30 April 2014

Living below the line

I'm doing something tough this week.
My three housemates and I are trying to live below the poverty line. From Monday to Friday we have just £1 each to spend on food each day. For the four of us that is just £20 for three meals a day. 
It's day three and it is hard. This is what i've learnt.

I take food for granted. 
"i''m feeling peckish, oh i'll just grab a chocolate bar/cup of tea/biscuit/packet of crisps."
I don't even really think about it. Obviously I am a student so the budget isn't large but I am still lucky enough to know that if i'm hungry I can go and buy something without too much concern.
This week I can't just do that. I have a set amount of food each day and once it's gone, well it's gone.

Lack of food has consequences. 
I knew I would be hungry this week but I didn't expect to feel tired, have not much energy and be snappy. £1 only gets you so much food so we have lots of carbs and starch but there is a lack of vegetables and fruit. Not having much to spend on food means I am not very healthy too.
Below is our food for four of us for the week...

I am so very blessed
For me this is five days. It is five days of feeling hungry. For 1.2 billion people in the world this is a day to day reality. I have had a very very small taste of what that must be like. It's not fun. I am so grateful I have had the opportunity to get an education, study for a job and a family who can support me.

I don't like asking for things on this blog but part of why I am trying to live below the line is to raise awareness that extreme poverty isn't right. If you would like to find out more about live below the line click here. As part of my week I am raising money for Tearfund, a charity who go to the areas of greatest need helping the people there build a livelihood for themselves, see their own potential and overcome poverty. You can find out more about Tearfund here. 

If you feel able, please think today about what you eat, where it comes from and others who don't have enough to get by. If you would like you can sponsor me here. Thank you.

Thank you to several of you who have sponsored me already. I am so very grateful. 

27 April 2014

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Hello, hello, come in out of the fine mist of drizzle and I'll pop the kettle on.

If you were meeting me now, I would usher you into our lounge, take your coat and pass you the plate of cookies. We had a pudding party last night for my housemates birthday and there are plenty of sweet treats left.

If I was meeting with you now I would tell you that the new term has started. The last one of this academic year. The months have simply flown haven't they! You would probably bring up the dreaded topic of exams and I would tell you slightly embarrassed that I don't mind exams. In a way I quite like the order and structure that revision can bring and once an exam is over, that's it, no point in worrying about it! Thankfully with university exams they are marked quite quickly so no anxious waiting in the middle of August.

Oh look, the tea is nearly brewed, can I pour you a cup? As I settled myself on the sofa again I would tell you about the crafty projects I have been working on. There are two quilts in the making, one for me and one for my best friend. They are very different but I love them both. It is also a joy to have sat with my friend and cut out the pieces together. I am so excited to see it growing! Do you quilt I would ask? If you are involved in the friendship quilt I would ask you how you are getting on with that? I love the challenge it brings me each month. It's fun to think of the recipient and make something specifically for them. It's also making me try out new patterns. A block only 6 inches square is an ideal size to try new things.

As we helped ourselves to more cake I would ask you about your Easter. Did you manage to take a holiday? We had all the family at home which was lovely. We also managed to do several long walks which are just perfect in the spring weather we have been having. Leaning closer I would smile and tell you that I even got a few days working with the National Trust again. It is such a fun organisation to volunteer with and there are always exciting things happening in the office. Who wouldn't want to wear a top hat to work?

Your cup is empty, let me refill it. I would ask you about your blog and about the crafts you are involved in. I'm sure you would bring me photos of what you got up to over Easter and we would ooh and ahh over them. It's nice to sit with someone who just gets that some things have to be photographed and documented! I would burst out laughing at this thought and show you the latest 'me-zie' from the holidays. Yes, you and I know them as 'selfies' but my Granny is still determined that 'me-zie' is their proper name. Mum and Dad joined me in their first selfie. Mass hilarity was caused by this! It is fun to wonder whether there will be things my children will find amusing about my lack of technical ability!

As usual we have lost track of time chatting away. As I always say it is so good to see you.
I would walk with you the door, hugging you tightly, telling you to come again soon and thanking you for taking the time out of your day to see me. My hand carries on waving as you walk down the street and around the corner...

