Thursday, 14 August 2014

First Creative Team Post on the Hey Little Magpie Blog

Couldn't sleep last night - daunted at the prospect of grappling with Wordpress, with which I'm not familiar, in order to upload my very first post to the new Hey Little Magpie Blog. Needn't have worried as it was pretty straightforward in the end ( she says as nose grows long Pinnochio style ) .

Anyway , enough of all that. I think I'm allowed to post a peak or two on my own blog after it goes live, which was today , so here's a couple of pictures to whet your appetite.

But please pop on over to the Hey Little Magpie blog to see the rest of the pictures and do leave a comment if you can . There's a heap of talent in the Creative Team as you'll see from all of the members' posts and there will be a new post up every other day . A feast for the eyes ! 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A little Magpie told me ...

... that I've been selected to join the brand new Design Team for Sarah's Cards , now known as Hey Little Magpie !

To say I"m thrilled would be stating it lightly but I can't think of a word to sum up how excited I am at the prospect of designing for THE best scrapbooking retail team out there - thank you Sarah and Lianne .

The Design Team are one talented bunch and I'm very proud to be a member.  Watch this space for more news .

Monday, 30 June 2014

What do you get a teenager ...

... for his Birthday ?

Err ... that would be money. Sad but true. The 'Experience' vouchers rarely get used , the book tokens are a non-starter and apparently iTunes vouchers are so last year . You might as well get them what they really really want and try as I might to choose , what to me, seems like a fun game for youngest teen ( 15 years old this year ) , somehow the Smurfs' Karaoke Hits or Pokemon Art Academy isn't going to hit the spot ( thank goodness).

So , rather than just dole out cash , I thought I'd make a money wallet. I found this one , called 3d Book of Money, in the Silhouette Cameo online store - by Jamie Cripps for 59p ( Design 52083).

Here's how it came together :

Black card stock seemed pretty cool for the base. The design is a pretty straightforward accordion- style mini book but the Cameo does it in a trice and every page is the same size whereas me and my trimmer wold probably come up with 4 slightly varying lengths which would look wonky when put together, especially as I probably wouldn't be able to find one of the 20 pairs of reading specs I've got scattered around the house.

Cut 4 of the page pockets and front panels - I chose one of my favourite woodgrain papers ( Pebbles -  Fresh Goods - Come Again) score lines are done for you ( LOVE my Cameo ).

The backs are decorated with credit card sizes panels for which I chose a similar woodgrain paper in a lovely charcoal colour ( Basic Grey - Granola - Wholesome) . To be honest you hardly see these when the book comes together so you could skip this stage.

Then it's just a case of assembling the pockets by attaching to  the accordion fold spine using strong double sided tape.

..and you end up with this.

I then cut some basic computer game geeky type shapes from my Cameo to embellish the fronts of each pocket ( Computer Mouse 9581 , Computer Monitor 14511 and Headphones 20233 ) in black card stock. Final touches - add money. A tip for those having a go at making one of these - the US design obviously is based on dollar notes . Tenners are bigger than dollars so you may want to adjust the height of the pockets to account for this . Mine just about fitted but only just.

Lastly assemble the slip cover that slots onto the end to keep it all in place . I made mine from the same Pebbles woodgrain paper . I then added a title cut from gold glitter POW (American Crafts) on the cover -  GET YOUR GAME ON ( 42708 ).

Job done and hopefully one happy teenager.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

How much fun can you have for less than £20 ?

Five posh coffees ?
Three pints of beer ?
Half a parking ticket ?

Or this little lot ?

I know which I'd rather spend my money on. Welcome Hema to the UK - a Dutch import which is billed as Tiger meets Ikea meets Poundland . Stationery heaven for you fellow notebook addicts out there. I blame Sandra ( Gottacraft ) for enticing me there with her Facebook post yesterday . How could I resist ?

The two wooden handled stamps bottom right are of a date stamp label and a paper clip and the 2 self-inking stamps above are of a speech bubble and a little birdy. The washi tapes are a mix of thick and skinny and the notebook bottom left has interior pockets and a zippered pocket at the back . I love the turquoise but I'm planning on inserting some scrapbook paper inside the cover to customise it. All in all , a bit gorgeous. Thanks for the tip - off Sandra.

