Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Holidays

Just a quick message to anyone who reads this blog - I hope you all have a wondeful holiday and a stunning New Year. I think this is going to me my first white christmas - 1981 doesn't count!
Even if snow doesn't fall, there is plently on the ground, trees, houses, and cars to look at.
If I don't blog before I'll see you in the New Year.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Star of Wonder

Last night I finally finished the ‘topper’ for our Christmas tree. As we are in our new flat and this is our first Christmas together, we’ve had to buy a new tree and decorations. Although I’ve been looking for months I’ve still not found a ‘topper’ that I like. So I made one.
A little bit of card, PVA glue, tissue paper, wire and some metal leaf and I’ve made what I was looking for.

Also last night we went to a talk about ‘The Star of Bethlehem – fact or fiction’. It was really interesting and I would have happily listened for longer than 40 minutes. The thing that really amazed me is that there are only 4 references to the Star in the Bible and yet it is such a large part of Christmas as we celebrate it now. How many Christmas cards have we received with the star featuring? How many carols will we sing either about the star itself of things to do with the star – We three Kings, Star Carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem to name a few.
To sum up scientist believe there were things happening in the skies around the time of the birth of Christ, so the Star of Bethlehem is fact.
A very enjoyable, if late, evening.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Last Writers Group

Today was the last Writers Group Meeting with Anne as chair.
A sad day for all. We’re still not 100% sure how we will go forward in the New Year.

But first we had to celebrate the time we’ve had with Anne.
When she first announced that she would have to stand down there were a lot of emails from the members of the group wondering how we could show our appreciation for her hard work. We finally decided that putting together some of the work we had completed under her guidance as a reminder might be nice.
As I had nothing else to do I thought I would take this on.
The selection of poems and short stories which I received were stunning, meaning in the end our little ‘anthology’ is a good 27 pages long.
I formatted it and turned it into a little A5 booklet which everyone was very pleased with.
But even with presenting the ‘anthology’ to Anne and eating many mince pies she still managed to get some work out of us.

First we folded our paper to make 8 squares. In the left hand 4 we wrote nouns, for instance a stapler or a car. In the right hand 4 we wrote sentences beginning with ‘is’ to describe the noun, for instance 'is something to attach paper together' or 'is a vehicle to make me free'.
We then cut the paper in half and gave the sentences to the person on the right of us. Then taking our favourite noun and sentence we started to write.

A bottle of gin is what you get when you stick your finger in an electric socket.
Well that’s what happened to me. Of course I didn’t mean to put my finger in the socket, it was an accident as I unplugged the hover. One minute I’m doing house work the next I find my self laying on the sofa with a strange buzzing going through my body and my husband standing in front of me with a bottle of gin in his hand.
And what I’m really thinking is Silly goat, doesn’t he know that I don’t like gin, why doesn’t he bring the brandy.
But you can’t say that, after all he looked worried. I’m not sure why. It was only a little shock; I’ve had worse off the electric fence before now.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

CIW Associate


Over the last 3 weeks I’ve been revising hard. ‘im outdoors has had the sofa to himself while I’ve been sat in the study reading up the course notes from my Web Design course from 2 years ago. (you are advised not to take the test till you’ve completed the course)
Yesterday I finally took the test – CIW v5 Foundation Exam.
This is the first of 5 exams if I want the qualification CIW Website Design Manager and covered Internet Business Foundations, Site Development Foundations and Network Technology Foundations.
Its years since I’ve taken a test and to be honest I found it pretty nerve-racking.
Half way though I really thought I’d failed as there were so many questions which I had to guess.
But in the end I came out with 63/85 – 10 above the pass mark. Yay!
So now I’m a CIW Associate, exciting stuff.


Now the revision is done I can get on with all the other things I need to do, like TMA 02, finish my Christmas shopping and tidy the flat ready for Christmas…

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Thrive website finished

Wow look its December and nearly Christmas!
Like you could have forgotten.

Amongst all the shopping for gifts online, odd bits of writing for A363 and revision for my first web design exam I’ve finally got ‘im outdoors website up and running on a proper address. So now you can visit it on
www.thrivelandscapes.org. It’s a real relief to have it all finished and it means we can start to think about new business cards – a good start to the new year I think.
One thing ticked off a long list…

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fish for Dinner

Yesterday, among other things, I had the penultimate writers group. It was very strange to sit in a room with people you are scheming with but saying nothing about it!
Anyway although we’d been given homework I was inspired by something else that Anne sent out about a travel writing scholarship – more info here.
I was inspired by - 'A Memorable Experience Involving Food in a Foreign Country'.

If I was in a city this would be silence, but in the middle of the Ecuadorian rainforest this is the hum of a busy jungle.
Flies buzz, mosquito’s whine, birds call to each other from the tree tops surrounding the ox bow lake and monkeys scream at each other far off.
I am sitting in a long wooden canoe made from a single tree.
Something plops into the water to my right, but I have no idea what; an anaconda or caiman maybe.
In the distance thunder rumbles. But we’ve been here for three weeks now and the constant thunder and heavy down pours are just a fact of life now.
Out on the water the flies don’t follow us and we enjoy the luxury of having nothing trying to eat us.
There are six of us in this canoe and we try to sit as still as possible.
We are trying to catch piranhas and if we don’t we’ll be going hungry tonight.
I’ve never been fishing before. Not real fishing with a line and hook and bate, and I’m fully expecting to be one of the hungry ones.
Knowing there isn’t really much I can do to encourage the piranhas to bite I enjoy the calm of floating on the murky water. The rainforest is thick here and although I know the rest of the group are in those trees I can see nothing to give them away.
I have even dared to roll my sleeves up, so can feel a touch of breeze on my skin, a relief from the humidity of the forest.
Sudden movement behind me means someone thinks they’ve caught something. From here I can’t see it, but someone has dinner.
When my line pulls I think maybe I’ve snagged it on a dead branch under the water. But pulling it up I can see the sparkle of silver and before I know it I have a piranha on the canoe bottom in front of me.
It looks fierce and doesn’t want to be my dinner, but with a carefully placed welly boot and pen knife I stop its wiggerling.
I can’t believe I’ve caught a fish. And quite a big one too. It’s diamond shaped, about the size of my hand and it looks like some over enthusiastic kid has covered it in glitter.
With some instruction I manage to gut it and scale it and as it gets dark I put it on the camp fire with a selection of other fish.
While we wait for them to cook we sing songs in the dark, and I keep a careful eye on my dinner. The white fish is bony but with nothing else to eat, I’m not going to moan.
No one will go too hunger tonight; Alberto caught extra fish and made it look easy.

Suggestions were made on how to improve it, but everyone seemed to like the most of it. So I shall tinker a little before sending off for the 21st Dec.

