Thursday, 29 December 2011

TIDY(ish) Desk!!!! (My Budget Crafting Room)

My budget craft area
Spot the under-desk hook for my heat gun?
Yes, my desk is now TIDY(ish!) and no, I won't be changing the name of my blog lol!  (Somehow I doubt it'll last long, although I REALLY do want to turn over a new leaf and keep it reasonably organised.  I've had to put everything together on a really tight budget...well, pretty much NO budget!  I've made do with a lot of things I already had, used Freecycle, eBay and have re-purposed some things.  I got the desk (solid wood with pullout keyboard shelf) for FREE from Freecycle!  The shelves I already had, the printer's tray was the most extravagant purchase (I fell in love with them the first time I saw them and knew I had to have one!) and even that was a bargain (£14) from eBay!  The wooden desk drawers (Ikea Moppe) were a Christmas present and I look forward to decorating them at some point in the future.  This stores my punches, texture plates, stamps (I don't have many at the mo), packs of embellishments and embossing powders.

On the shelves I have little jars to hold brads, beads, glass stones etc.  Some of the jars I already had (they were cheap at Ikea) but others are just empty sandwich spread glass jars (which I actually think are prettier than the Ikea jars).

"A place for everything and everything in its place!"
Thanks to Christmas gift vouchers I now have some magazine files and boxes to keep my papers, cards, scraps and saved recycling tidy.  I've hung my printer's tray up on the wall (it had been balanced on my desk), the few ribbons I have are on card spools in the printers tray, along with other little odds and sods.  I hung an Ikea rail up to hang my scissors and tape on and I've used a small wooden rolling pin hanging from it to hold my jute twine.  I've got 3 metal plant pots for pens/pencils, tools and paint brushes, my Promarkers are in tin cans (which I'll get round to decorating) and you can't see, but my trimmer and wipes are on the pullout keyboard shelf of the desk.   I've got a vintage suitcase (£5 from eBay!) under the desk which I intend to do up with nice fabric and use it for crops, but for now it's storing my dies, paper and felt.  I also have another nice wooden box under my desk (given by my Dad after he drank the three bottles of port it held!) which hold all my distress pads.

I feel SOOOO much better for having a more organised work area.  It may not be beautiful and I still need to get more folders, small boxes and shelves up, but it's getting there and I'm feeling really excited to get crafting!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Surprise!

Well, my family had the BEST Christmas surprise sister's boyfriend proposed to her in the morning!  We're all so over the moon, he's such a lovely fella!  I actually heard he was going to be proposing on Christmas Eve (my parents told me as he had been to see them to ask permission to ask for her hand in marriage...bless!) and on Christmas morning he proposed on one knee with a beautiful vintage style engagment ring.  I love my sister to bits and now I'm getting a brother!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

Since I completed my to-do list for Christmas this morning I thought I'd make a quick post and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2012!!!

Have a marvelous time everyone!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Nearly there!

I just wanted to write a quick blog post since I've not blogged for a few days.  I've been busy with getting things done for Christmas and doing housework bit by bit.

I've ALMOST done everything I wanted to for Christmas (need to be done by lunchtime Xmas Eve).   What did seem like a never ending to-do list is almost complete.  I've had a spurt this morning and got quite a few things crossed off.  I've got my Grasmere-style gingerbread cooling, got the packaging for that designed, got my doggy treats baked, got a box for fudge made and cleared up the kitchen ready to start making the fudge!

So that just leaves:
  • Make fudge done!
  • Make a label for the doggy treats (not that he'll care!) done!
  • Re-make my crackers (I'm not at all happy with them) done!
  • Wrap everything!
    I may need to make another batch of gingerbread....I think this batch might have an "unfortunate accident!"  ;-D
    (I DID bake a second batch!) :D

    Friday, 16 December 2011

    Scented Candles and Gift Box

     I finally finished my scented candles and gift box yesterday.  Unfortunately they didn't turn out quite as planned (I'd made the candle transfers BEFORE making the candles, based on measurements of a shop bought votive.  My candles, however, weren't filled enough so the transfers were slightly too big!  I had no tissue paper left to make more so I've just ploughed on and used them.  If you can't read what the label says, it's "Bougie Parfumée - Un cadeau a la main de Clare"  (Scented Candles - A handmade gift from Clare).  They smell amazing if I do say so myself!  (Jasmine & Rosemary)  The label graphic is from The Graphics Fairy  (thank you Karen!) and I edited the text in Photoshop.

