28 December 2014

Project Life- looking ahead

I have a confession to make.
Project Life is becoming more of a chore for me. I don't know whether this is because we are rounding up the year or because I have been doing this project for two years now.

I am aware after two years that project life won't be a creative buzz every week. I know that it really does ebb and flow.
It's got me thinking though. Do I want to keep this project going?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is this:

I have nearly two years of my university life documented now. It feels right to continue documenting my third year of university in this way. Whether that means I stop at graduation I don't know. My gut instinct is that I want to make an album for all of 2015.

I take a huge number of photos. Like hundreds per month. I don't have a great deal of disposable income or wall space to print these and display them and it makes me sad to think that they will just sit on my hardrive. PL has ensured that two years worth of photos (the big events and the every day moments) get displayed in a physical format. I like that.

The big picture of this project is rad. Yesterday I sat down and started to plug all my finished layouts into blurb. When I see all of those layouts coming together to make up a year it is exciting. I am thankful I took the time to record that conversation, thankful that that photo of a cup of coffee is included.
There is no way that those things would ever be remembered if I hadn't made that page.

For now, PL is my creative outlet. I don't have time or space at uni to do paper craft or sew. I don't have to clear up PL on my computer, I can save when I want and I can craft on the go.

Where do I see this project going in 2015?

I toyed for a long time with going monthly on project life. After a lot of thought though I am going to keep to the weekly layouts. They tie in with the last two years and I am conscious that saving all my photos to the end of the month will just make for a very very long task.
I like that doing PL weekly ensures that the little moments have their place.

I am changing up template design again this year and going for three different options, all using the same sized squares.

I really love how my style has developed this year and plan on keeping it super simple using phrases, pretty paper and journalling.

Again, i'm setting a no pressure mentality. If there aren't enough photos for a double page spread, it's just going to be one page. I'm also not too worried about falling 'behind' with this project. Some weeks are busier than others and I plan to take it as it comes.

At the end of this year I started setting aside a morning a week to specifically work on PL. It has worked well so far and I plan on continuing that.

So let's chat. Are you doing project life this year? Are you starting for the first time? What craft's are you taking up or putting down?

24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours a joyful and peaceful Christmas. 
"For unto us a child is born, Unto us a son is given." Isaiah 9:6

22 December 2014

The Christmas club- Christmas in the Falklands

Christmas in our house is marked by familiarity. Certain things happen at certain points in advent.
Particular decorations always go up, we always have an advent candle on the table, the chocolates on the tree can't be eaten until christmas evening. etc.

There was one year though that stands out because everything was very different.
When I was eight we moved to the Falkland Islands for a year. I remember it as a huge adventure and Christmas was right at the centre of that.

Christmas that year happened in Summer. It was Falkland Island's summer so it wasn't particularly warm, however it did cause the chocolate snowmen to melt.

Christmas that year was spent in t-shirts with church friends rather than family, owing to how far away we were.

That was the christmas our two wild Falkland Island kittens decided to literally bathe in the Turkey fat and had to be washed over the sink that evening.

That was the Christmas of the dolls house. Looking back, I think Santa must have been very very organised that year to get presents shipped over in time. But he was and we were thankful. On Christmas morning we opened our stockings and then we were told there was one more present waiting in the conservatory.
There it was. A playmobil dolls house, all ready to be played with. Which Santa seemed to have had great fun setting up for us!

That was the Christmas where we headed to the military base to meet Santa and he sat in a khaki tent waiting to greet us.

Every Christmas of my childhood was magical, but the Christmas we spent on the other side of the world was something else...

I'm joining in (a day late!) with Sian's lovely meme, The Christmas Club. Do pop on over to her blog to indulge in the festive stories of bloggers around the world. I suggest heading there with a cup of tea and a big mince pie as I assure you you will be there awhile! 

18 December 2014

Around here- End of term

The end of first term always comes in a flurry of parties, events, carol services and work. I love looking back on those photos though because it documents what a fun and manic time it was.
This was what December at uni looked like for me:

Drinking plenty of tea and eating too much chocolate to aid dissertation writing and chatting over cake in one of our favourite coffee shops.

