Friday, 27 February 2009

Tact, thy true meaning is lost....

So,the usual excuse about photography (except the right side of this CJ is very clear - how did I do that?)...but more obviously, I seem to have lost the ability to crop effectively too!

After chores that dull the mind and a skilful avoidance of the salesman on the knock this morning, I went to a couple of craft shops, one on my doorstep, one not so, but both kind enough to let me muscle in and conduct the odd workshop. I therefore had a reason to be there, although obviously the ulterior motive is always a little shopping! At the first store, shopkeeper gal was very busy. A delivery had arrived, from which she had plucked pre-orders and called up customers to come and collect. I wasn't included in this, my timing just happened to match; when I got there, there were at least 5 other crafters in the shop, ostensibly collecting their orders. Actually though, they were enjoying a cup of coffee and a chat, raking through the boxes that had yet to be unpacked properly, and chasing bored children around a bit too. I don't know if she was anticipating it or not, and I doubt very much if shopkeeper gal actually minds this too may be a bit tiresome and untidy and difficult to keep stock inventory, but ultimately, I would imagine that it increases the pre-ordered spendage a little. What struck me most was the completely tactless conversations - loud and without acknowledgement of their surroundings; there was a long discussion about their purchases from a show in Farnborough. Lots of "I spent over 200 quid" as they handed over a tenner to shopkeeper gal, then proceeded to tell anyone who would listen what they'd bought. And I swear to you, and not for effect, most of the stuff that had been brought was available from the very shop they were standing in.
Then there was a huge (and sometimes not very positive) discussion about QVC, in particular the afternoon that Tim Holtz appeared. (For the record, I think he's great, but I'm not about to start calling him 'Sir Tim''s silly.) The QVC discussion ranged on about who'd managed to buy what and the TSV and blah blah blah. A couple of times I heard that the visitor wasn't going to buy anything because she'd spent so much on QVC this week. Is it me? Am I horribly oversensitive or is this INCREDIBLY tactless. No bricks and mortar shopkeeper is naive enough to think that their customers aren't shopping on the internet and TV but most would like to hear that it's not at the expense of buying her stock as well.
You may remember an earlier post about Customer Observations, and I'm amazed to be returning to it as a subject, but this isn't poking gentle fun, it's troubled me all afternoon. Particularly as the news at the second shop I visited isn't good; shopkeeper there has thrown in the towel and will close very soon. She is bitter about lack of loyalty and support. Of course, there is a huge amount more to it than that, but loyalty, even if it's only on the basis of good old fashioned tactfulness would be a good thing, huh.
So....go in, browse - you don't have to buy anything, but please don't tell the person trying to make a living by staying open during your leisure hours that you've just spent two hundred or twenty quid, or even two quid, on the same thing somewhere else. It's just bloody tactless. And if you do, don't be surprised when the shopkeeper shows little interest in your purchases, and even gets a bit defensive when you ask her to show you how to use your latest gadget. Oh, and wash your coffee cup up before you leave - or at least offer to.

Now I've got that off my chest...have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Here's another terrible picture of an entry I did in Laura's CJ. Her theme was 'a special day'; and because I have lived quite a life and am older than I care to be, I have experienced soooo many special days. As you can see.
Today has been another. I note that my blog has been 'hit' by a little over a thousand readers since I set it up. (Check out the geek speak, I'm even talking in interweb!!) Take out several handfuls for the times I had to keep visiting it myself to see if things I was trying to add/change/colour had worked...and, well..I'm amazed!
You dear interweb, will probably just pass by and think that I'm a sentimental nutter. And you'd be right. I blub at the opening of an envelope, christmas carols, great food, blah blah - and once I even cried into my first (and probably the most sublime) gin and tonic after what seemed like a very l - o -n - g Lent!
So if you've read this far, pass me a tissue. And accept responsibility for smudging my mascara and making me ridiculously, insanely happy about it. My lovelies are slightly bemused by my reaction - but what do they know, they watch TV while I do this! Thanks for sharing my molecule of interweb, and thanks too for leaving the odd comment. Believe me, after reading 8 dozen blogs on a daily basis, I know how easy it is not to comment!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Don't forget the eggs!

