Christmas Eve already - Merry Christmas to you all!

A little bit more organised than my previous blog post, though if you walked through the door you wouldn't think it! DH has decided in his wisdom Christmas Eve is the best day to buy my Christmas pressies, so I have sent him out with a little list - very non crafty as I don't really want him to find out how much this scrapbooking stuff really costs!

I am just going to clear the worktop in the kitchen and gather the girls around me ready for a little baking session (yep I know most people do this before Christmas eve!) Just a couple of chocolate cakes, mince pies and either bakewells or coconut tarts, depending on what I can find lurking on the baking shelf of the larder cupboard.

I will just leave you with a couple more Christmas projects created for the Design Collective weekly extra (so these are in addition to the three classes per week). The themes over the last two weeks was Christmas memories and table decorations.

I used my Craft Robo (sigh, yes, again! saves all that loathesome handcutting) for both projects.

For the bauble shaped journal I used a template kindly provided by Tammy Birkhead aka Scramper on UK Scrappers. I cut the pages as big as possible on my little Robo (so approximately 8" across) and decorated with K&Co Peppermint Twist papers and die cuts. The snowflakes are punched out of glitter card and the centres are Stickles in a beautiful aqua colour. I am full of good intentions of actually filling the pages of this book, but it is one of those jobs for the New Year.

For the place settings I have created simple bags, decorated with a dove and an initial. These each contain a napkin and a yummy chocolate (either a Thorntons champagne or amaretto egg for the adults and Santa lolly for the kids).

Thanks to Etui22 on UK Scrappers for the dove template (unfortunately I can’t remember where the bag template came from). The dove was cut on cream card and heat embossed using a Hero Arts swirl stamp and gold embossing powder. The patterned paper and shimmer alphabet sticker are both by Making Memories. The scallop circle is a punch and the eye and dotted highlights around the circle are both Stickles.

So I know I really should be cracking on. I just wanted to come on to wish all my fellow bloggers, scrappy friends and anyone else who stops here along the highway a very Merry Christmas, happiness and good health over the holiday season.

Eeek STILL not ready (no surprise there then!)

Nope, not at all. Still piles of pressies to wrap. That was meant to be my job tonight. But I am stuck making the tags. I need my snowflake punch (cos I want to punch through glitter card and I cannot anyhow make my Craft Robo cut through that!). And my snowflake is nowhere to be found. So I now have to start the mammoth task of tidying my craft room - which is what I should have done to start with rather than keep picking up piles of this and that to look underneath!

Anyhow, I have all the stuff that needed to be posted sent out and all the cards for handing out written out too. Apart from the Special Cards that I have still to make (parents, inlaws, DH and kids). Oh and just realised I need to wrap the teacher pressies yet (cheat, bought everything from Sainsbury's this year) so that has to be done tonight regardless.

Have done a final few Christmas projects. Pictures of a wall hanging and my Christmas cards are over on the Collectively Yours blog for this week (plus you have to see the gorgeousness created by some of the other girls). Have to give a massive thanks to Etui22 for the dove template which she kindly created and freely shared over on UK Scrappers.

And the layout below was my blog creation for last week (sorry about the flash and it is, I promise, all 100% straight in real life, my photography skills are pants!).

I used non Christmas products - Fancy Pants and Making Memories patterned papers, Creative Cafe tags, Prima flowers, Basic Grey and Creative Imaginations rub-ons, Making Memories printed tag and shimmer alphabet, Heidi Swapp heart, Brads and ribbonsE, poxy photo corners (??? very very very old stash!)

The rub on to the bottom right has the sentiment "for Christmas, give your heart" and the other rub on sentiment says "blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love".

More Christmas projects

These projects were done for the weekly extra for The Design Collective on our 12 week run up to Christmas. These were for last week's theme of tags, bags and wrap.

This first set of three is using some very old KI Memories Christmas papers, I loved that range, I think it is very funky. A small treasure chest painted and covered with paper, simply decorated with a sticker, flower and brad, a co-ordinating gift tag and a money wallet. The money wallet used a Craft Robo template kindly provided by Clare33 of UK Scrappers.

This clear can originally contained Prima flowers, simply covered with K&Co Peppermint Twist papers and die cuts, with a net bow tied to the handle and some Stickles dotted around the scalloped punchies to add a bit of bling.

This is the tray we are going to be leaving out for Santa at Christmas Eve (tray £1.49 on BOGOF from Morrisons!). Cellophane bags will contain carrots for the reindeer and a mince pie for Santa. And the obligatory sherry of course! More K&Co Peppermint Twist. The scalloped strips were again cut from the Craft Robo, this time a template from RachelB (Rachel Booth) on UK Scrappers.

Time to get that planner out and used!

Blimey! Isn't Christmas coming up fast? Lots of things to do still - I haven't even started on the cards yet! It's making the decision on what to do that takes the longest. Do I do cute and whimsical or traditional and elegant? Knowing me it will be a mish mash. I generally can't do more than six of any design before I get bored out of my mind anyway.

I actually made a little planner this year. I used some cheapo plastic cd wallets (from Tesco) and created a simple decorated chipboard cover and then inserted patterned paper into each of the wallets, stitching across the top to secure and added some stamped and be-ribboned Papermania tags for the dividers. The A-Z sections are for keeping shopping receipts in.

I have a similar thing that I use throughout the year for all my shopping receipts so that it is easy to find the one I want if something needs to be returned. One of the most useful things I have to be honest!

The tags were made by simply using a journaling stamp (7 gypsies I think) and cutting around and adding ribbon to the top. I just need to get filling the tags in now and crossing the tasks off!

And yes, it is yet more of the K&Co Peppermint Twist papers!

What paper manufacturer ...

Do you now love that you couldn't stand previously?

I am a patterned paper fanatic. I love all different styles, clean, grungy, muted, bold, bright, flowery or urban.

However, I suspect like most people who start out scrapping, I have a boxful of papers that I look at now and think .... Why? Paper Adventures and K&Co mostly. But, you know what, sometimes these paper companies turn themselves around with the appointment of new designers and a forward thinking philosopy.

For example last year my favourite Christmas papers were by Paper Adventures. I made these cards using their range and it was beautiful, with glittering and embossing it really lifted the whole design of the cards.

