Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Surfing without a net

I'm just checking in quickly while I'm in a hotel which has internet access.

I got back to Britain, picked up my hire-car and have been whizzing about the country. I began at my Mum's, where I spent the first few days recovering from DH's snot germ which finally battered its way through my defences the night before the flight (sigh). Once I was looking and sounding less like a swine flu risk, I met up with Georgina and Kelly, fellow Jazzers and Scrap Whisperers for the first time. We had the most fun time making cards and chatting, and spending money, and well lots of chatting! I can't beat Georgina's write-up, so have a look at her blog article for photos and more info, including a little video of us all! It was just the best time, and we're going to try and do it every year if we can.

Now I'm in the west country on the second leg of my trip. Yesterday I went to our sparkling new shopping centre to find a Wi-Fi point. Imagine me in my heels and smart trousers and jacket tip-tapping sexily through the trendy local folk with my useful but distinctly un-sexy Kipling laptop back-pack! 95% business girl but spoiling the whole effect with her hiking bag. Ah well.

I found a Starbucks which had a large "free Wi-Fi" sign on the door, and went inside with my laptop to try to get my blog updated and check my e-mail. I had about half an hour - should have been no problem, right? So first of all, I ordered my soy hot chocolate and asked about the free Wi-Fi. Apparently I had to buy (“free” my foot) a Starbucks card, then register it, and then I could access the net.

Well this did not go well. I spent 25 minutes faffing and scratching my head, and my battery failed and I had to pack up everything and go in search of a table with a socket near it, then boot everything up again. I finally managed to navigate through the most complicated login/registration system in the world, and then I had about 2 and a half minutes left to check my e-mail, before I had to go and meet MIL and FIL.

The blog was the casualty, but now I'm sitting in comfort at the window of my converted stable room with the view of a stone wall, some late geraniums and pansies, and through a cast iron gate I can see long-missed trees clothed in their brief autumn splendour. It's all so English and delightful, and right now I want to come home to stay.

I left DH in Singapore with blocked Eustachian tubes and in an additional agony of indecision over 2 job offers: a project in Australia which is a one-off opportunity that he'll never have again, and his dream job back home in the English west country. There are no big pros or cons, the money and job security and excitement level for each is about the same. My poor man is in a position that most people would kill for, and it's eating him up with uncertainty. I'm no help because I'll be happy wherever we are and whatever he chooses. I only want him to be happy, and to be able to work an 8-5 day instead of 5-8. And no I'm not exaggerating.

So to anyone who wants to know what we're doing (house agent, visitors, friends and relatives, and a lot of other people) please continue to be patient with us for just a little longer?

I must go. Got to see a man about a new front drive. And gird my loins (and other parts - armour plating would be good) for tomorrow's onslaught with an extremely excited and boisterous little niece and nephew. I can't wait!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Willow and die cuts

I've been on a roll! Before I started the cleaning, cooking, packing, panicking, making lists etc., I decided I could schedule in half a day's crafting. I managed a LO and the Basic Grey card, and another one for this week's Whiff of Joy challenge, which is to use a die cut as well as a WoJ image.

This one is Willow with hot chocolate. I stamped and coloured her when I was still practising with the Copics and playing with colours and shading. I chose colours for her that I wear myself. It didn't even occur to me that I had NO orange paper whatsoever! I spent a long time choosing paper, and ended up using both sides of this Scenic Route design. The orange thought bubbles were cut using my QuicKutz nested scalloped flowers, a nested circle, and a hole puncher. I had a brain-wave and coloured them orange using the same Copic marker I used for Willow's jumper. Why I didn't think of that before, I don't know!

Basic Grey Challenge

Yes, I know I'm supposed to be packing, cleaning, shopping and doodah but I really didn't want to miss this week's beautiful Basic Grey Challenge sketch by Martine from the Design Team.

As usual, the only rule is to use at least one Basic Grey product, but this week I've gone completely over the top and just dived head-first into my new 30%-off 6"x6" Indian Summer pad. I just couldn't resist the autumn colours, although this selection is from the paler, more subtle pages. The bears image is one I was given a while ago, from Rubber Stampede called Hugs and Hearts, and is stamped in Versafine black ink, and coloured with Copics. The heart punch came from the $2 store. I inked the edges of everything with my current favourite Cosmic Copper Dew Drop which complements those glowing colours so very well.


DH pointed out last night that I haven't updated my blog all week. He's right. I have been crafting, but it's all stuff I can't post yet because it's for secret challenges, or publication, or occasions that haven't happened yet. Give me a few weeks and I'll have a pile I can post.

