27 November 2013

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Hello, come on in, out of the cold, let me take your coat and scarf.
Yes, the wind is picking up and there is definitely a real chill in the air.

If you were meeting me now, I would usher you into the lounge, asking you to excuse the laptop cables and discarded text books. As you can see the work is increasing as we hit the home straight of term.

I promised you cake and there is some waiting in the tin as well as a few sneaky mince pies. I had my first one of the year last week and had forgotten how much I enjoy them. Would you like a cup of tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate?

If you were with me now I would curl up next to you on the sofa, my knees up to my chest, holding my mug close to me to keep warm. (We are a student house you know!) I would lean forward and ask you, my eyes bright, what your christmas plans were? I would tell you that I can't wait to get home, there is something about the evenings drawing in that makes me want to be at home in front of a roaring fire. I would ask you if you are having family over or are you travelling? I would tell you that we are all at home for Christmas. Now that both me and my brother are at university and the littlest is at school just being together in one place is a treat. I would ask you if you have any christmas wishes. I would laughingly tell you that I have asked for one very unusual crafty christmas gift. I wonder if you can guess?

Have another mince pie? I personally like mine warmed, would you too? The conversation would move around to crafts. I would go and show you the beautiful tag that I was sent in the Christmas decoration swap from Jill. I would ask you if you participated. I can't wait to show you what I sent to Deb but need to wait till she receives it first! I am also trying to come up with plans for table decorations on Christmas day. Do you do christmas crafts? Ooh, now I am on the subject of crafts, come and see the lovely box full of beautiful quilt pieces. I am itching to get these stitched up in the holiday! I have also treated myself to a new quilting magazine and some of the projects in there are mouth watering. I would pull it out and together we would stroke the pages, gazing at the patterns and colours. Do you subscribe to a magazine?

Time would pass happily and we before we knew it the plates would be covered in crumbs and the the pot would be empty. I would thank you for reading my post a few days ago about blogging. I loved hearing so many wise words and kind comments. I would tell you that I am excited for what the new year holds, both with project life and with this little space. I would tell you that it was really cathartic for me to talk through blogging with you.

The darkness is closing in and I would get up to close the curtains. You would tell me that you had to be off. I would lead you to the door and it would take us a while to get there because we would keep stopping and carrying on our conversation. I would thank you so much for coming around again, thank you that this has become a regular thing and marvel with you that we have been doing this for a whole year now. It is good to share life with you.

As you walked down the road, you would turn, your hand raised in greeting and I would wave you from my doorway, light spilling onto the road.

If you were meeting with me now, what would you tell me? 

If you would like to write a "tea" post please add it to the linky at the bottom so we can all sit and share with you! The linky will be open for a week so you have plenty of time! 

26 November 2013

Tea and Cake

It's that time of the month.
It's cold outside but the lounge is warm, the kettle is boiling and there are two mugs waiting on the side. (Although judging by this photo my housemate may have all the mugs stashed away in her room!)

Tomorrow I am sitting down and sharing a cup of tea with you again.
I know things are busy at the moment and I can't wait to talk with you about your Christmas plans.
It doesn't need to be long, it doesn't have to be short. I love sharing in conversation with you. It has been a joy to do so this year and I can't believe we are now on our penultimate cup of virtual tea!

There are so many ways you can join in with having tea. You can sit back, grab your cuppa and just have a read. You can add your voice to the comments, you can write your own tea post and link up on here. We love sharing life and laughter with each other whatever way you choose.

I know some of us have been lost on what to say recently so here a few things I think I am going to be chatting about tomorrow... (just to get you excited!). You are welcome to follow these prompts or go off on your own merry way!

I'm going to tell you about my Christmas plans, the weather (I'm british, it goes without saying), latest craft projects and possibly a funny story or two.

Do come and stop by if you have a moment. You never know there may be a cake waiting next to your mug!

Over the past few months my ramblings have been accompanied by some beautiful conversations and posts from readers. The tab on the right sidebar contains links to all the "tea posts" and then the links to everyone who has contributed. If you have a spare moment, grab your favourite beverage and take a look- you are sure to be entertained. 

I also want to say a big thank you to everyone who responded with such kindness, honesty and concern on my last blog post. If you want to hear some wise wise words on blogging, click through to the comments on the last post. You are sure to come away revitalised! 

25 November 2013

Thinking out loud about blogging and creativity and a whole lot of random

So many friends in the blogging community have been vocalising what I have been feeling and battling with recently.
That "meh" feeling. That feeling of being obligated. Obligated to post and obligated to comment.
Of being in a continual paradox. Of loving the community of blogging but feeling totally overwhelmed by people to follow, read and communicate with.

I too am struggling with balance. Of working through the day and then wanting to cook and spend time with friends but also engage here because at the heart of it I love this creative space.

