Happy New Year and 2015 blogging review



It’s been a challenging year for me, with more challenges to come.  Top of my New Year’s resolutions has to be getting back on track with WOYWW. It’s just been so crazy I’ve not been able to ensure time to visit others, so I’ve opted out.  Not happy with that, and as DS is moving home temporarily, and DD entering her final bit of College and planning for her next step, and potentially a few more big changes afoot, not to mention health challenges for OUR parents, the struggle will continue. It’s up to me to figure out how to squeeze it in!

I thought I would share the report WordPress sends each year.


The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 350,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 15 days for that many people to see it.

LAST year I had 270,000 visits. It’s calendars and book folding, I’m sure.

Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016!


Emergency phone case and my blog 2014 in review

Happy New Year to all my followers, readers, casual drop-ins .. really, anyone who stumbles on this 1 January 2015 post.

It will be DS’s birthday on a couple of days and as he has been complaining about his phone for ages, DH sourced him a new one, a Cyanogen 1+


Amazingly good price, although an android one, not a Mac, and WAY big.  DS complains it is too big to fit in his pocket, but these days it seems big phablets (phone the size of a tablet) seem to be the norm.  OK, this one isn’t THAT big but it measures in at about 3 x 6 inches. He wanted a case of some kind to keep the screen safe when he drops it in his backpack, so I made him this one, quickly, this morning.  I showed him a huge range of fabrics from my stash and his comment? There are only two good fabric in the whole stack. That’ll teach me to ask for input from the colour deficient.


You can’t go wrong with black and white.

On the plus side, he liked his socks.  Shades of grey, you may recall.  They are a little big – he apparently has huge FEET but very aristocratic (slim) ankles.  I will be taking measurements before he can slip away.  He likes them and says they are warm, so there is that, at least.


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Is anyone but me even remotely interested?  Perhaps not….

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 260,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 11 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I checked back to last year and I had 30,000 more views this year.  I make that 82 more visits per day.  I am NOT surprised my best day in the year was both a WOYWW day AND a calendar download post.

Have a lovely weekend!  I’ll be spending the next few days with DS before he has to trundle off up to snowy Scotland, back to Uni.  Missing my crop, but there will be another next month and Ds won’t be back for AGES…..


Print Friendly or PDF button!

In the past I have blogged about ways to turn any blog post into a PDF using Readability.  This is great because YOU are the one in control – you need not depend on the blogger to make it happen.   But as a blogger I wanted to add something for my readers that was easy.  I found a useful plug-in for WordPress called PrintFriendly.  Even better, it is available for a number of platforms, so all you Blogger bloggers can use it too.


Just select the platform you use and follow the simple instructions.  Once you do, here is what it looks like on my WordPress blog:


If you click that button, you get the option to create a print-friendly page without all the clutter at the top, bottom and sides – that looks like this, for a recent post (and you can see the page here for comparison):


See at the top? you can print the page, you can tick REMOVE IMAGES to print just the text (which seems not useful for most things I do, but you never know…)


or create a PDF – and that offers you a fair few options that YOU control


I’ve not explored all the options, but will do someday when I have the time.

Now, this is clearly dependant on the blogger (i.e. ME, in this case) adding that button for you.  But if YOU are a blogger and want to make it easy for your readers to print and/or save a post as a PDF, you can add this button.  I know on WordPress there is a way you can add the button just on specific posts – so if I did a very long and detailed post, on a technique, or a tutorial for something like a mini-album, I could opt to add that button. People who wanted to could create a PDF or print the post easily, rather than me creating a PDF myself.  Not all posts are worthy of printing or PDFing LOL!   but for example, what about a crochet pattern?  Might be nice to have it as a PDF rather than a cluttered page print, yes?

I’ll probably point out the button in posts that I think people might like to convert or print, but it’ll be there on every post.



A different sort of blog hop

My blog friend Jemma (known on UKS as Jimjams) invited me to take part in a blog hop tour. It’s a little different to the usual blog hop, because the posts are a week apart and the hop spreads OUT as it goes.  My task was to answer a set of questions, then link to three fellow bloggers.  Jemma’s answers from last Monday are here.  You’ll find my linked bloggers at the end.

