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, 30 August 2012

Ready for another trip

Just a photo free post this afternoon whilst I'm having a coffee. I've finished packing my case for my trip to Skegness this weekend...a case full of stamps, inks, samples and dies - not much in the way of clothes. My faithful old case is really fraying at the edges now and, despite David putting new wheels on for me last year, it's beginning to get very rickety. But, I'm really fond of it and it's stood me in good stead for many years now, there's a perfect spot for everything that I need to take and it's just the right size. So, I'll keep my fingers crossed that I can keep using it for a while longer yet!
It's a long trip tomorrow, five and a half hours and three train changes in all. So, I've got very organised with some healthy (and a couple of slightly less healthy!) snacks, my Nintendo is all charged up and I've borrowed an audio book from the library to listen to. My brother in law had an old personal CD player that I'm taking, so I'll be the antique on the train who's not using an MP3, i-pod or whatever other new fangled gadgets everyone's using these days!
The "book" is "The Star of the Sea" which I have been meaning to read for the past few years, so I'll enjoy having it being read to me instead and it will stop me from having too much time to spend in sad thoughts which long train journeys are prone to allow. I'll let you know what I think of the book, though at over sixteen hours, I won't have listened to all of it by the time I get home!
I'm hoping the weather stays fair for tomorrow so that I can enjoy having a look round Skegness in the afternoon. There's a seal sanctuary a few hundred yards from the hotel, so I imagine I might have a wander down there at some point. Should have some good pictures to share after the weekend.
There were loads of mosquitoes in the house again last night, despite my keeping the doors closed from before dusk. I had to go on a bit of a rampage again I'm afraid, as one got me in the hand the other night. Thankfully, the cream and pills have kept the reaction a little less bothersome this time, but I am getting fed up with bitey things now! To redress the balance I rescued a big red tailed bee this morning. I spotted him on the path where I'd seen him yesterday afternoon and he was very much the worse for wear after obviously being soaked through in last night's downpour. Poor thing was on his last legs so I put him onto a sprig of lavender and brought him into the conservatory where he could warm up, and put some sugar water onto cotton wool so he could have an "energy drink"! He began to perk up after about half an hour, so I put him onto a nice flowery Marjoram plant outside and he has been there all day, soaking up the little bit of sun that we've had. Hopefully, he'll be fine now...got to look after all our lovely bees!
So, hope to see some of you at Cutting Edge Crafts on Saturday for a day of tips and techniques. Do say hello if you're a follower or reader of my ramblings - it's always good to put faces to names! Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A few samples

Bank holiday Monday was the usual wash out wasn't it. I only popped outside to take out some rubbish, but otherwise Tara, Thomas and I battened down the hatches and kept dry. It's been a total contrast here today.....glorious sunshine and really warm.
So, I've had the doors and windows open all day while I've been working. Lovely, but now I'm regretting it as there are so many mosquitoes inside that I've lost count. The lemon oil is having no deterrent effect whatsoever obviously! I've just spent half an hour going round with my insect repellent and squirting the little demons which dispatches them very quickly if I get my aim right. I do feel awful doing it, but I know I'll end up being bitten all night if I let my soft hearted side take over. At least I have an excuse for the cobwebs now.....I need plenty of spiders around to eat the midges!
I've been busy making samples for this weekend's demonstration at Cutting Edge Crafts in Skegness as well as completing a magazine project. I had a die cutting afternoon yesterday so I had plenty of bits ready to work with today. I enjoyed making this tag, though I'm looking at the photo now and seeing things that I'd do differently! I used the negative from cutting the "25" and dabbed Snow Cap acrylic paint through it as well as stroking a little around the tag generally. I blended Evergreen Bough, Peacock Feathers and Pine Needles Distress inks over the tag, then wiped off the excess with a damp tissue before stamping the trees in a mix of Pine Needles and Walnut Stain and wiping the excess off again. I like the effect of the number looking both behind and in front of the trees. The deer is cut from Grungeboard inked with various red and brown tones and I added a few swirls with an Inkssentials white pen.
I really liked the way the colours came together on this card - not my usual first choice but I think they work well. The focal images are made using a Sizzlits long die called Festive Greenery which has so many delicate elements. I used Snow Cap again to add the snowy details. The greeting is from one of my last season's Christmas stamp sets called Silent Night which has fourteen assorted styles of Christmas words and messages. I got really caught up making this tag! The background is embossed though you might not be able to tell here. I may well change the ribbon as it turned out a little more red than I wanted, so I might try for a more plummy colour....I'll see how my time pans out tomorrow. Well, after being such a warm day it's gone really chilly now, so I think it's time to go to bed, snuggle under the duvet and hope I can avoid the pesky biters tonight! Oh, if you want to see a little video clip of Tara just click on my You Tube link near the top of my left sidebar.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Saturday catch up