Money talks...

... as they say . Mine says "Goodbye" .

I was contacted by Barclaycard Fraud department on my mobile the other day  A chirpy chap ( vaguely Northern but with a tinge of West Country - it must be so difficult for these PLC's to choose what sort of regional accent to use on their recorded messages when flying their corporate national political correctness banners ) told me that there had been 'unusual activity' on my account. How sweet that they should have noticed.

It transpired that they'd considered the payment of a large sum of money for youngest teen's Segway birthday party ( think giant two wheeled scooter /unicycle type contraption ) alongside a couple of mobility aids, to see me through my imminent period of post knee replacement recuperation, looked suspicious.

It struck me that this must a fun kind of job - spotting suspicious looking spending patterns on credit cards . What else might make their ears prick up ...Donation to the Labour Party alongside fees for private school ?..... Rehab Clinic stay alongside monthly sub to Wines Direct ?

Reminds me of how I used to collect discarded shopping lists from the bottom of supermarket trolleys with the idea of writing a cookery book from their assembled ingredients. The trouble was , trying to fashion a Paella from dog food and toilet cleaner wasn't a goer.

Monday, 23 June 2014


Apparently we have 206 bones in our adult bodies and several of mine don't work properly . It all started with a total knee replacement last year and since then, things have been going downhill fast ..... or rather not particularly fast as the prospect of running, let along walking downhill would be a physical impossibility at the moment.

This may be due to getting older , lousy childhood diet ( although I thought I ate enough packets of Butterscotch Angel Delight to ward off any calcium deficiency for life - clearly not ) or my absolute favourite - a sporting accident . I'm happy to pretend that my creaking skeleton is more to do with over-zealous downhill skiing ( incidentally why do we say downhill - can you ski uphill ? ) , a few too many netball matches in the upper sixth or my addiction to running. Those who know me will appreciate how big those whoppers are but it sounds so much better than identifying the cause as osteo-arthritis, which merely serves to make me feel about 80.

So, today I found myself in an NHS waiting room , choc full of the walking wounded , jostling for position amongst the zimmer frames and crutches. After a slow trawl around the M25, a wait for the car-park , and an even longer wait for my name to be called , I finally found myself seated opposite a green coated junior doctor ( not the consultant I'd been promised but presumably that would have taken another 2 years ) who looked as if he was about to whip out my tonsils. I tried not to notice that his lab coat was blood-stained. I should also say at this point that I'd waited several months for this appointment and so expectations were running high. The interview got off to a bad start . He didn't have my X-ray , had never heard of the clinic where I'd had it done, read from some clearly inaccurate notes and then informed me that the procedure I was enquiring about for my shoulder which my GP had advised ( yes , we've gone from knee to shoulders - it's a long story but involves crutches ) wasn't available at that hospital.

He grimaced when I mentioned that I'd just completed some treatment with a chiropractor for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction , was being X-rayed tomorrow for signs of Scoliosis and was about to succumb to the knife for a second knee operation in two weeks time. He clearly thought I must be either a write-off , a hypochondriac or in the final stage of Munchausen's.

Either way he went off to consult with the consultant I was supposed to have been seeing in the first place who was hiding in an adjoining room. When she emerged from her hiding place, she asked Mr Blood-Stained lab coat if he would give me a steroid injection. What then followed was at best farcical and at worst alarming. He made a sort of face. I've trawled the internet to see if I can find a picture of the sort of face he made but can't find anything that comes close. Let's just say that it resembled the sort of face you might make if you'd just been asked to amputate a leg with a plastic picnic fork, blindfolded.

This was not good and so I ran for the hills, or in this case the car park where I was fleeced a whopping £5 for the privilege of leaving but at least my shoulder was intact , not a drop of blood was shed and I deemed this to be a lucky escape.

I'm left wondering if this is normal . I guess if you read the Daily Mail then yes , this is what they'd like you to believe about the NHS.  I have to say , although I'm not about to subscribe to that tabloid , I think maybe they have a point and I never ever thought I'd see myself write that.