And this year I have fallen in love with K&Co. The new Amy Butler Sola range started me off and whilst I was in the shop buying that, I just had to have the sugary, girly and glitzy Sparkly Sweet collection too. Not totally my own personal cup of tea but I just knew that my daughters would both adore seeing their photos on those papers. Then a month or so I discovered the Peppermint Twist range. Oh my! As you can see from my previous posts I have loved using these papers. Love the colours and the funky feel with a slightly retro edge.

And now what do I see online. The Wild Saffron range. Sigh. More yumminess. I am trying very hard to resist but I just know that it will not be long before my will power caves in. I am just hoping that I get a nice little bit of cash from Santa in order to splash out on some.

For some reason I can't find either Peppermint Twist or Wild Saffron on K&Co's home page so here is an image from elsewhere online:

Oh and incidentally my page over at The Collectively Yours challenge blog this week features the K&Co Amy Butler Sola range.

Woo Hoo - at last!

The car has been picked up this morning to go into the garage for repair. For repair of the passenger side doors (front and rear) caused by that plonker (male driver obviously!) who went straight into the side of my car in Asda car park way back in July!

Heaven's knows why it has taken so long to get the go ahead and I was starting to get mightily frustrated when my phone calls to the insurance company just resulted in 'we are waiting to hear back from the third party insurer'. Hmmm 5 months down the line anyway today is the day. Just sat here now waiting for the hire car company to come with the hire car (like for like means I should be getting another 7 seater, though they did try and fob me off with a smaller car so we will see.

My desk needs a good declutter it is covered with papers, scrapbooking and business and a lot of little individual chocolate boxes I cut out with the Craft Robo (courtesy UK Scrappers again!) and which Chiara had great fun putting together (Mia couldn't quite get the hang of it.

Going to get a cup of tea and hope the people bringing the car find me without too much trouble.

Oh one more thing .... universal in car chargers for mobile phones. I bought one an age ago from Tesco (hence I no longer have the receipt) and just tried it out this morning and, whilst it fits my phone, the other end won't push into the cigarette lighter. No way. Nope. Am I allowed to swear? Well I am doing I can tell you.

Subscriptions will be open for December very shortly so keep your eye on The Design Collective blog for more information. We do gift subscriptions too so very handy that to bear in mind if you want to treat someone (or want someone to treat you!).

Oooh Craft Robo!

Well I had been lusting after one since they came out but it seemed so extravagant a purchase.

Anyhow, at the beginning of the Summer I bought a second hand one from my very good scrapping buddy Donna. Got it home, put it on the printer shelf. And left it there. I had read so many 'horror' stories on UK Scrappers and it all seemed so complicated the more I thought about it the more I couldn't stand the thought of dealing with any problems it might throw up at me.

Well, last week I took the bull by the horns and plugged it in. Downloaded some templates from UK Scrappers (thanks to all the very talented ladies who share templates for free!)and started cutting! I have only done simple things and haven't contemplated even trying to make my own templates yet. I need to go and read up how to create matted fonts though, that is a must!

These are two projects I created for The Design Collective. As well as the TWELVE CLASSES PER MONTH, on the run up to Christmas we have made an extra effort with the weekly extras that we send out and the girls have come up with some absolutely gorgeous projects on the countdown to Christmas.

I used the Craft Robo to create the scallops for my Noel wall hanging (template courtesy of Clare33, this is her blog where she has other templates for free download too) and the decorative box template to create these little decorated boxes for hanging on the tree (courtesy Ruthan, larger template here and smaller one here).

All papers and die cuts are by K&Co, the Peppermint Twist range, I adore it, in fact I must buy some more of the papers as I have nearly used my pack up on layouts and projects already and Christmas isn't even here yet!

Just need to pack my bags (cropping bags that is) and I am heading off to Donna's for the night.

Eeeeeek! How long?

Sorry been a bad blogger!

I seem to go from having too much to do and not enough time to blog, to the other extreme of having lots of time to blog but nothing interesting to say!

I have, however, been nagged by several people to update my blog so this is a little start. No new projects to post - other than putting my most recent Collectively Yours projects up here in one place.

This one was for the Summertime theme. Just totally adore Rouge de Garance papers. Love love love them!

This was for our Elemental themed week. The pub along the road in our village is the launch point for lots of hot air balloons during the Summer. Sometimes they struggle with the thermals and really do get very close. The ladybird one was so low once that we could hold a conversation with the passengers! A simple but bold page (love the red and sky blue combo) using Scenic Route Northshore papers.

This page features one of the few photos I can get of Josh at the moment. He hates having his photo taken with a passion so the only photos I can get of him right now are from a distance away when he isn't aware the camera is pointing his way! And yes, more Rouge de Garance papers. This Urbaine range is just fantastic for teen (pre teen) boy pages!

This is a Poundland canvas I decorated for the Harvest theme. Painted then a couple of Making Memories papers attached with a Hambly transparency overlaid. Photo is of the produce we grow in our garden (we aren't such great gardeners, really should make more of an effort because it is SO good to be able to go and pick fresh from the garden to cook and eat straight away).

Finally a page I created for the Halloween themed week. A real nightmare for me (groan!) as we don't celebrate Halloween in our house. Many thanks to my good scrapping buddy Donna for allowing me to use these great photos of her daughter Alex all dressed up for Halloween last year. Isn't she a beauty?!

Not that I haven't been doing anything. Quite the opposite! I have been busy doing projects for the Collectively Yours blog and the Design Collective classes, plus I have had a couple of lovely scrapping jaunts away (one with the kiddies visiting the very beautiful, funny and great hostess Roz .... when I managed 12 layouts) and another time for a weekend away without the kids (yeah!) with a lovely bunch of scrappers (some old friends and some new - Roz, Angela, Kirsty, Jayne, Lianne, Carole and Janet) where I managed 9 pages. My problem is that I am too darned lazy to get photos taken, cropped, resized or whatever, unless I need to (ie for the Dares or Classes).

I will try to get some of them uploaded on here by the end of the week though.

Family stuff sees little change. Have had a crisis point with managing Chiara's behaviour at home and that saw me have (I know, yet another) emotional breakdown. Very embarrassing as it culminated on the phone whilst talking to one of the teachers. Even more embarrassing (but I was incredibly touched) that ten minutes later I had the Head Teacher knocking at the door and she came and sat with me for about an hour talking things through. I now go to school for an hour each week for a session with Chiara and one of her fave teachers who works with children with various needs in Positive Play sessions. Our sessions together are very helpful as it gives both myself and Chiara the opportunity to talk about how we want to improve things with a negotiator helping us.

