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

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Arm ache

If anyone has any good tips to stop aching arms they would be gratefully received. To be more accurate, one aching arm caused by holding up a puppet at full stretch for nearly ten minutes...doesn't sound very long, but believe you me, it felt it!
I was up at church this evening for a "dress rehearsal" for Sunday's puppet story - dress rehearsal as in, with puppets, behind screen and four page script pinned up at eye level. We are using new puppets this time which have sticks attached to their hands, so there's much more to think about. However, that's nothing compared to the old arm ache! We felt we had no muscles left in our biceps when we'd finished! Fingers crossed that we get through the performance on Sunday okay - I'll show you my new character after the weekend.
Good thing that I made the decision to use my left arm though as I have been busy drawing, colouring and cutting out all day using mostly my right hand! I got quite a lot done and yesterday, after we'd been to see our mum, Heather stayed for a few hours and we did some colouring together.....it was like being kids again! We sat at either side of the table with all my pens laid out between us - great fun!
Well, I'm off for an early night now in readiness for another busy day tomorrow and to give my arm a rest!

Monday, 28 January 2013


I can hardly believe that "the government" are prepared to destroy vast areas of beautiful countryside and villages, let alone spend 33 billion pounds (and we know that final costs are always far more than estimates in these things) on a crazy project that will disrupt travel whilst it's being built.....all for the sake of cutting a bit of time off rail journeys.
33 billion pounds works out at around £500 per head of the population. Having just travelled through some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain, some of which would be affected, the idea of swathes being cut through it is extremely distressing and I can only imagine how horrified anyone living along the proposed routes must be. 
Have we really become so obsessed with doing everything immediately that an obscene amount of money, and devastation that can't be counted in money, is seen as worth paying, just to cut journeys by half an hour or so? It's utter madness.
As I heard someone on a radio comedy show remark this week - just get an earlier train.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

It was more than all white!

Oh dear, my puns are getting worse! But I did see a heck of a lot of snow over Friday and Saturday, as well as being in Yorkshire, the white rose county of course.
Friday (at least here) was bone chillingly cold and I stopped off at the shops before I got to the railway station to get myself a warm hat....I looked ridiculous, but my head and my ears were warm. I thought I'd pose in it when I got home from church today.......
 .....so you could have a titter at my expense!
Anyway, armed with woolly hat, scarf, gloves and fleecy jacket I made the journey over to Hessle - it was a rather more complicated trip than it should have been due to the derailed train that had burst into flames in Manchester last week causing lots of disruption to the routes. Thankfully, nobody was hurt in that incident, but there's been quite a lot of track damage I think.
I didn't take my camera this weekend as I was quite loaded up, but I was really wishing that I had as the views from the train were fantastic. All the train journeys through Yorkshire are spectacular anyway, but with the deep snow it was all the more enchanting. I would have liked a picture of the two huge snowmen in a field, each wearing a traffic cone hat!
Once I reached Hessle I checked into my B&B which was a lovely country house. I wandered into the village to get a bite to eat - I must admit that I wasn't too keen on having to cross the footbridge over the motorway - makes me shudder to think of it...I almost had to close my eyes when the lorries were whizzing by below me! I was a little early for any of the restaurants but I found a pub that was serving food. I'm not a pub fan at the best of times, but being female and alone in a pub is not my favourite thing at all. I was all set to just eat my meal quietly and go, but I was chatted up (!) by one of the locals! No matter what I said he didn't take the hint, so I had to endure his company whilst I ate and then make my excuses and a sharp exit! Guaranteed to give one indigestion! And no, I wasn't wearing the hat!
Next morning I made my way to Studio Craftique which is a new shop, opened by Amanda and her husband just three weeks ago. I was made really welcome...including by Bobby, their gorgeous five month old black labrador (who took off with my hat at the end of the day!!). Hello to all the ladies, as well as a few men and some youngsters who came along to the demonstration. Everyone was really friendly, so it made for a very enjoyable first demo of the year. I even had a surprise visit from my friend Lynnda who I have known for years but haven't seen for almost a year, so that was the icing on the cake!
I'm sure that Studio Craftique is going to be a very popular destination for crafters in the area, as Amanda is running regular workshops and demonstrations and she's really keen to get everyone stamping and inking and journalling! I hope to have some photos of the day if Amanda's able to email them to me.
Well, the day flew by and soon I was making my way home again, thankfully in less arctic conditions than the previous day! A quick microwaved meal (slap wrists!) was in order so that I wasn't eating too late and then I had a good night's sleep - you can't beat your own bed can you!
This morning the usual church service was held, instead, in the primary school hall as it was "education Sunday". It was a lovely service with lots of cheerful music and the children singing and doing the readings. I did have a wobbly moment though, when they sang (very beautifully I have to say) the Bette Midler song, The Rose, which has such meaningful words. However, it was, all in all, a very uplifting morning and I was able to spend some time chatting over coffee with new found friends.
So, it's now the final push to get everything ready for Stitches in a few weeks. Lots to do, but it's always fun to be working with new products. I must go now as Tara is hinting, very heavily, that she wants to play, so I'll go and throw her toys around for her to chase!
Oh, and don't forget what they say....if you want to get ahead...get a hat!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Off on my travels again

