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10 things :: 10 Christmas Crafting Tutorials

10 Things :: 10 Christmas Crafting Tutorials
handmade Christmas cards by shimelle laine @
It’s the tenth of December, which brings a list of ten for 10 Things! This month, I’ve gone through the archives to find ten Christmas projects here that might be useful to your holiday crafting.

First up, the cards above plus a few more in this handmade Christmas card round-up from last year.

Christmas recipe box by shimelle laine @
An oldie but a goodie, this box just found its way to my kitchen again. It gets stored away with the Christmas decorations each year, and holds all sorts of Christmas recipes along with some corresponding photos and stories. This recipe box tutorial includes the simple printable recipe card too.

decorated Christmas window by corrie jones @
Super-talented Corrie Jones shared this tutorial here last year, with all the details on how to decorate a Christmas window. It’s definitely one of my very favourites!

This post (and the video) illustrates how I made my page numbers for my 2010 Christmas journal, but this technique could be useful for any sort of small layered embellishment, and could be perfect for dressing up gift tags this Christmas.

snowflake gift tag tutorial by mindy miller @
Speaking of gift tags, Mindy Miller shared this tutorial for custom snowflake gift tags last Christmas, and I love the modern look with just a touch of sparkle.

christmas scrapbook page by shimelle laine @
There are two editions of Sketch to Scrapbook Page (each with a video) featuring Christmas themes. This sketch features border papers and this sketch uses two 4×6 photos.

making christmas decorations with paper punches by sj dowsett @
Fancy adding just a little something to your Christmas decor or table setting by just using what you have on hand? This tutorial by SJ Dowsett includes five separate ideas using your punches and whatever paper or cardstock you have on hand. It’s a perfect project for a day that’s too cold grey to get outside!

Or grab a few tags and dress up a window, mantel or frame with a Christmas garland. I love these made with the mini bingo cards from Jenni Bowlin Studio. I managed to keep the example in the video for a few Christmases as a garland, and the smaller pieces in the middle had finally had enough when I unpacked it this year, so I’ve separated the tags and hung them on the tree as ornaments. Not a bad track record for paper decorations!

christmas card tutorial by pam brown @
If you’re feeling a little festive, let Pam Brown take you through a tutorial for Christmas cards in bright red and green tones with plenty of poinsettias!

christmas journal by shimelle laine @
And of course, there’s always my favourite Christmas project, Journal your Christmas! In the most recent Glitter Girl episode, you can check out one of my entries for this year’s book. It’s the third project in the video for this extended adventure! (And you can always join Journal your Christmas at any time – it’s not a project that has to be started on any certain day nor does it require daily entries. Just join in and enjoy!)

10 things I want to scrapbook soon

10 Things

I’m not sure I can top last year’s November edition of 10 Things: ten favourite Christmas journal entries, so I’m not even going to try. I’m going super-simple this month: ten photos I want to scrapbook soon. Starting with a little snapshot of what life looks like right now. or at least, ‘right now’ a month ago, but also including…

a little fanciness from Rachel and Rob’s wedding…

a bit of complete chaos from the joy that was being able to bake again…

a birthday treat of queueing for London’s best toasted cheese sandwich with Jen at Borough Market…

a lovely adventure at a WI birthday party talking up scrapbooking as a fabulous craft, of course…

just, you know, an ordinary day with a colourful Red Arrows flyover…

possibly the craziest photo booth set-up I’ve ever seen (at the V&A)…

some pretty equestrian pictures snapped in the 3.4 minutes in which it was not bucketing down with rain…

the fancy lights on the Thames, which I had somehow entirely forgot to print…

and a somewhat hilarious group photo I completely forgot we snapped at Legoland earlier this year!

So now it’s your turn! On the tenth of each month, we share 10 things. It can be anything as long as it’s ten! Link up your post to share it this month and mark your calendar for the tenth of December!

PS: Christmas kits for the US and the rest of the world? They go on sale TOMORROW and I’ll have a special discount code here for you!

10 things to do with pumpkin

10 Things :: 10 Things to Do with Pumpkin
this week's haul from blackheath farmers' market
Our neighbourhood has a farmers’ market every Sunday, from 10am to 2pm, and there are two appropriate strategies: go early and get the best selection or go late and get the best bargains. Seeing as I got all this for ten pounds this past Sunday, you can guess which strategy I managed. But the most exciting part: there are pumpkins galore! Just small sugar and pie pumpkins, which is perfect for me. And it’s the tenth… so I bring you ten things to do with pumpkin. Because 10 Things is a whole thing we do on the tenth, you know.

pumpkin cupcake recipe @
Pumpkin cupcakes, of course. I usually make this recipe several times each autumn. When things start to feel a bit more holidayish, I Christmas them up a bit with brandy butter, using this recipe, which predates the day I learned how to take a halfway decent picture of a cupcake. Or anything else for that matter. Another alternative is to make a batch of vanilla cake batter, then halve it – so you have half vanilla cakes and half still as batter. Mix in pumpkin, brown sugar and a bit of flour to get the texture back to what it was originally. Perfect for two flavours when you don’t want twice as many cakes.

pumpkin pancakes
Pumpkin pancakes are a bit of a special thing in our house, made by The Boy for special occasion days. He says Martha’s is your friend and I say whatever recipe he uses, it’s lovely.