Thanks for the comments and emails about my little videos and concern for my bites! I've been laid a bit low today as I didn't get to sleep till after 5.30am due to the most awful heartburn I've ever experienced - not sure if it was caused by one of the tablets, but it was gone by the time I got up thank goodness. That combined with an eye that looks as if I've been punched in the face has made for a less than productive day! Have you ever noticed that the postman always comes late in the day except on a day when you need a bit of a lie in and then they turn up really early with a packet and have to ring the bell? I'm just saying.
No more bites yet though...I spotted two mosquitoes in the bedroom last night and, well, let's just say that with those and the slugs, I will be losing my claim as someone who can never harm a living thing!
Anyway, I have half completed a project that I'll finish tomorrow and I've also made another video, this one using metallic film and alcohol inks. I used the new tripod but I have to confess that the one I'm sharing is about the seventh go! The first take seemed perfect until I checked the camera and realised that I'd somehow managed to turn it off immediately after turning it on! The remaining ones were either me showing things out of shot, forgetting what the simplest of things were called or losing the power of speech completely! So, please ignore the odd hesitation as I tried to engage my brain before opening my mouth!
I've now added a link straight to my You Tube channel that you can find near the top of my sidebar on the left.
I've spent the rest of the day cat napping on the sofa (with my two cats napping nearby of course!) trying to catch up on last night. It's been another rainy day mixed with a few tiny outbreaks of sunshine so I've been looking at the garden in despair again realising that the weeds are winning once more and I'll have to re dig quite a few patches before I can crack on with them. Not today though. Enjoy the rest of the rainy bank holiday everyone.

PS having just got permission from Heather, I'm adding another video clip of us yesterday morning. Thomas is obsessed with stick treats and when Heather comes round he knows that one is coming his way. Thought you might like to see how he reacts! My brother in law always complains that when Heather and I get together we are too noisy and, having watched this back, we can now understand why, so you've been warned! Oh and sorry, but I didn't twig that I was holding the camera sideways and wouldn't be able to rotate the video clip! So, unless I figure that out you'll have to watch it sideways!!! I'll learn.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Heather's birthday

We weren't too sure what today's weather was going to be like, so our idea of going to the zoo for Heather's birthday got shelved...even if we didn't mind a few showers I know from past experience that the animals tend to stay in their shelters and all you see are empty enclosures. So, instead, we headed up towards Fleetwood and Farmer Parr's which has farm animals as well as a few more "exotic" things like owls, snakes and our favourites - the white chipmunks which are hilarious, charging round their large cage and going so fast in their wheels that their little legs are almost invisible! But here's me with Elvis - a huuuge pig, whose sty partner was even bigger than him!
And this Alpaca had been well and truly trimmed so that he looked more like a bouffanted poodle - if there is such a word as "bouffanted"!
There's also a museum that has all sorts of vintage paraphernalia from farm vehicles to mock ups of old shops and wartime memories. Here's the birthday girl with a huge WWII jeep. There was a very dark, atmospheric area that had been made up to immitate the trenches and really gave the feeling of having gone back in time. There were some rather creepy scenes with dummies that slightly freaked me out...I kept expecting them to turn and look at me! We had a go at some of the old wooden games too - bar billiards, a sort of shove halfpenny board with wooden discs and a bagatelle. We giggled at this sign outside the cobbler's shop too...... ........how rude!!!
So, after a few hours of stroking goats, patting pigs, touching snakes and giggling at chipmunks, we headed off to the nearby Marsh Mill where we went to the carvery for a lovely roast - won't need much for dinner tonight!
Unfortunately, despite the cream and tablets, the nasty bites that have plagued me got worse. I felt quite unwell yesterday, with a temperature and a fluey feeling. This morning I awoke with a very swollen eyelid as some little pest had got me just below my brow overnight. So, after our lunch we called in at the surgery and I've now been given some antibiotics and an extra strong antihistamine. It seems that I have had a severe allergic reaction to the bites and an infection set in which caused the temperature. I don't like doing things by halves!
So, I've stocked up on insect repellant, closed the bedroom window (annoying) and the house now smells like a lemon grove as I'm burning lemon oil and have lemongrass incense sticks smoking away trying to repel whatever blighters are after me. Thomas and Tara don't have fleas by the way! We were trying to buy citronella candles or oil but there was none to be had anywhere, so just hope that the lemon oil works. Any suggestions for keeping biters away would be much appreciated!
Would I swap and go back to life in the city though? No way!
My little tripod arrived from Amazon this morning - really quick. So, I am all set for making some more tips and techniques videos now. I'll post details on here of course and, as I have no idea how to add a separate listing for them on here, I'll use the "You Tube techniques" tag in my labels list so you can easily go to any posts that contain them. Hope that made sense.
Well, I may not be requiring dinner tonight, but my little girl and boy are making it pretty clear that they are ready for theirs and I suspect that they can smell the turkey and beef trimmings that I brought back in my napkin this afternoon. So, I'd better go and feed them before their complaints get any louder.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Drawing stars

