28 January 2015

London Town

He had a weekend off so we went (reasonably) spontaneous and decided to have a mini break in the city. It was the best decision.

I love London. I love how much there is to see for free.

I love the buzz of the city, the varied choices of places to eat, the old buildings mixed in with the new.

We started off with trafalgar square and the National Portrait Gallery. They had a fab contemporary photography exhibition on. There were so many inspiring photos and so much inspiration to be found.

We then headed towards Liberty. Believe it or not, I have never been there, but it was a treat to be sure.  I spent a happy time stroking the fabric in the haberdashery section and realising I couldn't afford any of it!

In the afternoon we took a trip to Lambeth to see the First World War galleries at the Imperial war museum. There was just so much to see, so much to take in and a lot of emotion to contend with. It is well worth a visit.

I always forget that walking around London is a bit of a workout! I think I got more exercise in one weekend than I have all term.

The next day we headed up to Islington and explored the beautiful shops in that area. Sitting in a cafe munching on croissant and coffee, I decided that this wasn't a bad way to do life. Just a shame the work has to come in somewhere!

Getting away for a weekend was so refreshing. London town, you are pretty lovely.

When I am next in the city I am keen to meet up with a few of you who live there! I would love your inside knowledge about where to eat, visit and explore and of course, a catch up face to face wouldn't go amiss! 

23 January 2015

A tale of one city and two people

I have been gearing up for this post for a while. The end of last year was a bit of a whirlwind and I wanted to put into words properly what it was like. But this is my story and it is the boys too and I wanted to do it justice. 

This is really the second post of a two part story. Part one can be found here.
I'm pretty sure that there will be a part three too, and in time maybe a four and five.

You see, this is the second part of the story the boy and I are weaving as we negotiate what it is to fall in love, then move to different cities and then work out what will happen next.

I left part one with an expectation that long distance for us is a season. Not one we necessarily choose but one we choose to meet with grace.

Well, we entered my third year of university and his first year of work. We had both been talking about applying for teacher training courses and were dipping our toes in the application process when I left for Durham in October. At that stage we had thrown out the hope that we would end up in the same place to train.

The process for teacher training is long winded. You can choose up to three places to apply for then there is an online application and then interviews. Coupled with this were the 'windows' in which a reply could be made. For instance if one of us was offered a place we had just ten days to respond with either yes or no.

We therefore got to November with a lot of questions. For me there were a lot of 'what ifs.' What if the boy gets into Durham and I don't? What if I have to reply to a university before he has found out if he is accepted there? What if this crazy plan of trying to end up in the same place, falls through?
While I sat to puzzling over unanswered and unanswerable questions, the boy set to calming me down.

In many ways, after much talking, I started to feel a certain sense of peace about the process. If we ended up in the same place, it would be a joy. If we didn't, nothing would change from our current situation.

At the end of November the boy found out he had an interview at Durham and shortly after that they would be offering him a place. We were over the moon.
At the end of November I was a stage behind in the process and was not so patiently waiting for responses. I am not patient at all. This stage was hard.
I finally got offered an interview and it too was hard. Much harder than I expected and I came out despondent.

Again there was a period of waiting. All the while the clock was ticking on the boys application. He had ten days to respond to Durham not knowing whether I had got in or not but knowing both of us had got into our second choice.
Thankfully he has more patience than me and he waited. He waited on his application and he waited for me.

It was a Friday that I found out. I had been checking my emails all week and after no news was feeling flat.
That afternoon I walked up the hill overlooking the city. The sun was setting and there was a bite in the air.
I sat on that hill and just prayed.

That evening I checked my emails one last time. There it was. An offer. Nothing dramatic. Just an email.

But that email changed everything. That email set a date I could count down to. That email meant that after four years the boy and I would be in the same city. That email meant I could stay in my favourite city. That email meant I could train to be a teacher.

I phoned him as soon as I found out. He knew as soon as he picked up the phone. The boy is not overly demonstrative but on this occasion he had to leave the building he was in so he could yell with joy.

Our part one is, God willing, coming to an end. I entered 2015 knowing that huge change was coming but never feeling happier about it. Our part two marks the transition. I'm fairly certain part three will be challenging and funny and wonderful and hard as we negotiate 'close distance' again.

19 January 2015

Project Life finished album 2014

It's here. The best happy mail there is. A year in book form.
Holding so many photos and stories and memories in my hands is magical and really doesn't get old.

When my book arrived I took an hour out and sat on my bed and just read it cover to cover. There are some pages that make me laugh, there are pages that are sweet and there are stories that make me cry.

The book starts with a simple sentiment.

I then wrote a brief blurb about my year of memory keeping before launching into the weekly pages.

I love that on each page there is a lot to see. This is partly because the pages are so big. It really does feel like a coffee table book.

I pondered for a while about what to do with the covers this year. There were plenty of photos I wanted to include so the most sensible option was to do a grid. It is totally over the top but wonderful at the same time!

Just like last year I ordered my book through blurb. I think they are a great company, the delivery was speedy for such a large book and they offer a book making program that you download to your computer. This made creating my PL book so quick and easy as I could plug in my pages when I had five minutes to spare.

I used a page template that blurb offer. It is essentially one big photo with a white border. I then just uploaded my pages as jpegs and popped in one per page.
From experience, blurb books don't lie flat, hence why I like the white boarder. It means that nothing gets lost down the 'gutter' of the spine.

This book is big. I went for a 12x12 hardcover. I think any smaller would make the text inside very hard to read.
As some weeks I only did a single page, the book is slightly smaller than last years by about twenty pages. It still feels substantial though!

Last year I had a slight qualm about the colours of some of the photos in my book but either my computer is more accurate or blurb have upped their game because the colours are just gorgeous this year. Very true to life/sceen and the picture quality is fab.