Strangely enough, I wrote another very pumpkiny post nearly five years ago, when we had first moved to this neighbourhood and were fashioning furniture out of moving boxes. At the core of that post was the classic idea of Pumpkin pie. I stand by the belief that there are few things nicer at the end of an autumn day.

It’s been years since I made Hunky Dory Pumpkin cake, but I’m thinking this year might be a good chance for its return. It’s here from the exceedingly early days of this blog. I do still like the expression Hunky Dory. It is also my favourite of all David Bowie albums, and you can argue the merits of Ziggy Stardust all you want, I will not change my mind.

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls are my next project. I haven’t made them yet, but I have just enough pumpkin puree in my fridge to make these with the recipe at Smitten Kitchen. They look divine and every recipe I’ve tried from SK has turned out brilliantly. I have high hopes. And I need to ask The Boy to pick up more cinnamon on the way home.

Pumpkin scones I have made several times but somehow never photographed! Clearly I need to make them again… and somehow remember to take a picture before eating every last crumb. Find the recipe here from lovely scrapbooker (and 10 Things participant!) Sharyn Carlson.

Pumpkin pasta because lest you think pumpkin is only for indulgent, sweet things, it can certainly be savoury too. Simple, unfussy food. Just mix up a bowl of pumpkin puree with other flavours you like – pine nuts, herbs (basil, sage, rosemary and thyme all complement but offer different options), a tiny bit of honey if you like your savoury foods a bit sweet, chili if you like them with some kick – then layer with pasta. You can make it as a lasagna with pasta sheets and plenty of cheese or you can make your own ravioli with fresh pasta folded into parcels. Cook as usual then drizzle with balsamic vinegar or glaze. Fabulous with something fresh and green on the side too.

Pumpkin and blue cheese pie requires you to like blue cheese, of course, and also be able to come to grips with the idea of a pumpkin pie that is not for dessert. Line a pie dish with a basic pastry (this- works and is very simple). For the filling, mix pumpkin puree with gorgonzola cheese (I go with twice as much pumpkin than cheese by weight) and a bit of double cream in a saucepan, plus some thyme or other herbs if you prefer. Stir until all the cheese is melted and just bring to a simmer, then pop that in the pie dish and bake until the top browns and the pastry is cooked. I’ve made it with and without pastry on top. And once I made it with that crumbly, dry kind of gorgonzola? That didn’t work as well.

Pumpkin coffee, which is now a UK thing suddenly as Starbucks finally decided Britain was ready for the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The manager in our local Starbucks says expect their supplies to only last three to four weeks and they won’t be getting any more. So whether you want to avoid Starbucks or you develop an addiction, making pumpkin coffee at home is the solution. Mix pumpkin puree with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a tiny bit of ground cloves and a few drops of vanilla extract. Mix that up and heat with milk, then add to coffee or espresso. I am rather fonder of this being actual pumpkin and not sickly sweet like the syrup, but you know I won’t tell anyone if you like it sweet and heap plenty of brown sugar or maple syrup in it. Your secret is completely safe.

Pumpkin milkshakes are so lovely, they make me tempted to book a flight to New York just to hang out at Shake Shack all autumn long. But that’s a bit extreme, even I will admit. So instead, take good vanilla ice cream and blend with pumpkin puree, the usual spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove – in that order from most to least) and a bit of milk. Blitz and top with whipped cream. (Or you can make it with actual pumpkin pie, like this, but I have one problem with that amazing idea: it requires having leftover pumpkin pie. Yeah… that really doesn’t happen in my world.

And there you go: a total pumpkin overdose. How very on trend. And now… I really need to get away from the computer. I’m suddenly very hungry!

10 Things I Have Learned from Scrapbooking

10 things I have learned from scrapbooking
scrapbook from a coffee cup
Every month on the tenth, we share 10 things – a list of absolutely anything, as long as it’s ten. For months people have asked asked why I hadn’t done a specifically scrapbooking-themed 10 Things. The answer was I’ve been saving it for September, the month with such a learning focus for me. Thus I give you: Ten Things I Have Learned from Scrapbooking.

The writing is the most important thing for me.
For some, it’s the photos. For some it’s the pretty paper. For some, it’s about keeping a somewhat up-to-date family record. I love all the pictures and the paper and the whole thing as it all comes together, but it’s the writing that drives me. Yet I enjoy this far more than just writing on its own. I think there is something about the other creative elements that just makes me a bit more comfortable with the pen than the big blank page.

My favourite technique is cut this paper and glue it to that other paper.
Some crafters live for techniques. I love design, but my techniques are pretty simple. More than anything else, I cut paper into different (yet basic) shapes and sizes and glue it to other paper. I’m okay with that. It never gets old for me.