Hello again, I've just uploaded a short You Tube video on drawing stars. These are something I get asked about a lot at demonstrations, so I thought it would be a nice, simple one for me to start with. I have ordered a tripod for my camera but, until that arrives, am holding it in one hand whilst drawing with the other, so please excuse the somewhat faltering filming! The sound does go a little faint at one point - not sure what I did there - and, for some reason, I say "thank you" at the end of the clip, but then again, I always was polite!
Anyway, I'll improve as I go on but hope you enjoy my first attempt!
Here's the link


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

a winning card

No video uploads tonight! I will be getting some done as soon as I can though, so watch this space. Meanwhile, here's a picture of the winning card and creator from the PI section of the card competition last Saturday in Kendal. It was a really beautiful easel card made using Spellbinders dies and a worthy winner of the Grand Calibur.
Last week I was driven mad with nettle rash and today I woke up with bites on my foot and my arm! I suppose it's the downside of now being in a semi rural spot with open fields full of midges, mosquitoes and other little pesky biters. So I'm applying the cream again and taking the antihistamine tablets but still have a very itchy foot that is making me crazy and taking all my willpower not to scratch it. Aaaarrrgghh!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

a surprise gift & a good moment

I had a really lovely surprise today when the postman delivered a belated birthday gift from a very good friend. It's a new camera and is absolutely brilliant! No more making people stand with fixed smiles while I wait for the picture to be finally taken and this one has a proper video function which means that I'll be able to upload some tips and techniques as opposed to step by step pictures.
I did try to do that this afternoon, but blogger didn't want to know, so I decided to join You Tube and upload something there - just me trying out the camera really but you may find them amusing! I got myself into a real mess though...I ended up being sent a new email address, couldn't get onto my blog and who knows what other confusion! However, I managed, obviously, to get signed back into the blog so will see if I can still get onto You Tube now!
I'm not sure how you find me on You Tube yet (help!) but my name on there is LindsayMason1000...there wasn't much choice left using my name and this was the best of the bunch! So, I hope that it will all become easier as I go along and that I'll be able to give you a bit more info on how to find the clips. I think I'll be able to add some links, so will insert these here,
here and here later....yes, it worked!
A huge thank you to my friend for such a thoughtful and truly appreciated gift - it w
ill be getting a lot of use I promise!
I had another good moment today as I've been suffering from very high blood pressure since David died (and probably before that I expect) and it's been refusing to go any lower, despite various pills I've been taking. However, I saw the nurse this morning and it is finally coming down - hoorah! It seems that the latest combination of tablets is doing the trick so that's a big relief. The nurse took my BP five times so I was convinced that it was not moving downwards. After the second time I just visualised David standing there, looking concerned and telling me to keep calm. Oddly, the nurse told me that the first two readings were quite high but that it started going down on the third one and just kept going lower. I knew David was looking after me.

Christmas word stamps

Just a very quick post to say that some of my new Christmas word stamps are available from the QVC website. They are in sets of three A6 stamp sheets (including an A6 version of the word block set) and there are two options - verses or sentiments. The product number is 502512 if you wish to take a look.