So, in two weeks time I'll be off to have my second knackered knee replaced with a Robo-cop style metal version and I'll be checking the surgical instruments tray in the operating theatre for any signs of picnic forks.            

Friday, 13 June 2014

Vinyl Decals

I bought a cheap and cheerful vinyl decal of a tree from Ikea when I was re-vamping my craft room . It was nice but I guess you get what you pay for and at £8 you can't grumble but it never quite looked right - a little bit too blocky and  you could see the clear vinyl around the edges.

Then I found a similar product on Etsy from a company called walldecals001 - admittedly pricier at £48 but far superior in quality and look. The detail is much finer and the vinyl is matte and thin so when it adheres to the wall , it looks as if it's been painted.

It came with a hilariously translated set of instructions ( they're made in China ) but never having been one for instructions , I set at it like a demon possessed without even looking at them , determined to get it up on the wall within the hour. Can you see where this is going ?

I don't suppose it helped that I decided to photograph the process and I'm not sure why I chose to do it before I'd eaten any breakfast , on the hottest day of the year so far and with crippling back pain . Somewhere in my reckoning, I'd supposed that the task would take my mind off the pain .

After having got the damned thing on the wall , I noted that the instructions suggested you'd need 4 people, so I was feeling pretty smug that I'd managed it alone ... oh apart from  a little 'help' from my eldest teen at one point,  who stayed for his attention span of about 5 minutes then flounced off in a huff.

Let's just say it was a pretty sticky process . In fact everything was sticking to everywhere , including me as I'd worked up quite a sweat by this stage . The whole event typified my general approach to life -  no patience , it can't be that difficult , I'm sure I don't need to do as it says etc.

Anyway - it's up and looking fine and dandy . Loving it in fact and it only took 2 hours .
My recommendations if you fancy attempting one of these :

  • Don't tackle it if small children are within earshot - the profanities were flying 
  • Avoid unsolicited 'help' from grumpy teens
  • Read the Instructions - if only for a laugh at the Mandarin to English translation
  • Eat first - sticky backed plastic wrangling on an empty stomach can get ugly
  • Adopt the mind set of " Well Nature isn't perfect so neither will my tree be " 
  • Read this 

And here are the pictures to show you what it looks like.  By the way - this design is called Happy Tree - how could you possibly not buy something called that ?

Stage One - this is going to be easy ...

errr ... maybe not

Pokey tool came in handy for reluctant leaves

Necessity is the mother of inventions - used a one metre metal rule to roll it upwards

Then all you have to do is peel the clear vinyl away
( I'm making this sound way too easy  ) 

Job done

Before ....                                          

... and after

Haven't added the birds yet  and there was also a vinyl cat that came with the design , sitting look up at the tree but I don't want to put ideas into my pussycats' heads , not that they need any encouragement , but then that's a whole other blog post.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Crafters Workshop Stencil / Templates for sale

If any of the below take your fancy - let me know . ALL SOLD - thank you

Selling for £10 as a job lot . They're all photographed against  12" x 12" card stock to give you an idea of size.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Before and After

Hallelujah .... my scrap room or rather scrap space is finished . It's felt like a bit of an epic task - totally overwhelming at times. How daft that I could have let my craft supplies build up like that . What was supposed to have been my oasis of creativity and calm had become a no-go ghetto.

So, armed with an Ikea catalogue, one dozen cardboard boxes and a picture in my head , I set out to halve the space I'd originally squandered and turn it into a multi purpose room - half craft room , half spare bedroom . I would be left with a much smaller area - 2m x 3m to be precise. Now I can craft in peace in one half of the room without the mess and we can have guests to stay in the other half ( not to mention the added bonus of being able to banish a snoring husband to what we've now dubbed ' The Snoratorium '  when the decibels levels exceed acceptable levels ).

