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

Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year good wishes

Just a quick post to wish everyone all the best for the new year.
I know that many of you, like myself, have, for one reason or another, had a really bad year. I just hope that this coming one will be kinder to all of us.
I'm not looking forward to the bringing in of 2013 itself, as it will be so sad to stand and watch the fireworks from the back of the house without David wrapping me up inside his big coat and wishing the best for each other with a hug and a kiss. I'll still watch them though and I'll raise a glass to my lovely man.
I hope you all enjoy tonight in whatever way you're spending new year's eve.
God bless.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Memories and wishes

Today would have been dad's 90th birthday as well as Christmas Eve. He just loved the whole birthday/Christmas experience and would have a big smile on his face that would put a nine year old to shame. This is dad with mum last year.
Heather and I will be going to spend time with mum today at her care home and open some of her presents with her. She will be full of smiles as always, especially when she opens any of the "eats"! There are some pink and white marshmallows, Thorntons cakes and fruit jellies so she will enjoy those.
We're then going back to Heather's and will be having a Chinese takeaway just as we always did for dad's birthday. I'll be coming home and then going to the midnight service at church which is something I've not done before but am looking forward to. I'm going with my neighbour so it will be a late night for us both.
I've decided to have Christmas day itself on my own so I can just spend a quiet time. I'm going to cook a proper dinner with (most of) the trimmings which will keep me occupied for a while. Heather wanted me to spend the day with them, but I think this first Christmas without David is one that I need to be on my own for. 
Well, I just want to wish everybody a very happy and peaceful Christmas. I'll sign off with a picture of my tree with one the two new Bambi decorations that I got last week....they are flocked and I added ribbon bows and bells as well as some white spots to their rumps - ever so cute. There are also some vintage baubles that I picked up for a snip in a charity shop. Hopefully they will survive Tara's growing interest in the sparkly, shiny ornaments that are tantalizing her!

Happy Christmas everybody.
PS I tried scheduling this post to come on yesterday whilst I was out but it didn't work! Oh well, happy Christmas again!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

What a wash out

Goodness it's rained today. I'd been going to go into the village to join in the singing in the square this morning - the same band that Heather and I saw at the theatre were playing. It was so dark, wet and windy though, that I just didn't relish standing outside for an hour or so!
I decided to take the bus to Blackpool instead....I must have been mad. The water was running through the streets and it was really cold. I ventured into M & S food department which was completely manic but I did get the bread sauce that was on the top of my shopping list! It was always mum's favourite bit of Christmas dinner. I had a voucher to spend at M & S and had planned to use it against my food shopping. It was only as I was coming home that I realised I'd forgotten to use it - duh!
By the time I got back I was frozen and soaked through so after huddling by the fire with Tara I decided to run a bubble bath - it's the only way to really get warm again after a soaking. Then it was a bowl of papardelle pasta with mushrooms (yum) as I settled down to watch Strictly. I have so enjoyed the whole Strictly thing - isn't it nice to have proper, old fashioned entertainment on a Saturday night? 
I really didn't have a particular favourite to win from the final four as I thought they were all brilliant. I was very pleased with the result though - I won't give anything away as I know some people may be watching it on catch up or recording! Saturday telly will be much duller now.
I'm off to church in the morning and will be doing my last bit of food shopping before walking home...it does seem odd going shopping straight after church but half the congregation seem to do the same thing! I just hope it's a bit dryer tomorrow.
Welcome to new followers and thank you for all the cards that I've received both real and virtual! I'll be back for a last pre-Christmas post tomorrow. Sleep tight everyone.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Theatrics

Hello folks, sorry to have been awol for a couple of weeks, and thank you for the emails that I received from several people asking if I was okay - it was very thoughtful. I've been caught up with various things, including getting the kitchen floor and washing machine fixed as well as feeling a bit low, but am okay. Everyone seems to be really busy and running out of time to get things done...it's almost like Christmas has suddenly loomed large and fitting everything in requires some juggling.
Having the kitchen problems sorted out at last is a real weight off my mind though as I was literally standing on lino with no floorboard under it when I was washing up! The washing machine pipes that had been slowly leaking have been replaced and the floor is now solid beneath my feet. I'm hopeful that the intermittent "door not opening" problem will have resolved now too as it seems the leaks were fooling the machine into thinking it hadn't emptied. So, one major job done and with very little mess too.
I've sent all my Christmas cards off - and apologies to those who I have no address for. Thomas was doing his best to help me finish a few last week, though he was more of a hindrance if truth be told.....
 .....bless him!
I spent last Saturday putting decorations up which gave me a bit of a lift - and took ages! Thomas has completely ignored all the tinsel, the trees and fairy lights, but Tara has been quite fascinated by them - far more than last year. I have had to keep a bit of an eye on her.....
  .....she has been sitting on the back of the armchair gazing at the baubles as if she might launch herself into the tree branches at any second! In this picture she just looks as if she's wearing a bauble on her head though!
Yesterday was the day that I finally felt as if everything has been done that needs to be done as it were. I had a surprise visit from one of my best friends whose timing was perfect as the plumber had finished and left half an hour before. So we were able to have a good catch up and some hugs of course. Later in the afternoon I got the bus into Blackpool and met my sister, Heather, for a wander around the shops prior to our night at the Grand Theatre. We went to Nandos for dinner before the concert - neither of us had been to one of their restaurants before and we really enjoyed both the food and the excellent service...we were really looked after and one of the waiters gave us a bag containing a selection of all their sauces to take home!
We then made our way into the theatre for a carol concert by Poulton-Le-Fylde band. There was a really bizarre twist to the evening too. One of the ladies at church had mentioned going to the concert and I'd said that I was also going. Heather commented that I might spot her but I doubted I would. How very odd that we were sat at the end of an empty row when Debbie (and several other people from church) all trouped onto our row and sat right next to us! All of us had pre booked our seats months ago so I cannot imagine what the chances of that were - very strange!
Anyway, what a wonderful evening it turned out to be. Just being in the Grand is an experience to savour...

