Monday, 2 November 2009

First day of class... more ways than one! It was back to school today after a VERY lazy half term. I hardly slept a wink last night (I never do on the last night of the holidays for some reason, I'm always thinking of all the little things I forgot to sort out at the end of the last half term) but everything was fine as always, and the kids were just as thrilled as us teachers at having to be out of bed at 6.30 in the morning again! (Yep, that's sarcasm for you).

Another class that starts today is Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers. Now I know I've been keeping a blog for two years now (originally set up when I took part in my first ever Shimelle class, When I Grow Up - Shimelle, you have so much to answer for!) but regular readers may have noticed that in recent months my posts have been less than regular. Now some of this is down to the inevitable work overload that can come with a new job, but its also been down to a significant reluctance to either scrap or blog that I've been suffering from since the Summer all told. So I wanted to take the opportunity of a short, three week class of daily prompts to actually get me blogging again. Let's see if it works!

Our first task was to blog our intentions for the class. So my intentions are as follows.
1) To blog at least every other day.
2) To try and scrap at least two layouts each week (this intention might be a little more difficult to maintain!)
3) To visit some new blogs and get some blogging and scrapping inspiration from others.
4) To not feel guilty if all these plans fall by the wayside! Blogger's guilt is NO FUN.
I have a number of obstacles that may stand in the way. First up, we have the job, and the mountain of marking than can form part of my evening several nights a week. Second, we have a few busy weekends coming up during this class, with Ed playing the last post at the Remembrance services and my sister coming to visit. Thirdly, Ed's near obsession with playing Age of Empires III which hogs the computer for several hours every night (I've had to kick him off just to do this post!). And finally, my own sheer apathy. I'm hoping that by identifying the obstacles at this stage, I'll have more chance of overcoming them. Wish me luck!
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Sunday, 1 November 2009

A dent in my marking...

...has finally been made! I put off the dreaded marking for most of the half term holiday, and when I actually sat down to do it this afternoon, it wasn't all that bad! I built it up in my head to be such a dull task, that the reality could only be an improvement! So it isn't all done, but it nearly is, and I can relax a little this evening and prepare for the onslaught of being back at work again.

Just a couple of layouts to share this evening, the first one was started on my weekend away (two weeks ago now, can hardly believe it!) and finished at the start of this week. The photos were taken on holiday by Lake Garda. I think that scrapbookers are obliged to take certain cliched photos when they are out and about, and the 'obligatory photo of feet' are one of them! I really like the way the title came together - I don't usually do such long titles, but the different letter stickers look great, so maybe I will start doing a few more.

The second layout was made a week and a half ago, and was a reaction to the way I was feeling at the time about my job, while I was having a little crisis of confidence. It needed to include a lot of journalling, since this was my way of getting my head straight and really deciding what I wanted. The photo was taken while I sat at my desk and printed out straight away - and it definitely looks the way I was feeling at the time! The papers are the gorgeous Basic Grey Lemonade line - perhaps an odd choice for this subject, but you don't have to always go for the obvious.

Now, I'm off to eat my dinner, and find something to do this evening now that I don't have a gorgeous costume drama to whisk me away into a world of escapism on a Sunday evening!
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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

If you go down to the woods today...

Today I thought I'd share a few different bits and pieces I've been working on over the last couple of months. First up, we have some of my knitted production - this is Jean Greenhowe's Teddy Bear's Picnic.

I knitted this in the Summer for Ed's little niece Olivia to play with when she visits us - she is nearly three and loves playing with the little sandwiches and drinks cups. Jean Greenhowe makes such sweet knitted toy patterns - my Nan taught me to knit using her patterns many years ago and you can sit knitting for just one evening and have a lovely little knitted doll finished by the time you go to bed. I have knitted several other toys since this which I will share with you another time.

Back to scrapbooking, and I don't think I ever shared this layout from Scrap, Paper, Scissors on my blog, so here goes. Strawberry Plant does exactly what it says on the tin - records Ed's foray into 'growing your own'. We have done this for a few years and have had some successes - the strawberries and the blueberries - and some unfortunate failures - the greenfly ate our raspberry and gooseberry plants alive this year! The paper is some beautiful Scenic Route, which I advise you to pick up while you can as the company will no longer be producing any more. Some more of the great Basic Grey chipboard in evidence, this from the everlasting Offbeat pack, which I think has to count as my favourite ever Basic Grey line.