Life live. And pay attention.
I firmly believe you have to live first and scrapbook second. (Okay, you can eat and sleep and maintain personal hygiene second. It’s just way catchier to say second rather than seventh or twelfth or wherever it would actually fit in the scheme of staying alive.) The biggest adventures of life are amazingly fun and rewarding to record on scrapbook pages. And the everyday bits and pieces are too – but all that stuff has to have time to actually happen, and sometimes that means getting away from behind the camera or saying no to some time surrounded by craft supplies. Oh, the balance.

There are endless ways to describe this craft.
Most people in the UK have never heard the word ‘scrapbooking’ so I’ve had endless opportunities to define it. It can be ‘fancy photo albums’ or ‘paper crafts with lots of pictures’ or ‘like making cards, but we make books’. Or to be more philosophical, scrapbooking is writing your own illustrated life story.

The more I love the photo, the more inspired I am to create.
Sometimes that comes from a photo being technically great – sharp focus, good colour, pleasing composition. Other times it comes from just the content of the picture and it doesn’t matter in the slightest how the photo looks as it’s the memory that makes it truly fabulous. But it’s always more fun to get creating with a photo that makes me happy in one way or another!

There are many perks to friends who are also scrapbookers.
Not everyone understands this scrapbooking thing. So it’s nice to have scrapbooking friends who totally understand why you would have a scrapbooking space instead of a guest room. Who don’t think you’re weird at all for passing them your camera and asking them to take a picture of you. Who understand the need for group photos at all events, and even collect ideas for your next group shot. Who will share supplies, trust you to photograph their weddings and newborns, and just generally share some of your philosophy on life. Good friends indeed.

Use more than I buy. And donate too.
It’s ridiculously easy to get carried away with the scrapbook shopping. In fact, yesterday I was reading an article in the New Scientist about addiction and they mentioned someone who was clinically addicted to shopping for scrapbooking supplies. I do love to pick and choose and shop, but I love to make stuff more, and I don’t love all my supplies piling up and feeling overwhelming. So I run a regular rule of buying more than I use each month – because I have a base collection of things I love that still need to be used, so this keeps it going down ever so slightly rather than piling up. And I clear out anything I don’t absolutely love regularly – I always have two boxes on the go, one for selling or gifting and another for donating. I love it when I can breathe and happily get to everything in my stash!

Give it time for others to understand.
I’ve been scrapbooking for a long time now. Since 1998. It took many years for quite a few people to understand. And honestly, there are still people quite close to me who don’t understand the full extent of how scrapbooking isn’t just fun – it’s good for me. It takes a long time for many people to see anything other than stickers and pretty paper. But eventually, it did start to click with people. Give it time. Don’t be ashamed of it, which is silly and yet completely prevalent. Stick up for it and explain just now and then that scrapbooking reduces the drama, helps you remember the best things, puts things into perspective, helps you make better decisions, keeps you creative, improves your memory. It can do all those things and more. It just takes a while to realise.

Scrapbooking can make some things a little simpler.
It’s so easy in life to get caught up on the little annoyances and problems. For whatever reason, when I scrapbook I put things into a better perspective that lets me get over those little things and focus on all the good. It makes me a more pleasant person and happier in my own skin. Simple as that.

It can be anything you fancy.
You can love pretty paper. You can make books of big photos. You can keep a blog. You can create with thousands of digital scrapbooking kits. You can keep a journal. You can save tickets in a jar. You can do pretty much anything you want to keep memories and make a scrapbook. And pretty much every time I see a new interpretation of the idea, I gasp in delight.

10 Things :: Aug (10 reasons) hijack!

10 things :: Aug 2012
Well hello! As you may have guessed, by my ever so cryptic title image there, I interrupt your normal monthly viewing of 10 on the tenth with a hijack post! I hope you don’t mind Shimelle! Mwuahahahah!
I will start by saying a brief hello. “Hello!” I am Sj and I organise the giveaways on, which I LOVE doing (and hope you love too!)

Normally Shimelle would be writing this post with her chosen topic for “10 things” but today I am taking a sneaky chance and hopping in first to share a post of my 10 favourite posts on

cupcake photo
1: Cupcakes. Yup. I really did say cupcakes. I have never known someone make cupcakes like Shimelle does. Epic. My favourite ever recipe of hers is second down here – pumpkin cupcakes. Whenever I sniff autumn in the air and see a red leaf on the ground I get a bit giddy that pumpkin season is on its way. The smell of spiced pumpkin cupcakes the best smell to come out of my kitchen ever. So, that is why my first choice is cake!

2: My second favourite post, is a post that Shimelle created back in August 2011 at the time of the riots. It was a 10 things post, based on London. The post is clearly embedded with her love of the city, but the past that struck a chord with me was the section entitled Sudden community spirit. To read such love for London when the rest of the world seemed to be condemning spoke volumes. I will let you read for yourselves to see if you feel what I felt when I read it for the first time.

3: My third choice is ANY post shimelle writes about cameras and photos – because, there is nothing quite as infectious as reading about how much this girl loves a photo! I love photography an incredible amount, and reading hints and tips from other passionate photographers is always a favourite blog find for me. This is fantastic for getting the most out of the camera app Hipstamatic

Me and Ben Alice
4:Hmmmm is my number 4 too much of an obvious choice? Well – I’m going to choose it anyway! The photos from my 29th Birthday party will always be some of my favourite photos ever. Having an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatters tea party was more fun than I could have ever imagined – and you can see why by popping by the blog post here. Would you just look at the costumes!