Mia is continuing with her one on one sessions daily too (she isn't statemented but does need additional help and yet again the school is coming up trumps).

I can't speak highly enough of this school. The staff there really do work hard with both children and parents. There are only three teachers plus the Head and several support staff yet they go well above and beyond the call of duty.

Josh .... having a bit of a crisis here too but I am still trying to get to the bottom of things. He won't talk to me so am having to do some detective work. Really hoping the situation was a one off cos I am really struggling with this. It's a big leap from a parenting point of view going from the local, very involved and supportive primary school, where you see the teachers on a daily basis and know all the children and their parents, to the more anonymous and remote High School where I don't get to see the teachers. Not that the school isn't trying to help, but just it is hard when you don't know the people involved, the teachers, the new friends or their parents.

Phew. Heck, once I get started I can't stop! Off to get something nice for lunch!

Collectively Yours challenges

UK Scrappers ran a laid back online cyber crop last week and various retailers and inspiration blogs took part by providing the classes. The class provided for the Collectively Yours inspiration blog was my own page 'Beauty is ....'

I loved looking at all the different interpretations of this class in the gallery over on UKS. We were offering three winners a prize of a one months subscription to The Design Collective. Boy was it hard to choose just three! We eventually thrashed it out between us and those winners will be announced on the UKS home page shortly. Thanks to everyone for playing along and for the lovely comments and feedback on the class.

For anyone that didn't get time to play along last week, the instructions can be found in the library over on UKS here.

Over at the Collectively Yours blog we have taken a little breather ourselves over the summer holiday period BUT that doesn't mean you have to! We have issued a new challenge for all our blog readers, to incorporate a quote (from a whole selection given) in a layout and to link back to the blog. The winner will be picked at random after the deadline of 23rd August. So pop along and check it out!

We had a great time at the Safari Park and Living Museum by the way (still got to upload the piccies to the pc yet, must do that today) and both places gave vouchers for FREE entry another time, which we will be definitely taking up at some point. And the Inn Keepers Lodge was fab! It was in an old house and we had a huge room, must have been at least 25'x15' with very high ceilings, ornate plasterwork, full height windows .... must have to remember to request that room again next time!

Anyhow, busy, busy, busy so have got to go and get some scrapping done :)

Stress free summer hols ...

Apparently you can get stress free summer hols. I reckon if you keep the kids in school then, yeah, or perhaps you keep them in straight jackets, or you only have one so they have no-one to bicker with. Three .... all I can say is thank goodness I went to the doctors to get meds before they broke up from school! I'm trying to pace the days out (money) and last week we visited Monkey Forest near Trentham Gardens at Stoke. I thought it was fabulous, the kids enjoyed the first hour I think but after that they were like 'oh yeah, another monkey ... when are we going home?' I got some lovely shots. It was wonderful to see the monkeys unfettered by glass, wire or other cage and of course they looked so cute, especially the baby ones!

Tomorrow is my birthday but the only thing planned is that I have to take the car to get new tyres. Oh yep and on the subject of cars ... I took Len and the kids to Pride Park to watch Derby County v Nottingham Forest last week, went to Asda for a browse and a little shop (only place open that time of night) and this guy reversed his car into mine. I got a good witness and the man was (seemed) genuinely sorry. It made a right mess of both the passenger side door front and rear so that will have to go in sometime when the insurance gets sorted.

What else? Oh yes, I have booked for us (me and the kids) to spend the night at the Inn Keepers Lodge at Dudley Thursday night. So Thursday and Friday can be spent going places. West Midlands Safari Park for definite and probably the Black Country Museum for the second day. I love that at WMSP you get to go back for free another time before the season ends (a BOGOF in other words!). I will surely be wondering why I am putting myself through sharing a small room with three bickering kids YET AGAIN when every time I swear it will be the last :D I just hope that we get some enjoyment for some part of the trip.

And thanks for the kind comments (on here and on the DC forum) about my last class - I didn't really explain it very well before. The Design Collective is a group of talented UK designers who have got together to present a variety of online scrapbooking classes. It's a subscription based service (paypal, UK cheque or direct bank transfer) and for just £10 you get 12 classes sent to your email box over a four week mailing period. There is a community forum for discussion and questions and a gallery to share your work. Plus there are other extras available to members. We have subscribers from all over the world too. It's free to register as a member on the forum and that is the place to find out more about how to subscribe.

Don't you just love it when ....

Something turns out as gorgeous as you hoped!

I have had real problems focussing on scrapbooking recently with everything else that has happened but this week I have a class up at The Design Collective so obviously I couldn't let anyone down so got stuck in and ..... I love what I have done!

I've created a very textural page with lots of mediums (corrugated card, transparency, paints, ink, lace, gems, shrink plastic ... the list goes on). I wish I could share it on my blog but I can't but here is a sneak peek here for you.

I'm glad it's turned out beautiful ... just perfect colours for displaying on an easel in my bedroom ... I always have a bit of a confidence crisis, especially when my work is up next to the other fabulously talented DC team members (the other two classes this week are by Jane and Dolly!)

Deadline for August subscriptions is 11.00 pm tonight, checkout our forum for details (you need to register to become a member ... that bit is free ... then you can read what to do ... alternatively you can read more on our blog.

I will update with personal stuff at the weekend ... we are off out to Monkey Jungle at Trentham Gardens for the day tomorrow ... looking forward to a day out with the kids ... must remember to charge up the batteries and put the photo card back in the camera.

Thanks to everyone who is keeping my spirits up at the moment .... love you all!

Quick update .....

Still got icky tummy (stress goes straight there!) and the tablets I think are compounding it, not really sure.

Chiara had another episode in the night last night. We had not had one for a couple of weeks. Very sicky tummy feeling plus she can't stop shaking, sometimes she is sick, sometimes she isn't. I can't really get a link of food/drink between all these episodes which have been over the last couple of months, often once a week. Several have been after a party, another after a hectic and late play session and then now she is worried about having her tooth extracted Friday. So I am wondering if her problems are stress related too? Or whether she is being affected by the tooth abcess. She was given anti-b's by the dentist and things eased. Will wait and see if having the tooth out makes any difference, if not then I will be taking her to the doctors see if they have any suggestions.

