31 January 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Lets pretend we are meeting in Durham. I would take you up the cobbled streets to my favourite coffee shop. The wind would push us through the door and we would be greeted by the smell of fresh cake and coffee. 

I would take you upstairs to the comfy sofas and the skylights. I would order tea and chocolate tiffin. We would sit smiling, sipping our drinks, munching on our cakes. 

If were were drinking tea together now this is probably what I would I tell you....

I would tell you that I am so happy to be back for my second term. That I feel settled and at home in this glorious little city. I would laugh as I told you stories about my friends, how we sit all crammed on a bed, gazing at the tiny laptop screen watching Miranda on catch up. 

I would ask you about your uni friends and about student housing. I would tell you that I feel so relieved to have found a house but also scared about having this grown up responsibility. That while it is exciting to be living out next year, I haven't got a clue about heating, bills, water tanks etc. 

I would tell you that I am craving spring days. That jumpers really have had their day. I would lament that in Durham it is unlikely that I will be out of the woolies by May! I would tell you that for the last few days we have had glimpses of spring. That I have been sitting at my desk with the window open and that crazy blustery wind making the papers on my desk flutter. That every now and again standing in the sun there is a bit of warmth. 

As I scraped the last crumbs off my plate and poured a second cup of tea I would tell you about the posts I am planning. How I am fitting writing them in breaks from essays. How blogging is the perfect outlet from academics. I would tell you that I am thankful for kind comments recently and understanding from blog friends. That I want to make my blog better and want to work on new content whilst find the balance with consistency. 

We would chat about scrapbooking. I would ask about your latest layout and the newest paper lines. I would tell you that I am still fascinated by a world I don't really see myself as that involved in anymore. I would chat to you about project life. How it shapes my week. How much I love putting words to photos again. 

We would drink the last dregs of tea and lean back in our chairs. I would tell you that I need to go to the library but the last time I went I forgot my card so had to walk straight back out again leaving my book abandoned. Awkward. 

I would smile and say that I really should be getting back to work but it had been so so nice chatting. I would tell you that I am trying to remember that this year doesn't count for anything. That coffee breaks are good. (For my soul not my wallet)

I would point to this and we would laugh. 

Yes. I think I would have lots to say to you. What would you want to tell me? 

30 January 2013

Around here- January Edition

This is what life has looked like in January. Walks in the winter sun, snow coming thick and fast, warm slippers and milk chilling on the windowsill. Beautiful bare trees and strong mugs of coffee.

My around here pictures are the orphaned photos left behind on memory cards. The pictures that didn't quite make it to the blog post or the album. They are imperfect, they are blurry. They capture now.

What imperfect photo would you share as a snapshot of your month?

P.S I am guest posting today with the lovely Sian at From High in the Sky! Do pop on by to say hello! 

29 January 2013

Project Life week 4

I know I am a day late. The weekend ran away with me!

Thank you so much for all your kind comments recently about finding a house and tackling project life. I so value your opinions.

Project life this week came together in a few hours. I tend to work on it in one go rather than dip in and out through the week. It has really made me take more pictures with my bigger camera as well as instagram.

For some reason I really like the look of my PL spread this week. I experimented more with using one of the spaces as a filler rather than cramming it all with writing and photos. The two pages don't necessarily join as last weeks did but I have found that using one or two kits makes them cohesive.

I really enjoy adding blog posts into my PL album so copied a lot of the text from my post about the house into the bottom two spaces. I wanted to experiment with putting writing around an object- harder on photoshop than on paper I can tell you! I like the effect though and will probably do it again.

I included a calendar to document the end of the month. For the first time I also used a quote paired with a simple instagram photo.

So safe to say that the boy features heavily on the second page! I'm cool with that. I loved this series of photos and wanted to document them. As a heads up I ran them through an action from the coffee shop blog which gives this soft sepia effect.

I also added in another homemade graphic, "the best". I have made a collection of ombre words and signs that will hopefully be available as another free download in the next month. Exciting!

A month in and I am still really enjoying this project. I still loving the possibilities of the digital elements and the ease of making a layout each week.

23 January 2013

The House

We signed for a house...
Did I just say that? I don't feel old enough to sign for a house.

Here in Durham we live in college accommodation in our first year, live in a student house for our second year and then get to choose in third year. 

I was either naive or optimistic that finding a house in Durham would be easy. I am going with the fact that I was optimistic! We knew there were a lot of students and a lot of houses. We were assured there were more houses than people, that we would know when it was right.