Saturday, 18 August 2012


It was a glorious day after a rainy start yesterday which was just as well or I'd have come home to two bedraggled pusscats - they went out at 6.30am and refused to come back in so I had to set off for the station and leave them to their own devices. As it was I still got told off by them when I got home of course!
I met up with Sarah and Esther on the train at Preston, so we travelled the rest of the way together having a catch up.We'd no sooner just about got our tables set up when people started arriving to go to the workshops and watch the demos - there were over twenty demonstrators, so lots to see. Here's Sarah with just one of her beautiful samples made with new Sizzix dies and matching stamps. Not quite sure what the joke was but here are Esther and Sheila posing by Esther's table, full of lovely samples made with dies and the Cuttlebug. You can see a basket of flowers on Esther's table and we were all given one of these by Janet which was a really nice surprise. And here's me, pulling an odd face as usual (actually, I've decided it's just my normal face really!!!) and, also as usual, with the messiest table in the whole shop! I was using Personal Impressions stamps, Tim Holtz dies and Distress inks. Andy Skinner's "Winter's Tale" stamp set was a big hit and they all sold out within fifteen minutes - I'd been looking forward to doing lots of Christmas Trees too!
In the afternoon, Sarah and I had the very nice job of presenting prizes and certificates to some of the prize winners in the card competition that Janet had organised to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Paper Warehouse shop. We were giving the prizes from PI and the winning cards were all brilliant - top prize was a Grand Calibur...wow! Well done to all the winners.
It was good to see so many familiar faces and old friends, as well as new people, all filled with a shared enthusiasm that made for a great atmosphere. Hope everyone enjoys their new purchases and don't forget to email me if you do get a memory block on what I was doing with Glue n Seal or anything else! Also, check out my older posts - you can click on any of the key words in the "Labels" list in the left column and you'll find more examples as well as some step by steps for various techniques. Just click either the name of the product, or "step by step" - I hope to add some more of these soon.
I had a quiet evening when I got home - jim jams on and lounging on the sofa basically! This morning I've been to St Chad's and spent some time after the service sitting on one of the benches in the churchyard, just contemplating things and reliving memories. Then it was coffee and a bacon sandwich in the village cafe before walking home in the drizzly rain. Once I've posted this I'll be planning a Crafts Beautiful project and working on some drawings that I've got sketched out in pencil.
Tomorrow morning I'm popping to Blackpool town centre to do some shopping for Heather's birthday on Friday, but, ssshhhhh, don't tell her! Not sure what we're going to do for her birthday yet, it depends on the weather really, but the zoo has been mentioned - there are giant anteaters and a pack of wolves as new additions there now. Blackpool zoo does a great deal of conservation work and the animals are really well cared for. Heather brought me a cutting from the local paper a few weeks ago as it was the zoo's anniversary and there were pictures from the very first day that it opened. They showed Johnny Morris riding in on a young elephant....you couldn't see in the picture but I wasn't far behind him! A long story that I won't bore you with, but I was in the same paper ** years ago as I'd been sent the very first ticket after something that I did "touched the heart" of someone at the newspaper! It made me feel very old seeing the black and white photos and reading that the original cost of a ticket was 18p!!! It's now £15.50....I think that's a bit more than inflation can account for!
Well, that's my weekend. I have to get some more mortar to finish my little wall before I can get the last big patch of the garden finished with weed control mesh and bark. I've got some steel rods to fix the bird table firmly into the ground and lots of bulbs to plant as well - I even won some last week but they haven't arrived yet! So,I'm hoping for a few dry days next week so I can get jobs done in between my real work. Speaking of which, I'll be at Cutting Edge Crafts in Skegness on the 1st September. This will be my first trip to Skegness, but I won't get a lot of time to look round as it's a long train journey and, even setting off nice and early I won't arrive till late afternoon. Still, I should be able to get a stroll along the prom if it's a nice day. So, hope to see you there if it's near your patch.

Friday, 17 August 2012

And the cat got up & slowly walked away...

What a mixed up day for weather it has been here in Lancashire. Raining this morning which then turned into bright sunshine and a very warm atmosphere and then more rain this afternoon which very quickly became torrential. Does anyone know where I can buy Gopher wood from as I am seriously considering building an ark if it carries on like this! This was the view from the side of the house earlier...well, at least the lawn is looking lush now, but just look at all those puddles!Needless to say that Thomas and Tara have been inside all day, so, once I had packed my case ready for tomorrow's demonstration day in Kendal, I went into the conservatory with pencil and paper where Tara was lounging on one of the chairs. Of course, it's an unwritten cat law that if a human approaches with either a camera or drawing equipment you must lull them into a false sense of security by keeping very, very still....right until the last moment when you must then keep changing position, yawning, cleaning paws and so forth. For the ultimate feline superiority moment, give the human a withering look that says "How dare you imagine that you, a mere human, could capture my beauty...", then simply get up and walk away.
Of course, Tara is well versed in all these things, so she suddenly decided that being a fidget was what she wanted to be. She kept glancing at me, keeping still just long enough for me to start something and eventually she jumped down and sashayed through the door! Still, I got a few scribbles done and, unless you're drawing a cat from a photograph, that's about the best you can hope for. A few images then, with one that does capture her sweetest expression reasonably well.
I must thank Paul again for convincing me to do some sketches to share on here. Check Paul's latest creations where he's been drawing on tags. Great idea! Of course, I'm always drawing for work, but these "extra curricular" doodles are just for pleasure. David always liked to see me drawing, so I know he'd be pleased too
I've been cranking the Big Shot handle again this morning and here's another tag that I finished earlier. The photo doesn't show the colours very well, which are more teal and lilac in reality. The "Joy", trees and sript (on the deer) are from Andy Skinner's Christmas stamps and I used a snowflake border embossing die across the tag before blending Distress ink over it. I added white paint and glitter to the trees for an extra festive flourish.
I really like the Bigz die with the two deer - they remind me of the old Babycham character! By the way, the tag is on the heather again (just before the downpour) and I should point out that my sister Heather, was not lounging in the garden whilst I draped tags over her yesterday....as she pointed out, having put a capital "H" on the word did make it seem like a possibility!
Well, I can smell the aroma of a perfectly baked potato, so I had better sign off and fill it with tuna and celery before it gets a bit too burned. Hope to see some of you in Kendal tomorrow and hope it stays dry.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Coffee break