I'm all packed for my trip to Yorkshire tomorrow. I'm not setting off too early but it's nice to have all the gear organised and ready to go. I'm travelling to Hessle, which is about ten miles from Beverley, for the demonstration at Studio Craftique on Saturday. I've just taken delivery of some Dylusions stamp sets and will be using these, as well as some of my Off the Wall designs, all brought together with ink sprays and other Ranger goodies. It was touch and go, as the bad weather held up the parcel so I was very relieved when the postie walked up the path!
Here are a couple of "journal pages" that I made with a selection of the Dylusions images (they are loose pages so that I can leave them at the store after my demo). I really love the birds...especially once I'd put their hats on....
......please excuse the vile backdrop! I was rushing to take pictures at the last minute before packing them away and I just grabbed the nearest thing...a manky old cushion from my workroom...yeck! Anyway, I used Dylusions ink sprays directly onto the card, lightly spritzed with water and dried with kitchen towel. I spritzed water onto the surface of the template (CW Mini Gears), pressing onto the surface, lifting and drying to give a negative "bleached" pattern.
The leaves and the coloured fronds are from the Doodle Parts stamp set. I stamped some birds in black directly onto the surface and others onto white card that I sprayed with more inks. I stamped, coloured and cut out the hats and stuck these onto the birds - don't they look jolly! The birds and hats are from the Birds on a Wire set. The phrase is from a Dylusions set called The Right Words.
The next page features stamps from the DooLally Doris set, also from the Dylusions range.
 Done in a similar way to the birds page, but no stencilling this time. Instead, I stamped the leaves with black Archival ink and then bleached them with water before adding a light green to colour them. I took a small strip of stiff card and concertina folded it before using it behind the head to give a wobbly effect!
Finally, I just have another tag to show you, featuring my Hopeful Harriet stamp set along with wings from my Steamed Up set. I used TH tissue wrap around the tag before spritzing with inks...the surface isn't very absorbent so I dab the inks with tissue and layer them for a subtly effect. 
 I've given Harriet the top hat from the same stamp set and the words are from my I Can Fly set. I was really happy with the way the colours came together on this tag...nice when you're pleased with something you've made isn't it?!
Well, that's all the pictures for tonight and I will report back after the weekend. Oh yes, I forgot to say how the British Gas visit went. The two guys came, drilled holes in the walls and pumped the insulation in....all of which made one heck of a noise for over an hour and meant that every door in the house was open to accomodate all the leads and pipes. As it was snowing pretty heavily at the time it was somewhat chilly! Poor Tara and Thomas were beside themselves - Tara buried herself in her bolt hole of the airing cupboard and Thomas, after hiding under a chair for five minutes decided he was better off out of it and scooted out of the house. He was obviously keep an eye on matters though, as he came back about two minutes after they'd left! Tara soon came round as well, but they got some extra treats last night to make up for their traumatic day!
So, I can report that my room thermometers are showing higher temperatures since yesterday...I think it's still as cold outside so I'm hoping that the insulation is already helping to keep the house a little toastier. Here's hoping anyway!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Posting break

