Why I’ve been AWOL…

Over the last few months I’ve broken my quite long post-a-day habit.  There have been a few reasons, most notably a long visit from my in-laws, but more recently it has been issues with my Mac.  It’s been noisy, the back-up disc has been struggling, I could HEAR it when it was trying to write to it, and in general there has been some research to do on much of the old equipment I have, to ensure if I upgrade my Mac to a new one there will be drivers available and it will all work.  The two pieces that concern me most are the HiTi photo printer (very old, discontinued, but still functioning perfectly) and the original baby Cricut running SCAL.  The plan had been to bring home another Mac from DHs office and see if these bits of equipment ran under the new OS.  At this point I have to take a little diversion and show you a shot of his desk.  He trained all the screens to the same page:


Those of you who commented in the past on my two screen set up?  How about 10? The point is that rather than upset the delicate balance we decided to hold off till the break at Christmas, where there would be more time to sort things out properly, without the pressure of needing it done NOW so I can work.  As an interim measure he removed the faulty disk, copied the time machine back up over to a new one, copied the active disk to a new one, made that the working disk and closed it all back up.  We’ll do a proper off-site back up tonight.  So here I am, working away, with it all seemingly good.  Fingers crossed it will carry on working till the replacement.  Had Apple extended the Black Friday deals to the UK, I might be the proud owner of a new Mac already, but that didn’t happen.

On thing I DID do, while the Mac was open and exposed, was grab the Hoover attachment with the soft brush and the lowest suction and cleaned it out on the inside.  Those with a delicate constitution should look away now:





You might recall I did this probably less than a year ago, and yet, check out the pile o’ dust


I realize something to give some perspective might have helped there but call it a coupe of tablespoons and you get the idea.  I never touched the attachment to the boards, just hovered over them, sucking the dust from an inch or so away.  What a difference it made.


Once again it is quieter and hopefully running better.  So I am also off and running again – and hopefully back to more regular posting!


doodling is DONE!

Well, it was hardly ZEN but it’s finally done!!

I am totally NOT the relaxed, “just doodle it and it will work out” person that I suspect you really need to be to embrace this art form.  I agonized over every area, hated some of them as soon as I put the pen to the pad-cover, second guessed myself continuously, and probably ended up more stressed rather than less at the end.  LOL!  The couple of things you need to know:

Sharpies ROCK! I tested out lots of pens, on the hidden hinge area, and found Sharpies work great.  Bic Mark it! markers work great (but they have a funny idea of what the term “Fine Point” means) and the Uni Super Ink markers work too but while they are lovely and rich black, they are a little glossy and leave very visible stroke marks.  I can live with that, but you may not be able to.

And here is a total surprise – Copics work great! I suspect Promarkers will too.  While you can’t blend very well on the cover material (although I didn’t try that, it seems a reasonable assumption, certainly on ORANGE) you can use all the colours of the rainbow to doodle if you want. Not very zendoodle either, but fun.

Another tip, also the opposite of Zen, for people who don’t equate messing up a small paper sample with messing up an iPad cover, is to get yourself a transparency sheet.  Lay it over the cover, and doodle in the area you want to fill.

This could actually be a handy tip for on-paper doodlers as well, if you are working on a large piece and wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t “perfect” (it didn’t help me make mine PERFECT, but it did help in some areas when I thought Oh wouldn’t that fill look great there? then tested it and thought YUK! Hate that!

And I really struggle to draw a smooth curve and neat ROUND circles.  Mine always look more oblong, and I am incapable of keeping things in a straight line or repeating anything exactly so I found the Crafter’s Workshop templates to be VERY handy for all those swoops.  Yes, yes – I KNOW that s not what it is all about, but really, it would have been total rubbish if I depended on my eye for spacing.

what else?  Ah, I found this site to be very helpful – they have LOADS of patterns to learn.

That’s it.  I think I want to get a white cover and have a go on that, maybe with Copics.  But I need a bit of a break from doodling for a bit….

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Using a Wordle Word cloud

These are Mac specific instructions, sorry PC folk.  A couple of my UKS ladies suggest CutePDF and PrimoPDF will do something similar on a PC so I am happy to be able to have that in here as well.

Here is what I did:

Go to the CREATE screen at

Type in your words to create your cloud.  I used some  words with an idea towards using the resulting cloud on a layout of a lonely photo I have of DH and the kids approaching a pub we stopped at for lunch on one of our days out.

Once you create the cloud you can use the options to change the colour, the font, the arrangement of the words, etc.  When you have to to how you want it, click FILE > PRINT

Now here’s the trick on a Mac you are given the option of not PRINTING, but saving the page as a PDF.  If you click this you can choose from a list.  I just Save As PDF.

This saves the web page as is as a PDF, but the key factor is that it is saved at 300 dpi, rather than the low quality 72dpi of an internet image.

I save it to my desktop so I can find it easily.

Open your PDF in Photoshop – I have PS7 (old) but it surely works similarly in PSE versions.