If you were having tea with me today, 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 April 2014

Cake and Tea and friends oh my!

And just like that we are at the end of the month and I am inviting you for tea again. 
The same format, the same lack of rules! 
Come for tea and let's enjoy each others company. It's as simple as that. 

On Sunday I will be flinging open the door, popping the kettle on and settling down for a mug of brew and all my news. You are very welcome to join in. 

As always there are three ways to join in with the 'time for tea' meme. 

1. Grab a drink and do a tour of the world from the comfort of your own sofa. Pop over to my blog, read my news and then follow the links to the other ladies who join me in a monthly catch up. 

2. Join in in the comments. Tell me what you are getting up to at the moment. 

3. Write your own tea post. It can be five words or an essay. Simply, "what would you tell me if we were sitting down for tea together?" There is no right or wrong, we have had all sorts of catch ups over the last year. News has been shared, triumphs celebrated and the little things laughed over. 
Once you have written your post link up here so we can all enjoy your company. (The link stays open for a week so you have plenty of time) 

If you have just been an observer in previous months I would love you to join in on Sunday. I promise you you are in good company. 

See you then! 

If you are stuck on what to write or how to go about a 'tea post' there is a link on the sidebar with previous posts

24 April 2014

How I try and capture the two of us

Thank you for your sweet comments on the last post. As promised here are my tips for photographing you and your other half. These work for us. I can't promise full proof results every time! 

Capturing the boy and I is always fun. After six years the boy has become used to the presence of the camera but has not really grown to love it. We actually talked about it today and he said that whilst he is sometimes exasperated by my schemes to get a good shot, he enjoys the fact that I try and record 'us'.

I think that is the bottom line. No matter what the photo looks like, it's a record. It says, "this is us, today and I want to remember it."
So this is how I go about trying to photograph the two of us...

Self timer is your friend
Granted it can feel weird the first time you do it but it is one of the best ways to take photos of the pair of you. I use my inbuilt self timer on my SLR and the timer-cam app on the iPhone.
If you are out and about look for big rocks, a gatepost or even use the floor to prop your phone or camera on.
A simple way to achieve a good shot is to get one of you to stand facing the camera. Look through the lens, press the shutter halfway down and focus. Set the timer and run into position. You should end up with a nice clean shot.

Self timed photos can look forced so a lot of the time the boy and I will be chatting while the camera is beeping away and then smile just as it clicks. For the photo above I set my phone on its side in the sand, set the timer and then turned my back on it. The boy and I just talked, for much longer than the 10 seconds the timer was going for but it was a natural photo as a result.

Get the details
Sometimes the details speak louder than the smiles. Details are so easy to capture and more often than not don't need a self timer. I try and capture the little everyday things about us. The socks on the bed and holding hands. These are simple shots to take with your phone.

My other favourite photo to take is the shoe shot! The boy does despair of this one! I like how it conveys the journey and immediately says "him and her" without having to explain it.

Another way to think about 'couple photos' is to branch out from getting the full picture. For these I placed my camera on the table, made sure the boy was in focus, set the timer and then went to talk to him by the window. You can't see our faces but I think the story is there in the hands and in may respects it looks far less forced than just a smiling shot. This could easily work if one of you isn't too happy to be in front of the camera.

Do what works
As I was writing up this post I was searching through photos and the thing that came out was that the boy and I have a 'pose'! This seems to work for us! It's easy, it works for self timed photos or handing your camera to a relative or child and we tend to get a good shot. (All but one of the photos below are self timer) I think it can take a bit of time to work out what is comfortable but once you have it, photo taking as a couple is easy because you both know what you are doing!

Make life easy
Good light and a good setting and your photo is halfway there. I know that the boy is not a huge fan of the camera so I guess it is in both of our interests if we can capture a nice photo in a short period of time. That's not to say I won't bother taking the photo if the day is gloomy, it's just I have to work harder to find the light. If in doubt I head for a window!

One of my all time favourite photos of the boy is taken on the wall in our garden. It was at the end of a party, the sun was getting low and the flowers were out. I sat up on the wall with the boy and asked my brother to take the photo on my phone. Half the work was done for me with the setting and the light. Take the opportunities when you can!