I am feeling battered. Battered with keeping up, battered every time I see that number on bloglovin of unread posts.

I am feeling swamped. With Project Life and with creative projects and not enough hours in the day. That quote "you can do anything but you can't do everything" is sticking with me at the moment.
I am so aware that it was this comparison, this need to keep up with new trends and new ideas that brought scrapbooking crashing down. I don't want that to happen with PL but gosh is it easy to be swept away.

I have been so encouraged in the last few days to read posts from wise wise people about these things.
To read Amy's words about scrapbooking and hobbies and how they are for enjoyment not keeping up with trends.

Rinda vocalised exactly what I was feeling about obligation in blogging and that "social contract".

Deb wrote a lovely post about where blogging has taken her and particularly about finding the balance of writing for yourself and writing to an audience.

And Alexa wrote words that brought tears to my eyes because many times when I look at my computer screen I feel like that plant that needs some more water and the dead leaves brushed away.

I don't really know what I am trying to say here but maybe that I/we are not alone in feeling these things.
That these four posts and more besides are a good indication of where we are all at with blogging and being creative.
I think I need to vocalise on here for myself as much to anyone else that this is my space and PL is my hobby.
I choose how much time I will commit to those things. When to be influenced and inspired by others and when to just do my own thing.

I think I need to give myself permission to cut some slack. To be silent sometimes, to finish that layout when I am feeling ready rather than when I feel it needs to be published on the blog.

I think as a community we need to tear up that "contract" that we feel we are in which says "you comment on my blog, I comment on yours". No. I want to comment on your blog because I like reading your words, because you are my friend and because I find what you make/photograph/write inspiring.

I think we need to dispel the obligation to comment. That niggle that says we need to keep up our online appearance.
You are my friend. I know you may have read and haven't commented and I value that.
You are my friend and I thank you and love that you did comment.
You are my friend and I understand with all my heart that you didn't have the time to stop by today, tomorrow and perhaps all week and you know what, I probably didn't either.

Blogging is beautiful and magical and so inspiring, as is the world of craft.
But it is also fast paced and selective. We rightly show the good bits, the things that made us smile, the photos, the craft.
I think it is good to admit though that we struggle, that we compare and that sometimes this blogging thing is a chore.
I think if we recognise that, if we cut some slack, if we value the silence in blogging sometimes as much as the posting, we will have a far richer experience.

This is really a thank you to all those women who put into words what they were feeling the last few weeks about blogging. It's a thank you to everyone who stops by and reads/comments or gazes from afar. It's me trying to put into words where I am at and as always trying to keep it real and honest.

23 November 2013

Seeking an adventure

Last weekend was Lumiere festival in Durham. 
Three days of beautiful light installations around the city. 
My housemates and I had seen the installations on both Thursday and Friday and come Saturday me and A were sitting together seeking an adventure...

"We're never spontaneous" she said. "let's do something spontaneous tonight". 
In typical "us' fashion, we started planning. (Not spontaneous I know, but we tried!)
That evening we grabbed two rucksacks and whilst she filled a flask with hot chocolate I packed the hot water bottles and a big blanket. 

Our bags packed we headed into the cold Durham evening, our plan to go sit on the wall by the cathedral and watch the projections lit up on the cathedral walls whilst snuggled under a blanket drinking hot chocolate. 
Idyllic? We thought so. 

So together we set out into the night. 
We weren't counting on the queues. 
It was Saturday night and this was a bi-annual festival so it should have been expected. 
As Students we tried to find all our short cuts to get into the city but to no avail. 

We ended up waiting in line. For 20 mins, then half an hour, to an hour. 
We found the whole thing funny, the amusement of having an adventure and simply standing 100 yards from our house in a queue. We had hot chocolate to drink to pass the time and in a stroke of brilliance A. pulled from her bag a packet of marshmallows to dunk in our warm drinks. 

Time passed and we chatted. 
We shared laughter and deep thoughts and future plans. There in the queue we so enjoyed each others company. 
We eventually reached the front of the queue and there was a man. Standing on a box, with a megaphone. He told us that the queues were too long to get up to the cathedral. 
Our glorious cosy plan wasn't going to happen. 

A and I looked at each other and then around at the street. 
A lovely little cafe she had never been to was next to us. 
One look was all it took. 
Ten minutes later we where in the warm, giggling over a cup of tea and piece of cake, at eleven at night. 

Spontaneity happened right there. When we least expected it. 

21 November 2013

Project Life week 45

 I am slowly getting further and further behind on this project but am so determined to finish the year. 
7 weeks left and then the book can go into production!

This was week 45 and I had a lot of fun photos to play with and new techniques to try out. I really like how this week turned out. 