A secret santa evening with our extended friendship group. We have been doing this now for three years and it is always filled with so much fun and happiness as we watch each other open presents.

I received a lovely Gift from the sweet children at Creche and possibly the best ribbon I have come across. 
Lots of face timing with the boy. I'm so so grateful I can see him every day using my phone. Technology is amazing. 

Durham put on such a show in the last week of term. This was the sunset on my last evening there.
I was accompanied by santa on my four hour train journey home.

The comfort of getting home and curling up in front of the fire. December at its best.

What has the start of this month looked like for you?

14 December 2014

The Christmas Club- Choosing a tree

It's the same every year.
We get in the car, just me and him, making sure the back seats are down and there is room for the tree.

We talk about the trees we have bought in previous years.  The year we lived pretty close to London and the tree prices reflected it. The only way to get a slightly cheaper tree was for Dad to join the Gardeners Club. He was plagued with promotional letters for the rest of the year!

We arrive and jump out of the car, making our way to the Norwegian Spruces.

I'm the fussy one when it comes to trees. It has to be bushy enough, has to be around about the right height and fairly even all over.

We have a system Dad and me. I point at a tree, he lifts it out and we both admire it, chatting over the pros and cons.

This year we had gone through a few trees before the man who owned the place, pointed us towards a lovely specimen we had missed.
It was just the right shape to suit both of us and, I know this sounds silly but it looked Christmassy tree ish.

We hand it over to be wrapped it in that stringy stuff and we bundle it into the car with me trying to avoid the branches on the ride home.

Dad carries it into the house where the base is waiting and we umm and ahh as he screws it in and I try and work out if its straight or not.

For now our tree is waiting. Waiting till the middle brother gets home to help decorate with us.

It's a tradition choosing the tree. Just me and my Daddy.

Do you buy a tree each year?

I am joining in the lovely 'Christmas Club' meme with Sian. Do pop on over to read some other christmassy tales. 

9 December 2014

One photo & twenty words

After applying, praying, waiting, interviewing and more waiting, I found out I am doing my PGCE in Durham! Praise God!

Obviously there is a lot more to this story and I am excited to share it in the next week or so. For now, I am just relieved and full of gratitude to know where I will be heading next year. 

My challenge for you today. Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here. The link will stay open for a week so you have plenty of time to join in! 

7 December 2014

The Christmas club- Board games

As soon as I heard Sian was resurrecting the Christmas Club, my mind started mulling over the stories. There are so many to tell. Stories about our traditions, about the funny moments and stories about what we eat.

One of the first things that sprung to mind was "At Christmas we"...play board games.

If you know me at all, you will know that we are into board games. My middle brother takes his board gaming seriously. Most of his christmas list comprises board games and at the last count the cupboard was overflowing with around 92 of them! 
We play games throughout the year so to play games at Christmas goes without saying. 

Christmas afternoon have been characterised by games for as long as I can remember...

There was the time when my Granny (my mum's mum) paired up with my Grandad (My dad's dad) to play a hard fought game of Totopoly. Totopoly is the cousin of Monopoly and involves buying, training and racing horses. It often involves sacrificing a horse or two to let the rest of your stables have a chance. This was when my Granny gave forth one of her most famous lines. She turned to my Grandad and said, in sonourous tones into the silence,
 "Dennis....Kill him." Dramatic and amusing in equal measure!

Or there was the time when we played Charades and My Grandad came up with what he thought was a real corker of a film. It was only after 20 minutes fruitlessly guessing that he informed us his charade was "The ship that died of shame". A film that came out in the 1950's. Before most of the party were born.
Still, it has become a great charade in subsequent years. We weren't likely to forget it in a hurry!

There was the time we played Pictionary and one member of the party got very confused by what the letters on the board meant. Every second go she would ask"what does AP stand for?" to which everyone would shout "all play!" This was followed by her having to draw 'poverty' for us to guess on her next turn. Pictionary did not go well that year....