More things happening in my life ....

Friends .......... thank heavens for friends! I had a weep at the school gate last night (yes embarrassing I know) and my beautiful, lovely and very kind friend Sharon took me home for a cuppa, under the guise of us all needing a cuddle and play with her two sweet new little kitties. Thanks Sharon!

Rainclouds and silver linings

Well I didn't spend the night writhing in agony after popping my first pill last night - will be doing the second one just after typing this post - it did make me feel decidedly woozy so I am going straight upstairs this time.

I've had lots of message of support and many wise words. I am struggling to put my thoughts together well at the moment so I haven't responded to everyone personally yet, but I aim to.

Had a bleugh day overall today (rain hasn't stopped one moment since before 8am and it is now twenty past midnight) plus a visit from the accountant to go through financial stuff. Hard and unappealing financial stuff I've been trying to ignore but which has gone a long way to making me so ill over the last couple of years. Hopefully though now we have someone who knows the best way forward with different things. It is going to be a really long and tough road though for quite a long time (years) to come I think.

Brightness - I got a goody box of stuff from a Rouge De Garance NSD blog challenge. Especially lush. Unfortunately I have dreary stuff to contend with over the next few days so no creating time, but it's going to be there waiting for me still at the end!
To say I needed the lift opening the box gave is an understatement.

Off now to pop the pill, night all, sleep tight :)

Deep Breaths and WOWEE!

Well I'll start with the WOWEE moment first.

A huge thanks to Laura over at Scrapbook Chalet for including me in her DT line-up starting August. Thrilled is a mega understatement. It's a really friendly site that I happened on when hunting down members of another, now deceased, US forum I used to be a member of. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly and it's not at all cliquey. Nor have they complained about my English spellings :D I am so excited to have the chance to showcase their beautiful kits and to work with the rest of the girls on there.

Now for the deep breaths. After posting last night about being given some meds for my depression, several girls recommended that I take them at night time rather than morning. Ever the procrastinator I thought I would follow their advice. But come 11.30 I couldn't put the moment off any longer. I am really apprehensive about the side effects as most of them are symptoms of my depression to start with and I really want to be feeling better, not worse! I don't know if it is my imagination (I know, I know I shouldn't have read the side effects blurb on the leaflet) but I am feeling rather woozy, a bit like when I've had a couple of glasses of wine - which is all it takes to make me drunk. I think I will be heading up to bed soon.

Thanks to everyone for your kind messages and words of encouragement and particularly of experience. {group hug} moment :)

After six and a half years

I have finally got medication from the doctor for my depression.

My latest bout of depression started when I was pregnant with Mia (who is now 6) and the doctors had not a clue what to do with me whilst I was pregnant. I never went to the clinic or anything after I had Mia and so slipped through the net. A couple of years ago I had a seriously bad downturn again and went to the doctor but he just suggested I try reflexology (which I did but couldn't stand the woman doing it she didn't shut up rattling for the full half hour!).

Yet more bad news on the home front this week and I am even further down that black hole, which is something I didn't think was possible. However I got an emergency appointment at the doctors today and have been sent away with meds called Sertraline. The side effects sound like they will compound all the feelings I currently have (depression, nausea, headaches, sleeplessness, lack of concentration) so I really hope they don't affect me like that. They aren't expected to kick in for 2-4 weeks but I have a follow up appointment with the doctor next week, I'm wondering if this is to increase the dosage; I've done a little Googling and they seem to be something you have to get into gently (and then get out of gently, hopefully when the light appears at the end of the tunnel).

Any spare hugs gratefully received and thanks to everyone who has given squishy ones so far ... I can't begin to describe how much your thoughts mean to me.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Just a quick little toot, I was very kindly asked by Mel and Jill to be one of two guest designers this month. I received a lovely kit of Crate Papers Zoom range to work with.

I had a slight problem in that my little boy photos are around 10 years old and not idyllic photos for showcasing, but I had to work with what I had and it was lovely to reminisce over those little boy days again.

The gallery for July can be seen on the ATDML website

With all the bad weather I have been really struggling with getting decent photos of projects too which is a bit of a pain.

Oh and it's the Design Collective mailing again tomorrow. I have a class in this one. Again I worked with some less than perfect photos, nor could I remember where or when the photos were taken, so coming up with a title/journaling slant took a lot of figuring. I got there in the end and I really like what I did. I forgot to take a sneak peek shot before but it uses some lovely subtle We R Memory Keepers papers (from the Restoration range) and *gasp* even some flowers on a boy page :D

The weather has been dry today, I hope it stays like that tonight and tomorrow. Josh has gone camping from school as part of the Enrichment Week (when I was there it was just called Projects Week). Monday was The Black Country Museum (which he thought was fab!) today and tomorrow are camping, Thursday is Doncaster Dome (swimming and ice skating) and Friday is a pootling about day with his tutor at school.

It brings back memories for me (though somehow I can only remember three of the four years worth of Projects Weeks, no matter how much I try I cannot figure what I did for the missing year!) I definitely spent a week one year doing Pottery (I think that was my first year) my third year was a week spent in Skegness helping out with mentally handicapped adults (oh my the stories I have from what happened on evenings off!) and the fourth year (lower sixth) was a week spent on a canal boat. This is the most memorable as it resulted in a youthful romance with a boy I had been ogling at for many months!

So as you can see, this week has been 'a trip down memory lane' in more ways than one!

AAAGH technology!

Mare of a day with wires everywhere and trying to figure out which bit is the bit that wasn't working. An extra long session in PC World with BOTH my wireless router AND my new HP printer. Very thankfully Belkin products apparently are a no quibble exchange within guarantee PLUS with the printer I had the foresight to take out an extended warranty £12 for 3 years on a £60 printer. I was wondering at the time why I had bothered, but my I am glad now! Apparently without the PC World warranty they would have sent the printer back to HP for them to test it and I would be printer-less. WITH the warranty PC World tested it there, found it to be faulty (yep I know, brand new printer only printing out pink, something was wrong, it could have chosen to only print out green instead :D) so got me a new one straight off the shelf.

