Friday, 31 January 2014

Tick Tock - A Time To Scrap!

Jimjams - Layout detail - stitching, masking, journalling strips
Sometimes I can make a page quickly ... not as quickly as many of my friends I admit: a couple of hours is pretty fast for me because I do a lot of pondering.  My absolute record used a sketch and took just 30 minutes!  Mostly I take a lot longer, days longer, thanks to searching my disorganised stash for the "perfect" touch, or because I have to research something for the journalling, or perhaps I have changed my mind about what I want to include on the page.

And so it was with this page, started back in ... ...
... ... November!
I'd prepared the cardstock with some inking through masks, cropped my photos and cut up some of my November Counterfeit Kit before deciding that I wanted to sew on the page; which couldn't be done at my monthly crop!
So, a few days later, I unstuck everything and sewed my heart out before sticking the photos back down.
And then it was Christmas!
When I returned to the crop at the beginning of this year I decided that I didn't like the way the page was shaping up and pulled it apart again.  Attempt #2 got as far as adding a title and embellies before stalling one more time: I couldn't work out how I wanted to add the journalling!
Home again and back onto the ponder-pile.
Luckily I spotted the January Sketch over at Sarah's Cards where I was inspired by some strips on the right hand side of a bank of three photos!  Aha - just what I needed for some facts and figures, so it was time to pull the page apart once more and rearrange it a little (thank goodness for re-positionable glue).
Et voilà:

Jimjams - Layout - Time Piece{s} - Jens Olsen's World Clock

Shameful to admit how long this page has taken to complete, but I am now very happy with it :-D
Thank you Sarah!  Note to self: Use journalling strips more - they are fun!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Zoom In Zooom Out #5

"Have you seen the fire?" asked Child No.3 as she returned home earlier this week.
"Fire? No.  Where?"
"Right outside!  It's enormous.  Five fire engines.  Plumes of smoke.  I can't believe you haven't noticed!"
I hadn't heard sirens.  I hadn't noticed.  And that's because the fire was actually nowhere near our house.  It was, however, a serious one, about a mile and a half away, which had been burning for a couple of hours, sending plumes of thick black smoke 200ft into the sky.

ZIZO 05 - Smokey Skies

Zooming in, you could be forgiven for thinking that there was a stormy rain cloud by the lamp post, but the bigger picture tells a different story!  Nobody was physically hurt, thankfully, though houses around the blaze at commercial greenhouses had to be evacuated to a local pub.  Not a great start to 2014 for one company.  I hope they are well insured.

I'm linking up with Helena's 5th week of Zoom In Zoom Out ... 5 out of 5 so far ... how are you doing?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

January Books - Different Points Of View

Back in 2012 I managed to keep a pretty good record of all the books I read thanks, in part, to playing along with Julie's Month in Numbers.  MiN fell by the wayside in 2013 and I'm sad that I have no proper reading log for the year.  So I'm going to try and post some book reviews at the end of each month.

Margartet Forster's Shadow Baby The first book of the year was from a batch of 10p novels that I picked up at  the library sale last year:  Margaret Forster's "Shadow Baby". A strange parallel tale of two baby girls born out of wedlock nearly a century apart who eventually seek out their natural mothers.  Back in the late 19th century, life in an orphanage was hard, life with distant relatives harder still and searching for your mother was nigh on impossible.  Public records mean that the modern-day birth mother is easier for her daughter to track down, but her fear of discovery and the emotions awakened are just as painful as the earlier mother's.  Forster explores the emotions of the four women in great detail as they each tell a part of their (shared) histories.  Quite an emotional and thought-provoking start to the year.

A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks
I had two books to read for my first Book Club meeting (December's discussion is replaced by a party in the bakery café where we meet), the first of which was "A Week In December" by Sebastian Faulks.  This was not my cup of tea at all: a large number of  unsympathetic (selfish, opinionated, unpleasant,over-privileged) London folk whose paths criss-cross during a seven day period just before Christmas.  There is also much to much information about hedge funds - pages and pages and pages of the stuff!  Combine this with some literary in-jokes and I had the feeling that I was not the intended audience for the book.  A potential suicide bomber and a drug overdose victim added a tiny bit of tension but it was seven days I really had no interest in!