If I am honest all the above are true. There are enough houses to go around, please don't ever think I was destined to live in a cardboard box! What we hadn't counted on was how quickly everything moved.

A week ago we started looking. We hadn't counted on every other group in Durham looking too. We came out of one viewing to find two groups waiting to look around after us. We got to one house and found that the contract had already been given and the group were ready to sign.

It was such a strange environment to look around in. We tried searching online but the sites couldn't keep up to date with which houses had been taken. We went back to basics, wrapping up warm, donning the wellies and walking around the big student housing area. It felt like an adventure, walking along the streets looking for the signs in the windows, phoning the landlords and crossing our fingers that the house wasn't taken.

Sometimes it was hard, Sometimes it was disheartening and sometimes it was funny. We trusted that we would find a place to live, but sometimes holding onto that after ringing the tenth landlord is tough.

Towards the end of the week God threw a curve ball in our direction and our house situation changed. His plan was ultimately greater than ours had been.

Two hours after the change in plan we found a house. It was sweet and cosy with a nice lounge area and decent sized bedrooms. It was cheaper than any others we had found and best of all it was available!

I am still in awe of how quickly the situation spun around, how events moved, how we found a house we all liked and how God worked in it all.

Last night we put pen to paper and signed. Our house. For a year. Doesn't that sound grow up!

21 January 2013

Project Life- week 3

Oh hello again project life- doesn't the week move fast!

It really interested me the other day when reading Amy's blog to see the conversation around P.L and if to share pages etc. Give it a read- there are some great opinions. 

Here is where I am. I am committed to sharing my P.L each week. I know that for some, PL posts aren't the most interesting and do get tiresome. I totally get that because I found that a lot last year. BUT, to commit to posting each week, I am accountable to keeping this project up. I also know that now I have started PL, I really value the inspiration I get from seeing peeks at other peoples albums.

Another thing that was raised in the comments on Amy's blog was the fact that PL pages are often quite personal. When I started PL at the beginning of January I knew I wanted to blog about it therefore I made the decision that I would only scrapbook those things I would be happy to go on the blog anyway. Obviously there are names of places and people that I will blur for privacy but content wise I wanted my PL to be blog friendly. In any case I hope to make it into a coffee table book so don't really want all my hearts desires written across the pages!

Just to be clear- this doesn't detract from my commitment to being honest in P.L, if a day is hard, a day is hard, but the nitty gritty details of that will be left to my journal!

Thank you Amy for such an interesting conversation- I loved hearing where everyone was with the project!

So after all that waffle on with the pages....

I am still using the Seafoam and the Olive kits and love them. I like the fairly neutral colour scheme with the occasional strong pop of colour. I tried to make my two pages more connected this week. I placed a series of snow photos in all the 3x4 pockets and added journalling too. I also unified the snowy photos by running them all through an action on photoshop.

I'm not too fussed about including something from every day in my layouts. This week was predominantly snow filled so that is the focus! I kept it simple with design, including an instagram photo of our welcome back sign at the beginning of term!

I added another handmade graphic on this second page. House hunting this week was a learning curve and I wanted to reflect that in a simple sentiment. I also included a map and a verse that has helped us through this week. Lots of writing this week but I wanted to record the ups and downs of looking for somewhere to live next year!

Thanks for stopping by!

19 January 2013

Life Right Now- according to Instagram

Hello from a very snowy and cold Durham! Hoping the weekend finds you safe and warm.

I feel like over the last year instagram had a huge following and then a load of stick. I still stand where I was when I first started using it. It's fun, it's quick, it's easy and I record the everyday moments I would have missed otherwise.

I think there is a whole load of politics that comes with instagram but I will say this now. I use the app because I enjoy it. Full stop. And for that reason I love sharing my pictures on here every month.

I appreciate that a few of you follow me on instagram so apologies for those who have seen these before!

Top row left to right: Receiving beautiful christmas presents in the post from blog friends. Cooking with my favourite person and reflecting after a lovely family christmas.

Middle row: Enjoying watching the traditional boxing day hunt. Theo cat totally worn out with the festivities! Making some new plans for quilting.

Bottom row: I got a new stamp set for christmas so I have spent a bit of time playing around with ink and paper. Enjoying new year with the boy.

Top row: stock piling jumpers for the cold North. Wearing my new christmas coat on a very wet walk in the woods. Mum found the Waitrose coffee shop- she was in heaven!

Middle row: I had a go at metal stamping which was scary and fun in equal measure. I visited a uni friend for a night before heading back to Durham. The view out of the train window as the sun set.