Project life as a craft is very cheap for me as I rarely buy new supplies and I don't print anything throughout the year. When buying my book I tend to therefore pay a bit more to have nicer quality. I chose the matt lustre pages this year and they feel lovely and thick.

I can't begin to describe what it feels like to have two years documented in this form. When project life feels heavy, I come back to the books to remind myself why I do it.

Memory keeping. It's just the best.

17 January 2015

On embroidery and making time for craft

This January I have taken up embroidery.
To most of my friends if I say this, I have officially confirmed that I am old before my time. I am ok with this.
Because, the embroidery I am working on is actually pretty rad. This is the Daisy Chain ABC's sampler from Alicia Paulson, the same creator of Miss Maggie Rabbit. 

Each letter uses a different combination of stitches and typography. I love fonts and I love sewing so its win win over here. I am only on letter 'F' at the moment but I like the slow pace and careful stitching of a project like this.

At the end of last year I was pretty worn out from a long term. As I approached the start of term two I got to thinking about how I can take better care of myself at uni.
Part of that is making time to be creative, turning off the screen and the academics and focusing on something whose only purpose is to be beautiful.

We have only been back a week but I am pleased I decided to take up this simple and pretty craft through the winter days.
Sitting in front of the tv isn't a substitute to keeping my hands busy. Making is part of my make-up and setting aside time each day to do it is making this January fly by!

Interestingly once I had shown my friends what I was working on, they were far more interested. Here's to making embroidery cool again. I may just start a revolution....just saying. 

13 January 2015

Project Life week one

I love starting this project afresh every year. I think it's that chance to play with some new products, change up design and begin at the beginning. 

I am still keen to share my pages here but thought this year I would simply share my thought process about the page...

For the first page I started with that big photo of the boy and me. I love spreading a photo across several pockets. I like that it gives impact.
Spreading it out meant that I had some areas of the photo that were nice and blurred so worked well for that "adore this" tag and the journalling.

I then added the two journalling spots detailing the story. Next I found a photo each of the boy and me, converted them to black and white, to bring the two together and popped them in as they were.

The joy of this many pocket layout is that there were two spaces left to fill with pretty papers. I chose two yellow toned papers to bring the page together.

For the second page I used the slightly larger square pocket page.
I started with the three photos of the boy and me. They were all taken on the same spot so I popped them in a line to emphasise it and added journalling and tags to each.

I then moved onto that large photo of me. Again it worked by stretching it across two pockets as it is a portrait photo. That gave me lots of room at the top to add the date and a few embellishments.

The final bits to add in were the journalling and the week card. Again I filled in space with some pretty papers and some sentiments attached to them.

I am buzzing for this new layout design. I love the uniformity of same size pockets on each page! Here's to week two!

9 January 2015

one photo & twenty words

Pretty buttons bought for me by my mummy. They brightened up a new cardigan. The little things make my day.

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 January 2015

Weekly markers in project life. Four ways to use them and a freebie

Last year I decided that I needed a better way to keep track of the weeks in my project life album.
So, a year ago I sat down and created 52 cards I could slot in each week. They were super simple and a really easy way to keep track of the weeks, especially when I had a few pages to catch up on.

I liked the system so much that I have repeated it this year with 52 fresh cards. (Although having made fifty one cards I then realised that I had miscalculated a week somewhere and had to start again from week twenty six. A few choice words were said to myself!)

I thought it would be fun to show you four ways I use weekly markers in my project life album. These ideas would work just as well for paper scrapbooking as digital. At the bottom of the post there is also a download for the weekly cards for you to use in your own album...

1. This is the simplest way to use weekly cards. Just pop them in the corresponding space. My files are digital so are easy to resize if the space is a different shape.

2. Use them as an overlay on a photo. Again this is easy to do in a photo editing program before printing the photo. Simply drag the digital weekly card over a photo to make a second layer. In photoshop in the layers panel, change the opacity of the weekly card to around 50%. I love using this effect in front of blurry photos or photos of scenery.

3. Get rid of the white background. This is very easy to do in photoshop. Again drag the digital weekly card over the top of a photo so it makes a second layer. In the layers panel, change the setting of the card from 'normal' to 'multiply'. In one click this removes the white background and then you can resize the text to suit your photo.

4. Use the weekly card as a journaling spot. Here, I have added some embellishment, drawn some lines on and added text about what happened that week. This is really easy to do and adds a bit more interest.

The cards were pretty easy to make and very simple so I would love to give them away. If you are interested in getting a set of 52 cards, just click the link below and download the files.


Download weekly marker cards here

2 January 2015

Hello 2015

Hello 2015. 
This year is huge. 

If I had a book of major life events I am almost certain that 2015 will be there: 
This is the year I finish my degree.
The year I graduate. 
The year I start teacher training. 
The year the boy and I say goodbye to long distance.

So many of those things excite me, not least being able to count off the days till the boy and I are living in the same city. (That story will come in more detail. Trust me, it's a good one!) 

I love new year. It's like standing on top of a hill, surveying the land before we hurtle into it. 
There is so much to look forward to this year and so much work to do. 
With that in mind I'm making a conscious effort to take care. 

Taking care of my body and making healthy food choices, particularly as I knuckle down to work. It's all too easy to snack on biscuits! 
Taking care of that creative part of my soul and making sure I have some easy projects to work on. I am really keen to do some more knitting again and maybe a bit of embroidery.

Taking care of my mind. I want to try and stay off social media late at night and instead herald in more reading. 
Taking care of the blog. I am determined to post more, join in more and use this place as another creative outlet. Watch this space....

2015. You are set to be fun.

What does this year have in store for you?