I'm just taking a much needed coffee break (Irish Cream flavour!) so I thought I'd post some pictures that I just took while the light's good. It's still really cold, but the snow has gone and it's sunny and dry.
First, here are a few more of my new stamp sets, as promised. This one is "Floral Wishes" (CICSA6033)....
 ....not a quirky set this time, but I don't think you can have too many floral stamps!
This set is called "How much love?" (CICSA6061) and is another from the Doo-Lally-Pip collection....
....no hats this time, but she has some birds to keep her company...I love bird stamps as much as flowers!
This next one is a baby set....babies are a bit of an unknown quantity to me I have to admit! So, whilst I'm sure they are little crying monsters that keep parents awake at night I just went for cute ones! This set is called "Little Baby" (CICSA6030).....
 .....the little chap(pess) holding the message can be made to grab anything by cutting out the head, feet and hands and popping them in situ around whatever you want.
Well, just time to show you three tags I made this morning brfore I drain my coffee mug and get back to work! I've taken these in close up this time.........
....the first one uses my "Princess Tippy Toes stamp set. I also used a Dylusions setncil to add the stars in the background. I used my Glue n Seal technique to protect the stamped and coloured character before blending Distress inks over the tag. This also allows the stencil to be used right at the end as the ink that's on the image can be simply wiped away. 
This next tag looks a lot more blood red than it really is! It's using my "Behind the Mask" stamp set.
I used the same techniques as before but I cut the mask image out and threaded some strands cut from dyed ribbon through the sides before adding it to the tag. As you'll no doubt be aware, 3d foam isn't too fond of sticking to distress inked backgrounds, so I always add a blob of Glossy Accents to the foam before sticking it down.
Finally, here's another tag using my "Moochin'" stamps....I think I'm going to enjoy working with this character a lot as he's suitable for lots of things and, if you're a bit pushed for time, he really can be coloured and cut out quite quickly.
This time I gave him the crown from the set - but I made sure it went on at a wonky angle! The background of this tag is Liquid Pearls pounced over the surface with a scrunched up piece of shrink wrap - once dried with the heat tool I rubbed Distress inks over the surface to create the effect. You can't tell here, but it gives a lovely pearly shimmer to the surface. 
I punched two holes through the tag using a pencil, scruffed the card up a bit and then added more ink as well as around the scuffed edges of the tag itself. A scrap of dictionary paper that has been spritzed with Dylusions inks gave him something to stand on. The message is from my "I've had enough" set and I added some of Tim's paper cord through the tag.
I can't put off getting back to work any longer now! So, I will drain my, now cold, coffee and carry on! Tomorrow will be a rather disrupted day as British Gas are coming to drill holes in the walls and pump the cavity insulation in. I've been told to take anything down that might fall off due to the strong vibrations, so I think I will have two very stressed cats by the end of the day. Still, it might be a bit warmer! 
Tomorrow night I'm off up to church just to look at the new puppets that have been purchased and to get some new scripts for Lynne and I to work on in time for the next production. I'll let you know how I get on!
Right, back to work now!

Monday, 21 January 2013

In the white garden

Bit of a play on words in my post title this evening.....I admit that I do know who Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Macca Pacca are even though I don't have any children! Derek Jacobi's voice is enough reason to watch "In The Night Garden"!
Anyway, I don't have any pictures of tags etc to show today as it's been too dull to take decent photos of them in any detail, so will try again tomorrow. 
I woke up this morning to a snow covered garden so I thought I'd show you a few pictures that I took through the window of the birds gathering at my cafeteria....today's delights were brown bread, broken biscuits, cheese, pear and apple cores and sunflower hearts.
This was quite an unusual sight, though you may have to enlarge the picture to see them.....
 ......yes, two robins there! They are normally very territorial and I usually only see the one on the left. The slightly smaller one on the wall was really pushing his luck, but they more or less tolerated each other.The bird table looks a fright! It's an old one that dad made that I can see from my work room, but I now have (courtesy of Joanne for my birthday) a new one that is at the side of the house where I can see it when I'm in the conservatory.
Inter species tolerance here......
 .......you should be able to spot "my" robin, a great tit and, just peeking through the twigs, a blue tit! They look as if they are saying "less of the photography, just get more food out!".
And this was the sight that met me this morning when I let Tara and Thomas out - yes, they did go out in the snow! There's my lovely bird table...as you can see from the lack of footprints, I hadn't ventured out to put the food on it at this point!
I'll post some crafty pics tomorrow if the light allows. Thank you for everyone's comments about my new stamps, and stay warm and safe...it feels like it might freeze tonight so I reckon it's going to be a slippery day tomorrow. 
You might like this shot of Tara doing that thing that cats find fun....walking upside down under a chair! 
Very ladylike view of her bum! Really!!!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

...and more stamps

Thank you for the lovely comments about the new stamp sets. They are much appreciated. Drawing the designs is a very solitary thing, so it's always good to get positive feedback when I finally get to share them! I was drawing again today, but have had to call it a day as the temperature here has plummeted again and my fingers are complaining.....they're prone to the cold when I'm doing fiddly pen work. I may well get some tags or cards made later instead - much more movement in that to keep the circulation flowing!
So, as promised, here are a few more of my new stamp sets, all of which will be available very soon from Personal Impressions stockists.
This one is "Daahling" (CICSA6059)...you know the type! Lol! Again, from my Doo-Lally-Pip range.
Next is this set called "Pooch" (CICSA6065) with a rather dopey character and his grumpy bulldog. This set is also from the Doo-Lally-Pip range.
 This next one is a set that's in my Lindsay Mason designs collection.....

