Saturday, September 29, 2007

More christmas cards

All's right with the world

Martin has just gone to the bank to sort out our American Dollars for the holiday, the dishwasher is sorted out, the washing is on, I have just cleaned the kitchen floor. This afternoon Kelly is coming over and we are going out to try and get some more cheap Chatterbox papers together, calling in to show her Laura's new house on the way. Martin is off to footie (Gills/Leeds) with Trevor and this evening we are having dinner with him and Jan. In a second I will call the olds and make sure they are all ok, write out lists and instructions for those left at home taking care of things whilst we are away, and then make a few more christmas cards.

Martin even managed to phone up and sort out the tv license which didnt appear to go through on the internet system yesterday and which I worried about for a time.

Yes I think today everythinkg is right in the world.

Friday, September 28, 2007

f stops and ISO!

I am desperate to understand the more technical side of my camera and take better photos. I have tried several on line tuts, forums and books but am still struggling. Yet I really want to get to grips with some of it at least before I go away. So in a mad rush of blood to the head, (and to escape somewhere out of the cold while shopping) I dived into the library on Monday and ended up taking out two books on photography.

The rather hefty volume I haven't looked at, it looks like the normal technical ramblings that tend to go straight over my head but the pictures looked good, but the second is a little different. Its by Jon Cox, an American teacher/free lancer and the book is called 'Digital Nature Photography'. There are some stunning shots in it, but more than that it is very readable and IT EXPLAINS stuff!

Alright I have only got to page 31 and the first chapters were all on choosing equipment and filters, lenses etc., but I have just come across the most brilliant and best explanation of f stops/ISO numbers that I have ever read. So I want to put it down here so that when the book goes back to the library I still know what its all about, and because I think its worth sharing.

So basically he says that a stop is a way of measuring light, but to make it easier to grasp think of it in terms of travelling. If you travel a mile it doesn't matter if you go by bike, train, foot, horse or car, its still a mile whichever way you go. So if you 'travel' one stop of light with your camera it doesn't matter if you use the shutter speed, the f stop or the ISO you still only move 1 stop. Now why cant the other books have said that instead of waffling on about how you need to know your camera and change one or a combination and yet never tell you which or how?

His other explanations have been just as useful. He talks about situations that you can envisage, for instance the need to change ISO in order to capture more light if hunting a shot of an owl in a dark dense forest. And he is the first person I have ever come across who has explained that each doubling or halving of the ISO number is the same as one stop of light, so that moving from ISO100 to ISO200 is one stop and from ISO100 to ISO 800 is three.

Now all I need to do is find my camera manual to work out how to change ISO in the first place LOL

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Let it snow

Just a quick card using more studio g stamps and my super shimmery paints that my frient Nets kindly found for me at The Works. We dont have any in our branch so she went out and got some and sent them all the way down from Norwich

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have bought three filters for my trusty Fugi S5500 in readiness for my holiday. I am dropping hints so hopefully someone will offer to pay for them for my birthday (wink wink nudge nudge daughters?) The first is a straight forward UV protector for all that Florida sunshine, the second is a circular polariser which is supposed to enhance the sky to make them beautifully blue - well it just about is noticable in this but then

perhaps we dont have the right blue skies in this country.
The final one is called an 812 warm filter and is supposed to be exclusive to Tiffen for portrait shots. I did like the fact I could see my reflection in the lens so that I could finally line up a self protrait shot!

Other news

Bazooka it away - is what I am using on my thumb as I seem to have picked up a wart/varuca/virus and it hurts!

And Martin is over the moon, because he has managed to pick up some footie tickets. Trev, our bessie mate, is a staunch Leeds supporter, they are both Gillingham supporters as that is our local team, and this Saturday Leeds play Gillingham. The guys had talked about going for some time but Martin didnt think he would get the Saturday off. Due to a mess up in scheduling for last weekend's stock take he is off this Sat, so he looked on the net for tickets. No go - supporters on the Gillingham data base only. Not even any on ebay.

Trev said he hadnt been able to get any with his contacts either and didnt think there were any about. Laura was going to try her cricket club contacts but hope was dwindling. Yet despite all us gloom and doom merchants Martin still phoned the ticket office to try this morning, only to discover he actually had booked with them to watch a match way back in 2001 which put him on the data base!! Wayhey! He could buy legit tickets. trev cant believe his luck and so both of them are off on Sat to wave on - which team?

