About Me

I'm a freelance artist, designer and demonstrator and have been involved in arts and craft my whole life in one way or another. I design stamps for top British company Personal Impressions, under the "Lindsay Mason Designs" brand, as well as papers, templates and other crafting products. I'm a certified Ranger Educator and my first book,"Stamping", was published in 2009. I also design regular projects for Crafts Beautiful magazine and have made guest appearances from time to time on QVC. I've recently joined You Tube under the name of LindsayMason1000 where I'm posting short technique videos and you can buy my paintings and hand crafted pieces from my Etsy shop. My work takes me all around the country demonstrating stamping, papercrafts and general inkiness! When I'm not working, I love gardening, church & community activities, nature watching, journalling, music and theatre and just relaxing at home. Email me at: ljm.design1@virginmedia.com

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Doodling in the sunshine

It's been such a beautiful day here. I started the morning with a trip to the Doctor's to have a blood sample taken. It was mainly to check that I don't have an under active thyroid after I told the doctor that I keep feeling cold. It  didn't hurt, though the nurse did take five phials of blood....I felt like Tony Hancock with his "very nearly an armful" line! I felt a coffee and a toasted scone in the nearby cafe was in order to get my corpuscles back up to speed after that!
Anyway, a little food shopping next and I got a charity shop bargain top which I am hoping to slightly alter...ooh er...get me! Well, all I'm planning is to cut off the row of elastic around the bottom ( I really don't like elasticated hems) and turn up a small hem. Not exactly GBSB standard, but I will be very pleased if I can manage it neatly!
Once I got home I settled myself into the conservatory with all my pens and pencils and set about some doodling. I'd already stamped everything in readiness so I could just sit quietly and draw - very relaxing. Tara and Thomas had a great time pottering in and out to the garden and back, though a certain someone did insist on plonking himself on top of all my work from time to time!
This first card is an example of using black, white and one other colour....well, aside from a little grey that is. I stamped my Zendoodle Flower and then added all the patterns with my black fine line pen. I also drew three weeny Ladybirds as you can see. 
 
I used a grey Promarker around the whole design, fading it to dots on the outer edges, before colouring the Ladybirds with a red pen. Just a couple of plain mats of red and black kept it simple and clean.
Here's the same image but with a different effect. This time I stamped and doodled one complete flower and then stamped and doodled the petals and leaves a second time. I used yellows and greens to colour the flowers before cutting out the flower head (minus the tendrils) and leaves from the second image.
I positioned the flower head over the original one, but turned it through 45 degrees to give a layered effect. The leaves were stuck down just where they meet the stem. I then stamped a third flower and doodled the border around the central circle before colouring it and stamping the greeting into the centre.The message is one from my friend Paula Pascual and comes in the set Sentiments Everyday Messages CICSA6141. I cut round the circle and added it to the flower with 3d foam. Again, a couple of straightforward mats and a ribbon bow just finished off this card.
The image below shows a slightly different way of filling in the plain Zendoodle stamps.This one is the Mushrooms set CICSA6195. Rather than doodling in black and then adding colour, I used coloured fine point pens to create the infill patterns. Once I'd completed all the doodling I used Promarkers to add pale colours over the designs in toning shades.
Finally, for tonight, here's a tag that I had fun making. It's a swooshy Distress Inks and water spattered background and I decided that one of my Zendoodle Fish might look at home swimming around on there. Once I'd dried the tag I began drawing swirling lines of "seaweed" with my black pen which I then infilled with stripes of black and white.
I doodled and coloured the fish and popped him into place before adding three pearls and an inked ribbon.
I've kept everything simple here as the samples for my demonstration this weekend are to showcase the doodling aspect of working with the Zendoodle range of stamps. I'll be at Samuel Taylor's in Leeds on Saturday, so hope to see some of you there.
It's amazing how much better everything photographs on a sunny day like today...the colours really pop.
Before I retire to bed, you might be amused to know that Tara almost fell into the pond yesterday! Considering that she probably wouldn't even fit into it, it would have been quite some feat! I was having ten minutes in the sunshine, sitting on my garden bench, when Tara came tip toeing across the lawn and then decided to take a detour.....she promptly walked over the pebbles around the pond, whereupon they began to shift, some fell in to the water and Tara did one of those amazing acrobatic moves that only cats (even fat cats) can do! I don't think she'll be trying that again in a hurry, though she has been chomping on the new pond grass...gggrrrrr!
Yesterday I bit the bullet and mowed the lawn! Yayyyyy! It looks awful as it was so overgrown and it's very bumpy and lumpy, but I'm sure it will bounce back now it's had a haircut. The wet weather and, to be honest, my slight trepidation at using the new electric mower, had meant it had really gone awry.Once I got cracking though, I actually enjoyed it so I'll be giving it a closer cut in a few days and then I need to sort out the edging. The lawn has stone edges that have arched tops - not very practical when mowing! So, I've taken them all out and my next big job is to dig down further so I can turn the edges over with the straight (bottom) edges facing upwards, level with the turf. Think it may take a while!
I've also been moving more rocks around to create another rockery area adjacent to the pond which I hope to get sorted tomorrow. I spent over two hours yesterday just forking over one small patch of soil and removing a mesh of grass roots. What a horrible job and I was aching in places I didn't know could ache! So, I'd better get to bed and a good night's sleep in preparation for some more slogging in the morning.