I love HP products and have been a satisfied customer of their stuff for many a year so I was shocked when my printer gave up the ghost last night. It's a no bells and no whistles model I've got but it still gives good quality prints (Photosmart D6160) I just hope this replacement gives me the quality service I expect!

Oh and the other thing, I eventually upgraded our telephone out of sheer exasperation and necessity. The old new phone (if you follow me) stopped working a few months ago and Len's dad bought an old old old one down from their loft. Okay it was a push button phone but it didn't have touch tone functions. So when you are calling technical support or customer services or other numbers and are hit with those press 1 for ... press 2 for .... recordings, I couldn't get anywhere. On the odd occasion just holding the line would get you through to the operator, but not very often. And the other telephone/answer phone just will not work with the new fax and broadband set up AT ALL. If you plug it in then the broadband goes wonky and the fax doesn't work. So I got a cheapo trio set (without answer phone) which are all charging up as I type. This means I will get chance to get to a phone before the 5 rings are up and the fax machine kicks in!

Hoping for a rain free day tomorrow as I have lots of projects I have to get good photos for and I need some good daylight to get good shots.

I have been tagged by Angela and will be back with that one too ... I just think I am going to have an early night tonight. TBH I'm pretty sick of the sight of this room today :D

Rain, rain go away

I am so fed up of the rain I could scream and I probably would if I thought it would make one iota of a difference to the weather, but seeing as it wouldn't the screams are staying inside my head.

The village flooded a little last week, not too major (well very major for a couple of houses on the riverbank plus the pub and the church hall) but the waters did recede very quickly (unlike for some poor villages further North). These photos are from around 10am, apparently it was much worse a couple of hours before, there was no way Josh could get across from our side of the village to the other for the bus. In fact the bus did manage to get through the water BUT it flooded and everyone inside was soaked apparently! Lots of vehicles tried to get through and ended up being stranded, though, by the time we got there for viewing, most could get through from our side (Matlock Road side of the village) if they were turning up for the A610 but the water was still quite deep for those vehicles attempting to continue on the A6 to Derby.

The photo of our garden shows how the river burst it's banks. I forgot (doh!) to take any photos of this until later on in the afternoon, but prior to this you couldn't see any grass in that field. It wasn't as bad as a few years ago (around 6/7 years ago I think I was pregnant with Mia at the time) as the water didn't manage to drain away so quickly last time.

The problem we have here is that we lie in the Derwent Valley (which is a World Heritage Site at this point here!) and when the rain has been heavy and consistent 'up North' and the dams and reservoirs up there get full, they have to open the gates so to speak to let it all out, and this is where it comes. It's made worse in the village at the point the photos are taken because that is where another small river - the Amber - joins the Derwent. Josh and his friend are playing in the Hurt Arms car park btw and in the corner, not shown in the photo, are a couple of caravans which couldn't be moved because of all the security features. Luckily the other caravan owners had the foresight to move their vehicles off the caravan field and up onto higher ground (aka the railway station car park).

I've been feeling quite off colour lately, black moods combined with other strange feelings that I've not really figured out yet. I think a trip to the doc might finally be in order. After 6 years (at least) of trying to cope without tablets I think it is time for me to throw in the towel and see if any meds can help me out here. That in itself is quite a frightening thought. I have been depressed for so many years now I really can't remember what I was like before.

Anyhow .... I have managed a couple of little scrapping bits this week, not as much as needed, but still I have made a start into the mountain of deadlines (plus a couple just for the heck of it). The first was for a weekly extra example for The Design Collective, we were talking about what to do with the pile of school portrait photos lots of us have. I used these gorgeous Cosmo Cricket Dutch Girl papers which are just perfect for the girls, still looking for something suitable for Josh's though.

And then tonight I just fancied a play and, unsurprisingly, the desk was way to messy to contemplate tackling at this time of night. I also wanted to play with some text to path elements I had purchased a while ago. Hmm, I am useless at naming digital stuff but I think I used - papers, ribbon and flower elements Tia Bennett's freebie from 2peas, Spring Time Fever, the title I created myself, the text to path is by Rebecca Myers, the grungy overlays by Lauren Bavin and the buttons Shabby Shoppe Bella collection. I am really at the beginners stage of digital scrapping and you can see I'm not good enough for anything adventurous as yet. I had been using PSE2 but upgraded to PSE5, had a peep at it and scuttled away in fear because the whole interface is so different that I seem to be learning from step 1 again.

And ..... must, must, must, get some piccies taken for a post about my wonderful weekend away the other weekend to meet lots of luvverly ladies that I usually only get to talk to on a forum. It was a fab weekend .... more about that tomorrow!

Summer Special on class subscriptions

over at the Design Collective.

I've been very remiss and not updated my blog for an age. I've been busy scrapping stuff for my up coming class on the Design Collective (as well as other things).

And I should really have been shouting from the roof tops about our fabby limited offer subscription which closes tonight 11pm GMT.

Pay via paypal for three months subscription and you get a fourth month for FREE!

So that is 48 classes direct to your email box to print and/or file and use to scrap a class at your leisure for the total sum of £30. That's just over 60p a class. Bargain or what!

Details are on the blog which explains things in more detail and also gives the link to our forum to enable you to sign up for this fabby offer.

Manufacturers websites list updated

I've included a few previously missed and a few new manufacturers releasing at CHA this year. It's now a very looooooong list! Scroll down the sidebar on here to view it.

If you know of any more scrapbooking site (paper scrapbooking please, there are specialised sites for digi scrapbooking) just drop me a link to the site and I will add to my list.

Thanks and nite nite :)

Is this what scrapping heaven looks like?

Okay I have lots of news to update my blog with but am a little busy right now, BUT I just have to share this new store that has opened in the US - I stumbled across the link on 2peas.

*drool* it is so lush. I wish the owner every business success, she deserves it after putting so much thought and consideration into creating such a stunningly beautiful place to scrap shop.

Scrapping heaven?

Heidi Grace papers *drool*

If you haven't discovered Heidi Grace papers then you are missing out! I've managed to pick up a few sheets in the past from here and there (at shows mainly) and they are a beautiful quality and such lovely designs too. I especially like the speciality papers. They cost more but the embossing, flocking and glittering details add such an extra dimension they are worth it.