M.L. Steadman's The Light Between Oceans
M.L.Stedman's "The Light Between Oceans" was much better with engaging characters, an interesting dilemma and the western Australian setting made a refreshing change.  The story (of the consequences of the discovery of a tiny baby and a dead man by an island lighthouse-keeper and his wife) takes place shortly after the WWII and also explores the effects of the conflict on the Australian population.  This book taught me a lot about the eponymous lighthouse but, in contrast to the ins and outs of futures and derivatives, by drip feeding the details in digestible amounts, I was able to enjoy the process.  Several characters took turns to tell the tale, allowing me to focus on different aspects of their dilemmas.  A wonderful debut novel!

Phantom by Jo NesbøI haven't read any of Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole novels since last January so it took me a while to get into the swing of "Phantom" and get to grips with some of the characters' relationships.  This was another novel that was told from several viewpoints - including a dead junkie and a mother rat separated from her babies!  On top of that there was real-time action interspersed with historical recounts; not the clearest of storylines to follow.  Fast paced, slightly confusing with a shock ending!

I'm still on the look-out for the first Harry Hole adventure "The Bat" on the my library shelves - it was translated from the original Norwegian long after the third book in the series!

Mo Hayder's Hanging Hill
Another detective series I've been enjoying is Mo Hayders Jack Caffery books ("Birdman"was the first) but in my haste at the library, I'd grabbed a stand-alone book of hers: "Hanging Hill".  This time we have a female police detective on the hunt following a brutal murder of a teenage girl - who happened to be friends with the daughter of the detective's estranged sister!  The twists and turns come thick and fast as you follow the sisters in their separate struggles with evil deeds.  No sooner do you think you've understood what's happening than the turn of the page confounds your expectations.  Again, the ending was a total shock and left me wondering just what might happen next.

What are you reading right now?  Do you enjoy books with several narrative voices or do you find them confusing?  What's the weirdest fictional point of view that you've come across?

Friday, 24 January 2014

A Hop On The Wild Side

Jimjams - Layout detail - stars, stamping and stickers
Welcome to the final penultimate post of the January CKCB Members' Blog Hop; if you didn't reach me from Dawn then you might want to start at the beginning with Lisa.

This month we had a choice of three challenges to use for the hop (#1 Subway Art, #2 Containers and #3 Stamping On Patterned Paper) and having cheated slightly for #3 by not using my January Counterfeit Kit, I promised to return with a page which did use the correct supplies.

I chose a photo from No.1 Son's holiday to Thailand last year along with the January sketch by Lizzie Hill over at Purple Pumpkin  and got creating at my monthly crop.  I generally copy sketches into my notebook and use that while I'm scrapping.  Unfortunately this often means that the finished product and the original sketch bear very little resemblance!  In fact, when I was grabbing the sketch link for this post I thought I must have made a mistake because the similarities are very hard to see!!

Purple Pumpkin Sketch January 2014

The extreme divergence is partly due to me reversing the sketch and partly choosing a circular frame for the photo to blend in a little more with the wavy lines of the paper.  I did keep some of the stars and half the title placement though :-D
Anyway, back to CKCB Challenge #3: rather than cover up that beautiful paper with stamps, I've chosen to add my "who", "where" & "when" by stamping straight onto it ... scary stuff!

Jimjams - Layout - Walk On The Wild Side - Khao Sok Elephants

I think the secret to stamping directly onto your page is to:
a) plan out exactly what it is you are going to say
b) practice on a scrap of paper so that you know how much space you need
c) not worry too much if things go wrong (which they did ... twice)!
There's just one more blog to visit this month (Leslie) and if you've missed anyone on the CKCBMBH you can find the full list over on the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog - why not join in yourself next month?!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #4

As promised, a happier ZIZO post from me ... and (nearly) at the beginning of Helena's weekly link-up for a change.

First there's a shot of a little flag cluster made last year at the Green Button's retreat using my October Counterfeit Kit after some tips on using washi tape creatively from my friend Jolene.

Jimjams - ZIZO 04 - Published in Scrap365

And if I zoom out a little ... there's the layout with the flags in the Readers' Gallery in the latest issue of Scrap365, using a photo from last year's Swedish road trip.  Along with washi tape covered die-cuts, I'm using one of my favourite stitching techniques to outline my title letters.

Jimjams - Layout - The 50s Rock!