    The box is made with this gorgeous K&Co paper, covered in French newsprint and a "stamp" of the Eiffel tower.  After using lace around the lid I decided to keep the top simple with a label saying the same as the candle labels.  I was lucky to have the insert from a box of shop bought votives to hold the candles neatly, and made the box around that.

    Thursday, 15 December 2011

    Arrrrrghh!!!! Hot glue is HOT!!!

    I've still got a hundred things to finish making before Christmas Eve and I've just had a hot glue gun mishap!  It seemed to be taking forever to heat up so in my impatience I picked it up and took a look at it, felt the end and then yep, you guessed it....squeezed hot glue all over my legs!  *sigh*

    Oh well, Live and learn!  (And buy new trousers!)

    Tuesday, 13 December 2011

    Hot free fonts

    Click for larger image
    Long before I started crafting I became a bit of a font geek.  I can spend HOURS browsing through fonts websites and have amassed a HUGE collection of fonts over the years (too many to even know what I've got!).  Crafting has given me a whole new excuse to peruse and drool over fonts again, looking for the perfect font for a card or tag.

    Lately I've found myself being drawn to the same fonts every time I open Photoshop up.  I absolutely adore these and wanted to share them with you.  (Links will take you to external sites).

    FFF Tusj - not exactly an attractive name, but it's the one i use for my blog header and I love it's sketchy form.

    HandTimes - Times New Roman is BORING!  Hand drawn Times is fab!

    Huxtable - A bit of an Olde English/comic book style one.  Another hand drawn looking font (seems to be my fetish at the mo!).

    Janda Curlygirl Serif  & Janda Curlygirl Chunky - Are part of the same font set.  I've been using this cute font on Christmas cards.

    Jellyka Delicious Cake - More like Jellyka Delicious Font!  My favourite calligraphy font at the moment.

    Ecuyer Dax - A formal vintage style serif font, resembling old letterpress type.  I used this in conjunction with vintage graphics from The Graphics Fairy (awesome site!).

    Mailart Rubberstamp - The name describes it perfectly.  The theme for my current favourites is obviously sketchy/inky!

    Helvetidoodle - Another standard font (the eternal classic Helvetica), given a hand drawn look.

    Carnivalee Freakshow - I LOVE anything that is vintage circus style!  This also is the closest font I've been able to find to Tim Holtz's Vintage Market Alphabet Die.  I'd love to know if there's a better match.

    Pea Mel's In Between - This has got to be my favourite handwriting font!  I could have made this post all about ALL of the fonts on Kevin and amanda's site, ALL of the fonts are AMAZING!  Amanda makes the fonts from handwriting that their blog readers send in.  If you always wanted your own handwriting as a font, then check out the site.

    I do hope you check out these fonts and enjoy using them as much as I do.  As with everything on the internet though, do check each license for each font.  Some authors permit commercial use, others don't.

    Pin It

    Monday, 12 December 2011

    100 days to improve my life

    No craft or Photoshop post today, but a personal one (although the day isn't over yet! lol).  I saw this post through Pinterest, 60 ways to improve your life in 100 days.  I had a good read of it and have to say, although some of the suggestions don't apply to my life at all, many of them are very sensible and small changes that I KNOW would improve my life and happiness if I could see them through.  So I've decided I'm going to start making the little changes in my life.  Afterall, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always had!