This is another quick post whilst I'm having a sneaky coffee between finishing one tag and starting another. Here are three that I've made today, nestling in some Heather in the front garden now that the sun has finally come out today. The greenery looks festive so I thought it could double as a Christmas tree for these seasonal samples. There's a mix of TH dies here along with Andy Skinner's stamps. I absolutely love the typeset die (as in "Joy" and "Christmas") and know I will be using these little letters over and over - it's code number SZ657176 btw. I also managed a little drawing of just one eye but with more detail this time. I used a propelling pencil - I like these....no wasted lead - on watercolour paper which gives a roughish surface to work the pencil into with the finger.
It's a little unnerving drawing one's own features as it makes you really notice how much they've changed over the years. My eyes have got more hooded, the less said about the bags the better and I've no idea where most of my once lovely, long eyelashes have vanished to! The perils of waterproof mascara I'm suspecting.
Right, coffee is just about drunk, so I'll get back to work.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Part of a sketch

I'm just sharing part of a sketch here...drawn on the reverse of my foot picture. If it had been a fresh piece of paper I'd have torn this one up as I made such a mess of it by not knowing when to stop!
However, I decided to crop it to the part that was okay. It was done whilst looking into the mirror, so it's a reverse image I suppose. Portraits are often flattering, but self portraits tend to be warts, or wrinkles, and all. No smiles here, just my, on my own pensive face. I'll do another without overworking it and share the results when I'm done.
My hand is just about okay now with just red welts, some stiffness and a bit of itchiness left. I did put my gloves on just now as we had the heaviest rain I've ever seen this afternoon which left the garden looking more like a pond and the massive lavender bush looking very dejected with broken stems and drooping flowers. So, I've been out there hoiking it back into some sort of upright position with twine. It doesn't look half as good as it did this morning though.
Well, time to feed my two terrors and think about what I'm going to have too. No more drawing tonight - stamp designs or otherwise!

A few more stamps

Thank you for the lovely comments about the new designs - much appreciated. I have a few more to share with you today and the first one is called "Religious Greetings" (PICSA6364) which is an A6 set. I get asked a lot for more religious Christmas designs, although this set is really more spiritual than specifically religious I think. I've done them in a more traditional font to go with the tone of the messages. As I said yesterday, I love drawing snowmen and it was snowmen that I'd mainly been working on before life got turned upside down, so here's another one.... .....he's one of our Tinchie range, which are around 50mm x 44mm in size, and this one's called "Ice Christmas" (PICST090). He's a bit more of a spiky character than some of my other snowfolk!
Another Tinchie now, this one is "Dancing Christmas Fairy" (PICST092) and she's in a similar style to my Off the Wall range of characters.
The last one for today is one that I hope will prove very useful and is in a style that I really like using of block words that can be stamped, cut out and assembled together to create a myriad of phrases, greetings or journal text. They should be useful long after Christmas too. For the eagle eyed amongst you, yes, the word "niece" appears twice...once in the block and again without! I somehow managed to include it twice and PI decided to leave it in! Oh well, a bonus niece!!! This is an A5 set called "Block Christmas Words" (PICSA5345) so the words are large enough to make an impact on a card or not get lost on a journal page.
I didn't manage to do a sketch last night as my hand was just too swollen and stiff and still itching like crazy. However, the antihistamine tablets have really helped overnight in both giving me a good sleep and settling the hand down to a more manageable state. Just as well or I wouldn't be getting much work done today. Thank you for the concerns about me wearing gardening gloves...I do normally wear them when I'm out in the garden, but as I was only cutting back some clean, thorn free branches I just popped out with the secateurs - the Nettle was hidden and that's why I got stung. However, I will put the gloves on next time anyway, just in case!
Right, breakfast eaten, tablets taken, cream applied, blog post done....better get on with some work now!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Some new stamps!