5: Number five for me was an easy choice, especially when singing the famous 12 days of Christmas carol “Five gold rings!” Journal Your Christmas of course! If there is one album on my shelves I would save from a fire gasp it would be my JYC from the year that my son was born. I love it now, and I will love it still in 40 years time, because it was created and written directly to my son, a of diary his Christmas. If you have never joined in with JYC , I urge you to swing by here and see what the glorious fuss is about, you won’t regret it.

6: One of the biggest things I feel I need to mention here, is actually a bit of praise for Shimelle, and her involvement in the Olympics. Not only by day does she wear pink and purple and work as a guide for tourists, but she is also dancing in the closing ceremony! Proud? Yup… me too.

7: Number 7 on my list involves generosity. Shimelle’s classes are all incredibly reasonable (did you know she was the first to offer online scrapbooking classes?) But did you know that she also offers up lots of free tutorials. No? Well you do now!

8: Eighth for me are ALL of the videos on Shim’s youtube channel. How often have you searched for a craft tutorial video, only to find dull, dark and blurry videos? I love that Shimelle’s videos are so bright, clear and informative whilst also being incredibly inspirational.

Wedding shoes
9: Number 9 is a post that reminds me of a very fun day I had at the beach, with a girl in her wedding dress. A day of pink netting, veils, pretty shoes and ice cream.

10: And last, but by no means least – is a post about a page. It’s hard to choose a favourite page of Shimelle’s, it would probably change monthly, but right now, one of my favourite pages of Shim’s is this one:
I love the colours, the theme, the title and the fact that Shimelle went to train as an astronaut one summer when she was younger!!!!!

I can’t think of a better way to end my post on than astronaut revelations, so I will part ways with you now. As always – join in – and add your link us to your post!

10 Things :: June 2012 (how to pack for a scrapbooking crop)

10 Things :: June 2012 - how to pack for a scrapbooking crop
how to pack for a scrapbooking retreat or crop
One of the conversations that caught my eye on the message board this week was all about packing for a crop – a day (or more) of scrapbooking away from home, surrounded by other crafters doing exactly the same. I love seeing what various crafters plan to take for such an event, as we all have our different tolerance for how much we like to plan in advance or how much we care to pack up, transport, unpack and then repeat to come home again. Over the years, I’ve found myself taking less and less and being happier with what I make away from home, so minimal is what works for me (and I don’t think it’s the most minimal way possible, by a long shot).

But it was one specific answer that had a real wow factor. This one. It’s definitely a comprehensive list. You would be never be short of anything you could need. But it’s so comprehensive that I don’t even own about half of what is listed! The idea of bringing shelving or light bulbs or so many things that require electricity that I also need a power strip and an extension cord? That is totally foreign to me. But keep in mind: I don’t have a car. Wherever I’m going, I’m going there by train or bus or maybe even a plane, so it’s hardly easy to move my entire craft stash to a new location for the weekend.

As such, I’ve taken some 10 Things on the Tenth inspiration to create my personal list of what to pack for a scrapbooking crop or retreat!

1. Scissors. And usually just scissors – no paper trimmer. Sometimes I will pack a small paper trimmer, but I don’t take my normal paper trimmer, though it does have a handle and it’s not heavy. It’s just bulky! And I don’t scrapbook anywhere with giant table space. I tend to scrapbook in far cozier conditions, where we all sit around one table – or a few tables pushed together – so we are close enough to have one conversation at a time. So I just use my scissors as much as possible, and if I need to cut a straight line, I look for the patterns that give a guideline as part of the design, like grid and ledger papers and evenly spaced polka dots.

By the way, I do think it’s worth finding a pair of scissors you really love then always using them for your scrapping. They will become less awkward and more an extension of your hand that way! I get quite a few laughs for using my big Fiskars pair, but they work for me!

2. Adhesive. Forgetting this one can totally ruin a scrapbooking day, especially if there is nowhere you can go to buy some! So don’t forget to pack your favourite adhesive and refills. But I don’t think you have to take every single kind of adhesive possible. At a crop, I only use my regular adhesive roller and pop dots. Everything else stays home and I can’t say I’ve ever been stuck wishing I had liquid adhesive or double-sided tacky tape or my spray adhesive. But of course, your style might be different enough that you use one of those on pretty much every page… in which case that would definitely be important to pack.

3. Pens. I actually have my journalling pens with me all the time – I keep some in my purse and my backpack as well as with my scrapping stuff. I use the AC Precision Pens in black and brown ink, but pens are another thing where it’s important to try a variety and see what feels best to your hand. If I’ve packed a lot of dark paper colours, I’ll also pack a white gel pen, but otherwise I leave it at home. You can always add more writing to a page when you return, and that can be a useful strategy if your crop is too loud or busy to focus on your words, but I find I will forget to finish many things I bring home partly completed and I don’t tend to have the writing as my very last step, so I usually add the writing while I’m there.

