Thursday, 31 March 2011

Blog of the Week

How to choose? How on earth to choose?!

Well, I'm not going to agonise about it too much; I'm not going to go on about it too much; and I don't plan to be consistent, either. That should make life easier! So I shall explain why I love a particular blog, but I won't bother with even trying to explain why I chose it that particular week (unless there actually is a particular reason for choosing it that particular week, of course).

One day, maybe I'll stop overcomplicating things....?!

Anyway, this week's Blog of the Week is.......:

Sian at From High in the Sky!

I'm sure many of you, if not all, already know Sian's lovely blog. If not, why are you still here reading mine?! Get right over there and enjoy reading her clever writing, oohing and aahing at her beautiful photography, laughing over snippets of her witty exchanges with her family, gasping at glimpses of her stunning layouts, and participating in her regular features Storytelling Sunday (hey, that's good timing, there's one of those this very Sunday!) and Pass the Book (hey, that's good timing, I'm currently being inspired by one of the titles Sian sent on its journey, and I'll be passing it on to another lucky reader in the nearish future!)

Sian, this badge is yours to do with as you will :-)

Everyone else - are you still here?! Here's the link you need again, then: From High in the Sky. What are you waiting for?

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22nd March: We decorated photo frames using recycled paper in my papercrafts class :-)

Detail: Scouting

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

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21st March: A couple of travel guides we'd ordered arrived, ready for a little trip we have planned! :-)

Detail: Graze

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A few March (and February) details

Here's a little update of how I'm going with my one little word for 2011, details.

My art journal calendar first - because it's not the end of March yet, here are February's pages, making use of another of Amy's beautiful photographs:

I am enjoying this extra way of noting down a detail from each day! My little bundle of pages is growing nicely :-)

I thought that March would be the month of getting to grips with my new camera, but it somehow hasn't happened. I think partly it's because there's not been that much natural light yet this year! I am hoping to make this my target for April now, and I shall be pulling out my notes from various useful online classes and working through them again to see how to make my new camera do the things I want it to.

Meanwhile, I was wondering what details (if any!) I had been focusing on in March. It suddenly came to me just this week. Of course, I can talk about food! Last year I really enjoyed trying out new recipes by picking them out of my 'recipe jar', but this year I decided to do something different. I chose a recipe book (Jamie's 30-Minute Meals, as it happens) and started at the very beginning, turning pages till I found a recipe I thought The Doctor and I might like, bought the necessary ingredients, and that was the recipe we tried out. The following week, I turned to the next recipe of interest, and so on. In fact, I haven't skipped out many recipes yet - we've wanted to try most of them! So I think this book will last us a good few more weeks. But when I do reach the end, I shall do the same with another cookbook, and so on. It's working for us :-)

And so I made an art journal page to document this, trying out some painty techniques this time! I used a baby wipe to apply some creamy mushroom-coloured paint with a little bit of metallic green, then stamped more of the green with giant bubble wrap. I'm liking this effect - definitely one to use again!

I'm enjoying my little forays into art journaling :-) (I hope you are too!)

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20th March: A very special chat on Skype!

Detail: Entitle

Monday, 28 March 2011

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Imagine photo here

19th March: And imagine the story, too! Sorry - this one isn't for sharing :-)

Detail: Recipe

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Meeting Sian

It was a little while ago now that I actually met the lovely Sian and her equally lovely family, but yesterday I *finally* managed to scrap about the occasion!

It seemed rather appropriate to use some goodies from a gorgeous Gotta Craft kit, since Sian is on their design team! Love these Crate papers so much....

Let's pretend not to notice that I'd run out of 's's, 'a's and 'n's in this alpha sticker set, shall we?! ;-) A bit of trimming and turning and an '8', '4' and 'u' did the job!!

Yep, it was about time those photos got onto a page :-) Must next turn my attention to the photos of my meet-up with the lovely Ruth....

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18th March: Red Nose Day! And a record-breaking amount of money was raised for worthy causes in the UK and abroad :-)

Detail: Nose

Saturday, 26 March 2011

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17th March: Hooray! The cheque arrived for our insurance claim after the high winds back in February had damaged our garage roof. Thanks goodness - such a relief to get that job sorted!

Detail: Task

Friday, 25 March 2011

We like reading, we do :-)

During my recent lovely group chat on Skype, something that caused a big reaction was the backdrop of books in my living room. I thought therefore I'd share it with everyone else :-)

You see, we love reading in this household. I can't remember a time when I didn't have 'my nose in a book' - as a child I used to read while eating breakfast, while getting dressed, while listening to music, while watching TV.... I even used to get up early to cram in as much reading time as possible before school! (And, of course, I'd been reading under the covers after lights out the night before, too!)

While I don't now tend to get up early if I can possibly help it, not even to read, I can still lose myself completely in a book, and have been known to read on and on into the early hours because I just *had* to find out what happened. I'll often be cooking dinner with a book in one hand (and not a recipe book! Though I do read recipe books for pleasure, too....)

The Doctor doesn't have quite the same background; he really discovered reading as a hobby in his mid- to late-teens, though he has well and truly made up for that now! The Children have never not loved books though, and I can often find them reading when they should be asleep/getting dressed/tidying their rooms/doing their homework/etc etc. I can't say much, can I?! I know where they got it from!!