(this is based on a trip I made to Ecuador in 2004)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Operation Christmas Child part 2

Shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child need to be in on Wednesday.
Due to the kindness of my local Clarkes I have a lovely orange shoe box which I’ve covered with Christmas paper. It is now filled with toy cars, pencils, chalk, a tooth brush and tooth paste and a toy bunny, among other things. Things that a 5-9 year old boy would like, I hope.
So all I have to do now is drop it off a one of the many places that are collecting the boxes and it’ll be on its way to some deserving child.
I hope someone enjoys it.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Jane Eyre, Zombie Killer

On Saturday I made my way down to Southampton University for my first OU day school. This means that you get to meet your tutor and fellow tutees, which is really useful, especially this close to the beginning of the course. The forum is great, but its still hard sometimes to ‘get’ what people are saying if you’ve never met them.
Carmen was a great facilitator, giving us quick exercises to work on – minutes only.
We started by interviewing a character that we are working on or thinking about. Just random questions like, what’s your favourite season? Or what would you save from a burning house? This gives you a really good idea of your characters mind set.
We then had seconds to write a quick monologue, before sticking them on a tube train with the character of the person sitting next to you and having a bit of dialogue.
Even more fun was taking the key points of Jane Eyre and changing it a bit. What would you keep? What would you chuck out? And what would you add? We added some zombies, got rid of most of the romance and had great fun kicking zombie bottom. We called it – Jane Eyre, Zombie Killer, much to the disgust of one of the other ladies. Sadly the two ladies I was working with aren’t from my tutor group.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

TMA01

Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA) 01 is in on Friday. I’ve been working pretty hard on a short story – 1500 words, and think it is very nearly there. I hope I’ve done ok, because this story feeds into TMA 02 where we convert it into a radio play or stage drama. And that’s about half my marks for this part of the course! Blimey.
But I have noticed a real change in my attitude to my writing. I am trying to write for about an hour every day. I don’t always manage it, and some times I do more, but I’m trying. And as I write I find that I’m starting to get more and more ideas. Not all of them will work, but the little sparks are there. Which is great. I hadn’t missed them until they came back. So all I have to do is survive the course and then keep up the writing. Easier said than done.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Glowing Aster

After a lot of thinking we have finally chosen a couple of prints to go up in the flat.
In the end we choose a set of canvases called ‘Glowing Aster’ and an A1 print of ‘Butterfly Palm’ both of which can be seen on ‘im outdoors Etsy page – Alien Planet.




He has such a huge selection of photos – most of which can be seen on his flickr page that choosing the perfect ones for the flat was really hard.
Now they are up, I’m really pleased. The ‘Glowing Aster’ really does glow in the morning sunshine. Stunning. And I went along to pick them up so got to see the work shop where all the printing etc is done – fascinating.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Now I realise that it’s a little early to really be thinking about Christmas, but this is a special case I think. Yes its time to be putting together shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child again.
Basically they ask you to fill a shoe box with goodies for a little boy or a little girl, then they deliver them to children in need in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia regardless of their background or beliefs.
All they ask is that you fill it with fun and educational things for a child between 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 and donate at least £2.50 to cover the cost of delivery. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Boxes can be dropped off at any point between 1st and 18th November to a number of collection points around the UK so visit their website, Operation Christmas Child, for more details and a chance to make a child’s life just a little better.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The End of the Writers Group?

We had a writers group meeting today. But there is bad news. Anne had said she can no longer chair/run the group and will be standing down from after the December meeting. There is talk of the new English Department taking over the running of the group, but it just won’t be the same.
Without the group I know I wouldn’t have carried on writing between my OU writing courses so I really am in Anne’s debt. Maybe that’s why I’ve agreed to help out with a little surprise project for her – more of that in December.

I’m afraid I cheated with the writer’s group homework. I’m 2 weeks into A363 and am writing almost every night. A little bit of a shock to the system. So rather than do the homework I used one of the activities that the OU had set us last week as something to read out. It’s always to good to get feedback on a piece.


The life history of Guillermo Brown

The church clock strikes eight, so those villages who are awake know without checking that it is six. A cock crows. A body lies across the doorstep of the church, a line of crumb-carrying ants marches across the fedora covering its face. There is a serene, momentary quiet after the chimes cease.

And so ended the life of Guillermo Brown, the most exciting thing to ever happen to him. Finding you’ve been poisoned by your house keeper is not the most pleasant thing, and to find it was with peanut butter filled sandwiches is even more distressing.
As he stood looking down at his former body he wondered what happened now. No dark hooded figure stood nearby waiting to whisk his soul away, and so he was left standing in the early dawn sunlight watching ants.
In this position all he could do was reflect back on his life and how he came to be lying dead on the doorstep of the church. He wasn’t even religious so it seemed a little unfair, but then he had found that life wasn’t fair.
Looking at the back of his head, he suddenly realised that his hair was way too long and topped with the fedora, that he had thought so stylish, was in fact quite silly.
This unsettled him. Now was not the time to be having style issues.
Stepping back from his body he found his foot passing through one of the solid old grave stones which sat near the path to the West Door.
Guillermo was not used to happenings such as these. His life had been filled with dull commutes to a regular job where he knew how to make the photocopier add numbers to pages of printing. A life filled with a needy mother who had died and been replaced by a tyrant of a house keeper.
In Guillermo’s world alcohol was something put in Christmas cakes, and tobacco if smoked at all should be in the form of a pipe. Drugs did not even register and girls were a completely different species to be studied from afar.
As the sun rose higher into the sky and the church rang the half hour, he wondered when he would be found. Today was Monday so no service, and he’d told no one where he was going. Mrs Evans seems to have no interest in where he went on his holidays, only in when he would want lunch. The reason for that was now obvious.
A large crow landed in one of the small round yew trees in the grave yard. He didn’t like the look it was giving his body, like someone eyeing up their breakfast, so he waved his arms at it. Other than it giving him a rather knowing look this had little effect.

The first paragraph was written by the OU and we had to carry on. All the exercise make good points in our writing and help to give us ideas for our Tutor Marked Assessments (TMAs). First one is in on 6th November and I’m starting to run out of time.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

New Car

So part of last weeks busyness was that I bought a new car. Of course when I say a new car, I mean new to me rather than brand spanking new. (and really, who would buy a brand brand new car anyway?)
It’s another Ford Ka on a 2006 plate and it’s the newest car I’ve ever had. I was a bit nervous at first – it is after all a lot of money, but having owned it for a week I’ve fallen in love. Leather seats, alloys and I’ve just treated it to some new mats and windscreen wipers.

Only problem is I feel bad about my old car. Anyone want a 1998 Ford Ka in blackcurrant purple?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Homework Already

I know it’s been over two weeks since I last posted and haven’t I been busy in that time. But now all my students are here and settled so it should all calm down again.