Acrylic albums

The latest craze, and not one to be left out I really wanted to have a go, I just didnt have a clue where to start. Thanks to the wonderfully tallented Lemon who posted very clear instructions on how to make one using OHP sheets, (Its a Creative World) and a thread on UKS asking to see everyones examples, I managed to make one of my own. The photos are of our recent escapades with our friends, on a pub walk, down near Wlamer Castle.

The pub - well it was what we had gone for really. It doesnt look much from the outside but the inside was very olde worlde, and the food was varied, hot, tasty and plentiful. I started off following Lemon's instructions to the letter but I didnt have any suitable rub ons so tried doing my own through the printer with CS3, plus a marker pen. I did actually get better as I went on.

We never can agree on the route even with very clear instructions in the book. I used lots of Crate Paper. The arrows were from the shapes in CS3

Once we had our bearings we made a start - across the road, up hill and into the countryside. Except we had actually wanted to promenade along the sea side

Which is where we ended up - getting wet in the sea!

I made a few mistakes along the way, but it was a step learning curve and I am quite pleased with the end result. Foe some unknown reason the holes I punched to bind the whole thing together didnt line up at the end, although they had at the start, so I used a strop of cardstock to make a spine and then sewed two bits of OHP together with my LO inside. This works really well as it makes the OHP pages much thicker.

I still need to bind it together but have to restock on book rings, but it was fun to make, quick and once I got the hang of it, not too hard. So thank you Lemon for a great class.

Hi Ho, Hi ho!

This poor pathetic little man usually can be found climbing up the wall of my porch on his ever continuing quest to reach the roof of the house. Of course this prolonged clamber in all elements can take a toll on your outer wear and equipment so yesterday I bought him down for a little TLC and R&R in base camp.

I sat in the garden in the sunshine on the lawn (where I could make as much mess as I liked with my acrylics without having to worry about carpets or tiles being stained) and gave him a complete new lease of life. Suzanne and Trini eat your heart out!

I really should have used a fine nib paint brush for some of the more intricate parts that some lagers cant reach because then he may have ended up looking less like a painter and decorator and more like a mountaineer. But hey! He is still happily making his way up to higher ground.

Not so much me, as it would seem that while enjoying my laze on the grass I was actually trespassing on the local ant community, and now have a zillion bites on my back and bum to prove I outstayed my welcome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The value of going to a good crop

I spasmodically attend a crop in Broadstairs. It is run by a lovely lovely lady known on UKS as BernieTuff. For various reasons (illness, weddings, holidays, helping daughters move house - real life) I havn't been for quite a while but this Saturday when I turned up the ladies were as welcoming as ever. I sat next to, and made friends with Vicky who lives not far from me, and knows how to grab a good stash bargin off ebay! And I took the album of Kelly's wedding that I have been working on.

Now when I started this album, I did not realise that so soon after buying bits and bobs, Chatterbox would withdraw the Powder room papers I had chosen. I have been having more and more difficulty sourcing the sheets I need, and even though I bought quite a bit,and am saving every last scrap it is obvious the album is going to need far more than I have. And even I, miserly as I am, am struggling to make LO's with the little I have left, even when gutting every page.

I mentioned my frustration to Bernie, who immediately told me about a little shop on Margate seafront that may be able to help as they only sold Chatterbox papers. Where does Bernie find these places? So yesterday, despite the pouring rain, I sped down to the beach front where I found, squashed between the ice-cream parlours and slot machine arcades, a strange little 'kiss-me-quick-hat' shop selling all sorts of stuff, lighters, postcards, DIY accessories, poster paints, framed pictures, souvenirs, and ...tucked right up the back..racks and racks of CHATTERBOX 12x12 paper!!!

The only problem was that although I could see what I so badly wanted, I couldnt get to it. All the wirling stands and furntiure that usually goes outside was stacked up in front of it.

'Come back in an hour' said the young assistant.