And while I'm, not so subtly, using ZIZO to blow my own trumpet :-D  I'd also like to share that I recently applied for the Design Team at the UK on-line store S J Crafts ... and was accepted!  Sarah broke the news here on her shop blog on Monday.  I'm looking forward to having a play with some of their lovely stash and working alongside a very talented team for the next three months.  Wish me luck!

S J Crafts Logo

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #3

There's not always a reason for a gap in my blog posts. Sometimes I'm busy; sometimes I'm lazy; sometimes I haven't got anything to share.  This weekend it was entirely out of my control as my ancient laptop failed yet again.  I shut it down one evening and by the morning it had decided that enough was enough.  Eight years of service, countless upgrades, an expanding workload and diminishing disk space proved too much.  R.I.P.

Luckily I had seen the writing on the wall after the latest hiccup before Christmas and just taken delivery of a replacement.  Unfortunately Hubby had advised me that a blank machine with separate software was the (cheapest and most flexible) way to go and so there was a steep learning curve before I could switch it on.  It has taken me all weekend and a great deal of Hubby's help to set the new machine up, restore my bookmarks and e-mail addresses, download the latest versions of the main programs that I use and get to grips with Windows 7 and Thunderbird which replaced my old laptop's Windows XP and Outlook Express.

I'm zooming in on one little niggle that annoyed me: Windows 7 is meant to stack running programs on the taskbar under the pinned icons.  This worked perfectly for Firefox - a little deck of icons for the multiple tabs - but for Thunderbird the pinned icon produced a separate icon when I read my e-mails.  Not what I wanted (and not what happens on Hubby's laptop) so I got a-Googling!

Jimjams - ZIZO 03 - Laptop problems

Eventually I found out that it was something to do with which version of Thunderbird had been pinned - totally confusing as I this was my first go with it and I hadn't realised I had more than one version!  You can just about see on my zoom out photo that the advice from PC advisor did the trick!  I'm a mouse user (left-handed, which leaves my right hand free for tea and typing) as I have never managed to get comfortable with the touchpad thingy built into laptops for moving the cursor.  My old laptop's rescued hard drive is there too, ready for a humongous copy operation.  I'll be taking my time though as this is an opportunity to clean up, consolidate and organise all my files.  Looking for the silver lining ... LOL

I'm joining in with Helena's Zoom In Zoom Out for week #3, hopefully next week's photos will be on a happier topic!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Fantasy Rock

Child No.3 is a big fan of Emilie Autumn and was desperate to see her in concert last summer.  Not only that, but she was also willing to pay the extra to get a V.I.P. ticket for a meet and greet session before the show.  Luckily I wasn't working when the tickets went on sale and spent an hour sitting by the computer, clicking refresh, waiting for them to "go live".  That was one happy daughter after college that day!  Here's a page with the official photo and a copy of the "doodle" that Child No.3 presented to her heroine.

Jimjams - Layout - Fight Like A Girl

I'm joining in with the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog's third challenge for January: to stamp on patterned paper.  I used Banana Frog Fireworks stamps on the Basic Grey Solar Eclipse paper and the background cardstock - a fun way to tie the two together.

Talking of tying things together, this is another multi-challenge page (you know how I love them) as I've joined in with the January Simple Recipe Challenge over at UKScrappers which asked us to use a combination of rich plum, greeny blue and warm red ... not sure I managed much of the greeny blue, but I did add glitter to some alphabet stickers as required.

I also had fun doodling the striped frames, mixing up my glittery alphas and adding a couple of staples to squeeze in an entry for Punky Scraps December Challenge - phew!!

Keen readers may have spotted that these papers weren't actually in my counterfeit kit for January ... well done!  As long as I'm using stash it's all good I promise.  Plus I have another page that does use my January kit all ready for the end of the month CKCB Members' Blog Hop.

If you fancy joining in with that, please e-mail the CKCB by the 18th - everyone is welcome to join in with a project from any of our monthly challenges - the more the merrier!

P.S. I can't let you go without sharing a close-up of Child No.3's "doodle" with you - I'm so proud of this girl!