It's Pancake Day. Actually it's Shrove Tuesday; I don't expect the Pancakes were part of the original intention! Anyway, don't forget you need eggs. I know, that sort of association with the picture is worthy of a 70's DJ, but I can't think of better! What are you giving up for Lent then? I have a friend who has decided to go without alcohol; as half of one of the most socially active couples I've ever met, I think this will be a greater challenge than depriving herself of chocolate.

I'm absolutely and totally without willpower when it comes to self deprivation; whatever small thing it is that I decide not to have becomes a huge dinosaur sized thought in my mind, and I end up thinking about it constantly. It quadruples the size of the deprivation and makes me a hideously bad tempered martyr! So I'm not giving anything up, per se, for Lent. Instead I'm going to take on a 'time management' challenge that I've allowed myself to use any number of excuses to avoid. It's not a major, life changing issue and is frankly, rather too domestic to be of any interest - but I hope will result in more crafting time, better spent. Without guilt. A bit of a key for me, that. I'm going to invest in a guilt free craft time whilst Mr Dunnit works by getting other things done more efficiently.....if I can do it for Lent, I can do it all the time right? Who knows, after 40 days it'll be a new routine, surely!
Of course, right now I have to invest in the Dunnit lovelies' supper, and for that, I need eggs.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

So here's a tiny card that matches the criteria of the challenge over at Daring Cardmakers this week. Love this Inkadinkado and painted with H20s which I'm sure you can tell at a glance! Lots of table for you to admire too, man my skills are utterly without skill.

I went to the Make It! show at Farnborough on friday, with the queen of Cricut and Design Studio, Ally F. Find her on UKS if you like, I'm right.
Anyway, the show. I thought it was expensive at £9.50 on the door to get in. Although I was reminded that parking was free. At other venues they charge seperately to park, so it's more transparent but ultimately, it's all chargeable. I mention this because I resent the implication that I'm gullible enough to think that they're letting me park for free. But I did pay to get in, so now they know that I may be gullible, but I ain't grateful for 'free parking'!
The show itself was nice - good amount of floor space and not restricted to just paper crafting, although that was the majority. It wasn't a huge show, I can't guess at the number of companies, but it took me about 4 hours to browse everything at a relaxed pace and still chat to a handful of people that I know at various companies. There were no really hot, new, totally-must-have products. This possibly accounts for the smaller number of on-stand demonstrations. I dunno. I would say if you're trying to sell stuff that everyone's seen before, you probably could do with a 'bit of a turn' to help do that. Notice the demonstrator bias here? I've worked as a demonstrator for a few years, so I'm allowed, on this particular molecule of the interweb, to champion a personal cause - specially as I believe it wholeheartedly. I bought 3 woodmounted and three clear stamps (Impression Obsession from Stamps and Memories, and Lavinia Stamps). And here's the psychology of my purchases....both these stands had demonstrators and I bought what they were using/had used on their samples. Just as intended of course. Gullible? p o s s i b l y, but here's a point: I liked the demos and what they did ON THE SPOT with the products. I managed to be a fairly sophisticated consumer; I bought what I know I would use; I have nearly everything, and I use a fraction of it. So maybe I've grown up as a consumer if not as a crafter. And that makes Mr Dunnit incredibly grateful!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Well, umm. This isn't a multi photo LO. I haven't done any scrapbook stuff since I last threatened to do a multi photo LO. This could be because I'm scared, or because it's half term and I've completely lost the ability to focus!! Miss Dunnit here is in the last throes of her school career, GCSEs in June. This means that time off is very focussed on course-work completion and I hope, some revision. Mr Dunnit has some great jobs to concentrate on at work and at home his focus is of course, me. OK, OK, his real focus is the new cupboard he's designing and building for our home comfort. I have a Mother's Day workshop to work on - we're going to do one of theose fab BoBunny word albums - HOME - in this case. So far, the extent of my focus has been to choose the papers and decide on including some acetates. Big deal! So, as it's the middle of February, I'm feeling that my resolution for the year - 'Just Do It' - needs a monthly bolstering! So for now until school re-opens, it has to be FOCUS! I'm relatively easy to distract, especially if you want a chat; and I've noticed some other awful thing that I might as well confess. My greatest moments of wanting to craft, feeling incredibly arty and inspired and having the most fab ideas always, always, without fail, occur when there's absolutely no chance of me sitting down at my table to realise all these ideas. Why is that? If you're at a 'do' or in the supermarket and one of your crafty acquaintances is in there looking a bit vague, or worse, tearing around like a maniac, you'll know it's because inspiration has hit, the need to get all the jobs out of the way is a priority and the focus is certainly elsewhere!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