So I wandered around Margate for an hour. I used to enjoy shopping here, but now the big shopping centre at Westward Cross has opened most of the larger stores have moved out of town leaving a very run down desolate place with many outlets and shops boarded up and empty. The few that do remain are all peeling paint and rather seedy looking tired outlets.

Anyway back to my stash spending spree. When I got back all the papers were fully accessable so like a child in a candy store, I grabbed handfulls. Then I thought that since it was the kind of shop it was, they probably didnt take credit cards, so I riffled through my bag to see how much cash I had. Mmm £10 would net me 28 sheets at 35p each (yes that is all they were charging as they are closing down). I settled for 24 so I had a little left for a sausage roll on the way back to the car park. Imagine how I felt when I went to pay and found that, yes I could have paid by card, and better still, the paper was only 25p a sheet as they were reduced further in the sale!!

I really wanted to run back and grab tons more but was too embarrased to do that. But I fully intend going again before the end of the week to get some of the other rooms and fill up my boots!

So thank you Bernie for the tip off, and it just goes to show the value of going to a good crop.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hateful Technology

OK that title does not give a clue about what the main news is but it sums up how I feel. I will get to that later.

But the big news

My mum and dad have bought a new car!

On Saturday dad started making noises about a car he had seen locally and was thinking about buying. I told him not to be so daft, he had a perfectly good car,all be it a bit old (a rather tatty, very old Merc he bought 2 years ago) but little did I know he had already been out and done the deed, and this was all just a red herring. It wasn't even that car. So when he turned up on Tuesday in a 5 year old, sparkly blue fl ah looking Merc I was gobsmacked. There is not a mark on it, and the upholstery looks brand new. It has so many gadgets its unreal. Its because after the third holiday in a row where their plane was delayed for god knows how many hours, mum has decided they are not going abroad anymore (insurance was getting difficult because of both them having angina anyway) and now the dog has gone to rainbow bridge they can nip off at the drop of a hat. Of course to tour in Britain they need a decent car. So now until he manages to offload the old Merc he is a two Merc car owner (posh eh?)

Yesterday in the interest of being fit enough to walk round the three theme parks we have booked for in Florida I decided it was time to start regular exercise, so I dragged the bike out of the shed. Of course I would choose the first day of Autumn and with freezing strong head winds I set out on the roads. I refused to allow myself to freewheel, and tried to keep up a reasonably fast speed (for me) but within half a mile I was exhausted and fighting to pass the pain barrier. I managed another half a mile (yes pathetic I know) before my knee finally gave out, and for the rest of the day hobbled round in agony. Mmm maybe I am going to need more than two weeks to get fitter.

And that hateful technology? Well last week the printer run out of black ink and despite being sure I had another I just couldn't find it. I ordered more but my printer refuses to work if one of the inks (whatever colour) is not there so I couldn't scrap, write application forms, print out maps for our holiday etc and was getting really frustrated waiting for the refills to arrive. Desperate I re hunted through the wardrobe and finally found the last cartridge wedged down the back of the shelf. Hurray! And for a whole day I could print. Then last night two other colours gave up the ghost. No probs I did actually have those as refills, so bunged them in. OK? No not OK. Now the printer decided the black it had been more than happy to print out 6 photos and a heap of labels with only ten minutes before was no longer compatible. An hour and a half of coercing, cudgelling and cursing later and it still wasn't having it. So no scrapping last night.

This morning my new refills finally arrived, it accepted the black first go and hopefully all is up and running again. Which is great because I had visions of having to dig out the recipe and start over with a new printer - again!

Monday, September 17, 2007


I have been quite productive this evening. I managed to find a couple of pre-printed photos that were the right size for the wedding album so finished a double LO, then still unable to print photos out I decided to try a trick suggested to me on another forum and use a blank bit of card to represent where I wanted the photo to go. It sort of worked of a fashion so thats another page of my birthday card book finished (once it is all done I will upload it). And my pile of christmas christmas cards is slowly growing.

I also sat and found all the scrapbook shops in Orlando - there arent that many independant ones but there are at least 3 Michaels and 2 Joanns really close to our hotel, and a Wal-mart practically across the road!

Honey I found it!!

Just in case you are looking Kelly - I finally found the card I made for your birthday, the original card should I say.