It wasn't easy and I turned into a de-clutter bore in the process. It wasn't cheap either . What started out as a shoe-string budget soon had to expand to cover the cost of someone to paint the walls as I couldn't manage the step-ladder with dodgy knees , husband always too busy ... watching sport and I wasn't brave enough to let my teenagers anywhere near a can of paint ) . I'd planned to buy some budget carpet but this soon went out the window ( not literally ) . All of the really cheap stuff felt like ... well cheap stuff so I opted for a mid price range in a lovely slate grey. Don't even start me on the cost of storage solutions. With 32 cubby holes between 2 Expedit units to fill, you can do the maths.

I invested in the Expedit door fronts because I didn't want lairy purple and green craft tools exposing themselves in all their gaudy glory. Then came the white rattan baskets at £10 a pop, not to mention the rather lovely slate grey boxes that filled the remaining spaces to perfection. Thank goodness I didn't have to buy a stick of new furniture apart from a new bed. The 2 existing Expedit units , the desk, my chair and the 3 shelving units were all re-purposed but thankfully fitted in with the scheme as did the rather tatty lamps which only needed a couple of new shades to bring them back up to date.

Every room in the house felt as though it were filled to the brim with the contents of my stash as I moved it out when the painting started. I had to climb over crates of clutter to get into bed . I felt like one of those 'hoarders next door' from the TV show where they live amongst a decade of old newspapers ( replace 'newspaper' with 'patterned paper' and you see what I mean ). Did I ever think I would use all of this stuff ?

I started with the de-clutterers golden rule of creating 3 piles - keep / throw / donate. Stuff that . It soon turned into a donate/bin dilemma which quickly simplified to just donate. The Shooting Star Children's Hospice were delighted to receive enough crafting materials to keep their art therapist stocked for a while. A sale of the remainder at my local crop raised nearly £100 which will also be donated to the hospice. I can't tell you how liberating that felt and all for a good cause too.

So , enough drivel ( I did warn you I'd become a de-cluttering bore )  here's the only evidence you need - the before and after photos.

Could barely get through the door ...

... let alone find anything on my desk

 Mountains of junk ... but not any more ....

Cream and grey ... not a lime green Cuttlebug in sight.
The bed is on the other side of this Expedit which acts as the room divider.

Vinyl decals from Ikea on the back of the Expedit which is acting as a room divider

Vinyl door labels cut on my Cameo using a lovely font called Swenson - a bit of a faff but at least I know what's behind every door.

Cardstock and Patterned paper are the mainstays in my stash but are now neatly ordered and filed. The cream Curver rattan style boxes are brilliant and only a fiver from The Range and I covered the fronts of Kraft brown file holders from Muji with some cream ledger patterned paper to give them a uniformity .

My new mantra which reads " We don't need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it " 

Now all I have to do is put that into practice.

Fell in love with this embroidered cushion from John Lewis. I'm known to have a bit of a thing for birds as the lamp will also testify.

Of course Jenny had to help

... and now I really do feel as if I can finally create something lovely in my new room.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Love a bit of Flair ...

... although I refuse to call it Flair - they're badges . It's bad enough having to call trousers pants without having to call a badge a flair !

Anyway , these little lovelies arrived from Oz today . Now I know it's an atrocious waste of aviation fuel to fly them all the way from down under but I reckoned they were so tiny and so light and the flight would probably be going anyway so ...

I couldn't resist a bargain . The Australian dollar / pound conversion is so much better than the US dollar exchange rate right now . These worked out at a mere 50p each including postage and they are SO my style. I can do without 3 or 4 designer coffees this month just to justify them.

They're made by a company called A Piece of Cake Designs  and arrived wrapped in a delightful brown paper bag fastened with some cupcake washi tape. All in all a lovely way to brighten my day. Thank you Raquel.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

One for my maths students ... and my fellow hoarders...

I was pondering about the theory of exponential growth ... like you do of a Tuesday morning.