4. Black and brown ink. Paper just doesn’t look right to me any more without inked edges, and at home I have a huge drawer filled with inks of different colours so I have the potential to find a good match for anything, but I generally just use black and brown… so those are the two I take with me. I take the ink pads and the applicator tools to make things easy. (Be sure to pop them in a separate bag of some sort to avoid accidentally inking the rest of your supplies while in transit!)

5. Acrylic block. I pretty much always use the same size of acrylic block for all my stamps, so I have one ready to go in my crop kit all the time, and then I include the different stamps in the next step. I don’t tend to take wood-mount stamps with me to a crop since they are bulkier, unless there is a specific design I know I am planning to use.

6. Page kits. This is what has replaced packing separate batches of paper, stickers, embellishments and so forth. Page kits are just a way to put together a bit of this and a bit of that and know it will work together, which also makes it possible to work more quickly at a crop because you’ve already made those decisions of what to scrap and with what supplies. Leanne is one of the most efficient crop scrappers I know and she has been a queen of page kits for years! I loved how it worked for her and I started to find a page kitting system that would work for me… once I got there, I loved this process! Glitter Girl has a remarkably similar process to how I pack my own page kits… and the concept of having either a larger or smaller kit can both work for scrapping away from home, just depending on what you want to work on and how much variety you need to keep it interesting! When packing a page kit for a crop, I would include the photos, papers, stickers, embellishments, stamp sets and everything else flat right there together. I err on the side of a few extras rather than not enough, but not to the point of packing an entire collection pack when I only want one or two sheets. (Though a collection pack works great for a big series of pages!) If you want to read even more about my specifics for packing page kits, you can find that in this post, where there is also some great stuff in the comments.

7. Album. Or this could be a 12×12 box perhaps, but I find an album easiest. The thing that worries me most about scrapping away from home is getting those new pages home safely, and I’ve had times when that didn’t go completely to plan. Now I keep the page kits each in a page protector and pop that in an album, so each completely page can go right back into the album, and it’s protected for the journey home. I’ve used both a 12×12 box with a lid and an LP carrying case for pages in the past, thinking an album would be too bulky, but I’ve actually found the album to be the best solution, and it makes it easy to keep everything in a confined space during the crop too.

8. Non-flat embellishments. Namely washi tape and mist. There are some things I use on many pages that just don’t fit easily into a page protector because they aren’t flat – like bottles of mist and rolls of washi tape. So those things I pack separately – and I bag the mists in case of any inadvertent squished bottle disaster. I don’t take my full collection of either. Instead, I look at the page kits I’ve packed and I grab a few colours of each that will go with multiple pages. I try to limit myself to three mists and six rolls of tape, as that is what fits well in my bag.

9. Stuff agreed on as a group. In scrapping with a group of people, there is no reason for everyone to bring everything and end up duplicating the same stuff. Unless you are all making the same project together, how many of you will be using a butterfly punch at the same exact instant? So we communicate in advance and divide up the responsibility. We do this for both tools and snacks! So one time I might be bringing five punches… another time I might be bringing cupcakes. But all the stuff that will be shared works best when we communicate in advance. Of course there are always a few things we duplicate without realising, just out of having similar ideas of what works as a staple item. The last time I went out for a full day of cropping, three of us may have brought hummus, carrots and croissants. At least we knew we all liked those things!

10. A collection of recent favourites. When I have everything else packed, I look at the space left in my case and I fill a zip-bag with recent favourites that haven’t made it into page kits – mostly papers, letters and stickers. I may add a few more photos here too. I have to admit though: I almost never get enough done to dive into that bag or extras! But part of me looks at the empty space in the case and thinks I will be totally stuck if I finish all the kitted pages! So I take some extra stuff… but not once have I even come close to finishing all my page kits. Turns out, I spend a lot more time on each page when you factor in snacks and conversation!

So those are my ten things for packing for a crop! What are your ten things this month?

10 Things :: May 2012

10 things :: May 2012
handmade card with American Crafts Amy Tangerine Sketchbook collection
Oh hi there. The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated… Okay, perhaps not that, but no, I certainly didn’t mean to leave you hanging for so long with nary an update to read. I could bore you with why, but I have this minor aim in life to not bore you, so I’ll skip that.

Instead, I’ll proclaim that I’m back and I’m going to stay on top of this, starting right now. Starting with getting this 10 Things on the Tenth post live right in the nick of time for this time zone (my apologies to all of those to my East who have already declared it tomorrow, but hey – bonus to those of you in Hawaii who haven’t even had lunch yet!) With this big gap in reading material in mind, why don’t I share the most obvious list of ten things: ten things I should have blogged here in the last two weeks.

1. How ridiculously quick and easy it is to make a happy and cute birthday card with the Sketchbook collection designed by the lovely Amy Tangerine.