...it's called "Too Hoots" (CICSA6035) and I really enjoyed working on this set which took ages to draw with all the dot details! I'm a big owl fan and I thought it would be fun to have some patterned ones for a change.
Also from my Lindsay Mason range, this set is called "Funtastic Robots" (CICSA6034)......
......I think this set will be great for boys (and men's!) cards as well as journalling, hence the relative titles. Incidentally, I usually do both handwritten and typed word options for the stamps and then PI decide which to use, so I normally don't know which version will be in the sets until they are on the website!
I'll finish today's previews with another phrases set, also in my general Lindsay Mason designs range. This set is called "I've had enough" (CICSA6037)....I know the feeling!
 It has a mix of fonts and the "this is me" words are individual stamps so that you can space them out however you wish. I used a couple of the stamps from this set on the tags I showed yesterday.
Well, that's it for today! I'll try and post again tomorrow if I get the chance.
I'm hoping it's not too slippery tomorrow morning as I have to walk into the village to get to church...I may take dad's old walking stick if it is icy! Then it will be getting home and warmed up again with some lunch before cracking on with work. I know I keep harping on about the temperature, but I can't recall ever feeling as generally cold as I do these days! Bbbbrrrrr! I think there may be a nice hot bubble bath on the menu tonight - lovely!

Friday, 18 January 2013

More stamps

Hope everyone is keeping snug and safe in the wintery weather. The snow has been falling here on and off all day, but it's not too thick, just patchy areas of white here and there and at least the garden looks prettier! This was my Doo Lally room earlier today looking from my table towards the neighbours across the road...I've got the best of both worlds as I look out to neighbours at the front of the house and fields at the back.
On the table are my new stamps in the box as well as a set in the clear bag (how organised am I.....it won't last!) The water is for my brushes, not for drinking. My alien like daylight lamp is in the corner of the room...David bought it for me at a car boot sale about five years ago for £3.00! I like to have a scented candle on the table when I'm working to give a relaxing atmosphere. Hard to see the snow through the window, especially through the condensation, but it was falling quite quickly at that point.
Here are a few of the tags that I made today using some of my Doo-Lally-Pip range of stamps.....
 .....having great fun working with the new characters. I'll take some more detailed pictures over the next few weeks.
Personal Impressions have now added images of the remaining new stamp sets, so I'll post some now and in the next few days. I have some in my own (Lindsay Mason Designs) category and some in the new Crafty Impressions category in case you are looking at the website. 
This one is called "Princess Tippy Toes" (CICSA6066).....
.....I like juxtaposing the dainty dress and crowns with the bovver boots!
"Hopeful Harriet Feelin' Good" (CICSA6060) is the one that I used on the top left tag in the photo......
 ......she's got a couple of optional hats...I've given hats to a few of the characters this time!
Here is "I Can Fly" (CICSA6062)..........
.....I wanted this one to have that childlike feeling that anyone can fly if they just believe it enough....even if it just means flapping your skirts about a lot!
That's a few of the girlie characters, and here's one of the boys - as seen in the bottom centre tag in the photo........ 
.....this set is called "Moochin'" (CICSA6063) and he's really easy to colour and cut out so nice and quick to work with. He has the wonky crown as well as the dunce's cap which can double as bunting of course.
I'll end tonight's previews with the set that I based on one of mum's sayings.....we still have no idea who Piffy was, but it's a northern saying that has always tickled me!
The set is called "Piffy on a Rockcake" (CICSA6064) and I used it on the bottom right hand tag in the photo.
Well, I hope you like the new designs - the above are all from my Doo-Lally-Pip range. I wanted them to be useful for journalling as well as card making etc. I'll share some more tomorrow!
I must say thank you to Chris for her suggestion of wearing wrist warmers in the cold weather. I didn't have any, but I cut the feet off an old pair of socks and they did the job - I then cut the toes off the feet and had a smaller pair of wristbands. They really do work and my hands have felt much warmer without any restriction on my fingers. Yesterday I took it further and cut up an old pair of opaque tights....I cut the legs off and then the feet and wore the resulting "tubes" on my arms! The body part didn't get wasted as I popped that round my neck! They really made a difference as, even with the heat on, on cold days I get stiff fingers when I'm sitting very still drawing. 
Time for a coffee now and I'd better let Thomas in too....he's been asleep all day but he demanded to go out as I began this post and he may well be a frozen snowcat by now! Tara isn't so adventurous and has been snuggled by the radiator all day!