An altered perspective

This card is actually for a workshop called 'Cards you can only give to girlfriends'. The colours were inspired by the challenge on Colour Create this week. It really goes back to basics in stamping techniques, but I don't think it's a bad thing to re-visit what you know every now and then. Heck, we strive to push forward and come up with new everything and for a minute here, I thought I'd stand still and enjoy the moment!

The whole 'create with technique' thing can be quite intimidating. I've often found myself faced with overloading a card or LO for the want of including the latest technique and displaying what I know like some crafty peacock. And this is where I fall over the altering thing. Again, before I upset the entire interweb, understand that I absolutely love the techniques, skill and most projects that I see in the 'altered' zone. But please can we call it something else?

If I take a card blank, stamp on it, add a couple of embellies and send it to a friend, what've I sent? A card. Yep. BUT, if I cover an Altoids tin with papers and stick a couple of flowers to the lid, apparently, I've altered it. But I haven't really. It's still a tin to put things in, if not mints! If I'd taken the Altoid tin and turned it into a small family car, now that would be altered, huh? When I covered my exercise books with wallpaper and stickers at school, I wasn't altering it. I was covering it. I realise that not all techniques in this genre involve using paper, indeed, I have a couple of bottles of alcohol based inks myself...but all I do is blob them onto inanimate dimensional objects. Whatever I do, I cannot get them to make my project into a soft ice cream machine or a gaggia coffee maker or indeed the Kenwood Chef that I'm still yearning for. Someone let me in on the altering thing so I can stop wingeing would ya?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Yellow is my favourite colour, especially for roses - all that beauty and cheerful too! Most years Valentines comes and goes, most years there's only one card on the side (and it's handmade). I have no idea what prompted the delivery of these flowers or the lovely, thoughtful card, and I'm not going to ask, merely wallow in the thought that really counts!
There is a song..something about the greatest thing about being in love is to be loved in return. However it's manifested. Before roses and in another, earlier decade of my marriage, the answer to my 'do you love me' question was a flippant 'I come home every night don't I?' - imagine my panic on the nights he's late! So you'll understand this self-indulgent post, because it'll still be in the archive for me to look at when another decade has passed without these sort of Valentine surprises. I'm not a huge believer in fate and cupid and blah blah, but I do publicly, offer thanks for the fact that Mr Dunnit never quite got up the nerve to run very hard in the opposite direction when we met.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

This card's actually for a Workshop at Kraft Crazy next week, one of 4 that are slightly tongue-in -cheek cheeky cards to give to men. But it being mostly green and all, I thought it would do as an entry for Jozza's challenge over at Daring Cardmakers. I used Marvy inkpads and sponges and lots of scrap to make up the background..the stamps are by Inkadinkado and Autumn Leaves. For the workshop, I'm going to suggest that the arrow is stamped sideways or pointing down so it doesn't look like a little nerd's house!
And talking of houses, on this most loving of weekends, the fridge freezer has chosen to go on the fritz. So today, to graphically illustrate the love and dedication that I have for my family, I'll be mopping up the overnight defrosting, cleaning and examining now defrosted food for scarey 'eat by' dates! Trying to eke out the life of this 'fridge until we can decide what sort of model to replace it with is starting to drain my life.
The heart shaped pancakes will have to wait. Just like yesterday's heart shaped cookies; Miss Dunnit's friend turned up just as she was bored enough to consider a bit of baking!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Keeping Shop

I've been standing on the other side of the shop counter today. I've been minding the shop at Kraft Crazy in Tidworth. My second favourite hobby is observation. Meet the customers:
here are the Missionaries. They come in, ask for or locate their chosen product range and stay focussed on what they want to buy. Undistracted they arrive at the till, pay and leave. ( Oh interweb, where do they sell such will power? I need a bucket load.)

