What is on my W this week is actually on my computer desktop.

Remember this concertina book?

well I’ve had at least three requests via my blog or YouTube asking if I have a pdf.  I didn’t, but I hate to disappoint, so I am spending the day with the photos I took for the video and writing up the steps so I can send it to the people who asked for it.  Dead boring but needs must.

It’s actually gotten me quite enthused about this concept again so I think I have to do another one soon.  I always intended to do one with bigger pages so that is possibly the way I will go.

I also wanted to add the layout that I did, the one from last week, based on Shimelle’s class. And a little birdie tells me there will be something fab on her blog, an old class redone, very soon, so keep your eyes open for it.  And check out Julia’s blog for the usual What’s on your Workdesk Wednesday inspiration!

It’s the May sketch so five photos.  Very very old photos from when we moved over the first time and lived in The Barbican in central London. Loved that place.  Oh and the adorable little cameras are from the UKS printables by Louise – so cute and free to download (if you are a member of UKS) in the digital forum there.


Sketch layout!

I took a couple of stacks of photos to my Saturday crop and managed to finish two of them – I would have done three but for the last one I had set aside a pile of embellishments in a little tin, which I left on my desk.  Doh!   This one is from Shim’s recent sketch and quite a good one.  The tilted layout from last week is unusual for me – I am too “square” when scrapping, not one to tilt and angle, so this appealed immediately.

A few of things – the title is from DSs favourite Dr. Seuss book, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.   Next, and Shim will be so proud of me, I ACTUALLY WROTE on my layout!  I hate my handwriting (second only, for many scrappers I know, to hating being in photos) so it takes real effort for me too do this.  But I think I have journaled on most of my recent layouts, by hand, so that may be a trend.  So much easier than turning to the computer. and the little row at the bottom is hard to see in the image here but it is a row of circles, punched and folded, each with a small circle punched from a scrap of card within.  Really like how it looks, even if one or two are slightly wonky.

It’s interesting.  I had a chat with a mate who expressed interest in the fact I am enjoying doing sketches and the 4×6 class.  She wondered why?  I’ve never had a shortage of layout ideas myself, so scraplifting someone else’s work didn’t make sense to her.  But following on from my recent post regarding kids (teens) and photos, and hearing Shim’s comments on the first 4×6 video I watched about the creative process she experiences  when flipping through her stack of printed photos, I realize it is the same for me.  Without current photos to flip through,  the ideas don’t flood me like they did when I scrapped EVERY DAY.  And as a way to MAKE myself scrap, treating it like a challenge to do the layout before the next one goes up, it works a treat.  I’ve made 4 layouts in the last week or so, the tilted one my own design, and the others from classes or sketches.  I am now factoring in scrapbooking to my schedule every day.  All good.

Oh, and I finally joined Facebook.  Not sure why, I’ve ignored it for years, by choice, as doing a blog was enough of a time suck I thought I would never be able to add that in as well,  We shall see.  I fear my wall will be very boring.





Foldies – a musing

Right.  I watched Shim’s little YouTube video on the Sassafras Lass Foldies.  Cool product.

And my next thought was I can make those with stamps. So I grabbed a handful and sat down at my desk to have a play.  But then I thought again: Hang on a second – Why?

Looking at the finished effect, why go to all the trouble of stamping a staggered line of flowers, colouring them in with Copics, laboriously cutting them out with a neat border, spacing them so you could cut the little folding tabs between them, then folding and sticking them in place?  The look would be exactly the same if you stamped all the bits, cut them out individually, mounting some of them on the page with pop-dots, some flat, staggering them slightly and adapting the placement exactly to your page. Just to show that you CAN?

In the end it simply is not worth the effort.  The beauty of the product is getting a cool effect, fast and easy, not the LOOK of the product on the page.  They have done all the work for you.  They are punch-outs, so seconds to get a perfect border rather than hand-cutting, they are coloured beautifully, rather than an hour of stamping, Copic colouring, shading, and they don’t cost the earth.