Also I just got the green light on going back to the UK on home leave, and I suddenly found a million things that have to be done before I go. On Monday. Gulp. Got the flights, got the car booked, got the spare bed strewn with stuff to take. Food - check. Clothes - check. List of things I always take - check. New phone charger added to list - check. Presents for everyone - check. Hang on, except J, need to get to that shop. Oh my goodness, and S! And A too!! Aargh. And the fridge and freezer need filling with food for DH to eat while I'm away (he may be following on but we're not sure yet stuff ...Malaysian-snot-germ-blocked sinuses not good for flying - ouch) AND I really want to get the place clean for him before I go.

I've got 4 days to go, then 2 and a half weeks away. I haven't the faintest idea what craft stuff to bring with me, but I have to take some. My internet time will be limited, so please forgive me if my posts are a little sparse and lacking in pictures. At least I'll have the laptop.

So toodle pip for now, and I hope that my jet-lag and I will be back on here before too long...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Friday Funny

Church Bulletins

Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services.

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'

Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Next Thursday there will be try-outs for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

The Rector will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing: 'Break Forth Into Joy.'

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

Pot-luck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket an d come prepared to sin.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday : 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours'.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Hallowe'en and a cosy card

I don't do Hallowe'en as it's done these days. In my childhood as a Church of England chorister, that time of year was about the Harvest Festivals, then All Souls' Day, or All Hallows' Eve, followed by All Saints' Day at the end of October. Pagan festivals incorporated into the modern church calendar. And as it was close to Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th, we had bonfires, fireworks, toffee apples and some dressing up all together on the closest Saturday night. And it always, always rained on Bonfire Night.

A few kids - usually the "naughty ones" - dressed up in old sheets and went round knocking on the doors of the houses in their street asking "trick or treat?" If the householder said "treat", the kids got penny sweets or an apple, and if they said "trick", the most they got was an egg thrown at their front door. My friends and I were never allowed to do this, and I can't remember getting many people knocking on our door.

As the years have gone by the season's commercialism has snowballed in the same way it has for Christmas. Fireworks are now seen for weeks before-hand, the shops are full of costumes as soon as the kids go back to school in September, and it's become another reason to keep Hallmark in business.

But the thing that got me the most was when I was back in the UK on a visit last Hallowe'en, and on the Saturday afternoon I happened to be in the little market town where I grew up. I went into the new Starbucks for a hot chocolate, and was served by a young witch with green hair and a beaming smile - and blue teeth - and offered sweets from a barrel by the door. When I came out at about 4 o'clock, the busy high street had turned itself into a school playground in costume.

I had never seen anything like it; hundreds upon hundreds of supervised tinies all carrying buckets, wands, hatchets. There were the expected witches with baby sister as their cutest black cat, fairies, pixies, ghosts, zombies and vampires (lots of those - the first Twilight film was due out). I saw some little round pumpkins that made me wonder whether their waddling gait was caused by their costumes or their nappies. And lots of far more obscure little court jesters, cheeses, bears and Star Wars characters which confused me a bit. Maybe their mums left it a bit late at the costume-hire shops.

They were all having a fantastic time, like an enormous street party. I guessed that they dispersed into the nearby businesses and houses, and suddenly the reason for the barrel of sweets became clear. I watched it all with the amused smile of the foreigner who is witnessing some quaint local custom for the first time. In my home town, after 3 years away, I absolutely felt like a foreigner.

When this October's ScrapJazz card challenge was to make an autumn or Hallowe'en themed card, I could only chose the autumn one. Not having anyone to send a "Boo!" card to. And the Whiff of Joy challenge was to use this sketch:

I really meant to mat everything, honest. But it just looked better with the edges heavily inked instead. And lots of ink colours all blotted together with parts of a stamp around the image. She's "Willow with hot chocolate", stamped with Versafine and coloured with Copics. The flowers are punched with EK Success punches, and there's a liberal sprinkling of my favourite Diamond Stickles. The papers are Basic Grey from the Scarlett's Letter and Lemonade collections. I'll enclose a coffee shop gift voucher when I send it.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Heffalump Child update

I was just asked how things were upstairs, as I hadn't posted lately, so I thought I'd better fill you in.

She's still making her presence very much felt. DH and I were actually speculating only last night whether the new cracks in the plaster were from the earthquakes or from her.