Lots of photos from both the ball, a pudding party we had to celebrate my housemates birthday and the boy coming to visit. I also popped in two photos from the fireworks night. A lot of photos this week were taken indoors so I ran them through one of my favourite black and white filters to get rid of the funny lighting. 
There were so many snapshots taken at the ball so rather than try and squeeze them all in I popped them straight into a grid and added it as a journalling card. They will turn out quite small in the final book but I like how many happy smiles are captured in just one square. 

I think one of the things I have most enjoyed about project life is telling the stories each week. That photo of the boy and me for instance on the left hand spread. The journalling is more about how lovely it was to see him again rather than the photo itself but the joy of project life is that you can do that. 

It's been fun to look back on my first spreads and compare them to this. I definitely journal more on photos themselves than I did before. 

As usual I did an inspiration sweep before I sat down and made this layout. I saw several examples across the web of using a quote across a picture in two pockets and tried that out on the left hand spread. 

I have also found, throughout this album, that I like the combination of a handwriting script and a capital graphic font. I used two together on the photo of the boy and like that it adds a little bit more to that photo. 

Anything else: 
Still mulling things over for next year. I am keen to commit to three years of project life. One for each of my years in Durham. I am debating the best way to do that at the moment.  I will certainly stick to digital but will probably go for a different page template. 

Have you seen anything new/inspiring in the project life world at the moment? I am interested in collecting some ideas about how to tackle the new year! 

18 November 2013

Simply a moment

We've finished dinner and we are sitting around the table, slumped in our chairs and replete from a good meal.
We are chatting away and soon one of us has to break the magic and start to clear.
The clatter of plates being stacked fills the air and I move to the kitchen to turn on the tap.

We congregate there. Conversation moving from table to sink.
We laugh over whose turn it is to wash, whose turn to dry and who gets the nice job of making the tea.
Someone puts their phone on and soon the love actually playlist is being piped out at high volume.
We dance around the kitchen, wiping plates, putting things away.
Song requests come thick and fast.
The kitchen smells of soapy water as we splash about, singing along to our favourite songs.

The time around the kitchen sink is one of my favourites.

Today I am joining in with Alexa's beautiful meme, "Simply a Moment." Do stop by her blog to read both Alexa's words and other bloggers as they record their moments. 

15 November 2013

Five things guest posting with Shimelle

So, the secrets out! I am in a different place today.
You will find me over at Shimelle's for five ways to use photos in project life

Here is a little sneak preview. Do pop on over to say hi! 

13 November 2013

DIY instagram calendar

Thank you for all your sweet words about the ball photos. We had the best time!

It's November but I'm thinking about Christmas and wanted to share over the next few weeks a few simple ideas for handmade gifts.
I love buying presents but I also enjoy making them (although handmade presents for teenage brothers may not go down so well)

This was a DIY I made a couple of months ago for a friends birthday but I think it would work really well as a christmas present.
A simple flip instagram calendar for the New Year.

You will need: 
Instagram photos
Thick A3 card
3 jump rings

1. Find a selection of instagram photos. I wanted to use photos from my friends feed so I logged into ink361 searched for her in my followers and then saved her photos.
Obviously the quality won't be as great as if you took them directly from the phone but if it is a surprise, needs must!

2. Open up a simple photo editing software. I used photoshop but any web based one would work just as well. Choose thirty one photos and add the numbers to the centre of the photo. I made the number quite big and used the photo as the background. You could make the numbers any size you wanted though. I found white was the best colour to use and used this font.

Then do the same with twelve different photos and add the months of the year.

Repeat with the days of the week on seven new photos. To keep things fresh I did fourteen days of the week cards so that it would be on a rolling two week cycle! You don't want to be bored...

3. Once you have edited and saved these photos you need to print them as square photos. I printed mine at 3x3. There are many different ways to print. On photoshop I opened up a 6x4 canvas then added the photos side by side and saved them as a new file. I then ordered these as 6x4 prints online and trimmed them when they arrived.

4. This is the fun bit! You will need a piece of pretty sturdy, thick white card. Most good stationary shops have some. Mine was A3 size.
Holding the card horizontally fold into three equal sized pieces and then an inch flap like this. Score along the folds.

5. Now get your three jump rings. Open them up and place them evenly along the top fold in the card just like this. They can take a bit of fiddling to get them in.

6. Grab your photos. Depending on what you printed them on you could leave them as they are or do as I did and back them onto some thin card for extra strength. I then punched a hole in the top of each photo.

7. Glue your the stand together. Fold along the scored lines to form a prism shape and secure with that inch flap you created and a bit a of super glue.

8. If you want to decorate the stand this is the time to do it. Grab each pile of photos- the months, the numbers and the days. Make sure they are in order! Open each jump ring and attach to the stand in whichever order makes sense to you. I did day of the week, date and then month.

Such a fun gift and simple to make! Enjoy.

