Friday, March 30, 2012

Hello world!

I know the sun has been shining for the last week or so but I am finally, finally coming out of my cocoon and really feeling better and ready to face Holy Week. I love Holy Week. Even though it is the busiest week of the year workwise. (Some kind of service or devotion at least once every day, with a rest on Saturday ready for THE BIG ONE on Sunday). I've been pondering whether, if it feels so fulfilling, I actually need more public devotion time in my Ministry. This is the advantage of a move, in that you can think of new things to try out. And it will help that one of the churches is opposite the house. Which then will need to be balanced by offering something at the one that is more like 25 minutes away...

I even went for a run last night. I promised myself that I must not push it too soon or feel down on myself for not managing too much. Its hard though. The good news is that I wasn't the slowest ever. The bad news is that I only did 2.6 miles. Still onwards and upwards now! And I need to make the most of the terrain I am on now as soon it will be running with HILLS.

I just about managed my Daring Cardmakers card last night before having to go to bed early with a headache. Man, I hate getting back to running after a break! Keilly chose the theme of "Material Girl" and after some thought I decided that I would have a stuffed heart on the front of my card. And here it is
And it really is that bright (well, with the sun shining on it!) It will be hand delivered, what with postage now being eye watering, so I made the heart as puffy as could be
It is cut from pink felt using a Sizzlit die (wasn't sure it would cut through but no problem). I die cut two and used blanket stitch to sew them together. Once I had remembered how to do blanket stitch that is. I stuffed it with the scraps of felt as I was too lazy to hunt out any fillings I might have! The papers are Echo Park. There are yellow, grey, black and aqua versions of the same papers including herringbone and chevron in the set and I adore them! I also used PTI and Nestabilities dies; Imagine That stamps; Liquid Pearls and Docraft flowers and brad. And a Sizzx embossing folder.

Here are the cards for my Imagine That class. Note: they are also bright.
They use some lovely Kaisercraft papers which feature yelow, red, pink, pale green and a teal blue. If anything they are a fraction brighter than in this photo. Here I also used Nestability and Sizzix dies; ribbon and Imagine That letter stamps (best set ever) and some (slightly squiffy) black stick on gems.

as above but also a Martha Stewart punch and some Candi. I think the label needs something else but still can't decide what. If I was making this for home I would have outlined everything with a sharpie pen and that might be all it needs. Or maybe some blue pen round the outside? Hmmmm

The bird cage is one of the patterned papers. The bird is a Claudine Helmuth stamp. Well actually two as you stamp a sponge one and then add the outline. It is meant to be not quite in the lines, it's not my bad stamping!

Right, the rest of the morning needs to focus on Holy Monday and Tuesday, sorting music for an hour of singing and reflections on Wednesday and if possible, the service for Women's Guild on Tuesday afternoon. See - Holy Week is fun!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A quick catch up

family news:

Carys said her exam "was fine" (told you)
I am heaps better (finally)
Its nearly time for Hywel to go back to University (so soon?). No more interviews as yet. i really do hope he gets something for next year. Arg. The worrying is as bad as when they were small!
Emrys has possibly filled in his UCAS form. And if he hasn't will have his mother standing over him tonight while he does.
Phil has a new "#prayforMuamba" t-shirt. He doesn't twitter. But he does pray and does support Bolton.

Crafty news:

I've completed my last two class samples for Imagine That (sob!) I'll preview the cards on Friday. Here is the layout

When we were talking about what to do, Emma and I were thinking about the new trend for hexagons and what to do. Then Emma ran round to the Sale section and found a template and the layout came together from there really. There is a lot of cutting out - but it is all very easy really. The papers are Cosmo Cricket. I added a tiny pennant (also cut from the template) and a chevron, which I could do easy as, well, pie at home and did a major fail demonstrating it to Emma so will have to practice!
Here's a close up of the blurb as it is hard to read on pink

 And  here is a layout about Carys singing in the Gaynes Factor, using a new set of Imagine That star stamps and a Gotta Craft kit
I stamped some of the images directly onto the cardstock and others onto kraft paper which I cut out. The letters for "Superstar" were cut using Dienamic letter dies and some cardboard. 
Here are a few detail close ups

I'm in the middle of writing up session plans for Messy Church at the moment and my eyes are boggling. However I must get back to it now - I'll be back on Friday with a Daring card.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Foxed by a box

Thought I would start the post with the craft stuff this week rather than make you hang about! (Or delay your gratification if you are more interested in the wittering than the card making) (And if neither, why are you here?)

