Saturday 30 November 2013

Dunnit does December.....

OK, so the countdown starts tomorrow...
I'm not attempting a 'December Daily' or a 'Journal Your Christmas' this year..previous attempts have been the triumph of hope over experience. I LOVE the idea of them, and will be watching those of you that do them with awe and envy. You see, committing my thoughts, aspirations and ideas to a journal makes me very self conscious and the writing becomes contrived. Andit's my opinion, probably because I can type as I think, that I can 'journal' better online.  So, I thought that occasionally throughout December you may like to read about the preparations for Christmas in this household. I'll call the posts something witty and familiar so you know to avoid them if you feel it's all becoming too self indulgent! These may reveal things about me that you didn't wish to know, that scare you witless or cause you to reach out in sympathy.  Thank you, it's OK, I know, and don't worry.  It's only for a month and I usually get through it!
So here's the list for this weekend, because it's December 1st on Sunday:
  • Find Advent Calendars.  Bought one each for Miss Dunnit and her Musician Boy, but put them in a special place so as not to be discovered.  For a small house, I seem to have a lot of special places.
  • Change bed linens.  Employ 19 year old Winnie the Pooh Christmas sheets for Miss Dunnit, and yep, Christmas style for our bed. Actually this involves leaving the bed linen in Miss Dunnit's long it takes to actually change the linens is entirely in her hands.  A thing that makes my teeth itch from lack of control...
  • Change loo paper.  Snowman printed loo roll for the first part of the month. But a plain loo roll always hidden somewhere in the bathroom - just in case.
  • Change washing up liquid.  Really.  Festive Berries scented liquid for this month. It makes washing up a really festive experience.  According to the label.
  • Likewise the liquid soap in the bathrooms. When are they going to produce a matching hand cream?
  • Change flannels and hand towels..there are Christmas embroidered ones somewhere in the airing cupboard.  Thus causing the annual cupboard sort out.  Which is why it's on this list.  Or I would't bother.
  • Change tea towels to festive ones.  Likewise oven gloves and apron. Again...they're in the airing cupboard.  See? Last January, I knew it would need a clear out by now and I knew it would take a very specific motivation!
  • Change out mugs, side plates and cereal bowls.  Yes there are Christmas decorated versions for every day usage.  And I know where they are. China is one of my 'things'.
  • Add the Christmas cutlery to the kitchen drawer. Every day eating is enhanced by using snowflake stamped stainless steel.  Well, it is for me, anyway.
  • Match cards to envelopes and start gathering addresses. Yep, finally giving in and using the cards I've made as samples for Christmas workshops.  Too little time and frankly, too tired to think further about it.
  • Go through gift shopping list and update.  Stop relying on  memory.  It never works.
  • Check gift wrap situation.  Remember, whatever 'theme' you think you've got, you NEVER have enough to carry it through. This year, it was going to be turquoise and silver.  The paper is in the same special place as the advent calendars.
  • Find the doormat with Happy Christmas on it.  If it's been in the shed since January, it may need rigourous 'assesment'.
So there, gentle reader, are my 'touches' of Christmas.  All subtle and tasteful.  Well, relatively subtle - when you spread them across this untidy and well lived in home anyway.  Good luck with your first day of Advent.  Check in - tell me what you're planning.  Don't make me do this alone!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 234

..and in the blink of an eye, we're back!  Now then, gentle Desker, this is especially for those of you who tell me that you don't like to actually photograph your desk because it was too untidy...huh?
It doesn't look too bad, does it.  This taken in the glum daylight of Tuesday afternoon.  It is relatively untouched since, and will remain so until this afternoon...apparently, I have real work to do.  But might gve me time to work out exactly what I'm doing with the part finished card you see in the middle.  If I remove the basket from the shot and alter my angle a bit, you can really see how much is going on!

It looks as bad as it is.  Unfinished cards, remnants of wrapping paper, the tin of sponges for the Distress Inks (which aren't actually in use on this particular work in progress), a small card at the back which I've looks like a Christmas tree stuck on a car tax disc.  No, it really does.  If you aren't in Britain, please just take my word for it! 