I was really pleased to find out so many others are Jane Austen Emma fans - and also pleased that I managed to encourage one reader to watch the whole thing on iPlayer - well worth it in my opinion, I've watched it several times over before it disappears at the weekend. I tried to wean myself off Johnny Lee Miller by watching another favourite of mine on DVD, North and South, but even the great Richard Armitage is not succeeding in knocking Johnny of the top spot at the moment!

I've also been re-reading my Austen and am struck again by the fact that years go by but human nature never changes. I love reading Austen, because she could have been writing yesterday when it comes to describing people's follies and insecurities - it's only the costumes and situations that have changed. I think you have to be fascinated by human behaviour to become an historian in the first place, and I think it is the most difficult thing as a History teacher to make children understand that people two hundred years ago had the same thoughts and feelings as they themselves do, and weren't in fact alien beings!

And to another former teacher who commented on my blog - Caroline, I do remember you from that tough PGCE year! I definitely know teaching is not for everyone, so I'm glad you are now happier - congratulations on getting married, and enjoy the scrapbooking, it's a fantastic hobby even though your stash can tend to take over all available surfaces (and I should know!).

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Monday, 26 October 2009

Feeling a little bit lovesick...

How gorgeous was the BBC production of Emma? Trouble is, now I'm feeling all lovesick and gooey-eyed over Johnny Lee Miller - if Mr Knightley had been following me around all over the place looking like that at me I'd have put up with all manner of scolding. I'm rather sad it's over - now I have nothing to look forward to on Sunday night before another hard week of work. Will just have to wait till the end of November when my DVD boxset arrives instead.

A quick blog post tonight, just to share another layout from last weekend. I can't remember which of the Cocoa Daisy kits I had that was predominantly black and green, but I do know that I love that kit - I produced some great layouts with it. This one is about giving in to Ed's annoying habit of constantly pulling a face when I'm trying to take a photo of him. I've now decided to adopt the philosophy of 'if you can't beat them...' and just scrap the stupid photos! This one was on holiday this year when we were taking a walk by the lake in the evening.

The little chipboard bees are great - they come from a pack of Basic Grey chipboard elements. Speaking of Basic Grey, I just got hold of a pack of the new Nook and Pantry range which is very fabulous. I have plans of recording my Raspberry and Apple Candy Cake photo with it - perfect subject matter (and the cake was very tasty by the way - and so big it got shared by me, Ed, Mum and Dad!).

Tomorrow may have to involve a lot of housework and other boring stuff like marking Year 11 coursework (yawn!), but I aim to finish a layout and do some knitting as well, so hopefully I can keep up this run of blogging too.
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Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Bag

It's been a busy old day - I've caught up with the folks, been to the transport museum and currently have a raspberry and apple Candy Cake from the shop of the same name in Covent Garden waiting to be devoured alongside a cup of tea.

In the meantime I thought I'd share with you my 'crafting on the road', the handles for a bag I have been knitting. It's nearly complete, I just need to buy some lining fabric and wadding for making it up. If anyone has any idea where I can find some cheap online supplies of either, please let me know as I'm not very knowledgable about fabrics or what they should cost!
This is my first ever attempt at blogging from my iPhone, so I hope this works!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 24 October 2009

End of an Era

So the official announcement was made yesterday that Scrapbook Inspirations is to cease publication, bringing to an end the run of a magazine which really introduced 'proper' scrapbooking to me (before I had been relying on Dawn Bibby and co on QVC and a couple of pages in a DoCrafts magazine to give me inspiration!).

I had subscribed since my first discovery, and always looked forward to it arriving on the door mat - those were always the good days, when I would sit after work with a cup of tea and browse through. I loved the stories, the layouts, the style of the publication. So when the Best of British Scrapbooking competition was announced in 2007, the leader of the crop I attended at the time (which I discovered through Scrapbook Inspirations) told me to enter the New Talent category, and astoundingly I won! This led to a relationship with the magazine which involved regular contributions and commissions, and more recently the opportunity to spend a couple of months as part of the extended Design Team. This magazine fuelled a hobby which led to friendship, beautiful albums full of memories and helped me to develop my skills as a scrapbooker immeasurably. I'm just not a fan of browsing online all the time (it gives me a headache!) so to me this mag will be irreplaceable - I have never regularly bought Scrapbook Magazine which I found too basic, or more recently Scrapbook Trends which is far too American in style for me.