A363 starts tomorrow! And we’ve been given homework already!!
The activity is the sort of thing you’d be asked to do if you went on an Arvon course.
Basically you take a blank sheet of paper and write for ten minutes non-stop. You shouldn’t stop at any point, just keep writing. If you can’t think what to write, write ‘I can’t think what to write.’ After ten minutes, stop writing and read back what you wrote. Then the hard bit. Pick your favourite sentence from what you’ve written.
The next day you use the sentence you picked yesterday and write again for ten minutes. At the end pick your favourite sentence from what you’ve written.
The next day use the sentence you picked yesterday and write again for ten minutes and so on.
After ten days, or seven in my case, you take your sentences and assemble them into a poem or short piece of prose. You can change things about and add extra bits but should try to keep the gist of them intact.
This is what I came up with.

My mind runs in circles with the problem.
Tying its self in knots and making me feel sick.
They rise out of the autumn mist like huge dragons with burning breath.
And a glimmer of alien light, blue, red, orange and cold cold white.

Who can say what is the best way to live?
They give you an idea of the feel of earth moving under foot.
But don’t go the full extent. No pumping heart or fear of death.
Yet running can be so seductive.
I like the habit of it.

Still not feeling the writing. I hope that this will get better as I get into the course.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

All happening at once

Blimey what a week and its only Tuesday!
The Level 1 students start next week so we’ve been busy getting information packs ready and course notes printed. Everyone else is back the week after so we’re busy getting returner packs ready too. I am quickly running out of space!

Then there are the veg beds at home which ‘im outdoors has finally secured together and meant a trip to the landscape centre early Saturday morning for soil to start filling them. I think you’d all be impressed with my shovelling.

Also out this week is Guildford Book Festival agenda. I’ve only had a quick flick through, but I’m not that impressed. There are a couple of sessions I might go to, as they would enhance my OU course, but the things that looked most interesting are the sessions taking place in schools. Disappointing.

On top of all this I’m getting more information about A363 which start scarily soon. I now know that my tutor is called Carmen – I expect you’ll be hearing more about her in the next 9 months, and I’ve got at least 2 day schools in Southampton at the University. Makes a change from Corydon.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Chris Brookmyre and some other guy

On Saturday evening I drove to Reading for the Reading Crime Writing Festival and Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre's talk.
I ending up sitting right at the back due to a very poor map and missed some of Marks jokes - he used to be a stand up comic, but I didn't miss any of Chris' taking, although the acoustics of the room and his strong Scottish accent didn't make listening easy.
It was a good session. They talked a bit about what they do and read a little from new books then answered questions about where they got their titles from and what they think of TV/film adaptations etc. What made this different from some of the other events that I've attended was that the people here were obviously readers not writers. The questions were about the guys on the stage not how can 'I' improve my writing. This was very refreshing, after all I came to see a favourite author so I want to hear from him.
Then to top it all off Chris signed my copy of The Sacred Art of Stealing, which is a fab book. What a nice man.
So all in all a good evening, even if getting there was hard work.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Return of the Writers Group

Yesterday saw the return of the writers group. Yay!
I nearly missed it, but luckily Outlook knows what I should be doing and gave me a poke.
I wasn't the only one with nothing to read out - phew! But that doesn't feel good for the up and coming A363.
Homework:
If you could travel back in time to any historical event, what would it be? Now describe it. What are you doing there? Are you one of the participants? Or just watching it? What do you see? What do you hear? What time of day is it? Are there any particular smells?
Which is interesting as I've an idea for a story which starts in WW1.
Anne also says; 'Doesn't have to be accurate either - don't worry too much about the actual facts. Just enjoy being in someone else's viewpoint in a time not our own!
If you need any help thinking about history, there's the World Wars, the Battle of Hastings, the English Civil War, the Fire of London, Columbus, the US War of Independence, Joan of Arc, suffragettes and plagues - as a starter.' In many ways there is just too much choice!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

A363 Advanced Creative Writing

Yesterday when I got home there was a brown cardboard box waiting at the top of our stairs for me. You know the thing – the sort of carton that Amazon send their books out in. Only this one had ‘Urgent course materials’ written in large letters on one side and ‘The Open University’ written on the other.

Yep, that’s right; my books have arrived for A363 Advanced Creative Writing.
I am scared and excited in equal measures.
Just flicking through the thick text book is exciting, seeing all these new things I hope to learn. But looking at the study calendar is very scary. This is an A3 sheet with the section of the book you should be reading, any audio or DVD sections you should be listening/watching against the date, with each TMA (tutor marked assignment) marked nicely on the right so its easy to see all your deadlines. It’s the section of independent study over Easter next year that really scares me!
So there I am. All set for October 10th when this all kicks off. All I need now is my tutor’s details and the name of my online forum and I can get started.
I just wish I’d found more time for writing over the summer…

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Thrive Landscapes - LIVE!

Did you all have a lovely bank holiday?
I know it rained but I didn’t mind so much as it made it easier for me to finally finish the website for ‘im outdoors. Now instead of 2 pages of nothing much, he has 7 pages and a flickr page which I hope enhance his business.

Check out the new Thrive Landscapes pages and tell me what you think. If something doesn’t work on your browser let me know what it was and the browser and I’ll try and fix it. If something isn’t simple or you can’t work out how to do something tell me. I’ve tried to make it as user friendly as possible, but it’s easy to get too close to things. I hope this is the start of something good.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Tasty Suite

I’ve been shopping on Etsy again. What better excuse than I’ve a flat to make beautiful. The finishing touch I think is putting artwork up – something that we’re still working on.
In the mean time I’ve visited Tasty Suite who produce vinyl stickers for any surface. I love their designs so deciding on just one was impossible! In the end I got 3 designs (1 was part of a promotion they were running). They were so easy to put up; the hardest part was deciding where to place them. I’m very please and think they give the flat something a little special. And the best thing? Although they are designed by Tasty Suite, you can do what you will with them, giving them a personal feel.



Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Ticket booked

I’ve just booked my ticket to see Mark Billingham and Christopher Brookmyre at the Reading Festival of Crime Writing on 12th September.
I’ve also just borrowed one of Mark’s books from the library, as he’s a new author to me. So I’m all set. How exciting.
I’m still getting used to the organisation of the local library – people like Stephen King seem to be placed in too places; horror and general fiction. It’s very confusing. But it is great to have a library which is there every day, not that I had a problem with the mobile library, but you did have to do more planning.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Chelsea Buns

I've not been feeling very creative recently, it's not easy to when you're moving house and then decorating the house and cooking dinner too.
I haven't made any books in the last couple of months; the only thing I have made is the turquoise bracelet a couple of weeks ago.
But then I started thinking about it, as I was feeling a little down about it and realised that although I haven't made any books I've been doing other creative things. Setting the flat up to be just right, with colours and curtains and pictures is creative. And when I think about it, some of my cooking is creative too. This week I made Chelsea buns and I'm quite impressed with how they came out. 'im outdoors is very pleased with them too.