Jimjams - Child No.3's Doodle for Emilie Autumn - Time For Tea

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #2

I'm keeping up with Helena's Zoom In Zoom Out this year ( OK, yes it's only week #2, but that's good going for me :-D )

Jimjams - ZIZO #2 - Bookclub
I've stayed on the theme of books this week, with a shot of my book club getting going without me (I was purposely 5 minutes late so that I could secretly snap this).  We meet up after hours in my local bakery café, pushing the tables together to catch-up over a cup of tea or coffee with  some delicious cake.  You can see a pile of recycled books in the corner, 50p each, with all the money going towards schemes supporting the elderly folk in the village.  There's also a basket with a selection of the day's bread for us to take home at the end of the meeting.

This month I had peppermint tea, chocolate fudge cake and we discussed M.L. Steadman's "The Light Between Oceans": an interesting tale of a lighthouse keeper and his wife off the west coast of Australia in the 20s and the consequences of their decisions when a baby is washed ashore on the lighthouse island.  Many of us admitted to needing tissues for the ending and all of us appreciated the dilemmas posed in the book for the couple, the birth mother, the grandparents and the child herself.  This in turn sparked a feisty discussion about Madeleine McCann and just what she and her parents have gone through.  That's one of the things I love about reading with a group, you never know what you'll end up talking about.

That's probably true of ZIZO as well ... a simple idea to Zoom In & Zoom Out with your camera ... but who knows what subjects people will pick?  There's a weekly link-up on Helena's blog - are you joining in too?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Tagxedo Word Art Tips & Tricks

This month's first challenge over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog was to be inspired by Subway Art in some way.  There are lovely examples on the blog as well as great interpretations from a some of the Master Forgers.  I thought I'd show you what I might be using for my interpretation of the challenge for the Members' Blog Hop later in the month: (regular readers will already have guessed LOL!!)

Jimjams - January 2014 with Tagxedo for Project Life
If I did Project Life I'd make myself a set of these really quickly and easily with Tagxedo.  Here's some help to get you started:

Click on the Create button on the Tagxedo home page to see the default shape (currently Mother Earth in the shape of ... Earth).

Click Load and enter your text into the box then hit Submit.  My text was simple with 3 variations on January, an abbreviation and the year:
"January", "JANUARY" and "january" will be treated as different words with "January" being 5 times more “important” than the others.  I included the abbreviation "Jan" because Tagxedo works better with a variety of word lengths.
2014:3 is the same as typing 2014 2014 2014 (but less work!)

Choose your Theme ►, Font ► and Orientation ► then lock them by clicking on the padlocks. Pick your Shape ► too.
I chose:
Theme = Blue vs Grey
Font = a selection of the ones I like best (deselect the ones you don’t like)
Orientation = Horizontal
Shape = Oval 
Select these Word Options, press Accept when done:
Punctuation = Yes *
Numbers = Yes (to allow for 2014)
Remove Common Words = No (for words like “a”, “is” and “it”) *
Combine Related Words = No (for words like “day” and “days”, “go” and “gone”) *
Combine Identical Words = No (so the 3 forms of January are all visible)
Select these Layout Options, press Accept when done:
Max Word Count = 75 (reduced to stop the text getting too small)
Tightness = 150% (fills the shape as much as possible, but slows Tagxedo down)
Normalize Frequency = Yes
Hard Boundary = Yes
Allow Replication = Yes (so that there are plenty of words to fill the shape without having to type them in repeatedly)
Font Preference = All (the ones I have selected) 
* Not strictly necessary for my text, but you might wonder why certain words or characters disappear from your own!  Equally, if you are using phrases in your Word Art and you want to keep some words together then you need to know that the tilde (~) character has special powers: if I wanted "Jan" and "2014" to appear together I would load "Jan~2014" into the text box.

To change the colours within your theme click on the Colour Respin:

Jimjams - January 2014 with Tagxedo for Project Life

Vary the position of the words by clicking on the Layout Respin:

Jimjams - January 2014 with Tagxedo for Project Life

Click on History to see thumbnails of the variations so far - pick your favourite or keep re-spinning or fine-tuning your options and choices until you are happy.  For example you can try out a different shape:

Jimjams - January 2014 with Tagxedo for Project Life

That one might be better with different text and colours for a February page!  What about a circle instead?

Jimjams - January 2014 with Tagxedo for Project Life

The shape-text combination didn't seem to allow for "January" to be the biggest word so some fine-tuning was needed: I reduced the frequency of the year by changing it to 2014:2 and hey presto!

Jimjams - January 2014 with Tagxedo for Project Life

Once you have played for hours (or is that just me?) and found a combination that makes you smile, Save it and have fun printing it out for use in your projects!