So there y'are, you can see what my immediate future plan is.  Time to share your own crafty future with us.  Post a pic of your work surface on your blog, put WOYWW in the title and link here please.  Eventually, we'll visit.  More a threat than a promise!

Monday 25 November 2013

A Review. Entirely solicited.

You know gentle internet, just from a quick scan of this blog, that I'm not inventive with my crafting, I'm a follower.  I like a trend and I like to comment (a lot) on trends.  I'm not the arty type that's given to six hours of experiment for one technique or to arrive with one card.  I can't use wet glue a lot because of the waiting time.  I don't have the imagination to be dimensionally creative - canvasses, melt pots, that sort of stuff..leaves me a bit cold in terms of personal enthusiasm.  Love what I see, but have no yearning to do.
So that's the immediate dilemma when the good people at Thermomorph ask me if I wanna review their plastic product. But above all of the things that I'm not, I'm a Desker and therefore nosey.  So I said yes.  
Step into my lab.  You don't need a white coat. Or a lab..all the science has been done really.  This stuff is incredible, like flubber. Only real.  Boil the kettle, let is sit for a bit (it has precise instructions...but I don't have a thermometer, so I erm, let it sit for a bit). Pour the water into a bowl.  Pour in some of the white balls from the green lidded pot. Try not to let them fall into a peak in the centre of the bowl. (This too is merely a tip, not a scientific requirement - you miss seeing the action).
 Before your very eyes, the balls turn transparent.  And they stick together.  It's clever. With a spatula..(OK, it was a butter knife), lift the 'mass' from the water.  It comes out of the bowl cleanly, so you won't have any probs with filthy residue and blahdy blah.  
 It's warm and malleable.  Like erm....I don't know really.  Uber extra super thick treacle, or melted plastic.  That's what it is, after all.  So..handle it a bit, then quickly dry your hands so that you can pull bits off, roll it into beads, roll it flat, shape it as you wish....
 As it starts to cool, it becomes opaque again.  And it's very easy to tell anyway, it becomes less pliable.  I had a tray of cold water set aside in which to 'plunge' stuff, just in case it was all too hot and burny. But it wasn't.  So I used it to speed up the cooling.  

Once cooled, it's plastic.  White.  If rolled or squashed thinly, it's easy to cut and sand. The Cropadile had no trouble with this thin star. And my sexy Fiskars hand drill had no trouble with the squares of pretend beads.  Although a few of them I had thoughtfully put holes in whilst the plastic was still warm...cocktail sticks.  All mod cons in my lab.  
Now I've seen Carmen's review and she did some very sexy moulding with her Thermomorph.  And it has a real purpose for her.  Not so much for me, I did just play with the making part.  But after punching sanding and drilling, it's got to be able to withstand a bit more, huh.  So.....

I coloured it.  The Sharpie is dry, the plastic makes it shiny.  Nice.

 I sponged and trickled alcohol ink onto it.
Worked a wouldn't sand off easily either, which I thought was useful.  I embossed it.  Silver pigment ink and holographic powder.  The heat gun melted the weak pointy parts of the star and there's a clear blob at left which caught the wrath of the heat gun too....but I just left them to cool off and they were solid again.  Clever.

 Acrylic paint works a charm.  I know this doesn't exactly look attractive, but frankly, these nasty looking blobs are SUCH A GREAT IDEA that I wanted them to look ugly - so no one will steal them when I put them in workshop baskets!

 And finally, I mixed powdered Pearl Ex into a clear glue and painted it onto another ugly blob.  Worked a treat.  And the bit of Thermomorph. that I used as a mini palette will now stay in my basket for just that...a handy palette.  Tiny is good if you never do any thing more painty than a swoosh or a flick!  
 So there you have it - and these ugly rocks are......
My new glue holders!  Great stuff this Thermomorph.  All the ridiculous bits I broke off the star edges, the useless beads and mishapen left overs..I flung them back in to more recently boiled water and played again.  There is genuinely no reason to have waste. I can see home made buttons, beads and embellishments, stamping into it will create amazing moulds and masks - it is lightweight - any number of faux metal finishes could be achieved for a fraction of the price of some of the real stuff.  I know you can think of loads of uses, because if I can... I also see Miss Dunnit at my shoulder - this stuff is perfect for the CosPlayer community too, all those pretend death rays, light sabers and twiddly bits - so much easier to make when you can use the Thermomorph.  I expect that every knob and button in the Tardis is made from it!  