Monday, 10 August 2009

Website Design Manager

Woo Hoo! I've finally received my certificate saying I've completed the Website Design Manager course. Don't worry I'm not qualified or anything, I'd have to take exams first. But the study bit is done.
I have to say I'm not very impressed with Skills Train who I did the course with. But then I have been studying with the Open University first and they spoil you. With the OU they have all these online forums so you can chat with other students, which takes a little getting used to but is great. With the Skills Train, I might as well have been the only person in the world doing the course. And when you're studying by yourself in your spare time, having other students who are doing the same as you to chat with and check that what you are doing is right is pretty important. Also the admin was rubbish and the books were often out of date. Not good.
So now if I can find out about them, I'll do some exams and maybe get a qualification. But from what I've read it helps if you're in a 'web' job to pass the exams. But how do I get the job if I'm not qualified? Bit of a catch 22 I fear.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Reading Festival of Crime Writing

As I was reading this months Mslexia I came across a tiny advert for the Reading Festival of Crime Writing – 11th, 12th and 13th Sept. I didn’t even know Reading had a festival other than the big music one at the end of August. (Rock on!)
I’ve just had a look on their website and not only have they got a short story competition which sounds fun but they have one of my favourite authors – Christopher Brookmyre talking too. They have lots of other authors and workshops but it’s always great when you can see someone whose work really rocks your world. So for anyone who’s interested in crime writing Reading in September is the place to be.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Turquoise Beads

Yay! My computer seems to be fixed – after quite a bit of messing about. I love my computer; there are so many things that I use it for. But I wish it wouldn’t have silly fits.

Anyway what I wanted to tell you about was the Gem and Bead show that was in Farnham like 2 weeks ago! There was so much there that I wanted but I managed to keep it to just a few beads and some bits and bobs to play with. I’ve still got the beautiful beads that I bought on etsy to work out how to string together.
In the mean time I’ve made myself a bracelet. Very simple, but I thought the beads were wonderful, such a lovely colour and a great weight.

The study creeps closer to being finished every day so I should be back to making stuff very soon. Helps I’ve got some holiday booked.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

On a Motorway...

Ok so I spoke too soon. We do have broadband at the flat and the study is coming on by leaps and bounds (thanks to ‘im outdoors), but there is something wrong with my computer which means that it is becoming very sluggish. And anyone who has ever tried to use Photoshop when your computer has slowed to the speed of the M25 in rush hour will know the sort of frustration I am struggling with.
Little does it know that this mean we will be wiping its brains and starting again (I’m writing this at work). Hopefully this will sort it out, as I’ve lots of projects that I am desperate to get started on, but there isn’t much point if I can’t get the thing to go.

Also as I’ve finished studying the CWI website design course (although I’m still waiting for paperwork from them about this) I’ve just signed up for A363 Advanced Creative Writing with the Open University. I’m so glad I’ve kept up my writing with the writers group at work. Which leads nicely into the fact that the group met for the last time this ‘year’ today. We’ll be meeting again in September. There were many people there so I didn’t get to read my work out but I’ll still post it below.
The starting point is the sentence; You're on a motorway and there's a car out of control coming towards you...

It’s not like in the movies; no car’s flying through the air or exploding. Most people have seen the black BMW coming towards them on the wrong side of the motorway, and moved out of the way.
There are a few bumps but no injuries and it looks like we might be able to stop this idiot before there are any fatalities.
We’ve stopped as much traffic as we can and now I’m standing in the shadow of my unmarked car with the stinger in my hands ready to deploy.
‘Ready Kate?’
That’s a tire deflation device in the handbook, but anyone who’s watched any sort of police TV programme should know what I’m talking about.
‘Yes sir.’
The problem is that too many people have seen these TV shows so I have to get my timing just right.
‘Suspect one mile away.’
If I fling it out in front of him too early and he sees it and knows what it is, he’ll try and go round it.
‘All units ready.’
If I do it too late, it won’t do its job and stop him. Of course it’s all going to happen really fast.
He’s travelling at well over 100 mph and from what I’ve heard he does not want to be caught, but then he has done a pretty nasty thing.
‘Suspect in sight!’
I can hear it now, the growl of his engine coming at super speed followed by two whaling squad cars. They know what’s coming so they are easing back so they don’t deflate too, but gently so he’s not aware of what’s coming.
I can normally see the drivers eyes by the time I do this, but this time his eyes are covered by the shades he is wearing, and I’m glad because I don’t want to look into these eyes.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Uniform Project

I quite liked working at the supermarket when I was a student. Mostly because we got to eat the cheese off the deli. But also because we had a uniform and I didn’t have to think about what to wear everyday.
Now I work in an office and I’ve made up a kinda uniform out of pretty skirts and t shirts so getting dressed half asleep isn’t too much of a chore.
But what about having one dress and then reinventing that dress every day for a year?

This is what Sheena Matheiken has pledged to do.
Starting May 2009, she has pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Here’s how it works: There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day she will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies. Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like she just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade's boudoir.

The Uniform Project is also a year-long fundraiser for the
Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement that is revolutionizing education in India. At the end of the year, all contributions will go toward Akanksha’s School Project to fund uniforms and other educational expenses for children living in Indian slums.

The photos go up daily on The Uniform Project, and I’m amazed at the variety of outfits she has managed to put together over the last 2 ½ months.
I look forward to seeing what else she can come up with. Good luck Sheena.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Alien Planet Photos

At some point in the last couple of crazy months I know I mentioned the fact that ‘im outdoors was displaying his photos at the local Doctors. As I finally have a computer that works and have been able to download my photos at last I can finally show you how good they look.
To see more of his work go to Alien Planet.




Thursday, 9 July 2009

Nearly Finished

How exciting is this? I am sitting in our ‘study’ typing on my computer which is all set up and connected to the internet!! Ok so the room still needs some work, but we’re connected to the net and that’s the thing I’ve really missed. It also means that I now have no excuse for not blogging and I can try and get more posts up this month than the four from June (and May).
The living room is pretty much finished, it just needs some pictures on the walls, but ‘im outdoors has so many we haven’t been able to decide which ones yet.
I can’t believe how much space we have, even with a table, six chairs, a sofa, a fish tank and all the shelving.
Before:

After:


We’ve painted the kitchen and given the hall a freshen up and except for some shelving in cupboards that we need to add, and finishing sorting my junk at my parents house we are very nearly there. It’s a good feeling.
(Does Ikea furniture count as hand made if we put it all together ourselves?)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Reading the Post

Sorry I haven’t blogged for a bit. We’ve got Graduation at work this week so I've been rather busy with student results and transcripts in the last couple of weeks. At home we’ve been busy painting and finally have a living room which looks like a home. I’ll be posting photos as soon as I have access to a computer to down load them!
The last room to do is the ‘study’ and I’m really excited. 1. I’m really excited about having it all finished (after the ‘study’ we just need to give the hall a quick coat of paint then its all done – well except for the garden!) and 2. I can’t wait to have a proper room to work in, with lots of space and a place for everything. And a computer with internet at home. It’s amazing how much I’ve missed it.