So I stepped AWAY from my desk and moved on to something else.  Sometimes, just buying something is, in the end, a far better solution.




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Sunday-someplace-else – Little Light Studio

Looking for a good font for Font of the Week over on UKS, I stumbled on Little Light Studio. There isn’t a lot of info about the site, but what I can see is that Wilna Furstenberg is involved, and I’ve always liked her style.  There is a freebies page, not a ton of stuff, but most things I think I could find a use for.  I love these labels (and the kraft versions) – .pngs so totally usable as printed or digi items. 

There is a font, and and handful of tutorials (I like the Polaroid mask one, and the using layered templates one) and classes to buy. There is a Bling Out Your Blog class that looks interesting, but of course it is for Blogger and Typepad and not WordPress, so useless for me.  Oh well. In any case, it’s worth a look.  You may find something that appeals.  At the very least it’s worth grabbing the freebies!

Have a great Sunday.


Easel Card – my first!

OK, so I am still loving 4×6 Photos love, lest you think I have sidelined it, but I am sort of pre-preparing a few layouts to take too my crop on Saturday.  I’ll finish assembling them there, make the embellies, and hopefully come home with at least three done.  Woo Hoo!

BUT, I wanted to go back to a couple of my Newbury stamp show purchases.  First, that sticky-backed template material.  I wanted to test out a few things the vendor said, like that the thin material can be cut by a die cut machine.  And it can!

I used a Marianne Creatables die.  I stuck the material on FIRST, as there was no way I was going to cut out all those little semi-circles, and that worked as well – at the show she demoed adding the fabric to the already cut die then trimming with scissors.  I did take the precaution of running it through forward and back, and did add a thin shim just over the die itself, but mostly because I wanted the embossing to show.  It did, slightly.



I like that there is very little wast of the material or the sticky stuff.  The little flowers were stuck to scraps and then cut out to add as embellishments.



I cut a little curve of cardstock and created the greeting on a little banner, as you need a dimensional greeting to make the easel part stand up.

OK so now the other stamp purchase – those letters.   They don’t look half bad, do they? Yeah, well look at the debris I generated to get those 8 letters:

That isn’t even all of it.  It took me FOUR tries to get a decent o! You can see how the letters come out (or not)


And the state of the die after I poked at it to pry the letters loose

And the killer is that I LOVE the font.  It’s a perfect size, just my style, and should have been my favourite purchase.  Instead all I want to do is throw it in the bin.  I’ve emailed DoCrafts to see what they say.  I am so hoping it is just a bad die and not a bad product, because I WANT THIS to work well.

So here is the card standing up. In the end I smudged some of the same Distress ink on the letters as I edged the card with, which disguised, a bit, the wonkiness of them and I can live with them this once.  But I won’t be reaching for them again in a hurry.


WOYWW 109 – still loving 4x6s

If you read back you will see I am scrapping to Shimelle’s 4×6 PhotoLove self-led class.  Good it is self-led, as I am only now getting started, with the layout yesterday for June, and now, what is on my W today, the class from May.

It doesn’t look like much, but it will soon be a lovely 2-page layout! Trust me.

Today is DDs transition meeting at her school, planning for her future.  So I am a little distracted.  I’ll get to my desk visiting sometime later or tomorrow if I don’t manage it.  If you came here looking for inspiration, sorry there isn’t much – just a seemingly random pile of stuff.  But if you check out Shim’s video you will see where I am going, and if you pop over to the lovely Julia’s space and hop around blogs across the world, you will surely find something that WILL inspire you! Trust me on that too!


Shimelle & Me – and my personal scrapbooking history

Bear with me.  The crafty bit will come.

We moved to the UK in 1994.  DS was 14 months old (he’s now 18!) and I wasn’t really doing much crafting other that kids crafts, knitting and crochet.  We lived in The Barbican and my time was occupied with DS, the Mums and Toddlers group, going to West End plays and not a lot else.