Monday, 7 April 2014

My little pond!

Or should I say my really little pond?! After some more work this evening I'm fairly happy with the results, although I still have a lot of weeding, digging and planting to do in the surrounding bed.
Heather and I went to visit our mum this morning and then went to the garden centre for a few supplies. I ended up getting another bale of bark, more compost - neither of which seem to go very far - and a real bargain of a bag of cobbles for just £2.00!
I also plumped for some herbs...Thyme, Hyssop and Dill as well as a lovely Alpine plant whose name escapes me! A tray of Sugar Snap Pea plants and a Tumbling Tom cherry tomato plant completed the trolley load! However, we then ventured into the Aquatic section and I chose a tallish grass and something with pronounced leaves, both of which are marginal plants and were recommended for the teeny space they will live in. 
Heather got some bunches of weed for her much larger pond and I pursuaded her to get a tomato plant too!
It was really grey and rainy and I felt cold all day but it brightened up after we got back and this evening brought the warmest few hours. So I decided to crack on and began by placing the two pond plants into the washing up bowl in their "ready to go" pots and securing a strand of pond weed (nicked from Heather's bunches!) into the gravel at the bottom.
Still looks like a washing up bowl though!
However, once I had added the cobbles around the perimeter and planted the herbs and the Alpine, it started to look more natural.
I added a couple more little plants lifted from elsewhere in the garden and moved the fairies into their new positions......
I've also planted some Foxgloves that I grew from seed last year. They should provide some shade as they grow - in case we have a red hot Summer! I'm really happy with how it looks now, though I still have the daunting task of getting the surrounding bed sorted. Surely a little frog might find it appealing? I hope so anyway.
I think I'm going more towards little rockeries dotted about to try and make keeping the garden tidy a little more achievable.
When Heather and I had got back this afternoon there was a little visitor waiting by the front door for us! He's a gift from my neighbour who looks after Thomas and Tara when I'm away. I think he looks very sweet sitting beneath the Rowan tree where the fairies used to reside. Once the Bluebells come fully into bloom he'll look even cuter. Not sure what my two will make of him though!
Well, all of that kept me busy for a couple of hours this evening!
On Saturday I was at the Leigh show - hello to everyone that I saw there and apologies to those of you who missed out on the stamps...again! I don't have much to share with you, picture wise, as I left my camera at home- duh! Everyone liked this tag that I made using my "Dreams Have Wings" stamp set and a drippy, Distress inked background.
I used my black Archival ink pad swooshed up from the base of the tag to create some tufty effects and then added more fine grasses using a black pen. I painted a circle of water for the moon which I blotted with tissue to bleach the colour out before emphasising it with a white gel pen. I added white highlights to all the stamped images which completely transforms the look.
I'm still having some much needed "me time" though yesterday I was pretty busy in the morning. A phone message when I got home on Saturday evening was a request for me to do a reading in Church next morning which I was happy to do. I was also puppeteering along with Lynne. Our little production was for the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead...the twist being that I was playing the funeral director who Lazarus calls on to ask for his money back! 
It went down very well although it could have been a disaster as I got quite dizzy when I stepped on to one of the slightly squashy kneelers that I have to stand on (being such a short house!). For a moment I feared I was going to go crashing through the screen and I had to hold on to it to stop the whole thing from tippling over - oh dear! Thankfully, both Lynne and I managed to retain our composure and all was okay.
I think there was something in the air yesterday though as none of the microphones in Church were working, our organist forgot that we were omitting a couple of verses from one hymn and carried on playing after the Curate had started the next part of the service and the wrong service sheets went out! 
Watching the University boat race just confirmed that the stars were misaligned, the moon was waning or some such astronomical effect was creating negative vibrations....I'm sure that Cambridge thought so anyway! Then there was the marathon in Sheffield that was stopped before it started due to the water not turning up.....definitely a strange day all round!
Time for a coffee now I think. I've had my dinner courtesy of Heather who made a chilli last night and brought me a portion round today...delicious! I still feel chilly though (no pun intended) so a cuppa is definitely what's needed and then it'll be a fairly early night as I'm up first thing tomorrow for a Doctor's appointment - just a medication review so I hope it's less pills rather than more on the menu!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Outdoor days