Bottom row: Enjoying our church weekend away with these crazy ladies. The snow came thick and fast in Durham. Curling up in a bedroom to watch miranda on iplayer.

As always if you wish to follow me my username is abibeach.

Thanks for stopping by.

16 January 2013

DIY Project life card.

I have seen cards like this used in PL around the web and wanted to have a go at creating one myself. They are super easy and the best thing is you can adapt them for whatever you want. This tutorial uses photoshop elements which can be downloaded for free for a 30 day trial. 

Find a simple kraft background from the web and crop to 3x4 inches. 

Click on the circle tool in that left hand tool bar. Make sure your colour is white. Hold shift and then click and drag to make the circle. Holding shift makes it a perfect circle. You can thank me later! Move the circle to where you would like. 

If you look over to the right of the screen you should see the layers box. The kraft background should come up as one layer and the circle as another layer. Right click on the circle layer and click "simplify layer."

Go back over to the left hand side of the screen and click on the text button. Type your sentiment onto the circle. You can make it smaller or bigger depending on your circle size. A nice flowing font works best for this.

You need to do exactly the same as you did before and simplify this text layer. Then go back to your left hand tool bar and click that magic wand button. This is a really helpful tool that lets you select large portions of a photo. Zoom into your image like I did and carefully click inside one of the letters. That letter should now be selected with "marching ants" around it.

Here comes the magic. Make sure you are on the shape layer (look to the right hand layer box) and then select the eraser. Start rubbing out. You won't actually see anything being rubbed out but trust me it is!

Next, go back to the layer box and click on the text layer. Rub inside the marching ants again and voila the kraft will show through! You don't need to be careful with the eraser because the marching ants will prevent you from rubbing out anything outside of the letter you have selected.

Repeat this sequence of magic wand selecting and then rubbing out on all the letters. If the font is joined up like mine was, when I selected the "e" with the magic wand, it selected the rest of the letters too! So easy!

When you are happy with your design go to the top toolbar and click "layer" and then "flatten image".

Enjoy playing around with your new designs!

This post is part of my 20 for 20 project. 

15 January 2013

Simply a moment

I fall through the door of the library, my full bag swinging, the cold wind propelling me inside to the warmth.
I am grateful for the walk up the hill. I like the time to think and plan. I feel I can work better away from my desk and the distractions of my room. 

I like this library. It is in the school of education and feels far less intimidating than the main university library. They haven't yet done away with the self scanning machines and you can still take your book to be stamped at the desk. 

I wend my way through the silence and the shelves. I have a list of books and numbers, scribbled hastily on the back of an envelope in my hand.  I am searching for the right aisle and eventually I find it. 

I pull the heavy book out and inwardly groan at how many pages this is going to be to read and note. I turn to the table  nearest me and pull up a chair. 

Time passes, the room is warm. The ink pens skits across the page, words glistening as they are formed. I look up out of the tall windows and see that the sleet that I walked to the library in, has turned to fat flakes of snow. 

I allow myself a few minutes to sit and stare at the grey sky as the snow gets heavier and then I turn back to my reading. 

Another half hour goes past and I untwist my cramped legs. I am getting bored now and look up again. The snow is still falling but now it is just a mass of white. I reflect that I have neither a scarf or wellies with me. I decide I better head off soon before I slide down the hill rather than walk. 

The same draft that pushed me into the library hits my face as I open the door. Flakes fall into my eyes and my shoes crunch on the settled snow. 

The world is white. And I set off back down the hill on what feels like a very different path. 

Today I am joining in with Alexa's lovely meme, "Simply a Moment". Do stop by her blog and join in. 

14 January 2013

Project Life week 2

Hello! It seems like a long time since I posted and I apologise for that! I headed back to university last Tuesday and then went on a church retreat. A wonderful time but not so much chance to blog! I am excited to be back and begin blogging again at Durham. I have a few things planned for this week including a photoshop tutorial. But for now, project life. 

Second week into this project and I was so excited. I am still taking most of my elements from the seafoam kit and the olive kit. Both in digital editions. This week I mostly had instagram shots. I have decided to not be too fussed over the ratio of camera to phone photos. For me, P.L is documenting the everyday and that, more often than not, happens to be on my mobile.

These pages came together easily because there was a lot I wanted to say this week. I like that the combination of the Walden filter on the instagram photos and the pale colours of the olive kit make these pages very soft.