I've barely scratched the surface of its potential for craft use.  I've barely scratched the surface of its volume either - the tub was full to the brim and I think I've used less than a centimetres worth of the volume.  Originally, I coughed at the price, but frankly, it's remarkably good value. As an incentive to get some real art from it - anyone want to take on the rest of the tub and extend my review? I don't feel it should sit unused here, it's potential is crying out for attention!  Leave a comment..if there's a massive number of you, I'll get someone to pick a number.  The condition is that you extend the review. That means show it off, with photos that brag about your talents.  This is no time for modesty. Mind, you're at my already know about lack of modesty!

Saturday 23 November 2013

The Spike

Wood mounts. Christmas. theme.  On the floor.  Enough said.
I was talking to Shopkeeper Gal this week about market forces and shopping habits as the Big Ho Ho Ho looms.  Her shop is always busy, and I had asked if she'd seen a large spike in sales as the need to create cards and etc has come upon the nation.  Not she said, within the traditional timings.  According to tradition, by mid October, we're facing forward, facing facts and working out that we have craft supplies to buy.  The early cries of 'it's too soon' are dwindling and the wholesalers who released their stuff in trickles starting at the end of August (now that IS too soon) are the ones who capture our first spends.  Then of course, real crafters start producing lovely stuff that we lesser mortals want to copy and so the seasonal trend kicks in.  That's how it normally goes.  This year, we've all decided to use our existing stash and try not to buy anything.  So the predicted October spike was more a slight poke than sharp stab.  But, move on another month, deepen the panic amongst those of us waiting for a deal of inspiration and the spike arrives.  Indeed, it comes as a brutal slap in the face to both Shopkeeper and Customer. But why?
I get the obvious - trying to use exisitng stash is laudable and frankly, sensible. I get too that there is a sensibility in doing so, after all, how many stamps or papers can one have that can only be used one a year.  (Don't answer that.)
Here, for what it's worth is my theory:  we've held back because we truly wanted to be using stash and attempting some good thrift.  But time always seems to be against us and being blasted with fabulous card and gift ideas on the internet and in magazines turns us into the consumers 'they' want us to be.  There's nothing like a new stamp to inspire me, so I'm guessing it may be the same for loads of us. Or new paper, or new whatever..these days, even a ball of yarn has me wishing for a project.  
I think we held back from a sense of financial duty..and it was only holding back, lets not kid ourselves.  It's a collective conscience. I hope. Go through this article and replace 'we' with'I' and 'you' with 'me' get it, the confession is right there.  
Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 233

You can see clearly now. I have a professional blog design  - it makes the pages that you need to explain WOYWW really so much easier to find...above.
Meanwhile, my desk.  Two photos of the same sight. Not so much for perspective as to fill the space! Everything on my desk this week is destined to be somewhere else, it is all merely resting.

There at the end is the basket of MDF blanks that will become baubles - soon. The basket will be unpacked and put away *pouf* in a fit of smugness.  At the near end, you see my lovely little clipboard. Not altered, because it's still a clipboard people, but fairly pinkly decorated.  Its position there is as a result of the Calendar workshop.  It held the notes and such that I needed to refer to.  Now it's waiting.  As I run out of stuff, I add to a shopping list that gets clipped to it.  Along with wisps of ribbon or shards of paper that I want more of.  Seems very effective huh. Only if I remember to take it with me on a craft shop expedition!

And here's a close up of the other transients. Business accounts. Filed the VAT return and sorted out stuff to date, so that book is to go back in the filing cabinet.  Two jewellery gifts from Stella & Dot. Our American deskers will recognise the name.  They are new to me and wow, some pretty stuff.  These are awaiting wrapping and consigning.  No - of course it's not inconvenient to have family birthdays in the run up to Christmas!  A packet of teapot shaped cards - destined to be part of a small gift to express gratitude.  A couple of cards for workshops this week, awaiting allocation to the baskets that hold all the doings for making them.  My ipad stand is again occupied by Eliza's card...I swap it about with others for my non-ipad viewing pleasure.  
You can just see the glasses and one pair of scissors, so the world isn't completely out of kilter with all my talk of transience, which really means tidying!
Share will ya?  Show us the state of play at your work desk/station/lap tray/'s inspiring.  I will get to visit waaay more this week.  More a threat than promise, probably!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Just a chat....