 ...I took this picture in the interval when the safety curtain was down, but you can see how ornate the interior is.The evening was full of traditional carols, including some sing along ones, as well as more contemporary festive music. The music was interspersed with banter from rev Bottoms who was as funny as any stand up comedian. 
Heather and I were fascinated by the three percussionists who were playing an array of drums, triangles, bells, cymbals etc and were very obviously enjoying what they were doing. At one point three band members plus "an audience member" asked the conductor if they could sing the next piece (all very "impromptu"!) and they performed a really memorable acapella version of "the Christmas song" (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) which brought the house down.
What really finished the night perfectly was as we were coming down the staircase and heard singing in the foyer below - the four guys were entertaining everyone as they left. Heather and I decided to linger and listen to them and I asked if I could take a photo. They were laughing and saying they had a groupie! Heather did take one of me with them, but I'll show you the one without me in it as it's a much nicer one!
 They then said they'd sing one just for us and serenaded us with "the Irish Blessing" which brought a tear to our eyes. A very special end to our evening.
Well, it's late, so I'd better sign off for tonight. Thank you to everyone who has sent me a card or a message - they have been much appreciated and, again, apologies to those whose addresses I don't have (or have lost!). Take care everyone.

PS I forgot to mention that Heather and I were both texting each other at 5.15pm last evening to tell each other to watch Celebrity Pointless as our cousin was on one of the four teams! He's Simon Hickson who some of you may remember as one half of Trevor and Simon - from children's telly. We haven't seen him for years but it was fun watching and seeing how well (or not) they would do. He and Trevor got knocked out in the second round but they didn't disgrace themselves! 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

I'm pooped!

I set aside today for having a really good pre-Christmas tidy, clear out and clean. It was a very gloomy morning with very little sunlight peeking over the yard arm until well after nine. Anyway, I set to work and carried on till mid afternoon when I decided to call it a day as I was desperate for a coffee and a bite to eat.
I am an absolutely awful housekeeper, partly due to the fact that David did all the domestic side of things while I cracked on with what I have to do. I've had such a busy few weeks that I really let things slide so there was quite a bit to get through today.
Anyway, I've completely done the workroom/vestibule that I never know what to call...Heather and I have started calling it the Doo-Lally-Pip room now, after my new stamp range and it seems like a good choice! Everything got cleared off the table, all the bits and pieces sorted through and lots of rubbish thrown out or into the recycling bin. I finally made a decision to clear all the drawers and cupboard space that was filled with David's clothes. I really struggled, but I went through everything and chose certain items that are extra special to me and have put those all neatly away. Everything else will go to the charity shop now. It was tough, but I know that David would have told me to stop being silly and use the space - he wasn't sentimental about objects and "things". 
So, I've now put my work materials in the drawers - inkpads in one, dies in another etc. I don't know how long they will stay in any kind of order, but it's a start. After a good clean I put some cheerful fabric over my table and along the shelf that I place my canvasses and altered art pieces on. I've upset a few spiders, but I think they will soon make themselves at home again!
I then tackled the lounge, made a huge pile of old paperwork to recycle, dusted, polished and tidied and threw another big bag full of rubbish out. Where does all the mass of accumulated nonsense come from?
I'll have to have another day of h*!**!!k tomorrow to tackle the two bedrooms, kitchen and conservatory, but I feel like I achieved quite a lot today so it won't seem such a chore tomorrow. I'll change all the bedding too, though I think it's going to take a long time to dry any laundry out at the moment and the thought of damp sheets over the radiators makes me shiver!
I'm just waiting for the plumber to arrive any time now as there is a problem in the kitchen - one of the floorboards has gone "squashy" which is a bad sign and I think there's either a slow leak from under the sink, or something to do with the temperamental washing machine. Hopefully it won't be anything too major and the florboard will dry out - eek! It's so weird to have to have "a man in" as, again, David always took care of any problems...he really could do anything.
Anyway, that's been my day so far. I'll share some more sneaky peeks of my new designs now - hope you like them. This first one is from the Crafty Impressions (a new range that PI are doing) All Occasions section and I designed this set with several ideas in mind - they will work well stamped in Glue n Seal, or using the new Ranger sticky embossing powder and dry glitters. I'll also be using them stamped in Archival black over alcohol ink or Dylusions ink sprayed backgrounds.