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Just a quick post to correct the information about my demonstration on the 26th January which isn't in Beverley at all! The address for the demo is Studio Craftique, 9 South Lane, Hessle, East Yorkshire, HU13 0RS.
Sorry for any confusion! Studio Craftique is a brand new store so I'm really looking forward to going there and meeting everyone. I'll be getting pretty messy with Dylusions inks, Ranger products and stamps from both my ranges and Dylusions.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

New arrivals

The postman called with a special delivery today........
 .........a box containing my new Doo-Lally-Pip range of stamps. I haven't showed you all the new images yet as not all of the sets are on the Personal Impressions website yet, but there are eighteen in total, as well as new sets in the general ranges.
The stamps will be clear ones but I have got the pre production rubber ones so that I can get working on projects for Stitches trade show in February. So, it's head down and crack on time for the next few weeks! I'll share some of my makes with you as I go along.
I'm going to be busy getting ready for my demonstration on the 26th January as well which will be at Studio Craftique, a brand new store in Beverley. Good to see new stores opening! I'll be using Dylusions ink sprays with a selection of my Off the Wall stamps and Dylusions stamps and stencils. So, I can guarantee a colourful day!
Meanwhile, I picked up some little thermometers when I went to the village today - they were free in the Age UK charity shop - and have dotted them in various rooms at home. I hope they are not very accurate because, according to the readings, I am in danger of hypothermia if I sit in my Doo-Lally workroom for more than about five minutes! Unfortunately, the boiler is one of those really ancient ones, so I can't really adjust the temperature to a constant low heat which is the most economical way to heat the house of course. British Gas are coming next week to sort out the cavity wall insulation (I just enquired about it in time to get it done free as they are now charging again) and I'll be interested to see what a difference it makes. I'll let you know!
There's a big dish of pasta bake in the fridge now...had some last night and some for lunch today....still loads left! However, I won't be adding the sausage pieces next time...ugh, they aren't nice at all! Veggie curry will be the next big dish that I make - great way to use all the bits and pieces that are lurking in the bottom of the fridge!
Something on the TV yesterday set me on a journey down memory lane. One of the answers in a quiz was Dave Edmonds.....any of you remember him? I did, and I googled one of his songs that I remember being in our collection of 45rpm records. I soon found it and listening to "Baby I love you" rolled back the years.....then, looking down the list of "related" you tube clips I saw the name Hurricane Smith (remember him?!) and I listened to "Don't let it die" which I didn't register at the time had lyrics which are very relevent today being about looking after the planet. I loved that song when I was growing up. 
Next a name caught my eye that I had completely forgotten about. Do any of you remember a song that began "I could be a millionaire, if I had the money...."? It was by Clifford T Ward who was a singer songwriter and the song was "Home thoughts from abroad". Goodness, that took me back too! Clifford T Ward had long blonde hair and a very gentle voice if that jogs your memory - what terrific songs he wrote...remember "Gaye"? Sadly, he passed away a few years ago at quite a young age.
Of course, I'm amazed that I can remember any of those songs considering how long ago they were in the charts!!!! Any good ones you can recall that we might have forgotten about?
Well, I'm going to sort and label the new stamps now so that I don't get myself in a muddle with them. I'm still drawing as well, so I have a real mixture of work to keep me busy. As I type this, Thomas has ventured outside for the first time today but Tara is being sensible and has snuggled up beside me....in fact, she keeps patting the laptop as a hint that I should put it down so she can climb onto my knee. So, I'll sign off for now!

Just popping back before going to bed much later than I had planned - so much for getting an early night - but thought you might like to see a couple of photos taken this evening of my two little pals.
Tara looked so cute sitting up straight in the chair and I got this snap of her showing off her tootsies.....
 ......purrfectly manicured claws of course. But Thomas, sneaking a peek through the curtains, just thought she looked ridiculous.......
Right, I really am off to bed now....lots to do tomorrow!

Monday, 14 January 2013

White off!