Oh look!  I have a new look blog!  Again!  
I know, I'm a complete tart when it comes to changing it about.  Originally I decided to change it seasonally, but those seasons, well, they just kept on and on, and it's a lot of work.(ish). And also, there's so much choice!  But now, after years of using Leelou Blogs' free templates, I've bought and paid for this one, and Leelou actually built it for me!  I know.  Getting a big head? Having a bespoke blog because I'm so important?  No. You can get her to do one for you for a ridiculously small sum of money.  Really, all of this has cost me less than $25.  With the sort of geek knowledge needed, I'm astounded by this. I love it!  So...this may be my blog look for a while gentle reader. Anyone want to start a book about how long it will take my eyes to itch and I'll be needing a new look?  Lawks, it may be that in the depths of my shallowness, I'm actually quite fickle!

I had a half day at my desk yesterday, mostly for putting away and cleaning up.  This was lurking after last week's workshop, so I thought you may like to see it.  This little dove may well turn out to be the most overused of my Christmas stamps this year.  (It's a Woodware clear stamp).  See what I mean?

Friday 15 November 2013

Keeping Calm? No.Still Laughing though. At myself.

It's official:  I am in a bit of a panic about how much you lot are doing about Christmas compared to how much I'm doing, or indeed, getting done!  

Here's a non sneaky of the Calendar LOs for tomorrows workshop.....
Yesterday at the routine Workshop -  which we had called ' Ho Ho Ho ' on the published schedule - my time bubble was burst good and proper. BANG! A customer told me how much she was looking forward to the Card Marathon day that Shopkeeper Gal , Mrs Precision and me are running in the shop next Thursday and Saturday.  I could not believe what I'd heard, and could not collect myself quickly enough to agree and tell her that she would have a fun day.  Instead, I looked horror struck and said "WHADDYAMEANNEXTWEEK". Ho Ho Ho indeed. And then of course, I had to admit that I seem to be 2 weeks behind in my head although I'm well aware of the date. (How does that happen?) And I tried to reassure Shopkeeper Gal that I would turn up with card kits, samples and Christmas festivity in my heart. And I will. Please can I borrow some midnight oil?  And a whole heap of fab ideas?

Wednesday 13 November 2013

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 232

We need to open this week's blop with a message of love and support to those suffering the effects of the hurricane that has wreaked such havoc across the Phillipines.  Peggy and Patsy are there, and us regular Deskers know that they will already be heavily involved in help, aid and crisis management, it is the stuff of which these two strong and loving women are made. But really..please, reach out if you can...the shock and trauma alone must be appalling for everyone, and to have to set that aside to help takes a major act of faith and will.  We're at your shoulder girls, and wish with every fibre that we could be a practical help.  Perhaps we can.  Please ask.

I have no desk to speak of - it is strewn, as last week with kit preparations for this weekend.  So instead, here's my lounge floor, showing the progress that the kit packing has made...the light is coming from my little workroom...I've run out of surfaces in there, can't help but feel that the trail will almost inevitably lead me eventually, to the kitchen!
Actually, it doesn't look as untidy here as IRL!
So tell and show us what you're up to this midweek will ya?  I know there's bags of Christmas underway, just to increase my sense of panic!  
Put WOYWW in your blog post and link here.  Tis easy, there are instructions at the top.
And don't forget to refresh this page after you've added your may not be the number you think!  