2. Probably most importantly, the PRIZE WINNERS from the online scrapbooking weekend!! These will go live right here just shortly (Friday morning) and the gift certificates are being sent by email this Friday, the 11th of May. Thank you so much for your fabulous participation in all that fun. Next time I’m going to make it a goal to not fall over and stop blogging as soon as it’s over. Cool?

crop on the rhine
3. For the third year running, I popped over to Germany to scrapbook with the lovely ladies who gather for the Crop on the Rhine. I think this year was my favourite yet! I taught one scrapbooking workshop with three layouts and one more craft-based workshop with an old book that hides a secret inside its pages. And because it is Germany, I ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate wafer biscuits (seriously, even the bargain bags are like tiny bites of Kit-Kat taken to an artisan level) and refuse to make any apologies for eating multiple potato dishes at the same meal because frankly there is little in the world that could stop me from trying something as simply wonderful as potatoes cooked in a new or different way. Hmmm… have you ever noticed that pretty much every 10 Things list comes back to food? I know by now you’ve realised that I take in way more food tourism when I travel than national monuments. Priorities, I tell you. Anyway: Crop on the Rhine is amazing and sincere thanks to Barbara, Heike, Andrea, Conny and everyone who attends and makes this happen. Even special thanks to Ingo, the hotel manager who has come to embrace the special kind of fabulous that a hotel entirely booked by scrapbookers really can be.

4. I went to Germany on the train, as it is more sensible with class kits and also because I just like it more than flying. (Anyone else?) And I got to take The Boy along with me this year as a bit of a treat, so then we headed to Amsterdam for a few days before we came back to the UK. This was actually our first little holiday since we came back from our big trip just over a year ago now. We’ve each done a few journeys here and there for work or family things, but we hadn’t had a good opportunity to actually go somewhere new. This was new! Neither of us had been there, which is always fun. And what was extra super-duper fun was that essentially, this trip was on the house. A few months back I won an amazing prize from Hotwire by telling the story of how I once saved money on travel by sleeping on a pool raft in someone’s broom cupboard. A much easier way to save money while travelling is to use Hotwire – they offer cut-rate hotel rooms by not telling you the name of the hotel until after you’ve made the booking (you get to know its neighbourhood and amenities, just not the exact hotel). So anyway, I should both thank them and write a full post about this adventure since they were kind enough to send us to the mystery hotel of our choice for free! (It turned out to be a very recently built Crowne Plaza, for the hotel curious. Definite win.)

Queensday 2012 - Amsterdam
5. We rolled into Amsterdam on the eve of a national holiday. More like THE national holiday. We had no idea. The entire city was on the streets and clad in orange and holding an annual city-wide secondhand sale. Seriously fabulous timing.

6. I came home from Amsterdam, went to work on a super-secret Olympic project and immediately got crazy-sick, despite having gone the entire winter without a sniffle. But between ‘super-secret’ and ‘ugh I’m sick’, I don’t really think there is anything there to blog, so really this number six is a total cheat.

scrapbook page
6. Glitter Girl has been out and about you know. There are three adventures I need to blog! In Adventure 17, she tries a variety ideas with the new DIY Thickers range from American Crafts, in Adventure 18, she talks about travel papers and makes a layout in under ten minutes, and in Adventure 19, she talks about what she puts in page kits, both big and small. All of those links have the project photos, videos and full shopping lists so you can catch up with her crazy pink-nailed scrapping antics. Whomever she might be.

7. It was National (or International) Scrapbooking Day. Such a day exists. We had an almighty fun weekend at Two Peas and I haven’t seen so many people on the message board there in years! I absolutely loved it. They even let mild-mannered little me share an extra special video for the weekend, which you can find here. When I say ‘they let me’, I basically mean that because it is ridiculously long. It is forty entire minutes of me scrapbooking. I kid you not. So you might want to schedule it in… but at least I’ve warned you up front.

letterpress printing
8. Before Amsterdam and crazysick and supersecret and Scrapbooking Day, I took a giant stack of pictures and notes for the Week in the Life project with Ali Edwards. I’ve done this project almost every year since 2006, but I usually do a week in July. Spring was different and it was a good change! I’ve ordered my prints for that this week and have a few projects to finish first before I can work on that in scrapbook form, but I’m looking forward to it!

scrapbook starting point
9. I should have shared some starting points or something, huh? Here’s one for today then. Made with the current kit from JBS Mercantile.

10. My new class Cover to Cover started this week. It is making my heart very happy. I’ve had some of my favourite discussions about scrapbooking ever, and I love that with this class lots of people are emailing me to talk about different solutions, already! (The forum is buzzy too.) Anyway, if you were thinking about it or you forgot, it’s not too late to join! Sign up and pull up a chair so we can scrap away!

And there are a few more things after that, but I promise I am officially behind but quickly catching up so thanks for not giving up on my little corner of the internet! (Extra thanks for those of you who blogged your 10 Things today even though I was absent until the last minute. I do plan to continue this series and you have ever right to twack me over the head with a teaspoon next month if the post isn’t up first thing in the morning! Thanks for your patience.)

10 Things :: April 2012

10 Things :: April 2012
10 questions and answers
Shaking it up a little for my 10 Things post this month!

You ask the questions. I’ll answer ten of them. Simple.

(My plan is to go with the first ten, but I reserve the right to deviate if there is a more interesting question shortly thereafter!)

Now of course… this could fall on its face entirely as you might not ask me anything at all. That will just be awesome, right? So please go ahead and leave a comment with a good question.