Yes, about an hour after my post last evening, the rain came down and melted the whiteness into a chilling wet grey again. Today the bright, sunny skies suddenly turned dramatically gloomy and hailstones were soon bouncing around along with tumbling temperatures.
It made me wonder what hints and tips we might all share for keeping ourselves, and our homes, warm now that it costs such an enormous amount to crank up the central heating. I've been using the oven rather than cooking on the stove top so I can put a few things in together and avoid too much steam in the kitchen which can soon make the air even chillier as it adds moisture to the air. Then, when I've finished cooking, I leave the oven door open to let the extra heat into the room. 
I don't have a hot water bottle at the moment as the old one went all brittle and crumbly, so I'm using an empty squash bottle instead! When I put the kettle on for a cuppa I pour any excess boiled water into the bottle (with some cool water already in there of course to stop it from melting) and park it beside me while I have my coffee.
I think that feeling warm can be aided psychologically too, so I like to light some candles - which do give off a bit of heat of course, but mainly because the flickering flames make me feel cosy! The same goes for incense sticks...I'm burning Frankincense ones just now (very appropriately).....no heat there but the spicy aromas just help to stave away the feelings of chilliness.
Of course, Tara and Thomas are great sources of heat too! Unfortunately, neither of them can be forced to have cuddles and make their annoyance known all too quickly if I try! So, I have to wait for them to honour me with their warm presence..... 
.....not sure what I was watching on the box here, but Tara obviously couldn't bear to look!
I definitely find the bath becoming more appealing than the shower on these cold evenings, especially with all the exotic fizzers etc that I got for Christmas. Heather thought it was very amusing when I told her how long it took me to clean the bath after I used the one that was covered with fine red glitter mind you! I was not only warm, but I sparkled as well! They do say that applying a body cream or oil right after bathing is like adding an extra layer of clothing, so that's a good excuse for a bit more pampering too.
Well, I feel quite cosy after thinking about those ways to keep snuggly, but I'd welcome any other good ideas as I do think it's going to keep chilling down for a while longer yet.
I've got the ingredients ready for another of my pasta bakes - you know, the one that I'm still eating four days later! This time, as well as a little steak mince, I have two pork, tomato and basil sausages that I'm going to cut up and add to the mix for a bit of a change - talk about adventurous! I stir fry whatever vegetables I have, as well as garlic, tomato puree and herbs, mix in the cooked pasta and spoon it into a big oven proof dish which I pop into the fridge. Next I make a simple bechemal sauce with a few good pinches of nutmeg, pour it over the cooled pasta mixture and top with some grated cheese before baking for about forty minutes or so. I have to say that the first batch never tastes as good as the seconds, thirds and fourths on consequent days! It's not exactly Michel Roux, but it's tasty and filling.
Tonight is my brain stimulation evening - University Challenge followed by Only Connect. Just about the trickiest two quiz shows on TV so I always feel really chuffed if I do reasonably well! For "reasonably well" read five answers right on UC and three rounds on OC! I'm hoping that I'll tire my brain out tonight so that I'll get a decent sleep after two insomnia filled nights in a row.
Tomorrow is filled with working on more designs and getting as much done as I can before my new stamps arrive and I have to turn my attention to those. 
Thanks, as always, for everyone's comments which are always read and appreciated. Apologies to anyone waiting for a reply to an email, but my system is playing up this evening so there may be a delay. Keep warm and stay snug!

PS I managed to get twelve right answers in University Challenge but only one round of a really tricky Only Connect....I did get eight of the missing vowels round right though! None of that will mean anything if you don't watch OC of course!!!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Here it comes....

.....even near the coast the white stuff is making its presence known. I just took this photo from the back of the house and it looks like it's going to stick overnight.
Part of me thinks "hoooorrrrraaaaayyyyyy!!!!" and the other part thinks "oh no"!
It's very, very cold and the heat is staying on high despite two pairs of socks and a warm cardigan. I had a lovely furry hot water bottle in bed with me last night, that is to say Thomas, and they keep taking turns as to who sits on my knee now. Here's Tara going for the intellectual look.......
 Well, just a quick post tonight to say hello and keep warm. I'm busy with new designs at present but will be starting work soon on samples using my new stamps ready for Stitches trade show in February, so will share some sneaky peeks in the coming days.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