Morning peeps! It's very misty and murky here this morning. The rain has kept the Saharan dust away overnight but there's more of a smog hanging low in the sky than there has been all week. Peering into the mist first thing I spotted this visitor trotting about in the field behind my house.....
 ....the deer are quite regular visitors at the moment, probably due to the refurbishments on the nearby railway lines that are disturbing them. You might have to look more closely to spot him/her this time!
Well, I'm hoping the drizzle clears up before too long as I had planned a third day in the garden. I've been very busy getting all the necessary jobs done whilst I've got a slightly less hectic diary to deal with. Of course, being busy with work has meant that weeding has gone from a reasonably straightforward task to a real slog of a job! Lots of grassy weeds have taken hold and created matted roots that are a nightmare to get up. So, to break up the relentless task, I have been treating myself to more enjoyable projects along the way.

Yesterday I created the micro pond using an old washing up bowl. First I dug the hole that it would fit snugly into.......
 .....adding a layer of grit at the bottom to stabilise the bowl. I part filled the bowl with water to make sure it was level before removing it and giving it a really good wash and rinse.
 After sieving horticultural gravel with water, to wash away any dust, I added a thick layer to the bowl and then began setting pebbles into it.
 I carried on adding larger stones to create steps - on the off chance that anything does decide to pay a visit and needs to climb out! Some tiny pots are there for mini shelters. I laid more pebbles and stones around the outside surface.
Then it was time to fill the bowl with water - some from the hose but some that I've been collecting when it's rained.
 I decided to put a broken pot in the corner too (not sure about this yet, so I may get a terracotta one and smash it!) I also decided to move my little fairies from under the tree where they are completely hidden for most of the year. I think they look rather happy looking into the water!
The water has settled nicely now and all the cloudiness has cleared. Of course, it still looks just like a washing up bowl sunk into the soil at the moment, but once I've put one or two pond plants into it, added some more rocks around the edges and planted some small flowers between them, it should look a lot more natural! I'll show you a picture or two once I'm further on with it. Now it's just a case of waiting to see if I get any little visitors!
I did smile last night as Thomas was in the garden and I spotted him taking a good look at the new feature before tentatively dipping a paw into the water....don't think he was too impressed and he rapidly withdrew it, shaking it vigorously before running back inside!
I plan to make a few rockery areas in the garden, partly because I've always loved Alpines and partly to make the large garden a little easier to maintain. Looking at the price for lumps of rock though....crikey, they're expensive! So, I decided to start by recycling what I already have. Beneath the large Lavender bush there were a couple of biggish rocks that really couldn't be seen where they were, so I hoiked them out and then foraged about for a few smaller bits and pieces that might work.
I also decided to use a really old gnome who has seen better days....he had been broken off from his base, so he was perfect to plant firmly into the soil. I detest garish, painted gnomes, but this aged one is very characterful. 
Once I'd decided what to put where, I dug the soil and firmed everything in. I need to get some Alpines now (what a treat!) but, for now, I've just transplanted a few little cuttings. There's also a stone toad that has been transferred from another corner of the garden....you can just see him creeping in from the right....
The rockery is just below my front window and I planted up three tubs yesterday too to brighten everything up. The miniature daffodils are gorgeous and there are bulbs and plug plants that will add more colour as they grow.
Yesterday my new fence panel arrived and, as the delivery driver was too mean to help me to drop it in, I used my feminine charms (?!) and asked the two men who are removing rubbish from a garage across the road! They were only too happy to help (there are still some gentlemen around!) and after a lot of pushing, shoving and bashing the concrete posts with a mallet, they managed to get the panel in place. It's as solid as a rock now, so I can crack on with putting a deeper edging around the bed, adding more soil and then getting my three climbing roses in. Looks like the drizzle may be dissipating now, so I may be able to make a start soon.
Well, this has been very much a gardening post but it is my week off after all! I'll be back at work tomorrow, starting with the Leigh Show on the Card-io stand. If you haven't been to this event, you can find all the details here. I'm only there on the Saturday but it will be a busy couple of days.
On Sunday I am performing in one of our puppet shows at Church. Last rehearsal was yesterday evening and, hopefully, everything will go smoothly on the day. 
When I looked at photos from this day last year I remembered what I'd been up to.....