Anyway today we had a writer’s group meeting. A smaller meeting than normal as most students have gone home and people are busy with Graduation but it was still a good session. Last times home work was to ‘describe or invent a time you (or a character you're writing about, if that makes it easier) read someone else's post. What did it reveal to you about the person? And how did you feel about yourself?’
This is what I wrote. I meant to write more but ran out of time.

I had to really shove the door to get it open, and when there was finally enough room for me to squeeze through the gap I could see why. Envelopes and newspapers were
piled up behind it in a multi coloured heap.
I started to collect it, trying to sort it as I went, but in the end there was just too much so I gathered it to my chest and walked it into the kitchen, leaving a trail of plastic covered brochures which had slithered out of my arms.
I couldn’t believe how much post and junk mail a little old lady could receive in two weeks. Ten daily news papers – the daily mail, as well as the mail on Sunday with all its supplements. Begging letters from every charity under the sun, full of free pens to help you write that cheque and photos of suffering children/cats/dogs/donkeys/bears/whales, select as appropriate, to make you feel as guilty as hell.
I’d gone back and picked up all the brochures and magazines that I’d dropped. National Trust, RHS, RSPB, cloths/travel/food for the over 60s.
And then to one side a small pile of serious brown envelops which would all need to be read carefully and then replied to, mostly with the sad news that my grandma had died.

This months group really reminded me how much I like to write. I hope that I'll have much more time for it over the summer - its ages since I've sent anything out, or even writen anything that would be good enough to send out.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A Brand New Bed

Before...

After...
So the bedroom has been painted and best of all the new bed has arrived.
As you can see we’ve gone from a deep pink to a lovely light green and have matched our curtains and bedding, as you do.
Best of all the bed is hand made so keeping in line with the handmade pledge.
Ours is an Apple bed from Warren Evans. I got the big king sized so ‘im outdoors won’t have his feet hanging over the edge and it only took 10 days to be delivered. I was very impressed with the service, from ordering to arrival, they were very helpful and ‘im outdoors said he didn’t even have time to open all the post before they had the bed up and ready.
Tonight is the first sleep. Fingers crossed that its as comfy as it looks!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Trunkt

I’ve just found another fab website. It’s called trunkt and is an online portfolio for people to display their work. There are some really lovely things on here and it’s the sort of place wholesalers would look for stock for their shop. If you’ve been on etsy I’m sure you’ll recognise some of the products on show too.
If nothing else it’s a great place to get ideas about how to photograph things, like my books, to get the best out of them.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Alien Planet photo gallery

I thought you might like to know that ‘im outdoors has just started his first exhibition! The local doctor agreed to let him display his work in the waiting room of the surgery along with some business cards. It’s like having his very own gallery. Lucky boy.
I haven’t seen the prints in situ yet, but they looked stunning in the kitchen, so hanging in their own space they must look fab. I know that they have all had a very positive reception so far, and I can’t wait to have my own viewing.
Good work chicken.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Our new flat

On Friday me and 'im outdoors became the proud owners of our very own flat. We've been looking since Christmas and found this one at Easter and we've been very lucky how quickly its all gone through. It does however mean that I'm going to be a little quiet on here for a while, while we sort our selves out and get settled in.
Do you want a look round?

This is our living room. Plently of room for a sofa, TV and dinning room table and chairs. It also has a great view of the gliders, that take off from the hill above us.
This will be the study. Lots of room in here for two desks and a big work bench. It also has a built in cupboard which will be great for storing art materials. Oh yeah and 'im outdoors accounts.

This as I'm sure you can see is the kitchin. Its a lovely size and thats a 6 burner oven there. I can't wait to start baking, neither can 'im outdoors.

This is the bedroom. 'im outdoors doesn't like the pink, so we'll be painting that green in the very near future. The bed is on order and due in about 10 days, so we better get a move on.

And this is the garden. Or some of it, as it was pretty hard to get it all in the photo. Its a great size compaired to some of the other gardens here. And it seems to get the sun for most of the day. This is early evening and the deck has had the sun since before lunch! It is a bit of an odd shape though. A nice challange for 'im outdoors.


And I just had to include this photo. I love the fact that we have a really thin door to keep our mops and brushes behind. Isn't it cute!
So that is our new flat. I just have to say thank you so much to 'im outdoors for all the work he's done to make this possable. Without his constance chasing of estate agents etc we'd still be waiting. Thanks and I love you!
I'll post some more photos when we've got some stuff in it. I'm really looking forward to having a huge study to work from. It's all very exciting.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Blimey it's been ages!

Blimey it's been ages! Sorry about that. I’ve been rather busy the last couple of weeks. This is the last week of semester, and we’ve been busy with exams and this week exam boards. So much to do before the little darlings all disappear for 4 months and peace descends.
Also as you might have guessed from the odd comment I’ve made me and ‘im outdoors are in the process of buying ourselves a flat. More details of that when I have them, but it does mean I’ve been going through the junk I’ve collected over the last 28 years. As you can imagine that’s taking some time.
And as if that’s not enough I’ve been working my way through the last CWI text book on my course – meaning that I’ll be having exams at some point in the near future! Scary biscuits.

So with all that going on I’ve had little chance to create, which is a shame as that’s what I love best. But I did have a chance to do a tiny bit of writing for today’s writers group – I never thought I’d be glad to be called in for emergency invigilation!
Last months homework was to use another of the first lines that Anne had given us as a starting point. As I said then you can’t use the first line – it’s someone else’s work, but there is nothing to stop you being inspired by it.
This time I used ‘Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower-block?’ (it was the only one I could remember stuck in the exam room.)
When I’d finished it, I thought it would work really well as a piece of flash fiction – this is normally writing that doesn’t go much bigger than 150 words, but could be as small as 6! Good luck with that.
Here’s what I wrote.

Standing on the top of a tower block I looked at the crowd gathered below. Vultures. Police lights strobbed across faces. The wind howled round the sides of the building trying to dislodge me, but I wasn’t going until I was ready.
I can’t say I wasn’t scared, cos I was. If it was up to me I’d do it another way, but once you get to my status there is no choice anymore.
I now stood with my toes sticking over the side, flexing to grip as the wind gave me another shove.
I was suddenly blinded as they finally managed to get their spot light working.
As the sky darkened and with the light in my eyes, I pulled the ropes towards me and started down the steep decent.
Much as I hate heights I guess it was better than being gunged for charity.