Me again. I have some new stamp designs to share with you! They will be available from the second week in September and you can find images and details of all the new Personal Impressions stamp releases on the website - link is on my left sidebar. If you go to "Coming Soon" and choose Art Stamps it will show you the full range, or you can choose my name to see my specific designs.
As I said, with David's illness, I wasn't able to get all my Christmas designs finished this time, but I had already got some ready including these I'm posting today, some "Tinchies" and some new verse and sentiment sets. Hope you like them!
The first one is an A5 set called "DIY Snowman" (PICSA5344). As you can see, it has everything you need to create lots of different snowman images...he can be two or three snowballs high, with a choice of hats, scarfs and mittens as well as various facial features. The eyes, noses etc are all separate, so you can position them just how you want.I can't wait to get started on this set as I love snowmen!
Next is an A6 set called "Winter Country Scene" (PICSA6369) which is a good one for Christmas cards, winter birthdays and, of course, the tree, squirrel, tree line and plants can be used all year - even the gate can be if you cut it out and chop off the snow. I'm going to enjoy using this set I know! Finally for now, another A6 set, again featuring jolly snowmen. This one is called "Christmas from all of us" (PICSA66362) and features three different snowmen images as well as Christmas lights and snowballs. This set's a lot of fun - I love the fact that you can feature as many snowmen as you want to on a card and that you can mix the styles too. I'll post some more pics soon. They'll be available from any store selling PI products and if anyone wants to get them, just make a note of the titles and codes and ask the retailer to order them for you. Well, after last night's dramatic thunder, lightning and bouncing rain, it's now scorchingly hot. After finishing some more samples I was going to get that little wall completed whilst the weather's dry. However, my plans have been scuppered due to the local shop having sold out of mortar - how cheeky! So, it will have to wait till Monday now. I do have some other little jobs that I can attend to though and am desperate to get the bark chips down as soon as I can so the weeds don't get a hold again after all my digging and hoeing. My brother in law donated some Semperviviums and some seeds taken from their garden today, so I have a little planting to do tonight and will add the seeds to my growing collection in the garage waiting to be sown at the correct time.
I've been hampered too by my hand today. Yesterday morning I had to prune back some very tall branches from the bushes in my neighbour's garden that were blocking some of the light coming into my work area. She's been in hospital for a few weeks, so things have got a bit out of control. I was merrily cutting away when I got zapped by a Nettle that I'd not seen. Didn't hurt much but within an hour or so it felt like I had ants crawling under my skin and has just got worse. The incessant itch kept me awake half the night and I've made it worse by scratching - even though I did try not to! I now have a very red and swollen right hand (great when you're right handed!) so have seen the chemist and got some cream and tablets that I'm hoping will do the trick - and soon, before I go round the bend! At least I know to wear my gloves next time I tackle next door's overhanging garden!
Thank you for the comments about the foot drawing! If time, and my dodgy hand allow, I may well draw something else to show you tonight. Meanwhile, I'm off to rub some more cream on and get a cold drink.

Diet idea

Here's another quick post to share a dieting idea. Go out at 7.30am to remove forty eight (yes, I counted them) slimy slugs from the lawn and then try eating your breakfast...yuck! I think the little, and not so little, creeps think that I put the grass there just for them. I am hoping that the enormous number this morning was down to the thunderstorm and torrential rain that came down last night. Yuck and double yuck!

Monday, 13 August 2012

A quick sketch

Just a really short post to share a quick sketch I did after I'd finished work this evening. If you look at my last but one post you'll see that my friend Paul has been partaking in an EDM challenge - albeit quite casually. I said that I may well join in, in an even more casual way, so I checked the list of things to draw and chose to sketch my foot....mainly because it was there!
Anyway, it's a fast sketch that is very short of accurate...the heel is way too short for a start. Still, it's pretty much my foot....recognisable from the plaster on my toe for a start! I've got nail polish on btw, not bruised toe nails!
I don't mind my feet as they're slim compared to the rest of me and David used to compliment me on their daintiness! As I scribbled on the sketch "I wonder how they've carried me through so many things and on so many journeys". I also wonder why they seem to stay pretty much the same after years of tramping around when other parts of me seem to be dropping off weekly!
Well, if you fancy doing an odd drawing challenge, do check out the links in that last but one post. It was fun to draw something just for the sake of it and not have to keep it under wraps. Talking of which, there should be a few designs that I'll be able to share very soon, though not as many as I'd normally have because, with everything that happened, I just couldn't meet all my deadlines this time.

Two minds

I'm in two minds having just watched the closing ceremony, or do I mean pop concert?!? It seemed to have a pretty specific audience as the focus and must have made a lot of viewers switch off I'm sure.
It was certainly a very happy event and I enjoyed quite a lot of it, but I did keep wondering why, in a celebration of fifty years of British music, almost everything seemed to be from the eighties onwards, and why there was almost nothing from other musical genres than rock and pop.
I loved the Welsh male voice choirs singing the beautiful Olympic anthem whilst the flag was taken down and I thought the sets were terrific. Completely out of my normal tastes I do love Muse...can't explain that one really! I think We Will Rock You would have benefited from a strong male voice rather than that of Jessie J, but that's just me. Most annoying thing of the whole programme wasn't to do with the ceremony but with the BBC presenters who just didn't know when to shut up. Freeview viewers like myself didn't have the option to choose the "no presenter" version, so I shouted "shut up!" quite a few times when they were blethering on for no apparent reason over what was going on in the stadium.
There were a few puzzles.....how come I didn't notice the London Eye, Gherkin and London Bridge etc being removed from the centre stage? What was the inflatable octopus all about? Why was the high wire walker shaking hands with a mannequin that burst into flames? And, probably top of my list...I was always a huge fan of the Kinks, and it was a blast from the past to hear Waterloo Sunset but what was Ray Davies wearing on his head?!?!?
Too much pop culture for me, but I'm an old stick in the mud I know! So, with my ears still ringing, I am off to bed now and will await your opinions of the festivities with interest. Night night all.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A busy couple of days