My first page documents the emotions I felt coming back to uni. Again I used one of my own stamped sentiments. This time I overlayed it with the photo of my suitcase. It was important to me to recognise that coming back was hard, in part after having such a good holiday. I want P.L to be real so recording the emotion is key for me.

I used two of my own graphics on this page. Both of the Kraft cards I created on photoshop. Stop by  on Wednesday for a quick photoshop tutorial.

The second page was so much fun to make. I really wanted to make the picture from platform nine and three quarters big but couldn't work out how to do it! After a while of muttering, playing around and frustration I got it, and thankfully love the effect!

I also played around with using a small photo on a journalling card. The journalling here documents the train journey back to Durham with my friend, the fun we had together and then the joy of being reunited at our Church weekend away.

As before I am using just two fonts for the whole album, a handwritten font and Arial in capitals.

Last week I posted about printing out my layouts. After some kind comments from blogging friends I realised that this actually wasn't financially sensible so instead, I am going to create them into a blurb book at the end of the year. I am so excited for a years worth of layouts to be bound up in a hardback 12x12 book!

I am loving Project Life.

7 January 2013

Project Life- Week 1

I don't really know how to start this because I was pretty set at the end of 2012 that I couldn't do Project Life. 
I was pretty irritated about it to be honest because, for the first time in months, I was excited about scrapbooking. I have been following quite a few bloggers who have enjoyed project life and I knew it was something I would enjoy too. 

The big thing holding me back at the end of last year was cost. After adding up a core kit, album, page protectors etc, the cost was really mounting and on my budget wasn't feasible. I also had no way of printing photos at uni on a weekly basis. 

So reluctantly I shelved that idea and thought that perhaps, sometime in the future when I am settled, I will be able to do P.L. 

Fast forward to a week or so ago and I was playing with photoshop elements. I often download elements for free from various digital sites and it struck me that maybe there was a way to do P.L digitally. 

On a whim I typed " digital Project life" into google. 
Everything I needed. Template, core kit- from one of my favourite bloggers, Elise Blaha- and photos on my computer. 
And the price? £10 for the whole lot.

Now, a few years ago I was very skeptical of digital scrapbooking. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to give up glue and paper. I talked more about it here. 
Now, I totally get it. 

I am so excited to share my week 1 pages. 
I used elements of the Seafoam kit, the Olive kit and my own graphics. 

I wanted to keep digital P.L as close to how I would do it in paper. Therefore I combined my own handwriting in certain parts and chose just two fonts to use in the whole album. Arial in capitals and then this lovely, free, handwritten font called PR8 Charade. 

The first page focuses on my one little word for 2013, the thoughts around that and the decision to start project life. I didn't really follow any pattern, just popped photos and writing where I thought they looked best. My goal with P.L is to focus on the story. Plain and simple. 

The second page was based around my previous blog post and contains more photos from the shoot the boy and I did at New Year. There is also some journalling with instagram photos from the week. 

My title page was so fun to make. I combined a lot of my favourite elements and photos to try and get a visual picture of where this project is going. 

How I think P.L is going to practically pan out: 
The advantage of going digital is that I can have photoshop up on my computer, and load photos into it as and when. Therefore I see the page taking shape over the course of the week. 

I aim to post each Monday with my two page spread.

I am planning, at the end of each month, to send my completed pages off to be printed and then slipping the prints into a 12x12 album. I really want a tangible album to flick through. This really does though depend on cost but hopefully by doing a few each month it won't be too high! 

I am so excited for this project. A project I never thought I had the time to do or afford. 

Scrapbooking-I'm coming back!  

6 January 2013

Storytelling Sunday- Precious moments

This photo is precious to me. 
It wasn't taken in a fancy studio with great lighting and perfect clothes. It was taken in a field. 
It wasn't taken by a professional but by the boys brother. 
But you know what? It is more precious because of these things. 

I begged the boy for a photo shoot and he grudgingly complied. Because he knew what it meant. He knew I needed to capture the first day of the new year with him. 

We took the photos in the boys favourite place in the world. We ran up the field to capture the sun as it sunk behind the hill. We laughed with his brother as we posed and our hands went numb. His brother took such wonderful pictures that afternoon. He really is a very talented photographer. 

There is a lot of meaning in this photo for me.  The boy and I are standing together in the midst of uni life, no longer teenagers but not really feeling grown up. 
A captured moment at the cusp of the old year and the start of the new. 
A moment where we took photos as family and laughed as we did it. 
A moment which the boy obliged me in doing. 
A moment captured. 
Us, A&T. 
As we are in January 2013.
Just being.  

The moment captured in this photo is oh so precious to me.