This week's Daring Cardmaker challenge was quite a stretch for some of us. But what is good about that is that it brings lots of innovation and I think the blog looks stunning myself. Fran gave us the title Box of Tricks and told us to include a box on our projects. I was stumped for quite a while. And then decided I wanted something that I could put another part of the card in (like .... a box then Lythan). I looked up some box templates on line and came across a pillow box. "oh that might work" I said to myself. I should never listen to myself. And maybe should have a template with instructions.... so mine looks more of an envelope than a box. But it is dimensional and it has something inside. So with all my petty excuses out of the way (I could throw in, 'and I'm still not fully recovered' for the sympathy vote but I would not dream of stooping so low), here is my card.
I used Echo Park papers and stickers, a free tag that I found whilst starting the decluttering of my craft stuff pre move (oh such a long way to go); EK Success punches, A PTI scallop die and Banana Frog stamps. I adore this set of stamps and already had one set - but managed to lose the "A" (they are only small) so when BF was closing down I decided to buy another set as I can't go without an A. So glad I did. I shall keep the other set for spares just in case! Inside my pillow BOX (not envelope) is a tag
And I also must draw your attention to the black sparkly ribbon, purchased from Imagine That
Isn't that gorgeous? It is really smooth to the touch as well. 
The card is for Carys' piano teacher. Carys takes her grade 5 exam this Saturday (I'm so nervous) which will mean the end of her formal lessons. Her teacher has the patience of a saint and is just all round awesome so the card and something lovely will be winging their way to her, with an exam run down afterwards. (My bet is Carys will say "it was fine")

Just one more card to share today. I have done a little more crafting this week but not much as my energy/concentration levels are still quite bad. I have developed a love of "Police Interceptors" on 5* this week. It has helped me not to over do things. It is fab as the series is based with Essex police and I know most of the places that they drive around. Anyhoo, this is my Mum's mother's day card, made with a new set of Imagine That stamps
 I've still got a way to go to making them look as fab as Emma does, but I had fun making it! I also used some Nestabilities dies, Mei flower gems and Paula Pascual round stamps. Crochet lace from stash. My Mother's Day present to mum this year is .... me! Phil visited his mum this week and took her to lunch and I'm taking mum out in Easter week. We have to wait so long because I need more time to get too and from my parents. She is delighted though (phew)                                     I must photograph my cards as they are fab. One bought one with lovely words written inside; two hand made - one with a great drawing of me and the other laugh out loud funny. I had some great things to read and to eat and Carys and I watched Singin' in the Rain as she had never seen it before (and I reckon that some of the dance routines in the show now on are BETTER that the film)
I've had two funerals this week and they, along with Police Interceptors, have taken up a lot of my time so I must crack on with Sunday's service and some confirmation materials for three teenage lads who want to be baptised and become members of one of my churches. So exciting!

Friday, March 16, 2012

This week is mostly going swimmingly

Every now and then my body decides it has had enough and needs a holiday and I have a system crash. Normally after 48 hours rest I am beginning to feel fine again. I'm on Day 4 now and my head is still swimming which means I can't stay at the computer (or upright) for that long. I've had to cancel just about everything this week - even missing Carys in the Gaynes Factor last night. I actually felt better then than I do now and was able to do her hair and makeup and take some photos at home.

Phil took the camera for some action shots. He said she was fabulous and she loved it, even though she wasn't placed.