If in doubt take a selfie
I think these are such a fun way to take a quick photo. My number one tip would be to get the taller of you to hold the phone. I have cut the boys head off (not literally you understand) on too many occasions! Or, if all else fails use a mirror, although I can't guarantee sensible behaviour!

At the end of the day I am always glad I took the time to stop for a couple of minutes and take a photo. Granted they are not always perfect but they are always 'us'.

Do you take photos of you and your other half or have you taken photos of other couples? What has worked for you?

21 April 2014

Just one shot

I have posted this photo both on instagram and on Facebook, so for those of you who follow me on both I apologise for sharing it again. The story behind it is one I want to record though...

"Can we get a picture?" I asked him without any real option for him to say no.
He rolled his eyes with that half smile on his lips. The smile that says, 'you make me laugh with your insistance on photographing everything.'
He is a kind man and agreed as he has so often before.

I ran to place the phone on the ground, on its side.
He laughed as I stepped away from it and it promptly fell over. I told him I would get the better of the phone and dug a groove for it to sit in.
He rolled his eyes again and made me promise that I wouldn't make him sit or lie on the sand just to get that photo.
Thankfully for him I didn't have that in mind.

We set the timer and took our usual photo. Arms around each other, smiling at the phone.
It was good, it's always a good shot. But not quite magic.
"I have an idea" I muttered and he again gave me that half exasperated, half amused look as I ran back to reset the phone.
"Catch and spin" I said as I started to run towards him.

In a moment those strong arms had lifted me off my feet and around we went, both laughing, sea and sky and sand blurring into one.
"How do we know when the timer has gone?" he asked still spinning, "we don't" I said between laughs!
We span until the ground swayed and we ended up in a heap on the sand, giggling away.

"I have no idea what that will have turned out like." I said to him.
"it will probably just be us in a dizzy heap on the ground" he laughed.
I ran back to the phone.

It was one shot. One attempt and by pure luck I got my magic.

Later in the week I am going to share a few thoughts on how I try and capture photos of the boy and me together both with the iPhone and with the SLR. Stay tuned! 

16 April 2014

In the antique shop

Near our house is a gravelled drive with a battered black and white sign outside.
"antiques" it optimistically cries.
We were on a walk and decided to stop by. It was in turn the most magical place and the most bizarre.

Three little sheds knocked together and a huge stretch of gravelled drive.
The drive was covered in aisles of garden pots, garden furniture, ornaments and fountains. There was a stone roman soldier, a box of marbles, old crates and flowers.

Inside the little sheds was a treasure trove of 'stuff'. Chairs and tables were piled on top of one another to the ceiling. Cabinets were in corners, ornaments balanced precariously on top.
There were telescopes and scales and books under the tables. Old road signs and lamps and statues in a corner.

We walked between the aisles in this antique maze, calling to one another when we found something interesting or funny or exciting.
Little hand-written labels were tied to each item detailing its price.

I could have spent hours in there. Sifting through the junk to get to the gems.
We found a few and when we enquired of the owner and vaguely described one bench in about the thirty in there, he knew exactly which one were talking about.
It was fantastic. My dad and I were in heaven, my mum not so much!

It was a fun little quirky place to find and I am so glad I had my camera on me to document it.

Do you like rummaging through old furniture, thrift shops and antiques or are you like my mum and think that most of it is junk!?

12 April 2014

Project Life weeks 12 & 13

Catching up with posting layouts, a few familiar photos from these parts!

Things I am loving this week: 
I bought a new kit from paislee press. It's the 'about us' line that I talked about briefly on the paperclipping roundtable. I have discovered that I work far better with a kit than with dedicated PL cards. Second time around I know my style, I know what works and I like fiddling with a kit to make what I want.

This kit is pure joy. Lovely colours, pretty papers and fab handwritten fonts. I use three other paislee press kits in project life and they all compliment each other. I think this may be something I look into, buying a new kit every three months or so. It keeps the project fresh for me and compared to updating paper supplies, isn't hugely expensive.