That’s 146 words and I think it tells its story just fine.
I hope there won’t be such a delay before I’m back – hopefully with good news.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Chicken sitting




Well we had a lovely weekend even if it was a little chilly. The hens were very friendly and it was lovely to watch them scratching about in the garden. It was a shame to come back to all the stresses of work and students.


Friday, 1 May 2009

House in the Country

This weekend we’re due to house sit for a couple of friends that we’ve known since Landscape College.
They live in the middle of the English countryside with views of fields and sheep and only the odd other house dotted along the road for company.
The house is one of those cottages full of character, low ceilings, wonky doors and an aga.
Best of all they have chickens which is part of the reason we will be there. The other part of the reason is that they have now been burgled 3 times this year. I wouldn’t normally write about things like this on here, but this has really annoyed me.
Our friends are good people with 2 children. They both work as landscapers like ‘im outdoors – working long days in any weather for less pay than most people tucked up in a nice warm office doing 9 till 5.
They kept all their tools in a locked shed. Having them all stolen makes it much harder to earn a living.
Of course what is suppose to happen is the insurance pays out and they buy a whole bunch of lovely new shiny tools which the burglars will then be able to steal – which is why they have been back twice more. But things don’t always work out the way they should, so the insurance didn’t pay out. What really annoys me is the fact that the tools they took in the first place where old and worn and unlikely to sell for very much at all. But they worked and that’s all my friends needed. Shiny things don’t stay shiny for very long when you’re working up to your knees in mud. The burglars weren’t after these tools but the new ones. No skin off their nose, but what do my friends do now?

Anyway that’s enough of a rant. What I meant to say was that as much as I am looking forward to having a little ‘holiday’ its going to be very strange having no computer and no internet access. I won’t be able to study (what a shame) and I won’t be able to try out the new programmes I’ve just loaded.
But I hope to take lots of photos and maybe just have a nice chilled out weekend. Hope the weather is good.
Have a nice bank holiday.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

My Father Had a Face That Could Stop a Clock

It was the writers group meeting today. Sadly I’ve been too uninspired and busy to write anything for it. Listening to everyone else’s was still interesting though.
Then Anne gave us a set of first lines of novels from her flat – the task to use that first line as a starting point. Of course you can’t use the first line – it’s someone else’s work, but there is nothing to stop you being inspired by it.
I used the line ‘My father had a face that could stop a clock.’ I’m afraid I don’t know whose first line that is.


My father had a hammer, and knew how to use it too.
It’s the ticking you see. He just can’t stand it. Even the tiny tick from a watch is enough to drive him to his hammer.
My mother deals with it very well, she keeps a drawer of old wind up clocks for occasional use but otherwise she uses digital.
It makes the house look very modern and there’s never that uncomfortable silence where you all sit and look in your tea cup listening to the tick of a dozen different clocks.
I found one in the freezer yesterday, maybe my mother hid it or dad put it in there when he couldn’t find his hammer. Wonderful sound proofing and the cold soon stops them.

As you can see I was in a bit of a silly mood, but it made me smile.
Homework - to use one of the other lines in a similar vain. Wonder what I’ll choose next time.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Illustrator

I spent another day at South Hill Park yesterday. This time mostly drawing apples – I was on the Illustrator course.
I better start with explaining that Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator all work very closely together. Photoshop is for photos, Illustrator is for drawing and InDesign is for putting it all together is a newsletter or poster. Quite a lot of the tools are the same on the 3 programmes which means once you understand one programme the others are easier to pick up.
I think the key tool is the pen tool. This lets you make any shape you can think of, whether it’s the round of an apple or the creases in someone’s shirt.
Illustrator also lets you play with type, so you could make words in illustrator to paste on to a photo in Photoshop.
I really enjoyed the day and think I learnt lots. Our teacher, Rose, was very knowledgeable and was very happy to spent time with anyone who was having problems. Now I’ve got the basics of the 3 programmes I should be able to do some of the things I’ve been dieing to try but not had the skills. Shame I’m really busy for the next couple of weeks!

Friday, 24 April 2009

HydraHeart

Look what’s just arrived for me! Beautiful new shoes.
Once again Etsy has come up with the goods, this time from HydraHeart (you can find her on my etsy favourites below).
Molly makes a variety of different shoes – all handmade and vegan! And all of them are beautiful. Mine are Keyhole flats in mossy green, and very pleased with them I am too. What I really like about them is how delicate they feel. You don’t feel like your wearing shoes at all, which is just how I like it. But by wearing these my feet don’t go black! (sorry too much detail.)
My only concern is that because they feel so delicate I don’t think I’d dare wear them outside. But they will be perfect in the new flat – wooden floors do not appreciate heels.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

BEST

By now you should know how much I love Etsy and how I can’t wait to get a shop on there. And of course how much I like making/experimenting with book making – I hesitate to call it binding.

Anyway as I was browsing on Etsy today I came across the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team – BEST, and their blog. And they have a flickr page. Oh my life people like me! This is amazing. So much to read and so little time.
I wonder if anyone will be able to help me with my Coptic Stitch.

I hesitate to join the team without a shop, but it’s going straight on my list of Etsy things to do.
I love how the Internet helps to connect like minded people even when there's a great big ocean in the way.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Not so Naked Books


Last week I wrote about a different design of book that I was trying out – the naked book. Well now I’ve given it some clothes.
I made the first one without anything to cover the spine, but when I went into the local sewing shop at the weekend in search of wool, I came across some lovely blue fabric, which I thought would be just the job. Its just a shame that the sparkle doesn’t show up in the photo.
Now I need to decide if I like the design and if this is something I want to keep going with. I think its great for the thinner papers, they only have to cover rather than act as a hinge too. Were the thicker wallpapers are great for the books with spines. Something to play with I think.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Come Alive

I've just come across this quote which I think is perfect.

'Don't ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive, then go do that.'
Harold Thurman Whitman

I shall keep this on my wall for those times when I'm feeling low and uninspired.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Knit One, Purl One

As if I don’t have enough to do right now, I’ve got the sudden urge to learn to knit again. My dad taught me when I was little and my mum helped me out when I got stuck, but I haven’t done any for years.
Then I was browsing on Etsy I came across some really lovely patterns, particularly one for a bear and one for a bag, and the urge came on me, not just to be able to knit, but to actually make something from my knitting that isn’t a scarf.
Luckily my friend Katie, who always seems to have a ball of wool and at least one set of needles with her, was most obliging on Friday afternoon, and patiently showed me what to do. Once I’d been reminded my fingers seemed to remember what was needed. Above is what I’ve done so far. Practice makes perfect after all. Katie also suggested the learn2knit website, which has some excellent diagrams on how to knit. Once I’m happy that I can do it right, I shall have a go at the bear I think. Of course that will mean learning to read knitting patterns!
Watch this space.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Poppytalk

I’ve just found another stunning blog.
It’s called Poppytalk and is written by a Canadian couple. It is just so full of designy goodness I’ve only scratched the surface so far. I’m really looking forward to digging a little deeper. It’s updated very regularly so there is always something new to have a look at.
Then there is Poppytalk Handmade, which is an online curated and monthly-themed marketplace showcasing handmade and vintage goods from around the world.
Both sites are fresh and exciting and well worth a look.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The Naked Book

I finished my Mindfulness course this week. It was really interesting and I’ve learnt a lot. Now I just have to remember to use what I’ve learnt in my day to day life.