Monday 11 November 2013


It doesn't mean a thing to anyone else, but I'm proud to be the owner of a good sturdy pair of steel toe cap boots.  Especially as they don't look too butch or even as if they came from a prescription.  I'm proud of them for two reasons..the first is that Mr Dunnit has been nagging me to get some for ages, and I kinda didn't get around to it...because, well I don't really know.  So now I've got them and that part of the Health & Safety at Work lecture can cease.  But more than that, and here's where it gets a bit I've got them, I feel like I really am a team member.  Remember, it's just him and me as a bit of help, so this 'team' analogy is a bit elastic. But I think that's the point - he is looking at me as a help! Too chatty,  physically out of shape and not strong enough,and probably more willing than I should be, but help, nonetheless.  
We had a recruitment drive last week.  And we've learned stuff about ourselves as potential employers, and remembered stuff about having employees from days gone by that has decided Mr Dunnit.  It's going to stay at just him and me.  If we can't fit the work in, we decline it.  Simple.  Relatively stress free.  And so, just to keep my feet on the ground, today's delivery of particularly heavy oak boards fell to me.  I got the van stuck in the mud of the car park (field) that I was directed to use.  The bright side....5 or 6 builder types had to help push the van out.  The dark side.....5 or 6 builder types with their shoulders to the bonnet of my van whispering to each other that I had the handbrake on whilst they were pushing.  The bright side....I'm not afraid of that sort of implication - I jumped out of the van, offered  one of them the job at the steering wheel and took his place at the bonnet.  The even brighter fantastic pushing ability got the job done and freed the van. And the darker side...of course, I was showered with mud from the spinning tyres.  
bepattered and filthy.  Must have been on site then.

Ah well.  I didn't hurt my feet!

Deskers who may have tuned in for news - Patsy has posted post-storm (HERE) which I presume means that (as she and Peggy are neighbours) they and their immediate families are at least safe.  More, and ways to help too, on Patsy's blog, and we'll arrange ourselves a bit for an update on Wednesday too. 

Friday 8 November 2013

The quickest retreats are the best....

..that's a life tip - if you've gotta run away, make it a really fast run!  And also, if you want to go away with your girlfriends and plan for two nights, Friday to Sunday, take my advice..try to plan in the whole of Friday or maybe make it 3 nights.  As a retreat - it went so fast!
There were 9 of us.  And we've known each other for years. But there's always something to learn isn't there -  I laughed and laughed at revelations that aren't secrets so much as strange little foibles.  I have to admit to never having seen the Slipper Lady so much as wink nervously whenever anyone says the word 'belly'..but apparently, it sets her teeth on edge.  The Baby Mumma (and a lot of others I suspect) has a mental face pulling moment if you use the 'moist' in your sentence.  You can imagine where the conversation went after that.  I can't reveal any that do that to me...I was laughing too much to think!  I laughed until I cried at the spontaneous outbreak of competition over a game of Articulate at midnight on Saturday.  Really, some of my lovely good natured friends became edge-of-their-seats-win-at-any-price competitive.  I smiled smugly to myself over my sensible decision (and I still don't regret it) to pass on the idea of a soak in the hot tub at 7.30 on Saturday evening.  Pitch black, force 9 gales.  Yep, most of them did.  I did the drinks run, tried to work out the control panel and then retreated into the warm.  And made a layout instead.  Talking of which - yep it was a crafting retreat.
We had  room for 9 scrappers..and we used the room.  This was just after breakfast on Saturday.  Which is why it was tidy.  We drifted to it eventually, and made a lovely spready mess! Ironically, we ate in the lounge, using our knees as tables so as to avoid the heinous clearing up thing.  That of course, is when we ate meals.  There was a lot..a LOT of chocolate,  and cheese and biscuit type snacking going on.  And after five o'clock..well, there was a fridge full of wine.  And why not.  So, a full two days to make stuff and do some crochet work and plan some Christmas gifts and visit with friends....not long enough gentle reader.  If you've been to a WOYWW crop, you'll know exactly what I mean.  I managed 12 granny squares and five LOs.  Not exactly prolific.  Totally worth it.  
My sweet darling sister and my  dear Papa...role model.. oneto the other, or to me?  You choose..

Wednesday 6 November 2013

What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 231

There's a flashy bar across the top of this 'ere blog with buttons to press...two of them will explain how to WOYWW.  Not that it's a verb you understand, but oh, well.  
Stand back people.  
I may have been a bit absent from the blog (on my recruitment drive!), but not all my moments have been spent at real work.  Look and wonder...