The set is called "Hope Blooms" (CICSA6012).
Next is a set called "Don't be afraid" (CICSA6023) which is from my Doo-Lally-Pip collection and has lots of useful quotes for cards or journalling.
The next set is also from the Doo-Lally-Pip range. This one is "Time Travel" (CICSA6029) and works really well with the Steamed Up set that I showed on last night's post.

The main character is quite androgynous - with or without the top hat! This was another set that took hours and hours to draw.
To complete tonight's little peeps, these last two are Tinchies (small single stamps) and are both from the Easter range, though they can obviously be used at any time of the year. They are both bunnies  - why do we call rabbits "bunnies" by the way?






This one is called "Bunny Behind" (CICST001) for obvious reasons - though I don't give them the names!



And this one is called "Rabbit Warren" (CICST005)










Well, hope you like them! If you didn't catch last night's post you can see more of the new designs there.
I'll post a few more tomorrow as well.
Well, I'm going to relax for the evening now. I decided on the chicken fried rice last night - it was more like a chicken kedgeree really and very tasty. I added some curry powder to the onions and then lots of different vegetables (it can be hard to get that five a day and now "they" say we should have seven!) before stirring an egg into the pan, adding the rice, soy sauce and finally the pieces of chicken. Yummy! So, it will be spaghetti tonight I think - unless I wimp out and just slam a lasagne ready meal into the oven. Must go and feed my two mischievous moggies first though!

Monday, 3 December 2012

New stamp sets

I should be feeling more relaxed now, as Saturday's demonstration, at Suzi Crafts in Stockton, was my last outing, work wise, for this year. Somehow, I feel just the opposite though, and my head is swimming with lists of things to be done, things to buy, things to send and, of course, bills to pay. The last being the one causing the most stress needless to say!
I'm also feeling very irritated just now as I decided that, before I put up any Christmas decorations, I must sort out the dreadful state of part of the ceiling in my work room come vestibule. The flat roof had been leaking very badly throughout the summer and, although it was fixed, I still hadn't redecorated the ceiling. It looked a sight really, big blobs of expansion foam coming through where some holes had been filled, paper coming away and lots of water marks of course. 
So, full of great confidence (!) I found some suitable wallpaper in a drawer in the garage, along with adhesive and a big brush. My confidence evaporated as quickly as the wallpaper unstuck itself from the ceiling! I couldn't even get it to hold up long enough to attach more than a few inches - what a disaster! I'm sure that the neighbours were very entertained if they were watching my Norman Wisdom like attempts - good thing they couldn't hear me...I don't swear as a rule, but I was getting pretty fed up!
Eventually I decided that this was just not a one woman job and....gave up. I switched plans and found some paint which I've daubed on for now. It looks frightful to be truthful - but will have to do for now. I think I'll get some textured paint which will cover the uneven surface but it will have to wait till new year now. It's hard with no one to help, though David always managed to work wonders with only my occasional assistance. So, although I might get some odd jobs rebuilding garden walls, I don't think I'll be picking up any work as a decorator!
Hello to everyone that I met on Saturday and thanks for all making me so welcome. It was a really fun day and what an enthusiastic bunch. Thanks too, to Tom and Sue for keeping me warm with a heater and coffees - as well as the chips and gravy for lunch....naughty but nice....they know how to make good gravy in the north east! I hope I'll be back there next year.
Yesterday was a good start to getting into the Christmas spirit. As well as the normal Sunday service at St Chads, there were two other special events that I attended. First was a late afternoon Christingle service which involved oranges decorated with sticks, sweets, ribbon and candles. The lights in the church were all turned out and the vicar told the story behind the Christingle oranges before lighting the first candle. Everyone came forward to take an orange and form a huge circle of people around the inside of the church and the flame was then passed from person to person. A really beautiful service and I loved the fact that even the children were holding the candles....nuts to the health and safety bureaucrats!
I then braved the cold and spent an hour or so browsing the village shop windows and having a coffee until the evening service which was an Advent celebration with music from the choir and lots of Carol singing. I walked home through the park (so nice to be somewhere that I feel safe walking in a park at night) and had a lazy evening on the sofa watching the box and getting warm again.
Well, that's been my weekend, and now, as promised, here are a few of my new stamp sets that will be available early next year. They are all  from my new "Doo-Lally-Pip collection"! I'll share more over the next few days. Here goes....
 .....this set is called "My purrfect pal" (CICSA6022) and I hope will appeal to other feline fanciers like myself. Being in the Doo-Lally-Pip series it has to have a quirky touch of course. Next up is....
 ....."Steamed up" (CICSA6025) which is one of my favourites of the new designs. I can't describe just how long this set took to draw! I don't use my computer to design with, except for some of my quotes and messages, so it does take hours for some very detailed images. Of course, when designing stamps, everything is literally black and white ie no grey shading allowed! So, any shadows have to be created with fine black lines which is what takes the time. I hope this will be a really useful set for journalling, altered art and cardmaking too of course. The next set is.......
...... "Behind the mask" (CICSA6028) with the Pierrot and Venetian mask. I really enjoyed drawing this set and I'll be using these images in my own journal I know. Here's a new quotes set.....
 .....this one is called "Create" (CICSA6026). My Creative Thoughts A5 set has been one of my most popular designs this year, so we have got several A6 quote collections this time. You will have to turn your necks round to read some of them I'm afraid, but we like to pack them onto the sheets! I'll share some of the other quote sets over the next few days. Finally for tonight......
 .....this is "My fragile heart" (CICSA6024) which will work for Valentine cards of course, but for journalling, tags and general cards too. 
That's all the sneaky peeks for now. The sets I've shown are all A6 size and are in the new Crafty Impressions section of the PI website. They'll be available from any store that stocks Personal Impressions products.
Well, it's time for me to go into the kitchen and rustle something up for dinner...not sure what yet, but I've really been trying to do some "proper" cooking lately, instead of relying on ready meals and cans. I actually made a vegetable curry last week that was pretty good if I say so myself, and Nigel Slater inspired me to make a fruit crumble (I did a sugar free version) that turned out really well. It's going to be either chicken fried rice or meatball spaghetti tonight depending on how I feel when I open the fridge!
I know I keep signing off like this lately, but do keep warm everyone.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Frosty greetings everyone! Well, it's certainly frosty here anyway and I imagine it's going to get even colder when I head over to Stockton later. The garden looks like it's been sifted with icing sugar this morning and the bird bath has refrozen even after I'd melted the ice with boiling water. So, the suet, cheese and seeds have been liberally sprinkled on my bird tables and everything from blue tits, my robin and some very big seagulls have been having a good breakfast. You know it's cold when there's steam coming from their little bills! Bbbbrrrr.
It was too dark to take any photos of what I was making yesterday, so I've just snapped a few pictures of the festive configuration box before it gets packed into my case.