Now I’ve finished the course I’ve got more time to do all the other things I like to do. One of the first things I’ve done is make a new book.
I call it the ‘naked book’ as there really isn’t any sort of cover and no spine (its based on something I saw in a shop a couple of months ago). This one is very rough to see if it would work, so it’s a bit gray. But I think if the card covers were covered in some pretty paper, and if the spine material was again a pretty colour then it wouldn’t look to bad. I was worried about how well the covers would attach – you don’t want them to come off, but they feel pretty secure, so I’m happy with this. I shall have another go, but make it more decorative.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

A Little Concert

Have I mentioned that I play the flute?
I’m not very good, but sometimes, at lunch, I play with a guy at work called Neil who plays the piano very well.
Anyway his wife plays and teaches the cello and I was invited to play my flute in a little ‘concert’ her mature students were putting on.
I like playing the flute, it always amazes me when I make music that really sounds like music and not just a bunch of squeaks and whistles. But there is a big difference between playing by your self and playing with someone else. There is an even bigger difference between playing in my room at home where only my parents can hear me, and playing deliberately in front of people.
So yesterday I drove over to Neil’s house. I was incredibly nervous. But everyone was so nice it actually turned out to be pretty good fun. There were the four students who all play cello, although one also plays the clarinet, Neil on piano and my self. We all had a little practice with Neil first – he accompanied everyone. And somehow I’d agreed to have a go in a trio at a piece. Remember I’ve only ever played with a piano so playing with a cello and a clarinet was very scary! I soon found out though that this is brilliant as no one can hear my mistakes over a clarinet.
And then while we were waiting I got to listen to the three students and teacher play a piece. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a real life cello never mind four. Even with mistakes you could see how much they enjoyed it.
Playing in front of six really nice people, who have all made mistakes in front of you, makes it a little easier. Yes I was scared and yes I did make mistakes (I played Scarborough Fair and Danny Boy) but that didn’t matter. I did it, and maybe next time it will be a little easier.
They all agreed that I should find some people to play with, and maybe I should. I’m a tad busy right now, me and ‘im outdoors are look for a house/flat, but maybe when we’ve found somewhere I should look into it.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Racing the Train

The writers group met again today.
The homework was to write about either; How it would feel and what would you do if you won the lottery, or How would it feel and what would you do if you were a rock star. I didn’t feel very inspired with those – everything I wrote seemed pretty standard and not very interesting.
And then as I was driving home from ‘im indoors one night a couple of weeks ago, I saw a train in the dark. Out in the country side with no street lights the train just looked like a row of boxes of light and suddenly I felt a poem coming on. I don’t write poems very often as I don’t like how restrictive they are on words and from, although of course this is a good thing for a writer to practice.
Anyway here’s the poem.

Racing the Train

I slip into fifth and cruise up to seventy in this pitch black,
And suddenly there it is on my left,
A row of rectangles, brightly lit from within.
It must have noticed me as it cruises at my side,
Slowly coming closer,
Until it seems we must collide,
And it dives under the road in front of me.

On the other side it loses interest,
Flying away over the jet black fields.
A string of yellow rectangles in all that dark.
From here they seem quite smooth and steady,
No rattle and bang of carriages.
No noise at all except that coming from my radio,
Which argues with the road below.

We’re racing now,
Me and this snake of light.
Speeding across fields and hills,
Dodging round cows and cars,
Trees try to block our view,
But their thickening tips are not leaves yet,
And always that string of lights is visible.

I did have another verse but everyone agreed that it was very weak and didn’t add anything to it so I’ve taken it off. I think they were right.
Wonder what I’ll come up with for the next meeting?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Moo

I’ve just come across a brilliant web site called Moo.com. Those of you who know me will understand that just the name its self is enough to make me think this is a great site.
But the fact that they are a printing company who will actually let you print your photos directly from flickr makes them even better.
I love the fact that I could order 100 double sided business cards from them and have a different photo on every one. I don’t think I’ve even got 100 photos on flickr yet!
They have a great selection of products, from business cards, to greeting cards to postcards and sticker books, all of which can have your own photos on or a design from their very own collection of designers and illustrators.
And as if that’s not enough they have a page of ideas and inspirations too.
And I love their website.
So when I said I’d design and print my own business cards, maybe I’ll just design them and leave the printing to Moo.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Adobe InDesign

Yesterday I spent the day at South Hill Park (again). I’m sure you remember that last November I spent every Monday evening there, learning how to use Photoshop properly. It was there that I learnt about Indesign and found a course to go on.
It’s a really great piece of software if you need to put together anything with photos and text. For example business cards, a news letter or maybe a catalog.
But it's not just about the positioning of the text round a photo, I mean you can do that in Word. There are lots of effects that you can use to make your news letter even more exciting. I’d love to show you what I did, but none of it was very good, and I don’t have InDesign on my machine yet (give me time) so can’t even start fresh today. But watch this space. There are many things I want to do (see my 43 things below) which InDesign will make very easy for me.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

World Book Day

Can you believe it – I’ve missed World Book Day. In the UK and Ireland we celebrated it last week on 5th March, while for some reason everyone else celebrates on 23rd April. You can find out more here, although I guess it’s a bit late for anyone in the UK.

I love books and reading. I think it’s much better than TV – you have to use your imagination with a book, while TV does it all for you.
My favourite author is Stephen King. It amazes me how prejudice people are to his works, just because they come under ‘horror’. I don’t think he writes horror, I think he writes about people. I love his stories.
But enough of that, I could go on all day. I’ve many other favourite authors and books, after all I read about one a week if I’m not too busy.
Christopher Brookmyre is great; I love his ‘The Sacred Art of Stealing’ and ‘Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks’ amongst others.
Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series and all this other books are wonderful.
And anyone who hasn’t read Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ really should.
I could spend all day listing books I’ve enjoyed reading, and so many still out there waiting for my time.