.....make n takes with the local WI group! We made bookmarks using alcohol inks and Darkroom Door stamps.
Well, I am going to take a chance on the weather now and get my gardening gear on - two pairs of old leggings, one of David's old sweatshirts and my old boots. Plus my hair in pigtails...and what did I say before about using my "feminine charms"?!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

If it's broken...fix it!

More about other broken things later, but the broken thing I've fixed is my laptop! Since I got back from the NEC it has been behaving very badly or not at all and I've been getting increasingly frustrated by that little circle, endlessly spinning round with the dreaded words "not responding" coming up before the screen clouds over and everything grinds to a halt.....ggggrrrr! David was brilliant at getting things back on track, even though he was the first to admit that he was less knowledgable about computers than he was about engines and electrical appliances - he could even sew, and I once returned from a weekend at a show to find that he'd re-upholstered the sofa bed!
Anyway, I digress. Having always had to rely on David to fix the computer I've been dreading this sort of thing happening but last night I just got really cross and decided to have a go myself. Surely it can't be that hard I thought! I won't bore you with details (wake up at the back there!) but after a few hours I had cleaned up the hard drive, fracked it, or do I mean "defragged" it (!?) and generally given it a good service. I'm happy to report that it's now working better than it was before the problems started.....I'm available for £25 per hour if anyone wants me to take a look at their poorly laptop!!!!
Not so happy about the other break though : (   Last night one of my dental crowns split right down the middle! It's my nightmare scenario....right at the front and broken in half!!! So, I am now waiting for the dental surgery to open so I can, hopefully, get an appointment asap...otherwise, if you come to the Leigh show on Saturday, I'll be the one looking like a vampire! Even if I can get an appointment today it won't be a quick fix (or cheap) so I'm dreading the next few weeks. Should help with the diet though as I'll be struggling to eat anything! The surreal part is that Heather and I had a coffee and a bite to eat with two of my friends from Church on Sunday and the subject of crowns came up...I was saying how prone they are to breaking! Oh dear!
Anyway, moving on....I had a really wonderful day on Saturday at the Port Sunlight show. What a lovely setting the village of Port Sunlight makes, though I never get chance for a look around needless to say.

Thank you to the Happy Stampers show team who, as usual, made me very welcome and really looked after me. Thank you too to everyone who kindly brought me hot and cold beverages during the day - it was much appreciated. The feedback I had for the new stamps, especially the Zendoodle range, was just amazing and gave me a real boost. It's all very well sitting in front of blank paper, coming up with ideas and then drawing them - but unless people actually like the results it's a waste of time!
Well, here am I at my huuuge demonstration table, wearing the shirt of course! How I got through the day without spritzing ink onto it I will never know!
The character I was working on (above) ended up on this simple card........