Anyhow, Angela over at Angel Crafts very kindly took pity on my plea and ordered in a selection - Heidi's Hearts (see my post below for the sneak peek or have a wander on over to the Collectively Yours blog to see the whole page), Heidi's Cute Cakes and my utter favourite, Urban Acres Boulevard. I just love the colours - turquoise (dark and light), plum, greens and pink verging on lilac. Turquoise is Chiara's favourite colour so I tend to grab whatever I can find. I couldn't wait to use these papers and I created my class for The Design Collective this week with them. Here is a peek for you.

#58 at Collectively Yours

Our challenge this week was to celebrate fathers or other special man in our lives.

I chose to do a page with my Father in Law. He is a wonderful man and a wonderful Grandad and I loved doing this page featuring him with Mia.

I used the wonderful Heidi Grace Hearts range from Angel Crafts and, having seen other people do stamped journaling, was inspired to get out my old pixie alphabet stamps again. Oh and also some more of the gorgeous supersized Fancy Pants chipboard. Love that stuff!

My sneak peek is here but you can see the whole page and the other uploads over on the Collectively-Yours blog.

Hooked on Britain's Got Talent!

Just loved watching the audition shows! I've laughed, cried and cringed my through You Tube, as I only caught some of the nights on tv.

The best ones for me are the ones where the act walks on stage and you can see the judges (Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan) think 'what the heck?!'

Lots of links coming up here as there are so many of these clips worth watching. I've linked to the ones I think were fabulous and fabulously entertaining, but if you don't mind the cringe factor you need to check out some of the others (piano playing pig, line dancing dogs, nervous knife thrower, stripping breakdancer, oh yes along with the great and the good were some, erm, not so good :D)

Well worth watching, especially if you are a Simon Cowell fan ;)

Bar Men - shaking it all out with the cocktails

Crew 82 - beat box talent, incredible!

Tony - more than good, sensational! I defy you not to cry

Kit Kat Dolls - sexcellent! and worth while just to see Simon's stunned face and being at a loss for words!

Connie - this child has an amazing voice - if you closed your eyes you would not believe it came from a 6 year old. More tissues needed

Dominic - just blew everyone's breath away. Stunning version of a classic and without any musical backing too.

Combat Breakers - break dance group from the Midlands (yeah!) so confident, energetic and entertaining

Craig - wait for it, baton twirling in a white sparkly spandex suit. See the judges faces turn from disbelief to awe. Totally entertaining and a standing ovation from the audience

Damon and Bubbles - yep a monkey doing an impersonation of Michael Jackson. Side splittingly funny!

Paul - WOW another disbelief to awe moment. And more tissues. Just. Stunning. This man has got to stop selling mobile phones and start singing for a living.

MD Productions - polished, professional, energetic and truly entertaining

Scott - taking breakdancing from the bedroom to the theatre. Fabulous moves, entertaining and a truly likeable looking lad

Bessie - last but certainly not least! an incredibly talented and polished performance from this eleven year old

For my mind, we need a Royal Variety Performance that features them all, not just the winner!

Dentist update

My girls were very good.

Mia saw a lady, she was a bit taken aback as she was wearing islamic dress with her head (but not face) covered - we live in a rural village and Mia only sees people from other cultures really if we are out shopping or on the tv, or through school work. However she really put Mia at ease and within moments Mia was in the chair with her mouth wide open for her tegs to be counted. Incredibles bravery sticker reward!

Chiara was then really upset as she hadn't liked the male doctor from before and was getting all glowering and stroppy. We got called upstairs (again) and yeah, it was another lady! A very pretty lady who was so lovely and obviously well used to dealing with children. She talked to Chiara about what would happen next time (tooth out) gave her a trial run with the mask that will fit over her nose for the gas, talked about apple pie and Tracey Beaker and then gave her a Dora sticker.


I just have to ring the other dental practice as I have now had the referral letter come through.

Dare 57

This week's theme over at Collectively Yours was for us to add hidden journaling to our pages. I struggled with this big time. I'm not a big fan personally of hidden journaling, mind saying that it can come in handy sometimes. Oh and the comment over on the blog about always forgetting to leave space for the journaling - well that is me down to a tee!

I got some sweet piccies of Josh playing with one of our cats a couple of weeks ago. Our family cats are a big part of our family life and I really haven't scrapbooked about them anywhere near as much as I should have. Mainly because I get really pants pictures when I try to photograph them. They are British Blue shorthair, though Polo (the brother) is easier to photo as he is blue and white, Molly is really hard to get a well defined shot as she is pure blue. The carpet was a mess too when I took the photo - thank heavens for photo editing software. I wish it was so easy to clean up the house in real life :D

My sneak peek is here. I used Dream Street papers and Fancy Pants chipboard. The journaling is hidden on a tag which is camouflaged by the 'purrfect' part of the title.

Not a lot else to report, I am feeling pretty down which is why I am being quiet everywhere. Unfortunately I am really struggling to motivate myself to do anything and the stress of being behind with so many things in my life isn't helping. I have to buckle down big time this week.

Oh and I have to take the girls to the dentist tomorrow (today) which isn't helping. I have a big dental phobia. Have tried very hard not to pass this on, anyway, got us into a different dental practice (nhs) and, having met the dentist last week now I know why they have spaces. I explained about my phobia on the phone, also that Mia has a real phobia with doctors and dentists. Anyway the dentist has got a real short fuse and wouldn't even entertain trying to coax Mia into the chair and he was very short with me too, the kids were back in the waiting room with my Mum by this time. I was crying and shaking and he was pretty harsh. It's not helped as I have a really bad involuntary gag reflex. I have to have three fillings and one extraction (way back in the wisdom tooth area). Actually given I haven't been to the dentist in 10 years I was surprised that I didn't need more work! He has referred me to another practice as I am sure I won't be able to cope with them tugging about right back there unless I am put under. Tomorrow night is to take Mia to see if a lady dentist will be any better for her and also Chiara has to go back for another look and to talk about what will happen with her as she has to have an extraction too. I am so sad for her. She has an abcess and he wants to take the tooth out. Is this standard practice? I don't know. But Chiara has an incredibly low pain threshold so that will be a tough call for us both when she actually has the work done.

Apologies and latest dare

Sorry not been blogging, not really been doing much of anything to be honest as have been in a bit of down place in my mind recently. Nothing in particular (but certainly not helped this week by the constant bickering between Josh and Chiara they drive me beserk!).