Or are you 'weekly' - the once a week visitor who wants to see what's new, absorb a little of the crafty vibe, perhaps buy a piece or two of new paper, make a mental note to add other items to the wish list and go home refreshed and reassured that you aren't missing out? Maybe.

Or do you recognise yourself as a Time Outer? The customer that needs to take time out from other pressures, work, family, blah blah. Has a jolly good, absorbing and in depth look around the shop. If you are already a crafter, you may go mad and buy a handful of things because you need to - it's a little tonic; you're going to use it. Satisifed, you can chat awhile and really enjoy your break in the haven of the shop.

Or perhaps you're the Community Shopper. Come in, dump your handbag behind the counter, chatter to the help while picking up, putting down, admiring stroking and possibly talking yourself into buying something you don't need (we'll discuss 'need' some other time), perhaps even make a round of tea - you're an essential part of the crafting community that has sprung up around the shop.

I've met the Browser Who Crafts Alone: I think she's shy - doesn't want (or need) help in the shop but likes to be around when there's a workshop in progress. I think she's like to join the community of crafters at the workshop table but has still to overcome the little voice that says she shouldn't be having a couple of hours to herself every now and then AND spend money. Dear interweb, give her strength to drown out the little voices!

Then there's the Browser Who Doesn't Do This Craft. I have to be slightly mean here and say that this type takes a good long look around, and then, because she doesn't want to buy anything but needs to leave with her consicence intact asks for something that you clearly do not stock. Today, after a 30 minute look around at many thousands of pounds worth of scrapbook and card making products, she asked for Cross Stitch kits by a specific manufacturer.

Or perhaps you're the Crafter Who Knows Everything. And you only ask the shopkeeper a question so you can answer it, name-drop products and competitors and assure everybody that you're incredibly experienced and the 79p you just spent on a sheet of Peel Offs will probably keep the shop in business for the next 5 years. Please don't be this person, and yes, take my irritation as read.

Close to last on today's list is the Unwilling. Possibly not even a crafter. Often a bloke, sent in to get something; only asks at the counter because frankly it's easier than looking and will get him out faster. Also makes him easy prey for the shopkeeper who likes to call him 'young man' and question him closely about the possibility of joining us for coffee at the workshop table. Works a treat - they always let their girls come in alone after that.