The boxes were covered in a mixture of Graphic 45 Christmas Emporium papers and Tim's Composer tissue wrap.The individual box edges were covered with tissue tape and I used MME All is Bright tape for the edges of the main box.
The TH mini lantern is such a cute addition and well worth the fiddling about that I had to do after deciding to place it in the tall thin box with not much room for fingers!
The deer (and numbers) were die cut from grungeboard using Tim's Movers & Shapers die SZ657493. I inked the deer using various brown tones and added some white gel pen dots to its rump. It just fitted nicely into it's box so that it could be held in place with a little Multi Matte Medium on either side as well as a big blob at it's feet which was then sprinkled with clear rock candy dry glitter.
The little red bells were a freebie from Crafts Beautiful magazine last month and I attached them with a jump ring and brad along with leaves from Tim's Festive Foliage pack which I inked in green. The snowflake is from the Christmas Adornments pack which I dabbed with white acrylic and then Stickles Diamond glitter glue. I filled the corked vial with Rock Candy glitter and cut the tiny tag from the Graphic 45 papers.
 I love the TH Woodland pack with the trees and wreath that can be coloured with ink. I used the small tree here and sprayed it with two shades of Dylusions ink before adding some Gesso "snow" and wrapping with the mini tinsel from Tim's Winter pack. The Seasonal muse token has been painted and inked and I added some TH stripey paper string.
I inked one of the TH Baubles with a teal Promarker and used TH box corners to give a finished look to the piece. I'll have this with me for tomorrow's demonstration at Suzicrafts in Stockton, as well as some other boxes, tags cards and canvasses.
I thought you might also like to see the latest things that my two mischief makers have been enjoying. Thomas decided to help me with the jig saw that I'd been doing in the evenings....
 ....I did complete the puzzle but, despite searching everywhere, there was, annoyingly,one piece missing. Not that I'm accusing anyone of course!
And Tara decided that the box which I brought some groceries back in this week was the perfect new spot for her to sit in.....
 .....she's been plonking herself in it with great delight, so it looks like it will be a fixture in the lounge for a while until she loses interest! I'm glad to report that she is finally becoming much happier and trusting, even choosing to snuggle up with me on the sofa from time to time. Unfortunately, even after a year, she still thinks Thomas is a complete yob and hisses at him every time he walks past her. Still, it's good to see her so much more contented.
Well, I had better go and finish packing my case ready for my four and a half hour journey to Stockton. Hope to see some of you there tomorrow.
When I get back I'll be able to post some pictures of some of my new stamp designs which will be out early next year, so watch this space!
I think I'll just dig out an extra scarf before I go...