1. What am I working on?

I am always “working on” a multitude of things.  At the moment I have a lot in progress:

  • a crochet granny-square blanket


  • re-organizing my scrapbook albums
  • some Project Life printables still in the design process
  • a handmade journal for the A Documented Life project (yeah, I know, late to the party LOL!)
  • some new Gelli prints for an army of spike-eared toys

In the back of my mind is also a 2015 calendar, with a twist.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Humm.  If I had to pinpoint what makes my BLOG different, I guess it would be that I am never overly concerned with taking a stunning photo, nor am I overly concerned with showing a final project.  I may have an idea for a mini-book construction and make one that will sit and wait for the perfect reason to add photos and complete it, even if that is YEARS in the future. I did a video for this one, never really blogged fully about it, and it took me till the following year before I actually filled it.  But I DID fill it!


I am all about the process, I guess.  I don’t hide what I am working on till it’s 100% complete and then do a “big reveal.” I will get an idea, play with it, sharing along the way, both success and failure.  I say, often, that I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.  So if I have an idea and it turns out to be a rubbish idea, well, you’ll see it here, warts and all.  I also push things sometimes past their logical conclusion.  I may post for a week about a single project, pushing and pushing the idea till even I am sick of it.  I made many more of this display-stand card before I moved on!

I also refuse to rush out and buy a whole host of things if I have something to hand that will do the job.  I hate shopping, even craft shopping, and I hate waiting for mail-order.  So if I need something I am always going to try to figure out a way to use something I already have (like the make-your-own Baker’s twine post ages ago or more recently cutting doilies from unbleached coffee filters) or figure out a way to make my version (like the  tools for use on the Gelli plate) rather than shop online and delay the project till I get what I need.  By the time it arrives I’m probably already on to the next thing….

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I am fairly scattered-brained – originally I really only scrapbooked.  Now that the kids are older, and camera-shy, I just don’t have new photos very often.  I still scrapbook, mostly old photos, I just don’t tend to share the layouts.   I love making mini-albums, but everyone who could be a reasonable recipient already probably has more than they have room for.  So I make other sorts of things now.  Because I love to make things to share, I make a lot of downloadable PDFs for others, mostly calendars and Project Life things.  Again, it’s the process I enjoy, even if I don’t actually USE the end results myself.  I will happily spend a day or more creating a printable, add it for others to use, then go make a card or an ATC,  crochet or quilt,  print a pile of Gelli prints then play with a new book-binding technique, or do a random page in my art journal.  I just get in the mood to do something specific and I don’t really question it.  If I’m inspired in a certain way, I go with it.

Writing the blog is a method, really, for me to crystallize the steps of a project, in words and photos, so I don’t forget what I did. And a sidebar to that is sharing, cause if I think it’s cool, someone else might too, and might  like to give it a go.   Why I CREATE what I do is harder to answer. It always starts with a random thought.  I read A LOT, flip thru books and mags, and as soon as I get a spark of inspiration, or have an I wonder… moment, I test it out. Like the spike-eared toys last week


I saw a photo-only in a book that was meant to include cutable templates for the projects on a CD. I was frustrated the template wasn’t included, and spent an hour on the internet searching for a downloadable version. Then I had to figure out how to edit the PDF so I could make my OWN printable version with MY art on it.

If I am frustrated by something, I’ll try to solve the problem – like working in my art journal and being annoyed that Pan Pastels rub off unless you seal them.  And I hate spray fixative.  Figuring out that acrylic medium, brayered onto the Gelli plate in a thin layer, will seal them was a revelation.  And ended up creating a nifty technique. You will totally see what I mean about not caring if the photos are great, or showing a finished project in that post – although I did actually use the technique again later and did a better job.  See? Two actual finished pieces.

and that leads naturally on to 4. How does your writing/creating process work?

Random ideas, problem-solving, and extending an idea to (past) its natural conclusion is my process.  I get on a path and just keep going – like the whole calendar making thing.  I discovered so much about the form of a calendar,  I totally streamlined my process, which allows me to create a calendar for any year quickly and easily. I documented it here, so if I forget in a year when a new calendar is needed, I can go back and remind myself how I did it. That lets me concentrate on the fun part, the design.

Grungy and funky, great for adding to Gelli plate prints

Grungy and funky, great for adding to Gelli plate prints

I do try to consider how people who land here will want to find things, so I often go back and add to posts.  For example,  I saw recently that something I did about 2 years ago was all of a sudden getting a crazy number of hits (OK, crazy for ME – like 600 hits in the last few weeks) and questions in the comments.  I noted that, went back and re-did it, with more variations and samples, then linked to the new post from the old one so people landing on the OLD post would find the NEW expanded info.

Basically, I just like making stuff.

Now, on to my link-ups.  I only have two, both Karen’s (how funny) despite asking a number of people – sadly, with the school holidays this week many people just weren’t able to join in.  You can see their answers to the questions on 2nd June, so make sure you pop back to see what they have to say.