What are your favourites? I’m always ready to try new authors.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Duotrope's Digest

As I’m sure you know I love the writers group. No just because it gives me a good push to write something at least once a month. Or because writing is a lonely thing to do, so it’s great to meet up with other writers and encourage each other. But also because you can get all sorts of helpful hints and tips and information.

At last weeks meeting our leader, Anne, gave us the details of a website which holds details of lots of publications so you can search for the perfect place to send your story or poem or novella.
It’s called Duotrope’s Digest and I’ve only had the smallest of poke abouts, but it seems pretty detailed. I think it’ll be a great place to find places to send the stories I’ve written. After all just because they didn’t win a competition doesn’t mean they are not good stories, just that they were up against better ones. I shall have to have a better look when I’ve more time.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Stamp and Logo




















I have to admit to being rather excited right now!
Nope I didn’t make it into the final 50 applicants for ‘the best job in the world’, and I’m not aware right now of anyone wanting to publish one of my stories; this is something far better.
Finally with a lot of help from my Dad I have finally worked out a way to mark my books as mine. It’s taken maybe 4 months to get to this stage, but the end result is worth it!
Basically I wanted to be able to mark my books as mine but without using stickers which I think look a little naff, and come off way to easily; or having to write something on everyone. I wanted something which would constantly look the same on anything I do.
I started by drawing myself a logo using the words ‘Wild Creations’ as this is what I call my self. But how to get it on to the books?
Talking to my Dad we came up with the idea of making a stamp which would emboss the paper or card with the design. This was just what I wanted.
It took a while to get the materials and technologies together but my Dads knowledge of circuit board printing really helped.
And finally I have a working stamp. It’s better than I’d hoped for – remember that I had to draw it onto the metal by hand, backwards! So to have it stamp so well has made me really pleased. I just need to practice stamping now, so I don’t do it too hard or not hard enough.
The idea of opening my own Etsy shop now seems real instead of a dream. Much more to do, but nothing I can’t do given a little time.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Homework

For this month’s writer group we once again had a choice for homework.
We started by choosing A, B, C, or D twice, we were then told what they meant.

A – Air
B – Water
C – Earth
D – Fire

A – 7
B – 14
C – 40
D – 70

I choose C and D so had to write about Earth and someone aged 70.
I thought I had a nice little idea about a blind old lady out in a garden. But it can’t have been that great an idea as I didn’t write it. When I told ‘im outdoors about it he went straight for the death option, which I’d completely missed. Kinda obvious when you stop and think.
Anyway this is what I wrote.


I think I must have fallen.
But I don’t remember hitting anything. Just black.
And now it’s still black, although I’m sure I’ve got my eyes open.
I don’t know where I am. Maybe I’m at Jen’s but she always leaves the door open, just a touch, so I can see the hall light. And I can’t see any light at all.
I did hear some singing earlier, but it sounded quite sad. And then the sound of hail blocked it out.
I don’t remember this bed. I’m sure I’ve never slept on velvet. It reminds me of Christopher Lee in Dracula.
Maybe I’m at Nigel’s, but I haven’t seen him for years. I feel so confused. I always seem to feel like that now. Never quite sure where I am, or what I’ve just been doing. My Linda’s always saying how she drove to work and doesn’t remember any of the journey. That’s how I feel with my life.
Oh there is a light. But I’m sure I don’t know anyone with a sky light. And there’s my Nigel. If Nigel’s here everything will be alright.

I know its not long, but it took me two days to write this. The group liked it, but it was such hard work I didn't enjoy it. Maybe with the next one.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Mindfulness

I’m afraid that I might be a bit quiet over the next 8 weeks. I’ve just joined the Mindfulness based Stress Reduction course at work and there is a lot of home practice.
Mindfulness can be described as ‘paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally’ (Jon Kabat-Zinn).

As the handout says; Through mindfulness, we learn to become aware of the small changes in the physical sensations in our body, our thoughts and our feelings. Being awake to our experience as it unfolds from one moment to the next means that instead of reacting automatically to situation, we can respond more skillfully – we can recognize the choices available to us, and from there, make wiser, more creative decisions.

This means I’m going to learn how to practice mediation and yoga and hopefully find a better way to deal with stress – something I think we could all use. So if I’m a bit quiet on here over the next few weeks you know why. Wish me luck.

Monday, 9 February 2009

The Best Job in the World Part 2

Remember how I said last week that I had applied for ‘The Best Job in the World’? Well you can now see my video here.

As I’m sure you can imagine, there were quite a few out takes while I was making it, and I have to say my favorite is below. ‘im outdoors enjoyed this too.



But what we both really want to know is what is snooker diving? Is it an underwater sport? Or do they chuck a snooker table out of a plane and then play while sky diving? Now that is something I wouldn’t mind watching.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Alien Planet Part 2

A while ago I wrote about ‘im outdoors and the photos he is taking. Well now he’s gone even further and beaten me to it. Yep, he’s got himself an Etsy shop.
You can find him at Alien Planet.

I have to say I’m very proud of him. It’s hard to keep the motivation going when you have an idea but on one else can see it. His idea is to bring the very small of the natural world into our home and office spaces. He explains this better in his profile. I love what he’s doing and think if he keeps at it there is no reason why he can’t be a great success. Maybe I’m bias, but with photos like the icicle above I can’t see why not.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Mslexia Cover Competition

I don’t know if you’ve had snow where you are, but we have, and lots of it. So much in fact that they closed the University! I’d booked Monday off anyway but Tuesday was a bonus. And a welcome one. I’ve got several projects that I wanted to work on, but haven’t had the time.

One of these is to create an entry for the Mslexia magazine cover competition. Now I’m sure I’ve told you all about Mslexia already – a magazine for women who write. To celebrate their 10th anniversary they are running a competition to design the cover of their Apr/May/Jun issue and artwork should be inspired by or reflect the mag. I love the magazine and can think of nothing more amazing than to have my artwork on the cover.

I’ve had some ideas for a while, so when I knew I wouldn’t have to go in to work, I got stuck in. Above are some of my favorites, although which ever one I choose will need a little work before I send it off.

What do you think?

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Best Job in the World?

If you’ve read my profile you know I work at the University of Surrey. I’m a programme administrator for the Department of Electronic Engineering and so I look after the undergraduate students and help the academics with course notes etc. It’s not a bad job, and I really like helping the students to overcome problems and make it to graduation.

But the idea of working on a tropical island with no commute to work in the dark, and plenty of time to have an adventure sounds pretty good to me. Which is exactly what the Queensland Tourism Board are offering at the moment with a 6 month job on Hamilton Island which is part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Go here or here for some of the details.
There is no way I could let this opportunity pass me by, so I’ve made my 60 second video and sent off my application. They’ve already had over 10,000 entry’s so I’m sure I won’t get anywhere near the top 11, never mind get the job, but I think this is a real case of ‘if you’re not in it you can’t win it’!
Wish me luck.