Techniques I have tried: 
I have been playing around with a few more collages the last two weeks. On a week like week twelve when I had plenty of photos, it was nice to find a way to include lots of them.

I have also been fiddling with a few more pieces of patterned paper. I am trying to use them as pattern on their own rather than just as a background to text.

Photos I have documented: 
Week twelve has a selection of photos I blogged about, the details around our little student home. I knew it was important that they were included. This is one of the many things I love about project life. That these everyday detail shots are right up next to one off events like visiting Beamish museum.

Week thirteen was short on photos but big on emotions. I was home alone for the week to do some more work and I wanted to record what that was like and also the novelty of flying south. Again, it is a joy to record the peaks and troughs of everyday life.

Thoughts on this project: 
I'm still enjoying it, i'm so pleased that I have given myself some creative freedom such as only making one page per week if needs be and, as always, I am loving recording the memories.

9 April 2014

one photo & twenty words

She saw I had no walking boots so posted me a spare pair. Such Kindness. Thank you dear Lizzie.
My challenge for you today. Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here. The link will stay open for a week so you have plenty of time to join in! 

I am breaking my own rule here and posting the slightly longer story. Lizzie noticed the photos I posted a few weeks back about the long walk the boy and I went on. She was concerned I was wearing wellies rather than boots and offered to send me a spare pair they had in their cupboard at home. They arrived beautifully packaged, in wonderful condition and perfect size. Me and my family were blown away by your kindness Lizzie. Blog friends are the best.  P.S Can you email me your address please?! 

8 April 2014

capture, write, count and share

Tomorrow is the 9th of the month and that means I am again throwing down a challenge.
Choose/capture a photo, find up to twenty words to tell its story and then come back here to link and share.
It doesn't get more simple than that.

So far we have had some really beautiful, funny, sweet and poignant stories come from just a handful of words.

This is an easy, simple and quick meme and I promise you, the stories that are shared will always provide good reading over a cup of tea....

See you then.
I will leave the linky up for a week so you have plenty of time to join in. 

5 April 2014

On Spring time and cameras

A terrible fate has befallen the iPhone and i am phone camera-less for a little bit.
I trying to see it as a blessing in disguise though and intentionally picking up my big camera more rather than just forgetting the photo opportunity.

Last week Spring seemed to finally leak in to our little part of the world and I grabbed the SLR and tried to capture a bit of it.

I need to remind myself to take this camera out more. I always, always prefer the results.
A broken phone is not ideal, but what a blessing to have another lovely camera to play with!

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post or listened to the paperclipping roundtable broadcast. Your support has bowled me over. Thank you. 

2 April 2014

Speaking on the Paperclipping Roundtable

Just for your entertainment dear friends here is a photo of me looking slightly crazed in my headphones just before I went 'on air". 

A few of you may have heard of the Paperclipping site and in particular the audio roundtable discussions that Noell hosts about scrapbooking. I had come across them a few times and when there were scrapbookers I knew about I tuned in.

Fast forward to last week and the lovely Ruth had noticed a post from Shimelle on Facebook asking on Noell's behalf for students who scrapbook. By the time I had found the post on Facebook both Shimelle and another friend had suggested me which was very flattering and maybe also a testament to the fact that student scrappers are still in the minority!

Fast forward to a few days ago when I received an email from Noell asking me if I wanted to participate in this weeks recording of the show along with her, Natalie Parker and you guessed it, Shimelle Laine. I nearly fell off my chair.

So Yesterday evening I strapped on my headphones, found my few scribbled notes and settled down to an hour and half of fun. Chatting on the roundtable was such a joy. All of the guests were friendly and excited about scrapbooking their student days and there was so much to talk about. The time simply few. As well as talk about project life I also got to plug the 'time for tea' meme which was such an opportunity.

And you know the best thing...I got to tell Shimelle that I started this little blog through her course. Things have come full circle.

So if you would like to hear me sound very British and a tad awkward but also chat excitably about uni, which is what I do here nearly every day, hop on over to the paperclipping blog!

Thank you so much Ruth for making me aware of this and thank you Noell for letting me come on the show.