We moved back to the USA after DD was born, and DH went from banking to an internet start-up.  In the first year, I found scrapbooking was ALL over the place – TV, craft stores, chat at the bus stop.  DS’s best friends mom was having a Creative Memories party and asked me if I would come to help make up the numbers.  I did, and got hooked.   I converted the spare room into a scrapping space (giving up on scrapping on the kitchen counter, snatched moments here and there and tidying up after every session, even if that was after only 15 minutes), ditched the PC for a Mac,  and the next couple of years were spent happily scrapping. I spent a lot of time on 2Peas, and a lot of time in Michaels (humm – at the time I think it was more MJDesigns and Total Crafts, but you get the idea) and built my stash.

We missed living in the UK (and they elected, and I use the term very liberally,  GWB)  so when the bank called and asked DH back, we jumped at the chance.  The problem?  How was I going to scrap when it just wasn’t as popular there as in the USA? How was I going to feed my stash habit??

Off to the net I went and had a long search session.  I found there WAS a scrapbooking site in the UK!  Yay! Scraptastic was run by Mark and Shimelle.  I was beyond relieved.  We exchanged a couple of emails and I promised to get in touch when we were back across the pond and my scrapping goods arrived. I swear I still have a paper piecing pattern I downloaded from her site, a snowman,  in my stash still!

Fast forward a few months and I got in touch to find there was a CROP that weekend.  Oh bliss.  A 2+ hour drive and I rocked up to the Youth Center and walked in to a small room with just 3 scrappers – Shimelle,  CJ (Feel-Good photographer extraordinaire) and Jane (and you aren’t likely to scrap in the UK and not know who I am talking about!) I kept pulling stuff out of my bag, stuff that had been brand new when I packed up, and to every item Shim said Yep, we sell that. or Oh yes, we have that on order.  Far from the dark ages of scrapping, it seemed I had hooked in to the group that was “in the know”! The crops were the highlight of my scrapping life.

Flash forward a few  years – during which time Bev moved UKS from a Yahoo group to a proper website, Shim won both the Hall of Fame and the PaperKuts Power Team, scrapping took off in a big way in the UK, we judged the Best of British contest with Joanna Slan , I took on UKS when Bev couldn’t carry on due to work conflicts – and still I scrapped.

Meanwhile Shim found her niche as a teacher of online classes, got married to The Boy (and yes, her wedding was every bit as glorious as you would expect from her obvious sense of fun and style) became a Garden Girl on 2Peas, and did many classes for UKS, as well as through her site, some of which I started, with the very best on intentions, but life always got in the way.

We worked on Scrapbook Inspirations together until it folded.  Without the monthly deadlines, scrapping seemed to be the last thing I thought of when I was sat at my desk.  The kids moved in to their teens.  All of a sudden getting photos was a near impossible task.  And scrapping took a bit of a back seat for me.   I thought about scrapping a lot, had lots of ideas, but made maybe a page a month for at least a year. I just needed something to get me motivated.  That is something Shimelle is good at, even when she isn’t directing her super-scrapbooking mojo-booster at you, specifically.

I subscribe to Shim’s YouTube videos. I  watch when I find the time and the kids aren’t hammering the home internet. I kept thinking I should play along, but no new photos meant little impetus to actually do so. Recently, looking back at the piles of unscrapped photos I had, I remembered seeing her 4×6 Photo Love classes on her blog.  Most of mine were 4×6.  I had no other project on the go. Serendipity.  I went to her blog and thought Right.  Pull your finger out and SCRAP! So I did.

The June 4×6 sketch/class was a good one.  I managed to make the layout and am happy with the results (mostly – it’s a bit busy, but that was my choice of papers that made it so) and 8 (yes, 8!)  photos are on a layout and the moment captured.

The basic idea is fab, it is a 2-pager, and the original has 6 photos.  I had to cobble together a 4 x 6 portrait block from cropped landscape photos, but that’s the thing – you can do what you like and there is never any tutting from Shim.  She loves the creative process and embraces your alterations – she’s never precious about her designs.

I also saw  one of her sketch-to-scrapbook page videos with some little banners that gave me the idea to curl the edges of the gears to add some extra dimension.