It's such a dull and gloomy day here in Lancashire but at least it's not too chilly, so the heat is turned off - hooray! I'm trying to get on with some drawings so am hoping that the light improves this afternoon. I really don't like drawing in artificial light (even the daylight type) as it does strain the eyes more as well as casting shadows which can make things tricky. Fingers crossed for a bit of watery sunshine then!
It's also pretty dullsville in the house now that the twinkly lights, tinsel and greenery have all been taken down and put away. However, my plan to replace the tree with something else has come to fruition. I was searching for reasonably priced curly willow twigs on the internet and local florists with no success, but Heather and I found something that would do the job yesterday. We called at a shop called Gee Tees...we only recently went in there as I'd mistakenly thought it was a discount booze store until I noticed household items in the window! They had some natural twigs with white LED lights already secured to them. They are really tall at 1.5 metres so fit the bill perfectly. The price was excellent - only £10 for the set of five - so I bought them and have "planted" them in a tall vase - weighted down with a brass door stop! They look really pretty and I'll be able to hang or clip little tags and other dinky makes from them to create a display that I can keep changing.
My stint as Camille the camel went well at church on Sunday morning. Lynne and I had to walk the screen to the front of the chancel - me with a hassock under my arm, ready to stand on! We were miked up, though I think mine was on the blink, so just as well that I can project my voice! Thankfully, neither of us tippled through the screen, fluffed our lines or dropped our scripts. We had to hold five sheets in our left hands and drop the top ones as we finished them whilst holding our right arms up at full stretch and doing all the mouth movements at the right time as well as remembering things like making the camels look round, move and generally come alive - talk about patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time!
It was worth all the arm ache to hear the children (and lots of the adult congregation too!) giggling at the terrible jokes and banter between Clyde and Camille. Looks like I'll be getting roped in to more of this puppeteering lark now!
Well, the mirk shows no signs of lifting, so I will just have to put the lights on in my work room. This is the room that's really a vestibule/entrance to the house and which I can never decide what to call. Studio just sounds too grand for what it is. Heather has decided that I should call it my Doo Lally room (after my new stamp range) as I'm usually going doo lally in there trying to get everything done! So, I'll put the lights on in the doo lally room now and crack open the drawing implements.
I will have more new stamp designs to share soon, so watch this space!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Birthday memories

Today would have been David's birthday so I started the morning in the way that we always began either of our birthdays, by playing Mario Lanza singing "our song" - Because.
David adored Mario Lanza and, before he was taken ill, he had a beautiful tenor voice himself, so I have lots of memories of being serenaded whilst in a bear hug. "Because" was the most special song of all though.
No matter what else was going on, we always made a point of spending our birthdays together and David's always marked the last day of my Christmas break before getting back into work. 
The sky was beautiful this morning....
.....so I grabbed my camera and immortalised the moment.
I have so many wonderful memories of how we'd spend this day. We usually went out for a drive and visited a peaceful spot or just spent a quiet evening in together watching whatever big film we'd treated ourselves to at Christmas. I always made a point of saying that I'd cook David a lovely meal and he'd go along with the idea before telling me to get out of the kitchen and preparing the food himself! No matter how I tried I would never be able to cook anything as well as David could.
This morning Heather came round and we called at the garden centre for something that her hubby is creating. We had just stepped inside when the song "You'll never walk alone" started up. It was a song that David loved as well as being one that we chose for our dad's funeral, so it was very poignant.
I've just spent the rest of the day quietly, and placed a single rose and a candle in the garden.
Happy birthday David and thank you for all the precious memories. 

Friday, 4 January 2013

I've got the hump....

Two posts in one day, but I thought you might like a peek into what I'll be doing on Sunday morning....acting the fool really! I volunteered to help with the puppet theatre that one of the ladies at St Chads organises for occasional services when there are more children in church. So, let me introduce Camille.....

....she's a very snooty camel who looks down on her friend Clyde - another camel (looked after by Lynne) Sorry for the rather blurry photos but I was trying to take a picture with one hand whilst crouching on a chair and looking into the mirror!
Clyde and Camille will be talking about going on a long journey to see a new king whilst Lynne and I stand behind a black screen and hope that our arms don't give out as we stretch the camel necks up over the top! Of course, being a shorthouse, I am having to stand on one of the hassocks which is a somewhat unstable surface, so I am also hoping that I don't suddenly go falling through the screen and into the front row pews!
You can see just how haughty this camel is.....
 .....she may just do an "emu" in the middle of church which would be rather disruptive! Tara wondered what I was doing, but wasn't very impressed when she had a closer look.....
 ....she skedaddled shortly after that!
As I'm writing this the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts is on TV. I'm amazed and impressed by the wizardry that goes into making modern day "creature features" so realistic and believable, but to my mind there is something far more creepy and unnerving about the old stop motion Ray Harryhausen special effects. Maybe it's the jerky movements and lifeless eyes, like those of the huge bronze statue of a warrior who just creaked into life and peered round the cliffs at the Argonauts on the beach.....shudder!
Before I go, just to let you know that I'll be adding entries to my demo and workshop dates as and when they come up. My first demo of the year will be at Studio Craftique in Beverley, East Yorkshire on the 26th of this month. Hope to see some of you there.
Well, I'd better go and practice my camel voice again now!