I want to be the Ideal Customer. She is a happy mix of all of these characters and she combines them well. She's a regular visitor, likes to do a workshop and loves to know what's new but won't get in a panic if the shop is still awaiting delivery. She's tactful enough not to brag about purchases made elsewhere, especially from Ebay or the TV networks, and certainly doesn't recommend other shops to customers in front of the shopkeeper. Not afraid to make a cup of tea, but waits till she's offered one, and washes up afterwards! Not afraid to shop a little after a workshop, but knows that an evening workshop means a really long day for the shopkeeper, so knows when to give in and go home.
Am I that woman? Not all those parts. But I LOVE being part of a local crafting community. These independent shops are so good at fostering these things. If you want me to come stand behind your counter for a day, lemme know..I like the observing part, and the till part. Some day I'll chat about the characters that come to workshops. You might recognise yourself again!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Something else I've learned about my crafting habits over the kerjillion years that I've been doing it - I prefer to do single pages for the scrapbook and if possible, I want to do one photo at a time. I didn't actually realise this until quite recently; some of Miss Dunnit's friends were looking through the albums. (which they seem keen to do, a humongous contrast to Miss Dunnit's interest levels in all the albums that are mostly all about her!) One of these charming teenagers was asking me about scrapbooking and as she turned the pages she said "and is it a rule to do one picture per page?" BONG dropped the leaden penny! I think this is about comfort zones again, so am going to try a few sketches of multi-photo layouts, although I'm not sure I'm going to go back to two page spreads or anything rash like that. It's probably a speed thing. One page seems to suck up a ridiculous amount of time as it is! The amazing Kirsty said recently on her blog that she sometimes works on five layouts at a time, it stops her getting bored with what she's doing. Good grief 5, five, cinco? I love scrapbooking, but even one page at a time is known to cause me some anxiety; it certainly doesn't come naturally enough to me to consider multi-LO-tasking!
We have beautiful bright sunshine here today, so my intention is to ignore the bitter north wind and visit my local craft shop. I need something. No idea what; tell you later when I've found it!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Tha Friday challenge over at Daring Cardmakers is to make a card in an Oriental style, without resorting to black and red as the colour way. Now, Oriental is waaaaayyy out of my comfort zone. I know as a theme for cards and in rubber stamp sales it must be one of the biggest, but I don't do much of it. I always love what other people do, I'm drawn to images, particularly landscapes, and in my 15 years as a stamper, I've owned quite a lot of unused stamps on an oriental theme! So here I am trying desperately to work, never mind think, outside the box! This card pretty much shows off my entire collection of stamps that could be considered oriental, a fern by Stampendous, a rub-on that's meant to look like a strip from a fortune cookie, and thank goodness, a piece of 12 x 12 'Inspirables' by EK Success. I don't know how oriental it really is, but I loved having to think about it (it took me two days to come up with!) I'm generally over myself now; I know what I'm drawn to in terms of themes and can at last resist buying the stuff! Previously I've felt almost obliged to have a go because it's on trend or because I ought to be able to do it - loads of 'styles' that I just can't do with any enjoyment...then they end up just being derivative and bland. Now brace yourself interweb, I'm going to talk about some really wonderful styles that I can't do. It may well sound as if I don't like these styles/themes, but I assure you that the opposite is true; I love them. It's just taken me forever to know my limitations! There's oriental - too refined on too many levels. Then there's really cute - LOVE IT love all the potential that can be done with it, but always end up sticking a cute image on something really plain to sort of dilute it. How about the shabby chic stuff that Tim Holtz is the master of? I long to be able to do it, but I can' stuff ends up looking like I've worked in mutliple shades of weewee. And then there's the whole altered thing...I can't quite get my head around all sorts of aspects of that. But I think I'll tell you about that some other day, the hole I've dug this morning is deep enough for now! Oh and we did crop yesterday and I did do some stuff, but as Ginny is expecting award winning photography, I have to play with my light settings dahling! Yep, looks like I might have to RTFM!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Invitations finished: check
Invitations posted: check
Crop project prepared and supplies packed: check
Photos for crop printed: check
Supplies for crop chosen and packed:, BUT I know what we're having for supper and I've tidied the workroom and the desk is clear! Oh my, I have focus! But I can't photograph it for you because the light is pants and now I'm an award winning blogger I need to make more of an effort. Standards y'all!
Miss Dunnit has had her 5th day off school and finally, finally completed the Art coursework for her GCSE...oh child o' mine, why is working at home so hard? From whom do you get your alarming 'last-minute-Annie' attitude? So tomorrow's a crop day for me and I'm very much looking forward to it. Despite venturing out everyday to trudge through snow and pretend I like it, I'm suffering cabin-fever and need to meet up with my fellow nerds. I'm doing Shimelle's Everyone Has A Story album class and of course, will be catching up with that tomorrow. I also have a plan to make a mini-book, but more on that if it materialises! Have a happy weekend. And hello Ginny and Sally-Ann, thanks for your introductions!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Ahem..unaccustommed as I am....

My friend and UKS teamie Caryn has a fabulous blog and is one of my 'encouragers' in this world of interweb and technological crafting. So encouraging in fact, that she's awarded this blogspot a Lemonade Award - a gee up for sharing the craft ideas and stuff.

Thanks so much Caryn - sometimes I post a (bad, always bad) picture and wonder how much detail to go into about the how and the who; I figure none of you will be afraid to ask if I miss some detail you'd like to know!

Also, in the best awards tradition, I wanna take this chance to say how fab it is to get your comments, I know dear interweb, how big and how time consuming this blog reading habit is, so I really appreciate every last contact. And if it takes me a few days to respond, please remember that sometimes, in my excitement, I forget how to work the buttons!

Now because crafting and talking needs more than one, this award is to be shared, and here are my nominees: I agree with Caryn here - as I read about a kerjillion blogs daily, picking 5 is hard!
Now these 5 lovelies all share ideas and stories like mad, and somehow manage to motivate me - to at least ask myself why I get so little done whilst these women are powering through their lives! I've given URLs because I don't know some of them well enough to link to them by name - ashamed to say that I often just lurk on their fab sites. I'll probably make myself known a little more from now, huh!