Karen (known as kazy1) is a long-time member of UKScrappers and creates layouts for  The Scrapbook Magazine.  She is also on the team at Scrapology, on online challenge blog.  She has guest-designed for Papermaze and Sarah’s Cards, both UKS sponsors.  Her layouts and cards never fail to inspire me, and she is often featured in the monthly BlogBits round-up of inspiring posts by UKS members. I love that she scraps in the American size 8.5 inches x 11 inches. Her style is detailed and pretty, with lovely embellishment clusters that support, rather than overwhelm, the photos. She is a thrifty crafter too, and makes the most of her supplies.  Her blog is worth bookmarking for those times when your scrapping mojo is on holiday – she does a lot of sketch challenges so you might find one that is new to you.

Karen (well known to all on UKScrappers as Scrapdolly and as the one who keeps the Teams and Houses running smoothly) is one of those rare scrappers who is equally at home making paper and digital layouts.   She is also on the team at Scrapology and is on the design teams for Charmed Cards and Crafts, for digital designer Dawn Inskip, and for Pickleberrypop . Her layouts always feature lovely photos, often of her husband and their hysterical cats.  Her style is hard to describe in a few words – possibly because it encompasses so much!  If I had to pick one thing..OK two things.. that I think of when I think of her, they would be her titles (paper and digi) and her deeply drop-shadowed 3D-effect digi-layouts.  I’ve seen so many unique design ideas when browsing her blog that the one thing I DO know is I’m going to be inspired by something when I visit.  And I’m going to be amused by her LOLcats and other non-scrapping images. Her thoughtful blog posts are often more about life and the story behind the layout, what prompted her to scrap THESE photos at THIS time.  She also has a section of digital/hybrid scrapping downloads and tutorials, so be sure to check that out!

Phew.  That was too much introspective hard-thinking, way more  than I usually do on a Sunday….do feel free to add your own answers, to one or more of the questions, in the comments.


BIG CARDS – 2 of Spades

Very nearly done now.  Of course I had to play with my drippy inks.  But this time I wanted to see how muted they would become on plain paper rather than glossy.

I dripped a couple of colours, Turquoise and clear Yellow, around and placed another sheet over to squash.

Because Spades are black, I had to add some of that.

and blotted again.

I dried it and dripped a bit more concentrated ink in spots and blotted with a DRY piece of cardstock, to keep the colour rich and dark.

I took a little texture stamp and added some + signs randomly around

Smudged on some Black Soot ink and then saw some letters, left on my desk from a layout and thought they were the perfect colour!


Although this one was pretty simple, I really like how it turned out.  The misty colours on matt cardstock look really interesting, not at all like the insanely bright colours on the glossy paper.  But they are still quite rich looking.  and I love that little stamp.  No idea where it is from – it isn’t very often I regret stripping away the packaging but every so often I actually care who made the thing.

I have a feeling I’ll try this again. And I am already thinking ahead to the ACE OF SPADES.  I really want to do something in PURE Black and White, have an idea, but can’t decide if it’s the best of the handful of ideas I have for the Ace.  and then, finally, back to red.  I do wonder if I will have enough ideas for a whole other series of red cards.  I must go back to my idea book and start identifying techniques I want to try.  Soon.


Having a little re-org on my blog

Well, slowly, slowly, I have been building my pages.  If you look to the top bar, under the banner, you can see there is a page for Free Printables, and one for my Stampotique projects.  A lot of work now, for potentially better access for my handful of readers, and easier for me to update the categories with new additions.  Managing the HTML code for the sidebars and the teeny tiny photos was a pain.  In particular, as I started working with the info, I found that many, many projects span a number of posts.  This way I can not only add a bigger image, so people can really SEE what they are downloading, but also link to more than one post that may have info.  I think that will be a real benefit.

Also, I was able to add a couple of printables that I had lingering on my Mac that I haven’t shared before, and one that I think I only ever shared on UKS.  So that’s good too.

I feel like I should do the same for my PDF downloads, if only because the way it is set up now, you click the project image and you get the download automatically.  People may prefer to see more about the project rather than download it then just trash it if they don’t like it.  I am as yet undecided.  Maybe I’ll do both.

Now I really must attack my room.  It’s in chaos.  And tonight we are putting up the tree.  I have a pot of chicken soup on the go, a new Glee from iTunes to watch with DD, and a crop to prepare for tomorrow!


Blog re-org

Hi all.