Don't ask me how it got there, but dusting and hoovering the lounge I decided to put all the redundant video's in the attic and bring all the DVD's from upstairs, down and put in the case. As I sorted through the DVD's low and behold, there was your card. Mmmm a strange mystery.

Anyway its a scraplift from Andrea (Geordie Girl) and another magnolia stamp.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Long weekend

Martin has had to work all weekend and the girls have been busy with their own lives, so its been very boring home here on my own. I've not really felt like doing any housework although there are quite a few dust bunny's and balls of cat fur blowing along the hall. I was going to scrap all weekend but yesterday the black ink on my printer run out and I discovered I didn thave any spares so now I cant print out any photos until the replacements arrive. I have ordered from DVDr which seemed a very cheap site.
I also went to 7dayshop where I bought 2 memory cards (not very big ones but they were on a really cheap offer) for my camera plus two lots of rechargable batteries and treated myself to 3 filters. I reckon a known brand of filters, a circular polarised, a uv and a warm filter plus carry case for £18 has got to be a deal not worth missing. So thats me set up for my Florida trip!
So I have spent most of today surfing around the money expert/paidtoshop/pigsback sites hoping to power up my Loyalty points but I did make a few christmas cards and coloured in lots of stamps.

Last year's Papermania papers, magnolia stamp, studio g stamp, All Night Media holly stamp, and lots of sparkly glitter.

And as promised a photo showing the 3D of my summer card

Friday, September 14, 2007

Guests at the wedding

Mmm, dont think my scanner was too keen on this. And sod it, the flower has fallen off the middle of the daisy but I cant be bothered to scan and stitch it all again!

Between other things I am still plugging away at the wedding album. A really simple LO, but I did make the horseshow from scratch using a bit of clip art downloaded from the net as a template. The Good Luck is another studio g stamp.

Back to the Magnolia

While I was waiting for the freezer to arrive I finished this card. Its all 3D decoupage so I will have to take a photo from the side once the camera batteries are charged.

Magnolia girlie stamp, Stampendous border stamp, lots of gauche rather than water colour to give a more matt finish, and some Papermania stickers. The larger butterfly is a black outliner sticker that I bought years ago originally for glass paint but never got round to using.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Studio g stamps

Alongside Magnolia stamps it seems studio g stamps are also very popular this year - I discovered these in the Paper Mill at the start of the year and bought every set they had, well you have to at £1.49 a set don't you? The new release Christmas designs didn't grab me quite so much, mainly because several were close to designs I already own in other makes but I still came out with 5 sets. So this evening I put away my Magnolia's and got out the Studio g to see what I could manage.

I am pleasantly surprised by the versatility of these little stamps, and they are little. But that's good 'little'. A stazon black pad and I could finally get some text on to ribbon (yes I know but I always mess up trying to put ribbon through my printer).

I've also discovered Stazon. Well I say discovered. I was always wary about using it because I know it eventually ruins your stamps and since I am such a messy worker was sure I would have it Staying On everything in sight. So its sat in my box for about 3 years, only seeing the light of day for use on transparencies, but fed up with getting my versafine ink everywhere, and it running when I tried to colour in my Magnolia's with watercolour pencils, I got it out tonight and am suitably impressed. I have done some hybrid work on this card, using Miss Mint's Party Pants kit but playing with hue and saturation in photoshop to gain a more christmassy colour.

Today I had an interview to sign on for the Teaching Supply Agency. An hour filling in forms and very few questions about my ability.Mind they did say they had had an extremely glowing reference from the Nursery!

And tomorrow I get to stay in all day and wait for my new fridge/freezer to arrive. Yes our vouchers for the replacement finally turned up, swiftly followed by a letter saying they had been cancelled, but we sorted that out and went out and chose the new one on Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Yes Wow! So much has happened over the weekend and all of it has the wow factor, so much so I dont really know where to start. But start I must.

Friday Martin had his day off - which was meant to be used to clear out the garden shed as we had mice squatting that needed evicting. But as we sat chatting over our breakfast coffee I asked him what he had planned for his week off at half term.

"Weeeelll what I really want to do you wont" he said "But I'd like to go on holiday somewhere exotic, not Europe"

"So why do you think I wont want to do that?"