What is most sad however is that some very talented ladies who have helped to put together such a fantastic magazine will now be looking to move onto pastures new, breaking up a fantastic team. I hope they all move onto bigger and better things, and know how sorely they and their publication will be missed and how much fun and enjoyment they have brought to me and many others. I fear that this will see a real decline in British scrapbooking, as there are so many people who do not take part in online activities and would not necessarily have found out about scrapbooking without this magazine. Let's hope that this is not the case.

In happier news, I do have some layouts to share from last weekend. This snap is of my sister by Lake Garda on the first evening of our holiday earlier this year. It was such a serene shot, and we all felt so instantly calmed by our surroundings, that I decided to record how desperately we were all in need of the relaxation.

Secondly, we have my boy Bertie in this gorgeous shot of him that I took earlier in the Summer, sitting on the garden table and looking for all the world like he owned the place. Hence the title! Unfortunately, all my three cats get mercilessly bullied by the ginger Tom next door, so Bert is kidding himself if he thinks he rules anything around here! All the papers and some of the embellies for these layouts came from past Cocoa Daisy kits which I was trying to use up.

In other news, I am very happy that I am now on half term holidays - I was at breaking point earlier in the week and this will give me the opportunity to collect my thoughts and take a breather. I am also really looking forward to the concluding part of Emma on the BBC tomorrow - I think I can safely say that I am now 100% in love with Johnny Lee Miller as Mr Knightley and I think the actress playing Emma, Romola Garai, is perfect and very loveable as a character who Austen herself thought was very difficult to love. I have been re-reading my copy, which I hadn't picked up since secondary school - I always love it when an adaptation encourages me to get reading again. This has been the best adaptation I have seen of this novel - I'm not a Gwyneth Paltrow fan and I didn't like the Kate Beckinsale version. Catch it on iPlayer if you haven't already seen it - it will be several hours pure bliss, I promise!
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Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I'm not usually one to get wildly stressed out by things, but I have to admit that this week I've been letting my new job get on top of me. It just feels like there is a neverending amount of things to do and I could work non-stop and still never get it all done. I was already to jack it in today and go back to my simple life of teaching. But fortunately, I have sensible friends and family in my life who help to put things in perspective for me. So I'm taking a break this evening. Not because I don't have things to do (I have plenty) but because I need this right now and my sanity is just as important as those sixth form essays!So I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some of the weekends layouts with you - we are limited to four pics a post when using Picasa to blog (I don't know why this is - please tell me if I can change this!) so I will upload in batches.

Today we have a layout about Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight which I visited in June. I took a series of photos of the architecture which reminded me so much of Italy, particularly as the weather was so nice there was a beautiful blue sky backdrop in most of them!

When I went away with my friends last weekend I decided to make a dent in some of the Cocoa Daisy kits I had purchased almost a year ago now but never got round to using. ~There are some really lovely papers in them which I would never have thought to buy myself but its always good to challenge yourself and sometimes you find papers and ranges you really like this way. The best thing about this page is the gorgeous butterfly lace paper though, and I would definitely have bought that!

My second page of the weekend was this one, the photo was one I took when me and Ed were both a little worse for wear after a night out a few months back, but I made the page more for the message. Ed has been suffering with his diabetes lately and I wanted to remind him that I'll always be there for him no matter how bad it gets. Hypos can be scary things and they are definitely not something you want to suffer in silence, which is something he does too often. The title was built into the paper, I just outlined it with a journalling pen, added a rub-on and some stickers and really not too much else. I made the scalloped circle by drawing round a dinner plate and a salt mill from the youth hostel kitchen! Well, need's must.

I will aim to share the rest of my layouts from the weekend in the next couple of days - I've also got some DT and magazine work that hasn't appeared here yet so I'll get on to photographing that as well. I've signed up for Shimelle's class to help you get blogging. I know I won't be able to do much blogging in November when the class is running but at least I'll have plenty of ideas for when I do get some time to blog again, and may even learn how to tart up my blog a little bit too! Check out Shimelle's blog for info - her classes are always worth a try.
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Monday, 19 October 2009

A walkthrough of my recent scrapping history...