.....basically machine stitched Tim Holtz fabrics and a piece of burlap from a new DCWV 12" x 12" pad (DCWV Real Burlap Fabric) that is made up entirely of burlap sheets, 15 in all. Each sheet is held within a cellophane wrap which makes it easy to cut into them without getting edges fraying - love it! 
The character is from a set called "Sartorial Elegance" from my Doo Lally Pip range. Speaking of which, thanks to Chris for letting me know that the Craft Barn are featuring my Doo Lally stamps this week on their blog. Neil Walker has created a fabulous canvas using my "Overhaul Needed" set....love it Neil!
Here are two more quite simple cards that I made for the Port Sunlight show. I kept them quite plain to just show the impact of the Zendoodle images. Two different approaches here though....
.....the left one features "Zendoodles Toadstools Ready to Go" stamped onto 300 gsm white card and left uncoloured. I then carefully painted Multi Gloss Medium over the image before blending Distress inks over the panel and buffing excess ink away from the image. Colour around a monochrome image works well with Zentangles.
The right one is the "Zendoodles Flower" stamped onto 200 gsm white card which I then doodled over using a Pigma Micron pen. I have added shading around the flower edges using a grey Promarker and also on various areas of the design. Very subtle but, again, it gives a great graphic effect. The greeting is one from my friend Paula Pascual  - to be found on her new "Sentiments Everyday Messages" set.
So, a really wonderful Saturday with so many happy people around, all enjoying the show. I had a rather dramatic start to the day though! I boarded the train for Liverpool in the morning, where I was to connect to the Merseyrail train to Port Sunlight. A partially sighted gentleman with a lovely guide dog got on the train as well and he was sitting directly behind me. It was rather nice to be able to reach down and stroke his dog which was stretched out beneath the seats and kept nuzzling my legs.
The journey went on peacefully enough until I was aware of a movement across the aisle and a lady shrieked in surprise as a rather large dog jumped up at her in her seat. Very unusual to see a dog moving around a train compartment so we were all rather startled. Of course, said dog immediately noticed the guide dog and turned towards it whereupon the guide dog began to growl and bark...protecting his owner and also feeling vulnerable as he was cornered under the seats.
The poor owner of the guide dog was terrified, needless to say, as he had no idea what was happening. I was shouting "Whose dog is this?" but there was no response. The mystery dog was a burly Staffy type and, quite obviously, a full male so it was a worry that there was going to be a full on fight inside the restricted area of a train carriage. I grabbed his collar and pulled him away from the guide dog so the owner could move away into a safer place - meanwhile asking someone to find the guard...no guard I'm afraid - he was in the second part of the train that couldn't be reached through an internal door.
The dog jumped up and sat next to a rather surprised man - he wasn't being aggressive and had been wagging his tail...the dog that is - not the man! I then set off in search of an owner with no joy until a young woman said the dog had jumped onto the train at a station a few stops back! It seems he was a solo traveller and I stomped back to my carriage expounding loudly about the stupidity of irresponsible dog owners - I was pretty angry!!! The dog then compounded the situation by cocking his leg up by one of the seats!
As the train drew into the next station someone was alighting and said they'd inform someone on the platform at which point the dog jumped off and we told the guide dog owner that he was safe to go back to his seat now. Didn't last though, as the stray jumped right back on the train and the whole thing started over! Eventually a member of staff came on board and escorted the dog off and I'm afraid I don't know what happened after that. I felt very sorry for the dog who was, by now, miles away from home - his collar had no ID tags. I also felt very upset for the man and his guide dog who had been subjected to a frightening episode. 
When I left the train at Liverpool two separate ladies thanked me for helping as they both said they were terrified of dogs. It was very nice to be thanked, but it seemed a natural thing to do to step in and help someone in a vulnerable position. Dogs are certainly viewed with much greater anxiety than they once were - and mostly down to the type of owners that this dog obviously had. It was a pretty unusual start to the day though and I wish I knew what became of the travelling canine.
I've got lots of travels coming up....Scotland, Peterborough, Yorkshire, Surrey to name a few and also Skegness where I'll be spending two days at Cutting Edge Crafts on the 17th and 18th May. I'll be teaching a full day's workshop on the Sunday, details below.......