PS I've been meaning to say that if you have emailed me and not had a reply, please check that you're using the correct email address and not my old one. The old email address is now completely defunct and the one at the top of my blog is the right one.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Six months

Today marks six months since my darling David died - it feels more like six weeks ago but time just rolls on relentlessly. It's like doing the world's biggest bungee jump without even knowing if the rope's attached to anything. Some days are better than others and I do try to keep positive knowing that's what David would have wanted me to do.
This is a picture from a very happy time that David and I spent in Dundee when I was working up in Scotland a couple of years ago. We had a wonderful few days up there with lots of laughter and lovely memories.
I just wanted to say thank you for everyone's kind messages, thoughtful cards and emails over the last few months and apologies to anyone that I didn't get back to personally.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Seconds out

Just a quick pre night night post. Had a lovely day at Card-Io in Wigan...bitterly cold this morning and myself and other passengers were steadied as we left the train as the platform was so slippery with hailstones! However, it was warm and cosy in the shop and Wendy and Martin looked after me as they always do - I haven't drunk so much coffee in ages!
Hello to everyone who braved the cold to come to the demonstration and glad you all enjoyed it. It seems that quite a few trees will be adorned with paper rosette baubles this Christmas!
The return trip was somewhat eventful (I do seem to attract eventful) as the second leg of the journey was on a replacement coach and, not long after getting onto the motorway, it started juddering as if a tyre had blown out. There followed a tense few minutes as the driver battled to get it under control and, with rain lashing down, he managed to get us onto the hard shoulder. He rang HQ to request a new vehicle (it wasn't a tyre after all - don't know what it was) and said that he was shaking like a leaf. He announced that he was going to carry on carefully and get us to our station, which he did, driving slowly and precisely. I was very impressed with the way he reacted to the situation and equally unimpressed when other passengers got off the coach without so much as even a cursory thank you.Why are people so rude? I did thank him and said how well I thought he'd handled it - it wouldn't cross my mind to do otherwise but maybe that's because I was brung up properly!!
Anyway, I walked home through the rain, got in, put the heat on, fed my two tearways and was more or less straight back out of the door- they were not impressed. I joined a team at the church hall for the quiz and curry evening and we came second which was pretty good as there were a fair few teams there. The winners were the same ones who won last time so I reckon they are swots anyway! Thankfully I got a lift home so avoided getting soaked through again.
I've just watched Strictly on the BBCi player so I'm up to speed before tomorrow's results show - not quite the same watching on the lap top, but I still enjoyed it.
Thomas has refused to go out for more than a couple of minutes over the last couple of days but he was itching to get outside tonight and was disgusted by the torrential rain - you know how cats are...always blaming their human for the bad weather! He must have been cross legged though, and he doesn't like using the litter tray, so he shot out like the proverbial cannon and vanished up the lane at a rate of knots. He just came back in and was absolutely soaked so he's had a rub down with a warm towel which he loves. Very cute as I tell him to "stand" and he goes stock still while I dry him, purring at the top of his voice.
Well, that's been my day and it's definitely time for bed now so I shall bid everyone goodnight. Thank you to everyone today for the very kind comments about my blog - it's good to know that my ramblings are appreciated - and good to know that my "wardrobe malfunction" a few weeks ago caused such laughter! Night night all.

Monday, 19 November 2012

A Gollum Lemur...

....that's what this creature makes me think of anyway. A cross between a Lemur and the Middle Earth character, Gollum. 
 If you want to see how this creation started out then take a look a couple of posts back, where you can also find the link to the blog which gave me the inspiration. I'd originally seen an owl in the Distress Stain print, but the more I looked at it, the more my pencil started to sketch a Lemur like creature. His long skinny legs are very strange, but you have to go with what's there!
I have to say that whenever I have a bit of a creative blank, drawing wise, rather than feeling I have to sit there staring at blank paper till something emerges, it's often better to spend a bit of time just creating something just for fun. It takes the pressure off, unblocks the artistic channels and, before I know it, I'm filled with ideas again.
I had a very low few days last week and creating these funny characters has also been a good way to lift my spirits. On Sunday, in Church, I had been thinking about my sister and how she's always looked out for me...there are lots of photos of us that show Heather with a protective arm around my shoulder. When I turned to the next hymn I thought "another one that I don't know" but, when the organist began playing, I instantly knew the tune which was The Skye Boat Song - which just happens to be the song that Heather was always singing when we were children. It was quite eerie - in a good way! I think there are lots of things that can be taken as signs of positivity and comfort when we're feeling at our lowest - we just have to be open to them.
Well, back to the work front and I'll be at Card-Io in Pemberton, Wigan on Saturday (British Rail allowing of course!!!) so hope to see lots of you there as I normally do at Wendy's shop. This will be my penultimate demonstration for the year which is quite a strange thought. 
When I get back home on Saturday I'll be feeding Thomas and Tara and then straight out again to take part in another quiz night. Heather and I formed a two person team called "Chalk & Cheese" last time, but she can't come on Saturday (football!) so I was all set to call myself "the one and lonely"! However, I was taken pity on and invited to join another team so I hope I bring something to the table - I think they were hoping I might have some "pop music" knowledge but I had to let them down on that one! Give me the natural history questions and I'll be okay and I should be able to help with the cryptic picture clues too. I'll let you know how we get on next week.
Time to relax now after a fairly productive day. It was so wintery here and bitterly cold so I've had  double socks and a thick cardigan on all day, as well as turning on the extra heater in the room where I work (it's the room between the front door and the lounge.....but nothing I call it sounds right!). I dread to think what the next gas bill will be like, but I reckon it will beat having frost bite!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