I think she looks a bit like Adele here
And apparently in this one a bit like Janet Devlin.
I still wish I had hair like that. Serious envy here!

Onto my Daring Cardmakers Card this week. The theme is "Lucky green". Mine is very green with a kind of a four leaf clover for the luck!
I used Basic Grey Origins papers and chipboard; Fancy Pants ribbon; Imagine That stamps; Petaloo Flower centre and EK Success and Martha Stewart punches; Tim Holtz tiny attacher staples.

Some arty close ups

And I'm going for another lay down!

Friday, March 09, 2012

I hate student finance

Not only do I hate the fact that students now have huge amounts of loans, not grants like in the olden days. (Although actually a wee bit of a loan is not a bad thing as it reminds students that it is not all about partying - but I would rather it was seen as a Student Tax)
But I hate the kerfuffle every year about signing up to support students and the way it makes me feel so stupid.

I think part of the struggle is that you have parts of the online form that are about the past (need the 2011 P60) and parts about the future. How many dependants do you have in further education. Is that now? or in September? and is that sixth form or university? It all feels a bit existential somehow. Anyway Phil (who is on study leave this week) has been tasked with discovering the answer. Could that be because it involves actual phone calls? (Maaaay-be, as Carys would say)

And there is the realisation that even with all of this loan (and tiny bit of grant) that the kids get, there is still an unwritten expectation that parents also contribute. I may have mentioned this before, as when we went to Hywel's student loan presentation I noticed that the amount that the lowest income students were entitled to was greater than the sum of loans and grants for living expenses that other students would get. And where would that shortfall come from? Well either getting a job (in Middlesborough? Lets save those for people who need full time work in the city with a huge unemployment rate) or the bank of mum and dad. Fortunately the boys are clean living, modest hermit types so they will manage ok. But still....

Rant of the day  over with.
And here is my card of the week

Leo set a fab dare for Daring Cardmakers this week "Tesselation" (which has got me singing the Record breakers theme now). I found these amazing free download patterns from Melstampz which I used for the card. I printed the hexagons out twice so I could cut some out and stick them on top of the first sheet. I wanted chevrons too so trimmed one from that pattern. The flowers were die cut using Tattered Florals and nestability circle dies. The green paper is from Echo Park. I decided a few more green accents were needed and so added some green thread to a vintage button and sewed three french knots in the bottom left corner. The sentiment is from a new Imagine That set.

Here are two more cards made this week

This card is for a friend whose mother has died. The diagonal stripe paper originally had a pink stripe which jarred so I coloured it white with gel pen. I was only going to use one lily but it looked a bit bare. The papers are K and Co and the sentiment is PTI

I've bought some Dienamics dies recently including this doily and a twig and leaves. I've used both here but it ended up very different to what I had intended. The papers are Cosmo Cricket, K &Co and Lily Bee. I also used some QK flower dies and a Tim Holtz embossing folder for the twig.

I'm just about ready for Sunday morning. I'm trying out Mind Mapping service prep thanks to Phil's inspirational talk at the Elders Training last week. Sunday evening is still a bit of a blank which is a shame as I have Synod all day tomorrow,  a murder mystery in the evening and not much time free today. Hmmmm need inspiration so better stop blogging!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Farewell Student Days

On Monday I handed in the two bound copies of my MA Dissertation. They look ever so smart. Dark green with gold lettering. I could have just gone for comb binding but wanted something that would last and I never intend to write something as long again in my life. (14, 989 words. Limit 15,000. But that doesn't include quotes and bibliography which bangs it up to about 17,000)
I went for the cheapest place I could find, ordered Tuesday and arrived Friday. They didn't send a confirmation even after my rather panicky email but maybe that is because they were working hard on my magnum opus. If you need something bound then I would use ithesis again.
So that is it. 15 months of dissertation and 5 years (almost) of being a post-graduate student (again) over.
It feels strange not thinking "what should I be reading now?"