.....looking forward to it!

Well, it is now several hours since I wrote the previous part of this post! I had to down tools this morning as the dental surgery rang me back to say there had been a cancellation so I had to dash round there. Unfortunately I have to wait almost a month for my next appointment and my tooth won't even be fixed then! So, I'm feeling pretty fed up about it...my split crown is being held precariously by a bit of cement which I am sure won't last until I see the dentist again. I'm also struggling to eat as the cement is stopping me from biting and chewing properly. I've a lovely long list of things the dentist has planned for me too...some root canals, replacing another crown that he's not happy with and a filling....can't wait! I think it will be around July when he actually fits the new crowns for me so, if you see me meanwhile, please forgive the less than dazzling smile! I have always said that God made a brilliant job of creating us until he got to our teeth and then he obviously ran out of time!

This was the view from the back of the house first thing this morning and, though you can't see them, there were rabbits hopping around the field. A bit of wildlife watching is a great start to the day!
After the dentist, I met up with Heather and we went down to her house for a while before going to a nearby garden centre. I was after a five foot fence panel to replace the one that blew down a few weeks ago. Unfortunately it seems that half the country also needs to replace their fence panels and they are like hens teeth.....ouch....why did I mention teeth!?!
Well, I didn't waste our outing and got myself some bark chipping, some top soil, three climbing roses (all at a special reduced price!), two pots of miniature daffodils, four plug plants and a packet of Rainbow Chard seeds! On the way home with that little lot we stopped off somewhere else and I got some wooden edging to lay along a border where the fence panels are - I'm going to build up the soil depth so I can plant the roses there along with my usual Sweet Peas and Nasturtiums. I've managed to locate a fence panel now too, so that will be arriving on Thursday and then I can get on with my little project!
I've decided to make a mini pond too - and I do mean a mini pond! Just a big bowl sunk into the soil and with gravel and pebbles for any little creatures to use as steps. It won't be big enough for anything major, but I might attract some dragonflies!
Here's a random piccie for my "this time last year" spot......
.....I might well make a couple more of these canvasses using some of the new Doo Lally characters!
Well, this was a rather looong post! Think I will get to be now as I am planning a day in the garden tomorrow...just hope it's as sunny and warm as it was today. Night night folks!

Friday, 28 March 2014

The NEC, the art of Zen and a couple of selfies!

This post is rather a long time coming after the NEC show last week! A combination of my computer deciding to throw a hissy fit, being caught up with all sorts of work and extra curricular activities and having a bout of Gastroparesis which occasionally lays me low.
Last week was really hard work but great fun too. I managed to lug all my bags and case to Birmingham International and then it was a taxi ride to the hotel and a bit of time to relax before a bite to eat. Wendy (from Card-io, whose stand I was going to be on) texted me to say that she and Martin were stuck on the motorway, waiting for the AA to tow them to the NEC as their engine had "blown up"! What a rotten start to their show. They only got to the exhibition hall in time to put the skeleton of the stand up before it closed for the night. So, it was all to be done next day and the three of us were putting stock out and setting up displays right up until the moment the doors opened! I don't know how we did it, but in an hour and a half we had managed it. This was my area with all the Sizzix dies behind me and lots of lovely MME brads at the side of me.
 Right from the start we were busy, busy and the first day just flew by really. Everyone seemed to like my steampunk versions of the Sizzix Rounded Birdhouse. This was one that I made at the show....       
....I used some Graphic 45 paper for the roof and, of course, lots of Idea-ology bits and pieces. I alternated simple metal brads with the MME fancy ones around the edges.
I was also working with the Susan's Garden flower dies which really are exceptionally good. They may seem a little daunting to begin with, but, once you've mastered a few basic techniques, they are actually quite simple and very satisfying to create. 
Here I was adding some soft creases to the trumpet of a Narcissus.....
 .... and you can see in the next picture how some creasing and crumpling really adds to the effect....