Or there was the time towards the end of the evening when we were playing 'stick up and shout'. Each player has around 6 letters of the alphabet in their hands and the question master has to present a category. For instance the category could be "countries in Africa" and if you had an "E" in your hand you could shout "Egypt."
On this occasion the question master asked for "garden implements" and my Grandad (who is a gardner) looked triumphant and shouted "Dagger" whilst waving a "D" in the air.
We were concerned.

And there is the time, every year when my Nana, swears outright that she has never played 'this game' before, despite the fact we have played it for the last ten years.
I think we'd all be quite disappointed if she remembered it now!

Christmas games always bring out the best stories! Thank you for allowing me to reminisce Sian!
Sian is running this Christmas meme for the next few weeks. Do stop by and read some other christmassy tales.

Do you enjoy playing games at Christmas?

3 December 2014

Speaking on the Paperclipping Roundtable

A few months back I had the great pleasure of being invited onto the paperclipping roundtable to talk about how I scrapbook uni. I obviously did something right because Noell and Izzy invited me back to chat about scrapping my social life.

I had such a blast recording the episode last night. It was pretty surreal to be guest panelist with Ali Edwards too. She was lovely by the way!

If you fancy stopping by and hearing me bleat away about project life this is the link!

1 December 2014

Project Life weeks 43 & 44

The weeks are merrily rolling by and I am playing catch up with this project. As is always the way with PL, weeks with lots of photos seem to come together really easily, although I do enjoy the challenge of making a page out of not a lot! 

Things I am loving this week: I found a lovely collection of new and free journaling cards to use on week forty three. I particularly loved that 'makers gonna make' wood veneer card. The sentiment was just perfect for the photos I wanted to use. I got the cards from this site. There are lots of wonderful freebies to choose from.

Techniques I have tried: I experimented a lot with opacity on week forty four. I really like how the 'you' turned out on the photo of the boy and me. I also experimented with using a smaller photo on a journalling card space. I did this with the photo of us having tea on the right hand spread of week forty four. I love how that turned our with the white matt on the flowery background.

Photos Documented:
Two weeks with quite a few photos. Week forty three documents the everyday stuff of that week which included a sewing bee with a sweet friend, gifts in the post and a birthday party. Week forty four basically documents two events. A day trip with the boy and a walk with friends. I love this about project life. The weeks can look so different but all those big moments and mundane things sit side by side.

Thoughts on the project:
I am really enjoying seeing my style develop this year. I think I have gone for a cleaner approach and I like it. I am ready to wrap this year up though. 2014 you have been great, but let's bring on the third project life album!

27 November 2014

Time for one last cup of tea

Hello, come on in, it's chilly outside isn't it?
Let me take your coat and we can get warm in my room surrounded by many many quilts.

I would take you up the many flights of stairs to my uni room, talking as we went. It is such a tradition sitting and having tea now, that there are no awkward pauses at all. We get going the moment we set foot through the door.

I would usher you into my room and I would offer you one of two chairs or the bed. All are comfy and all come with a quilt. You are welcome.
As you made yourself at home I would pour the first mug of tea and offer you cookies. It is the one thing I really miss about having my own place, not having that much space to bake any more.
Ah well, the christmas holidays are nearly upon us and the kitchen at home will be busy most days with baking, cooking and stewing!

Look at that, we are on to the Christmas talk already! What are your preparations. I am quite a purist when it comes to Christmas. Christmas starts for me on the 1st of December. I really want to pop the christmas music on but I am resisting till next week.
As you wrapped your hands around your mug I would ask you about christmas presents. Do you buy them or make them? Either way I love the hunt of finding that special gift. There is always one I am particularly proud of.

I would pass you the plate of cookies and you would ask me how term has been? I think I would ponder for a bit and tell you it has been so good in many ways. The workload has been manageable, I am enjoying being surrounded by my friends again. Being a third year is lovely. On the other hand, things feel more serious. I had some PGCE interviews this week and it was emotionally and intellectually exhausting. I am so excited for what next year may bring though. I think I am ready to start career things. Did you feel like that as you came to your last year at uni?