That was a duck....

.....and this is a chicken! I started watching the new ghost story drama on BBC 1 tonight, but I've just wimped out and switched channels. David and I loved watching spooky films, but, now I'm on my own, I know I'll start peering round doors, wondering what the creaking sounds are and generally freaking myself out.
Shame, because it looked like it might be quite good but I'd rather be able to get a good night's sleep! 
 

Not that cranky...

My good friend Paul pointed me to a great blog called cranky birds where some fantastical creations are on show. They are birds that emerge from blobs of paint or ink with the addition of some doodles and linework.I just had to have a go, so, last night I made some inky splodges with Distress stains - I used some of the new colours which arrived last week...Picked Raspberry, Evergreen Bough, Peacock Feathers and Shaded Lilac in this instance. Here are a couple of the sheets that I inked.
 I have to admit that I didn't get much initial inspiration looking at these - they were much less "blobby" than I wanted really. However, after looking at the left hand one for a while, a creature did begin to make itself known to me. Here's my initial pencil sketching in of a shape with a few details added in black ink....
A bit further along with my doodle.I added more linework and some details with Promarkers......
And here's my finished creature with some text added. As I said...not that cranky! The bird looked too cute and cuddly to be angry, so I just chose words that seemed to suit her.
I had been going to submit my drawing to the Cranky Birds site, but she's nowhere near grumpy enough! Please do take a look at the Cranky Birds blog to see some really furious characters and find out more about the creator of this great idea. I've done what I call "Cloud Watching" doodles for many years, but the Cranky Birds are a new one on me. Thanks Paul!
I must also thank Paul for helping me to sort out my problems with blogger - it was so blooming obvious what I was doing wrong but, of course, I was over complicating things. So, back to decent, eye friendly sized text again - yay!
Well, it's almost dark outside, so I am going to take a look over the fields and see if I can spot the two Barn Owls that my neighbour has seen over the last few days. Mmmm, there's a definite bird theme going on here!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The best laid plans

Indeed......today didn't turn out at all like it was meant to! I left the house at just after 5.30am (I know!) to set off on my trek to Brighouse in West Yorkshire. This involved one cab to the local station, a rail replacement bus to Preston, a train to Hebden Bridge, another train to Brighouse and finally, a cab to Samuel Taylors.Well, that was the theory anyway.
I got to Preston with no problem and, thankfully, the York train was in so I was able to sit in there rather than on the chilly platform. All was still going well as the train set off twenty minutes later and continued to be okay until the train left Burnley and then stopped. It stayed stopped for quite a while until we were all informed that there was a problem ahead and the trains were backed up to Hebden Bridge. It then emerged that there was a track problem and the engineers had been called, but they didn't know how soon they'd arrive, nor what would happen when they got there.
I sat and waited, watching the time ticking away and realising that I wasn't going to be able to get to Samuel Taylors in time to teach my workshop. Eventually I had to call Heather and ask her to call the shop to explain that I was stranded on a train somewhere with no idea how long I'd be there! I felt awful, knowing that all those ladies were going to be disappointed.
Eventually, the trains got moving again and I had to make the reverse journey home. Of course, British Rail said they would refund everyone's ticket costs but, as I paid with my debit card, I will have to wait two or three weeks for the money to go back in. Needless to say BR will not compensate anyone for any associated losses (such as my day's earnings) so my "day out" cost me £5.00 for my cab fare this morning!
It was a very frustrating day all round. I decided to have a nap on the sofa this afternoon to make up for my early, and pointless, start. The only winners were Tara and Thomas who were very pleased to see me home early!
It was a much more enjoyable start to the week as Heather and I went to the theatre on Tuesday to see a ballet version of A Christmas Carol. This was at the famous Grand in Blackpool which is described as the prettiest theatre in Britain. I'd have shared some photos of it but I stupidly forgot to take my camera. We're going again in December for a traditional Carol concert so I will make sure that I take some pictures then. We had a meal before the show and really enjoyed the evening - the costumes were beautiful and Marley's ghost appearing to Scrooge was pretty scary!
I spent the night at Heather's so it all made a really good change from the usual routine.
Sorry I haven't posted anything this week, but I'm still working on things I can't share - frustratingly!
So, with apologies to everyone who was booked for my workshop today, and a welcome to my new followers, I shall sign off for the evening. Keep warm everyone - it's cold out there!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