Wendy thought it might be good to combine our efforts on a card and we really loved the result. Wendy used her Greenery 1and "Say it With Flowers" stamps and I made three of the Dogwood flowers to sit on top of the images.
 The Rosette dies were a big hit at the show and the new Dena Designs set sold out pretty quickly so I reverted to Tim's Sizzlits strip die. I used one of Wendy's stamps again to add to a simple heart plaque made from corrugated card that I painted and applied Metallic Lustre to. Love the MME brads in the rosette centres!

 Please excuse the less than attractive background to some of the pictures, but I was taking them at my demo table!
Just to confirm (as I was asked a few times at the show) no, I haven't "changed allegiance" or given up stamping in favour of die cutting! I am doing the Sizzix die demonstrations as well as my stamping ones and especially at some of the shows. Hope that puts that particular rumour to bed! Lol!
Somehow four days went by really quickly and it was great to see so many friendly faces - some new and some familiar. Everyone was having a lot of fun spending their pennies... er ....pounds!
Poor Martin had the rotten job of waiting until everyone else had left the showground before he could phone the AA again to tow their broken van home again - what a nightmare!
The fourth day of a show always lends itself to a bit of giddiness as everyone is tired and being in the dry atmosphere of the halls for so many days doesn't help. As you can see, I was going a little crazy by the Sunday afternoon and my eyes were a bit sore!!!!! 

  Sorry....I should have issued a warning before subjecting you to that image! 
When I got back I hit the ground running with a magazine project to get done as well as samples for tomorrow's Happy Stamper's show at Port Sunlight. On Monday evening I was on the St Chad's team for the town quiz, with loads of rival teams from Poulton all competing for the trophy. We didn't win, or even come in the top three, but we did okay and didn't disgrace ourselves!
Next evening was a Lent service at church followed by a meeting of a focus group which I'm on and last night was puppet rehearsals! Between times Heather came up and we went to visit mum - it was quite a jolly visit as they had put an Elvis CD on as one of the residents is a keen fan. Everyone there is a little hard of hearing so the volume had been cranked up and I found myself singing along and even doing a bit of twisting which entertained Michael - the Elvis officionado!
I was sent back into bittersweet memories when the track "Love Me Tender" came on, as David used to sing that to me whilst holding me tightly in his arms....and he always sang it exactly like Elvis. 

When I listen to that track it really could be David.....and I know how lucky I am that I've been loved so completely.

Well, until the Gastroparesis got me I was getting on with work, but I had to stop and rest which has set me back a little. I've managed to complete the new shirt that I'll be wearing tomorrow though....
...two "selfies" in one post! (I'm only amazed that I even know what a selfie is being the dinosaur that I am when it comes to newfangled trends and such like) I used a black Fabrico pen to draw the patterns on the shirt and then black So Soft paint from DecoArt to fill them in. It took a while as I had to be careful not to smudge anything when I was moving the fabric around. By the way - although I've been watching the Sewing Bee, I didn't make the shirt I'm afraid!!! I've made the little badge though as I thought that rather than making the shirt purely for when I'm working, if I didn't add the Zendoodle word it would make it more wearable.
So, I'm looking forward to seeing lots of you at Port Sunlight tomorrow. I believe the tickets are all sold so I'm expecting a busy day as usual at one of Happy Stampers events. 
I will be Zendoodling and stamping and, generally getting quite messy in spite of myself I expect! So, I'd better get my bags sorted for tomorrow now. Do say hello if you're coming to the show and have a great weekend everyone. I'll share pictures of tomorrow after the weekend....I'm intending to take it a bit easier next week!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

There and back again...and off again!