At this point, I'm sure the mugs would need refilling and the talk would naturally turn to craft things. As you know I completed Miss Maggie Rabbit and it was wonderful. I so enjoy having something to busy my hands with. I am planning on doing some more weaving when I get home and also have a few sewing projects in the works. I am hoping santa will be kind and send me some dress patterns I have been swooning over! What are you making at the moment?
Sitting on my shelf is my project life book, we would probably take it out and look at it together. My housemate comes in and often sits with it. I think it's a very tactile book. How are you doing with project life you ask? I'm behind, I would smile. Although, that is nothing new. I do it when I have a few minutes I would tell you. It's not a project I like to force myself to do. It should be fun, and when I'm busy, it isn't fun, so I'm giving it time.

Look at that, the cookies are dwindling! They are a Beach family favourite and always seem to disappear swiftly.

Looking at me intently you would ask about time for tea. I would say, with a catch in my voice, that it is sad to see it go. That I feel so privileged that people have stopped for tea with me each month, have shared their highs and their lows. I would tell you that it has reinforced to me how much we need to share with each other, how great our love of storytelling is. I would tell you that the official meme may end but time for tea won't. The kettle is always on in my house. I won't stop chatting about the everyday stuff and hope you won't either. This blog community is magic.

The time would come for you to leave. I have been dreading this. But it has to happen. The hug would be a long one. There may be tears. But like I said, come back soon. You are always welcome.

You would walk off down the cobble street and my hand would be raised in farewell.

If you were sitting down for tea with me today, what would you say?

This is the last month I will run time for tea. I am so so grateful for everyone who has joined in other the months, everyone who has shared, everyone who has laughed with me over a mug of 'brew'. It has been an absolute delight. This last time, do sit down and write a post. It doesn't need to be long, just chat to me over your favourite drink. And if you want to get all nostalgic like me, you can find all the previous time for tea posts under the link on the sidebar!

If you would like to write a "tea" post please add it to the linky at the bottom so we can all sit and share with you! The linky will be open for a week so you have plenty of time! 

21 November 2014

Creating Miss maggie rabbit

Once upon a time, a Little Rabbit lay in pieces on a wooden desk.
She had arms, legs, two ears, the makings of two shoes and the pieces of a pretty dress.

Night by night the maker sewed her together with little tiny blanket stitches. First the arms, then the legs.
One exciting evening she carefully stitched in two dark blue eyes, a little brown nose and some whiskers.

By the beginning of November she was starting to feel more solid. Stuffing was placed inside her, from her head to her toes. Her ears were sewn on and flopped prettily down her face.
Arms and legs were attached securely to the body.

The weather was getting colder now and she felt chilly hiding under the desk. The maker found some gorgeous material from the market and started sewing up the dress, cursing the fact that she had to do it by hand as she had no machine.

It was an exciting day when the dress was pulled on over her head. It matched her ears and made her eyes shine.

The last little thing for the maker to do was to sew up the boots. They were the makers favourite bit so she saved them till last. She laced them up and placed them on the rabbit's feet.

From the makers hands had come Maggie Rabbit.
It was a happy and hard day when the maker wrapped her up in tissue paper to hand to a birthday girl.
But that was where she was intended to go all along.
And the maker was pretty sure she would be very loved.

This was my second time making a Maggie Rabbit. The pattern is from Alicia Paulson and can be downloaded as a PDF. It is such a sweet pattern and super easy. It is all sewn by hand, except the dress which can be sewn by hand but will take you just five minutes on a machine!

She is an adorable little bunny. My friend S. was delighted with her. I wouldn't say it is a speedy project but I did a little every night in front of the telly and was so pleased with the result.

The pattern suggests using national non-wovens felt. I think this can be found on etsy but I didn't have the time to get it shipped from the states so I got mine from The Eternal Maker who delivered it super quickly. The pattern suggests the colour 'sandstone' but I used 'hay bale' and I think it looked just fine!

Have you ever had a go at making toys?

17 November 2014

Me on Monday

It was a lazing around halls, planning Christmas presents, charity shop hunting kind of a weekend.