This is not going to be very good quality but you should get the idea – on the left is the PDF as it looks after saving, and on the right after you have selected the Wordle cloud and removed all the surrounding rubbish that you don’t need:

Using the Magic Wand, select ALL of the background – yours may be any colour, depending on your Wordle options but it should take no more than a click or two (magic wand selected, I use a tolerance of 30, then Select > Similar (to capture the middles of the letters) and delete the selection

Now you can mark and save the cloud – but see the size and resolution?

You can create a 12×12 page at 300 dpi and then drag in your Wordle, rotate, mirror, whatever, just as you would any image.  I print as Archival Matt (which is an option on my printer) to get a crisp and colour-true image, on white cardstock, in this case.

I made a super quick layout using the print.  Not my usual overloaded style, but I do like to change things up a bit every now and again.

I find myself enourmously annoyed by the fact that on the chipboard letters the stem of the P is crooked – it came out of the backing that way.  I’m not calling this done till I assess HOW annoying it is.  I haven’t stuck them down yet, which is why they look ever so slightly wonky in the photo.  If I look at it tomorrow and the P still irritates me I may change it for another, if I have one.  I am also not sure if there should be more proper journaling, maybe beside the photo (at least the date and where (if DH remembers cause I don’t!) the pub was.  But I wanted to give you a sense of what you can do with this.

Have fun!


Happy Fathers Day Card

I’ve mentioned couple of things before – firstly, that the family is in love with Words With Friends and that not too many days go by when some combination of us doesn’t have a game or two on the go; secondly, that  am NOT a master card maker.  what I think I am good at is tying the theme of the card with the person.  I don’t make generic cards in stacks – I make a card when I need it and I like to make the card match the person a best I can.  So it seemed natural for me to make a FDC for DH using Words With Friends for the design element.

I started off grabbing letters from online images and trying to print them and create the words I wanted but it looked frankly rubbish, even for me.  It was just too hard to get the letter tiles all the same size.  The easy route would have been to use my Scrabble tiles, but I don’t often tend to take the easy route (maybe that is why I don’t make too many cards as they take me longer than a scrapbook layout to produce!) so I instead created the letter (with superscript scoring number) pairs then worked out the size of the card based on how I could make legitimate words (and yes, EL and ED are both on the approved two-letter-word lists) and have it still make sense and look pleasing.  Luckily it all fit on a standard card size that I had from a GoGo kit – phew.  I printed the letters, punched the tiles, rounded all the corners, edged them with Spiced Marmalade (to mimic the yellow with orange shadowing of the game) and mounted them on pale blue-grey card.

It’s not going to win any prizes, but it is cute enough and DH totally got the connection as soon a he looked at it, so I say … RESULT! Inside  it says May you always get both the letters and the spaces to play themWe Love You!

Continuing on the Fathers Day theme (and Sunday Someplace Else will come tomorrow, if you are dropping by to see what link I posted, so come back then) I’d just like to be a bit proud of DH.  People ask “What does your DH do?” and I usually just say that he is an iPhone app developer.  True enough but I can never remember what apps he’s written, as he does them as a third-party programmer so it isn’t like his name is plastered all over them.  Someone says “Hey, I need an app to do this” and he then writes the code to make it work, and then disappears back behind the Mac.  Well, this app he wrote, called Melodala, has seen a bit of press recently in some of the London commuter papers and will be used in an exhibit at the Tate.  People will be able to create their own mandala on an iPad and it will be printed and displayed on the walls.  He’s done a presentation on using it as art therapy, and there may be other uses to come. The people who conceived the app mention him on the site, so I figure I can mention his involvement here.

Check it out – you can see a video demo on YouTube

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iPad cover Gallery

Well, some are better than others, there are minor design differences between them, and some failed experiments (maybe failed, not sure yet) but here is a selection of some of the iPad covers I’ve made:

Top is the first one I made.  I abandoned the more aesthetically pleasing strap around the short side for the more secure strap around the vulnerable side, as you can see. Some have pockets in the flaps, some don’t, but in the end what you could store in them was so limited I stopped making it a def. feature. Some have fabric straps with Velcro closures, some have elastic and are attached.  I really like the completed one made from old blue jeans although that one is a COVER only with no integrated stand. I like the pocket a lot.

DHs version has slightly looser elastic holders at the corners so he can insert the iPad while it is IN the “official Apple iPad cover” for that added security.  I also made him a strap that can be added for carrying, but that is the potential fail – without using it we don’t know how secure it is, and by using it, if it isn’t, we don’t know if her is putting his pad at risk!  You can see how the integrated stand works in the middle picture there.The angle is somewhat adjustable.

Now that is out of the way I can maybe ge back to some stamping and scrapping and crafting!


Cases, again

I spent quite a bit of time today working turning these:

into this, an iPad cover made from old blue jeans, for my DS:

It’s not quite done but now he tells me that it’s “too brightly coloured” – it’s JEANS for goodness sake!  Ah well.  Such is a Mom’s life. I thought the addition of the pocket was quite clever but now it will be destined for a friend in CA, perhaps, when DH goes out to WWDC (the big Apple convention) next month and I’ll have to start another one for DS – but this time he has to come with me and pick the material himself, because I clearly don’t know my son at all!!