    Now, I know the list is a long one (I was thinking "do ALL those things?!  Where do I start?!"), it does appear a bit overwhelming, but it did help to copy & paste the list into Word, delete the irrelevant ones then arrange the suggestions into headings that make more sense.  For me, this was to arrange them into:
    • DAILY CHANGES (such as a de-clutter a day, eat 5 veg, get 20 mins exercise, read a bit, etc)
    • GENERAL CHANGES (only take cash to the shops, make a budget and stick to it, keep a notebook with you at all times etc)
    • CONSCIOUSNESS (changes to your way of thinking, such as writing down thinks you're grateful for, surrounding yourself with positive and inspiring images, the mantras for keeping things organised etc)
    • RECORDING & PLANNING (plan meals and menus, shopping lists, record weight and body measurements)
    What was a huge list of changes to make is now separated into a more managable plan.  I have now started creating my 100 things to de-clutter list (boy, do I need it!), 100 small jobs to do around the home and creating menus.

    I think perhaps the author's main message that it only takes small changes, done regularly to make positive improvements to your life is slightly lost with their article being so long and quite complex.  I'm also certain that you don't have to make ALL 60 of the changes to feel the benefits and it is probably easier to start with one or two aspects of your life and then when you feel they've become habit, look at making a couple more changes.

    I was once told that it take 6 weeks for a new behaviour pattern to become a habit (a behaviour pattern so engrained that you stop thinking about it and just do it).   And I have a LOT of bad habits to break!  So once you conquer one bad habit you can switch your focus to a new one.

    At the moment I've got to admit I'm at the planning stage.  I know that Xmas will sabotage a lot of my efforts in some areas, so I intend to start after the festive season (though I refuse to call these New Year's Resolutions, they're just resolutions!).  But I intend to:
    • Start Weight Watchers again (I reached goal in February last year, but with an eventful year and subsequent depression, re-gained a lot of weight this year).
    • Exercise daily.
    • De-clutter an item category per day.
    • Only take cash when I go shopping and take a list with me.
    • Write a list of things to be grateful for every day.
    • Do an odd job in my home every day.
    • Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place.
    • Remind myself to live my own life and stop comparing mine to others'.
    • Keep a notebook by me at all times and use it! well as making some decorative items to hang on my walls with positive mantras.  I struggle with negative thought patterns, so visual reminders of positive thoughts will be a help for me.

    I'm also going to make a nice decorative board for my weekly menu planner and weight chart!

    And in case anyone wonders, once I conquer my terrible messiness and disorganisation, I WON'T be renaming my blog! :D

    Sunday, 11 December 2011

    Free Download - Photoshop Polaroids Actions

    An example layout using Polaroid action
    I've created a set of actions in Photoshop which will create a blank Polaroid photo, which could be used for scrapbooking.

    The action set will create:
    • A plain blank polaroid template
    • A blank polaroid template with slight layer effects added
    • A stack of 3 polaroids on a 6" x 6", 8" x 8" or 12" x 12" page.

    (Note: The example layout I've posted is my first scrapbook layout EVER!  I must have been in extra need of some summer warmth today!)

    Free for ANY use!  Enjoy!
    (Example layout made with stock photos from here and here.)

    Pin It

    Photoshop - Mega Quick Soft Focus Effect

    I thought I'd share a mega quick way of giving a photo a soft focus effect in Photoshop.  It's ideal for romantic, dreamlike or fantasy photos.  It's so quick that I'm almost not sure if I should be listing it as a tutorial!

    Anyway, this tip makes use of Photoshop layer blends and gaussian blur.  Here's a before and after example:

    Stock Photo by Qute at

    There are just three simple steps....
    • Open your photo and duplicate the layer.
    • Add a gaussian blur to the top, copied layer (I used 10 pixel radius, but you can use more or less depending on how strong you want the effect...just experiment!).
    • Set the blurred layer blend to SCREEN and reduce the opacity.  I used 75% for this example.
    Upper photo layer blend settings.

    • Experiment with blur layer, try adding photo filters (sepia, warming, cooling, yellow etc).
    • There is no definitive setting to use with this technique as it really depends on the photo how it will turn out, so just try out different settings.
    • You can get some interesting effects by giving the blur layer one photo filter and the original layer a different photo filter.  (Sepia blur layer and yellow original works well).
    • Notice how the AFTER photo is much brighter?  You may want to adjust the brightness/contrast of your original.  It really depends on your photo.
    I hope that little mini-tut will be useful.  If you have any Photoshop queries or particular photo or text effects you would like to achieve, just message me and I'll try to help.