Those of you on UKS may have seen my post on Maddie and her infected toe.  Too, too yucky.  Poor little lamb has been home on the sofa for just about a week.  She is finally on an antibiotic, but it’s meant me, dead in the water, so far as any serious crafting goes.  I finally managed a quick set of gift tag printables and some Christmas printables links over the weekend, and a You Tube video for both the embossing techniques (glittery glue and chalk ink) but it’s nothing you won’t have seen here already. And the rest of it will have to wait till she’s up and about and not calling for me every 5 minutes.

But I have been looking at this blog and wondering if it is all just that little bit too cluttered.  I like the idea of having the thumbnails of the various projects in the sidebar, to make it easy for people to see and select ones to download (and I do get a ton of downloads every day, so in that sense it does seem to work) or linking to a post with more info.  But I thought I might make the time to add a page bar at the top, so the stuff would be on a dedicated page.  I think this would be easier for me to keep it up to date, adding new stuff to the page when I add it to the daily blog part, and limit the sidebar clutter a bit – maybe even utilizing the entire middle section for the post.

I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on that?  I know a lot of people visit without commenting, which I have no problem with, but I would love to hear from you if you like the info all there on the main page, even if it means the sidebar is a bit chaotic, or if a page link at the top that houses all the downloads (and is always bang up to date) is better, even if it means an additional click to reveal it.

Not the usual inspiration (or at least I hope inspirational) crafty post, but these housekeeping things are needed occasionally to keep the blog relevant and interesting.

So comment away if you have an opinion.  And wish DD a speedy recovery so I can get back too it.  I still have two layouts in mid-completion stage, my Daily Life mini still needing the inserts, and lots in my head, as well as a printable still in the creating stage, so I hope to get back to all that very soon.


500th post

I mentioned in my WOYWW post this week that I thought my 500th post should be epic.  This probably isn’t {grin} but I did think I might take the time to go back and mention a few posts that stick in my mind, for whatever reason.  That is partly because the thing I am working on, that I hoped I might share for my 500th post, is all over the desk and floor at the moment.  It’s only “epic” in the sense that it is turning into much more than I thought it would be.  I suspect not too may people will look at it and say Hey!  I’ll do that! because frankly I’m only maybe 1/3 of the way done and I am losing the will to live.  There are other versions of this type of project that will take far less time.  But I am stubborn – having had the idea I feel like I really need to see it thru to completion.  My goal is to finish it by next WOYWW but we’ll see.  I may hate it in the end, or feel it doesn’t do the job  as elegantly as some similar things.

Is that cryptic enough? LOL!

My first blog post on 16/10/2009 was just a bit before Scrapbook Inspirations ceased publication.  We knew it was coming but the formal announcement hadn’t been made.  I’m not sure I would have begun blogging had that not happened.  I liked the writing about my projects, and the sharing, and wanted someplace that was uniquely my own where I could share them in whatever format I chose.

The first real post was about a bit of software I used to create this layout with a mosaic of one of our Christmas ornaments using photos from my iPhoto gallery.

I still like it a lot and the post has links to the freebie software if you fancy giving it a go. Mine is a Mac version but there is a PC version linked too.

Seems at first I did smaller photos and added titles.  I gave that up pretty quick LOL!

My review of my blog littered with things I said I was going to do then didn’t for whatever reason. This photo has appeared more than once, I think, where I threatened to scrap it.  The layout is still awaiting my attention.  Maybe some day.  Maybe not, but I refuse to stress about it. I still miss that mouse, as I had to replace mine recently, went looking for the same brand and find they no longer make them.  Poo.

One happy result of having a blog is my sister reads it, and often emails or calls me after a post.  She had a lot to say about my use of what she calls “the creepy people” and what you and I know as the Stampotique range.  I still love them but my recent re-connection with all things scrappy has moved me away from cards so I don’t find the time for the challenges at the Designer’s blog so much anymore.  I really must go back to that as I found it quite fun, and….well, challenging LOL! This was one of my favourite projects using the stamps:

I did a YouTube slideshow of more of my favourite projects (and the music is loud so be warned)

This is a card that I made for one of the challenges, still one of my all time favourites, and in response to her comment about the fact I never use cute images.  Somehow, I now this wasn’t what she expected.  I find all the no-mouth “cute” stamps as creepy as she finds the Stampotique ones. We agree to  disagree on that.

My first WOYWW post, that I actually managed to post on a Wednesday, was in November of 2009.  I still do that and really enjoy looking at what everyone is working on each week – I like a lot less the fact that I seem to have to hop around from device to device, to comment.  And often I find my comments won’t post no matter what I do.  Annoying.