We're surrounded by books in our house. It always feels a bit strange to me if I go to a house that doesn't have books around. Sometimes I can't quite put my finger on what it is that feels odd, but it will gradually dawn on me what's missing. We have books in every. single. room. of. the. house. That includes the bathroom, hall, landing and stairs. Each child has their own big bookcase, we have one in our bedroom too, the study is crammed with books, I have a couple of shelves of cookbooks in the kitchen, there are shelves in the dining room, and then - and then, there's our living room.

This is our wall of books. Each of these bookcases reaches from the floor almost to the ceiling. The photos actually show the part of each that's visible above the sofa; there are yet more books out of sight behind that sofa - we have to lean over and/or pull the sofa forwards to get at them! Here's a closer look at the bookcases on the end, to show that more clearly:

(Why yes, those are books on the sofa itself! Would you expect anything different?!)

And here's a view of the whole wall:

OK then, 'fess up - how many of you were trying to make out the titles?! ;-) You may have recognised the Harry Potters? The Terry Pratchetts? The Bill Brysons? The Agatha Christies? Lord of the Rings, perhaps? We've got lots of 'classics': Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, Jerome K Jerome, Graham Greene, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, D.H.Lawrence, Plato, Ovid, Livy, etc, etc. We've also got a fairly big collection of history books, unsurprisingly - but bear in mind that most of these are actually in The Doctor's study at work, he has at least as many again there as our entire book collection at home! Then there are the Christian books (including various translations of the Bible), the travel books, the reference books, the Elinor M Brent-Dyers, the Douglas Adamses, the plays, the poetry, the language books, the natural history books..... To list them all would require a volume in itself!

How about you? Are you surrounded by books? Does it feel strange not to be?! Or is that just me? ;-)

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16th March: OH, my. Oh, MY! As I mentioned here, we found out that The Doctor is being awarded a 1-month fellowship at the Huntington Library.... Yep, that would be in California!! I'm so proud of my clever The Doctor man :-)
Detail: Cycle

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Blog of the week!

This is something I've been thinking about for a good while now. I used to have a blogroll in my sidebar, where I listed all the blogs I visited regularly. Then I started to worry that maybe I'd accidentally upset or offend someone if I didn't include their blog there (plus I have so many blogs I love to visit that the list had gotten extremely long and unwieldy). I've now reduced it to a handful of 'professional' blogs (although now I worry that if you don't see your blog there you'll be upset or offended that I think you're unprofessional. You see what I do to myself? *sigh!*)

The thing is, having that blogroll there was a good way of pointing visitors to my blog towards all the lovely, interesting, thought-provoking, inspiring, funny, clever, witty, beautiful, creative, imaginative and generally all-round wonderful posts that I was enjoying. Ever since I took that list down, I've been wondering how else I might share the bloggy goodness I know of, without upsetting or offending anyone.

Well, I suspect that there is no way to do it that is guaranteed not to upset or offend (or make me overthink things), but I have had this little idea brewing for a while - and I'm going to launch it today :-)

I can't promise to share a post like this every single week, but I shall try to do it as often as possible. I'm going to pick one of the blogs that I know and love, and I'm going to tell you a bit about it. I'm going to share my (sometimes hitherto jealously guarded) links so that you too can laugh, cry, gasp, re-read, appreciate, nod in agreement, jump around the room in excitement, sit back in awe, bookmark, scraplift, quote and fall just a little bit in love with some wonderfully talented bloggers that you may not yet have met. And, so as to try not to upset or offend, sometimes I'll have a particular reason for picking that blog in that week, but often it will purely be a lucky dip from my lengthy blogroll. However I pick that week's blog, if it's you I hope you'll enjoy a bit of appreciation and maybe some extra traffic. And for everyone else, I hope it's a chance to discover some new favourites :-)

Oh, and because I overcomplicate things as well as overthinking them, I've designed a little badge!

Or, OK, not so little.... Though it can of course be posted at a smaller size?! But anyway, each blogger who is featured as my Blog of the Week is welcome to copy this image, post it to their blog, use it as their avatar, add it to their CV, print it off poster size and wallpaper their house with it, or indeed just quietly ignore it. (I promise not to be upset or offended....)

So, who is my very first Blog of the Week?


Rinda at Gallo Organico! *trumpets* *happy dance* *cheers* *applause* Congratulations, Rinda!