Ooooh, first question in! It came from the lovely Nat Williams, via Twitter:
I’ve got a Q for you! What’s your favourite paper/crafty-type shop in London? I know they’re few & far between.
This is one of the most common questions I get by email – scrapbookers coming here on holiday and wondering where they should shop to get some British scrapbook wonderment. Sadly, we don’t really have any scrapbooking shops here in London! And most of the scrapbooking supplies sold at stores throughout the UK are from US-based manufacturers, with a few exceptions. But there are still a few places I will go when I need a fix. Top of that list is the flagship Paperchase near Tottenham Court Road station. We have nearly as many Paperchase stores in London as we do Starbucks stores (and if you’ve never been here, trust me that means A REALLY BIG NUMBER), but most of them are small little card and gift shops. The big store is several floors of fun, with so much stationery but also craft and art supplies, stuff for your house. This place is so big it has its own coffee shop inside, okay? Go there. And for anyone who really wants something specifically London crafty, you’re in the same neighbourhood to pop to the British Museum then keep going to Bury Place for Blade Rubber, which is a stamp store. They have all sorts of things but they do their own line of stamps that have various British themes. My favourites look like old Royal Mail cancellations and such, and their own brand are usually right inside the window (turn left as you go through the door) but if they have moved things around, just ask and they will point them out, I’m sure.

2. From Melissa in the comments: What time will all the fun start on Friday for the online scrapbooking weekend?
I can’t say just yet, as I’m still confirming things and I don’t want to get it wrong and have you waiting. But it will be during the day – UK time – on Friday.

3. From Kerry in the comments: My question is how do you keep your nails looking so neat? Do you have any secret products you use on them?
I never feel they look that neat – I am really messy when I paint them! So my ‘secrets’ would be that I tend to paint them in the evening so they can set up, then in the shower the next morning the messiness tends to come off the skin around the edges without smudging the polish itself. I use the Avon Gel Cuticle Remover (and in fact I’ve lost it somewhere in my house right now and it’s driving me crazy), a strengthening base coat by Rimmel and Seche Vite top coat, plus whatever polish. If you’ve never used Seche, it’s unlike any other top coat I’ve tried, but it does have its strengths and annoyances. It dries ridiculously fast, even over varnish that is still tacky. It’s ultra high gloss and sets up almost like a gel nail, so your nails feel really strong even if they aren’t (mine are dry and peel, which isn’t made better by constantly wearing and removing nail varnish, I promise) and it is very chip resistant for several days. It also works really well over nail art as it doesn’t smudge all the colours together. However… it doesn’t wear like a normal nail varnish: it peels like a whole sheet. All of the sudden you’ll see a tiny gap where the layers of polish have come apart from the top of your nail and then it’s just a matter of time until the whole thing comes off. It is a little spendy (though way cheaper online than in a shop) and it doesn’t have a great shelf life. A bottle lasts me about 4 months and then it’s still one-third full but it has a yellow tone over pale colours and chips much faster. A bit like mascara: it’s amazing when it’s brand new, it’s pretty darn fabulous for a while and then all of the sudden: blech.

4. From Soozee in the comments: Which are your absolutely favourite can’t live without lenses? When are you doing another online class?
Cheeky with the two questions there! I’ll count it as one.
I cannot live without my 50mm. I keep my 50mm/1.4 lens on my camera for everyday use. I use a wide-angle for filming (the 17-40L you can see in the photo), a 100mm macro for detail shots and an 85mmL for extra special stuff, like portraits. But the 50mm is what I use if I can only take one. I really only use those four these days – they serve me very well. And the new class will be announced this weekend – it starts on the 7th of May. (I’ve told that much on Twitter and Facebook but no more info until the weekend.)

5. From Sarah B via Twitter: Who/when do you consider your style/fashion icon?
Oh goodness. I never read fashion magazines because they make me feel so unfashionable, so I am usually unable to pick any current faces out of a line-up. (A few years ago during London Fashion Week a model sorta tripped over me and a few other people in a big crowd at a street crossing and to this day I have no idea if she was someone famous or one of those runway models that would only be known to those seriously into that sort of stuff. But I promise she got up and walked away intact!) But my personal fashion icons are people like Mary Tyler Moore (as much as I love the clothes on Mad Men, I like how she makes those sorts of lines look effortless, and I love how her I’m-a-grown-up-but-I’m-still-playful attitude comes through in the clothes she wore) and Lisa Loeb (for making me embrace my glasses as something that could be me rather than an embarrassment). Of course it is impossible to not thing Audrey Hepburn’s fashion statements were the most fabulous, but I seem to have noticed something in the last ten years: Audrey and I do not share a body type. Sigh. Other things that zone in on my radar – street fashion, especially from Japan and Scandinavia. And dance-inspired clothing. I love the crazy look of the original Fame film and while Black Swan officially freaked me out more than any film I have ever seen, the rehearsal scene at the very beginning before the director comes in, when they are still layered up with their sweaters and tights and skirts? That part is my favourite. I love ballet skirts over slip dresses as normal daywear.