Layout, DONE!

Yay! I finished the layout. I had to take a bit of time out for a couple of projects (one of which will be on the UKS Home Page on Monday in the mini-book slot – I am having to fill in some gaps as I haven’t gotten as many as I needed to cover the whole year and I don’t want to have to truncate the event too much so making the odd page myself isn’t a big deal, so long as I don’t leave it to the last minute LOL!) and have been pushing stuff around since yesterday, but I just found the time to stick it all down. I think it looks better IRL, as the greens don’t really show true in the photo. The frame was one I covered for another project I-can’t-tell-you-how-long-ago and never used, so happy to find a place for it. I haven’t looked at my box of Poetry Tags for a year or more, but the WANT one fit the bill nicely.

I quite like overloaded layouts occasionally, and look at it as a good way to use up the mountain of stash I seem to have accumulated.

I have a little visual joke on there too – the row of pearls, to mimic the decreasing battery on the seemingly always in use Pad. I may yet shift one or two things around, if I can pry them loose.

I am still a big fan of the pointing fingers.  This one is from Mesa Pointe Shaded (not a free one, but well worth the price! From, the family of three fonts is £17) and is just printed and cut out.

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iPad stand and cover combo – yes, AGAIN.

Well, now I’ve used it with a few things undone, and seen DH use his version, changed a few things here and there, I think the basic design is set. Other than a few issues with the sewing (the fact I had limited fabric, when something went wrong I had to adjust so the finish in some areas isn’t as nice as I would like) I’m pretty happy with it. I love the fabric.

The button closure is not attached – in order for it to be “right” it would have needed to be attached at an earlier stage. But I have been happy using it with the flap flopped over and NOT attached so I’m not going to stress over THAT but will consider other options.

The reason is that the flap is more of a pocket now.

Inside the pocket is a fabric covered bit of matboard with velcro edges that creates the stand. This is one area that I had to alter and am def. thinking of some alternatives – I have a few ideas that will streamline it a bit.

The stand bit slips out and is attached to the felt – it’s very adjustable so far as the angle of the screen

The cover bits can all be fairly well consolidated so the overall footprint is small – DH says this is important for use on the train LOL! So the footprint is not much bigger than laying the iPad flat on the table

Another change is I have more or less given up on the idea that the stand needs to work both ways, portrait and landscape. I still have a few ideas but to be honest the stability in a fabric case is always going to be an issue and you only have to look at how Apple’s official pad handles (or doesn’t handle) the dilemma to see that it’s not an easy problem to solve. I’ve seen so many “solutions”, none that really offer much flexibility for the portrait orientation.

The cheapest solution HAS to be the $.69 Office Depot business card holder:

and the most elegant the Twelve South book arc:

It says it has four positions, but not four positions in each orientation, so it could be that portrait, this is it.

Back to scrapping now!

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We are all hopelessly addicted to Words with Friends, a sort of Scrabble-like game that you can play on your iPhone or iPad. Quite funny, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, us all lounging around the house with our various games between each other on the go.

What is best about it is that you make your play and then you can carry on with the rest of your day – when you hear the little musical queue that your opponent has made their play you can grab the device, phone or pad,  and make YOUR play. You can take as long as you like,  then go back to whatever else you might be doing, like watching TV, doing the laundry, reading the paper, whatever.  You can pick an opponent or get a random game with an unknown opponent.

A great way to spend a rainy Bank-holiday weekend day since the planned clearing out of the garage was not really an option in the drizzle.


iPad cover, made with love

So we got iPads. And we got two of the “official Apple iPad covers”. Two problems – first, we need three of them and second they are not perfect for using the pad upright. They are marginally better landscape but in portrait they are def. a bit like Weebles except they do fall down (sing it with me now “Weebles wobble and they do fall down….”)

The first iteration was for me, because DS demanded that he get the second of the two covers as he uses his on the go more than I do at the moment. They are pretty utilitarian, if I’m honest, so it wasn’t too hard to say OK and set about making a pretty one.

It is a simple cover, with not really a lot of padding, so fairly thin. I may add a bit of felt to the inside at some point but as it is really meant to protect the screen when I put it in my handbag it works perfectly. Not sure how much protection it would be against a full-on drop from a height but I have no desire to test it to see.

The corner bits were tricky due to the positioning of the buttons on the sides – only the left side is clear of any ports or holes or cooling holes. The elastic works pretty well as it is easily shifted if it covers a bit of the screen I need to see.

So DH like that well enough (maybe not the chaos of roses, but the design) and after listening to him moan about needing a stand of some kind, I set about trying to sort his problem.

The second iteration is a bit more complex and still needs refining but works well, he says.

What he likes best is the tilt adjustment using velcro and felt.

There is an opening behind the base of the triangle formed by the pad-rest and the support flap that will house the little extra support so the pad can be used portrait orientation once I work out the angle and experiment with how best to make that adjustable as well.

I will def. refine this more and the act of making them, much like with my mini-albums, taught me a lot about better ways of construction and design.