The images you make can be used in lots of ways: Project Life cards perhaps, a title block, a strip of background paper, a sentiment for a greetings card ... Child No.3 has just used Tagxedo to make a heart shaped image full of words about me to print on a mug as my Christmas gift - clever, creative girl!!
In the past I've even used Tagxedo  to help me plan out Word Art before creating it myself with alphas (take a look here to see what I made).

There are other tutorials from the Master Forgers over at the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog today - why not pop over and see.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Zoom In Zoom Out #1

In 2013 Helena ran a meme called Look Up Look Down and I enjoyed seeing contrasting photos appearing on my friends' blogs, giving me glimpses into their lives throughout the year.  To ring the changes, Helena has chosen Zoom In Zoom Out as her meme for the year and I'm going to try to join in myself.  (My record for year-long projects is not good, but we'll see what 2014 brings).

Jimjams - ZIZO #1 - Library & Books
My local library was refurbished last year.  Not an entirely popular way of spending public money as the computerised booking system was confusing and reduces interaction with the librarians.  The beautiful new modern shelves had no labels for a couple of months which did give the librarians something to do as they led us more or less directly to the correct section.  The shelf units are also ⅔ the height they used to be and more creatively arranged meaning that there are fewer books on display?!?!? Not a huge step forward for a lending library.  The carpets are a pretty colour though ;-D

The close-up shot is of the two books I borrowed this week.  Having started mid-series with "The Snowman" for my bookclub in 2011, I've been reading Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole novels in sequence and am relieved to find that "Phantom" IS the follow-on from "The Leopard" which was coincidentally also a bookclub choice in January 2013.  Upon hearing that I was a police thriller fan, a fellow reader recommended Mo Hayder and I've been happily squirming at the body counts in her series of books featuring English policeman Jack Caffery. "Hanging Hill", however, appears to be a stand-alone novel.  I really should do more research on my book choices rather than picking randomly from the bookshelves!

Will you be joining in with ZIZO as well?  What other memes would you recommend?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Jimjams - Jan 2014 CKCB Kit detailWOW - 2013 has gone and here is 2014 already.

Is it only me, or has time speeded up?  I'm sure Christmases and Birthdays used to be annual events but now they seem to come along far too quickly!

It's already time for a new set of New Year's Resolutions ... have you made any?  I'm determined to be a more consistent blogger and scrap more and what better way to start than by putting together a new kit to join in with the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog.

Today the Master Forgers are all sharing their takes on this month's kits-to-copy which come from the Hip Kit Club's December offering along with Freckled Fawn's OhDeerMe December embellishment kit.  Our guest designer Tara is starting us off, and I'm third in line after Angela.

Hip Kit Club Dec 2013 Kit
FF OhDeerMeKit! Dec 2013 embellies

Slightly too festive and wintery for my current photos, so I had to get creative ... I looked for inspiration starting with the lovely teal & yellow stripes and teal & white snowflakes.  Having found a set of four double-sided papers from Crate Paper that have been languishing far too long in my stash I added some extra papers, assorted alphas, some tags, washi, buttons, made my own stars on wires and my kit was complete:

Jimjams Jan 2014 Counterfeit Kit

Jimjams - Jan 2014 Counterfeit Kit reverse papers
Revserse Patterns

Downstream, Wild Flowers, Floral and Branch from Crate Paper's Brook Collection
Kraft Vie by 7gypsies
Simple Stories 24 Seven's Good Stuff (6x6)
Howdy from Studio Calico's Snippets collection (6x6)
Thickers Ash & Daiquiri alphas
Simple Stories Sn@p! Stickers
Various buttons from my stash
Websters Pages washi
Queen & Co washi
Spiral paperclips from Asda (Walmart)
Counterfeited Jenni Bowlin tags (tutorial here)
Counterfeited stars - just coloured wires glued to the back of some plastic stars (I made a loop to hold enough liquid glue to adhere properly and that way if it shows through to the front it's quite pretty still). 

Jimjams - Counterfeit Freckled Fawn Stars on wires

I'll add cardstock as and when I need it.

Now it's time to hop over to see what Julene has for you.  If you want to visit all the Master Forgers or you want to know more about kit counterfeiting pop over to the Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog today.

Happy New Year !!!