And that was enough to send us off to the Travel agency, to return with arm loads of books for far flung holidays.

God the choice was overwhelming, we had to narrow it down so I suggested that since just this once we wouldnt be going with our friends, and our friends were adamant they didnt want to go to America, and since the dollar was so weak against the pound maybe USA was where we should be going.

Of course we hadnt bought any brochers home for that so back to the Travel Agency for more armloads of books.

Eventually, by taking out all the places too far to go to in 7 days, or those that were too hot, needed injections, or we plain didnt fancy we settled on Florida. We quite fancied the Keys but alas, back at the Travel Agency every where below Orlando was booked up or way over our budget. Martin then left me in the TA while he nipped into work to see if he could change his week in the hope we would be able to get a better deal. Well yes we could but still not down at the Keys, so that is for next time LOL

So I can hardly believe it but in three weeks time we will be down in Florida and swimming with dolphins!!!!!!!!

Of course there will also be a little bit of shopping going on since Michaels is only 3 mins drive from our hotel!!!

If that wasnt wow enough, on Saturday and Sunday (and all though the night) Laura's fella Wayne, and the cricket team he plays for, were involved in a marathon cricket match to raise money for Pilgrims hospice and to beat the World record for the longest game. Laura was catering and Wayne was doing the gruelling game.

I dont think they quite knew what they had let themselves in for, but they started with great enthusiasm, and 35 hours later ended in high spirits although bone weary with exhaustion. I think the most sleep any of them had was about an hour. Laura didnt stop either, having to supply heaps of food, endless cups of tea AND run the bar with only the other three girls who help out. The four of them were relentless and refused to go rest while the lads were playing.

So well done lads, and lasses. And I know they have raised heaps of money for the cause.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quick christmas card

Just playing with my new studio g stamps as Kelly and I took a trip out to spend money on stash in order to celebrate her passing (with flying colours) her first accountancy exam. It wont be long before my clever baby is a fully qualified accountant. We liked the christmas greeting background stamp but it had sold out so I know this is a very tatty card, it is just an experiment but by combining all the words from the various sets of those lovely little stamps together on one block I managed to make a background stamp of my own. Next time I think I will use a coloured embossing ink because it was difficult to line up the words when I couldnt really see where I had stamped, but we live and learn.

Martin finally phoned up sky this evening about my (lack of) broadband. He then passed the tech over to me because Martin is computer illiterate. Trouble was a) the bloke had a scottish accent, the one accent in the world I cant get an ear for, and b) I have moved the computer into the crafting room and the phone no longer reaches the computer. So lots of 'can you repeat that' and 'hold on I'll write that down and get back to you in a sec' before he ended up giving me a ticket to Tier 3. T3 are going to work on the problem and get back within 3/5 working days.

Oddly enough once off the phone and rebooted I could get on the internet and its been super fast all evening. We will see.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Bikes, garden, cat bbq, hols, cards and ...other bits


We have been saying we would do this for ages - we kept putting it off because Jan didnt have a bike and although she kept saying she would go out and buy one she never did.

Last weekend Laura (who no longer wants her bike since she moved out and now has a dog to walk) let Jan have her bike. No excuse!

So yesterday Jan, Trevor Martin and I rode along the promenade from Whitstable to Herne Bay. (about 3.5 miles each way) It was a beautiful sunny day and the way was packed with people but they were lovely at moving and letting us ride past. Then we stopped at The Bandstand - which has been converted into a bandstand come pub, had a drink or two and listened to the brass band.

Coming home was hard work - the wind was against us, and we had forgotten that three out of the four of us are pushing the wrong side of 50 and although Martin has played 2 rounds of golf this weekend and Jan had spent 3 hours on a horse this morning none of us can say we are fit.

God does my bottom hurt now But no one was put off and we ARE going to do it again.

Square foot garden part 1

This is the start of my Square foot gardening - there are two of these and this is what they looked like last wednesday

This is what they look like today, already the lettuces in two squares are coming through - note to self use an indelible pen or pencil on the plant tags as I cant remember which is carrots and which broccoli - plus in there too is strawberries, on gooseberry bush and loads of cabbage plants.