It's certainly been a busy weekend and still the Olympic closing ceremony to go...which I think I'll enjoy in parts rather than the whole from the sound of things. This post may well continue after the ceremony has finished, in which case I'll let you know what I thought!
Firstly, to prove that I have actually been doing some crafting work, here is a photo, as promised, of a couple of the new samples I've made using Tim's dies and the Big Shot. I'm also using Andy Skinner's Christmas stamps so have incorporated some of them on the right hand card. I love the prancing reindeer, though the way I've positioned the two on one card makes me wonder what the standing one is saying to the one flying over his head - and not a vaulting pole in sight!I created the background by masking off the bottom of the card using torn paper and then stamping the tree three times with the bottom either less or more on the mask to give varying heights - Andy's tree is so well designed that it looks perfectly natural however much you chop off the bottom. Distress inks of course for the sky and then I lightly pencilled round the inside of a roll of tape for my circle before filling it in with a brush and water and dabbing off to give a rather dramatic full moon.The left hand card is created using the negative of the prancy deer and using Distress inks through it onto watercolour paper. It looked very boring though, so I spritzed some water over it and then heat set it once I was happy with the amount of blurring. It does give a rather nice wispy, fantasy look to the image though you may have to enlarge the picture to see the effect properly. I'll have both of these cards, plus lots more of course, when I'm at The Paper Warehouse in Kendal next Saturday 18th so if you're coming along do say hello and take a peek.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of my friend Paul's company as he came to visit me for the day. We had a wander, a bite or two to eat and a lot of conversation which was just what the Doctor ordered. Paul brought a couple of his journals to show me - you can see some of his drawings, sketches and journal pages on his blog where you'll see that he's been dipping into an EDM challenge (Every Day Matters) that has been a good starting point for inspiration. You can also find the link on Paul's blog. I think I may just join in on an occasional basis...it would be quite good to be able to share some drawings rather than keeping them top secret as I normally do! Speaking of which, I am working on new designs so there is more work going on than it may look like reading my posts!
So, after the lovely sociable Saturday, today began with my trip to Church where another Christening was part of the weekly service. Really enjoyable and the Vicar is a dab hand at pouring lots of water over babies heads without making them cry. He can't resist picking them up to introduce them to the entire congregation - very sweet really!
After a brunch in the village cafe I had a brisk walk home and got changed into my outdoor, tatty clothes to get cracking on that darned wall. I'd had to buy two more bags of concrete as I ran out due to that well meaning neighbour...ggrr! It's turned into a pain of a job as the bricks were splitting and the jumble of rubble refused to make any kind of anything that looked half like a wall. Still, I persevered, chopped some bricks into the right odd sizes and managed to rebuild (in a fashion!) a couple of feet using the last of the first bag of concrete just as it started to rain. As you can see, I had to do a quick cover up job....
...looks like a proper building site!
I came in and did some more drawing and took a few photos and then the sun came bursting forth again, so out I went to carry on rebuilding. Unfortunately, I still don't have enough concrete - it doesn't go far I must say! So, I have done as much as I can and, although I can just picture David's expression and hear him saying "you're doing it all wrong!", I'm pretty chuffed at how it's going. I will post a photo when it's done, but let's just say that I don't think I'll be taking up bricklaying on a professional basis anytime soon! The whole thing will probably collapse the minute Thomas walks along it!
The last treat of the day came as I was just putting my tools away and heard an almighty roar in the sky. I'd forgotten that the Red Arrows were flying over Blackpool today so I had a grandstand view from the lane. They really are incredible.
Well, I had a pause for dinner and it's still just the lead up to the closing ceremony, so I'm going to grab a coffee, park myself on the sofa and put my feet and the volume up. It's been a terrific Olympics after a few little setbacks and I think it's taken most of us by surprise how well it's all come together - I admit to having been one of the cynical ones. I was cheering for Mo Farah last night especially knowing that David admired him so much and would have been cheering along as well. It's certainly been an emotional event one way and another and, of course, it's not just about the actual sport but the whole coming together of so many people in such a positive and peaceful way. If only that spirit could be kept going after the games (including next week's Paralympics) are over

