24 July 2014

A spot of guest designing. Saying yes.

I have been keeping something in the pipeline these last few weeks...
I am thrilled to announce that I am guest designing this month with Cocoa Daisy.

The story behind this is a funny one.
A while back I was checking my blog stats like I normally do. ( I like to try and get a picture of where my traffic is coming from and who is reading. I'm going to post more about this soon.)
One of the referring sites was Cocoa Daisy.

The name struck a chord with me and I hopped over to check them out.
Cocoa Daisy are a scrapbooking kit company who create gorgeous monthly kits using a range of supplies, some exclusive to them. There are two kits each month and one is a 'day in the life' project life kit. After seeing such beautiful products and pages I was pretty flattered that they had found my blog to be honest!

I wandered around the site and came across the forum where I signed up to become a member. I created an account and waited for it to be verified. No sooner had I done this than a sweet email came in from the lovely Emily. She had noticed my name pop up and realised I had stumbled across the site from my own blog. She told me, wonder of wonders, that the design team had been looking at my blog and wondered if I would consider being a guest designer for them!

At this point I genuinely thought she had found the wrong person. I mean, I haven't paper scrapbooked in a very long time. Goodness, I have never even touched paper project life. I explained this to Emily and she very graciously said they would still love to have me.

Now this is the point it would have been easy to back out. To be content with the fact that I had put paper to one side and carry on my merry way with digital PL.
But I wanted to be brave. An opportunity had been handed to me. I wanted to say 'yes'.
I took a deep breath and agreed. I would be designing with the August kit, I would be on my holidays and I had plenty of photos to work with. Everything was lined up.

And that's where I am today. A week ago a big box of scrapbook things arrived on my doorstep. I was so nervous and so excited to open that box. The kit this month is called 'modern and vintage' and it is beautiful. Strong colours, pretty patterns and totally me.

I sat down with photos in front of me, a box of supplies on my desk, took a deep breath and began. I didn't know where to start but just went with what I do normally. Telling the story. I gave myself regular pep talks like, "just because I have done digitally, doesn't mean I can't do paper."
And you know what? I remembered totally, why I got into scrapbooking in the first place. I remembered why I have stuck paper with glue for so long.
The pages came together easily, mostly because the supplies were so lovely.

After making my PL spreads, I sat back and pulled out that 12 x 12 sheet. It sat on my desk all day.
PL is my comfort zone. 12 x 12 scrapbooking isn't any more.
But I was determined to be brave. That evening I carefully grabbed some of my favourite parts of the kit and began.
I am shocked and delighted by how the page turned out. It was a step for me and I'm so glad I said yes.

Thank you Cocoa Daisy for asking me to guest design, thank you for trusting in me and sending me such a gorgeous kit to play with.
If you want to see the finished results, my pages will be up in the gallery on the site from the evening of the 28th of July! And if you want a kit, I couldn't recommend them more.

21 July 2014

Graduation Photos

Last Thursday I travelled up to the boys university for the last time. 
I watched him put on a gown, a scarlet and grey hood and a silly hat. 

I then sat in a very hot room as he was officially awarded his degree. 
I couldn't be prouder. 

Apologies for those who have seen these photos on fb already! 

15 July 2014

Let's talk: replying to comments

So, I have a question. About questions.
How do you reply to blog comments? Particularly ones that asks a question?

I am conscious that a lot of you often ask me questions or write a sweet comment and I am eager to reply to these. Sometimes I reply in the comments section itself however I am never sure if the commenter goes back to check? I know when I have asked a question in the comments on others blogs I am not always so hot on checking back to see if there is a response?

On the other hand, if it is a question a lot of people want answering for example, 'where did you find that project life card?" it may be handy to have the answer there on that blog post...

Do you send a reply via email? I have received a few of these from some of you and love the format. Can this be set up in blogger does anyone know?

Basically I am questioning questions and would love a few answers. I'm aware that there probably isn't a perfect system. I am also aware though that blogging is so often a conversation and I am reluctant to let those questions just hang there.

So, let's talk, how do you reply to comments?

The irony that we are having this conversation in the comments has not escaped me! 

12 July 2014

three ways with pretty fabric squares

I love big sewing projects. I have made a few quilts now and I love the process.
I am always left with scraps though. Scraps of pretty soft fabric that I want to use in something yet aren't substantial enough for a larger project. 

I decided to use these scraps to whip up a few pretty fabric squares that can be used in three different ways: 
  • The traditional hankie for your pocket. 
  • Napkins.
  • Half triangle bunting. 

This is the process and it is so simple it is almost a crime to have to write out the steps! 

1. Cut your piece of white fabric. You could use linen or cotton. I used white cotton. Cut it just bigger than desired. I cut mine at 7.5" for a finished square of 7". 