However I have been saying I will do "x,y,z" when it is handed in and now it is so I have to do them. Some fun things like... seeing if I can ride a scooter and then going on a CBT course (or is that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?); learning to play the ukelele that I begged for as a Christmas present...

And some less fun things like... going through every cupboard and decluttering. I may have some craft bits to sell or pass on as freebies so watch this space.

I managed to squeeze in some celebratory scrapping
using Simple Stories papers and stickers along with some other bits and bobs (like a Pink Paislee paper I think, and Authentique sentences). The thickers are not all that they seem. One of those letters used to be a number 9, one the letter "b". And see how many old school crafting things I used up? 5 brads (that is coloured paper fasteners to normal non crafters Ruth)
Here is the story in close up
The photo was taken at Manor House Wildlife Park near Tenby, around the gorilla enclosure. But why take photos of monkeys when there is my own wildlife about? (OK so I did snap the big hairy ones too but am not sure if any of the shots are good enough for the album). The photo on the next layout came on the same (hot) day.

I have been looking forward to documenting this for ages. The kids still talk about how nuts I was for taking a photo of a zebra's backside. The background paper is Basic Grey Basics and the rest is all MME - apart from the moustaches and the green which are Echo Park. Using the 'tache paper was a personal challenge. Doesn't say much about zebras but the colours match. I used my ever so nice but slightly difficult to use in a straight line, alphabet stamps, a whole heap of different letter stickers and some Card Candi to finish it off.
And if you were wondering ....
 here is the answer

Friday, March 02, 2012

OOoh me aching thighs

Decided on a slightly lighter title than the last few.
My friend Ernie was "Promoted to glory" (as the Salvationists rather wonderfully put it) on Wednesday evening. I kind of like to think that he has had a nice surprise in unexpectedly meeting Dave in heaven... Both funerals, for various reasons, will not be straight away so it will be quite hard on their families and on the church family too. I'm going down to Boys Brigade tonight to talk with them about death as Dave was a much loved leader (and so was Ernie in his time) and I will share this story, which I was rather touched to see was used in Rev to talk about sudden death too (side note: I am still reeling from discovering that Miles Jupp's dad (Miles plays Nigel in Rev amongst other things) is a URC Minister and Miles has a theology degree. (Doesn't stop him having a potty mouth at times. Actually might explain it)

Anyway on to my thighs...
I didn't take my running stuff on holiday (and then was a bit miffed as I could have done one run on the beach at least) and then last week was super busy with work so it was very hard starting again. Phil has had a month off with a poorly knee and only added 1 minute to his time. My first run I had to stop early as I was overheating (I did wonder if I could take off my shirt and just run in my sports bra and then realised I must be even more light headed than I thought). I could hardly walk the next day! Ran my full 6k last night (but veeeerrrrru slowly) and then had to go to bed early. But I can come down the stairs without going "OW!" on each riser so that is progress.

As its Friday it is Daring Cardmakers day and it is also the beginning of another month (eeep!) so it is a colour challenge. Kathy found this fab photo

which has such lovely colours. I think the blog looks wonderful today. Here is my interpretation
The card has already been given to Beryl who has made me the most amazing knitted nativity set. I hope to take photos of some of it soon but it is something I will treasure and use for always. I've even got a spare baby Jesus in case he goes missing one day!

I used the other half of my PTI kraft cardstock sheet and some Lily Bee papers, which do tend towards cream rather than yellow but hey ho. The birdcage was die cut and embossed with versamark which was covered with a mixture of Distressed Embossing Powder in Vintage Photo and ordinary Gold  to try and give it an aged look.

Other details: Dies: Sizzix; PTI and Nestabilities; Embossing folder: Cuttlebug; Button from Crafty Templates Kit (I think); roses: from various places I can't remember(!); stick on gems: Mei Flowers

I'm off out again soon to Women's World Day of Prayer. I love these services as you know that all across the world in different languages and at different times during the day, the same worship materials are being used and God is being praised. I've got a really busy working weekend - I hope you have a restful and creative one, in whatever you are doing