I've decided to give up apologising for a lack of blogging. It makes no difference to the amount of blogging I actually do and therefore only results in the posts on here getting rather repetitive! Suffice to say, I've won a promotion at work, with all the extra work that a promotion normally entails but without any extra time to actually complete it in. Cue lots of after work meetings etc meaning that all I seem to be doing at home in the evenings is catching up on marking and planning that I haven't had a chance to do during the day.

I have been scrapping a little however and here are a few of my achievements. First up, a couple of layouts I did for Scrapbook Inspirations magazine - The Circus commemorates the awesomeness of a Take That concert I went to in the Summer with my sis. I love the paper I used for this one - I think its by Scenic Route who I hear have sadly succumbed to the recession along with so many other wonderful companies. I will sincerely miss Scenic Route, they have always been one of my favourite paper manufacturers and their designs grace more than a few of my layouts. This layout is actually about work, not a common scrap topic for me I have to admit as usually I scrap in order to forget about my day to day existence. I had the idea of drawing a big apple design which I copied from the Basic Grey Recess backing paper and enclosing all my photos inside - a bit different, a bit funky, a bit striking, or at least that was the idea anyway!

Next up, some layouts I made for the Papermaze blog: Scrap, Paper, Scissors. This one is using the My Mind's Eye Ooh La La papers - such gorgeous designs if a little overwhelming. I have written a post about how to go about using such bold patterns on the Scrap, Paper, Scissors blog so if you have always found them a bit daunting, have a go!

Two 6x12 layouts now, which is a size I've fallen for a bit in recent months - with less time to scrap, it isn't half easy to complete a page when its only this size - everything you add seems to fill up the page in no time! This one is about my gorgeous fella and uses Fancy Pants Kraft papers and Jenni Bowlin giant bingo cards:

This one uses more of the My Mind's Eye papers, nicely toned in to match the glittery eyeshadow I'm wearing in the pic.

I've been away scrapping this weekend with some girlie friends so I actually have quite a few more layouts to share that just need photographing now - I may even attempt to do that this week, though I'm not putting any pressure on myself as I have meetings all week till Friday including a rather nasty presentation on Thursday to senior leadership which I'm not overly looking forward to :/So it may have to wait until half term. But hopefully that is enough to satisfy for the moment, and to my friend Rach: there you go, I finally blogged!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

So much news to share...

What a busy few weeks it's been. First up, my scrapbooking news...

Quite a few months ago now, I was asked to be a part of Scrapbook Inspiration magazine's extended Design Team. Of course, I was thrilled to be asked and agreed to be a part of it. Abovei is a little piccie of the new DT - lots of talented ladies. There is a much bigger range of styles that will hopefully appeal to all sorts of people, and because there are so much more of us we will all appear in there less often, so people won't get as bored!

This news partly explains my lack of posts here. Most of my scrapping now is either done for Papermaze or the magazine which means I have little else to share! For those people who read that don't get the magazine already, here is a link to the website:

The next issue is out on the 18th September if you fancy a look.

On to my other, more personal news. A couple of Saturdays ago, I was woken up with breakfast in bed. Which was lovely in itself. But even lovelier was the diamond ring sitting on the tray! Yes, I am now officially engaged - I will some day in the near future be known as Mrs Watson, not Miss Harp. Now that will take some getting used to...

Friday, 28 August 2009

A trip round the lake...

Some more beautiful photos to share from my holiday - these are mainly for the benefit of my folks who are missing Italy very much - these are for you mum and dad! First up, a view of the lake from Riga...

Next, we have a shot of my Dad and sis taking a break from the midday sunshine in one of the quiet little streets, in Salo I think it is. We had just eaten some of the best ice-cream imaginable from a shop just outside the massive church/cathedral there...

This is a kind of gothic palace/mansion on a tiny island in the lake. It's owned by some Duke or something - us mere mortals can only get this close by boat. Very magical...
Finally, this is me looking all hot and bothered in front of one of the Scaligieri castles in Sirmione - just after a motor boat trip round the peninsula there which had been a welcome relief from the heat that day.