It was a, lying in, essay writing, dissertation thinking weekend. A shopping for little gifts, getting too excited about cuddly toys, wrapping up a shoebox weekend. A planning, and thinking and hoping about PGCE's and next year and tests and work sort of weekend.

This week looks busy in the nicest way possible. A few visits from the boy, getting some more words down on paper, Christmas present shopping and sending that shoebox on its way. I love this time of year. The anticipation is so lovely. I am resisting the christmas music until December. It's a test of my self control....

If you are still curious about the shoebox, click here to find out more about the work of Operation Christmas Child. The idea is simple, fill a shoebox with stationary and toys and warm hats and gloves for a child who needs some love this Christmas. 

What does your week look like?

Thank you Sian, for inspiring me with your lovely meme.

12 November 2014

Tips for buying clothes second hand

I try and buy a lot of my clothes second hand.
Partly because I like that I can donate to charity, partly because I like the joy of the hunt. Partly because I am a poor student (we'll skip over that one shall we...)

I have learnt a few things in my time in charity shops.

1. Don't go in with a fixed agenda.
If I go looking for a second hand blue cardigan, chances are I will not find it. I have learnt you can't be specific when charity shop hunting. Part of the joy is going in with an open mind, which leads me to...

2. See the potential.
I am much more relaxed about sizing when I buy second hand. I figure if a dress is too long I could always hem it, if a shirt is too big I can tuck it into a pair of jeans. I also try to remember that these things have (on the whole) been worn before. My mum for instance bought a beautiful second hand cashmere cardigan several sizes too big. It had been shrunk in the wash so it fitted her perfectly despite what the label said!

3. Will I wear it?
I am often in danger of falling into this trap, particularly if the top/dress/shirt I want to buy is a nice brand. There is a perception with buying second hand that if it is a bargain it must be worth it. That isn't strictly true though. It will only be a bargain if you actually wear the item.
While you can't be as fussy as when you are going to a regular shop, I still try and look for things that fit with my wardrobe and fit with my 'style'.

4. Keep at it.
Charity shops change their stock reasonably frequently. I often find it goes in fazes. There will be weeks when I find nothing that takes my fancy and then suddenly a flurry of items will end up in my wardrobe. Persistence is key!

5. Be aware of location.
Nicer city/town, nicer charity shops. On the whole I have found this to be true. I went to a charity shop in oxford and found a lot of Boden and Jack Wills branded clothes. The downside of a nice location is that the prices are much higher. Work out what you are prepared to pay for something depending on where you are. In Durham the charity shops are a real mixed bag. I have found some gems in there but also found some horror stories! It pays to be a bit savvy.

6. Donate!
Charity shops can't function unless clothes are donated. I try and keep the cycle going by having a clear out every now and again and sending some of my clothes to the shops.

So, are you a charity shop hunter? Do you have any tips or stories of incredible bargains?

9 November 2014

One Photo & Twenty words

Trying to capture six jumps on self timer. Ten failed attempts later I resorted to photoshop to get everyone airborne!

My challenge for you today. Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here. The link will stay open for a week so you have plenty of time to join in! 

4 November 2014

Barter Books

We found the bookstore by accident. I had heard the name of it but thought it would be tricky to find. Little did we expect to step off the bus and see it right before our eyes. 
The shop is located in an old station. A green bench outside sets the scene and the smells from the station cafe hit the senses as we walked in. 

I have never been in a place like it. 
Second hand books as far as the eye could see. Arranged on shelves according to theme and interspersed with literary quotes. 
A roaring fire was in one corner and visitors were sat around it in cosy chairs, enjoying their books. 

The railway theme was everywhere. My favourite part was the little train that chugged along the top of the bookshelves. 
Children were pointing up to it, following it around as it made its journey across the store. 

It was packed with people the day we visited, and rightly so. I was brought up on second hand books and library trips. I love the idea of passing books on and giving money to local shops and charity. 

I could have spent hours in that lovely shop enjoying lunch by the fire. I could have also have spent a lot of money! 
Thankfully I had a castle to get to...and this handsome man to keep me in check!