Fellow Tolkien fans will recognise "There and back again" as the alternative title for The Hobbit, and I certainly feel quite Bilbo Baggins like with all my travels lately! It seems I'm no sooner back than I'm off again....well, tomorrow anyway.
So, last Friday I took three trains down to Haddenham where the lovely Christina from A Maze of Memories met me and we then drove to the park and ride to pick up a bus into Oxford. This was something that I had been really looking forward to and I certainly was not disappointed. What a marvellous day it was. The shiveringly cold weather that began the day had given way to cloudless skies and sun that actually felt warm and made me squint....who knew I should have taken sunglasses?!
On the way into Oxford I spotted something that made me look twice and is, I now know, a famous landmark.....
...yep, a shark in the roof of a house! I didn't take this photo, but I did want to share the delight that this gave me! Bet the birds like to perch on that giant tail!
However, as we rode further into the city, the sights became rather more traditionally breathtaking....
Once we alighted, Christina and I began our tour of the colleges, chapels and Churches. We climbed the 127 steps up St Mary's church tower...we were both huffing and puffing a bit (!) when we reached the top but it was well worth the effort...
....just one of the magnificent views. We spent some time gazing over the panorama and also at the various gargoyles and carved characters that adorn the tower....
....isn't he/she wonderful?! Not very often that you get so close to such lofty figures.
One of my favourite parts of the afternoon was looking around the Cathedral and college grounds of Christchurch. The walled gardens were just my cup of tea.
The Great Hall was one of the inspirations for Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, when he was writing Alice in Wonderland. As one of the expert guides told us, he was sitting by the great fireplace and the long necks of the firedogs on either side gave him the idea of Alice growing when she ate the cake! One of the stained glass windows has depictions of various characters from the book. The hall in the Harry Potter films was based on this room too.
 The walls are filled with portraits of former students - it must be quite intimidating for the current students as they dine at the long tables!
There were amazing windows and carvings in the Cathedral itself but I really felt drawn to this ancient tomb chest....
One of the bowler hatted guides was kind enough to take a picture of Christina and I in the grounds....

.....sadly, I do rather resemble a hobbit beside my elegant companion! We finished the day by having a much deserved plate of warm scones, jam and clotted cream....naughty but nice! I bought a small souvenir from Christchurch Cathedral....
.....a tiny Icon Diptych which will always remind me of a lovely day.
So, after a rather exhausting afternoon I slept really well (until 5.45 am, when other hotel guests decided it was perfectly okay to stand outside my room talking...ggrrrr!!!) and it was soon time to get the show on the road at AMOM. I was demonstrating my new stamps and there were also three make n take sessions. This was the sample that I had made to give the ladies their inspiration.
I used thick corrugated card that was coloured with Distress paints and then rubbed with gilding wax. The image is one of my Zendoodle stamps - the ladies had a choice of the three different toadstool sets in the collection. Once doodled and coloured it was adhered to the panel and then embellished with Tim's tattered florals.
Needless to say, everyone put their own spin on the project. This was Trudy's version....
...and here's some great colouring from Louise....



.....and here is a picture that shows what a busy day we were all having!
You can see more of the fabulous work that the ladies did by clicking here. So, I must give a wave to everyone that came along and especially to Diane for the treats for my two terrors and honey for me, also to Julie who I hope to see at the NEC and to Miriam, Mary and Christina for all their hard work in making the day so special.
Well, I've been busy getting ready for my next trip since I got back. I'll be leaving for Birmingham International rail station tomorrow ahead of the Hobbycrafts show at the NEC on Thursday to Sunday. The worst job was definitely trying to pack everything into something like a manageable amount of luggage to haul! Here's what I've ended up with....
One extraordinarily heavy suitcase (those Sizzix Bigz XL dies weigh a ton!), my Tim Holtz bag, filled with everything from socks to die cut flowers, and my canvas bag filled with my dimensional Sizzix samples. Wish me luck...I think I'll need it!
This morning the postie brought me a jiffy bag filled with these....
....my "Ready to Go" Zendoodle stamp sets complete with their new packaging design....
....the drawings around the edges of the insert are there to give some ideas for different Zentangle designs.
Wow, that was a rather picture heavy post! I'm going to get myself into my PJ's now so I can watch the Sewing Bee in comfort with a hot coffee and a yogurt (strange combination I know!). 
Thomas is already picking up on the fact that I'll be leaving them again, so he will be getting some extra cuddles tonight! Tara doesn't seem to worry as much so long as she gets her grub, although she always goes mad with excitement when I get home...Thomas usually lets me know that he's very annoyed with me!
I hope to see lots of you at the show over the next few days. I'll be on the Card-io stand where you can also see Wendy working magic with her own range of stamps. 
I'll report back after the weekend. Finally, welcome to my latest blog followers and hope you will enjoy my ramblings!