I actually like one page as an option – I think it works equally as well as the double does.

So you would have thought that I would have been following this class from the start.  Why ever didn’t I?  As a self-led class, one you can dip in to and out of, there is no pressure.  History has told me I love Shimelle’s style and can usually pick one of her layouts out of a line-up with ease – it’s the one I love.  Well, that is all water under the bridge now.  I have jumped the first hurdle, made a layout that I quite like, and I have January – May to go back and catch up on.  And the Sketch-to-Scrapbook page bits.  And there will be a new class every month, and a new sketch every Wednesday.

I’m off to sort some photos (crop this weekend so the timing is perfect!) and as soon as I get through those DVDs from the stamp show, that is what I will focus on.

To be honest, looking at those old photos gives me such a wave of emotion – seeing my toddler boy, so chubby cheeked and sweet, and my wee free-spirited girl, small enough to sit on Dad’s lap, when now he is a long-haired game-playing drummer and she is nearly as tall as I am and such a teen, blind-sides me like I never expected.

And it makes me remember why I loved scrapping in those early days of sticker-sneeze, cardstock triangles, fugly paper doll die cuts, and cut-out figures from photos.  And it makes me all that much more determined to not lose sight of that again.


A layout! Yay!

I am still dealing with reluctant kids, and scrapping old photos, and I have always loved this one.

Lot’s of journaling, all about how DD will never GIVE you a kiss, but will only present her cheek to RECEIVE a kiss from you.  She’s so funny.

I am not one to tilt.  My layouts, more often than not, are straight and angular.  I may soften them with flowers and circles and swirls, but the photos and the journaling blocks tend to be all right angles, all lined up, all very head on.  This one went a different way.  I have to say I really like it.  I am very into grey lately so that may be part of it.

One little trick was adding a rub-0n to a felt circle.  I was stunned when it “took”, although to be honest I sort of expect it might stick to the PP when I put it in the album, which is why I added the chipboard – that might keep the PP away enough for the rub-on to stay in place. I didn’t notice I had lost a YOU but that is a small annoyance.  I may have to test a damaged rub-on on another bit of felt, slip it in a PP and see if it does, indeed, transfer to the PP.  Other than that, lots of old product, as usual, but unlike the double pager last week using both old product and old techniques, this one feels more up to date rather than dated. So happy with that!


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Sunday-someplace-else, sort of

I went to the Newbury Stamp Show yesterday and had a fine time.  Last year we went on the Sunday afternoon and it was less crowded and overall more pleasant but getting my mag renewal and choice of gifts made the getting there first thing on Saturday worth it. Sure, I could have bought a ton of stuff, but the couple of things on my have-to-have list weren’t available (new micro-tip scissors, as I seem to have lost mine and the perfect text stamp) and I love stamps but don’t make good enough use of the ones I already have, so other than the freebies, and one tiny 40p stamp from Craft Stamper, I didn’t buy any.  Shocking, I know.

I did find a background text stamp that I liked, but £15.50 for an unmounted stamp was simply highway robbery to my mind.  No Micro-tips at all, but I did get a cheap paper pack in just DDs sort of bright, acid-y colours (bargain at £2.50) and some decoupage scissors that I thought I would have a go with.  We shall see if I get on with them.  I also got what I THOUGHT would be a very handy alphabet die, by X-cut, perfect size, very usable font, and was really looking forward to having a go with that.  HA! Rubbish.  I may even write a letter of complaint I hate it so much.

The die-cuts are so deeply embedded in the die after cutting that you need to pry each one out with a pokey tool!

Can you see how recessed they are??  The paper tears or the letter comes out misshapen when you DO finally get them out, and it really narks me off.  And almost £13.00 – which I would have been happy to pay if it was a decent die.  Is it THIS one or are they all like that?

What else?  Another bargain, £1 back issues of Making Gifts magazine.  Never heard of it before, but it does have lots of different stuff in it, cards, projects, recipes, etc.  At that price even one project will make them worth it.