And on the subject of annoying, I occasionally get the odd comment that gets my back up.  The one in this post asking if I was perhaps inspired by another scrapper (who is one I admire – she does lovely work) sent me into a fit of dithering – should I delete it?  Should I comment?  In the end I did comment, because I knew that the commenter simply didn’t actually look at the dates of my post or video to see that I had posted more than a year before the person she seemed to be implying I had copied.  But if she did that, then others might too.  Better to comment and draw a line.

I did my first YouTube video about 6 months before I started blogging – and I say video, using the term very loosely, as I don’t have a video camera I like using so mine are more like slightly animated slide shows.  That prompted me to make accompanying PDFs for some of my projects, because slide shows don’t allow all the detail needed for a complicated project, unless you have screen after screen of explanatory text.  I did this for SI, so not sure if I ever actually had the video on here.  The original has something like 39,000 hits, but I think the redo, with a newer version of iMovie and at a higher resolution, is clearer

I struggled with sorting out how to use the WordPress-hosted blog format and sidebar widgets to be able to add little photos and links to my various projects.  Lordy that was a challenge and it may not be hugely elegant, but it seems to work.  Someday I’ll maybe move to a self-hosted blog and have more freedom to organize things how I want..

The first digital element  I shared, a Bingo card that I made for use on an SI layout, was alos in 2009.  I think it turned out OK, and I have used it many times, just changing the word at the top. I’ve done a lot more printable elements since then and I hope they are getting better and more usable the more practice I get. This post, on the virtues of hybrid scrapping, is one of my favourites and the layout made using my own printables is another favourite.

If there is ONE post that I am perhaps best known for, it would have to be the Faux Baker’s Twine post.  OMG.  That has been linked all over the place and I still get hits virtually every day on that post.   I remember, at the time, that I thought it was one of my more “throwaway” posts.  I was sitting at my desk, working on a layout, and I wanted some Baker’s twine to add thru a button.  I didn’t have any.  I was looking at some on a UK site (one where the twine was not cotton and had food starch added to it) and the idea for how to make my own just came to me.  Literally it was 20 minutes from idea to loading the video.  I have some real twine now, but I still make my own because I never seem to have JUST the right colour and it takes seconds to make a yard or two and costs me nothing.

So there you have it.  A handful of some of my favourite stuff over the last two years of blogging and 500 posts.  How long will I last?  I don’t know.  But as Bill Hicks said:

It’s just a ride.

and for now I am enjoying the ride.  If I stop enjoying it, it’ll be time to get off.

Have a great day!  (said in my perkiest  American accent) – I have crop pot luck cooking and packing still to do….


A New Look!

I’ve been playing around with my sidebar again, and the theme was clearly a bit flaky.  every time I think I have it sorted, and I look in my iPad the display is totally wonky.  Driving me a bit mad, it was.

So I went looking for a new theme that had the required elements – a two-column layout, custom header, and custom colours. Found one I like well enough, but typically there are issues. First, the header is a different size to the one I created for the past theme.  And I can’t seem to be able to change the link colours (the blue with the green I chose annoys me a bit) and the footer appearing in the sidebar STILL isn’t solved.  Grrr. I am giving up on this. I’ve said that before but now three themes and unless I don’t use the footer at all it just goes wonky on the Pad.

I grabbed the header from Shabby Blogs, and added a background colour as well as my blog name to it, got it to the right size for WordPress (all the headers there seem to be blogger/blogspot ones) and kept it very simple.  I hope it all works fine for you, if you’ve come to visit me!

Now, I need to test out a few last things, put some laundry in, and tidy up.  Then I hope to get on with something a bit crafty.


Still trying to sort my projects

OK, I had a few reports from people that my images were not showing up.  I think I’ve sorted that.  I was trying to be clever 🙂 I have a private blog for testing things out – that lets me make a change over there, see if it works as I expect it to, make any corrections, and then make the change on my real blog.  I adding lots of the images to that blog, then just linked to the images to display them here.  It works fine on my desktop, and was working OK on the iPad, but Wednesday I noticed the little blue ? instead of the images were displaying.  Also on the iPad the titles of the sections don’t appear over the sections, instead you see the two headers for the YouTube projects and the Stampotique projects together, then all the little images together, which is annoying.  If I re-order the widgets, it puts a bit of the footer into the sidebar.  Now I know why DH gets frustrated when programming, when you seem to be doing things right, expect a certain outcome, and yet it doesn’t do it right!

So I hope this has at least solved the problem of the images showing up for everyone.  If not, do comment and LMK.  And I’ll have to have DH have a look at the split display .

On a side note, I am still making those serendipity circles for my craftyness (see WOYWW 106) and will probably have a few more to share.