2. Carefully hem the edge of the fabric. I just turned a tiny hem over, about 1/4" and fed it through the machine using a straight stitch. 

3. Do exactly the same for your patterned fabric. I used a piece 4.5" squared but you could adapt this to suit your needs. Hem this piece too. I chose to hem it with white cotton as a contrast but you could use a cotton to match your fabric if you don't want the stitches to show. 

4. Place and pin your square in the middle of the white cotton. Using a straight stitch carefully stitch on top of that hemmed line on your patterned fabric. 

5. Now using a zig zag stitch place your sewing machine foot half on the patterned fabric and half on the white and sew around the edge. So simple! 

Here are three ways you can use these squares: 

I think there is something beautiful about keeping proper cotton handkerchiefs in your pocket rather than a tissue. Because these have patterned fabric in the middle you could co-ordinate your hankie to your dress!
I also think a pile of these would work well at a wedding to coordinate with the colours of the day and for guests to take as you entered the church. 

Depending on how big you made your fabric squares a pile of these at a summer event would be so much fun! I wrapped mine around cutlery to brighten up the wooden table. 

Half triangle bunting:
If you make enough of these, they can be folded in half and then sewn or pegged onto a string to create light and floaty bunting. 

Who knew fabric squares could be so versatile! I am excited to play with more of these this summer. 
What would you do with yours? 

9 July 2014

one photo & twenty words

An adventure into water colour. I had grand hopes. Why does pinterest make things look easy? Results aren't blog worthy!

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! 

7 July 2014

me on monday and a reminder

Hello, hello.
I am linking up with Sian and sharing 'me on Monday.' In my happy place, at my desk, working on this and that. A quilt here, a bit of painting there, some postcard writing in between.

It's been a long skirt wearing, cream tea eating, strawberry munching, tennis watching sort of weekend. Thrown into that were trampoline building, church going, photo taking and board game playing. One of those glorious summer weekends were it doesn't feel like a lot happens but in hindsight it really has. Do you know the sort?

This is also me on Monday issuing a little reminder....
Wednesday 9th. I'm challenging you to find one photo and tell its story in twenty words, then link back. 
(it's amazing how far twenty words will take you, as I have just shown in a reminder less than twenty words long!)
Looking forward to seeing you there! (Last month's beautiful entries can be found here)

4 July 2014

five ways i have made project life work for me. Half way review

We are half way through the year and didn't it just fly by! 
During my first year of Project Life I wrote my thoughts at the halfway stage. This year I want to share a few ways I feel I have found my groove in this project.
If you are a project lifer perhaps these will help, if you are not, I think most of these apply to all types of memory keeping so feel free to meander through! 

1. Dropping the guilt. 
This project feels far less pressured, far easier and a far gentler craft than it did last year. Last year I was intent on making perfect pages, filling a double spread and carving out my style. 
I've let that go this year. Being behind is ok, only making one page is just perfect and my style? I'm not forcing it. It happens. 

2. Looking at the bigger picture. 
I have always created. I have always journalled or taken photos, or written stories or made things from paper and glue. I have come to realise that just because I don't feel motivated for several weeks with project life does not mean this project is going down the drain. I am naturally a memory keeper. I will always come back to it. 
Similarly, this is one creative outlet. I think there is a danger with PL that it becomes the idealised memory keeping system of the moment. It isn't. It works for me, it works for many people but it doesn't for others. It may not work for me next year, who knows! I'm soaking the system in while I can. 

3. Buying digital papers rather than specific PL cards. 
When I was finding my feet with PL last year I relied on specific PL cards. This year, I am more a fan of buying papers and suiting them to my needs in photoshop. I think it has given me more scope and it is certainly the cheaper option. 

4. Using two different templates. 
I use the template designs Q and D. I like that they can be used together, that they give the pages different feels. I like that I haven't got bored of a page template yet. I would highly recommend switching the templates up. It was one of the best decisions I made with the project this year. 

5. Being 'me'. 
I am not a big name scrapper. My pages won't look like theirs because I am not them. I want my pages to look like Abi. 
This has taken 18 months to really grasp. For me there is a fine line between looking at others work for inspiration and feeling downcast that my pages aren't as 'good' as theirs. 
Comparison is rubbish. Project life is working for me this year because I am creating to record memories, not to create a page that is magazine/blog worthy. 

As Ali Edwards has said in a recent post, "I am memory keeping for the long haul." 
I want to enjoy telling the stories, recording the memories and sharing the past. That's the bigger picture and that is what holds all of project life together. 

Ali wrote a fab post on a similar topic here and the lovely Amy followed it up in a blog post here. They are both worth a read whether you are a project lifer or not.