    Saturday, 10 December 2011

    Free Download - Blank Viewmaster Reel PNG

    I've created a blank Viewmaster reel in Photoshop which I thought scrapbookers may find useful in some way. It's a large transparent PNG file (300dpi), hence why I zipped it.

    Feel free to use it any way you like FOR PERSONAL USE.
    Please DO NOT rehost or share in any way, but feel free to link to this post if you want to let others know about it. Thanks!

    Click to download the zip file.

    Friday, 9 December 2011

    Free Download - Christmas Garland Framelits Stars Printable

    Preview - Actual star size MUCH larger!

    To go with the Plain Framelits Stars Template I posted earlier today, I've created a Christmas stars garland free printable for you to download and print. The preview doesn't show it, but there's a faux stitch effect around each letter.

    There are three large stars on each page, with 5 pages to print.

    DOWNLOAD the pdf here, print at 100% and cut with the LARGEST Framelits star die.  You may want to adjust your printer settings to allow it to bleed a little, it makes lining up the dies easier.

    These are for PERSONAL USE ONLY and I request that they aren't reposted, but appreciate link backs to this post if you wish to share.  Many thanks and enjoy!

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    Free Download - Framelits Stars Cut Area Template

    Plain digital template.
    I have created a template for use with the FRAMELITS STARS die set. Framelits dies are great as they can be placed ON TOP of your paper or card stock, meaning you can see exactly what you will be cutting out.

    This is why I have made this digital template for you to create your own printables at the perfect size to be cut out by the dies. They are made from scans of cuts made with the dies and are plain for you to use as templates for digital work (the picture shown  is an example).


    You can use them for any use you like, but please....
    If you would like to share them PLEASE POST THE LINK TO THIS POST.

    I'll be posting more of these Framelits templates, so do come back soon!

    Thursday, 8 December 2011

    Free Download - Springtime in Paris Framelits Tickets

    I thought I would brush up the quick example I made for the Framelits Tickets Template post a bit and created it in the 3 largest sizes for the Framelits Tickets die set.  Each of the three sizes was created individually to fit the cut areas, hence each will have slight variations.

    DOWNLOAD the pdf here, print at 100% and cut with the three largest Framelits dies.  You may want to adjust your printer settings to allow it to bleed a little, it makes lining up the dies easier.

    These are for PERSONAL USE ONLY and I request that they aren't reposted, but appreciate link backs to this post if you wish to share.  Many thanks and enjoy!

    Pin It

    Apologies (Framelits Template Download)

    Sorry, I had no idea the download link for the tickets template I posted yesterday was broken (thank you Pam!).  It works for me, but I think that's something to do with Google Docs share settings.  Anyway, I'll fix it asap and post an update when it's done.

    I actually had a thought after I posted yesterday, the templates would have probably been crisper if made from scans of CUTS from the dies, not scans of the dies themselves!  D'oh!  And there I was thinking I was being clever hahaha!  I thought I'd make further Framelits templates with cuts, but I'm going to take this opportunity to remedy the tickets download too, so it won't just be a case of fixing a link.  I'll have them up by the end of today though.

    Edit: Template files updated and download links working again.

    I also have some Christmas ticket digital designs which I will share soon, I'm not happy with them just yet, but soon.....

    Wednesday, 7 December 2011

    Free Download - Framelits Tickets Cut Area Template

    Example digital design - The template is plain

    I have created a template for use with the Framelits Tickets die set. Framelits dies are great as they can be placed ON TOP of your paper or card stock, meaning you can see exactly what you will be cutting out.

    This is why I have made this digital template for you to create your own printables at the perfect size to be cut out by the dies. They are made from scans of the ACTUAL dies themselves (edit: I've updated the files and they are made from scans of cuts) and are plain for you to use as templates for digital work (the picture shown  is an example).