Friday, 10 August 2012

A mixed few days

It's certainly been a mix of things over the last few days or so. From dramatic thunderstorms earlier in the week to sweltering heat over the last couple of days that was a real energy drainer. It was a mixture of good and bad things too.
On Wednesday one of the two dogs belonging my neighbour across the road had to go to the vet - sore pads on her feet. When she came back the other, smaller dog went up to greet her and was immediately attacked. She was rushed to the vet but has, sadly, lost one of her eyes.Thankfully she pulled through a big operation to repair her face and is now home, sporting an eye patch but quite chipper considering what she went through. The other dog had to be put to sleep and, although that was the right thing to do, it was still very sad to see her being loaded into the car yesterday morning to be taken on her last journey.
So, it was very traumatic for all concerned, and a really depressing end to the week.
On a lighter note, I've been busy getting to grips with the Big Shot and the TH dies and getting samples made for next weekend's event at The Paper Warehouse in Kendal. I was going to take a few pictures of the cards I've been making but my camera batteries ran out, so I will have to get some more tomorrow. I am getting on with some creating I promise!
Meanwhile, this was the horrid sight in the garden today.....
.....the large bags are my first two lots of bark chippings but as the little wall at the edge has been crumbling and collapsing bit by bit I thought I should repair that first or I'd have bits of brick everywhere if I did it later. I found some mortar powder in the garage and decided to get it done when I got back from an appointment today. All well and good until a well meaning but rather enthusiastic neighbour spotted me and decided that I should pull down almost all of the wall and set about doing it for me! So, I have very quickly run out of mortar and most of the bricks he pulled out have disintegrated. I was looking forward to testing my bricklaying skills but now it's going to be a much bigger job to sort out the dimensional jig saw that it's turned into. Oh well, I like a challenge!
However, on the up side, here is the "after" picture that I promised in my last post. Yes....I have a lawn, albeit a very small one. It looks very patchy at the moment but will be fine once it's bedded in properly and the turf has rooted. It took about an hour to lay it yesterday and I have a strip left over for filling in any gaps that might appear. I've been watering it every couple of hours or so since then as it has been so scorchingly hot and if it dries out it'll shrink!
And, yes, they are my TH scissors lying on the soil there! They have been very handy for outside as well as inside work! I can't describe how good it feels to have got it done as it was really depressing me that it was such a mess and knowing how very much David wanted a lawn in the garden. Someone else was pretty impressed and decided that it was a new and comfy spot to take a rest on.... ....so far, Thomas has been a bit wary but he can be a big wuss! So, once I've repaired the wall, laid the weed suppressing membrane, covered it with bark chippings and put my new bird table (thank you again Joanne and T!) into place, that will be just about all the groundwork done. I'm planning on planting aromatic herbs in the long strip of soil alongside the lawn - not that I do much cooking, but they'll smell nice!
Anyway, next time you pop back here I should have some creative pictures to share so long as I remember the Duracells tomorrow. Thank goodness there's a slight breeze coming through the door now, so it may not be quite such the humid night as it was promising to be. Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Raunching and graunching!

The weather is glorious up here, though there have been some torrential downpours and thunderstorms in the last two days as well. I made the most of the sunny spells and managed to get the second patch of the garden prepared at last. This area was covered with gravel (a very bright white one at that) and David and I really wanted to return it to a lawn. So, the gravel has been wheelbarrowed away to a neighbour's garden - yes, she did want it! Yesterday I was woken early by my two terrors, so at 7.30am I was picking out all the stray stones that had been missed and trodden in and removing the weeds and grasses that had sprouted there and along the edges, as well as cutting back all the overhanging foliage at one end. It looks pretty awful I know, but I'll share "after" pictures later this week, fingers crossed. Btw, you can just see David's red rose in the background.
It feels good to have got the groundwork done that David had been determined to do ("raunching and graunching" as he always called physical work!) but, boy, after four and a half hours my hands and arms did ache! Still do! I recently learned that we have no muscles in our fingers, so I guess my tendons are aching! It'll be worth it though, and, as you never see a fat gardener, I'm hoping that all this hard work will pay off in other ways too.
Unfortunately I can't share any of my "real" work yet, as it's all under wraps as usual, but once I get onto making samples I'll post some pictures of those.
I enjoyed watching the tennis this afternoon, with the great atmosphere and seeing Andy Murray win gold and then silver in the doubles - team GB seem to have suddenly gone mad! My darling David would have been loving the Olympics, especially the track and field, so it's tinged with sadness when I see them all doing so well.
Oh yes, another neighbour brought over a beautiful frilly pink Poppy that she had dug up especially for me yesterday. I picked a perfect spot for it, planted and watered it in and it looked really lovely. This morning I found that the single flower had been completely chomped away by those darned slugs, along with half of the leaves...ggggrrrrr! Sometimes I find my natural inability to "dispatch" anything wavering somewhat. Instead though, the offenders that were still lurking were flicked onto paper and thrown into the adjacent field, from where they will doubtless be setting off back into the garden as I type. Oh well, the Poppy will set seeds I suppose, though I am very curious as to why slugs and snails only seem to like eating flowers and not weeds.
The Cinnabar moth caterpillars have completely eaten the Ragwort leaves that they were residing on, so, as they can't fly yet, I cut the stems off and positioned them amongst other Ragworts in the lane. They should be able to survive quite happily now with plenty to eat.
Well, the (not so) little furry ones have had their supper, but I haven't, so I had better get myself something to eat now. It's still very warm here, and I had a large "brunch" after Church this morning, so I'm not that hungry really. Crumpets I think...I have recently discovered that they are low fat, low sugar and considered quite a useful addition to a healthy diet. Tasty too!