers

Please go check out my friend Suzanne's blog (link to the side) as she has just listed links to 80 scrapbook/craft manufactures on her site. It must have taken her ages but what a brilliant resource to have them all listed in one place so we can all go check out the DT team's work.

And a big thankyou to Clare, Anso and Suzanne who have helped me to get my slide show into my side bar!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Getting to grips

with blogger. So after an hour and a lot of messing about with a different stats counter I have finally managed to get my old one back! I am even starting to get a little (and its a very little) familiar with hmtl code!! Wow!!
So next challenge is to get a slide show in the side bar. Yeah right!! LOL

A bit of really good confidence boosting news. Yesterday the school where I had my interview phoned and offered me a day of supply work. Ok its only one day, and OK maybe I should think - "well if I wasnt good enough to be employed full time ...." but to be honest I am just sooooo very chuffed they actually asked me, and I am going to get back into the classroom. Mind you its a little scary as they have asked me to teach Year 4 and it has been oh so many years since I taught any child over the age of 6!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where is ....?

So the carpet is down in the craft room and all my stash has been carted back in there. It looks a treat, and I even went over to Dunelm Mill and bought some new curtains and nets so that the neighboughs across the road can have their privacy respected as I scrap. That was fun as they were in the middle of a refit and all the nets were piled in a pallet in an out of bounds part of the shop. The assistant wasnt very helpful, wouldnt let me though and was very unwilling to look for me. She wanted me to come back another day, but its quite a trip for me to get there and I had gone specifically.

Anyway I finally could get back to some paper scrapping. I needed to finish some recipe cards I am doing for a swap. I had made 4 before the move round and had left my tweezers, my beautiful holly garland stamp and my paint brush (Art-Kure) out all ready. So where are they now?????The room is tidy. There is no where for them to hide! Humph!!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Would you believe that wonderful Clare had already posted a very clear set of instructions for putting a banner on blogger. So it may not be the most artistic banner in the world but it is mine and for now it will do. I may play again later.

The only trouble is that in doing all that I managed to loose my visitor counter so next get it back again. LOL

I will only be able to digi scrap for a while, and since I cleared all my photos off the pc and onto discs its a massive hunt through them all to find the photos I want to do that. I cant paper scrap as we went out and got a new carpet for the craft room today and all my stuff is piled up around our bedroom ready for Martin to lay the new carpet tomorrow morning. We got a beautiful bit of Axminster for £50, enough to do the whole room, in the half price sale. It should have been £46 a square metre but it was the end of the roll so was already at a cut down price. Its going to show all the cheapo stuff in the rest of the house up though. Hubby was a triffle put out that there will be better quality carpet in my scrapping room than in all the other rooms. I think I best be a bit careful with the acrylics for a while in there LOL


Oh slap my wrists, I have not been blogging of late and seem to have fallen behind a bit. But my lovely online friend Anso has just published her very own blog and it looks so fab I thought I should really start getting to grips with Blogger a bit more seriously. Hence the template change. I am going to set one challenge at a time and this week it is to work out how to get a pretty banner at the top so if anyone can point me in the direction of some hints, tips or tutorials I would be so grateful.

Ok so updates. Well I went for my interview, and had a terrific day. The day before I went I got a phone call to say one of the candidates had dropped out so it was a two horse race. The staff were so friendly and put me at my ease straight off. The TA I was to work with was wonderful and after only 10 mins went out and told the Head that I was 'lovely'!!

It was fantastic to be back in the classroom with the kids and withing minutes I was so wrapped up in the lesson I forgot it was actually an interview and I was being observed. After that I was meant to get the chance to look round the school but the Deputy Head asked if I wouldn't mind helping his ICT lesson in the ICT suite as he was missing his TA, so I got another chance of teaching, Year 3 this time.

Lunch with the staff where a terrific buffet spread had been put on but I was still too nervous to eat. Shame as there was lashings of lovely chocolate desert and cheesecake. The other candidate said it was horrible being only the two of us especially as I seemed so nice (gosh so not used to all these compliments after all the horrid things my last Head had said about me.)

I felt the actual interview bit had gone ok, and even though the Head quizzed me on the stress and how it had been caused I managed not to say anything detrimental about my last empoyer.

However sadly I did not get the job. In feedback the Head said I had just not said enough about what I knew when asked questions. Basically lack of interview technique. Apparently even after 10 years of teaching and having to follow the National Literacy strategy you can not assume the Head knows you know about teaching phonics and have to actually tell him so!

So onwards and upwards, a brilliant brillant day that did wonders for my confidence and has given me the experience to get the next job that comes my way.

Thank you to all of those virtual friends who wished me a happy birthday. It was a strange day as I was left alone all morning, hubby left to play golf before I was awake, and my two daughters didnt turn up until later as we were having a late family lunch to celebrate. Infact the younger one phoned me to come over to the new house to see progress, then the older one wanted to go over there to take a look, so I got two visits to the building site and even ended up stacking house bricks at one point. Lunch was good, but Kelly had to get home to feed her two new little kittens and mum and dad needed to get back for their dog as the fireworks really really upset the poor little mite, so I got dragged to the pub to watch the Tottenham game!! Hubby says he likes me more since I have had stress as he would never have got away with doing that two years ago LOL

Monday, November 06, 2006

My attempt for International Dare

I counldn't moan about this dare - it was just so spechal!! I used some of the ideas from a brilliant class Maria Horton did for Carolinez Crafts forum. I think I met all the challenges - paint on chipboard swirls, filled the page, mostly with Cherry Artes paper, childhood theme (my youngest daughter's). Ok I didnt journal - I forgot to leave any space LOL and I couldnt bring myself to write on the photo. But thanks girls, I had super fun doing it.