Wonder at my inability to work tidily.  Or indeed, to fully tidy between things.  Look at the overflowing bin..good grief, you'd think I'd empty that before I swung around on my lovely stool and kicked it over wouldn't you? would seem not...this is the 'after I knocked it over' look.  Wonder too that I'm almost  - almost - playing.  Just fiddling about with the germ of an idea that was blown to me via Pinterest.  I think.   You can see the old fashioned land line style phone.  I was pretending to be in the office! Now I can see two pairs of workdesk glasses and the ones I keep at my armchair for iPad and crochet and reading.  Must relocate those before I forget where they are and have a tantrum! The basket in near front is a leftover from the workshop last week and an item unpacked but not put away from our Retreat weekend.  They are MDF bauble shaped blanks and I was going to decorate a few.  I may yet.  The idea of leaving it in the way is to force action.  Watch this space!  Or better yet, watch some spaces by visiting a few participants....and then join in yourself.  Link here, put WOYWW in your post title so that we can find you easily.  Scheduling a post for WOYWW is not against any rule as far as I know.  What I'm trying to avoid is the linking of posts that weren't written as/about WOYWW and dated days ago...those are just linked here to achieve more traffic I guess...but it doesn't pay off particularly..once I realise it's not a WOYWW post I click away, and I can't be the only one! on Deskers, there's inspiration to be shared!

Sunday 3 November 2013

Real life ....advert

Pennant Joinery
Joiner required immediately for short term contract. Minimum one year experience, and Woodworking machinery experience an advantage.
Application by email in the first instance, but please include a contact telephone number.

Friday 1 November 2013

Run Away, Retreat, even!

Today has been long in the planning. I'm off to the wilds of Dorsetshire for a Retreat.  Of the crafting and girlfriends variety.  Nothing quiet and contemplative about this! Am already smiling in anticipation!

It's all thanks to the Baby Mumma in our group; she's the organiser extraordinaire.  Really. Believe me, she will have a back up plan ready to drop into place for anything that could go two ways over the next 3 days. Impressive.  Exhausting! I do a lot of organising and communicating as part of my daily life - as y'all know - I moan about it, often.  So today is marvellous for me.  I wrote the date in the diary, answered a couple of emails and will simply turn up at lunch time. Easy!  I should also point out that I wrote the date in our work diary, some months ago. And have had to email and ask twice about the date.  First of course, because I couldn't remember exactly when we'd planned, and certainly didn't think to turn pages in the diary to see if I'd written it down! And second because frankly, I couldn't believe how close and sudden it was after we came home from our holiday!
Cuttlebug Embossing folder, distress stains and inks, Woodware stamp

So, to prove that I've worked ridiculously hard this week to get ahead enough to be able to go and do hobby stuff instead of work craft, here's a couple from a handful of cards for workshops.  I've finished the base kits and samples for the calender workshop.  I've helped Mr Dunnit clear out the unused end of the Workshop so that it can be used.  That made my shoulders ache!  I've done a couple deliveries in the big white van.  I collected my darling girl and boyfriend from a hellish train journey caused by the 'storm' on Monday. I've nursed her, she was poorly. (Although her sweet boyfriend did more nursing than I - how the world turns!). I've cooked and cleaned (*ahem*) as usual, I've tried - really tried to catch up on ironing. I've done the books, now it's November I need to close October and submit the VAT return, but it's OK to do that on Monday. I've done a teeny bit more shopping for Christmas.  I've actually planned and picked out 'kits' for scrap booking over the weekend. I've planned and am about to finish cooking the main course for our supper this evening. I'm walking around a pile of boxes and stuff on the workroom floor..destined to go into the car - loads.  
I'm reconciled to the fact that I may have to come home earlier than the others - that's OK..any time away is going to be lovely.  Listen to me; I make it sound as if I never get any time to myself! Actually, the thing I'm looking forward to is probably the same as everyone else - having a conversation that doesn't have to finish because one of us has to leave to collect children, go shopping, try to sleep, check on get it.  
Grand Impressions & Dovecraft stamps.  Distress Stain and Inks.
It's not that I deserve this any more than any other - all of us work and run around like crazies....the trick to this is that it was planned, far enough ahead for it to be OK. And because I'm smiling in anticipation, I hope it's OK to link up with Annie's Friday smiles
If I actually get any crafting done, I'll show you next week!
Have a lovely weekend!