11:11:11

Today has great significance for me and my sister Heather. Not only is it Remembrance day, but it is the first anniversary of the death of our dad. 
This morning I went to the usual Sunday Church service where I placed a flower from David's memorial rose on the case which contains the memorial book. Each day the pages of the book are turned to show the names of those who died on that date and so dad's name was there in beautiful calligraphy.
I can't believe that it's really a year ago. The service was very moving especially as one of the hymns was "Be still my soul" which was one of the pieces of music that I chose for David's funeral.
After the service I went outside and met up with Heather for the Remembrance service in the village square. There were hundreds of people crowded around the Cenotaph, quite a sight in our little village, but a sign of the great community spirit. The two minutes silence was very moving...thoughts of David, dad and also our uncle David, who we never met, but who was killed in WWII. You can watch some of the service here: http://youtu.be/jUtI4ELW8RM. The two minutes silence was very moving...thoughts of David, dad and also our uncle David, who we never met, but who was killed in WWII.

So, it's been a thoughtful day. One to reflect on love and loss and bringing people together in peace.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Christmas baubles

Just a fairly quick post today. I'm waiting in for a parcel that the PO tried to deliver on Saturday. The soonest re-delivery date was Wednesday, so, of course, I waited in all day for it to arrive - it didn't! So an irritated call to my local sorting office this morning resulted in the very nice man (no, he really was very nice - I wasn't being sarcastic!) telling me that he had personally put it out for delivery for me yesterday and had no idea why I hadn't received it. He rang me back to say that it would be with me sometime today and then had a chat with me about my mum and dad who he vividly recalled from when he used to do deliveries himself. Needless to say, his personal chit chat with me managed to assuage some of my annoyance of the rubbish service! 
I'm going to be at Samuel Taylor's in Leeds on Saturday where I'll be teaching a workshop in the morning and doing a demonstration in the afternoon. So, I thought I'd share one of the things I'll be demonstrating....
....these baubles are great fun to make using the Tim Holtz rosette Sizzlit dies from Sizzix. I used the original single die as well as the mini rosette die which has two smaller sizes. If you are using heavier weight cardstock, or mirri card, I suggest a cool melt glue gun to adhere the rosettes to the backing circles as they have a tendency to pop off otherwise! 
Here's a closer look at one from a side view to show the dimension better....
...I'm hoping to make quite a few for my tree as they are a great way to use up those odd sheets of decorative papers that we all have taking up space! 
These ones are pretty simple...just a few papers, card and either brads or gems for the centres and I've just used white cord for the hangers. However, I'm going to be making some with glittered edges, maybe some tinsel sandwiched between the two largest rosettes, ribbon hangers etc. Great fun!
Before I forget (again) I have now got the new Ranger Sticky embossing powder and have given it a try. It's very good indeed. Simply stamp using an embossing ink, sprinkle on the sticky embossing powder and shake off the excess. Have your glitter ready, heat the powder and immediately pour on the glitter. I pressed the glitter down slightly. Shake off the excess and voila, a glittered image. I was able to use a brush to dust away the excess without it moving the stamped image at all. One tip is to use an anti static pad first of course. So, it gets a thumbs up from me.
Well, that'smy coffee break over, so it's back to work - colouring in at the moment, oh, and waiting of course!  