11 November 2013

The Ball

On Friday night I went to the ball. I also took a lot of photos.
These are the stories behind them that I want to remember.....

His tractor cufflinks. A little bit of humour and a little bit of love. His family roots are in the countryside.

Posing for group photos in the post room because the light was better and we needed somewhere to store our coats. We are nothing if not practical!

Dancing with the boy to jazz, to pop and everything in between. Held close or cracking out the "dad dance" moves.

Magical lights. The ball was willy wonka themed so imagine chocolate fountains, candy floss, red and white striped material and a checkered dance floor.

These girls. Housemates. Getting ready in each others bedrooms. Straighteners and curling tongs held aloft, mascara and hair pins littering the landing. Doing each others hair on the stairs and rummaging through drawers to find the spare pair of tights to lend.

This man. This look. Sitting in front of him with google opened in front of us trying to tie his bow tie. Me telling him how easy it was and then being proved categorically wrong by my several failed attempts. His ability to laugh at this, at us.

Spending the evening with a camera and my new lens and capturing the memories.

A moment captured. There was a lot of happiness that evening.

A ball definitely brings out the best: the smiles, the drinks, the dancing and the dressing up. What a treat!

8 November 2013

Stopping for the weekend

I'm taking a little break.
The boy is up for the weekend and we will be dancing the night away in our big college ball.

I'm sure there will be stories to tell and pictures to share.
For now though I'm stopping. I'll be back next week with a fun DIY, some photo edits, a spot of Project Life and most probably a collection of random thoughts.

Hoping you have a lovely weekend.

4 November 2013

Project Life week 43

I'm nearly done catching up. I still love this project but gosh am I itching to get finished now. You project lifers, is this only me or are you too desperate to start fresh in January?

This was week 43 and it was one of those blissful weeks when the photos were abundant!

This was the week when the sun decided to get its act together and we were rewarded with some beautiful crisp Autumn days. We took the big camera out with my lens and snapped a few down by the river.
When I scrapbook with SLR photos I am reminded to take my big camera out more. Phone photos are great but these are something different in terms of quality.
I didn't plan the pages in this way but the left hand page seems to be more people focused whilst the right hand page is the details of the week.

I tried to play around with journalling more this week. Less journalling cards and more writing directly on photos. I am enjoying the combination of script fonts and strong capitals too. In many respects there weren't that many stories to tell this week so the journalling mostly focuses on thoughts and explanations.

Each week I sit down before I get going and source inspiration from around the web. Once I have some ideas I jot them down in my notebook and try and include a few of them in the weeks spread. I saw the hexagon idea and loved the look and am happy with how my attempt turned out. I also played around with some transparent overlays

I like this mini challenge each week and am glad I have found a way to stay inspired. What do you do to keep your levels of inspiration up?

Anything else:
I think next year I am going to try a different template. I have seen a few floating around with square pockets which I think could be perfect for instagrams. Either way I need a change come 2014.

The "magic" transparency was something I made this week and was super easy to do. If you would like to use it drop me an email (the address is in my contact tab on the sidebar) and I can send you the photoshop file that can be dragged over a photo to make the effect!

Week 43. Less than ten weeks left!

1 November 2013

Being intentional about capturing details

I've been thinking about intentional photography.

I've been asked a few times how I take so many instagrams. What is there to photograph every day?
Well the answer is both everything and nothing.

Most days there aren't big moments, special occasions, red letters. There is life which involves work and food and often dull things. So in that frame of mind, no there isn't much to take photos of.

But at the same time there are so many things to take photos of. There are many things I see when I walk to and from lectures that make me smile or make me stop. I think it is about noticing things. Noticing perspective, noticing light and patterns.

I think you have to be intentional about capturing every day photos. I have to bother to take my phone out and snap that photo. But at the same time the more I practice seeing the details the more I want to photograph them.

There is a purpose too in capturing the details. I want my children to see what Durham looked like on a rainy day or what joy autumn brings me. I love the big special photos but life isn't just big and special. It's hum drum, it's repetitive but it's also minutely beautiful.

My go to phrase when I am pondering whether to take a photo is this:
"did it make me stop, smile or think?"
"If yes, would someone else do the same when they saw my photo?"
"Does this photo tell another story? Is it beautiful in whatever way that may be?"

I think this photo sums up what I am trying to say.

My housemate was sitting on her bed, engrossed in her work. The door was open a tiny bit and the afternoon sun was streaming in. The light, the view point and her work were a perfect subject.  She was beautiful sitting there but she was also everyday. I nearly passed her by but instead I ran upstairs, grabbed my phone and popped it around the door. It was everyday but it made me smile. It's by no means a perfect photo but I am proud of it.

I want to be an intentional photographer. I want to learn to look for the moments to capture rather than focusing on the people who will pose for me.

What are your thoughts about capturing details?