Perhaps the coolest thing was some sticky-backed template material and some sheer patterned fabric.  I’ve bought the fabric in the past and never really made use of it.  But the template stuff looks like a lot of fun.

To be honest the site doesn’t do it justice.  There were some stunning cards using the whites that looked so pretty, and the strings of fairy lights with little shades would make any tween girl swoon.  The procedure is so simple and I have a load of ideas for this stuff already. This is their business card!  So cool.

Also top of my list was renewing my subscription to Craft Stamper – I did it last year at the show and I liked the idea of being able to pick your gift and take it away with you rather than waiting for it to come in the mail when you subscribe on the site.  You know you will get what you want and they won’t run out.  I was tempted by the chalk mists in the current issue and was doing the total happy dance when I saw they were one of the choices at the show.

The lovely Katy had some fab samples there using the inks, and I came away with lots of ideas (and Kate Crane’s DVDs – my big splurge but I so admire her style) so def. play time this week.  I have to say I really love matt stuff – bling and shimmer is all well and good, but sometimes you don’t want that effect.  I think I will like the chalk effect of these a lot.

So I didn’t go mad, resisted the temptation to get a load MORE stuff that I really don’t need when I have so much already, but did see many samples and demos, lots of techniques that I have done already but a few that were new to me, and was very inspired. And I do have my eye on a couple of lines for possible purchase thru the year.






Email – argh!

I am working on a layout but not quite ready to share yet.  Maybe later today.  But my FIL sent me a link to something that I am struggling with at the moment, and I bet you are too!

Here is the Email charter.  I certainly intend to adopt this.  If we all did think how much time we could free up!

10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral
1. Respect Recipients’ Time
This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender, the onus is on YOU to minimize the time your email will take to process. Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.

2. Short or Slow is not Rude
Let’s mutually agree to cut each other some slack. Given the email load we’re all facing, it’s OK if replies take a while coming and if they don’t give detailed responses to all your questions. No one wants to come over as brusque, so please don’t take it personally. We just want our lives back!

3. Celebrate Clarity
Start with a subject line that clearly labels the topic, and maybe includes a status category [Info], [Action], [Time Sens] [Low Priority]. Use crisp, muddle-free sentences. If the email has to be longer than five sentences, make sure the first provides the basic reason for writing. Avoid strange fonts and colors.

4. Quash Open-Ended Questions
It is asking a lot to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of turgid text followed by “Thoughts?”. Even well-intended-but-open questions like “How can I help?” may not be that helpful. Email generosity requires simplifying, easy-to-answer questions. “Can I help best by a) calling b) visiting or c) staying right out of it?!”

5. Slash Surplus cc’s
cc’s are like mating bunnies. For every recipient you add, you are dramatically multiplying total response time. Not to be done lightly! When there are multiple recipients, please don’t default to ‘Reply All’. Maybe you only need to cc a couple of people on the original thread. Or none.

6. Tighten the Thread
Some emails depend for their meaning on context. Which means it’s usually right to include the thread being responded to. But it’s rare that a thread should extend to more than 3 emails. Before sending, cut what’s not relevant. Or consider making a phone call instead.

7. Attack Attachments
Don’t use graphics files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments. Time is wasted trying to see if there’s something to open. Even worse is sending text as an attachment when it could have been included in the body of the email.

8. Give these Gifts: EOM NNTR
If your email message can be expressed in half a dozen words, just put it in the subject line, followed by EOM (= End of Message). This saves the recipient having to actually open the message. Ending a note with “No need to respond” or NNTR, is a wonderful act of generosity. Many acronyms confuse as much as help, but these two are golden and deserve wide adoption.

9. Cut Contentless Responses
You don’t need to reply to every email, especially not those that are themselves clear responses. An email saying “Thanks for your note. I’m in.” does not need you to reply “Great.” That just cost someone another 30 seconds.

10. Disconnect!
If we all agreed to spend less time doing email, we’d all get less email! Consider calendaring half-days at work where you can’t go online. Or a commitment to email-free weekends. Or an ‘auto-response’ that references this charter. And don’t forget to smell the roses.