Her latest is massive excitement just as she's about to go out. I think mum puts her shoes on her, and while little brother is having his put on, she celebrates by pretending to be a kangaroo all through the apartment. Then the door slams, rattling our windows, and I hear their progress 19 floors down to the ground floor and out of the complex.

When they get home the process is repeated, when mum is presumably so busy taking little brother's shoes off again, that Heffalump Child is allowed to create a few more ceiling cracks before she's caught.

Last week we had a bad smog which came over quite suddenly. DH rang me wondering whether she had self-combusted from excitement.

The meltdowns are slightly fewer these days, although just as vocal. I'm guessing she was feeling left out after the baby arrived. We may not be here much longer, so thank you Kelly for reminding me to keep my sense of humour with our small neighbour with the big feet.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Two little toots for me

Firstly, last Thursday I clicked on my link for Laine's Papeterie our local Scrap-book shop, and look what I found! My prize-winning Colour Through the Rain LO published on their site! I was walking around with a big grin on my face all day.

Then on Friday Georgina sent me an e-mail reminder to check out the ScrapJazz articles, and there was my WindSpinner LO. Now I knew about this, because G had asked me weeks ago if I would contribute, and of course I agreed, but the time slipped away so quickly and I'd forgotten the publication date. What a nice surprise!

This is an interesting article, because 5 of us had a sketch to use, and mostly we change sketches: rotate them, mirror them, turn them upside-down or otherwise muck about with them. But with this one, everyone has stuck to the original design. Maybe that's because it's quite a specific, detailed design.

So this is a picture-free post, because the links say it all. I'm so chuffed!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Whiff of Joy Winter '09 Stamp collection

A heads-up to my fellow Whiff of Joy fans! Their Winter Stamp Collection for 2009 is now available for pre-order, from October 1st-23rd only. Designed by Elisabeth Bell (who also created my favourite Willow stamp), this collection is kept secret apart from a few sneak previews on the store site. Skate on over and check it out - click HERE!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

World Card-Making Day

...was today. I made 8 more Christmas cards before DH got up. Bless him, he's fighting off a malicious little Malaysian snot germ that he brought back with him, so he needed a good sleep in. After I'd done the cards, I logged in to look at Fab's blog, because I've decided to go back and do as many of his older challenges as I have time to do. Only then did I realise that there were umpteen World Card-Making Day challenges out there that I really should have joined in instead. And of course once DH got up, we had to do non-card stuff. These crafty events always seem to fall on weekends when I have family commitments. Ah well, such is life.

So no pictures today I'm afraid, but the Christmas cards will get posted at some stage, I'm sure. We did get my iPhone fixed, bought some clothes for my Mum, and some magazines and had a steak meal. I think we had a good, productive, earthquake-free day together. Now I'm crossing my fingers, toes (and nose) that we don't end up sharing the snots as well.

Happy World Card-Making Day!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Pause for Thought

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism". All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

(with thanks to April on SJ)

Thursday, 1 October 2009

2 more earthquakes & cards

Scarily enough, today there were 2 more quakes in Sumatra - just a hundred miles from yesterday's quakes and on the land this time, so more damage, more lives lost. The first was magnitude 6.8 and had our TV wobbling, and half an hour later I saw on the USGS web site that there had been another one of 5.0. I didn't actually feel that one, but I was still dizzy from the first one so maybe I was feeling it without realising. I'm still feeling dizzy with it all now, not only because the floor keeps waving around, but also with sympathy for the people of Indonesia who are being hit so hard.

I did 2 more Christmas cards this afternoon after the earthquake drama had subsided. This one is the second card in Fab's Challenge (I've missed the deadline, but never mind - it's another card done) to use the same materials to make another card. I have enough left to make quite a few more, and I will because I'm loving all this green! Can you tell it's my favourite colour? Have you noticed I like owls? ;-)

I'm just looking at the photo now and I've decided it needs some Diamond Stickles. I'll add that later.
Paper - BG as yesterday
Stamps - Hero Arts (owl) and Studio G (snowflakes and greeting)
Ink - Versafine Black and Artnic Green Tea
Copic markers, white gel pen

This one uses some of the same materials. It's for the current challenge from Truly Scrumptious, which is to follow their sketch and to include some doodling. I've doodled with the Lime Stickles - no easy task, I might add! So simple, but I love it.

Papers: BG, Cloud9Design Max's Backyard Collection (the stripes) and a scrap.
Stamp: Inkadinkado (earth bauble), Studio G (greeting)
Ink: Artnic Green Tea, Dew Drop Platinum
And of course the Lime Stickles