Did I mention that my poor little puss cat Pumpkin had to go to the vets last week, yes well he has had a bit of a sleeper thingie in his eye for a few weeks but it wasnt bothering him and I guessed he just wasnt washing properly first thing in the morning, but when Wayne and Laura came over last Tuesday he suddenly had a very watery eye and made out he couldnt open it. So Laura booked me an appointment and came with me to help me deal with him. He hated the ordeal as the vet's she used has a surgery on a very busy road with large floor-to-ceiling windows in the waiting room. So Mr-I-am-terrified-of cars-and-large-dogs had to sit for some time waiting his turn.

Of course the vet could find nothing wrong with the faker but sharged me £33 anyway for some conjunctivitis cream 'just in case'. Now anyone who has had to attempt to put eye drops into a cat's eyes, on their own with no one to hold the blighter down will appreciate that this has been a very long 5 days of appying the lotion!!!


Mum and dad are away on their holidays. They flew out to Portugal on Saturday. At 12 noon on Saturday I got a phone call, they had been delayed for 4.5 hours at Gatwick. They eventually got to their hotel at 2 in the morning, 12 hours after their plane was due to leave England and 16 hours after they left home. I hope the rest of the holiday goes better for them.


I have been busy using my new Magnolia stamps to start my christmas cards. Everyone is going mad over these stamps and they are not easy to get hold of but my lovely on-line pall Andrea did a bulk order for a few of us girls and we managed to get them very quickly from source. Thank you Andrea, they are fabby. So much so that when I showed them to Kelly she promptly ordered 4 and got into a little bit of strife from Ollie for spending her cash! Oops!

Other stuff

Last week I felt brave enough to phone up and try to get signed on to a supply agency. They have finally phoned back today to give me an interview date in ....10 days time. Good job I am not desperate! No wonder schools say they cant get supply staff. Not only that I have to pay £41 for the priveledge of being CRB checked (again!!)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sky BB

I spent over a year waiting for Sky broadband to be available in my area - it seemed too good a deal to pass up. And when finally it was available from my exchange we spent hours (literally hours) on the phone and the net trying to sort it all out. Financially for what we were already paying for both Sky TV and our old ISP we had worked out that for a few pennies more we could cut down on all the channels we dont bother with (children's MTV etc) add Sky Sport (for Martin) and still get unlimited bb.

Sky Sports was there virtually as we put the phone down after ordering, broadband involves MAC codes and activation dates and postie bringing hardware so I didnt go live until the 28th (ok admittedly it wasnt all plain sailing as BT knocked our phone line out when they changed over) but I was soon up and running and surfing away to my hearts content. It was super fast compared to my other ISP.

Until 7.30 pm - when the speed dropped out to nothing and I couldnt get on line. OK I thought but I cant do any ringing round until the morning. By the morning however I was back up and running and able to surf to my hearts content......until 7.30 again when the same thing happened. And it happened again last night.

Martin says he can feel a phone call coming on.

Still at least (since Martin refuses to change the telly off the golfing channel) I was 'forced' into my craft room where I started to look through some of the Design Collective classes I have not yet done.

I started these classes with such gusto, I was workin gon Kelly's wedding album and it was great to have something each week that I could use to motivate the LO's, but as the months went by (I'm a slow scrapper) firstly I got a little bored of doing every LO using the same PP (much as I love the Chatterbox papers) and the classes seemed to convert into the style of the album less and less. So they tended to get filed until I could use them doing something else. I just wanted to get the wedding album done. Then last month I needed my spends to buy stash for Laura's mini book so I didnt subscribe to August's classes. I must admit even though I hadnt been doing them, I missed getting the email through my inbox.

Then yesterday the brilliant news that Heather is to join the DC team, lovely Heather who always comes and reads my blog and has nominated me for a blogger award for being cool. Heather's work is awesome, and I couldn't wait to sign up for this months classes.

And whilst I couldnt get on line, I dug out all those DC emails that I hadnt used and did actually get half way through one of Suzanne Torrs brilliant contributions. Not yet finished so watch this space.

And watch this space because if I cant get online I can at least get to the computer and I decided its time I opened up PS and learnt a bit more about it. Yesterday I discovered how to make repeating patterns so I could be loading up a few freebies once Sky let me back on.