There's a bit of a thaw going on around here; a drip drip dripping away that has changed the colour of the light through my workroom window. In the last 10 minutes, that turned to sunshine. Lovely! So I thought I'd brave up and show you how the sunshine looks when it hits my table. What a shambles - start with the fact that clearly the window needs cleaning - because otherwise everything would look shiny and the picture clarity would be outstanding, right? Mmm. Yeah. Like my friend Sandie who posted before and after pictures of her wonderful scrapbook nook, I think I'll have a jolly good tidy and show you around properly. Soon. At least when the 3 important projects on my desk are off my desk and where they belong - in the hands of the postman!
Miss Dunnit and I ventured further afield than the village this morning because despite last night's huge amount of snow, the thaw set in quite early. We drove (!) to the next village; of course we went to the craft shop. Tracey, the owner, had heroically slid and slipped her way to open up - the pavements are treacherous. Naturally I did a little shopping while I was chattering (my number one and two skills). Got me some more of the smaller Papermania cardstock alphabets and finally some ribbon to finish off the Golden Wedding Invitations, and some adhesive to use at the Crop on Saturday. Planning. Finishing. Good words. Stop blogging and Just Do It. More good words!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Thwarted = card making!

Well it's been another day off school; and it's been some years since any of Miss Dunnit's friends came to the door and asked 'are you coming out to play?'(they did, really..ah, not so grown up for 15 after all!) Of course, my sentimentality over this is lost on her, but she has returned unbroken, with red cheeks, flat hair and soaking. And a bit miffed: apparently some of the girls wouldn't have a go on the bin bag sledges that help you achieve maximum velocity down the sides of the moat at the old Castle! They didn't want to look silly or break their nails or blah blah. Perhaps we have managed to instil a bit of the 'seize the day' mentality after all!

So I've made a list of things/projects I want to see come off my work table this week, because I seem to be swimming in ideas rather than focussing. Why is that? There are times when I can go days without a single idea or desire to start anything. Perhaps it's the stunning white light that the snow throws into my workroom. Or perhaps that's what makes me get on...with anything but the projects on my lovely fresh list! I've been working on Golden Wedding Invitations for my beloved parents, they are as finished as they can be for now, so I set those aside to start on preparing for a workshop later in the week. And that's how I managed to make 3 rapid Valentines. The workshop involves a chipboard book and some Basic Grey papers, but clearly, I had an urge to stamp a little! Not much though, as you can see, these cards are pretty minimal!

The black card is pre-printed (Papermania - impressive, huh!) - all I've done is add a choccy heart and the 'Love' text by Inkadinkado. The text on the cream card is by Inkadinkado too, this time the heart is a punched shape wrapped in red foil...which was of course, 5 minutes earlier, wrapped around a chocolate heart. The pick up truck and hearts cargo are by Stampin' Up and the text is Hero Arts.

So maybe tomorrow I'll tackle the list. Maybe if Miss Dunnit goes to school, I'll feel like I should actually be working. Who knows, perhaps it's HER fault. Certainly isn't mine.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Thwarted by the Thnow

I decided that I'd spend some time today doing some much needed clearing out. Of Miss Dunnit's bedroom. It hasn't happened though, her school has been closed; of course I have no idea how long the motivation to do it will take to come back, as it's such a hideous job it'll probably be ages!

This fresh card is for a workshop later in the week at my LSS. It's based on a sketch that my colleague came up with, one of four for this workshop. In a handful of weeks, another workshop will involve the 4 cards that she has made from the same sketches. Can't wait to see if they're amazingly different or a bit too close to make people want to come to both workshops! Oops! Mine are real interpretations of the sketches though, with lots of what was once called 'artistic licence'. (Gawd, that sounds pompous, sorry!) I've moved stuff around of course, and reduced element numbers and blah, but I think they are still basically true, which for a workshop to introduce the idea of sketches is probably a good thing! What I like about sketches is that they are such a great springboard, particularly when you're in the mojo-less department of crafting. What I don't like about sketches is the gallery that always comes with them. They are fabulous of course, and intimidating, but they cost me money because I always need at least one of the products that someone else has used!
So if you like this card from a sketch, have a smile, for free, on me.