Apologies to both Yizz and Joanna who are STILL waiting for boxes from me. Actually got my bum into gear with them today only to discover the village post office has eventually closed. It was attached to the village shop which closed several weeks ago, but the post office side had been kept going a while longer. So I must trot off to Belper or some such place that HAS got a post office - will combine with my trip to take Josh to a party (they are going to Water World at Stoke so he will have a blast there, he loves going swimming!).

I'm behind with quite a few things at the moment (more apologies); I have even tidied my scrap room (well, sort of) in an effort to find my mojo from the bottom of whichever pile of stash it was hiding. I am hoping I haven't thrown it away in the bin inadvertently :D

Anyhow I have forced myself the last couple of weeks to do the UK dares over on the Collectively Yours blog. I am so pleased that I am involved with this great team of girls - it really gives me the push to actually achieve at least one scrapping project each week! This week was to use felt - so actually this week was not much of a hardship cos I love felt! I used some really ratty photos that I had printed out an age ago. They are from Chiara's Brownie Promise night this time last year. Awful lighting, camera which can't cope with awful lighting, children who didn't stay still and a myriad of limbs straying into the corner of photos (hence lots of overlapping of piccies and strategic placement of rubons!). This is my sneak peek ... to see the full page pop on over to the blog. And trust me - the blue shape is NOT really a carrot. It is the 'i' taken from the Brownie logo! Erm, just realised I haven't sold it too well have I? I actually quite like it and, to be honest, I really need to push myself to use more of these 'normal' snapshot type photos which I have hundreds of (and I am sure I am not alone) so not only do I challenge you to use felt (as per the dare) but also would love to see how anyone else scraps these not so perfect photos.

Dare # 53 - Transparent

Huge coincidence this week, our dare theme was 'transparent' which, it transpires, is on the same wavelength as the Two Peas Creating Garden weekly challenge.

I had absolutely great fun with the page I did. I used some very old KI Memories stuff all mixed in with a lot of lush newer stash including these totally gorgeous metallic blue rub-ons from Hambly

Anyhow, it looks like the other girls enjoyed the challenge this week just as much as I did. There are some really wow projects over on the Collectively Yours blog.

Here is the sneak peek of my page this week.

And the winner is

Thanks to everyone for all your wonderfully insane and cheesy jokes, I keep going back to read them all cos they make me giggle so much!

The winner, chosen at random by Chiara, is Joanna. If you want to let me have your address I can get some goodies boxed up and sent off to you.

And lucky news of my own - I won a NSD challenge over on the Junkitz blogz (a word scramble) so have got a box of goodies on the way to me too.

So woo hoo to the both of us!

Deadline looming

For my own blog comment random draw.

Post a (publishable) cheesy joke on the comments of my 'giveaways galore' post below to be in with a chance of winning a box of stash.

The jokes on there have given me a real giggle so thanks to everyone who has already taken part :D

RDG challenge

Two 6x6 pages of me aged 2 and 40 (ish!) for a challenge I just found on the Rouge de Garance blog.

Very VERY quick pages, done within the hour. The main challenge was to find photos already printed as my printer has broken down and I still haven't plucked up the courage to install the new one I bought yesterday. The one of me as a toddler is an original so everything on there is done with repo tape so I can remove the photo, scan and print a copy for the page and put the original back in the box.

The one of me in the garden reminded me of the nursery rhyme Mary Mary quite contrary - especially as my parents always said my middle name ought to be contrary. And I still am :D

Give aways galore!

It's a happy first birthday to the UK dares blog. Previously known as The Speshals, to celebrate our first year and move into our second year, we have moved to a new blog, given ourselves a bit of a makeover and a new name too.

Plus we have not one but TWO wonderful prizes but you need to be quick to take part! The very talented Cheryl Johnson is running an online creative photography course and we have one subscription for that course as well as a one month subscription to The Design Collective online scrapbooking classes. The winner will be chosen by random draw from all the comments that are left on the relevant post over at our new home.

We have gone for a circles theme for our inspiration this week and a sneak peek of my page is here. We always love to see how our theme has inspired you, so please remember to let us know if you have played along. Even better if you can link to your own creation, after all that is why we have given ourselves the new name Collectively Yours, because we want everyone to feel that they can join in the fun with us!

As well as this giveaway on the dares blog, we are also running one on our Design Collective blog to celebrate National Scrapbooking Day. For the chance to win a one month subscription to The Design Collective AND a goody box of stash, just leave your comment on our blog over there (again the winner will be by a random draw). And if you are a subscriber for the current month, don't forget to log into the forums and check out all the prize challenges we have got running for the weekend!

I've had to come back and edit in cos I have just realised this is my 100th post on my blog SO cos I am in that sort of mood, I will run my own random draw from all people that leave a comment on here too. But not any old comment, nope I want you to tell me a joke and note that the cheesier the better (I love school boy humour btw!) It will be a goody box of stash (and not any old junk that I have lying around either, I will include some luvverly stuff that will probably pain me to parcel up :D) So, jokes on this post by midnight Monday British Summer Time :) But please remember to keep them publishable and also include a way for me to get back in touch with you if your name is drawn as the winner.

Fun fun fun!

We've had a great reception over at the Design Collective for our inaugural month of April and we have had more new people subscribing for May.

A subscription for a month costs just £10 and that gets you 12 classes a month, access to the forum and gallery too as well as other extras. The weekly extra mailing this week is a real bonus too as we have created a whole range of different pages to inspire you.

Here is a sneaky peek of my offering!

Plus, to celebrate National Scrapbooking Day on Saturday we are holding online prize challenges throughout the weekend, open to all subscribers.

Subscriptions close tonight at 11.00pm - today is your last chance to sign up for the classes for May! Come along to the forum, registration is free, and once you are a member you can check out the subscription options we have available by going to User CP, scrolling down the left column and clicking on 'Paid Subscriptions'.

I wish - light hearted fun!

I'm a Lotus Elise!

You believe in maximum performance and minimum baggage. You like to travel light and fast, hit the corners hard, and dance like there's no tomorrow.

"Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Great car, LOVE that vibrant orange (I'm a Leo do you think that has anything to do with it?) The travel light is really wrong mind (as anyone who has ever seen me at crop will vouch for :D) but love the reference to dancing. The one thing I miss most about nights out - I never really liked pubs/drinking but just LOVED to dance the night away!