First post of 2013

I was quite glad to get the bringing in of the new year over with and I haven't any photos of the fireworks to show you as they were a bit of a damp squib this time. I think the cut backs had reduced the council spending on what is, after all, literally sending money up in smoke.
Of course, only a couple of days left to enjoy the festive decorations which I am not looking forward to taking down. It's such a messy chore and everything looks so bare and drab afterwards, I am going to miss the tree in the corner of the room so I'm thinking about making a display of some tall twigs wrapped with clear lights that I can hang little non Christmassy, arty items from. I think Tara will also miss the tree as she's been fascinated by the twinkling lights and baubles!
I had Christmas Eve at my sister's house - we had a chinese takeaway which was naughty but nice! I went to the Midnight Eucharist at St Chads which was "interesting" as the congregation was swelled by an assortment of revellers who had left the local pubs and clubs! There was quite a bit of disturbance, loud conversation and people wandering in and out, but it was still a lovely service.
I'd decided to spend Christmas day itself on my own and, after opening my gifts, I trotted up to St Chads again for the family communion service. It was a really fun service as the children had all been invited to bring something with them that they'd received from Santa....they all trouped to the front and the vicar asked them about their gifts one by one - you can imagine that there were some very comical conversations! It was a lovely way for anyone without family to share in the children's Christmas excitement.
Once home I got straight into the kitchen to start the roast chicken dinner. One of my favourite elements of which are the roast chestnuts which I scored and put into the oven. Unfortunately they were still rather hard when everything else was ready so I gave them 30 seconds in the microwave....still a touch too hard so I blasted them again....oh dear! A few seconds too long and the chestnuts, or should I say, brown bullets had to go straight in the bin!! However, the stuffing and roasties were good and the M&S bread sauce as delicious as ever.
I had one glass of a Rosé wine, that's been (opened) in the cupboard for who knows how long, out of a tumbler as I couldn't find any wine glasses - I think we must have been going to buy some new ones! I decided to clear the dishes and wash up straight away and had a mini Christmas pudding as a treat while I settled down to watch the TV. Downton left me in bits of course!
I was given some really lovely gifts.....here are some of the very special ones.......
.......the beautiful canvas at the front was a gift from my friend Joanne who's not too well at the moment so hope she's feeling better soon. On the right is a five year diary that asks a question for each day so you can look back and see how your ideas and feelings have changed over time....this is included in the photo because it is the annual identical gift that Heather and I gave each other! We never plan this, but every year we both choose something the same - it's quite uncanny. In the centre is a very special pressie from my nephew, Max. It's Alfi Boe's autobiography but is a signed copy! Looking forward to reading that when I've finished Life of Pi which I saw in Oxfam and Heather bought and wrapped up for me! Really enjoying it - it's an intelligent, fascinating book that has been on my list of "must read"s for a long time now.
At the top of the picture is my new smile inducing cushion which was a gift from my friend Chris who paid me a visit yesterday along with her husband and grandson - check out his artwork on Chris's blog by the way! Isn't the cushion fabulous - I think I was the very large apple lady, in the right hand panel below pineapple woman, and now I'm the one two the right of her and hoping to become the one in the middle of them! We had a really good catch up before they headed into Blackpool to see some Christmas lights.
Thank you again to everyone who sent me cards, messages and gifts - I am still trying to get round to thanking everyone personally. Oh, and my bathroom smells gorgeous now thanks to the big bowl of Bombtastic bath fizzers, creamers and soaps that Heather gave me!
Well, this post was interrupted by Tara who decided to nudge the laptop until I put it down so she could curl up on my knees. She's been getting much happier to be stroked lately which is really good to see. She can still turn and give me a nip or a scratch, but the family who gave her away had young children and I think she had to put up with a lot of teasing and tail pulling, so it's hard for her to completely trust anyone.
She's now pestering for a bit of lunch and I had better eat something too so I'll sign off for now. I made a pasta bake a couple of days ago, so I've had several meals out of it - to be honest, I'll be glad to eat the last bit today so I can have something else! Still, it makes for a few days of inexpensive eating! 

PS I inadvertently pressed the text background colour whilst typing - so excuse the odd look to the second part of this post as I can't seem to undo it!