6. From So.Creative in the comments: My question is: are you comfortable in your new scrapbook area, with you high table (that helps you to flex your legs like a ballet dancer)? I had to ask you because I love to know that you are able to scrap AND to dance in a same time! You rock!
This question cracked me up! And I hadn’t read it before the previous answer, so that was extra funny. But anyway, an answer! I love my table – I’ve had the high table we built from kitchen units for nearly five years now, I think. When we built the legs, we measured it to be perfect for my height by figuring out what felt best for writing, stamping, etc. But I am totally a standing-up scrapper, so even though I am really short, I have a tall table. (If you look closely to any of the videos where I’m talking to the camera, you can tell as the table is taller than my waist. Getting that camera angle to not look completely stupid is always interesting. Sometimes I have stood on something just to do that introduction bit!) As to whether I am comfortable in the new area yet – not really. That picture above is where I work now – and it’s in our living room. And that picture makes it look really bright, but it is really bright for approximately five minutes on only the sunniest of days, just as the sun hits one certain spot, and then it goes back to dark again. This isn’t a permanent home for us and we are in general not completely happy with it yet. I am mostly over the temper tantrum stage. I cope and make it work, and I love our neighbourhood so I glad we could stay here, but it is far from perfect.
As for dancing while I scrapbook, I often can’t stand still and when I’m on a deadline I have a ridiculously upbeat playlist to jam to while I work, but I don’t think I’ll be winning any prizes for my ability to step-touch while layering paper!

7. From Joanne in the comments: If you had to take 5 scrapbooking essentials to a desert island what would they be?
Oh that wouldn’t be any fun at all! First and foremost a pen. Then I guess I would need paper, scissors and adhesive. That’s four already! Do I have to count my camera? And the camera wouldn’t be much good unless I could print things, so that would take me up to six already. So let’s forget the camera and I’ll take a roll of cute washi tape instead!

(I’m going to skip the 10 commandments of scrapbooking question – because I haven’t the slightest clue! Maybe ‘thou shalt not make a page without writing something down’ but I know many who disagree. Really I’m a play-by-your-own-rules kind of scrapper.)

8. From Julia in the comments: Where are you going on your travels next? I have loved reading and seeing you scrap about your trips – #envious!
At the end of this month I’m teaching a workshop in Germany (my third year doing this event and I love it!) and this year The Boy is coming along with me so we can head to Amsterdam for tulip season! I am really ridiculously wanting to travel right now but I can’t do any big trips until after the games, as I have a pretty crazy schedule to stick to for that super secret Olympic thing.

9. From Ali in the comments: Looking enviously at your scrap room, how do you remember what stash you have, or do you just collect a bunch of stuff and not worry about the wider possibilities?
When I had more space, I did more collecting. I don’t know: I have purged and purged and I now have nothing that is not either current (and therefore things I can use for work) or something older that I honestly 100% love. That means I now have more supplies than someone who is only a very casual scrapper but significantly fewer things than all those big scrap rooms on youtube and so forth! I have a lot but I also use a lot, as I’m averaging around fifty layouts a month at the moment. Yes, I know that’s crazy.
As far as remembering what I have, I have identified the types of supplies that work for me and I’m going through them constantly, so it’s rare that I stumble on something I didn’t remember. My key is that more has to be going into my albums than into storage. Nothing is precious, nothing is saved for something special. If I ever flip through and realise there is something I don’t love in my stash, it’s out – instantly. I did that this morning actually. I was going through some new papers that arrived just today to put them away and there was one in the mix that I didn’t like in person, and it went straight in my donation box without a second glance because I just know I won’t use it. That’s really rare that I would do that straight away, but I just wanted to share it as an example. I really try to be brutal. (And I have a great group that takes my extras so I have zero guilt about anything that winds up in the donate box.)

and 10! From Anne in the comments: How did you get into scrap booking? Did you always do some kind of craft?
I started scrapbooking in 1998, while I was at university. I was in a play about a set of sisters who have a family scrapbook, except it contains all the horrible things in life because that’s what has ended up in the newspaper: the house burning down, a cousin going to prison, that sort of thing. It was a really small cast and we had a great director and it was just a fabulous experience (and I have performed in shows that don’t ever have that sort of camaraderie, so I am extra grateful for that time) and we wanted to make a scrapbook as a gift for the director. I found a silly kit at Big Lots and I was elected in charge of the scrapbook because I didn’t mind writing things with Crayola markers in every colour of the rainbow. That scrapbook looks nothing like what we do now, but the sort of book where we wrote notes, pasted in lemonade packets and so forth. By the end of the process, I had discovered the scrapbooking aisle at the craft store and Creating Keepsakes magazine. And I’ve scrapped ever since!
Before scrapping, I have always done some bit of crafty this and that, but I flitted a lot and didn’t stick with the same thing all the time. It is the writing and photography aspects that make this my constant.

Thanks so much for all the questions!

And… you can also join in the 10 Things on the Tenth fun by sharing your own post on your blog or making a scrapbook page that includes 10 things and sharing it via a page gallery! The idea is oh-so-simple: on the tenth of the month, we create a list of 10 Things. Any sort of things, as long as there are ten. And we share them!

Now… leave a question – I’m sat here at my keyboard just waiting to answer! (And wondering if this is a very dangerous idea indeed!)