Let me tell you why I picked Rinda :-) There are several reasons:
  • I've had the pleasure of following Rinda's blog since it began in October 2009 - we did the same online class with Shimelle, Blogging for Scrapbookers, which is currently re-running - a happy coincidence! Since then I've so enjoyed reading about and seeing her fabulous art work, particularly her art journal pages; her interest in photography; her justifiable pride in her fine, beautiful and talented children; her reviews of classes she's taken; her thought-provoking questions with which so many of her posts end..... I love the variety in Rinda's posts, and how they are all still quite clearly 'her voice' :-)
  • Since then, I've exchanged emails and a few little packages with Rinda. We've taken part in each other's blog hops. Later this year, I hope to meet her in person - possibly twice, both on my home turf and hers!
  • Yesterday, Rinda wrote about fellow bloggers who mean a lot to her. The post struck such a chord with me. I'm so fortunate to be part of a blogging community which supports me, inspires me, challenges me, and enriches my life. As I've said before, the 'blog' part of the word 'blogfriend' has been proved redundant. Rinda, you are one of those special bloggers, and I want to thank you xx
  • In that same post, she voiced some of my own feelings about sharing links to blogs - for example, about her concern not to upset or offend anyone she left out. Um, yep, I can relate to that! But here I am trying to overcome it so you guys can benefit :-)
  • There's another special reason for me to encourage you to visit Rinda's blog right now. She has kindly and generously pledged to donate $2 to the Red Cross for every comment left on this post by 9pm (California time) on Monday 28th March 2011. This is such a lovely thing to do, and evidence of Rinda's warm heart and generosity. Please do go comment if you haven't already done so!
Congratulations, Rinda - I'm thrilled to award you with the first ever Blog of the Week badge xx

PS Hope the rest of you aren't feeling too upset or offended....? ;-)

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15th March: Tickets for the 2012 Olympics were released on that day. We don't have much hope of getting hold of any, but we've applied anyway - fingers crossed!

Detail: Kit

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Favourite :-)

You may have seen this before, but it's always worth revisiting. And if you haven't seen it before, I hope you love it as much as I do! xx

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14th March: How lovely to see the beautiful blossom appearing on the trees! :-) (There was actually a fair bit of blue sky that day, too, just not while I was on break duty....)

Detail: Bite

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Busy busy!

Hooray for Project 365 posts - I feel like they keep my blog ticking over for me! It's been a bit quieter than usual on here because it's been anything but in Life Outside Blogworld (yes, there actually IS such a thing as Life Outside Blogworld.... Hard to believe, I know!) Lots of rather lovely and exciting things have been happening, plus one or two not so lovely things, but I'd rather dwell on the loveliness, personally :-)

Last week, we received some very special and exciting news. My very clever The Doctor man has been awarded a one-month fellowship at the Huntington Library! Yup, that would be in Los Angeles, California.... I am SO proud of my The Doctor, so excited for him, and also just a tad excited for myself - because while we may need to save extremely hard, cut out all luxuries, sell The Children etc (well, OK, maybe not the last. Not sure we'd get much for them, after all) we're going to make the most of this opportunity and the kids and I will be flying out to join him for at least some of his time there :-)

We have a lot of details to sort out still, I'm not sure yet exactly when this will take place, but we're having so much fun making those plans! And if there was anything that could possibly increase my excitement, how about the chance to meet up with at least one dear blog friend? Oh boy oh boy oh boy!! *happy dance* indeed!

I've also been happily enjoying the wonders of Skype - I've had a couple of great chats with Amy, and was fortunate enough on Sunday to be part of a very special group chat with Carrie, DebRuth, Rhona, Denise, Deb and Karen :-) It was so much fun, and I even managed to mostly complete a layout during our chat - look out for that in a blog post soon! (Apologies for the dodgy photo - there's a reflection on the laptop's screen from the window behind me, and I got distracted after that and completely forgot to take another shot!)

Plus, of course, Blogging for Scrapbookers started its second run this week. I was part of this class first time round and I had the best time, learning so much and meeting so many talented and interesting crafty bloggy types, many of whom I now count as friends, and several of whom I've been fortunate enough to meet up with or chat to in real life - witness the story above!

I haven't quite figured out yet exactly how I'll involve myself this time: I'll be receiving and reading each prompt as it comes, and considering whether and how to respond as appropriate; I look forward to meeting new blog friends; I definitely plan to take part in at least one blog hop - I have an idea of my own that's been brewing for a while and now might be the right time for it! (Details will follow!) Other than that, I think maybe I'd like my emphasis to be more on the scrapbooking aspect of the class. I'm always ready to reflect on my blogging and to be inspired to think of new ways to blog, and I look forward to a refresher on all of Shimelle's pointers from last time, but on the whole I'm happy with how and when I blog. This might be my chance to get more photos onto pages. I'd like that :-)

How's life for you, my friends? Busy busy? Not so much? In between? And - will I be seeing you in class? xx

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13th March: The Doctor and I got into the newly re-roofed garage and did a lot of sorting out!

Detail: Scrap

Monday, 21 March 2011

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12th March: Hooray! At last! We had the garage roof fixed. It took *ages* for the insurance claim to be sorted out, but it feels good to have a usable garage again!

Detail: Home

Sunday, 20 March 2011

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11th March: I finished putting together my ArtsyCrafts album :-)

Detail: Garden

Saturday, 19 March 2011

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10th March: The Girl's class had a special 'VE Day' party to celebrate the end of a very successful topic on World War II. She insisted that she dress up as a boy....

Detail: Gone

Friday, 18 March 2011

If Vikings scrapped...

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9th March: A quick trip to Asda while The Boy had a nap (poor laddie was off school that day).

Detail: Pride*

* The Girl was awarded 'highly commended' in a poetry competition :-)