In reality I drive a black seven seater, much more practical for real family life, but if I won the lottery (yeah, I know, I don't actually think I will, but just IF) then this car would look nice on the drive for those days like today (kids at school, enjoying a drive in the lovely sunshine with some great music playing). Like I say, I wish ....

Thanks for the link to the little bit of fun Hils!

Dare #51 already!

Crikey almost a year since the UK Speshal Dares went live! I haven't been on the team all that time, but I was lucky enough to Guest on the blog a couple of times. I have followed and admired the projects the rest of the team have come up with over the (almost) year and found the themes and the artwork inspirational each and every week.

This week our theme is Comparisons. I did a wall hanger featuring a photo of myself aged 4 and Mia aged 5, to show how alike we look.

I used the BG Blush range which, I eventually realised, matches totally my newly decorated bedroom. I will have to do a couple more featuring Chiara and Josh and make a little display of them together.

This is the sneak peek. To view all the projects in full, visit the Speshals blog.

For the love of all creatures furry and feathery

And pets with other skin types too!

Just a quick note before I forget to let you know of a great new blog which is going to be featuring pet layouts.

A true friend ... A priceless treasure

The blog features, amongst others, the renowned Fiki and his sister Kira (the lovely Scrapdolly's cats, affectionately known as the CFH!) and also the very handsome Simba who belongs to the wonderful Rena.

Just love this concept. I have two beautiful cats that don't feature in my pages anywhere near as often as they should. One reason being that I really struggle to get half decent photos of them. But they are such an important part of the family I must try harder.

The two cats who currently grace us with their presence are Molly and Polo. They were bought as I left my last job for maternity leave when I was having Chiara, which makes them around eight years old now. In fact it must be their birthday sometime soon, I may already have missed it even, I must check their birth certificates! Yes they are pedigree, a final extravagence before my wages stopped rolling in. They are British Blue (except you will notice that one is blue and white). They are brother and sister from the same litter. Molly is the top picture and Polo the bottom one. If you are EVER considering buying pedigree and want cats to fit in with family life with small children, these are DEFINITELY the breed to go for. They are the gentlest, softest and most loving creatures.

Some Bunny to Love

Check out these gorgeous bunnies by Andrea on her blog.

They are just the most beautiful bunnies around and such very pretty names too!

Andrea you are just 'sew' talented (groan, sorry folks!) my sewing machine doesn't even know what fabric looks like :D

Thanks :)


It was the Hobby Horse crop yesterday and, having told everyone I was going to be there, it ended up that Len was working :( He told me he would be back by dinner or earlier, so when Kathryn rang to find out where I was I said I would be there soon. Well soon ended up being gone 2.30 and the reason I was insistent on going is because I had Kathryn's (very belated) birthday present to hand over and really felt too embarrassed to keep hold of it any longer.

So I trotted off and walked in to find that Kathryn had not only bought me some lovely shiny balloons, but also chocolate cake and biscuits as 'congratulations' for my placing in the MM Idol competition. And everyone was so nice, I could have cried. Instead I pigged out on cake and biscuits - oh and spent more money in the shop!

I spent the next three and a half hours talking and putting two photos and five letters on a sheet of cardstock. So no, not very productive, but I am so pleased I made the effort to get out there even for those couple of hours.

There is a great group of girls go to this crop, if you are ever in the area (Derby), or live close by but haven't plucked up the courage to go to the crop there, you really must! Great hall, spacious, good lighting and parking, shop within a couple of minutes walk (with crop discount), yummy refreshments and wonderful people. Really, you can't ask for anything more!

These are the dates for the rest of the year by the way:

12th May
16th June
21st July
11th August
1st September
20th October
17th November
15th December

So disappointed

I had spent the last two days telling myself I hadn't won Making Memories Idol, to prepare myself for the call, but to still hear it is so very disappointing.

I want to thank everyone who has done so much to encourage and support me and vote for me too. You have all kept me going. I truly wish I could have won for UK scrapping.

I have created some projects that I would never have done without the competition (the door on the wall!) and probably never will again (the paper weave bag aaagh!) and I have really enjoyed the focus that working on the challenges gave me.

Many congrats to the winner Joey and commiserations to the other runner up Mou. In fact to all the other contestants throughout, there have been many, many stunning and inspiring projects.

My project this final round was the magnet board. I had focussed on the 'innovative use of Making Memories product' that we were asked to do in the brief. I used empty stamp storage tins to create mini brag books to record different aspects of baby's life - a welcome to the word (birth story), our wishes for you (letters from the parents) and firsts (including favourites - this is the word I ummed and aaghed over but in the end decided to keep my nationality a secret - such an English attitude!).

All the elements on the board, the name, the books and the pictures in the frame, are attached using magnets. This would allow for the tins to be taken out and about as brag books, or replaced with newer information and facts and pictures to allow the board to reflect the growth of the child over however many years.

This is it - the MMI Final voting is now up!

Today has taken forever and I dare say tomorrow will seem to take even longer :D

The final round of voting for Making Memories Idol is now up.

Our brief was to create a baby gift to be displayed in a nursery and (quote)

... a project needs to be inspiring to people so they feel like they can create it themselves (that's why it would be in the book). We don't it to be so unique that nobody could ever recreate it. Don't use your kitchen sink for example, to make it so different that people would be scared to try out your idea on their own. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use our product in projects, which is how something could be a fresh and new idea. Also, keep in mind that this will go in a nursery. Keep your style, but also keep the look fresh, clean, unique, and innovative.

Voting is on the MMI blog.

I had a real dilemma when I realised I had used an overtly English spelling - in the end I decided to take it out because I didn't want to be accused of deliberately giving away my identity. I ummed and aaghed over that one for ages, Len told me to go for it, but my conscience just wouldn't let me.

Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement over the last few months. And special thanks to the girls at Artbase who rushed my order through for this round.

What I am grateful for

In response to Wilna's question, this is a layout I did a couple of years ago for a competition. It was the week of the last Live Aid concert and had to be in the style of a previously uploaded page from a publication.

The journaling is the important part of this page, please click for the larger image to be able to read it.


Remember to leave a comment on the previous post to take part in Wilna's treasure hunt :) Thanks to everyone who has take the time to do just that so far. It has been very uplifting.