This post is part of the lovely Sian's Storytelling Sunday. This year we are focusing on things that are precious to us. 

4 January 2013


At the moment I am listening to Miranda Hart's new book read by the author. It is making me laugh out loud and is nice to put on in the background while I craft or blog hop around.
In terms of music I have just found Scala and Kolacny brothers. Their cover of perfect day is particularly beautiful and was featured on the Downton advert for series 3. Who wouldn't want to listen after that accolade!

R.F Delderfield, To serve them all my days. I have read this book a few times before- hence the dog eared nature of my copy. It is a story of a first world war soldier who is invalided back to Britain and winds up working in a public school. A beautiful story with a real heart, which I am particularly enjoying now I am studying Public Schools as part of my degree course.

I seem to continually show beautiful folds of material on the blog but very rarely show what I have made with them. This is, unfortunately, another case in point. I hope to make this into a triangle quilt or possibly use the blue material to make a skirt.

Slippers. It is January, my feet are cold, my slippers are warm. (This is why I would be rubbish at writing a fashion blog! Please don't expect edgy fashion from here each month- slippers and jumpers are your lot.)

3 January 2013

What to expect from the blog in 2013

I love New Year.
It is such a good excuse to shake things up, have a tidy and start fresh.
This applies to blogging and I love any excuse to look at how I blog and how I can make it better.

So I thought it would be fun to share what sort of posts will be kicking around in 2013...
(And you can get a little insight into how I plan my posts!)

Regular monthly posts: 

What will be staying: 
-Life right now according to instagram.
I find this mid month round up so useful. It is a great way to reflect on those everyday moments and is a way of staying accountable to taking photos with my phone.

-Around here. (end of month photo roundup)
 I always feel strangely sorry for those photos that never make it to the blog posts or are left wandering around a nearly empty memory card. They get popped on this end of month post and have a little lease of life! They sum up my month better than words.

-Storytelling Sunday.
I have enjoyed two years of Storytelling Sunday with Sian and am counting on her continuing it into 2013 because I have a few more stories up my sleeves.

-Simply a moment.
I found this beautiful meme from Alexa only a few months ago. It sucked me in and I am already struck by the beautiful moments that blog friends post. It helps me reflect and seems a fitting project for my one little word.

What will be going:
-"Oh hello..." monthly goals.
These were great fun last year but I have to admit that towards the end of the year I was struggling to come up with new goals that were at least attainable. Time for a change I think!

-Operation Speak Out. I am undecided on this. In the beginning there was a lot of enthusiasm for a day of commenting each month. This started to dwindle and I too lost enthusiasm. I am toying with the idea of doing it once a quarter or twice a year? What do you think?

The new kids on the block: 
- Playlist
Now that the monthly goals are scrapped I wanted something to kick off the month and decided on a monthly "playlist". This will be a quick list of what I am listening to, reading, planning and wearing. If there is enough interest I may include a linky for you guys to join in too.

-Let's sit and have a cup of tea.
Now this isn't really new because I started this type of reflective post back here. I really liked the format and I liked that I shared a bit of what was on my mind and heart. I want to continue this into the new year.

So in short you can expect six regular posts a month. (This is pretty much what happens now, give or take, and I find this balance works well for me. I have to have some continuity and regularity to keep me happy!)

Other posts:
Obviously these cannot be planned in the same way as the regular ones but these are topics and themes I am excited to write about in 2013:

- 20 for 20 projects- My possibly ambitious idea to create 20 tutorials by my 21st.
- Stories behind the photos
-Uni life
-Inspiration and craft ideas
-Keeping it real- Life isn't perfect. I don't want the blog to look like everything is. Keeping it real friends. This is important to me.
-Photoshop DIY's- I love photoshop and am excited to share some of my basic knowledge with you.
-The boy
- free downloads- I made my first one and loved the process. Hopefully more to come in 2013.

This is by no means a definitive list! I generally blog about what I enjoy and what I think you guys may be interested in and enjoy.

I have also really enjoyed a spot of blog hopping this past year and am excited for the possibility of that coming up in 2013.

So a busy blog schedule but one I am really looking forward to.

In accordance with my one little word for this year, I am trying to make a deliberate effort to be more present. Therefore I hope you understand that there will be times when I am snowed down with work or need to focus on the "real world" outside of the blog. I have decided to make my six regular posts my priority and unless something serious happens these will be posted every month. I really aim to post more often than this and hopefully that will happen, but, I need to be clear that blogging may slow down when life speeds up!