    You can use them for any use you like, but please....
    If you would like to share them PLEASE POST THE LINK TO THIS POST.

    I'll be posting more of these Framelits templates, so do come back soon!

    Tuesday, 6 December 2011

    Craft Materials Sources

    I'm quite new to crafting and spend a LOT of time browsing blogs, tutorial sites, Youtube instructional videos and craft forums. One thing that I've noticed (and am guilty of already) is that crafters LOVE to hoard! Whether it's tools or materials, we all seem to HAVE TO HAVE things stockpiled for who knows what project at some point in the future.

    Obviously, many things are quite expensive and costs add up incredibly rapidly when you just have to have the latest decorative paper pad, or a decorative brads in every colour and size!

    For a beginner crafter it can seem quite daunting to see what more experienced crafters have made with things they've bought from craft suppliers. But you don't HAVE to spend a fortune to be able to craft.

    Whatever your financial situation, you can benefit from taking a second look at things you have around you and making use of things you may have thrown away or re-purposing items.

    I thought I would create some lists of free and cheap materials sources you may not have considered. Crafting really is about using your imagination and creativity at the end of the day. So be crafty! ;)

    Glossy magazines,
    Cereal/chocolate boxes,
    Old greetings cards,
    Buttons from old clothes,
    Fabric from old clothes,
    Broken jewellery (beads, chains, ribbons),
    Toilet roll tubes,
    Plastic bottles,
    Glass jam/pasta sauce jars,
    Empty thread spools,
    Shoe boxes,
    Plastic packaging.


    I like to use brown parcel paper to gift wrap presents. As well as being super cheap, it has a natural vintage look, especially when you use string or baker's twine around the parcels too. It can be embellished in so many ways, I always have some in.

    Go to alternative sources for many craft shop items (eg, haberdashery shops, office supplies, Wilkinsons, Poundland, DIY stores, Ebay...).

    Charity shops: picture frames, jewellery, clothes, books, toys....allsorts! Once you start crafting, every bit of someone else's "tat" you look at you'll stop and think for a while what you could possibly do with it! Charity shops are treasure troves!

    Primark: fabrics, buttons and jewellery can all be repurposed from the super cheap clothes there. Look on the sales racks where often you can get items for as little as 50p

    Ikea: Ikea have lots of really cheap little items that can be used in craft projects. Picture frames, boxes, candles, vases, jars, fabric...

    Make your own brads, flowers, papers, ribbons and buttons: I'll be posting more on these separately, so stay tuned!

    Monday, 5 December 2011

    Braided Glow In The Dark Dog Collar

    My sister's dog is all black so as you can imagine, it is almost impossible to see in the park when she walks him on these dark winter nights. That's why I made this from glow in the dark cord. It isn't paracord (although you can get GID paracord), it's a bit thicker at 4.76mm (ideal for a dog collar) and I got it from Ebay for about £5 for 15 metres. I have loads left over so I may use that to make a knotted toy for him (monkey's fist).

    The knot used is called the cobra weave. There are LOADS of tutorials on making cobra weave paracord bracelets, some using two colours.

    Since a dog collar is bigger than a bracelet, I obviously had to estimate the right amount of cord. Based on the suggestion of using 14 inches of cord per inch of required "bracelet" I used 210 inches and had about 24" remaining to trim off. With this kind of thing it's better to have too much and trim off than to run short.

    Damask Magic Boxes

    This is my first attempt at these rather nifty magic boxes, made following a rather excellent tutorial on Life as Lou.

    It's not quite perfect, but I'm sure my sis will still be chuffed to get it, filled with homemade beads and pendants!

    Slider Christmas Card - Santa in the chimney

    First there's the roaring fire...

    ...then down comes Santa!

    3D Room Christmas Cards

    I made these two "room" cards, mostly using Photoshop to edit the elements from clipart. I'll try to find the blog that inspired this style of card and post a link as they really are impressive. They fold up and fit into a flat envelope and are really quite simple to make.

    I used silver gel pen for the snow on the trees and the window on the card above. The pond has clear embossing powder on it, with white puff embossing powder around it for snow.
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