I will share just a few more trips from our holiday - from our trip to the Dolomite mountains. These are breathtaking, and probably some of the best photos we took.

In other news, my GCSE results weren't too bad - a couple of the kids predictably bombed out, but the others all did pretty well and I'm proud of them. History is definitely not the easiest subject to study, so they can all feel deservedly proud of themselves. Just a few more days of Summer to enjoy and then it's back to work - where has the holiday gone to?
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Monday, 24 August 2009

I think this may be paradise...

Believe me, that is not an overstatement! I've recently got back from a trip to Lake Garda in Italy and it's just breathtakingly beautiful - such diverse scenery, sweet little towns and fantastic historical sites to see. If you've never been, you MUST go, Italy is just my favourite place in the world.

I thought I'd share a few pics - these were taken by the lake in the resort of Garda that we stayed in - my sis with one of her trademark expressions, Ed enjoying the waves lapping the shore of the lake and me in one of those self-portrait shots that actually turn out ok. I have more photos to share, but Picasa won't let me at the moment so expect another blog post soonish.

I do have a couple of scrapbook pages to share, and I am working on another few as I type, but I have also rediscovered my love of knitting again in the last week and am just finishing a teddy bear's picnic for my 'niece' Olivia to play with. So if anyone is interested, I can share pics of the finished masterpiece here too. I know this is mainly a scrapping blog, but all craft is good, right?
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Thursday, 6 August 2009


Ok, before anyone starts prodding me via the comments box to remind me to update my blog again, I have another little project to share. This one was originally intended for the magazine, but it didn't quite fit the brief and so I came up with something else instead. But I do still like this page - it uses Sassafrass Lass Anthem paper, as well as a bit of Basic Grey Mellow I think, and that beloved piece of orange KI memories lace paper which has featured on about four of my layouts now I think but is finally finished!

The layout shows some little pics of my place of work, in particular my lovely (orange!) classroom with all the posters and tea-stained newspapers and so on. My classroom is great - our school is in desperate need of being torn down (which is in fact happening in the next couple of years) so you really have to do your best to cheer up your surroundings and I think me and my colleague have achieved that in this room.

Was pleased to receive some of the My Little Shoebox letter stickers in the post the other day - I will now get to make titles in colours other than black and white! It's the first purchase I've made in a while - unfortunately I've been on a bit of a spending spree in Outfit recently, so my wardrobe is looking great but something's got to give and stash is that thing. I do have plenty to use up however, so this is probably all well and good.

Will endeavour to update again presently - but for now, I'm off to try to make my iPhone sync with iTunes - it's not playing ball at the moment!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Back from self-imposed exile...

Firstly, a big thank you to Shimelle. I have been inexcusably terrible at updating my blog recently. I haven't completely stopped scrapping (though I haven't been as productive as I would like) but I just haven't been sharing on here. 

The trouble is, once it gets beyond a few weeks, you start getting that guilty feeling about it. I imagine my little blog staring at me, arms crossed, with a disapproving expression, chastising me for the lack of attention I have paid it. And then updating it becomes a chore, not a pleasure. Which is ridiculous really, because it is MY blog - noone is forcing me to keep it! I guess what I'm trying to say is that I needed Shimelle's gentle push in the right direction to get me sharing and chattering on again. Whether that is a good thing or not is another matter - perhaps I have actually spared the world the inane workings of my bizzare mind!

But anyway, back on topic, and the first page I'm going to share is this one I made for Papermaze ages ago. It's some pictures from our trip to the Isle of Wight this year, Osborne House to be specific. These statues guarded the front entrance and me and Ed just had to take some comical photos with them. 

The background paper is officially gorgeous - I defy anyone to make a less than sensational layout with it for very little effort. The finished layout is one of my favourites of late - everything just came together perfectly with little to no stress on my part. I didn't even have to shuffle the papers around much!

I will be back to share some more long-forgotten layouts with you all - once I have take some decent shots of them. I have a few magazine layouts that have found their way back to me that I need to photograph, as well as some layouts completed just for fun (believe it or not!). Feel free to tell me off via the comments box if I take longer than a few days to update again - I think I need the kick up the proverbial to get me to do it at the moment!