As a phenomena it can be amazing . Say you bought 3 bunnies and within 2 months you had 18 bunnies. Assuming the growth pattern continues along those lines how many would you end up with a year from now ? ( or for my scrapping followers, say you bought 2 items of stash and within 2 months that had grown to 18 )

Starting with the formula

y(t) = a x ekt   ( where kt is the index ... can't work out how to shift the text up )


y(t) = the amount at time t
a = the amount at the start
k = rate of growth
t = time

If a = 3 bunnies and t = 2 months and today y(2) = 18 bunnies

18 = 3 x e2t

Solving for k :

6 = e2k

Natural logarithm for both sides:

In(6) = In (e2k)

In (ex) = x so:  In (6) =2k


 k = In (6) / 2

So in 2 more months time ( at t = 4 months ) and 1 year from today ( t = 14  months )

y (4) = 3e (in (6)/2 ) x 4 = 108

y(14) = 3e (In(6)/2) x 14 = 839,808

.... which may just explain why the 3 pizza boxes of stash I've acquired in the last 2 months will have grown substantially within a year , assuming they're multiplying like rabbits and more to the point , why it's taken me the best part of 2 months to sort out my hoard of 10 years !

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Boy Free Zone

I have the house to myself for 48 hours - not for any particular good reason ... I have to work they get to play but hey .

Here's how I plan to de-boy the house .

1. Remove all man / teen / boy piles from every available surface

2. Collect up dropped clothes from all floors in all rooms in the house and throw into laundry basket - close door firmly.

3. Remove all signs of last weeks exam carnage . I do not want to see another textbook on electrical circuits or rock formations.

4. Reclaim the remote controls

5. Stock fridge with chilled rose and chocolate

6. Gather up 20 pairs of trainers from tripping zones in hallway and throw into cupboard

7. Put flowers in vase on kitchen table in the safe knowledge that the water will remain in the vase for the duration of the flowers

8 collect all mug / glass / cereal bowl debris from bedside tables and chuck into dishwasher

9 Bin sports / car sections from weekend newspapers on arrival

10 Play Michael Buble album on repeat ... and sing along

Friday, 2 May 2014

Loving my Vinyl

Hoping that title doesn't attract the wrong sort of reader !

I'm talking ( of course ) about the vinyl you use with a Silhouette Cameo machine . Having unearthed the transfer paper from my silhouette supplies ( in fact I think I'm using low tack sticky backed plastic that I bought to cover the boys school books - cheaper by far ) and deliberated about which colour to use ( black of course ) , I set about finding the perfect font to cut some labels for my Expedit .  A search for the Holy Grail or for a needle in a haystack might have been easier but hey , what fun to spend ages browsing through the free fonts available online. Time well spent in my book.

I settled on a font called Swenson available for free from It had the right sort of cursive script I was looking for and can be welded in the silhouette software so that it peels off in one easy piece. After a couple of duff attempts , because I"m not the most patient person in the world and tend to ' eyeball ' positioning so I didn't take much care over lining up the label on the transfer paper grid ( doh ) I managed to come up with this...



This is my practice attempt . I reckon it needs to go further in from the left hand side by about 1cm . So, 1 down ... 31 to go but delighted with how it looks .

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sweet things ...

... come in little packages. Not talking about chocolates , but skincare products. I don't use a lot , but being the age I am ( no clues ) I feel entitled to a decent moisturiser and because most eye-make up removers cause my eyes to weep, I like to buy a good hypoallergenic product. ... oh and because it's summer and I'm not supposed to get a tan I like to indulge in a good quality bronzer around this time of year.

So, my brand of choice is Clarins , always has been - love their stuff and it takes the guesswork out of having to choose from the myriad options out there. On Monday I ordered those 3 products. Today , a whole bundle of loveliness arrived on my doorstep.

These 3 for starters .... the items I ordered 

... plus 7 samples to try

... plus one very glam bag ... to hold .....

5 more ( very decent sized ) as a bonus !

Way to go Clarins , not 3 but 17 fabulous little beauty packages and no delivery charges and all landing on my doorstep within 48 hours. Now that's what I call service. The samples are perfect for travelling . Now all I have to do is book a holiday to take them with me ... if only Clarins had some exotic little spa tucked away in the Seychelles ... maybe they do ?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Books For Sale

The 'simplifying' as I'm now calling it continues.

I have the following books for sale if anyone is interested:

RAK'd !



If there are any here you fancy leave a comment or drop me an email and I'll let you know what postage will cost - if anyone fancies the lot , I'm happy to courier which will probably be cheaper than Royal Mail.