Monday, 5 November 2012

East to West

Well, north east back to north west anyway, after my busy weekend in Darlington and Washington. It was a nice journey up there on friday after a freezing start to the day that included large hailstones!
I had a wander around Darlington for a few hours - after being evacuated (for the second time in a month!) from the shopping centre about two minutes after I walked in there. I still don't know what it was all about, but I'm pleased to say that nobody panicked when all the alarms were shrieking, shutters started coming down and a couple of sprinklers went off! In fact, given how many people were in there, it was amazing how calmly everyone just walked to the exits.
Next day I was at the Art Shop in Darlington - so close by that I could see it from my hotel room! Hello to everyone that came along - especially to Maria who it was lovely to see again and who very thoughtfully brought me a lovely plant for the garden. Thank you Maria, it will be carefully planted out as soon as I have decided exactly where it is going to reside. I also got a box of choccies from the staff at the art shop which was very nice.
Here's one of the scenic cards I made which has Distress Rock Candy dry glitter added down the left side and added to the snow.
Sorry for the slightly blurry effect, I was taking the pictures in a rush before I left for my train!
I headed off to Washington straight after my demo finished. I was on the fifth floor of the hotel with an amazing view across the skyline so I had a grandstand position to watch several firework displays going on at the same time - I didn't know where to look first!
On Sunday I was at Dainty Supplies where I was using the new Ranger dry glitters - I'm sure they were really happy to see all the sparkle I left on the floor! 
I made this card using some double sided adhesive film and acetate.
I cut curved lines into the protective paper on the adhesive sheet so I was able to peel back each section, adding various glitter colours to them to create a  stylistic sky effect. The palm trees are stamped onto acetate which I applied to the other (sticky) side of the adhesive film. It's hard to capture the shimmery effect through the acetate, but there's a real sparkle from the fine glitters. I drew the star onto the acetate surface using a white gel pen.
One of my neighbours was looking after Tara and Thomas over the weekend because Heather has unfortunately fallen victim to one of those sudden back injuries that can come from something as simple as opening a window or picking something up off the floor. Poor thing, she's been in agony for several days and can hardly move.
I got home on Sunday night after a long journey - four and a half hours. Of course, my two terrors let me know that they were quite unimpressed that I'd deserted them for three days! I think they've forgiven me now though and they've been taking turns cuddling up to me on the sofa this evening.
Before I forget. When I was at the hotel in Darlington there were two flavoured coffees as well as the usual Nescafe sachets. I tried them both and they were delicious...one was Hazelnut and one was Irish Cream. I don't take sugar so flavoured coffees are not something I usually like but these appeared to be sugar free. Tonight I looked up the website for Beanies and sent a message to ask if the coffees did include any sugar. To my amazement, I had a personal reply from a lovely man called Mark within ten minutes, even though it was after 9pm! None of the coffees have any sugar in them, so I've ordered some for the cold winter evenings. I was very impressed with the customer service, as well as the coffee, and they are a British company (and a northern one too!) so I'm giving them a plug!
Well, I'm back to my drawing board tomorrow so I had better give my furry friends their midnight snack before getting to bed and giving my eyes a rest. Hope everyone's keeping warm.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

absent without leave

It's been a week since I last posted for one reason and another. I've felt pretty ropey for the last few days and so have had to do a double shuffle to get the things done that needed to be done
I don't think last Saturday helped much! It was such a cold day...the railway station platforms had been scattered with grit in case of snow but, yep, you guessed it, there was no heat on the trains! I had a very early start to get to Brighouse, stopping off at Hebden Bridge with a half hour wait for my connection. Bbbbrrrr, it was freezing! There were no refreshments on the trains or stations either, so I was very happy to find the cafe at the garden centre was open when I arrived early for my demonstration at Samuel Taylors. A coffee and some egg and bacon perked me up and it was a lovely busy day in the shop. Hello to everyone who came along and hope to see some of you again on the 27th.
The trip home was cold too and, unfortunately, the second train leg was marred when three "men" boarded and began being loud and obnoxious. They weren't the usual, yobby types, but looked smartly dressed and more mature. However, when one of them made a phone call at the top of his voice, plonked himself in the luggage bay behind me and then started using the most offensive language, my switch went on. I do sometimes turn a deaf ear, but this was too much. I told him to watch his language and pointed out that there were ladies present and was, of course, greeted with a fresh tirade of choice words spat in my direction. Even one of his mates told him to calm it down a bit, but he just carried on talking into his phone with sarcastic references to bleep bleep ladies being present.
At this point I just ignored them and settled into my seat. Nobody in the carriage said a word, although I'd seen some raised eyebrows when the language had started. They got off in Bolton and as the train set off again, the guy in front of me turned round and said "good for you, well done". I thanked him and added that it was a shame nobody thought it might have been nice to back me up at the time. I got a mumbled response and a few other passengers faces turned back to the train windows. Normal reactions in my experience.
It's very sad though. I wasn't expecting someone to challenge those idiots to a duel, or to pull the emergency cord and manhandle them off the train (though I'd have paid to see that!) but is it really too much to ask that when someone does stand up to them a few more people say "yes, quite right, pack it in"? I know that people are generally scared to get involved for fear of what might happen, but there is safety in numbers and the more people stand together against anti social behaviour the likelier we are to stamp it out. That's the end of my soapbox moment.
I've been sparkling for England since the new Ranger dry glitters arrived! They're really fine and the colours are lovely. I'll be using them this weekend along with, on Sunday, the new sticky embossing powder - more on that next week.
I'm all set for another trip away from home...my last full weekend away before Christmas. I'm off to Darlington and Chester-Le-Street in the north east, so I'm expecting a chilly few days. Here in the north west we've had hailstones, wind and driving rain, all making for a very cold day - the heating's been on and I'll worry about the bills when they come! Anyway, I have my gloves, scarf, warm jacket, cardigan, rain hat, socks and boots ready, so I'm all set. 
I'll be at the Art Shop in Darlington on Saturday and Dainty Supplies in Washington on Sunday so hope to see some of you over the weekend. I'[ve got ink sprays and stamps, stencils and glitters...all sorts of goodies really, so there will be plenty of tips and techniques to share.
Thanks for all the comments, phone calls and emails about both my guest artist stint on the Darkroom Door blog and my encounter with the postman. I'm glad I gave you all a good laugh!
Well, time for me to wind down now before an early night. Have a good weekend everyone (I know I'm a bit previous).